California State University, Long Beach
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Faculty Recognized For Their Work

Published: August 21, 2017

Heather Barker

Heather Barker
Impact Accomplishment of the Year in Research, Scholarly and Creative Activity

When Heather Barker first developed the Research, Design and Deliver (RD&D) Collaborative Methodology, she couldn’t have imagined what it would lead to or where it might take her, and she is still finding out. The fact is her RD&D has had a broad impact in research, scholarship and practice, and it’s what has earned her this year’s Impact Accomplishment of the Year recognition.

The methodology finds its foundation in the innovative processes of Design Thinking, behaviors in complex adaptive systems (as described in computer programming and social science) and the (experience-based) philosophy and science of phenomenology. Barker developed it, she explains, out of a need to bring rigor to the design process.

This work has drawn much attention. The methodology provides the foundation for a book under contract with the prestigious publisher Routledge and due to be completed in a few months. In addition to the book, Barker has published in scholarly journals and presented the work at conferences, including a collaborative Research + Business presentation at an international conference. She has also presented workshops in Italy and Japan to train other professors how to use the methodology to have a more inclusive teaching environment.

Barker was selected to speak and present at the 2016 Long Beach Innovation Summit, at which she was recognized as the first recipient of the Academic Research Civic Innovation Award from the City of Long Beach. And, her work led to her serving as an international guest professor at China’s prestigious Shanghai, Tongji University College of Innovative Design and Innovation.

Finally, Barker’s RD&D methodology has formed the basis for a User Experience (UX) Design Curriculum in the Department of Design. As a result, students are being trained in and applying this innovative method, which has led them to earning national and international awards. Additionally, a newly proposed degree will be forthcoming from the department at Barker’s initiation. These include a master’s degree, a master’s certificate and a minor. She has authored new courses that will serve these initiatives.

Joshua A. Cotter

Joshua A. Cotter
Early Academic Career Excellence Award

Completing just his third academic year, Joshua Cotter hasn’t been at CSULB very long, but that hasn’t kept him from making his mark at the university. In fact, his early efforts and success at the campus has earned him this year’s Early Academic Career Excellence Award.

Perhaps the accomplishment Cotter is most proud of is the building of a new high-tech lab called the Physiology of EXercise and Sports Lab—or PEXS Lab for short.

The lab was created with a transitional research mindset where he visualized a lab space that would allow for the study of not only the positive effects of exercise on health and sport performance but for exploring the underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms that determine those changes. Since he started the effort, Cotter has earned nearly $500,000 in grants and awards, funding the purchase of more than 200 individual equipment items and bringing cutting-edge technology that will significantly impact both student and faculty experiences.

Additionally, Cotter has sought out ways for creating unique educational and hands-on opportunities for students. Last summer, he took a trip to the Karolinska Medical Institute in Sweden to aid in the development of research collaborations and study abroad opportunities as part of the Professors Around the World Program. He also developed a relationship with the Los Angeles Kings of the National Hockey League that led to the coordination and training of more than 30 students each year for the team’s annual physiological testing event.

To date, Cotter has been a member of eight master’s theses, five projects and 31 comprehensive exam committees. He serves as the graduate coordinator for exercise science, is a member of the College Research Committee, was a leader for the Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity (BUILD) Mentoring community, and has served on two search committees, one of which he chaired.

Stephen Mezyk

Stephen Mezyk
Outstanding Faculty Mentor for Student Engagement in Research, Scholarly and Creative Activity

For chemistry/biochemistry professor Stephen Mezyk, it has always been his philosophy as a mentor to foster complete success for every student, and his most recent efforts in assisting his students in achieving their goals have earned him the Outstanding Faculty Mentor for Student Engagement in Research, Scholarly and Creative Activity Award for 2017.

Over the last 18 months, Mezyk has mentored six master’s students, two senior thesis honors students and 19 undergraduate research students. During this time, he and his students created 15 published/accepted peer-reviewed manuscripts that included 16 student co-authors; 67 conference publications with 70 student co-authors; and external funding of $3 million with $37,500 in individual student scholarships and awards.

His department chair and colleague Chris Brazier reports that he has watched Mezyk mentor junior faculty, part-time lecturers, postdoctoral fellows, Ph.D. students from other institutions and CSULB undergraduate and graduate students.

“His exceptionally successful approach is to provide all of his students a wide range of additional opportunities,” Brazier wrote in his nomination letter. “Having these opportunities allows his students to learn collaborative research project management skills, obtain, analyze and present research findings at conferences, obtain their own research funding and publish their data in leading journals, all in an effort to ultimately find their desired employment or be admitted into their top graduate or professional school.”

One of his best student successes, Brittany Daws, the 2016 Outstanding Graduate for the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and now a student in the Ph.D. biochemistry program at UC Berkeley, recalled meeting Mezyk for the first time.

“In our first talk, he immediately invited me to join his research group and advised me to switch my major to biochemistry, which he believed would better prepare me for my medical school goal at the time,” Daws wrote in support of Mezyk’s candidacy for the mentor award. “I also distinctly remember him telling me, ‘My job is to make sure that you achieve success, and if you trust me and work hard, you will achieve all of your goals.’ That was the beginning of his mentorship for me, which continues even to this day.”