Cal State L.A. announces this year's President’s Distinguished Professor, four Outstanding Professors, one Outstanding Lecturer

September 24, 2015


A respected educator and dedicated advocate for children and families, Andrea Zetlin is the recipient of this year’s Cal State LA President’s Distinguished Professor Award. Zetlin and five other faculty members were recently honored during the 2015 University Convocation.

Presented with Outstanding Professor Awards were:

  • Kevin Baaske, a leading scholar of rhetoric who is committed to student success
  • Afshin Matin-asgari, a distinguished historian in the areas of Middle East and religion whose work has been widely published
  • Jamil Momand, a faculty-scientist whose research is highly regarded in the field of biochemistry
  • Ming Wang, a certified information systems expert who received numerous grants and awards

This year’s Outstanding Lecturer Award was presented to Lecturer John Shamma, who is an accomplished civil engineer with knowledge in hydrology, hydraulics, and water treatment and distribution.

At Cal State LA, the annual Outstanding Professor and Lecturer Awards recognize excellence in teaching and cite significant achievements in scholarly inquiry or creativity, professional activities, and service to the campus and community. The President’s Distinguished Professor Award is presented to a previous Outstanding Professor award recipient and recognizes superlative teaching and exceptional commitment to students, as well as professional accomplishments and services.


Andrea Zetlin, Professor of Special Education and Counseling – Charter College of Education

Andrea Zetlin is a dedicated advocate for children and families and is recognized for her extensive research in the education of youth in foster care.

Zetlin’s research led schools to establish educational liaisons, whose role is to communicate with foster youth. Her research also helped prompt state and federal legislation to support foster youth. She has authored many book chapters and refereed journals, and presents regularly at professional conferences.

Zetlin created the C. Lamar Mayer Learning Center, a Saturday literacy development program at Cal State LA for local children with and without disabilities. With a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, she helped launch the Murchison School Center featuring family resources and a pediatric health clinic. The center was the first of its kind in Los Angeles County.

Zetlin received her bachelor’s degree from Queens College, CUNY, M.A. from New York University, and Ed.D. from Teachers College, Columbia University. She completed her post-doctoral work at UCLA’s Department of Psychiatry as a research fellow in the Socio-Behavioral Research Unit.


Kevin Baaske, Professor of Communication Studies - College of Arts and Letters

An active member of the University community, Kevin Baaske served as chair of the Academic Senate for five years. He has also served on campus and systemwide committees focusing on ensuring student success. 

Baaske is serving his ninth year on the Academic Senate of the California State University. He previously served on the CSU Academic Senate as secretary and as vice chair.

With expertise in rhetoric, Baaske previously directed the Cal State LA speech and debate teams, a position he held for 20 years. He served as chair of the Department of Communication Studies for five years and continues as associate chair.

His interests lie in examining public policy disputes and exploring the nature and functions of rhetorical discourse. Baaske has conducted research on political campaign communication. He received his Ph.D. in rhetoric from USC, and his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in communications from University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee.

Afshin Matin-asgari, Professor of History – College of Natural and Social Sciences

Distinguished historian Afshin Matin-asgari specializes in 20th-century Middle East, modern Iran, and modern Islamic political and intellectual movements.

Matin-asgari was born in Tehran, Iran, and moved to the U.S. after high school. In the U.S. he participated in the student movement against Iran’s monarchist regime. Matin-asgari returned to Iran in 1978 during the revolution that overthrew the monarchy, but he did not support the post-revolutionary regime and returned to the U.S.

In 1993, Matin-asgari received a doctoral degree in Middle East history from UCLA. His dissertation was published in 2001 as the book, Iranian Student Opposition to the Shah. At Cal State LA, he teaches courses in Middle East history, world history, Islam, and comparative religion. Matin-asgari has published 20 articles and book chapters. He has just finished the first draft of his second book, Both Eastern and Western: Intellectual Constructions of Iranian Modernity.

Jamil Momand, Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry - College of Natural and Social Sciences

Jamil Momand is an expert in the field of biochemistry. He specializes in tumor suppressor genes and oncogenes. Momand has written more than 30 research papers on the molecular genetics of cancer.

Momand worked at City of Hope for several years before joining Cal State LA in 1999. Funded by the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Momand’s current research seeks to understand how cancer cells develop resistance to chemotherapy agents. Many students in his research lab at Cal State LA have gone on to doctorate programs at top-ranked universities.

Momand teaches courses in introductory chemistry, biochemistry and bioinformatics. He is the graduate advisor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and also advises students who are earning a minor in bioinformatics and computational biology.

He received his Ph.D. in biochemistry from UCLA and completed a post-doctoral fellowship at Princeton University.

Ming Wang, Professor of Information Systems – College of Business and Economics

Ming Wang has in-depth computer expertise in enterprise systems. She was instrumental in introducing the latest technology in the information systems curriculum at Cal State LA. She is the SAP (systems applications and products) faculty coordinator for the University. She hosted multiple SAP and IBM faculty training workshops to encourage faculty to embrace new technology.

Her current research interests are in e-business processes integration and big data in memory for enterprise systems. Since arriving at the University in 2001, Wang has had 36 refereed journal articles, six book chapter articles, and 12 international conference proceedings papers published. She earned her Ph.D. from Southern Illinois University.

Wang received numerous grants and honors, including a National Science Foundation Information Technology Curricula Award and an Excellence in Teaching Award and Innovative Teaching Award from the University’s College of Business and Economics. Her passion is to equip her students with the latest technology and prepare them as the new IT professionals and e-business leaders.


John Shamma, Civil Engineering Lecturer – College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Technology

An accomplished civil engineer, John Shamma has brought his extensive professional experience to the Department of Civil Engineering at Cal State LA. He is recognized for mentoring students in classes and on senior projects.

Shamma’s career spans more than a quarter century. In addition to Cal State LA, he works for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which provides water to approximately 19 million people. He is currently the Facility Planning Team manager overseeing the agency's infrastructure reliability and vulnerability investigations.

Shamma is a registered professional engineer in California. He also is chairman for the Hydrology and Hydraulic Group of the Los Angeles Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers. He has had many technical papers published and has made presentations at industry conferences and conventions.

He earned a B.S. in engineering and M.S. in civil engineering from Cal State LA and a M.S. in environmental engineering from USC.

Pictured: Seated, l-r, Professors Kevin Baaske, Ming Wang, John Shamma, Afshin Matin-asgari, Jamil Momand, and Andrea Zetlin. Standing, l-r, Awards Selection Comittee Chair Kaveri Subrahmanyam, President William A.Covino, Provost Lynn Mahoney, Academic Senate Chair Nancy Warter-Perez (Credit: J. Emilio Flores/Cal State LA)

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Cal State LA is a university dedicated to engagement, service, and the public good. Founded in 1947, the University serves more than 27,000 students and 240,000 distinguished alumni, who are as diverse as the city we serve. Located in the heart of Los Angeles, Cal State LA has long been recognized as an engine of economic and social mobility. Led by an award-winning faculty, the University offers nationally recognized programs in science, the arts, business, criminal justice, engineering, nursing, education and the humanities.

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