SJSU Students Awarded National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships

Nebat Ali

Nebat Ali, ’19 Biological Sciences, has received an NSF graduate research fellowship.

Nebat Ali, ’19 Biological Sciences, felt huge excitement and validation when she learned in March she had received a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF GRFP), one of two SJSU students honored this year.

“It was so affirming to me as a young scientist because it means students like myself really do belong in academic research labs,” she said.

Ali, who graduated from San Jose State last year, and senior Jocelyn Valenzuela, who will graduate with a degree in chemical engineering, were among the 2,076 fellowship winners across the nation who will be pursuing academic science research at the highest levels.

Jocelyn Valenzuela

Jocelyn Valenzuela, ’20 Chemical Engineering, has received an NSF graduate research fellowship.

“The NSF fellowship will give me more options for selecting projects and mentors that will help me pursue my research passions,” said Valenzuela. “I couldn’t have done this by myself without the help from my professors and other students here.”

The NSF GRFP is the country’s oldest fellowship program that directly supports graduate students in STEM fields. Winners of the fellowship receive a stipend and tuition support amounting to $46,000 per year for three years.

“This is as good as it gets,” said Pamela Stacks, SJSU Associate Vice President for Research. “The NSF honors academic excellence, and we’re enormously proud of our talented students who gain genuine respect, confidence and independence with this fellowship.”

NSF GRFP has a long history of selecting recipients who achieve high levels of success in their future academic and professional careers. The reputation of the GRFP follows recipients and often helps them become lifelong leaders who contribute significantly to both scientific innovation and teaching.

Stacks said the NSF program also validates the role of research and strong academic preparation on campus. “Even though San Jose State and other schools in the CSU system are often seen as ‘teaching universities,’ our commitment to research is incredibly strong,” she said. “We’re preparing outstanding young scientific researchers who definitely can hold their own among students from other top universities.”

Over the past six years, 18 SJSU students have received NSF GRFP fellowships, and another 11 have received honorable mentions. Three other San Jose State students received honorable mentions this year: Austin Betancourt and Anjum Gujral in the field of ecology and evolution, and Michelia Dam in chemistry.

“This is a consistent record of accomplishment that speaks well of our efforts to encourage our students to pursue scientific research,” said Cleber Ouverney, professor of biological sciences who also heads the San Jose State’s Maximizing Access to Research Careers program (MARC).

MARC is sponsored by the National Institutes of Health to provide support for undergraduate students who are underrepresented in biomedical sciences to engage in research and improve their preparation for high-caliber graduate training at the PhD level.

“We have several programs on campus that offer a practical framework for students interested in scientific research but who often face a range of challenges that can frustrate their ambition,” said Ouverney. “However, through a combination of some financial assistance, close support from our faculty, and a peer network that provides encouragement, we’ve been able to successfully prepare our students for the rigors of graduate school.”

As a chemical engineering major, Valenzuela’s research work at SJSU concentrated on nanoscale materials and their potential for medical applications such as early cancer detection. She’s worked in the labs with professors Abraham Wolcott in physical chemistry and Katy Kao in chemical engineering. Valenzuela will be starting her PhD program in chemical engineering at Stanford this fall.

“I’m looking forward to using the knowledge and skills I learned at San Jose State and the genuine collaboration I’ve found in both academic and industry labs to pursue basic research that can result in real world benefits,” she said.

While at SJSU, Ali worked with Associate Professor of Biological Sciences Miri VanHoven’s lab in the field of neurological science looking into molecular and genetic mechanisms of neural development and behavior. Now a first-year PhD student at University of California, San Francisco, she’s focusing on microbiology and the impact of microbes on higher organisms.

“I’m truly grateful for all the support I received at San Jose State that helped me become competitive for the NSF award,” said Ali. “The MARC program especially was valuable to me because of the mentorship from my professors and the community of students who help each other prepare applications and proposals.

Ali and Valenzuela are both eager to get back to their respective lab benches as soon as the coronavirus crisis has passed.

David Vossbrink

Update: Associated Students Server Incident

SJSU Media Relations:
Robin McElhatton, 408-924-1749, robin.mcelhatton@sjsu.edu

December 26, 2018

Dear Campus Community,

We write to provide an update on the incident involving the San Jose State University Associated Students website. As previously reported, SJSU Information Technology (IT) was alerted on December 10, 2018 to an event that may have involved an unauthorized intrusion into the Associated Students website. Upon learning of the incident, we immediately took action and blocked all access to and from the affected server and began an investigation to determine what happened and what information may have been affected. Our investigation has determined that an unauthorized third-party accessed an Associated Students server that stored student, former student, faculty and staff names, email addresses, usernames and passwords that were used in connection with Associated Students applications. No Social Security numbers, financial, banking, or medical information were involved in this event.

Please note that this incident impacted an Associated Students server only. SJSU systems were not compromised and remain secure.

We have no evidence that the information involved in this incident has been misused or that financial fraud or identity theft has resulted or can result from this event. However, out of an abundance of caution, we provided notification to all individuals involved in this event via email on December 26, 2018. We have also established a call center to answer any questions individuals may have. The call center can be reached at 877-209-9599, Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Pacific Time.

Maintaining information security is part of our commitment to providing high-quality education, and we deeply regret any concern or inconvenience this incident may cause. To help prevent something like this from happening again, SJSU IT will be conducting security assessments across third-party entities that are auxiliaries of the university, such as Associated Students, in an effort to prevent any new or additional risks from arising. Further, all Associated Students servers have been isolated and migrated into SJSU technology infrastructure, and are being monitored and managed by SJSU IT. Access to the Associated Students website is now located at sjsu.edu/as.

Thank you,

Bob Lim
Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer

Frequently Asked Questions

Updated as of December 26, 2018

When did San Jose State University learn of this incident?

We learned of this incident on December 10, 2018, after SJSU Information Technology (IT) received an alert that referenced a cyberattack against the Associated Students website. Upon learning of the incident, we immediately took action and blocked all access to and from the affected server and began an investigation to determine what happened and what information may have been affected.

What personal information may have been affected?

Our investigation determined that an unauthorized third-party accessed an Associated Students server that stored student, former student, faculty and staff names, email addresses, usernames and passwords, which were used in connection with Associated Students applications. No Social Security numbers, financial, banking, or medical information were involved in this event.

Who did it?

We do not know the identity of the perpetrator.

How did the hacker get into the Associated Students server?

The attacker used a malicious software tool to inject unauthorized code to gain access to the server.

What have you done to keep something like this from happening again?

Maintaining information security is part of our commitment to providing high-quality education, and we deeply regret any concern or inconvenience this incident may cause. To help prevent something like this from happening again, SJSU IT will be conducting security assessments across third-party entities that are auxiliaries of the university, such as Associated Students, in an effort to prevent any new or additional risks from arising. Further, all Associated Students servers have been isolated and migrated into SJSU technology infrastructure, and are being monitored and managed by SJSU IT. Access to the Associated Students website is now located at sjsu.edu/as.

Will this result in identity theft or financial fraud?

This incident did not involve the type of data generally used to commit identity theft, such as Social Security numbers or driver’s license numbers. In addition, financial account information was not stored on the Associated Students server. We notified those involved out of an abundance of caution so they can take appropriate steps to protect their information. We have no evidence that information has been misused, or that any financial fraud or identity theft has resulted or can result from this incident. We recommend changing your passwords on a regular and frequent basis, as well as using strong and unique password combinations. Further, you should always remain vigilant in reviewing your financial account statements for fraudulent or irregular activity on a regular basis.

What is Associated Students?

Associated Students is a student-directed, separate 501(c)(3) entity and an auxiliary of SJSU that that provides students with leadership, support and various services. Associated Students is also the official seat of student governance for the campus.

What Associated Students applications were involved?

The applications involved include the SSO Application, Timecard Application, Campus Recreation Application, Book Exchange Application, Lab Registration Application and Silent Auction Application.

How do I change my SJSU email password?

To change your email password, visit the SJSU Set/Reset Password page. This page will prompt you to enter your SJSU ID number. Your username is your 9 digit SJSU ID number. Your SJSU ID is the same as your employee ID or student ID. Your SJSU ID is also printed on the back of your Tower card. Please note that if it has been more than one year since the end of your last semester, you will no longer have an SJSU One account.
 
 


December 14, 2018

Dear campus community,

Out of an abundance of caution, San Jose State University is informing our faculty, staff, current and recent students that on December 10, 2018, SJSU Information Technology (IT) was alerted to a recent event that may have been an unauthorized intrusion into SJSU Associated Student (AS) website. SJSU IT immediately contained the incident by blocking all access to and from AS servers. SJSU IT quickly initiated an investigation by engaging with AS and third-party cybersecurity experts to determine the extent of the AS website intrusion, and whether or not any information had been compromised.

To reiterate, the event affected AS servers only. AS is a student-directed, separate 501(c)(3) entity that provides SJSU students with leadership, support, and various services. SJSU’s main website and university systems were not affected. In addition, SJSU IT isolated and migrated AS servers into the university’s technology infrastructure. Access to the AS website is now located at sjsu.edu/as.

This is an ongoing investigation. Once we learn whether and what information may have been compromised and who may be impacted, SJSU will inform our community, appropriately. At this time, we have no basis for believing that sensitive personal information of our campus community was compromised. Updates will be posted on this page.

Thank you,

Bob Lim
Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer


 

Vigil for Tree of Life Synagogue

Photo: Muhamed Causevic

Dear campus community,

The SJSU Jewish Student Union, Students Supporting Israel, AEPi, Chabad of SJSU, and Hillel of Silicon Valley will be holding a vigil for the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh this evening at the César Chávez Arch by the Diaz Compean Student Union.

The vigil is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. The entire campus community is invited to attend.