Three Students Win 2021 Outstanding Student Scholarly and Creative Activities Award
Mathematics undergraduates Christine Gamez, Brian Quisenberry, and Anthony Truong recently received an outstanding poster presentation award for their research into gender representation in mathematics textbooks. Finding no references to women or gender nonbinary characters in middle school textbooks used for STEM curriculum, the future mathematics educators concluded that textbooks could be stifling efforts to diversify STEM career paths. The students encouraged authors to include more diverse examples in textbooks and instructors to modify examples to be more inclusive. They presented their poster during virtual Student Creative Activities and Research Days held in late spring 2021.
Student Researchers Earn Top Honors at Statewide Competition
Biological science-ecology and evolutionary biology undergraduate Kathryn Eckholdt took second place in the Biological and Agricultural Sciences category at the California State University Student Research Competition held virtually in spring 2021. Her project titled “Talking Trash: Will a Trash Interceptor in Newport Bay, CA Intercept Wrack Subsidies, Too?” focused on the balance between cleaning and sterilizing beaches. A trash interceptor is set to be installed in Newport Bay that has been shown to collect a lot of trash, but it will also collect wrack, the nutrient-rich plants and algae that wash up on the beach and provide nutrients for plants and animals. Eckholdt’s ongoing research will determine whether a trash interceptor could strip the beach of these necessary nutrients and have negative effects on the local ecosystem.
Also walking away with a second-place award in the Biological and Agricultural Sciences category was Makar Makarian for his project, “Microwave-Assisted Synthesis and Kinetic Studies of Donepezil-Based Acetylcholinesterase Inhibitors for the Treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease.” This research focuses on synthesizing and evaluating a library of molecules to treat Alzheimer’s disease that inhibit an enzyme in the brain that breaks down acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter. Current treatments for Alzheimer’s, a neurodegenerative disease that kills more people than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined, are associated with adverse effects, and new therapeutics with increased potency are needed.
Student Scientist Searches for Therapeutics to Treat West Nile Virus
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of every 150 people infected with the mosquito-borne West Nile virus develops severe disease and, sometimes, a fatal illness. No treatment is available, but since her freshman year at the College of Natural Sciences & Mathematics, Shaina Nguyen, a senior biochemistry major, has worked to change that. Nguyen in part of a faculty-student research team investigating the NS2B-NS3 protease, a viral protein that is a promising target for potential West Nile infection treatments. She and her fellow researchers are experimenting with an anti-asthmatic drug, Zafirlukast, to improve inhibition of the NS2B-NS3 protease. Nguyen was awarded the Glenn Nagel Undergraduate Student Research Award for her presentation of this research at the 33rd annual California State University Biotechnology Symposium.
Study Reveals Coronavirus Spreads Faster in Less Prosperous Counties
Setting out with a research goal to predict and track COVID-19 cases by county, a student research team discovered a disparity in the number of cases by county divided along economic lines. Statistics and probability undergraduates Seth Arreola, Gwendolyn Lind, and Caleb Peña and applied mathematics graduate student Cameron Abrams worked together on the data science project for the Center for Computational and Applied Mathematics, culminating in a public presentation. The study began with the two most populous counties in each state and also focused on seven counties in Southern California.
Using machine learning and statistical models, the students discovered the roles that mobility and economic status can play in the spread of COVID-19. Their results show that wealthier counties did not exhibit the same peaks in cases that the other counties did. Their statistical models could also estimate how quickly the disease will spread, with almost 90 percent accuracy, in some areas.