March 11, 2020 — “I saw the Milky Way! I’ve never seen that before in my life.”

These are the kind of reactions Santa Rosa Island Research Station Director Russell Bradley gets from CSU Channel Islands (CSUCI) students after they visit the island to do research.

“All research trips are overnight,” Bradley said. “It’s challenging to get the students out there, but the rewards are great. It has such an impact on the student and their careers.”

Thanks to a $30,000 grant from Edison International, the parent company of Southern California Edison, CSUCI students will continue to be able to travel to Santa Rosa Island for research. The grant, entitled “2020 Program Funding for CSUCI’s Santa Rosa Island Research Station and STEM Scholarship Support,” will also fund seven scholarships for CSUCI students pursuing a STEM (science, technology, engineering or math) field, with four of those scholarships earmarked for Mechatronics students.

“Over 80% of CSUCI students qualify for financial aid at CSUCI,” said Nichole Ipach, Vice President for University Advancement. “Scholarships provide critical support allowing our students to work less, focus on their academic studies, and persist to graduation. The generous scholarships that Edison International is providing to our STEM and Mechatronics students is incredible and we cannot thank them enough.”

This semester, two scholarships of $3,400 each will go to current Mechatronics students who are already Edison scholars. Two more $3,400 scholarships for incoming freshman Mechatronics students will be disbursed in fall of 2020. Also in fall of 2020, two scholarships of $2,100 will go to any STEM major as well as one scholarship for $2,200.

Bradley pointed out that Edison has been a strong supporter of the Santa Rosa Research station in the past, funding critical infrastructure projects. This new grant is specifically for student research and travel, as getting to the island requires hiring sea transport.

“What this does is allow us to create opportunities for students to work in an incredibly unique environment,” Bradley said. “They can get practical experience that is hard to achieve on a conventional campus. It is creating these chances for students to work on projects important to the Channel Island National Park Service.”

For the last two years, CSUCI student researchers have been working with the Channel Islands National Park Service (CINPS) and the United States Geological Survey (USGS) on a project involving the Torrey Pines. Santa Rosa Island is part of Channel Islands National Park, so the research station operates with a special use permit from CINPS.

“Torrey pines are found in only two places in the world,” Bradley said. “San Diego and Santa Rosa Island. During the ranching period of the island there was a lot of grazing, so the students have been monitoring the natural reseeding of the pines.”

A lot of the projects on Santa Rosa Island involve more than one discipline, such as the marine debris project in which art students joined science students as they monitored and collected marine debris on the island, then created an art exhibit with the debris they found.

“The marine debris art show is a creative way of letting people know that there are important conservation issues we need to address,” Bradley said.

For more on the Santa Rosa Island Research Station: www.csuci.edu/sri/.

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