BIG IDEAS INITIATIVE
EXAMINING COASTAL FAULTS
ADDRESSING THE NEEDS OF NURSES
UNDERSTANDING URBAN WILDFIRE
MOTIVATING PEOPLE TO LIVE TOBACCO-FREE
UNRAVELING THE MYSTERIES OF SPIDER SILK
COMMUNICATION AND THE JOURNEY THROUGH CANCER
SDSU communication researcher Wayne Beach has produced a new documentary that illustrates the critical importance of clear communication for patients, family and health care providers.Read more about the documentary and research..
HOW SAN DIEGO SCIENTISTS ARE HELPING THE NAVY KEEP SHIP HULLS CLEAN
KPBS reports on SDSU research that might be a boon to the U.S. Navy.
DEATH STAR BACTERIAL STRUCTURES COULD BE DRUG DELIVERY TOOL
By scraping tubeworms off the bottom of boats in San Diego Bay to study them, San Diego State University researchers discovered a beneficial bacterium that aids in establishing colonies could also be a boon for human health, because the same process might already take place in the human gut.
While examining this bacterium that causes metamorphosis in the humble tubeworm, marine microbiologist Nicholas Shikuma discovered that the nanoscale syringe-like structures produced by it – a structure nicknamed the Death Star for the effect it has – could be used in the future to deliver novel therapeutics or vaccines to targeted cells and tissues in humans.Read more about Shikuma's lab.
AN SDSU SPACE PIONEER
Alumna Ellen Ochoa was the first Hispanic woman in space and went on to lead NASA's Johnson Space Center. She credits her time as an SDSU undergraduate with fostering her interest in aerospace science.Read about Ellen Ochoa's honorary doctorate.
MIMICKING PHOTOSYNTHESIS TO MAKE AFFORDABLE FUEL CELLS
Chemistry researcher and assistant professor Jing Gu is focused on making it both affordable and green, through artificial photosynthesis that mimics the plants to convert solar energy into hydrocarbons that stores energy in chemical bonds.Learn more about Dr. Gu's important research.
GENETIC SCREENING METHOD AIDS GLOBAL SHARK CONVERSATION
KPBS covers an innovation out of an SDSU viromics lab: a new method for quick genetic screening that could streamline shark conservation efforts around the world.Read the KPBS story.
A ROBOTIC LOOK AT AGING
An octogenarian reaches for a glass of water on the table. Because of miscommunication between the aging brain and muscles in the hand, and the time-delay in the brain signal reaching the hand—a common occurrence for older adults – he overreaches and knocks the glass to the floor.
Now, a robot manipulator that has been trained and configured in a SDSU lab to mimic the human brain may eventually help avoid such mishaps by bringing stability and safety in motion.
Peiman N. Mousavi’s research team has spent four years working on algorithms that can successfully command the robot to mimic the human brain and the jerky actions of an elderly person. This has helped advance the understanding of why the miscommunication and subsequent time-delay happens between the brain and muscles.Learn more about Dr. Mousabi's work.
THE SDSU ENTREPRENEURSHIP ECOSYSTEM
Hundreds of students interact with SDSU’s entrepreneurship ecosystem each year through classes, mentorship programs, incubators, residential life communities, internships, pitch competitions, student groups, study abroad experiences and funding opportunities.
Many of them work with the university’s startup incubator, the Zahn Innovation Platform (ZIP) Launchpad, or the Lavin Entrepreneurship Center, which provides education and resources to students interested in entrepreneurship.
Others use their engineering and design talents to support classmates’ ventures and develop a love for product development or design during the process.
THE SCIENCE OF SMELL
How is our sense of smell linked to our health?
SDSU nutrition professor Surabhi Bhutani examines how certain smells are associated with memories and feelings, and how our smells can trigger chemical responses that influence our emotions, well-being and eating habits.
The same chemical responses that make food enjoyable cause people to overeat, leading to health issues like obesity, heart disease and diabetes. Bhutani’s research aims to understand the biological link between smell and hunger.
THE PATH TO PERSONALIZED MEDICINE
How does a tumor escape the normal checks and balances that keep cells healthy and cancer-free?
The SDSU chemistry professor Christal Sohl studies how enzymes, the protein workhorses of human cells, go rogue in ways that lead to cancer. Unlocking the relationship between enzymes and cancer could help researchers develop new treatments for patients.
“Once we know, at the molecular level, how the activity of the enzyme changes to support tumor growth, we can ultimately design personalized medicine that targets rogue enzymes in our quest to cure cancer,” Sohl explained.
RESEARCH TO REDUCE FOOD INSECURITY
How does food insecurity affect our health? According to San Diego State University nutrition professor Amanda McClain, the consequences of food insecurity aren’t limited to hunger.
People who don’t know where their next meal will come from experience high levels of stress and uncertainty, which can negatively impact their physical and mental health.
McClain’s research considers ways to reduce food insecurity. She has found that by participating in food assistance and community service programs, the food insecure can reduce stress and improve their health.
ECOLOGIST WORKS TO SAVE THE DISAPPEARING AMERICAN PRAIRIE
Professor Nick Barber is working to save one of the most endangered ecosystems on the planet: America’s tallgrass prairie.
Ninety-five percent of tallgrass prairie has been eliminated in the conversion to crops and cities. In research supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), Barber studies how to restore the prairie and support the biodiversity of the plants, animals, and microorganisms that live there.
One of Barber’s favorite things about his research is working in tandem with students.
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS WITH ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE
SDSU research and programs bring students face-to-face with humanoid robots, virtual reality, AVATARS and more.
Learn how SDSU researchers are making a vital difference by studying how to leverage these new technologies in ways that positively impact our world.
DISCOVERY HOLDS PROMISE FOR NEW DRUG THERAPY
The SDSU Heart Institute receives funding from the National Institutes of Health to research a possible drug treatment for heart attacks.
Molecular cardiologist Chris Glembotski is hoping his research will lead to clinical trials and result in a drug therapy that patients receive immediately after a heart attack.
Unlike some parts of the human body, such as the skin and bones, the heart does not heal if damaged. But the drug therapy would to boost the heart’s natural defense against the damage, decrease mortality and enhance the quality of life
LUKE MILLER'S RESEARCH IN ALASKA
San Diego State University biology professor Luke MIller conducts research in Alaska working with scientists from University of California’s Irvine and Santa Cruz campuses to study how climate change affects tide pools and the organisms that live in them. Their work is funded by the National Science Foundation.
THE KEY TO HAPPY RELATIONSHIPS
KPBS discusses recent research on relationships with SDSU education professor Alyson Shapiro. Shapiro studies family dynamics during the transition to parenthood, child emotional and social development within relationships and mindfulness within relationships
KQED SCIENCE: TURRET SPIDERS LAUNCH SNEAK ATTACKS
KQED features the research of SDSU professor Marshal Hedin and University of California, Davis, researcher James Starrett. The duo works to better understand how the changing environment might have shaped how turret spiders evolved in California.
IJEOMA NWABUZOR OGBONNAYA'S WORK TO BUILD HEALTH ENVIRONMENTS FOR ABUSE VICTIMSHow can we create healthy environments for families that have experienced domestic violence? San Diego State University social workprofessorIjeoma Nwabuzor Ogbonnaya studies difficult issues like domestic violence and child maltreatment. She researches, designs and hopes to eventually implement interventions and programs that serve victims in ways that are culturally and socially relevant to them.
YEA-WEN CHEN'S INTERCULTURAL COMMUNICATIONS RESEARCH
Why are conversations with people who disagree with us on political issues so difficult to have?
San Diego State University intercultural communications professor Yea-Wen Chen studies how people communicate about sensitive issues like politics or healthcare. Her research considers how communication affects communities and people groups, and how the ways we communicate about different cultures inevitably influences diversity, inclusion and social justice.
WHAT LEARNING LOOKS LIKE
KPBS looks at research out of San Diego State University that considers how the brains of children with autism work.
LLUVIA FLORES-RENTERIA'S CALIFORNIA FLORA RESEARCH
How is climate change affecting Southern California flora?
This question is at the very center of San Diego State University professor Lluvia Flores-Rentería’s life work.
She studies how plants interact with fungi and microbes, and how those interactions are influenced during episodes of extreme climate, such as drought or high temperatures.
Her research has already found that high temperatures and drought have a negative impact on pinyon pines’ ability to reproduce.
ARIANNE MILLER'S SELF-CARE PSYCHOLOGY
Most people know the importance of engaging in self-care, but many of us nevertheless neglect our emotional and physical well-being.
Counseling and school psychology professor Arianne Miller’s research aims to identify and remove the obstacles that prevent people and communities from participating in the vital practices that promote health and well-being.
“My research looks at what people think and feel about how they take care of themselves, so we can better help them in self-care,” said Miller, whose became interested in self-care after a brain cancer diagnosis years ago.
KPBS: SDSU CATALOGS CALIFORNIA PLANT LIFE AND INVESTIGATES IMPACT OF CLIMAGE CHANGE
"Is climate change affecting how plants reproduce? That’s the question behind a project launching at San Diego State and 18 other California universities this fall. KPBS education reporter Megan Burks introduces us to some of the scientists taking part, and the native plant they’re studying." - KPBS
FORMER NSF LEADER: SDSU A NATIONAL MODEL
Former National Science Foundation director Rita Colwell praised San Diego State University during a recent campus visit as a beacon of diversity and a model for U.S. higher education.
Colwell, the first female leader of the NSF and a member of the National Academy of Science, visited campus in fall 2018 to emphasize the importance of diversity in science.
She met with faculty, students and university administrators—including President Adela de la Torre—to discuss the importance of diversity in STEM education, and attended research presentations by graduate students and visited faculty labs.
ERICA FORSBERG'S GUT REACTION LAB
Why do we get that sinking feeling in our stomach when we are nervous?
chemistry professor Erica Forsberg is attempting to answer this question by analyzing how the bacteria in our guts communicate with our brains. Her “gut reaction” lab studies how the beneficial bacteria in our guts produce compounds that alter how we feel and how our brains function.
She plans to expand this research by looking at how diets, drugs or disease alter how gut bacteria affect neurological health.
INTERDISCIPLINARY RESEARCH: DIGITAL HUMANITIES
The Digital Humanities Center at the SDSU library is an interdisciplinary hub for the campus Digital Humanities Initiative and "Digital Humanities and Global Diversity" Area of Excellence.
The center supports research, teaching, and learning that values the importance of the humanities, and the interactions of humans in real time and space, in the digital age.
STUDENT SUMMER RESEARCH
“I love research. I have an innate curiosity when it comes to asking the reasons why," says Hannah Liddle, a biology major.
Liddle is one of nearly 70 students participating in SDSU’s Summer Undergraduate Research Program. Each participant works under the direction of a faculty mentor for nearly eight weeks and is funded by SDSU. The projects encompass a broad range of research and creative activities, from science to education to the arts.
Research opportunities help students discover which subjects interest them as scholars, allow students to gain the critical skills necessary to enter graduate school, and help underscore the real-life applications of classroom teachings
TOOL HELPS FISHERMEN, CONSERVATIONISTS
Historically, fisheries and the conservation community have struggled to find common ground. The tension between one side's desire to increase profits and the other’s to preserve endangered or protected marine species that can be killed as bycatch has made it difficult to find solutions that satisfy both.
Now, a new online tool developed by researchers at San Diego State University in collaboration with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other universities could win support from both groups. EcoCast provides computer-generated maps to help fishermen target productive fishing spots while alerting them to areas likely to harbor protected species.
MATERIAL ENGINEERING IN THE FINAL FRONTIER
If humans are ever to colonize the moon or Mars, they’re going to need habitats, tools and other physical resources to keep them alive. Researchers are tinkering with ways to fabricate tools and building supplies from the raw minerals available on extraterrestrial terrain.
Randall German, professor emeritus at SDSU, is considering how space pioneers might accomplish material engineering in space using sintering, a manufacturing process that turns a powdered substance into a solid mass using heat and pressure. To get a better understanding of how gravitational conditions in space affect the sintering process, German sent materials into space in a collaboration with SpaceX.
A STATE-OF-THE-ART MRI MACHINE OF OUR OWN
MRI machines are among the most critical tools for scientists who analyze brain images to understand basic human cognition as well as disease and disorders like fetal alcohol syndrome, autism and traumatic brain injury.
With the acquisition of a new machine, SDSU students and faculty are able to do groundbreaking research with brain imaging right here on the Mesa.
“There’s a lot of advancement in the technology, and this [machine] is the top-of-the-line one,” said psychology professor Martin Sereno, director of the SDSU brain imaging center. “It puts us a little ahead of a lot of other places.”
MAKING VR LEARNING A REALITY
The waxing and waning phases of the moon arise from the three-dimensional interplay between the positions of the sun, moon and Earth. It can be a complex concept for students to get their heads around—but it might become easier thanks to virtual reality programs that allow learners to watch these moon phases play out from a sort of interstellar birds-eye view.
“When we learned about the moon phases, we used foam balls attached to popsicle sticks,” said Harsimran “Sim” Baweja, the SDSU Instructional Technology Fellow for immersive learning. “How awesome would it be to float in space and see how the sun’s light illuminates the moon and creates the phases? Things like this are possible today thanks to virtual reality.”
More than 15 percent of Student Research Symposium participants receive financial aid from SDSU, and that’s no coincidence. Scholarship support alleviates some of the financial burden for students and gives them time to participate in activities that build leadership, research and public service skills.
"I didn't really know what I wanted to do for a long time before I got into research. In joining a lab I found my path, I found out that I wanted to go to graduate school. It really set me up for my career for the rest of my life," says Greg Dawson, a biochemistry major.