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Meet the Inaugural Cohort

In a resounding affirmation of our commitment to fostering a culture of innovation and entrepreneurial exploration, we proudly unveil the inaugural cohort of the Faculty Innovation Fellows program, whose guided innovative spirit from 2021 to 2023. This distinguished group stands as a testament to the power of visionary thinking and collaborative endeavor, poised to ignite a dynamic era of transformative change within our academic community and beyond. With unwavering dedication, these leaders will redefine the landscape of innovation. As we introduce this remarkable assembly of minds, we embark on an inspiring journey that heralds a new dawn of creative evolution and impactful engagement.

College of Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (CSTEM)

Carlos Luna Lopez - Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences
Innovation Project:  Development of a face mask with targeted, aerosol-based drug delivery
Dr. Carlos Luna has a B.S. in Physics and a Ph.D. in Bioengineering both from the University of Maryland and was a Postdoctoral Fellow at UCSD. His research laboratory uses engineering and technology, such as bioprinting and microfabrication, to study biological problems. He has been passionate about liposomes and their applications in drug delivery since his days as an undergraduate researcher. He intends to pass this passion for research to his students and use his knowledge to address today's problems.
As a Faculty Innovation Fellow, Dr. Luna aims to incorporate drug delivery into face masks. To do this, his lab will design aerosol generation devices to fit in a portable face mask and then study the stability of lipid-based drug carriers after aerosolization. He will work with CSUSM research students to take this important step towards incorporating biotechnology into personal protective equipment. 
Carlos Lopez
College of Education, Health & Human Services (CEHHS)
Matthew Mincey
Matthew Mincey - Lecturer, Nursing
Innovation Project: Exploring the Potential of a Mobile Health Clinic
Mr. Mincey has been a full-time lecturer with the School of Nursing since Fall 2015. His responsibilities include both teaching clinical coursework and serving as the clinical placements coordinator, which involves working with community partners to arrange required clinical experiences for more than 500 undergraduate students. His ability to problem-solve and generate novel solutions led to an innovative approach for maintaining clinical experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic when many other schools had to interrupt or pause their program.
As a Faculty Innovation Fellow, Mr. Mincey will explore the educational and community benefits of incorporating a mobile health unit into student learning experiences across all schools and departments within CEHHS. 


College of Business Administration (CoBA)

Paola Ometto – Assistant Professor, Management
Innovation Project: Social Enterprises at CSUSM: Creating Opportunities for Social Innovation and for Experimental Learning  
Dr. Ometto is passionate about how businesses and organizations create social innovations to tackle environmental and societal problems. In her research, she looked at how university incubators deal with the conflicting goals of economic feasibility and social impact when incubating social enterprises. Currently, she studies how community characteristics impact the creation of social enterprises as well as how minority individuals overcome barriers to become successful entrepreneurs.  Prior to joining CSUSM, she received her Ph.D. in Strategic Management and Organization at Alberta Business School (University at Alberta) and a Ph.D. in Public Administration from FGV-EAESP (Sao Paulo - Brazil). She has published her research at Business & Society, Research in the Sociology of Organizations, and Social Responsibility Journals. 
As a Faculty Innovation Fellow, she aims to develop a social enterprise incubation program with two main goals: (1) to disseminate and train students on what is social innovation and social enterprises, and (2) to help students to create and run their own social enterprise.
Paola Ometto


University Library

Judy Opdahl – Business and Economics Librarian, University Library
Innovation Project: Entrepreneurial Research and the Embedded Academic Library
Judy has a Master of Library and Information Science from San José State University and came to academic librarianship after having worked many years in Industry. She joined the University Library in 2016 first as a Lecturer Librarian in the Teaching and Learning Department and was selected the new Business and Economics Librarian in February 2020. Her areas of research interests include practices of embedded librarianship, which includes collaborations with disciplinary faculty in the development, teaching, and integration of information literacy instruction throughout a course, and research on accessibility, examining neurodiverse students in the academic library.
As a Faculty Innovation Fellow, Judy will engage in collaborations to embed the library into the innovation ecosystem. Developing a research guide and user specific research pathways for innovators and entrepreneurs use is an outcome of the fellowship. This work will be informed by a review of the scholarly literature on library/librarian practices of working with entrepreneurs and Innovation Labs along with along with interviews of academic librarians who support entrepreneur students and innovation spaces. Also important to this work is interviews of student entrepreneurs and leaders/directors of local innovation hubs in order to understand the local and unique research and information needs of these users.
Judy Opdahl

College of Humanities, Arts, Behavioral & Social Sciences (CHABSS)

lucy solomon
Lucy HG Solomon – Associate Professor, Media Design
Innovation Project:  Ocean Biome Box
Lucy HG Solomon orients her teaching and research around the integration of art and climate science, including working with students on the visualization of local and remote climate data, the results of which are on display at the Data Stacks at Kellogg Library. As a Fulbright scholar and collaborator with FeLT (Future of Living Technologies) based out of Norway, Lucy HG Solomon is studying the microbiological terrain of the Arctic. Cesar & Lois, her collective with collaborator Cesar Baio that integrates art, science and technology, received the 2018 Lumen Prize in Artificial Intelligence, a prize that celebrates digital art, and was recently selected for the 2022 Mercosul Biennial in Brazil.
As a Faculty Innovation Fellow, Ms. Solomon seeks to convey the urgent dynamics of the changing ocean, making global climate personal and inclusive. With the Ocean Biome Box, she will draw on the research of Dr. Betsy Read in Biological Sciences to simulate the biotic elements of the ocean, including the unique algae that blooms in the sea in response to environmental shifts. The project’s programmable water habitat will reflect current oceanic readings to mirror a slice of ocean. She looks forward to integrating undergraduate research across art and science for the development of this project.