Stuart Sumida – Biology Professor Defining the Future
Office of Strategic Communication
Biology professor Stuart Sumida is considered one of the university’s best for his passion and commitment in teaching and working with students.
Sumida, who joined CSUSB in 1991, lectures on a number of subjects that includes human anatomy and physiology, evolution and topics in zoology. He is the author of three books and more than 60 journal articles – many with students, introducing them to the process of research and publication in refereed journals.
That dedication has led to Sumida receiving a number of honors that includes:
- The CSUSB Outstanding Professor;
- The prestigious CSU Wang Family Excellence Award as the outstanding faculty member in the fields of natural sciences, mathematical and computer sciences, and engineering; and
- The California Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.
But Sumida is just as comfortable outside the classroom or lecture hall, be it in paleontology digs in Europe and the United States or reconstructing fossilized dinosaur skeletons.
Sumida is recognized internationally for his research on biological transformations that took place as back-boned animals adapted to life on land and as dinosaurs transformed into birds millions of years ago. Through his personal efforts, thousands of Pleistocene-age fossils have been donated to Cal State San Bernardino’s natural history museum, which is still in development.
Most recently, over the summer, Sumida worked at a paleontological dig in Central New Mexico of the Late Paleozoic Era amniote Dimetrodon, a sail-backed mammal-like reptile found in Central New Mexico. Under a grant from the David B. Jones Foundation, Sumida and local educators combined their efforts with paleontological education and outreach to local native K-12 students in the Jemez Valley School District in New Mexico by involving the students directly in fieldwork.
He is also one of the most sought after anatomy consultants to film animators, working on more than 40 feature-length films, including “Beauty and the Beast,” “The Lion King,” “Lilo and Stitch,” the first Harry Potter film and “The Chronicles of Narnia.” Several of the films have been nominated for the Academy Awards Best Animated Feature of the Year such as “How to Train Your Dragon,” “Ratatouille,” “Surf’s Up,” “Bolt” and “Kung Fu Panda.”
He also serves as a consultant to animators to video games such as Horizon Zero Dawn. Last year, the special effects supervisor of the movie “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” brought in Sumida to assist the filmmakers with one of its fictional creatures, the Megaptor.
Sumida has also served as an anatomical and biomechanical consultant for a large, yeti-like audio-animatronics creature for the Expedition Everest thrill ride attraction at Walt Disney World in Florida.
Sumida, a sixth degree black belt, is also a martial arts instructor aikido, which he enjoys and helps him unwind.
“When I do martial arts, it does take my time. But when I come back to it, my time is so much better spent,” Sumida said. “I’m so much more efficient. I’m so much more refreshed.”
Yet with all those interests, Sumida said that he loves teaching science and working with students, which he finds the most satisfying.
“Everybody thinks of the professor on top of the pyramid, but the people who are going out to change the world are the people who are helping … it’s the students that I work with that are gonna go out and help the Inland Empire, help the state of California, and help the country in general,” Sumida said. “Those people are less than half my age – they’re gonna be doing this for decades to come, but we start now and we start here.”