I am a Professor of Biology and Associate Vice President for Research & Innovation at San Diego State University. Prior to this position, I was Dean of the College of Sciences for 11 years.

I obtained a PhD in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry from UC Irvine, did a postdoctoral fellowship in Genetics at the University of Utah, then moved to a faculty position at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign where I was a Professor in the Microbiology Department for 18 years. Prior to moving to SDSU, I served as Director of the Illinois Biotechnology Center.

I am a former President of the American Society for Microbiology, one of the largest international scientific societies. I have served as an advisor for U.S. and international agencies on research, biosafety, biodefense, health, and graduate education, and have testified before the U.S. House Appropriations Committee.

Recent research in my lab has focused on how new infectious diseases arise, and the development of novel vaccines and antimicrobials. Together with a wonderful group of students and colleagues, I am co-author of over 100 scientific publications and co-author or editor of 12 books (with more in preparation). I have developed widely used educational websites, and hosted popular scientific podcasts and videos, organized courses and conferences around the world, and have received several teaching awards, Honorary Professorships, an Honorary PhD, and have been an elected Fellow of the American Academy for Microbiology since 1998.

In addition to academia, I have been closely involved in business. My brother and I started our first company when I was an undergraduate. I have been involved in starting a number of companies since then then. I have served an advisory role for many startups, and consulted with agricultural, pharmaceutical, and biotech companies. I am currently a member of two NSF-funded I-Corps teaching teams that provide training in Life Sciences entrepreneurship.

Associate Vice President for Research and Innovation

My current administrative role is focused on catalyzing connections, collaboration, and communication, including:

  • SDSU Mission Valley Innovation District – Engage public and private partners to develop an interactive, transdisciplinary innovation district that provides opportunities for SDSU faculty and students as well as the public sector, catalyzing creative approaches to solve complex problems and stimulating the collaborative economy of the San Diego region <>.
  • Entrepreneurship – Work with campus entrepreneurship centers, stakeholders, and external organizations to build synergies and develop more innovative opportunities for students, faculty, and staff.
  • Community outreach – Develop strategic alliances with industry, government, and nonprofit organizations, and attend community events as an ambassador of the university.
  • Philanthropy – Engage major gift prospects to support university priorities, and build partnership opportunities with corporations and foundations.