March 25, 2017

Sac State students go on to CSU research competition

Sacramento State will be sending 11 students to the 30th annual California State University Research Competition at CSU Bakersfield on April 29 and 30.

The students representing Sacramento State in the competition are as follows: Morgan Garvey, psychology; Didier “D.J.” Mponte, electrical and electronic engineering; Bethany Parker, chemistry; Beth Parvis, biological sciences; Nicole Potter, psychology; Holly Siino, child development with Italian studies minor; Adrian Vidrio, electrical and electronic engineering; and Benjamin White, computer science.

Garvey, a graduating senior, gave the State Hornet insight into the process of preparing her research paper, “How ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ Boldly Interprets Judas Iscariot,” for the upcoming competition.

“[The paper] started out as a class assignment,” Garvey said. “I was taking a world religions class, and we had to write a paper with a primary source, so I picked ‘Jesus Christ Superstar.’ I compared it to biblical sources and also used interviews from people who collaborated on the project to form my thesis about it.”

For Garvey, the undertaking was a personal one, as her parents grew up with ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ in the 1970s, and Garvey’s father took her to see the production when she was 14.

“I’ve always liked ‘Jesus Christ Superstar,’ even though it’s so cheesy and from the ’70’s. I think it’s more intelligent than a lot of people give it credit for. I had an opportunity to write about it, so I took it,” Garvey said.

Garvey, however, did not come to achieve her success on her own.

“The teachers I’ve had along the way, particularly Dr. Harvey Stark, [have enabled my success],” Garvey said. “He thought that the paper had the potential to become bigger and thought it could open up some doors for me. He really helped me frame my research questions and developed its potential … I really have him to thank for all of it; he has given me a lot of great guidance.”

Garvey also provided pointers for fellow Sacramento State students who may be interested in participating in future CSU research competitions.

“Find a project you’re passionate about, so you can do great research. The audience can tell, and the judges can tell if you have personal ties to a project,” Garvey said. “Also, find a mentor who is also passionate about your project and can give you the guidance you need, because it’s helpful to have another perspective on your research as well.”

Vidrio also discussed what he and his partner, Mponte, will do at the competition.

“The senior design team that I am a part of has created an Exo-Skeletal Arm Brace, a robotic arm that a user can wear and control using brain and muscle sensors,” Vidrio said. “It was created to help people that are affected by some sort of motor control loss [like] cerebral palsy. What D.J. [Mponte] and I will be focusing on includes preliminary research of the problem statement, alternative solutions, as well as implementation and some testing performed.”

Vidrio also reflected on his success and imparted some wisdom to his peers.

“I have always had a great support system, and I think that is necessary to have if you want to be an engineer,” Vidrio said. “I also dedicate a lot of time to my major, and if you want to be a good engineer, it kind of has to be a part of your life, not just something you study or something you do for work. Luckily, I enjoy doing things like this – I like creating, and I’ve always had some interesting ideas in my head. With engineering, I can actually make those things happen.”

Interim Provost Ming-Tung “Mike” Lee spoke about how he is proud of the students going on to represent the university at CSU Bakersfield.

“It is very impressive that the students who will be representing Sac State reflect a breadth of diversity, a near 50-50 split in terms of graduate and undergraduate students and research projects that span the humanities and social sciences, as well as engineering, computer science and the natural sciences,” Lee said. “We are confident that they are poised to come back with strong recognition of the impact of their work to their disciplines and beyond.”

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