Outstanding Professors | Spotlight

Top of their class

Outstanding Professors and President's Distinguished Professor announced

As part of the annual Fall Faculty Day tradition, four CSULA professors were presented the annual Outstanding Professor Awards, which primarily recognize excellence in teaching, significant achievements in scholarly inquiry or creativity, professional activities, and service to the campus and community.

Additionally, the President’s Distinguished Professor Award was presented to a previous Outstanding Professor award recipient, which recognizes superlative teaching and exceptional commitment to students as well as professional accomplishments and services.

There was a reception in honor of these distinguished professors on Tuesday, Oct. 6, 3 p.m., at the Golden Eagle Ballroom, on the CSULA campus.

2009-10 President's Distinguished Professor

Portrait of Roberto Cantu.
 A professor of English and Chicano studies, Roberto Cantú is a highly-regarded literary critic and a scholar of Chicano, Latin American, Mesoamerican and Mexican literature. He was a recipient of Cal State L.A.’s 1990-91 Outstanding Professor Award. Serving on the editorial boards of several prestigious publications, Cantú is author of numerous publications. Most recently, he translated for the British Council the work of Mexican poets Coral Bracho, Araceli Mancilla, Rocío González, and Natalia Toledo. At Cal State L.A., Cantú launched a minor program in Mesoamerican Studies—the only such program in the CSU system. In 2009, he organized an international conference on Mesoamerican civilization with the assistance of faculty and students. Cantú produced a play in 1999 by Federico García Lorca, Bodas de sangre/Blood Wedding, with five sold-out performances at Cal State L.A. In 2008, he coordinated five stage readings of Rudolfo Anaya’s Bless Me, Ultima as part of the Big Read initiative. He is currently coordinating Cal State L.A.’s efforts and involvement in the Los Angeles Latino Book and Family Festival.

2008-09 Outstanding Professors

Portrait of Manuel Aguilar.
 A professor of Art history, Manuel Aguilar has traveled on four continents—in nearly 100 countries—doing interdisciplinary study of art, history, anthropology and philosophy. He conducts research in the art and history of pre-Columbian and Colonial Latin America, and co-directs an interdisciplinary research project about Ulama: The Survival of the Mesoamerican Ballgame, regularly involving CSULA students in far-reaching projects. Aguilar also coordinated the research project “Walls of Passion: The Murals of Los Angeles,” that featured documentations and analysis of approximately 500 murals of the city of Los Angeles and involved 50 Cal State L.A. students. The project produced an art exhibition in February 2009, which drew more than 650 attendees. This past summer, he taught “Civilization of Latin America” at the Fundacion Ortega y Gassett in Madrid, Spain.

Portrait of Laura Calderon.
 A professor of nutritional science, Laura Calderon’s areas of expertise include public health and community nutrition, health promotion/disease prevention, childhood and adolescent obesity, eating disorders, and administrative dietetics. For a decade, she has been a peer reviewer for the foremost peer-reviewed journal of The American Dietetic Association. Calderon, a faculty advisor for the Student Dietetic Association for 14 years, has helped students submit their research for presentation at professional meetings. Through Calderon’s U.S. Dept of Agriculture (USDA) grants, the University’s Food Science Lab has become a state-of-the-art laboratory. These grants also laid the foundation for a new B.S. program in Food Science and Technology, which began this fall with its first cohort of students. Calderon will be awarding 15 scholarships this quarter made possible though her current grant.

Portrait of Lili Tabrizi.
 A professor of electrical engineering, Lili Tabrizi has proposed, coordinated and taught “Professional Engineering” License Exam review classes in electrical engineering. The CSULA PE/EE preparation program has one of the highest passing rates in the State of California and is considered as one of the best PE/EE review programs in the Los Angeles area. Noted as a “champion” at bringing external funding to Cal State L.A., Tabrizi has been the faculty director and principal investigator for the NASA SHARP/NASA SHARP PLUS program, 1995-2005. Cal State L.A. was the only university site that hosted the NASA’s apprenticeship program for 11 consecutive years. She also received the Northrop Grumman’s “2008 Excellence in Teaching Award” and NASA’s Education Division and Quality Education for Minorities Network award. She was also voted by students as “Electrical Engineering Professor of the Year” 14 times since 1990 including 2009.

Portrait of Wayne Tikkanen. 
 A professor of chemistry, Wayne Tikkanen has mentored countless students in his laboratories. Many students have gone on to earn advanced degrees or to medical or dental school. In 2003, Tikkanen was awarded the UC Davis Prize for Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Mentoring in Chemical Research in recognition of the success of these students. Tikkanen has secured $1.5 million in grants, supporting his research in selective catalytic carbon-carbon bond formation, an area that has implications in the preparation of pharmaceuticals and other products. He was also involved with the production of a video to showcase his department at a CSU Trustees meeting—and the video received a Bronze Telly. Chair of his department for eight years, he began serving as faculty director of general education and interim director of program review this quarter.