Heather M. Brown, PhD

Dean, College of Health Sciences

Email: Heather.Brown@cnsu.edu

Education and Postdoctoral Training

Postdoctoral Scholar, Stanford University Medical School
PhD, Department of Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology, University of California, Santa Cruz
BS, Biochemistry, University of California, Davis



Dean Brown brings to California Northstate University considerable experience in administration, teaching, research, and mentorship. She has been a member of the CNUCHS team since 2015 including founding roles as Assistant Dean of Faculty Affairs, Director of Student Research and Scholarly Projects, and Faculty of Molecular and Cellular Biology; and most recently, the Dean of the College. Before coming to CNU, Dr. Brown was the Director of the North Valley Biotechnology Center and Dean of Biotechnology at American River College, and was a faculty member at California State University, Sacramento. Dr. Brown received a BS in Biochemistry from UC Davis, and Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from UC Santa Cruz. Her postdoctoral work in the Stanford University Medical School focused on understanding the cellular mechanisms underlying the pathology of Down Syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease. Her primary research interests are currently focused on intracellular transport in the neurons of C. elegans with application to neurodegenerative disease. In addition, Dr. Brown is extremely passionate about science education and has dedicated much of her time to analyzing and improving instructional practices that facilitate learning and retention in introductory biology courses. Dr. Brown has also spearheaded the design and implementation of Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences (CURE) at several academic institutions throughout California, and has a vast teaching experience ranging from introductory to graduate level Molecular and Cellular Biology and Neurobiology. She is also engaged at the high school level, offering professional development workshops for high school teachers and summer camps for high school students through her outreach program, Biology Education to Careers (BETC). Dr. Brown leads by example with a strong vision for growth, moving the team toward progress and providing inspiration and guidance with the goal of helping students reach their full potential both academically and personally.


Dr. Francisco Leite, PhD

Education and Postdoctoral Training

Associate Dean of Academic Affairs
PhD, Agricultural and Extension Education
Specialist in Didactics
BS in Agricultural Engineering


Dr. Leite has worked in the field of education for over 32 years, holding positions in administrative leadership for higher education and vocational education. Dr. Leite has distinguished himself as a professional in educational administration with a strong background and extensive experience in both quantitative and qualitative educational research, particularly in the field of program evaluation using mixed methods design. He has dedicated himself to program and curriculum development and has extensive experience in accreditation procedures related to the academic standards for National and Regional accrediting agencies.


Rikki Somers Corniola, PhD

Assistant Dean of Curriculum and Assessment

Email: Rikki.Corniola@cnsu.edu

Education and Postdoctoral Training

Postdoctoral Researcher, Stanford University
PhD, Neuroscience, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL
MS, in Nutritional Sciences, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL
BS, in Food and Nutrition Science, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL


After completing her PhD in 2010, Dr. Rikki Somers Corniola served as a Postdoctoral Researcher in Neuroscience at Stanford University until 2012, at which time she joined the California Northstate University College of Medicine as an Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Nutrition. Her scholarly work includes 13 primary research articles, reviews, and book chapters in the areas of nutrition and neuroscience.

In the years since joining CNU, Dr. Corniola has filled several critical roles at the university, including Director of Curriculum Mapping and Director of Accreditation and Assessment. In 2014, she led the College of Medicine through its successful WASC site visit and, in 2015, spearheaded the successful WASC accreditation proposal and site visit for the College of Health Sciences. She sits on many of the College’s service committees, including the curriculum committee and the assessment committee, for which she is chair.


Rose Leigh Vines, PhD, MT (ASCP)

Retired – Founding Dean, College of Health Sciences


PhD, Anatomy, University of Kentucky
Medical Technology, St. Thomas Hospital School of Medical Technology and Tennessee Technological University



After obtaining her PhD in Anatomy at the University of Kentucky, Dr. Rose Leigh Vines joined the Department of Biological Sciences at California State University, Sacramento, where she taught anatomy, histology, clinical hematology, and body fluid analysis.

In addition to teaching at CSU, Sacramento, Dr. Vines served as the Department Chair of Biological Sciences, the University Director of Distance and Distributed Education, and the University Faculty Athletic Representative to the NCAA.

Dr. Vines was a recipient of the Outstanding Teaching Award from CSU, Sacramento, College of Arts and Sciences, and the Medical Technologist of the Year award by the California Association for Medical Laboratory Technology, for her contributions to the clinical laboratory sciences professions. A leader in her field, Dr. Vines has published over forty multimedia anatomy teaching tools for Pearson Publishing, A.D.A.M., and Micron Biosystems.

After retiring from CSU, Sacramento, in 2011, she joined the faculty at the CNU College of Medicine as a Professor of Anatomy and became the Founding Dean of the College of Health Sciences before retiring in 2017. Dr. Vines remains an integral part of the CNUCHS team.


Phone: 916-686-7300




California Northstate University
College of Health Sciences
2910 Prospect Park Drive
Rancho Cordova, CA 95670

College Code

SAT College Code: 7669
ACT College Code: 7032