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California State University, Long Beach
College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics

December 2010: Volume 2, Issue 2

Dean's Message and Highlights

Dean Laura Kingsford

Dear Faculty and Staff,

As we've just finished celebrating Thanksgiving and are getting into the end of the semester and the holiday season, I've been thinking about all that has transpired this past year. The budget cuts, enrollment demands, and high faculty workloads have been and continue to be a huge challenge. However, I think we have been able to keep much of what we value in place and still continue to excel in many areas. We have a lot to celebrate as you will see in this issue of the College Highlights. Please accept my thanks to all of you who work with the students and help them achieve their goals and successes. The excellence we achieve in this college is because of you.

The Hall of Science (HSCI) is almost done, so we can look forward to an exciting new year. The building will be turned over to the college on March 7th and we'll begin moving five department offices, all the college offices, SAS Center, Science Learning Center, faculty offices, research labs, teaching labs, computers labs, rocks/minerals, marine animals, plants, preserved biology collections, the college shop, etc. It will be a major move – but one that puts us into outstanding, new facilities and closer to each other. We will truly have a lot to celebrate next year at this time.

Hall of Science entryway Landscaping has started Hall of Science loading dock

With the holiday season upon us, please be mindful of those who have less than we do and give where you can and however you can. With the stress that comes at the end of the semester, please be patient, understanding, and caring with each other and our students. I wish you all a wonderful holiday season.

Laura Kingsford, Ph.D.
Dean College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics
California State University, Long Beach

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Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students

Angelica Dulce and Alma Madrigal at the ABRCMS entrance in Charlotte, North Carolina

Florante Ricarte, one of 13 CSULB students who attended the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) in Charlotte, North Carolina, was awarded recognition as "Outstanding" for his poster presentation November 10-13, 2010.

The ABRCMS is the largest multidisciplinary student conference in the United States. Each year, the conference attracts approximately 2,600 individuals, including 1,650 undergraduate students, 300 graduate students/ postdoctoral scientists and 750 faculty and administrators. In addition to presenting their own research, students attended specialized seminars on cutting edge research and professional development in the biomedical sciences.

Four CNSM student research programs, Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP), Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC), the Research Initiative for Science Enhancement (RISE), and Bridges to the Baccalaureate (Bridges) were represented at the conference with nine students presenting posters:

  • Cecine Nguyen (LSAMP) - "The Societal and Personal Costs of Different Cancers; Which Cancer Do We Prefer People to Die From" (Dr. Ashley Carter – faculty research adviser, Biological Sciences).
  • Florante Ricarte - "A Genomic Screen for Endosome and Vacuole Interface (env) Functions in S.cerevisiae Uncovers Four Novel Genes: ENV7, ENV9-ENV1" (Dr. Editte Gharakhanian – faculty research adviser, Biological Sciences). Received recognition as Outstanding in the Microbiological Sciences by the ABRCMS Conference.
  • Daisy Sanchez (MARC) - "Triserine Lactose Oxazoline Receptor for Organoammonium Ion Recognition" (Dr. Eric Marinez – faculty research adviser, Chemistry and Biochemistry).
  • Melina D. Juarez (RISE) -"Phosphorylation of Mtbr and 4r Tau Inhibits Their Subsequent O-glycosylation" (Dr. Balwant Khatra – faculty research adviser, Biological Sciences).
  • Heather Vincent (RISE) - "Autographa californica M Nucleopolyhedrovirus Stimulates Hemocyte Proliferation in Manduca sexta Larvae" (Dr. Eric Haas-Stapleton – faculty research adviser, Biological Sciences).
  • Angelica Dulce (Bridges) and Daniela Moreno (RISE)- "Putative Antiviral Role of Gloverin in Baculovirus-infected Trichoplusia in Larvae" (Dr. Eric Haas-Stapleton – faculty research adviser, Biological Sciences).
  • Joselyn Del Cid (MARC) - "Aryl Di-Alkyl Phosphate Inhibitors of Butyrylcholinesterase as Potential Therapeutics for Alzheimer's Disease: Characterization of Off-Target Effects" (Dr. Roger Acey – faculty research adviser, Chemistry and Biochemistry).
  • Abraham Gutierrez (Bridges) - "Characterization of Archaeal Diversity in a Hypersaline Pond in a Solar Saltern in Baja California, Mexico" (Dr. Jesse Dillon – faculty research adviser, Biological Sciences).
CSULB participants at the 2010 ABRCRMS

CSULB participants at the 2010 ABRCRMS, (l-r from back): 1-Daisy Sanchez (MARC), Associate Dean Henry Fung (CNSM), Mark Katayama (SAS Center Program Director); 2- Joselyn del Cid (MARC), Angelica Dulce (Bridges), Alma Madrigal (RISE); 3- Tiffany Chu (RISE), Daniela Moreno (RISE), Professor Marco Lopez (Chemistry & Biochemistry), Manuel Robles (RISE); 3- Steven Bolivar (RISE), Cecine Nguyen (LSAMP), Heather Vincent (RISE), Florante Ricarte, Melina Juarez (RISE), Abraham Guteirrez (Bridges).

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Geology Faculty & Students Present Research at Geological Society of America Annual Meeting in Denver

Presenting a divergent range of research, seven presentations at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America (GSA) in Denver October 31 – November 3, 2010 were made by CSULB Geological Sciences faculty members, their research students, Geoscience Diversity Enhancement Project (GDEP) participants, and collaborators with the Institute for Integrated Research in Materials, Environments, and Society (IIRMES). The GSA is one of two major organizations for geologists and researchers in associated fields including archaeology. The annual meeting typically draws between 3,000-5,000 attendees.

Presentations by faculty-mentored students included:

Sally Casanova Pre-Doctoral Scholars Melissa Bernardino Melissa Bernardino, Geological Sciences undergraduate student, presenting the results of study of exposed carbonate rocks in the San Rafael Mountains near Santa Barbara and Jacqueline Chavez, on exposed carbonate rocks from the time period roughly 57 million years ago called the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maxium focusing on the red algae in the rocks and its possible importance as an indicator of rapid climate change. As part of the pre-doctoral scholar program, research was conducted under the supervision of Caltech research geologist Tim Raub during this past summer and Geochemist Professor Gregory Holk contributed to this research by studying carbon isotopes.

An archaeology graduate student from Holk's geochemistry lab, Judy Bernal, presented the results of her research using geochemistry to investigate ancient technologies of making pottery and tiles. Anthropology professor Hector Neff also mentored this research.

Geology graduate student Gabriela Valenzuela Gabriela Valenzuela, Geological Sciences graduate student, presenting the results of study of the Portuguese Bend landslide area presented research on the hydrogeology of the Portuguese Bend landslide area utilizing stable isotopes to monitor the circulation of groundwater along with Karin Moguel of Cerritos College, and Tierra Moore of Lakewood High School. The GDEP program supported this research. USC professor emeritus Robert Douglas (now with the Abalone Cove Landslide Abatement District) and CSULB Geology professors Matthew Becker and Gregory Holk served as Faculty advisors.

Geology graduate student Conni Stuehler also presented research on the Portuguese Bend. Her research characterizes the mineralogic composition of the Palos Verdes bentonite clays that serve as the Portuguese Bend landslides' slip surface and will provide a greater understanding of the landslide area. This project was supported by GDEP, and also involved GDEP participants Long Beach City College student Hannah Vu; Chelsea McCormick, a science teacher at Avalon School on Santa Catalina Island; and former Long Beach Polytechnic High School student Terri Burns, who now attends Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire.

In addition to the student presentations, three CSULB Geological Sciences faculty members also presented their research:

Geochemist Gregory Holk, who studies how surface water moves through and affects the earth's deep crust, presented his own ongoing research on how certain types of schists, which are metamorphic rocks that were changed through heat and pressure, are found so far inland in Southern California and Arizona. He is collaborating with Carl Jacobson of Iowa State University and Marty Grove, an expert in argon-argon geochronology from Stanford University.

Paleoclimatologist Lora Stevens presented her ongoing research on the hydroclimatic history of Lake Urmia in Iran done with Morteza Djamali and Jacques-Louis de Beaulieu of the Institut Méditerranéen d'Ecologie et de Paléoécologie in Aix-en-Provence, France.

Gregory HolkLora StevensStanley Finney

Stanley C. Finney, professor and Chair of the International Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS), gave a presentation on the commission's ongoing work in establishing the International Chronostratigraphic Chart, an internationally agreed upon record of earth history. From the units of this chart, the units of the geologic time scale with the same names (e.g., Jurassic, Paleocene, etc.) are recognized. Before the ICS began establishing a single set of global units, many different regional schemes were used or units of the same name had different extents and thus meaning on different continents. The ICS uses features in a single sedimentary rock succession to define a global unit and to recognize it in rock successions elsewhere in the world. These features, including the occurrences of fossils, polarity reversals of the Earth's magnetic fields, major changes in chemical isotopes, among others, define the lower boundary of each Stage, Series, and System of the chronostratigraphic chart, which, in turn, defines the beginning of each age, epoch or period of the Geologic Time Scale.

Note: This article is a summary of a longer, more detailed article by Anne Ambrose, CSULB Publications, that appeared in This Week @ The Beach:

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Council on Ocean Affairs in Science and Technology (COAST)

henricia leviuscula located in tidepools off the coast of Washington. Photo courtesy of Rob O'Dea Photography

The Council on Ocean Affairs in Science and Technology (COAST) was developed in 2008 for collaborative exchange between CSU faculty involved in marine, coastal and oceanic research. COAST is the third such focus group within the CSU and is a sister organization to the California State University Program in Education and Research in Biotechnology (CSUPERB) and the Water Research Policies Initiative (WRPI). COAST has a shared governance structure brings together two representatives from each campus and marine consortia as well as five administrative representatives that form the official voting body that makes decisions regarding COAST. Funding for COAST operations and initiatives is provided by contributions from the individual CSU campuses and the Chancellor. Since inception, COAST's budget has grown considerably from $284,000 in 2008-2009 to $663,000 this year, primarily due to a very generous contribution of $500,000 from the Chancellor for 2010-2011.

With its funding, COAST supports both faculty and student research. Currently soliciting applications until the deadline of January 14, 2011, COAST'S newest initiative, Collaborative Resource Sharing Awards encourages intercampus collaboration in marine and coastal research and education and is available only to CSU faculty and research scientists. The funding is intended to facilitate the generation of either preliminary data sets leading to the submission of proposals to external funding agencies and organizations or the completion of ongoing research projects and subsequent submission of manuscripts for publication in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

R/V Yellowfin is a 76 ft research vessel berthed at the South Coast Marine Institute (SCMI) available to COAST for oceanic research

COAST recently introduced two student-centered initiatives, COAST Student Travel Awards and the COAST Student Awards for Marine Science Research . These programs aim to increase student participation in faculty-mentored marine and coastal research and highlight CSU student research at both the state and national levels. Applications for Summer 2011 awards are being accepted until February 28, 2011. The COAST Student Awards for Marine Science Research have already been announced for the 2010-2011 Academic Year. Eight undergraduate and 23 graduate student awards were granted, including 7 from CSULB. The Student Travel Award reimburses student professional travel that takes place between July 1, 2010 and June 30, 2011 and is currently accepting applications.

Other COAST Initiatives

In 2009 COAST launched its Faculty Research Incentive Program to increase inter-campus research awareness and collaboration. This program provides assigned time funding to CSU faculty members from two or more CSU campuses to write a collaborative proposal for extramural funding. To date, COAST has awarded $256,000 to 41 faculty members at 18 campuses, including 5 faculty members from the CSULB Departments of Biological Sciences, Geological Sciences and Chemistry and Biochemistry. Over $8M in external funding has been requested from the grant proposals submitted though this program. Although most of these proposals are still pending review, to date, more than $1M in grants and contracts has been awarded to CSU faculty for a return on investment factor of over 4:1.

The newest COAST initiative is the development of six thematically based Networks that will draw upon individuals' shared interest and expertise:

  • Climate Change and the Marine Environment
  • Coastal Monitoring
  • Environmental Effects on Marine Life
  • Geospatial Research, Education and Technology
  • Marine Ecosystem Dynamics
  • Marine and Estuarine Policy

These Networks aim to link people, data and equipment together to create a robust statewide resource that maximizes the coastal research and educational capabilities of the 23-campus CSU system. Supplemental federal funding for $3M in support of this venture is currently being sought by COAST. Once developed, these Networks will provide the State with sound expertise and practical solutions to our most pressing environmental issues, while enhancing education within the CSU and training job-ready college graduates with skills necessary to meet the coming challenges. To increase the political visibility of this enterprise in Sacramento, COAST is engaged in discussions with State-level policy and decision-makers. COAST held two luncheon briefings this fall on the topic of collaborative fisheries research for legislative staff and agency officials. The first briefing focused on the role of science in meeting informational needs and the second focused on perspectives from stakeholders such as commercial and recreational fishermen and environmental non-governmental organizations. COAST has also engaged in meetings with individual legislative offices and resource management agencies to assess State-level needs and determine next steps in seeking solutions to state and national marine and coastal issues.

Unique Qualities & Capabilities Gave Rise to COAST

In 2008, in recognition of the CSU system's unique geographical spread of 23 campuses over 1100 miles of California's coastline from Humboldt down to San Diego, Chancellor Read instigated an initiative to integrate the marine expertise and assets of the CSU under one organizational umbrella, now known as COAST. With a total of 21 CSU campuses engaged in marine biology, a fleet of vessels The Callinectes is a 22 ft vessel used by CSULB marine biologists for near shore marine collections and 45 field stations on or close to the coast, this organization serves as a think-tank to provide policy makers, agencies, regulators, researchers, educators, and other stakeholders unprecedented access and information about coastal California. The coast of California is one of the most ecologically rich and economically important regions in the U.S. Nearly 77% of the State's population lives and works within 20 miles of the coast and this narrow ribbon of real estate generates $43 billion annually, making it the 59th largest economy in the world.

One of the primary goals of COAST is to provide the State and the nation an organization capable of providing innovative solutions for coastal stewardship based upon environmental and economic sustainability. COAST promotes marine and coastal research and education throughout the CSU and disseminates this information to the public for the development of responsible policy statewide. Examples of remotely acquired, real-time information of coastal currents, temperature and other data that is made freely available for the public can be viewed on the Data and Products page on the COAST website.

We kindly acknowledge Dr. Krista Kamer, COAST Coordinator, for her contributions to this article. Over 160 CSU faculty and staff scientists are registered as COAST members through FRESCA, the California State University system's web-based database of the research expertise, scholarship, and creative activities of faculty and affinity groups across the 23 campuses of the CSU. Membership to COAST and FRESCA is free. For more information about COAST visit

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Another Named Facility in the New Hall of Science!

The 800-or-so science students who utilize the Jensen Student Access to Science Computer Lab will return in the fall to completely new computer hardware plus the addition of ChemDraw to a stable of scientific software that includes ArcGIS, ICMpro, ChemSketch, MiniTAB, SAS v9.1, and Sigma Plot. Thanks to a generous six-figure gift from alumna Georgia Griffiths, the renovated lab in the new Hall of Science will be renamed the G2 Software Systems Computer Lab. In addition to computer access and specialized science software, the lab provides workshop and training support for Summer Bridges to the Baccalaureate research students from local community colleges, Robert Noyce Scholarship recipients (science/math credential students), and Freshman and Transfer student orientations. The lab also supports large poster printing (over 300 printed each year) for conferences, faculty and student research symposiums, and CHEM443 and BIOL696.

work in progress: G2 Software Systems Computer Lab is nearing completion work in progress: G2 Software Systems Computer Lab is nearing completion work in progress: G2 Software Systems Computer Lab is nearing completion
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Highlighting New Faces

Our "New Face" for this issue is Dr. Yohannes Abate Dr. Yohannes Abate. He is in his second year as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. Yohannes did his B.Sc. degree in physics at Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia; his M.Sc. in physics at the University of The Philippines, Diliman; and his PhD in Physics at The University of Iowa. He then went to the University of California at Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) where he spent 3 years as a postdoctoral associate in the group of Stephen Leone (chemistry and physics departments). Yohannes' research focus is on the development and application of near-field microscopy technique (ANSOM) to a variety of problems, which include, plasmon field imaging of metallic nanoparticles and chemically-specific spectroscopic imaging of semiconductors and dielectrics in the visible and infrared spectral regimes. A primary research focus is to study the static and dynamic microscopic aspects of surface plasmons in nanoscale structures and at interfaces. These research projects have potential to advance fundamental understanding of nanoscale plasmonics, the knowledge of which could enable new types of communication and photonic devices.

In his free time outside of work, Yohannes plays outdoor sports like tennis and soccer and enjoys cycling and running. Recently he started playing soccer twice a week regularly with faculty and students at CSULB. He says, "These games have been fun and a great way of interacting and getting to know fellow faculty and students better." He also likes to read widely. He comments, "The history and philosophy of science interests me. As faith in God is an important part of my life, I read widely books on the relationship of religion and science." He spends most of his extra time with his two kids, a four-year-old daughter and a year-old baby boy, and his wife. They have found Long Beach to be a very friendly and culturally diverse place and, as new residents, Alamael, Elionai, Margaret, and Yohannes are quite busy exploring and learning about the surrounding areas and the beach, which they all like very much. Although lately they haven't been traveling outside of California, they drive to one of the beaches close by most Saturday afternoons and eat lunch on the beach and play in the water and sand. Yohannes also likes to cook, and claims to be pretty good at it, especially lamb. He says that he makes the best lamb in California and so far he hasn't gotten any objections. He is thinking to increase the level himself, to see what happens, and claim that he makes the best lamb in the US! He says "Invite me to your party and I can prove it!"

Yohannes' wife, Margaret, is a practicing medical doctor specializing in family medicine and psychiatry. Their daughter is in preschool at the Alpert JCC (Jewish Community Center) in Long Beach.

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Staff Perspectives

Denise DeGrazia

Meeting someone behind a desk, or in a lab, we form an understanding of that person based on the context of the physical location. In her "day job" as an Instructional Support Technician II in the Department of Biological Sciences, Denise DeGrazia, administers the Anatomy and Physiology Mac Labs, supports the Anatomy and Physiology labs, and is the department web master. She is, in short, one of the techs seen around the college. But, away from her desk job, Denise is an artist. Specifically, an oil painter. Eucalyptus Leaves After high school, Denise started college as an art major, but thought that she ought to study something that might lead to a "real" job. Always interested in animals, Denise turned her attention to biology. After finishing a degree in microbiology, with thoughts of either med school or vet school, she took a job in a clinical lab and discovered that it really wasn't a direction she wanted to purse as a career. She came back to CSULB for an MFA, and also got a job working in the Department of Anatomy and Physiology before it merged into the Department of Biological Sciences. And, working here, she found a way to pursue both of her major interests – art and science.

Shore (painting)

Working on campus with students is satisfying because she says that "in the end what we do here does matter," for people "need to understand what science is." In keeping with this mission, Denise also teaches science – Anatomy – at Laguna College of Art and Design for art majors. And about her art pursuits? Denise keeps painting. In her artist's statement she sums up her approach: "Painting is a balance of many elements that come together like an orchestral work. It must evoke both feelings and thought. It requires time to look and reflect. My goal is to balance clarity with mystery and serenity with unease." Denise's work expresses this duality through the effects of lighting on a photo-realism approach. She has been featured in shows at LAX Terminal One, the El Dorado Nature Center, and has recently concluded a solo show at FORA restaurant in Naples. Denise maintains an archive of her work on-line at her website:

Bolsa Chica Dec 1 (painting)
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CSULB Math Grant = Algebra Success for LBUSD

Babette Benken

Babette Benken , associate professor of Mathematics and Statistics, and Cara Richards-Tutor, associate professor of Advanced Studies in Education and Counseling, have been awarded a four-year, $996,284 grant by the California Postsecondary Education Commission (CPEC) for a project that will have university professors working with algebra teachers from five Long Beach high schools in an effort to increase mathematics achievement among students, particularly those from underperforming groups.

The two CSULB professors are co-Principal Investigators (PI) for "Project EQALS: Evidenced-based, Quality Professional Development in Algebra for Learners' Success," a partnership between the College of Education and College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics at CSULB and the Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD). Participating LBUSD high schools include Cabrillo, Jordan, Polytechnic, Millikan and Lakewood.

Through its 2010 Improving Teacher Quality initiative, CPEC awarded nearly $9 million in grants to help California teachers from high-need school districts. The grants were awarded to partnership projects that will provide professional development activities that bring together K-12 teachers and institutions that educate and prepare teachers for the purpose of narrowing the achievement gap.

"Long Beach Unified's high schools show an achievement gap between high performing and low-performing subgroups, including Latino and African American students, English learners and students with disabilities. This gap is particularly evident in algebra," said Richards-Tutor. "The primary focus of this project is to improve the math achievement of all students through a professional development program for high school algebra teachers. At the same time, we are hoping to help close the achievement gap that exists among students within the district."

Benken pointed out that Project EQALS is critically important for a couple of reasons. First, high school students' mathematics proficiency levels in California are low, particularly for algebra. Second, algebra has historically been a gatekeeper for students and often prevents students from pursing advanced mathematics. But there was one other reason more specific to LBUSD.

"Long Beach Unified is implementing changes to their algebra curriculum beginning this year," noted Benken, who is also the graduate advisor for mathematics education at CSULB. "Professional development is needed to help teachers learn how to adapt to the changes and utilize best practices. This will help increase proficiency and reduce gaps among various subgroups of students."

Project EQALS is designed to improve the algebra content knowledge and teaching practices of participating teachers through scientifically based instructional practices.

The professional development – which will include intensive summer institutes, on-site periodic workshops and on-going coaching and support in the classroom – will focus on deepening teachers' content knowledge around algebraic concepts. It also will target improving teachers' ability to monitor student progress and differentiate instruction, including specific strategies for meeting the needs of both English learners and students with disabilities.

The project will develop a model for using flexible teaching methods based on student needs, called differentiated instruction, and collect data about these methods' effectiveness. It also will create professional learning communities to positively impact teacher development and support on-going communication and collaboration. Their model has been designed to have a widespread, sustainable effect on teaching practices and mathematics achievement throughout LBUSD.

"Our goal is to have the greatest impact possible within the district; thus we want to include teachers from as many schools as possible," Richards-Tutor said. "Participating teachers will then serve as leaders within their sites and can help colleagues adopt new, effective teaching strategies."

Project EQALS began Oct. 1, and already Benken and Richards-Tutor are working on teacher recruitment and selection, research protocols and finalizing the professional development calendar and content for spring. The first of two cohorts is expected to have an orientation meeting in December, and the three-year professional development program will begin in January. Benken said the district and school principals are very excited about the program. "Professor Richards-Tutor and I have both worked with LBUSD on many projects and therefore asked them first regarding partnering with us on this grant," explained Benken. "CSULB and LBUSD have a long-standing, effective partnership; many of their current and past teachers and administrators are graduates of our programs."

All involved with Project EQALS are eager to move forward and are thankful for the funding and opportunity to make change and close the achievement gap in algebra.

Note: Versions of this article by Rick Gloady, CSULB Publications, have also appeared in This Week @ The Beach and

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Save These Dates!

  • Thursday, February 24, 2011
    CNSM Basketball Night: Men's Basketball vs. Cal Poly
  • Monday, March 1, 2011
    CNSM Student Council presents:
    33rd Annual Nobel Laureate Lecture
    Mario Capecchi

    Mario R. Capecchi, 2007 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

    University Student Union Ballroom
    General Lecture 11:00 –12:00 p.m.
    Technical Session 4:00—5:00 p.m.

  • Friday, March 4, 2011

    3rd Annual CNSM Faculty Research Symposium

    Faculty Research Symposium banner

    University Student Union Ballroom
    12:30-5:30 p.m.

    Abstracts due Friday, February 4, 2011.

  • Thursday, May 12, 2011
    Annual CSULB Alumni Dinner @ Hyatt Regency, Long Beach
  • Friday, May 27, 2011
    62nd Annual Commencement
    CNSM Ceremony is at 1:00 p.m. on the George Allen Field
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