School of Social Sciences Stars!

Heather Smith

Heather Smith, Psychology Department, has a new publication in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. The topic is on the link between respect for and tolerance of underrepresented groups. 

Cynthia Boaz

he SSU Model UN delegation won an award for “Distinguished Delegation” at the National Model United Nations annual convention in New York City in 2018, plus four additional awards for Outstanding Delegates and Best Position Papers.

Bryan Much

Office of Historic Preservation/the US Department of the Interior: “Office of Historic Preservation  Northwest Information Center 17-18,” $1,000

Through this cooperative agreement, the Northwest Information Center (NWIC) supports the fulfillment of the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) obligations by 1) gathering, managing, and providing access to the statewide inventory of historical resources within the NWIC’s 18 county region; 2) providing guidance in the use and interpretation of historical resources information: and 3) providing broad public education in support of cultural heritage preservation including internships and volunteer opportunities here at Sonoma State University.

Anthropological Studies Center

Dr. Mark Selverston
South Yuba River Citizens League: “Evaluate Eligibility of the Van Norden Dam,” additional funding of $6,000 for a total of $30,000

The Anthropological Studies Center (ASC) will provide an evaluation of eligibility for the Van Norden Dam for inclusion in the California Register of Historical Resources. ASC proposes assessing the local significance of the Van Norden Dam more rigorously by specifically applying the California Register criteria for evaluation.  The resulting technical report will include management recommendations.  A copy of the final report will be filed with the North Central Information Center.

Dr. Thomas Whitley

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection: “Archaeological Testing and Damage Assessment at P-49-002412, CA-SON-1998/H at the Los Guillicos Preserve,” additional funding of $81,000 for a total of $721,926

The Anthropological Studies Center (ASC) will conduct Archaeological Testing and Damage Assessment for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CALFIRE).  This assessment site, damaged by fire line construction during the Nuns Fire, lies east of the town of Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, California, within the Los Guillicos Preserve, part of Sonoma State University.


Dr. Alexis Boutin (Anthropology) and Dr. Matthew Callahan (Psychology)

Dr. Alexis Boutin (Anthropology) and Dr. Matthew Paolucci Callahan (Psychology) are collaborating to explore the usefulness of affective interpretations of bioarchaeological data (e.g., human skeletal remains from archaeological sites) as forms of public outreach. By using methods and theories from social psychology, they are assessing the extent to which these affective interpretations can enhance empathy for past peoples (here, residents of ancient Bahrain) and reduce prejudice toward residents of the modern Middle East. An article about the first phase of their research has been accepted for publication by Bioarchaeology International and findings from the second phase will be presented at two conferences in Fall 2018.

Dr. Adam Zagelbaum

from the Counseling Department received the 2018 Outstanding Publication Award at the November 2018  Western Association of Counselor Educators and Supervisors (WACES) Conference. The award was for the prison education video: Group Counseling with Inmates: San Quentin Prison.

Dr. Alexis Boutin

Dr. Alexis Boutin was recognized in The Chronicle of Higer Education for her work in Butte County after the devastating Camp fire in November, 2018. Click Here to read the article.

Dr. David Van Nuys

Emeritus Professor of Psychology, recently received a prestigious presidential award from the American Psychological Association.  On November 3, 2018 before a crowd of around 400 at Harvard University, Dr. Jessica Daniel, president of the American Psychological Association presented Dr. Van Nuys with the Citizen Psychologist Citation in recognition of his pioneering psychology podcasts, Shrink Rap Radio and Wise Counsel Podcast.  In 2005, Dr. Van Nuys was the first psychologist ever to create and host a podcast devoted to psychology.  In the ensuing 13 years he has conducted more than 750 in-depth in interviews with a wide variety of luminaries around the broad world of psychology science and practice, covering such topics as neuroscience, psychoanalysis, attachment theory, Jungian psychology, leadership, positive psychology, social psychology, behavioral economics, memory, health psychology and more.  As the citation states, “Dr. Van Nuys has delivered a positive image of psychology and rich scientifically-based psychological content to listeners in more than 212 countries. The citation concludes, “Dr. Van Nuys has become an inspirational ambassador for psychological culture worldwide."This recognition is particularly notable given the size and prestige of the 117,500 member American Psychological Association. "According to Dr. Van Nuys this award reflects positively on the intellectual support provided both by Sonoma State University and the SSU Psychology Department.”

Fall 2018 Sustainability and Environmental Inquiry Awards

A total of $14,500 is awarded for the Fall semester to faculty working with students on 18 projects to address challenges surrounding water, fire, environmental technology, climate change, and other topics. Funding is provided by the WATERS Collaborative (Sonoma Water), the Stephen Norwick Memorial Fund, and the Nature!Tech Collaborative (TREE Fund).  Social Sciences Faculty honored include:

Jackie Guilford – Geography, Environment and Planning 359 (14 students)
Project: Effectiveness of sediment removal in reducing nitrogen and phosphorus in the Laguna de Santa Rosa and its effect on invasive aquatic plants.
Partner: Sonoma Water
Award: $325

Michelle Goman – Geography, Environment and Planning (4 students)
Project: History of carbon sequestration on the SSU campus and Fairfield Osborn Preserve
Partner: SSU Campus Landscaping, Fairfield Osborn Preserve
Award: $2,000

Michelle Goman – Geography, Environment and Planning (2 students)
Project: Dendrogeomorphic and fire scar analysis
Partner: Fairfield Osborn Preserve, Galbreath Wildlands Preserve, Sonoma County Regional Parks
Award: $1,000

Wendy St. John – Geography, Environment and Planning (1 student)
Project: Quantifying restoration success through remote sensing
Partner: Native American Tribe members TBD
Award: $1,000

Elaine Wellin

Elaine Wellin, Sociology, is Director of the Northern California Earth Institute, a regional nonprofit that organizes study and action groups to address the effects of climate change and environmental degradation. The group is one of 23 national affiliates of the Northwest Earth Institute in Portland, OR and has organized nearly 200 local groups based in schools, communities, faith-based organizations, and businesses. 

Mathew Clark

Matthew Clark has received a new award, Soundscapes to Landscapes. The award amount is $1,145,141. The sponsor for this award is the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.  

The Soundscapes to Landscapes project seeks to advance animal diversity monitoring from the next generation of Earth-observing satellites. Driven by citizen scientists, the project uses sounds recorded from low-cost recorders placed in the field and bioacoustics analysis to identify bird species by their calls and measure overall avian diversity. These bioacoustics-based field data are used to explore the benefits and trade-offs in using new and existing space-based sensors (e.g., light detection and ranging [lidar], imaging spectroscopy) for spatial modeling of bird diversity and conservation planning at regional scales.


Social Science Stars News Archive

2013-2014 Social Science Stars

SSU Professor to Teach Global Comparative Lens Course for Semester at Sea' s 2014 Summer Voyage

Semester at Sea Boat The ship the MV Explorer functions as both a traveling university and residental home for Semester at Sea participants.

Rocky Rohwedder, Professor in the Department of Environmental Studies and Planning, has once again been hired by Semester at Sea to serve as a professor on an academic voyage. This summer, at sea and all over the EU, he will be teaching a Global Lens class on Sustainable Communities.  

One distinctive feature of Semester at Sea is the opportunity it affords students to engage in global comparative education.On each voyage, Semester at Sea offers a set of Global Lens courses that are designed to help students deepen their understanding of specific features of life and culture in the countries we visit on a given itinerary.

Rocky on BoatProfessor Rocky Rohwedder

Each course views the countries through a distinct lens—focusing on the art, music, religion, politics, environment, health, or other specific key topics. These courses are designed to take maximum advantage of the opportunity to learn to think critically about their own societies and well as others. 

This will be Rohwedder’s seventh voyage with Semester at Sea, allowing him to teach and conduct research in over 40 countries all around the world. Check out Rocky's previous voyages on his website .

Learn more about Semester at Sea at:

Learn more about Summer 2014 at: 



Geography Professor Matthew Clark to conduct research in Argentina

Professor Matthew (Mateo) Clark, recently received a grant from the Fulbright Specialist Program to collaborate with researchers at the Regional Ecology Institute (Instituto de Ecología Regional)Tucumán,for five weeks in Summer 2013.

soybean-production Soybean production and cleared Chaco dry forest in northwest Argentina.

While Professor Clark  is inTucumán, the team will investigate two land-cover change topics that will culminate in peer-reviewed scientific papers: 1) what is the current area and past change of forests in protected and unprotected areas of across all of Latin America, and 2) how does projected climate change affect agricultural expansion, deforestation rates and ecosystem services in the Chaco dry forests of Argentina, Bolivia and Paraguay. base data for these analyses, they will use high-resolution (30-m pixels) land-cover maps of Latin America derived from >8,000 Landsat satellite images. Mateo produced these maps during his Fall 2012 sabbatical by feeding roughly 10 terabytes of data through 20 computer processors in the Center for Interdisciplinary Geospatial Analysis (CIGA) -- a process that took roughly four months!

tropical forest Recovering tropical forest in central Panama

Professor Clark’s last research grant in NSF'sof Coupled Natural and Human Systems program, addressed what happened to the forests of Latin America and the Caribbean between 2001 and 2010. The Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region has the earth’s greatest amount of biodiversity, a large share of its aboveground carbon stock, and extensive protected areas. But the region is also a major food producer for a growing, and more affluent, regional and global population. Documenting the patterns and socio-economic drivers of LAC deforestation has been an important scientific priority for more than 30 years, especially in its tropical forests which contain a disproportionate amount of the region’s species and carbon.  However, there has been considerably less attention dedicated to tracking the recovery of forests, woodlands and scrublands in the region. To address this, Dr. Mitchell Aide, a professor at the University of Puerto Rico with Dr. Matthew Clark, devised a collaborative, five-year Dynamics of Coupled Natural and Human Systems (CNH) to address this challenge.

Social Sciences Faculty in the News - Press Democrat Article Features Anthropology Professor Karin Jaffe

students at undergrad conference From left: Natalie Hambalek (BA, Biology), Karin Jaffe, and Gillian King-Bailey (BS, Biology) at Santa Clara University 40th Annual Western Undergraduate Research Conference where Natalie gave a presentation, entitled "Aggression and dominance behaviors of an all-male troop of captive squirrel monkeys."

Recently, Professor Karin Enstam Jaffe and the Sonoma State University Primate Ethology Research Lab was the subject of an extensive profile in the local newspaper. Called “Karin Jaffe’s window into primates’ world,” the article was published in The Press Democrat on Friday, May 17 2013.

The article focuses on Professor Jaffe’s groundbreaking collaborative work at the Sonoma State University Primate Ethology Research (SSUPER) Lab. Projects through the SSUPER lab connect Sonoma State University students with local zoos to conduct collaborative research. In the article, Professor Jaffe says, “I think it is a valuable opportunity for students to work with zoos. Zookeepers already have a full time job, and it can be difficult for them to spend the necessary time to observe and collect data to answer some questions.”

students at Safari West From left: Gillian King-Bailey (BS, Biology), Karin Jaffe, Natalie Hambalek (BA, Biology), and Shannon Hodges (MA, ITDS) at Safari West to give a presentation to the staff on animal behavior.

The SSUPER Lab has been open since 2007 and focuses on ethological (i.e., behavioral) research of human and non-human primates and strives to involve Sonoma State graduate and undergraduate students in a variety of primate behavior (i.e., ethology) research projects. According to Jaffe, SSUPER gives graduate and undergraduate students “a lower cost research experience without having to travel in the field like to South America, which has a very high cost.”

squirrel monkey team The SSU squirrel monkey research team, from left: Natalie Hambalek (BA, Biology), Yessica Parra (BA, Anthropology), Dave Carroll (squirrel monkey keeper, San Francisco Zoo), Bibi Rahimzada (BS, Biology), Andrea Kruithof (BA, Anthropology)

SSUPER Research Assistants engage in a variety of activities including collecting data as part of their own, independent research or Applied Primatology project, others help with data collection and entry for master's projects, and others collect data for larger projects being conducted by Dr. Jaffe. Students can get 1-3 units worth of credit for participating. SSUPER Research Assistants must commit to a minimum of 1 semester (or 15 weeks in the summer), but are strongly encouraged to consider participating for longer than 1 semester.

Currently SSUPER is engaged in several projects including one on aggression, affiliation and enclosure use in an all-male group of squirrel monkeys at the San Francisco Zoo; The Primate Faces Project which uses SSU students to examine the individuality and ease of recognition of non-human primate faces; and observations of male-male aggression of patas monkeys at Safari West.

More information about the SSUPER lab available at

Social Science Stars News Archive

Matthew Clark
Associate Professor, Geography and Global Studies, Director of CIGA

Dr. Clark has been awarded a three-year, $604,000 NASA grant within the Earth Science department’s HyspIRI Preparatory Airborne Activities and Associated Science program.

The Hyperspectral Infrared Imager (HyspIRI) is a satellite currently being considered by NASA to improve our ability to map and monitor the Earth’s ecosystems and and provide timely information on natural disasters.  In contrast to existing Earth-observation satellites, which typically provide images using energy from a few regions of the spectrum (e.g., visible light), HypIRI will be a “hyperspectral” sensor that provides images using energy from hundreds of spectral slices.  These images extend beyond what human eyes can sense to include shortwave to thermal energy.  This technology should allow more detailed and accurate mapping of the Earth’s surface through time, however there is a need to demonstrate this capability in support of the HyspIRI mission.  To do this, Dr. Clark and other researchers in the preparatory science program will use images from NASA’s airborne hyperspectral sensor (AVIRIS) acquired from a jet to simulate images that would be acquired from HyspIRI.   A NASA team, based in the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, will fly the jet in three transects in California, multiple times per year.  Dr. Clark research will focus on mapping California’s natural ecosystems from the imagery, and this series of images within a year will provide valuable information on plant seasonality, such as the changing of leaf color, that can help discern different vegetation types.  He hopes to show that HyspIRI will allow more detailed mapping of California’s diverse flora relative to what is possible with conventional satellites.  In support of his research, Dr. Clark will hire students to help with the collection of ground data and with image processing and analysis in his research lab, the Center for Interdisciplinary Geospatial Analysis (CIGA).

Dr. Clark is an associate professor in the Geography and Global Studies Department and director of CIGA.  He focuses on teaching the department’s geospatial technology courses, including geographic information systems (GIS) and remote sensing.  Dr. Clark has a strong research interest in applying this technology to applications in terrestrial ecology, conservation science, and land-use change.  His recent research activities have focused on regional- to continental-scale mapping and analysis of land change in Latin America and the Caribbean as part of a five-year collaborative National Science Foundation grant.  In support of this project, Dr. Clark developed a mapping methodology that allows the estimation of land change at municipality scales over the last decade.  To date, Dr. Clark and his project team have published thirteen papers that use these land-cover maps to investigate the underlying drivers of change, such as economic globalization, human migration and interactions with climate and landform. 


(Left to Right): Megan Foster, Christine Kuehn, Noelle Fletcher, Caroline Christian, Sara Moore, Niki Shmatovich

Caroline Christian
Associate Professor, Environmental Studies and Planning

In June, Dr. Caroline Christian and the Department of Environmental Studies and Planning (ENSP) at Sonoma State University (SSU) was awarded an anonymous donation of $75,000 to launch a research project to support Sonoma County's State Parks as they transition to new management by local non-profit and governmental organizations.  Up to 70 State Parks were slated for closure in 2011, including five in Sonoma County.  The parks have been threatened with closure by the State of California due to the current budget crisis.

With passage of legislation (AB42) drafted by Assemblyman Jared Huffman, the five Sonoma County parks on the closure list were allowed to stay open and be operated by local non-profits and agencies.  In Sonoma County, a coalition of 16 organizations, known as the Parks Alliance of Sonoma County, stepped forward in a grassroots effort to keep five parks accessible by the public, at least temporarily.  The five Sonoma parks amount to approximately 15,000 acres and thousands of people visit them every year from all over the world. 

Christian and her research team will look for "best practices" for local parks management and have until February to complete a report that they hope will lead to novel ways to run the parks over the long-term.  The team will produce a set of "lessons learned" based on peer-reviewed literature on the privatization of public parks, and multi-stakeholder management of protected areas and historical sites.

"Although the disaster of park closure was averted, at least for now,"says Dr. Christian, "long-term solutions are required to keep parks open and accessible to the public."

"The last thing we want to see is parks shut down, especially ones that are at the core of our community’s identity and economic and environmental well-being." 

Besides Christian, the team includes Dr. Claudia Luke (Director, SSU Field Stations and Nature Preserves), Sara Moore (Project Coordinator), and environmental studies student assistants Noelle Fletcher, Niki Shmatovich, Megan Foster, and Christine Kuehn.
Christian says as management responsibility is passed down from the state to different local organizations, greater community involvement will be needed.

The major work includes a survey of the new park managers - finding what barriers and challenges they face and what models can be developed to manage them effectively.  A workshop will be held in October for key park managers and local government representatives to review SSU's findings and discuss a strategic plan for funding and operating parks using a more diversified approach.  

The parks and the local organizations currently responsible for their operation are: Annadel State Park (Sonoma County Regional Parks), Austin Creek State Recreation Area (Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods), Jack London State Historic Park (Valley of the Moon Natural History Association), Petaluma Adobe State Historic Park (Sonoma Petaluma State Historic Park Association),
Sugarloaf Ridge State Park (Sonoma Ecology Center [lead] with Valley of the Moon Observatory Association; United Camps, Conferences, and Retreats; Valley of the Moon Natural History Association; and Sonoma County Trails Council).

Dr. Christian is a conservation scientist and an associate professor in the Department of Environmental Studies and Planning at Sonoma State University.  Her research focuses on key issues in conservation and restoration science, and the use of applied systems to test fundamental ideas in ecology.  Much of her current research evaluates the effectiveness of different techniques used for managing exotic vegetation in grassland and streamside plant communities.  As a former scientist with The Nature Conservancy, she brings extensive practical experience in land conservation and management.  She works closely with local non-profit organizations to implement science-based conservation planning and land management.