Dear Faculty and Staff,
Once again we are at the close of another semester. It still seems as though the calendar page just turned to September yesterday and we are welcoming faculty and students to another school year. Here it is December, classes have ended, and we are now counting days to the end of the semester and the start of the winter holidays.
With the passage of Proposition 30 in the November election, the CSU and public education at all levels in California have received the voters' approval and recognition of its importance. The Governor's January revise of the budget will indicate how our college and the campus will need to plan for the following year. Not only have voters given us a stamp of approval, but our prospective students do as well. CSULB has received over 80,000 applications for the 2013 fall semester.
With both voter approval of Proposition 30 and the high demand by students to attend CSULB, our mandate is clearly on student learning. In the STEM disciplines, our approach is targeted both at graduating students to enter the work force or advanced degree programs and graduating students to teach K-12 who are STEM-capable. Engaging student learning as a means of increasing student success requires rethinking classroom teaching. The CNSM Faculty Learning Community (FLC) is supporting instructors as they navigate the resources available to implement active learning in the classroom. This edition of the Highlights takes a look at the CNSM FLC as it finishes its first year.
As we all know, science and math learning is not limited to the classroom, and the CNSM Science Learning Center (SLC) is a place where informal science learning is actively promoted through hands-on exhibits. You will find out a little bit more about how the SLC has evolved over the years in the Staff Perspective from its director, Jim McKibben.
Infusing our research and the results of our research in our teaching forms the base from which many of us teach. Sabbatical leaves often give us the chance to deepen our research connection to our teaching. Bruno Pernet of Biological Sciences completed a year of sabbatical last year and shares his research in this edition.
Our students benefit from presenting the results of their research. Highlights of student presentations from this semester are also noted. Encourage your students to consider presenting their research data in the CSULB Student Research Competition in February. Our students' success in their classes and their research is due in no small part to the efforts being made across the college by both faculty and staff to engage students in learning. 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.
Best wishes for a wonderful holiday.
Laura Kingsford, Ph.D.
Dean, College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics
California State University, Long Beach
Lecture. Lab. Quiz. Test. Repeat as necessary. Administer Final Exam. Course over: Post grades. This familiar pattern found in the traditional STEM classes, is the time-honored standard by which instruction is delivered. Rooted in oral tradition, the lecture as a knowledge-delivery tool grew to primacy when books were not readily available, and the ability to read was not as common. Lecture, however, is only one of many in the set of teaching tools, and with the ever increasing array of technological developments making the foray into the lecture hall, invited and uninvited, the stand-alone lecture is a poorly performing competitor alongside the technological realm now engaging students. Associate Professor of Biological Sciences Kelly Young notes that CNSM faculty members care deeply about student learning and they put a lot of effort into preparing their classes. She understands how disheartening it is to deliver a fantastic lecture– a lecture where all the points are pulled together eloquently, effectively, and dynamically but despite this excellence, the expected learning experience did not happen for the students. What was the disconnect? She explained that it is experiences like this that bring faculty to the STEM Faculty Learning Community (FLC) in the CNSM.
Participation in the FLC starts the with the STEM FLC course hosted on-line on a secure site, developed by Young and Terre Allen, Director of the Faculty Professional Development Center. The course was first offered in the Fall of 2011, with a focus on how to better engage student learning. The course guides participants in their discovery of teaching strategies to be readily applied in their respective STEM classrooms. This course is not a general, one-size-fits-all approach to active learning methodologies. Rather, it asks participants to look at their specific courses and identify potential road blocks to student learning. By self-identifying their road blocks, participants are positioned to make their current on-going course their test site to apply what they are learning in the FLC. In addition, Young notes that although each STEM discipline has distinct and different topics of teaching, there are many commonalities across science and math. In addition, instructors in the CNSM major courses have the same students. Working together across the STEM spectrum, and finding out via the discussion boards how colleagues are teaching their same students in other classes brings added insight to understanding how CNSM students are learning.
The CNSM FLC enrolls 8-10 faculty members per semester and meets face-to-face only twice during the semester – once at the beginning and again at the end. The FLC secured on-line course gives participants access to a collated group of material geared to STEM, and practice in using "active learning techniques." Materials are presented in 5 different modules– "our students," "engaging students," "active learning," "assessment," and "work-life balance." This course is structured around the gathering of evidence, beginning with identifying road blocks, and continuing through assessing student learning. Although test scores are a form of assessment, they are not the main focus of the assessment module of the course. Instead, the course focuses on using assessment as a continual gauge of student understanding during the semester. In addition, assessment can be used to inform future instructional choices both in the current offering of the course as well as subsequent offerings. Faculty participants are encouraged to consider evidence of student learning not only from a traditional summative perspective but formatively as well- much like they would consider any scientific data.
The FLC might be perceived as an added time-drain in the already timed-out schedule that most professors live by. This is one reason why the FLC now includes the work/life balance factor in their discussions. Young readily admits that learning and implementing new material, new ways of doing things takes time. She also cautions that students are often accustomed to the status quo of learning and may not always have an initial favorable reaction to changes in class procedures that invite them to become more active participants. Course evaluators and department chairs have been advised that the course evaluations in a changed course may experience an initial (and temporary) downward shift as instructors actively learn their way into new ways of teaching in their courses. However, as more faculty switch to engaged learning, student expectations of what a CNSM course should be like are changing.
As one of the lead facilitators of the FLC, a 2009 recipient of CSULB's Distinguished Faculty Teaching Award, and an active researcher, Young is an enthusiastic advocate of the strategies of active learning. Even as an undergraduate student at California Polytechnic University San Luis Obispo, she knew she wanted to both teach and conduct research. Like many of her colleagues in the sciences, she deeply appreciates that science is best learned hands-on and has long advocated for learning based on doing research. Despite enthusiastic responses to her teaching, she found herself concerned about what students were actually learning. She was dismayed to hear students approach science and math courses with attitudes of "science is hard," or "I hate math." Yes, she acknowledges, these subjects are challenging, but they are very worth learning, and hands on learning is the best method for really understanding STEM. As the FLC preface in the on-line course states, "science and math are not only crucial disciplines to make sense of the world around us, they are also fascinating (in fact, thrilling) subjects." The learning that students accomplish through research is highly interactive, and therefore highly effective. Young notes that the methods advanced in the FLC are an answer to the problem posed in this question: If students in lecture also interact with the material, would learning improve? By making predictions and involving students in groups, the traditional, inactive lecture is falling by the wayside, but learning is happening in increased amounts. Active student interaction with material in the lecture hall requires students and teachers to change their thinking about lecture. Students have become so accustomed to lecture that they may not feel like they are learning if the environment is changed. But, give it a chance. Engage. Engage yourself, engage your students. Engaged students who participate in hands-on learning become students who are critical thinkers. If you are interested, talk to your Chair and consider joining the FLC's exploration of Active and Engaged Learning.
Ninety-five percent of all animal species living on earth are classified as "invertebrate". That is, they lack a backbone. From the human-centered perspective, it may be difficult to acknowledge that our group, the vertebrates, is a mere off-shoot of an invertebrate ancestor that was living in a world already filled with invertebrates derived from millions of years of prior evolution! Yet, we humans mostly ignore our unremarkable evolutionary position and devote much of our research attention solely on behalf of our own vertebrate group, and particularly ourselves. But what is missing in this approach is the vast majority of all animal diversity -represented by invertebrates- a virtual encyclopedia of animal evolution and biological systems from development to ecosystem function. Invertebrates inhabit virtually all of earth's environments and thereby demonstrate to us how animals can adapt to different environments, or environmental challenges. Invertebrates are critically important to the world's ecosystems, and understanding how they adapt to their particular environmental circumstances has become even more important in light of changing environmental conditions globally.
Invertebrate biologist Bruno Pernet, Associate Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, conducts research aimed at understanding invertebrates' developmental patterns in the context of their evolution and their performance in the environment. For a number of years, Pernet's research has focused on understanding how evolutionary changes in egg yolk content lead to changes in larval development. He and his students explored the relationships between the extent of yolk storage (egg size) and subsequent developmental patterns of larvae of molluscs (e.g., shellfish) and annelids (e.g., marine worms). Different strategies are seen in nature. Some species produce greater numbers of eggs per parent. In these species, the eggs are smaller with less energetic investment (yolk) in each, but this requires that the larvae will need to develop into self-sufficient embryos quickly -they will need to develop food capturing and digestive organs at an earlier stage. In contrast, other species produce larger yolky eggs, and their larvae commonly lack feeding organs and rely solely upon stored yolk for their early development and growth.
Pernet is also interested in the structure and function ("functional morphology") of the diverse array of feeding mechanisms used by invertebrate larvae, and how this relates to the eventual success of the larvae in their environment. In light of the dangerous environs of the plankton where the larvae are developing, their successes in food capture, digestion efficiency, and growth are essential groundwork so that they can metamorphose and begin their next path toward adult life and reproductive efforts critical for perpetuation of the species.
In his recently completed sabbatical leave, Pernet spent three months working with two leading scientists at the Kewalo Marine Lab of the University of Hawaii, Drs. Elaine Seaver and Aldine Amiel. In their collaborative work, they employed an infrared laser technique to remove large yolky cells in early embryos of the marine polychaete, Capitalla teleata. This novel experimental approach reduced the "maternal investment" (i.e., amount of yolk), testing hypotheses about how reduced energy content in the embryos would affect developmental patterns in larvae and juveniles. While the experimental larvae and juveniles were significantly smaller, their development and eventual morphology were otherwise comparable to un-manipulated controls. The results demonstrated a lack of plasticity in the developmental patterns and indicated that degree of maternally derived energy principally impacts growth. The laser techniques and the experiment's results were published in the May 2012 issue of Invertebrate Biology. Pernet also spent some of his sabbatical at the Friday Harbor Laboratories of the University of Washington, where he described the development of a marine polychaete species that had previously not been understood. For the remainder of his sabbatical year, Pernet was back at CSULB to work on his newly funded National Science Foundation (NSF) project.
Pernet's research program has been supported through grants from the NSF and NOAA's Sea Grant Program, among other sources. In addition to his recently funded NSF grant to study feeding mechanisms of ciliated larvae, he has also been instrumental in bringing NSF support to improve the College's research infrastructure. In 2007, Pernet was the lead investigator, along with co-PIs Editte Gharakhanian, Diane Lee, and Michael Myers, of an NSF grant funding the creation of the Confocal Microscope Facility in the CNSM. This facility features an Olympus Fluoview 1000 confocal laser scanning microscope that allows CSULB scientists to use fluorescent probes to examine the structure of cells and tissues in high resolution (for more information, see Confocal website). Since its inception, many faculty and students (both undergraduate and graduate) from the CNSM and outside of the CNSM have taken advantage of this state-of-the-art facility. Currently, faculty from the departments of Biological Sciences, Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Psychology have published at least nine scientific papers that included research done using the confocal facility, and more are in the works.
Although Pernet may have an understated demeanor if you see him in the halls of HSCI, beyond campus he is very well recognized by his professional colleagues internationally. As one indicator of this, since 2005 he has served on the editorial board of the journal Invertebrate Biology and, in 2010, he was elected as the Editor-in-Chief, a position continuing through 2016. He has also served (with fellow CSULB faculty Drs. Gwen Goodmanlowe and Chris Lowe) as a member of the secretariat of the Western Society of Naturalists from 2009-2011, and has provided continuing leadership and support to his principal professional society, the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology. He has produced over 25 scholarly publications on his research, which since joining the faculty in 2004 has included many student authors. Back on campus, he was recognized in 2010 with a Faculty Award for Excellence by the College.
Pernet undertook his undergraduate studies at CSU Stanislaus and UC Santa Cruz where he received his Bachelor's degree in Biology with highest honors. He went on to the University of Washington's Friday Harbor Laboratories where he earned his Ph.D. in 1998. His postdoctoral experiences included stints at the Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce in Florida, the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology, and back at Friday Harbor Labs, prior to moving to Long Beach in 2004. In the Department of Biological Sciences, Dr. Pernet teaches Invertebrate Zoology (BIOL 313) and Evolution and Diversity (BIOL 211). In his free time, Dr. Pernet likes to read, swim, and hike. He also enjoys exercising his French penchant for fine cheeses, which of course must be partnered with an appropriate wine.
For more about Dr. Pernet's research, visit http://www.csulb.edu/~bpernet/index.htm
In the October 2012 issue of Nature, Pernet's image of an invertebrate bryozoan (shown below), was chosen by the Small World Photomicrography Competition (see Nature website; select 3rd image). The image (below) shows a colony of the encrusting bryozoan, Membranipora sp., which lives on kelps offshore in the Pacific Ocean. Working with Emeritus Professor Russell Zimmer at the University of Southern California, Pernet captured the moment when a row of live colony members extended their tentacles to feed. The image was manipulated in Photoshop using a "glowing edges" filter.
The 12th Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) was held in San Jose, California, November 7-10, 2012. It is the largest multidisciplinary student conference in the United States. The conference attracts approximately 3,300 individuals, including 1,700 undergraduate students, 400 graduate students and postdoctoral scientists and 1200 faculty, program directors and administrators. In addition to presenting their own original research, students attend specialized seminars on cutting edge research and professional development in the biomedical sciences.
Each year, the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics (CNSM) through the Jensen SAS Center, sends a group of students to attend the ABRCMS. This year, five CNSM student research programs, Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP), the Research Initiative for Science Enhancement (RISE), Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) HSI-STEM and Bridges to the Baccalaureate (Bridges) were represented with sixteen (16) students attending the conference in San Jose, CA. From CSULB, nine students presented their own original research projects, all were poster presentations. Ms. Kirsten Embretson was recognized with an award from the American Society for Microbiology for her presentation, Autographa california Multiple Nucleopolyhedrovirus (AcMNPV) Pathogenesis in Trichoplusia ni Larvae. These studies were performed under the supervision of Dr. Eric Haas-Stapleton (Biological Sciences).
CSULB participants at the 2012 ABRCRMS, (L-R back row): Associate Dean Dr. Henry Fung (CNSM), Lizzette Rojas (RISE),Christina Lopez (RISE), Nnejiuwa Ibe (MARC), Archie Turner (Bridges), Professor Marco Lopez (Chemistry & Biochemistry), Nicole Cooper (RISE), and Sophana Sak (LSAMP),
(L-R front): Assistant Professor Vasanthy Narayanaswami (Chemistry and Biochemistry – MARC Program Director), Mariana Arellano (Bridges), Timothy De La Cruz (RISE), and Jennifer Sanchez (Bridges).
Not Photographed: Professor Dr. Paul Buonora, Professor Balwant Khatra, Michael Tran, Pauline Blaimont, Kirsten Embretson, Ezekiel Gonzalez-Fernandez, Shanna Newton, Dago Ramos, Fiona Ruiz, and Lauren Fisher.
This year's CNSM Student Research Symposium on September 14, 2012 in the University Student Union Ballrooms drew 66 posters presented by 93 undergraduate and graduate students. The presenters were mostly CSULB undergraduate students who worked with faculty mentors during the past academic year and summer and community college students associated with summer research programs at CSULB from Cerritos, Cypress and Long Beach City College. CSULB graduate students presented the results of research expected to lead to their theses.
Undergraduate student research was funded by the following programs:
Approximately 269 attendees reviewed the research done by students with faculty mentors. Here is a list of the presentations, along with some photos of the presentations.
Department of Physics and Astronomy
Michael Peterson, Ph.D., was recruited as an Assistant Professor to the Department of Physics and Astronomy in Fall 2011 to fill a computational theoretical opening in the department. He majored in both math and physics at the University of Utah where he graduated with a B.Sc. in Mathematics and a B.Sc. in Physics. From there, he went to Pennsylvania State University where he earned his Ph.D. in physics. He then was appointed as a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, Santa Cruz, followed by a postdoctoral research associate appointment in the Condensed Matter Theory Center in the Department of Physics at the University of Maryland College Park. Mike's research interests are the fractional quantum Hall effect, topological quantum phases, quantum phases of ultra-cold atom gases, composite fermion theory of the fractional quantum Hall effect, strongly correlated lattice models, and thermolectric propertiers of strongly correlated materials. He uses a variety of methods most of which are computationally heavy numerical methods (using high performance computer clusters). These methods are often necessary to make any theoretical progress due to the fact that most approximations are simply not applicable.
Mike is originally from southern California near Oxnard, and is enjoying becoming acquainted with the Long Beach area with his wife, Priti, and their two boys: Ishaan who just turned 3, and Vivek who is just over 3 months old. He spends pretty much all of his non-work time with the family. He finds that life has become pretty hectic with the new baby, but he says that he and his wife enjoy taking the kids to the Aquarium of the Pacific here in Long Beach to take a look at all the different fish and animals. Ishaan especially likes to search for Nemo and Dori. His parents live "nearby" in Oxnard and so the kids are able to spend quite a bit of time with their grandparents around the beach and partaking in various water related activities. In the spare time he does have, he likes to run for exercise, often with Ishaan in the trailer and they stop off at the park to play. Someday he hopes to have time again to read books, go to movies, attend concerts (especially live jazz), but the ages of his children have put most of that temporarily on hold.
Mike enjoys traveling internationally as well and his wife's extended family is almost entirely in India so they travel there from time to time. He is also beginning to explore the greater LA area (and down to San Diego) a little bit more. Recently, they went to Griffith Observatory and had a great time. They look forward to discovering what else southern California has to offer. Lastly, Mike says that he really loves how the weather in Long Beach is almost always sunny, warm, and perfect!
Director, Science Learning Center and
Coordinator, CNSM Shop
Looking for Jim? Jim McKibben, the Science Learning Center (SLC) Director and Shop Coordinator? If you are, try room 110 in the Hall of Science, just off the main entrance hall. You may find him there tinkering with exhibits or explaining Lightning in a Bottle to a group of visitors. If he's not there, you might find him tinkering with something in the CNSM Shop.
Jim's alternate job title could be "Tinkerer." He has tinkered with stuff to make it work since his boyhood visits to the city dump and salvage yard to find old parts and fix them to make them work. At one point, he had 11 old televisions in his bedroom, and he was able to get 9 of them working. Today, tinkering with old TVs has been replaced by tinkering with science exhibits in the SLC or in a science lab fixing or building needed lab equipment for faculty along with the two science shop technicians, Jeffrey Cox and Kevin Bullock.
Jim spent his growing up years not only scrounging through junk yards, building Jacob's ladders, and rebuilding televisions, but also making weekly forays through the Los Angeles Natural History Museum and the Museum of Science and Industry from the age of 10 when he and a cousin were dropped off at Exposition Park while their dads would usher events at the nearby Coliseum. He never tired of visits to the museums. He was always fascinated by what he could learn new each visit and came to regard the museums as his own personal learning space. After high school, he started his college career in majoring in Electronics Engineering at Cal Poly Pomona. Despite spending his boyhood completing a myriad of electrical circuits, he realized that electronics engineering was not the career path for him, and he transferred to CSULB in 1970 to study marine biology where he studied and researched sharks with Biology professor Donald Nelson, Ph.D., a leader in shark research. Following his Bachelor's degree, Jim spent nearly an entire year in Tahiti working with Nelson. At the end of the year, Nelson asked him to join his research lab as a graduate student. Jim's skills in electronics and tinkering were well applied in the lab because the Nelson lab pioneered the use of ultrasonic techniques in studying the movement patterns and home ranges of sharks. After his studies with Nelson, Jim applied his electronics background again, this time as a part-time technician in the Physics department. From there, he moved into a full-time machinist position in the CNSM Shops in 1983.
While Jim was transitioning from shark research to the science shop, the CNSM Natural Sciences Museum opened in the basement of Peterson Hall 2 (PH2), room 008, in 1979 featuring a moon rock display, and Henrietta, a 15 foot, 8 inch Burmese python. Along with the development of the museum in PH2, interest and support for science learning outreach from Dean Roger Bauer and President Stephen Horn resulted in the conversion of a 27-foot RV into the Mobile Science Museum (MSM) in 1980. Area schools benefited from the visits of the mobile science laboratory with hands-on, interactive displays to foster enthusiasm for learning science in local students. In 1991, with the support of Dean Jensen, Jim became the director of the museum, and his life-long loves of learning science and tinkering were united as he began transitioning the museum's static demonstration displays to hands-on exhibits that immersed the participants into doing science as opposed to observing it. In a move to have a name that fit the evolving scope of the museum, the CNSM Natural Science Museum became the Science Learning Center. With feedback from Dr. Ayer's visits during the early 1980s to the groundbreaking San Francisco Science Exploratorium interactive science displays, as well as his own knowledge of hands-on science learning, Jim built and modified science displays that invited learning by doing. The newly named center relocated across the hall to PH2-010, a larger, multi-exit room that had a good electrical supply since it had previously been the old machine shop. Located off the beaten track of most university visitors in the basement of PH2, chance visitors often felt as though they had stumbled upon a secret cache of science learning.
These days, the SLC can no longer claim to be the best kept secret on campus. Now located in the Hall of Science just off the main foyer on the new first floor, the SLC has its door open for business whenever Jim or one of his volunteers is available. The SLC now draws daily drop-in visitors who take a peek, and then stay a while as they look, touch, and do science in the SLC's new home. The crown jewel of the center, a large 700 gallon bamboo-encased salt water aquarium visible from the doorway, is the attribute that draws people through the doorway and begins their interaction with science. The SLC appeals broadly across campus. It is integrated regularly into campus tours, as an on-campus field trip for numerous summer camps, featured as one the campus gems by the President, and even serves as a regular part of the curriculum in the American Language Institute (ALI) classes. During visits to the SCL with the their English language learning students, ALI Teachers find that English conversation happens more readily when their students experience the SLC exhibits. The steady stream of visitors includes both international and U.S. educators seeking to implement interactive science learning in their home schools and districts. William Ritz, emeritus professor in Science Education and innovator in early childhood science education internationally brings collaborators from China and other Asian countries into the SLC and the MSM so educators can experience what is possible in hands-on science learning. Educators from Cambodia returned home with ideas that transformed a 10-ton truck into a mobile science classroom that takes week-long science lessons to children in rural villages. The SLC also has become a featured component in local homeschooling curriculum groups' field trips.
The diversity of groups visiting the SLC and the MSM and returning for repeat visits is indicative of the appeal of interactive, hands-on science learning regardless of age or background. While faculty members across the college are integrating more active learning into their classroom lectures to increase student engagement, the SLC and the MSM continue to model of informal interactive learning. Jim tells the story of four educators visiting from South Philadelphia who had plans for a double decker bus full of static displays that would inform viewers of the accomplishments of black scientists. After seeing the MSM, they changed to interactive displays in a regular converted bus, and had great success engaging students in learning about the contributions to science by black scientists. The SLC and MSM interactive displays help reduce the intimidation many students have about learning science. Jim tells of one student who was very resistant to anything science. Jim asked the student what he was interested in. The student replied: "Baseball." That was all Jim needed to introduce the student to Physics. When he demonstrated how Bernoulli's principle explains how a curve ball works, the student became engaged and interested in physics. The new location of the SLC in HSCI-110, on a hallway with lots of student traffic, provides opportunities for student learning connections to happen whenever its door is open, and Jim hopes to keep it open often. He believes that personal interaction is a stimulant that motivates learning.