Latest Achievements

Updates about the latest accomplishments—including latest research, publications, and awards—by students, faculty, and staff

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October, 2022

Sara L. Chase Merrick, Child Development
Dr. Sara L. Chase Merrick received an $18,000 grant from the Yurok Tribe to instruct an asynchronous, 3-unit American Indian Education course designed for local Native American high school students through the College of Extended Education. The course will use relevant theories to study contemporary and historical experiences of Indigenous youth, their families, and their communities. Course topics will be guided by student interest and include: History of education from an Indigenous Perspective, Relationships to Land, Language Revitalization, Stories, Health, and Decolonization. Students will participate in a variety activities, including field trips and tribal expert guest presentations.

September, 2022

Kathleen Brewer, Dr. Mary Gruber, Psychology
Kathleen Brewer (M.A., 2013) and Dr. Mary Gruber (Emerita Professor) published their peer-reviewed Professional manual for the Parent Reaction to Autism Diagnosis Scales (PRADS-2) with guidance for tailoring parent supports, in May 2022.  It is available through open source at and also as a book through Amazon.  The manual describes their research, development, and validation of the scales, along with instructions for using them accurately, ethically, and beneficially in tailoring supports for parents.  Their manual also cites nine Humboldt graduate student thesis research studies on supports for caregivers of children with developmental disabilities.
Brandilynn Villarreal, Kimberly Vincent-Layton, Edelmira Reynoso, Kayla Begay and Kimberly N. White, Native American Studies
Despite having expertise, student voices have typically been left out of faculty professional development literature. The purpose of this study was to center college student voices around perceptions of equitable learning environments for use in faculty professional development programs.  Results revealed students and faculty had similar perceptions and both endorsed the importance of equitable classroom practices. Using content analysis to generate themes, students identified instructor responsibilities to promote learning environments that are: (1) caring and supportive, (2) safe and equitable, (3) individualized, (4) student-centered, and (5) active and collaborative.
Mary Lipiec, English
Mary Lipiec, graduate M.A. student in English, presented at the SPARK conference in New York City. Mary is researching representations of  autism in literature for the culminating M.A. project in English. As part of the SPARK conference, Mary was part of a panel discussion on disability justice.
L. Rae Robison, Theatre, Film & Dance
Theatre Professor L. Rae Robison is a contributor to the new Routledge publication of Masking in Pandemic U.S.: Beliefs and Practices of Containment and Connection by Urmila Mohan. This anthropological study explores the beliefs and practices that emerged around masking in the U.S. during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jeffrey Kane, Forestry, Fire & Rangeland Management
In an effort to address California's daunting wildfire challenges, Dr. Jeffrey Kane and the Humboldt Fire Resilience Institute recently acquired a $500,000 Cal Fire Workforce Development Grant. Through these funds, the institute, in partnership with local agencies and organizations, will work to develop and better integrate education, training, experience, and outreach opportunities for fire students, professionals, and community members within northwestern California. The major aim of this work is to enhance the qualified fire and fuels management workforce to help reach the ambitious but necessary fuel reduction targets for California in the coming years.
Sara L. Chase Merrick, Child Development
Dr. Sara L. Chase Merrick received a $400,000 grant from the Spencer Foundation to build on her previous research-practice collaborations with the Hoopa Tribal Education Association, and expand the resurgence of Na:tinixwe Mixine:whe (Hupa Language) and Na:tinixwe approaches to education. The project will utilize Na:tinixwe methodologies to investigate how current short-term language and education resurgence efforts can be developed into an effective long-term program.  Research will be grounded in the specificity of the Na:tinixwe (people) and Na:tinixw’ (place), yet have implications for Indigenous contexts across the world, endangered language communities, and Education research-practice.
Matthew Dean, World Languages and Cultures
Dr. Matthew (Mateo) Dean's latest book, Beginning Spanish Language and Culture, which was published in August of 2020, reached over 30,000 downloads worldwide last month, just two years after publication. This peer-reviewed OER textbook has consistently been the #1 most popular download on Humboldt Digital Commons.  
Rosemary Sherriff, Geography
Rosemary Sherriff (Professor, GESA) co-authored (85 authors) a recent paper in the journal Ecosphere on a newly compiled North American tree-ring fire-scar network (NAFSN), which contains 2562 sites, >37,000 fire-scarred trees, and covers large parts of North America. The study explores  the NAFSN in terms of geography, sample depth, vegetation, topography, climate, and human land use. Fire scars are found in most ecoregions, from boreal forests in northern Alaska and Canada to subtropical forests in southern Florida and Mexico. The network includes 91 tree species, but is dominated by gymnosperms in the genus Pinus
Zachary Wenderott, Rosemary Sherriff, Geography
Humboldt graduate Zachary Wenderott (MS, Forestry, Watershed and Wildland Sciences), Rosemary Sherriff (Professor, GESA), and colleagues at the U.S.G.S and National Park Service recently published a paper in the journal Forest Ecology and Management on prescribed fire effects in mixed-conifer forests in Lassen Volcanic National Park. The findings suggest that forest management, such as prescribed fire, may be beneficial in terms of maintaining or improving tree growth among large residual trees. However, managers may want to balance the benefits of these treatments against inadvertent injury and mortality of large trees.
Sarah Jaquette Ray, Environmental Studies
Dr. Sarah Jaquette Ray published a short essay, "Doing Nothing for the Planet," on One Earth Sangha. Read it here:
Student Alumna Kathleen Brewer and Faculty Emerita Dr. Mary Gruber, Psychology
Student Alumna Kathleen Brewer and Faculty Emerita Dr. Mary Gruber published their peer-reviewed Professional manual for the Parent Reaction to Autism Diagnosis Scales (PRADS-2) with guidance for tailoring parent supports.  It is available at and also as a book through Amazon.  The manual describes their research, development, and validation of the scales, along with instructions for using them accurately, ethically, and beneficially in tailoring supports for parents.  Their manual also cites nine Humboldt graduate student thesis research studies on supports for caregivers of children with developmental disabilities.   
Alison O'Dowd, Environmental Science & Management
ESM Professor Alison O'Dowd received >$800,000 in grants and matching funds to do a 5-year food web study related to the removal of 4 large dams on the Klamath River.  The study includes collaborators at the Karuk Tribe and UC Davis to look at food resources and diet of salmonids in tributary and mainstem sites on the Klamath River before, during and after dam removal.  This research will explore the resiliency of culturally-important salmonids during high sediment loads released during dam removal.
Alison Holmes, World Languages and Cultures
Alison Holmes, leader of the International Studies Program, spent the summer on a Fellowship at the University of London. While in the UK, she presented papers at two conferences: the Transatlantic Studies Association and HOTCUS (Historians of the Twentieth Century United States).
Alfredo Calderon, Kevin Chung, Steven Gracy, and Taylor Juchau, Physics & Astronomy
Four Physics & Astronomy majors were selected to be Cal-Bridge Scholars for the upcoming academic years. The Cal-Bridge program creates opportunities for historically underrepresented groups and first-generation students to participate and advance in STEM fields including physics, astronomy, computer science, and computer engineering, in order to increase their representation in PhD programs. Each scholar is provided a CSU as well as a UC mentor to help prepare them for graduate school applications and secure research opportunities. Students are awarded a scholarship up to $10,000 per year on a need-based assessment. Congratulations to all!
Nievita Bueno Watts, Indian Natural Resources, Science & Engineering Program
Dr. Nievita Bueno Watts received a $120,000 grant from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service to support the Natural Resource Career Development Program, an initiative that will help foster and cultivate Hispanic undergraduate and graduate students as future leaders interested in agricultural careers in public service. Students interested in learning more about agricultural careers in public service can contact Students from Hispanic/Latinx backgrounds majoring in Rangeland, Soils, Botany, Environmental Engineering and Environmental Science & Management are especially encouraged to apply.
Lisa Tremain and Beth Eschenbach, Department of English & Department of Environmental Resources Engineering
Drs. Lisa Tremain and Beth Eschenbach received $98,000 from the National Science Foundation to support a new program that will develop, support and measure STEM instructor understanding and application of antiracist approaches to writing pedagogy and assessment in STEM disciplines. This project integrates cultural foundations to learning, antiracist writing assessment, and culturally sustaining pedagogies. Activities include a year-long Faculty Learning Community (FLC) of Engineering faculty and a spring semester series of workshops. The project will involve approximately 100 STEM faculty, and result in foundational data that will benchmark the impacts of the model on teacher learning and curricular designs.
Tara S. Caso and Robert W. Zoellner, Chemistry
Professor Emeritus Robert W. Zoellner and his former student, Tara S. Caso, have published a peer-reviewed article entitled "Thioacetone analogs of cyclic diacetone diperoxide (DADP), triacetone triperoxide (TATP), and tetraacetone tetraperoxide (4A4P):  Structures and properties from density functional calculations" in the Journal of Undergraduate Chemistry Research 202221, 54-59.
Cyndy Phillips, Kyle Morgan, Jessica Welch, James Woglom, English
On September 3, Humboldt County will finally have its first published anthology of painters, Looking for Beauty: Humboldt’s Plein Air Community Shows Why Art Matters, designed and compiled by former associate faculty of English, Cyndy Phillips. Phillips' indie press, SequoiaSong Publications, worked with Cal Poly Press as an advisor over the span of the three and a half year project and community minded art professor, James Woglom, wrote the foreword. The opening reception for this historic publication is at the Redwood Art Association (603 F St, Eureka), 6-9pm, where the remaining 80 limited edition hardbacks will be for sale.
Catherine LeDesma, Michael Ross, Benjamin Daly, C.D. Hoyle, and Monty Mola, Physics & Astronomy
Together with faculty members, a group of Cal Poly Humboldt Physics and Astronomy students (now all alumni) recently published a peer-reviewed article in the journal AIP Advances published by the American Institute of Physics. The work, titled "A modified Michelson interferometer to measure sub-milliradian changes in angle," that describes technical advances in measuring miniscule angular deflections for use in fundamental physics experiments, can be found in open-access format at the following link:
C.D. Hoyle, Physics & Astronomy
Professor C.D. Hoyle of the Department of Physics and Astronomy was awarded a National Science Foundation Collaborative Research Grant to continue the development of an experiment in conjunction with Professor Ricardo Decca of Indiana University-Purdue University of Indianapolis (IUPUI) that seeks to perform the world's most precise measurement of Newton's gravitational constant, G. In addition to technical R&D, this 3-year grant in the amount of $127,923 will support Cal Poly Humboldt student involvement through summer research opportunities and funded conference travel.
Alison O'Dowd, Environmental Science & Management
Dr. Alison O’Dowd received a grant from the California Wildlife Conservation Board to support research into salmonid food webs in the Klamath River. The project seeks to understand the food webs dynamics associated with Klamath Dam removal by examining the water quality, salmonid food resources and diet in the mainstem Klamath River and associated tributaries before, during, and after Klamath dam removal. Findings will inform management of fisheries and fish food resources associated with future dam removal projects. It will also advance the field of disturbance ecology by documenting the effects of a large-scale ‘planned’ disturbance.
Robert Gearhart, Environmental Resources Engineering
Dr. Robert Gearheart received a grant from the City of Arcata to continue the implementation of a wastewater engineering project. The project focuses on the ongoing effort to ensure that the upgrade of the City of Arcata’s Wastewater Treatment maintains the use of constructed wetland as the principle treatment process, supplies critical habitat for wildlife, and supports environmental education. Cal Poly Humboldt students from the Environmental Resources Engineering Department will get hands-on experience working with City staff at the Arcata Marsh Research Institute. Results from the studies will be shared with City staff and their consultants.
Mark Wicklund, Office of Assessment
Mark Wicklund co-authored a paper recently published in English Language and Linguistics entitled, “Is there a new which in town?” The paper offers an exhaustive account of English speakers’ evolving use of which, positing that a syntactic reanalysis has occurred, resulting in a new, increasingly popular coordinating-conjunction use alongside its traditional relative-pronoun use. Dr. Sara S. Loss, Oklahoma State University, shares authorship.
Jeffrey Dunk, Environmental Science & Management
Jeffrey Dunk received a continuing grant from the Teton Raptor Center to support a collaborative project with scientists from Teton Raptor Center, University of Wyoming, and a consulting firm. The project is focused on developing an eagle conservation prioritization tool for the entire state of Wyoming that integrates eagle habitat, risks, protected areas, and other species values. The end-product will be a web-based decision support tool for managers, industry, conservationists, and others.