MSJC Honors students get research published in Building Bridges 2013

February 18, 2014
By MSJC Student Emily McKellar
Mt. San Jacinto College honors students who participated in last year’s undergraduate research conference at the University of California, Irvine, were recently published in Building Bridges.
Building Bridges is a collection of selected abstracts from research presented during the 13th annual Honors Transfer Council of California Undergraduate Student Research Conference held in March 2013.
MSJC students Nik Warren and Sarah Stebbings were published, as well as Clarice Gerbl and Kira Merritt, MSJC alum who recently transferred to four-year universities.
In order to get published, each of them had to condense their research into a 250-word abstract and submit it to the book’s editor Tim Adell, an English instructor at Victor Valley College, for consideration.
The publication has featured MSJC students almost every year.
“We know our students are on par with everyone else, but it’s good for them to get that external affirmation,” said Erik Ozolins, co-director of the Honors Enrichment Program.
Students who present their research at the UCI conference must first receive approval from Ozolins or his colleague, Christina Yamanaka.
“The key thing we look for is: are they contributing to the scholarship of the discipline?” said Ozolins. “They’re not just reporting what they find, but being innovative and offering something new.”
Sarah StebbingsStebbings, a neuroscience major, stepped out of her comfort zone. Her research was a multi-factorial study and analysis of why people choose to engage in taboo behavior.
Stebbings said it took her an entire semester to complete her research paper. She worked on the project every single day. Later, she would have to sum that work up in fewer than 300 words for Building Bridges.
“I’m honored and happy, even if it were only five words” she said. “I’m happy that the information itself is published.”
Nik WarrenWarren, MSJC’s Student Trustee, said her research become very personal. After taking a history class on the Vietnam War, she wanted to know how Vietnamese women and children were affected. What began as an extra credit assignment steadily grew into a research paper fit for publication.
“The more research that I did, the more deeply I understood their struggles, and the more my heart went out to the subjects of my research,” said Warren, a public health major. 
Gerbl, who is currently studying exercise and sports science at Lubbock Christian University in Texas, also conducted research that hit close to home. After working at her family’s mortuary in San Jacinto, she noticed how culture desensitizes people to the reality of death.
Clarice Gerbl“Having dealt with so many different types of grief expression as a professional in the business, I wanted to know more about what was happening in the mind of an individual who is grieving,” she said.
Both Ozolins and Dr. Nick Reeves, an associate professor of biological science and Stebbing’s mentor, recognize how the UCI conference and Building Bridges extends students to their full potential.
“It’s what we get into teaching for, to see students achieve things they thought they couldn’t,” said Reeves.
The opportunity to present or volunteer for this year’s honors conference in April will be available until the end of this month. If selected, students may also submit their research to Building Bridges. Interested students may contact Ozolins at
Building Bridges 2013 can be purchased on Amazon for $4.75. Proceeds go to the Honors Transfer Council of California.