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Charlie Anne Urcia
Staff Writer

The Bay Area Honors Consortium has chosen research projects fit to be presented at the 6th Annual Honors Research Symposium at Stanford. Six of them are works from Las Positas College’s own pool of Honors Students.

The projects of Rafi Ansari, Natalie Craig, (name withheld by request), Tyler Hayden, Christine Kelly and Candita Wager were selected from a pool of 190 proposals from 28 community colleges statewide. The students will present their work to other eligible community college honors students on May 4.

Ansari’s presentation is about the differences of the two hemispheres of the brain during a human lifetime.  It is entitled “Are You Left or Right? Studies of the Two Hemispheres of the Brain from Infancy to Adolescence.”

Craig’s research is on the socio-psychological influences of cult leader Jim Jones in the Jonestown tragedy. Her work is entitled “Application of Social Psychology in the Understanding of the Jonestown Tragedy.”

(Name withheld)’s work is tentatively titled “The Elephant in the Room: Taking Multidimensional Statistics off the Shelf to Follow Mood Shift Interactions in Bipolar Disorder.” She declined to be interviewed.

Hayden’s project, aptly named “Zombie World: Do-It-Yourself Zombie Apocalypse,” is a mash-up of laser-tag technology and zombie killing.

Kelly studied how ecology and biological diversity relates to Native American culture in the Bay Area. It is titled “A Contemporary Look at the Relationship Between Cultural Diversity and Natural Environment.”

Wager’s work involves a musical composition and scientific paper on synesthesia named “Clarifying the Synesthetic Experience: Articulation of Experience Through Musical Composition.”

Dr. Candy Klaschus, the director of the LPC Honors Transfer Program, played a role in pushing the honors students to submit their work for a chance to be selected.

“She really motivated us to put our work in there,” Ansari, a Biology and Nursing major, said. “I applied.”

“She’s really cool,” Hayden, a Physics major, said. “She’s the one that suggested I go into that.”

“I actually didn’t even know about it,” Craig, a Cognitive Science major, said. “Dr. Klaschus said no one was submitting theirs and somebody in Las Positas always goes. I felt bad if nobody wins, so I did it at the last minute.”

Some of the honors students were complacent about their chances for getting into the symposium.

“I’m kinda excited that I got accepted,” Craig said. “I wasn’t planning it from the beginning.”

“I did not expect it. Dr. Klaschus hinted at the idea, ‘Oh you should apply for this,’” Ansari said. “I didn’t really think the chances of getting it was so high. The way she presented the information made me think it was a really big deal. It’s a hard thing to get into.”

Only 43 percent of the proposals sent to the Bay Area Honors Consortium were selected for presentation. To be part of the symposium has left the honors students elated.

“It feels nice. It’s quite an honor,” Wager, an Interdisciplinary Studies major, said. “I’m really excited to do more of this.” She has been working on her presentation titled “Clarifying the Synesthetic Experience: Articulation of Experience Through Musical Composition.”

“I’ve seen the works of other people and their stuff was so impressive,” Craig said. “I’m just happy that my stuff was up to that standard. It’s exciting to present in Stanford.”

“It is exciting, exhausting and a little nerve-racking all at once,” Kelly, an Anthropology major, said in an e-mail. “The extent of the research and presenting at Stanford are new things for me.”

To prepare them for the presentation, the students will be working with Dr. Klaschus on their composure and presentations.

“She’s going through the presentations with us,” Ansari said. “She’ll help tell us how to make our body language better or how we should come across as more confident.”

Good mentorship helped a few of them with their project. Wager had two mentors with her project. Her work involves a musical composition and work on neuro-psychology. She acquired help from Cindy Rosefield, the sole full-time music instructor, and Dr. John Ruys, a full-time psychology professor.

“Dr. Ruys and I met every week. He had me read studies from various universities every week and art literature of other people, too,” Wager said. “We discuss them and incorporate them to what I was writing. The composition itself, I already had an idea of how it was going to sound. Cindy directed me in what way to write it for strings and it gets really technical.”

“She supplied me with a lot of her own books from her library and she always made me stay relevant to the information,” Ansari said. “She kept it really relevant.”

“Professor Smithson has been a fantastic help,” Kelly said. “She’s been great at offering whatever was needed, from support to critique, and she’s a wealth of knowledge to turn to for fact-checking. I really lucked out.”

“Dr. Robin Roy helped me a lot in making it more scientific,” Craig said. “She helped me bring the Psych aspect more into it.”

Hayden’s project went through some growing pains beyond research and writing.

“I’ve had to fight administration so much for this project. They overcharge me for security, my events. There’s so much paperwork,” Hayden said. “I fought along the way.”

Despite this, he hopes that his work will be carried on by other LPC students. He has left documentation on his project and it will be available to self-learning students. Aside from that, he thinks it’s a great personal accomplishment.

“I really don’t care too much for the honors prestige, really,” Hayden said. “I was like, ‘Okay, slip this one on my resume.’”

Dr. Klaschus thinks it is important for LPC students to have a forum to showcase their work because it displays their competence. In turn, that will help students in landing a good school.

“It can be very helpful for them in getting the school of their choice,” Dr. Klaschus said. “It could give them a leg up if they are going or applying to scholarship programs.”

“It’s important for us to be part of the group because they are out there, some giving their original research they are heard all over the state,” Dr. Klaschus said. “It helps Las Positas. We’re part of a very prestigious program and it helps honors in general.”

Ansari agrees. “Because it’s a combination of all the community colleges coming together in the symposium, this gives us a chance to show ‘look this is what we’re capable of doing.’”

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