Meet the directors of the CSU’s Affinity Groups, who lead collaborative research across multiple campuses.
Agricultural Research Institute (ARI)David W. Still, Ph.D.Executive Director ARI provides funding for applied research projects in agriculture and allied natural resources to improve the sustainability and economic viability of California agriculture. Dr. Still is a professor of plant science at Cal Poly Pomona, where he leads the Still Laboratory. His research interests include improving horticultural traits and adaptation to climate change through plant breeding, physiological genetics and genomics. He holds a bachelor’s in wildlife science and a master's in horticultural science from New Mexico State University and a Ph.D. from Texas A&M University. Before joining Cal Poly Pomona, Dr. Still was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Davis and served as an assistant research scientist at the University of Arizona.
Council on Ocean Affairs, Science & Technology (COAST) Krista Kamer, Ph.D. Director Dr. Kamer has led the development of COAST since its inception in 2008, and has served as the program's director since 2011. Her efforts focus on development of strategic partnerships, pursuit of extramural funding and implementation of programmatic activities and initiatives to serve faculty members, increasing student success and engaging stakeholders at regional, state and national levels. Dr. Kamer joined the CSU in 2003 and served as the communications and outreach coordinator for two large multi-year ocean observing programs in California. Prior to the CSU, she was a project scientist at the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project. She earned her Ph.D. in biology from the University of California, Los Angeles and a bachelor’s in biology from Connecticut College.
CSU Program for Education and Research in Biotechnology (CSUPERB) Susan M. Baxter, Ph.D. Executive Director Since 2007, Dr. Baxter has led CSUPERB’s efforts in grant funding to seed research projects and curriculum redesign. She is also the PI for
CSU I-Corps, a National Science Foundation-supported program for nascent academic entrepreneurs. Based in San Diego, Dr. Baxter serves on the boards of Biocom Institute and the California Life Sciences Institute. Prior to joining the CSU, she was COO at the National Center for Genome Resources, vice president of research at GeneFormatics, a tenured researcher at the New York State Wadsworth Center, and a research scientist at Monsanto Agricultural Company. Baxter has a master's and Ph.D. in chemistry from Northwestern University and a bachelor’s in chemistry from the University of Virginia.
California Desert Studies Consortium (CDSC) Darren R. Sandquist, Ph.D.Director
Appointed director of CDSC in 2016, Dr. Sandquist leads the promotion of research and education focusing on California’s desert regions. He is also a professor of biological science at CSU Fullerton, where he teaches courses in ecology and plant sciences. Dr. Sandquist’s research focuses on plant ecophysiological responses to disturbance, invasions and climate change in arid and semi-arid ecosystems. Dr. Sandquist received his bachelor’s and master's in biology from Occidental College and his Ph.D. in biology from the University of Utah.
Institute for Palliative Care Jennifer Moore Ballentine, M.A. Executive Director A long-time national advocate and educator on palliative care issues, Ballentine was appointed to executive director in 2017. She continues to build on the institute’s success as a national leader in palliative care workforce development. Ballentine has published numerous articles on palliative and end-of-life care in peer-reviewed and trade journals, developed multiple conferences, educational programs and delivered hundreds of workshops. She also serves as president of the Iris Project, a national consulting service, and formerly served as executive director of the Life Quality Institute in Denver. Ballentine earned her bachelor’s in interdisciplinary studies from Oberlin College and her master's in end-of-life studies from Regis University.
Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (MLML) Jim Harvey, Ph.D. Director Dr. Harvey has served as MLML director since 2013, where he leads dedicated faculty, staff and students in marine science research excellence. Dr. Harvey joined the MLML faculty in 1989. He has served as the major advisor for 89 master's students and brought in more than $7 million in research funding. A vertebrate ecologist studying foraging ecology, population dynamics and health of sea turtles, seabirds and marine mammals, Dr. Harvey has published over 125 articles in peer-reviewed journals. He received his bachelor’s and master's from San José State University and his Ph.D. from Oregon State University.
Ocean Studies Institute (OSI) Christopher Lowe, Ph.D. Chair Dr. Lowe serves as chair of the Board of Governors of the Ocean Studies Institute, which represents nine CSU campuses in marine research and education with a focus on urban impacts on Southern California's coast. A professor of marine biology at California State University, Long Beach since 1998, Dr. Lowe heads the CSULB Shark Lab, where he leads research on several shark species, including the infamous great white shark. Dr. Lowe is often quoted as a shark expert in the media and acts as an advocate for shark research to aid in species' protection and the public's safety. He received his master's in biology from CSU Long Beach and a Ph.D. in zoology from the University of Hawaii.
Social Science Research and Instructional Council (SSRIC)Chris Den Hartog, Ph.D. ChairDr. Den Hartog serves a chair of the Social Science Research and Instructional Center providing various forms of support towards the development and use of quantitative research skills for students and faculty. Dr. Den Hartog is currently a professor of political science at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and specializes in decision making of the U.S. Congress. He is co-author of “Agenda Setting in the U.S. Senate: Costly Consideration and Majority Party Advantage” and the “The Jeffords Switch: Changing Majority Status and Causal Processes in the U.S. Senate”. He previously taught at Northwestern University and UC San Diego. He received his Ph.D. in political science from UC San Diego.
Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics Network (STEM-NET) Frank A. Gomez, Ph.D. Executive Director Dr. Gomez was named in August 2019 as the inaugural executive director of STEM-NET. Prior to his appointment, he was professor of chemistry at Cal State LA since 1994 and university faculty research liaison since 2014. He has received over $18 million in research funding and published over 130 technical articles and two books on his research. He has mentored over 130 undergraduate, masters, and high school students and 12 postdoctoral fellows and visiting scientists in his laboratories resulting in over 180 student presentations. He received his bachelor’s in chemistry from Cal State LA and a Ph.D. in chemistry from UCLA. Dr. Gomez was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University.
Water Resources and Policy Initiatives (WRPI) Boykin Witherspoon III Executive Director
Witherspoon leads WRPI in strategic planning, budgeting and oversight of contracts and grants. In addition, he promotes WRPI’s vision of achieving a long-term, sustainable water supply for California via community, universities and industry outreach. Witherspoon has international project management experience in developing Geographic Information System (GIS) applications and software for sustainable landscaping, architectural planning and design. Witherspoon’s professional experience includes managing interdisciplinary teams of designers, scientists and software developers in creating innovative and sustainable land use and planning solutions.