College of HHD

Inside the 2022 Inaugural HHD Research Excellence and Innovation Conference

January 30, 2023

images of speakers from opening sessions of the conference
The opening sessions of the conference featured (top row) dancers from Kinesiology, and welcome remarks from event organizers Kacie Blackman (Health Sciences) and Rosalia Garcia-Torres (Family and Consumer Sciences). The keynote speaker was Radiochemist Vanessa Sanders. Greetings (second row) from CSUN President Erika D. Beck, Provost Mary Beth Walker, Interim Dean Mechelle Best, and Associate Dean Dimitri Tamalis also welcomed event participants with glimpses of the coming events in each conference day.


Conference Highlights

The first-ever HHD College-wide conference started with an, "I'd like to do..." in the spring of 2022, and by the fall, had grown into a robust, diverse, and inspiring conference event that showcased a great deal of what we do in HHD.  And it happened because of the engagement of students, faculty, staff. In November, the College of HHD held its first-ever HHD Research Excellence and Innovation Conference: Promoting Inclusive Excellence Through Innovative and Creative Synergies. On- and off-campus communities attended, and HHD students, faculty, and staff presented.

See some of the highlights, which include portions of the comments by our keynote speaker, Vanessa Sanders, Ph.D.

  • Dr. Sanders was the first African-American woman in the U.S. to get a Ph.D. in Radiochemistry. She is using radioisotopes to identify and treat illnesses such as cancer. In her honest and pragmatic talk she shared the science behind her work, the educational path that led her to where she is today, and also spoke about how a student develops the courage to continue to earn a degree, including cultivating the emotional and social systems one needs to persevere through life's challenges that don't stop just because of an academic degree program in progress.

Find out what motivates some of our donors to give back, and pay-forward, to CSUN/HHD (video).

  • In honor of the conference, we interviewed several of our donors to ask what it was about CSUN and the College of Health and Human Development that inspired them, and what creates a culture of philanthropy. "CSUN saved my life," said one.

Visit the conference website where you'll find abstracts and information out about presenters, talks, and posters. You can also take advantage of recorded Qualtrics workshops held at the conference. Also on the site, links to presentations will be posted as they become available, as well as links to the opening sessions for both days. 

The Conference Started with an Idea

Mechelle Best, Interim Dean

interim dean mechelle bestSometimes we say “I’d like to do …” and it doesn’t always come to fruition. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said that, or written it, because good ideas are plentiful, though realizing them is something else. But this conference was the result of an “I’d like to do” that was implemented because HHD faculty, staff and students made it happen.

The role of interim dean has allowed me a much broader view of the college and engendered greater insight into the breadth of what our faculty, staff and students are engaged in, as we actualize and embrace being the college of life. In the first few months of being interim, I really started to wonder how many of us in the college had a good sense of what great work we do, outside of our personal sphere.

So the idea of this conference was born because I really wanted to learn more about our college and at the same time, help the HHD community learn more about ourselves. But then I thought, since HHD is obviously so fabulous, why not share with the rest of our campus and wider community? So here we all are!

In late April this year, I reached out to the then chairs of our Research Pillar Committee, Drs. Patty Kwan and Hessam Ghamari, and asked if the committee would be willing to take the lead on planning the conference. They said yes, but they were outgoing chairs. They assured me that the incoming chairs, Drs. Garcia Torres and Blackman would do the job, though they themselves would remain involved. That confidence in their colleagues was well-placed, because the co-chairs and committee got the job done.

Through the various presentations, posters, panels, and workshop offered by our faculty, students and staff, we showed that HHD is truly the college of life. We are engaged in a range of research, programs, creative activities and more, that affect our communities in innumerable positive ways. Our students are being well-trained to take up this mantle. and our thousands of alumni are in the public and private sectors making a significant impact on individuals and communities alike.

Yet what we showcased over the two conference days was just a glimpse into what we are currently doing and we have tremendous potential to do even more. To offer more deep impacting experiences for our students. To make greater use of cutting edge technology to give our students an extra step up for their roles in industry, entrepreneurship and public service. To be more innovative. And to be more collaborative, not just externally, but internally with colleagues in departments within the college and across campus.

Visit the conference website.


Interim Dean, Mechelle Best

HHD 2022 Research Excellence and Innovation Conference Award Recipients

First Place: Abnous Shahverdi*; Sarah Alhassan*; Myriam Forster; Jean Spielman; Jorge Vigil; Linn Dahlman; Bethany RainischPoster Ttle: Preliminary findings from an evaluaFon of a novel substance use prevenFon web-app delivered to diverse college students in southern California.

Second Place: Katrina Silos*; Brenda Romero; Danielle Co; Shane Esmundo; Cynthia Robles; Melina Rodriguez; Talya Tessler; Mayra Zamora; Melanie Sabado-Liwag; Patchareeya Kwan. Poster Ftle: Community-Based Focus Group Discussion for COVID-19 Effects on Southeast Asian American Communities

Third Place: Nathan Kayanirad; Lindsey Waguespack; Kayla Hori; Ghazal Sazegar; Sean Flanagan; Poster title: Force-Velocity Profiles During Lower Extremity Extensions

The Best Faculty Award was a tie between Paula Thomson (Kinesiology/Dance) and Suzanne Spear (Health Sciences), pictured below for valuable insight at the College of HHD 2022 Inaugural Research Excellence and Innovation Conference.

Below: First and second place recipients Abnous Shahverdi and Katrina Silos, with Interim Dean Mechelle Best, accepting award certificates on behalf of their teams.

Students Abnous Shahverdi and Katrina Silos with Interim Dean Mechelle Best

Below: Best Faculty co-recipient Suzanne Spear (Health Sciences), with Interim Dean Best (co-recipient Paula Thomson (Kinesiology) not pictured).

Best Faculty Award recipient Suzanne E. Spear with Interim Dean Mechelle Best


Photos by Tracie Tung, FCS Fauculty