Insight Magazine

Get a new perspective on the College of Arts & Letters at SDSU. Discover news about CAL students, faculty, donors, and alumni. This new magazine highlights the stories of the people within our academic community. It gives you insight into the breadth of activities and achievements that have impact locally, nationally, and internationally.


Fall 2022

John Putman

Welcome to the fall 2022 Insight magazine that showcases the College of Arts and Letters’ commitment to advancing education, and demonstrates its cutting-edge research and evolving innovative curricula.  

The college is home to the Center for Comics Studies led by Beth Pollard, professor of history, and Pamela Jackson, pop culture librarian and comic arts curator. This year, a lecture from the new course “Comics and the Cold War,” taught by history professor Gregory A. Daddis, appeared on the C-SPAN2 series “Lectures in History.”  In addition, several CAL departments and programs are developing new curricula. Look for new courses in the coming semesters from Africana Studies, Women’s Studies, Rhetoric and Writing Studies, Chicana/Chicano Studies, LGTBQ+ Studies, English, and American Indian Studies. 

Sustainability remains one of the core values of CAL. Mark your calendars and plan to attend the second annual Dean’s Lecture Series on April 6, 2023 when we host Kyle Whyte of the University of Michigan whose research centers on climate policy, environmental justice, and Indigenous peoples. In concert with this lecture, the sustainability program will offer a special section entitled “Approaches to Understanding and Achieving Sustainability” as part of the CAL Experience 400 course. Organized by Arielle Levine, sustainability director, the course brings together several CAL faculty to offer interdisciplinary perspectives to classroom discussions. 

CAL’s international business (IB) program continues to shine as it is ranked 13th in the nation by U.S. News and World Report. The program integrates course work in business administration, a foreign language, and regional/cultural studies to create a truly interdisciplinary major. Refusing to rest on its laurels, this year the first cohort of IB majors will begin the program’s new 4+1 degree, which provides students the opportunity to complete the B.A. in international business and a Master of Science in global business development within five years.  

Finally, CAL is building an Asian American Studies program from the ground up under the leadership of newly hired Associate Professor Alvin Henry. In planning stages are several new courses, including: Politics, Power, and Asian America; Korean American Experiences; Asian American Film and Media; Gender, Sexuality, and Asian Americans; and Eating Asian America (a course on the significance of Asian American food). Building upon this foundation, CAL expects to form an Asian American Studies Department with its own major and minor in the next two to three years. 

As you read the magazine, you’ll notice that our students, faculty, alumni, and donors are leading the way in making important contributions to our society through their research and work.

John Putman
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
College of Arts and Letters

Christopher Baker

Opening Up the CAL Council

By Christopher Baker
President, CAL Council; Vice President, Pre-Law Society
MAJOR: Political Science / Third-year


My name is Christopher Baker, and I have the utmost privilege of serving as the president of the College of Arts and Letters Student Council (CAL Council) this 2022-2023 academic year. I am, truly, glad you are here. 

CAL first generation college students

Inaugural First-Generation CAL Student Success Program Celebrates 43 Students

By Aileen Taylor, Assistant Dean, Student Affairs

In CAL there are noticeable equity gaps in student success for transfer and first-generation students. In order to support these students, we created a CAL Student Success Program where new first-generation students can opt in to access supplemental advising, academic support, and community at SDSU. We accepted 43 new first-gen students into the program for the fall 2022 semester.

Splice  The Journal for Undergraduate Scholarship at SDSU College of Arts and Letters

CAL Undergraduate Journal Returns Following Pandemic Hiatus

By Eugenie Budnik
MAJOR: Journalism/Advertising 
MINOR: History

Students in the College of Arts and Letters at SDSU are immersed in scholarship, and that extends beyond the classroom. This experience provides students with a platform for lifelong learning and career readiness.  

Bill Nericcio and MALAS students at conference

MALAS Graduate Students Give Presentations at National AGLSP Conference

William Nericcio, director of the Master of Arts in Liberal Arts and Sciences (MALAS) program, along with four of his current MALAS graduate students: Josué Arredondo, Carson Poole, Molly Scheid, and Katie Isola, delivered new research at the 2022 Association of Graduate Liberal Studies Programs (AGLSP) the #biblioTECHa conference in San Antonio, Texas. 

Human Rights Interns: Serena, Luke, Kali, Janae

Center for Human Rights Awards Make Local and International Internships Possible for SDSU Students

With support from the San Diego Peacemakers Fund, students assist refugees, migrants, human trafficking victims, and work for other social justice causes.

By Sophy Chaffee

For students interested in human rights work, an internship can be a life-changing experience, expanding their opportunities to pursue work or graduate studies in the field and enhancing their skills, knowledge, and professional networks.

Eniko Csomay

State Department Selects Csomay for Prestigious English Language Specialist Project

The U.S. Department of State announced the selection of Department of Linguistics and Asian/Middle Eastern Languages Professor Eniko Csomay for a three-month English Language Specialist project focusing on peer mentoring skills and English Medium Instruction (EMI) teaching practice for university faculty in Taiwan at National Sun Yat-sen University. Professor Csomay is part of a select group, as her project is one of approximately 240 that the English Language Specialist Program supports each year.

Zamira Abman

Zamira Abman Receives Grant from American Association of University Women

Congratulations to Zamira Abman, lecturer in history and director of the Comparative International Studies Program, on an American Association of University Women (AAUW) publication grant, which will support the publication of her forthcoming book “Coerced Liberation: Muslim Women in Soviet Tajikistan” under contract with the University of Toronto Press.

Ej Sobo

EJ Sobo Honored with SDSU Alumni Distinguished Faculty Award

Anthropology professor and director of undergraduate research is the CAL awardee 

Elisa Sobo was among nine San Diego State University faculty members selected to receive the 2022-23 SDSU Alumni Distinguished Faculty Award for contributions to the university and their respective fields.

Hilary McMillan

Hilary McMillan Named SDSU Presidential Research Faculty Fellow

The awards will support research, scholarship and creative activities in a variety of disciplines, from geography to public health.

Hilary McMillan, a geographer, is one of seven faculty members who have been named Presidential Research Faculty Fellows at San Diego State University in recognition of their outstanding research, scholarship and creative endeavors. Each fellow received $25,000 to support their research activities.

Kishauna Soljour

Kishauna Soljour Selected IEPA 2022/23 Ethics and Public Affairs Scholar

Kishauna Soljour, assistant professor of classics and humanities, specializing in public humanities and African diaspora studies, was selected for the award “due to her compelling proposed research — carefully developed and highly original,” said Joseph Stramondo, director of CAL’s Institute for Ethics and Public Affairs.

students in field

SDSU Receives $1 Million USDA Grant to Support Sustainable Food and Agriculture Training for Latinx Students

The program will provide career pathways to students from community college through graduate school.

Climate change and a host of other factors increase food insecurity, which disproportionately impacts Latinx and other underserved communities in our region. Now, San Diego State University has received a four-year, $1 million grant from the U.S.Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture to train Latinx students for careers in sustainable agriculture and food science.

Indonesian couple on scooter parked on side of the road looking at monkey

Anthropologist Erin Riley Awarded Second NSF Grant to Study Human-Primate Interactions in Indonesia

The $330,000 National Science Foundation Build and Broaden grant funds research with assistant professor in mathematics and sStatistics Henry Scharf and SDSU alumna Amanda Ellwanger and their students to examine human-primate behavior and develop novel statistical methods to assess that data.

Primatologist Erin Riley’s latest NSF grant goes beyond answering the question, “why did the macaques cross the road?” to determine, “why do they stay?”

Read more on Riley’s first NSF grant in an article titled “Field Experience in Indonesia Immerses SDSU Students in Conservation and Primatology.” 

Janet Franklin stands in front of giant sequoia

New Study Classifies the Entire Planet’s Ecosystems for the First Time

A team of international scientists brought together research that may positively impact future conservation efforts.

A global cross-disciplinary team of scientists, including Janet Franklin, San Diego State University biogeographer and National Academy of Sciences member, led by University of New South Wales, Sydney researchers, has developed the first comprehensive classification of the world’s ecosystems across land, rivers, wetlands, and seas. The ecosystem typology will enable more coordinated and effective biodiversity conservation, critical for human well-being.

diver holds fish out of water

$1.6 million National Science Foundation Grant to Study Temporary Fishery Closures

Research will focus on whether these closures are ecologically beneficial in critical habitats and socially acceptable to small-scale fishers who depend on them for their livelihoods and could be a model for resource management in challenges like climate change. 

By Sophy Chaffee 

The prized bluespine unicornfish is one of the species central to environmental anthropology Professor Matthew Lauer’s latest NSF grant to research the social and ecological components of temporary fishery closures in French Polynesia.

Brent Ameneyro

Parallel Paths Converge on Poetry Alumnus’ Journey

Brent Ameneyro works at the intersection of community and creativity

Brent Ameneyro is an active poet juggling a writers’ life while fully engaged in the poetry community. He graduated in spring 2022 with an MFA in Poetry, and in September received a Poetry Coalition Fellowship to work with the University of Notre Dame on Letras Latinas at the Institute for Latino Studies. 

The Poetry Coalition is a national network of 25+ poetry organizations, and this year it awarded three-year paid fellowships to five scholars. 

Natalie Louis

Sustainability Alumna’s Passion for Environment Leads to Career at Public Agence Focused on Energy Efficiency

Natalie Louis graduated from San Diego State with a degree in sustainability in 2021. Soon after graduating, Natalie began working for a nonprofit company, The Energy Coalition (TEC), and in her role she supports the implementation of the Southern California Regional Energy Network (SoCalREN) public agency energy efficiency program. Read the spotlight to learn about Natalie’s college and career journey.

CA Secretary of State Shirley N. Weber and student Dwayne Hill

Africana Studies Celebrates 50th Anniversary 

Campus celebration brought Shirley Weber and other leaders to campus

By Adisa A, Alkebulan, Ph.D., Chair and Associate Professor, Department of Africana Studies

The Department of Africana Studies at San Diego State University emerged out of a nationwide protest movement. This student and community effort was an extension of the Black Power and Black Arts movements. Black students and their community allies sought to affirm the lives and expand the possibilities of Africana people on predominantly white campuses. 

students in field

New Center for Better Food Futures — a Catalyst for Research Collaborations

Center researchers promote food security, sovereignty, and sustainability 

We are facing a global food crisis, with almost one billion people suffering from hunger and two billion struggling with malnutrition linked to nutrient deficiencies and obesity.

This crisis is environmental, political, economic, social, and cultural. 

Joely Way

Joely Way Memorial Scholarship to Benefit Students Studying Sustainability

Donations are being accepted for a new legacy endowment to honor recent sustainability alumna who succumbed to cancer.

Joely Way had a smile that would light up a room. 

She was kind, intelligent, inquisitive, and thoughtful. She saw the reality of what is happening to our planet and found her calling in life once she transferred to SDSU and chose to focus on a degree in sustainability. Give to the endowment.

MFA students and Sarah B. Marsh-Rebelo

Alumna Gives Back to Poets in the MFA in Creative Writing Program

Poet Sarah B. Marsh-Rebelo raised her teacup to toast the MFA in creative writing/poetry students whom she honored at a special MFA Scholars Appreciation Tea.

Students received a scholarship to help them complete their graduate studies and they were honored at the annual tea attended by Marsh-Rebelo, her husband John, Dean Monica J. Casper, Sandra Alcosser, director of the MFA in creative writing/poetry program,Blas Falconer, professor of poetry, and a few of Marsh-Rebelo’s closest friends.

Kimberly Kennelly

Presidential Staff Award Winner for Innovation and Creativity

Kimberly Kennelly, an administrative coordinator for the Department of Philosophy, was unanimously nominated by her colleagues who said “her innovative contributions and achievements will stay with the department and the College of Arts and Letters for years to come.” 

Africana Studies // Lecturer Ajani Brown commented about his “Afro-Futurism–Black to the Future” panel at Comic-Con.
CBS 8 | Voice and Viewpoint

Chicana/o Studies // Associate Professor Roberto D. Hernández was interviewed in an article about the San Diego arts community and the cultural center that he helps lead in Balboa Park.

Classics and Humanities // Visiting Scholar Gilad Halpern was interviewed in an SDSU Fireside Charla Podcast with President Adela de la Torre.Halpern is a journalist, broadcaster and media historian. He is the News and Current Affairs Editor at TLV1 Radio, and host of The Tel Aviv Review, a podcast dedicated to all things intellectual (and Israeli).
Fireside Charla 

Economics // Associate Professor and Chair Hisham Foad was interviewed in a report, titled “San Diego among the lowest large metro areas for inflation.”

Geography // Associate Professor Fernando de Sales was interviewed in an article titled “Fire Science in the Age of Humans.”
SDSU NewsCenter

History // Alumnus Joseph Olivieri (minor in history), chose a scientific path after graduating with a biology degree. NASA internships were an unexpected dream come true for Olivieri, whose experiments aim to learn how humans can survive space flight beyond the moon. He said, “The critical thinking and writing skills I developed from my history classes have been invaluable to my research!” Read about his recent work with the Artemis I Mission 
SDSU NewsCenter

History //  Professor Gregory A. Daddis was featured in CSPAN’s American Lecture Series - on Oct. 29

Political Science // Assistant Professor Kim Twist was interviewed on The Four on CBS8 and the 11 p.m. news on CBS8 about the death of Queen Elizabeth II and the future of the British monarchy.


Second Annual Dean’s Lecture Series with Dr. Kyle Whyte

Second Annual Dean’s Lecture Series with Dr. Kyle Whyte

Kyle Whyte is the George Willis Pack Professor in the School for Environment and Sustainability at the University of Michigan, where he is also founding faculty director of the Tishman Center for Social Justice and the Environment.


Race and the Borderlands: Human Rights, Human Triumphs, and Forging Peace on the U.S.-Mexico Border

Race and the Borderlands: Human Rights, Human Triumphs, and Forging Peace on the U.S.-Mexico Border  

This conference brings together scholars, practitioners, student organizations, and grassroots movements from the San Diego and Tijuana regions to collectively consider issues of human rights and racialization in our borderlands.

SAVE THE DATE | APRIL 20-23, 2023

The Stoke Sessions: An International Conference on the Culture, History and Politics of Surfing and Skateboarding

The Stoke Sessions: An International Conference on the Culture, History and Politics of Surfing and Skateboarding

KEYNOTES: Tony Hawk & Steve Hawk, Dian Hadiani, and Selema Masekala

This conference brings together scholars from all backgrounds and disciplines in a comprehensive examination of surfing and skateboarding.