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Rattlesnakes May Like Climate Change, Cal Poly Study Says

Jun 28, 2021


Former Cal Poly undergraduate Mallory Harmel radiotracks rattlesnakes at Montaña de Oro State Park on a foggy morning in summer 2018.
SAN LUIS OBISPO — When it comes to climate change, not all organisms will lose out. A new Cal Poly study finds that rattlesnakes are likely to benefit from a warming climate.

A combination of factors makes a warming climate beneficial to rattlesnakes that are found in almost every part of the continental United States but are especially common in the Southwest.

Rattlers are experts at thermoregulation. Researchers found that, when given a choice, the snakes prefer a body temperature of 86-89 degrees Fahrenheit, a much warmer temperature than they generally experience in nature. The average body temperature of coastal rattlesnakes in the study was 70 degrees, and for inland rattlers it was 74 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cal Poly Researchers Launch Project RattleCam, a Community Science Project to Study Rattlesnake Behavior

Jun 23, 2021


Pregnant prairie rattlesnakes bask on a rocky hillside near Steamboat Springs, Colorado.
SAN LUIS OBISPO — A multi-university team that includes Cal Poly researchers today launched a community science project that seeks to understand rattlesnake behavior by using cameras to view the snakes in their natural habitat.

Project RattleCam, which is hosted on the Zooniverse community science website, gives members of the public the chance to analyze thousands of time-lapse images taken at rattlesnake dens near Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

Members of the public can register for a free Zooniverse account and immediately begin assisting with research by answering questions about the photos, including counting the number of adult and baby snakes in each photo, identifying predators, and more.

Cal Poly Names Damon Fleming as New Dean of Orfalea College of Business

Jun 18, 2021


Damon Fleming
SAN LUIS OBISPO — Damon Fleming, dean and professor of accounting of the Fogelman College of Business and Economics at the University of Memphis, has been named as the new dean of the Orfalea College of Business at Cal Poly. Fleming will begin in this role on Aug. 2, 2021.

“I look forward to welcoming Dr. Fleming to our campus and working with him to support the students, faculty and staff of the Orfalea College of Business,” said Cynthia Jackson-Elmoore, Cal Poly’s provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs. “He brings a wealth of experience in both higher education and industry and a strong commitment to the success of the college and the university as a whole.”

Prior to his current role, Fleming spent nearly 13 years on the faculty of the Fowler College of Business at San Diego State University where he was professor of accounting, Ernst & Young Faculty Fellow, and William E. Cole Director of the Charles W. Lamden School of Accountancy.

Cal Poly Funds 14 Faculty Research Projects

Jun 17, 2021


SAN LUIS OBISPO — Cal Poly’s division of Research, Economic Development & Graduate Education (R-EDGE) announced the awards for the 2021-22 cycle of the Research, Scholarly and Creative Activities (RSCA) grant program.

Supported by funds from the CSU Chancellor's Office and the Cal Poly Provost's Office, the RSCA faculty grant program is designed to enable faculty to contribute new knowledge through robust programs of scholarship focused on strengthening California socially, culturally and economically. The RSCA Program is one mechanism by which Cal Poly supports the teacher-scholar model, in which faculty integrate excellence in teaching with excellence in research, scholarly and creative activities.

Cal Poly Physics Professor Named California State University STEM-NET Faculty Fellow

Jun 15, 2021


Louise Edwards
SAN LUIS OBISPO – Louise Edwards, an assistant professor in Cal Poly’s Physics Department, has been appointed a faculty fellow to the California State University (CSU) Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Network (STEM-NET) affinity group.

STEM-NET is a multi-campus collaboration working with all 23 CSU campuses and areas of STEM research and education. STEM-NET connects and strengthens faculty research and educational collaborations across the CSU system and across disciplines. It expands opportunities for active learning and innovative pedagogy and supports CSU faculty in developing grant proposals with potential for scaling and sustainability with high impact and fundability.

Noise and Light Pollution Can Limit Which Birds Visit Our Backyards

Jun 14, 2021


cedar waxwings
SAN LUIS OBISPO — A new study led by Cal Poly researchers reports that birds across the continental U.S. tend to avoid backyard feeders in louder areas. When light pollution is also present, even more species stayed away.  

The study, published June 10 in Global Change Biology, used data from the community science program Program FeederWatch, which includes thousands of participants reporting bird observations at feeder locations across the nation. The research team analyzed more than 3.4 million observations of 140 different bird species across the continental U.S.  

“Broadly speaking, we are just starting to dive into the consequences of light and noise for  animals,” said Ashley Wilson, a Cal Poly graduate student who led the study. “Most studies focus on a single species’ responses to noise or light pollution. As such, our study involving 140 species provides the most comprehensive assessment of how noise and light influence which birds we see in our backyards and neighborhoods.”  

Cal Poly Study Reveals How Weddell Seal Pups Learn to Swim

Jun 14, 2021


A young Weddell seal takes a break in a breathing hole during swimming lessons with its mother. Photo taken under NMFS permit 21006-01 and ACA permit 2018-013 M#1. Photo credit: Linnea Pearson
SAN LUIS OBISPO — They’re cute, they’re furry, and they start diving into frigid Antarctic waters at 2 weeks old. According to a new Cal Poly study, Weddell seal pups may be one of the only types of seals to learn to swim from their mothers. 

Weddell seals are the southernmost born mammal and come into the world in the coldest environment of any mammal. These extreme conditions may explain the unusually long time they spend with their mothers. 

The study, “Early Diving Behavior in Weddell Seal (Leptonychotes Weddellii) Pups,” was published earlier this month in the Journal of Mammalogy.

Cal Poly Engineering Labs Receive $350,000 from Key Figure in Auto Racing and Machining

Jun 9, 2021


Brian Hillenbrand (Mechanical Engineering, '19) works in the advanced machining lab as a student. The advanced machining lab and the material removal lab will both be renamed in honor of a $350,000 donation from the Gene Haas Foundation.
SAN LUIS OBISPO — Two manufacturing labs at Cal Poly will be renamed in honor of a $350,000 donation from the Gene Haas Foundation, which will help the labs remain up-to-date and safe for the hundreds of engineering students who use them every year. 

“The new gift for the Gene Haas labs pairs two successful organizations, Cal Poly and the Gene Haas Foundation, and links together our interests toward graduating top-notch engineers and making sure our labs are state-of-the-art and in excellent condition,” said Dan Waldorf, chair of Cal Poly’s Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering Department.

To recognize Haas’ commitment, the material removal lab and the advanced machining lab, located in the Grant M. Brown Engineering Building (Building 41A), will be called the Gene Haas Material Removal Lab and the Gene Haas Advanced Machining Lab for the next 10 years.

Cal Poly Student Affairs Receives Gift to Fund Tanklage Family Homelessness Initiative

Jun 9, 2021


SAN LUIS OBISPO — The estate of the late Carole Tanklage has donated a revenue-generating commercial real estate property that will fund a Cal Poly initiative aimed at ending student homelessness.  

The real estate gift will fund the Tanklage Family Initiative to End Homelessness, which Mrs. Tanklage initially established with a three-year gift totaling $150,000 in 2018. Mrs. Tanklage, who passed away in 2020, originally created the initiative in 2018 in honor of her late husband, Cal Poly alumnus Donald Tanklage (Architectural Engineering, ’57), to assist Cal Poly students struggling with homelessness and housing instability.    

Since its inception, the fund has provided more than 100 struggling students with on- and off-campus housing support.

Six Outstanding Cal Poly Graduates Symbolize Hope, Perseverance and Tenacity of the Class of 2021

Jun 8, 2021


SAN LUIS OBISPO — Members of Cal Poly’s Class of 2021, who overcame one of the most challenging years in school history, are excited about commencement and beginning the next phase of their lives.

More than 5,300 graduates are eligible to take part in the virtual commencement June 11 and special in-person recognition events Saturday and Sunday, June 12 and 13. Attracted to the Learn by Doing ethos, they leave Cal Poly beaming with confidence for the future to begin careers or move on to advanced studies.

Each of this year’s graduates leaves ready to become future leaders, innovators and problem-solvers — skills earned through studies steeped in a hands-on learning environment and working shoulder-to-shoulder with classmates and faculty members.

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