Faculty Members Receive Community Recognition

Sonoma State University faculty have been earning praise and awards outside of the school. From grants and awards to positions editing academic journals, professors in variety of areas of study are being recognized in the community. Here's a short list of some of their most recent accomplishments.



Eric Williams (Criminal Justice)
For the very same reasons he was recognized by SSU's Excellence in Teaching Award last semester, Criminal Justice Professor Eric Williams was honored August 20 by the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce with its Excellence in Education Award. His writings on prisons and rural communities have appeared in academic journals and newspapers nationwide, including the L.A. Times and Boston Globe. His book, “The Big House in a Small Town,” was published in 2011 and he has taken hundreds of SSU students on tours of prisons all over California so that they can actually see what they have studied about in his class.




Michael Ezra (American Multicultural Studies)
Michael Ezra, Professor of American Multicultural Studies, is editor of the new academic journal, The Journal of Civil and Human Rights, to be published twice a year by University of Illinois Press, beginning in 2015. Also supported by the SSU School of Arts and Humanities, the publication is a peer-reviewed, interdisciplinary, academic journal dedicated to studying modern U.S.-based social justice movements and freedom struggles, including transnational ones, and their antecedents, influence and legacies. The journal features research-based articles, interviews, editorials and reviews of books, films, museum exhibits and websites. Visit tinyurl.com/mu4jt6s for more information.



Laura Watt (Environmental Studies & Planning)
ENSP Professor Laura A. Watt, together with former Cultural Resources Management Masters graduate Ellen Joslin Johnck, published The Bay Area's Solar Salt Industry: An Unintended Conservationist, in the summer 2014 issue of the journal California History. The book explores the history of the salt industry itself, its consolidation in the 1920s and 30s under the single corporate name of Leslie Salt, and the current transformation of some of those historic salt ponds through a huge tidal marsh restoration project. Ironically, the use of the land for salt production maintained it as an open and relatively undeveloped landscape and has kept it available for ecological renewal. Watt began research for this article while working as an environmental consultant in San Francisco, before she was hired at SSU.


Karin Jaffe (Anthropology)
Anthropology Professor Karin Jaffe has received a Captive Care Grant from the International Primatological Society to study former laboratory squirrel monkeys’ potential for successful retirement to the San Francisco Zoo. This project documents the behavior of an all-male group of squirrel monkeys acquired from a biomedical facility and currently housed at the San Francisco Zoo. In the past, such monkeys were euthanized because zoos are reluctant to take them due to their reputation for aggression, injury and death. In collaboration with the San Francisco Zoo squirrel monkey keeper and the Vice President of Animal Behavior, students in the Sonoma State University Primate Ethology lab have been studying the monkeys with the short-term goal of better understanding how to manage this group, and the long-term goal of educating other zoos about how to successfully house former laboratory squirrel monkeys so “retirement” at zoos becomes an alternative to euthanasia.

Catherine Nelson (Political Science)
Political Science Professor Catherine Nelson used a summer research grant to work on a project that applies feminist theory to the analysis of political communication in U.S. presidential campaigns. The research will build upon the work of political theorist Michaela Ferguson in her article, “Women are not an Interest Group” (Theory and Event, 2013).  In that piece, Ferguson argues that in the 2012 presidential election candidates Mitt Romney and Barack Obama both spoke about women’s issues in a way that deflected attention from “feminist issues,” defined as issues of structural gender inequality. Given the significance of visual media in election campaigns, Professor Nelson is exploring the possibility of extending Ferguson’s analysis to the visual representation of women’s issues in presidential campaign commercials.

Rocky Rohwedder (Environmental Studies & Planning)
ENSP Professor Rocky Rohwedder took TEDx to the high seas this summer, organizing a conference for his Semester at Sea colleagues and students. The ship was docked in Helsinki, Finland for the August 5 conference, titled “Anchors Away: From Ideas to Action.” Among the shipboard speakers, talks focused on how people limited by something in their lives “had some catalyst that shattered the myths they were holding that kept them from moving forward with clear intention and strong energy and purpose,” says Rohwedder. See www.tedxsemesteratsea.org/rocky-rohwedder-on-anchors-away-and-tedxsemesteratsea/ for more information.