Dr. Ryan Alaniz co-published an article in the Journal of Risk Research and presented research from his forthcoming book at the International Social Science Council Conference in Oslo and at the Society for Applied Anthropology conference in Santa Fe. For his teaching and student engagement, Alaniz received the Outstanding Faculty Award for the Honors Program, was a distinguished honoree for the Terrance Harris Excellence in Mentorship Award, and nominated for the College of Liberal Arts Diversity Award. He has also been tasked by the mayor to coordinate a project addressing homelessness in downtown San Luis Obispo.
Dr. Coleen Carrigan continues to advance her research into cultures of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and social change efforts within these fields. With generous support from a five-year grant from the National Science Foundation, and in collaboration with her colleagues at the University of Washington and North Carolina State University, she co-leads Launching Academics on the Tenure-Track: An Intentional Community in Engineering (LATTICE), a program that pivots on effective collaboration between engineers and social scientists to increase the retention and advancement of women in academic careers and create greater diversity in engineering leadership. In May 2017, the LATTICE organizers hosted the national LATTICE Symposium for early-career women in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science in Seattle, WA. The 2017 LATTICE Symposium included 30 early-career participants and 13 senior panelists, 26 percent of whom are underrepresented minorities.
In addition to developing and facilitating this diversity program, Carrigan leads the ethnographic research. Dr. Carrigan’s research lab, Advancing Cultural Change at Cal Poly: An Interdisciplinary Ethnography, funded by the Cal Poly Provost’s Office, engaged 565 Cal Poly undergraduates in ethnographic research, investigating institutional culture and the lived experiences of its more marginalized community members. Carrigan and her seven undergraduate research assistants disseminated their findings in three case study workshops with the Cal Poly community. Nationally, their peer-reviewed conference paper on their innovative methods and educational tools won Best Diversity Paper at the 2017 American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Annual Conference.
Also in 2017, Carrigan published two solo-authored papers — one in Ethnography, the other in Frontiers Psychology, Special Research Topic: Women’s Under-representation in Engineering and Computing — on her research into cultural phenomena reproducing gender-differentiated outcomes in computer science and the barriers to desegregating the field. In regards to her teaching, Dr. Carrigan expanded the curriculum of the ANT/GEOG program with two new anthropology courses: ANT 393: Action-Oriented Ethnography and, in collaboration with Dr. Jennifer Lewis, Queer Anthropology.
Finally, in collaboration with the College of Engineering at the University at Buffalo, Dr. Carrigan recently received a three-year $428,873 National Science Foundation grant to lead the creation and facilitation of case studies to help women graduate students in STEM successfully navigate their careers.
Dr. Liz Johnston has been part of the Social Sciences faculty since 2010. She transitioned from a lecturer position into the position of Assistant Professor of Social Work in the fall of 2016. She teaches the two social work courses, SOC 301 and SOC 413. In addition, she teaches the large 140 student introductory sociology course, SOC 110.
This year Dr. Johnston continued to use “learn by doing “ assignments across all of her courses. In SOC 110, students worked in groups to design an imaginary society in which a major social issue has changed. Students imagined all types of societies from a society in which caffeine is an illegal drug -- to a society in which genetic engineering has eliminated all gender differences. Students used computerized peer review software to critique and analyze their group project papers.
In SOC 301, students chose to either chaperone overnight at the homeless shelter for women and families; or to ride the bus across town and pretend to apply for welfare; or to find a complete job outfit for less than $30 and then model their outfit in class. The students then described and analyzed their experiences in their midterm papers.
Johnston’s dissertation research in 2012 concerned the intersection of critical illness, near death experiences and post-traumatic growth for older adults. During the fall of 2016, Dr. Johnston obtained HSR approval for a 5-year follow up study of the participants from the original research. In the spring of 2017, she began the participant interviews. She presented a paper about her findings at the Eighth International Conference on Religion & Spirituality in Society in April 2018 at the University of California, Berkeley.
In July, Dr. Johnston presented a poster session at the IAGG World Conference of Gerontology and Geriatrics in San Francisco. Her topic was “Support is a Complicated Subject”. She presented an analysis of counterintuitive findings from her dissertation -- participants who reported more sources of support also reported higher levels of anxiety.
Department Chair, Terry Jones, delivered papers at the Great Basin Anthropological Conference in Reno, Nevada in October and at the Society for California Archaeology in Yosemite in March. He published papers in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, American Antiquity, and the Journal of California and Great Basin Anthropology. He received funding of $60,336.00 from P.G.&E. to continue archaeological field research with students on the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant Property.
James Keese taught with the Cal Poly in Peru program during spring quarter 2017. He spent eight weeks in Cuzco with 18 students. The focus of the program was on Latin American culture, environmental studies, international development, and tourism. The trip included multi-day excursions to Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca, and the Amazon rainforest. This year the group summited Rainbow Mountain, climbing to over 17,000 ft. Students also volunteered building cleaner burning cookstoves in an indigenous community. This year, Dr. Keese also created a new study abroad program in Mexico. During summer quarter 2017, he spent four weeks in San Miguel de Allende with 20 students. The focus of the program was on Spanish language and Mexican culture. The trip included excursions to the Pyramids of Teotihuacán and Guanajuato, as well as volunteering at an orphanage. Students on both programs received travel grants from the Latin American Studies Program, which Dr. Keese administers.
In fulfillment of her commitment to international education, Dr. Stacey Rucas served as Resident Director and instructor for IEP’s Thailand Studies Program. During this summer, she guided 36 students throughout Thailand and Cambodia, where they experienced and studied the rich cultural and ecological diversity of the region. Students engaged in dozens of learn-by-doing and learn-by-going activities that coincided with their formal coursework in Anthropology and World Cultures.
For the 11th year in a row, Dr. Rucas hosted and co-organized the annual California Workshop on Evolutionary Social Sciences (C-WESS) meeting for graduate students and faculty from across eight California campuses. This group meets annually to foster relationships and advance science in the field of evolutionary studies. Dr. Rucas is also working on a new manuscript about testing life-history correlates with evolutionary ecological outcomes among firefighters.
In the winter of 2017, Dr. Rucas advised seniors who organized and executed the department’s annual Extra Curricular Activities in the Social Sciences (ECOSS) fair, an event that exposes students to opportunities for careers, volunteerships, study abroad, and internships.
During the Fall, Winter and Spring quarters of 2016-2017, Dr. Rucas engaged in a faculty led student research project aimed at understanding the influence of intrasexual competition within the scope of modern political orientation. Dr. Rucas and her excellent team of student researchers (Alla Lyubinskaya, Nicholas Russell and Savannah Hobbs) spent the year designing the research project, collecting & analyzing data, and then arranging outcomes for presentation. The extra-curricular teamwork paid off, and the group swept 1st place at the annual California Workshop on Evolutionary Social Sciences (C-WESS) poster competition in May. Congrats to our impressive ANG students!
Dr. Unique Shaw-Smith (Dr. U) received a college-sponsored grant to conduct a research project at the San Luis Obispo County Jail. She worked with two Sociology students, Kayla Granados and Victoria Otero, to study the impact of incarceration from the perspectives of incarcerated men and women. Together, they interviewed approximately 30 participants and presented their research findings at the 2017 Western Social Sciences Association’s annual conference in San Francisco, CA.
Dr. U also collaborated with the Kennedy Library, California Men’s Colony, and two senior project students, Eliese Maxwell and Victoria Otero, to create the library’s spring art exhibit “Between the Bars”, which featured incarcerated artists. The group worked directly with a group of six incarcerated artists over the course of the academic year to design the entire exhibit. Over 30 incarcerated artists were showcased in the exhibit, which received rave reviews from campus and local community members.
Dr. U. is taking a one-year leave of absence for 2017-18.
Ben Timms spent the summer of 2016 serving as a faculty member with the Cal Poly in London study abroad program. Geography related fieldtrips included the Royal Geographical Society, Royal Observatory at Greenwich (home of the Prime Meridian), Kew Gardens, the Scott Polar Research Institute at Cambridge, and a food tour of the Caribbean neighborhood of Brixton. He also presented papers on the value of California oak landscapes at the California Geographical Society conference and another on Bob Marley and international development at the Conference of Latin Americanist Geographers. Finally, Ben has a forthcoming (2017) book titled “The Other World: Issues and Politics of the Developing World” (Routledge Press), co-authored with Cal Poly Political Science professors Craig Arceneaux, Anika Leithner, and Shanruo Ning Zhang along with the late Ira Reed.