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May 2009 Pacific Fund Grant Winners

Ann Mazzaferro, Undergraduate Student

Curried Chicken and Votes for Women: An Examination of "The Woman Suffrage Cookbook of 1886"
This $2,600 grant funded travel to Boston for Ann Mazzaferro (English '10) to conduct research at the Schlesinger Library at Radcliffe—one of the premier sites for historical research in the country, particularly in women's history. The project extends the research Mazzaferro completed for History Professor Ken Albala's "Global History of Food" course wherein she identified and evaluated the Woman Suffrage Cookbook of 1886, which was published by the Massachusetts Woman Suffrage Association as a fundraiser for their cause. Mazzaferro was surprised by the lack of scholarly analysis surrounding the cookbook, and wanted to pursue the research herself.


In August 2009, Ann Mazzaferro spent 10 days in Boston under the tutelage of Dr. Ken Albala, who was conducting his own research there. In November 2009, she presented her findings to members of the Pacific Fund Grant committee, faculty members and students, who were enthusiastic about her research. She is preparing an article based on her research and hopes to submit it for publication in a scholarly journal in the spring of 2010.

Ann Mazzaferro at No. 3 Park Street in Boston, the location where the Massachusetts Woman Suffrage Association held their meetings.
Ann Mazzaferro at No. 3 Park Street in Boston, the location where the Massachusetts Woman Suffrage Association held their meetings.

Maeville Dela Cruz, Undergraduate Student

Multiplex Microarray Assay for Breast Cancer
This $5,000 grant funds the purchase of scientific supplies for an undergraduate student research project in Dr. Joanna Albala's laboratory designed to test a new process for identifying the metastasis or recurrence of breast cancer. Dr. Albala has developed a microarray assay process that can distinguish between the control, early state and metastatic breast cancer populations with high sensitivity—predicting an unknown serum sample with ~87% accuracy (within range required for clinical diagnosis of breast cancer). This project expands upon previous work to determine the specificity of this process for breast cancer by comparing it with other forms of metastatic cancer. The hypothesis being tested is whether this multiplex microarray assay can specifically and accurately detect metastatic or recurring breast cancer from a serum sample. If so, there are promising clinical applications of this process when employed with a prototype hand-held microarray assay reader that can be used in a clinical setting.

Victor Inzunza, Undergraduate Student

The William Joiner Center Writing Workshop
A $2,308 grant funded English major Victor Inzunza's travel to the William Joiner Center for the Study of War and Social Consequences at the University of Massachusetts/Boston in the summer of 2009. Inzunza, a veteran who served two tours of duty in Iraq, including the initial invasion in 2003, had the opportunity to study with poets such as Bruce Weigl and Brian Turner, both of whom have seen combat and written about their experiences.

The Joiner Center has a competitive application process for its writing workshop and draws applicants from around the country. Inzunza's acceptance underscores his great promise as a writer. He is the winner of the 2009 Arlen Hansen Prize in Writing awarded annually by the English Department, and he has distinguished himself as a poet with great talent in Dr. Camille Norton's poetry class. His objective as a writer is "to commit some of the consequences [of war] to poetry."


In fall 2009, Victor visited Dr. Norton's English 25 class (Sex, Story, Cinema) during a unit on warfare and masculinity to discuss his combat experience in relation to the literature they were reading. He also gave a reading of his poetry to University President Pamela Eibeck, and he plans to seek other opportunities to share his works.

The Joiner Center experience inspired Victor to find ways to impact other people's lives not only through his poetry, but through his actions. He started the Student Veteran's Organization, which advocates for veteran's issues on campus and in the community at large.

Victor Inzunza giving a reading in Dr. Norton's English class.
Victor Inzunza giving a reading in Dr. Norton's English class.

Emily Sheldon and Graham Howes, Undergraduate Students

South African Clinical Trial Research and Documentary

A $4,400 grant funded travel costs associated with sending two Pacific students, Emily Sheldon (Gender Studies '10) and Graham Howes (Music Management major and Film minor '08), to South Africa to participate in the South African Clinical Research Association 3rd Annual Research Conference and to engage in meetings with bioethics scholars who attended. Emily Sheldon, who is one of the nationally ranked debaters on the Pacific Speech and Debate Team, was the only undergraduate accepted as a presenter at this international professional conference.

Her research on clinical trials of microbicides to help prevent HIV has been closely mentored by faculty in a variety of departments as well as in the library. Additionally, Sheldon has received input from experts from a variety of universities around the world as well as the National Institutes of Health.

Graham Howes accompanied Sheldon to film their experiences, so they could create a documentary from visits with local residents, researchers and community organizers.


While Sheldon and Howes planned to focus on HIV prevention in the documentary, the emphasis shifted to communicating the beauty and compassion they saw in the people of South Africa. "When you hear about Soweto, all you hear about is the extreme poverty, the soaring rates of HIV, and crime. But what I discovered was something altogether different," said Sheldon. "I have never met a friendlier group of people. They greet everyone they encounter as they walk down the street, and they will go out of their way to help you out." They plan to screen their documentary on campus when it is completed and submit it to film festivals.

Emily Sheldon playing with local children at a park in Soweto.
Emily Sheldon playing with local children at a park in Soweto.

Alison Alkon, Sociology Professor

Environment and Society: Crafting Sustainable Solutions
A $5,114 grant funded registration and hotel costs for about 20 students and the instructor of the new sociology course "Environment and Society" to attend the Bioneers Conference in San Rafael, California, from October 16 - 18, 2009. Widely heralded as a "solution oriented" conference that combats "a sense of apathy resulting from the scale of global environmental problems," Bioneers "highlights individuals and communities forging responses to environmental degradation through a variety of mediums and at a variety of scales."

Students are expected to return from the conference empowered to effect change and apply their newfound energy and insight to develop projects addressing campus and community environmental problems and challenges. The conference is integrated into the course curriculum in a variety of ways.


Inspired by their attendance at the Bioneers Conference, many of the students signed the 350 pledge for the International Day of Climate Action (October 24), and have committed to get involved with Pacific's Students for Environmental Action (SEA) club. Sociology major Leora White met the owner of a company that installs solar energy panels on low-income housing. She has been in contact with him about the potential to bring green collar jobs to Stockton. "Bioneers was a life-changing experience," said Leora. "It really helped open my eyes and see real ways I can get involved in solving problems that I always thought were 'larger' than me."

Students investigate a parabolic solar cooker at the Bioneers Conference.
Students investigate a parabolic solar cooker at the Bioneers Conference.

Michelle Amaral, Economics Professor

To B or not to B: Identifying the Economic Impact to Patients, and Educating the Community Pharmacy Staff, of Billing Anti-Cancer Drugs to Medicare Part B Versus Medicare Part D
This $3,415 grant funds an educational outreach program created and managed as a collaborative project between Dr. Amaral, a health economist, and two faculty in the School of Pharmacy, Dr. Rajul Patel and Dr. Mark Walberg. The funding primarily supports the employment of two undergraduates who will collect cost comparison data, administer a survey and work with the faculty to create an educational tool that will be mailed to 100-120 community pharmacies and TJ Long School of Pharmacy alumni.

The purpose is to educate pharmacists about cost benefits to patients of billing under Medicare Part B rather than Part D for chemotherapy medications as well as those used to control harmful side effects. Research suggests that "high out-of-pocket prescription drug costs may result in beneficiaries who adopt cost-coping behaviors, decreased adherence behavior and financial burden behavior"; therefore, the billing strategy used by pharmacies may have a tangible and even profound impact on patients.

Trent Burkett, Visual Arts Professor

Forging a Salt Kiln at the Junction of Art and Science
This $10,000 grant will help fund the construction of a new salt kiln which will be built collaboratively by students from Ceramics (Visual Arts Department) and Engineering under the direction of faculty from both programs. Engineering students will be able to design experiments to monitor temperatures, materials properties, combustion characteristics, and overall energy efficiency of the kiln, while ceramics students will be able to fire creative works utilizing a several hundred-year-old process whereby a salt-fire atmosphere glazes work during the firing process.

The outcome will be a joint lecture presentation at the Pacific Undergraduate Research and Creativity Conference (PURCC) as well as an exhibition open to the campus and community. Thereafter the new kiln will continue to be used for the three-dimensional curriculum in the Visual Arts projects as well as for ongoing collaborations with the School of Engineering.