College Directors & Department Chairs


Brandi Aranguren

Director, Center for Math and Science

Brandi Aranguren is managing director for the Center for Mathematics and Science Education (CMSE). She oversees the administration and management of CMSE, including grant-proposal development, project management, and CMSE outreach and publicity. Aranguren earned her BA and MPA from CSU, Chico. She has been coordinating programs through CMSE since 1997 and directing CMSE programs since 2007. 


Jeffrey Bell

Assistant Dean, Chair, Department of Biological Sciences

Jeffrey Bell, PhD, currently teaches genetics, and his current research focuses on the regulation and role of the Msx 2 homeobox gene in lymphocytes. He is a co-author of the Biolabs Simulations, 12 online simulations of biology experiments, and is a longtime editor and reviewer of online learning materials for the Merlot Biology Editorial Board.

David Brown

David Brown

Chair, Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences

David L. Brown, PhD, joined the Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences in August 1997. His teaching has emphasized courses in hydrology and environmental science. He supervises undergraduate and graduate students with a broad range of research topics, including mined land reclamation, agricultural nonpoint source pollution, riparian restoration, groundwater-surface water interactions, and pesticide runoff prevention. Brown supervises student interns in collaboration with groups such as Green Campus, Net Impact, and the AS Sustainability Collaborative. He has received over $1 million in grants and regularly reviews grant proposals for the National Science Foundation. 

lou Buchholtz

Lou Buchholtz

Chair, Department of Physics

Louis graduated from Oberlin College in 1973 with a BA in physics and went to Stanford University on a Danforth Fellowship where he received his PhD in theoretical physics in 1977.  Following graduate school, he spent three years as a post-doc in Germany as a Junior Research Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung, and after that he spent almost two years as a post-doc at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. In all these research appointments his field of study was (and still is) Super-Condensed Fermi Many-Body Systems. Buchholtz’ first academic appointment was at St. Olaf College, where he spent four years and met his wife Barbara. He joined the faculty at CSU, Chico in 1986 and has been here ever since. In 1994–1995 Buchholtz received a Fulbright Fellowship and spent a year in Bayreuth, Germany. 


Becky Damazo

Director, Rural Nothern California Simulation Center

Rebekah “Becky” Damazo is a professor of public health nursing. She has been a leader in public health nursing education and recently completed certification in public health informatics through the University of Minnesota. She is considered a pioneer and expert in the field of simulation education. In 2009, the Chico Rotary named her Educator of the Year, and in 2010 she was instrumental in the accreditation of the Rural SimCenter.


Tag Engstrom

Director, Center for Water and the Environment

Tag Engstrom is a vertebrate ecologist with particular interest in conservation and ecology of amphibians and reptiles. He has a BS from Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Fla., and a PhD from UC Davis. He has been a faculty member in the biology department at CSU, Chico since 2004 and began serving as the science director for the Center for Water and the Environment in 2012. He writes, “My current graduate students and I conduct research on diverse topics including conservation of western pond turtles in Northern California, ecology of endangered invasive soft shell turtles in Hawaii, composition of rattlesnake venom, fish communities in marine reserves in the Channel Islands, and abundance of large mammals in the BCCER.” 

  rick ford

Rick Ford

Chair, Department of Mathematics and Statistics

Dr. Rick Ford has been a professor of mathematics at CSU, Chico since 1990. He has directed the Intensive Learning Experience (ILE), the California Academic Partnership Initiative (CAPI), and the Interactive Mathematics Teacher Preparation Program. He was the founding director of the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP). In addition to chairing the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Ford directs the CSU, Chico Early Assessment Program (EAP). He is a long-term member of both the Academic Senate and the Enrollment Management Committee for CSU, Chico and currently serves on the statewide ELM Development Committee. Ford’s early research revolved around mathematical physics and scattering theory but currently focuses on the development and assessment of online mathematics education.


Carol Huston

Director of School of Nursing

Carol Jorgensen Huston, MSN, MPA, DPA, has been a professor of nursing at CSU, Chico since 1982. She served as Master Teacher from 1999 to 2001 and was named Outstanding Teacher for CSU, Chico for 2001–2002. In 2008–2009, she was named the Outstanding Professor for CSU, Chico. In January 2010, she assumed the position of director of the School of Nursing.


Randy Miller

Assistant Dean, Chair, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Randy Miller received his BS from Illinois State University and his PhD from UC Davis. He conducted post-doctoral research at Northwestern University. His most recent research activities have been in the areas of analytical and physical chemistry, with particular emphasis on the application of computational methods to understanding reaction mechanisms. In addition to his teaching assignments in physical chemistry and integrated chemistry lab, he is currently serving as chair of the chemistry department.


Renee Renner

Executive Director, Gateway Science Museum

Renee Renner, PhD, a former professor in the Department of Computer Science, is the executive director of the Gateway Science Museum. Renner has a strong background in science and computer science and has been very active with K-12 outreach and summer programs. She is a grant writer and has experience in fundraising and working with donors.


Irene Salter

Chair, Department of Science Education

Dr. Salter is Chair of the Department of Science Education with a specialty in biology education. She earned her PhD in Neuroscience at the University of California, San Francisco then spent the next four years teaching middle school science and working at the Lawrence Hall of Science, developing curriculum for the Great Explorations in Math and Science Program. Since joining the faculty at CSU, Chico, she has specialized in designing science curriculum for college undergraduates, conducting research on student learning, and leading professional development workshops for teachers.

jennifer rotnem

Jennifer Rotnem

Director, Center for Water and the Environment

Jennifer Rotnem is the director for the Center for Water and the Environment (CWE). Her role is to oversee the administration and management of CWE. She supports CWE grant proposal development and management of projects. She works to partner the campus with the community on water and environmental issues. She coordinates CWE outreach and publicity. She has been directing the College of Natural Sciences' environmental programs since 1998. During that time, the college has been successful with its environmental initiatives in a variety of disciplines, including aquatic bioassessment, anadromous fisheries, watershed restoration, water quality, remote sensing and conservation ecology.


Kathryn Silliman

Chair, Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences

Kathryn Silliman has taught in the Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences since fall of 1990. She received her MS and PhD from the University of California, Berkeley. She has taught several nutrition courses for the department over the years, including Advanced Human Nutrition and the core graduate courses, Topics in Vitamins and Minerals, and Topics in Macronutrients. She served as coordinator for the Graduate Program for eight years. She has been program coordinator/department chair since summer of 2003. She particularly enjoys her role as advisor to students, and in 2010, she received the Outstanding Academic Advisor Award.


Cindy Wolff

Director, Center for Nutrition and Activity Promotion

Cindy Wolff, MPA, PhD, RD, has been a professor in the Nutrition and Food Sciences Department at CSU, Chico since 1987. She is the executive director of the Center for Nutrition and Activity Promotion at CSU, Chico as well as the Sierra Cascade Nutrition and Activity Consortium, a Network for a Healthy California-funded consortium with more than 20 school districts, 800 schools, and 40 community partners in 11 North State counties. Wolff has received numerous awards, including the CSU, Chico Outstanding Project Directors Award, the California Dietetic Association's Outstanding Dietetic Educator Award, and the American Dietetic Association's New Researcher Award.