February 2016 Newsletter: Provost Update: A Culture of Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity

As Provost, I am always excited to learn about the amazing research, scholarship and creative activity (RSCA) our students and faculty accomplish. I also understand the dedication that is required to balance teaching, service and RSCA. From my own experience in conducting and publishing research, I know both faculty and students benefit from a campus culture that supports such endeavors.

I am committed to creating an environment that fosters this important aspect of higher education. In the last two years, we have invested $2.2 million to support university-wide workshops and college-specific programs to assist faculty in starting or continuing their RSCA agendas. Annual funding for RSCA has been built into our budget and we are finalizing a plan to ensure it remains a key priority.

My hope is that our current planning efforts will foster more stellar research like that of two faculty members honored at the Celebration of Research this month with Early Career Investigator Awards. Aaron Romanowsky, from the Department of Physics and Astronomy in the College of Science, and Virginia San Fratello, from the Department of Design in the College of Humanities and the Arts, both exemplify the Spartan spirit of innovation. Romanowsky and his students are discovering new galaxies while San Fratello is using 3-D printing to create sustainable building materials. Both have been recognized by colleagues in their disciplines and have been successful in securing funding to further their research.

At the Celebration of Research, I was also pleased to highlight our Undergraduate Research Pairs program and see the wide range of projects students are pursuing with faculty mentors, some of which we highlight in this month’s newsletter. High-impact practices, including undergraduate research, improve student learning and support student retention, but faculty also benefit from students as research assistants. I applaud our faculty for their commitment to engaging students in their research along with attracting public and private funding to support regional, national and global collaborations.

The SJSU Research Foundation plays an essential role in sustaining our efforts. In 2014-15, the Research Foundation oversaw more than $63 million in revenues that included resources from grants and contracts with government agencies, corporations and private foundations to support more than 150 RSCA projects. See the full list of contracts and awards along with stories of faculty and student work in the San Jose State University Research Foundation 2014-15 Annual Report published this month. I am dedicated to the continued growth of the SJSU research enterprise and the role of the SJSU Research Foundation in supporting our campus.

Join the ‘Celebration of Research’ on Feb. 10

celebrationofreserachStudents, staff, faculty and members of the public are invited to the SJSU Celebration of Research on Wednesday, Feb. 10, from 4-6 p.m. in the Student Union Ballroom.

This year’s event will feature presentations from the 2015 Early Career Investigator Award Winners Aaron Romanowsky and Virginia San Fratello. An assistant professor in the College of Science’s physics and astronomy department, Romanowsky has produced 47 refereed publications in journals such as “The Astrophysical Journal” and recently received $40,718 from the National Science Foundation to continue his research. He and his students are credited with discovering a hypercompact cluster, or one of the densest galaxies.

An assistant professor in the College of Humanities and the Arts design department, San Fratello has successfully secured funding for her work that includes materials and fabrication processes, including 3-D printing. She recently received a $90,000 grant from the United States Environmental Protection Agency. San Fratello is an active architect who is working with manufacturers and distributors to launch innovative and sustainable building components into the market place.

In addition to the presentation of the faculty awards, student researchers will also be highlighted at the event. Students and faculty involved in the Center for Faculty Development’s Undergraduate Research Pairs program will have their research exhibited at the event and will be available to talk with guests. The program has paired 32 undergraduate students with 20 faculty members. Some of the research topics include:

  • Developing culturally-tailored mental health programs for Vietnamese caregivers
  • Resilence of college students following a failure
  • Developing nanodelivery of insulin to improve diabetes treatment
  • The impact of individuals tracking their own fitness levels
  • The effect of obesity on metabolic markers
  • Outcomes of mentoring first-year, first-generation graduate students of color
  • See the full list of 2015-16 awardees and research topics

Students who competed in the 2015 CSU Research Competition will also be recognized at the event. Light refreshments will be served.

The Celebration of Research is sponsored by the Office of the Provost, SJSU Research Foundation, the Office of Research and the Center for Faculty Development.