Research on Catalina’s frisky bison wins award for CSUF grad student
Everyone loves the idea of bison roaming Catalina Island after being left behind after a 1924 movie shoot. But the large non-native beasts multiplied to the point they are too much of a good thing.
In 2009, CSUF grad Calvin Duncan — along with Julie King of the Catalina Island Conservancy — started using fertility control to maintain the bison population. It worked, halting reproduction within three years.
But questions about the reversibility of the immunocontraception vaccine, its effects on ovulation and its long-term cost lingered. So Duncan enrolled in CSUF’s master’s program in biology and designed a research project to answer these questions. He conducted fieldwork on the island for several years, demonstrating the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness.
For his research, published in the Journal of Mammalogy, Duncan has received CSUF’s 2018 Giles T. Brown Outstanding Thesis Award — one of the university’s most prestigious student awards.
“It is not an exaggeration to state that Calvin is single-handedly responsible for the success of this massive field project,” said Paul Stapp, professor of biological science.
Program to help students master tough courses honored
A Cal State Fullerton program that helps students successfully complete historically difficult courses has been honored for boosting retention and graduation rates.
CSUF’s Supplemental Instruction Program, which provides weekly, peer-led group study sessions, has received the 2018 Outstanding SI Program Award during the International Conference on Supplemental Instruction.
Senior leader Nick Minyon, who graduated in May, received the Outstanding SI Mentor Award.
Begun in 2007 to focus on STEM courses, the program has grown to include coursework in business, the humanities and kinesiology. Last academic year, more than 330 course sections were supported by the program.
Students who participate in the program pass the gateway courses at a rate of 83 percent, compared with 76 percent of those who do not take part in the program, according to the university.
“Throughout their service, these student leaders provide support and mentorship to their peers while gaining experience in leadership, organization and teaching,” said Trista O’Connell, assistant director of the program.
Minyon, a business administration-economics and entertainment and tourism management grad, said the program taught him how to present material and train others, develop plans, and set goals for the team and himself.
“I see people start to understand the subject, putting things together and am thrilled that I had a direct role in their success,” he said.
After receiving his award, Minyon joined Disney as a summer intern.
Neutron star research gets more funding
Cal State Fullerton astrophysicist Jocelyn Read received new Science Foundation funding to continue her team’s research into what gravitational waves reveal about matter inside extremely dense neutron stars.
The assistant professor of physics and associate director of CSUF’s Gravitational-Wave Physics and Astronomy Center has been awarded a three-year grant of more than $200,000. Read and her students played key roles in the discovery of the cosmic merger of neutron stars in 2017.
“Our gravitational-wave measurements are shining new light on the properties of ultra matter, cross-checking neutron star observations from electromagnetic astronomy and informing calculations in nuclear physics,” said Read.
Through the project, physics students will explore the impact of dense matter on gravitational waves.
“This research introduces them to the science community, sparking future participation in gravitational astrophysics, data science and engineering,” Read added.
New philanthropic board members named
Two community members, an alumni representative and a student have joined the Cal State Fullerton Philanthropic Foundation Board of Governors.
The board builds and strengthens relationships with the community and encourages advocacy, investment and support of the university.
Scott Coler, president and principal of Capital Pacific Real Estate, and fellow business administration alum Charles Harmon, senior manager of the administration division of American Honda Motor Co. Inc., joined as community members.
Vanessa Acuña, immediate past president of the Cal State Fullerton Alumni Association, and Joshua Borjas, president of CSUF’s Associated Students Inc., also joined.
— Wendy Fawthrop