Final University Scholars Series Lecture Features Rachael French April 26

Early Career Investigator Award Winners Rachael French, left, and Miranda Worthen pose for a photograph at San Jose State University on Friday, Feb. 3, 2017. (Photo: James Tensuan, '15 Journalism)

Early Career Investigator Award Winner Rachael French, left, will present her work at the final University Scholars Series of the semester on April 26. Also pictured is Miranda Worthen, who was also honored with the ECIA in February. (Photo: James Tensuan, ’15 Journalism)

Associate Professor Rachael French, recipient of a 2017 Early Career Investigator Award, will present the final lecture in the University Scholars Series on Wednesday, April 26, from noon to 1 p.m., in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library, Room 225/229. Dr. French, who has brought in more than $1.2 million in external funding to support her research, will discuss the work she is conducting in her Drosophila Genetics lab. She and her student researchers are studying the impact of fruit fly development when eggs are laid in an alcohol-rich environment. Her goal is that her research may someday help in treatment of fetal alcohol syndrome in humans. Financial backing for her studies, which started during her post-doctoral days at UC-San Francisco, comes from the National Institutes for Health and the National Science Foundation. Her research is aided by three graduate students and six undergraduate SJSU students.

The University Scholars Series is supported by the University Library, the Spartan Bookstore, Faculty Affairs, the Office of Research and the Office of the Provost.

College of Social Sciences Fosters Woodrow Wilson Faculty Fellows

The College of Social Sciences is proud to be developing a tradition of its faculty as receiving the Career Enhancement Fellowship for Junior Faculty from the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. Assistant Professor of Sociology Faustina DuCros has received a year-long fellowship for the 2017-2018 year while Associate Professor of Mexican American Studies and Acting Chair of the African American Studies Department Magdalena Barrera received the award in 2011-12.

Funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and administered by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, the Career Enhancement Fellowship Program seeks to increase the presence of underrepresented junior faculty who are committed to eradicating racial disparities in core fields across the arts, humanities and social sciences. The program allows exceptional junior faculty to pursue scholarly research and writing during their fellowship period in an effort to facilitate the acquisition of tenure.

DuCros’ fellowship project is entitled “Louisiana Migrants in California Oral History Project.” Louisianans were among millions of Black southerners who left their home region during the second phase of the Great Migration. The study documents the migration stream of Louisianans to California, and investigates migrants’ experiences creating community and identity in their destination. Like Southern California (the site of the study’s first phase), the San Francisco Bay Area was a significant destination for Black Louisiana migrants. Though Los Angeles’ Black population was numerically larger, the Bay Area’s Black population ballooned at much higher rates than Los Angeles’ during the World War II period, and cities like Oakland had higher proportions of Black residents. Different neighborhood contexts create variation in how members of racial and ethnic groups construct identities. Thus, the second phase of DuCros’ research — oral history interviews with first- and second-generation Louisianans who helped grow the Bay Area’s Black population at the height of the Great Migration — comparatively elucidates the role of local places in identity construction and documents the community-making experiences of Louisianans in this distinct destination.

DuCros participated in the University Grants Academy, sponsored by the Office of the Provost, the Research Foundation, the Office of Research and University Advancement, as a resource to support faculty members in applying for external funding for research, scholarship and creative activity. The Academy provides workshops and support in preparing a grant application. DuCros was also assisted by colleague Barrera, who worked on three projects during her fellowship year that fell across her two research areas of interdisciplinary textual recovery of Mexican American experiences in the early twentieth century (1910 to 1940) and the mentoring and retention of first-generation students in higher education.  Barrera also moved to Austin, Texas, for ten months to gain access to an archival collection housed at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas-Austin.

The first project, “School Smarts: A Reflection of Personal and Pedagogical Insights,” is now an article published in the Journal of Latinos and Education (2014). In this essay Barrera engaged recent studies that show many college instructors still believe that Latino students lack the “school smarts” for academic success. Challenging the notion of “school smarts,” she argues that Latino students contribute to a transformative educational process in which faculty are also learners. In addition, she shares her model for the SJSU mentorship program that she created and continues to coordinate, which facilitates better student-faculty communication and deepens a student-centered learning environment in a large general education course.

The second project, “’Doing the Impossible’: Tracing Mexican Women’s Experiences in Americanization Curricula, 1915-1920,” was recently published in California History (2016). In this article, Barrera analyzes the manuals of the California Commission of Immigration and Housing’s Home Teacher Program in order to gain a better understanding of Mexican immigrant women’s experiences with the California’s Americanization curricula. Scholars have long explored different ways of mining institutional records and other forms of writing by Americanization advocates for insights into the experiences of those who participated in the programs. She argues that we can “do the impossible” of recovering immigrant women’s responses by undertaking close readings of the manual’s lesson plans, sample dialogues, teacher testimonies, and images.

Barrera also made considerable progress on a third project, “Subjection and Subjectivity: Viewing Vulnerability in the Study of the Spanish Speaking People of Texas (1949),” which is currently nearing completion. This essay focuses on a collection of images taken for the Study of the Spanish Speaking People of Texas (SSSPOT, the archival collection housed at UT) which sought to generate much-needed socioeconomic data about the living conditions of Mexican Americans. Barrera contends that in every photograph of people made vulnerable by their race and class status, subjection and subjectivity share an uneasy coexistence. Through close readings of the images and captions, as well as by interrogating the methods of documentary photography, she examines how Mexican subjects engage with the photographer and viewer in ways that may reflect and restore their individuality.

The College of Social Sciences is very excited that it is establishing a pipeline of SJSU faculty who have received fellowships from the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. These fellowships provide critical support for faculty research, scholarship and creative activity (RSCA) efforts. Assistant Professor Nikki Yeboah is in her first year on the tenure track in the Department of Communication Studies, and is being mentored by Barrera and DuCros with plans for her to apply for the Career Enhancement Fellowship for Junior Faculty from the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation in a few years.

February 2017 Newsletter: Student-Faculty Research Pairs Share Findings

Left to right, Devin Cunningham, Dr. Aaron Romanowsky and Christopher Dixon pose for a photograph at San Jose State University, on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017. Dr. Romanowsky is currently working with undergraduates on a research project. (Photo: James Tensuan, '15 Journalism)

Left to right, Devin Cunningham, Dr. Aaron Romanowsky and Christopher Dixon pose for a photograph at San Jose State University, on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017. Dr. Romanowsky is currently working with undergraduates on a research project. (Photo: James Tensuan, ’15 Journalism)13

By Barry Zepel

A college student’s ability to learn is most positively impacted when the pupil has the opportunity to work as a partner on a research project with a member of the faculty, according to findings presented at a recent American Association of Colleges and Universities conference.

SJSU’s Student-Faculty Research Pairs program provides opportunities for 33 undergraduate students to work with faculty mentors. The 33 pairs will share their work at the Celebration of Research, on Feb. 16, from 4 to 6 p.m., in the Diaz Compean Student Union Ballroom.

With the help and guidance of the Center for Faculty Development, each pair prepares a poster to describe their project and the questions they hope their research will answer. Created through the university’s unique “Explorations in Research, Scholarships and Creative Activity” program umbrella in 2012, it offers undergraduates the opportunity to enrich their student experience while attending SJSU.

“As a pair, the idea is for the student and faculty member to write their proposal together, rather than the student write it and faculty member only approve it,” said Amy Strage, assistant vice president for Faculty Development.

This year’s research areas range from astronomy to healthcare-related topics to exploration into areas of mental health to ballet.

“Compact Galaxies & Black Holes” is the topic for juniors Devin Cunningham and Chris Dixon who are working with Aaron J. Romanowsky, associate professor of physics and astronomy. One of their research questions is “What are the origins of compact stellar systems?”

“With my previous affinity for black holes and stars, I wasn’t sure what to work on with Dr. Romanowsky,” said Dixon, a physics and astronomy major. “I’ve always found astronomy and black holes very interesting. I’ve never done any research before this.”

Cunningham, whose eventual academic goal is to complete doctoral studies in theoretical physics, added: “After attending a seminar showcasing Dr. Romanowsky’s research, Chris and I sought to work (with) him.”

Junior biology student Puneet Sanghera has been working with Katie Wilkinson, an assistant professor of biological sciences on “The Effects of Lipopolysaccharide-Induced Inflammation on Spinal Cord Excitability.” Wilkinson’s lab interests have included proprioception – “the ability to sense where your body is in space,” she explained.

SJSU’s Henry Nguyen Wins Elevator Pitch Challenge at MESA Conference

SJSU students participated in the MESA Leadership Conference in October.

SJSU students participated in the MESA Leadership Conference in October.

San Jose State University students participated in the 13th Annual Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) Student Leadership Conference Oct. 14-15, in Santa Clara. The students engaged in many creative activities designed to sharpen their professional skills, including an elevator pitch challenge styled after the television show “The Voice,” a team-building Lego challenge and networking games.

Henry Nguyen, a member of SJSU’s MESA Engineering Program, won first place in the elevator pitch challenge. He competed against eight other finalists from California community colleges and universities. He received a $500 scholarship as his prize.

According to a press release from the statewide MESA office, the conference provided 1,500 professional development hours to 200 MESA students from 33 colleges and universities. The students engaged with 75 industry professionals from 28 STEM companies. PG&E sponsored SJSU attendees. Other sponsors included NASA, Tesla, AT&T and other industry partners.

During the conference, NASA Astronaut Commander Victor Glover was named the 2016 MESA Distinguished Alum. He participated in MESA when he was in middle school and as an undergraduate. He credits the program as a driving force behind his success as an engineer.

“What you’re doing is so vital, so important to California and the planet,” he said, of staying committed to STEM education.

MESA promotes STEM success for more than 25,000 educationally disadvantaged secondary, community college and four-year college students in California through project-based learning, academic counseling and exposure to STEM careers so that they can graduate from college with math-based degrees. Seventy percent of MESA high school graduates statewide went directly to college after graduation compared to 48 percent of all California graduates. Sixty percent of MESA students go on to math, science or engineering majors. Ninety-seven percent of MESA community college transfer students go to college as STEM majors.

For more information about the SLC visit http://mesa.ucop.edu/newsroom/

For more information about MESA visit http://mesa.ucop.edu/ or on Twitter @MESASTEM.

Celebrate SJSU Authors on Nov. 7

Attendees of the Annual Author Awards look at the 2015 publications.

Attendees of the Annual Author Awards look at the 2015 publications. Photo by Brandon Chew.

The Annual Author Awards will celebrate 27 San Jose State University faculty who have published a book or other major work in this year on Nov. 7, from 3 to 5 p.m. in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library Room 225/229.

This year’s authors have penned textbooks, directed a young adult film, recorded classical music and more. Authors who wrote scholarly books, works of fiction or non-fiction, poetry, art books, textbooks, anthologies, edited books, plays, video or music published between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2016 were invited to submit information about their publication and a brief description of their work earlier this year. (Vanity press, self-published books, unpublished manuscripts, pamphlets, brochures, custom-published course anthologies, book chapters and course packs do not qualify.)

The Annual Author Awards is sponsored by the Office of the Provost, University Library and the Spartan Bookstore. The event is free and open to the public. For more information or questions, call Library Dean Tracy Elliott at 408-808-2419or Outreach Librarian Elisabeth Thomas at 408-808-2193.