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Learn by Doing Research Will Be On Display at the 2023 SURP+ Symposium



Faculty, staff and students are invited to learn about student research within the College of Liberal Arts by engaging with 15 student-faculty research and creative activity projects completed in summer 2023 as part of the CLA's Summer Undergraduate Research Programs (SURPs). The 2023 SURP+ Symposium will feature more than 100 university-wide projects across five colleges. 

The event will be held in the Engineering Plaza, between the Advanced Technologies Lab (No. 07), Bonderson and Building 192 on Friday, Oct. 13 from 1:30-3:30 p.m. 

Sophia Velasquez presents her poster at the 2022 SURP+ Symposium.
Sophia Velasquez presents her poster at
the 2022 SURP+ Symposium.

Poster presenters worked alongside faculty members and community partners throughout the summer, resulting in student-faculty co-authored publications and university-industry-and-community collaborations.

Students will present their research findings during the event that is jointly organized by the Bailey College of Science & Mathematics, the College of Agriculture, Food & Environmental Sciences, the College of Engineering, the College of Liberal Arts, the Orfalea College of Business, and the Office of Student Researchin collaboration with LSAMP B2B California Central Coast Community College Collaborative (C6)

Forty-six community college researchers from C6 campuses, Allan Hancock College, Cabrillo College, Cuesta College, Monterey Peninsula College, Moorpark College, Oxnard College, Santa Barbara City College and Ventura College — will share their research as part of this event. 

Additional support is provided by the Division of Research and CSU Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) in STEM Program at Cal Poly.

This event is co-located with a Mini Graduate School and Research Opportunities Resource Fair. Light refreshments will be provided. 

Stop by anytime between 1:30-3:30 p.m. to support student research and creative activity at Cal Poly. No RSVP is required. 

Learn more about the 11 CLA projects that will be on display below.


Art & Design 

LGBTQ+ augmented reality wayfinding and identity system for galleries and art museums 

Faculty Advisor: Prof. Linh Dao 

Student Researchers: Chenin Gelera (Art and Design); Elise Coatney (Art and Design)

Project Description:  A queer augmented reality learning system to enrich visitor experiences in galleries and art museums. The experience consists of an identity and wayfinding system which consists of physical signage and a digital archive in the form of a mobile application or website. The experience blends seamlessly into the physical museum settings as part of the traditional project descriptions prints next to artworks on the gallery wall, suggesting related or similar works created by a queer artist and/or about the queer experience. A range of queer artist identities and queer artworks are available in the archive for wayfinding onsite and offsite exploration, reimagining the gallery and museum space which have remained relatively static and lacking especially for queer audiences or those interested in queer artwork. 

Communication Studies 

Exploring Learning Quality and Challenges in Virtual vs. In-Person Classrooms 

Faculty advisor: Prof. Anuraj Dhillon 

Student researcher: Kendall Baebler (Communication Studies)

Project Description: Zoom and similar videoconferencing services have become a common addition to professional and educational processes since their rapid implementation over the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although previous research has determined that students’ report greater satisfaction in virtual learning environments, the prevalence of “Zoom fatigue” and decreases in educational success among students engaging in online education offer a contradicting perspective on the effectiveness of virtual classrooms. Therefore, this project aims to examine the factors that contribute to learning satisfaction in virtual classes and how these compare with that in in-person classes, as well as discover potential factors that negatively impact student satisfaction from learning and academic success. 


Student Writers' Experiences of the Flow State in Academic Writing 

Faculty Mentor: Prof. Krista Sarraf 

Student Reseachers: Claire Sakelson (English); Claire Chan (English)

Project Description: Have you ever become deeply immersed in a project and lost track of time? That experience is called the “flow state” (Csikszentmihalyi, 1996). When people enter the flow state, they report generating more and better creative (new and unique) ideas. This research project explores if and how student writers engage in the flow state in the writing they compose for school. 

Ethnic Studies 

Counter-Mapping as Decolonization: Creating an Indigenous Walking Tour of the Cal Poly Campus 

Faculty Mentors: Lydia Heberling and Becca Lucas 

Student Researchers: Amy Contreras (Ethnic Studies); Sophie Martyrossian (Computer Science)

Project Description: The goal of this project is to produce an Indigenous Walking Tour of the Cal Poly campus that can be used by a diverse range of campus and community groups. Producing an Indigenous tour of the Cal Poly campus expands on the practice of the land acknowledgment by employing the tools of counter-mapping and Indigenous research methods to center Indigenous presence in our everyday lives. An Indigenous Walking Tour would map the Cal Poly campus by places, artworks, plants, names and histories central to the yak titʸu titʸu yak tiłhini Northern Chumash Tribe. By creating this walking tour, we will make visible, amplify, and celebrate living Indigenous traditions and knowledges. Counter-mapping is a process of cartography that challenges the dominant views of the world. It can allow for marginalized voices to communicate their stories and reveal histories of their land. Counter-mapping creates multiple ways of knowing places and lands through diverse cartographic practices.  

Graphic Communication 

Promoting Inclusivity in User Experience: Updating Paso Robles Children’s Museum’s Photographic Contents with Ethnically Diverse Photographic Assets  

Faculty Mentor: Hocheol Yang 

Student Researchers: Erika DeAnda (Graphic Communication); Meilan Wong (Graphic Communication)

Project Description: The primary objective of this proposal is to undertake an empirical investigation into the psychological impact of incorporating ethnically diverse photographic assets to foster more inclusive and culturally diverse experiences for the local community. Specifically, this study endeavors to establish the effects of inclusive UX design practices on social presence and self-esteem. By conducting this research, it is anticipated that the findings will inform individuals designing interactive communication systems that cater to diverse cultural backgrounds, while also providing support for the Paso Robles, CA community. 


Thought Experiments, Introspection, and Modal Intuitions 

Faculty Mentor: Eleanor Helms 

Student Researcher: Hayden Macklin (Philosophy)

Project Description: What is the ground or basis for taking something to be possible or necessary?  We will review existing proposes in the philosophical literature on intuitions for how we gain “modal knowledge.” We will determine to what extent introspection (that is, knowledge of one’s own mental states) or some kind of first-personal placement within a situation matters for modal knowledge.  To what extent does knowledge of modalities depend on experiences stored in memory? Can imagination provide knowledge beyond retrieving existing knowledge?  

Political Science 

Social Policy and Extreme Weather: How Tightly Woven is Our Safety Net? 

Mentor: Leanne Giordono 

Student Researcher: Samanntha Easton (Political Science)

Project Description: Extreme weather events are expected to increase the frequency and severity in the upcoming decade (Allen et al., 2018). Vulnerability to the impacts of climate change is expected to be higher among populations that experience high poverty and other barriers to inclusion and prosperity (Hallegatte et al., 2020). Evidence suggests that strong social safety nets increase resilience to climate change, especially when integrated with other efforts to build resilience and adapt to the growing risks of climate change (International Panel on Climate Change, 2022). The project will use a combination of survey and interviews with state-level policy agencies to fill gaps in our knowledge about efforts to anticipate and adapt to the climate change risks faced by populations served by the traditional safety net. 

Psychology & Child Development 

Can daydreaming improve learning? 

Faculty Mentor: James Antony 

Student Researchers: An Huynh (Psychology and Child Development); Christina Schwake (Psychology and Child Development)

Project Description: This project aims to understand the factors leading to long-term memory endurance. Everyday learning events contain various contextual factors, which contribute to memories for the who-what-when-where-why of specific events. Each factor can trigger recall of events when cued later; however, this cue-dependence also means memory accessibility (i.e., whether memories can be retrieved) may be limited to instances when those factors are present or can be mentally reinstated. For learning to be useful across the lifetime, memories must generalize beyond the learned context or become “decontextualized.” In this project, we will ask whether contextual variability in an individual’s mental context – as manipulated via daydreaming about vacations – improves memory. Ultimately, these findings could help educational policy, such that, rather than teachers recommending that students keep the context constant between learning and tests, they could instead suggest that students mentally mix it up. 


Attitudes about teamwork across cultures 

Faculty Mentor: Lucy Bencharit 

Student Researchers: Cade Creason (Psychology and Ethnic Studies); Dia Dhariwal (Psychology and Child Development); Michelle Zhang (Graphic Communication)

Project Description: Is there an "I" in team? This research study examines cultural group differences in how people work on teams. We use a mixed-methods approach to uncover the values (e.g., independence or interdependence) and social identities (e.g., race/ethnicity, gender) that impact teamwork behaviors and attitudes. 


Memory strategies: Mixing the old with the new to prevent interference 

Faculty Mentor: Kelly Bennion 

Student Researcher: Emit Martinez Ramirez (Psychology and Child Development)

Project Description: Nearly a century of educational research has shown that one of the best ways to introduce new material is to first tap into the prior knowledge of the student. “Start with what they know” is a phrase used again and again in teaching certificate programs and educational theory. That memory is better for new material that is related versus unrelated to prior knowledge is a classic and robust finding in cognitive psychology and in artificial intelligence (AI) models of learning, which researchers often reciprocally use to make predictions about how humans learn. However, both in humans and AI, there can be unintended consequences of learning, whereby new learning causes one to instead forget prior knowledge. One solution to this problem from AI models is to weave in old information that is likely to otherwise be forgotten during new learning – and here we will test whether this solution also alleviates forgetting in humans. 

Social Sciences 

Circulation of Climate Change Knowledge and Obstructions to Meaningful Adaptation in Bangladesh: An Examination of the Role of Prominent Media Houses 

Faculty Mentor: Nikhil Deb.  

Student Researchers: Elizabeth Zeller (Social Sciences); Riya Parekh (Political Science)

Project Description: The southwestern coastal region of Bangladesh, known as ground zero for climate change, has become a testing ground for climate actions and strategies due to rising sea levels and extreme weather events. Dominant actors of prevailing institutional adaptation believe that a “traditional” agrarian livelihood, such as rice farming, is undesirable, yet they arrive at such a belief without properly consulting the local communities. Export-oriented shrimp aquaculture, promoted as a lucrative alternative for the country’s economic growth in the face of climate change, is responsible for diminishing local livelihoods and weakening homegrown strategies for navigating climatic shocks. Media houses are one of the significant influential actors in circulating the discourse regarding institutional adaptation practices. However, their role thus far has received little academic attention. Drawing on content analysis of major newspapers in Bangladesh, this study fills the gap by investigating how the media undermine local livelihoods and disregard the adverse consequences of shrimp aquaculture in the region. This inquiry holds crucial implications for coastal Bangladesh and the larger global South in addressing the discrepancies between the needs of localized adaptation and the pursuits of large-scale, institutionalized adaptation. 


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

Faculty Mentor: Andrew Fricker 

Student Researchers: Jessica Baiza (Landscape Architecture); Lexxie Crocker (Social Sciences)

Project Description: As climate warms, children in paved urban school yards will be particularly vulnerable to heat. Trees provide shade and evaporative cooling, and California is prioritizing planting new trees in schools which are socially vulnerable and projected to warm most in the coming decades. 

The student researchers will help an interdisciplinary team, map social vulnerability, and use climate change models to determine which California public schools need to plant trees now to mitigate the worst effects of climate change. Additionally, we are performing experimental research to improve estimates of canopy cover across CA using aerial imagery and machine learning. 

Theatre & Dance 

Costume Design, Construction, and Implementation for Festival Mozaic productions: Appalachian Spring and The Soldier’s Tale 

Faculty Mentors: Brian Healy and Laina Annette Babb 

Student Researchers: Julia Neils (Art and Design); Natalie Rathle (Interdisciplinary Studies in the Liberal Arts)

Project Description: The creation of theatrical costumes is a journey from research to design, prototypes to complete garments, fittings to stage. We must take into consideration the original piece; the director’s themes and interpretation and the performers needs all well staying true to our artistic vision. 

This project focuses on two upcoming shows. Appalachian Spring is a Ballet by Aaron Copland that in its original ideation focuses on a preacher and the wedding of a young couple in early America. Recognizing the problematic theme of settler colonization, our production chooses to focus more on the land itself. We will create a living landscape inspired by the golden hills and crashing waves of our Central Coast, coalescing in a celebration of the land and its role in sustaining our daily lives. This will be created by studying the history of local natural dyes then implanting them with modern artistic dye techniques, while reimagining silhouettes of late 1800’s Americana dress.

A Soldier’s Tale by Igor Stravinsky is a one act performance that combines chamber music, acting and dance. For this production we will study early 1900s Russian clothing as well as techniques for distressing and aging stage costumes.  


L’Histoire du Soldat (A Soldier's Tale) with Festival Mozaic 

Faculty Mentor: Karin Hendricks-Bolen 

Student Researchers: Layli Veach (Theatre and Dance); Rachel Kupfer-Weinstein (Theatre and Dance)

Project Description: Restaging a theatrical piece that was topical 100 years ago requires dramaturgical research and artistry to effectively represent the original story and find its relevance for a contemporary audience. Using innovation, theatre-makers are called to take these historical masterpieces and infuse them with current story-telling techniques and a modern lens.  

Igor Stravinsky’s, L’Histoire du Soldat (A Soldier's Tale), was first presented in Lausanne in 1918. The piece combines chamber music, acting, and dance to tell the parable of a Russian Soldier who is tricked into selling his fiddle to the devil. This summer, the production will serve as the final work in Festival Mozaic’s Chamber Concert Series.  

This project will require dramaturgical research to collect and examine multiple translations from the French interpretations of L’Histoire du Soldat. We will look to develop a thematic concept for Festival Moazaic’s interpretation of the production through the reimagining of casting, staging, lighting, scenic design, and choreography that will resonate with current audiences. 


Staging Change: Initiating Environmental Literacy & Prosocial Action through the Performing Arts 

Faculty Mentors: Philip Valle and Phyllis Wong 

Student Researcher: Carver Tunnell (Environmental Management); Julia White (English)

Project Description: In 2019, educational leaders from the UC and CSU systems partnered to publish an ambitious report titled: Achieving Climate Stability and Environmental Sustainability. The coalition’s goal was to “expand the opportunities of every child to learn about climate change and to have the tools to affect positive social change.”  

The questions and challenges in shaping environmental pedagogy were posed as follows:  

  • What are the best methods of increasing environmental literacy (EL)?  

  • How will increased competency then translate into clear prosocial and environmental action? 

Social and behavioral psychologists have increasingly interrogated what affective models (those that alter beliefs/feelings/behavior) best initiate pro-environmental action across populations (Ardoin et al. 2023). And while the use of performing arts in building EL is not unusual, the ability to track the affective results of such pedagogical experiments is rare. 

Our project seeks to address this gap. This project is an interdisciplinary, community-based collaboration. It offers research, education (K-6) and performance-based components. The faculty/student scholars will collaborate on researching recent studies in climate change pedagogy with a particular focus on affective methods that promote prosocial action. Student researcher participation will culminate in co-designing a website for teachers with climate action resources and collaborating in writing a 30-minute play addressing local climate action topics.  


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