Innovators & Pioneers

It takes an open mind, driven by curiosity and a hunger for answers, to search for new ways to approach longstanding challenges and push the envelope of what’s possible. This spirit of innovation has been celebrated and nurtured at the CSU throughout our 60-year history by our faculty, students and alumni. Their willingness to explore, coupled with their diligent work and subsequent findings, have led to breakthroughs in a multitude of industries. Take a look at just a few examples of how the CSU has pioneered innovations and discoveries in California and beyond.

 Stanislaus State student Mi’ShayeVenerable, left, and a fellow student posewith decorative gifts while getting ready forthe holidays on November 9, 2016.


Physics student William Mixter works on a Magneto-Optical Trap (MOT), which develops methods to cool and trap atoms with laser light, March 16, 2018. The MOT was donated by 1997 Noble Laureate William Phillips to the Physics Department.

Photo: Jason Halley

Chemistry student Sharinjit Kaur looks inside an atom with Sama VR, a virtual reality class partnered with Sama Learning, March 4, 2019.

Photo: Jason Halley

Dominguez Hills

A Cal State Dominguez Hills student works the controls on a large computer while a track printer in the foreground prints out data, 1970.

Dr. Laura Robles (center) directs students in lab work, 1990s. Now retired, Robles was known for promoting the interests of students, always including their names in publications. She was the originator and driving force of Student Research Day at CSUDH, in which students in all disciplines can present their research in a competitive, professional setting on campus, with winners able to present statewide.


East Bay

Professor Chris Baysdorfer (far right) demonstrates a sequencing technique to students in Cal State East Bay’s molecular lab, November 29, 2019.


Professor Joshua Smith (left) and associate professor Geoffrey Lovelace pose for a photo at the Gravitational-Wave Physics and Astronomy Center on September 5, 2012.


Alumnus Cameron Aljilani (left), captain of the U.S. Navy submarine USS Connecticut, flies the CSUF flag in the Arctic Circle during ​the Navy's Ice Exercise, March 2020. 


Senior life science major Leigh Manley studies a harbor seal pup at Abalone Beach near Patrick's Point State Park, north of Trinidad, in 1953. Former HSU President Cornelius Siemens lobbied Sacramento for money to purchase an oceangoing vessel for instructional purposes so marine mammals could be studied from the ocean, too. HSU received money for the boat.


Professor Jeffrey Kane (center) works with students in the Fire Lab, March 21, 2019.

Long Beach

Cal State Long Beach graduate student Patrick Rex uses a drone to survey a shark off the shore of Long Beach, August 14, 2019. Members of the Shark Lab conduct aerial surveys of the water from San Diego to Santa Barbara using helicopters and drones, and attempt to determine if shark encounter rates can be predictable. All sightings are immediately reported.

Photo: Sean DuFrene


Student Elishebah Tate-Pulliam (left), Professor Christine Whitcraft (center) and student Cody Fees work on an oyster restoration project, November 26, 2019. Professor Whitcraft and CSULB students are partnering with Cal State Fullerton and Orange County Coastkeeper to restore native oysters in conjunction with restoring eelgrass habitat.

Photo: Sean DuFrene

Monterey Bay

Students in Professor Steve Moore’s robotics class developed a set of remote-controlled gadgets for undersea research. Here, they enjoy a rare opportunity to test those devices with the help of Antipodes, a submersible (small submarine) capable of diving to depths of more than 900 feet. Antipodes is operated by the Ocean Gate Foundation, October 2011.


Students prepare to enter the water during their scientific diving class on February 7, 2012.


Dr. Jill Adler-Moore (far right) professor in the Biological Science Department, teaches during her Medical Mycology lab at Cal Poly Pomona. Adler helped develop and patent AmBisome, a novel drug delivery system that has become one of the best treatments for human fungal diseases and the human parasite infection, leishmaniasis, January 24, 2013.

Lydia Thanh, Global Studies and Maritime Affairs, 2018 

Cal Poly Pomona engineering students (right to left) Richard Picard, Ethan Sichler, Will Morris and Edwin Betady pose with their test rocket. They are part of a team with the ambitious goal to develop a liquid-fueled rocket and help CPP become the first university to launch a rocket into space. (Photo predates COVID-19.)

San Diego

Engineering researcher Kee Moon works on a brain-controlled smart wheelchair. An SDSU graduate student wears a brain-computer interface sensor on her head and rides a computer-controlled electric wheelchair, while the sensor measures brain waves in real time, January 16, 2018.

Lydia Thanh, Global Studies and Maritime Affairs, 2018 

Graduate students Lilianna Landin (left) and Alex Fox (right) take a water sample from the Tijuana River, December 9, 2019. 

Photo: Kellie Woodhouse

San Francisco

San Francisco State’s Estuary & Ocean Science (EOS) Center is the only marine science laboratory dedicated to research and scholarship located on San Francisco Bay. It brings together biologists, chemists, geographers, oceanographers and other researchers (like the one pictured, who’s bringing in water from the bay for testing) under the same roof, February 27, 2018.

Lydia Thanh, Global Studies and Maritime Affairs, 2018 

San José

​​Left to right, Jeland Patice, Bryan Chan and Dr. Colleen O'​Leary-Kelley show off the VR simulation program they created to help train nurses. SJSU students ​present their research, scholarship and creative activity at the 38th Annual Student Research Forum, April 5, 2017.​

Lecturer Jeremiah Garrido (left) leads his forensic science students through a lab exercise at San José State, September 11, 2018.

Lydia Thanh, Global Studies and Maritime Affairs, 2018 

San Luis Obispo

John Bellardo (left), computer science professor and a director at the Cal Poly CubeSat Research Lab, looks over a CubeSat with a student in the lab, May 23, 2019.

Photo: Joe Johnston

Students prepare to gather samples as part of their work on undergraduate research, which analyzes ocean water samples from the Cal Poly Pier to determine the carbon dioxide content of local seawater, Feb. 7, 2020.

Photo: Joe Johnston

Lydia Thanh, Global Studies and Maritime Affairs, 2018 


Dr. Farid Farahmand, chair of the department of Engineering Science, holds the patented prototype device he created to encourage patients to use incentive spirometers, which are handheld breathing devices that measure how deeply a patient can inhale and help prevent respiratory issues, July 2018.


Germán Silva ’19, conducts research on the health of coastal salt marshes in the Salinas Valley Marshland, 2019.

Lydia Thanh, Global Studies and Maritime Affairs, 2018 

Professor My Lo Thao (center) and students research the prevention of plastic pollution, February 6, 2020.


Do you have a great photo of a CSU innovator or pioneer? ​Email a JPG or TIFF to precord@calstate.edu ​and it wi​ll be submitted to CSU Dominguez Hills' Digital Collection Database for archiving.