Cal Poly Honors Faculty, Staff Who Received $32 Million in Grant Funding in 2015-16

Entrance to Cal Poly's campus

Cal Poly honored faculty and staff who received a record $32 million in grants and whose research resulted in five patents for the university in the 2015-16 academic year.

The patented inventions include an automotive air-conditioning system, an in-wall air-filtration system, CubeSats (or small satellites that launch as secondary payloads), a computer-implemented process to allow the visually impaired to transform touch into an audio response, and an environmentally benign packing design.

“I just want to say how proud I am of the work that you are all doing,” Dean Wendt, dean of research in the Office of Research and Economic Development, told about 80 faculty and staff members gathered at the annual reception held in the fall. “We are celebrating an unprecedented year of externally funded research activity at the university.”

Grant funding for research projects was up 25 percent over last year’s $26 million, and “ranks as the highest amount of external funding on record at Cal Poly,” Wendt said.

“Let me put that number in context for you: The annual base budget for the College of Science and Mathematics is around $37 million, and it includes all the salaries and wages and operating budgets for the college,” he said. “The $32 million is a significant contribution you are making to our institution and to the education of our students.”

There are other benefits to campus research, Wendt said. The grants contributed to more than $250,000 in tuition, fees and scholarships for students; funded more than $650,000 in lab equipment in the university’s six colleges; supported the wages of 58 Cal Poly Corporation employees; and paid $1.8 million in wages to more than 800 student researchers.

President Jeffrey D. Armstrong praised the faculty, who in addition to their teaching duties also apply for and oversee the research, and the staff of the Sponsored Programs and Grants Development offices who administer the more than 500 grants.

“You are impacting lives. You are helping students succeed,” he told the group. “And your careers are just blossoming and growing. It’s very, very exciting.”

Five university centers that each received more than $1 million and those who manage them were singled out: Stuart Styles and Charles Burt of the Irrigation Training and Research Center; John Keller and Chance Hoellworth of the Center for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Education (CESaME); Sam Blakeslee and Christine Robertson of the Institute for Advanced Technology and Public Policy; Wendt of the Center for Coastal Marine Sciences; and Suzanne Phelan of the Center for Solutions Through Research in Diet and Exercise (STRIDE).

In addition, four individuals who secured a combined $50 million in grant funding over their Cal Poly careers were honored. Styles and Burt, director and chairman of the board respectively for Cal Poly’s Irrigation Training and Research Center, each has procured more than $20 million in external funding. Blakeslee, IATPP director, and Trevor Cardinal, an associate professor of biomedical engineering and director of the Regenerative Medicine Program, each has procured $5 million in grant funding.

The patent holders from the 2015-16 academic year are:

— Jay Singh and former student Evan Cernokus, patent for “System, Method and Apparatus for Making and Using Flex Column Void-Based Packing Materials.” Their system for forming space-consuming, shock-absorbing packing materials uses a three-sided flex-column to eliminate the need for non-recyclable polystyrene packing peanuts and better protect shipped items saving time and money in a manner that is also easier on the environment.

— Patrick Lemieux, patent for “Air-Cycle Environmental Control Systems and Methods for Automotive Applications.” This air-cycle air-conditioning invention uses an automotive turbocharger as the system core to maximize cooling while minimizing weight and space, as well as impacts on engine performance.

— Jordi Puig-Suari and Austin Williams of aerospace engineering, patent for “CubeSat Systems, Method and Apparatus.” These nano-satellites piggyback on the launches of larger satellites. The basic CubeSat unit is a box about 4 inches square; larger CubeSats are multiples of that unit.

— Dennis Fantin and Art MacCarley, patent for “Transforming a Tactually Selected User Input into an Audio Output.” Fantin, blind since age 12, and MacCarley developed a computer-implemented process to assist the visually impaired, transforming the touch of a selected Braille key into an analog audio signal output as human speech with an electro-acoustic transducer.

— Carmen Trudell and student Natacha Schnider, patent for “System and Method for Air Filtration Via Cyclone Separators Enclosed Within Exterior Walls.” The invention uses cyclone separators mounted within walls to purify the air in buildings.

Wendt recognized the individuals who had the highest grant funding totals in their colleges:

— Orfalea College of Business: Stephen Hamilton, economics.
— College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences: Stuart Styles, bioresource and agricultural engineering.
— College of Architecture and Environmental Design: Cornelius Nuworsoo, city and regional planning.
— College of Engineering: Trevor Cardinal.
— College of Liberal Arts: Patrick Lin, philosophy.
— College of Science and Mathematics: Stan Yoshinobu, mathematics.

Orfalea College of Business Announces Jacobsen Faculty Fellows

Eduardo Zambrano, Chris Carr and Larry GormanCal Poly’s Orfalea College of Business recently named professors Eduardo Zambrano, Chris Carr and Larry Gorman as the first ever recipients of the Jacobsen Faculty Fellowship.

Orfalea alumnus Rich Jacobsen founded the fellowship in 2015 to support outstanding faculty in accounting, economics and finance. It is awarded to faculty who go above and beyond to inspire students both in and out of the classroom and who cultivate meaningful industry connections that bolster career readiness. The award supports faculty with $15,000 each year for three years.

Rich Jacobsen

Alum Rich Jacobsen

Carr, who teaches business law in the college’s Accounting Area, is a Fulbright Scholar who has led students on a number of trips around the world to learn about supply chain management and international relations. Zambrano of the Economics Area has worked with a United Nations task force to develop metrics on sustainable economies, and is recognized internationally for his research and consulting on welfare economics and human development. Gorman, a professor in the Finance Area, has paved the way for strong industry connections between finance students and major employers in the high-tech sector, including leaders like Apple.

A four-person Dean’s Advisory Council committee assessed applications for the fellowship, a process that included reviewing the applications, talking to students, and – in some cases – interviewing applicants. Each of these individuals was selected for their outstanding efforts to inspire students, which was the most important criteria for the Jacobsen family, and connect meaningfully with industry partners for the benefit of students.

Jacobsen, who is a managing director at the San Francisco office of Greenhill & Co., was inspired to establish the fellowship with his with Margaret after his 15-year career on Wall Street. Jacobsen saw how Cal Poly graduates were consistently overlooked by investment banks for entry level positions.

“While some graduates of elite schools take an analyst position for granted, Cal Poly students are willing to ‘run through walls’ to make the most of their opportunity,” Jacobsen said of his experience with new hires at Greenhill. He credits Cal Poly faculty like Mary Beth Armstrong, Alan Bailey, Jan Duffy, and Ken Reiner inspired him to persevere through a competitive finance industry.

To support the students and faculty of the Orfalea College of Business, contact the Advancement team at

Mustang Memories – Economics

007_finance small (2)Kurt Raffetto (B.S., Economics, 1987)
Owner, Raffetto Enterprises
“Dr. Dominic Perello was always there for me when I had questions or needed guidance. I didn’t even know about his Air Force background when I asked for a letter of recommendation for officer training school. We kept in touch throughout my career, and my oldest boy is named Dominic in part because of him.”

Gregory Spicer (B.S., Economics, 1990)
President, Orange Legal Technologies
“JP Adams was my favorite teacher, along with Alden Shiers. They were two professors who knew the importance of education but were also really good men — fair, personable and smart.”

Robert Lucacher (MBA, 1998)
EH&S Manager & Practice Leader, Cushman & Wakefield
“Dr. Walter Rice, who taught macroeconomics and business, was my favorite. The most famous quote in the two years in the MBA program that I heard more often than not: ‘That’s irrelevant, immaterial and inconsequential.’ Loved it.”

Lauren Stapleton (nee Parente) (B.S., Business Administration, 2004, Economics Minor)
Business Strategy, Enjoy
“Professor Michael Marlow was my favorite professor at Cal Poly. I took his Monetary Economics class. We had relevant videos, great discussions and debates, and he had amazing stories. I could read and digest The Wall Street Journal cover to cover.”

Kerry Wilson (MBA, 1991)
Administrative Manager, HASLO
“My favorite professor was Walter Rice. I’ll never forget the ‘Economics of Robinson Crusoe’ lecture. I sat in class thinking, ‘I get this!’ He was an excellent teacher. His final was a lottery: three of 10 complex problems that were given beforehand. You better believe that by the time the final came around, each of us could solve those 10 problems in our sleep (which was exactly what he wanted).”

Matt Cohen (B.S., Economics, 2014)
MBA Student, UC San Diego
“The only professor I had twice during my time at Cal Poly was Solina Lindahl in the Economics area. I loved her classes, and even though we philosophically disagreed at times, she challenged my way of thinking. She helped me understand the reasoning behind demand-side economics, which is now so prevalent in the political/economic world. She also wrote one of my recommendation letters for business school, and that meant a great deal to me. I’ll get my MBA this June.”

Lynne Romano (B.S., Economics, 1980)
Retired Attorney
“While all of my professors from Cal Poly bring fond memories, the professor who stands out above all is Takis Papakyriazis. Professor Papakyriazis taught in the Economics area and acted as my senior project advisor. Academically, he was unmatched. Professor Papakyriazis loved to challenge his students with mind-tangling projects. He was, however, one of the most patient and supportive people I have ever known. As a person, Takis Papakyriazis was kind and welcoming to his students. A huge thank you to Professor Papakyriazis and to all of the wonderful professors at Cal Poly who most certainly sent me off into the world with the necessary skills.”

Which Cal Poly professor do you remember most? If you haven’t already, share your Mustang Memories with us via our online form.

Management Faculty Collaborate, Build International Partnerships

The collaboration between Management area faculty and that of the Politecnico di Milano and the University of Milan Italy, continues to flourish after five years of development. Professor Luca Solari from the University of Milan taught in the Orfaela College of Business as a visiting professor during the 2013-14 academic year. This year, Stefano Cirella from the Politecnico di Milano joined Cal Poly as a visiting professor in the Management area. Orfalea College of Business Professor Jean-Francois Coget also recently returned from six month sabbatical as a visiting professor at the Politecnico di Milano.

The ongoing collaboration led to valuable research projects. David Sikora and Chris Zatzick collaborated with Luca Solari and Della Torreled on the development of a research paper titled “Human Capital and Organizational Productivity: The Impact of Collective Employees Inflows and Outflows.” The paper received the Best Paper Award at the 2014 Academy of Management Annual Conference, HR Division held in Philadelphia, Pa. Other collaborative research includes:

  • Coget, J.F., Shani, A. B. (Rami) & Solari, L., (2014), The Lone Genius, or Leaders who Tyrannize Their Creative Teams: An Alternative to the “Mothering” Model of Leadership and Creativity, Organizational Dynamics, 43, 105-113.
  • Arnabolidi M. & Coget, J.F. , Social Media and Business: We have been asking the wrong questions”, Organizational Dynamics, (forthcoming).
  • Cirella S., Radaelli G. and Shani A. B. (Rami), (2014), Team Creativity: A Complex Adaptive Perspective. Management Research Review, 37(7), 590-614.
  • Shani A.B. (Rami), Guerci M., Cirella S. (Eds.) (2014). Collaborative Management Research. Rome, Italy: Raffaello Cortina Editore.
  • Radaelli, G., Guerci, M., Cirella, S. and Shani, A. B. (Rami), (2014), Intervention Research as Management Research in Practice: Learning from a Case in the Fashion Design Industry. British Journal of Management. 25, 335-351.

The collaboration also resulted in exchange programs that enable our MBA students spend a quarter at the Politecnico di Milano while some of the MBA students from the Politecnico di Milano spend the winter quarter in the Orfalea College of Business’ MBA program. An exchange program for undergraduate student is currently at an advance stage of development.

Business Professor Honored for Marketing and Public Policy Research

Brennan Davis, third from right, accepting the award with his coauthors in San Francisco.

Brennan Davis, third from right, accepting the award with his coauthors in San Francisco.

Brennan Davis, associate professor marketing at Cal Poly’s Orfalea College of Business, was honored with the Thomas C. Kinnear/ Journal of Public Policy & Marketing Award at the annual American Marketing Association Educator’s Conference in 2014. The award honors articles that made the most significant contribution to the understanding of marking and public policy issues within the last three years.

Davis coauthored the paper titled “From Nutrients to Nurturance: A Conceptual Introduction to Food Well-Being” in the spring of 2011. The authors propose that the “food as health” paradigm should shift to “food as wellbeing” with a greater emphasis on a positive, holistic understanding of the role of food one’s psychological, physical and emotional health. The paper examines food literacy, marketing, availability, policy and socialization at individual and societal levels.

Davis’ coauthors include Lauren G. Block, Sonya A. Grier, Terry L. Childers, Jane E.J. Ebert, Shiriki Kumanyika, Russell N. Laczniak, Jane E. Machin, Carol M. Motley, Laura Peracchio, Simone Pettigrew, Maura Scott, and Mirjam N.G. van Ginkel Bieshaar.

Davis joined Cal Poly’s marketing faculty in the fall of 2014 after teaching at Baylor University and Azusa Pacific University. He is currently developing new curriculum regarding marketing analytics, data and transformative consumer research.