Center for Southern California Studies

  • CSCS Logo and Word Bubble
  • Larry Mantle and Dr. I. King Jordan, Envisioning California 2014
  • Governor Dukakis Speaking at CSUN
  • Envisioning California 2015 Panel: Fran Pavley, Dr. Alex Hall, Matt Petersen, Nancy Steele, Patt Morrison
  • CSCS Event Group Photo
  • Envisioning California Conference, October 2009

Research Fellows

Current Research Fellows

Thomas Backer at the podium

Dr. Thomas Backer is a psychologist whose life work is devoted to studying and working with people, organizations, and communities to help them meet the challenges of innovation and change.  He concentrates on improving health and human services for vulnerable populations, enhancing nonprofit arts and culture programs, and helping highly creative people deal with the challenges of creative work. He is the Executive Director of Valley Nonprofit Resources, which provides services for the more than 4,500 nonprofit organizations in the San Fernando Valley, and the President Emeritus of the Human Interaction Research Institute. He is also the Chair of the CSCS Community Advisory Board. Read more about Dr. Backer.




Former Research Fellows

Dr. Pih

Dr. Kay Kei-Ho Pih is an Assistant Professor or Sociology who teaches courses in Criminology (Undergraduate and Graduate), Juvenile Delinquency and Juvenile Justice, Transnational and Organized Crime, Quantitative Methods, Research Methods, Chinese Society, Introduction to Sociology, Deviance and Society, Urban Sociology. Read more about Dr. Pih.



Dr. RicksDr. Boris E. Ricks is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at California State University, Northridge. Ricks’ also served as an Assistant Professor at the University of Missouri, Kansas City (UMKC) from the 2006-2008 academic years. Dr. Ricks specializes in Urban Politics; State and Local Politics; Racial and Ethnic Politics; Environmental Justice; Public Policy; Political Leadership; and Public Administration. Professor Ricks is the former Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Politics Department at Pomona College (2004-2006). He received his Ph.D. from the University of Southern California (MA in Political Science), Masters of Public Administration (MPA) from the University of Mississippi in and Bachelors of Science in Criminal Justice from Mississippi Valley State University. Read more about Dr. Ricks.


Dr. YoumansDr. Robert J. Youmans is an Assistant Professor of Pyschology at George Mason University. He is a cognitive psychologist engaged in teaching and researching ways to uncover the cognitive mechanisms associated with creativity and innovation and to apply those cognitive mechanisms to design and engineering. Doctor Youmans earned his Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2007 for his work on how physical prototyping and group work lead to more functional and creative engineering designs. He also earned a doctoral minor in industrial design. His M.A. degree in Experimental Psychology was awarded in 2003 by Wake Forest University for his work on human decision-making. Current areas of research include: how attention and other cognitive traits affect creativity in the design process, how humans use technology, and how cognition and social behavior inform the safe, efficient, and fun design of technology and systems. Read more about Dr. Youmans.