Get to Know the Division

Our mission at the Division of Research and Innovation (DRI) is to amplify and invest in transformative, multidisciplinary research, scholarship and creative activities and fortify San Diego State University as a premier community-engaged and border-connected public research university where excellence and access converge.

Our vision is to encourage university and community partners to push the limits of imagination and discovery, catalyzing innovative, equitable and collaborative solutions to society’s most pressing challenges.


About Us

SDSU is the flagship research institution of the 23-campus California State University system and one of the top 70 public universities in the U.S., according to U.S. News and World Report. The university offers 25 doctoral programs and more than 80 master's degree programs. In 2023 SDSU researchers brought in $192.2 million in research-related funding, the most SDSU has received in a single year. 

The university received its first federal grant in the 1950s, began its first doctoral program in the 1960s and has continued to chart a course of discovery and scholarship ever since. And research is integral to SDSU's future. The university's strategic plan calls on SDSU to become an R1, premier public research university. SDSU's Mission Valley campus will include a state-of-the-art Innovation District that facilitates meaningful collaboration between our scientists and facilitates public and private partners.

To achieve this long-term institutional goal, SDSU is committed to developing infrastructure and resources that allow research activity to grow while continuing to support excellence in teaching. Consider supporting SDSU's research endeavors through impact driven philanthropy.

Our impact


grad students


in FY23 funding


research output in the CSU system


top 50 grad programs 


economic impact


doctoral programs

$1M +

in tech transfer revenue


undergrad researchers


Division Leadership


Hala Madanat

Hala Madanat

Vice President for Research and Innovation

Hala stewards the university’s expansive research enterprise, supporting the development of SDSU’s Mission Valley Innovation District and overseeing SDSU’s research advancement, research support services and technology transfer efforts, the SDSU Research Foundation, as well as the university’s start-up incubator, the ZIP Launchpad. She leads the university's research and innovation enterprise in an era of unprecedented challenges and opportunities in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic; through a period of growth as the university implements its strategic plan, which includes a comprehensive effort to grow its research portfolio and move toward becoming an R1 research university; and during a time of exploration as SDSU looks ahead and plans its state-of-the-art Innovation District in San Diego.

Michele Goetz

Michèle Goetz

Associate Vice President and CEO of SDSU Research Foundation


John Crockett

John Crockett

Associate Vice President for Research Advancement

Mark Reed

Mark Reed

Associate Vice President for Research Operations

Rick Gulizia

Rick Gulizia

Assistant Vice President for Research Support Services



Laura Buffard

Laura Buffard

  Associate Vice President, Innovation

Cathy Pucher

Cathy Pucher

Executive Director, Entrepreneurship Initiatives

Tommy Martindale

Tommy Martindale

 Director, Technology Transfer Office

Natasha Bliss

Natasha Bliss

  Director, Strategic Initiatives


Sarah White

Sarah White

Director, Research Communications

Matt Brown

Matt Brown

Director, Information Technology

Alicia Kinoshita

Alicia Kinoshita

  Director, Undergraduate Research, Scholarship and Creative Activities



Division Units


Research Operations

As Associate Vice President for Research Operations, Mark Reed promotes and facilitates research, scholarship and creative activities at SDSU through close collaboration with campus faculty and administrators. Central to this role is improving the planning, management and administration of campus infrastructure and programs to support research activities. Faculty are encouraged to contact Mark to discuss ideas around maintaining and improving research infrastructure and operations on campus. His office door, or rather Zoom meeting room, is always open.

Research Advancement

Research Advancement is an institutional support unit that contributes to elevating SDSU's research reputation, and excellence in the research enterprise primarily by working with individual investigators and research teams to transform research concepts into research projects by simply adding funding. A flagship initiative, the Grants and Research Enterprise Writing (GREW) Fellowship targets early career faculty in helping them define and articulate their own research goals, and ties the goals to a strategy for success. Research Advancement is deeply involved in graduate student training, pre-submission review programs, and provides direct-action for institutional-scale center projects. Research Advancement also curates a broad and deep network of regional and national academic and non-academic partners, and directly supports faculty in building cross-organizational teams for projects that require it.

How we work with faculty

Research Advancement presently works best with individual inquiries at the concept stage. Please see us as an adjuvant to your research team, one that can provide no-judgment brainstorming based on decades of funding experience, and has some limited resources and programs that might be able to directly facilitate your research proposal preparation. You can always reach out to us directly, or review our programs at

Our people

  • John Crockett, Associate Vice President for Research Advancement. John manages the day-to-day operations of the unit. He is the lead instructor for GREW, an occasional PI for institutional programs, and directly supports advancement efforts.

  • Nadia CampbellDirector of Research Initiatives. Nadia supports research related to human health, disease prevention and field and clinical opportunities.

  • John McMillan, Director of Research Initiatives. John M. supports research-driven projects that emphasize external partnerships, including SBIR/STTR programs, Department of Energy and Department of Defense programs, and programs that require regional municipal partners.

Visit the Research Advancement Website


Research Foundation

The SDSU Research Foundation (SDSURF) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation established as an auxiliary unit to SDSU to support the university's research mission. Our role is to assist the faculty in identifying support for their projects, submitting proposals and administering the grants and contracts they receive. We also provide research space (we own 28 properties that house SDSU researchers and commercial tenants), and have our own departments of human resources, facilities, purchasing, payroll and information systems - all to facilitate the work of SDSU researchers. Last year, we submitted 1,237 proposals and received  761 awards valued at a record $164.5 million to administer on behalf of SDSU; we manage over 1,000 grants/contracts annually.  In addition, we provide administrative support for The Campanile Foundation, KPBS and SDSU Global Campus – managing over 1,600 gift and self-support funds. Our team partners with faculty, deans and administrators to make it as easy as possible for researchers to conduct their research. 

How we work with faculty

Anyone interested in submitting grants should make early contact with our SDSURF team. New faculty first interact with SDSURF when they have an idea for a research project, when they wish to identify funding opportunities and when they are ready to submit a proposal. The process begins in this "pre-award" period. New faculty who are transferring grants from previous institutions would work directly with our sponsored research development team. Faculty are assigned both pre-award and post-award team specialists to assist them with the administrative process and to serve as liaisons with the funding agency.

Our people

SDSURF has 150+ central staff employees (in addition to more than 1,000 project employees), but here are some key contacts for faculty: 

  • Michèle G. Goetz, Associate Vice President and CEO of SDSU Research Foundation (SDSURF). Michele is responsible for the overall leadership, management and operation of SDSURF, including facilities planning and management, human resources and risk management, sponsored research services, finance and operations, information systems and communications. Michele works closely with the university to ensure support for the research mission and our researchers.  

  • Cody Lee, Communications Officer. Cody oversees internal and external communications for SDSURF and helps promote faculty accomplishments. Contact him for information and SDSURF resources, or to tell him about research findings, grants, publications and discoveries. 

  • Steve Torok, Director of Sponsored Research Development. Steve oversees the department that helps faculty interpret guidelines and sponsor requirements, submit proposals, prepare budgets, obtain university approvals, complete and submit proposals and route for signatures. 

  • Renee Lechner, Director of Sponsored Research Administration. Renee oversees the department that helps faculty administer the grant funds they receive. 

  • Eric Elson, Director of Facilities. Eric oversees the department that manages research foundation properties and prepares space for new principal investigators. 

  • Deb Naylon, Director of Human Resources. Deb oversees the department that manages HR and hires and onboards staff for new grant projects. 

Visit the Research Foundation Website


Research Support Services

Research Support Services (RSS) collaborates with SDSU stakeholders to facilitate and advance university-wide and interdisciplinary initiatives that support the strategic plan on research advancement. As the university’s Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR) for externally-funded grants and contracts, RSS makes sure research at SDSU is consistent with legal and safety standards. RSS manages research authorization processes such as the Institutional Review Board (IRB), Institutional Animal Care and Use, Institutional Biosafety Committee, Export Controls and aerial drone-based research. RSS also supports the University Patents and Copyright Committee and the Conflict of Interest Committee.  

How we work with faculty

RSS provides regular and meaningful consultation with faculty, students and staff on compliance and the preparation of protocols submitted to compliance committees.  RSS also advises faculty, staff and students on adherence to university policies and federal, state and local regulations as they pertain to the conduct of research.

Our people

  • Rick Gulizia, Assistant Vice President for Research Support Services. Rick leads RSS and is responsible for overseeing, monitoring and assisting the University in its efforts to promote, and support a culture of compliance with Federal, State regulations, and applicable laws and policies as they pertain to research.  The AVP also serves as the Research Integrity Officer for the Responsible Conduct in Research Program which promotes a culture of ethics in research.

  • Natalie Gude, Assistant Director for Research Support Services. Natalie along with the AVP oversees, implements and coordinates the SDSU’s research compliance programs to ensure that research requirements remain in compliance with local, state and federal regulations, industry and University best practices, internal policies and procedures at SDSU and SDSURF, with a main focus on the IACUC and Institutional Biosafety Committee. 

  • Ryan Huyler, Administrative Support Coordinator. Ryan supports overall RSS unit coordination, serves as the unit’s budget analyst and conflict of interest contact, and is responsible for conduct in research training. Ryan serves as assistant to the AVP for RSS, and is administrator for the University Copyright and Patent Committee. Ryan serves as a resource for faculty, staff and students regarding all the programs that RSS oversees.  

  • Anisa Sanchez, Institutional Animal Care and Use (IACUC) and Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) regulatory compliance analyst and educator. Anisa assists with the Animal Protocol Form (APF)/ Biological Use Authorization (BUA) protocol development, and conducts preliminary screening of protocol applications to ensure complete review and regulatory compliance.

  • Jessica Hopkins, Institutional Animal Care and Use (IACUC) and Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) administrative coordinator. Jessica also serves as the IACUC and IBC training coordinator, and assists faculty, staff and students with APF and BUA protocol submission through the protocol management system.

  • Zena Hovda, Director of Export Control. Zena consults with researchers regarding compliance with U.S. export controls laws and regulations that apply to its activities and serves as the FAA Drone Committee coordinator. Zena designs, develops, implements, monitors and communicates an effective export control  education, licensing, and compliance program at both SDSU and SDSURF. 

  • Human Research Protection Program Analysts and Educators. Anne, Pat, Natalie, and Justin consult with faculty, staff and students regarding compliance and protocol submission to ensure the safe and ethical conduct of research that involves human subjects. They conduct workshops that inform investigators about the rights and welfare of human subjects research participants, and that the proposed research meets federal regulations and conforms to applicable state and local laws, and SDSU policies.

    • Anne Dodge-Schwanz, IRB Lead Analyst and Educator. 

    • Pat Gordon, IRB Analyst and Educator. 

    • Natalie Hardy, IRB Analyst and Educator.

    • Justin Dean, Administrative Analyst and Coordinator.  Justin facilitates overall Human Research Protection Program office activity including consulting with researchers regarding protocol submission through the IRB protocol management system, as well as coordinating human subjects research training and monthly-convened IRB meetings.


Visit the Research Support Services Website



Tech Transfer

The Technology Transfer Office (TTO) helps faculty move inventions and creative works that result from research out of the lab and into the marketplace. In order to achieve this goal, the TTO manages the protection of SDSU's research-based intellectual property and seeks to commercialize it through licensing both to existing businesses and startups. Further, the TTO supports the development of viable business models for faculty innovations, often with the support of collaborators throughout the San Diego innovation ecosystem. The TTO additionally provides general expertise to the campus regarding patents, copyrights and other forms of intellectual property. For example, the TTO can assist with Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs), Collaborative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs), intellectual property terms in sponsored contracts, and other general intellectual property advice.

How we work with faculty

Faculty members should reach out to the TTO as soon as they begin to develop a research-based idea or creative work that may have a commercial application or can be disseminated widely for public benefit. The TTO can then assist with evaluating the protectability of the underlying intellectual property and help develop a strategy to move it forward. Remember that it is important to engage the TTO before publicly disclosing an invention, since public disclosure can create a bar to obtaining patent protection.

Our people

  • Tommy Martindale, Director. Tommy leads the TTO, where he is responsible for protecting and commercializing innovations developed through SDSU's research endeavor.

  • Michael Murphy, Administrative Support Coordinator. Michael is responsible for managing the TTO’s databases, processing royalty and legal expense payments, and reporting inventions to government agencies.

Visit the Technology Transfer Office Website


ZIP Launchpad

The Zahn Innovation Platform (ZIP) Launchpad is an on campus incubator that supports San Diego State University (SDSU) students, staff and faculty from all majors and departments in launching startup companies. Within 2 years, participants can begin the ZIP Launchpad program with an idea and exit with a viable, growth oriented business. The ZIP Launchpad surrounds aspiring entrepreneurs with the support and resources needed to make their entrepreneurial dreams a reality.

How we work with faculty

Faculty wanting to gain support launching a startup from their idea and/or research can apply to be part of the ZIP Launchpad. Applications are accepted each semester for participation in a weekly cohort.  Participants receive structured guidance and support including business acumen, hardware and software prototype development, access to domain experts, paid interns, introduction to investors and much more. 

Our people

  • Cathy Pucher, Executive Director. Cathy is in charge of ZIP Launchpad operations, including program development, fundraising and entrepreneurship mentoring and advising.

  • Alli Howard, Associate Director of Development and Community Engagement. Alli is critical to fundraising efforts and recruiting domain experts.

  • Erica Charlonis, Operations Manager. Erica oversees the day-to-day operations, events and logistics in the ZIP Launchpad

  • Preston Holland, Operations and Marketing Specialist. Preston is responsible for program and event marketing.

  • Setareh Farid, Public Affairs Coordinator. Setareh organizes and promotes ZIP Launchpad events and programs.

  • Kim King, SDSU Lecturer. Kim advises ZIP Launchpad teams.

Visit the ZIP Launchpad Website


Undergraduate Research

The Undergraduate Research unit works to increase the awareness of, participation in, and opportunities for undergraduate research, scholarship and creative activities across all disciplines at SDSU, including students traditionally underrepresented in research such as lower-division students, transfer students, and under-represented and first-generation students. We coordinate experiential student learning opportunities through the Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP). We foster a culture of learning, discovery, and innovation through events on campus such as the annual Student Research Symposium (SRS) and the student and faculty led initiatives Associated Students Undergraduate Research Committee and the Student Research Committee.

How we work with faculty

We support faculty who mentor undergraduate student researchers, including through programs like summer student/faculty research stipends and SRS. Let us know if you need mentoring support.

Our people

As Director of Undergraduate Research, Alicia Kinoshita oversees and supports undergraduate research and creative activities. She is also a faculty member in the College of Engineering, where she has an active research program and mentors undergraduate and graduate students.

Visit the Undergraduate Research Website


The division tells stories about the research, scholarship and creative activities of SDSU researchers, faculty and students. We integrate innovation, entrepreneurship, and research into communication outlets on campus and beyond. We produce and amplify content featuring our faculty, staff and students engaged in this important work, including articles, videos, newsletters, social media, websites, news releases, multimedia and more. As the division’s communications director, Sarah White leads these efforts. 

Get in Touch

Faculty and students can share ideas by contacting Sarah directly or via our news item form. Also, consider signing up for the division’s newsletter and following @SDSUResearch on Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn.


Information Technology

What we do: The IT team provides technology support and solutions to both DRI and Graduate Affairs.  In recent years the team has replaced legacy, homegrown software with improved, up-to-date vendor solutions.  The team collaborates with DRI and Graduate Affairs personnel to solve data challenges and improve business processes through the use of technology.  This group also works closely with the campus IT Division to leverage existing campus technology investments and stay connected to campus technology policies and best practices.

How we work with faculty

The IT team works behind the scenes, and is focused on supporting faculty facing DRI units like Research Support Services and Research Advancement to provide them the technology and data needed to be successful.    

Our people

  • Matt Brown, DRI IT Director. Matt works with the College of Graduate Studies and DRI leaders to set IT priorities, supports the DRI IT team to allow them to succeed, and collaborates across all DRI and the College of Graduate Studies personnel to deliver on commitments.

  • Vincent Nguyen, IT Support Technician. Vinny provides ‘lights on’ technical service and support for all of DRI and the College of Graduate Studies.  

  • Stephanie Stocking, Senior Business Analyst and Project Manager. Stephanie works with College of Graduate Studies and DRI personnel to understand functional needs, match to technical solutions and deliver projects to achieve specific outcomes.

Division of Research and Innovation Org Chart