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Monday, November 28, 2022

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Meet the Researchers

SDSU faculty are collaborating to build areas of excellence at SDSU.
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Faculty from across campus have pooled their expertise to create four areas of research excellence that will be distinctive in themselves and provide distinction to San Diego State University.

Each of the areas of excellence listed below builds on existing faculty strengths to address some of the most urgent challenges in basic science and the social sciences.

Climate and Sustainability Studies

Walter Oechel, Ph.D.
Distinguished Professor of Biology
Walter Oechel is director of SDSU’s Global Change Research Group. He studies the interconnections of terrestrial, atmospheric, and marine systems on global change, primarily in the Arctic, the Pacific Basin and the semi–arid ecosystems of Italy and San Diego.

Samuel Shen, Ph.D.
Professor of Mathematics
Samuel Shen was McCalla Professor of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences at the University of Alberta, Canada, before joining SDSU. He developed the spectral optimal averaging theory and several other mathematical methods to quantify uncertainties in the global warming assessment.

The Viral Information Institute

Forest Rohwer, Ph.D.
Professor of Biology
Forest Rohwer pioneered the use of metagenomics to characterize previously obscure organisms and investigate their role in the environment and influence on health and disease. With other faculty, he has developed detailed descriptions of the viruses in environments from human to oceanic.

Anca Segall, Ph.D.

Professor of Biology
Anca Segall’s research focuses on the genomic viruses, particularly those that infect bacteria, and on chromosome structure. She is involved in identifying the purpose and evolutionary relationships of the large fraction of genetic information for which there is no known function.

Robert Edwards, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Computer Science
Rob Edwards applies computer science to answer scientific questions, with a focus on biology. His funded research includes a project to unravel the genetic organization of viruses—both beneficial and harmful—and how they affect microbes.

Clinical and Cognitive Neuroscience


Karen Emmorey, Ph.D.
Distinguished Professor, School of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences
Karen Emmorey is internationally recognized for her research on what sign languages reveal about the nature of human language, cognition and the brain. She is director of SDSU’s Laboratory for Language and Cognitive Neuroscience.

Sarah Mattson, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology
Sarah Mattson studies brain structure and function of children with fetal alcohol syndrome. Her research examines areas of the brain affected by heavy prenatal alcohol exposure, the neuropsychological consequences of this exposure, and the relationship between brain and behavioral changes.

Human Dynamics in the Mobile Age

Ming-Hsiang Tsou, Ph.D
Professor of Geography
Ming-Hsiang Tsou’s research on Internet mapping and mobile GIS applications has been applied to wildfire tracking, habitat conservation, health care and homeland security. From 2004-2007, he was co-chair of the NASA Earth Science Enterprise Data System: Standard Process Group.

John Elder, Ph.D.

Distinguished Professor of Public Health
Specializing in health promotion and behavioral sciences, John Elder is one of SDSU’s most consistently funded researchers. He has consulted on health promotion, disease prevention and behavioral epidemiology for international organizations involved in child survival, HIV/AIDS, and malaria research.

Brian Spitzberg, Ph.D.
Professor of Communication
Brian Spitzberg is a University Senate Distinguished Professor whose areas of research include communication assessment, interpersonal communication skills, conflict, jealousy, infidelity, intimate violence, sexual coercion, stalking, and meme diffusion in society. He is co-author or co-editor of seven books.

Sheldon Zhang, Ph.D.
Professor of Sociology
Sheldon Zhang is one of a handful of academics specializing in transnational organized crime and community corrections. His research into illicit enterprises and offender rehabilitation efforts helps law enforcement and government agencies devise more effective counter measures and social service programs.

Read more about SDSU's areas of research excellence.