Our collection of past stories.
Amber Hammons, Associate Professor, Child, Family, and Consumer Sciences
Amber earned her Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of California, Riverside in 2009. She joined Fresno State faculty in 2012 as an Assistant Professor. Her research area examines families and health. She is currently a co-Project Director on two USDA grants looking at obesity prevention, totaling $4.4 million dollars. This picture shows Dr. Hammons with her obesity prevention research team.
One of the most rewarding aspects of her work is getting students involved in research. She is the recipient of the Promising New Faculty Provost’s Award, the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology Outstanding Research and Scholarly Award, and is a CSU Quality Online Learning and Teaching Awardee for Exemplary Teaching and Learning in Online Courses.
Where are you from? What was your childhood dream? What lead you to choose your field?
I grew up in a small town of 4,000 people in Arnold, California. In high school I knew that after graduation I wanted to experience “big city life” and my dream cities to live in were San Diego or Los Angeles. I started my freshman year at UCSD in 2004 as a pre-med biology major. As a teen I was inspired by the television show ER and wanted to become a pediatric surgeon. After stumbling upon a developmental psychology course at the end of my first year, I realized my true passion was in the field of psychology and changed my major.
What has made the biggest impact on your career?
What I believe has made the biggest impact on my career is the relationships that I have created, hands down. One of the areas in my life that I have been the luckiest has been in having amazing mentors who offered indispensable advice and guidance. One of my professors helped me to decide that developmental psychology was the right path for me rather than the clinical route, and another mentor connected me to my “celebrity” mentor who I was lucky enough to work with for three years before coming to Fresno State. My mentors have greatly shaped my career trajectory and I hope I can help my students in similar ways.
What was the best moment of your career so far?
Ironically, the best moment of my career so far stemmed from my worst moment. I missed an important sign that something within my research program wasn’t working quite right. As a result it risked the success of the project. However, this tested me in important ways and opened up more opportunities than any other failure I have encountered. Ultimately, with the help of my students, we were able to get the project not only back on track but in a better place than it would have been originally. I learned more about myself from this particular experience than any other single career experience and am grateful for this failure.
What are your hobbies?
When I am not teaching or engaged in research, I am spending time with my two small children and my husband. And I’m reading fiction.
What is one teaching tip that you would like to share with your colleagues or with
your younger self?
This is a hard one for me because there are so many things I would want to say to my younger myself. Makes me wonder though if I knew then what I know now, would I even be where I am today? With that in mind, I’d give myself the generic advice to relax and enjoy that cup of tea--very few things are ever as serious as they seem.
Participating in CFE opportunities has definitely made me a better teacher, especially in my online courses. I learned so many things about technology and what’s available out there to optimize your online courses. My online courses have significantly changed for the better since I’ve implemented the best practices that I learned from the workshops. As a result I was a CSU Quality Online Learning and Teaching Awardee for Exemplary Teaching and Learning in Online Courses, an honor that I am very proud of. If I had more time I would take advantage of every CFE opportunity. I can honestly say that I have walked away from each workshop with a new skill or understanding of something.
Sean Johnson, Lecturer, Public Health
Sean Johnson is a Lecturer in the Public Health Department, College of Health and Human Services where he teaches the First Responder and Emergency Medical Technician courses since 2010. Sean has a Master’s Degree in Education and was the Graduate Deans Medalist for the Kremen School of Education and Human Development in 2010. Sean also holds certifications as a Paramedic and Certified Emergency Manager from the International Association of Emergency Managers.
Sean is originally from Detroit, Michigan where he joined the US Navy and was stationed at Naval Air Station, Lemoore as a Petty Officer Second Class/AT2. Sean completed two deployments on the USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) supporting F/A-18 squadrons operations in the first Gulf War as a radar technician. Upon leaving the military Sean chose to continue a life of service working for American Ambulance as an EMT and finally as a Paramedic before coming to work for Fresno City Fire Department in 2004.
Sean discovered his love for teaching as a SCUBA diving instructor. Sean started teaching in 1994 as an instructor for Aqua Sports in Fresno, leading classes and trips in California and abroad. It was in this environment that Sean learned patience, compassion and mentorship for his students. Sean loved seeing the results of creating safe divers. Around this same time Sean discovered the Kings River and whitewater rafting. Sean fell in love with the sport and became a seasonal guide for the Outdoor Adventure Center on the navy base. Part of the guide requirements was attending swiftwater rescue technician courses. While attending the basic class Sean met his mentor Jim Segerstrom and went on to become an instructor trainer for Rescue3 International. Jim challenged Sean to become involved in curriculum committees and write articles for Technical Rescue Magazine and the Rescue3 International newsletter. Eventually his writing became noticed and was formally invited as a guest speaker for ICESAR, an international technical search and rescue conference in Reykjavik, Iceland. Sean continues to teach for Rescue3 to this day.
Sean strives to bring his 20 years of experience in emergency management to the classroom. Sean is currently serving as a Captain with Fresno City Fire Department and most recently was deployed as a rescue technician to the Montecito mudslides with California Rescue Task Force 5. Every concept in Sean's curriculum is backed up with relevance and case studies of actual emergencies that Sean has been involved with. For over 14 semesters, feedback from students that take Sean's course consistently, give him high ratings with emphasis on his experience, content and passion for teaching.
Sean is married to his wife of 20 years, Jennifer, and has two teenage sons, Jacob and Ryan. In his spare time Sean enjoys outdoor adventure sports and traveling abroad with his family. One of his most unique trips was a visit to the Dr. Who museum in Wales before it closed down. One of his most ambitious trips was a 2 month cross country trip to New York and back down the east coast, back to California hauling a 5th wheel trailer. Sean hopes to continue to travel abroad every summer with his family to unique destinations and further adventures.
One teaching tip Sean would like to share with his colleagues is to continue to develop passion in what you are teaching and for your students. Sean is proud that he has students reach out to him years later to report they went on to medical school, joined the military, changed their majors to nursing and other service careers because they were inspired by his class. Sean states "that is my fuel, it is what drives me, I love being a mentor for the next generation and we have some awesome students at Fresno State". Sean is grateful to be part of the team at Fresno State that continues to challenge its faculty and provide professional development opportunities. "Fresno State really invests in its faculty!"
The Center for Faculty Excellence is simply amazing and full of talented, professional and forward thinking educators. I take advantage of every Cohort and Academy they offer. CFE has transformed my teaching to the modern era. When I started teaching I was using the traditional model of long lectures, reading and tests. The DISCOVERe and eScholar programs are phenomenal. My classroom is unrecognizable from when I started. My classes are all now either hybrid or completely online using apps and video tools taught in the CFE courses and my results are seen in student achievement. I would recommend every educator at Fresno State enroll in these programs and challenge your own curriculum.
Miguel A. Perez, Professor, Public Health
Dr. Miguel A. Perez is a health educator whose work focuses on cultural competence and global health issues among adolescents. His collaborative work with colleagues at both Fresno State and other institutions has resulted in one textbook, two co-edited textbooks, about 15 book chapters, and over 50 peer-reviewed publications as well as numerous presentations (peer reviewed and invited) at local, state, national, and international conferences. Since arriving at Fresno State in 1999, Dr. Perez has received four Fulbright awards and has taught as well as conducted research in several Latin America, Africa, and Asia countries. His work has also earned him two honorary professorships, one at the Universidad Central del Este in the Dominican Republic and one at the Universidad Ricardo Palma in Peru.
Dr. Perez credits his desire for scientific inquiry to the lessons learned in his early childhood. As a child, he was a voracious reader, a skill facilitated by reading the daily newspaper to his illiterate father. As any “good” child he tried to get away with taking short cuts in doing homework figuring that his mother who had a third grade education would not know the difference, to this day he is uncertain as to how, but she always knew when he was being less than truthful with her. Those early lessons provide the foundation for his life-long quest for expanding his horizons and have served him well in his academic career. It is with a hint of nostalgia that he says “Thanks mom and dad for instilling such a good work ethic in me.”
Despite his desire for learning, Dr. Perez never considered an academic career until his junior year in college. Limited funds and a lack of familiarity with the higher education system were two of the biggest barriers to consider such a lofty goal; however, thanks to extraordinary mentorship by a number of people who hold a special place in his heart, Dr. Perez was able to achieve something that once seemed outside this reach. “Receiving my Ph.D., surrounded by family and friends was a humbling experience,” said Dr. Perez, “words will never fully express the depth of my gratitude especially to my sister Betty.”
Dr. Perez has enjoyed mentoring students over the years at Fresno State. From his
early days as faculty liaison to the Health Careers Opportunity Program to his current
service learning class in the Dominican Republic he has strived to pay forward what
he received as a student. He is proud of his students and challenges them to overcome
the many obstacles they face in their lives. He is particularly proud of those students
who despite obstacles achieve their academic careers and chose to seek graduate level
education, with many obtaining masters’ level degrees and three of them now holding
doctoral degrees and working as faculty members.
In addition to his work in the classroom, Dr. Perez has provided his time and expertise to many professional and local organizations. In 2008, he was appointed by the State Superintendent of Education to the panel that drafted the Health Education Standards for grades K-12 in the State of California. In 2017, he was appointed by the Department of Education to the panel drafting the Health Education Framework for the State of California. These two documents provide the foundation for health education content in K-12 in the State.
Dr. Perez has received over 40 awards for his professional accomplishments and for his work with students. Notably among them, in 2009 Dr. Perez received both the Professional Service Award from the American Association of Health Educators and a Certificate of Recognition for Distinguished Accomplishments from the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities. In 2013 he received the Faculty Mentor Award from the College of Health and Human Services at Fresno State, and in 2015, Dr. Perez received the Corazón “Heart” Award for his work with Latino community health workers from Vision y Compromiso.
Reflecting on his years as a teacher, Dr. Perez advises his former self to “never miss an opportunity to listen to others, those few minutes of your life can be life altering to them.” He advises himself and others to learn from their mistakes and to never be afraid to try new things, “you never know what new doors of opportunity will be opened.”
In his continuing quest for improving his pedagogical skills, Dr. Perez has participated in a number of programs designed to expand his teaching toolbox. By far the most important tools obtained in that process have been the trainings provided by the Center for Faculty Excellence and its predecessors here at Fresno State. His teaching has improved through myriad trainings offered by CFE and his participation in the DISCOVERe program has provided skills he uses in the classroom on a daily basis. CFE has also been a good place to interact with like-minded individuals, expand horizons, and meet the best Instructional Designers in the business.
Dr. Perez earned his bachelor’s degree in research in Mental Health at California State University, Dominguez Hills and his Master’s Degree and Ph.D. in health education at the Pennsylvania State University. He is blessed to count on the support of his loving wife Helda, also a faculty member at Fresno State, and their marvelous children.
Joy Goto, Professor and Department Chair, Chemistry
Joy was born and raised in Fresno, California. She earned a B.S. in Chemistry from UC Davis and her Ph.D. in Chemistry from UCLA. She is the recipient of the UCLA Alumni Association distinguished dissertation year award and a Collegium of University Teaching fellowship. She was a John Douglas French Alzheimer’s Foundation research fellow at Harvard Medical School and a Beckman Senior Research Fellow in the Neurosciences Division at the City of Hope.
She has mentored and trained 40 undergraduates and 15 graduate students in her research laboratory. She has co-authored 10 peer-reviewed publications, including seven with her students. Many of these students have gone on to work in the biotech industry, and to attend Ph.D. programs, or medical, dental or pharmacy school. Dr. Goto uses her training in bioinorganic chemistry and neuroscience to contribute to the understanding of neurodegenerative diseases, oxidative stress and metal homeostasis. Her research is supported by University and College grants, including co-authored grants from the NIH, NSF, USDA, and private foundations totaling ~$3.5 million.
She was awarded the 2016 Fresno State Women’s Association Faculty Leadership Award and was a 2017 Fresno State Talks – Discovery speaker, by student nomination. She has served on the President’s Commission on Human Relations and Equity (PCHRE) and is a Fresno State representative for the CSU Asian American and Pacific Islander Initiative.
What was your childhood dream? My childhood dream was to become a ballerina/gymnast/ice-skater, a pharmacist, or a veterinarian. Ultimately, my dream in college was to become a scientist and to explore and attempt to solve complex problems in health and human disease; I also wanted to travel the world.
What lead you to choose your field and what has made the biggest impact on my career? I always had teachers and mentors that encouraged and challenged me, and this lead to the self-realization that I was capable of achieving more than I thought I was capable of achieving. Teachers and my parents and two big brothers taught me to strive. They really had a strong ethos of education that inspired me to want to stay in academia, especially where I could balance teaching, research and service (not all at once but throughout my career). A university campus is vibrant, constantly changing and growing, and is an environment that I love to be in especially because I love learning and I truly enjoy teaching and mentoring students.
I became a chemist because I initially loved watching how you could see a chemical reaction (e.g. rust precipitating on a nail, baking soda and vinegar making a penny shine, fireworks colors) and how I could learn how to control something that initially seemed like a spontaneous phenomenon. There are principles in chemistry that guide how reactions and especially those in biochemistry can move forward. I just had so much fun with learning how to set-up experiments, how to tinker and troubleshoot, and how I could talk to other scientists at scientific meetings all over the world. All of these experiences eventually converged in wanting to become a scientist/faculty at an academic institution.
What is your favorite thing about Fresno State? I love the spirit of our campus and especially the students, faculty and staff in my home Department of Chemistry.
What is one teaching tip you would like to share with your colleagues or your younger
The one tip: Design activities to teach students how to learn and to develop complex critical thinking skills (i.e. don’t be the sage on the stage, but the guide on the side).
When I was a first year graduate student I was a teaching associate (TA) to 25-30 eager first-year UCLA science undergraduates taking their first general chemistry course. I did every single problem in the textbook to make sure I was prepared to teach the course. This extra work helped build my confidence to stand up in front of a group of eager students during a one-hour discussion section. The take home lesson is that while I was prepared to answer questions, this format did nothing to actually prepare the students how to hone their own skills solving problems or more importantly, developing and thinking on their own. It was good that I had literally done my homework, but I now realize that teaching is a process for the instructor just as much as it is for the students.
How has the Center for Faculty Excellence (CFE) helped to better your teaching and
learning to engage students for success?
I have attended seminars and workshops since my first years as a tenure-track faculty and still do. My understanding of pedagogy, scientific pedagogy has grown and developed and my natural tendency to be a life-long learner of teaching is sated. I have participated in FLCs, DISCOVERe, eScholar and a majority of the professional development (PD) opportunities offered by the CFE, and I will continue to participate.
The CFE has also been a great place to converse, gain support, and learn from fellow faculty and staff in all areas of our campus. I want to thank our CFE Instructional Designers (ID): Sue Yang, Mary Bennett, and JoLynne Blake; they are some of the best instructors on campus. They have made significant contributions to facilitating my learning environment in the CFE, as a faculty-student in the various workshops and PD opportunities throughout my time at Fresno State.
Bhupinder Singh, Assistant Professor, Physical Therapy Department
I am originally from Amritsar, India, where I first studied physical therapy. I came to the United States for my PhD in Physical Rehabilitation Sciences from the University of Iowa where I focused my research agenda on gait and biomechanics. I specialize in looking at the relationships between obesity and gait in children and adults. At Fresno State, I teach in the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program, and oversee the Gait Analysis Movement Evaluation (GAME) lab. I have been recognized as a Promising New Faculty, Outstanding Student Advisor and was recently awarded early tenure. While I always saw myself as a clinical researcher first, my students have opened my eyes to the joys of the classroom - I strive to help physical therapy students around the world become excellent scholars and practitioners. Fresno State gives me the unique opportunity to maintain a blend of high quality research and teaching diverse students.
Some of my greatest successes have been the result of looking for non-traditional solutions to problems. That is true in life as well as in academia; if a problem is impossible, look for ways to work around the problem.
The Center for Faculty Excellence (CFE) has been a great resource for me. I was a participant of multiple CFE initiatives and workshops. I was a DISCOVERe participant a few years back and now facilitate the DISCOVERe program as a faculty lead in the summer session. The program helps me in improving my pedagogy and gives me an opportunity to share my knowledge and skills with the greater Fresno State community. I see the importance of technology in my lab and in my classroom, and strongly support the initiative to expose students to various forms of learning and engaging with their academic material.
Keith Story, Assistant Professor, Marketing and Logistics Department
Assistant Professor Dr. Keith Story is the Kessler and Lewis Research Fellow of Marketing and Logistics at California State University, Fresno and joined the Craig School Faculty in the fall of 2015. He received his PhD from the University of Memphis. His research interests include business-to-business marketing, marketing strategy, and the marketing-supply chain interface. Dr. Story’s current research looks at the ability of firms to recognize and act on innovation opportunities as a strategic resource, and how that resource can be used as a competitive advantage. He is a Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) Fellow and was awarded a fellowship for his doctoral studies from the Intermodal Freight Transportation Institute at the University of Memphis. Prior to his academic career, Dr. Story worked in supply chain and marketing roles for leading companies such as Alcoa, Johnson and Johnson, Deloitte Consulting, and Accredo. His professional responsibilities spanned several areas of marketing and supply chain, including brand management, product management, inventory management, and operations improvement. Dr. Story is a graduate of the Industrial Engineering program of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and has an MBA from Cornell University.
He teaches Supply Chain Logistics (MKTG 114), Global Logistics (MKTG 115), and Purchasing and Materials Management (MKTG 126) as part of the Logistics option. We’ve asked Dr. Story a few questions to get to know him better:
Where are you from? I am a native of Memphis, Tennessee but I have lived in several parts of the country. Ithaca, NY, Knoxville, TN, and Bettendorf, IA are some of the places that have shaped my view of the world. It’s made me appreciate how big and diverse the country is not only demographically, but geographically as well.
How did you select your college major? I always knew that I wanted to be involved with technology and science and business. I just didn’t know what particular field I would take up. I decided that Industrial Engineering was the best fit because it seemed to be the most flexible of the engineering disciplines, and it requires that you work with people. Many of the other disciplines seemed to be focused on solitary design work at a desk, while the IEs were in the plant learning about machines, talking to workers, designing new systems, implementing plans, etc. The major requires a broad knowledge of engineering, systems, manufacturing, and business areas, all of which, I thought, would give me a great deal of flexibility and many options when I graduated from undergraduate school. It paid off – I began working for a management consulting firm leveraging my IE training and work experience to assist firms with implementing just-in-time processes in their facilities.
What would you tell students interested in the Logistics option? I believe supply chain/logistics to be the backbone of business. Every company is involved in this area in some way, and students will be more competitive if they add knowledge in this area to their toolkit. During my time in corporate America, having knowledge about the SCM/L part of a business gave me a distinct competitive advantage versus my peers. Understanding of the language, challenges, and the objectives of the supply chain allowed me to make unique contributions to work efforts and made me a great candidate for roles that involved leading cross-functional teams and projects. Also, having SCM/L knowledge allowed me to work on both the commercial and operational side of business, a key set of experiences for those looking to navigate the corporate ladder.
What was the biggest influence in your selection of career pathway? My intern experiences were instrumental in helping me determine what path to walk with respect to my career. I thoroughly enjoyed my work experiences and learned a lot! It did however, let me know what I did not want to do. I did not want a traditional engineering job at a plant that seemed limited in its scope and limited in the exposure I could get to new things or areas of the business. I decided to have a career that contained continuous learning and exposure to a variety of business problems and business functions. This idea of continual learning and growth led me to eventually pursue an MBA and finally a PhD.
What attracted you to academia? I think a few things attracted me to this career. The continuing theme of being in a learning environment, being connected to the latest business thinking, being able to contribute to the knowledge that fuels the next generation of business leaders, and being able to give back are all elements of this profession that I like. This job is a lot of work. But, it is intellectually stimulating, professionally satisfying, and personally rewarding. How can one pass that up?
What is your favorite aspect of your job? I believe that the pathway to prosperity is through education. Being in a job where I can live that mantra every day and help others realize their dreams (in my small way) is kinda cool.
If you could go back to undergraduate school and select any elective course to take that would have better prepared you for the future, what would it be? Computer programming. I wish I could code. And English composition. It’s way more important than they tell you in undergrad…
Faith Sidlow, Assistant Professor, Media,Communications and Journalism
Faith Sidlow came to Fresno in 1985 for a job in television news at KSEE24. For the next 28 years she did everything from working on the assignment desk and producing newscasts to serving as a consumer reporter and weather forecaster. She covered fires, earthquakes, politics and crime and received several awards for her reporting. Her favorite assignments were stories about everyday people. One of her most memorable experiences was a series of reports called "Extreme Faith," where she tried adventurous activities and then highlighted the people who excelled at those sports. She fondly remembers a hike to Half Dome in Yosemite with a string quartet. The hikers hauled their instruments to the top of the monolith and performed a concert there. It was breathtaking and beautiful. Faith spent the last 17 years of her TV career as a morning anchor, starting on the air at 4:30 a.m.
In 2005, Faith decided to do more with journalism. She wanted to teach up-and-coming journalists the importance of responsible news coverage, strong ethics, and the art of storytelling. She enrolled in the Mass Communication and Journalism master's degree program at Fresno State and graduated with distinction in 2008. She began teaching as an adjunct instructor at both Fresno City College and Fresno State while continuing to anchor the morning show. In 2015 the Department of Mass Communication and Journalism hired her as a full-time tenure-track professor.
Faith is most proud of her students who produce and report for Fresno State Focus, the weekly television newscast that broadcasts live from the MCJ TV studio in the Speech Arts building. Their reports and newscasts have won awards from the Associated Press, Radio and Television Digital News Association, Broadcast Education Association, and the Intercollegiate Broadcasting System. Nearly all of her students who want jobs in television or radio news have found jobs--in Wyoming, Montana, New York, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Florida, Nevada, and California, to name a few.
Faith has enjoyed the tenure process, especially because it has allowed her to get back to storytelling. She recently won a Golden Mike Award for a radio report on the Central Valley Honor Flight--a piece that also won second place from the Broadcast Education Association. Right now she is wrapping up a long format story on homeless students, and she's collaborating on research with faculty in her department and abroad. For the past three years, Faith and her students have hosted the Global News Relay, a collaboration among students and faculty around the world. Their most recent GNR involved students at 17 universities in 10 countries who reported on stories with a Solutions Journalism theme.
In addition to teaching and scholarship, Faith is committed to ensuring that our students are engaged in high impact practices such as digital technology. She attends workshops and conferences to learn how to apply technology to teaching and learning in keeping with President Castro's strategic plan. Her goal is to make digital tools available to all Fresno State students at a low cost to give them a competitive edge and expand their opportunities in the technology workforce.
Faith has been married to her husband Bob, an OB-Gyn, since 2004. Between them, they have four adult children--her youngest just started graduate school in Oregon, and the second youngest is finishing her graduate degree in Southern California. The second youngest son works for Google and the oldest is in food service at Clovis Unified. Faith and Bob share their "empty nest" with Oscar and Riley, a chocolate lab and golden retriever, who can always be counted on to entertain.