Cal State competition tests student research


With maps, charts and a bag full of hemp-based goodies, Cal State San Marcos political science student Jeff Meintz argued in a student research competition Friday that the forbidden fiber triggered Napoleon’s invasion of Russia.
The campus contest challenged students to present their research findings, and represented the first stage of a statewide competition between all the Cal State universities later this spring. Out of 26 undergraduate and 11 graduate participants, 10 won the chance to join the systemwide competition, said dean of graduate studies Gerardo Gonzalez.
The competition aims to build students’ analytical and interpretive skills, and encourages them to describe their results in clear, conversational language, he said.
“You have to speak to a broad audience and articulate your discoveries in ways folks understand,” he said.
Previous participants have placed first or second in the statewide competition in categories ranging from health, biology and behavioral and social sciences, university spokeswoman Christine Vaughan said in an e-mail.
In his presentation, Meintz argued that French efforts to suppress Russia’s export of hemp to England prompted Napoleon to invade the eastern country, explaining that hemp was essential to maritime uses including rope, masts, food and lantern oil. He said that effort to control the commerce in hemp mirrors contemporary efforts to criminalize its use, saying that many people mistakenly associate it with marijuana.
“There is a historic misperception about the hemp plant among the public,” he said.
To illustrate its utility, he sported hemp shoes and a laptop bag full of hemp string, snacks and skin lotions, acknowledging, “you could call me a hemp advocate, I suppose.”
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