2020 CSUF/CSU Student Research Competition

Feb. 25-27, 2020: CSUF
April 24-25, 2020: California State University, East Bay
Application Deadline: CLOSED

The CSUF Student Research Competition is open to CSUF undergraduate and graduate students from across all disciplines. Its purpose is to promote excellence in undergraduate and graduate scholarly research and creative activity by recognizing outstanding student accomplishments throughout the 23 campuses of the California State University system.

The contest consists of two phases:

  1. CSUF will hold a research competition for students on campus Feb. 25-27, 2020
  2. 10 students from the CSUF competition will be selected to represent the university at the CSU system-wide competition, held this year at CSU East Bay April 24-25, 2020*

Undergraduate and graduate students will compete together at the CSUF competition, but separately at the CSU system-wide competition (unless there are too few students competing in one of the 10 categories, below).

At the CSU system-wide competition, students will compete in one of the following categories:

  • Behavioral and Social Sciences
  • Biological and Agricultural Sciences
  • Business, Economics, and Public Administration
  • Creative Arts and Design
  • Education
  • Engineering and Computer Science
  • Health, Nutrition, and Clinical Sciences
  • Humanities and Letters
  • Physical and Mathematical Sciences
  • Interdisciplinary

* We fly to CSU East Bay April 23 and return April 25. Travel, lodging and meals will be paid for by ORSP and CSUF


Presentations from all disciplines are invited. Undergraduate or graduate students enrolled currently at any CSU campus, as well as alumni who received their degrees in spring, summer or fall 2019 are eligible. Research presented should be appropriate to the student’s discipline and career goals (proprietary research is excluded). Applicants in the arts are encouraged to apply and may present an audio and/or visual record of a performance or a work they created; the oral presentation should focus on the rationale and historical context underlying their work (i.e., what previous works influenced your artistic or creative activity).
Student teams are welcome to apply, but cannot exceed two students. Both students must be present and participate in the 10-minute oral presentation.
IMPORTANT: You must be able to attend the entirety of the CSU system-wide competition to enter the CSUF competition if selected. We fly to CSU East Bay April 23, 2020 and return April 25. Travel, lodging and meals paid for by ORSP and CSUF.

Application Process

Complete an application form, a written summary, and give a 10-minute presentation at the CSUF Student Research Competition.

To Apply:

  1. Send the application form and written summary to scar@fullerton.edu by 11:59 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 2, 2020
  2. The subject line of your email should be “Your last name SRC Application 2020.” For example, “Patchen SRC Application 2020.” Student teams should send one email with each team member’s last name in the subject line.
  3. Attach the application and written summary as two Word documents to your email. Save the application as “Your last name_SRC_App_2020.docx” and the written summary as “Your last name_SRC_Summary_2020.docx.” Student teams should send one application and written summary (with each team member’s last name in the document title). See below for information on how to prepare the written summary.
  4. Wait for an email from Student Creative Activities and Research (scar@fullerton.edu) with your presentation teim. You will receive an email by Feb. 14, and must confirm within 48 hours. Check your email regularly.
  5. Present your research at the CSUF Student Research Competition (see below for more information).

 Application Form

Written Summary

The written summary is a description of your research/creative activity (not to exceed five pages). It details:  

  1. The purpose of your project. Clearly describe: What is the problem or aim of this project? Why did you do this project? What were the objectives?  
  2. How your project fits in your field or discipline (cite previous studies or locate your creative work in relation to its artistic antecedents)
  3. Methods you used to test, assess or analyze your project; or artistic mediums
  4. Your research findings or artistic results  
  5. A discussion of why the findings/results are meaningful (e.g., Why does this project matter?)
  6. Practical applications or artistic breakthroughs (an important component!)

The format of the written summaries will vary based upon your discipline. Please speak with your faculty mentor on how best to structure your written summary, or attend one of our workshops.

The written summary must follow these guidelines:  

  • Include title and name(s) of the student(s)  
  • Do not exceed five doubled-spaced pages  
  • Use 12-point font and one-inch margins all around
  • Appendices (e.g., bibliography, graphs, photographs, or other supplementary materials) do not exceed three pages
  • Research using human or animal subjects must have appropriate institutional review approval (include IRB/IACUC number)

Download the required format for the written summary.Opens in new window

CSUF Oral Presentation Competition Preparation

You (or your student team) will have 10 minutes to present your research or creative activity. Do not read your written summary. Instead, present using PowerPoint (or a similar software program) and aim to memorize your presentation (to the best of your ability). You may use note cards to aid in your presentation at the CSUF competition level, but you will not be able to use cards at the statewide competition. Use the structure of the written summary to shape your oral presentation. At the end of 10 minutes, judges will have five minutes to ask questions about your work.

Suggestions for Presentation:

  1. Speak to a general audience
    1. Define key terms that someone outside of your discipline may not know. Judges may not be from your particular discipline, so you need to be sure and clearly articulate your ideas. Avoid discipline-specific jargon, when possible.
  2. Presentation Structure
    1. State your name, class standing (undergraduate/graduate) and field of study (include this information on your first slide, along with your project title)
    2. State your topic or project focus
    3. Provide general background on your topic and describe how your project fits into your field/discipline
    4. Explain your objectives or research questions
    5. Describe your methods or artistic medium(s)
    6. Describe key findings or project results. If you have multiple small findings, provide a general summary of the findings
    7. Explain why the findings or creation are important and how they can be applied to your field (e.g., can your project results help in the prevention of disease? Do your findings help better educate children? Does your choreography push past disciplinary obstacles? Does your drawing challenge conventional notions?)
  3. Presentations for Creative Activities
    1. If you are presenting a creative activity (e.g., dance performance, poetry), present an analysis of your work. To do this, you may include a visual representation of the work (via images or videos), and provide a rationale for your topic, historical context, artistic medium(s) and how this piece matters to your particular art discipline.
  4. Make sure your PowerPoint slides are easy to follow. Do not include too much text or too small text (aim to keep the font larger than 22 point)
  5. Represent ideas with pictures, graphs and/or charts when possible (versus only text)
  6. Avoid reading from your slides. Keep the information on the slides minimal and speak to the audience
  7. Rehearse your presentation multiple times to stay within the 10-minute limit
  8. Anticipate possible questions from the judges

Judges at the CSUF competition will be from a broad range of disciplines. Judges at the CSU competition will be from your general academic or professional disciplines, but they may not be familiar with your specific area of study. For example, civil engineering students may be judged by mechanical and electrical engineers.

You will be judged on the following criteria (at the CSUF and CSU system-wide competition):

  • Clarity of purpose of research or creative activity
  • Appropriateness of methodology  
  • Interpretation of results
  • Value of the research or creative activity
  • Ability of the presenter to articulate the research or creative activity
  • Organization of the material presented  
  • Presenter’s ability to handle questions from the jury and general audience


Workshops, Important Dates, Prizes


There will be two workshops about preparing: for the competition, a written summary and a winning PowerPoint presentation. You are strongly encouraged to attend one of them:

  • Friday, Dec. 6, 9-10 a.m., KHS 221  
  • Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020, 11 a.m.–noon, KHS 221

Important Dates

1. Application and written summary deadline: 11:59 p.m., Feb. 2, 2020  

2. CSUF Research Competition: Feb. 25–Feb 27, 2020

3. CSU System-Wide Competition: April 24-25, 2020 at CSU East Bay

Prizes for Winners of the CSUF Competition

The CSUF Office of Research and Sponsored Projects will award $100 for each of the 10 finalists who advance to the CSU system-wide competition. Student teams will split the $100.

Please contact Dr. Terri Patchen, Faculty Fellow for Student Creative activities and Research (SCAR) 



2020 Student Research Competition Winners

 Biological and Agricultural Science, Undergraduate
2nd Place: Elizabeth Hitch, Biological Science
Title: Determining the role of linker regions in Polypyrimidine Tract Binding Protein 2 neuronal splicing regulation
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Niroshika Keppetipola

Biological and Agricultural Science, Graduate
2nd Place: Amber Myers, Biological Science
Title: Characterizing the source and function of lipid droplet accumulation in fly macrophages
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Catherine Brennan

2nd Place: Larissa Smulders, Biological Science
Title: Boosting cancer therapy by blocking a protein's travel to the cell surface
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Nikolas Nikolaidis

Behavioral and Social Sciences, Graduate
2nd Place: Dylan Serpas, Psychology
Title: Group cognitive rehabilitation for community-dwelling survivors of traumatic brain injury
Faculty Mentor: Daniel Ignacio

2019 Student Research Competition Winners

Behavioral and Social Sciences, Undergraduate
2nd place: Jessica Barragan and Kendra Paquette, Psychology
Title: When a Perpetrator Wears a Disguise: Which Lineup is Best to Test Eyewitness Memory
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Iris Blandón-Gitlin

Biological and Agricultural Sciences, Graduate
1st place: Evelyn Bond, Biology
Title: The Role of Genital Papillas in the Reproductive Biology of Male Surfperches (Embiotocidae; Teleostei)
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Kristy Forsgren

Engineering and Computer Science, Graduate
1st place: Thilakraj Shivakumar, Mechanical Engineering
The Effects of Process Parameters on Mechanical Properties in Liquid Holographic Volumetric Additive Manufacturing Process
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Sagil James

2018 Student Research Competition Winners

Finance, Undergraduate
2nd place: Marcel Jacquot, Finance
Title: All Talk or Some Walk: The Relationship Between Stock Movements and Investor Attention on a Social Media Platform
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Arsenio Staer

Mechanical Engineering, Graduate  
2nd place: Vivek Anand Menon, Mechanical Engineering
Title: Molecular Dynamics Simulation Study of Liquid-Assisted Laser Beam Machining Process
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Sagil James

2017 Student Research Competition Winners

Biological and Agricultural Sciences, Graduate
1st place: Raj Divi, Biological Science
Title: Biomimetic Models Reveal Vortical Filtration Mechanics of Filter Feeding Mobulid Rays
Faculty mentor: Dr. Misty Paig-Tran

Humanities and Letters, Graduate
1st place: Nick Gomez, Music
Title: Ornette Coleman in 1959: Redefining the Form and Function of Jazz
Faculty mentor: Dr. John Koegel

Physical and Mathematical Sciences, Undergraduate
1st place: Stacy Guzman, Chemistry and Biochemistry
Title: Small-molecule Inhibitors of Wnt Signaling Pathway: Towards Novel Anticancer Therapeutics
Faculty mentor: Dr. Peter de Lijser

Physical and Mathematical Sciences, Undergraduate
1st place: Trini Nguyen, Mathematics
Title: Mathematical Model to Detect Dry-Eye Diseases
Faculty mentor: Dr. Charles H. Lee

Engineering and Computer Sciences, Graduate
1st place: Mayur Parmar, Mechanical Engineering
Title: Experimental Study on Liquid-assisted Laser Beam Micro-Machining of Smart Materials
Faculty mentor: Dr. Sagil James