SJSU Students Triumph at CSU Research and Startup Competitions

by | May 12, 2023 | Awards and Achievements, Featured, Research and Innovation

San José State student participants in the CSU Student Research Competition with Mohamed Abousalem (far right), vice president for research and innovation. Photo by Ganesh Raman.

Research Week may be over, but the accolades for San José State undergraduate and graduate researchers keep rolling in. Since April 24, many SJSU students have triumphed at statewide events: At the California State University (CSU) Student Research Competition, the Sunstone CSU Startup Launch Competition, and the CSU-wide Grad Slam Competition, SJSU undergraduates and graduates won high honors. 

“The amazing display of the achievements, passion and commitment of our diverse and dynamic student researchers and entrepreneurs at these systemwide competitions is exhilarating,” said Mohamed Abousalem, vice president for research and innovation. “San José State is a California State University leader not only in developing a skilled workforce for Silicon Valley, but also in developing the job creators of the future to help grow the economic and intellectual capital of our region. We are proud of all the winners and wish them all the best in the great careers ahead of them.”  

CSU Student Research and Grad Slam Highlights

The CSU Student Research Competition, which took place in San Diego on April 29, had four SJSU winners. Out of competitors across 23 CSU campuses, two SJSU students took first place in their respective categories:

  • Jaedyn Rollins, ’22 BS, ’24 MS Systems Physiology, took first place in Biological and Agricultural Sciences for her work “Utilization of the RhD Locus as a Safe Harbor for Gene Editing Applications.”
  • Ran Li, ’23 MS Data Science, took first in Physical and Mathematical Sciences for her project “On The Memory Scalability of Spectral Clustering Algorithms.”

For Rollins, the win in the competition was sandwiched in between two more impressive feats, all within 10 days. Rollins won first place at the SJSU Grad Slam on April 25, then turned around and won the CSU-wide Grad Slam competition on Friday, May 5.  

“These past few weeks have been an incredible experience,” she stated. “Just participating in these competitions felt like winning! All of the presenters were so encouraging and kind that the experience alone was the true reward.”  

Jaedyn Rollins presenting during 2023 Grad Slam.

Jaedyn Rollins, SJSU and CSU-wide Grad Slam winner, presents her research. Photo by David Schmitz.

But, of course, winning also had its perks: “Actually winning these awards has definitely shown me that I am more capable than I may think,” she said. She also offered encouragement to future researchers: “Push yourself and you will always be rewarded with a wonderful experience.”

Li said she was “so happy to win,” calling it “my honor to represent SJSU to compete and win the award.” She thanked Guangliang Chen, associate professor of mathematics, for his support and guidance and added, “Winning the award is an inspiration for me to continue making a good impact on our society. I am so grateful for this honor and, at the same time, feel the responsibility on my shoulders.” 

She echoed Rollins’ encouragement of her fellow student researchers: “You will encounter many challenges on your way, but don’t worry. As long as you are still trying, challenges will become rewards.”

In addition, James Guzman, ’18 BS Computer Engineering, ’23 MS Artificial Intelligence, and Surabhi Gupta, ’23 Software Engineering, shared second place in Engineering & Computer Science for their project “Deep Learning in AI Medical Imaging for Stroke Diagnosis.”

Gupta said that she was “very thankful to have the chance to do research, especially as an undergraduate, because such opportunities are hard to come by.” She added, “Winning the competition means we have wider recognition which means better access to resources and expertise.” 

Guzman said that winning “felt amazing” and that it “reinforces that other people see the value in our research on AI for brain disease diagnosis in the area of stroke.” 

He had practical advice for other student researchers: “Maximize the opportunity in the classroom to work on team projects where you pitch the research idea related to the problem you want to work on, and take the opportunity to practice being a leader each term.”

Angel Idusuyi, ’24 Business, won third place and $5,000 for her finance startup CreditCliq. Xavier Verdu, ’24 MBA, won second place and $10,000 for his startup soccer app FutPlay.

Angel Idusuyi (left) won third place and $5,000 at the Sunstone CSU Startup Launch Competition. Xavier Verdu, (right) won second place and $10,000. Photos by Stephen Nguyen.

The Sunstone CSU Startup Launch Competition 

On Friday, May 5, SJSU hosted the inaugural Sunstone CSU Startup Launch Competition, which featured the top two teams from 18 CSU campuses pitching their startups in competition for a total of $200,000 in prizes provided by sponsor Sunstone Management. 

Xavier Verdu, ’24 MBA, won second place and $10,000 for his startup soccer app FutPlay, and Angel Idusuyi, ’24 Business, won third place and $5,000 for her finance startup CreditCliq. 

Learn more about student research at SJSU.