Top Presentations at IdeaFest Highlight Student, Faculty Research

Apr 24, 2015

Four research presentations are this year's audience-choice award winners from the 2015 IdeaFest, which took place April 17. Individual projects from the College of Professional Studies, College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences, and two that tied for top honors in the College of Natural Resources, were represented.

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The top presentations are:

College of Professional Studies
Critical Multicultural Literacy for Social Justice — recipient of 37 audience-choice votes
Marisol Ruiz, Education Faculty
Janette Ramirez, CRGS Undergraduate Student
Maria Torres Martinez, LSEE Undergraduate Student
Rachel Sauvage, LSEE Undergraduate Student
Gabriel Aquino, LSEE Undergraduate Student

This case study took place in a diverse school setting. We implemented critical multicultural literature to 3rd and 4th graders. Our question is: How do students respond to critical multicultural pedagogy and literature? We used dialogue journals, literature circles, critical dialogue, and art to build community and raise consciousness. We found that the single story approach is prevalent in schools and that multiple stories have fostered an understanding and empathy towards the diversity of struggles people face in this world. In conclusion, critical multicultural literature helps build community and empower students to be able to make changes in their community.

College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences
Making of a Monster: Media Constructions of Transgender Victims of Homicide — recipient of 25 audience-choice votes
Meredith Williams, Sociology Faculty
Janae Teal, Sociology Graduate Student
Ashley Rose Florian, Sociology Undergraduate Student
Julian Rivera,Sociology Undergraduate Student
Lizbeth Olmedo, Sociology Undergraduate Student

There is a general sentiment in public discourse that victims are good and innocent, and offenders are bad. This dichotomy is blurred when the victim is somehow socially undesirable, such as people who do not conform to society’s expectation for gender, or victims who are not white. In the case of gender non-conforming victims of homicide, especially transwomen of color, the media often portray the victims as deceivers, or criminal, insinuating the victim is to blame for their attack. This study focuses on the media portrayal of 259 homicide victimizations that occurred between 1995 and 2014. Using content analysis, we explore these cases through the victims, offenders and news media.

College of Natural Resources & Sciences
The role of the transcription factor cJun in the regulation of murine embryonic stem cell potency — recipient of 22 audience-choice votes (tie)
Manal Mosa Hosawi, Biological Sciences Graduate Student

The OCT4 gene is a POU class V transcription factor essential for establishment of the inner cell mass, pluripotency and self -renewal of embryonic stem cells (ESs). OCT4 gene expression is controlled by various mechanisms including transcription factor regulation. The AP-1 transcription factor c-Jun is known to affect proliferation, apoptosis, and cell survival. Its transcriptional activity is increased by phosphorylation of L40/42 by Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK). In this study, we examine the role of c-Jun on the regulation of Oct4 expression.

Novel Tests of Gravity Below Fifty Microns — recipient of 22 audience-choice votes
Crystal Cardenas, Physics and Astronomy Undergraduate Student
Garrett Benson, Physics and Astronomy Undergraduate Student
Jeremy Johnson, Physics and Astronomy Undergraduate Student

Due to the incompatibility of the Standard Model and General Relativity, tests of gravity remain at the forefront of experimental physics research. At HSU, undergraduates and faculty are developing an experiment that will test gravitational interactions at the twenty-micron distance scale, well below what has currently been tested. The experiment will measure the twist of a torsion pendulum as an attractor mass is oscillated nearby in a parallel-plate configuration which will provide a time-varying torque on the pendulum. The size and distance dependence of the torque variation will provide means to determine deviations from accepted models of gravity on untested distance scales.

IdeaFest is a showcase of student and faculty research and projects. More than 70 research presentations, along with musical performances and research talks, were presented as part of the program. For more information, visit