walnut research

Researchers Crack Away at the Benefits of Walnuts

walnut research

Ahn Pham and John Kim conducted walnut research at SJSU. Today, Pham is working in the biotechnology industry. Kim is in a doctoral program at the University of Southern California (Dillon Adams photo).

Contact: Pat Lopes Harris, 408-924-1748

San Jose, CA–Walnuts are part of a Mediterranean diet and have been shown to reduce heart disease and are potentially able to fight cancer. Yet as much as science has revealed about the health benefits of walnuts, which components of walnuts are responsible for these effects has remained a mystery.

Researchers at San Jose State University, in collaboration with scientists at North Carolina State University’s Plants for Human Health Institute, have now identified compounds that show anti-cancer effects in human breast cancer cell models.

The research study, “Cytotoxic Effects of Ellagitannins Isolated from Walnuts in Human Cancer Cells”, was published online in September (Volume 66, Issue 8) in the scientific journal, Cancer and Nutrition.

Student opportunities

A team of undergraduate students at SJSU in the labs of Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences Brandon White and Professor of Chemistry Roy Okuda conducted the study characterizing the effects of the compounds on various breast cancer cells. Mary Grace, a senior researcher in Mary Ann Lila’s lab at the Plants for Human Health Institute, provided purified compounds that were used in this study.

“Not only is this research beneficial to human health, it has also given students at SJSU an opportunity to work in the cancer biology field,” Professor White said.

These students received hands on training from Professors White and Okuda as part of their educational experience at SJSU.  Working in the lab has helped these students go on to working in biotech, doctoral programs, and pharmacy school.”

The student researchers were Vy Le, ’14 Biology; Danny Ha, ’14 Biology; Anh Pham, ’12 Biology; Anthony Bortolazzo, ’14 Biology; Zackery Bevens, ’14 Biology; and John Kim, ’12 Chemistry.

Valuable insight

Walnuts are the second largest nut crop in the United States, which produces over 900 million pounds annually with a production value of more than $1 billion. The U.S is the world’s largest exporter of walnuts. Walnuts are also sources of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, and antioxidant compounds associated with heart health.

“Identifying which compounds are active individually or synergistically will provide valuable insight into understanding their mechanisms of action. By gaining a better understanding of the unique properties of walnuts and how they promote human health, researchers may one day be able to target certain ailments by recommending consumption of walnuts,” Professor White said.

The California Walnut Commission provided funding support for this research project.

San Jose State — Silicon Valley’s largest institution of higher learning with 30,000 students and 3,740 employees — is part of the California State University system. SJSU’s 154-acre downtown campus anchors the nation’s 10th largest city.

From Undergrads to Business Leaders

SJSU's I2P team members in a group photo.

SJSU’s I2P team included Jared Oliva, Tu Nguyen, Maleeha Naqvi, Kyle Tang and their adviser, Professor Guna Selvaduray (CSU Public Affairs photo).

Hurt your elbow? Can’t lift your backpack?

SJSU students have created a forearm support device perfect for this situation and they are well on their way toward realizing their dream of transforming their idea into a business opportunity.

This month, they were finalists in the CSUPERB-I2P® Early-Stage Biotechnology Commercialization Challenge, part of the 21st Annual CSU Biotechnology Forum right here in Silicon Valley.

SJSU student shows visitor a poster for his project.

Duc Pham, ’15 Biochemistry, presents his poster to San Francisco State Professor George Gassner (Daryl Eggers photo).

The forum is a networking and professional development opportunity for students, faculty members and industry professionals. Everyone gathers for workshops, meetings, award presentations and poster sessions.

For example, Professor of Chemistry Daryl Eggers moderated a bioengineering reception to bring more engineers to the forum, which is quite interdisciplinary, including fields like kinesiology and physics.

The Exo-Arm

This includes SJSU’s I2P (Idea to Product) team. Three members are biomedical engineering majors, a fourth is studying business administration and a fifth is majoring in history.

Together, they presented the “Exo-Arm,” a simple, light but effective device designed to help people with limited mobility at the elbow carry objects weighing up to 30 pounds.

This product addresses the gap in the market between robotic exoskeletons and traditional slings,” said Jared Oliva, ’14 History.

spider

An exoskeleton is an external skeleton that supports and protects an animal, like this spider. The Exo-Arm would also strengthen the human arm.

The engineering students built the prototype, while the business and history majors developed the branding and business plan. Their adviser was Professor of Material and Chemical Engineering Guna Selvaduray. Tech Futures Group also provided guidance.

Entrepreneurship Education

The main goal of the I2P competition was entrepreneurship education, which means helping students learn what is needed to transform a life sciences idea into a commercial product.

“Out of the 20 teams in the preliminaries, San Jose State made it to the final round. Juggling final exams, part-time jobs and, for one team member, a newborn baby, we worked hard on our final presentation in front of the I2P judges,” Oliva said.

Although we ultimately did not win, the I2P Competition proved to be an invaluable experience for everyone.”

So valuable that the team is keeping design details under wraps.

“We are working on getting everything set,” Oliva said, “so that we can start putting it out there again.”

Five Reasons to be a Proud Spartan

Five Reasons to be a Proud Spartan

Five Reasons to be a Proud Spartan

SJSU admitted over 1,000 transfer applicants for spring 2014. Admissions Communications Counselor Kali Guidry helps collate all those acceptance letters (Enrollment Services image).

1. Alumna Ranae Moneymaker is a stunt double for Jennifer Lawrence in “The Hunger Games,” the sequel “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” and “X-Men: Days of Future Past.” A nutritional science major from 2005 to 2010, Moneymaker mastered flips, falls and overcoming fear as a member of the San Jose State gymnastics team.

2. San Jose State is congratulating over 1,000 transfer applicants recently admitted for spring 2014. In addition, thousands of students from across the country and around the world are applying now for fall 2014. Our Enrollment Services Facebook page makes it easy to stay on track.

3. SJSU features a top accounting program. The Lucas College and Graduate School of Business ranks seventh among 30 California’s public and private schools in terms of alumni pass rates on the certified public accountant exam. This is according to a Sacramento Business Journal analysis of National Association of State Boards of Accountancy data.

4. ESPN featured Spartan Racing, San Jose State Judo, Animation/Illustration and Grupo Folklorico Luna y Sol during the national broadcast of Spartan football’s Sept. 27 game. Check out this behind-the-scenes reel and join us as we look forward to the Homecoming Game Oct. 26.

5. Kirandeep Deol, ’14 biochemistry, was one of 255 students selected from a pool of nearly 4,000 applicants nationwide for the AMGEN Scholars Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She has conducted research at MIT and attended a symposium at UCLA to meet other AMGEN scholars and hear from leading biotech scientists.

Student Assistant Amanda Holst contributed to this report.

SJSU Receives $250,000 from Keck Foundation

Keck Foundation Provides $250,000 for Science Lab Class Innovations

Professor Joseph Pesek has helped nearly 100 graduate students complete their theses, mentored 60 undergraduate research students in his lab, and he’s not done yet (photo courtesy of Professor Pesek).

The W. M. Keck Foundation has made a $250,000 gift to San Jose State to develop laboratory exercises more similar to what students will find in the workplace while introducing new technology into the curriculum.

Professor of Analytical Chemistry Joseph Pesek will serve as principal investigator, working with Professor of Material and Chemical Engineering Claire Komives, Professor of Biological Sciences Brandon White and Professor of Justice Studies Steven Lee.

Faculty and student researchers will develop applications for aqueous normal-phase chromatography, a method for analyzing samples developed at San Jose State. Protocols for these applications will become the basis for lab exercises, to be tested as classwork for SJSU students.

Keck Foundation Provides $250,000 for Science Lab Class Innovations

Professor Joseph Pesek

In this way, the project will provide undergraduate research opportunities and benefit the next generation of college students.

This aligns well with Professor Pesek’s record of service, including more than four decades of teaching and mentoring experience, almost entirely at San Jose State.

The professor has helped nearly 100 graduate students complete their theses, mentored 60 undergraduate research students in his lab, and he’s not done yet.

“If we are successful,” Pesek said, “our work could touch hundreds if not thousands of lab science students, depending on how many institutions adopt the new protocols for use in their teaching laboratories.”

The W.M. Keck Foundation supports pioneering discoveries in science, engineering and medical research.

In the area of education, the foundation supports undergraduate programs that promote inventive approaches to instruction and effective involvement of students in research.

Spartans Honored at CSU Student Research Competition

Spartans Honored at CSU Student Research Competition

Two Spartans received honors at the 27th Annual California State University Student Research Competition.

Brian Maurer took first place among graduate students and Daniel Nguyen took second place among undergraduates in the Biological and Agricultural Sciences Category.

The CSU Student Research Competition is a systemwide event held annually to showcase excellence in scholarly research and creative activity conducted by undergraduate and graduate students.

Student participants make oral presentations before juries of professional experts from major corporations, foundations, public agencies, and colleges and universities in California.

Here’s more on SJSU’s winners.

Spartans Honored at CSU Student Research Competition

Brian Mauer, a graduate student at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, won first place in the biological and agricultural sciences category (photo courtesy of the SJSU Research Foundation).

Brian Maurer 

Graduate student, Marine Science

Professor Nicholas Welschmeyer, faculty mentor

Optimization of a Technique to Measure Bulk Viable Biomass, Based on the Hydrolysis of Fluorescein Diacetate (FDA) by Ubiquitous Enzymes

A technique has been optimized that measures the rate of extracellular fluorescein production, the product of FDA cleavage by esterase enzymes present in all living cells, to quantify the bulk living biomass of heterogeneous aquatic assemblages.

Spartans Honored at CSU Student Research Competition

Daniel Nguyen, an undergraduate in chemistry, won second place in the biological and agricultural sciences category (photo courtesy of the SJSU Research Foundation).

Daniel Nguyen

Undergraduate, Chemistry

Assistant Professor Lionel Cheruzel, faculty mentor

Highly Efficient Light-Driven P450 Biocatalysts

He developed an efficient light-driven P450 biocatalyst able to selectively hydroxylate substrate C-H bonds with the highest activity and turnover numbers among all of the current alternative approaches.

Alumnus Appointed Intel CEO

The same year he graduated from SJSU with a bachelor’s in chemistry, Brian Krzanich (krah-ZAN-nitch) took a job at an Intel chip factory in New Mexico.

Over the next three decades, he quietly worked his way to the top, becoming chief operating officer in January 2012 and CEO as of May 16.

Tough challenges remain for this 52-year-old Spartan. Though Intel is a Fortune 500 company with $53 billion in revenue, the company has struggled in recent years, with smartphone and tablet sales eclipsing personal computers, reducing demand for the “Intel inside” PC business that has long been the company’s bread and butter.

Analysts expect Krzanich to draw on traits that distinguish many SJSU graduates powering Silicon Valley, including practical skills and a can-do attitude. Krzanich will be “a good team player” as he makes plans to “move the company into new areas of growth,” according to Reuters.

“I look at this world and see all kinds of devices connected to computers, and people connected to it all the time,” Krzanich told the New York Times. “We can bring things to companies that others haven’t dreamed of.”

Read more from Intel.

Chemistry Major Receives Gilliam Fellowship

Spartan Receives Gilliam Fellowship

Chemistry Major Receives Gilliam Fellowship

Inspired by a professor, Brian Castellano changed majors from nutrition to chemistry, and will soon begin a doctoral program (Christina Olivas photo).

In recognition of his academic interests and service, chemistry major Brian Castellano has received a 2013 Gilliam Fellowship for Advanced Study.

The honor provides $46,500 annually for four years from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, which seeks to improve the diversity of college and university faculty members by supporting students from groups traditionally underrepresented in the sciences.

“That’s one of the reasons I am interested in science: There is an unlimited amount to learn and discover, and through mentoring, I am able to help others gain a similar passion,” said Castellano, who will enter a doctoral program this fall.

Castellano arrived at SJSU in spring 2009 planning to pursue a degree in nutrition. Inspired by an enthusiastic chemistry professor and his own interest in cell research, Castellano changed his major to chemistry.

So Castellano joined Associate Professor Daryl Eggers’ research lab, where he started work on the effects of water on binding systems. Castellano currently investigates the role of water thermodynamics on aqueous binding equilibria.

“Brian is one of my strongest students ever,” Eggers said. “When I met him, I knew almost immediately he understood very subtle ideas about our research that would be very difficult for other students, a clear sign to me that he would succeed in PhD programs.”

At SJSU, Castellano has also participated in the HHMI-SCRIBE Program and the National Institute of Health’s Minority Access to Research Careers Program, both of which provided him with financial support so he could flourish academically.

Academic Mentors

“One of the rewarding aspects of being a professor is seeing your students go and do these wonderful things,” Eggers said, adding he enjoys “seeing students grow and be successful after leaving San Jose State.”

Mentoring has also been a major part of Castellano’s experience. He has helped fellow students and is a volunteer organic chemistry workshop facilitator.

Castellano is now looking forward to earning a doctorate degree in biological and biomedical sciences. He has been accepted to doctoral programs at the University of California-Berkeley, Johns Hopkins University, Yale University and the University of Pennsylvania.

Chemistry Professor Leads Students In Lanthanide Research

Professor Leads Students In Research Linked to MRIs

Chemistry Professor Leads Students In Lanthanide Research

Professor Muller leads a research group comprised of 10 undergraduates and two graduates. The team created this lanthanide compound.

Have you ever wondered how an MRI machine uses a magnetic field and radio waves to create detailed images of the body?

Key to the process is the lanthanide series of the periodic table, the fifteen metallic chemical elements with atomic numbers 57 through 71.

Department of Chemistry Chair Gilles Muller does research that helps biochemists understand how molecules interact with other molecules in the body using the lanthanide series as probes.

“The reason why we study lanthanides is because when you excite them with a certain wavelength, or a light of a certain color, they emit another wavelength or color,” he said.

Muller studies these emissions using circularly polarized luminescence spectroscopy, a technique that uses lasers to determine the configuration and interaction between compounds and biomolecules.

Thanks to the National Institutes of Health and other grants, Muller leads a dynamic research group comprised of 10 undergraduates and two graduates focused on polarized light and the potential for biomedical applications.

Interested in joining the team? You can learn more on Muller’s research on his website.

Mentoring students

“It’s been really nice getting to learn more about the research process and how you put on your own individual projects,” said chemistry masters student Victoria Chang. “Dr. Muller designed it in such a way that I will get to learn how to use different instruments and methods that I’m learning will be applied to the future.”

In 2008, Muller won the Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award for his dedication as an outstanding teacher and mentor for undergraduate scholarly research.

“The most rewards come from seeing that at some point, I have made a contribution to my students’ futures,” Muller said. “We are an institute where faculty and students work very close and that’s why I came to SJSU.”

Faculty Awards 4 Slideshow

2012-2013 Distinguished Service Award: Brad Stone

2012-2013 Distinguished Service Award: Brad Stone

2012-2013 Distinguished Service Award Brad Stone (Peter Caravalho photo)

The Distinguished Service Award recognizes a faculty member for exemplary service in a leadership capacity to the university and/or community or profession that brings credit to San Jose State University. This year’s winner comes from the College of Science.

Bradley  Stone, professor of chemistry, says that providing service beyond the normal duties of teaching and scholarship is important. His commitment and ongoing contributions to San Jose State’s mission has earned him the 2012-2013 Distinguished Service Award.

Since his arrival at San Jose State  in 1985, Stone has provided diligent service across the university and in multiple colleges, and has dedicated time to the community and through his ongoing leadership. His colleagues describe him as “receptive, honest, dedicated, and committed” and his contributions as “extraordinary, excellent, creative, supportive, consistent, prolific and exemplary.”

Through his leadership and initiative as chair of the Department of Chemistry for nine years, Stone supported faculty and student research and oversaw the modernizing of the curriculum and adding nine new tenure-track faculty members. His contributions as chair of the University Council of Chairs and Directors “played an instrumental role in fostering closer ties between the departments, conducting interdisciplinary, collaborative research and course development, and streamlining the double-major process for students,” according to a colleague.

As co-director of the SJSU/NASA Faculty Fellowship Program, Stone secured $2.2 million in grants and contracts, which created collaborative research opportunities for more than 100 faculty members.

As a faculty advisor for KSJS, San Jose State’s FM campus radio station, Stone has served as a mentor and directly influenced thousands of students. He has won multiple national awards for his work as a music director and jazz radio programmer at KSJS. He has served as an invited panelist, moderator and organizer at numerous jazz conventions for over more than 20 years. This has led to years of national recognition for San Jose State, including Jazz Station of the Year, Jazz Programmer of the Year, and the JazzWeek Duke Dubois Humanitarian Award for Lifetime Achievement.

“For me to serve the university and the students in the other ways besides teaching and research is really important because it supports our mission in the CSU, ” he said. “If I can contribute in some small way then that is very gratifying to me.”

Stone earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a doctorate from Indiana University.

A Celebration of SJSU Research

A Celebration of SJSU Research

A Celebration of SJSU Research

Professor of Chemistry Lionel Cheruzel has been tremendously productive in his field of bioinorganic chemistry. He leads an active research group comprised of eight undergraduate students and one graduate student focused on Cytochrome P450 and the synthetic potential for biotechnological applications (photo courtesy of SJSU Research Foundation).

President Mohammad Qayoumi, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Ellen Junn, and Research Foundation Chief Operating Office Mary Sidney cordially invite you to “A Celebration of SJSU Sponsored Research” 3-5 p.m. Oct. 18 in the Student Union’s Barrett Ballroom. Join the entire SJSU community in a celebration of campus-wide research endeavors. Visit research program exhibits. Enjoy presentations by Early Career Investigator Awardees Dr. Lionel Cheruzel (College of Science) and Dr. Lili Luo (College of Applied Sciences and Arts). Wine and hors d’oeuvres will be served.

Chemistry Unlocks the Key to How Wildflowers Beat Wildfires

female research student wearing safety google and blue latex glove. She is holding a flask sample of a solution she's purfied

In the lab, researcher Jia Lu separates and tests the components of a karrikin solution, giving her insight into how to improve the process (Christina Olivas photo).

By Amanda Holst, Public Affairs Assistant

Did you know that there are certain plants that grow more abundantly or only after a fire?

Deer Weed, Ithuriel’s Spear and Whispering Bells are examples of what Department of Chemistry Professor Daniel Straus calls “fire-followers.”

“These plants can lay dormant in the soil for 100 years, but after an intense fire, chemicals soak the soil and germinate seeds, causing them to grow,” Straus explained.

Straus studies compounds that affect the germination of geophytes, bulb plants that adapt to unfavorable climates and conditions, even blazing hot wildfires.

Professor Straus is specifically interested in reproducing the highly active germination stimulant karrikin, a molecule discovered in Australia less than 10 years ago and produced amid the smoke and water of wildfires.

“It can take up to two months to purify,” said researcher Jia Lu, ’11 forensic science. “So far I can make only a couple of milligrams because there are so many steps, but the process is getting better.”

Whispering Bells are among the wildflowers resilient after wildfires (californiachaparral.com photo).

Whispering Bells are entirely fire dependent (californiachaparral.com photo)

Learning From “Fire-Followers”

Field studies on how the reproduced karakin compound affects germination have been conducted at Henry W. Coe State Park. Modifying the process to make more karakin faster raises a new question: Would the substance have the same effect on vegetative plants, such as crop plants?

Straus is currently working with the Carnegie Institute for Science’s Department of Global Ecology on a first batch of tests focusing on flowering responses in bulb plants.

“So far there is a very strong vegetative response,” Straus said. “We’re noticing plants watered with the karrikin solution were growing very vigorously in comparison to the plants not watered with karrikin. That’s exciting, and worth trying on other kinds of plants.”

Close-up photo of a graduation cap with yellow tassel that has a green-and-white toadstool with the phrase 1up from the Mario video games. Photo by Christina Olivas

Chemistry Convocation Offers Each Grad a Moment to Share

By Amanda Holst, Public Affairs Assistant

A man at a podium on the left looks at a young woman wearing her graduation cap and gown, holding a microphone. Photo by Christina Olivas

Graduates at the Department of Chemistry convocation each had an opportunity to give thanks to their family, peers and professors (Christina Olivas photo).

Between Fifth and San Fernando streets, lying snugly between King Library and Dudley Moorhead Hall, the University Theatre was the perfect venue to welcome family, friends, faculty and staff to the Department of Chemistry convocation, held May 26. Audience members socialized intermission-like as they filled the contour rows of the theater, awaiting the ceremony.

Forty-three graduates obtaining recognition for B.A., B.S., and M.S. degrees were cued in to the “Star Wars” theme song. The well-received faculty processional cross-faded next with Darth Vader’s dark theme song “The Imperial March” playing in the background.

Chair Brad Stone opened the curtain by emphasizing the importance of having convocation and recognized the department team individually. Special recognition went out to College of Science Dean Michael Parrish and Associate Dean Elaine Collins.

Professor Marc d’Alarcao called each member of the Class of 2012 by name, and provided everyone with the opportunity to offer their thanks to family, peers and professors for their support during years of “blood, sweat and many, many tears,” as graduate Jeffery Berry puts it.

Among the accolades, 2012 Outstanding Graduating Senior Philip Calabretta thanked professors d’Alarcao and Daryl Eggers for allowing him to “tinker in their labs,” and professors Karen Singmaster, Brad Stone and Roy Okuda for inspiring him to teach.

The production crew for the event was the chemistry department staff, which worked seamlessly to make the ceremony memorable.

Assistant Professors of Chemistry and Library and Information Science Honored

Assistant Professors of Chemistry and Library and Information Science Honored

An assistant professor of chemistry whose research focuses on one of the most challenging reactions in organic chemistry and an assistant professor of library and information science whose innovative work includes a partnership with the School of Social Work are the recipients of the 2012 SJSU Research Foundation Early Career Investigator Awards. The honor recognizes tenure-track SJSU faculty members who have excelled in areas of research, scholarship or creative activity as evidenced by their success in securing funds for their research, publishing in peer-reviewed journals and carrying out other scholarly and creative activities at an early or beginning point in their career at SJSU. Here is the official announcement.

***

We are pleased to announce that Dr. Lionel Cheruzel from the College of Science, and Dr. Lili Luo from the College of Applied Sciences and Arts have both been chosen to receive the San José State University Research Foundation Early Career Investigator Award for 2012.  Their selection is made at the recommendation of the Early Career Investigator Subcommittee of the Research Foundation Board of Directors.

The SJSU Research Foundation Early Career Investigator Award recognizes tenure-track SJSU faculty who have excelled in areas of research, scholarship or creative activity as evidenced by their success in securing funds for their research, publishing in peer-reviewed journals and carrying out other scholarly and creative activities at an early or beginning point in their career at SJSU. Our two recipients are outstanding examples of individuals who have achieved this level of success.

Lionel Cheruzel

Lionel Cheruzel

Dr. Lionel Cheruzel, in his third year at SJSU, has been tremendously productive in his field of bioinorganic chemistry.  Since joining the Department of Chemistry, he has successfully competed for multiple grant awards totaling $480,000. These grants have come from the Department of Health and Human Services, the Research Corporation, and the CSU Program for Education and Research in Biotechnology. In addition to an impressive record of grantsmanship, Dr. Cheruzel has become a valued member of the SJSU faculty through a combination of excellence in teaching and research. Dr. Cheruzel currently leads an active research group comprised of eight undergraduate students and one graduate student. He and his group are focused on Cytochrome P450, and the synthetic potential for biotechnological applications. More on the Cheruzel Research Group can be found at www.sjsu.edu/cheruzel. Dr. Cheruzel has made significant contributions to the development of knowledge in his field as evidenced by his strong publication record with three publications in peer reviewed journals since joining the faculty and one publication currently in review.

Lili Luo

Lili Luo

Dr. Lili Luo, also in her third year at SJSU, has demonstrated an outstanding record of scholarship that has been recognized by federal grant funders. Her work has resulted in several invitations for collaborative research with SJSU scholars, as well as with scholars from external organizations. Since joining the faculty of the School of Library and Information Science, Dr. Luo has been an active researcher in the area of reference services, online learning, and research methods education. In 2010, Dr. Luo received a $122,683 grant award from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services to conduct the first in-depth research regarding text reference services.  Dr. Luo’s scholarly activities also include a partnership with the SJSU School of Social Work, conducting joint research to explore how librarians and social workers can collaborate to improve access to information regarding local social service resources.  Dr. Luo has presented her findings in publications and at professional and scholarly conferences, and was invited to present findings at the International Federation of Library Associations this summer.  Dr. Luo has published eight journal articles since joining the faculty and in 2010 received the Outstanding Teacher’s Award from the School of Library and Information Science.

The SJSU Research Foundation has established two Early Career Investigator Awards in order to encourage participation beyond those colleges where large numbers of faculty have traditionally participated. One award goes to a faculty member in the Colleges of Science and Engineering and another is made to a faculty member from all other colleges. Each awardee will receive a cash award of $1,000 to be used at their discretion.

Professors Honored for Early Career Research

By Pat Lopes Harris, Media Relations Director

An assistant professor of chemistry whose research focuses on one of the most challenging reactions in organic chemistry and an assistant professor of library and information science whose innovative work includes a partnership with the School of Social Work are the recipients of the 2012 SJSU Research Foundation Early Career Investigator Awards. The honor recognizes tenure-track SJSU faculty members who have excelled in areas of research, scholarship or creative activity as evidenced by their success in securing funds for their research, publishing in peer-reviewed journals and carrying out other scholarly and creative activities at an early or beginning point in their career at SJSU. Here is the official announcement.

***

We are pleased to announce that Dr. Lionel Cheruzel from the College of Science, and Dr. Lili Luo from the College of Applied Sciences and Arts have both been chosen to receive the San José State University Research Foundation Early Career Investigator Award for 2012.  Their selection is made at the recommendation of the Early Career Investigator Subcommittee of the Research Foundation Board of Directors.

The SJSU Research Foundation Early Career Investigator Award recognizes tenure-track SJSU faculty who have excelled in areas of research, scholarship or creative activity as evidenced by their success in securing funds for their research, publishing in peer-reviewed journals and carrying out other scholarly and creative activities at an early or beginning point in their career at SJSU. Our two recipients are outstanding examples of individuals who have achieved this level of success.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lionel Cheruzel

Lionel Cheruzel

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. Lionel Cheruzel, in his third year at SJSU, has been tremendously productive in his field of bioinorganic chemistry.  Since joining the Department of Chemistry, he has successfully competed for multiple grant awards totaling $480,000. These grants have come from the Department of Health and Human Services, the Research Corporation, and the CSU Program for Education and Research in Biotechnology. In addition to an impressive record of grantsmanship, Dr. Cheruzel has become a valued member of the SJSU faculty through a combination of excellence in teaching and research. Dr. Cheruzel currently leads an active research group comprised of eight undergraduate students and one graduate student. He and his group are focused on Cytochrome P450, and the synthetic potential for biotechnological applications. More on the Cheruzel Research Group can be found at www.sjsu.edu/cheruzel. Dr. Cheruzel has made significant contributions to the development of knowledge in his field as evidenced by his strong publication record with three publications in peer reviewed journals since joining the faculty and one publication currently in review.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lili Luo

Lili Luo

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. Lili Luo, also in her third year at SJSU, has demonstrated an outstanding record of scholarship that has been recognized by federal grant funders. Her work has resulted in several invitations for collaborative research with SJSU scholars, as well as with scholars from external organizations. Since joining the faculty of the School of Library and Information Science, Dr. Luo has been an active researcher in the area of reference services, online learning, and research methods education. In 2010, Dr. Luo received a $122,683 grant award from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services to conduct the first in-depth research regarding text reference services.  Dr. Luo’s scholarly activities also include a partnership with the SJSU School of Social Work, conducting joint research to explore how librarians and social workers can collaborate to improve access to information regarding local social service resources.  Dr. Luo has presented her findings in publications and at professional and scholarly conferences, and was invited to present findings at the International Federation of Library Associations this summer.  Dr. Luo has published eight journal articles since joining the faculty and in 2010 received the Outstanding Teacher’s Award from the School of Library and Information Science.

The SJSU Research Foundation has established two Early Career Investigator Awards in order to encourage participation beyond those colleges where large numbers of faculty have traditionally participated. One award goes to a faculty member in the Colleges of Science and Engineering and another is made to a faculty member from all other colleges. Each awardee will receive a cash award of $1,000 to be used at their discretion.

scientist at sea with a "corer" used to drill down into the ocean floor

Alumnus Taps Ocean’s Depths for Biomedicines

Alumnus holding a mud corer instrument on a boat on a Catalina Island expedition.

Fenical with a mud corer instrument during a Catalina Island expedition in 2009 (photo courtesy of Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego).

By Amanda Holst, Public Affairs Assistant

Ever marvel at the mysteries crawling at the bottom of the ocean? One Department of Chemistry grad has turned a childhood interest in the ocean into a life-long pursuit.

William Fenical, MS Chemistry ’66, has dedicated most of his career trolling the ocean’s depths for his research in the field of marine biomedicine, the study of marine microorganisms for the discovery of new medicines in the treatment of human disease.

With his research team at the world-renowned Scripps Institution of Oceanography, this UC San Diego Distinguished Professor of Oceanography and Pharmaceutical Science looks at how microorganisms inhibit the growth of bacteria or fight cancer cells. The team has two drug discoveries from marine bacteria in phase II clinical trials for the treatment of cancer.

“It’s our goal to demonstrate what these resources are, and facilitate the pharmaceutical industry in how they might really exploit what we know,” Fenical said.

The team collects samples from ocean-floor sediments 40 miles off of California’s coastlines –some up to 4,000 meters (more than 2 miles) deep! The bacterial samples are then brought into the lab where they are cultivated.

As director for the Center for Marine Biotechnology and Biomedicine at the Scripps Institution, Fenical emphasizes innovation.

“It’s not up to us to turn the crank of something over and over using repetitive tools,” Fenical said. “It is up to us to discover new ways of doing things.”

According to Fenical, 95 percent of his team’s work involves finding unique organisms that lead to the discovery of brand new species, groups, taxonomical classifications, and orders of bacteria.

“We are happy to have had a role in bringing this diversity and potential of marine microbes to the attention of science as a whole,” he said.

scientist at sea with a "corer" used to drill down into the ocean floor

Alumnus Taps Ocean's Depths for Biomedicines

Alumnus holding a mud corer instrument on a boat on a Catalina Island expedition.

Fenical with a mud corer instrument during a Catalina Island expedition in 2009 (photo courtesy of Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego).

By Amanda Holst, Public Affairs Assistant

Ever marvel at the mysteries crawling at the bottom of the ocean? One Department of Chemistry grad has turned a childhood interest in the ocean into a life-long pursuit.

William Fenical, MS Chemistry ’66, has dedicated most of his career trolling the ocean’s depths for his research in the field of marine biomedicine, the study of marine microorganisms for the discovery of new medicines in the treatment of human disease.

With his research team at the world-renowned Scripps Institution of Oceanography, this UC San Diego Distinguished Professor of Oceanography and Pharmaceutical Science looks at how microorganisms inhibit the growth of bacteria or fight cancer cells. The team has two drug discoveries from marine bacteria in phase II clinical trials for the treatment of cancer.

“It’s our goal to demonstrate what these resources are, and facilitate the pharmaceutical industry in how they might really exploit what we know,” Fenical said.

The team collects samples from ocean-floor sediments 40 miles off of California’s coastlines –some up to 4,000 meters (more than 2 miles) deep! The bacterial samples are then brought into the lab where they are cultivated.

As director for the Center for Marine Biotechnology and Biomedicine at the Scripps Institution, Fenical emphasizes innovation.

“It’s not up to us to turn the crank of something over and over using repetitive tools,” Fenical said. “It is up to us to discover new ways of doing things.”

According to Fenical, 95 percent of his team’s work involves finding unique organisms that lead to the discovery of brand new species, groups, taxonomical classifications, and orders of bacteria.

“We are happy to have had a role in bringing this diversity and potential of marine microbes to the attention of science as a whole,” he said.

male researcher holding a syringe-like instruments over a plate in a lab full of equipment

Will Tapioca Pearl-Like Solution Streamline Chemistry Research?

student in lab in background, soft drink bottles with pearls floating inside in foreground

Gummy balls, similar to these floating in a soft drink, might hold the key to finding a way to reuse enzymes using methods being tested by researcher John Kim, Chemistry '11 (Ryan Whitchurch photo).

By Amanda Holst, Public Affairs Assistant

Enzyme-catalyzed reactions are vital to the agricultural, pharmaceutical, and biotechnology industries, and are important in speeding up the rate of chemical reactions in organic chemistry.

However, Professor of Organic Chemistry Roy Okuda says there’s a two-fold problem with enzymes, which are protein molecules in plants or animals that cause specific reactions to happen.

“The current method of encasing enzymes is through a silica-based material, which has been a challenge for us to work with,” Okuda said. “Also, some of the more useful enzymes in chemistry today are expensive and you can use them only once.”

Four years ago, Huan Nguyen, Chemistry ’06, came up with a concept that could change all of that. Nguyen hypothesized that it might be possible to reuse enzymes extracted from marine seaweed and encased in porous balls similar to boba, the small tapioca balls in many Asian drinks.

Department of Chemistry researchers have been testing this simple but revolutionary approach ever since. John Kim, Chemistry ’11, has been able to reuse one enzyme six times. Testing whether the enzyme is active in the balls involves colored chemicals.

“If the color changes in the solution then we know that the enzyme is still trapped in the ball and it’s working,” Kim said. “That’s my way to check how many times it takes for the enzyme to die or leak out.”

The team is in the process of quantifying the experiment and testing other applications of the encased enzymes. Members include senior chemistry majors Daniel Pacheco, Quoc Dang and Thu Le, plus Nikhita Tulsi, Chemistry ’11.

The experiments are directly related to what Okuda covers in his lectures, and give graduate students research experience and lab hours. The team hopes to publish a paper soon, and present their work at the College of Science Research Day in early May.

“Hopefully we can create a system that is reusable so that we can use it on actual experiments and go beyond the research lab,” Kim said.

Students Gain Biotech Insights at Annual Symposium

Students and Faculty Members Present Research, Meet Colleagues at CSU Biotech Symposium

Students Gain Biotech Insights at Annual Symposium

Johann Zaroli and Minh Pham, student researchers in Dr. Miri VanHoven's laboratory, collaborated on research presented at the 24th Annual CSU Biotechnology Symposium (CSU Public Affairs photo).

By Pat Lopes Harris, Media Relations Director

Faculty members and students interested in biotech converged on the Santa Clara Marriott Jan. 5-7 for the 24th Annual CSU Biotechnology Symposium, presented by the CSU Program for Education and Research in Biotechnology (CSUPERB).

“Due to the proximity of the meeting, it’s not surprising that SJSU had the largest number of participants among all CSU campuses, about 56 out of 600 attendees,” Associate Professor of Chemistry Daryl Eggers said.

“Another item worth noting is that SJSU has received more research funding from CSUPERB over the past three-year period than any other campus!” Eggers added.

Eight finalists for the Don Eden Graduate Student Research Award were selected from among the 23 CSU campuses, including Johann Zaroli, Biological Sciences ’13. He presented “Understanding the molecular mechanisms that mediate axon outgrowth termination in C. elegans,” which looked at factors that control neuron length, work that could help advance spinal cord repair.

Nine finalists for the Glenn Nagel Undergraduate Student Research Award were selected from among the 23 CSU campuses, including Ngoc-Han Tran, Biological Sciences ’13, who presented “Optimization of hybrid P450 enzymes activity for the light-initiated selective hydroxylation of substrate C-H bond.”

Ngoc standing in front of her poster.

Ngoc-Han Tran, a student researcher in Dr. Cheruzel's laboratory, also presented at CSUPERB (Ishraq Alsadhan photo).

Next year’s conference will feature finalists for a new competition, the Early-Stage Biotechnology Commercialization Challenge, which will help students pickup entrepreneurial skills as they develop a life sciences idea into a commercial product.

The symposium — designed to broaden exposure to cutting-edge biotechnologies, product-focused innovation and the spectrum of career paths available in the life sciences — also offered students and faculty members opportunities to meet colleagues and mentors.

Eggers, the CSUPERB Biofuels Taskforce chair, moderated a panel discussion on “Biodiesel Fuels from Local Agricultural Waste Products” and “Chemical Education and Green Materials.”

Assistant Professor of Nutrition, Food Science and Packaging Kasuen Mauldin and Assistant Professor of Chemistry Lionel Cheruzel moderated roundtable discussions on work-life balance and “Where Will a Graduate Degree Take Me?”

Eggers, Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences Miri VanHoven, and Professor of Chemical and Materials Engineering Guna Selvaduray lead SJSU’s CSUPERB team.

Grad Students Get Cracking on Walnut Research

Students Get Cracking on Walnut Research

Students Get Cracking on Walnut Research

Students Ahn Pham and John Kim help research how walnuts might affect breast cancer activity (Dillon Adams photo).

By Amanda Holst, Public Affairs Assistant

Most people think of walnuts as seasonal snacks. But for a small team of determined SJSU researchers, they hold so much more potential, perhaps even a cure to cancer.

Thanks to a modest, two-year grant from the California Walnut Board, Assistant Professor Brandon White’s cancer biology lab has the opportunity to explore the effect walnut chemicals might have on breast cancer.

“The goal is to take walnuts and try to purify the different components that have cytotoxic activity,” White said. “We’re interested in understanding specifically how they work in cancer, how they kill cancer cells.”

The California Walnut Board provided the team $80,000 over two years and 25 pounds of shelled walnuts for the research, conducted in part by two students.

“I think the most important lesson I am learning is just how to be patient and persevere through the project to achieve new data or understanding of the material,” said researcher John Kim.

Such work is beneficial for students planning to pursue graduate work, including doctoral programs, medical school or dental school, according to White.

“It’s about making connections and seeing how things work in a real-world setting,” he said. “These are experiences that sometimes you don’t get in the classroom.”

Potent Compounds

For this project, White and Professor of Organic Chemistry Roy Okuda have developed what they describe as a “true collaboration between chemistry and biology.”

While White focuses on biological activity, Okuda is working on the chemistry isolation and identification.

“My particular area of specialty is called natural products chemistry, where we investigate novel chemicals from living organisms as potentially new pharmaceuticals,” Okuda said.

According to Okuda, the first step is to purify a compound and then identify it.

“We are still in the process of purifying compounds, but there does appear to be something in there which is quite potent,” he said.

The Nature of Disease

Getting the research published and then continuing the work is Okuda’s ultimate goal.

“This chemical may not end up being used in drugs,” he said. “But our research could  be very helpful in terms of understanding the nature of the disease.”

Student researcher Anh Pham shares the same long-term outlook.

“My goal is to try to produce as much as useful information as possible,” he said, “so that somebody else can come along and make something good out of it.”

Gale Antokal and family

More Than 50 Faculty Members Receive Tenure and/or Promotions

Gale Antokal and family

Among the honorees was Professor of Fine Arts Gale Antokal, whose paintings are featured at the President’s House. Her husband and son, a San Jose State freshman, joined her at a recent reception honoring newly tenured and promoted faculty members.

By Pat Lopes Harris, Media Relations Director

An acclaimed critical youth studies scholar (Associate Professor Anthony Bernier), a chemist whose student researchers focus on computer animation and visualization of chemical concepts (Associate Professor Resa Kelly), and a baroque trumpeter described as an “exquisite” and “flawless” performer (Associate Professor Kathryn Adduci) are among more than 50 San Jose State faculty members who received tenure and/or promotions in 2010-2011. All were invited to a reception the evening of Sept. 23 hosted by President Mohammad Qayoumi and Provost Gerry Selter. Among the honorees was Professor of Fine Arts Gale Antokal, whose paintings are featured at the President’s House, the reception venue. Antokal’s recent work depicts every day scenes transformed into symbols with greater meaning by her ethereal, almost ghostly, presentations. Her husband and son, a San Jose State freshman, joined her at the event. SJSU’s 1,900 faculty members strive to excel in teaching, research and service. The accomplishments of all those who were recently tenured and/or promoted are summarized in a pamphlet available from the Provost’s Office.