Fall 2018 Blog Series 2 of 7: Welcome New Faculty to CHHS

School of Information

Deborah Hicks has been hired as an Assistant Professor and is the course coordinator and instructor for INFO 204: Information Professions. She is originally from Nova Scotia, Canada and has come to SJSU from Alberta, Canada.

Deborah’s research focuses on the professional identity of information professionals and how this informs the work they do, the organizations they run, and the relationships and communities they build. “I’m currently working on a couple of projects” says Deborah.  “The first is exploring how public libraries use Twitter to build community online. This project is focused on exploring how libraries interact online, how these interactions lead to relationships, and how these relationships can be characterized. I’m also working on a project that will explore the ethical decision-making practices of librarians. This project will provide librarians with an evidence-based approach to making ethically challenging decisions.”

Michele Villagran has been hired as an Assistant Professor and is teaching two sections of INFO 200, Information Communities.

“I reside in the Greater Los Angeles area, and formerly was a Lecturer and MLS Coordinator with the University of North Texas,” says Michele. “I also have a consulting firm, CulturalCo, where we focus on areas of cultural competency, diversity & inclusion, conflict resolution, and emotional intelligence.”

Michele’s research plans focus on cultural diversity with emphasis on cultural intelligence, faculty of color, and marginalized groups. Her research and scholarship focus are on cultural diversity with the main area of focus on diversity and social justice in library and information science (LIS) and cultural intelligence phenomena within librarians, libraries and information centers.

The following are Michele’s specific areas of research interest:

  • Cultural Intelligence (CQ)
  • Diversity, Inclusion, Community and Equity (DICE)
  • Serving Disabled Populations
  • Serving Multicultural Populations
  • Social justice in library and information science
  • Implicit bias and microaggressions
  • Faculty of color

Fall 2018 Blog Series 1 of 7: Welcome New Faculty to CHHS

The College of Health and Human Sciences (CHHS) welcomed eleven new tenure track professors and one new department chair. The following blog series states where they came from, what they are teaching and what their research interests are.

Department of Health Science and Recreation Welcomes New Department Chair and Assistant Professor

The Department of Health Science and Recreation welcomes Yoshi Iwasaki as its new Department Chair and Vicky Gomez as an Assistant Professor.

Yoshi has over 20 years of academic experience within public university settings in the United States and Canada, He has been extensively involved in community-engaged research and education, knowledge mobilization, and capacity-building through addressing social justice issues which include poverty, empowerment and mental health.

Yoshi strives on embracing a Teacher-Scholar-Practitioner Model where he  facilitates and mobilizes students, alumni, faculty, and community engagement to offer high-quality student-centered learning opportunities and to advance practices in public health and recreation fields, guided by the principles of power-sharing, integrity, and accountability.

photo credit Heartbox Photography

Vicky recently completed her Doctor of Public Health from UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health. She was born and raised in San Francisco’s Mission District and obtained her Bachelor of Science in Health Science and Bachelor of Arts in Raza Studies from San Francisco State University. She went on to obtain her Masters of Public Health (MPH) in Community Health Education from SFSU in 2009.

For the last decade, Vicky has worked as a research coordinator and community-based participatory researcher on various cancer-related studies. Her commitment to addressing cancer disparities in the Latino community served as the driving force to return to school for her doctorate degree and continue her research agenda as an assistant professor at SJSU.

Vicky’s doctoral research explored if digital storytelling was a feasible community-developed intervention for increasing colorectal cancer screening intention among Latinos who attend church in Alameda County. Her research pilot study was successful and now she will be testing the effectiveness of the community-developed digital storytelling intervention in the San José area. This semester she is teaching two sections of Health Science 104: Community Health Promotion to undergraduate students and one section of Health Science: 201 Groups and Training to MPH students. “I am excited to begin my career in the Department of Health Science and Recreation in the College of Health and Human Sciences,” says Vicky.



JMC Graduate Students Presented at 2018 DECIPHER Conference

On September 27-29, 2018, the School of Journalism and Mass Communications was invited to present its graduate research at the 2018 Design Educators Research (DECIPHER) Conference at the University of Michigan. Assistant Professor Tina Korani and graduate students Alejandro Barajas and Jihye Woo presented their graduate research on BridgeBrain: Engaging with the Next-Generation of Academic Scholars.

Click here to read the blog written by Alejandro for the School of Journalism and Mass Communications.

National Institute on Drug Abuse Awards Continued Funding

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) recently awarded continued funding to CHHS Associate Dean of Research Professor Laurie Drabble and Alcohol Research Group Scientist Karen Trocki to further their research on health disparities among sexual minority women, focusing on hazardous drinking patterns and illicit drug use. The project extends their research based on the National Alcohol Survey, one of the first U.S. population-based studies to include sexual identity measures. Ultimately, findings from the research will help inform health services research and efforts to advance health equity.

In addition to testing innovative methods for sampling rare populations, Laurie, Karen, and colleagues are examining individual, community and societal factors that may contribute, either positively or negatively, to substance use outcomes. Not only are they  examining individual level factors that may influence health disparities (e.g., social support and psychological distress), the research team is also exploring how health outcomes are influenced by structural stigma, such as policies that allow for discrimination in employment, health care, or public accommodations based on sexual identity.

Most recently, the research team published an innovative study in a prestigious journal that examined similarities and differences yielded by probability and non-probability samples in estimating of risk for substance use and mental health outcomes among sexual minority women compared to heterosexual women. Although continued inclusion of sexual minorities in population-based studies is critical, there is still a pressing need for research using non-probability strategies that reach sufficient numbers of diverse respondents to examine sexual-minority-specific resiliency and risk factors and to explore differences in risk between sub-groups. The study, which generally found similar risks among sexual minority women compared to heterosexual women regardless of sampling strategy, helps affirm the utility of research using non-probability samples and lays the groundwork for additional methodological research on sexual minority health and well-being.

“We are very confident in our research,” says Laurie. “In the current political environment, there is a pressing need to understand how health is impacted by policies that protect against, or allow, discrimination based on sexual or gender identity.”

2018 CHHS Service Awards Recipients


Sang Hea Kil, Associate Professor, Department of Justice Studies is the recipient of the CHHS Lifetime Faculty Service Award. Sang has achieved remarkable and sustained service contributions to SJSU at the Department, College, University, and local, regional and national levels.

This past year, Sang served on 10 department level committees. In addition, during the 2016-2017 academic year, Sang served on more committees than any other regular faculty in the Department of Justice Studies.

Sang excels in her outreach to students and retention. She has provided exceptional service in this area during her role as Graduate Coordinator. Beginning fall 2017, she recruited 18 graduate students to the new Justice Studies graduate program.

Sang has demonstrated exemplary scholar activist leadership service to SJSU and the community. Her work as co-founder of Queer Qumbia is long standing as she helped to establish the Queer Qumbia in 2010 and it is still going strong today. Queer Qumbia is a volunteer-based all Queer and Trans collective and political project bringing people together around música tropical and raising funds for local organizations impacting communities in struggle. The collective has raised over $75,000 for local grassroots groups who do intersectional social justice work with a monthly DJ dance party now located in the East Bay.

Sang has been a faculty advisor to San Jose State University Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan (M. E.Ch.A.), the Justice Studies Faculty Student Association and organized workshops with the Student Coalition for SJSU Accountability.

Sang worked tirelessly as a volunteer with the JSGSA to help organize the Ann Lucas Lecture Series in Law and Justice Series for the Department of Justice Studies.

Sang has given exceptional levels of service in creating workshops and events for students. These included Grassroots Organizing 101 with School for Unity and Liberation in Oakland, CA. It was hosted by Cesar Chavez Action Center and Mosaic on February 19, 2016.  She also organized and presented the documentary film, Ivory Tower. The event occurred on March 1, 2016 at the Student Union Theater and was covered by Spartan Daily News.

According to nominator Steven Lee, Professor, Justice Studies, “Sang is one of the most skilled, scholar-activist, leader and colleagues that I know. Her dedication to SJSU at every level has benefited our students, department, college, university, community and profession and have far-reaching future potential impacts beyond the campus.”

Congratulations Sang!

Winifred (Wynn) Schultz-Krohn, Chair, Department of Occupational Therapy is the recipient of the CHHS Annual Faculty Service Award for Tenure Track Faculty. Wynn has been providing volunteer occupational therapy services to Family Supportive Housing, a family homeless shelter in San Jose for over twenty years.

In 1999, Wynn was approached by students to help them with a project at the San Jose Family Supportive Housing Shelter. Wynn generously agreed and this started her extraordinary pro bono work that has not only been a profound benefit for the families at the shelter, but also benefitted the SJSU’s Department of Occupational Therapy.

As a result of assisting the students with their project twenty years ago, (this was not part of her teaching assignment), Wynn recognized that there were unmet occupational needs for parents and children who are homeless. She began volunteering her services as an occupational therapist to the shelter. The shelter was extremely grateful to have her level of expertise working with children and families.

Wynn then proposed to the FSH executive director a plan to start a Level II Fieldwork program at the shelter during the summer to train occupational therapy students and provide needed occupational therapy service to the families. This was a definite “win-win” situation which was only made possible by the tireless, pro bono work of Wynn. She went on to volunteer her time to develop the fieldwork program, establish goals and objectives, and supervise the entire student program. Additionally, she solicited donations specifically for the occupational therapy interns so they would receive a small stipend. This work again was all done on a volunteer basis on her part.

Every summer Wynn volunteers to provide occupational therapy services to those who were homeless as well as supervise occupational therapy students, so that the students have a unique experience of working with an underserved population addressing a wide variety of occupational needs. She has supervised more than 35 students completing their Level II Fieldwork experience.

Twelve years ago, Wynn offered to take students to the shelter to complete their Level I Fieldwork experience during the academic year. This was not part of her teaching assignment but she felt there were unmet occupational needs for the homeless families and that the combined efforts of herself and the students could meet those needs at the shelter. She again generously volunteered her time to supervise the students, this time, in the evenings.

Wynn guided more than 100 students in various experiences and services at the homeless shelter. The shelter was grateful for Wynn’s service, recognizing the degree of time and effort she had provided and they nominated her for the prestigious Jefferson Award in fall 2011. Her volunteer services were recognized and she was awarded the Jefferson Award. The regional television station filmed Wynn at the shelter discussing the role of occupational therapy and the occupational needs of homeless families.

Wynn saw yet another way to provide additional needed services to homeless families by recruiting students to complete small intervention efficacy studies at the shelter. The students, along with Wynn, provide various interventions and then measure the outcome of the intervention using a simple pre-test/post-test design. The interventions include teaching infant massage to mothers, foster bonding with infants and toddlers, work readiness programs for homeless parents, money management groups for homeless teenagers, and play groups for homeless pre-school children. She and her students have presented their work and research at the state, national and international conferences.

Because of the generous volunteer efforts of Wynn, not only have many homeless families benefited but her students as well. She has donated thousands of hours and countless families and students have profited from her selfless work. She is well respected and greatly admired for her tireless efforts. Wynn embodies all of the qualities of an occupational therapist with a passion for occupational justice which she has put into action.

Congratulations Wynn!

Alison George, Lecturer, Department of Occupational Therapy is the recipient of the CHHS Annual Faculty Service Award for Lecturer.  For over 20 years, Alison has served as a Lecturer in the Department of Occupational Therapy. She is known for her exemplary teaching and service to the department and commitment to the students.

In 1995, Alison began as the Department of Occupational Therapy’s Fieldwork Coordinator where she continued that roll until 2000. In 2000, Alison was asked to shift into a lecturer position. Since then, she has taught a wide variety of courses and displayed exceptional skills in supporting student mastery of complex subjects. Her SOTE scores reflect a skilled lecturer who is able to connect didactic information with professional practice.

Alison has a commitment to students. Her involvement can be seen in her professional service to the Occupational Therapy Association of California (OTAC) where she is the Co-Chair of the Student Leadership Committee which is charged with designing a student track during the annual OTAC Conference.

Alison has also shown a commitment to the department beyond the expectations of a lecturer. She regularly attends faculty meetings to volunteer for additional responsibilities where needed. For example, in 2009 the Department of Occupational Therapy was concerned about student’s poor writing skills and Alison worked with Wynn in developing standards and outcomes of student performance in the area of skilled writing. Former Provost Carmen Sigler recognized her effort in the support of student excellence.

Alison is always willing to accept additional responsibilities. In 2016, when the Fieldwork Coordinator resigned, she stepped in to help the students and the department with these tasks. She also was instrumental in completing the self-study document for external accreditation.

Congratulations Alison!

Leah Olaivar, Analyst, Department of Nutrition, Food Science and Packaging is this year’s recipient of the CHHS Administrative and Professional Service Award.

Leah is directly responsible for all the operations in the department office which includes scheduling, processing of student paperwork for change of major forms, graduation, substitutions etc., faculty support, and managing the budget and fiscal responsibilities. In Ashwini Wagle’s years of experience as faculty in the department and in the last three semesters as the Department Chair, “Leah’s knowledge of office operations is unparalleled. She has the knowledge and skills to trouble shoot any issue that comes up relating to student paperwork especially relating to change of major forms or graduation applications.”

Leah also acts as an academic advisor to students when the need arises. In the last ten years, Leah has successfully managed to schedule over 100 sections of the general education classes efficiently and worked with faculty schedules every semester. According to Ashwini, her organizational skills border on “magic” and Leah makes sure that the departmental deadlines are met.

As far as customer service skills, the Department of Nutrition, Food Science and Packaging, feel that Leah’s customer service skills are exemplary. “She is one of the friendliest people I know and she always arrives with a smile on her face and a happy greeting for her colleagues,” says Ashwini. Leah also has an ability to communicate effectively with all the faculty, colleagues, student assistants, and visitors to the department. She also volunteers for all of the department activities, tabling events, socials, and commencement. Leah receives all the calls to the department and tries to answer all queries as best possible.

Despite the overwhelming amount of work that everyone has to do, Leah consistently finds ways to help her colleagues in the department. Her willingness to assist others and her commitment to the department is unequaled. Leah is often observed assisting the Department Instructional Support Technician with Tally Sheets, Salary Sheets, p-card statements, and other responsibilities. Leah is thorough in her work and provides great detail about the subject matter. She consistently follows through to ensure understanding by not just the students, but by the others who might have to field questions about the subject. She is quick to respond to requests for information and is thorough in ensuring all loose ends are completed. Leah has always assisted and supported faculty by helping to proctor make-up exams, and receive student assignments even though these tasks are not part of her job responsibilities.

Earlier this year, Leah was asked if she could take on the responsibility of managing the department budget and other fiscal related work in addition to her current role as the Department Coordinator. She has been assisting the Department Technician in that area and felt competent to handle the added duties. She jumped at the chance to take on the role of an Analyst and is currently undergoing training to transition into the Analyst role. It’s those qualities that make her an indispensable member of the team in the Department of Nutrition, Food Science and Packaging. Leah regularly volunteers to mentor new hires and assists them in settling in the department.

Congratulations Leah!