College of HHD

A Sneak Peek: HHD's Innovation and Collaboration Challenge

June 14, 2023

In the fall of 2022, HHD's Dean Mechelle Best presented a challenge to the College faculty and staff:  “Do you have an innovative idea for which you need funding? Do you need support to collaborate with a colleague from a non-HHD department? Do you want to provide research, creative works, and/or program opportunities for your students? Then this is the challenge for you.”  Grants of up to $10,000 were awarded to 14 faculty.

As the project implementation period has been this spring semester, we anticipate getting detailed results in the fall, but we wanted to give you a sneak peek at the innovative and collaborative projects the challenge has inspired. We plan to cover the presentations in the fall and share more news about these projects and their results.

Read Related in CSUN Today: CSUN's Newest Deans Push for Collaboration Across the University

Below, in alphabetical order by Principal Investigator, are the projects:

Doris Abrishami, Health Sciences/Radiologic Sciences
Peer Mentoring for Academic Success ( PMAS)

This project establishes a structured peer mentoring program to strengthen student retention and success in transfer and first-year minority, and Latinx full time students at CSUN. This aligns with CSUN’s road map initiatives to advance student success and disrupt systemic inequities.

The program engages senior students as peer mentors, and first-year and transfer students as mentees. The project seeks to discover the effects of peer mentoring on students’ academic and overall success at CSUN, and to help faculty and departments develop and implement mentor programs that will support the social and academic transition of first year and transfer students. PMAS will also support for developing a mentor program for use within HHD at CSUN and encourage cross-faculty collaboration for the enhancement of first-year and transfer student experiences.

The project also engages student assistants, and collaboration with S.K. Ramesh in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the College of Engineering and Computer Science.

Annette Besnilian, Family and Consumer Sciences, Marilyn Magaram Center for Food Science, Nutrition, and Dietetics
Trash to Treasure: Fighting Homelessness and Hunger

The purpose of the “Trash to Treasure: Fighting Homelessness and Hunger” project is to turn trash into sustainable building material to build houses, shelters, and spaces to grow food for the homeless. The vision is to eradicate poverty one person at a time through sustainable housing, employment, community awareness, and peace of mind. 

This project is designed to reduce both the housing crisis and reduce landfill use by demonstrating that trash can be used as building blocks for homes. Imagine every country, city, and town being able to build and manage affordable and sustainable housing, create more jobs, and revitalize their own communities simply by recycling trash.

Basing the work on a mission and vision conceptualized by Kesha Hearn, founder of Hope in Hearts, which is a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving, educating, empowering, and demonstrating love towards individuals who may have been discounted in society. Collaborators on campus are working alongside Hope in Hearts to support the project, and includes faculty from within the College and across campus.

The project also engages FCS faculty Kristin King, Area Coordinator, Interior Design; Nazaret Dermendjian, Department Chair , CSUN Civil Engineering and Construction Management; and Natale Zappia, Director of the Institute for Sustainability at CSUN.

Joyce Marie Brusasco, Family and Consumer Sciences/Family Studies
Utilizing Technology to Innovate the CSUN Lab School

The project provides variety of customized instructional videos for parents, faculty, staff, CSUN students engaged with the Child and Family Studies Center (Lab School).  The Lab School instructs and trains university students to work effectively with young children and their families with a commitment to fostering the continued growth and development children’s cognitive, social, emotional, physical, and creative well-being.

By making this series of videos, the Lab School can also reach out to potential donors. Highlighting the active learning approach--based upon developmentally appropriate inclusive practice—the videos will encourage self-exploration and discovery for all the targeted audiences to strengthen Lab School partnerships with families and the greater San Fernando Valley community.

By elaborating on the safe, nurturing environment and other strengths of this center, the videos will demonstrate developmentally appropriate inclusive practices for teaching young children. They’ll also serve to train early childhood professionals, making available current pedagogy and proper instruction for other universities, parents (and potential parents) students, and para-professionals. Watch the first of the videos in the series.

The project also engages FCS faculty Christa Dunlap, Program Director for the Child and Family Studies Center; as well as FCS faculty Karamali Pariza and Heather McCollum.

Wei Cao, Family and Consumer Sciences/Apparel Design and Merchandising
A Framework for Smart Textile Large Scale Consumer Research

What are smart textiles? They are textiles with added functionality through incorporated technology, such as built-in electronics. Paired with wearable devices and body sensor technology, smart textiles can sense certain stimuli from the body, such as mechanical, thermal, or chemical signals, sometimes in conjunction with getting readings on the outside environment.

The function of smart textiles is evolving, and yet there is limited research to document the user experience in selecting, wearing and caring for them. Wei Cao has formed an interdisciplinary team of CSUN faculty, staff, and student members from the FCS department at the College level, as well as the NASA-sponsored Autonomy Research Center for STEAHM (ARCS) at the university-wide level. The team has also connected the project with CSUN Athletics. The objective: to develop and evaluate a framework for evaluating and selecting smart textiles and for conducting large scale consumer research.

The team plans determine what CSUN Student athletes need in smart textiles. They are collecting wear test data and users’ feedback in a particular wearable technology so they can develop an application using the data. By figuring out user-oriented/centered technology that reflects CSUN student-athletes’ smart shirt needs, the study also has an objective to get attention from apparel technologists, researchers, sponsors, government and professional organizations in order to improve the performance of smart textiles to expand the digital health applications.

The project also engages student assistants in addition to the team members mentioned above.

Lisa Chaudhari, Health Sciences
Community dissemination program of a qualitative study findings on physical activity among Latinas in the San Fernando Valley

The negative health consequences of physical inactivity are amplified by gender and ethnic disparities in physical activity. This project seeks to build the capacity of future professionals by mentoring and training a small subset of students in action-based research in communities near CSUN, home to many of our students. Those negative consequences are also a significant source of disparities in disease risk and prevalence among minority populations across the country, and include obesity and related complications such as diabetes, cardiovascular conditions, some cancers and depression. Obesity is highest among Latino groups at 48% compared to the national population at 39.8%. 

The problem this project is addressing is the unmeasured and poorly measured information about of low-income Latinas and the factors influencing their physical activity behavior. Through the project, Chaudhari wants to get a better understanding of physical activity, including unstructured physical activity such as care of home and family that is prevalent among Latinas--especially those caring for young children.

Working with an interdisciplinary team of faculty from health sciences (HHD) and urban studies and planning (College of Social and Behavioral Sciences) and three students from both of these colleges, the team will analyze existing data and prepare a presentation for the community. An added bonus will be that the presentations will serve an important role in community relations.  The long-term goal is to develop interventions that address the findings of the study.

Jamey Fitzpatrick (content unavailable)

Rosalia Garcia-Torres, Family and Consumer Sciences
Sustainable Food Systems Series

The unsustainable practices in our current food production systems are having negative effects in our health, diet and environment. So, developing sustainable food systems is key to improving our health, helping people achieve a healthy diet, and to protect our environment. The first step toward improving these practices is to understand our food systems and align with others to shape and achieve improvement goals together. The United Nations has set 17 Sustainable development goals, which include no-poverty, zero hunger, responsible consumption and production, and good health and well-being. Understanding how food systems are connected to malnutrition, climate change, and poverty are key to achieving these goals.

The Sustainable Food Systems Series is designed to increase awareness on sustainable food systems and practices among the CSUN community.  The project will do this through active learning through monthly hands-on workshops on selected topics related to sustainable food systems. Topics include Adopting a sustainable food systems approach, Circular economy and upcycling of food by-products demo, food systems delivering better health and herbs dehydration demo, and a look at container farms (can we grow food anywhere?).

The workshops combine discussions and hands-on activities that will give to participants a well-rounded understanding of the topics and a space to share actionable ideas. Printed materials and supplies will be provided, and participants will be able to take home products prepared during the workshops. For example, when talking about circular economy and upcycling of food by-products, participants will prepare a DIY coffee ground or carrot mash body scrub. Students will gain awareness on sustainable food systems and the project will promote conversations about how to build sustainable food systems.

Collaborators: Nelida Duran (FCS) and Natale Zappia (Institute for Sustainability).

Laurie Gelardi (content unavailable)

Hessam Ghamari, Family and Consumer Sciences
Investigating the Effects of Lighting Design on CSUN Students’ Learning and Visual Comfort, an Immersive Virtual Environment (IVE) study

Light is universally understood as essential to the human condition. Yet light quality varies substantially both in nature and in controlled environments leading to questions of which artificial light characteristics facilitate maximum learning. Research studies show that the physical learning environment influences the performance and well-being of children, supporting their development into adulthood. Lighting is a critical aspect of this physical environment. Lighting (natural and artificial) has been a major driver of students’ school performance and functioning, with windows providing natural daylight as well as a view, and artificial light further enabling children’s visual, cognitive and behavioral skills inside.

In educational contexts, the lighting within a classroom is particularly important, and has been described as one of the most critical physical characteristics in a learning space. This multidisciplinary collaboration, between faculty members and students from the Departments of Family and Consumer Sciences, Sociology and Psychology, aims to investigate the impacts of different lighting variables including Correlated Color Temperature and illuminance on students’ visual comfort and academic performance by using Immersive Virtual Environments.

Studies have shown that proper lighting design can contribute to improved health and well-being of students in class environments. Other benefits include alleviating anxiety, promoting engagement, increasing collaboration, and improving mood and productivity. The findings of this study will provide design recommendations for improving the lighting design in a different classroom. These would help create supportive environments that ultimately improve the quality of learning and ameliorate anxiety and depression-like behavior for students, staff, and faculty. The findings of this study will also provide design recommendations for educational facilities in regard to designing lighting. These would help create supportive environments that ultimately improve student-learning outcomes and increase their engagement.

Joo Kim, Health Sciences
Focus group study: Implementing Video Demonstration for Pressure Injury Prevention Education for Certified Nurse Assistants, Licensed Vocational Nurses, and Registered Nurses at Long-term Care Facilities.

Staying in one position for extended periods of time can cause pressure injuries. Among those who are unable to adjust their position without assistance, pressure injuries can result in serious health consequences such as nonhealing wounds, and infection on local and systemic levels. Results can lead to surgical debridement, amputation of lower extremities, decrease in function, and ultimately loss of life. Unfortunately, being a resident in a long-term care facility is in itself a risk factor for pressure injury. 

The objectives of this study are to develop a video demonstrating off-loading with everyday equipment for medical assistants and non-medical assistants at long-term care facilities. The study will also evaluate the feasibility of the usability of video training in a standard onboarding process for long-term care facility staff.  This will help the team identify issues, challenges, and opportunities in implementing such a training program and function as a precursor to implementing a larger study to analyze the effectiveness of offloading video training.

By adopting an approach that relies on cultural competency, as well as considering accessibility of equipment and supplies for nursing homes and personnel, the study will evaluate a possibility of universal training program for medial and non-medical staff. This can lead to discoveries of ways to modify the training program and to adapt it to a variety of healthcare settings, including hospitals, long-term care facilities, and rehabilitation centers.

Also involved in this project: a podiatrist and four nursing home facilities, Glendora Grand SNF, Long Beach Care Center, Torrance Care Center West, and Century Villa SNF, in the Southern California region, have agreed to participate in this video training development. 

Rodica Kohn, Family and Consumer Sciences

We are at a critical point in our relationship with the environment, and we must develop products that rely 100% on renewable sources. California State University Northridge is on its way to becoming a carbon-neutral campus by increasing its energy efficiency and relying less on nonrenewable energy sources. The SunbrellaPower will help mitigate climate change and model the type of environmentally conscious community we seek to build.

The solar umbrella is made out of aluminum which is a durable, and 100% recyclable material. It can be anodized in different colors, including CSUN colors. With this in mind, the team has designed a solar umbrella that can be used in outdoor spaces here at CSUN.

The ultimate goal of the project is to generate clean power over vast areas, including universities, parks, and cities (sports arenas, amusement parks, cafés, restaurants, and RV parks). It can play a significant role in helping the city become carbon neutral by 2040 (which is the goal of the New Green Deal proposed by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti). The New Green Deal will give priority to a project that has environmental, social, and recreational benefits, and will help mitigate the heat island effect and lead to the expansion of neighborhood parks and community spaces.

This project is a collaboration between the FCS Interior Design program and the Engineering Department.

Yoko Mimura, Family and Consumer Sciences
Roles and Work-Life Boundary Setting When Home Is a Workplace: Case of Family Child Care Providers

Family child care, a paid child care service offered at a care provider’s home, is a widely utilized child care option, significant for many working parents of young children. Therefore, family child care provider is a high demand profession, yet it comes with some challenges. Common struggles among the providers, who are typically women, stem from the multiple roles they play in one physical location and boundary setting. Their roles may include caretaker, teacher, social worker, and business owner as well as parent, spouse, and daughter. While the literature suggests varying boundary setting between family business owners’ home and business lives, little is known about family child care providers’ boundary setting in relation to the multiple roles these providers’ play or the providers’ well-being.

Using surveys of and interviews with family child care providers in Los Angeles, the proposed new study will explore how different roles the child care providers play explains boundary setting and consequently affects their well-being. The family resource management model will provide the overarching theoretical framework.

This study will add to the body of knowledge on resource management issues for family child care providers often overlooked in child care research. The implications are relevant for individuals who have small business space with outsider involvement, such as staff members, at home.

Also involved in this project: Holli Tonyan, Psychology; Tom Cai, Family and Consumer Sciences.

Tracie Tung, Family and Consumer Sciences
Understanding and Addressing Accessibility Challenges People with Visual Impairments Encounter with Fashion

Our choices in fashion affect our sense of independence, social connection, freedom of expression and personalization. For those who are visually impaired, and those who work with them, this research project will provide a better understanding--and discover ways to address--the accessibility challenges people with visual impairments encounter when it comes to fashion.

Getting an understanding of the current issues and challenges that have already been identified by existing research on this topic provides a systematic framework for the project. This will bring a better understanding of the challenges faced by those with visual impairment with regard to clothing, and will help the team and identify the opportunities and suggest solutions.

Issues that arise range from efficiency and ease to information access and trust.  As a first step, the research team will conduct a meta-analysis research study on related literature to develop a detailed framework that not only synthesizes the past and future research opportunities but also offers managerial and theoretical implications to practitioners and academics.

This project is a collaboration with Shally Juarez, Department of Art, as well as student researchers.

Carla Mary Valdez, Health Sciences
Community Healthcare Workers Services (CHW): Introducing the CHW Certificate Program to Local High School Students

Introducing the CHW certificate program to local high school students generates a pipeline for high school students to pursue CSUN degree programs while also having greater earning potential allowing them to work and attend school more easily. 

This proposal is the first step in a long-term approach for addressing health disparities and advancing health equity in our local communities while also increasing student enrollment in CSUN programs. This first phase will be conducted in the Spring ’23 semester and will include the research and development of the CHW curriculum, initiating partnerships with local high schools, the development of recruitment strategies, and an evaluation of phase one. Further phases will be carried out following the conclusion of this initial grant.

The CHW high school student certification program will expose local high school students to various health professions, connect them with CSUN faculty, provide mentorship from undergraduate and graduate students, and teach them about the different majors offered at CSUN as well as leading them to potential pathways for study.

To prepare for the summer ’23 certificate program, CSUN Public Health (Health Sciences) faculty will partner with faculty from CSUN’s Michael D. Eisner College of Education, and the College of Humanities, two undergraduate public health students, and an MPH graduate student to fully develop a CHW certificate curriculum, marketing, and evaluation plan. We believe the first phase will establish CSUN-HHD as a trusted leader and partner in the community for CHWs through partnerships with local high schools.

Also on this project: Tanya Wicks, Health Sciences; and Cathy Gaspard, Secondary Education, Michael D. Eisner College of Education


Jean O'Sullivan, with HHD Faculty