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CSUMB students land two first-place awards at CSU Student Research Competition

Ellre Villanueva-Ancheta and Lauren Frey

Ellre Villanueva-Ancheta (left) and Lauren Frey

June 22, 2022

By Kera Abraham

CSUMB served up two first-place wins – one by an undergraduate student, and one by a graduate team – at the 36th Annual CSU Student Research Competition, hosted virtually by San Francisco State University from April 29-30.

Nevan Bell, an undergraduate psychology major, rose above his competitors in the Behavioral, Social Sciences and Public Administration category with his project, “Campus Perceptions of Policing and How to Improve Sense of Safety.”

With support from his faculty mentor, Associate Professor Jennifer Lovell, Bell explored inequities in treatment of students and people of color by police – and underscored the need for mental health professionals to help students in crisis, both over the phone and as first responders.

Nevan Bell

Nevan Bell

“There is much to be changed,” Bell says. “By taking time to listen to those who are most affected, we can begin to take steps to finding a solution.”

Ellre Villanueva-Ancheta and Lauren Frey, both pursuing a Master of Science Physician Assistant, landed first place in the Education category with their project, “The Impact of Mentorship on Pre-PA Student Knowledge and Confidence.” 

Villanueva-Ancheta says the project was inspired by her and Frey’s experience as co-founders of the CSUMB Pre-PA Mentorship Club. Their study, advised by Assistant Professor Nicole Reichhart, showed that participation in a near-peer mentorship program improved students' knowledge and confidence in applying to PA school.

“A big takeaway lesson from the CSU Research Competition event was how to effectively communicate and present our research,” Villanueva-Archeta says, “while demonstrating the value of our research and passion we have for this topic.”

The annual competition convened undergraduate and graduate scholars from the 23 CSU campuses to showcase their research, scholarship, and creative works. Judges selected winners based on their research abstracts and oral presentations. First-place winners in each session received $500, and second-place winners received $250.

This year’s CSUMB student researchers, in addition to the first-place winners, also presented a case study on conducting cross-cultural research, the impact of rock steady boxing exercise on the physical function of people with Parkinson’s disease, the role of social media influencers on consumer attitudes toward green brands, and speckled sanddab cell proliferation during adult neurogenesis.

With 44 award-winning projects from 19 different CSUs, the competition demonstrates the strength of student research, scholarship, and creative activities across the CSU system. 

Natasha Oehlman, CSU Student Research Competition Coordinator, says the competition challenges students to push their boundaries: “It showcases the amazing tenacity of both graduate and undergraduate students to contribute to robust co-curricular research in their respective fields.”