Celebration of Academic Excellence

Inauguration header

Celebration of Academic Excellence

Welcome to the Celebration of Academic Excellence! Students and faculty will come together over three days to provide brief introductions to their research and scholarship. The topics will be wide-ranging, and you will find the varied Cal Lutheran programs and schools represented. Each day will begin with undergraduate and graduate students displaying their research posters between 4:30 and 5 p.m. The faculty presentations will begin at 5 p.m. Without exception, these faculty members are extraordinary scholars, and as much as they value their research, they instill their love for learning in the students they mentor. Under the guidance of our president, Lori E. Varlotta, PhD, our university will continue to provide the space for the freedom of inquiry, the rigor, and the creativity that is at the essence of our faculty’s commitment to scholarship and teaching.

Opening remarks will be provided by Lori Varlotta, PhD, President, Leanne Neilson, PsyD, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Taiwo Ande, PhD, Senior Associate Provost, Accreditation Liaison Officer, and Rick Holigrocki, PhD, Dean of the Graduate School of Psychology. Michael Arndt, MFA, Professor and Chair of Theatre Arts and Dance will be the Master of Ceremonies.

I hope that you enjoy the Celebration of Academic Excellence!

Rick Holigrocki, PhD
Dean and Professor, Graduate School of Psychology


Watch the Live Stream

Presentation Schedule

Tuesday, February 22
Time Poster Session and Presentations
4:30 - 5:00 pm
Student Poster Session I
  • Hannah Blitstein ’18, MS ’21 (Clinical Psychology) Assessing the Effects of Enhanced Mental Health Literacy on Self-Stigma and Help-Seeking Attitudes
  • Nallely Delara (Biochemistry and Molecular Biology) Evaluating Microbial Community Characteristics in Freshwater Sediments of Tidal River Corridors
  • Anthony Garay (Biochemistry) Increasing the Penetrance and Expression of an Incompletely Penentrant Mutation in Drosophila Melanogaster
  • Mia LeClerc (Environmental Science) and Adrianna Ebrahim (Biological Sciences) The Quantification of Microfibers in Marine Sediments from Australia, California, and Hawaii
  • Nathan March (Biochemistry and Molecular Biology) Studies on the Mechanism, Kinetics, and Thermodynamics of Desferrioxamine D
  • Naomi Mbise (Political Science and Theology and Christian Leadership) Theology and Christian Leadership Youth in Double Cultures
  • Sophia Armienta Ojeda (Exercise Science) The Influence of High-Intensity Exercise on Carotid Artery Hemodynamics
  • Haley Tyrell (Biological Sciences) Mending the Mental Health of Medical Providers through Faith and Spirituality
  • Ashlee Vasquez (Candidate for MS in Clinical Psychology) Neurology of Psychopathic Traits
  • Teresa Vega, MA (Candidate for EdD in K-12 Educational Leadership) Goal-Setting Among Incarcerated Youth
5:00 - 6:30pm
Faculty Presentations
5:00 pm Introductory Remarks by Lori Varlotta, PhD, Leanne Neilson, PsyD, Rick Holigrocki, PhD Michael Arndt, MFA
5:15 pm Trudy Arriaga, EdD, Associate Dean of Equity and Outreach, Graduate School of Education, Women in Leadership
5:30 pm Lorena Muñoz, PhD, Associate Professor and Program Director for Ethnic and Race Studies,Cal Lutheran Commitment to DEI: Why the New Ethnic and Race Studies Program Matters
5:45 pm Matthew Fienup, PhD, Executive Director, Center for Economic Research & Forecasting; Assistant Professor, Economics, U.S. and State Level Latino GDP
6:00 pm Sebastian Carron Montero, PhD, Assistant Professor, Physics, Search for Supersymmetric Particles at the CERN Compact Muon Solenoid Experiment
6:15 pm Jamshid Damooei, PhD, Professor & Director of Economics, Executive Director, Center for Economics of Social Issues, Creating a Prosperous Economy: Paving the Way with a Liberal Arts Education at Cal Lutheran
Wednesday, February 23
Time Poster Session and Presentations
4:30 - 5:00 pm
Student Poster Session II
  • Olivia Chee (Biological Sciences) Mapping the Inducible Genetic Variant, crybaby, and Complementation Tests with Lobe Mutations of Drosophila Melanogaster
  • Kali Hale (Computer Science) Client/Server Software Framework
  • Heysel Morales (Exercise Science) The Effects of Race and Menstruation on the Rate of Oxygen Uptake During Exercise
  • Zachary Murillo (Physics) Analyzing a Time-Series of Infrared Spectroscopy for the Magnetic Massive Star HD 23478
  • Elizabeth Pacheco (Chemistry) The Development of a New Carboxylic Acid Protecting Group
  • Jade Tiszler (Biochemistry) Examination of Cytochrome P450 Reactive Metabolites Associated with Natural Medicines and Herbal Remedies
  • Jonathan Villicana, MS ’20 (Candidate for PsyD in Clinical Psychology) Minorities’ Psychological Distress and Coping in Response to Microaggressions
5:00 - 6:30 pm
Faculty Presentations
5:00 pm Introductory Remarks by Lori Varlotta, PhD, Taiwo Ande, PhD, Rick Holigrocki, PhD and Michael Arndt, MFA
5:15 pm Anita Stone, PhD, Assistant Professor, Biology, Monkeys, Community and Undergraduate Research: Summers in Amazonian Brazil
5:30 pm David Grannis, MFA, Associate Professor, Film and Television; Director, Center for Academic Service Learning, Using Video Production and Service-Learning as a Model for Faculty/Student Scholarship
5:45 pm Rick Holigrocki, PhD, Dean and Professor, Graduate School of Psychology, CLU Community Counseling Services: Heeding the ELCA’s Call for Affordable Mental Health Care and Authentic Diversity While Guiding Students’ Journeys Toward Counseling and Clinical Vocations
6:00 pm Vlad Vaiman, PhD, Associate Dean and Professor, School of Management,Talent Management: Latest Trends and Challenges
6:15 pm Taiwo Ande, PhD, Senior Associate Provost, Accreditation Liaison Officer,Innovative Directions for Cal Lutheran
Thursday, February 24
Time Poster Session and Presentations
4:30 - 5:00 pm
Student Poster Session III
  • Dominic Berger (Biological Sciences) The Quantification of Microfiber Pollutants Found in Leucosolenia and Haliclona Species from Several Coastal Locations Surrounding Ventura County, California
  • Mikaela Caltrider (Psychology) Differences in Jury Decision-Making Based on Defendant’s Race/Ethnicity, Religion, and Presence of DNA Evidence
  • Zsa Zsa Gabor (Biochemistry & Molecular Biology) The Role of Type Two Secretion System (T2SS) Effectors in Temperature-Dependent Growth
  • Madison Karcich (Geology) The Response of Foraminifera to Early Eocene Hyperthermal Events
  • Zaria Opara (Exercise Science) Blood Pressure Recovery Differences Between Racial Identities and Genders
  • Shirley Paz (Candidate for MS in Clinical Psychology) Adapting Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Children of Illegal Immigration: A Systematic Review
  • Luke Vankeersbilck (Exercise Science) Biomechanical Changes in Running Gait Post-transition in a Triathlon
  • Veronica Zepf (Chemistry) Synthesis of Metal-organic Frameworks as Efficient Drug Delivery Systems
5:00 - 6:30 pm
Faculty Presentations
5:00 pm Introductory Remarks by Lori Varlotta, PhD, Taiwo Ande, PhD, Rick Holigrocki, PhD, and Michael Arndt, MFA
5:15 pm Jamie Banker, PhD, Professor, Graduate School of Psychology and Dennis Goldenson, MS ’21 (Counseling Psychology) Treating Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders: A Narrative Family Therapy Approach
5:30 pm Yoshika Masuda, DMA, Assistant Professor, Music, Heightening Our Musical Senses
5:45 pm Mary Oksala, PhD, Assistant Professor, Physics, Understanding the Past, Present, and Future of Magnetic Massive Stars
6:00 pm Michael Panesis, MBA, Executive Director, Steven Dorfman Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Liberal Starts: The Beneficial Relationship between the Liberal Arts and Entrepreneurship
6:15 pm Cynthia Moe-Lobeda, PhD, Professor of Theological and Social Ethics, Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, Climate Justice and the Center for Climate Justice and Faith
Schedule of Events

Watch the Live Stream

  • 5k Run/Walk

    5K Run/Walk with the President

    Saturday, Feb. 12, 2022

    10:00 a.m. in Kingsmen Park

    Learn more



  • Falde Plaza

    Celebration of Academic Excellence

    Tuesday, Feb. 22 - Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022

    4:30 - 6:30 p.m. in Kingsmen Park

    View the Schedule   |   Watch Live



  • Worship Service

    Saturday, February 26, 2022

    2:00 p.m. in Kingsmen Park with reception to follow

    Watch Live



  • Installation Service

    Sunday, February 27, 2022

    2:00 p.m. in Kingsmen Park with reception to follow in University Plaza

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For more information, please call (805) 493-3001 or email uaevents@callutheran.edu.

Accomodations & Travel