Aydin Nazmi, Ph.D.

Dr. Aydin Nazmi

2021 Outstanding Faculty Service Award

Aydin Nazmi, Ph.D.

California Polytechnic State U​niversity, San Luis Obispo
Professor of Food Science and Nutrition

My work and purpose is to build equity and create justice through the most fundamental of human needs: Health. To quote Franklin D. Roosevelt, ‘The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.'

Major Accomplishments:

  • Selected as an expert scientific advisor on the California Governor’s Science Advisory Board.
  • Named a Fellow of the Royal Society for Public Health.
  • Leading voice in the California Higher Education Basic Needs Alliance (CHEBNA), an intersegmental collaboration focused on improving basic needs equity among college students.

Dr. Aydin Nazmi is an Azerbaijani Iranian whose family fled to the U.S. as political refugees in the 1980s. He became a U.S. citizen in college, and then served in the Peace Corps as a public health specialist in Micronesia. During that time, he helped communities confront infectious disease outbreaks, malnutrition and HIV. He went on to study urban public health in the densely populated neighborhoods of Caracas, Venezuela, where many were without potable water or basic sanitation.

Today Nazmi has been instrumental in ensuring the basic needs of Cal Poly students, and that the larger Cal Poly community has remained healthy in the face of a global pandemic. In addition to being an expert on nutrition and food security, he is also an epidemiologist and serves as the university’s Presidential Faculty Fellow for COVID-19 Response and Preparedness. His work in leading Cal Poly’s strategic response to the pandemic included the rapid development of saliva and wastewater surveillance testing for COVID-19 leveraging faculty expertise and on-campus resources, which has made the university a coronavirus success story and a model for both CSU campuses and other universities nationwide.

Prior to the pandemic, Nazmi was best known on campus and throughout much of the CSU for his research on nutrition and food security. He has authored numerous publications on the subject and currently leads several multi-site research studies. He is the director of Cal Poly’s CalFresh Outreach and Healthy Living programs, which have improved food access and nutrition for thousands of college students. According to President Armstrong, no one on campus has done more to bring attention, funding and resources to the challenges of basic needs insecurity than Nazmi. He also created and secured funding for the university’s "Food Justice Service-Learning Spring Break", partnering with local organizations to provide a week of experiential learning to college students regarding the U.S. food system in the heart of California’s Central Valley.

Nazmi earned bachelor’s degrees in nutrition science and exercise physiology from U.C. Davis and his master’s degree in public health nutrition from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in the United Kingdom. He earned his doctorate in epidemiology from Federal University of Pelotas in Brazil.