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College of Science and Mathematics

Enhancing lives through learning, discovery and innovation

Website Update

Winter 2013 Newsletter

Greetings From Dean Bailey


Dean Phil BaileyThe 2012-13 academic year has been an exciting one so far.

We're still on track to finish construction on the Warren J. Baker Center for Science and Mathematics in May. You can watch the finishing touches go up anytime in our construction photo galleries or on our live webcams.
Read more from Dean Bailey


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College and University News


Brian Granger in front of computer serversMillion Dollar Grant Funds Collaborative Computing

Cal Poly and UC Berkeley recently received a million dollar grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for the development of the IPython Notebook, a project designed to make scientific and technical computing collaborative and interactive. The Sloan Foundation funds high impact work that is unlikely to be funded by the government or private foundations.
Read more on the IPython grant

Proposed Asteroid Vaporization System Makes Headlines Worldwide

Asteroid vaporization system diagram.With an asteroid passing close to Earth on Feb. 15 and a meteor hitting Russia the same day, the world has taken notice of a proposal for an asteroid vaporization system developed by Cal Poly Statistics Professor Gary Hughes and UC Santa Barbara physicist and professor Philip M. Lubin. The proposed system is designed to harness some of the power of the sun and convert it into a massive phased array of laser beams that can destroy, or evaporate, asteroids posing a potential threat to Earth. The proposal has been featured on Yahoo! News, the Los Angeles Times, NPR,, as well as websites based in the UK, Russia, Germany and China among other countries.
Read more about the asteroid defense system on

Female student in gloves and overalls holding scientific petri dishes.

$200,000 NSF Grant Helps Transform Undergraduate Education

Engaging students in research is important to Biological Sciences Professor and Department Chair Chris Kitts. It's also important to the National Science Foundation (NSF), whose Transforming Undergraduate Education in Science division recently awarded Kitts and three collaborators a $200,000 grant to integrate research into the curriculum.
Read more on the NSF grant

Student at graduation.

Cal Poly Ranked 40th Best Value Nationally by Kiplinger

Cal Poly earned the number 40 spot on the Best Values in Public Colleges list put out by Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine. Rankings are calculated based on affordability combined with test scores of incoming freshmen and four-year graduation rates among other measures of academic quality. Five California schools made the top 20: UCLA (6), UC Berkeley (8), UC San Diego (10), UC Santa Barbara (14) and UC Irvine (16). This is the third year Cal Poly has ranked in the top 50.
Read the Kiplinger's article

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Upcoming Events


Cal Poly PierOcean Activities Day

Come participate in hands-on activities and learn about kelp forests, marine mammals and more at the Avila Beach Sea Life Center Saturday, March 9, 11-1 p.m.

Tour the Cal Poly Pier May 4

Come see what's new at the Cal Poly Pier in Avila Beach May 4. Bring the kids and enjoy special touch-tanks full of marine creatures. Learn more about research projects on Morro Bay's ecosystem, sustaining local fisheries, and mapping ocean currents on the Central Coast. The pier will be open from 9 a.m. to noon and admission is free.

Watch the COSAM News page for more details coming in April.

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Real World Research


Students standing in front of chalkboard with research posterMath Students Analyze Ancient Climate Change

Cal Poly mathematics students are cracking the mysteries of climate changes that happened 1.2 million years ago. Cal Poly is one of only a few undergraduate members of the Mathematics and Climate Research Network (MCRN). Funded by the National Science Foundation, MCRN brings together top scientists and mathematicians to explore how mathematics can contribute to climate research.
Read more on climate change research

Students wearing safety gear and performing studyBiology Study May Help Prevent Roadkills

Wildlife in San Luis Obispo county is getting a boost from research performed by biology students working with Professor John Perrine. Caltrans has commissioned the students to examine the effectiveness of a fence it recently erected to keep wildlife off Cuesta Grade north of San Luis Obispo.
Read more about the wildlife study


Environmental engineering students at the Algae Field Station

Cal Poly Receives $1.3 Million Dept. of Energy Grant for Algae Biofuels Production Project

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded a $1.3 million grant to a multidisciplinary Cal Poly research team, the Algae Technology Group (ATG), for a project aimed at developing processes that turn waste resources (such as those from municipal and agricultural wastewaters) and nutrients recycled from algae biomass processing into sustainable algal biofuels.
Read more about the grant for ATG

Biology professor receiving awardBiology Professor Receives Conservation Award

On Feb. 22, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service honored Cal Poly alumnus and Biological Sciences Professor Francis Villablanca with the service's Conservation Award. The award is given on a case-by-case basis. Villablanca was recognized for "outstanding efforts to conserve the natural resources of San Luis Obispo County, and in particular his leadership on recovery efforts for the endangered Morro Bay kangaroo rat," said Chris Kofron of Fish and Wildlife. 
Read more about the conservation award

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Today's Students


Faculty member holding a pipette.Biology Students Lead NSF Workshop, Teach New Technique to Professors

Cal Poly biology students are among the few experts in the country on a new method of protein analysis. Last December they shared their expertise by teaching the process to professors and PhD students from other universities. The students planned and led a National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded workshop in environmental proteomics, a method of analyzing how organisms respond to different environmental stresses.
Read more about the NSF Workshop

Statistics Student Wins National Awards for Biomedical Research Presentation

Cal Poly student Debbie Huang recently won two awards at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students, a national gathering held in San Jose in November 2012. Huang, a statistics major, received a presentation award and one of only five interdisciplinary awards for her poster. Her research focused on the statistical analysis of cardiovascular disease in women.
Read more about Huang's research

Students conducting research in laboratoryBiology Students Win Marine Research Awards

Three biology students have won research awards from California state agencies. The awards will fund their marine research projects on flood control, intertidal organisms and estuary pollution.
Read more about the marine research awards


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Alumni News


Jennifer CastelazoCal Poly Triple Grad Named Napa County 2012 Teacher of the Year

Thirty seconds in the classroom with Jennifer Castelazo (B.S., Microbiology, 1989; M.S., Agriculture, 1994; Single Subject Credential, Physical Sciences, 1994) make it clear why Napa County chose her as Teacher of the Year in 2012. Her enthusiasm for learning is infectious

"I'm a lifelong learner, and I think that's the important part. You need to impart to your students the excitement of learning," Castelazo said.
Read more on Castelazo

Brian Hackney headshot.
Photo courtesy of PBS

Emmy Award-Winning Alumnus Brings Science to the Airwaves

Brian Hackney claims he owes it all to KCPR. The physics and electrical engineering double major (B.S., 1986) got his first shot at broadcasting at Cal Poly's own radio station. Now he's a meteorologist, science reporter, and fill-in news anchor for CBS 5 in San Francisco.
Read more on Hackney

Greg Ridgeway headshot.Statistics Alumnus Named Acting Director of National Institute of Justice

In January, Greg Ridgeway (B.S., Statistics, 1995) was named acting director of the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), the research and development agency within the U.S. Department of Justice. The NIJ works to improve scientific understanding of crime and justice through studying areas such as what public policies deter crime or how to make DNA evidence faster and cheaper. In an interview with Scientific American, Ridgeway talks about current NIJ projects and challenges in criminal justice.
Read more about Ridgeway in Scientific American

Amy Flynn headshot.Biology Alumna Named Industry Leader in West Virginia

Amy Flynn (B.S., Microbiology, 1998) has been names one of 10 Young Guns by West Virginia Executive Magazine. The annual award goes to industry leaders in West Virginia who demonstrate ingenuity and have taken risks on their road to success.
Read the article about Flynn's award in West Virginia Executive Magazine


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