May 1, 2023

News & Announcements

Students smile while Ki Singh holds up a trophy

A member of the SF State Forensics team made school history this month with several top honors at a national tournament, including an All-American award. But it’s the impassioned performance that may have the longest-lasting impact.  

Student Kivraj “Ki” Singh (pronouns: that/that’s), SF State’s sole representative at the American Forensics Association National Speech Tournament in Santa Ana, earned third place nationwide in After-Dinner Speaking, among 126 competitors including Ivy League schools. In addition, that was named an All-American and an Oral Interpretation semifinalist.  

“Each of Ki’s speeches was written and performed from the deepest parts of that’s soul, and it’s heartening to know that so many others were able to witness and celebrate that’s work,” said Sage Russo, a Forensics coach and a Communication Studies lecturer. “The team couldn’t be more proud.” 

Singh (pictured at top left, holding trophy) delivered a speech advocating for safe injection and consumption sites for drug users, based on their lived experiences as well as case studies and research. That garnered a standing ovation from judges and peers who were moved to tears. 

“After coming out in high school, I struggled with alcoholism, homelessness, weed and tobacco use and some hard drugs as well,” Singh said. “I had a lot of personal insight into the subject, but my speech also came at a time that was very exigent because Gov. Gavin Newsom had just vetoed a bill that was going to include safe injection sites in many California cities. It gave it a fresh and unique spin.” 

Singh graduates this May with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science. On campus this year, Singh has enjoyed a George and Judy Marcus Undergraduate Fellowship. This donor-funded program has funded that’s research paper, “Democratic Queer Theory: Extending LGBTQ+ Civil and Social Rights Globally,” in partnership with a faculty mentor, Assistant Professor of Political Science Amanda Roberti. Singh plans to use it as a sample paper in applying to doctoral programs in political science.  

Learn more about the SF State departments of Political Science and Communication Studies and the George and Judy Marcus Funds for Excellence in the Liberal Arts

Two students in lab coats laugh

In 2020, science communicator Yimy Antonio Villa returned (virtually) to his alma mater, SF State, to speak to students about his career. His main message: you have to take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way. Not long afterward, he got a chance to practice what he’d preached. 

Villa had been offering advice via Zoom to students in SF State’s California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) Bridges to Stem Cell Science program — a graduate program Villa himself had to first drop out of nearly a decade ago. After his talk, he got a message from the University’s CIRM Bridges Director Lily Chen.

“Lily Chen reached out to me and said, ‘You know that regret that you have [about not completing your master’s degree]? It doesn’t have to be a regret,’” Villa said.

Programs like the University’s CIRM Bridges — which was recently renewed for another five years — and the new undergraduate program CIRM COMPASS (Creating Opportunities through Mentorship and Partnership Across Stem Cell Science) train students in stem cell biology and expose them to a variety of career paths. And Chen wasn’t giving up on Villa.

At the height of the pandemic, he reenrolled in the University’s Cell and Molecular Biology master’s program with an emphasis in Stem Cell Biology, completing his graduate degree in 2021 — almost 10 years after he originally left the program.

The long delay for Villa resulted from family obligations. He came to SF State to get a master’s degree as preparation for a Ph.D. and managed to complete one year of the program before deferring for a year because his mother was experiencing health problems. Although he tried to return, he left again when he had to help his mother — an undocumented immigrant from Mexico — as his family’s primary breadwinner. He worked jobs outside of science, like as a receptionist for a pharmacy benefits management company, but always itched to return to the field he loved.

In 2016, SF State Biology Professor Carmen Domingo — at the time the University’s CIRM Bridges director and now dean of the College of Science & Engineering — forwarded a job opportunity at a nonprofit organization called Americans for Cures. The group educates the public about stem cell research and its impact on medical therapies. Villa snagged the job and started down a new career path.

The experience offered him a new way to apply his training as a scientist and taught him the art of sharing science to non-expert audiences. Around the time he returned to SF State in 2021, he was also working at CIRM as a marketing communications manager. After completing his master’s, he started a new position as manager of executive communications at Stanford Medicine, where he focuses on social media content and strategy for executive leadership.

Through it all, his mother — who did not have educational opportunities herself growing up — remained his biggest supporter. Now he’s a master’s degree recipient and an integral part of a larger communications team  — and she’s a legal U.S. resident planning on applying for citizenship later this year.

“Don’t be afraid to do a career change or to explore something else that you may want to do,” Villa said he now advises students. “Also understand that’s perfectly normal.”

The cast of Rent stands together on-stage

Jonathan Larson’s classic musical “Rent” is coming to the Little Theatre this week thanks to the School of Theatre & Dance. Directed by Professor of Theatre & Dance Dee Spencer, the production runs Thursday, May 4, through Sunday, May 7, and Wednesday, May 10, through Saturday, May 13. Show times vary: 6 and 7 p.m. weekdays, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. weekends.

Set in New York City’s East Village, “Rent” touches on subjects such as sexuality, poverty and disease, demonstrating how we must enjoy life for what it is yet keep fighting for what we want. Those who come to view the show will not only be supporting our actors and theatre, but this special production of “Rent” will also raise funds in support of the College of Liberal & Creative Arts Food Pantry. Tickets are $8 for students, $10 general admission. Purchase tickets and learn more on the School of Theatre & Dance website.

Students pose with a person in a Gator suit

CampusMemo received the message below from Enrollment Marketing and Communications Specialist Jada Adams:

Dear campus community,  

This past Saturday, April 22, SF State hosted its 2nd Annual Explore SF State for all newly admitted fall 2023 students and their families. A heartfelt thank you to all those who participated to make this such a successful event. We appreciate all the staff and student ambassadors, presenters and showcase participants who spent their entire Saturday helping future Gators make a connection with the SF State community! Our collective efforts resulted in a successful event with over 6,000 total guests in attendance! We couldn’t have had such a successful day without your support and partnership.  

Even with this vast number, the event was seamless, and that is a direct correlation to the support received from the campus community, so thank you!  


See video highlights from Explore SF State on the University’s Instagram page.

Panelists at a conference sit at a table together

More than 80 participants attended the Lam Family College of Business’ inaugural Annual Responsible Innovation & Entrepreneurship (RI&E) Conference April 21 and 22. Attendees included students, product developers, innovation practitioners, consultants and professors from across the country and around the world.

Organized by the Lam Family College of Business’ Responsible Innovation & Entrepreneurship Research Initiative, the conference was held at SF State’s Downtown Campus. Highlights included panel discussions on responsible innovation, a “fireside chat” with Rippleworks CEO Doug Galen, roundtable brainstorming sessions and networking opportunities. Professor of Marketing and Director of the Responsible Innovation & Entrepreneurship Research Program Minu Kumar says the event — offered free as a service to the community — was designed to spread awareness of RI&E and provide a platform for scholars and industry practitioners to frame important questions and discussion surrounding the topic.

Learn more about the Responsible Innovation & Entrepreneurship Research Initiative.

Supporting our pregnant or parenting students and employees is an important part of overall campus well-being and also prioritizes equity and inclusion. SF State has a range of resources that students can access, such as priority registration, free diapering supplies and assistance applying for public benefits such as CalFresh. Both staff and students can access on campus child care and lactation rooms. Please share the information about these resources found on the Equity Programs and Resources website with your students and colleagues.

Have items in your office that are no longer being used? Need something for your workspace but your budget is maxed? Join the free ReUse listserv! Just post an item and hopefully someone across campus can use it. You can post office supplies, furniture, etc. This list is maintained by the Office of Sustainability and welcomes your participation. The more people on it, the more reach you have across campus. Send an email to to be added to the listserv.

Interviews with candidates for the College of Ethnic Studies dean will be held this week and next. The campus community is invited to attend the candidates’ presentations followed by Q&A and a light reception in LIB 244. The scheduled interviews are:

Monday, May 1: Terri Jett
Room: LIB 244
Time: 2:10 ­– 3:30 p.m.
Join via Zoom.  

Tuesday, May 2: Joy Castro
Room: LIB 244
Time: 3:45 – 5:05 p.m.
Join via Zoom.

Wednesday, May 3: Grace Yoo
Room: LIB 244
Time: 1:30 – 2:50 p.m.
Join via Zoom.  

Tuesday, May 9: Katynka Martinez
Room: LIB 244
Time: 2:15 – 3:35 p.m.
Join via Zoom.  

Additional information on candidates can be found on the Academic Affairs and Office of the Provost website.

SF State’s Student Athlete Advisory Council is selling discounted San Francisco Giants tickets for Thursday games in May. For each $10 ticket sold the council will receive $5. Purchase the tickets online using the promo code SFSUSAAC.

The Academic Senate will meet Tuesday, May 2, from 2 to 4:30 p.m. virtually via Zoom and in person at the Seven Hills Conference Center for its fourteenth meeting of the academic year. Visitors who wish to attend please contact the senate office at for a Zoom link. The agenda includes:

  • Recommendation from the Academic Policies Committee Grading Policy (new), in first reading.
  • Recommendation from the Academic Policies Committee Administrative Graduation Policy (new), in second reading.
  • Recommendation from Faculty Affairs Committee Policy on Department By-Laws, in first reading.
  • Recommendation from Strategic Issues Revision to S19-180 Search Committees for San Francisco State University Administrators Policy, in first reading.
  • Recommendation from Executive Committee Resolution to Reinstate and Recast the Teaching Effectiveness Assessment Task Force, in first reading.
  • Recommendations from the Campus Curriculum Committee in first reading:
    • B.A. in Child Development Pre-K to 3rd Grade, new program
    • B.A. in Women and Gender Studies, Reducing Units > 20% from 39 to 30 units 
    • Minor in California Studies, Reducing Units > 20% from 21 to 15 units
    • Minor in Pacific Asian Studies, Transfer Administrative Housing 
    • B.A. in Business, Concentration in Business Analytics 
    • Certificate in Teaching Post-Secondary Reading, Distance Education Authorization 
    • B.S. in Hospitality and Tourism Management, Distance Education Authorization
    • Certificate in Teaching Post-Secondary Reading, Distance Education Authorization 
    • Certificate in Teaching of Composition, Distance Education Authorization 
    • M.A. in Composition, Distance Education Authorization 
    • B.A. in Creative Writing, Distance Education Authorization
  • Recommendations from the Campus Curriculum Committee, in second reading
    • B.S. in Computer Science, more than 70 units
    • B.S. in Electrical Engineering, more than 70 units
    • B.S. in Computer Engineering, more than 70 units
    • B.A. in Music, more than 45 units
    • B.A. in Journalism, Concentration in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography, Title Change
    • B.A. in Journalism, Concentration in Print and Online Journalism, Title Change
    • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Concentration in General Business, new program
    • M.A. in Chinese, Distance Education Authorization
    • B.A. in Chinese, (language concentration), Distance Education Authorization
    • B.A. in Chinese, (literature concentration), Distance Education Authorization
    • B.A. in Chinese, (flagship concentration) Distance Education Authorization
    • Bachelor of Arts in Labor and Employment Studies, Distance Education Authorization
  • Presentations from:
    • Dylan Mooney, chair, Staff Council, member of Cost Recovery Committee, “Brief Review of Cost Recovery Policy”
    • Guisselle Nunez, AVP of Strategic Marketing and Communications, “Planned Revamp of All Websites”

The full agenda, meeting materials and minutes can be found on the senate website.

The annual LCA Undergraduate Research Showcase presents the research of undergraduates from SF State’s College of Liberal & Creative Arts (LCA) and reflects the unique diversity of disciplines within the college ranging from the humanities to the social sciences to the creative arts. The 2023 showcase will be held Wednesday, May 3, from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Seven Hills Conference Center. The public is welcome to come and view the impressive array of research projects created by LCA undergrads. Learn more on the LCA website.

The Undergraduate Advising Center (UAC) welcomes the campus community to come to an open house and see the newly remodeled space. Tour the updated center and learn about changes to the campus advising model in support of students. The open house will be held in the UAC (ADM 203) on Thursday, May 4, from 9 to 10:30 a.m. (remarks at 10 a.m.). Refreshments will be served. The UAC team hopes to see you there!

The campus community is invited to a lecture event, “The Secret Lives of Girls” featuring Assistant Professor of Cinema Rae Shaw, on Thursday, May 4, from 12:30 to 1:45 p.m. in HUM 121. Shaw is an interdisciplinary media artist and educator creating innovative and provocative narratives across multiple disciplines of visual media, fiction/non-fiction, performance and poetry. Her projects have explored and investigated issues of diversity, sexuality, disparity and connection. The event is part of a Department of Women and Gender Studies lecture series.

Join the English Department for the 12th Bi-annual English Department Graduate Student Conference! Each semester, the department hosts this event to showcase the work of its M.A. students, representing the disciplines in its M.A. programs: M.A. English (Composition, Linguistics and TESOL) and M.A. in English Literatures. This semester’s conference — to be held Friday, May 5 — will return to a fully in-person program. See the full schedule on the conference website.

The College of Science & Engineering’s (CoSE) annual Student Project Showcase features a variety of exciting student projects, highlighting CoSE faculty's commitment to providing SF State students with hands-on experience in the discovery of new knowledge. Join CoSE on May 5 from 1 to 5 p.m. in the Student Life Events Center (Annex I) to see an array of projects in astronomy, biology, biochemistry, chemistry, computer science, engineering, geosciences, geography, math, physics and psychology.

The Health Equity Institute (HEI) Student Scholar program pairs a graduate student with a faculty mentor to work on health equity-related research projects during the spring semester. This semester, 10 student scholars will be presenting their contributions to these projects and their key takeaways from the program through a research showcase held in the HEI hallway (by HSS 386) on Thursday, May 9, from 3 to 3:45 p.m. followed by a brief ceremony at 3:45 p.m. The campus community is invited to check it out and invite others to join!

Staff are invited to attend the last Staff Forum of the semester on Wednesday, May 10, from 10 to 11 a.m. via Zoom. All staff (who are not MPP or faculty) are encouraged to attend. Hosted by Human Resources, the forum will feature President Mahoney, Special Assistant to the President and Provost Teddy Albiniak with an update on the Strategic Plan, a University budget update from VP Jeff Wilson and an introduction to the Cost Recovery (Chargeback) Governance Committee. RSVP via Qualtrics.

Grounded in the exchange of perspectives and ideas, JEDI Wednesdays — held once a month throughout the semester in LIB 242 — is a series of in-person discussions that focus on inclusivity and belonging in our teaching practices. A $50 stipend was awarded to faculty attendees for each session. GTAs received $20. Learn more on the Center for Equity and Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CEETL) website.

The final JEDI Wednesday session will be held Wednesday, May 10, from 10 to 11 a.m. St. Mary’s College of California Professor of Media Technologies and Culture Aaron Sachowitz will address the topic “Transforming Hispanic-Serving Institutions in Practice.” With over 37% of SF State undergraduates identifying as Latinx, SF State is a federally designated Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI). What does it mean to serve Latinx students at SF State? The discussion will cover Gina Ann Garcia’s “Transforming Hispanic-Serving Institutions” framework (2023) with an eye toward identifying curricular and pedagogical interventions that can transform SF State for equity and justice in service to not only Latinx students but all students. Come for a discussion that grounds HSI practice in theories of organizational change. Register online.

The Fintech Conference: Trends in Fintech and Sustainable Finance will be held Thursday, May 11. Come hear industry and academic experts and regulatory authorities discuss the latest trends in finance technology and sustainable finance. The conference will be held at SF State’s Downtown Campus at 160 Spear St. Seats are limited and registration is required by May 4 at 5 p.m. Visit the Lam Family College of Business website to learn more and register.

The University Budget Committee (UBC) invites all campus members to attend the last meeting of the semester on Thursday, May 18, from 10 a.m. to noon via Zoom. Presentations include the Cost Recovery (“chargeback”) Governance Committee and budget strategies from Academic Affairs and University Enterprises. Additionally, UBC members who are staff and faculty offer peer-hosted “Office Hours” on Fridays after the meetings to share thoughts about University finance topics or clarify anything heard at the budget meetings. The next Office Hours will be Friday, May 19, from 11 a.m. to noon via Zoom. All UBC meetings and Office Hours welcome persons with disabilities and may provide reasonable accommodations upon request. RSVP to

SF State Spotlight

English Language and Literature Lecturers Dan Curtis-Cummins and Jolie Goorjian share original classroom activities developed in their work at SF State in “Dynamic Activities for First Year Composition: 96 Ways to Immerse, Inspire and Captivate Students” (NCTE Press, edited by Michal Reznizki and David T. Coad).  

The book features Curtis-Cummins’ “Question Cloud” activity to inspire research questions and the inquiry process, and Goorjian’s “Exploring Your World” project where students teach their colleagues about campus resources in creative ways.  

Other works by Curtis-Cummins and Goorjian include an Open Educational Resource textbook, “Reading and Writing Your World,” for teaching reading, writing and research, available for free.  

Smiling students pose in foreign locations

Kinesiology Professor Susan Zieff shares the study-abroad experience of an SF State student:  

My name is Teylor Jones. My major is Psychology with a minor in Marketing, and I have always wished to pursue an international education. When I realized my dream could come true, I chose the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom to study abroad for the academic year 2021 – 2022. Due to the university’s student life and the diversity of Birmingham, I chose to attend that institution. The University of Birmingham also offers a highly recognized psychology program, and to assist you in standing out from the competitors, the staff there seeks special work experience options and makes mentorship and international internships available to you.  

Every country I visited, my friends and I would ask, “What was one core memory of the trip?” One of my favorite “core memories” has to be my friends and I dancing with a group of people to live music in the streets on Lisbon, Portugal. It was a moment where time had paused, and I truly soaked in the feeling of gratitude.  

Over my course abroad, I came to see my own potential. Studying abroad tested my limits and helped me step beyond my comfort zone. Being a family and marriage therapist is my long-term ambition. Studying overseas offered me the experience and abilities employers value, including leadership, innovative thinking and working with individuals from all backgrounds. As I adjusted to my new surroundings, open interactions with professors and students helped me develop conversational and active listening skills.   

My advice to students planning to study abroad is to say YES to the opportunities that come your way and make your experience your own! Studying abroad has truly shaped me into the person I am today, and I will forever cherish that time in my college education. 

Center for Iranian Diaspora Studies Director Persis Karim appeared on KQED-FM “Forum” on April 26 to discuss the “Woman. Life. Freedom.” movement in Iran and her own activism in the Bay Area. As part of KQED’s annual Youth Takeover Week, a Saratoga High School student moderated the “Forum” discussion with Karim, an SF State student (called “Shideh” to protect their identity and family in Iran) and artist and teacher Pantea Karimi. 

“I think one of the things that’s unique in this moment is that, while it was started by women in September 2022, now you see large sectors of Iran’s population joining — and men,” Karim said. “People from across Iran’s many regions and ethnic groups [and] religious minorities who recognize that the frustration with Iran’s policies domestically is affecting everyone.” 

Karim holds the Neda Nobari Distinguished Chair and is a professor of Comparative and World Literature.  

Professor Emeritus of Health Education José Ramón Fernández-Peña discussed the Welcome Back Initiative in the April 12 edition of the Chronicle of Higher Education “The Edge” newsletter. 

He created the Welcome Back Initiative at SF State to help immigrant medical professionals become eligible to practice medicine in the U.S. It is now a national nonprofit that helps colleges and other organizations train staff members to operate 10 centers in eight states. Though the program has served more than 22,000 immigrants from 167 countries, “I don’t think we’re anywhere near meeting the demand,” Fernández-Peña said. 

Psychology Professor David Matsumoto is quoted in a National Geographic story from April 20 exploring how to determine if a photograph is legitimate, manipulated or generated by artificial intelligence.  

Matsumoto says to look in the eyes of any people pictured. He notes that humans have evolved to look back and forth between another person’s eyes to gain information.  

“We evolved to do that, according to David Matsumoto, professor of psychology at San Francisco State University and an expert in microexpressions,” the article stated. “He says this is how we determine friend from foe, and evaluate the emotional state of those we encounter. We need to make these assessments quickly to decide how to respond to them, or if necessary, flee.”  

Anthropology Assistant Professor Martha Lincoln writes that social conditions should guide preparation for the next pandemic, in an opinion piece in The Nation on April 21. Lincoln and co-author Anne N. Sosin, a policy fellow at Dartmouth’s Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy, note that COVID-19 had a disproportionately negative effect on poor, minority and medically vulnerable populations in the U.S.  

“Instead of defining ‘pandemic preparedness’ as the task of scientists alone, we might choose to think differently about what it means for life and health to be truly secure,” Lincoln and Sosin wrote. “We should see the lack of universal health care and underinvestment in safety-net hospitals and primary health care as critical vulnerabilities and build on the temporary expansion of Medicaid, rather than roll back these protections. Policy measures such as eviction prevention, the use of non-congregate shelters and decarceration should also be seen as ‘primary tools of pandemic control.’ Many of these measures would not only be part of our pandemic arsenal but would also leave the population in better underlying health.” 

Last month’s vote by workers at the Trader Joe’s market in Rockridge to unionize is ”a huge deal” in today’s grassroots labor movement, Professor and Director of Labor and Employment Studies John Logan tells KQED

“There’s a huge amount of reputational risk involved if they seem to be committing dozens or even hundreds — in the case of Starbucks — of unlawful labor practices, if they seem to be deliberately refusing to bargain with the union,” Logan said in the April 21 article.