Green Ninja Project receives $1.1 million from NSF


genie_slide-10dh9wfDr. Ellen Metzger, professor of Geology and Science Education, is a member of the Green Ninja Project, whose goal is building an understanding of Climate Change through improved science education. Last year, the project received a grant to further the production of the “Green Ninja Film Academy” (GENIE) and was reported first in Academic Spotlight

An interdisciplinary research team from San José State has been awarded $1.1 million from the National Science Foundation to design and implement the ‘Green Ninja Film Academy (GENIE),” an intervention that leverages well-established research on motivation to encourage student interest and engagement in the STEM-related field of climate change. The project is aimed at scientifically-undeserved middle school students who will be guided through a structured storytelling and film-making experience that builds competencies in science, engineering design, media technology and communications. During the three-year project, 60 teachers and at least 2,000 students will directly participate in the GENIE project, with additional participation from parents, friends, and teachers who attend the Green Ninja Film Festival. GENIE is also designed around helping teachers prepare to implement the Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) using climate change as a context. The project builds on the established Green Ninja Project, and an SJSU initiative that develops media to inspire student interest in science and the environment. The principal investigators of the NSF grant are SJSU professors Eugene Cordero (Meteorology and Climate Science), David Chai (Animation/Illustration), Ellen Metzger (Geology and Science Education), Grinell Smith (Elementary Education) and Elizabeth Walsh (Meteorology and Climate Science and Science Education). More information about the project can be found at


Dr. Kim Blisnuik’s Research Group and the Geology of Earthquakes


Kim Blisniuk

Dr. Kim Blisnuik


From left: Kit Bella-Pratt, Kirby Kiefer, Dr. Kim Blisnuik, Alex Shumurakov, and Jeff Lee

In the Fall 2016 edition of The Scientist, Dr. Kim Blisniuk’s Earthquake Research Group was featured for their work in the field of geochronology and geomorphology.

Dr. Kim Blisniuk’s research group at SJSU combines the interdisciplinary fields of tectonic geomorphology and Quaternary geochronology to better under-
stand how earthquakes and climate change modify the landscape. As a field geologist and geochronologist, she isinterested in landscape evolution, earthquake geology, and tectonic reconstructions of dynamic processes in the upper crust. A particular interest is how crustal deformation at depth and changes in Earth’s climate are archived on Earth’s surface, as this information is critical for understanding regional climate and tectonics. Her research group implements a variety of field and laboratory tools aimed at characterizing and quantifying rates of active landscapes. These tools include geochronology (specifically terrestrial cosmogenic radionuclides and U-series dating), structural and geomorphic mapping, the analysis of high-resolution topography data, GIS, and the application of mechanical models to simulate the behavior of the structures observed in the field.


Dr. Kim Blisniuk introduction in the SJSU Research Foundation Annual Report

Kim Blisniuk

In 2014 – 2015 Dr. Kim Blisniuk made in the news with San Jose State University Research Foundation Annual Report 2014 -2015 published in the article On the Fault Line with Kim Blisniuk.

As a tectonic geo-morphologist and quaternary geochronologist, Kimberly Blisniuk is engaged in examining and dating the Earth’s landforms and alluvial deposits adjacent to the San Andreas Fault. In simpler English, that means she is gathering rocks, soil and sediment along California’s most prominent earthquake fault, then measuring that material’s age and movement over time.

“The goal is to go into the field and look at these land forms with trained eyes so we can  document the progressive movement of the land along the fault,” she explains. “By returning to those same locations and collecting samples on a regular basis, we can also obtain the age of the land forms.”

Measurement of land progression and age is key to estimating earthquake recurrence.

“We are figuring out how fast a fault moves over the most recent geologic time period in earth’s history. Th e rate at which a fault moves plus knowledge of the most recent earthquake’s timing provides us with the recurrence interval of a fault.”

Data from the measurements that Dr. Blisniuk and her students obtain in the field goes into scientific models of earthquake recurrence and seismic hazards. Th e data is also used by the federal government and insurance assessors to figure out where homes are the most vulnerable or least vulnerable to earthquake damage in order to determine earthquake insurance rates.

Dr. Blisniuk’s own educational experiences with geology and field mapping led her to appreciate the value of field studies for students.

“Field work is essential to students. They need to learn the nitty-gritty of collecting and processing samples. One of my undergraduate students has taken samples he collected in the field to a geology lab at Stanford University where I have a working relationship with other researchers. He is getting firsthand experience with bringing what is collected in the field back to the lab for evaluation – exactly what he will be doing in a future career as a scientist.”


Department of Geology, College of Science
Sponsors: U.S. Geological Survey, Earthquake Hazards Program; Southern California Earthquake Center


Dr. Manny Gabet in the News

Dr. Manny Gabet

Dr. Manny Gabet in the Lab

Last December, Dr. Manny Gabet made national news with a study published in the journal Geomorphology and presented at the fall 2013 American Geophysical Union (AGU) meeting in San Francisco, describing his computer model for the development of Mima mounds, a long-mysterious geomorphic feature.

“Mima mounds are small densely packed hills found on all continents except Antarctica. The most famous and well-studied ones are along the west coast of North America. Over the centuries, numerous hypotheses have been advanced to explain how they form, including periglacial processes, artesian pressure, gas venting and, of course, aliens. One hypothesis, proposed in the 1950s, was that gophers built them in response to seasonally flooded soils. To test this idea, I created a cellular automaton model that simulates the digging behavior of gophers based on the displacement of metal tracers deposited in a Mima mound field. Although there is no explicit mound-building rule in the model, Mima mounds spontaneously begin to form. In addition, the spatial distribution of the mounds in the simulated landscape matches the distribution observed in real mound fields. “

Dr. Gabet was interviewed by multiple news organizations, including the BBC, the Huffington Post, and The Economist.