Seven Cal Poly Student Projects Recognized at CSU Student Research Competition

SAN LUIS OBISPO — Seven Cal Poly students and recent alumni were awarded first- or second-place prizes at the 2021 California State University (CSU) Student Research Competition. Cal Poly was the most recognized university in the competition, with its students taking home 15% of the total prizes awarded.

“All of our student and recent alumni delegates were phenomenal representatives of Cal Poly at the competition,” said Jane Lehr, director of the Office of Student Research at Cal Poly. “Each project represents what is best about the opportunity to Learn by Doing in research at Cal Poly: the opportunity to work closely with amazing faculty mentors to create new knowledge that makes a difference in the world. I am excited that so many of our students and recent graduates were recognized at the CSU level for the quality of their work.”

Students from across the CSU competed in 10 divisions for each of the following categories: Behavioral, Social Sciences, and Public Administration; Biological and Agricultural Sciences; Business, Economics, and Hospitality Management; Creative Arts and Design; Education; Engineering and Computer Science; Health, Nutrition, and Clinical Sciences; Humanities and Letters; Physical and Mathematical Sciences; and Interdisciplinary.

California State Polytechnic University in Pomona hosted the 35th annual competition. Students presented their work through a prerecorded video and participated in a live virtual Q&A with a jury and an audience. Students competed by discipline category and, where feasible, by undergraduate/graduate level. First-place finishers were awarded a $500 prize, and second-place finishers were awarded $250.

“It’s an honor to be recognized, especially among so many of my peers who presented such incredible and insightful research,” said Dana Michels, who won first place in the graduate-level Biological and Agricultural Sciences and Interdisciplinary category. “I’m proud that we can help show what great research is being performed at Cal Poly — and, especially, highlight the amazing faculty members who are so supportive of student researchers.”

Alyssa McCulloch, a third-year biomedical engineering major from Park City, Utah, won first place in the Health, Nutrition, and Clinical Sciences and Interdisciplinary category for her project focused on her work in Cal Poly’s Tissue Engineering Lab with Professor Kristen O’Halloran Cardinal of the Biomedical Engineering Department.

“I’ve been fortunate to be active in research since my freshman year at Cal Poly. Having the opportunity to present what I’ve worked on for over two years was incredibly rewarding,” McCulloch said. “I hope more Cal Poly students seek out ways to get involved with research. It’s a great way to practice Learn by Doing outside of the classroom and develop true partnerships with your faculty mentors.”

The seven projects awarded are:

Dana MichelsFirst place in Biological and Agricultural Sciences and Interdisciplinary (Graduate) Category: Amino Acid Analog Induces Stress Response in Marine Synechococcu

Researcher: Dana Michels (M.S., Biological Sciences, ‘21)

Faculty Mentor: Alexis Pasulka, (Biological Sciences)



Isabella AbelgasFirst place in Business, Economics, and Hospitality Management (Graduate & Undergraduate) Category: The Impact of Export Crops on Developing Countries

Researcher: Isabella Abelgas (Political Science: Global Politics)

Faculty Mentor: Shelley Hurt (Political Science)




Andy WuFirst place in Engineering and Computer Science (Graduate & Undergraduate) Category: Autonomous Instrument for Aircraft Acoustic Measurements

Researcher: Andy Wu (Mechanical Engineering)

Faculty Mentor: Russell Westphal (Mechanical Engineering)




First place in Health, Nutrition, and Clinical SciencesAlyssa McCulloch and Interdisciplinary (Graduate and Undergraduate) Category:
Endothelialized Silicone Aneurysm Model for In Vitro Evaluation of Neurovascular Devices

Researcher: Alyssa McCulloch (Biomedical Engineering)

Faculty Mentor: Kristen O'Halloran Cardinal (Biomedical Engineering)





Nathaniel AndreFirst place in Physical and Mathematical Sciences and Interdisciplinary (Graduate and Undergraduate) Category: Corn Futures Trading with Deep Learning and Satellite Imagery

Researcher: Nathaniel Andre (Business: Quantitative Analysis, ‘20)

Faculty Mentor: Ziemowit Bednarek (Finance)




Second place in Behavioral, Social Sciences, andJack Keefer Public Administration (Graduate) Category: Social Media Use, Body Image, and Mood Disorders in High School Students

Researcher: Jack Keefer (Business: Quantitative Analysis, ’19; M.S., Quantitative Economics, ‘20)

Faculty Mentors: Jacqueline Doremus, Dr. Carlos Flores (Economics)




Vasanth SadhasivanSecond place in Engineering and Computer Science (Graduate and Undergraduate) Category: PolyCrypto: A Polynomial-based Architecture for Post-Quantum Secure Cryptographic Schemes

Researcher: Vasanth Sadhasivan (Computer Engineering)

Faculty Mentors: Joseph Callenes-Sloan, Andrew Danowitz, Paul Hummel (Electrical Engineering/ Computer Engineering)




Cal Poly was also represented at the 2021 CSU Research Competition by Eric Cuellar (Industrial Engineering), Ricardo Lasa (Biomedical Engineering), Anika Maney (Communication Studies), and Ahmed Osman (Civil Engineering).

Contact: Keegan Koberl

May 12, 2021

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