Science Students Share Research on May 5

Student Research Day Flier

Student Research Day Flier

Undergraduate and graduate students from the College of Science will present findings from research they have conducted with faculty members as part of Student Research Day on May 5, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., on the Ground Level of Duncan Hall. Students from all disciplines in the college will display posters about their research and will be available to discuss their work with visitors.

The event is one of several planned as part of a week-long Inauguration Celebration for San Jose State University’s 30th President, Mary A. Papazian, who will be inaugurated on May 4, at 9:30 a.m. on Tower Lawn. The week’s activities also include two film screenings that relate to our president’s strong cultural heritage but also tie into San Jose State University’s legacy of social justice in times of turmoil. “They Shall Not Perish: The Story of Near East Relief” will be shown on April 30, at 3 p.m., in the Diaz-Compean Student Union Theater. “The Promise,” starring Oscar Isaac and Christian Bale, will be shown on May 2, at 7:30 p.m., at Century Oakridge 20, in San Jose.

In addition to the screenings, activities will include a guest lecture, musical concerts, poetry readings and the Innovation to Inspiration Gala. Visit the Inauguration website to see the full list of activities and events planned from April 21 through May 5.

 

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.

Engineering Professor Co-Authors Article in ‘Biophysical Journal’

Dr. Amit Saha

Dr. Amit Saha

Dr. Amit Saha, a lecturer and research scientist in the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering, has co-authored an article that has been published in the Biophysical Journal, which is a leading topical journal in the field of biomechanics and biophysics. Entitled, “Cholesterol Regulates Monocyte Rolling through CD44 Distribution,” the interdisciplinary publication includes contributions from other researchers, namely Dr. Pawel Osmulski, Dr. Shatha F. Dallow, Dr. Maria Gaczynska, Dr. Tim H. Huang and Dr. Anand K. Ramasubramanian. The researchers undertook this study as part of a National Institutes of Health grant focused on discovering the contributions of bacterial infections to heart disease.

According to Saha, atherosclerosis, which may lead to heart attack and stroke, is the thickening of blood vessel walls due to the accumulation of ‘fatty’ cells or foam cells. The foam cells are formed when a certain type of white blood cells called monocytes enter the blood vessel wall, get stuck, and take up a lot of cholesterol. As it can be imagined, the first step of this process, namely the ’touch down’ of monocytes from flowing blood to vessel wall, is extremely crucial. The efficient capture of fast moving monocytes is brought about by interactions between proteins on the surface of the monocytes and on the surface of endothelial cells on blood vessel wall.

“In this research, we have shown that cholesterol levels on monocytes can redistribute the proteins mediating the interaction, thus providing efficient brakes,” he said.

The study shows that cholesterol, a well-known cause of atherosclerosis (a thickening of blood vessels walls due to the accumulation of ‘fatty cells’ that may lead to heart attack or stroke), can significantly influence the disease initiation and progression by a mechanism that was not focused on previously. The results demonstrate that chemicals can change the course of biological phenomena by altering the underlying physics.

Read the article online.

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.

Faculty Notes for February and March 2017: Publications, Quotes and More

Published in February: School Librarianship: Past, Present, and Future (Rowman and Littlefield), a collection of essays edited by iSchool Instructor Sue Alman in honor of former iSchool Director Blanche Woolls. Each of the contributing scholars was directly influenced by Woolls, considered by her colleagues to be the “Grand Dame of School Librarianship.” “I first met Dr. Woolls when I was a doctoral student, and she has been instrumental in providing networking, research, publishing and teaching opportunities throughout my career. She has supported countless others in the same way,” Alman said.

On February 28, Professor Ruma Chopra, Department of History, will lecture on “Maroons in the Age of Slavery” in observance of Black History Month at the David Library of the American Revolution in Upper Makefield, Pa. Chopra’s talk will center on societies of fugitive slaves living in wilderness areas in North and South America.

Professor Emerita Estella Habal, Asian American Studies Program, and former organizer for the International Hotel Tenants Association, participated in a panel discussion about the Asian American Movement at last month’s Listen to the Silence conference, an annual conference held at Stanford and organized by the Asian American Students Association.

Professor Robin Lasser, Department of Art and Art History, was a featured artist in STEAM 2017, a University of West Florida program offering art exhibitions and artist-led workshops for K-12 students to promote conversations about environmental stewardship. Lasser’s photographs, video, and site-specific installations focus on social justice and environmental issues. She is the recipient of a 2019 Eureka Fellowship from the Fleishhacker Foundation in support of Bay Area visual artists.

MFA Creative Writing Director Alan Soldofsky, interviewed last month by Puerto del Sol about his work and writing practice, is a contributor to Only Light Can Do That: 100 Post-Election Poems, Stories & Essays, an anthology published by PEN Center USA after the November 2016 election. “It’s very important in the present moment to be proactive as artists, to use our words, images, music, etc. to wake up the nation to what it’s done to itself,” Soldofsky said. “I’m writing my poems now as much for a public audience as I am for myself.” Read more online.

In January, Department of Environmental Studies Chair Lynne Trulio, a member of the San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory Board of Directors, gave a talk on “The State of Burrowing Owls in Our Region” at the Sobrato Conference Center in Milpitas. The ecology and recovery of the western burrowing owl in California is one of Trulio’s research specialties.

Department of Anthropology Assistant Professor A.J. Faas, cycling enthusiast and member of San Jose Bike Party, was one of 150+ bike riders who took part in the first-ever Community Mural Bike Ride in San Jose this month. Faas is putting together a newsletter for an anthropology conference to be held in April that will highlight San Jose’s murals, including Mural de la Raza, painted in the 1980s, one of the oldest surviving wall art pieces in the city.

iSchool Lecturer Meredith Farkas, also faculty librarian at Portland (Ore.) Community College, wrote an op-ed for American Libraries Magazine urging librarians, regardless of the “direction the political winds blow,” to maintain their professional values in regard to access and serving the needs of the most “vulnerable community members.” Read more online.

On February 25, Professor Jennifer Rycenga, Department of Humanities and coordinator of the Comparative Religious Studies Program, lectured at the First Congregational Church in Norwich, Conn., on the legacy of Prudence Crandall, a Quaker and white abolitionist educator. Crandall’s first black student, Sarah Harris, was a member of the First Congregational Church 175 years ago. Rycenga is currently working on a cultural biography of Crandall, who opened one of the first schools for African American girls in Canterbury, Conn., in the 1830s.