Five Cal State LA faculty members were recognized for excellence in teaching and outstanding achievements during University Convocation 2023.
Three Outstanding Professor Award recipients and an Outstanding Lecturer Award recipient were honored for significant achievements in scholarly inquiry or creativity, as well as professional activities and community service.
A President’s Distinguished Professor Award was presented to a previous Outstanding Professor Award recipient. This award recognizes faculty members’ superlative teaching and exceptional commitment to students, as well as their professional accomplishments and services.
During University Convocation, Interim President Leroy M. Morishita marked the start of the new academic year while Professor Andre Avramchuk, chair of the Academic Senate, welcomed new faculty members.
The five faculty award recipients were introduced by Professor Kamran Afary, chair of the Outstanding Professor Awards Selection Committee.
President’s Distinguished Professor
Howard Xu is a professor of microbiology in the College of Natural and Social Sciences’ Department of Biological Sciences.
Xu directs an applied microbiology and biotechnology lab at Cal State LA, where students conduct research on the discovery of novel antibiotics and the mechanisms of the pathogenesis of bacterial pathogens. He has mentored more than 40 graduate students and 36 undergraduate students, and his lab has produced more than 40 peer-reviewed publications.
Since arriving at Cal State LA in 2004, Xu has taught 26 different biology, microbiology and biotechnology courses, many of which he developed. He has directed the university’s post-baccalaureate biotechnology certificate program since 2014 and has advised and mentored nine cohorts of students from the program. These students have landed positions in the biotech industry and pharmaceutical firms in Los Angeles and beyond.
Xu is also the director of incubator development and programming for Cal State LA BioSpace, which is leading the university’s collaboration with academic institutions, private-sector firms and government agencies to promote inclusive entrepreneurship, workforce development and the commercialization of the regional bioscience industry in Los Angeles.
In this role, Xu directs the Cal State LA BioStart Bioscience Entrepreneurs Boot Camp, an intensive five-week training program that has prepared more than 100 emerging bioscience entrepreneurs to launch successful startup ventures, helping them turn their scientific discoveries into job-creating businesses. The startups launched by BioStart fellows have raised $69 million combined and created 163 jobs.
Xu has secured more than $2 million in grants for his research studying mechanisms of antibiotic resistance and virulence, with a special emphasis on developing novel antibiotics. He has also been co-principal investigator on more than $11 million in grants that support entrepreneurship and biotechnology initiatives at Cal State LA.
For his outstanding contributions to biotechnology research and education, Xu was presented the Anthony Andreoli Faculty Service Award in 2011 and the Faculty Research Award in 2018, both from the CSU Program for Education and Research in Biotechnology. In 2019, he was selected as an Outstanding Professor at Cal State LA.
A resident of Alhambra, Xu earned his Ph.D. in microbiology from the University of Minnesota.
John C. Bachman is an associate professor of mechanical engineering in the College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Technology. He also serves as director of the ECST Makerspace and the Sustainable Technology Lab.
Bachman led the collective effort to create the ECST Makerspace, which provides a space for Cal State LA students, faculty and staff, and individuals from surrounding communities to bring their ideas to life. Since its inception five years ago, the space has become a community hub for meeting, designing and building.
Through the Sustainable Technology Lab, Bachman leads research into novel technologies for energy storage, space exploration and transportation. Together, students and collaborating institutions, including the National Science Foundation, Stark Draper Labs and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, study and design novel materials and technologies for storage of renewable energy generation, low-cost electrochemical metal 3D printing, high-temperature operation of lithium-ion batteries and design components for 3D-printed parts on the moon. Five students from his lab are now pursuing advanced degrees at UC Berkeley, UCLA, Stanford and Pennsylvania State University.
Bachman advises and mentors the Baja Society of Automotive Engineers team, the Formula SAE team, and the Golden Eagle Makers Club. The SAE teams design and build off-road and Formula 1-style race cars and compete against hundreds of universities annually at international competitions. The GEM Club focuses on working with community organizations to design and build solutions for the communities they serve. Recent projects include building shade structures at local preschools, storage and housing for animal shelters and planters for centers serving adults with developmental disabilities.
In these roles, Bachman is passionate about promoting the growth of the next generation of exceptional critical thinkers and takes great pride in seeing students make big impacts in industry, government and academia.
Bachman currently lives in Alhambra and earned his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Mitchell Eisen is a professor of psychology in the College of Natural and Social Sciences and is director of the graduate program in forensic psychology.
Eisen’s research has contributed to advances in law enforcement policy and procedures used to collect eyewitness evidence. His research has also led directly to legislation in California and other states designed to reduce the chances of wrongful convictions of innocent individuals who were mistakenly identified by eyewitnesses.
Most recently, Eisen testified in front of the Colorado State Senate to support a bill proposing a law to limit the use of a highly suggestive identification procedure called a “showup,” commonly used by law enforcement. A showup is when an eyewitness is presented with a single subject in person for the
purpose of determining whether the eyewitness identifies the individual as the suspect. That bill (now law) was based on his research and the work of others showing the dangers of showups leading to false identifications. He is currently initiating efforts to promote a similar bill in California.
Eisen’s research on the biasing nature of evidence describing a defendant’s gang affiliation also led to the creation and passage of California State Law AB 333. The law blocks the introduction of harmful character evidence of previous associations with gangs at trials if the crime is not directly related to gang activity.
His work in the 1990s examining memory and suggestibility in maltreated children has also led to advancements in policy and practice related to interviewing children in cases that involve allegations of sexual and physical abuse. He regularly consults with attorneys around the country, is on the editorial boards of various scientific journals, and has authored dozens of articles with Cal State LA students working under his supervision. Eisen describes the applied elements of his work in his podcast entitled True Crime False Memory.
A Cal State LA faculty member since 1997, Eisen received his Ph.D. in counseling psychology from the University of Miami. He resides in South Pasadena.
James Ford III is a professor of music in the College of Arts and Letters, where he teaches studio trumpet and courses in jazz studies. He also serves as director of the Cal State LA Jazz Orchestra.
Ford’s career took root as a child when he began playing the trumpet. Since 2003, he has established an impressive reputation as an accomplished trumpet player. Ford’s dexterity and warm sound have allowed him to cross many musical boundaries. He performs in diverse musical settings, including big band, small groups, orchestral, chamber, pop and early music ensembles. Ford continues to experiment and broaden his musical palette.
Ford is a member of the Grammy-nominated Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, John Beasley’s MONKestra and the Benjamin Wright Orchestra. He has performed in venues in Europe, Asia, South America, South Africa, Canada and the United States. A few of the artists he has performed or recorded with include John Beasley, Jeff Clayton, John Clayton, Jeff Hamilton and Benjamin Wright, among many others. Ford has taught and shared his expertise at the University of South Africa in Pretoria, South Africa, as a 2020-2021 Fulbright Scholar.
While doing his graduate work at the University of North Texas, Ford coauthored the first epidemiologic study of brass players while serving as a research assistant for Kris Chesky, professor of music and medicine, and studying trumpet with Leonard Candelaria, now professor emeritus of music. Results of his study were published in the Medical Problems of Performing Artists journal and showed that about 60% of 739 brass players reported instrument-specific musculoskeletal problems. This important contribution is widely cited in performing arts medicine literature.
A Cal State LA faculty member since 2003, Ford earned his Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of North Texas. He is a Los Angeles resident.
Dmitri Seals is a lecturer in the Department of Sociology in the College of Natural and Social Sciences.
He is also co-director of two programs helping to connect Cal State LA with the surrounding communities: the Civic and Social Innovation Group, known as CaSIG, and the Los Angeles Economic Equity Accelerator and Fellowship, known as LEEAF.
Working alongside Professor Marla Parker in the Department of Political Science, Seals helped launch CaSIG in 2017 to support social innovation on campus. The group helps students bring their ideas for positive social impact to life through events like the Social Impact Career Connector, the Social Innovation Prize and a series of workshops and programs led by the CaSIG Intern Team.
With Parker and economic justice leader Elianne Rodriguez, Seals also helped launch LEEAF in 2021 to connect Cal State LA students with women of color entrepreneurs to catalyze economic justice and revitalization in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. Working to create strong teams and build capacity across the organization, Seals helped LEEAF promote economic equity by reaching dozens of Cal State LA students and hundreds of small businesses each year.
His academic work explores the intersection of social innovation, cultural inequality and the practical study of social change. His research focuses on the dynamics of inclusion and exclusion in political and economic systems, using quantitative and qualitative data to create theoretical insights geared toward practical justice.
A founder of youth-serving nonprofits Bay Area Urban Debate League and Silicon Valley Urban Debate League, Seals is a recipient of the UC Chancellor’s Award for Public Service and the Making Democracy Work Award from the Oakland League of Women Voters.
A South Los Angeles resident, Seals received his Ph.D. in sociology from UC Berkeley.
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California State University, Los Angeles is the premier comprehensive public university in the heart of Los Angeles. Cal State LA is ranked number one in the United States for the upward mobility of its students. Cal State LA is dedicated to engagement, service, and the public good, offering nationally recognized programs in science, the arts, business, criminal justice, engineering, nursing, education, and the humanities. Founded in 1947, the University serves more than 26,000 students and has more than 250,000 distinguished alumni.