Camarillo, Calif., May 23, 2012 – Three student teams from CSU Channel Islands (CI) scored victories at the 26th Annual CSU Student Research Competition, held earlier this month in Long Beach.  The competition showcases excellence in scholarly research and creative activity by undergraduate and graduate students throughout the 23-campus CSU system.  Ten teams from CI competed in the event, which drew 190 teams statewide.

Senior political science majors Isaac Moorthy and Corey Sloane won first place in the Interdisciplinary category for their research project and presentation, “Media, Humor and Political Cynicism.”  Moorthy and Sloane explored how political TV media affects viewers’ feelings of political cynicism and efficacy.  They found that people who watched clips from mainstream news media, as well as “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report,” were increasingly cynical about politics and felt less like their civic engagement mattered after viewing the clips.

Senior mathematics and computer science major Janeth Moran-Cervantes won first place in the Physical and Mathematical Sciences category for her presentation and research, “Classification of Plant Species.”  Moran-Cervantes was able to classify unknown plant species based on the structure of their leaves by using a mathematical model and integrating it with a Plant Reporter iPhone application.

Senior political science majors Dulce Lopez and David Winston took second place in the Interdisciplinary category for their research and presentation, “Media and Individual Attitudes Toward Congressional Earmarks.”  Their research showed that people who read media reports about earmarks became significantly more negative toward earmarks than those who were assigned another task.

The awards were based on 10-minute oral presentations of the students’ research and findings to juries made up of professional experts from major corporations, foundations, public agencies, and colleges and universities in California.  Afterward, the presenters fielded 5 minutes of questions from the judges.  First-place winners received $500 and a certificate.  Second-place winners received a certificate and $250.

“For a year’s worth of work to end with a victory is a dream come true,” said Sloane.  “Research has definitely changed my future forever.  Before I was introduced to political research, I wasn't even going to go into the field.  Now I plan on moving on to grad school to get my doctorate and eventually become a professor.”

“It feels good to be recognized for the hard work my partner and I put into this research,” echoed Moorthy.  “Research is hands-on experience with the real world.  Taking a class and learning a few basics is all fine and dandy, but to have undergraduate students in the CSU participating in research that has an effect on the world is far more satisfying and important.  I want to work in academia, and this experience has affirmed that dream.”

Undergraduate research is a centerpiece of the CI learning experience, with about 50 percent of seniors taking part in some form of collaborative research or creative activity.  The projects allow students and faculty to work closely on meaningful research projects, gain critical experience in the process of creating new knowledge, and help tackle problems in the community, environment and society.

“Doing research gives you the opportunity to learn about possible career paths,” said Moran-Cervantes.  “I am now interested in machine learning and artificial intelligence because of this project.”

“Our students’ successes at the Student Research Competition are a testament to our success as a campus,” said Professor of Political Science Dr. Sean Kelly, who is campus coordinator for the Student Research Competition.  “Despite being one of the smallest campuses in the system, our undergraduate students brought home as many awards as larger, more established campuses.  I’m proud of the work our students and faculty are doing at Channel Islands.”

For more information on the 2012 competition, visit

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About California State University Channel Islands
CSU Channel Islands 
(CI) is the only four-year, public university in Ventura County and is known for its interdisciplinary, multicultural and international perspectives, and its emphasis on experiential and service learning. CI’s strong academic programs focus on business, sciences, liberal studies, teaching credentials, and innovative master’s degrees. Students benefit from individual attention, up-to-date technology, and classroom instruction augmented by outstanding faculty research. CI has been designated by the U.S. Department of Education as a Hispanic-Serving Institution and is committed to serving students of all backgrounds from the region and beyond. Connect with and learn more by visiting CI's Social Media.