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Tuesday, September 26, 2023

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Members of the SDSU student organization, Rocket Project, work in the new Engineering and Interdisciplinary Sciences Complex. Members of the SDSU student organization, Rocket Project, work in the new Engineering and Interdisciplinary Sciences Complex.

The History of SDSU Research: 2000-Present

As SDSU entered the new millennium, it continued to reach for the stars.
By SDSU News Team

This is the third installment in a series (Part 1Part 2) detailing SDSU’s history in the field of research.

As San Diego State University entered the new millennium, it continued to reach for the stars. New discoveries, success in securing grant funding and the opening of the new Engineering and Interdisciplinary Sciences Complex have advanced SDSU ever closer to its goal of becoming a top-50 public research institution. 

2000 – SDSU researcher pioneers new field of viromics

The field of viromics involves isolating and sequencing the RNA/DNA from viruses in an environmental sample or a host in order to determine what types of viruses are present and what they are doing. Viromics researchers study ecosystems ranging from coral reefs to the human body and have shown that most genomic diversity on the planet is viral. This growing field was pioneered by SDSU professor Forest Rohwer, a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

2006 – No. 1 small research university in the nation

SDSU ranked first in the nation in research productivity among schools offering fewer than 15 doctoral programs, according to the Faculty Scholarly Productivity Index, created by Academic Analytics. Though SDSU has since added several more doctoral programs and outgrown the “small research university” label, the distinction “reflects the solid work being done by faculty and staff at this premier urban research university,” said Stephen L. Weber, president emeritus, in 2007. “Scholarly productivity and research are expressions of our faculty’s diligence to provide a learning environment that serves both our students and our community.”

2006 – CMIL founded

SDSU’s Coastal and Marine Institute Laboratory, built in 2006, offers interdisciplinary solutions to coastal zone problems in the San Diego region. The goals of the lab are to perform research, to protect the coastal environment and to educate the future marine scientists and students of San Diego.

2011 – Climbing the ranks

In 2011, SDSU officially earned the classification of “Doctoral University with Higher Research Activity” from the Carnegie Foundation. This designation is reserved for the top 7 percent of all higher education institutions.

2011 – Milestone discovery

SDSU astronomers William Welsh and Jerome Orosz discovered the first definitive example of a planet that orbits two suns, Kepler-16b—a so-called “Tatooine planet,” after a Star Wars reference. Both faculty members were part of NASA's Kepler Mission team.

2012 – Life-saving work

Professor Mark Sussman discovered a protein in the heart that helps cells survive injury and regenerate after damage. Sussman received the university's first program project grant (PPG) from the National Institutes of Health in 2007, and renewed it in 2012 with a focus on regenerative medicine. Winning a PPG signifies an institution and its investigators ability to collaborate in research by pooling their talents and resources, and most often granted to institutions with medical schools. "My students are phenomenal," Sussman said at the time. "Our lab could go toe-to-toe with a lab at Harvard, Stanford and MIT. We do world-class research. They're dedicated. They're focused. They're enthusiastic."

2012 – From SDSU to Mars

In August 2012, the Mars Rover "Curiosity" successfully landed on the Red Planet in an effort to discover more about earth's next-door neighbor. Eight SDSU alumni who work with the Mars Science Laboratory played a variety of roles in the mission, from systems engineer to spacecraft navigator

2014 – SDSU launches Arts Alive

SDSU began an initiative that highlights the creative activities of faculty and students, including artwork and performances. The Arts Alive SDSU initiative includes the thoughtful and often research-driven development of artistic efforts, such as scene design, costume design and choreography, as well as encourages faculty in all fields to integrate the arts into their teaching and research.

2016 – Excellence continues

In line with SDSU’s goal of becoming a top-50 public research university, faculty members won significant funding for their research endeavors in 2016-17. SDSU secured $134.3 million in research funding for the fiscal year, up from $130 million in 2015-16. SDSU offers 24 doctoral degrees, more than 100 masters' degrees, and has nine graduate programs that are ranked among the top 50 in the country by U.S. News and World Report.

2018 – EIS Complex opens

The Engineering and Interdisciplinary Sciences (EIS) Complex, which opened in January 2018, is an 85,000-square-foot, $90 million complex is designed to encourage cooperative thinking. The EIS Complex holds the university’s first on-campus functional MRI (fMRI) brain imaging machine, which measures brain activity and can be used to investigate normal cognitive functioning and disorders such as autism and Alzheimer’s disease. The building also houses the William E. Leonhard Entrepreneurship Center, containing the Zahn Innovation Platform Launchpad and Lavin Entrepreneurship Center.