News and Events
Student Innovation Quest Workshops to be Held March 5 and April 7
Three workshops will be held to help students prepare applications for the annual Innovation Quest (iQ) competition. The workshops will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 5, and Monday, April 7. The competition fosters innovation and entrepreneurship by offering students a chance to develop their ideas and gain access to valuable resources. All Cal Poly students are eligible to participate. Faculty and staff are asked to encourage students to attend the workshop to ask questions, meet past winners and network. The competition is held in cooperation with the Cal Poly Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship (CIE). The iQ application is due Friday, April 11.
SLO Maker Faire Accepting Applications through Feb. 28
Calling all makers! The second annual SLO Mini Maker Faire is scheduled for 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. Saturday, May 10 at Mission Plaza. The faire is a festival that is open to all ages — babies to 100+ — to make, create, learn, invent, craft, recycle, build, think, play and be inspired by celebrating arts, crafts, engineering, food, music, science, and technology. The Call for Makers, Artists, Performers, Scientists, Crafters, and Engineers is open now through Feb 28, 2014.
Self-Healing Coating Could Eliminate Paint Scratches
Scratches in car paint may someday be a thing of the past. Phil Costanzo, a chemistry professor, and his research students are developing soybean oil-based coatings that are self-healing. The atoms in the coating act like molecular Velcro — they can stick together, be pulled apart, and then stick back together.
Cal Poly to Help K-12 Teachers Integrate Technology in the Classroom
Cal Poly is presenting the Central Coast Teacher Technology Challenge Day from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 8. The event is designed to help local K-12 teachers integrate technology into the classroom to meet Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards. The event is funded by Google, the CSU Digital Ambassador Program, the Cal Poly School of Education Dean's Office, and TQP (Teacher Quality Programs) grant. Partners include the Cal Poly School of Education, Center for Excellence in STEM Education, and San Luis Obispo Computer-Using Educators group.
For more information, visit the School of Education website.
Los Angeles Radio Station Features STRIDE's Access for All Program
Los Angeles radio station KPFK featured Kevin Taylor, chair of the Kinesiology Professor, on its Jan. 29 Access Unlimited show. Taylor discussed STRIDE's Activity for All program, which provides community members of all levels of ability with opportunities for recreation and exercise. The program is staffed by Cal Poly kinesiology students who collaborate with engineering studnets and volunteers to create fun and inclusive adapted physical activities.
Kinesiology Studies Help Local Families
The New Times of San Luis Obispo reports that the Kinesiology Department's Healthy Beginnings studies are having a positive impact locally. Professors Suzanne Phelan and Todd Hagobian are investigating the effects of diet and exercise interventions on pregnant women and their partners.
Biology Alumna to Present on Biofuels at Jan. 30 Science Cafe
As part of the Science Café presentation “Unlocking the Energy Secrets of the Planet,” attendees will have their knowledge of biofuels tested and hear about Kathleen Krueger's research on fungi as a potential biofuel. The presentation will be held from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 30, in the second floor cafe lounge at Kennedy Library. Kathleen Krueger is a STEM Teacher and Researcher Program (STAR) fellow who studied fungi at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash. For more information, go to Kennedy Library Out Loud.
NSF Video Features Cal Poly Citizen Scientist Astronomy Study
The National Science Foundation website Science Nation has posted a video featuring the RECON project led by Cal Poly Physics Professor John Keller and astronomer Marc Buie from the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colo. The Research and Education Cooperative Occultation Network (RECON) project provides telescope equipment and training to citizen scientists in 14 small, western U.S. communities north and south of Reno, Nev., where night skies are clear and dark. The network brings together students, teachers, and knowledgeable amateur astronomers from each community to determine the sizes of Kuiper belt objects — large, frozen bodies that orbit the sun beyond Neptune. The sizes of the Kuiper belt objects will help determine other characteristics, such as their density and composition.
Thus far, the project involves over 50 community members and 20 teachers and their students from 15 communities in California and Nevada. The astronomers hope to extend the network to include 40 communities stretching from southern Arizona to Washington state.
Application Deadline for CSU Student Research Competition is Jan. 8
(January) — Up to 10 Cal Poly students will be selected to compete in the CSU Student Research Competition at CSU East Bay, May 2-3. Dean Bailey will choose representatives from the College of Science and Mathematics to present before the Academic Senate, which will choose Cal Poly's statewide competitors. Interested students should submit the registration form and a research summary to their department chair by Wednesday, January 8.
Congratulations December Grads!
(December) — The newest batch of Cal Poly alumni began the rest of their lives last Saturday, Dec. 14. Congratulations and best of luck to our new grads!
Cal Poly Again Among Top 50 on Kiplinger’s 'Top 100 Best Value in Public College List'
Cal Poly has again been named among the Kiplinger’s Personal Finance list of "100 Best Values in Public Colleges" for 2014. Cal Poly ranked No. 43 for in-state and No. 34 for out-of-state for its "high four-year graduation rate, low average student debt at graduation, abundant financial aid, a low sticker price, and overall great value."
Super STEM Saturday
A half-day of workshops intended to enrich science education in your classroom, sponsored by Central Coast Science Project.
Free to K-12 Teachers!
When: Saturday, December 7, 2013
Where: Cal Poly, Building 180 Room 330
Ocean Activities Day
Cal Poly students from the Communicating Ocean Sciences to Informal Audiences (COSIA) course will be presenting NEW hands-on ocean-themed projects to public audiences. The activities are family friendly and are designed for all ages. This event will take place rain or shine.
Cal Poly Partners with Local Teachers to Put Common Core into Practice
The Common Core standards are here, and Cal Poly's School of Education is working with local teachers to prepare. This summer, a team of professors held a free workshop attended by 103 local K-6 teachers and administrators representing all of San Luis Obispo County's school districts as well as two out-of-county districts.
Physics Alumnus Keeps World's Largest Telescope Running
Aside from being a proud member of the League of Physicists Who Own Tractors, Mike Pollard (B.S., Physics, 1998) is the senior engineer in the Technical Services Department at W. M. Keck Observatory, home to the two largest and most scientifically productive optical and infrared telescopes in the world. Set atop Hawaii's Mauna Kea volcano, Keck Observatory's 10-meter-diameter mirrors allow the world's top physicists to take advantage of the clear, dark atmosphere above the island. All areas of astronomy and astrophysics research have greatly benefited from the observatory.
Are Black Holes the Chicken or the Egg?
Which came first, the galaxy or the black hole? Cal Poly physics professor Vardha Bennert and her students will investigate that question with a $300,000 grant from the National Science Foundation.
Virtually all the galaxies for which astrophysicists have collected and analyzed data have black holes at their centers. As the scientific community has studied these black holes, it has found a consistent relationship between the mass of a black hole and the mass of its host galaxy, which suggests that, as one forms and grows, it causes the other to form and grow. But which one started the whole thing?
CSI Cal Poly
SAN LUIS OBISPO (November) — A terrible crime took place in Cal Poly's Learn by Doing Lab this summer: someone stole the candy jars. Luckily, students from Pacheco Elementary School solved the mystery using skills they'd learned during the four-day Learn by Doing Science Summer Camp.
Biology Professor Develops Tree Identification App
SAN LUIS OBISPO (November) — If you've ever wondered, "What tree is that?" the answer is now, "There's an app for that." Matt Ritter, a biology professor, has developed an iPhone app called City Tree for identifying urban trees.
Trees that thrive in urban environments are somewhat uniform around the world. According to Ritter, the same 450 or so trees are used in cities across the globe. "If you're in Singapore or L.A. or San Francisco, you can identify the tress using this app," Ritter said.
Warren J. Baker Center for Science and Mathematics Dedicated Nov. 1
Photo by Brittany App
SAN LUIS OBISPO (November) — The campus community, donors, alumni and friends of Cal Poly gathered to dedicate the new Warren J. Baker Center for Science & Mathematics Nov. 1.
Dedication audience in front of the Baker Center Photo by Brittany App President Jeffrey D. Armstrong and Phil Bailey, dean of the College of Science & Mathematics, recognized the contributions of donors, architects, builders and artists as well as Cal Poly faculty, staff and students.
Tour the Cal Poly Pier November 16
SAN LUIS OBISPO (November) — The Cal Poly Pier in Avila Beach will be open to the public on Saturday, November 16, from 9 a.m. to noon.
Interactive displays on the pier for the spring “open house” event will include special touch-tanks full of live marine creatures, microscopes for viewing ultra-small sea creatures, a “discover SCUBA” experience and more.
The CSU blog reports that "On October 4, CSU’s Council on Ocean Affairs, Science & Technology (COAST) hosted a one-day workshop at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo where faculty and students in science disciplines learned successful strategies on how to bridge the gap between academia and Sacramento."
Ocean Activities Day
Cal Poly Students from Communicating Ocean Sciences to Informal Audiences (COSIA) course will be presenting hands-on ocean themed projects to public audiences. The activities are very family friendly – and are designed for all ages. This event will be happening rain or shine!
Kinesiology Professor Awarded $3.3 Million NIH Grant to Study Fathers' Health During Pregnancy
SAN LUIS OBISPO (August) — Not many pregnancy studies focus on dads, but Cal Poly kinesiology professor Todd Hagobian is changing that. Hagobian recently received a $3.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study whether mothers who change their eating and exercise habits during pregnancy will rub off on fathers.
Second Annual Math Academy Inspires High School Students
(July) — Mathematics professors Elsa Medina and Amelie Schinck-Mickel know the challenges faced by first-generation college students — they were both the first in their family to attend college. They founded the Math Academy, now in its second year, to give under-represented high school students from Santa Maria and Pioneer High Schools the opportunity to do some hands-on math and get a taste of college life.
Chemistry Alumnus Appointed Vice President of Product Development at HealthTell
(June) — Ted Tasarow (B.S., Chemistry, 1989) has joined HealthTell, Inc. as Vice President Product Development. HealthTell is developing accurate, sensitive tests to detect and monitor cancer and other chronic diseases. Tasarow brings with him experience in developing medical diagnostic services.
Teaching Candidate Overcomes the Odds
SAN LUIS OBISPO — For a perfect example of a lifelong learner, look no further than Kathleen Krueger (B.S., Biological Sciences, 2004; Single Subject Credential in Biological Sciences, 2010). Krueger earned both her bachelor's degree and single subject credential while working full time for Cal Poly's custodial services.
Desert Plants May Yield Evolutionary Clues
SAN LUIS OBISPO — "Studying the plants of the future today" is how Charley Knight, a Cal Poly biology professor, describes the research he and his students conduct in the Mojave Desert.
"We're studying heat and salt tolerant plants that might become more prevalent in the future" because of the effects of climate change, Knight said.
Future Teachers Research Student Learning
SAN LUIS OBISPO — Three future teachers from Cal Poly's School of Education are investigating what's happening inside the minds of mathematics students. They recently presented their findings alongside professors, doctoral students and other professionals at the Conference on Research in Undergraduate Mathematics Education.
Number of Scientist-Educators on the Rise but Training and Funding Not Yet Aligned
SAN LUIS OBISPO — Science education may benefit from a new trend in faculty positions. Cal Poly Chemistry Professor Seth Bush is a member of the research team that recently published the first large-scale study of U.S. science faculty with education specialties (SFES). The researchers conclude that the number of these faculty members is increasing nationwide.
Physics Students Present at Prestigious Research Conference
SAN LUIS OBISPO — Not everyone gets invited to a Gordon Research Conference, especially not undergraduates. But that's what happened to Kara Zappitelli, a physics major, and Dana Hipolite, a math major, both working on liquid crystal research with Physics Professor Karl Saunders.
Students Challenge Laws of Physics in Italy
SAN LUIS OBISPO — A Cal Poly professor and his students are trying to disprove the laws of physics. Tom Gutierrez is part of the international collaboration called the Cryogenic Underground Observatory for Rare Events (CUORE), and for five years he's taken undergraduates to the Gran Sasso National Laboratory (LNGS) in Assergi, Italy, thanks to a grant from the National Science Foundation.
13th Annual College of Science and Mathematics Research Conference
SAN LUIS OBISPO — Cal Poly’s College of Science and Mathematics is hosting its 13th Annual Student Research Conference May 16 and 17. Almost 100 students are presenting posters or talks on topics ranging from organic polymer solar cells to genotype and breast cancer risk to the effects of relocating rattlesnakes. The conference celebrates science and our students. By discussing their faculty-supervised research with inquisitive audiences, our students gain the experience they need to become professional scientists.
SAN LUIS OBISPO (May) — STRIDE's Pink and Dude Chefs treated Cal Poly alumni and friends to some healthy cooking this winter. Following a campus brunch based on student recipes, Cal Poly's Health Ambassadors and one of their middle school chef trainees demonstrated how to make granola.
SAN LUIS OBISPO (April) — Do-it-yourself science and technology, sustainability, unique hand-made crafts, and educational exhibits will be on display at the Mini Maker Faire Saturday, May 11, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Mission Plaza in San Luis Obispo. The Faire is a family-friendly showcase of invention, creativity and resourcefulness. Participants will share what they're making and what they learned from the process. Makers range from tech enthusiasts to crafters to homesteaders to scientists to garage tinkerers of all ages and backgrounds. Cal Poly collaborators include the Materials Engineering Department, Architecture Department, Liberal Arts and Engineering Studies Program, Expressive Technology Studios, and the Science Cafe at Cal Poly’s Kennedy Library. The Faire aims to entertain, inform and create community.
Learn more about the Maker Faire
Follow the Faire on Facebook
Cal Poly Physics Demonstrations Wow Middle School Students
SAN LUIS OBISPO (April) — How better to celebrate Pi Day — March 14 — than with three Cal Poly physics students and two cars full of science experiments? That's what Santa Lucia Middle School in Cambria did with the help of Physics Professor Karl Saunders and three of his students. Photo by family and event photographer Debbie Markham of Cambria.
SAN LUIS OBISPO (April) — All College of Science and Mathematics students are invited to submit an abstract for a talk or poster for the 13th annual Student Research Conference. The event celebrates science and our students. By discussing their faculty-supervised research with inquisitive audiences, our students gain the experience they need to become professional scientists.
The conference will take place May 16 and 17 in Fisher Hall. Applications are due May 6 at 5 p.m.
Apply for the research conference
SAN LUIS OBISPO (April) — The community is invited to the second annual “Beneath the Surface” Earth Day celebration and beach cleanup to be held Sunday, April 21, in Avila Beach. Organized by Cal Poly biology student Elizabeth Sikkema and sponsored by the Surfrider Foundation and EcoSLO, the cleanup is a chance to give back, learn a little and have some fun.
SAN LUIS OBISPO (March) — The Cal Poly Pier in Avila Beach will be open to the public from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, May 4. Interactive displays on the pier for the spring open house event will include special touch-tanks full of live marine creatures, microscopes for viewing ultra-small sea creatures, a “discover SCUBA” experience and more.
Learn by Doing Inspires Alum's Teaching Style
SAN LUIS OBISPO (March) — Malcolm McClain (B.S., Ecology and Systematic Biology, 1997; Single Subject Credential, Biological Sciences, 2000), a science teacher at Robert Louis Stevenson Middle School in St. Helan, Calif., credits Cal Poly's Learn by Doing approach with forming the foundation of his teaching style, according to an article in the St. Helena Star. “Cal Poly’s motto, is ‘learn by doing.’ And, so, that’s what happens in my class," McClain is quoted as saying.
Read more about McClain in the St. Helena Star
Chemistry Grad to Practice Medicine in Native Cambodia
SAN LUIS OBISPO (March) — Daniel Chan (B.S., Chemistry, 1994) recalled his rough childhood in Cambodia and decided to return to provide medical care to the poor and hungry. He and more than 100 medical professionals - including surgeons, optometrists, nurses and pharmacists – estimate they will treat about 1,000 patients a day. Currently Chan serves as the lead clinician and senior partner at Healthcare Partners in Los Alamitos. He departed mid-February.
SAN LUIS OBISPO (March) — Cal Poly students present Ocean Activities Day Saturday, March 9, 11-1 p.m. at the Avila Beach Sea Life Center at 50 San Juan St. in Avila Beach. Solve the mystery of the traveling barnacle, try on blubber gloves to learn how marine mammals stay warm, discover who lives in our kelp beds, or use puppets to eat like a sea creature. Activities are designed for all ages, and admission is free.
Biology Students Lead NSF Workshop, Teach New Technique to Professors
SAN LUIS OBISPO (February) — Cal Poly biology students are among the few experts in the country on a new method of protein analysis. Last December they shared their expertise by teaching the process to professors and PhD students from other universities. The students planned and led a National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded workshop in environmental proteomics, a method of analyzing how organisms respond to different environmental stresses.
Biology Professor Receives Conservation Award
SAN LUIS OBISPO (February) — On Feb. 22, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service honored Cal Poly alumnus and Biological Sciences Professor Francis Villablanca with the service's Conservation Award. The award is given on a case-by-case basis. Villablanca was recognized for "outstanding efforts to conserve the natural resources of San Luis Obispo County, and in particular his leadership on recovery efforts for the endangered Morro Bay kangaroo rat," said Chris Kofron of Fish and Wildlife.
Read more about the conservation award
Million Dollar Grant Funds Collaborative Computing
SAN LUIS OBISPO (February) — Cal Poly and UC Berkeley recently received a million dollar grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for the development of the IPython Notebook, a project designed to make scientific and technical computing collaborative and interactive. The Sloan Foundation funds high impact work that is unlikely to be funded by the government or private foundations.
SAN LUIS OBISPO (February) — With asteroid 2012 DA14 making its historic close pass by Earth today (Friday, Feb. 15), UC Santa Barbara reports that physicist and professor Philip M. Lubin has been working with Cal Poly statistics professor Gary Hughes to develop a proposal for a system that could eliminate an asteroid this size in an hour. The proposed system is designed to harness some of the power of the sun and convert it into a massive phased array of laser beams that can destroy, or evaporate, asteroids posing a potential threat to Earth.
Read more about the asteroid defense system on Space.com
Read more about the asteroid defense system on UCSB's website
Watch asteroid 2012 DA14 live as it passes Earth
SAN LUIS OBISPO (February) — Cal Poly mathematics students are cracking the mysteries of climate changes that happened 1.2 million years ago. Cal Poly is one of only a few undergraduate members of the Mathematics and Climate Research Network (MCRN). Funded by the National Science Foundation, MCRN brings together top scientists and mathematicians to explore how mathematics can contribute to climate research.
Statistics Student Wins National Awards for Biomedical Research Presentation
SAN LUIS OBISPO (February) — Cal Poly student Debbie Huang recently won two awards at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students, a national gathering held in San Jose in November 2012. Huang, a statistics major, received a presentation award and one of only five interdisciplinary awards for her poster. Her research focused on the statistical analysis of cardiovascular disease in women.
Read more about Huang's research
SAN LUIS OBISPO (January) — Cal Poly and the Clark Center for the Performing Arts will host a presentation by Cal Poly alumna Rebecca Mieliwocki, the 2012 National Teacher of the Year, from 7 to 8:15 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 20. Mieliwocki will present “Supercharging the Education Profession by Igniting the Power of One” at the Clark Center at Arroyo Grande High School, 487 Fair Oaks Ave. in Arroyo Grande. Mieliwocki has taught for 14 years, including nine years in her current position as a seventh-grade English teacher at Luther Burbank Middle School in Burbank, Calif. “Students learn best when they have the most enthusiastic, engaged teachers possible,” she said.
Read more on Mieliwocki's talk
Biology Study May Help Prevent Roadkills
SAN LUIS OBISPO (January) — Wildlife in San Luis Obispo county is getting a boost from research performed by biology students working with Professor John Perrine. Caltrans has commissioned the students to examine the effectiveness of a fence it recently erected to keep wildlife off Cuesta Grade north of San Luis Obispo. As it moves people north and south, Highway 101 cuts through a major east-west migration corridor for large animals such as bears, mountain lions, deer and wild pigs. The top of Cuesta Grade is one of the most popular places for animals to cross the highway, which can lead to high numbers of roadkill. Caltrans hopes the fence will direct animals to safe crossing places, thereby reducing roadkills while allowing necessary migration patterns to continue.
Read more about the wildlife study
School of Ed Alumna Honored as Cambria Citizen of the Year
SAN LUIS OBISPO (January) — The Cambrian reported that the Cambria, Calif., Chamber of Commerce chose Marcelle Bakula (Teaching Credential, Social Science, 1981; Special Education, 2004) as the 2012 Citizen of the Year. Bukala was honored for her tireless volunteer efforts supporting multiple local projects from land preservation to children's programs.
Read the article in The Cambrian
Apply for CSU Student Research Competition
SAN LUIS OBISPO (January) — Up to 10 Cal Poly students will be selected to compete in the statewide CSU Student Research Competition at Cal Poly Pomona, May 10-11. Dean Bailey will choose representatives from the College of Science and Mathematics to present before the Academic Senate. The senate will decide who continues on to the statewide competition. Students interested in competing should submit the registration form and a research summary to their department chair by Friday, February 8.
View guidelines and registration form on the Research and Graduate Programs' website
Read Dean Bailey's letter encouraging students to compete (pdf)
Learn about Fingerprinting Bacteria at Science Cafe
SAN LUIS OBISPO (January) — Hear stories from Professor Chris Kitts and third year biology student Maria Zuleta Alvarado about their adventures collecting local E. coli data for the Cal Poly Library of Pyroprints (CPLOP). The database is intended to be a searchable, online library and lower-cost resource for tracking E. coli to help researchers understand who or what is polluting the water. Then, brainstorm with the researchers about ways to collect wildlife “samples” that include origin confirmation. It’s one of their greatest challenges!
Date: Thursday, February 7
Time: 11:00am – 12:30pm
Location: Kennedy Library, second floor café lounge