CSUMB Magazine

Class notes - Spring/Summer 2018

James McClure in the Antarctic

After graduating from CSUMB with a B.S. in environmental science, technology and policy in 2013, James McClure ventured far from the temperate climate of Monterey Bay. After speaking with a friend who was studying toward a Ph.D. in glaciology from Louisiana State University, McClure made the decision to apply. It was a quick jump from there to the Antarctic.

McClure works on the McMurdo Dry Valleys Long-term Ecological Research project. The work is funded through the National Science Foundation and LSU. The primary focus is the biological, chemical and physical properties of the McMurdo Dry Valleys lakes. McClure and his team measure the movement of surface ice and collect sediment and water samples.

The work is important for scientists to better understand how life can persist in such inhospitable conditions.

McClure credits CSUMB, particularly instructors Doug Smith, Steve Moore and Fred Watson, for helping him develop the scientific background he needed to begin his research.

Although the conditions can be difficult, working in such a beautiful place has its perks. McClure says, “Each day is more of an adventure than the last.”


Lisa Mispley Fortier (B.A., Human Communication) was named women’s basketball Coach of the Year in the West Coast Conference for 2017-18. It was her third such honor in four years of coaching the Gonzaga Bulldogs.

The Bulldogs compiled 17-1 conference record, which included 15 consecutive wins, and went on to win the conference tournament and earn a spot in the NCAA tournament.

Lisa’s husband Craig Fortier (B.A., Human Communication, 2003) is also member of the Bulldogs’ coaching staff.


Jesus Ruvalcaba (B.S., Communications Design) has begun his own greeting card business called Paper Tacos that draws inspiration from his upbringing in Mexican- American culture, growing up in Castroville and later in Salinas.

After earning his CSUMB degree, Ruvalcaba moved to Silicon Valley to work at eBay and Hewlett- Packard but still had the urge to do something artistic. He told the Salinas Californian that the idea to start his own greeting card business came after he went to purchase his mother a card at Safeway, and he realized there was nothing from companies like Hallmark that would connect with her Mexican heritage.

You can learn more about the business at


Following his graduation from CSUMB, Ruben Espinoza (B.A., Human Communication) continued his studies at UC Santa Cruz, where he received a prestigious Eugene Cota-Robles Doctoral Fellowship, and, as a doctoral student, he received University of California Dissertation and Eugene Cota-Robles Dissertation Fellowships.

Espinoza completed his Ph.D. degree in Sociology, with an emphasis in Latin American and Latino Studies, from UC Santa Cruz and last fall started as an instructional assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at Chapman University.

His research interests include social inequality, Latino/a and Latinx communities in the U.S., migration, housing insecurity, and the food system.

At Chapman, he is teaching Intro to Latinx and Latin American Studies and leading efforts in creating a minor in Latinx and Latin American Studies with the long-term goal of turning it into a major.


Philip Cooksey (B.S., Computer Science) conducted a number of undergraduate research projects during his years at CSUMB, including research stints in robotics and artificial intelligence at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute and at Carnegie Mellon University.

Following his graduation, Cooksey was accepted, with full funding, into Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotic Institute Ph.D. program in 2014. He has now officially advanced to Ph.D. candidacy, and will defend his dissertation next spring. He is taking a new approach to robotic learning and multi-robot planning by developing algorithms to enable individual robots within a team to re-plan locally, quickly, and proactively with imperfect information from the “team planner.”

Cooksey said he is thankful for the educational, research, and mentoring opportunities that CSUMB, UROC and MBARI gave him, which set the stage for his current studies.


Emily King (B.S., Marine Science) earned the Provost’s Award for Exemplary Academic Achievement while at CSUMB. As a UROCscholar, King participated in several research experiences, including stints at Duke University, Oregon State University and San Francisco State University; Dr. Cheryl Logan served as her mentor.

She’s gone on to pursue her Ph.D. in Integrative Biology at the University of California, Berkeley.

There, she is focusing on environmental physiology of organisms, fully funded by a Chancellor’s Fellowship.

Tyller Williamson (B.A., Human Communication) currently serves as the executive assistant to the chief information officer and director of information technology and communication services at the Naval Postgraduate School. In that role, he assists the organization in the recruitment and retention of information technology professionals.

Williamson’s prior role was a financial analyst, where he exercised oversight of research accounts for faculty in the oceanography and applied mathematics departments. Williamson has also served as a program manager with the Center for Executive Education at NPS.

Last year, Williamson led a team of community organizers to create Monterey Peninsula Pride – the first Pride event in the community for more than a decade. Williamson is currently a candidate for city council in Monterey.


Marquise Crear (B.A., Global Studies) was awarded the Juanita Jackson Student Civil Rights Leadership Award at the spring meeting of the Monterey County branch of the NAACP. Crear is the former president of the NAACP at Cal State Monterey Bay.

He now works for CSUMB GEAR UP as a college and career advisor. Further down the road, Crear plans to pursue a career as a civil rights lawyer and return to his hometown of Oakland with a goal of empowering the community.

Jovon Hutchins (B.A., Japanese Language and Culture) is living in Hokkaido, Japan, as part of the Japan English Teachers (JET) Programme, which allows graduates from varying international backgrounds to come together and teach English as a foreign language to the younger and older generations of Japan.

“My typical work week consists of creating fun and engaging lesson plans, while also going from school to school and working together with various Japanese teachers to introduce English as a fun yet vital part of today’s world. Every day I feel myself not only getting closer to the students but my colleagues as well,” Hutchins wrote.

“Learning Japanese at CSUMB was one of my main motivations for wanting to return to the country and the JET programme gave me the catalyst I needed to make my current career attainable. If you would have asked me as a kid if I ever imagined that I would be the only African- American person living in a small area of Japan for the next few years, I would have probably called you crazy.

“However, I honestly love what I do and couldn’t see myself anywhere else. Japan has been steadily moving toward the idea of embracing the global community, and opportunities like the upcoming Olympics means they need more positive foreign impact than ever.”