Festival reflects year's historic events

Students conducted research, shot films from homes

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Festival of Scholars presenter Mia LeClerc examined microfibers found in sediment in her lab partner's garage last summer for her research.

(THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — April 15, 2021) The projects presented next week at California Lutheran University’s 15th Annual Festival of Scholars will reflect the historic events of the past year — from research conducted and films shot in students’ homes during pandemic stay-at-home orders to studies of the impact of distance learning and the optimal amount of lying during a political campaign.

Undergraduate and graduate students and faculty members will showcase their work during live and recorded virtual sessions and limited in-person events from Monday, April 19, through Friday, April 23. Many of the more than 200 student scholarly projects reflect months or even years of focused work with faculty mentors.

The pandemic moved most research from university labs to students’ homes. Biology professor Andrea Huvard distributed beakers, microscopes and vacuum pumps so students could collect sediment, mussels and sardines from the Ventura Jetty, Newport Harbor and watersheds and search them for plastic microfibers. To dissect gills and guts, Keury and Steve Ortez Hernandez of Palmdale set up a lab in their bathroom, and Ashley Rauda worked on a table in her Van Nuys backyard. Mia LeClerc of La Canada and Elijah Hill of Ventura examined sediment in Hill’s garage. They and other microfiber researchers will present their findings at the Allies in STEM Research Showcase available online starting Monday, the virtual and in-person Natural Science Division Oral Presentation Session 12:30 p.m. April 22, and the in-person Science Showcase Poster Session 11 a.m. April 23. The posters are online. 

The April 22 session also will include David Hall’s research into optimizing political lying. The math and economics senior from Ramona and president of the Lord of Life Student Congregation created a model to find the optimal number and severity of lies a politician must tell to gain the most votes.

The Beginning Students Film Screening available online features movies recorded on iPhones in students’ bedrooms without casts or crews because of the pandemic. The subjects range from a violent dirty shirt that highlights the importance of good hygiene to self-love for a plus-sized body. The online Senior Students Film Screening includes “Zoom University,” a documentary by Mia Gamberale of Escondido on students’ feelings of isolation, anxiety and emotional exhaustion during the pandemic. Q&A sessions will be conducted online Tuesday and Wednesday.

The Graduate School of Education Session available online starting Monday will include several research projects on pandemic experiences. Sean Miller of Simi Valley looked at educators’ perceptions of synchronous online learning, Summer Hall of Moorpark examined high school students’ anxiety, and Courtney Marriott of Thousand Oaks and Laura Meier of Camarillo researched teacher burnout. 

For links and a complete schedule of the free events, go to CalLutheran.edu/fos. For more information, call 805-493-3269.