var _gaq = _gaq || []; _gaq.push(['_setAccount', 'UA-21462253-7']); _gaq.push(['_trackPageview']); (function() { var ga = document.createElement('script'); ga.type = 'text/javascript'; ga.async = true; ga.src = ('https:' == document.location.protocol ? 'https://ssl' : 'http://www') + ''; var s = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(ga, s); })();

College of Science and Mathematics

Enhancing lives through learning, discovery and innovation

Website Update

Faculty Publications and Awards Summer 2018

Biological Sciences

Clint Francis and Crow White along with student Alissa Petrelli published a paper in the Journal of Environmental Management demonstrating how maintenance of natural acoustic conditions are important for both wildlife and people. Francis also co-authored a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showing a clear connection between noise pollution, abnormal levels of stress hormones, and lower survival rates in certain bird species. Francis received a grant from the National Park Service to study the effects of noise and light pollution on birds.

Dena Grossenbacher received a National Science Foundation grant to explore why the tropics are so diverse. She also published a paper in Madroño on the response of a specialized alpine plant community to climate fluctuations.

Chris Kitts and student Alanna Dubrovsky published a study on the effects of a restricted diet on the digestive tract bacteria of a patient with ulcerative colitis. They found that the diet greatly reduced the prevalence of one type of bacteria.

Gita Kolluru and students Erin Wojan, Crystal Castillo and Heather Neldner found that yellower males of the fish Girardinus metallicus are more aggressive and that aggressive males have greater access to mates. Their results were published in the journal Behavioural Processes.

Heather Liwanag gave a series of invited talks to multiple groups on the Central Coast. She teamed up with students Cameron Cooper, Melissa Voisinet and Emma Weitzner to describe their current work studying the population dynamics of northern elephant seals at the Central Coast's local rookery. Weitzner and Voisinet also joined Liwanag to discuss their recent expedition to Antarctica to study how Weddell seal pups develop their ability to survive in that harsh environment.

Nathaniel Martinez and students E. Brandon Strong and C. Ward Kirschbaum shrank paper by more than 75% through chemical modification of the cellulose fibers. This miniaturization may allow for developing higher resolution diagnostic devices on paper. Their results were published in the journal Cellulose.

Alexis Pasulka and Emily Bockmon (Chemistry) received a grant to study the impacts of ocean acidification on microbial communities. Pasulka also received a grant to visualize probiotic microorganisms for a biotech company.

Nishi Rajakaruna’s research on the diversity, ecology, evolution and physiology of plants, lichens and algae found on metal-enriched and nutrient poor habitats in California, Maine, Iran, South Africa and Sri Lanka resulted in the publication of 10 peer-reviewed papers in 2017-18.

Matt Ritter published a field guide to more than 500 species of native plants. The book, titled "California Plants: A Guide to Our Iconic Flora," offers full-color pictures, accessible information and detailed maps.

Christy Strand, Emily Taylor and Andrew Schaffner (Statistics) together with graduate student Stacy Habroun determined that six days after a large meal, the number of new cells being born in the python brain increases compared to two days after a meal or when snakes are fasted. Their results were published in the Journal of Experimental Biology.

Emily Taylor and alumni John Stepanek and Natalie Claunch published their findings on color change in Southern Pacific Rattlesnakes in the journal Herpetologica. Claunch and Taylor published two additional papers, one on the stability of snake venom and another titled Physiological and Behavioral Effects of Exogenous Corticosterone in a Free-Ranging Ectotherm in the journal General and Comparative Endocrinology. Taylor published three other papers, one on the effects of eco-tourism on iguanas, another on the effects of oxygen and heat on lizards, and a third on Arizona rattlesnakes.

Francis Villablanca and graduate student Sarah Brown found a genetic approach to determine whether individual rodents in a large sample were members of an endangered species. Their paper will be featured on the cover of the Journal of Wildlife Management. Villablanca also received a grant from the Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo to build a model describing the movement of mammals in the Guadalupe-Nipomo-Oceano-Pismo dune complex. The model will help them design Dune Protected Areas.

Crow White and student Joel Stevens published two pieces on marine spatial planning: a paper on using spatial planning for aquaculture in the journal Nature Communications and a book chapter on ecosystem service tradeoffs in spatial planning in the book “Offshore Energy and Marine Spatial Planning.” 

Marie Yeung and graduate student Evelyn Lu published a paper in the journal Food and Nutrition Sciences. They found that the growth and activity of probiotics can be increased by feeding them certain types of soluble fiber.

Chemistry and Biochemistry

In a paper in The Journal of Organic Chemistry Derik Frantz and students Allison Hacker, Mauricio Pavano, James Wood, Hannah Hashimoto and Sam Genis describe the chemical synthesis and properties of two new molecular structures that exhibit vivid colors and unusual structural features. They hope to use the new compounds as building blocks for advanced materials for use in organic electronic devices.

Erik Sapper published two papers on weathering and corrosion of coatings, one focusing on aerospace and industrial applications and one addressing aluminum alloys. He also published a chapter in the book “Service Life Prediction of Polymers and Plastics Exposed to Outdoor Weathering” on the effects of radiation distribution on the weathering of different materials, especially the modeling of radiation differences at sea-level and airplane cruise altitude.

Shanju Zhang and students R. Cox, G. T. Olson, M. Pfau, N. Eshaghi, K. Barcus and D. Ramirez developed a cost effective approach to fabricate large-area aligned hybrid nanomaterials for high performance devices. Their findings appeared in the journal ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces. Zhang and students D. W. Bilger, J. A. Figureoa and N. D. Redeker discovered hydrogen bonding between molecules could trigger aligned organization of conjugated polymers for improved polymer devices. These results were published in ACS Omega. Zhang also summarized the key progress in directing assembly of nanomaterials and addressed future directions in the field for a paper in the journal Advanced Materials.

Kinesiology and Public Health

Julie Alber published a paper on food environments and eating behaviors in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. She also published a paper on messaging effectiveness in Health Education and Behavior and another in the Journal of Medical Internet Research that reported the results of a survey on the reliability and validity of the telephone-based eHealth Literacy Scale among older adults.

Cory Greever published an article in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. The study compared the measurements taken by hip and wrist accelerometers during free-living and semi-structured physical activity.

Christine Hackman received a $300,000 grant from the Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women to promote prevention and response activities related to sexual assault, dating/domestic violence, and stalking in college students. She also published a paper in the journal Substance Use and Misuse on a study examining the association between religious coping and past-year misuse of prescription stimulants in a sample of undergraduate students. Earlier in the year, she published a number of papers, most of them on different social aspects of sexual violence.

Todd Hagobian and Suzanne Phelan published the results of a study on decreasing Bisphenol A urine concentrations in women in the Journal of Women’s Health.

Sarah Keadle published four papers on a variety of topics including the relationship between socioeconomic deprivation and weight change and technology-supported exercise interventions for breast cancer survivors. See below for information on two additional papers she co-authored with Todd Hagobian and Suzanne Phelan.

Stefanee Maurice contributed a section to the International Sport Coaching Framework detailing how to provide social support to injured athletes.

Suzanne Phelan received the Wang Family Excellence Award for Outstanding Faculty Scholarship. Phelan and Todd Hagobian published a paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association on the results of an internet-based program on weight loss for low-income postpartum women. They published an additional paper on a similar topic in Obstetrical and Gynecological Survey. Phelan, Hagobian and alumnus Adrian Mercado published a paper in the Journal of Women’s Health titled “Acculturation Influences Postpartum Eating, Activity, and Weight Retention in Low-Income Hispanic Women.” Phelan, Hagobian and Sarah Keadle published a paper in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition on a study of partial meal replacements to reduce gestational weight gain.

Marilyn Tseng published three papers on diverse topics. In the first, she compiled and reviewed evidence on ethnic density and cancer in the journal Cancer. The second paper examined the disclosures of Coca-Cola funding and was published in Public Health and Nutrition. In the third, published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, Tseng explored the effects of ultra-processed foods.

Alison Ventura edited the book, “Bottle-Feeding: Perceptions, Practices, and Health Outcomes,” which provides practical advice on bottle feeding supported by scientific research. She also published multiple papers on various aspects of infant feeding, including differences between breastfeeding and bottle-feeding and the development of food preferences. Students S. Teitelbaum and P. Garcia each co-authored one of the papers. Ventura also gave invited talks at the California Women, Infants and Children Association and the Canadian Nutrition Society Annual Meeting on the importance of responsive feeding for supporting infants' abilities to self-regulate intake and for weight gain trajectories.


Joe Borzellino published a paper in the Journal of Topology that expands on earlier work he and his collaborator did to explore the challenges of defining a proper notion of subobject in the category of orbifolds, which are generalizations of manifolds.

Caixing Gu published five papers on a variety of topics including n-inverses and truncated Toepltiz operators.

Goro Kato published two papers, the first titled “Sheaf theoretic formulation for consciousness and qualia and relationship to the idealism of non-dual philosophies” in the journal Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology and the second titled “An integrated brain function” in the Annals of Cognitive Science.

Linda Patton published a chapter in the book “Operator Theory Advanced Applications.” The chapter is titled “Numerical ranges of 4-by-4 nilpotent matrices: flat portions on the boundary.” 

Tony Samuel published a paper titled “Regularity of aperiodic minimal subshifts” in the Bulletin of Mathematical Sciences.


Matt Beekman and students M. Troesch and G.S. Lee published a paper titled Control of Thermal Expansion in a Low-Density Framework Modification of Silicon in the journal Applied Physics Letters. With students T.M. Linker and Lee, Beekman published a paper in the Journal of Electronic Materials that evaluated various models that predict the efficiency of potential thermoelectric materials. Beekman published two additional papers on thermal conductivity.

Tom Bensky published a paper in the Journal of Navigation that shows astronomy professors how to teach celestial navigation using Google Maps.

Louise Edwards presented the inaugural Granville Academy at Yale, a week-long workshop on diversity and inclusion in science and astronomy designed to help undergraduate researchers succeed in summer research. Edwards also authored a chapter introduction for the “Royal Astronomical Society of Canada Observer's Handbook 2018” and an article on the formation and evolution of galaxy outskirts, published in the Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union.

Scott Fraser and student Laura Fleischman received a grant from the Baker and Koob endowments to support research that suggests black holes are unbreakable, contrary to earlier influential findings.

Antonio Garcia and student Daniel Dean gave an invited talk at the 2017 National Geologic Society of America annual meeting on sediment analysis to determine the paleoclimate of the central Coast Ranges of California over the last several thousand years.

Brian Granger and the Project Jupyter steering committee won the prestigious 2018 Software System Award from the Association of Computing Machinery. Previous recipients of the award include the inventors of the World Wide Web, TCP/IP networking and the UNIX operating system.

Nathan Keim was part of a team that published a paper in Science that showed how solids without crystalline order, such as glass, sand, and foams, all deform in approximately the same way.

Themis Mastoridis published a paper in Physical Review Accelerators and Beams on the work he and his students are doing to develop an algorithm that can be used to significantly reduce the power required to accelerate particles in the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.

Ryan Walter and students Kevin Armenta and Brandon Shearer investigated the changes in temperature and chlorophyll in San Luis Obispo Bay over nearly a decade. Their results appeared in the journal Continental Shelf Research. Walter also published a paper on the influence of underwater waves on larval fish communities in the journal Regional Studies in Marine Science.

Stephanie Wissel received a CAREER Award, the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious award for young career faculty. She also gave two invited talks on high energy neutrinos and published a paper with student co-author Wesley Messino on their research demonstrating that an array of antennas that are summed together can achieve the expected improvements in gain and noise reduction. 

School of Education

Barbara Blanke published a book title “Mathematical Discourse: Let the Kids Talk!” and hosted a book signing at the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics in Washington, D.C. The book helps teachers learn to facilitate opportunities for students to think constructively, communicate effectively and increase mathematics proficiency.

Megan Guise and students Mireille Habib in the College of Liberal Arts and Krystal Thiessen in the School of Education published a paper in the journal Teaching and Teacher Education. The study examined a continuing co-teaching implementation.

Oscar Navarro was named a 2018 Transformative Teacher Education Fellow by the Arcadia University School of Education. Navarro will examine the recruitment and retainment of K-12 teachers of color. He was also awarded Cal Poly’s President’s Diversity Award for faculty. The President’s Diversity Awards celebrates members of the Cal Poly community who have exhibited a commitment to diversity.


Jimmy Doi gave an invited presentation titled “Simulation-based Inference and Other Active Learning Examples” at the International Conference on Teaching Statistics in Kyoto, Japan.

Gary Hughes received a Fulbright Core Teaching and Research Grant for work at the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina in Joinville, Brazil. He published a book titled “Frequency-Domain Analysis with DFTs,” which describes methods for using Discrete Fourier Transforms (DFTs) to analyze cyclical components in a data series, and includes MATLAB code for implementing all analyses. In addition, he published a book chapter and two journal articles on using lasers to defend Earth from astronomical hazards such as asteroids. He also published a paper in the Journal of Statistical Theory and Practice titled A Review of Dimensional Assessment for Statistics and Probability.

Andrew Schaffner provided statistical support for eight papers published with other Cal Poly faculty members. The research topics include maternal health, the health of partners of new mothers, infant feeding practices, improving outcomes for maternal malnourishment in Malawi, and cell proliferation in pythons’ brains. The papers appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association and the Journal of Experimental Biology, among others. 

Related Content