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Division of Research and Graduate Studies

Research Week 2024



Jordan Agricultural Research Center: Research Showcase. Come see what's happening inside the JARC from 9:30-11:30 a.m. Students, staff and faculty will be displaying their research. Learn about what goes on in JARC, and connect with researchers and see how JARC can be a resource to you. Topics include:

  • Hyperspectral imaging in grapevines
  • Groundwater quality and contamination
  • High-protein ice cream
  • Feasibility and production of whey beer
  • Nutrition studies
  • Salinity tolerance of crops

Please RSVP to Geoff Dervishian at

Panel participants

Learn about research and creative activities at Fresno State and hear advice and tips from our expert panel in the Library Ellipse Gallery. Students and faculty are invited to hear from our featured panel (pictured clockwise from top left):

Lilia De La Cerda, MPH serves as the Fresno State Director for Center for Access to Science for All (CASA) which provides resources for students interested in targeted health professions and/or science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers. Programs include the Health Careers Opportunity Program (HCOP), Health Professions Pathways Program (HPPP), NSF and CSU Chancellor funded Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (CSU-LSAMP), NIH Bridge to Doctorate, NIH Research Training Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (RISE), and the Bulldogs Involved in Tobacco Endgame Research (BITER).  

Morgan Hawker, Assistant Professor, Chemistry and Biochemistry | Dr. Hawker is broadly interested in applications of physical chemistry in the field biomedical materials. She has experience working with a range of polymeric materials, from synthetic polyesters to naturally derived polymers such as silk. Work in her group aims to customize polymer surface chemistry using a gas phase strategy called plasma processing. Tuning plasma parameters allows us to customize the polymer surface, which we can use as a tool to control how material responds to its surrounding environment. 

Katy Tarrant, Associate Professor, Animal Science and Agricultural Education | Dr. Tarrant joined the Fresno State Animal Sciences and Agricultural Education faculty at California State University, Fresno in August of 2016. She advises students and teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in poultry production, animal genetics, and welfare and handling. In addition, she manages and conducts research at the Foster Farms Research and Education Facility at Fresno State.

Wei Wu, Ph.D., Chair, Professor, Construction Management | Dr. Wu's teaching interest includes construction graphics, Design-Build Project Delivery, Building Information Modeling (BIM), advanced planning and pre-construction, and construction management senior capstone. Dr. Wu's research focuses on BIM, cyberlearning, extended reality (XR), and construction and engineering education. He has published more than 70 articles and conference proceedings in these areas. Dr. Wu's research has been funded by regional and federal agencies, including National Science Foundation (NSF) grants on active and authentic learning with XR.



Dr. John Freeman

Topic: The Molecular Biology of Microbial Endophytes used for Sustainable Agriculture and Environmental Remediation

Presenter: Dr. John L. Freeman holds a Ph.D. from Purdue University College of Agriculture and has an extensive background in plant molecular biology, biochemistry and microbiology. Dr. Freeman was an adjunct assistant professor at CSU Fresno in the Biology Department and has throughout his career led top-tier research teams in developing applied biotechnologies for the agricultural and environmental industries.

In the field of multidisciplinary molecular life sciences, Dr. Freeman has led research at Purdue University, Colorado State University, USDA-ARS Water Management Research Division, CSU Fresno Center for Irrigation Technology, CSU Fresno Biology Department, NASA-Ames Research Center, Intrinsyx Environmental and Intrinsyx Bio.

As the Chief Science Officer and co-founder of Intrinsyx Bio, Dr. Freeman has recently developed a series of naturally occurring, non-GMO, native tree endophyte micro-organism- based product formulations for use in the Agricultural and Environmental fields. Through collaborating with Professor Sharon Doty at the University of Washington, Dr. Freeman helped to discover that atmospheric nitrogen fixing tree microbes formulated into new commercial products play an important physiological function inside crop plants.

These unique tree endophytes increase crop plant mineral nutrient uptake, crop plant health and final crop yields at harvest. Dr. Freeman and his Intrinsyx Bio team developed these microbes into leading microbial inoculants approved for use in California and targeted for use in an emerging global sustainable agricultural marketplace.

Prior to this work, Dr. Freeman also co-founded Intrinsyx Environmental, a firm which now uses other tree endophyte species as inoculums for the detoxification and biodegradation of carcinogenic pollutant compounds inside of endophyte enhanced tree-based phytoremediation systems. This tree biotechnology allows for engineers and landscapers to install functional community forests that remove and safely dispose of contaminated groundwater on site in California communities and at sites across the US. More information on Dr. Freeman’s research and development of microbial endophyte biotechnologies can be found at and






The 45th Annual Central California Research Symposium (CCRS) will be held at the Resnick Student Union from 8 a.m - 4:30 p.m., featuring presentations in the following formats: 12-minute oral presentation, and poster presentation. The event showcases the diverse range of impressive research projects and provides opportunities for students to share their research and develop presentation skills. We're looking forward to welcoming over 250 presenters to this year's event, which is being held in the new Resnick Student Union for the first time this year. 


UC Davis students

Join us to hear from UC Davis graduate students in a panel discussion following individual presentations on their origin stories, future plans, research and more. 

Graduate Student Speakers (pictured, clockwise from top left): Olga Vafaeva, Raisa Rahim, Christina (Tina) Meyer,  Zoila (Zoe) Estrada-Tobar 

Olga Vafaeva: Olga is a sixth year Neuroscience PhD candidate in the lab of Dr. Elva Diaz at the University of California, Davis, co-mentored by Dr. Hwai-Jong Cheng at the Institute of Molecular Biology at Academia Sinica, Taiwan. Olga was introduced to research while completing bachelor’s in chemistry at Hunter College at the City University of New York, where she worked on multiple projects at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, and the University of Groningen studying mechanisms of neural development and regeneration. These experiences fostered her love for research and helped to discover her interest in molecular neuroscience which Olga further pursued in her graduate studies. For her thesis, Olga investigates mechanisms controlling generation and integration of new neurons in the aged brain. Olga hopes to pursue a career in academia to develop therapeutic interventions for age-related memory deficits and cognitive decline.

Raisa A. Rahim: Raisa is a recent PhD recipient from University of California, Davis in Cognitive Neuroscience. Her previous research experience includes studying how visual attention affects memory in neurotypical and neurodivergent populations. She was a National Science Foundation graduate research fellow and is passionate about using effective science communication to advocate for integrating the principles of diversity, equity and inclusion into our systems. She is currently volunteering with the National Science Policy Network’s Science on the Ballot initiative.

Christina Meyer: Christina is a fourth year Biochemistry and Molecular Biology PhD candidate in the lab of Dr. Elva Diaz at the University of California, Davis. Christina began performing research at the Cal State University of Fullerton as a research intern. From there, she completed a bachelor's in biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of California (UC), Berkeley. During her education, Christina worked on multiple projects at UC Berkeley and UC Riverside including landscape genomic analyses of wild-caught amphibians, structure-function analyses of prokaryotic genes within Drosophilid flies, and a genomic and metabolomic survey of pomegranates to identify heat-tolerance genes for future crop development. For her thesis, Christina investigates the mechanisms underlying excitatory synapse development and structural maintenance. She has received funding support from the National Science Foundation as an undergraduate, and is a fellow of the National Institute of Health (NIH) Molecular Cell Biology and Mental Health (NIMH) Learning, Memory, and Plasticity Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Training Programs. She hopes to become a senior investigator studying the molecular mechanisms of synaptic dysfunction during cognitive decline.

Zoila (Zoe) Estrada-Tobar: Zoe is a doctoral candidate at the University of California, Davis under the mentorship of Dr. Johannes W. Hell. Currently, she is investigating the role of PDE4A5 in AMPA Receptor regulation, which could lead to pharmaceutical treatments associated with cognitive deficits like memory and its formation. Zoe’s passion for research started at California State University Stanislaus as a Chemistry and Biology major. She worked with Dr. Michael D. Drake as a Ronald E. McNair and Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Program (LSAMP) scholar, using NMR spectroscopy to investigate the conformational preferences and solvent effects (i.e., hyperconjugation) of (2R, 3R)-butanediol. She transitioned into her master’s at Cal State LA with Dr. Cecilia Zurita Lopez as an NSF Bridge-to-the-Doctorate Fellow. She determined a potential mechanism modulating histone H3 serine 10 hyperphosphorylation (a biomarker for tumorigenesis) by understanding the fundamental electrostatic interactions within an arginine-lysine-serine motif (RKS). She feels these programs provided the resources, mentorship, and scientific techniques that shaped her research career trajectory. Zoe wants to provide similar guidance and inspiration to the next generation of scientists.

Dr. Elva Diaz (Faculty Mentor): Dr. Diaz has a broad background in biochemistry, molecular and cell biology and genomics in studies of the mammalian nervous system. Dr. Diaz was born and raised in San Jose, CA to parents originally from Mexico, and her interest in science and math in high school eventually led her to a successful biomedical research career. After earning a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University in Biochemical Sciences in 1993 and a  summer internship at Merck & Co at Rahway, NJ, she pursued graduate studies with Suzanne Pfeffer at Stanford University and earned a Ph.D. in Biochemistry in 1999, studying the molecular mechanisms of receptor trafficking in neuronal cells. As a postdoctoral scholar, she switched fields into developmental neurobiology and worked with Tito Serafini and John Ngai at UC Berkeley and with Marc Tessier-Lavigne at UCSF before becoming a Professor in the Department of Pharmacology at UC Davis School of Medicine.

Dr. Diaz’s main research interest is to understand molecular mechanisms of brain development, function and disease. Dr. Diaz is involved in a variety of different committees dedicated to outreach and diversification in research science, including serving as a faculty representative for Capital Science Communication (CapSciComm), the Pharmacology Department chair for Inclusion, Diversity, Anti-Racism, and Equity (I-DARE), a mentor within the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS), and the chair of the Neuroscience Graduate Group at UC Davis.



Three-Minute Thesis (3MT); Library Room 2206; 1-3 p.m.

What? The 3MT includes presentations lasting 3 minutes using one presentation slide. This is a great opportunity to present your research in an "elevator pitch" style to others outside your discipline.

When? We will be holding a 3MT competition for grad students on Thursday, April 4 between 1-3 p.m. in the Graduate Student Success Center. 

Why? There will be prizes for top winners. Plus: The top two winners of this 3MT event will be invited to the California State University Grad Slam Competition, which will be held virtually on Friday, May 3, 2024 where previous winners have received substantial cash prizes!




The College of Health and Human Services and the Department of Physical Therapy is excited to host the 2024 HealthTech Horizon Symposium, to be held at the University Business Center. Among the learning objectives:

  • Understanding Digital Transformation in Healthcare delivery
  • Exploring Innovative Solutions in Healthcare Technology
  • Analyzing Challenges in Implementing Digital Solutions
  • Charting the Future of Healthcare Delivery
  • Enhancing Digital Literacy for Healthcare Professionals

Register online. For more information: Dr. Nupur Hajela, PT, DPT, PhD - Assistant Professor, Dept. of Physical Therapy; email:



Dr. Francesca Hopkins

Dr. Francesca Hopkins is an Associate Professor of Climate Change and Sustainability in the Department of Environmental Sciences at the University of California, Riverside. Dr. Hopkins studies the effects of human activities on the global carbon cycle from an interdisciplinary earth system science perspective, with particular interest in greenhouse gas emissions in urban and agricultural environments.

She is passionate about communicating the science of climate change, and co-founded CLEAN education, a nonprofit organization to teach climate science in schools. More recently, she led the Inland Desert chapter of the Fourth California Climate Assessment, released in 2018. Dr. Hopkins completed undergraduate studies at the University of California, Berkeley, with majors in Environmental Science and Spanish, followed by a Ph.D. at University of California, Irvine in Earth System Science. She was a NASA Postdoctoral Fellow at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena from 2014-2016. 


How to Launch your Career in the Biotech Industry. Topics include:

  • Working with Recruiters
  • How to format your resume/ resume do's and dont's (with examples of good and bad resumes)
  • Briefly touch on Cover letters
  • How to apply to jobs
  • Presenting yourself professionally
  • Pre and post interview preparation
  • Types of roles available in the biotech industry

Presenter: Sabrina Deltoro, Founder, Recruiting Director | |
Click here to access the Zoom webinar.


Each year, the Fresno State Library honors Outstanding Faculty Publications, the bold contributions to research, scholarship, and creative work made by the Fresno State faculty. Join us as we wrap up Research Week with a celebration of Fresno State faculty’s contributions as scholars and researchers. The reception will be at 3:30 p.m., with a short program at 4 p.m., and the exhibit will be in the Ellipse balcony from April 5-23. See Information for Faculty on the library’s website for more resources related to research and scholarship.

2023 Research Week: Take a look at last year's schedule of events.