Influencing attitudes about climate change, nicotine dependence among college students, new discoveries about the creation of the solar system and the role peptides play in postpartum depression are among the topics to be shared by CSUSM faculty at the third annual Celebration of Faculty Scholarship and Creative Activities on Friday, Apr. 6 beginning at 11 a.m.

Held in The Clarke Hunter Gymnasium, the two-hour event features nearly 50 interactive booths, posters, multimedia displays, discussion roundtables and even a live musical performance. The collaborative event, led by the Office of Graduate Studies and Research, invites the public and campus community to explore and learn about the diverse scholarly work conducted by professors, librarians and program researchers at the university.

An expert in behavioral neuroscience, Assistant Professor Kimberly D'Anna-Hernandez will present the latest results from her study examining postpartum depression. Within the first year of giving birth, nearly 15 percent of new mothers reportedly suffer from the disorder. Studies have shown that postpartum depression, which affects how a mother cares for and connects with her newborn, may put the child at risk for developing behavioral problems and psychopathology later in life.

Using animal models, D'Anna-Hernandez examined how the absence or blockage of a specific neuro peptide, found naturally elevated in new mothers, may contribute to depressive behavior in the postpartum period.

“If the peptide is blocked, we’ve found that the mother spends less time nursing and grooming her newborns,” she said. “Grooming is an important routine that influences how the offspring respond to their environment, specifically how the offspring cope with stress.”

D'Anna-Hernandez’s research is filling a critical gap to help scientists better understand the relationship between peptides and depressive behaviors -- an important discovery that could improve treatment options for mothers experiencing the disorder.

Among the presenters joining D'Anna-Hernandez is kinesiology Assistant Professor Devin Jindrich, who will share his current research on the ergonomic impact interface devices, like Apple’s multi-touch iPad or even the motion sensing Microsoft Kinect, could have on the human body. The complex gestures needed to operate these systems, he explained, could place stress on the body and result in injury, much like the keyboard has increased cases of tendonitis and carpal tunnel.

“Interfacing technology is still in its infancy,” said Jindrich, who is partnering with the Harvard School of Public Health, as well as Arizona State, on the study. “Our findings could be used to modify the mechanical design or change how users interact with the device to reduce possible injuries from use.”

This year’s event also includes interactive stations. Attendees will also have the opportunity to test a newly-created video game used to preserve the Native American Luiseño language. Developed by the University’s California Indian Culture and Sovereignty Center and led by Associate Professor Joely Proudfit, researchers worked closely with local tribal members and Luiseño language speakers to create the tangible language preservation and education software program, which operates on a handheld Nintendo system.

In addition to research, the symposium also showcases creative collaborations and artistic performances. An audio presentation, which fuses music with the stock market, will be among the displays.

The interdisciplinary project was developed jointly by business and art professors, who converted Wall Street data into sound through the process of sonification. The project aims to bridge two distanced fields and pushes the listener to reflect on the value of alternative sources of inspiration.

Assistant professor and internationally renowned pianist Ching-Ming Cheng will also perform, sharing her musical interpretation of J.S. Bach’s “Chaconne in D minor,” which was originally composed for a solo violin during the Baroque era.

“It’s important to remain active scholars in our disciplines,” added D'Anna-Hernandez. “As educators we are passionate about our work and we are dedicated to discovering new knowledge that advances our respective fields of study and introduces cutting edge research to our students.”

Free parking for the event is available in Lot N. Attendees are asked to RSVP to the Office of Graduate Studies and Research.

“It’s important to remain active scholars in our disciplines,” said Kimberly D'Anna-Hernandez, assistant professor of psychology. “As educators we are passionate about our work and we are dedicated to discovering new knowledge that advances our respective fields of study and introduces cutting edge research to our students.”