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Sunday, May 9, 2021

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First Set of Big Ideas Proposals Advance to Next Phase

Twenty faculty-led proposals broadly representing SDSU’s research excellence will receive further consideration for funding under the Big Ideas initiative.
By SDSU News Team
 

After months of thorough review, 20 San Diego State University faculty-led proposals are advancing for further consideration as part of Big Ideas, a major campus-wide initiative in support of research capable of transforming major societal challenges.. 

SDSU President Adela de la Torre launched Big Ideas in the fall and announced that selected faculty leads and their teams would spend the summer months improving the 20 proposals. 

The proposed activities, de la Torre noted, align with the SDSU’s developing strategic plan and also address social and economic shifts necessitated by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. 

“True to our community’s history of innovation, deans have been working together and with their respective faculty and staff to generate new, collaborative ideas for impactful scholarship,” de la Torre said. 

“I thank all faculty and staff members who have persisted in their integrity and commitment to research, creative activities and service to communities, especially with an ongoing global pandemic and nationwide calls for action to address racial equity and justice,” de la Torre said. “I am inspired, daily, by our scholarly community’s tireless persistence and resilience, and your efforts to address some of the very concerns evidenced by today’s social movements in Black, indigenous, and other communities. The diversity of thought, and the leadership and scholarship represented in these faculty proposals is true to who we are as San Diego State University, and I have deep pride in our faculty and staff.” 

Led by Karen May-Newman, chair of the Big Ideas initiative, the Big Ideas Selection Committee spent the spring semester narrowing the pool of proposals. Some of the 20 projects, and their lead faculty, include the following. 
  • Addressing Homelessness: A Demonstration Project for a Multidisciplinary Academic Health and Human Services Department. Co-Led by Director of the School of Public Health Distinguished Professor Hala Madanat and Associate Professor of Public Affairs Mounah Abdel-Samad, a multidisciplinary network of research and practice partners will develop evidence-based strategies to understand, prevent, and reduce homelessness throughout San Diego County.
  • Re-imagining Transboundary Water. Natalie Mladenov, William E. Leonhard, Jr. Chair in the Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering (CCEE) and Trent Biggs, Professor in the Department of Geography will lead a team of SDSU and Mexican researchers to solve critical water-related challenges such as water scarcity, flooding and border sanitation using advanced technologies and community-based methodologies. 
  • Indigenous Self-Determination, Sovereignty, and Futures. Led by Peter Nelson, an American Indian Studies assistant professor, the project is designed to support the rights, sovereignty, and self-determination of indigenous peoples for future well-being and cultural survival through education, research projects, and government to government diplomacy. 
  • Virtual Immersive Teaching and Learning (VITaL): Improving Cultural Competency through an Empathetic Lens. Led by Chief Academic Technology Officer James Frazee, virtual reality simulations will be developed for empathy-building and cultural competency training involving SDSU and SDSU Imperial Valley.
  • Rural Resilient InfraStructurE (Rural RISE). Led by Marta Miletic, Assistant Professor in the Department of CCEE, the project team aims to strengthen the resilience of and quality of life in rural America to natural hazards by focusing  on the infrastructure systems that are important to life and well-being: food/agriculture, energy, transportation, and water/wastewater systems. 
  • Advance Zero-fossil Technologies for Engineered Carbon (AZTEC). Associate Professor of Biology Marina Kalyuzhnaya leads a team applying an innovative full-cycle approach for converting greenhouse gases into valuable chemicals and biodegradable materials. 
All proposal titles are available for additional review on the Big Ideas site. 

“Big Ideas presented a framework to enhance the already strong scholarly activities across campus, and I am pleased that the proposals broadly represent our campus: in the arts, the social sciences, health-related disciplines, science and technology, and other fields,” said May-Newman, a mechanical engineering professor. 

“The ideas presented have the ability to drastically change how we teach, how our students learn, how people manage their daily lives, and how we address public health issues,” May-Newman. “I, along with other members of the Big Ideas committee, look forward to continuing our work with the faculty-led teams as they strengthen their ideas even further.” 

Members of the Big Ideas Selection Committee are: 
  • Jennie Amison, the SDSU Research Foundation’s director of sponsored research development 
  • Christian Aquino-Sterling, Associate Dean for Diversity and International Affairs in the College of Education
  • Terry Atkinson, a board member with the The Campanile Foundation
  • Andrew J. Bohonak, Assistant Dean of Graduate Affairs and a biology professor
  • Joanna Brooks, Associate Vice President for Faculty Advancement
  • Stacy Carota, University Relations and Development’s director of development for the College of Sciences and Engineering and Interdisciplinary Sciences Complex
  • DeAnn Cary, member of The Campanile Foundation
  • Angela Coker, associate professor and director of Inclusive Faculty Recruitment and Retention for the Division of Diversity and Innovation
  • John Elder, a Distinguished Professor in the Division of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences in the College of Health and Human Services
  • La Monica Everett-Haynes, Associate Vice President and Chief Communications Officer for Strategic Communications and Public Affairs 
  • Keith Horvath, an associate professor in the College of Sciences Department of Psychology 
  • Kurt Lindemann, acting associate dean and professor in the College of Professional Studies and Fine Arts
  • Madhavi McCall, associate dean in the College of Arts and Letters and professor in the Department of Political Science 
  • Melanie Nicholls, a graduate student in the SDSU-UCSD Joint Doctoral Program in Interdisciplinary Research on Substance Abuse
  • Patti Roscoe, a board member with The Campanile Foundation
  • Satish Sharma, an electrical and computer engineering professor in the College of Engineering
  • Taekjin Shin, an assistant professor of management in the Fowler College of Business