Research Week Reinforces USD's Knowledge Activity

From its April 11 celebration of more than 150 grant proposals by University of San Diego faculty and staff and external funding successes across campus, to lab and gallery tours, Mathigami, interdisciplinary dialogue, faculty research presentations, Creative Collaborations and an AFFIRM-sponsored female neuroscience professor’s lecture and workshop, USD Research Week significantly expanded on-campus knowledge about all activities.

USD Research Week 2016

"Research Week is a focused effort to showcase the extraordinary scholarly and creative works of our university community," said Traci Merrill, USD Office of Sponsored Programs director. "We’re paving the way as an emerging research institution. This week showcased the exceptional efforts taking place across campus."

Financial gifts and successful grant funding make it possible for important things such as cutting-edge science equipment, expand both the nursing and engineering school's workspace and opportunities to diversify student experiences, further critical research overall and provides student research opportunities and faculty endowed professorships. External funding supports School of Law programs such as the Energy Policy Initiatives Center (EPIC), the Children's Advocacy Institute and the Veterans Legal Clinic, the School of Leadership and Education Sciences' Mobile Technology Learning Center, helps launch the Center for Humanities, which debuts this fall, and enables the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies' Institute for Peace and Justice to host the Women PeaceMakers Program.

Research Week offered an opportunity for USD faculty members to present what they're working on, such as the College of Arts and Sciences' Conversations with the College or to witness USD’s continuing strengths — interdisciplinary work. The latter was showcased by a social justice class cluster that connects classes taught in International Relations, Sociology, Communication Studies and English with a final capstone comprised of students from each class into a group. Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies Professor, Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick partnered with his students to produce a Global Drone Report. Furthermore, students from the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering consulted with Choi-Fitzpatrick while developing a prototype of a humanitarian drone. On April 13, both KSPS students and engineering students launched a research balloon (pictured) and captured digital footage of the USD campus from the IPJ.

Another highlight was the 26th annual Creative Collaborations, a celebration of student-faculty research. Hosted by the Office of Undergraduate Research, Director Sonia Zarate said more than 275 projects were submitted, a 25-percent increase from 2015. Posters, exhibits, live demonstrations and live readings from English Department students were showcased. Research presentations included a focus on social justice issues, science discoveries, pop culture, takeaways from an eye-opening Guatemala immersion trip, and an interdisciplinary look at sustainability from several perspectives such as economics, supply chain management, sociology and the feasibility of having a student fee imposed for green projects.

"This annual forum celebrates research, scholarship and creative accomplishments of students in all disciplines," said Andrew T. Allen, vice president and provost. "The high quality work showcases the commitment of our faculty to mentor the next generation of research leaders."

A Distinguished Visiting Lecture was given by Pomona College Professor of Neuroscience, Nicole Weekes, PhD, as well as a workshop connected to USD's AFFIRM program, a National Science Foundation-funded project to strengthen USD's recruitment of female faculty, especially those of color, in the fields of science, engineering, computer science, social science and mathematics.

Research Week closed with a Copley Library presentation for faculty and student researchers to learn more about protecting their rights during the research publishing process, retaining copyrights and more about open access publishing options.

If research is about expanding knowledge, then USD’s Research Week produced the evidence to support it.

"USD's research enterprise has more than doubled over the past nine years due to the efforts of our dedicated faculty, administrators, staff and students," Merrill said. "Continued growth is critical as it creates unique opportunities for experiential learning by our students as USD prepares engaged scholars for the 21st century."

The third annual USD Research Week is scheduled for April 18-21, 2017.

— Ryan T. Blystone