From autism to zebrafish, experts set up shop at Cal State Fullerton – Orange County Register

When newly hired professors arrive at Cal State Fullerton, they don’t unpack just laptops, lesson plans and brand-new flip-flops. They bring research – and sometimes the funding for that research.

Tree rings, zebrafish, military prisons, property rights, nanotechnology, sexual violence and David Bowie – these are some of the research projects that accompanied the 2017-18 crop of 43 new faculty members.

When an active funded project transfers with a new hire, it’s great for the university, said Chris Liu, associate vice president for research.

“The researcher can start the research right away, with students to be involved,” Liu said. “This is a great leverage from our resources.”

Here’s a look at some of the new arrivals, all assistant professors except for one, and their areas of study:

Trevis Matheus, geography and the environment

When Trevis Matheus was young, he would stare up at the clouds and wonder what was going on. He went on to enter climate-related projects in national and international science fairs in high school.

Trevis Matheus, Cal State Fullerton assistant professor of geography and the environment (Photo courtesy of Cal State Fullerton)

So it was a natural fit to study geography and climatology in college – first with a bachelor’s degree in meteorology from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and then a master’s and doctorate in geography from Indiana University Bloomington.

Matheus uses tree rings to study droughts and snowpack 500 to 1,000 years ago. This gives scientists a better idea of a normal hydroclimate and informs policies involving water management.

“This also helps put climate change into context, as it is hard to know where you are going if you do not know where you’ve been,” Matheus said.

Sara Fingal, American studies

Sara Fingal’s childhood in Southern California inspired her to focus her research on this region. She studies borderlands in North America and human interactions with water,…

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