CSU Research Competition

Participating in the CSU research competition at the university level is an excellent way to gain experience communicating your research at conferences and symposia, and to enhance your resume or curriculum vitae. The university selects up to ten campus winners to compete in CSU-wide competition held in spring. The competition recognizes outstanding accomplishments of student researchers from among all 23 CSU campuses. The 35th Annual CSU Student Research Competition will be held over two days on Friday, April 30 and Saturday, May 1, 2021, hosted virtually by Cal Poly Pomona.

  • Submission Deadline: February 12, 2021, 11:59p.m.
  • SFSU Virtual Competition: March 1-5, 2021
  • CSU Competition: April 30 & May 1
  • Read Guidelines and Submission information below BEFORE registering
  • Purpose
    The competition is held to promote excellence in undergraduate and graduate scholarly research and creative activity by recognizing outstanding student accomplishments throughout the 23 campuses of the California State University (CSU).

    • First-place winners in each category will receive $100
    • Up to ten students will be selected by the Dean of Graduate Studies (upon recommendation from jurors in each category), from among the first and second-place winners to compete in the 35th Annual CSU Statewide Student Research Competition held virtually at California State University, Polytechnic, Pomona on April 30 and May 1, 2021.


    Undergraduate or graduate students currently enrolled at any CSU campus and alumni/alumnae who received their degrees in spring, summer of fall 2020 are eligible. The research presented should be appropriate to the student’s discipline and career goals. Proprietary research is excluded. Presentations from all disciplines are welcome. There will be separate undergraduate and graduate divisions for each category (unless a division has four or fewer entrants, in which case the divisions may be combined). The Cal Poly Pomona steering committee reserves the right to combine or subdivide these categories, or to move an entrant from one category to another, as necessitated by submission numbers. The ten categories are:

    • Behavioral, Social Sciences, and Public Administration
    • Biological and Agricultural Sciences
    • Business, Economics, and Hospitality Management
    • Creative Arts and Design
    • Education
    • Engineering and Computer Science
    • Health, Nutrition, and Clinical Sciences
    • Humanities and Letters
    • Physical and Mathematical Sciences
    • Interdisciplinary

    A campus delegation may include up to 10 entries. A small team of students making a single presentation counts as a single entry. See registration instructions for how to register a single entry or a team.


    The rules governing the written summary include:

    • The summary must include the name(s) of the student(s) and the title of the presentation.
    • The narrative may not exceed five doubled-spaced pages and must use fonts and margins that ensure legibility.
    • Appendices (bibliography, graphs, photographs or other supplementary materials) may not exceed three pages.
    • Research that involves human or animal subjects must have appropriate institutional review.
    • It is expected that a student will not make a presentation by simply reading directly from the written summary.

    The students will be required to submit pre-record presentations and upload their recordings to an unlisted YouTube Channel (recorded zoom presentations will be accepted for the first round of the competition). These recordings will be played by the moderators live during the competition and student presenters will be required to be present for both the showing of the recorded presentation and the live Q&A immediately following. Judges and other audience members will view the presentations and the Q&A live.


    Cal Poly Pomona is internationally recognized for its outstanding academic programs, including offerings in hospitality management, architecture, and engineering. One of only six polytechnic universities in the United States, Cal Poly Pomona champions an approach that places learning-by-doing at the center of every program, course, and activity. In the fall of 2013, Cal Poly Pomona established the Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR) to support students and the campus community in high impact practice aligned student research, scholarship, and creative activities.

    Students will present their work through a pre-recorded video and be ready to participate in a live (virtual) Q&A with a jury and an audience. Students will compete by discipline category and, where feasible, by division (undergraduate/graduate), as described above in “Who May Participate.” Each student will have eight (8) minutes for the pre-recorded portion of their work and five (5) minutes to listen and respond to juror and audience questions. All entrants may use audiovisual materials as appropriate. All entrants should focus on the rationale, historical context, analysis, and/or interpretation of their work. Each entry (oral presentation plus written summary) will be judged on the following:

    • Clarity of purpose
    • Appropriateness of methodology
    • Interpretation of results
    • Value of the research or creative activity
    • Ability of the presenter to articulate the research or creative activity
    • Organization of the material presented
    • Presenter’s ability to handle questions from the jury and general audience



    • February 12, 11:59pm: Deadline to register online, complete written summary, upload. Pre-recorded video (unlisted YouTube link or Zoom recording).
    • March 1 through 5: Student presenters will participate in a 5-minute Q&A session with faculty jurors
      • SFSU Competition schedule by category TBA
    • March 12: Students will be notified of SFSU-level results
    • March 26, 11:59 p.m. (PDT): Student delegates selected to represent SFSU must register via the Student Delegate Registration Form on the 2021 CSU Student Research Competition website


    You will have 8 minutes to present your project. Do not read your written summary. Instead, aim to memorize your presentation (to the best of your ability). You may use a PowerPoint (or a similar software) and note cards to aid in your presentation at the campus-level competition level, but you will not be able to use cards at the CSU-wide competition. At the end of 8 minutes, judges will have five minutes to ask questions about your work.

    Suggestions for Presentation:

    1. Speak to a general audience
      1. Define key terms that someone outside of your discipline may not know. Judges may not be from your particular discipline, so you need to clearly articulate your ideas. Try to avoid discipline-specific jargon, when possible.
    2. Presentation Structure
      1. State your name, class standing (undergraduate/graduate) and field of study (include this information on your first slide, along with your project title)
      2. State your topic or project focus
      3. Provide general background on your topic and describe how your project fits into your field/discipline
      4. Explain your objectives or research questions
      5. Describe your methods or artistic medium(s)
      6. Describe key findings or project results. If you have multiple small findings, provide a general summary of the findings
      7. Explain why the findings or creation are important and how they can be applied to your field (e.g., can your project results help in the prevention of disease? Do your findings help better educate children? Does your choreography push past disciplinary obstacles? Does your drawing challenge conventional notions?)
    3. Presentations for Creative Activities
      1. If you are presenting a creative activity (e.g., dance performance, poetry), present an analysis of your work. To do this, you may include a visual representation of the work (via images or videos), and provide a rationale for your topic, historical context, artistic medium(s) and how this piece matters to your particular art discipline.
    4. Make sure your PowerPoint slides are easy to follow. Do not include too much text or too small text
    5. Represent ideas with pictures, graphs and/or charts when possible (versus only text)
    6. Avoid reading from your slides. Keep the information on the slides minimal and speak to the audience
    7. Rehearse your presentation multiple times to stay within the 8-minute limit
    8. Anticipate possible questions from the judges
    9. Judges at the SFSU competition will be from a broad range of disciplines. Judges at the CSU competition will be from your general academic or professional disciplines, but they may not be familiar with your specific area of study. For example, civil engineering students may be judged by mechanical and electrical engineers.


    You will be judged on the following criteria (at the SFSU and CSU system-wide competition):

    • Clarity of purpose of research or creative activity
    • Appropriateness of methodology
    • Interpretation of results
    • Value of the research or creative activity
    • Ability of the presenter to articulate the research or creative activity
    • Organization of the material presented
    • Presenter’s ability to handle questions from the jury and general audience

    Please note: You will be judged on both the written and presentation components of your project.


    At the CSU-wide competition: Based on the recommendations of the jurors, cash awards will be provided to the outstanding presenter and the runner-up in both the undergraduate and graduate divisions of each category. If the undergraduate and graduate divisions of a category have been combined, awards will be provided to the outstanding presenter and the runner-up without regard to class standing. In the event that there are five or fewer presenters in a session, only the outstanding presenter will receive an award.


Congratulations to all the participants in the 2020 CSU-SFSU Student Research Competition!

Here is the list of the SFSU-level winners. These graduate and undergraduate students will go on to represent SFSU at the CSU Student Research Competition:

2020 CSU Research Competition Winner: Anna Costanza

2020 CSU Research Competition Winner: Laura Lu

2020 CSU Research Competition Winner: Justin Phan

2020 CSU Research Competition Winner: Katherine Gelinas

2020 CSU Research Competition Winner: Matthew Sweeney

2020 CSU Research Competition Winner: Benjamin Holt

2016 CSU Research Competition Winner: Alexander Yore

2016 CSU Research Competition Winner: Barkha Sisodia