Mike Brown and his wife, Nancy, have literally helped build a new university with their generosity.
The University of La Verne’s Research and Professional Activity Day brings a renewed sense of pride and accomplishment to faculty and students.
Images by Mark Vidal
The kitchen staff had prepared a lovely chicken salad, spread over a fluffy croissant half – textured with red grape, romaine lettuce and ripe tomatoes – and the tarragon red potato salad was the perfect complement, though Felicia Beardsley would not finish hers in peace.
“I already have faculty asking me, ‘Where can I get a research grant?’ ” said Beardsley, Associate Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences and one of more than a hundred in attendance Tuesday at the University of La Verne’s Ninth Annual Research and Professional Activity Day.
The event, organized by Al Clark, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, Faculty, provides a venue for faculty to showcase their research, publication and other professional activity. Rows of poster displays in the Ludwick Conference Center atop the Campus Center set the stage for faculty to strut their stuff.
“Sometimes, when you ask students to do a research paper or to do an assignment, they think that we just tell them what to do,” said Issam Ghazzawi, whose centerpiece was a 58-page case study titled, “Café Britt: A Costa Rica Pride.” “This shows them that we do work also, we do research. I believe that we need to be a good example.”
Beardsley, who was not presenting research, said the impact of such events is substantial and significant.
“What it does, is make the faculty think about their research in ways that they wouldn’t necessarily think about it,” Beardsley said. “They’ve got to make a public presentation to a broad audience, not just to their discipline. They have to really focus their work, but put it in terms that everybody else can understand. It’s easy to say, ‘OK, my colleagues are going to understand this. But now, to take it to a broader audience, why is this thing in your research so important? You’ve got to break it down.”
Jackie Allen, associate professor of education, recently made her fourth trip to Lithuania to study the neuropsychology of the teenage brain as part of the American Professional Partnership for Lithuania Educators (A.P.P.L.E.) Summer Institute. Like others on hand, her presentation Tuesday was just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.
“The poster presentation is actually a precursor to writing an article and it’s really got me going, toward writing my article,” Allen said. “I think it’s very important to share with colleagues, because they knew that I was going and they want to find out what happened and what the results were of my experiment and my experience. I can also share that the University of La Verne sponsored me to go and pay back to them.”
Some students attended, other presented. Professor of Chemistry Iraj Parchamazad, a member of The Academy at La Verne, enlisted two of his star pupils, Rasha Dubuni and Sara Strobel, to discuss their research about “A new evidence for the existence of Twisted Excited State (TICT) of 4-N,N – di-methyl aminobenzonitrile loaded with Zeolites in solid state” and “A novel approach to Photodegradation of 17α-ethinylestradiol and 17β-estradiol in Drinking Water by Using Zeolite Loaded with TiO2(quantum dot) as a photocatalyst.”
Never has optimized solar power and cleaner drinking water been so much fun.
“I have been doing research with Dr. Iraj since I was a freshman,” said Dubuni, now a senior. “I have learned so much and feel like I can make a contribution to society after I leave La Verne.”
“It is exciting, because this is something that can really be applied in real life,” said Strobel, a junior.
Students also contributed to the research of Professor of Computer Science Seta Whitby, whose class got right to the heart of the curriculum question.
“My research is more of a contest that was created with the provost’s help,” Whitby said. “The results are really helping executive management, the deans, eliminate some majors or create new majors. The bottom line is the results tell us whether the students’ perceptions are the same as the faculty’s perceptions about what’s going on, you know, ‘Why are we taking these classes?’
“In March, we will be taking these results to the WASC conference, where we’re sharing it with WASC committee members. Every single year, we do something brand new. This semester, the students are comparing the University of La Verne web pages. They’re choosing each major’s web pages and they’re assessing it. Then, we’ll take the students’ recommendations and I’ll give them to the dean so they can modify them. My perception is that this is addressing prospective students, current students and alumni, so, let’s see how much criticism we’re going to get from the students.
“We’re so proud of all of the results that we’re coming out with. It’s a great opportunity for all of our faculty, and I’m very curious to see what our peers are doing. They make me proud.”