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Distinguished Professor Award

Betsy Read

Betsy Read, 2020-21 Harry E. Brakebill Distinguished Professor Award

Dr. Betsy Read was honored recently with CSUSM’s 2020-21 Harry E. Brakebill Distinguished Professor Award, which recognizes excellence in teaching, research, creative scholarship and service to the campus and community. She is a founder of the Master of Biotechnology: PSM and a professor of biological sciences in CSUSM’s College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

“Dr. Read exemplifies the true spirit of the Brakebill Award; she is an extraordinary faculty member who has made outstanding contributions to her students, to her academic discipline and to our campus community,” said CSUSM President Ellen Neufeldt in announcing the award. “In every aspect of her 27-year career at CSUSM, she has shown tremendous dedication in academic excellence, and has been an inspiration to her students and colleagues alike.”

In addition to establishing the MBt: PSM program, Dr. Read founded the biotechnology undergraduate degree program – two programs tailored to prepare students for careers in the region’s growing life science industry. She also developed the curriculum for numerous courses in molecular and cellular biology.

An exceptionally active scholar, Dr. Read has co-authored 33 papers, delivered 24 invited presentations and been awarded external funding totaling more than $5 million. She led a research initiative with a team of international scientists to document the first algal pan-genome. This 10-year project was a collaborative effort between her lab and the Department of Energy’s Joint Genome Institute and required leading a team of ~75 research scientists from around the world. This work was published in the journal Nature (impact factor of 24).

She is an extremely dedicated and enthusiastic teacher with a unique ability to connect with students. Dr. Read developed and administers the Summer Scholars program, which provides undergraduate students with a 10-week research and educational experience that opens their eyes to scientific discovery and a world of STEM careers.

Dr. Neufeldt noted, “I was particularly moved by a quote from Dr. Read in her dossier statement: ‘My goal in the courses I teach is to cultivate curiosity and creative thinking by helping students pose questions and seek answers to the ‘whys’ and ‘hows’ of biology. At the same time, I hope to nurture the sense of ‘wow’ and the thrill of discovery that makes me excited about science.’ Clearly, Dr. Read cares deeply for her students and works hard to ensure they succeed in class and later in their careers.”

In service to CSUSM’s campus, Dr. Read has championed key diversity initiatives, including the development of the first-of-its-kind Transgender and Gender Non-conforming Task Force. She was also a lead organizer of the 2019 Southern California Conference on Undergraduate Research (SCCUR) – the first time the conference was held in San Diego County, bringing a conference-record 1,363 participants from 150 different institutions to our campus.

“Our students are fortunate to have such a dedicated, passionate advocate and mentor in Dr. Read,” said Dr. Neufeldt. “Her student-centered teaching, thoughtful research and leadership through service embody the values of the Harry E. Brakebill Distinguished Professor Award.”