Recent Entries in Spotlight

matt james and bust of hemmingwayBy Matthew James, SSU Geology Professor

In December 2015 I took a swell trip. While my students back on campus crammed for final exams in my lecture and laboratory courses, and sweated out documenting their lengthy geology field trip reports, I got schooled, in the good sense. I went to Cuba, an island in the humid tropics where perspiration flows like cheap rum. I joined 22 other scholar-tourists from 15 campuses around the country who converged in Miami, Florida, and then made the short flight to Havana, Cuba for the week-long education and research delegation.

brantleybryant.pngSonoma State University English professor Brantley Bryant, author of Middle English modern satire "Geoffrey Chaucer Hath a Blog," is spearheading the creation of an online open access companion to Chaucer's "The Canterbury Tales" that will be free for students to use as a resource for studying the classic text.

jonathandimmock.jpgThree private studio instructors have joined the Sonoma State University music faculty - Jonathan Dimmock, organ; Wayne Roden, viola; and Mark Wallace, double bass.

SSU student Michelle Kavata in front of a Haitian hospitalSonoma State University student Michelle Kavata recently returned from Haiti, where she helped set up a virtual doctor's office in a rural area of the developing nation--and received college credit for doing so.

dreamerstable.jpgNavigating college for the first time can present several challenges for the average student. For the 148 undocumented students at Sonoma State University, those challenges are even harder says Griselda Madrigal, president of Sonoma State's DREAMers Club.

Drake's Bay Oyster CompanyWhen Polaroid decided to stop making its trademark instant-developing film in 2008, the company destroyed nearly all of its factories. Sonoma State University environmental history professor Laura A. Watt has latched on to the iconic Polaroid style to express another side of her art. Her work is featured in a solo exhibition, "The Evolving Landscape of Point Reyes," at Prince Gallery in Petaluma Oct. 7-Nov. 8.

alexander kahnThe world-class music halls at Sonoma State University will soon be filled by the sound of a student symphony orchestra. Sonoma State has hired a tenure-track music professor to direct the Sonoma State Symphony Orchestra, which performs in Weill Hall at the Green Music Center.

Alexander Kahn joined the music faculty this semester, and students are already enrolled in the university's first official symphony orchestra. Kahn holds a Ph.D. from U.C. Berkeley and a Graduate Performance Diploma in orchestral conducting from the Peabody Institute at John's Hopkins University. He was most recently a tenured professor at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania.

lamp students in thailandHow was your summer? Well, for two Sonoma State University math students and math professor Martha Shott, it was international. They spent the summer, or six weeks of it, at least, in Thailand with the the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) program.

Shott worked with eight students, including SSU math majors Travis Hayes and Ericka Chavez, in a faculty mentor capacity while students studied with faculty at Chiang Mai University, situated in Northern Thailand in Chiang Mai, a city of 150,000.

nathan rankSonoma State biology professor Nathan Rank visits Bishop so often, "it's almost like a second home," he says, speaking on a spotty cell phone connection from the eastern California mountain town of Bishop. He's been spending summers surrounded by breathtaking scenery of the Sierra Nevada since 1984 studying the montane leaf beetle, and will continue to do so for the next three years thanks to a $400,000 grant from the National Science Foundation.

"We are looking at how genetic differentiations within populations might help survive a really wet or dry year." He adds, "Since this year is extremely dry year, we are making sure to document the populations very carefully."

young Hispanic boy with tutorFor students across the nation, graduating from high school is a celebratory achievement. This task is made much more difficult for children of migrant farm workers and low-income families with no knowledge in guiding their kids to obtain higher education. To counteract the disadvantages facing migrant students, Sonoma State University has created a program modeled after the California Mini-Corps program called the Migrant Education Advisor Program (MEAP).

seawolfscholars.jpg"My mom passed away a week before my freshman year of high school, and I knew that education would be my fallback," says Chris Villedo, a freshman sociology major at Sonoma State University. "So the next four years I really focused on my education." He says Seawolf Scholars, a foster youth assistance program started last semester, has already helped guide him through financial aid, register for classes and navigate complex paperwork and registration requirements. "Having programs like this on campus helps students be more confident about what they want to do in college," says Villedo.

May is National Foster Care Month, and Sonoma State University's new Seawolf Scholars program is helping former foster youth navigate the new and turbulent world of college life.

More than four decades may have passed since man has set foot on the moon, but last year Sonoma State University equipment technician Steve Anderson shot a giant laser at it.

Working in conjunction with a local Sonoma County laser light show studio, Anderson created a 100-Watt laser projector, over 20,000 times more powerful than a typical handheld laser. Anderson demonstrated the laser as part of a visual display the night before the launch of the Orion Spacecraft at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida on December 5, and participated in the Holidays in Space events later that month.

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