CSUN’s Association of Retired Faculty Recognizes Student Research

  • Five CSUN students received the 2016 Association of Retired Faculty Memorial Award for their research. Pictured left to right: Nickie Cammisa, Nazanin Kaynejad and Andrea Haberkern. Photo by Lee Choo

Five California State University, Northridge students who conducted research on topics ranging from spider morphology to 18th century women’s literature, were selected to receive the 2016 Association of Retired Faculty Memorial Award, which recognizes and provides financial support to graduate students for excellent scholarship and creative activity.

“I am always impressed with the professional level of the presentations and that was really true this year,” said ARF president Alyce Akers. “The research projects and presentations underscore that the future of the university is in good hands.”

The five recipients presented their projects at the annual ARF luncheon on May 14. ARF presents the awards in memory of members of the faculty who have died in that year – the awards honor both the student and the deceased. Award criteria included a description of their project, two faculty letters of recommendation and willingness to provide a brief presentation. Each project receives a $2,000 award.

This year’s recipients are:

Nickie Cammisa, biology major — Her project, “Examining the Role of Bacteria in Facilitating Invasions by Exotic Plants During an Ecological Disturbance,” aims to discover more about the complex role of bacteria in the success of plants facing drought, specifically if these bacteria help exotic plants become invasive in novel ecosystems. Cammisa graduated with a Bachelors of Science in environmental science at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pa. before coming to CSUN as a graduate student in 2014.  Her goal is to earn her doctorate degree and pursue a career as a scientific analysis at an environmental nonprofit organization.

Andrea Haberkern, biology major — Her project, “Spider Morphology as a Predictor of Spider Ecology,” helps to reveal which forces contribute to the evolutionary success of spiders. For her thesis, Haberkern studied the ecomorphology (the relationship between the ecological role of an individual and its morphological adaptations) of spiders, so she could understand how spiders evolved to succeed in a variety of different environments.

Nicholas Hager and Sean Robison, geography majors — Their project, “Frontiers of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Mapping,” explores the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV’s) in high-resolution mapping as a rapidly developing application in environmental science. Using a field site on the western slope of the White Mountains in California, 24 ground control and thousands of elevation points were deployed and processed using dedicated software and a generated 3D map. Hager and Robison split the award and received $1,500 each.

Before coming to CSUN to earn his undergraduate degree in geography, Hager spent a year as a marine science major at the University of San Diego. His goal after earning his graduate degree is to work for an agency that focuses on technical ingenuity and allows for creativity.

Robison earned his undergraduate degree from CSUN in geography. His goal is to earn his doctorate degree.

Nazanin Keynejad, English major — Her project, “Etymological Analysis of the Eighteenth-Century Novel,” focused on novels written by women in the 18th century. By using various digital analysis tools, she attempted to analyze and offer a brief study of word usage and positioning, while examining them within their historical context. The purpose of Keynejad’s project was to determine thematic relationships and find out whether or not these connections can help trace the emergence of the “strong female character” in the era’s literary output. After graduating with her bachelor’s in English literature from CSUN in 1995, Keynejad recently returned to earn her master’s degree.

, ,