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Two CLA Students to Represent Cal Poly in CSU Research Competition

CSU Research Competition, Cal Poly representatives
Maddie Roman and Fionna Fahey, CSU Research Competition participants

Update: Fionna Fahey won first place in the undergraduate Humanities and Letters category!

The Annual CSU Student Research Competition is held to promote excellence in undergraduate and graduate scholarly research and creative activity by recognizing outstanding student accomplishments throughout the 23 campuses of the California State University.

Ten students from each CSU campus are selected to compete in the competition. Of the 10 students selected by the Academic Senate Grants Review Committee to represent Cal Poly, two are from the College of Liberal Arts: Fionna Fahey, an interdisciplinary studies senior; and Maddie Roman, an interdisciplinary studies junior.

Fahey’s research project aims to highlight the resilience fostered within sex work communities by (re)membering the erased histories of sex workers in San Luis Obispo.

“Sex work has been a highly contested issue in academia and politics,” she said. “However, this project aims to act in solidarity with sex worker movements.”

Roman’s research is related to anonymous England-based street artist, Banksy, who has been active since the 1990s, and whether his street art should be considered real art and how the public view Banksy's work. She said, “This experience taught me that having a strong interest in my topic and putting in time to prepare allowed me to be more confident when presenting.” She looks forward to sharing about Banksy and hearing opinions on his works. “I am fascinated by his works and street art as a whole,” she said.

Finalists will make oral presentations before juries of professional experts from major corporations, foundations, public agencies, and colleges and universities in California. They will be judged on their oral presentations and written abstracts.

Typically, presentations happen in person -- this year's Annual CSU Student Research Competition was to be held at CSU East Bay. However, the competition will now occur virtually as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Fahey and Roman submitted a digital form of their research, and they will complete the Q&A portion of the presentation via video conferencing on the scheduled date of the competition, April 24.

Regardless of the changes to the competition, the student researchers learned a lot by participating.

“I have learned that competitive public speaking is difficult and that undergraduates are producing amazing research,” Fahey said. “I look forward to connecting with more undergraduates and seeing all of their important research.”

Dawn Neill, a professor of anthropology in the Interdisciplinary Studies in Liberal Arts Department advised both Fahey and Roman. She insists that all the credit for development and execution of the excellent work goes to them.

“Though I had the pleasure of guiding Fionna’s research and providing feedback, it is her mastery of complex feminist theory and careful archival research that brings her project into clear focus,” Neill said. “And Maddie’s project blends traditional notions of art and art history with a boundary-spanning exploration of street art.”

“Both Fionna and Maddie have produced great individual student research projects highlighting the strength of the interdisciplinary methods the new ISLA program prioritizes. I am both happy and proud to see their work representing CLA, Cal Poly and the ISLA program.”

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