News Release| Sally Casanova Pre-Doctoral Scholars; Cal State L.A.

August 2, 2012

Cal State L.A. graduate students named Casanova Scholars

With 11 pre-doctoral students, the University has one of the largest contingents of awardees


Picture of a senior design project.
Pictured: (back, l-r) Valentina Licitra, Steven Moreno-Terrill, Kaitlin Brown, Mario Giron-Ábrego, Alexander Woodman, Wayne Warner, (front, l-r) Omar Padilla, Collette Salvatierra, Mayling Gonzalez, Veronica Pedroza, and Scott Doherty.

Los Angeles, CA – Eleven Cal State L.A. graduate students—focusing on doctoral studies ranging from applied biotechnology to urban schooling—were selected for the 2012-13 Sally Casanova Pre-Doctoral Scholar awards. The University is one of the largest contingents in the California State University system to receive the prestigious awards.

Each scholar will receive a $3,000 award, covering travel expenses to doctoral-granting institutions and to attend professional conferences as well as fees for college applications and graduate exams.

Since 1998, more than 165 students from Cal State L.A. have been recognized as Sally Casanova Pre-Doctoral Scholars. Fifty percent of the CSULA students have entered top-ranking doctoral programs throughout the United States and in several foreign countries.

The following CSULA scholars will explore the prospect of doctoral studies:

Kaitlin Brown, an anthropology major, plans to conduct graduate research on asphaltum production on San Nicolas Island. She is also interested in studying the archaeology, pre-historic technology, trade and emergence of complexity among hunter-gatherers. She resides in Alhambra.

Scott Doherty, an applied biotechnology major, is interested in neurodevelopment research. He plans to apply the management standards of the biotechnology industry as a doctoral student and postdoctoral researcher, and to incorporate them into biology courses that he may teach as a professor. He resides in San Gabriel.

Mario Giron-Ábrego, an anthropology major, is conducting an epigraphic and iconographic analysis of the polychrome ceramics that were discovered from the Maya site, “Midnight Terror Cave,” in Belize, during his field work in 2008, 2009 and 2010. He hopes to obtain a Ph.D. in Maya archaeology in order to become a director of research for a Mayan archaeological program and a university professor. He is a Los Angeles resident.

Mayling Gonzalez, a Spanish major, hopes to become a professor to teach Spanish. She is also interested in conducting research on the creation and representation of identity in Latin America literature of the 19th and 20th centuries. She is a Burbank resident.

Valentina Licitra, an anthropology major, plans to pursue a career as a museum professional, working for a non-profit organization. She is also interested in studying Mesoamerican cave archaeology with a focus on religion, cosmography and iconography. She is a Los Angeles-Highland Park resident.

Steven Moreno-Terrill, a Chicano studies major, is interested in the history of ethnic studies and culture centers in higher education, the Chicana/o educational pipeline, and the critical/cultural theories and qualitative methods in education. He is working toward becoming a post-secondary educator and a community-engaged scholar. He is a Riverside resident.

Omar Padilla, a Chicano studies major, plans to pursue a doctoral degree in an interdisciplinary field, such as American studies, ethnic studies or Chicano studies. His study seeks to explore the Mexican immigrant populations established in the Los Angeles west side communities of Santa Monica and Venice, focusing primarily on the immigrant population that began to arrive through the Bracero Program (1951-65) and through the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. He is a West Los Angeles resident.

Veronica Pedroza, an educational foundations major, plans to pursue a doctoral degree with a focus on urban learning and special education. Her current research looks at the social, cultural, political and economic contexts of public schooling as well as urban schooling and educational theory. Currently an elementary schoolteacher, she hopes to become a professor of education in order to play a direct role in teacher education. She is a La Puente resident.

Collette Salvatierra, a history major, plans to attain a doctorate degree and become a professor at a CSU campus, promoting the education of gay and lesbian history. Her research is focused on the international connections of the gay and lesbian civil rights movements of the 1950s. She is also interested in the studying the U.S. and European Cold War sexual politics and gay and lesbian civil rights organizations. She resides in Long Beach.

Wayne Warner, a microbiology and biochemistry major, plans to pursue a doctoral degree in cancer biology. He is interested in conducting research on the identification of Food and Drug Administration-approved drugs and other small molecules that activate p53 (a tumor suppressor protein). His recent research was published in Chemical Biology and Drug Design. He is a Los Angeles-University Hills resident.

Alexander Woodman, a public health major, has diverse research interests, which include such areas as psychology, gerontology and medicine. His graduate thesis is focused on the environmental causes or contributions to mental illness among elderly population. Woodman shared that he is committed to “the empowerment of society, humanity in general through education, challenge, research, discovery and diversity.” He resides in Los Angeles.

Additionally, Latin American studies major Carla Villanueva received an honorable mention. She is a Los Angeles resident.

The award honors the late Sally Casanova, who launched the program in 1989. A member of the CSU Office of the Chancellor staff during the 1960s, Casanova also served as associate vice president for academic affairs and dean of graduate studies at CSU Dominguez Hills, from 1991 until her death in 1994. She was married to Cal State L.A. chemistry professor (now emeritus) Joseph Casanova. 

For more information on the program, contact Karin E. Brown, acting associate dean of Graduate Studies at Cal State L.A., (323) 343-3820.

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Working for California since 1947: The 175-acre hilltop campus of California State University, Los Angeles is at the heart of a major metropolitan city, just five miles from Los Angeles’ civic and cultural center. More than 20,000 students and 220,000 alumni—with a wide variety of interests, ages and backgrounds—reflect the city’s dynamic mix of populations. Six Colleges offer nationally recognized science, arts, business, criminal justice, engineering, nursing, education and humanities programs, among others, led by an award-winning faculty. Cal State L.A. is home to the critically-acclaimed Luckman Jazz Orchestra and to the Honors College for high-achieving students. Programs that provide exciting enrichment opportunities to students and community include an NEH-supported humanities center; a NASA-funded center for space research; and a growing forensic science program, housed in the Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center.