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Special Thanks to

San Diego State University Library, HDMA, and CAL

The Metabolism of Cities Living Lab – SDSU 4 SDGs – Leave No One Behind Exhibition provides attendees a physical and virtual educational experience to emerge into the global sphere of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). SDSU Library hosted San Diego-Imperial County’s first, SDG Exhibition. Combining sustainability and creativity, the exhibition pushes to raise awareness and global action towards the 17 UN SDGs .

Showcasing a collection of the Metabolism of Cities Living Lab’s (MOC-LLAB) activities from amazing and diverse faculty, artists, students, and international collaborators from around the world. The exhibition is intended for families, students, businesses, and everyone in society to learn about the SDGs and hear more about what they can do to action the goals.

Since 2019, the MOC-LLAB is housed under the Center for Human Dynamics in the Mobile Age (HDMA) in the Department of Geography, College of Arts and Letters at San Diego State University pushing to localize the SDGs in southern CA, Mexico Baja region, and beyond.

The Beyond Borders: Digital (inspired TED-Talks) Story-telling Talks Series, Suscitatio Terminus (Latin) “Awakening Border” art mural is inspired by the UN Global Goals and the US-Mexico international border’s social, environmental, and economic challenges/opportunities in San Diego County and Imperial County, CA.

At MOC-LLAB we intend to keep our promise by making sure no one is left behind that is why our exhibition is entirely in the English and Spanish languages.  We have partnered with SDSU Instructional Technology Services to make our exhibition inclusive, accessible, and offered virtually. 

Exhibition Video:

Event Flyers in Spanish and English

Visit the virtual exhibition here


Exhibit Director & Curator: Dr. Gabriela Fernandez (Director, MOC-LLAB, UN MGCY, Geography, & BDA, SDSU)

Researcher(s): Dr. Gabriela Fernandez, Carol Maione (MOC-LLAB, UN MGCY, & Politecnico di Milano), & Dr. Domenico Vito (MOC-LLAB, UN MGCY, & Hubzine Italia)

Graphic Designer: Dania Mukahhal (SDSU Library) | Installation: Scantech Graphics Inc.

Sponsor(s): Dr. Scott Walter (Dean, SDSU Library), Patrick McCarthy (Associate Dean, SDSU Library), Dr. Monica Casper (Dean, College of Arts &  Letters), and Dr. Ming-Hsiang Tsou (Director, Center for Human Dynamics in the Mobile Age, SDSU).

Mural Artist(s): Gabi Zaballa (Designer), Karenina Zaballa (Content & Story-telling) & Dr. Gabriela Fernandez (Content & Story-telling).

Virtual Matterport Exhibition: Aurora Velasco (Assistant Dean, Instructional Technology Services) and Thai Nguyen (Faculty Support Specialist, Instructional Technology Services).

MOC-LLAB & BDA Student(s): Harmit Chima, Karenina Zaballa, Harrison Yang, Dustin Harrison, Nasser Mohieddin, Layth Zubaidi, Yudan Wang, Andrick Mercado, Thomas Derig, Kruttika Bhagwat, Bita Etaati, & Claire Merson.

Special Thanks: Sarah Tribelhorn (SDSU Library), Rebecca Williamson (SDSU Library), Dr. Fernando Bosco (CAL), Dr. Alma Beatriz Navarro (UABC), Dr. William Twayigize (GPS, SDSU), Dr. Ronnee Schreiber (CAL), Leslie Reilly (CAL), Adriel Yepiz, Jennifer Saber, Sofia Barczynski, Gabriel, Daniel, & Ashley Fernandez, Jimmy Alexander, Karen Eckard, Mila & Ella, Bradley Petersen, Sarah & Harold Olivo, Dr. Mercy Hwong Nai-Ching, Palmira Ledbetter, Dr. Lida Tereshenko, Sandy Cajigas, Mido Hamed, Kamran Monadi, Dr. Kamran Khan, Norbert Bonnici, Dr. Jarai Carter, Gloria Morichi, Lucas B., Dr. Umair Khalique, Sogol Sadr et al.

Matterport Virtual Exhibition

Thai Nguyen (MS Big Data Analytics Student at SDSU)

Hi everyone, my name is Thai Nguyen! I am part of the Instructional Technology Services (ITS) team here at SDSU. ITS provides technical support for a plethora of classrooms, faculty, and students so this was an excellent opportunity to highlight their achievements. We have used Matterport 3D Scanning in over 35 spaces around campus, including compact classrooms, cavernous lecture halls, and creative spaces such as media studios, theater shops, and performance auditoriums. It was important to scan the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals on Display (SDG) into a virtual viewable space, as this allowed those not able to physically attend to share the experience, providing accessibility to everyone. For me, it was wonderful to see the displayed works of my Big Data Analytics Program peers which highlight their hard work. It is also fitting as the Matterport 3D modeling software relies on heavy data processing with non-traditional data sources  – a hallmark of Big Data.

Visit the virtual exhibition here

Mural Artists

Gabi Zaballa (BA student in Art with an emphasis in Studio Arts at SDSU) | IG: @grandcrossart

Title: Suscitatio Terminus (“Awakening Border” in Latin)

Hello, my name is Gabi Zaballa. I am an artist among others that attempts to captivate your visual senses through various mediums involved in painting, drawing, and digitizing images. I was born in the U.S. and raised in the Philippines before eventually returning to America, and through the exploration of many different career paths, I found myself returning to art. Currently, I am a student of San Diego State University with a major in art, emphasizing in studio arts, and run an art business alongside my day job under the name of Grand Cross Artworks. My intent and goal for the future is to expand my reach, make work that inspires introspection, and explores the many facets of human nature and existence, so that others may find a place of acceptance within themselves, making them a more complete and whole person. 

What the Mural Means to Me:

To me, the mural is about social awareness and change. It speaks upon a lot of issues that are happening today, all of which we need to act upon. In a way, we’ve simplified these worldly projects in eighteen different panels upon the mural’s eye, and conveys plainly and simply, not only the struggles that the human race faces in the 21st century, but also the battle within us between those who enhance the problems, and those who are inspired to solve them. I could go on and on about what each piece of this work means, but I want to state this plainly and simply. Let’s be better to each other and the Earth, let’s find within us the capacity to empathize and understand, let’s act upon our own realizations about ourselves what we can control, let’s do this together, and let nobody be left behind.


Karenina Zaballa (MS Big Data Analytics Student at SDSU) 

Title: Suscitatio Terminus (“Awakening Border” in Latin) 

Born in Quezon City, Philippines, Karenina or Nika as she likes to be called, moved to San Diego in 2007 with her mother, sister, and brother. She started her academic career in Nursing but switched to Computer Science as soon as she realized her love for Mathematics. She then got her Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science at SDSU in 2016 while working in various fields as project management in both construction and logistics. She then worked as a software engineer in startups for 3 years and as a product manager for 1 year before going back to graduate school for Big Data Analytics. She has worked for research labs such as the SDSU Fowler College of Business AI Lab which is now the James Silberrad Brown Center for Artificial Intelligence Research under Dr. Aaron Elkins, the Center for Human Dynamics in the Mobile Age (HDMA Lab) under Dr. Ming-Hsiang Tsou, and the Metabolism of Cities Living Lab (MOC-LLab) with Dr. Gabriela Fernandez. Ms. Zaballa is also the Founding President of the Big Data Analytics Student Association. She graduated with her Masters in Big Data Analytics in May 2022. Her thesis on Italian Social Media Analytics during COVID-19 is already published.

She has lived with the philosophy of facing and exploring one fear and/or interest at a time and dedicating her life to service and in support of her academic, artistic, and cultural communities. Apart from school and her technical work, she also sings, plays guitar and piano, pursues dance and martial arts, and models to advocate for Filipino designers.

What the Mural Means to Me:

This mural has a deep connection to me as an immigrant in the United States. I moved here right after high school so learning how to live and move in a different country and assimilating was a challenge. I grew up helping take care of my younger siblings so a lot of the themes like gender inequality and inclusion were very relatable to me. I view America or San Diego particularly as the place where I learned how to be an adult. I am also continuously learning how to weave my Filipino cultural values and beliefs into American life. I see my mother who worked so hard to give us a life of stability. I see my brother and sister who took on the responsibility of learning and adapting to a new school, new life, new friends, and new ways of relating to their peers. I see my father who is learning how to adapt to new jobs and new groups of friends when he moved 3 years ago. The mural represents hope for people like me who have seen what it’s like to live as a foreigner in the US, who didn’t really think she was “good” in STEM but tried it anyway, and for those who are faced with seemingly impossible things but tried anyway. It inspires me to continue to wrestle with the difficult things while keeping my heart and mind open to better opportunities.

I am grateful for Dr. Gabriela Fernandez, who I have worked with before on my thesis and served as a member of my thesis Committee and research projects related to Covid. She has such a great take on what should be included in this mural. She has diverse inspirations due to her work and her travels. 

However, the best part about this is I get to work with my sister and see her creative process in action. My sister Gabi Zaballa is one of the people who understands me deeply so to have my sister develop Dr. Gabriela Fernandez’s and I’s sketches and visions and bringing them to life is such a unique experience. We learned how to use our different artistic strengths as well as our planning and communication skills.

MOC-LLAB & BDA Student(s)

Nasser Mohieddin (MS Big Data Analytics Student at SDSU)

My name is Nasser Mohieddin and I am a masters student in the Big Data Analytics Program at SDSU.

I am interested in the application of Big Data to City design and Sustainability. Refugees make for an important part of our community, and their success and integration can impact the country as a whole. Being an immigrant from Syria, I was interested in learning about the refugee population in the city of El Cajon. As I was prepared to start my research, I realized the misrepresentation of the middle eastern population in the United States due to the current census setup. I aim through my work to raise awareness of the existence of this population, particularly refugees from the middle east, and push for modifications in the current census. 

I currently serve as a researcher at the Metabolism of Cities Living Lab working closely with Dr. Gabriela Fernandez. Last Spring 2022 I took Dr. Fernandez’s course on the UN Sustainable Development Goals called Big Data Analytics (BDA) Smart Cities and Sustainability. Data Science Methods for Smart City Applications where I developed my project ‘We All Count, City of El Cajon’ to advocate for Iraqi Refugees in the City of El Cajon

Layth Zubaidi (MS Big Data Analytics Student at SDSU)

My name is Layth Hassan Zubaidi, I was born and raised in California and I’m a student that’s a part of the Big Data Analytics Master’s program. I have a bachelor’s in Computer Science at California State University of San Marcos. After graduating I started work for a couple of software companies as a software test technician. I took interest in taking BDA696 Smart Cities and Sustainability to learn about how we as people can better develop our cities into something more functional as if it were a living organism. My own project for this course is creating a program for homeless individuals to obtain a form of employment and even meditation through local farming that they can develop a skill set in agricultural care and become closer to nature. 

I am a researcher at the Metabolism of Cities Living Lab working on developing a number Leave No One Behind SDG dashboards. 

Operationalizing Leaving No One Behind: San Diego County: 

Harmit Chima (MS Big Data Analytics Student at SDSU)

My name is Harmit Chima, and I am expected to graduate from the M.S. Big Data Analytics program in December 2022 from San Diego State University (SDSU). I graduated from SDSU in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in Statistics, emphasis in Actuarial Science. I am an avid statistician. I enjoy using my skills to extract additional information from datasets, such as language and Geographic Information System (GIS) data. I was a research assistant for the Metabolism of Cities Living Lab (MOC-LLab) during graduate school. Within the lab, I gathered data, visualized metrics, and created dashboards catered to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals at a localized level. 

The importance of the SDG Dashboard and the Leave No One Behind Research: 

The SDG Tracking Dashboard: San Diego is a data-driven hub that supports tracking and monitoring the SDGs at a localized level. The dashboard stems from the MOC-LLab’s mission statement: sharing knowledge, creating knowledge, applying knowledge, and fostering a community. While including all members of society as a part of the ‘Transformative change towards SDG achievement in southern California – Leave no one behind (LNOB)’ UN movement. The dashboard builds on SDSU’s Strategic Plan: “We Rise. We Defy: Transcending Borders, Transforming Lives.” This is done through leveraging research to identify disadvantaged communities within San Diego county through the perspective of SDG 1 – 17. Providing an outlet of information to inform the public and ensure “no one is left behind.” This outreach builds community engagement, for change cannot occur through one person alone.  

Although the tracking dashboard showcases the Leave No One Behind Research, the importance of LNOB is colossal enough to stand on its own. The LNOB motto is a commitment to ensure the 2030 SDGs benefit all persons, especially marginalized groups. However, disadvantaged populations are still getting left behind and not being advocated for globally. LNOB indicators showcased in the tracking dashboard include the wage gap, pollution burden, affordable housing, concentration of neighborhood poverty, energy burden, and so much more. Researchers within the lab are tracking and visualizing the LNOB indicators at a local level to address the lack of attention the SDGs have applied to these issues within San Diego county.

I served as a researcher during my graduate studies at the Metabolism of Cities Living Lab working closely with Dr. Gabriela Fernandez. Last Spring 2022 I presented in Dr. Fernandez’s course on the UN Sustainable Development Goals called Big Data Analytics (BDA) Smart Cities and Sustainability. Data Science Methods for Smart City Applications where I mentored and guided students in the MS in Big Data Analytics Program to help them develop their own SDG tracking dashboards for San Diego County.

Claire Merson (MS Big Data Analytics Student at SDSU)

Her background includes healthcare, mental health, non-profit, startups, grant writing, data analysis, project management, and advocacy.

She is currently launching a telehealth counseling service with Magellan Health Providers as a Business Operations Analyst. Her interests lie in applying Big Data Analysis to combatting San Diego’s issue surrounding vulnerable populations’ access to healthcare and resources.

I have served as a researcher at the Metabolism of Cities Living Lab working closely with Dr. Gabriela Fernandez. Last Spring 2022 I took Dr. Fernandez’s course on the UN Sustainable Development Goals called Big Data Analytics (BDA) Smart Cities and Sustainability. Data Science Methods for Smart City Applications where I developed my project ‘I’m Home. San Diego to advocate for the homeless population in Downtown San Diego. 


Carol Maione (Metabolism of Cities Living Lab, Milan, Italy)

Carol Maione is a natural scientist, currently pursuing her PhD in Circular Economy & Technology at Politecnico di Milano (Milan, Italy) and conducting research on Ocean Monitoring at SDSU. Carol has participated in several projects of the MOC-LLAB, with a particular focus on marine pollution, citizen science, and participatory data collection. Her research interests include marine litter and microplastics monitoring, circular economy of plastics, ocean and coastal management, coastal tourism, ecotoxicology and one health.

Role in exhibition

Carol Maione collaborated on the concept design for wall 1 and 2, and worked closely with Dr. Fernandez to identify salient moments in the history of sustainability from its first conceptualization to date.

Why the exhibition is important

In my opinion, this exhibition serves as an eye-opening instrument to raise awareness, educate, and sensitize the academic community, and the general public, on the deeper interconnections between our living, the environmental, and the socio-economic dimensions, through real-world cases and experiences from our everyday lives. Through this immersive experience, we learn that we are all connected, all part of this oneness, and, as such, we all play a crucial role in developing thought solutions and take action towards a more sustainable future from current and future generations.

Dr. Domenico Vito (Metabolism of Cities Living Lab, Milan, Italy)

I am Dr. Domenico Vito. I have a PhD in Bioengineering as a background from the Politecnico di Milano in Milan, Italy.  I joined the Metabolism of Cities Living Lab at SDSU in San Diego from 2020 working in support of citizen science projects and data management toward the localization and implementation of the SDGs. 

Currently I’m  a Member of the Italian Society of Climate Sciences (SISC), active in various environmental organizations and networks (The Climate Reality Project)  promoter of the blog / YouTube channel HubZine Italia for dissemination on international negotiations and organizer of the Climate Change Symposiums and Climate Social Forum and my main topics of interest are related to SDG 3 (One-Health), SDG 12 (Responsable Consumption and Production), SDG 13 (Climate Change) , and SDG 14 (Marine Litter and Ocean Protection).

Exhibition Duties

The exhibition of MOC-LLAB is an unmissable opportunity to see the Localization of SDGs in action. As a member of the MOC-LLAB I collaborated with Dr. Gabriela Fernandez on the exhibition to assess and graphically represent  the “history” of the UN Frameworks “Wall 1” from the first Stockholm conference, the bird of UNEP, the new Millenium Agendas and the Paris Agreement Accord.

This year I also had the chance to attend COP27 where together with the MOC-LLAB had several side events during the UN Climate Change Conference and had the opportunity to talk about activities to bring SDGs in action with a leave no one behind approach.

So guys give a dive into the MOC-LLAB Exhibition to learn live and experience our living lab.