2024 SDSU Student Symposium was largest yet

More than 650 students shared their scholarly projects with larger San Diego community

Thursday, March 14, 2024
A student demonstrates her project during the 2024 SDSU Student Symposium.
During the 2024 S3 sessions, mentors, peers and parents alike encouraged and celebrated student research, innovation and creativity.

The 17th annual San Diego State University Student Symposium (S3), held March 1, was the largest in university history. Over 650 students participated across more than 500 posters, talks, exhibits and performances. Upwards of 450 volunteers from the SDSU and larger San Diego community judged and moderated student presentations.

During Friday’s sessions, mentors, peers and parents alike encouraged and celebrated student research, innovation and creativity. Students applied their skills and knowledge to myriad topics: solving problems like homelessness, exploring the role of gender in media, and understanding rural high school students’ college decisions. Every academic unit, including SDSU Imperial Valley, had multiple student presentations throughout the day.

Interdisciplinary undergraduate and graduate student teams from mechanical engineering professor Sam Kassegne’s NanoFab lab presented their lessons learned iterating designs for sensors to aid in diabetes management, from detecting glucose and cortisol to stimulating the vagus nerve.

Jazmin Luna and Katia Ayala shared qualitative analyses of interviews they had conducted in Oaxaca and Guatemala, respectively, with funding through a grant from the Tinker Foundation. Luna detailed female activists’ exposure to femicide in Mexico and Ayala analyzed elders’ recollections of a 1950s-era coup d’état.

Biology undergraduate Sakshi Pradhan said exchanging ideas and connecting with fellow researchers and professionals was “a truly rewarding experience.”

In the 41 years that Geography Professor Emeritus Doug Stow has been at SDSU, he said this year’s presentations were the “most consistently solid” he has judged.

“The Symposium is not only a celebration of our students' ingenuity and perseverance, but also a fantastic opportunity for students to show their support systems, and themselves, that their ideas can impact others,” said Hala Madanat, vice president for research and innovation.

Expansion of Arts

This year included additional artistic exhibits and performance pieces compared to previous symposia.

Photo of Alyssa Moreno dancing

Alyssa Moreno performs during S3.

Dance major Alyssa Moreno built on research she had done through the SDSU Undergraduate Research Program last summer for a new dance that expressed both her Mexican and American identities through movement. After traveling from Tijuana, Moreno’s parents were full of pride watching her perform.

Anisa Prom and her mother view her paintingAnisa Prom and her mother view her paintingAnisa Prom, an English major and Arts minor, surprised her mother by recreating one of her grandmother’s art pieces, which the family no longer possessed. Through the creation of the piece, Prom learned more about painting with color, in contrast to her usual black-and-white style; more meaningful, however, was seeing her mom’s teary-eyed reaction to the painting reveal.

Kieran Gomez-Rodriguez shared a graphic design project he completed for a class taught by Gary Benzel. Gomez-Rodriguez combined hand lettering, graffiti-inspired art, and photos placed within a grid structure in promotional materials for the Center for Regional Sustainability’s Brownfields Assessment Project.

Growing up in San Diego’s Paradise Hills community, he and his friends would discuss their visions for what empty lots in their neighborhood could be. Working on behalf of an initiative that could make those childhood dreams into a reality, he said, was cathartic.

Recognizing Student Excellence

On Saturday morning, graduate students condensed their theses into three-minute rapidfire talks. The winners, Niveditha Ramadoss and Jocelyn Smith, qualified to participate in the upcoming California State University Grad Slam, held virtually.

Erin Riley, professor of anthropology and assistant dean for SDSU’s College of Graduate Studies, gave a keynote speech about how students and mentors can ensure engagement in research, scholarship, and creative activities is a transformative experience.

Based on judges’ scores, more than 90 outstanding students and teams were honored for their excellence during the awards ceremony. They earned cash prizes as a reward for their dedication and preparation. Ten students received the President's Award and will represent SDSU at the CSU-wide student research competition, April 26-27 at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

Two Fowler College of Business students and their co-presenters earned awards for their projects examining the repercussions of natural disasters on local communities. Arvin Domier’s group was given the Dean’s Award for their poster about the effects of power outages on disadvantaged neighborhoods. Alyssa Yearick’s poster documenting innovative ways to communicate earthquake hazards was selected for the Provost’s Award.

Four research mentors were also recognized with awards, based on student nominations. Karilyn Sant from the School of Public Health, Arun Sethuraman from the Department of Biology, Marta Miletic from the Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering and Eve Kornfeld from the Department of History were honored with these inaugural awards.

The 2024 showcase of student achievement was generously supported by platinum sponsor Eli Lilly and Company; gold sponsors Bristol Myers Squibb, Qualcomm, and the University Library; and silver sponsors Biocom California and Cintas.

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