What do professors do all summer? You may think professors are kicking back and relaxing. However, professors are more likely to be bent over microscopes, combing through archives, and conducting field research. Summer is when many professors undertake CSU-AAUP/BOR grant-funded research that makes a difference in the community and the world. This summer, professors at the four Connecticut State Universities were hard at work from Connecticut to China. Here are some of their stories.
Dr. Vincent Breslin – Science Education and Environmental Studies, SCSU
Every day, plastic microbeads—the tiny particles in facial scrubs and exfoliating cosmetic products—make their way down our drains by the thousands, are washed into our harbors, and are even ingested by the marine life that can end up on our plates. This summer, Dr. Vincent Breslin, Professor and Department Chair of Science Education and Environmental Studies at SCSU, and his students will be conducting lab and field research to quantify the level of plastic microbead contamination in both New Haven Harbor and Long Island Sound at large.
“About a year ago in March, I read an article in the New Haven Register about the legislature considering banning plastic microbeads,” he says. “I was aware of the issue and knew of the problems involved, but one of the statements made in the article was that although they hadn’t measured the microbeads in Long Island Sound, they were confident they were there and having an impact. That’s a reasonable assumption to make, but I thought to myself that it would be much better if we actually had some proof that the microbeads were there.”
The danger of plastic microbeads is that “plastics don’t biodegrade in coastal waters and tend to absorb chemical contaminants onto the surfaces of the plastic,” says Dr. Breslin. “These little microbeads may be accumulating contaminants like pesticides and chlorinated hydrocarbons, and they’re mistaken as food by fish and birds. So, this is essentially a route for the contaminants to be passed up the food chain.”
Last summer, Dr. Breslin and his students conducted trawls with plankton nets, designed for the safe and secure capture of marine specimens, to look for the evidence in New Haven Harbor. “We actually didn’t have to look very hard to find them,” he says. “They are out there in the Sound, so we were able to at least document the presence of the microbeads. But, once you document the presence of the microbeads, then that opens up a lot of other questions. For instance, do the concentrations of these microbeads vary along the harbors on the Connecticut shoreline?” This summer, Dr. Breslin and his students will be zeroing in on some answers.
Kris Jacobi – Head of Cataloging, J. Eugene Smith Library, ECSU
Much of the technical side of a research library is hidden from view, with dozens of skilled professionals operating behind the scenes to create the seamless experience that makes the library an ideal place to easily identify and access unique research materials. Integral to the library’s operations are the cataloging librarians, whose job it is to constantly improve the functionality of and access to catalogs and databases of information.
Kris Jacobi started her library career as a student worker at the University of Connecticut Libraries in 1970, and received her Library Science degree from SCSU in 1986. “I have always worked in the technical services side of the house as opposed to the public services side in many libraries before landing at Eastern,” she says, “including Trinity College, UConn School of Law, Travelers Corporate Library, and Mitchell College, mostly as a cataloger.”
She started at Eastern Connecticut State University’s J. Eugene Smith Library as the Head of Cataloging in 1996, and has since been elected as VP and President of the New England Library Association (2007–2010), and President of the ECSU-AAUP Chapter (2012–2014). This summer, Kris will be traveling to the Grand Canyon National Park Research Library as part of a sabbatical where she will be “assisting the permanent, professional librarian with the Library’s cataloging backlog, but mostly learning and applying new metadata cataloging description for electronic materials. This will provide online access to reference documents for Park personnel and beyond,” she says.
As a result, “my cataloging knowledge will expand and I will experience firsthand the new world of the metadata cataloger,” she says. “I will learn from him, he will learn from me. We both benefit. I will work for 13-14 weeks at the Research Library, then return home, do a literature search, and write a manuscript for publication in a library journal.” Kris was previously awarded a sabbatical in spring of 2008 to work for the Charles Darwin Research Center Library in the Galapagos as an International Volunteer Librarian.
Carina Bandhauer – Professor of Sociology, WCSU
Dr. Carina Bandhauer, Professor of Sociology at WestConn, specializes in the sociology of racism, immigration, and global restructuring. A Southern California native, Professor Bandhauer graduated from her master’s program at California State University, Dominguez Hills, in 1993, when momentum was growing behind the controversial Proposition 187 in California.
“The community I was coming from was not exactly friendly to the immigrant population,” she says, “I was intrigued on an intellectual level by the hostility and animosity toward immigrants, and when I went for my PhD in upstate New York, my focus was still very much in Southern California. It gave me an ability to step back and look at the big picture more critically.” Her personal experience and interest in California led her to the concept of global restructuring,
“The meat of my research is based on ethnographic interviews in the United States, which I’ve been conducting since 1999,” she says. “Basically, I had interviewed people after Prop 187, and then when 9/11 happened, I realized that a new wave of anti-immigrant sentiment was on the horizon.” After the housing market crashed, another wave grew, and now immigration is again a major presidential debate issue. “One of the things we do know is that these surges in anti-immigrant sentiment very closely parallel how well the global economy is doing. As the global economy restructures, those who are left out get frustrated and tend to take it out on immigrants,” she explains.
This summer, Dr. Bandhauer will continue to compile her ethnographic research, which she is using to write a book on her findings. “After studying this for so long, I think the real wealth of what is now a rather enormous project is that there are so many intricate details to contribute into a condensed story.” She will be presenting a paper in Seattle over the summer at the 111th annual American Sociological Association Conference.
Across the CSU system, research grant funding is leading to better education.
In the 2016–2017 academic year, 244 of our talented faculty members across our four universities were awarded research grant funding for research projects and partnerships to enhance CSU education. Check out how these projects are distributed across subjects and departments in the graphic below: