Industrial Hygienist & Environmental Program Manager Holly Swan checks creek out flows.
Story Research

Finding Success Through Research and Collaboration

Janessa Thropay

The CSU’s multi-campus consortiums provide students with the opportunity to elevate their learning and gain hands-on experience.

Industrial Hygienist & Environmental Program Manager Holly Swan checks creek out flows.

​Industrial Hygienist & Environmental Program Manager Holly Swan checks creek outflows in Chico, CA. (Jason Halley/University Photographer/Chico State)​


As a national leader in social mobility and a champion of student success, the California State University (CSU) strives to equip all students with the educational and hands-on experiences necessary to thrive in their professional careers post-graduation. Its 10 multi-campus consortiums​ help accomplish this mission by encouraging collaboration and resource sharing across the CSU system.

“The CSU's multi-campus consortia provides experiential learning opportunities for our students, prepares them for the workforce and addresses the most vital needs of California by conducting research on a breadth of topics, from agriculture and biotechnology to desert, ocean life and water," says Ganesh Raman, assistant vice chancellor for research at the CSU Chancellor's Office.​

Take a look at each of these groups and their impact on student success.​

Agricultural Research Institute

The Agricultural Research Institute (ARI)—a collaboration between Chico, Fresno, Pomona and San Luis Obispo—develops innovative strategies geared toward the advancement and sustainability of California's agricultural industry. Since its launch in 1999, ARI has conducted more than 947 projects, including 152 projects within the last year, aimed at providing science-driven answers to issues that threaten the sustainability of the state's agriculture and natural resources. Recently, ARI was awarded a four-year $1 million grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Hispanic Serving Institutions Educational Grant Program to provide 100 paid fellowships for students in science, big data, ag journalism and public policy.

Student Spotlight:

Katherina Martinez, a biology major at CSU Monterey Bay and 2022 ARI exemplary student scholar, developed a project to study the impact of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF), a soil microbe that helps in the production of plant growth hormones, on soil specific to organic crop production systems. Through conducting fieldwork and lab tests, she discovered ways for AMF to be utilized in improving organic crop production by increasing the soil's nutrient availability.​​


Ocean Studies Institute

A collaboration between nine CSU campuses—Channel Islands, Dominguez Hills, Fullerton, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Northridge, Pomona, San Bernardino and San Marcos—the Ocean Studies Institute (OSI) offers members access to joint research, support vessels and a diving safety program for marine research. Based out of the Los Angeles Harbor, this group addresses research and education on urban ocean and coastal sciences through hands-on learning experience focused on data collection and field research. OSI joined the Southern California Marine Institute, a partnership between the CSU, UCLA, Occidental College and USC, in hopes of elevating its marine research and innovation while utilizing their collective technology and resources to explore the ocean and coastal regions more effectively.

Student Spotlight:

Connected through OSI, Cal State Long Beach​​​​ Shark Lab graduate student Patrick Rex and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo professor Franz Kurfess collaborated on the development of AI products for drone survey and shark identification analyses to aid in monitoring shark behavior and other marine wildlife.

CSU Biotechnology

CSU Biotechnology (CSUBIOTECH), created in 1987, supports faculty and students through education and research to promote the advancement of biotechnology and economic development in California. Serving as a liaison between the CSU and government, regional and biotechnology industry partners, CSUBIOTECH aims to equip the next generation of California's biotechnology workforce. Through real-world research experiences, access to core resources and industry-responsive coursework, students are given a solid foundation in molecular biosciences and biochemistry while exploring the latest discoveries in the biotechnology field. More than $16 million in grants and awards have been used to support students and their experiential learning opportunities in the biotechnology field.

Student Spotlight:

Vanessa Sanchez, McNair Scholar and biology major at Sonoma State, received the 2023 Doris A. Howell Foundation CSUPERB Research Scholar Award, a grant that funds undergraduate student research projects in topics related to women's health, for her project “Using Trisomy 21 Down Syndrome cells to understand chromosome organization."

California Desert Studies Consortium

A collaboration between Dominguez Hills, Fullerton, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Northridge, Pomona and San Bernardino, the California Desert Studies Consortium (CDSC) focuses on encouraging the research, education and outreach​ around California deserts. Established in 1974, the CDSC provides students and faculty with the opportunity to study desert and climate science while operating the Desert Studies Center located in the Mojave Desert. Responsible for managing 1,280 acres under an agreement with the National Park System, the center receives several thousand visits each year, providing comfortable accommodation, classroom and laboratory space, and meal service.

Student Spotlight:

Savannah Weaver was the recipient of the 2022 Judith A. Presch Desert Research Scholarship. She is a master's student in the Department of Biological Sciences at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, studying lizard physiology with Professor Emily Taylor. Weaver earned several grants to support her research on lizard physiology at the Desert Studies Center, including an National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.


​CSU ​Shiley Haynes Institute for Palliative Care

The CSU Shiley Haynes Institute for Palliative Care bolsters access and diversity within the palliative care field by supporting CSU faculty who integrate this education into their programs and courses. More than 26,000 pre-professional students have utilized the institute's educational tools and resources to expand their knowledge and experience in palliative care. Recentl​y, the institute launched a Palliative Care Interns program, which engages students from a variety of disciplines. It also connects with the community through its work with campus partners, including the “What Gives Your Life Meaning” campus campaign at CSU San Marcos and support for a neighborhood hospice, Jerry’s Place, in Monterey Bay.​

Student Spotlight:

Mckenzie Blake, a graduate in psychology at CSU San Marcos, was hired as the institute’s associate director of educational programs following her internship focused on informing the institute’s curriculum development. Expanding on this work, she now collaborates with the institute’s partners to provide new and revised curricula to educate healthcare professionals in the palliative care field.​

Moss Landing Marine Laboratories

In its more than 50 years of marine science education and cutting-edge research, the Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (MLML) at San José State University has graduated more than 650 students from its master's in Marine Science program. Through a close partnership with CS​U Monterey Bay and strong collaborative relationships with other CSU campuses, MLML​ is helping prepare the marine scientists of the future. MLML graduates have acquired positions in academia, government agencies and public and private institutions, demonstrating the program's ability to prepare students for their professional careers while advancing marine science and transforming public discourse and policy towards sustainable interaction with the natural world.

Student Spotlight:

Katie Duncan, graduate student at MLML, was named a finalist in the 2022 Algae Prize competition for her and her team's “AquaPen" innovation. The tool measures in near real-time the nitrogen stress of microalgae, specifically diatoms, a group of ecologically and industrially relevant microalgae.

Council on Ocean Affairs, Science & Technology

Operating as the CSU's systemwide organization for ocean and coastal research, education and workforce development, the Council on Ocean Affairs, Science & Technology​ (COAST) supports faculty and student research at each of the 23 campuses. COAST is currently a partner on the recent $9.5 million NIFA NextGen award to the ​Agricultural Research Institute (ARI). Over the next five years, undergraduate and graduate student research fellows will address sustainable aquaculture, plastic, pesticide and nutrient pollution and work with industries​ to develop alternative methods and better practices.

Student Spotlight:

Fernanda Portillo, first-generation Latina and undergraduate geography student at San Diego State, received an award from COAST's new Field Experience Support Program. The award allowed Portillo to participate in a 10-day field course in August 2022 and build her self-confidence: “From being accepted into the hydrology field research experience to getting the support from COAST to participate in it, it is amazing to know that there are people out there who believe in me and are willing to provide me with support in my academic journey." ​


Social Science Research & Instructional Council

The Social Science Research and Instructional Council (SSRIC) was established in 1972 with the intention of assisting students and faculty in their learning, teaching and research involving the social sciences. It provides access to archival database resources, conducts training programs, encourages the collection and distribution of social science data, and advises CSU administration on policies related to providing quantitative social science data.

Student Spotlight:

Anna Rulloda, a political science graduate of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, gave a presentation for SSRIC's annual Social Science Student Symposium conference in 2019 where she showcased a project that required a massive data-collection process, scraping web data on 2018 congressional candidates' Twitter activity and then coding the contents of candidates' tweets. Rulloda put her experience with SSRIC to good use, becoming an analyst for “X", formerly known as Twitter, following her graduation from the CSU.


STEM-NET ​(Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Network) connects and strengthens faculty research and educational opportunities by expanding active learning, promoting innovative pedagogy and supporting CSU faculty in developing grant proposals with the potential for scaling and sustainability. In the 2022-2023 academic year, STEM-NET facilitated the development and submission of more than 12 proposals, awarded nearly $300,000 in funds to 24 faculty members at 18 universities to support preliminary work leading to proposal submissions, and provided more than $83,000 to students for undergraduate research experiences. With collaboration at the forefront, STEM-NET has developed a virtual research café to help generate intercampus proposals and it's All Things STEM podcast highlights CSU research, scholarship and creative activities to encourage students to explore their passions and push the boundaries of their imaginations.

Student Spotlight:

Kiara Saucedo, a first-generation college student at San Diego State, is among the recipients of the 2023 STEM-NET Student Summer Research Program, which supports students conducting research under CSU faculty supervision. Her research interest focuses on assessing people's awareness of earthquake risks. Under the mentorship of Professor Gloria Faraone, Saucedo's project, titled "Bridging the Gap Between Civil Engineering and Society: Communicating Earthquake Risk Via Media," aims to effectively communicate earthquake risks to the public, emphasizing preparedness, procedures and infrastructure knowledge.


In an effort to address the water challenges facing California, CSU-WATER (Water Advocacy Toward Education and Research) combines the resources of all 23 CSU campuses to help the state's residents, agencies and industries improve their climate resilience, infrastructure, community assistance, environmental stewardship and conservation. ​CSU-WATER aims to achieve a long-term, sustainable water supply for California through education, research and policy development by harnessing the leadership within the CSU system. By engaging in all aspects of water use, faculty and students from a variety of disciplines and expertise have the unique ability to rapidly find interdisciplinary solutions to pressing water issues in California, thus acting as a valuable support to state water agencies in executing and amending their water management missions.​​

Student Spotlight:

Mallory Sutherland, agricultural business student in the Smittcamp Family Honors College at Fresno State, is a research assistant on a CSU-WATER project studying the spatial and operational consistency of underground water across the San Joaquin Valley to help ensure its compliance with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. She intends to use her research for her Honors Thesis Project. This spring, Sutherland was awarded the Association of California Water Agencies' Diversity Scholarship to fund the project. 


Learn more about how the CSU's multi-campus consortiums are supporting student and faculty research while elevating California's agricultural, environmental and technological landscapes at the Multi-Campus Collaborations website.​