Grad Researchers Test Their Mettle in Front of Peers, Faculty

Lauren McFarlin was one of several students to present her work at the CSU Stanislaus Graduate Student Research Colloquium.
Lauren McFarlin was one of several students to present her work at the CSU Stanislaus Graduate Student Research Colloquium.

CSU Stanislaus graduate students Lauren McFarlin and Matthew Torres are working together to create a new "batterer intervention program" — a state requirement for domestic violence offenders — and to implement and test the new program in Merced County.

Their work, spurred by prior research that showed existing programs as outdated and ineffective, was presented along with the work of several other graduate student researchers last week during the CSU Stanislaus Graduate Student Research Colloquium.

The university's Center for Excellence in Graduate Education (CEGE) organizes the annual colloquium, in which graduate students present in-progress research for discussion by fellow students and faculty members and evaluation by faculty judges. Shawna Young, professor of education and director of CEGE, said it takes courage for graduate students to present their work while being publically questioned by judges on their research design, methods and approaches.

"The energy in the room is palpable," Young said. "The focused efforts of the graduate students are inspiring, and the quality of the student presentations are a reflection of the caliber of excellence of their faculty advisors. The colloquium is indeed evidence of the vibrant scholarly graduate culture we have here at CSU Stanislaus."

McFarlin and Torres teamed up to take first place in one of the colloquium's three divisions, Master's Natural and Social Sciences. In all, nine research presentations were made in three categories, with five graduate programs represented.

First place in each category was good for a $350 prize, with $300 for second place, $250 for third and $200 for honorable mentions. Participants were nominated by their faculty advisers.

Full results were as follows:

Master's Arts and Humanities
• First place: Alexandra Vicknair, history, "Mountains and Mindsets: The History of the Ideologies Behind the Mineral King Controversy, 1965-1978," adviser Philip Garone.
• Second place: Michael Elkins, English, "A Rhetoric of Zombies," adviser Mark Thompson.
• Third place: Kathleen Diaz, English, "Teaching English through Comprehensible Input," adviser Stephen Stryker.

Master's Natural and Social Sciences
• First place: Lauren McFarlin and Matthew Torres, social work, "Creating a Strengths-Based Batterer Intervention Program in Merced County," adviser Kilolo Brodie.
• Second place (tie): Kirin Basuta, social work, "Family Experiences and Perspectives of Fragile X Newborn Screening and Cascade Testing," adviser Kilolo Brodie.
• Second place (tie): Daisy Murkin, psychology, "Optimizing Musical Variability," adviser Bill Potter.
• Honorable mention: Summer Hillas, psychology, "A Novel Use for an Established Measure: Using the Beck Depression Inventory-II to Raise Insight with Schizophrenia," adviser Diana Orem.

• First place: Jessica Kaven, educational leadership, "The Development of a Valid and Reliable General Analytic Rubric for a College-Level Public Speaking Course," adviser Shawna Young.
• Second place: Mike McCandless, educational leadership, "The Effects of Fluctuations in Enrollment Fees on Student Retention at California Community Colleges," adviser Dawn Poole.