Provost Office Celebrates Homecoming

As part of the week-long Homecoming festivities, San Jose State University hosted an inaugural golf cart parade on Wednesday, Oct. 4 as an opportunity for Spartans to show their pride. The Office of the Provost Office staff members decorated a cart and donned superhero capes in Spartan gold and blue. The parade participants included student organizations, athletes, cheerleaders and campus departments. The Spartan football team will compete against Fresno State on Oct. 7, at 4:30 p.m. in CEFCU Stadium.


More Homecoming Week activities:

Thursday, October 5th

Photo Bus with Homecoming Court Candidates
7th Street Plaza

6th Annual Student Services Center (SSC) Open House

SSC on 9th & San Fernando Street
The Student Services Center (SSC) is celebrating our Spartans by hosting our sixth annual Open House. Come enjoy refreshments, meet the staff and learn more about how the SSC serves over 120,000 students and prospective students each year. Play games to discover the amazing departments that are housed in the SSC and meet Sammy! Prizes, food and fun!
Fire On The Fountain
Tower Lawn
Associated Students continues the homecoming tradition at SJSU with the annual Fire on the Fountain Homecoming celebration. The event begins at 4pm with free food, student organization activities, and performances. The pep rally ignites later at 8pm with fire dancers, athletics, and homecoming royalty.
SAMMY-Look-A-Like Contest!
SJSU (Various Locations)
Campus-Wide Door Decorating
SJSU (Various Locations)

Friday, October 6th

Spartan Men’s Soccer vs UNLV
South Campus Soccer Field

Saturday, October 7th

Spartan Women’s Volleyball vs. New Mexico
Spartan Gym
Homecoming Tailgate
South Campus – Soccer Practice Field
Pre-game festivities – food, giveaways, music and much more! Buses available beginning at 1:30pm to shuttle students from Campus Village Quad area to South Campus
Spartan Football vs. Fresno State
CEFCU Stadium

SJSU Professor Publishes ‘Intriguing’ Findings on Ultracold Atoms

In a paper published Sept. 29 in the journal of Science, experimentalists at Princeton, led by Prof. Waseem Bakr, and several theorists, including Ehsan Khatami, an assistant professor of physics and astronomy atSJSU, report their direct observation of an exotic magnetic phase of matter that could help explain how high-temperature superconductivity — the complete loss of resistance to electric flow— works.

In their experiment, Bakr and the group used lithium atoms cooled down to billionths of a degree above absolute zero (< -273 degrees Celsius), a temperature at which quantum mechanical effects dominate, and used lasers to trap atoms in a small region of space, only a few tens of micrometers across. They also used lasers to create a virtual 2D crystal, resembling an empty egg-tray, known as the optical lattice. An atomic microscope was then used to image atoms that were loaded on this lattice.

Researchers found that applying a large magnetic field — the effect that causes bar magnets to attract or repel each other — to these atoms causes their intrinsic magnetic fields to alternate in alignment in a checkerboard pattern while slightly leaning away from each other, a state termed “canted antiferromagnetism”.

The experiment is designed so that atoms can hop from one site to the neighboring sites of the “egg-tray”, while mostly avoiding each other on the same site. If we “look” at these particles at high temperatures, they have so much energy they will be moving around and bouncing off each other randomly. If the temperature is low, however, a completely different picture emerges. What we will see under the microscope would be exotic behaviors we are not used to through our everyday experiences with classical particles. Atoms start to “collaborate” to try to optimize the use of the little energy they have left.

The collaboration between atoms becomes a lot more fascinating when there are two types of them mixed in on the optical lattice, such as in the Princeton experiment. Each atom can be thought of as bar magnet that can point its north pole either up or down. With an equal population of “up” and “down” atoms, they settle into a situation where their alignment alternates from one site to the neighboring site at low temperatures. In the experiment carried out at Princeton, a magnetic field resulted in an imbalance in the population of atoms and caused them to settle instead into an unusual magnetic state in which the anti-alignment of ups and downs is pushed to the plane perpendicular to the magnetic field but canted slightly in the direction of the field.

This study is an important step towards better understanding electronic properties of solids. The system simulated in this study is a near perfect realization of a theoretical model known as the Fermi-Hubbard model, widely believed to have the ingredients for describing high-temperature superconductivity in copper-oxide materials known as cuprates. Understanding the underlying quantum mechanism driving exotic behaviors such as superconductivity or the magnetic state observed in this study can help us design better materials with specific properties we can harness in technology, energy and industry applications.

Khatami used a state-of-the-art numerical technique he had helped develop to obtain exact results for the Fermi-Hubbard model with parameters relevant to the experiment. Comparisons of numerical results with the experimental measurements was crucial in guiding the experiments and allowed the team to obtain an estimate for the system’s temperature, verify how the population imbalance changes the correlations in the system, and characterize the new phase of atoms using those correlations.

Similar experiments, albeit in the absence of a magnetic field, were performed last year at Harvard, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. Khatami was also a part of the MIT study, which was published in Science last year.


SJSU Strategic Planning: Dreams, Plans, and the Future.

Photo: James Tensuan Faculty, staff, and student participants of Campus Conversations, held on campus between September 20-22, as part of the strategic planning process.

Photo: James Tensuan
Faculty, staff, and student participants of Campus Conversations, held on campus between September 20-22, as part of the strategic planning process.

By Jason McMonagle

San José State University President Mary Papazian set a tone of inspiration at The Strategic Planning Kickoff Event held on September 14. The on-campus event, meant to motivate participation in this year’s strategic planning sessions, gathered more than 300 faculty, staff, administrators, campus leadership, and students. In her opening remarks, President Papazian suggested attendees consider the process to be one of strategic dreaming.

“Whatever we spend our days doing—teaching; managing; coaching; building; communicating; serving—the future of our university depends on our collective openness to dreaming,” President Papazian said then added, “And planning.”

As the President emphasized the shared importance of vision and pragmatism in strategic planning, she reflected the sentiment, “Our Journey,” currently displayed across campus on banners. She said, “This plan will not be my plan…It will be our plan.”

Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs, Dr. Andy Feinstein, reinforced the President’s remarks and likened the process ahead to the scholar Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey.

“The hero’s journey offers an inspiring metaphor and insight into what we may encounter over the next weeks, months, and years. As we plan, finalize, and bring ideas into action, we will certainly be tested,” Provost Feinstein said. “New ideas and strategies will be identified, analyzed, and discussed. Some may have great merit while other ideas will be born and exist only as possibilities and then set aside. All hold value.”

The “hero” Provost Feinstein referred to was not singular, but rather the “collective hero” that represents the entire SJSU community. Ariadna Manzo, Associated Student President, emboldened President Papazian’s and Provost Feinstein’s message of teamwork and unity further and motivated attendees—including 25 department chairs, 50 tenured and 15 tenure-track faculty, and 113 MPP’s—when she led the led the room in a Spartan cheer. “Whose University? Our University!”

The kickoff event was followed the next day, September 14, with the Leadership Forum.  Approximately 80 participants made up of cabinet members, deans, AVPs, seven staff representatives, three representatives of the Academic Senate, three students, 23 chairs, and three Alumni Association members gathered to bring President Papazian’s message of dreaming and planning to action.

The following week’s Campus Conversations, held from September 20-22, invited SJSU lecturers, tenure-track and tenured faculty, MPP, staff, and students to participate in initial brainstorming sessions. Ann Agee, Librarian and Professor from the School of Information, described the structure of the tenure-track/probationary faculty session she attended, “There were about 35 to 40 faculty members. At our table of eight, we focused on three of the questions we were given.”

One question Professor Agee and her colleagues discussed was: You have the opportunity to talk with a donor. What ideas would you pitch?

“I think it was compelling to talk about the university’s potential with faculty who offered so many different perspectives,” Professor Agee went on to say. “Some of the ideas included having a Research Hub to support faculty involved in large research projects; creating campus-subsidized housing for faculty and staff; promoting research that directly benefited the San José community; and actively promoting interdisciplinary research.”

At the session for tenured faculty on Wednesday, September 20, President of the California Faculty Association and Professor in the College of Social Science, Dr. Preston Rudy, pointed out the general desire to support student achievement that informed his session’s vision of the future.

“A majority of those attending spoke of their enthusiasm and dedication to working with students,” Dr. Rudy said. “Most of us wanted more resources to improve our ability to work with students, including better facilities and support for that work and smaller class sizes to interact more effectively with students.”

In total, 76 MPPs, three chairs/tenured faculty, 14 lecturers, 101 Staff, 21 tenured and 15 tenure-track faculty members attended Campus Conversations. Overwhelmingly, participants credited campus leadership for the invitation and its inclusive gesture and were confident that President Papazian and Provost Feinstein would ensure the strategic planning process was transparent and authentic.

Emily Bruce, Associate Professor in the School of Social Work, who attended one faculty session said, “The other wonderful thing about SJSU, is that it is a University where a member of the faculty can exercise their creativity and have that effort supported and mentored.  This also is the case for students; the campus is a place that allows for dreams to come true.  We are connected to the community and thus function as an economic engine for this corner of California in ways that are different from the other Universities in the area – and this is a critical role.”

Students also showed their Spartan Pride at the student Campus Conversations over 100 RA’s and 40 other, largely undergraduate, students attended.

The next steps for the strategic planning process include the creation of an online survey, asking faculty, students, and staff six questions designed to replicate the information presented at the Campus Conversation sessions and to recruit up to three GE courses in which to conduct the same strategic planning exercises which occurred in the session. Additionally, the Strategic Planning Steering Committee would especially like further input from the lower division, graduate-level, and commuter students.

September 2017 Newsletter: Dr. Essam Marouf Reflects on Cassini’s Last Orbit

Professor Essam Marouf, an original member of NASA's Radio Science Team for the Cassini-Huygens Mission, meets with the media on Sept. 13 in the Engineering building on the grounds of SJSU. (James Tensuan/San Jose State University)

Professor Essam Marouf, an original member of NASA’s Radio Science Team for the Cassini-Huygens Mission, meets with the media on Sept. 13 in the Engineering building on the grounds of SJSU. (James Tensuan/San Jose State University)

By David Goll

Standing 22 feet high,13 feet across and weighing in at 4,685 pounds, the Cassini spacecraft was one of the largest spacecraft ever launched from Earth. A joint project of NASA, the European Space Agency, and Italian Space Agency, Cassini spent 13 years orbiting the ringed planet of Saturn, compiling an enormous amount of data on the solar system’s second-largest planet, its rings and two of its most well-known moons—massive Titan and smaller Enceladus.

The Cassini orbiter also played a huge role in the career of prominent San José State University academician Dr. Essam Marouf, an Electrical Engineering professor and Associate Dean of Research. He spent 26 years as part of the Cassini Radio Science research team, beginning work on the project six years before it was launched Oct. 15, 1997, from Florida’s Cape Canaveral. He was one of more than 300 science “investigators” from around the world who interpreted data collected by the spacecraft during its 293 orbits of Saturn and transmitted via radio signals.

On Sept. 15 — exactly one month short of the 20th anniversary of that launch – Dr. Marouf joined with hundreds of other scientists from around the world who gathered before dawn at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena to bid their orbiting friend a big, and surprisingly emotional, goodbye.

After twice extending the mission that was originally supposed to end in 2008, space agency officials presided over a planned destruction of Cassini in the atmosphere of Saturn, as it burned up like a meteor to avoid contaminating the planet’s moons. After 20 years in space, Cassini was simply running out of fuel.

“We knew for a long time this day would come,” said Dr. Marouf, who joined the SJSU Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering in 1990, a year after he first heard about the Cassini project while still a Stanford University researcher. “So, it did not come as a surprise. But when it finally did happen, it was very emotional, after devoting so many years of my career to this spacecraft.”

Dr. Marouf likened witnessing the final radio signal from the craft to a death of sorts. It came at 4:55 a.m.

“It was sort of like watching the last signals of life from the monitors inside an operating room when a patient dies,” he said. “It was hard to watch. Cassini went from a healthy, functioning spacecraft to being pulverized into pieces within 45 seconds.”

During its two decades of life, Cassini was a wildly successful project. The data collected from gaseous Saturn, its distinctive rings, and its surprising moons have brought a wealth of new information.

“The moons turned out to be kind of the stars of the show,” Dr. Marouf said with a chuckle.

That’s because of Cassini and its accompanying Huygens lander—which alighted on Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, in 2005—discovered similar conditions to what Earth was like before life evolved. Titan has dry lake beds suggesting the former presence of liquid, but also existing seas consisting of liquid methane and ethane.

It was also discovered that icy, frigid Enceladus, the sixth-largest of the ringed planet’s 62 moons, shows evidence of a subterranean ocean comprised of hydrocarbon compounds in liquid form. They erupt to the moon’s surface through geysers spewing ice crystals. Scientists say the discovery of these conditions makes primitive life possible.

“We discovered through Cassini that Saturn itself has complex storms that can last for up to one (Earth) year,” Dr. Marouf said, adding that one year on Saturn is equivalent to 29 Earth years. “Its rings are very complex and consist of particles that can be as small as a grain of sand or as large as a house. Cassini brought a flood of knowledge.”

Helping Dr. Marouf analyze that deluge of information from Cassini has been numerous students, as well as research assistants and associates, over the years. Among them has been Kwok Wong, involved in San José State’s Cassini Radio Science project for 14 years, starting as a grad student taking courses from Dr. Marouf. Wong now is a full-time research associate.

“His help with the data processing throughout the years has been significant,” Dr. Marouf said of Wong.

For his part, Wong will remain on the Cassini team along with Dr. Marouf for another year.
“We will continue to process the data until the Cassini project officially ends next September (2018),” Wong said.

This past July, a couple of months before Cassini met its timely end in the atmosphere above Saturn, Dr. Marouf made another trip to Southern California to conduct his final Cassini experiments at the JPL facility, owned by NASA but managed by the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. The visit was a family affair for the San José State professor.

“My daughter, who is a doctor in Boston, brought my grandchildren to accompany me to JPL,” Dr. Marouf said. “My daughter has been hearing about Cassini since she was a young girl.”

And Cassini was not her father’s first involvement with deep space probes. As a senior research scientist at Stanford for 15 years, Dr. Marouf got involved in data analysis for both the Voyager 1 and 2 missions by NASA launched in 1977. Both did fly-by analysis of the outer solar system —including Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune—between 1979 and 1989.

“We got so much beautiful data from Voyager’s visit to Jupiter in 1979 and Saturn in 1980,” he said of the predecessors to Cassini.

Unlike Cassini, however, the Voyager crafts have still yet to meet their destruction. Voyager 1 is the first spacecraft to leave the sun’s atmosphere and magnetic field, traveling into interstellar space.

“We just celebrated the 40th anniversary of the launch of the Voyager space crafts,” Dr. Marouf said. “They’re still sending data back to Earth.”

September Newsletter: Dr. Peg Hughes and Everett Smith help return the Deaf Minor to the Lurie College of Education

Peg Hughes and Everett Smith pose for a photograph at Sweeney Hall at San Jose State University on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017. (James Tensuan/San Jose State University)

Dr. Peg Hughes and Everett Smith pose for a photograph at Sweeney Hall at San Jose State University on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017. (James Tensuan/San Jose State University)

By Jason McMonagle

Many people spent the summer months on adventures trekking up to Mount Kilimanjaro, lounging on the French Riviera, or taking day trips to Bolinas, the small surfing town on California’s coast. Dr. Peg Hughes, chair of the Special Education Department and coordinator of Early Childhood Special Education Programs, and Everett Smith, lecturer and Communication Studies graduate student, spent their summers reviving the four courses that make up the Deaf Minor.

When asked about the inspiration to bring back the Deaf Minor after it has been absent from campus for over a decade, Dr. Hughes pointed out that the College of Education never wanted to lose the courses.

“We used to have a Deaf and Hard of Hearing Teaching Credential and Deaf Minor. The classes had low enrollment because they’re specialized and not everybody wants to be a Deaf special education teacher. We were committed to keeping them, but when the professor with expertise in that area left the university we didn’t rehire,” Dr. Hughes said.

Without a professor fluent in American Sign Language (ASL) and adept in Deaf culture, the Deaf Minor lay dormant for over ten years. It was brought back into Dr. Hughes’s focus when she performed a routine observation on one of Everett Smith’s classes. Smith, a member of the Deaf community, came to San José State in Fall 2016 as a lecturer and graduate student. Currently, he teaches beginning and intermediate American Sign Language courses.

“The interpreter [interpreting Everett’s lecture for Dr. Hughes] asked me after class what had happened to the Deaf Minor because she had a lot of people interested,” Dr. Hughes said and then laughed. “The light bulb went off. I was looking at Everett, and he was so awesome, and I thought let’s just bring it back.”

Dr. Hughes arrived at San José State in 1999 as a professor and to develop the Early Childhood Special Education Credential Program.

“Since then I’ve developed several programs and minors. I wasn’t here long before I got the reputation of being a program developer,” Dr. Hughes said and added, “I am a self-described developer.”

With her experience and acknowledgment that she enjoys the process of creation from blank slate to fully developed program, Dr. Hughes was the perfect candidate to re-establish the minor.

She took her vision to the College of Education’s Interim Dean Paul Cascella, who has a Ph.D. in Special Education and a Master of Arts in Speech-Language Pathology.

“[Interim Dean] Paul signs too,” Dr. Hughes said. “He totally supported the idea. We both immediately thought Everett would be perfect to help update the curriculum from the previous minor and design one of its new courses: Introduction to Deaf Culture.”

Dr. Hughes and Smith tackled the process which involved hours of paperwork, documentation, and editing and developing new curriculum.

The Deaf Minor officially started Fall 2017 and consists of four courses: (EDSE 14A and 14B) Beginning and Intermediate level American Sign Language; (EDSE 102) Speech, Language, & Typical/Atypical Development; and (EDSE 115) Introduction to Deaf Culture.

A tenured or tenure-track faculty member will teach EDSE 102, but Smith will continue teaching the two ASL courses. Additionally, he will teach the class he developed, Introduction to Deaf Culture, when it launches in Spring 2018. The course is an introduction to American Deaf Culture and analyzes the identities, contributions, and experiences of Deaf people and how they are understood within the culture of hearing as well as examining the history, diversity, and evolution of Deaf culture.

“It is unusual for a Chair to ask a lecturer to develop a course,” Dr. Hughes said, highlighting Smith’s skill as a teacher. “Usually tenure-track folks do it because it’s a very high-level professional process. I knew that I could give Everett support and the tools he needed, but I couldn’t conceptualize it the way he could. He’s a dynamic teacher.”

Smith was gracious about Dr. Hughes and Interim Dean Cascella’s confidence in his ability to engage students as a lecturer and to provide San José State University with an academic experience of Deaf Culture and Deaf people.

“As a person in the Deaf culture, this course has helped me so much at getting a better understanding of my own culture,” Smith said. “Going through past curriculum and the course’s textbook it helped me to see why we [the Deaf community] do the things we do. It was also interesting to really understand the role of interpreters in our culture.”

Both Dr. Hughes and Smith felt passionate about providing more opportunities to raise community awareness on the experiences of Deaf people and to embolden Deaf culture as equal and as important as any other culture. The pair spoke about out the absence of Deaf culture in public schools, and how it’s often alarmingly left out of special education.

Smith commented on the importance of teaching ASL to deaf and hard of hearing children. He said, “In my opinion, one of the most pressing issues that affect the Deaf community is the inclusion of sign language and cultural awareness in the education of Deaf people, especially the children. Instruction in sign language at the earliest age ensures that Deaf and even hard of hearing children are not deprived of a language and allows them to develop in other areas in accordance with their unique capabilities.”

Dr. Hughes hopes the Deaf Minor will gain popularity on campus and plans to suggest Special Education graduate students take the courses as a way to advance their skills and knowledge of the field.