Cal Poly CLA News

The latest online edition of CLA's Impact Magazine

CLA Shoutouts

Check out our monthly roundup of faculty, staff, student and alumni accomplishments and news. Submit your news and stories here.


September 2023


Congratulations to the 2023 Teacher-Scholar Mini-Grant Awardees. See the full list of winners below.

Applicant Co-PI Department Title
James Antony Kelly Bennion Psychology and Child Development Making brain waves: EEG training for undergraduates
Nancy Arrington   Political Science The Book Club Module: How collaborate exposure to new content for both instructor and student demystifies academic research and builds classroom culture.
Ryan Buyco   Ethnic Studies Ethnic Studies in Hawai‘i Summer Program
Geoffrey Andrew Fricker CSSE Associate Professor Jonathan Daniel Ventura Social Sciences From Drone to Satellite:  Three applied spatial ecology research projects that use deep learning to analyze remote sensing imagery
Martha Galvan Mandujano   World Languages and Cultures Genocide Museums and Genocide Prevention: A Comparative Look at Guatemala and Cambodia
David Gillette Computer Science Professor Michael Haungs; LAES Administrative Coordinator Luna Larsen Liberal Arts and Engineering Studies; English The Empowering Autistic Scholars Mentoring and Research Training (EAS) Program
Martine Lappe   Social Sciences Identifying the Social and Ethical Implications of Early Life Adversity Science:  Exploring Researcher, Community, and Pediatric Professional Perspectives
Leslie Nelson   Communication Studies The Impact of Socialization Messages about Racism in Black Americans’ Family Discourse
Mira Rosenthal   English Edge Effects: Poems
Krista Sarraf English Assistant Professor Shanae Martinez English Researching, Piloting, and Assessing the Editing for Justice Project
Ava Wright   Philosophy The AI Ethics Lab


Congratulations to the 2023 CLA Summer Scholarship Support Program (CSSS) awardees. See the full list of winners below.

Jnan Blau


Deep Engagement: A Typology of Fandom and Fan Cultures

Sarah Bridger


Life as We Know It: Biologists and the Remaking of American Science and Society in the 1970s

Laura Cacciamani


The Effect of Brain Stimulation on Entrepreneurial Creativity

Sophia Forster


Assessments of Liberalism in Late-Nineteenth-Century American Fiction

Andrew Fricker


Mapping Social Justice in Space and Time: Developing tools to green California schools for a warming climate

Ken Habib


The Fairuz Phenomenon: Lebanese Cosmopolitanism in Arabic Song

Lydia Heberling


Tricksters in the Waves: A Trans-Indigenous Examination of Surfing in Contemporary Native Literatures 

Eleanor Helms


Thoughtless as an Intellectual Vice 

Matt Hopper


Liberated Africans in the Indian Ocean World

Thanayi Jackson


Mapping Mary Ellen Pleasant in the California Colored Conventions

Martine Lappe


Identifying the Social and Ethical Implications of Early Life Adversity Science:Centering Parent Perspectives and Advancing Health Equity

Silvia Marijuan


The use of gender-inclusive language in Spanish bilingual and second/heritage language education: opportunities, challenges, and future directions

Shanae Aurora Martinez


On Land Acknowledgements: Storytelling Pedagogy in Theory and Practice

Jose Navarro


Hollywood’s Heart of Darkness: Screening the Eastside of Los Angeles (Chapter 2 in The Reel Barrio: The History & Politics of Chicana/o Gang Film)

Michael Park


Titles and Pronouns in the Academy: Theorizing Academic Freedom and In-Class Speech Pursuant to Classroom Management 

Emily Ryalls


The Post-Queer Context of Netflix’s Girl Centered Series

Gabriel Soldatenko


Decentering the History of Western Political Philosophy: Spanish Colonialism and the case of Vasco de Quiroga”

Robert Wallace


Fear as an Obstacle in Acting and Knowing

Ava Wright


Veracity and Free Speech

Hocheol Yang


Are online learning opportunities equitable for all students, and how does the self-efficacy gap affect learning outcomes during COVID-19?


Cal Poly’s division of Research, Economic Development and Graduate Education (R-EDGE) announced the 17 awards for the 2023-24 cycle of the Research, Scholarly and Creative Activities (RSCA) grant program. Congratulations to the CLA awardees below.

  • "Local Implementation of an AI-generated Legislative News Tipsheet"; Kim Bisheff, Journalism 
  • "Watching for Sasquatch: A New Environmental Play"; Ramón Esquivel, Theatre and Dance
  • "Social Policy and Extreme Weather: How Tightly Woven is Our Safety Net?"; Leanne Giordono, Political Science
  • " Data Visualizations that Explain the Role of Afro-descendants in Early Spanish and Mexican California (1768-1850)"; Cameron Jones, and Foaad Khosmood,Computer Engineering/Computer Science and Software Engineering
  • "Educational Context and Investments in Child Health Across Africa"; Sara Lopus, Social Sciences
  • "User Experience for Social Impact: Establishing a University-Nonprofit Collaboration"; Krista Sarraf, English; Hocheol Yang, Graphic Communication; David Gillette, English/ Liberal Arts and Engineering Studies; Michael Haungs, Computer Science/ Liberal Arts and Engineering Studies; Franz Kurfess, Computer Science and Software Engineering; and, Emily Robinson, Statistics 
  • "The Use of AI-Created Selfies in a Public Service Announcement (PSA) Campaign Targeting College Students: The Impact of Self-Reference on Issue Relevance and Engagement."; Yan Shan, Journalism and Ruoxi Rachel Ma, Graphic Communication



Dani Bello
Dani Bello

Congratulations to fourth-year political science student Danielle “Dani” Bello, who will serve as Cal Poly’s 2023 representative to the Panetta Institute Congressional Internship Program. 

After a two-week training period at the Panetta Institute at CSU Monterey Bay, Bello will work in the capitol office of a California congressional representative in Washington, D.C., for 11 weeks in the fall.  

“Since my first day at Cal Poly I’ve wanted to embody Learn by Doing and pursue hands-on opportunities, especially in the policy sphere,” said Bello. “I’m excited to learn more about the intricacies of public policy and be in the spaces where the important conversations are happening.

Read more.












      Ocean Dunes
      Yak tityu tityu yak tilhini Northern Chumash grandfather
      S. Shane Goldman teaching his granddaughter to make a
      sundial in the Oceano Dunes, from the forthcoming book,
      "Oceano (for seven generations)" by Lana Z Caplan.
      Photo courtesy: Lana Z Caplan

      Art and Design Associate Professor Lana Z Caplan was featured in the SLO Tribune for her newest book on the Oceano Dunes.

      The book will feature 65 color and black-and-white photos by Caplan, as well as essays by Northern Chumash Tribal Chair Mona Olivas Tucker and her son, Matthew Goldman, and Hanna Rose Shell, associate professor of Critical and Curatorial Studies and director of the Stan Brakhage Center for Media Arts in Boulder, Colorado. The photographic monograph, “Oceano (for seven generations),” will explore the relationship between various communities and the land they have utilized — many for several decades, Caplan said.

      Read more from the Tribune. 


      Congratulations to sociology Associate Professor Joan Meyers who won the Employee Participation and Ownership Scholarly Research Award presented by the Human Resources (HR) Division of the Academy of Management

      Meyers received the award for a paper titled, “Participatory bureaucracy: Addressing gender inequality in worker cooperatives,” published in the Journal of Entrepreneurial and Organizational Diversity.

      This award is given each year to the author(s) of one paper identified as the most significant article in employee participation and ownership published in recognized journals and research annuals in the year prior.

      The award acknowledges innovative research on employee empowerment, participative workforces, and wealth creation through broad-based equity and profit-sharing mechanisms, work practices, organizational structures, and innovation and entrepreneurial models.



      Cal Poly Amusement Park Engineers and Designers

      English student Tyler Suzuki flew across the country with fellow members of the Cal Poly Amusement Park Engineers and Designers (CAPED) club to compete in the national Ride Engineering Competition (REC).

      The REC is a competition, where several colleges from across the country compete to produce a fully functional model roller coaster that will be judged by themed entertainment industry judges.

      "Through a mix of engineering, technical writing and theming, we were able to win first place," Suzuki said. "CAPED offers amazing opportunities and hands-on experience for anyone, including CLA majors, interested in the themed entertainment industry. As an English major, I’ve been able to gain a tremendous amount of insight and experience with technical writing, storytelling, and creative design."



      Billy Watson Scholarship winners
      Vanessa Rivera and Liliana Puente.

      Music students Vanessa Rivera and Liliana Puente were awarded this year’s SLO Rotary Billy Watson Music Scholarship.







      Example of an image that is floated to the left side

      Congratulations to communication studies students Chloe Abinanti, Evelyn Walker, Julia Voss and Tyler Rivas who won the $500 McCall Award for Best Undergraduate Paper at the CSU-wide Social Science Student Symposium (S4), which took place at CSU Channel Islands on May 4. The group presented their co-authored project titled, "The Effect of Dry Texting on Perceived Likability of Message Sender and Messaging Style." The project was conducted in their COMS 312: Research Methods class with communication studies Assistant Professor Aubrie Adams as the project advisor.















        Deb Donig
        English Professor Deb Donig

        If science fiction can be believed, the robots are coming for all of us — but the latest advances in artificial intelligence (AI) technology are starting to make fiction seem like reality. With the recent headlines about rogue chatbots and universities using ChatGPT to generate condolence letters, Cal Poly News turned to English Professor Deb Donig, cofounder of the Ethical Technology Initiative at Cal Poly, to give her insight into the ethical implications of AI, specifically ChatGPT.

        Read the Q&A.



        Music Assistant Professor Arthur White and Cal Poly's
        vocal jazz ensemble, MOSAIC.

        MOSAIC, Cal Poly's vocal jazz ensemble, was named as an Outstanding Performance winner in the 46th DownBeat Student Music Awards (SMA) competition in the Small Group Undergraduate Vocal Jazz Ensemble Category.

        DownBeat is the most notable publication for jazz in the country. The annual Student Music Awards are selected by blind audition. This is the jazz program's third DownBeat SMA in the last two years. Last year, the group won in an asynchronous category for their recordings during COVID, and alumna Mady Frei (Music, '22) was named as an Outstanding Soloist.

        Read this year's SMA issue.


        TAGA team poses with their trophy
        Faculty advisor Rachel Ma and the 2022-23 TAGA
        team pose with their first place trophy.

        Last month, the Cal Poly TAGA team won first place at the TAGA 2023 Technical Journal Competition held in Oklahoma City on March 12-15.

        Since September 2022, the Cal Poly TAGA team has worked to  conceptualize, design, and produce the journal centered on accessibility.

        The team recognzies their hard-working students, faculty advisor Rachel Ma and supporting GRC faculty and staff.

        A special thanks goes to RealityBLU and Descript for their services that allowed Cal Poly TAGA to bring the journal to life, Printing Industries Association, Inc. and Visual Media Alliance for their donations that provided the team the ability to participate at the in person conference, and Poor Richard's Press for sharing their production facility. 

        Check out the team's award-winning journal and access additional content. 



        The College of Liberal Arts has a long tradition of honoring students of excellence. Check out the 2023 outstanding graduates as well as the awardees of both university- and college-level awards.

        Full list of awardees.













          Stephen Ruszczycky
          English Associate Professor
          Steven Ruszczycky

          English Associate Professor Steven Ruszczycky received an honorable mention in the 2023 John Leo and Dana Heller Awards for Best Single Work, Anthology, Multi-authored or Edited Book in LGBTQ Studies (administered by the Popular Culture Association) for his book "Vulgar Genres: Gay Pornographic Writing and Contemporary Fiction" (University of Chicago Press).






          The speaker line up for the Sharing  Desired Futures Conference.
          Part of the speaker line up for the
          Sharing Desired Futures Conference.


          Interdisciplinary Studies in the Liberal Arts Department Chair David Kirby will speak at the Sharing Desired Futures Conference in Linz, Austria next month. Kirby's talk will focus on the beneficial collaboration between industry and science fiction.

          The event will present a series of conversations with the best from science, politics, art and business and learn how they share their visions of a future that may not be obvious to others.

          Learn more about the event.





          Rob't Coltrin
          Rob't Coltrin.

          Rob’t Coltrin (Art and Design, ‘86) was recently honored as a “Disney Legend,” the highest honor given at The Walt Disney Company. Coltrin has worked for the company for 29 years as an Imagineer, creating new attractions and "lands” for various Disney Parks. During his time as an art and design student at Cal Poly, he was involved with Cal Poly Choirs where he helped write, design, choreograph and direct shows. After graduation, he worked on shows such as the Oprah Winfrey Show and the Grammy Awards before joining the Walt Disney Imagineers in 1990. There, he began as a show set designer before moving through many disciplines and landing his final role as an executive creative director. Coltrin was officially inducted as a Disney Legend during the 2022 D23 Expo.














            Five CLA faculty members were honored with PolyReps Mentorship Awards at the annual Terrence Harris Mentorship Awards ceremony on Jan. 26. The PolyReps Mentorship Awards recognize staff, faculty and friends who have made a significant impact on a current Poly Rep student.

            Congratulations to the following faculty members:

            • Elizabeth Barrett, Psychology and Child Development Department
            • Lauren Rachele Beck, Interdisciplinary Studies in the Liberal Arts Department
            • Ronald Den Otter, Political Science Department
            • Keli Moore, Journalism Department
            • John Astaire, Music Department








            Froot team
            The Froot team, left to right: Fred Pastrana,
            Thucmy Dang,Javier de la Fuente, Heather Lopez,
            Hanna Kraus and Han Wong.

            An interdisciplinary Cal Poly team, including members of the Art and Design Department, received global recognition for their innovative packaging design. Graphic design students Han Wong, Fred Pastrana and Hannah Kraus, including art and design Assistant Professor Linh Dao, worked alongside consumer packaging student Colter Pruyn and industrial technology and packaging Lecturer Irene Carbonell to create 100 percent recyclable, stackable and convertable packaging for fruit. 

            Read the story.




            Headshot of Grace Curtis
            Grace Curtis.

            Last fall, Grace Curtis (Journalism, ’22) joined the prestigious Capital Fellows Program offered through California State University, Sacramento, making her one of only 18 fellows accepted into the executive branch of the 11-month program. 

            Read more about her work in the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development on the Zero Emissions Vehicles (ZEV) team.

















              Headshot of Matt Hopper
              History Professor Matthew Hopper.

              Congratulations to history Professor Matt Hopper who is part of an NEH grant project that recently received nearly $400,000 in funding. The project, titled "Global Passages: Creating a Public Database of Slaving Voyages across the Indian Ocean and Asia," is working to create a database of Indian Ocean and Asia (IOA) slave voyages and contextualize it in the open access Slave Voyages website.












              Liberal Arts and Engineering Studies student Leticia Mezzetti was part of the interdisciplinary team that won the top prize at Camp PolyHacks. Learn more about the team's project, an ananonymous blog space dubbed Lumi that is designed to help marginalized groups build community. 

              Read more about Camp PolyHacks.





              Kristen Sanzari
              Sanzari proudly designs toys for Disney and
              Pixar movies. Image courtesy of Kristen Sanzari.

              Kristen Sanzari (Art and Design ’11) brings your favorite animated characters to life designing toys for Mattel.

              Throughout her time at Mattel, Sanzari has gotten to have brainstorm sessions at Disneyland, skip the lines at Universal Studios, attend San Diego Comic Con annually, and travel to Hong Kong and China to visit Mattel-affiliated factories. It may not be the path she envisioned as a student, but it’s better than she could have imagined. Her advice: Don’t pigeonhole yourself. Keep your options open.

              Read more about Sanzari's career.
















                Congratulations to journalism Professor Emeritus Paul Bittick who was honored with one of the inaugural Associated Collegiate Press (ACP) Pioneer Awards at the Fall National College Media Convention last October.

                In honor of its 100th birthday, ACP celebrated 101 journalism educators and advocates with the awards.

                The Pioneer is the only award ACP presents to journalism educators. 

                Read more.



                Congratulations to social sciences Professor Nikhil Deb and student Nadejda Genshaft-Volz who recently had their paper, titled "In Addressing Climate Change, Business as Usual Is Climate Injustice," published in Just Security, an online forum for the  analysis of security, democracy, foreign policy and rights.

                Read the article.  




                Ethnic studies Professor Emeritus Victor Valle is slated to have his article, "Toward a Poetics of Chile... In Another Mexico",  published in The Journal of Food Studies in February. The article is a prequel to his forthcoming book, "The Poetics of Fire: Indigenizing the Eco-aesthetics of Chile-eating" (Univ. of New Mexico Press, 2023).

                Valle, alongside colleagues Catherine Trujillo, former Cal Poly Library staffer and current Deputy Director of the New Mexico Historical Museum; Jessica Eng, Cal Poly Digital Publishing Student Fellow; and Angel Diaz, curator of UC Santa Barbara's California Ethnic and Multicultural Archive, recently launched ChismeArte Home, a fully searchable digital humanities platform featuring the eponymous 1970s-1980s avant garde magazine. The inspiration for this project came from a student-designed and annotated library exhibit titled ChismeArte Y Que! Trujillo curated in 2008.





                Annie Kettman headshot
                Annie Kettmann is a 4th year
                political science student with a
                minor in ethics, public policy,
                science and technology.

                Last Spring, political science student Annie Kettmann was part of a group that won first place at the inaugural Change the World Challenge. Read her personal account of the experience here.







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                Cal Poly students encounter Highland “coo”
                cows on the Pentland Hills Hike.

                In summer 2022, 17 students and two professors from the Cal Poly English Department visited the English Lake District and Edinburgh, Scotland as part of a new Cal Poly Global Program for an immersive experience of literature in the landscape.

                Read one student's account of the Learn by Doing experience.





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                At the Yorkshire moors students climbed
                around and on the farm house that is said
                to bethe inspiration for the setting in
                Wuthering Heights.






                  See the 2022 Shoutouts 

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