Koret Scholars Program

Koret Foundation

"Investing in the next generation of talent, innovation and leadership is critical in order to ensure that all students, including the disadvantaged, have the opportunity to lead productive and successful lives."

Michael J. Boskin, President of the Koret Foundation

With the goal of supporting research, scholarship, and creative activities at Sonoma State University, the Koret Scholars Program is made possible by a 5-year, one million dollar grant from the Koret Foundation, a Jewish philanthropic organization dedicated to increasing student success through higher education initiatives that specifically benefit underserved populations in the Bay Area.  

These awards are intended to support undergraduate students and their faculty mentors in research and creative projects across all academic disciplines, and each Koret Scholars Award provides funding for one faculty mentor working with four undergraduate SSU students over the course of an academic year.

In the 2023-24 academic year, the program supported 34 research teams by providing student scholarships, faculty stipends, and funding for research resources.  

Priority is given to applications that demonstrate diversity in the research workforce through the inclusion of students from groups that have been shown to be underrepresented in higher education.

For more information about the Koret Scholars Program, please contact orsp@sonoma.edu

The 2023-24 Koret Scholars

COMMUNICATION AND MEDIA STUDIES: Emily Acosta Lewis and Koret Scholars Kimiko Leight-Strachan, Lena Coonen, Jenna Beament, and Liza Schoen

The Price of Desire: An Analysis of the Porn Industry’s Evolution 

School of Arts & Humanities, Department of Communication and Media Studies

Faculty Mentor: Emily Acosta Lewis

Koret Scholars: Kimiko Leight-Strachan, Lena Coonen, Jenna Beament, and Liza Schoen

Project Description:

Lena, Liza, Jenna, and Kiki will be examining how the porn industry has evolved over the past 75 years regarding the treatment of talent, safe sex practices, and the way porn affects how people view sex. Through their research, they hope to educate the general public about the impact that pornography can have on an individual as well as bring light to the positive changes that have been made in the industry in terms of portrayals. 
Pornography has a reputation for the fetishization of queer people. Fetishization of queer individuals can occur when their sexual orientation or gender identity is exaggerated, stereotyped, or exploited for the purpose of catering to specific fetishes or fantasies. This can lead to harmful consequences, like reinforcing harmful stereotypes, the objectification of individuals; it can also contribute to discrimination and prejudice against those in the queer community. In order to understand how pornography fetishizes queer people, they must analyze it. This can be done through the consideration of power dynamics within the industry, understanding how queer people are portrayed in porn, and how queer people would prefer to be portrayed. The team can also compare queer individuals to their heterosexual counterparts to see if there is a difference between the two.
 Koret will give us all the structure and monetary incentive to allow everyone to participate in one of the most impactful high-impact practices (in my opinion). I have seen what how transformative this experience can be for students who participate in Koret in the past and how this cultivates curiosity in a different way and can spark an interest in research or graduate school as a future path. 
The reason that I am applying as a faculty mentor for Koret this year is because of Kiki. She approached me this past spring about Koret and said she was so excited to do undergraduate research and that she wanted to work with me-so when the announcement came up this fall, we teamed up and recruited the other student researchers. This research team is phenomenal and I cannot wait to see how they explore and grow over the next semester and a half.


CRIMINOLOGY & CRIMINAL JUSTICE STUDIES: Emily Asencio and Koret Scholars Kristen Le, Andrea Castillo, Nehemias Gramajo Signor, and Elena O'Kane

Law Enforcement Techniques: What Community-Oriented Policing Means in Sonoma County

School of Social Sciences, Department of Criminology & Criminal Justice Studies

Faculty Mentor: Emily Asencio

Koret Scholars: Kristen Le, Andrea Castillo, Nehemias Gramajo Signor, and Elena O'Kane

Project Description:

Prior research suggests community-oriented policing is an effective way to prevent crime and diffuse escalating tension between law enforcement and the community. Community-oriented policing is an approach to policing that involves a proactive style of interacting with the community as opposed to a reactive style. Community-oriented policing entails training and socialization of both officers and community members to engage with one another to generate and maintain positive relationships that foster community development. Events such as “Coffee with a Cop,” where law enforcement officers gather with community members for informal talks over coffee are an example of a community policing approach. Other kinds of
community-oriented policing activities include things like “Camp Chance,” which is a summer camp for at-risk youth in which Marin County Sheriff’s Deputies stay with the campers for a week and engage in informal activities such as hiking, swimming, and playing basketball. Community policing can also involve assigning the same patrol officers to particular neighborhoods where they engage in foot, or bicycle patrol regularly, giving them a chance to get to know the community members through consistent interaction. Any opportunity for positive interaction between law enforcement officers and community members can be viewed as a community policing oriented activity. The goal of community-oriented policing is to engage both law enforcement and community members in a joint process of building and maintaining a healthy community through trust and mutual respect. Despite this general understanding of the concept of community-oriented policing, the literature lacks a specific explanation of how community-oriented policing is defined both by law enforcement officers and community members.
The objective of the proposed work under the Koret Scholars Program is to collaborate with the Independent Organization for Law Enforcement Review and Outreach (IOLERO) in Sonoma County on a Community Policing research project in Sonoma County. Specifically, the research team will focus on defining community-oriented policing according to the practices of the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department. We will collect data from the Sheriff’s office directly about their policies, practices, and attitudes related to community policing. We will also collect data from the community about perceptions of community-oriented policing practices. We will examine the data to determine whether the perceptions of the Sheriff’s office about community policing practices correspond with the perceptions of the community about the Sheriff’s community policing practices.
Once complete, the results of our research will be shared with Sonoma County Sheriff’s as well as the community, and general public. Our work will also be presented at national and international conferences as appropriate, and we will submit a journal article for publication in the appropriate social science scholarly journal.

BIOLOGY: Lisa Bentley and Koret Scholars Emilio Orozco, Anthony Flores, Shelby Anderson, and Francisco Elias

Using 3D Terrestrial Laser Scanning Data to Estimate Forest Structure 

School of Science & Technology, Department of Biology

Faculty Mentor: Lisa Bentley

Koret Scholars: Emilio Orozco, Anthony Flores, Shelby Anderson, and Francisco Elias

Project Description:

This research will use data collected from remote sensing (terrestrial LiDAR) to estimate crucial fuels parameters to help validate or refine fuel treatment tools and fire behavior models across diverse California forests. Currently, there is pressure on landowners and land managers to increase forest resilience via management and determine how their management strategies will respond to future disturbance. Unfortunately, data to determine the effectiveness of thinning treatments in mixed hardwood forests are limited. The outcomes of this research project will include processed data that will be used as inputs to a fire model to evaluate commonly accepted fuel management strategies.

COUNSELING: Cecile Bhang and Koret Scholars Marisol Berta, Natalie Madrid, Taurus Sims, and Lovie Romes

Practicing Decolonial and Liberation Psychologies: Its Application to Korean Liberation Psychology

School of Education, Department of Counseling

Faculty Mentor: Cecile Bhang

Koret Scholars: Marisol Berta, Natalie Madrid, Taurus Sims, and Lovie Romes

Project Description:

The Koret Scholars Award holds the potential to provide essential support for my students, enabling them to delve into scholarly work within the realms of counseling and psychology, with a specific focus on diversity and social justice issues concerning persons of color in the field. The envisioned project, titled "Practicing Decolonial and Liberation Psychologies: Its Application in Korean Liberation Psychology," addresses a critical gap in existing literature. 
Currently, a burgeoning community of practitioners and researchers is actively disengaging from white centrality and Euroamerican systems of thought. Instead, they draw inspiration from the wisdom of their blood, spirit, and land ancestors, incorporating their lived experiences of surviving and transcending colonization. While much of the existing scholarship has concentrated on decolonizing psychological research, methods, and theories, there is a notable dearth in attention to psychological practice and applied work within communities. 
This project seeks to rectify this imbalance by acknowledging and disseminating the work of colleagues consistently employing decolonized and liberatory approaches to mental health. By highlighting community-based, culturally embedded, and liberatory healing strategies, we aim to address the needs and self-determination of those most impacted globally. Specifically, the project aims to reclaim Korean ancestral values related to rest, challenging Euroamerican-centered work ethics in favor of Korean rest ethics that emphasize wholeness and interconnectedness. 
South Korea's history of rapid economic development and cultural losses, influenced by capitalism, White supremacy, and Western saviorism, has resulted in a culture of overwork and competition that marginalized traditional Korean wisdom and practices of rest. To address the psychological impacts of this culture, the project proposes alternative ways of being through discussions on Korean virtues and indigenous practices of rest, historical analyses of rest and work culture in contemporary Korean society, and implications of healing practices. Grounded in ancestral, experiential, and practical knowledge, as well as multicultural, liberatory, and critical paradigms, our work focuses particularly on the perspectives, experiences, and frameworks for healing and psychological practices of traditionally overlooked marginalized populations in the field of psychology. With the support of the Koret Scholars Award, I aim to involve students in scholarly projects that explore this understudied topic, contributing to the University's mission and commitment to practicing diversity, inclusion, and social justice. 

ANTHROPOLOGY: Alexis Boutin and Koret Scholars Serena Chan, Tristan Niles, Ursula Senghas-Pole, and Fernando Pimentel

Exploring Disability and Restoring Social Memory in Early 20th Century California: A Community-Based Research Project at the Sonoma Developmental Center Cemetery 

School of Social Sciences, Department of Anthropology

Faculty Mentor: Alexis Boutin 

Koret Scholars: Serena Chan, Tristan Niles, Ursula Senghas-Pole, and Fernando Pimentel

Project Description:

This community-based project, which is co-directed by me and Dr. Benjamin Smith (Human Development), takes as its subject the cemetery at the Sonoma Developmental Center (SDC). Located in Glen Ellen, California, the SDC opened in 1891, eventually serving thousands of residents who would today be described as developmentally disabled, mentally ill, or deviating from social norms. Between 1892 and 1960, its cemetery received the remains of ca. 1913 residents – after which its use ceased and gravemarkers were removed. The SDC closed in 2018, and the core of its 945 acre campus is now slated for redevelopment. While there are no plans to redevelop the cemetery, impending changes to the surrounding area and the concerns of community members have led us to lend our expertise to help document and preserve the cemetery, and to better understand the lives of its residents and restore them to social memory. 

CRIMINOLOGY & CRIMINAL JUSTICE STUDIES: Bryan Burton and Koret Scholars Vanessa Sanchez, Fiona Orshan, Dominga Gomez, and Ashley Marie Escobar-Macias

Understanding Myths and Realities about White-Collar Crime: The Myth that Regulatory Agencies Protect the Public from All Serious White-Collar Crimes 

School of Social Sciences, Department of Criminology & Criminal Justice Studies

Faculty Mentor: Bryan Burton

Koret Scholars: Vanessa Sanchez, Fiona Orshan, Dominga Gomez, and Ashley Marie Escobar-Macias

Project Description:

This student research project is part of a larger book project entitled, Understanding the Myths and Realities of White-Collar Crime. My coauthor, Dr. Diana Grant, and I are looking at several myths surrounding white-collar crime, such as these offenses are nonviolent. Edwin Sutherland, in his 1939 keynote address at the American Sociological Association, coined the term ‘white-collar crime’ to describe lawbreaking committed by members of the business and professional classes in the course of their occupational activities. White-collar crimes have a number of costs: financial, physical, mental, and social, and often they have more than one of these. For example, healthcare fraud (such as physicians billing for services never provided) alone is more financially costly than all the street crimes combined.
My undergraduate research assistants will be learning about and focusing on white-collar crime research. They will be working on collecting information for a chapter looking at the myth that there is nothing we can do about white-collar crime. Students learn in my white-collar crime course that such offenses are everywhere. They also learn everyone is almost certainly a victim of white-collar crime in some way - even if it is just getting a half-ounce less of cereal than you thought you were getting when you bought the box to taking harmful and deadly medications thought to be safe.

KINESIOLOGY: Poram Choi and Koret Scholars Samantha Muniz, Consuelo Maldonado, Ashleigh Allen, and Shrena Desai

The Feasibility of Fall Prevention Exercise Programs Integrated into Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) for Older Adults

School of Science & Technology, Department of Kinesiology

Faculty Mentor: Poram Choi 

Koret Scholars: Samantha Muniz, Consuelo Maldonado, Ashleigh Allen, and Shrena Desai

Project Description:

In the United States, a striking statistic reveals that more than one in four adults aged 65 and older experience falls each year (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020). Falls constitute the leading cause of injuries, hospitalizations, disabilities, and institutionalizations among older Americans (National Council on Aging, 2023). Older adults who have experienced falls often encounter difficulties in activities of daily living (ADLs) (Choi et al., 2013), which may result in a loss of independence and significant socioeconomic consequences due to direct and indirect medical costs (Vaishya & Vaish, 2020).
Research has shown that group exercise and home-based exercise programs comprising balance and strength training exercises can effectively reduce the rate of falls among older adults by approximately 25% (Gillespie et al., 2012; Sherrington et al., 2020). Furthermore, a more intensive exercise regimen (more than 3 hours per week) targeted at improving balance or function has the potential to reduce the rate of falls by as much as 42% (Sherrington et al., 2020).
While numerous fall prevention programs have been implemented for older adults, many of these programs are unsustainable as the behavioral changes have not been successfully integrated into the daily routines of older individuals (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 2013). Therefore, our proposal aims to develop and deliver a fall prevention exercise program that is seamlessly integrated into ADLs. This program is specifically designed to enhance handgrip strength, leg strength, and balance, which are highly correlated with the incidence of falls (Pham et al., 2023; Rinkel et al., 2019). Our study seeks to examine the feasibility of implementing fall prevention programs integrated into ADLs for older adults.


KINESIOLOGY: Young Min Chun and Koret Scholars Leslie Gaona-Castaneda, Thanh T Ngo, Mia Oggenfuss, and Mikayla Rudis

The Effect of Ergometer Mode in the Direct-Drive Power Trainer on Muscle Activations

School of Science & Technology, Department of Kinesiology

Faculty Mentor: Young Min Chun

Koret Scholars: Leslie Gaona-Castaneda, Thanh T Ngo, Mia Oggenfuss, and Mikayla Rudis

Project Description:

The demand for indoor cycling training has seen remarkable growth over the past decade, largely attributable to the introduction of the direct-drive power trainer. In contrast to traditional indoor bike trainers that offer fixed resistance regardless of cadence (i.e., pedal strokes per minute), the direct-drive power trainer distinguishes itself by providing not only fixed resistance but also dynamic resistance adjustments in response to the rider's self-selected cadence. This dynamic resistance capability empowers direct-drive power trainers to offer a diverse range of training protocols.
For instance, these trainers seamlessly integrate with sophisticated training programs such as Zwift and Rouvy, where resistance levels dynamically adjust to replicate the topography of selected routes. The trainer increases resistance to simulate climbs and measures power based on both resistance and cadence. Furthermore, for training or cycling ability assessment purposes, users can establish a target power output independently of cadence by activating the ergometer (ERG) mode. Since the targeted outcome is power, which results from the product of applied force and angular velocity (i.e., cadence), cyclists must consistently exert force at their
self-selected cadence to achieve the desired power output. A reduced cadence necessitates increased force to reach the target power level, and vice versa. This functionality not only enables cyclists to improve their cycling performance but also to assess their cycling capacity by maintaining a consistent power output using their own bicycle.
Nevertheless, a notable challenge encountered by most cyclists lies in maintaining an equivalent level of power output during indoor cycling sessions. Studies have indicated that muscles tend to fatigue earlier during indoor cycling, as muscle activations demonstrate reduced variability in indoor time trials compared to their outdoor counterparts (Blake and Wakeling, 2012) with decreased power output (Jeffries et al., 2019). Several factors contribute to this phenomenon, including disparities in riding positions (Valenzuela et al., 2022), variation in terrains (Blake and Wakeling, 2012), and the absence of "resistance dead points" and
"micro-recovery" periods between pedal strokes in indoor time trials.
Given that the ERG mode makes cyclists continuously produce the required torque in response to the selected cadence to achieve the target power, it is likely that the ERG mode even more reduces the variability. This may lead to lower extremity muscles fatigued more rapidly than during indoor cycling without ERG mode. Thus, the purpose of this research is to examine the effect of the ERG mode on lower extremity muscle activation patterns while achieving the target power. It is hypothesized that the lower extremity muscles would be activated for longer periods of pedaling and would have less variability of the muscle contractions with the ERG mode as compared to without the ERG mode.

SOCIOLOGY: Kyla Doughty and Koret Scholars Madelyn Boyd, Alexsandra Chavez Martinez, Dennis Leon Aguilera, and Sarah Lewis

Beauty of the Birthing Body and Perinatal Inequality

School of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology

Faculty Mentor: Kyla Doughty

Koret Scholars: Madelyn Boyd, Alexsandra Chavez Martinez, Dennis Leon Aguilera, and Sarah Lewis

Project Description: 

Mortality and morbidity for birthing people of color are public health crises in the United States (Gingrey 2020; White House 2022). These racial health disparities stem from interpersonal, ideological, systemic, and structural racisms. Indeed, medical researchers, legal scholars, and social scientists have examined how social processes shape perinatal experiences and health outcomes (Ajayi and Garney 2023; Campbell 2020; Schmidt, Décieux, Zartler, and Schnor 2022). Pregnant and postpartum bodies are sites of medicalization (Prosen and Tavčar Krajnc 2013). Healthcare professionals continually evaluate birthing bodies, comfort them, poke them, and openly comment on them (McCabe 2016; Rivera 2021; Simonds 2002).  
Yet relatively little is known about how beauty shapes birthing people’s experiences of pregnancy, labor, and delivery, let alone how healthcare workers may interact differently with birthing people based on their beauty. The aesthetics of one’s physical, aural, aromatic, and tactile presence tend to culminate in beauty evaluations, determining an individual’s symbolic capital (Misra and Walters 2022). Race, gender, class, age, and ability inform beauty appraisals. My study will consider how narratives and perceptions of the prettiness or plainness of birthing people’s bodies impact perinatal experiences.   
The project will use two methods. First, the Koret research team will apply for IRB approval to conduct in-depth, semi-structured interviews focused on the interactions during labor and delivery, and birthing people’s experiences of labor and delivery. The first wave of these interviews will be wide-reaching in terms of the sample. Subsequent waves will purposively sample groups who are underrepresented in the sociological literature available in English on perinatal experiences (i.e., Black, Latin/a/o/x, Native American, Asian, Pacific Islander, and multiracial people; transgender, gender queer, and nonbinary birthing people; lesbians, bisexuals, and pansexuals; poor and rich people; and people who birthed at age 35 or older).  
Second, while waiting for IRB approval, the Koret research team will conduct a preliminary content analysis of publicly available birthing stories across race. We will explore how and to what extent beauty is mentioned, as well as what racial differences exist.  


THEATRE AND DANCE: Marie Ramirez Downing and Koret Scholars Ally Liberty, Sydnie Crumrine-Thomsen, Maick Poroj, and Jasmin Fausto-Sanchez

Theatre Movement Training for the 21st Century Actor: An Examination of Ancestry, Culture, and Family Influences and the Actors Body on Stage

School of Arts and Humanities, Department of Theatre and Dance

Faculty Mentor: Marie Ramirez Downing

Koret Scholars: Ally Liberty, Sydnie Crumrine-Thomsen, Maick Poroj, and Jasmin Fausto-Sanchez

Project Description: 

In the contemporary American Theatre, many University and College theatre programs include a movement for the stage course as part of their training programs. These techniques vary from Yoga classes, Alexander, and Feldenkrais methods, and tackle anything from the organization of the body to expressive movement on stage. Alexander Technique is a type of movement training that uses relaxation and other breathing and physical exercises to make actors aware of how they organize their bodies and the reasons behind that, “their thinking.” We will ask and examine, “How often do they bring themselves to their roles when they strongly identify with their own culture and heritage on stage and what do they feel like they have to leave behind and change when they play other characters different from their own identity? Specifically, what happens in the body and breath, when there is a mental shift and an audience is witnessing this?  How have their families and culture contributed to their physical presence? Also, what are the rewards, sacrifices, or challenges of being an actor of an underrepresented group when exploring physicality for a production. Students will attend two workshops. One with a trained/certified Alexander teacher and another with a Chicago based professional director, devisor, and contact improv specialist to experience deeply personal physical work for the stage.  They will also attend two professional theatre productions in the bay area and interview professional actors working on roles about their heritage, lineage and any connection to the story they are telling and discuss the physical work. They release tension, develop new habits, find an economical alignment of the spine, and gain an understanding of every movement the individual body makes on stage and off. The Feldenkrais Method is similar, named after scientist and engineer Dr Moshe Feldenkrais, it taps into the deep relationship between movement and thinking, feeling and learning based on individual experiences, heritage, environmental factors to name a few.  For this research, 3 theatre majors and 1 Kinesiology major of diverse and underrepresented communities (First-generation college students, biracial, Native American Ancestry, African American, Mexican American, and Guatemalan) will examine their own individual cultural, familial, and ancestral history and how they move in everyday life and take on characters for the stage influenced by those factors.    

COMPUTER SCIENCE: Gurman Gill and Koret Scholars Nicholas Cabrales, Ethan Martinez, Obinna Kalu, and Matthew Vitullo

Towards Making of Eclipse Megamovie 2024: Using Machine Learning to Identify Phases of a Total Solar Eclipse

School of Science & Technology, Department of Computer Science

Faculty Mentor: Gurman Gill

Koret Scholars: Nicholas Cabrales, Ethan Martinez, Obinna Kalu, and Matthew Vitullo

Project Description: 

In 2011, Dr. Hugh Hudson from the Space Sciences Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley, led a group of well-established solar scientists and educators, including renowned solar eclipse expert Dr. Jay Pasachoff, in proposing the idea of the Eclipse Megamovie Project 
[Hudson et al., 2011]. From this beginning, the basic idea of the project has always been “to incorporate as many images as possible (of the total solar eclipse), provided by a diverse range of observers using standard photographic techniques, into an overview movie.” The “Great American Eclipse” in 2017 offered a unique opportunity for US citizens across the entire continent to experience the awe-inspiring changes that occur during rare total solar eclipses 
(TSEs). A team of scientists, educators, software engineers, and artists was led by SSU EdEon’s Dr. Laura Peticolas [Peticolas et al., 2019] to gather photographs of the total solar eclipse showing the Sun's outer atmosphere, the corona. The goal of the 2017 Eclipse Megamovie 
(EM2017) was to obtain enough pictures of the Great American Total Solar Eclipse to create a movie of the solar corona in order to better study it. Over 2,000 volunteers submitted 50,000 images and a movie was made only a few hours after the Moon's shadow left the U.S. [Peticolas et al., 2019; White et al, 2018; Hudson, H. and Bender, M., 2017].  
In 2023 Dr. Peticolas received funding from NASA's Citizen Science program [Interrante, Abbey. 2023] to continue the work for the total solar eclipse taking place on April 8th, 2024. Eclipse Megamovie 2024 (EM2024), led by Dr. Peticolas and in collaboration with University of California, Berkeley, will add High Dynamic Range (HDR) photographs with a broader range of exposure times in order to create a far more visually appealing, while also scientifically significant, movie.  
To further their understanding of white-light observations of coronal jets and other transient plasma flows in the chromosphere [Cho et al., 2021, Hanaoka et al., 2018, Pasachoff et al, 2006], the EM2024 team needs to automatically align the thousands of images submitted by volunteers. Part of that initiative requires categorization of these images into the different phases of a solar eclipse.



POLITICAL SCIENCE: Willie Gin and Koret Scholars Melany Billings, Nicholas Nolan, and Nico Sanchez

Investigating Personalized Algorithmic content Recommendations on Internet Platforms

School of Social Sciences, Department of Political Science

Faculty Mentor: Willie Gin

Koret Scholars: Melany Billings, Nicholas Nolan, and Nico Sanchez

Project Description: 

The team proposes to research whether differences in identified interests and viewing history leads to different content recommendations on Internet platforms such as Youtube and Tiktok. The research will culminate in the drafting of a paper that will include a literature review, a carefully crafted hypothesis, a methodological strategy to test the hypothesis, and analysis of original, self-collected data. This work will be presented at SSU’s Social Action Student Symposium (SASSy) and during the Week of Research and Creativity.

CRIMINOLOGY AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE STUDIES: Diana Grant and Koret Scholars Isabel Caselli, Brett Atchison, Bryan Carreto Colorado, and Brendan Perkins

"Ship Happens": Improving the Effectiveness of an Online Bystander Training Game

School of Social Sciences, Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice Studies

Faculty Mentor: Diana Grant

Koret Scholars: Isabel Caselli, Brett Atchison, Bryan Carreto Colorado, and Brendan Perkins

Project Description: 

The purpose of this experiment is to test whether the affirmation of a shared university identity will improve the effectiveness of an online game-based bystander intervention training. Online bystander intervention trainings can create a threat to students’ self-image because these trainings require students to recognize the possibility that their fellow students could be targets or perpetrators of sexual misconduct. An initial group affirmation exercise could defuse this self-image threat and remind students of shared justice norms. 
We will randomly assign student volunteers to affirm their shared university identity using 1) a traditional essay measure, or 2) a newly developed emoji-based measure, or 3) do nothing before they play a prototype space adventure game designed to teach bystander intervention strategies. Immediately after they play the game, participants will complete a questionnaire that measures their attitudes toward the training, as well as their confidence and willingness to intervene if they witness potential sexual misconduct. As a second test of whether they actually used the training information, we will ask all participants to complete a short online bystander intervention behavior questionnaire via text or email two to three months after they complete the in person study. 
We designed this experiment to determine whether a university affirmation will make it more likely that participants will include possible student targets and perpetrators within their “scope of justice”. If so, these students should be more likely to remember and use the training intervention strategies compared to participants assigned to no affirmation experimental condition. However, we suspect that the traditional affirmation manipulation that requires participants to write a short answer about their preferred value will not be as effective as our new affirmation manipulation that uses emojis that distinguish among different identity domains. For example, some researchers think affirmation manipulations are effective because they remind people that their groups are moral; other researchers think affirmation manipulations are effective because they remind people that their groups are competent. Our new manipulation will enable us to learn what identity domains that students prefer. 
Because previous research on bystander intervention training and application indicates that male and female identified students report different levels of confidence, interest and willingness to intervene when they encounter potential sexual misconduct, our design includes gender identity as an additional factor. This experiment builds upon a pilot experiment in which we compared this prototype space adventure game with an online PowerPoint slide presentation of the same information. We plan to present our data at the April 2024 Western Psychological Association meeting in San Francisco. 

GEOGRAPHY, ENVIRONMENT, AND PLANNING: Jacquelyn Guilford and Koret Scholars Alexis Kamages, Stephany Orellana, Bryan Peeso, and Sydney Pontius

Monitoring Water Quality Near Homeless Encampments Along Santa Rosa Creek

School of Social Sciences, Department of Geography, Environment, and Planning

Faculty Mentor: Jacquelyn Guilford

Koret Scholars: Alexis Kamages, Stephany Orellana, Bryan Peeso, and Sydney Pontius

Project Description: 

The recent increase in homelessness across California has raised concerns about water quality in urban creeks. While the public perception is that unhoused people sleeping adjacent to Santa Rosa creeks degrade the creek water quality, there is a lack of data supporting that claim. Since August 2022, students in the Water Research Methods class, GEP396, have been measuring water quality in creeks where homeless encampments have been frequently reported.  
During the 2022-2023 academic year, we worked with the Santa Rosa Storm Water and Creeks Team to identify locations along Russell Creek, Paulin Creek, and Santa Rosa Creek near known homeless encampments, as well as areas upstream and downstream of these locations to use as comparison points. Approximately once per month, the water quality was tested at multiple locations along each creek. After the first year of this project, we identified several creek locations that had very high levels of the fecal bacteria Enterococcus and E. coli in the water.  
High levels of these bacteria in creek water indicate that the water has potentially been polluted by unsanitary defecation in close proximity to the creek. A limitation of the fecal bacteria testing that we had been doing was that it is not specific for human sources, meaning that a positive result could be coming from wildlife, such as dogs, birds, or cattle. 
For the second year of the project (2023-2024), we are focusing exclusively on Santa Rosa Creek because it is the most closely monitored by Santa Rosa Creek interns. The interns provide us with weekly reports on where they observe evidence of homeless encampments. Other advantages of monitoring Santa Rosa Creek are that the water is very clean in the upstream area and the downstream area and there are many individual pockets of homeless activity as the creek moves through the urban areas, particularly in the Prince Memorial Greenway area.  
In order to know if the fecal bacteria we have detected at some creek locations are coming from a human source, we are adding an additional method to our study. The use of real time PCR can measure specifically for human fecal bacteria. In collaboration with Madison Ingraham, a graduate student in Sean Place’s Biology lab at SSU, we are developing the capability to run this test at SSU at a fraction of the cost of sending the samples to a commercial lab ($50/sample vs $500/sample). The items listed in the budget are all consumable products needed to run this experiment. Some of the supplies are disposable plasticware (PCR plates, micropipette tips, plate sealing film) and other items are chemicals required for the experiment (RNase/DNase free water, DNA extraction kit, SYBR Green Supermix). 
The preliminary data that we collected so far indicate that water quality along urban creeks in Santa Rosa may be impacted by the transient population living in our creeks. The funds requested in this application will advance our research in the current academic year as we improve our ability to (1) more accurately quantify where homelessness is occurring along Santa Rosa Creek on a weekly basis and (2) determine if the fecal bacteria levels found in creek water are from human sources or not.  
If we find that the fecal bacteria is of human origin, we will further investigate whether it comes from overnight use along the creek, if it is transported from other areas via storm drains, or if there is a point source nearby, such as leaking septic or sewage lines. Understanding potential impacts to water quality can help agencies design solutions to support those experiencing homelessness, while also ensuring clean water for everyone in the community. 

ECONOMICS: Merlin Hanauer and Koret Scholars Evan Horoszko, Diego Zaragoza Martinez, Christian Marin Pilling, and Kyle Minehan Willis

Estimating the Recreational Value of Taylor Mountain Regional Park

School of Business and Economics, Department of Economics

Faculty Mentor: Merlin Hanauer

Koret Scholars: Evan Horoszko, Diego Zaragoza Martinez, Christian Marin Pilling, and Kyle Minehan Willis

Project Description: 

The primary objective of this project is to mentor students through the process of generating publication-quality research in the field of economics.  

CRIMINOLOGY AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE STUDIES: Caitlin Henry and Koret Scholars Alyssa Cardea, Noah Kindfield, Sirena Licea, and Taylor Zajonc

The Relationship Between Prison Initiated Resentencing and Judge Initiated Resentencing After AB 600 (October 2023)

School of Social Sciences, Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice Studies

Faculty Mentor: Caitlin Henry

Koret Scholars: Alyssa Cardea, Noah Kindfield, Sirena Licea, and Taylor Zajonc

Project Description: 

This project will evaluate trends in court referrals and outcomes related to the newly enacted judicially initiated Recall and Resentencing program, created October 2023 by Assembly Bill 600. As stated in Bill 600: “This bill would additionally authorize the court to recall a sentence, on its own motion, at any time if the applicable sentencing laws at the time of original sentencing are subsequently changed due to new statutory or case law authority. The bill would specify that recall and resentencing under these provisions may be initiated by the original sentencing judge, a judge designated by the presiding judge, or any judge with jurisdiction in the case.” 
Researchers will evaluate the timelines and efficacy of court referrals under the recall and resentencing statute, Penal Code 1172.1 for prison initiated referrals, and identify trends that relate to the creation of a judicially initiated referral process. Advocates continue to pass new legislation to redress California’s severe sentencing policies and sentence enhancements, and District Attorneys utilize these enhancements in racially biased manners. The legislature passed SB 1393 (Mitchell) (5-year prior felony enhancements) to potentially eliminate 100,000 additional years of incarceration and SB 136 (Wiener)* (2019 - eliminating most 1-year prison prior enhancements) to potentially eliminate 20,000 years of incarceration due to an enhancement. The legislature passed the California Racial Justice Act of 2020 (AB 2542) to give a remedy and ameliorate sentences for people who can prove that race, ethnicity or national origin played an improper role in their conviction or sentencing.
Analyzing how many cases are resentenced under each type of resentencing (prison initiated, judge initiated, prosecutor initiated) is crucial to understanding whether these laws, as implemented by the prisons, District Attorneys, and courts, are having the impact legislators intended. It is crucial to look at how many referrals happened when rights were expanded, and what the case outcomes were.  This project will compare and contrast cases before and after the new law in order to understand whether and how it is having its intended effect. 

BIOLOGY: Lisa Hua and Koret Scholars Christian Quintero, Salma Torres Lopez, Esha Malik, and Alyssa Stadie

Using Parthenogenetic Cells to Study Mechanisms of Chromosome Organization

School of Science & Technology, Department of Biology

Faculty Mentor: Lisa Hua

Koret Scholars: Christian Quintero, Salma Torres Lopez, Esha Malik, and Alyssa Stadie

Project Description: 

To test whether parental origin defines the haploid (1n) chromosome set using parthenogenetic mouse cells (PG-MEFs).  

WINE BUSINESS: InHaeng Jung and Koret Scholars Carina Bautista, Christine Pagaduan, Hailey Brooks, and Johnathan Perez

From Vine to Wine: Exploring the Human Touch in Quality Perception and Worker Well-Being

School of Business and Economics, Department of Wine Business

Faculty Mentor: InHaeng Jung

Koret Scholars: Carina Bautista, Christine Pagaduan, Hailey Brooks, and Johnathan Perez

Project Description: 

In the evolving landscape of the wine industry, where technological advancements are increasingly prominent, the importance of human labor, especially in traditional practices like hand-harvesting, is becoming a critical point of discussion, in a marketing point of view 
(Maesano et al., 2021). In California, a leading wine producer, the majority of wine grapes are harvested mechanically (Dominici, 2019). Despite mechanization's efficiency and cost-saving aspects (Gilby, 2018), there remains a strong consumer preference for hand-harvested wine ( Dominici et al., 2020). This preference is often tied to perceptions of quality and naturalness 
(Abouab & Gomez, 2015), making it a significant factor in wine marketing strategies. However, the industry's focus on product attributes such as price, productivity, and efficiency (Schäufele & Hamm, 2017) has often overshadowed the crucial role of migrant workers, who face various challenges and vulnerabilities in their work and living conditions. Some studies indicate that migrant workers often face increased risks and limited human rights protections (Moyce & Schenker, 2018). In addition, their transient nature, dictated by the availability of work coupled with the rise in automation and technology in agriculture, means they are often left vulnerable to changing labor demands (Baur, 2023).  
For the 2023-2024 academic year, our team, comprised of four scholars, is set to undertake two in-depth research projects. The first study, titled "From Vine to Wine: How Hand-Harvesting Shapes the Consumer's Wine Quality Perceptions," is led by Hailey Brooks & Christine Pagaduan.   This study delves into consumer perceptions surrounding hand-harvested wine. It aims to unravel how different backgrounds and experiences with wine affect preferences and how a wine label's visual and textual components can sway consumer choices toward hand-picked wines. The second study, titled "Vines and Lives: Unveiling the World of Migrant Vineyard Workers," is led by Carina Bautista & Johnathan Perez. This study shifts the focus to the often-overlooked migrant vineyard workers. This research seeks to understand the identities of these workers and the realities of their living and working conditions, which are pivotal yet under-discussed aspects of the wine industry. 
Through these two independent but complementary research projects, we aim to gain a comprehensive understanding of the added value of wine's naturalness from a consumer perspective, as well as the current status of migrant workers' well-being in their professional and personal lives. This multifaceted approach not only contributes to the academic literature but also provides crucial insights for the wine industry, ensuring that it evolves in a consumer-conscious and socially responsible way. To achieve these goals, four undergraduate researchers and I will work together to develop and conduct surveys and interviews to collect data. Both studies will take place in two parts, and a more detailed research plan is introduced in a later section and in the Appendix. Our goal is to 1) present it at CSU undergraduate research competition and SSU’s Research Symposium for feedback, 2) share it with the Wine Business Institute’s board and wider wine industry community, and 3) publish it in peer-reviewed journals in consumer behavior research (i.e. Appetite (IF=7.4), Sustainability (IF=4.4)) or wine business research (i.e. Journal of Wine Economics (IF=2.2)) 

CHEMISTRY: Monica Lares and Koret Scholars Olivia Tang, Abhishek Prasad, Brittney Glor, and Sarah Ahmadi

Preparation, Assay, and Cell Culture Work of Nopales

School of Science & Technology, Department of Chemistry

Faculty Mentor: Monica Lares

Koret Scholars: Olivia Tang, Abhishek Prasad, Brittney Glor, and Sarah Ahmadi

Project Description: 

The objective of our research lab is to provide evidence of the ancestral knowledge that nopales (prickly pear, Opuntia ficus-indica) can regulate blood glucose levels both in people with and without diabetes. The objective of this specific project proposal is to move three aspects of this research forward:

1) Prepare nopales using a cold method to preserve enzyme integrity

2) Prepare and set up our lab space in order to carry out cell culture work to study the uptake of glucose in cells

3) Further optimize our assay to monitor glucose levels

BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION: Kyuho Lee and Koret Scholars Michelle Flores, Sabrina Filmon, Phoebe Moser, and Bee Bee Yeap

Exploring the Competitive Advantages of Larger Wineries in the U.S. Through Brand Positioning Strategies

School of Business and Economics, Department of Business Administration

Faculty Mentor: Kyuho Lee

Koret Scholars: Michelle Flores, Sabrina Filmon, Phoebe Moser, and Bee Bee Yeap

Project Description: 

This study will investigate the brand positioning strategies of large wineries in order to understand how they differentiate themselves from other wineries. We will analyze the brand positioning strategy of the top 50 wineries in the U.S., in terms of their wine production, using content analysis of each winery’s website. We chose the top 50 wineries in the U.S. to better understand how brand positioning strategies contribute to the success of large American wineries. A number of researchers have adopted content analysis of a firm’s website to investigate a firm’s brand positioning strategy. Wineries use their websites to signal points of differentiation and points of parity to consumers. Given the increasing importance of the digital marketplace in signaling a winery’s points of difference and points of parity, it is crucial that wineries use their websites to attract visitors to their wineries and reduce consumers’ perceived risks’ about buying wine directly from a winery. 

CHICANO AND LATINO STUDIES: Malinalli Lopez and Koret Scholars Erika Banuelos, Jorge Alejandre Martinez, Cristina Olivares-Montanez, and Melissa Felix

Islands of Loneliness

School of Arts and Humanities, Department of Chicano and Latino Studies 

Faculty Mentor: Malinalli Lopez

Koret Scholars: Erika Banuelos, Jorge Alejandre Martinez, Cristina Olivares-Montanez, and Melissa Felix

Project Description: 

The objective of our project is to research the immigrant experience of crossing the US-Mexico border and study the affects of psychological trauma and to produce a 90-minute documentary,  Islands of Loneliness. The documentary will investigate the experiences of Mexican immigrants in Northern California and their resilience through their eyes and words. The research and film production will be supervised by Malinalli López who teaches in the Chicano Latino Studies Department. Ms. López is an award-winning filmmaker whose most recent film Hyena produced in 2021 was the recipient of 20 awards worldwide in countries including: Australia, Italy, Spain, Japan, France, the US and Canada. She supervised the early research in preparation for this documentary which took place in 2012 and entailed doing short pre-interviews and producing a trailer which can be found on YouTube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4pd3w3fa3AM&t=1s

CHICANO AND LATINO STUDIES: Daniel Malpica and Koret Scholars Alexa Rayas, Isela Gaona, Siobhan Rodriguez, and Vianca Hinojosa

Understanding the Role of Social Networks and Academic Success Among Latina Students in Predominantly White Universities

School of Arts and Humanities, Department of Chicano and Latino Studies 

Faculty Mentor: Daniel Malpica

Koret Scholars: Alexa Rayas, Isela Gaona, Siobhan Rodriguez, and Vianca Hinojosa

Project Description: 

This project aims at documenting the nature, purpose, and value of a unique social support system present in Latina female students at SSU. This social support group is a form of social network or social capital, which we refer to as “Comadres.” Comadres form a strong social relationship or social network, a sister-like deep emotional bond providing them with comradery, support, safety, resource sharing, and validation of daily experiences. These strong social relationships often extend throughout a lifetime. Comadres transcend the individual and create a stronger unit, which helps them to successfully cope with life’s struggles and achieve academic success in college. Although faculty, staff, and students recognize the presence and value of this phenomenon, it has rarely been documented in the social science literature as an effective cultural retention model (Bravo and Chaney, 2014; Richmond, Morrow, Salomone, 2003; Stanton-Salazar, 2001; Zarate, 2011). This study fills this void by conducting research on the following question: How do culturally significant social networks among Latina students attending White institutions positively impact their academic performance in college?   
We have conducted in-depth qualitative interviews with 20 pairs of Latina students at SSU. All the interviews have been transcribed and are in the process of being coded and organized for analysis and report writing. We are seeking funding from the Koret Foundation to continue analyzing the data collected and be able to start working on publications and presentations at regional and national conferences on the research findings. This research project is an outgrowth of qualitative study conducted by Professor Emeritus Elisa Velasquez (who will join the team in the Spring semester of 2024) and Professor Daniel Malpica. For this new phase of the research, we have recruited four underrepresented, racial minority Latino/Black students who are first-generation, and working class, to be a part of the research team.   
Some of the preliminary results from our research are worth noting. First, all the Latina participants reported feeling very isolated at SSU due to the difficulty to find more Latinx peers and connect with White students. The longer Latina students stay at SSU the more alienated, alone, and disenfranchised they feel. As a consequence, they start self-doubting and have to work harder to maintain their academic performance and motivation to persist in college. Second, as newly admitted Freshmen and transfer students, participants reported difficulties in making new friends to connect with and who could help them academically. Hence, a Comadre relationship becomes a “life vest” from which they obtain full reciprocal acceptance, understanding, trust, support, and validation. In the context of this relationship, they learn from each other how to be better students and persons. They motivate and encourage each other to study, go to class, work on papers, and achieve a balanced academic and social life. They share class notes and help each other with transportation, food, money, books, and more. The Comadre relationship increases the sense of belonging at SSU and reduces the sense of isolation experienced in the dorms and in the classrooms. Finally, most respondents saw a significant difference between the support obtained from a Comadre versus “formal” systems of support (HUB, LARC, CAASE, Counseling Center). Respondents expressed having limited knowledge of the “formal” support due to inadequate advertising of how underrepresented students can benefit from such services. When respondents used “formal” support services, they were not pleased with the quality of the support, the service did not meet their needs or they felt misunderstood by the staff. In contrast, Comadres are available to each other all the time, can communicate in person, telephone, or text and the relationship is based on mutual trust and sure expectation of being there for each other and the certainty that they can rely on each other to obtain academic, social, and emotional support.   

THEATRE ARTS AND DANCE: Farrah McAdam and Koret Scholars Madyline Jaramillo, Ella Jensen, Olivia Keydeniers, and Alaina Wilson

"What's In Your Head?": The Human Bias Through Movement

School of Arts and Humanities, Department of Theatre Arts and Dance

Faculty Mentor: Farrah McAdam

Koret Scholars: Madyline Jaramillo, Ella Jensen, Olivia Keydeniers, and Alaina Wilson

Project Description: 

Through this award, I would use the funds and opportunity to uplift
underrepresented student voices: both in their experience of their identity and their experience as artists in academia.
The Dance program consistently strives for spaces that are rooted in anti-racist, equitable, human-first practices. Many of the relationships we have built with guests such as Urban Bush Women have helped solidify and offer tools in these realms to our program’s pedagogy. These tools often cater to deep internal work of the self in order to understand and show up for our larger communities, deep reflection of our past to understand our present and future’s fullest potential. This group of scholars would like to take these practices and apply them to a deeper study around bias and the way it affects not only the dance world, but human behavior through psychological and sociological perspectives. They would like to further explore and synthesize research surrounding gender bias and body type bias in dance, as well as the studies of self-awareness of both learned bias and implicit bias.
With this group of students, we will use this work as our common base to research how these concepts show up in these students’ experiences. Two of these four students are 1st generation college students, and two are students of color. All four of these young scholars are constantly reimagining what it means to navigate academia in an art major that is too often seen as “easy”. In these specifically targeted demographics, it is culturally seen as a major that is unnecessary, that does not provide any financial opportunity or societal legitimacy. Yet, they have pursued fields they know are crucial to the quality of human lives with full intention to continue on to graduate school after their time at Sonoma State. In this research, these students will be able to take the time and resources to not only process but reimagine what their contributions to society can entail from individual, cultural, and academic perspectives. We will provide a space for these students to delve into their passionate points of research within understanding bias, and we will increase the visibility of creative work and performance research in academia. Now that the Sonoma State campus is fully back on-campus, the student team and I plan to document our findings through movement composition, resulting in some sort performance piece, live or filmed, that can be presented live alongside our research poster. Creating a film project will not only serve as a compatible alternative for our presentation, but it will provide students with quality documentation of their research to use for their careers – via websites, graduate school applications, and CVs. I have requested the finances for the services needed to compile our movement research.

PSYCHOLOGY: Teresa Nguyen and Koret Scholars Lorenzo Alvarez, Rose Chavez, Grely Mazariegos, and Alexa Rayas

Redefining Models of Relationship "Satisfaction" Among Latino Couples

School of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology

Faculty Mentor: Teresa Nguyen

Koret Scholars: Lorenzo Alvarez, Rose Chavez, Grely Mazariegos, and Alexa Rayas

Project Description: 

Marital stability is widely assumed to stem from spouses’ personal happiness and their personal gratification within their relationship. As a consequence, the mostly widely used instrument for assessing couple functioning—the Couple Satisfaction Index (Funk & Rogge, 2007)—emphasizes White, middle class values related to personal happiness and personal fulfillment (e.g., “My partner makes me happy;” “My partner meets my needs”). Such individualistic-centered measures of relationship outcomes may (1) fail to capture experiences of satisfaction in more collectivist cultures, (2) be less reliable in predicting relationship stability for first-generation Latinx spouses compared to later-generation Latinxs, and (3) overlook other reasons why Latinx spouses enter, stay in, and leave relationships. Marital quality will be measured followed by an open-ended questionnaire about the basis for their quality rating. This project will explore the spontaneous responses that couples give to this open-ended question. Specifically, we will develop coding categories for those responses using standard procedures
(Ryan & Bernard, 2003) and conduct salience analyses to uncover and quantify the importance of various factors that spouses consider when evaluating their relationship as a whole.
After identifying how Latino couples define a good quality relationship, the goal of the project is to test which factors predict relationship quality. That is, finding significant predictors of relationship quality using quantitative data analysis. In contrast to other studies that have focused on assessing communication behaviors as a primary determinant of marital outcomes, the proposed study will assess factors that are likely to be influential among low-income, Latinx couples: discrimination, financial stress, and religious coping. Couples will also be asked about their conflict resolution style and how they manage differences.

BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION: Nadiya Parekh and Koret Scholars Claudia Muralles, Andres Serrano, and Lily Roberts

Climate Awareness and Business Solutions in Sonoma County

School of Business and Economics, Department of Business Administration

Faculty Mentor: Nadiya Parekh

Koret Scholars: Claudia Muralles, Andres Serrano, and Lily Roberts

Project Description: 

The objective is to conduct an exploratory research on the climate awareness of Sonoma county residents and their perception about how sustainable business solutions can address their concerns. The project is IRB approved (IRB #3248) in the year 2022. In 2022, we have completed primary data collection among students and residents by designing a survey (with SSU undergraduate students of a business statistics course/BUS211 as co-investigators). Data collected at this stage has been analyzed using SPSS software (using descriptive, correlational and regression analysis techniques). Later, in 2023, literature review was initiated as part of 2023 School of Social Sciences Undergraduate Research Initiative (SSURI) with two undergraduate student research assistants.  
If we receive the support of the Koret Scholars Award, the objective is to collect further data to triangulate the quantitative findings with qualitative data, document the results and findings and conclude the work as a draft research paper. For this a 4-member student team is formed with inter-disciplinary and diverse background. The students will be trained to triangulate the quantitative findings from primary data with qualitative secondary data,  write up a draft research paper ( through scientific research writing workshops on how to write introduction, literature, results & findings, discussion and conclusion sections of the paper ) and present the work at SaSSY and possibly at another conference (subject to funding available from faculty’s professional development funds at that stagei) . The proposed outcome of the work would be a draft research paper that can be used to share the insights from the work to inform design of sustainable business products/services in Sonoma County. 

SOCIOLOGY: Debora Paterniti and Koret Scholars Ashleigh Carillo, Earic Hall, Sandra Olmos-Martinez, and Karla Santos

A Social Economy of Generous Practice

School of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology

Faculty Mentor: Debora Paterniti

Koret Scholars: Ashleigh Carillo, Earic Hall, Sandra Olmos-Martinez, and Karla Santos

Project Description: 

The purpose of this project is (1) to increase the robustness of an existing qualitative data set; (2) to analyze the qualitative data with two goals in mind: (a) enriching the understanding of the generosity paradox as part of a social economy of inequality and (b) developing a more contextually-grounded comprehensive survey based on the social contexts of generosity; and (3) to engage student scholars how to use qualitative research in theory construction and as a formative tool for survey development. 

EARLY CHILDHOOD STUDIES: Ayesha Rabadi-Raol and Koret Scholars Celia Salazar, Victoria Vaswani, and Lauren Cooper

Counterstories of Childhood: Amplifying BIPOC Voice in Early Childhood Knowledge Systems

School of Education, Department of Early Childhood Studies

Faculty Mentor: Ayesha Rabadi-Raol

Koret Scholars: Celia Salazar, Victoria Vaswani, and Lauren Cooper

Project Description: 

Our research team will use the funds for data collection and analysis for the following qualitative research study which will eventually culminate in a conference presentation.

BIOLOGY: Nathan Rank and Koret Scholars Kaylee Dillard, IIlse Hernandez Gopar, Jordan Blakeley-Gendreau, and Shane Vistalli-Alvarado

Interaction of Genes and Microbes Mediating Evolutionary Ecology of a Montane Insect

School of Science & Technology, Department of Biology

Faculty Mentor: Nathan Rank

Koret Scholars: Kaylee Dillard, IIlse Hernandez Gopar, Jordan Blakeley-Gendreau, and Shane Vistalli-Alvarado

Project Description: 

With this award, I plan to mentor four undergraduate students to investigate the interaction between genetic variation in natural populations of a leaf beetle in California and the microbiota of this species. This work will be accomplished through analyses of sequence variation in genes found in the beetle and laboratory work characterizing the microbial community of beetles that were treated with antibiotics to reduce levels of specific bacteria that are known to occur in these insects and that affect their reproductive biology and ability to thrive in natural conditions. Two students will perform dissections of the antibiotic treated beetles that were mated in the laboratory and whose egg production was quantified over two weeks in the summer of 2021. This grant would allow these students to implement a tool used in molecular biology (qPCR) to quantify the effect of the antibiotic treatment on the bacterial titre. A third student will use the genetic sequence analysis program Geneious to analyze variation among the strains of these bacteria infecting beetles collected in different regions in California, and a fourth student will focus on variation at the mitochondrion (the cellular structure that allows animals to use oxygen for metabolism) for beetles that were overwintered under different environmental conditions. All four students are currently enrolled in Biology capstone research courses (Biology 494 and they will present the results of their work at the SSU Symposium for Research and Creativity in spring 2024 before they graduate. All four students are either members of groups underrepresented in biology research or first generation college students and/or participants in the MESA program.

KINESIOLOGY: Yonjoong Ryuh and Koret Scholars Carter Michnevich, Dylan Copeland, Kevin Cameron, and Kyalin Payne

Errorless Practice on Golf Skill Learning in Individuals with and Without Intellectual Disabilities

School of Science & Technology, Department of Kinesiology

Faculty Mentor: Yonjoong Ryuh

Koret Scholars: Carter Michnevich, Dylan Copeland, Kevin Cameron, and Kyalin Payne

Project Description: 

Motor learning is the intricate process of acquiring and retaining movement skills. Traditionally, a near consensus among scholars posits that learning a novel skill involves a hypothesis-testing process with errors (Steenbergen et al., 2010). Consequently, the identification and rectification of errors during practice constitute crucial elements of the motor skill learning process. Conventional theories suggest that novice learners initially acquire movement skills by generating declarative knowledge, enabling them to verbally describe the movement characteristics achieved during practice, such as elbow angle, movement sequence, posture, weight shift, and others (Magill, 1998). As learners progress, they develop a consistent movement pattern, leading to increased automation of motor skill execution and reduced reliance on declarative knowledge.
Contemporary research has introduced an alternative motor learning paradigm, specifically an implicit approach (Masters et al., 2013). This emerging technique suggests that acquiring a novel movement may occur without the traditional trial-and-error process associated with generating declarative knowledge. Instead, novices may potentially bypass the initial declarative, explicit learning stage and transition to the implicit learning stage earlier, with minimal error production (Kal et al., 2018). Consequently, the traditionally employed explicit practice method may not be the sole means of skill improvement; implicit practice holds promising potential to facilitate motor learning in diverse populations, including individuals experiencing intellectual disabilities, who are known to encounter challenges in generating and processing declarative information (Schuchardt et al., 2010). Recent studies have further delved into the comparison of the underlying neural correlates of implicit versus explicit practice. These studies have confirmed that enhancing the neural correlates associated with implicit practice, particularly in the primary motor cortex, contributes to improved motor skill acquisition and retention compared to explicit practice, which predominantly involves the frontal premotor area. This accumulating evidence underscores the necessity of deeper exploration into the implicit approach to practice.
The errorless approach stands as a validated motor learning technique facilitating implicit practice. Maxwell and colleagues (2001) have documented that errorless learning paradigms impose constraints on the environment to mitigate errors during performance. This
constraint-based approach establishes consistent movement patterns earlier, mitigating the need for continual generation of alternative movement solutions to reduce errors. In a related study, Capio et al. (2012) conducted a comparative analysis of the effectiveness of errorless practice
(beginning with very easy tasks and progressing to more difficult ones) versus errorful practice (beginning with the most difficult tasks and gradually moving to easier ones) in the context of overhand throws in children. Their findings indicated a preference for errorless practice, revealing superior performance and learning benefits compared to errorful practice.
Our objective is to advance the existing knowledge base through two distinct experiments. In Experiment 1, we will implement errorless practice techniques in the context of the golf chip shot. Notably, there is a dearth of research exploring the golf chip shot, despite numerous empirical studies substantiating the positive effects of errorless practice on golf putting. Experiment 2 focuses on applying the benefits of errorless practice to golf putting among individuals with intellectual disabilities (ID). Implicit practice, characterized by a restriction in relying on verbal-analytic types of declarative knowledge and the promotion of automatic movement, presents a promising approach for facilitating skill acquisition in individuals with ID. However, there is a notable absence of studies within this population. Taken together, this project serves a dual purpose: firstly, to expand our understanding from golf putting to chip shots in typically developing individuals; and secondly, to investigate whether errorless practice yields comparable skill learning benefits in individuals with ID using the golf putt task.

ENGINEERING: Mohammed Salem and Koret Scholars Eriberto Salgado, Gilberto Cornejo, Grant Goodwin, and Jesuina Lopez

Improved Indoors Wireless Propagation Modeling for NextG Systems

School of Science & Technology, Department of Engineering

Faculty Mentor: Mohammed Salem

Koret Scholars: Eriberto Salgado, Gilberto Cornejo, Grant Goodwin, and Jesuina Lopez

Project Description: 

As communications technology evolves beyond fifth-generation wireless systems (5G) and technology capabilities supporting next-generation communications systems (NextG) become more widespread, the research and development (R&D) community faces an opportunity to address certain challenges that could scale innovations across the wireless communications industry over the next several years. As NextG communications and computing use cases become increasingly integrated and sophisticated, the amount of data to be gathered and transmitted between users, machines, and applications will exponentially increase the demand for radio spectrum usage. In order to leverage wireless spectrum to deliver the higher speed and data rates required for NextG applications, communications researchers must develop new methods of sharing spectrum between diverse end-uses and managing spectrum more efficiently. Meanwhile, they must also accommodate form factor limitations on antenna size and power efficiency needed to provide wireless services at a reasonable cost and level of complexity. 
Spectrum, defined as the range of radio frequencies used fore wireless communication, can be shared geographically, temporally, or between users to increase spectrum access to wireless consumers and providers. Spectrum-sharing techniques rely on spectrum occupancy measurements that are typically used to determine whether new transmitters can be added without causing additional interference. However, assessing interference remains challenging. Spectrum measurements should differentiate between the various communications and non-communications sources of interference, including intentional radiators, man-made noise, natural noise, and intermodulation spurs. 
Most existing propagation models focus on quantifying the coverage of the system under consideration, that is, the average wireless signal strength at the geographic locations covered in the model. While such models have been crucial for advancing wireless communication, there is a serious need to emphasize on developing models that take signal interference into account. The interference phenomena become rather significant for communication at high speeds, which is one of the promises of NextG systems. Current propagation models used to determine interference are overly conservative leading to reduced spectrum utilization. In order to improve sharing, the protection needs of incumbents as well as typical deployment scenarios need to be considered. 
This project aims to develop an improved wireless propagation model for indoor environments that account for signal interference in the part of the spectrum designated for NextG systems. Developing the model requires collecting and processing large number of measurements inside buildings. Because the experimental nature of NextG signal format, there are no commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) radio transmitters or receivers. A significant portion of this project is thus constructing a transmitter device capable of generating NextG-compliant signals. Receiving the signals is possible using COTS instruments, such as spectrum analyzers. The other portion of the project will focus on performing a large number of measurements inside several buildings on campus and collecting data on the received signal. The collected data will be classified and processed using advanced statistical techniques to construct the improved propagation model. In parallel with that, simulation models will also be developed to verify and compare with the measurements. A successful improved wireless propagation model will be significant in advancing the planning and deployment of NextG systems and may drive decisions about things like how and where to deploy wireless access points, what rules to establish for geographically sharing spectrum, and what kind of spectrum equipment to build. Thus, the objective of this project is to construct an improved indoors propagation model for NextG wireless communication systems that the R&D community can trust and accept its results as sound. 


ENGINEERING: Sudhir Shrestha and Koret Scholars Cole Montano, James Appel, Arlen Venegas, and Jennifer Avendano Lopez

Breath Data Collection Device, Version-2

School of Science & Technology, Department of Engineering

Faculty Mentor: Sudhir Shrestha

Koret Scholars: Cole Montano, James Appel, Arlen Venegas, and Jennifer Avendano Lopez

Project Description: 

Our team is developing a smart breath glucose monitor (BGM), a hand-held device that uses volatile organic compound (VOC) sensors to predict blood-glucose levels from human breath. Our goal is to collect data from patients with type-2 diabetes (non-insulin-dependent) and train machine learning (ML) models with this dataset to enable real-time glycemia predictions.
We conducted a pilot at-home data collection over the past year using a sensor device developed at the Intelligent Systems Lab at Sonoma State University. The study design includes two major steps. The first step was recruiting patients with type-2 diabetes from a medical clinic in Santa Rosa, CA, and giving them sensor devices to take home. The patients were trained on the device at the clinic by healthcare practitioners. The patients were instructed to measure their blood glucose using a fingerstick glucometer and breathe into the sensor device. The sensor data were wirelessly received or retrieved from a memory card, while the finger-stick readings were noted on a separate chart that was collected by the clinic and shared with the research group after removing all identifying information. Six patients participated in this study. After the first step's completion, we received 176 clean data points. The second step involved analyzing the collected BGM data using statistical analysis techniques such as PCA to reduce the number of features in the dataset. Then, we employed the use of Support Vector Machine (SVM) algorithms to build a prediction model that could classify glucose levels as high, normal, or low. We used cross-validation processes to train the SVM model and determine the SVM parameters. This poster will present the study design lessons learned, and highlight important results from the study.
The next steps for the research include large-scale data collection and testing, developing a user interface on the device to input finger-stick BG measurements and display BG states, and creating a companion smartphone application for monitoring and tracking BG readings by patients and medical professionals. Such a solution would enable type 2 diabetes patients to receive instant glucose status readings without the need for finger pricks, test as many times as they desire, and easily monitor their BG history, revolutionizing patient care.

KINESIOLOGY: Bulent Sokmen and Koret Scholars Christopher Daniels, Garrett Campedel, Melissa Aragon Matias, and Jairo Carillo

Effects of Blood Flow Restriction Exercise on Post-Activation Potentiation in Resistance Trained Men and Women

School of Science & Technology, Department of Kinesiology

Faculty Mentor: Bulent Sokmen

Koret Scholars: Christopher Daniels, Garrett Campedel, Melissa Aragon Matias, and Jairo Carillo

Project Description: 

Our previously published study [1] demonstrated that post-activation potentiation (PAP)
occurred with both unilateral and bilateral training protocols, resulting in an increased rate of 
force development. https://www.remedypublications.com/open-access/pthe-effects-of-acute- 
bilateral-and-unilateral-set-protocols-on-muscle-power-and-rate-of-force-developmentp- 2194.pdf”. 
Currently, we aim to investigate the same phenomenon by incorporating blood flow restriction 
exercise. By definition, PAP has been described as an acute enhancement in the force- generating 
capacity of skeletal muscle, as the result of a biomechanically similar “conditioning action” [2]. 
It is believed that following the conditioning action, both fatigue and potentiation exist 
simultaneously, and during the recovery period, fatigue dissipates at a faster rate than the 
potentiation response. After the recovery period, it is postulated that a brief window of 
opportunity exists to capitalize on the potentiation effect [2]. Exploitation of the PAP response 
has been attempted within resistance training settings [3] and in pre-competition warm-ups [4]; 
however, presently a dearth of data exists examining the PAP response within clinical settings [5]


CHICANO AND LATINO STUDIES: Natalia Villanueva-Nieves and Koret Scholars Maya Angelica Betancourt Feliz, Mariah Gonzales, Grisselle Herrera Reyes, and Joselyn Serrano Gutierrez

Collaborative Alliance in Community-Based Research

School of Arts and Humanities, Department of Chicano and Latino Studies

Faculty Mentor: Natalia Villanueva-Nieves

Koret Scholars: Maya Angelica Betancourt Feliz, Mariah Gonzales, Grisselle Herrera Reyes, and Joselyn Serrano Gutierrez

Project Description: 

Our research team is integrated by a Latina faculty mentor and four Latina students in different stages in their academic paths at SSU (two senior-level students, one sophomore, and one freshman). The Koret Scholars Program would provide students with the necessary funds to work collaboratively to implement community-based research methods in four individual projects engaging with communities across Sonoma County. The students’ projects focus on the following topics: young Latino men's mental health, immigration policies impacting unaccompanied youth, self-identity and bilingual language development in Latinx high school students, and the impact of agrochemicals on the health of farm workers. 
Students will collect data through interviews and archival research during the award period. They will also participate in weekly meetings facilitated by the faculty mentor. These weekly meetings aim to check students’ progress in their research projects and to provide them with a collaborative space to discuss ethical research practices. The discussions will mainly focus on best practices to achieve reciprocity, the safety, and respect of participants and acknowledge participants as knowledge producers. Students will present their findings at the SSU’s Week of Research and Creativity in Spring 2024. In addition, the two senior students will present their findings at the National Association of Chicano and Chicana Studies 2024 Conference and as part of their senior theses.  

ENGINEERING: Nansong Wu and Koret Scholars Aaron John Estrada, Joshua Lyman, Gilberto Cornejo, and Antoine Rochman

Design, Evaluation, and Comparative Analysis of Tread and Grouser Patterns for Planetary Exploration Rovers

School of Science & Technology, Department of Engineering

Faculty Mentor: Nansong Wu

Koret Scholars: Aaron John Estrada, Joshua Lyman, Gilberto Cornejo, and Antoine Rochman

Project Description: 

The NASA Lunabotics [1] competition is an engaging systems engineering design challenge that encourages students to design and construct an autonomous or telerobotic robot specially tailored to navigate a simulated lunar surface and undertake designated construction tasks. Our team's exceptional dedication and expertise have shone brightly, as our Project Management Plan received a perfect score of 10 out of 10, a judgment made by NASA engineers. This achievement has secured our place among the 50 university teams† selected to participate in this competition. In this competition, a regolith simulant is used to mimic the properties of the real lunar regolith. This simulant provides for a very difficult environment for mobile robotics. The aim of this research is to investigate, design, build, test, and compare wheel designs for use in this harsh environment.  
1. Objectives
A set of specific research, educational, and outreach goals are as follows: 
Objective 1: Conduct research on currently available wheel types, patterns, and the specific requirements of NASA competitions. Create a table to outline the strengths and weaknesses of various designs, ultimately leading to a decision on the wheel diameter. 
Objective 2: Engage in the production of selected wheel pattern components through diverse manufacturing techniques and assemble prototype wheels for comparative analysis against our existing wheel models. 
Objective 3: Develop a testing apparatus capable of accommodating multiple wheel types, allowing for quantitative testing. 
Objective 4: Execute physical testing on the designated set of wheel test specimens, gathering valuable data. 
Objective 5: Thoroughly examine the collected data pertaining to each wheel design. Evaluate the merits and drawbacks of each design, including factors like pull force at different loads and wheel weight, drawing comprehensive conclusions from the analysis.