Research Week Recap (Part Two): Meaningful Research in SOLES; Creative Collaborations; Lab Crawl

Research Week Recap (Part Two): Meaningful Research in SOLES; Creative Collaborations; Lab Crawl

The conclusion of the fourth annual Research Week at the University of San Diego last week showcased diversity, inclusion, social justice and intersectionality at the School of Leadership and Education Sciences (SOLES); rich storytelling in the Humanities Center; produced a wonderful display of faculty-undergraduate student research at the 29th Creative Collaborations and concluded with a research lab crawl, seen through a liberal arts education lens that USD strives to produce.


April 10

SOLES' Diversity, Inclusion and Social Justice Excellence Showcase

For the second straight year during Research Week SOLES welcomed students, staff and faculty and research centering on diversity, inclusion and social justice. Poster presentations expanded beyond just those by SOLES students as there was representation from a few other USD schools, the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering and the Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science.

Passionate remarks from SOLES Dean Nick Ladany, PhD, and Associate Dean and Associate Professor Joi Spencer, PhD, about the importance of this type of research focus kicked off the program, which included an interactive poster session as well as a three-SOLES student panel offering interdisciplinary perspectives on intersectionality.

“When we do this kind of work that you all are doing here, it’s often pushed to the side, it’s often we try, as a culture, to shame the work we’re doing,” he said. “We still have a long way to go around diversity, inclusion and social justice and this (event) is just one of the many ways we’re doing that in SOLES. I very much appreciate all that you are doing here, to be part of this community, and to do this type of work. I really do value this work and think it’s God’s work at the end of the day.” 

Dr. Spencer, who had just returned from attending the American Educational Research Association conference in Toronto, followed Dean Ladany.

“As the dean said, in many ways, this work, especially around research, gets marginalized. It’s interesting because it’s often about issues related to marginalized people. I’ve been going to the (AERA) conference a good 12-15 years and I think what is significant is that this year was the first time it was clear that the issues around diversity and inclusion were centered in the work and they were honored in a way to say, ‘this is not just something you do because you have a particular passion. This is a field of study. It’s a field of study. Understanding these issues of diversity and inclusion and the nuances related to it is something I’m so proud to see so many of you guys taking up.”

Research project posters were displayed throughout the Bishop Buddy Sala and the down the hallways of the Mother Rosalie Hill Hall. Among the topics were to look at race, gender and class findings in graduate-level educational leadership curriculum; a critical analysis of higher education’s approach to service-learning and community engagement; how diversity, inclusion and social justice looks in the nonprofit sector; Knowledge and Empowerment for Post-Secondary Advancement Among Teen Mothers; Integrating Culturally Sustaining Pedagogies into an Engineering Course; Self-Esteem and the Gifted Child: A  Social Emotional Approach; and the Language Brokering Experience and Its Effects on the Identity Development of First-Generation Latinx College Students.

The student panel on intersectionality featured Andrea Trejo, who is working on her MA in Marital and Family Therapy, Elena McCollim, a PhD Leadership Studies student and Elleisha Elzien in the Learning and Teaching MEd credential cohort program focused on secondary education. All three panelists had posters displayed at the event, too.

Mother Rosalie Hill Hall’s second floor also showcased a research-oriented activity when the Jacobs Institute for Innovation in Education opened its doors to those interested in experiencing virtual reality. The institute has VR capability and enabled visitors to learn more about ways it can empower one’s research.

More Human Series — “Faith” 

This live storytelling event, called More Human, is curated by themes each month. Storytellers share meaningful experiences or challenges that have been overcome. All stories provide insight into the human condition. Co-sponsored by the Humanities Center and the Changemaker Hub, this is connected to a student-produced podcast called, There’s More.

Guest storytellers at the Research Week event were Emilie Amrein (Music faculty), Alyson Ma (Business faculty), Ophelia Augustine (Student Support Services), Beth O’Shea (Environmental and Ocean Sciences) and Gill Sotu, a San Diego-based Spoken Word artist. To learn more or to listen, episodes are available at

ResearchWeek-2019 Part 2

April 11

29th Annual Creative Collaborations: Faculty and Undergraduate Research Collaboration

The signature undergraduate research showcases for all disciplines — engineering, life and physical sciences, humanities, arts, math and computer science, business, social sciences and more — filled up the three forum rooms in the Hahn University Center.

Hosted by the Office of Undergraduate Research, students had the chance to explain the nuances of their time spent in a laboratory, gathering data, demonstrating something they physically put together or analyzed. Some research projects were tied together as part of a class, such as in Ethnic Studies with Dr. Alberto Pulido or a water-sourced project involving Dr. Frank Jacobitz’s USD mechanical engineering students and Israeli engineering students. The USD students went to Israel earlier this year to get in-person water samples. Israeli engineering students came to San Diego last week to help present at Creative Collaborations.

The two-session poster parade at USD also spread outside the UC Forums as six oral presentations were hosted downstairs in the UC. Furthermore, the UC Exhibit Hall featured a student art exhibit that will remain up through the end of April.

To see and learn more about the research work displayed, visit the link to project abstracts in the 2019 Creative Collaborations program.

April 12

Research Lab Crawl/Psychological Sciences Research Data Blitz

It was wise to visit the many designated research lab crawl stations created by USD faculty members within the Shiley Center for Science and Technology, Camino Hall, Serra Hall and the Belanich Engineering Center (formerly Loma Hall) in order to get to some pizza as a reward.

Some 50 Linda Vista elementary schoolchildren, local high school students and USD students, faculty and staff walked around campus to get an up-close peek at some pretty cool displays.

Participants had the chance to get their hands wet in a touch-tank to learn about local marine invertebrates, put their hands in an augmented reality sandbox to build landforms all courtesy of the Department of Environmental and Ocean Sciences. Faculty labs for Ryan McGorty (physics), Drew Talley (EOS), Joan Schellinger (chemistry and biochemistry) and Adam Haberman (biology) were also open in the SCST.

The Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering offered visitors the chance to see mechanical engineering senior design projects in Donald's Garage and the Fabrication Lab. Camino Hall had an art drawing series that was inspired by a Philp Glass instrumental music piece. Welding and more work were being done by "Traffic," a curatorial and design team led by Architecture Instructor Shannon Starkey. The team's project this year is a redesign of a micro-gallery and fabrication of a new pergola and seating area.

Satyan Devadoss, PhD, is the Fletcher Jones Chair of Applied Mathematics and he enjoyed showing students of all ages the fun that can happen in this first-floor math studio to develop cutting-edge ideas in math. On the main floor, the Digital Humanities Studio area within the Humanities Center demonstrated the intersection of technology with humanities in the DH Studio.

Serra Hall houses multiple disciplines and, on this day, psychological sciences, behavioral neuroscience, digital humanities and the new math studio served as cool places to listen and to explore. The first two gave visitors a chance to see where rats and zebrafish are used for validating behavioral measures of learning and cognition in the faculty labs run by Rachel Blaser, PhD, and Jena Hales, PhD. Later in the day, students in psychological sciences gave a short research poster presentation to the audience.

— Compiled by Ryan T. Blystone

Photos by Ryan T. Blystone and the Office of Sponsored Programs


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