Research Week Celebrates Scholarly Exploration, Collaboration


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Fresno State junior Jessica Perez is investigating college students’ perceptions on the potential addictiveness and harm of psychedelic substances compared to cigarettes, alcohol and non-prescription opioids.

The topic is a long way from Perez’s original major in art, but it was an art class that got her interested in science. The art teacher gave her a book that explored the history and uses of psychedelics, sparking an interest that led her to switch majors to biology with an interest in neuroscience.

On Wednesday, April 3, Perez will present her findings in her first poster presentation at the 45th annual Central California Research Symposium, the highlight event of Fresno State’s Research Week happening April 2 to 5. The weeklong celebration, now in its second year, will include workshops, panel discussions and keynote speakers.

“I love hearing people’s stories and the research they do and how interested they are because I wasn’t around that kind of environment,” Perez said.

She credits psychology professor Dr. Martin Shapiro, who she is working with on this project, and others for helping her realize her potential in science.

“Participating in CCRS is a way of showing myself that despite my background, despite being a woman of color, I do have a place and that place is welcoming and that place is supportive because there are people like my mentors who have made a connection with me,” Perez said.

This year’s symposium will feature more than 250 student research presentations — the most ever since 2018. Students from all disciplines will give oral and poster presentations in the Resnick Student Union. The symposium allows students and faculty to share their recent research and to encourage research activity in the Central Valley.

For five consecutive years, Fresno State has set funding records for tens of millions of dollars in grants and awards to support research. The university received $70.7 million during the 2022-23 academic year. The university also has an R2 designation as a “Doctoral University — High Research Activity” by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education, highlighting a significant commitment to growing research activities.

“Fresno State’s Research Week symbolizes the apex of scholarly exploration and imaginative collaboration cultivated by our devoted faculty, staff, and both graduate and undergraduate students,” said Dr. Joy Goto, interim dean of the Division of Research and Graduate Studies. “These endeavors illuminate our collective journey within the communities we serve, inspiring transformative collaboration that will extend far into the future.”

Here is a list of events during Research Week:

Tuesday, April 2

9:30 – 11:30 a.m. JARC Research Showcase on the first-floor interactive area of the Jordan Agricultural Research Center (311 N. Woodrow Ave.). Learn about what goes on in JARC, how it can be a resource and connect with researchers. Topics include hyperspectral imaging in grapevines, groundwater quality and contamination, high-protein ice cream, feasibility and production of whey beer, nutrition studies and salinity tolerance of crops.

1 – 2 p.m. Hear from a panel of experts to Learn about How to Get Involved with Research on Campus in the Ellipse Gallery in the Fresno State Library. The experts include Lilia De La Cerda, director for the Center for Access to Science for All; Dr. Morgan Hawker, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry; Dr. Katy Tarrant, associate professor of animal science and agricultural education; and Dr. Wei Wu, professor of construction management.

2:30 – 3:30 p.m. Guest speaker and former Fresno State adjunct professor Dr. John Freeman will speak about “The Molecular Biology of Microbial Endophytes used for Sustainable Agriculture and Environmental Remediation” in the Ellipse Gallery in the Library. Freeman is chief science officer and co-founder of Intrinsyx Bio. He recently developed a series of naturally occurring, non-GMO, native tree endophyte micro-organism-based product formulations for use in fields.

Wednesday, April 3

8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. The 45th annual Central California Research Symposium will be held in the Resnick Student Union. More than 250 presenters will give 12-minute oral presentations and poster presentations on a diverse range of projects.

Thursday, April 4

9:30 – 11 a.m. Four graduate students from the University of California, Davis will share their stories about research, future plans and more in a panel discussion held on the second floor of the Library, room 2206.

1 – 3 p.m. The Three-Minute Thesis, known as 3MT, is a three-minute graduate student presentation using one slide to showcase research. The event will be held in the Library, room 2206.

3 – 7 p.m. The 2024 HealthTech Horizon Symposium, hosted by the College of Health and Human Services and the Department of Physical Therapy, will be held at the University Business Center. Topics include understanding digital transformation in health care delivery, exploring innovative solutions in health care technology, analyzing challenges in implementing digital solutions, charting the future of health care delivery, and enhancing digital literacy for health care professionals.

Friday, April 5

10 – 11 a.m. Keynote speaker Dr. Francesca Hopkins, assistant professor of climate change and sustainability at the University of California, Riverside, will speak in the Ellipse Gallery in the Library. Hopkins studies the effects of human activities on the global carbon cycle from an interdisciplinary earth system science perspective, with particular interest in greenhouse gas emissions in urban and agricultural environments.

11 a.m. – noon Join this Zoom presentation to learn about How to Launch your Career in the Biotech Industry. Topics include working with recruiters, resume dos and don’ts, how to apply to jobs, presenting yourself professionally, pre and post interview preparations and the types of roles available in the biotech industry.

3:30 – 5 p.m. A celebration of Outstanding Faculty Publications will be held in the Ellipse Gallery balcony in the Library with a reception at 3:30 p.m. followed by a short program at 4 p.m.