Cal Poly Food Science and Nutrition Professor Earns Prestigious CSU Award


SAN LUIS OBISPO — Aydin Nazmi, a professor in Cal Poly’s Food Science and Nutrition Department and a leader of university’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, is one of four faculty members from across the California State University (CSU) system to earn the Wang Family Excellence Award.

Nazmi earned the award in the Outstanding Faculty Service category in recognition of his achievements and contributions to the CSU. 

“I’m humbled to have received this honor,” said Nazmi. “I’m fortunate to have had the support of so many colleagues and students over the last year and throughout my time at Cal Poly. I am looking forward to continuing the work in service to our students throughout this public health crisis and to continue to advocate and work toward addressing our students’ and community’s basic needs in the years to come.”

Since early 2020, Nazmi has served as the Cal Poly Presidential Faculty Fellow for COVID-19 Response and Preparedness. In this role, Nazmi has been a leading on-campus voice on how to safely house students on campus; how to safely offer in-person courses; how to educate and test thousands of students living off-campus in the San Luis Obispo area; and how to expand both campus testing and surveillance capacity using faculty expertise and on-campus resources. Nazmi has also led efforts to adopt saliva surveillance testing and wastewater testing on Cal Poly’s campus.

In addition to his work as a professor and faculty fellow, Nazmi is a fellow of the Royal Society for Public Health and serves as an expert scientific advisor on the California Governor’s Science Advisory Board. As co-chair of the Cal Poly Basic Needs Task Force, he leads the Cal Poly CalFresh program, which has improved food access for thousands of college students by assisting them through the statewide program’s application process. 

“In an ordinary year, I would have nominated Dr. Nazmi for his exceptional service in identifying and addressing food insecurity at Cal Poly through his transformational leadership of the Basic Needs Initiative,” said Cal Poly President Jeffrey D. Armstrong. “During this extraordinary pandemic year, Dr. Nazmi has also performed exceptional service in yet another area of his expertise — epidemiology — and has positioned Cal Poly to be a success story in adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Nazmi joined the faculty in 2009, after completing a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. He previously served in the U.S. Peace Corps and as a visiting scholar at the School of Medicine at the Central University of Venezuela. Nazmi earned his doctorate in epidemiology from the Federal University of Pelotas, Brazil; his M.S. degree in public health nutrition from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine; and bachelor’s degrees in both nutrition science and exercise science from the UC Davis. 

​Nazmi’s win marks the fourth year in a row that a Cal Poly faculty member has earned a Wang Family Excellence Award. The honor recognizes four outstanding faculty members and one outstanding staff member from throughout the system’s 23 campuses who, through extraordinary commitment and dedication, have distinguished themselves by exemplary contributions and achievements. Recipients receive a $20,000 award.

The award was originally established in 1998 when then-CSU Trustee Stanley Wang provided $1 million to recognize the remarkable contributions of the CSU’s faculty and staff over a 10-year period. Trustee Emeritus Wang generously agreed to reinstate the award beginning in 2015 and in January 2017 endowed the program with a $2.5 million gift, allowing the CSU to recognize outstanding faculty and staff for years to come. In total, Wang has given $3.8 million to the CSU.

Contact: Keegan Koberl

January 26, 2021

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