Assistant Professor Smallwood publishes findings in ‘Science’

Christopher Smallwood

Christopher Smallwood

San Jose State University Assistant Professor Christopher Smallwood’s latest research appears in Science on Dec. 14. A member of the College of Science Department of Physics and Astronomy, he worked with colleagues at the University of California, Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to study the electronic and magnetic properties of the cuprate high-temperature superconductor bismuth strontium calcium copper oxide (Bi2212) using the novel spectroscopic technique of spin- and angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy (SARPES). Their article is entitled “Revealing hidden spin-momentum locking in a high-temperature cuprate superconductor.”

SARPES is a spin-sensitive variation of the more commonly implemented technique of angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy (ARPES), which itself is an electron spectroscopy technique based on the photoelectric effect that makes it possible to observe the relationship between the energy and momentum of a material’s electrons [see panel (A) below]. As such, the technique enjoys the distinction of being among the most important modern experimental probes of material properties in existence, providing information on the role of a material as an electrical conductor or insulator, on the presence or absence of topological order, and (in this case) on the propensity of the material to exhibit superconductivity and magnetic order.

Their work is important as superconductivity is an exotic state of matter in which a material’s electrical resistivity drops perfectly to zero at low temperature. Due to the superior way in which electricity can flow in this state, materials exhibiting superconductivity have found their way into a number of applications including nuclear magnetic resonance (MRI) and the technology enabling high-energy particle accelerators. The phenomenon is also of great intrinsic scientific interest as the onset of superconductivity at anomalously high temperatures in copper-oxide-based and iron-based materials remains an unsolved question in condensed matter physics.

Experiments were performed by graduate students Kenneth Gotlieb and Chiu-Yun Lin under the leadership of Professor Alessandra Lanzara at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and UC Berkeley. With the spin resolution enabled by SARPES, the study reveals and characterizes magnetic properties of Bi2212 that have gone unnoticed in previous studies [see panel (B), where the blue shading indicates spin polarization; and panel (C) which depicts a theoretically proposed spin texture], and which run counter to some of the prevailing theoretical ideas about the material’s electrical properties. In particular, the findings pose new challenges for the Hubbard model and its variants where the spin-orbit interaction is mostly neglected, and they raise the intriguing question of how cuprate superconductivity emerges in the presence of a nontrivial spin texture, as superconductivity and magnetism are normally considered to be competing forms of long-range electronic order.

‘One Carbon Footprint At A Time’ Airs on KQED

San Jose State University Emeritus Professor Bob Gliner’s latest documentary will premiere on KQED on Jan. 2 at 11:30 p.m. and repeat on Jan. 3, at 5:30 a.m.

The former Sociology professor is a prolific filmmaker who has traveled the world to produced documentaries focused on social issues and social change. He combines his interest in education and climate change in his latest half-hour documentary, “One Carbon Footprint At a Time.” The film highlights how education can inspire everyday actions that play a critical and potentially transformative role in affecting climate change. The film explores a unique interdisciplinary Global Climate course at SJSU as well as classes at two San Jose area middle schools to see how the curriculum influences students to make changes in their daily lives.

The documentary features SJSU students, alumni and two faculty members, Eugene Cordero, from Meteorology and Climate Science, and Anne Marie Todd, from Communications Studies.

Gliner has received more than 16 awards for his films and was named as San Jose State’s 2002 President’s Scholar. For more information on Gliner’s latest documentary as well as other work, visit his website. DocMakerOnline.com. For updates on the SJSU alumni featured in the film, visit the program’s website.

Moss Landing Professors Discuss ‘Tsunami Fish’ on CNN

San Jose State University’s Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (MLML) experts have a theory about how one fish swimming in the waters of the Monterey Bay ended up far from its natural habitat along the shores of Japan. A black-and-white striped fish known as the barred knifejaw, divers interviewed by CNN reporters described it as distinctive from the native fish in the cold and murky waters of the Bay.

Jonathan Geller, a professor and researcher based at SJSU’s MLML, told CNN on Dec. 13 that the fish likely landed in California as an after effect of the 2011 tsunami. Geller co-authored an article in Science that notes 289 living Japanese coastal species documented along the shores of Hawaii and North America following the tsunami in 2011.

“These currents circle around and around and then just depending on local conditions the water may move on shore,” Geller said. “This fish stands out because it looks quite alien in our water and it’s definitely a species we haven’t seen here before this event,” Geller told CNN, adding that many of the other species found looked like they belong.

Colleague and MLML researcher Rick Starr said the fish is unlikely to become invasive as fish from warmer areas can survive in cold water, but may not be able to reproduce.

“People have seen multiple fish, it’s not just one, but they’re all the same size indicating that they’re not offspring,” Starr said. “We’re not seeing multiple different size classes, so the best guess right now is that these fish are all older fish that haven’t reproduced.

SJSU Plans Spring Pilot of 21st Century Skills Badge Program

San Jose State University is pilot testing a new 21st Century Skills Badge program in collaboration with Education Design Lab and two of SJSU’s top employers: Cisco and Enterprise Holdings.  The effort aims to identify which skills are most needed for entry-level positions with these employers and validate that students who have earned badges for the desired skills successfully transition to work with the employers.

SJSU is one of seven institutions selected to work with Education Design Lab, a nonprofit that specializes in designing and implementing new learning models, to evaluate the efficacy of the digital skills badge program that has been in development for nearly four years.

Don Fraser, an education designer and director of 21st Century Skills Badging, visited San Jose State University Dec. 10 to host a focus group with representatives from employer partners, SJSU’s Career Center, faculty and administrators, as well as a second workshop with students.

“We established this program to address the school-to-work pipeline,” Fraser said, of the #TeeUpTheSkills campaign.  The idea is that employers are looking for a skill set that resembles a T – with critical skills across the top of the t that are needed in all fields, and technical skills that are unique to each industry or position that form the base of the T.

Education Design Lab has developed curriculum around eight skills that they identify as key needs for employers from all disciplines including initiative, collaboration, critical thinking, resilience, oral communication, empathy, intercultural fluency and creative problem-solving.

During the first focus group with employers, Fraser walked them through an exercise that helped them identify the top three or four skills needed for their positions.

During the focus group with seniors who will graduate in 2019, Fraser helped students identify what they thought employees would most want to see, what activities they are involved in that might help them develop some of the skills listed, and what skills they most would want to develop.

Christian Orozco, Justice Studies, ’19, said he could see critical thinking developing as he watches sports.

“I am trying to identify patterns in mixed martial arts, so I can see what could the other person do to adapt to the moves,” he said, of one of the subskills under critical thinking.

Annol Pannu, Business, HR concentration, ’19, saw one of the skills in the Ted Talks she watches.

“I am gathering and assessing relevant information,” she said.

Anita Manuel, the associate director of career education in SJSU’s Career Center, said the university will pilot two of the eight badges in the spring.  The badge areas will be selected based on areas that line up for the employee partners and students.

“We want this to be accessible to all students, but as we pilot it we may reach out to capstone courses or senior seminars,” Manuel said, noting that the badges will likely be available as modules in Canvas, SJSU’s learning management system. “The goal is to have at least 50 students participate in the spring where students can get feedback from the Career Center, peers, faculty and employer partners.”

 

“New, AI-driven recruiting methods enable employers to assess fit for roles based on disaggregated bundles of skills rather than college majors alone,” said Catherine Voss Plaxton, SJSU Career Center director. “In other words, the sociology student may be a perfect fit for a user-experience position if they can provide evidence they have right mix of skills.  The process of earning a 21st Century Skills Badge can be a strong way to shift student understanding of those skills from the abstract to the specific behaviors valued in workplaces.”

Meg Virick, interim associate dean of Undergraduate Programs in the Lucas College and Graduate School of Business, attended the focus group with other colleagues.

“Preparing students for the workforce has always been a high priority for us, and the focus group held Dec. 10 exemplified that effort – bringing together representatives from industry, academia and the non-profit world around the table,” she said.

Spartan Completion Grant Helps Grads Get to Finish Line

Lean Columna, ’18 Civil Engineering, is one of 122 fall graduates who are part of a new pilot program for Spartan Completion Grants.

“I have always been intrigued by the various structures that I’ve come across in my life,” he said, noting his interest in the Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland. “When I visited that place, I was fascinated on how the structure was built and the features constructed through engineering.”

As he worked toward his degree, Columna found support in his department, with peers studying for exams and doing homework together, and sharing ideas.

“It means a lot for me and my family,” he said, of completing his degree this fall. “My father is the only one in the family that has a degree. As the first born, it sets a great example for my siblings who are also on their way to achieving goals.”

His advice to other students: “Reach out to one another in your department. Find people you can work well together with and help one another out. You’re not alone in all of this.”

The Spartan Completion Grant program provides funds to students who are on track to graduate within one year, in good academic standing and have a financial need. Students are not required to apply for the grants, but those who meet the eligibility criteria are selected by a campus committee. For more information on the grant program, visit the site.