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Four CLA Projects Receive Research, Scholarly and Creative Activities Grants

By Sophie Lincoln

Cal Poly’s Research, Economic Development and Graduate Education (R-EDGE) division recently awarded funds to 14 projects for the Research, Scholarly and Creative Activities (RSCA) grant’s 2021-22 cycle, four of which are from the College of Liberal Arts.

Anuraj Dhillon
Anuraj Dhillon

The RSCA grant is supported by funds from the California State University (CSU) Chancellor’s Office and the Cal Poly Provost’s Office and is “designed to enable faculty to contribute new knowledge through robust programs of scholarship focused on strengthening California socially, culturally and economically,” according to R-EDGE.

Professors of Communication Anuraj Dhillon and Megan Lambertz-Berndt were awarded one of the grants for their project, “Interaction of Gender (Sex) and Race While Carrying the Burden of Relational (In)Equity: Relational maintenance strategies and coping mechanisms for mothers in higher academia during the pandemic.”

Lambertz-Berndt said the project examines how mothers in higher academia are handling the overlap between professional life and personal life during and after the COVID-19 pandemic while caring for children.

Megan Lambertz-Berndt
Megan Lambertz-Berndt

“We want to identify relational maintenance strategies, coping mechanisms and employer accommodations that have helped mothers working in academic achieve work-life balance,” Lambertz-Berndt said.

She and Dhillon hope to use the study to help provide practical advice for working mothers with children, which professionals can also analyze and help deliver.

“Additionally, universities like Cal Poly will be able to use these findings to better support their faculty members during challenging times,” Lambertz-Berndt said.


Another CLA project that received funding through the grants is Professor of World Languages and Cultures Silvia Marijuan’s study, “Documenting Bilingual Practices on the Central Coast: From Home to the Public Space.”

Anuraj Dhillon
Silvia Marijuan

According Marijuan, this research project will analyze how Spanish interacts with English and indigenous languages at home, at work and in public spaces on the Central Coast, and how non-Spanish-speaking immigrant groups adapt to the use of Spanish in the community.

“Understanding the bilingual and bicultural practices of the Latinx population who live and work in this region is critical for Cal Poly students and others who interact with members of those communities,” Marijuan said.


Professor of Political Science R.G. Cravens was also offered a grant for his project, “The Politics of Queer Religion: Assessing the Effect of Religion on LGBTQ+ Identity and Political Development.”

Megan Lambertz-Berndt
R.G. Cravens

“For LGBTQ+ people, religion can be a source of identity-based conflict, especially after ‘coming out’,” Cravens said. “Namely, the coming out process often results in lived experiences that require LGBTQ+ people to ‘update’ their political and social behavior, contributing to distinctiveness from heterosexuals.”

Cravens said he plans to study this issue using “primary data collection by a faculty-undergraduate research team, where the students will learn survey design and data analysis to explore how the coming out process affects religious and political behavior among LGBTQ+ people.”


Lastly, Professor of Psychology and Child Development Kelly Bennion received a grant funding for her study, “Trigger Warnings and Exposure to Emotionally Provocative Stimuli: Implications for Education.”

Megan Lambertz-Berndt
Kelly Bennion

“We seek to investigate whether triggering material has a negative, lasting effect on individuals who have experienced trauma,” Bennion said. “By presenting individuals with upsetting content, we will determine how the framing of trigger warnings impacts emotional reactions, whether those with PTSD or triggering trauma-experience-exacerbated symptoms and whether distress levels depend on the similarity of the trauma to the presented content.”

The results of her study are expected to have practical applications for college-level instruction.

A complete list of all 2021-22 RSCA grant awardees is available on the R-EDGE website.

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