This year SDSU initiated a new strategic plan. A key component of the plan is to create links between different de- partments and colleges and combine the knowledge and research of faculty members and focus them on a particular area. Each of these areas of excellence builds on existing faculty strengths to solve complex problems with new research approaches and cutting-edge technology. CHHS faculty will be involved in two of these areas. New faculty will also be hired.
“Much of this research ties into our nation’s economic, human and social health,” said Stephen Welter, vice president for research and graduate affairs. “Not only will our science be of the highest caliber from an intellectual perspective, but it is also expected to have the highest level of impact for positive change in society.”
Over the next several years, SDSU will invest in these four areas of excellence:
- Human Dynamics in the Mobile Age
- The Viral Information Institute
- Clinical and Cognitive Neuroscience Center
- The Center for Climate and Sustainability Studies
CHHS professor Dr. John Elder will be part of the Human Dynamics in the Mobil Age team, led by Dr. Ming Tsou of the Geography department, as they seek to become the leading national research institute in the area of human dynamics, public behavioral health, spatial science, big data, and social behavioral science. Dr. Elder is a distinguished professor of public health specializing in health promotion and behavioral sciences. He has consulted on health promotion, disease prevention and behavioral epidemiology for international organizations involved in child survival, HIV/AIDS, and malaria research.
“This campus is very good at overcoming challenges and find- ing creative ways to be successful. With strong commitment from our faculty, we can lead the way toward a new model of higher learning—one that involves a true sharing of ideas between faculty, staff and students, where undergraduates are valued as part of the academic conversation, and where the entrepreneurial spirit plays out in our teaching and our research.”
Dr. Stephen Welter, Vice President of Research
According to Dr. Elder, “Tracking social media affords us the opportunity to see what information and misinformation is being communicated about a specific health issue and gives us insight on how best to communicate with individuals and neighborhoods in the community most at risk. This cluster creates a synergy among geography, public health, communication and sociology that has few counterparts in the nation’s universities.”
Professor Karen Emmorey will be a key faculty member in the Clinical and Cognitive Neuroscience team. Dr. Emmorey is a distinguished professor in the School of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences. She 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. Dr. Em- morey says, “Our hope is that the Clinical and Cognitive Neuroscience Center will allow SDSU to emerge as a leader in the brain bases of cognitive disorders and how the brain responds to interventions. This area of excellence will provide a framework for faculty and students to study brain-based disorders. The Center focuses on issues within the rapidly developing field of cognitive neuroscience and tackles questions that are essential to understanding human behavior.”
The Cognitive Neuroscience team’s work is aligned with the White House BRAIN initia- tive and advances SDSU’s contributions to the understanding and treatment of brain- based disorders such as autism, fetal alcohol spectrum disorders and Alzheimer’s disease. To better serve San Diego’s large veteran population, researchers in this area of excellence hope to include a new faculty member with expertise in traumatic brain injuries.
CHHS Dean Marilyn Newhoff is also excited about the potential for these areas of excel- lence to allow top researchers from CHHS to expand their involvement with these key areas and increase their ability to provide insights that can be translated into practical techniques and treatments to help the wider community.