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Fall Conference 2022

Fall Conference week

Cal Poly's week-long kick-off for the academic year includes sessions for faculty and staff, President Armstrong's keynote Convocation message as well as awards honoring excellence on campus. 

Fall Conference Schedule


Monday, September 12, 2022. Doors open at 2 p.m.

Emcee Keith Humphrey will begin the program at 2:30 p.m., which includes a keynote from President Armstrong as well as remarks from the ASI President, California Faculty Association (CFA) President, California State Universities Employees Union (CSUEU) President and the Academic Senate Chair.

Provost Jackson-Elmoore will wrap up the afternoon by honoring distinguished Cal Poly faculty and staff.

We will be live-streaming this event for those that can't be with us in person. 

2022 Convocation Program


Keith Humphrey
Vice President for Student Affairs


Gracie Babatola | ASI President
Tom Randall | CSUEU Labor Council President
Lisa Kawamura | CFA SLO Chapter President
Thomas Gutierrez | Academic Senate Chair

University Address

Jeffrey D. Armstrong

Presentation of University Awards

Cynthia Jackson-Elmoore
Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs


Performing Arts Center outdoor plaza beginning at 4 p.m.

Awards and Recipients

We are pleased to honor these exceptional members of our campus community. 

Distinguished Teaching

Distinguished Teaching Awardees are recognized for their excellence in teaching, contributions to student engagement and achievement, innovative instruction and commitment to student success.

Anahid Behrouzi

Portrait of Anahid BehrouziAnahid Behrouzi

Associate Professor
Architectural Engineering Department, College of Architecture and Environmental Design

Anahid Behrouzi wants every student to succeed in their studies, follow their passion and grow as future engineers. “From her uniquely prepared lecture note sheets to (holding) office hours to accommodate students’ schedules, she doesn’t just give her students her best effort, she gives them everything they need to be successful,” an alumni nominator wrote. Behrouzi brings excitement and energy to a topic that might otherwise be unrelatable for some students. One former student, who took eight labs and lectures from Behrouzi, wrote, “Each one was a new adventure because Anahid had the habit of combining real-world examples into the topic for each class.” Behrouzi strives to integrate diversity, equity and inclusion into her courses and engages students in these efforts, such as mentoring them in projects to create content showcasing the contributions of underrepresented engineers. She also recruits, advises and travels with a student design team to an annual international seismic design competition; actively participates in the student chapter of Structural Engineers Association of California; and encourages students to get involved with activities around campus. As a nominator wrote, “I believe that the sense of concern Anahid has for her students is not only an attribute that makes her fit for this nomination, but is the reason she began to teach in the first place.”

Anahid Behrouzi earned undergraduate degrees in civil engineering and Spanish language and literature from North Carolina State University, and her master’s and doctorate from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Philip Costanzo

Portrait of Philip CostanzoPhilip Costanzo

Chemistry and Biochemistry Department, College of Science and Mathematics

Professor Philip Costanzo goes above and beyond to connect with students and foster their academic success, as well as their success as future scientists. His dedication and care toward his students prompted many to pursue educational and professional opportunities they did not think possible and left lasting impressions that continue long after graduation. “Without question, Phil is the most influential person in my life outside of my family and has/will be a lifelong mentor professionally and on a personal level,” wrote one nominator. His teaching style, which emphasizes critical thinking and fundamental knowledge over memorization, leaves a long-lasting impact on the way his students tackle real-world challenges. Beyond lectures brimming with useful material, Costanzo also develops excellent undergraduate research projects, has chaperoned students to the American Chemical Society conferences multiple times and served as faculty advisor to the campus chemistry organization Alpha Chi Sigma. “This support extends far beyond the timeframe that he is directly teaching you — for myself and many others, he has continued to check in and provide us with honest advice and encouragement while also making sure we are being the best professionals we can be, whether that be in industry or academia,” an alumni nominator wrote. Another added, “He taught us necessary life skills, prepared us for the world post-college and gave us the tools to become bright, happy and successful adults.”

Philip Costanzo earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Carnegie-Mellon University and a doctorate in organic chemistry from the University of California, Davis.

Nishanta Rajakaruna

Portrait of Nishi RajakarunaNishanta Rajakaruna

Biological Sciences Department, College of Science and Mathematics

A passionate lecturer, advocate for students, and thoughtful and caring mentor, Nishanta “Nishi” Rajakaruna has positively impacted the lives of many students through his classes and as a club advisor, Faculty in Residence in yakʔitʸutʸu and through a host of activities such as tea nights and a hiking club called Plants, Peaks and Pals. Rajakaruna is “a prime example of a teacher whose passion for their subject is infectious,” wrote one student. Another added, “Professor Rajakaruna paints a picture of every topic he teaches and by doing so makes his lectures a vivid learning experience.” In addition to his ability to help students clearly understand complex biological concepts, he also goes out of his way to connect with and advocate for students. “He spends much of his time outside the classroom working to provide useful resources, career information, internship and scholarship opportunities, and even social gatherings for community building for students,” a student wrote. “Even during the global pandemic, Professor Rajakaruna created virtual gatherings to allow for continued community building and a sense of belonging for students through hosting virtual ‘tea nights’ with the tea club, movie nights through Zoom, and fun and informative classes about food and nutrition.” Another noted, “He always creates spaces for students where they can expand their wings.”

Nishanta Rajakaruna earned a bachelor’s degree in human ecology with an emphasis in botany from College of the Atlantic, and a master’s degree and doctorate in botany from the University of British Columbia.

Distinguished Scholarship

Distinguished Scholars exemplify the teacher-scholar model by involving students in their research and applying Cal Poly expertise in direct contributions to our region, state and nation.

Anurag Pande

Portrait of Anurag PandeAnurag Pande

Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, College of Engineering

Anurag Pande came to teach in the College of Engineering in 2008, and the professor, who specializes in transportation engineering, has loved his job since. He has been honored with a host of awards— from his 2005 dissertation to national recognition to Cal Poly honors, including the 2021-22 Distinguished Scholarship Award. He is the first civil engineering faculty member to receive the DSA. Pande’s accomplishments represent Cal Poly’s teacher-scholar model of faculty whose research benefits students through research opportunities, strong mentor-relationships, and the chance to explore their own creativity. The highly accomplished scholar has secured over 30 externally funded research grants (as PI or co-PI) worth more than $2.5 million from local, state and federal agencies. The majority of that funding has supported student research that resulted in 18 publications co-authored with students. He is the faculty advisor to the student chapter of the Institute of Transportation Engineers — honored with the Best Student Chapter Award four times since 2014. He also oversees Cal Poly’s Service-Learning Program. 

Anurag Pande earned a bachelor’s in civil engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, and a master’s degree and doctorate in civil engineering from the University of Central Florida.

Nishanta Rajakaruna

Portrait of Nishi RajakarunaNishanta Rajakaruna

Biological Sciences Department, College of Science and Mathematics

Nishanta “Nishi” Rajakaruna, a professor of plant biology since 2017, developed his passion for plants as a child growing up in Sri Lanka during a visit to its Sinharaja Forest Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage site and biodiversity hotspot. This school year the two-time Fulbright Scholar returns to South Africa to carry out studies on plants, lichens and microbes found on serpentine soils and teach a new course on geoecology. Rajakaruna’s research examines how chemically harsh geologies shape the diversity, ecology and evolution of plants, microbes and lichens. In the process he established a student-centered, research program in the interdisciplinary study of geology and ecology. The DSA committee said his scholarly work was highly impactful with widespread influence regionally and on a global scale. Rajakaruna’s research has involved scores of students and resulted in two dozen peer-reviewed journal publications over the last five years— including five with eight student co-authors, and two book chapters that included five undergrads’ input. And more than half of his 43 conference presentations include students. Rajakaruna sits on the editorial boards of five leading international journals and serves on the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Peer Review Committee. He also served as a National Research Council Canada Postdoctoral Fellow at Stanford University in 2004. Campus and external references praised his contributions and the reach of his research, which has earned him a reputation as a global expert.

Nishanta Rajakaruna earned a bachelor’s degree in human ecology from the College of the Atlantic, a master’s degree in plant ecology and a doctorate in plant evolutionary ecology from the University of British Columbia. 

Alison Ventura

Portrait of Alison VenturaAlison Ventura

Associate Professor
Kinesiology and Public Health Department, College of Science and Mathematics

Alison Ventura, associate professor of kinesiology and public health on campus since 2014 and director of the Healthy Kids Lab at Cal Poly, takes inspiration from Jean Piaget, the Swiss psychologist known for his work on child development. As an educator, she works to foster within students the creativity, confidence, and ambition to venture beyond what is known to develop new interpretations of and discoveries about their worlds. She involves students in research focused on supporting caregivers to children from conception to their second birthday — the first 1,000 days. Combining her expertise in human development, family studies, early childhood nutrition and public health, she designs research projects to shed light on how early childhood feeding experiences and growth trajectories affect eating behaviors and weight status over time. The Distinguished Scholarship Award committee lauded those studies and her efforts to secure over $4 million in funding (as a PI and/or Co-PI) from the National Institutes of Health. This prolific researcher has 43 publications at Cal Poly — the majority including university students —and has given numerous presentations at national and international conferences. Her second book, “Promoting Responsive Feeding during Breastfeeding, Bottle-feeding, and Introduction to Solid Foods,” was released in August. Her first, an anthology she edited, “Bottle-Feeding: Perceptions, Practices, and Health Outcomes,” was published in 2018.

Ventura earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology at UC Davis; master’s degrees in human development and family studies, and nutrition sciences; and a doctorate in human development and family studies from the Pennsylvania State University.  

Outstanding Staff

Outstanding Staff Award winners are selected based on their dedication, loyalty, expertise and contributions to Cal Poly.

Aaron Lazanoff

portrait of Aaron LazanoffAaron Lazanoff

Beef Operations Manager, College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences 

Aaron Lazanoff is praised as indispensable, capable, positive and approachable. He effectively manages multiple projects and the complex responsibilities of cattle operations at Chorro Ranch, Escuela Ranch, Serrano Ranch and Poly Canyon Ranch, as well as the cow/calf herd, stocker cattle and livestock operations at Swanton Pacific Ranch. He assists faculty instructing beef courses and personally instructs several beef-centered enterprises. A colleague said that Lazanoff’s “welcoming personality draws students from all backgrounds.” Another said, “He embraces the challenge to educate and mentor all students in his program, without bias.” Another called him “notably patient” and said, “He adopts a gentle and low-key approach … that makes him a natural mentor to students and new faculty and staff.” A well-respected member of the livestock grazing community known for his cheerful and willing attitude, he is credited with maintaining pristine rangelands that are considered a showcase for others to emulate. In addition, Lazanoff has made significant contributions to streamlining Cal Poly’s Bull Test and Sale, an annual event impacting hundreds of students and alumni. Always willing to help, he is sought after for advice and hands-on assistance and is known as the “go-to” guy for anything that needs fixing. 

Aaron Lazanoff earned a bachelor's degree in animal science from Cal Poly.

Cynthia Lambert

Portrait of Cynthia LambertCynthia Lambert 

Communications Specialist, University Communications and Marketing

Cynthia Lambert is valued as a phenomenal leader and tremendous asset, as well as a tireless, cheerful team member who is a “joy to work with.” In addition to her duties in University Communications and Marketing, Lambert serves as the Emergency Operations Center’s public information officer, leading communications and ensuring the right messaging is passed to faculty, staff and students with regard to COVID-19 testing and protocols. An EOC colleague said, “She is “one of the most dedicated individuals I have ever met. She has proven to be a phenomenal leader with superb relationship-building skills. She brings a high degree of dedication and passion to her job.” Another said, “Her enthusiasm and willingness to assist the campus community has served as a role model for the entire EOC team. We have seen her lift other team members’ spirits and bring them together to accomplish our objectives.” As editor of Cal Poly Report, Lambert never misses a beat gathering submissions and proactively searching for pertinent content. Her vast knowledge of the university and ties to so many within it keep this publication among the most read in the campus community. “Lambert has cultivated a sterling reputation for excellence and professionalism,” wrote a nominator.”

Cynthia Lambert earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from Cal Poly. 

Scott Tucker

Scott Tucker

Technology Architect, Information Technology

Scott Tucker brings strong analytical and problem-solving skills to provide critical technical leadership that goes beyond expectations. He served in various roles throughout the pandemic, including as the Emergency Operations Center’s technical lead, designing, developing and delivering functional dashboards used to access risk and effectiveness of COVID-19 response interventions. His initiative, work ethic and expertise have been critical to Cal Poly's COVID-19 response. With an idea and general direction from campus leadership, he built a new system for saliva testing while expanding the use of an existing technology to serve a new purpose. “He has tackled every project assigned to him with enthusiasm and competence,” said a colleague. “He invariably understands exactly what a project is all about from the outset and gets it done quickly and effectively.” Tucker enthusiastically assists whenever an issue arises. He spent many long hours during the evening and holidays collaborating with staff to ensure that the proposed solutions for tracking campus’ COVID-19 mitigation measures would launch successfully. One nominator said that Tucker “joined ITS as part of IT centralization and immediately became an integral member. He quickly adopted the team's work management practices, and his collegiality and collaborative spirit have made his new team stronger.” 

Scott Tucker earned a bachelor's degree in computer science from Cal Poly.

Outstanding Faculty Advisor

The Outstanding Faculty Advisor Award, established by the Academic Advising Council, recognizes one faculty member annually who has had a positive influence on students through academic advising.

Anahid Behrouzi

Portrait of Anahid BehrouziAnahid Behrouzi

Associate Professor
Architectural Engineering Department, College of Architecture and Environmental Design

Anahid Behrouzi, an associate professor of architectural engineering with a focus on reinforced concrete design, structural analysis and dynamics, has a motto: engineer with heart. In her six years at Cal Poly, she has received national recognition from professional societies as well as numerous teaching and service honors including the 2021-22 Outstanding Faculty Advisor Award, which recognizes an educator who has had a positive influence on students through academic advising. Her graduate students called her an inspiration saying Professor Behrouzi: “goes above and beyond”; “challenged me to be like her: proactive … and swift to seize learning opportunities”; and “had a significant impact on my life.” She empowers students to lead the evolution of engineering curriculum by mentoring them in projects to create physical and digital demonstration tools, hands-on experiments and content highlights the contributions of diverse engineers. As a result, numerous students have co-authored engineering conference papers that she later integrates into courses inspiring other undergraduate and graduate students. As an educator, she works to nurture future engineers who can balance the technical rigor of structural design challenges with empathy for the stakeholders who will live, work and visit these built spaces.

Anahid Behrouzi earned undergraduate degrees in civil engineering and Spanish language and literature from North Carolina State University, and her master’s and doctorate from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Learn by Doing Scholar Award

Pauline Faure

Portrait of Pauline FaurePauline Faure

Assistant Professor
Aerospace Engineering Department, College of Engineering

Project Title: ETOILES PowerSat Project -- A Small but Mighty Spacecraft to Tackle Climate Change

Pauline Faure is engaging a multidisciplinary group of 49 students in a PowerSat project as part of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s CubeSat Launch Initiative, which aims to launch by 2025. The students are developing a product -- from design to operations and disposal -- for actual customers: Deployables Cubed GmbH (DcubeD), a German space startup, and Maverick Space System. Students prepare a quarterly engineering report that provides the status on various areas of the spacecraft. So far students have shared their experiences in three published conference papers. They have conveyed technical information to various audiences for various purposes, defined methodology and assumptions, interpreted results, identified and addressed gaps, performed research and provided context to support knowledge transfer and reproduction of results. Teams of mentors and mentees -- regardless of their educational level -- are empowered to contribute and have the opportunity to learn. Students learn to work in a multidisciplinary team, take ownership of their tasks and the quality of their work, as well as communicate with a diverse group of people, handle conflicting situations and learn to appreciate multiple perspectives on tackling problems. PowerSat is a small unique spacecraft platform that could open new avenues for the practical implementation of space-based solar power. Overall, PowerSat has the capacity to be a technological advancement for the aerospace industry and for humankind at large. 

Pauline Faure earned a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in Materials Science from the Ecole Européenne d'Ingénieurs en Génie des Matériaux, France and a master’s degree and doctorate in Mechanical and Control Engineering from the Kyushu Institute of Technology, Japan. ​​​

Randi Barros

Randi Barros

Interdisciplinary Studies in Liberal Arts Department, College of Liberal Arts

Project Title: Cal Poly Short Cuts Student Film Festival

Students in Randi Barros’ Storytelling (ISLA 340) and Cinematic Process (ISLA 341) courses create “real world” films that are screened at the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival. Students are introduced to thoughtful storytelling, memorable characters and professional filmmaking techniques and practices. They learn to uncover and translate their own unique tales into screenplays through writing assignments designed to elicit personal stories of conflict and connection, which serve as launching pads for fictional stories. In ISLA 341, students choose a handful of screenplays written by students in ISLA 340 and form production groups. They attend a hands-on workshop with a professional cinematographer and sound recordist to learn about the equipment and its possibilities. Then, they develop a pre-production package with storyboards, a shooting script and production schedules. At a professional casting session, students audition and cast actors. Then, they collaborate to produce, direct and edit their films. Students design posters promoting the film festival screening, develop web promotion, create press packages, and participate in television, radio and newspaper interviews. The films have been honored at other film festivals, winning first-, second- and third-place prizes for Best Short Screenplay and first place for Best Promotional Video at the CSU Media Arts Festival. These students create powerful, entertaining short movies that audiences can connect to and be inspired by, while developing skills that help them grow personally and professionally.

Randi Barros earned a bachelor's degree in film studies from Ithaca College, and an M.F.A. in television and screenwriting from Stephens College.

Provost's Leadership Award for Partnership in Philanthropy

Al Estes

Portrait of Al EstesAl Estes

Department Head and Professor
Architectural Engineering Department, College of Architecture and Environmental Design

In his role as Architectural Engineering Department head for the last 15 years, Al Estes has stewarded an outstanding advancement and fundraising program that has resulted in facility improvements, support of faculty initiatives and a huge enhancement of the ARCE student experience at Cal Poly. Estes continued to maintain the excellence of these efforts throughout the pandemic, a nominator wrote. “While others shut down, he saw this as an opportunity to contact donors, stay in touch, solicit gifts and steward donors in new ways.” His numerous initiatives include five-year sponsorships for eight labs within his department, generating nearly $1 million in gifts that help maintain facilities; completing the second iteration of the Parent’s Learn by Doing fund, which has raised $100,000 from parents and supporters of students in the ARCE program; and forming an ARCE Industrial Advisory Board, which last year sponsored the ARCE Student in Need fund and raised $18,000. These and many other accomplishments have resulted in a department advancement program that is unrivaled, a nominator wrote. “The consistent development and improvement of these efforts over 15 years and the ability to enhance success through a pandemic is remarkable. Al Estes has been the driving force behind this effort.” Estes is the only person to have won this award twice, having been previously recognized in 2012.

Al Estes earned a bachelor’s degree from the U. S. Military Academy; master’s degrees in civil engineering – structures, and civil engineering – construction management, from Stanford University; and a Doctor of Philosophy, Civil Engineering, from the University of Colorado. After 28 years of service, he retired from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at the rank of Colonel and joined the Cal Poly faculty in 2007.