Areas of Excellence
In moving forward with the Strategic Plan, the San Diego State University faculty responded wonderfully to the call for key areas of excellence. Of the 28 full proposals submitted, the following four were selected:
Climate and Sustainability Studies
This area of excellence provides an opportunity for SDSU to fill the gap in a few critical interdisciplinary research fields to complement existing expertise and to leverage the SDSU capability for solving important and pressing climate and sustainability issues at both regional and global scales. The proposed hire of four faculty members will help SDSU achieve four main objectives: 1) fill critical expertise gaps in the current SDSU excellence of research and teaching in the area of climate and sustainability studies, 2) enable the SDSU faculty to have the capacity to successfully compete for the interdisciplinary call for interdisciplinary, block, and center funding from federal and other agencies, 3) form a unique regional resource in a critical area, and 4) equip SDSU undergraduate and graduate students to successfully tackle the urgent and challenging climate and sustainability problems faced by human societies at both regional and global scales in the 21st century.
Clinical and Cognitive Neuroscience
This area of excellence builds upon SDSU’s strengths in human behavioral neuroscience and clinical neuropsychology, and leverages existing faculty expertise in human neuroscience methods such as neuroimaging, the campus expertise in the application of these methods to clinical populations with brain-based disorders, as well as in neurotypical populations from childhood to old age. The overarching goal of our proposed area of excellence is to address susceptibility to cognitive changes and recovery of function across the lifespan with focus on brain-behavior relations. New area of excellence faculty hires would target cognitive and/or clinical neuroscientists with expertise in neural plasticity, neurocognitive effects of intervention (evidence-based practice) and recovery, and human neurogenetics.
Human Dynamics in the Mobile Age
This area of excellence addresses the opportunities that spring from the convergence of new developments in spatial science, mobile technology, big data, and social behavior research. There is a growing recognition of the importance of spatial and temporal dynamic relationships in explaining processes relevant to human behaviors, public health, and social activities, which has become known as the “spatial turn”. A maturing of mobile technology and smart phone devices enables social scientists to collect data on human activities and behavior digitally and to transform their research from qualitative analysis to computational modeling, simulation, and predictions with the focus on dynamic spatial and temporal relationships.
Viral Information Institute
The goals of the Viromics Information Institute, “VII”, are to study the interactions between the virosphere and the biosphere, in order to understand how viruses affect all aspects of the biosphere and to be able to manipulate such interactions in order to benefit human health as well as the health of the environment. SDSU’s VII comprises a unique cross-disciplinary collaborative research collective of investigators across three colleges. The members of the VII institute will continue their commitment to discovery-based learning, by providing an environment where undergraduates can participate in meaningful independent research projects and by continuing to pursue funding to expand such opportunities.
Blue Gold: Mitigating the Effects of Water Scarcity
The availability and quality of fresh water are critical for a sustainable society. The current water challenges facing the global community, including our region of San Diego County, Northern Baja California, and the Imperial Valley, are projected to intensify. Water security in many areas of the world, including southern California and the US-Mexico border region, will require both increased supply through waste-water reuse and desalination, and demand management through integrated resource management strategies. Alternative water supply strategies, including waste-water reuse, can also have ecological benefits by reducing discharges into the environment, but the impacts on health need to be quantified. Blue Gold (fresh water) and the health of watersheds, ecosystems and society are inextricably linked and increasingly tied to issues of energy and technology as human population, societal demand, and climate change intensify.
Digital Humanities and Global Diversity
This application proposes a research area of excellence that will build upon the strengths of SDSU’s faculty, regional location, and role as a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) to generate humanistic critical research about the digital shift with a specific focus on diversity. “Digital Humanities and Global Diversity” builds on the recognition that technological innovation levies profound human consequences that must be understood through the methodologies of humanities research, including historiographical study of the past, critical theorization of the present, and creative vision for the future.
Smart Health Institute: Wearable Biomedical Sensors for Precision Medicine
This new institute will develop research programs with applications to a wide range of fields including health, medical innovation and devices, disease diagnostics, and wireless communication. To accomplish this goal, we will build a multi-college and transdisciplinary team of researchers to focus on developing next-generation health sensor technologies ranging from portable, wearable and minimally intrusive sensors that can provide real-time health monitoring and integration into rehabilitation assessment, intervention and long-term follow-up of patients; to compact, label-free biomedical sensors with sensitivities down to single molecules, or even nanoparticles. The Smart Health Institute will address the core technology for smart healthcare that is one of the key challenges in the medical community.