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.

SJSU Professor’s Design work Sets Stage for Fun Home

A scene from the musical Fun Home shows the set design of SJSU Assistant Professor Andrea Bechert.

A scene from the musical Fun Home shows the set design of SJSU Assistant Professor Andrea Bechert.

Andrea Bechert, an assistant professor and designer in the Department of Film and Theatre, will have her scenic design on display during an October run of the Tony Award-winning Best Musical Fun Home at the Mountain View Center for Performing Arts. The show, presented by TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, is based on MacArthur Fellow Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel that details her experience growing up in a loving yet dysfunctional family that owns a funeral home.

The set design was an especially challenging project as the storyline is based on Bechdel’s memories—it moves back and forth between the author’s childhood, college years and present life—sometimes with three actresses playing Alison at different ages on stage at once. Rather than building fully realist sets, she played with filing the stage with elements to suggest a home, such as a couch, a chair, with windowpanes and curtains in the background.

Bechert talked about her work on Fun Home in a recent San Jose Mercury News article, and noted that she felt an especially personal connection to Bechdel’s story.

“When I was an undergrad, I feel like I went through a lot of the same things that Alison Bechdel did,” Bechert said. “I was coming out and trying to come to grips with my sexuality, and it was still something that wasn’t talked about too much. People were starting to be okay with it.”

Fun Home will be presented October 3 – October 28 at Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro Street, Mountain View. For more information, visit TheatreWorks.org.

October 2018 Newsletter: Nursing Professor’s Research on Postpartum Depression Offers Advice to Clinicians

Deepika Goyal

Deepika Goyal

Deepika Goyal, a professor in the College of Health and Human Sciences Valley Foundation School of Nursing, will present the second University Scholar Series lecture on Oct. 24, from noon to 1 p.m., in MLK 225/229. During the event, she will share her research about Asian American women and postpartum depression. Her research suggests stigma, shame and lack of knowledge regarding postpartum depression symptoms may prevent this group from receiving timely treatment. Her findings provide information for clinicians on how to provide culturally-informed care and promote optimal maternal-child well-being outcomes.

In addition, Goyal has co-authored a new study published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine Postpartum Health special issue Sept. 27 that suggests a link between perinatal depression and the season in which a woman gives birth. Goyal worked with colleagues from the University of California, San Francisco to analyze information from 293 first-time mothers who had been involved in a randomized clinical trial on sleep before and after pregnancy.

The researchers found an overall risk of depression of 30 percent, with the lowest incidences when a woman’s final trimester coincided with longer daylight hours when the risk dropped to 26 percent. For the women who gave birth from August through early November when days are shortening, the risk was the highest at 35 percent.

“Among first-time mothers, the length of day in the third trimester, specifically the day lengths that are shortening compared to day lengths that are short, long or lengthening, were associated with concurrent depressive symptom severity,” Goyal said.

Based on these findings, the team has suggested that clinicians could suggest light therapy, outdoor activity during daylight hours and vitamin D as measures to minimize postpartum depressive symptoms.

“Women should be encouraged to get frequent exposure to daylight throughout their pregnancies to enhance their vitamin D levels and to suppress the hormone melatonin,” added Goyal, who said that clinicians should also advise their patients to get more exercise outdoors when weather and safety permit. “Daily walks during daylight hours may be more effective in improving mood than walking inside a shopping mall or using a treadmill in a gym. Likewise, early morning or late evening walks may be relaxing but would be less effective in increasing vitamin D exposure or suppressing melatonin.”

For more on the University Scholars Series, visit the events page online.

Video: Engineering Students Gain Global Perspective on Technology

It’s a fun, intense, fascinating three-week multi-cultural experience across the Pacific that can change a San Jose State University student’s life. Students who traveled on the Global Technology Institute’s summer 2018 trip to Taiwan kicked off the Charles W. Davidson’s College of Engineering’s Silicon Valley Leaders Symposium on September 13 with a pitch to attract 2019 participants.

The program aims to educate college students on issues of the global economy, technology,energy and the environment while also providing them with a research or entrepreneurial experience. The most recent cohort shares highlights about their lectures and seminars at Chung Yuan Christian University in Jungli, Taiwan, as well as their cultural immersion. Students visited Taiwanese companies and government facilities, art museums, amusement parks, aboriginal villages, night markets and national scenic areas.

Watch the student’s presentation, videos of recent speakers and view upcoming lectures on the Silicon Valley Leaders Symposium website.

Faculty Tenure and Promotion: Katherine “Katie” Wilkinson

Katie Wilkinson

Katie Wilkinson

Katie Wilkinson

Tenure and promotion to associate professor

Years at SJSU: 6

Department: Biology

RSCA focus: Neurons in the muscle that sense stretch and how diseases impact them.

Associate Professor Katie Wilkinson, who has enlisted the help of undergraduate and graduate students in her research, is working on a four-year grant from the National Institutes of Health to continue their work in understanding basic biology of stretch-sensitive neurons. She and her students have published four papers since 2015, including a cover article for Nature Neuroscience as well as recent pieces for the Physiological Society’s Physiological Reports and PLOS One. She is especially pleased that four former lab students are now in doctoral programs.

“I love seeing where students end up after they leave SJSU,” she said.”

In addition to her research, Wilkinson led the redesign of introductory biology courses, served on the University Graduate Studies and Research Committee, and was active with the management team for the STEM Cell Internship in Laboratory-based Learning masters program, among other service activities.

Her advice to students?

“Pursue research experiences early,” she said. “The best way to know if you like Biology and want a career in research is to try it out.”

Note: Congratulations to the 43 faculty members who received tenure and/or promotion for 2018-19. We have invited each faculty member to participate in a series of posts profiling their teaching, service, and research, scholarship and creativity activities. Those faculty who opted to participate will be featured throughout the fall semester on the Academic Spotlight blog and the digital sign in the Administration Building lobby.