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From Literary Archives to Smartphone Interventions: Circle of Giving Helps Make Faculty-Student Research a Priority

Circle of Giving Hero Image
Professor Catherine Waitinas presenting the Whitman Archive

Founded and led by women, the Cal Poly Circle of Giving is a group of ambitious, forward-thinking individuals who recognize the value of education and who want to fund faculty projects that enrich students’ experiences.

With a minimum donation of $1,000, this community of supporters helps facilitate faculty-student collaborations through extended research opportunities. Each project supported by the circle strives to improve teaching and expand the college’s development of innovative programs and student opportunities.

This year the circle funded five projects for a total gift of $37,050:

Walt Whitman Archive: Pedagogical Initiative

Proposed by English Professor Catherine Waitinas, the project unites technology with the study of literature, showing how the two can work together to provide a deepened understanding of both. Waitinas and her students will help create a new pedagogical branch to the existing online Walt Whitman Archive, a premiere database housing Whitman poetry, prose and criticism. Her work will focus on how the archive’s resources can benefit teachers and the classroom, merging classic Whitman scholarship with online tools.

Printed Electronic Components on Three-Dimensional Objects by Pad Printing for Building Sensors and Smart Objects

Graphic Communication Professor Xiaoying Rong and her students will explore the various obstacles within pad printing, a process commonly used to print 3-D objects and a fascinating area within the emerging printed electronics field. She will be working on alleviating the problem of printing fine features, printing multiple layers with acceptable registration, and building simple devices featuring electronic functions.

Liberated Africans in the Indian Ocean World

The years between 1859 and 1889 witnessed the enslavement of more than 1.3 million Africans taken from their loved ones and homes in East Africa and Arabia. For his second book, History Professor Matthew S. Hopper, assisted by students, will study the thousands of Africans who were seized from Indian Ocean ships by anti-slave trade patrols of the British Royal Navy. To date, this story has been primarily conveyed through the perspectives of the European liberators; however, Hopper seeks to unearth the experiences and stories of the liberated Africans, offering new ways to approach the African diaspora.

Smartphone-Based Writing Intervention for Asian-American and Latino College Students at Cal Poly

Students perform at their best when they feel their best. Psychology & Child Development Professor Julie Rodgers is heading an interdisciplinary project to determine if mobile technology can be an effective tool to provide helpful resources for students at risk for discrimination. The project will rely heavily on a number of graduate and undergraduate research assistants who will gain firsthand experience.

Mapping Food in Transition: Developing a Learn by Doing Research Experience for Undergraduates

Social Sciences Professor Dawn Neill regularly travels to Fiji to study how the country is dealing with growing levels of urbanization and the resulting change in its nutritional landscape. Neill’s scholarly pursuits offer competitive opportunities for students to accompany her as research assistants. Seeking to track how local diets are changing and what has caused these movements, Neill and students are examining patterns in diet, food procurement, and the relationship between food choices and levels of urbanization. Neill hopes to address how trends in urban living encourage higher levels of obesity and increased intake of processed foods. Overall, Neill hopes to discover what motivates different societies’ food choices and how our future might impact our health and lifestyle.

The college deeply appreciates the Circle of Giving’s support for faculty excellence and the involvement of students in faculty-led research and creative activities. The activities just described would not have been possible without its support. 


The Circle of Giving would welcome new members! 

If you would like to join this effort to support faculty and student excellence in the college or if you simply want more information about the Circle of Giving, please contact either of the group’s co-chairs —  or 

Current members:

  • Karyn Azzopardi
  • Christina Barton
  • Lynn Davis
  • Fran McIntyre
  • Lisa Evaristo
  • Tina Goodjohn
  • Anne Marie Mueller
  • Linda Mueller
  • Amy Phenix
  • Robyn Robinson
  • Carolyn Voss

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