As Vice President for Sponsored Research and External Academic Relations Dr. Penprase helps to foster new externally funded projects that will help SUA’s faculty expand their research and scholarship and also enable SUA as an institution to more fully realise many of its strategic priorities.  He also is tasked with expanding connections between SUA and regional and peer institutions, to enable SUA to have more academic collaborations and partnerships as it expands and becomes more recognised as a world leader in global liberal arts and as it defines and builds on its mission for fostering global citizenship.

From July 2017 to August 2020 he served as Soka University’s Dean of Faculty, where he was responsible for managing the undergraduate program with its innovative Soka University curriculum and dynamic faculty, and its energetic and diverse community of students. Dr. Penprase was previously was Professor of Science at Yale-NUS College, and also was a professor for 20 years at Pomona College, most recently as the Frank P. Brackett Professor of Astronomy. At Pomona College he was Chair of Physics and Astronomy, and was founding co-Director of the Liberal Arts Consortium for Online Learning. Dr. Penprase received both a BS in Physics and an MS in Applied Physics from Stanford University in 1985, and a PhD from the University of Chicago in Astronomy and Astrophysics in 1992. He has had numerous NSF grants, both as a co-I and PI, and most recently was a co-I with investigators at the California Institute of Technology in a $8.9-million NSF grant to fund the Zwicky Transient Facility for discovering new astrophysical sources using Palomar Observatory.

Dr. Penprase’s research on STEM education and innovative and interdisciplinary curriculum design has resulted in a volume just released by Springer, Inc. The book is entitled STEM Education for the 21st Century, and includes an overview of diversity and inclusion in STEM education, theories of teaching and learning, a review of new types of active learning in science courses, new types of engineering education, a review of global interdisciplinary science curriculum, an overview of online education and some thoughts about the future of STEM education. He is also the author or co-author of over 58 peer-reviewed journal articles in astrophysics, studying a range of topics that includes asteroids, quasars, and spectroscopy of the interstellar medium.

Contact Information | Email: bpenprase@soka.edu | Office: Curie Hall 323



Dr. Shuna H. McMichael was hired in Spring 2016 to create and develop the first Office of Sponsored Research (OSR) at Soka University of America (SUA). For the past 18 years, she has passionately served in the role of Research Administration, Compliance, Development, Management, and Grant Accounting while also serving in an informal capacity as a mentor and nurturer to student learners of all ethnicities.

Her role is instrumental in facilitating organizational change and such change has included research-intensive institutions such as; Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science (CDU), Viterbi School of Engineering at University of Southern California (USC), and Sponsored Research Fund Administration at Cedars Sinai Medical Center (CSMC). As well as management of sponsored funding for the Business Training Center (BTC) at El Camino College, the California State University (CSU), Office of the Chancellor, and Whittier College (WC). She has led change in the areas of research: IRB, project and financial management, increasing research visibility and portfolios, enhancing existing research enterprises, and establishing new full life-cycle grant infrastructure. She is an active member of the National Council of University Research Administrators (NCURA), Colleges of Liberal Arts Sponsored Programs (CLASP), Society of Research Administrators International (SRA), National Organization of Research Development Professionals (NORDP), Public Responsibility in Medicine and Research (PRIM&R), and the Association of Government Accountants (AGA).

She has a BA and MA in Public Administration from Ashford University (AU) and recently earned her doctorate from the University of Southern California in Organizational Change and Leadership (OCL). Her research focused on improving the recruiting and retention of Black Women in non-academic senior leadership roles in higher education. In addition, she has obtained four sub-baccalaureate credentials, Marketing, Business Administration, Human Resources, and Paralegal Studies. Additionally, she is an active board member of the nationally ranked STEM Charter High School, Lennox Mathematics Science and Technology Academy (LMSTA) located in Lennox, CA.

Together, McMichael and Penprase will work closely to maintain a sustainable infrastructure and strengthen the research enterprise for the institution, faculty, and student learners. Aiming to increase the student research participation and experiences as SUA prepares them to become the next generation of global leaders, scholars and professionals.

Contact Information | Email: smcmichael@soka.edu | Direct:



Contact Information | Email: jskye@soka.edu | Direct: 949.480.4271