Research updates: Then and now

Eric Matsumoto
Building better bridges

Eric Matsumoto

    Eric Matsumoto

Then: When we last visited with civil engineering professor Eric Matsumoto in spring of 2006, he was attempting to improve and speed up the bridge-building process in California by researching and testing pre-fabricated concrete parts.

Now: Matsumoto continues to test and refine precast concrete bent-cap systems through research in Sac State’s engineering laboratory and collaboration with industry leaders. He’s worked extensively with CalTrans on projects throughout the state. Concrete fabricators, including West Sacramento-based Clark Pacific, have provided samples for testing, which students help conduct.

Matsumoto, who got his start helping develop concrete protective systems for non-nuclear attacks while in the Air Force, is a leading authority on accelerated bridge construction using precast bent cap systems, a process in which the main bridge supports are built off site, improving the safety and quality of the construction.

“Precast bent cap systems are critical to achieving accelerated bridge construction—an important objective of Caltrans and the Federal Highway Administration because of the pressing need to rehabilitate and replace tens of thousands of bridges in the U.S., many in congested urban environments and regions of high seismicity,” Matsumoto says.

Having the bridge supports built off site lessens the time the bridge is under construction and the traffic restrictions that result. It also improves the quality and longevity of the structure.

Rebecca Cameron
Identifying stressors in the LGBT community

Rebecca Cameron

    Rebecca Cameron

Then: Shortly after 9/11, we asked Sac State psychology professor Rebecca Cameron about her research into the effects of traumatic events on firefighters and their families for our Spring 2002 issue.

Now: Cameron is on the vanguard of research and publication on social dynamics within the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community and attitudes about LGBT people. She and a group of graduate and undergraduate students have presented research results on the topic at conferences all over the country.

A clinical psychologist, Cameron has studied stress management and stress’ effects on relationships among different minority groups.

Now Cameron is making breakthroughs in an area of growing interest. She and her students are evaluating surveys from freshman psychology students regarding attitudes, perceptions and feelings on various topics related to stress management and social support among populations. The research is helping to identify needs and support systems in the LGBT community.

“Through my research on stigmatizing and affirming attitudes about LGBT people and well-being among LGBT individuals, I hope to live up to the Sac State mission of fostering a sense of inclusiveness, respect for human differences and concern for others,” Cameron says. “I also want to help students develop analytical skills necessary to understand the social and cultural complexities of an increasingly interconnected world.”

Monica Lam
Formula for student success

Monica Lam

    Monica Lam

Then: We visited with Monica Lam, professor of business administration, in Fall 2002 about her work with neural networks, examining not how computers think, but why.

Now: Lam, now the associate dean for graduate and external programs for the College of Business Administration, is still studying computers, but she is also looking at what makes humans successful.

Graduate students, in particular.

Lam oversees the College’s MBA for Executives and International MBA programs. She’s using statistical analysis to try to determine which factors are most likely to predict if a student will succeed in the graduate program.

“We wanted to find out which admission factors would predict good performance,” Lam says. “We defined the variables as: age, undergraduate major, undergraduate GPA and GMAT score.”

Of the four, the only one that was a significant predictor was age. “The older they are, the more satisfied they are. The other factors are not significant,” Lam says.

Lam admits that she isn’t sure what to do with the findings.

“At this point it’s not very useful to us,” Lam says, joking, “You can’t just admit older people.”

However, in the short term Lam says it might impact the way they structure team projects. “We have a lot of group work for presentations, so maybe we can try to provide more balance, more mixed backgrounds and blends of older and younger students.”

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