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Five Top Stories from 2022 (And Five You May Have Missed)

A composite image featuring students at Design Village, a dean chatting with students, students hanging off a pier to inspect a wave and tide sensor and an elephant seal.
Written By Gabby Ferreira

As 2022 comes to a close, we’re taking a look back on some of our favorite news stories from the past year. Here are five of our top stories from 2022, and five more you may have missed.

Top Stories

1. Seal of Approval  

An elephant seal roars on a beach in the Piedras Blancas Rookery, north of San Simeon.

Student researchers studying elephant seals at Piedras Blancas Rookery — the largest mainland northern elephant seal rookery in the world — recently piloted a groundbreaking drone program to help ensure accurate counts of the aquatic mammals.  

 “It’s a really incredible thing that we have here that doesn’t exist anywhere else," said Professor Heather Liwanag, who advises the researchers.

Read more about the drone program >>>

2. Reach for the Stars

This image of the James Webb Space Telescope was taken following its launch into space and is humanity's last look at the box-shaped observatory.

Physics professor Vardha Bennert is involved in two different research projects aboard the James Webb Space Telescope, successor to the iconic Hubble Space Telescope. Improved technology enables the James Webb telescope to look much closer to the beginning of time as well as to look inside dust clouds where stars and planetary systems are forming. 

“It’s definitely an exciting time to be an astronomer right now," Bennert said.

Read more about Bennert's research >>>

3. Riding the Wave

Two students hang off of a wooden pier as they check a scientific instrument.

Low-cost wave and tidal sensors can help communities dealing with climate change — and a group of students led by civil engineering Professor Stefan Talke spent the summer figuring out how to make them.

“This project has shown me a whole new world in engineering,” said third-year engineering student Luke Wierl. “I just find myself very enthused to come up with new solutions to the problems that are presented to me.”

Read more about the project >>>

4. Design Village Returns

A student balances on a structure during Design Village in Poly Canyon.

Design Village returned to the sloping hills of Poly Canyon in the spring for the first time since 2019. Though the event is usually a key course for first-year architecture students, this year included both second- and third-year students who were unable to participate when the event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021. 

“This project is one of the reasons I chose Cal Poly,” third-year architecture major Garrett Kennedy said. 

Read more about Design Village >>>

5. In Her Corner

Kianah Corey stands in the doorway of the Black Academic Excellence Center, where her program is based.

Child development student Kianah Corey created Kiki's Corner, a resource that offers Black peer group sessions and one-on-one counseling in a confidential, non-clinical space. Through the program, Corey hopes she can provide the kind of care and solidarity she needed as a first-year student.

“It's a safe space for students to come for coaching or guidance — or even if people need a cheerleader,” Corey said.

Read more about Kiki's Corner >>>

Stories You May Have Missed

1. Finding Purpose

Recent engineering graduate Jon Gausman wears colorful clothing and smiles in a portrait taken on campus.

A decade ago, Jon Gausman was an artist and nightclub bouncer in San Francisco when a fateful trip to Haiti sent him on a new path. His journey brought him to Cal Poly, where he earned bachelor's and master's engineering degrees and used his life experience to help others.

Read more about Jon Gausman's journey >>>


2. Recipe for Revitalization

Cheryl Flores smiles in front of the mural at the Native American and Indigenous Cultural Center on campus.

Indigenous student Cheryl Flores' senior project, "Erased: Growing Up Brown in the United States," focuses on the impact cultural assimilation has on families — and has led her to create her own cookbook to preserve her family's recipes.

"It’s through you that that knowledge is going to pass down to future generations," Flores said.

Read more about Flores' project here >>>

3. Helping Transfers Thrive

Dean Wendt of the College of Science and Mathematics speaks with students at an event.

Two college deans help transfer students by sharing their firsthand experience with that transition. The support helps minimize a stigma around the topic and supports a student population through their college experience. 

Read more about how Deans Wendt and Fleming support students >>>

4. Back to Back to Back Bloom

Two men stand on either side of a corpse flower at the Cal Poly Plant Conservatory.

For the third consecutive summer, a corpse flower bloomed in spectacular fashion. Mustito, which flowered July 25-27, is a sibling of the first corpse plant to bloom at Cal Poly, dubbed Musty. In the summer of 2020, 3,000 people came out to see and smell Musty, then six years old, in all its glory.

Read more about this rare happening >>>

5. Mustang Made

A woman inspects poinsettia flowers in a greenhouse.

From cheeses and jams to festive flowers, students across the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences work tirelessly to create seasonal products for everyone. The unique Learn by Doing experience also yields a wealth of skills for any career.

Read more about Mustang-made products >>>