Research Symposium

'Smart' Picnic Table, Ethics of Bottled Water and More Presented at SSU Research Symposium
April 13, 2014
symposium poster

The second annual Sonoma State University Symposium of Research and Creativity is Wednesday, May 4, 2-6:30 p.m. in the Student Center. The event features research from more than 200 undergraduate and graduate students, including poster sessions, demonstrations and PowerPoint presentations. In addition to student work, Native American Indian artist and scholar L. Frank Manriquez is scheduled to give a special presentation. Admission is free.

"This symposium is an opportunity for students to present the research they've been working on one-on-one with faculty," says Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Andrew Rogerson. "Such an undergraduate scholarship experience helps students' ability to think logically, write clearly, marshal evidence and work in teams--all of which we strive to instill as a liberal arts and sciences institution."

One project is a "smart" picnic table, made by engineering science students Sarah Memmet and Kyle Goshia. The sturdy, metal and wood table has a solar panel fixed to a tall steel beam in its center, allowing for users to charge small electronic devices like phones and tablets off the grid, say, in the middle of a meadow. It also has sensors that measure weather and light, and a LED to keep the picnic going when it gets dark.

"As an engineer, you build things that other people will use," says Memmet. "But I never thought I'd build such a nice picnic table."

Another project by philosophy students Grahm Blacksmith and Aeiana Bates looks at the philosophical values and ethics that drive water use decisions. "This project looks at why consumers would willingly pay a 1,000 percent markup for bottled water, with all of its resultant petroleum use and waste disposal issues," says Philosophy Chair and project advisor John Sullins.

Research projects from many disciplines will be presented. Other projects include studies on sudden oak death; German fashion; an augmented reality 3D sandbox; differences in spectral profiles between autism and typical brains; a vortex laser scanner; and many others. PowerPoint presentations will be given from 2 to 5:30 p.m. in the Student Center Valley rooms, and poster sessions will be in the ballroom from 4 to 6 p.m. An awards ceremony is scheduled for 6 p.m. in the ballroom. Manriquez is scheduled to speak at 3 p.m. in the Bennett Valley Room.

Students from several programs are involved, including McNair Scholars; the Science Symposium; Society and Culture Research Forum (SCURF); SOURCE Award recipients and other researchers. For more information visit