Sepehr Eskandari, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair of Biological Sciences
Alumnus of Cal Poly Pomona
My most important responsibility as a scientist is to teach the next generation. This is because science is not static – it is not the sum of all existing knowledge. Rather, science is a dynamic process that builds one discovery on top of the other. Today’s scientific community is asking questions that will not be answered in my lifetime, but in my students’ lifetimes – perhaps.
I derive great joy working with and teaching students in my lab at Cal Poly Pomona. Together, we research the chemistry implicated in brain processes that may one day lead to treatment options for seizures and strokes. The work itself is rewarding but the intellectual curiosity and maturation I see developing in students who spend upwards of four years (spanning both their undergraduate and graduate years) in my lab makes a greater personal impact.
My own passion for science developed in a Cal Poly Pomona lab. In fact, the time I have spent at the university is quickly approaching two decades – six years as a student and 12 years as a professor. That kind of longevity at one university is only possible if you believe in its academic mission.
As a professor at Cal Poly Pomona, you teach students. While that statement might seem obvious, in academia that is not always the case – especially for heavy research universities. A commitment to instruction defines all California State University campuses. The faculty who choose the CSU do so because they care for students and have a real passion for teaching.
The university’s mission deeply influences my research lab. I frequently work with the same students through both undergraduate and graduate study. I see students that some universities might never give a chance, and yet they excel here at Cal Poly Pomona.
For example, I once had a student who came to my lab with a mediocre GPA. When I looked a little closer, I realized he had a horrible first year but had been a straight A student ever since. He went on to get his bachelor’s and master’s at Cal Poly Pomona and then get accepted at a leading research university for a Ph.D. program.
To help students excel, I have modeled my instruction in the classroom and lab on the examples of Cal Poly Pomona faculty like Michael Keith and Dan Stiffler – professors who helped shape my student experience. I feel deeply privileged by what I learned and observed working side-by-side with these role models and mentors when I was a student on this campus. I work every day to continue their proud tradition.