Faculty Notes: Research, Recognition and Applied Learning

Ryan Carrington

Lecturer Ryan Carrington, Department of Art and Art History, holds an MFA in spatial art from SJSU and teaches sculpture, foundry work and mold making.

Professor Ted Butryn and Associate Professor Matthew Masucci, Department of Kinesiology, spoke on February 26 at the King Library as part of the University Scholar Series on the topic of female triathletes’ awareness of doping and the anti-doping movement. Their research was funded by a two-year grant from the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Lecturer Ryan Carrington, Department of Art and Art History, received an Emerging Artist/Artist Laureate Award from Silicon Valley Creates. His art explores the theme of labor through gallery installations, performances and site-specific work. He holds an MFA in spatial art from SJSU and currently teaches sculpture, foundry work and mold making.

Professor Emeritus Betty Chu, Department of Economics, was profiled last month in TheHuffington Post for her success in breeding Angora rabbits. One of the oldest kinds of domestic rabbit, the Angora rabbit, along with the Angora cat and the Angora goat, originated in Turkey. Chu holds the distinction of breeding the only Angora that has ever won the Open Best in Show award at the American Rabbit Breeder Association National Convention.

faculty notes

Asst. Prof. Kasuen Mauldin

Assistant Professor G. Craig Hobbs, Department of Art and Art History, and director of Learning and Games Consortium, organized and served as faculty advisor of Global Game Jam, held January 24-26 on campus. A competitive “hackathon” focused on game development, it was an event open to students from all majors and focused on collaboratively creating games under tight deadlines using computers, software and brainwave sensor technologies.

Assistant Professor Kasuen Mauldin, Department of Nutrition, Food Science and Packaging, received the 2014 California Dietetics Association Excellence in Research Award. Her research focuses on human metabolism and, more specifically, lipoprotein homeostasis. She will also chair the 2014 Center for Healthy Aging in a Multicultural Population (CHAMP) conference.

faculty notes

Asso. Prof. Cathleen Miller’s book

Creative writing Associate Professor Cathleen Miller and Professor Alan Soldofsky read and signed their most recent books at Barnes and Noble in San Jose on February 12. Miller’s Champion of Choice (University of Nebraska Press) is a biography of Dr. Nafis Sadik, the first female director of a United Nations agency and a renowned advocate for women’s health and reproductive rights. Soldofsky’s poetry collection, In the Buddha Factory (Truman State University Press), takes Silicon Valley as its backdrop.

Professor David Parent, Department of Electrical Engineering, has been working with Silicon Valley employers Atmel, Texas Instruments and Linear Tech to secure internships and acquire donations of equipment for the department, including boards and chips. Atmel recently recognized SJSU as one of the top universities from which to acquire talented electrical engineering graduates.

Director of Film and Television Production Babak Sarrafan won the Broadcast Education Association’s Educational/Instructional Video Award of Excellence in the faculty video category. His “Green Ninja Episode 4: Styrofoam Man” is the latest in an ongoing series featuring an environmental ninja. “My aim is to make environmental responsibility entertaining,” he said. SJSU students also took home top prizes, including Best in Show for Always Learning, a feature-length film by Robert Krakower. The BEA is the largest association of Radio-TV-Film programs in the United States with 260 member institutions.

Assistant Professor Katie Wilkinson, Department of Biological Sciences, oversaw student teams competing in the American Physiological Society’s Phantasic Physiology Voyage: “Function Follows Form” video contest. To be considered, videos had to explore, for a general public audience, a specific physiological function in five minutes or less (including credits). Students Peter Luu, Lubayna Elahi, Laura Philbin and David Tatarakis received the Judge’s Award, which carries a prize of $750, for “Avian Surgery.”

faculty notes

Prof. Emily Wughalter

Professor Emily Wughalter, Department of Kinesiology, will receive the Luther Halsey Gulick Medal from the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance at the AAHPERD national conference in April. The highest award bestowed by the organization, it recognizes Wughalter’s 33 years of distinguished service to her profession. A strong advocate for girls and women in sport, she previously received the Honor Award from the National Association for Girls and Women in Sport (NAGWS) and served as president of the Western Society for Physical Education of College Women. In January 2014, she received a distinguished service award from the National Association for Kinesiology in Higher Education (NAKHE).


Outstanding Lecturer Award: Olenka Hubickyj

Photo: Thomas Sanders, ’15 MFA Photography

Photo: Thomas Sanders, ’15 MFA Photography

The Outstanding Lecturer Award recognizes a lecturer for excellence in teaching effectiveness and service to the San Jose State campus community. This year’s winner comes from the College of Science.

She will be honored at the 15th Annual Faculty Service Recognition and Awards Luncheon on March 11, 2014. Tickets are available for purchase.

In 2008, Olenka Hubickyj had been a researcher at NASA for 25 years, studying the formation of giant planets, when she got wind that San Jose State was looking for a science professor. She had never taught before, but “the idea kept haunting me,” says Hubickyj. “So I said, ‘why not?’”

Now a lecturer in physics and astronomy, Hubickyj is this year’s recipient of the Outstanding Lecturer Award. She continues her research and serves as director of Systems Teaching Institute at NASA Ames’ University Affiliated Research Center, where she helps place students into internship research positions.

Hubickyj, who wanted to be an astronomer at age nine, knows that her zeal for science is powerful. “My kids tell me to tone down the geek,” she says, laughing. “But when I tell my students something and see their eyes … I just love it. I always tell them I want to change the course name to ‘All Things Fantastic.’”

“Dr. Hubickyj’s enthusiasm is truly contagious,” writes one of her students. “I believe that had I taken her course as an incoming freshman I would have been inspired to pursue astronomy as my major.”

Department Chair Michael Kaufman echoes this sentiment in Hubickyj’s nomination: “What is immediately evident when one walks by one of Olenka’s classrooms is the energy flowing from it.”

The child of Ukrainian immigrants who had come to New York City via a refugee camp in post-war Germany, Hubickyj can relate to many SJSU students in a way that transcends science. “I spoke a different language at home and had to straddle two cultures. I understand what it’s like for these kids who have family, cultural and academic obligations,” she says. Though accepted into a prestigious private school, she attended the City College of New York for financial reasons. “I came from a school like SJSU. If it hadn’t been for CCNY, I wouldn’t be here. Going there did not mean I was less intelligent than students at elite schools. Now it’s my turn to reinforce that message here.”

One of Hubickyj’s approaches is to allow students to express their understanding of astronomy on their own terms. A requirement of her Descriptive Astronomy course is a semester-long research project where students can present their research through any medium: she has received a symphonic poem about a mission to Mars written and performed by a music composition major, a full press packet about the Big Bang from a hospitality student, and more space art than she can fit in her office.

“To help students find their power you must respect them,” says Hubickyj. “You must give second chances and make it safe to learn.”

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.


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.”

Our Crazy Winter Weather

Our Crazy Winter Weather

Spartans have had few opportunities to break out their umbrellas this year, unlike back in 2009, when storms pelted campus (Stefan Armijo photo).

Still nearly no rain in San Jose! Meanwhile, storms have socked the rest of the country. What gives?

Our Crazy Winter Weather

A weather map showing wind patterns worldwide, with the North Pole in the center. Note the ridge parked off the West Coast, resulting in just four inches of rain this year (SJSU Department of Meteorology and Climate Science).

The Polar Vortex hovering over the Midwest and East Coast is linked to a stubborn ridge parked off the West Coast, yielding mostly sunny skies here and record lows elsewhere, says Professor Alison Bridger, chair of the Department of Meteorology and Climate Science.

Why is this happening? Could it be global warming? Graduate students and faculty members here are studying  underlying factors.

This is an excellent example of applied weather research which would have direct applications to we citizens in that it would explain and demystify extreme weather phenomena,” Bridger writes.

Learn more from the California State University system’s only meteorology department.


Motorola Solutions Foundation Gives $30,000

Motorola Solutions Foundation Gives $30,000 to Support Youth STEM Network


Motorola Solutions Foundation Gives $30,000

SJSU students collaborate with lead instructors to teach rigorous content modules in after school programs (CommUniverCity San Jose photo).

Motorola Solutions Foundation joins Intel as a lead sponsor of the Youth STEM Network (YSN) program. YSN is a partnership that is substantially increasing opportunities for San Jose’s youth to engage in activities related to disciplines of local significance and projected growth: solar energy and cybersecurity.

The Jay Pinson STEM Education Program is collaborating with the CORAL after school program of the Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County, CommUniverCity San Jose, the Department of Communication Studies and the Scientists for Tomorrow and CyberWatch programs to implement the exciting initiative.

Students in the Communication Studies 157 course collaborate with lead instructors to teach rigorous content modules in these critical STEM areas. Program instructors recently participated in a CyberSTEM Program professional development session instructed by the director and senior researcher at CyberWatch.

Starting in early October 2013, 100 youth in CORAL afterschool programs will participate in 25 hours of YSN programming aimed at increasing their content and procedural knowledge and understanding of career opportunities in solar energy and cybersecurity.

SJSU/Udacity Update: Spring 2014

SJSU/Udacity: Spring 2014 Update

Media contact:
Pat Lopes Harris, 408-656-6999

SAN JOSE, CA – This spring, San Jose State will offer three online courses that were developed with Udacity to SJSU and California State University students.

San Jose State students are registering now for Elementary Statistics, Introduction to Programming and General Psychology. In addition, the programming and statistics courses will be open to all CSU students through the CSU’s CourseMatch program.

SJSU and CSU students who successfully complete the coursework will receive college credit. The cost will be covered by regular tuition. Udacity has made the content open and free to faculty members, and will receive no payments or revenue from this arrangement.

The SJSU instructors who originally developed the programming and psychology courses with Udacity will continue to teach these classes to SJSU and CSU students this spring. The statistics course will be transitioned to a different SJSU instructor in the same department. SJSU will hire and train teaching assistants as needed. All faculty members and students will use SJSU’s learning management system, Canvas.

Enrollment will be capped at 70 students for the statistics class, 150 students for the programming course and 35 students for the general psychology course. At least half of the seats for programming and statistics will go to SJSU students and the rest will go to CSU students.

San Jose State and Udacity established a partnership in spring 2013 to develop three interactive online courses for credit. The following summer, SJSU and Udacity expanded the partnership to include five courses. All five courses remain open and free to anyone through Udacity’s website. Those who finish a course through Udacity will receive a certificate of completion from Udacity.


NBC Bay Area: SJSU Examines Typhoon For Weather Models, Trends

Helping Typhoon Victims

Professor Alison Bridger discusses the typhoon.

Posted by NBC Bay Area Nov. 8, 2013.

By Damian Trujillo

Aid workers are still assessing the damage caused by the huge typhoon that struck the Philippines Thursday.

Back here in the Bay Area, experts are awestruck about the size and magnitude of the storm.

The storm’s size is estimated at about 500 miles wide, bigger than Katrina, said Alison Bridger, San Jose State University’s meteorology department chair.

View the full story.

Helping Typhoon Victims

Helping Typhoon Victims

Helping Typhoon Victims

U.S. Marines carry an injured Filipino woman on a stretcher for medical attention, assisted by a Philippine Air Force airman at Vilamore Air Base, Manila (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Caleb Hoover).

Spartans are organizing relief efforts for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan, which impacted more than 4.2 million people across 36 provinces when it hit the Philippines on Nov. 7.

Student organizations including Akbayan SJSU, Delta Sigma Phi, Alpha Kappa Omega, Alpha Kappa Omicron and Alpha Tau Omega will collect monetary donations, non-perishable food and personal hygiene supplies 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 12-14 in front of the SJSU Event Center. More information is posted on Facebook.

Helping Typhoon Victims

Professor Alison Bridger discusses the typhoon.

Piano students will collect donations for the American Red Cross during intermission at their concert 7:30 p.m. Nov. 20 in the Music Concert Hall.

“They are presenting an all piano team event featuring piano four hands, eight hands, on modern and historic instruments,” said Gwendolyn Mok, keyboard studies coordinator and professor of music.

Typhoon Haiyan “was definitely up there among the worst five storms ever in terms of sustained winds speeds as the storm was coming ashore,” said Professor of Meteorology and Climate Science Alison Bridger in an interview with NBC Bay Area.

During the interview, Bridger voices concern for Vietnam, which was also in the path of the typhoon. At this writing, it appears the storm’s ferocity has abated, but remains a cause for concern.


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 Advance to Silicon Valley StartUp Cup Finals

Three SJSU Teams Advance in Silicon Valley StartUp Cup

The BioReady team is comprised of five biotech grads: Kira Dionis-Petersen, Dien Vo, Gavin McCann, Scott Marzano and Sheri-Michele Bachelor (photo courtesy of Scott Marzano).

“Many laboratories currently perform ordering by paper, pen and phone calls,” said Scott Marzano, ’13 Biotechnology.

This overlooked fact is at the core of a business idea Marzano and friends are poised to turn into a viable venture.

The brainchild of five alumni of the master’s in biotechnology program, BioReady would automate the procurement and inventory management process for labs.

The team placed first at the 2013 Silicon Valley Business Plan Competition organized by the Lucas College and Graduate School of Business.

And now, the BioReady team is one of three from San Jose State heading for the final round of the Silicon Valley StartUp Cup Business Model Competition.

“My classmate Gavin McCann and I came up with this idea for a project in a marketing management course at SJSU,” Marzano recalled. We were required to develop a marketing plan for a service company and wanted to try and solve an important problem in biotechnology research.”

StartUp Cup is an international initiative sponsored locally by Focus Business Bank, Meriwest Credit Union and West Valley College.

The SJSU teams — BioReady, AFK Gamer Lounge (video game LAN center and gamer bar) and Cranium Shield (x-ray protection for the head) — will make their pitches to judges Oct. 30.

From a pool of seven finalists, judges will name first, second and third place winners Nov. 21.  The contest offers no cash prizes, but that’s beside the point for BioReady.

StartUp Cup and the SJSU business plan competition provide intense feedback and mentoring, resources more valuable than cash alone.

What does the BioReady team do when they are not trying to build their own business?

All five grads are gainfully employed at Agilent Technologies, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Life Technologies and Stanford University.

Intel Provides $75,000 for SJSU STEM Programs

Intel Provides $75,000 for SJSU STEM Programs

Intel Provides $25,000 Grants for Innovative STEM Programs

These programs match SJSU students with community-based efforts to nurture interest in science and math from a very young age (CommUniverCity photo).

San Jose State has received $25,000 grants from Intel for each of three innovative programs all aimed at getting elementary and middle school students fired up about science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Intel is the first major donor to the Girls STEM Network and Youth STEM Network programs, under the direction of Virginia Lehmkuhl-Dakhwe of the Jay Pinson STEM Education initiative within the College of Science.

Both programs match SJSU students from the Communication Studies 157 service learning course with community-based efforts to nurture interest in science and math from a very young age.

Intel’s support will also help sustain SJSU’s Science and Engineering in Action program, which matches SJSU student mentors with underserved downtown elementary and middle schools, where they meet to explore science and engineering through engaging hands-on projects.

SJSU collaborates with CommUniverCity San Jose and YWCA Silicon Valley on these projects, in addition to many schools, serving hundreds of young people. Here’s more on all three initiatives.

Science and Engineering in Action

Science and Engineering in Action brings hands-on chemistry, earth science and engineering demonstrations to elementary and middle school students, guided by San Jose State University students.  The workshops are designed to engage the K-8 students in science and engineering, strengthen their STEM knowledge, and build a relationship with college students to strengthen their confidence in striving towards college.

Each hour-long experiment gives curious elementary and middle school students a chance to explore science and engineering, subjects lacking in their typical classroom experience. Science and Engineering in Action is offered at after-school programs serving five public schools: Anne Darling Elementary, Olinder Elementary, McKinley Elementary, Horace Mann Elementary and Burnett Academy.  Each semester, an average 460 SJSU students participate in Science and Engineering in Action and reach over 700 elementary and middle school students.

Intel Provides $25,000 Grants for Innovative STEM Programs

STEM network programs provide enrichment programs beyond what the elementary and middle school students get in school, with the goal of spurring interest in STEM fields and higher education (CommUniverCity photo).

Youth STEM Network

Youth STEM Network (YSN) is a partnership designed to build capacity for San Jose’s youth (9-14 years old) to engage in a rigorous, out-of-school science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) academic enrichment program. The partnership is a collaborative effort of San Jose State University’s Jay Pinson STEM Education program, CommUniverCity San Jose, the Center for Community Learning and Leadership and the Department of Communication Studies.

This interactive academic enrichment program focuses on instruction and hands-on activities in electricity and solar energy, computer science and cybersecurity, and other physical and life sciences. The effort also brings STEM education focused service learning and community engagement opportunities for SJSU students to the local community. During the next academic year, YSN will serve approximately 100 youth and will be led collaboratively by two lead instructors with content expertise, over 30 SJSU students involved in service learning projects and five community-based instructors.

YSN employs curricular modules developed and tested through the NSF-funded Scientists for Tomorrow and CyberWatch programs. Each content module includes 10 weekly sessions of 75 minutes each (12.5 hours of instructional time per module). In preparation for module implementation, YSN instructors participate in 16 hours of professional development and training offered by module developers. Where possible, web based conferencing software is used to support follow-up activities associated with training efforts. Each content module culminates in an event where youth showcase their work and products generated during each session. These events are community-focused and are attended by program participants’ family and community members.

Girls STEM Network

SJSU is contributing significantly to developing a vastly larger workforce of skilled STEM professionals and addressing the particular need for computer scientists and cybersecurity professionals. Particular attention is being placed on recruiting girls and young women into fields where they remain drastically underrepresented. SJSU’s Jay Pinson STEM Education program, in collaboration with the YWCA Silicon Valley TechGYRLs program, is facilitating the Girls STEM Network (GSN) program. GSN provides opportunities for girls to increase their computer science, cybersecurity and STEM content knowledge while becoming community leaders who will create awareness about STEM-focused content and careers.

GSN is led by instructors with content expertise and experience in formal education and is supported by SJSU students enrolled in the Communication Studies 157 Service learning course. The effort is creating all-female, largely out-of-school time, STEM-focused learning environments that enable girls in grades 4 through 8 to learn and communicate skills and content while developing strong relationships with female mentors. The program also provides opportunities for SJSU students to gain experience in STEM-focused teaching and mentoring, potentially contributing to the pipeline of well-prepared STEM-focused teachers.

GSN employs the curricular modules of CyberWatch, national leaders in cybersecurity education and outreach. CyberWatch instructors conducted a two-day training session at SJSU attended by GSN lead instructors (one of whom is an SJSU Engineering major) and associated service learning students. During the academic year, GSN will deliver 37.5 hours of instruction to over 100 girls and will involve 18 SJSU service learning students in 48 hours of STEM-focused service activities. GSN instructional sessions culminate in community events, where girls will showcase the presentations, digital artifacts and other work generated during the session. These events will be community-focused and attended by girls’ family members, teachers and interested members of the community.




NBC Bay Area: Congressman Visits SJSU to See Impact of Sequestration Cuts

NBC Bay Area: Congressman Visits SJSU to See Impact of Sequestration Cuts

NBC Bay Area: Congressman Visits SJSU to See Impact of Sequestration Cuts

NBC Bay Area interviews SJSU student Vanessa Jimenez.

Posted by NBC Bay Area Sept. 5, 2013.

South Bay Congressman Mike Honda toured the science labs at San Jose State University to get a better understanding of how students are being affected by federal cuts. Damian Trujillo reports. Read more about the event and the Minority Access to Research Careers program.

Sequester Hits SJSU

Sequester Hits SJSU Science Students

Sequester Hits SJSU

Congressman Mike Honda

Media contact: Pat Lopes Harris, 408-924-1748

Congressman Mike Honda will visit SJSU Sept. 5 to see first-hand how the federal sequester is hitting home for more than a dozen students seeking to reach their potential as biomedical and behavioral scientists.

“Our success rate will surely be impacted,” said Professor Leslee A. Parr, who also serves as program director for the SJSU Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) program.

President Mohammad Qayoumi will join Honda as he meets students and faculty members and tours the labs where they collaborate on research, building the academic and hands-on skills students need to pursue graduate degrees.

“Investment in education at all levels has been the cornerstone of my efforts in Congress, and it is rewarding to see the work being done right here in Silicon Valley in the biomedical field,” Honda said. “Funding for programs like MARC at San Jose State University are under constant threat due to sequestration and other partisan battles in Washington, and as a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, I pledge to continue fighting to ensure that a quality education remains affordable and available to all.”

Honda will be treading on familiar ground. A Spartan with two degrees from SJSU, he received a bachelor’s in biological sciences and Spanish in 1968 and a master’s in education in 1974.

He went on to a 30-year career in education as a science teacher, school board member, principal and researcher at Stanford University.

Providing Access

The MARC program under the National Institutes for Health recently provided $252,000 to SJSU for the first year of a five-year grant. This represents a 54 percent cut from the amount awarded before the sequester.

The need is clear: African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, Alaska Natives and U.S. Pacific Islanders combined make up less than 5 percent of the U.S. biomedical workforce.

“Increased diversity helps expand the range of research questions asked and the perspective of analysis and application and may help to decrease health disparities,” Parr said.

The results have been excellent:

  • SJSU-MARC graduates have received 24 advanced degrees, including 12 PhDs and one MD/PhD.
  • More than 40 SJSU-MARC graduates are currently in graduate and professional programs at institutions including UC Berkeley, UCSF, UC Santa Cruz, UC Irvine and Stanford.
  • SJSU-MARC alumni are now professors at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, The University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, Arizona State University and Hobart and William Smith Colleges.

But this year, when Congress resorted to a sequester to the balance the federal budget, MARC funding to SJSU was drastically reduced, forcing the university to drop five of the program’s 14 students.

Sequester Hits SJSU

Brian Castellano, ’13 chemistry, was a MARC program participant who received a fellowship for graduate school (photo by Christina Olivas).

Building Mentors

Even those who remain will sustain a 40 percent cut in tuition support, which means they’ll need to spend less time on preparing for graduate school and more time working to pay the bills, Parr said.

The sequester’s impact could go well beyond the students directly affected, given that many SJSU-MARC participants are driven by the prospect of one day mentor minority students following in their footsteps.

“That’s one of the reasons I am interested in science,” said Brian Castellano, an SJSU-MARC graduate who entered a doctoral program at UC Berkeley this fall. “There is an unlimited amount to learn and discover, and through mentoring, I am able to help others gain a similar passion.”

CS Classroom

Hackers Beware!

CS Classroom

Students in class with Assistant Professor Tom Austin, one of nine recently hired faculty members focusing on cybersecurity and big data (Christina Olivas photo).

The cybersecurity workforce of the future is taking shape at SJSU.

In the Student Union this summer, more than 75 students spent a week building skills, networking with tech leaders, and battling to win a capture-the-flag competition at the 2013 Western Regional Cyber Security Boot Camp.

And in classrooms across campus this fall, nine new faculty members are joining 20 veteran instructors to teach more than 40 courses in cybersecurity and the related field of big data.

The camp and cluster hires are major components of SJSU’s initiative to strengthen the nation’s defense against hackers, like those who made headlines last week by taking down The New York Times.

“As the largest public university serving Silicon Valley, San Jose State must take the lead in providing students with opportunities to become immersed in cybersecurity,” President Mohammad Qayoumi said.

Multidisciplinary Approach

CS Classroom

Assistant Professor of Computer Science Tom Austin, an SJSU graduate, returned to join a campuswide cybersecurity initiative (Christina Olivas photo).

The entire academic team — with expertise in a wide range of fields from computer science to psychology — is working together on research and new certificate and degree programs.

Professors are also connecting with industry, federal agencies and national laboratories on internships, research and a road map for addressing emerging issues in security and data science.

All of this work is positioning SJSU for future certification as a National Center of Academic Excellence for Information Assurance.

For now, the nine new hires, like the vets they join, are focusing on training SJSU students to attack the problem from every conceivable angle.

Here’s a quick introduction.


Tonia San Nicolas-Rocca of the School of Library and Information Science is teaching a new cybersecurity course offered to SLIS graduate students enrolled in the school’s fully online master’s program.

David Schuster, of the Department of Psychology has conducted research focusing on the cognitive aspects of cybersecurity, situation awareness in human-automation teams, and perceptual training for real-world pattern recognition.

Jeremiah Still of the Department of Psychology has conducted research revealing implicit cognitive processes that can be used to help designers develop intuitive interfaces.

Younghee Park of the Department of Computer Engineering conducts research focusing on network, software and system security, with an emphases on malicious code detection, botnet analysis, insider threat, and traceback to determine attack origin.

Meikang Qiu of the Department of Computer Engineering focuses on embedded systems, cybersecurity and trust computing, and high performance and cloud computing.

Tom Austin of the Department of Computer Science is an SJSU graduate whose interests include security and programming languages, web security and malware analysis.

Big Data

Michelle Chen of the School of Library and Information Science is teaching information visualization and developing curriculum on big data analysis for SLIS students.

Thanh Tran of the Department of Computer Science holds a master’s in entrepreneurship and management, a master’s in business information systems and a doctorate’s in computer science.

Scott Jensen of the Department of Management Information Systems focuses on the management, integration, discovery and strategic use of data within enterprises and across organizational boundaries.

Read more about SJSU’s cybersecurity initiative.

Udacity on Ipad

SJSU Plus: Fall 2013 Update

[This item was updated Sept. 11, 2013, to reflect publication of the National Science Foundation report and historical comparison noted below.]

Media contact: Pat Lopes Harris, 408-656-6999

The following can be attributed to SJSU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Ellen Junn.

With summer drawing to a close, we would like to provide everyone with an update on the SJSU/Udacity partnership. SJSU Plus began in January with just under 300 students in three courses. In June, we added two more courses, with 2,091 students enrolling in all five classes.

What do these courses have in common? All are entry-level classes most students need to graduate. This matches the project’s goal, which is to provide high-quality, low-cost college courses for credit to everyone.

SJSU and Udacity learned quite a bit over the past six months. The spring pilot study funded by the National Science Foundation has been published.

San Jose State has also posted the following document: SJSU Plus Grade Distribution and Historical Comparison.

We would like to share some lessons learned.

Here’s what worked:

  • Learning by doing works. Online video allows us to stop every few minutes and offer students the opportunity to try what they’ve learned with an online exercise. Instructors have found this so effective that some are incorporating SJSU Plus materials into their campus-based courses.
  • Student interaction remains strong. Does online learning stifle conversation? We found the opposite. Students are connecting with each other, instructors and instructional assistants through every means available: text, email, phone calls, chats and meetings.

Here’s where we’ve improved:

  • Students need help preparing for class. With SJSU Plus reaching well beyond the SJSU campus, we are enrolling a growing number of students who are unfamiliar with the demands of college courses. This summer, 89 percent of our SJSU Plus students were not California State University students. So SJSU Plus now offers orientation in various forms in all five courses.
  • Students need help keeping up. Everyone needs a little encouragement to stay on track. So we’ve added tools that help students gauge their progress and we’re checking in with individual students more often.
  • We need to communicate better with students. Although SJSU and Udacity try to be as clear as possible with our online instruction, we know we can do better. Student feedback has been immensely helpful in refining SJSU Plus materials. We’re also sending less email and more messages while students are “in class” online.

Here’s what happened:

We’re still analyzing summer results. As you know, it can take a while to double check the numbers and understand cause and effect. But SJSU and Udacity are encouraged by improvements in student performance across the board. The following chart shows the percentage of students who earned a C or better.

Spring Pilot 2013 Summer Pilot 2013 SJSU On-Campus
(based on past 6 semesters)
Elementary Statistics 50.5% 83.0% 76.3%
College Algebra 25.4% 72.6% 64.7%
Entry Level Math 23.8% 29.8% 45.5%
General Psychology not offered 67.3% 83.0%
Intro to Programming not offered 70.4% 67.6%

(*Represents students who scored a C or better)

The overall retention rate dropped to 60 percent this summer, compared with 83 percent this spring, reflecting SJSU’s decision to be more flexible when students signaled to instructors that they needed to drop the course.

Here are a few things we’d like to clarify:

  • Over the summer, there were many comparisons made between our SJSU Plus and face-to-face courses. What many people failed to realize is this was not an apples-to-apples comparison.
  • On campus, we have students who are well acquainted with the rigor of college-level work. With SJSU Plus, most students are just beginning or resuming their college careers.
  • Also, the SJSU students enrolled in the SJSU Plus math courses this past spring failed the campus-based versions once before. Normally, these students would have been required to return to community college.
  • And that goes right back to our mission of increasing access. A 30 percent pass rate does sound low, until you stop and think that most of these students would not otherwise have had access to the course at all.

Here’s where we see things going in the future.

  • After taking a breather this fall to set the stage for student success in the future, we will resume offering SJSU Plus courses in January 2014. One major question we need to address is how to better sync our courses with our students’ busy schedules.
  • Many students have asked for greater flexibility in pacing, enabling them to speed up or slow down outside the confines of a conventional semester schedule. Customized scheduling is unprecedented at SJSU, but we would like to explore this option.
Chasing Blazes, Saving Lives

Chasing Blazes, Saving Lives

Chasing Blazes, Saving Lives

The SJSU Fire Lab’s mobile atmospheric profiling system is loaded on this truck, now at the Rim Fire (courtesy of Craig Clements).

As firefighters struggle to contain the Rim Fire near Yosemite, an instructor and his students are on the scene collecting data that could one day save lives.

Craig Clements, an associate professor with the Department of Meteorology and Climate Science, studies conditions inside and around blazes, seeking to learn how the fire and atmosphere interact, with the goal of predicting how fast and far the blaze will burn.

With funding from the National Science Foundation, Clements developed a mobile atmospheric profiling system. Cisco recently produced this video about the truck, which pulls a compact trailer loaded with the latest tech tools including lidar and sodar, using light and sound waves to track winds.

“This Thursday we are planning a deployment with NASA who will be flying the plume with an aircraft to collect air chemistry data,” Clements said.

This will be the team’s fourth visit to the fire: “On Aug. 21, my students went to Groveland, but couldn’t get close enough to get valuable data. On Aug. 23, they went to Dodge Ridge ski resort and scanned the downwind plume from below. Yesterday, they left at 8:15 a.m., drove to Yosemite and scanned the plume from the Crane Flat lookout near Highway 120 within the park. My students are processing the data now.”

The San Jose Mercury News sought out Clements expertise. He is one of the only scientists in the world studying wildfire-atmosphere interactions. You can follow the action via webcam, the incident website, and the SJSU Fire Lab’s Twitter account.

Spartans at Work: Monterey Bay Aquarium

(This summer, SJSU Today hit the road, visiting students and recent grads on the job at summer destinations throughout the Bay Area. Our 2013 Spartans at Work series continues with marine science alumna Sonya Sankaran.)

Sitting atop a yellow grassy hill, Pajaro Valley High School overlooks the Watsonville State Wildlife Area and a series of sloughs that make up the area’s wetlands. Watsonville, located about a half hour northeast of Monterey, is a community known for agriculture. Farms rely on the Pajaro River, which flows into Monterey Bay.

To teach high school students about their natural surroundings, Sonya Sankaran, ’12 M.S. Marine Science, works as a senior bilingual education specialist for the Monterey Bay Aquarium. While attending graduate school at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (MLML), she began volunteering with the aquarium and later found out about this opportunity.

SJSU is the administrator of Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, the home of the master’s of marine science program for seven California State Universities. Thanks to her education, Sankaran is able to connect her students with the right experts for their research projects.

“Working at Moss Landing opened innumerable doors for me, which has allowed me to open doors for our students,” she said.

Her specific teen program with the aquarium, Watsonville Area Teens Conserving Habitats (W.A.T.C.H.), is a year-round elective science course offered by Pajaro Valley High School and Watsonville High School. For two weeks over the summer, students learn more about the Pajaro River Watershed from a combination of high school teachers, scientists and W.A.T.C.H. staff as preparation for their year-long school projects. Students have investigated the effects of non-native species on native species, ocean acidification and phytotoxins at a local lake.

Sankaran and her W.A.T.C.H. colleague Enrique Melgoza started their jobs together in April 2012. They are both fluent in Spanish, a useful skill since most of the students in the program come from Spanish-speaking households. Melgoza, ’08 Aviation Management, was raised in Watsonville and said he can relate to their students.

“Some of them don’t have a role model,” Melgoza said, “and for me, I don’t see myself as a role model for them. But they see me as a role model because I’ve been through what they’re going through right now. Then, going to San Jose State and having all of the knowledge—and being successful in my educational career and bringing it back—has helped me out.”

They teach their students to do field work, such as gathering samples and using a water quality testing kit that wirelessly connects with an iPad app. Sankaran’s favorite part of her job is giving her students the opportunity to study and connect with the outdoor environment, especially the ocean.

“A lot of young people don’t have time or opportunities to explore anymore,” she said, adding she enjoys “being able to give them experiences that demonstrate their relationship with the ocean and inspire conservation of their natural resources—experiences that they can share with their community, and eventually, take into their careers.”

Astronomy and Science Literacy

Astronomy and Science Literacy

Natalie Batalha photo

Associate Professor Natalie Batalha

What exactly is so important about Mars rovers? What are the origins of our universe? What can we learn from the surface of the moon?

This July, the Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP) will host a free series of lectures about diverse astronomy and space science topics at SJSU. Preeminent and engaging astronomy researchers and professors from NASA Ames Research Center, UC Davis and UC Berkeley will discuss their work and answer questions about the latest in astronomy news and research.

The public is welcome to attend lectures to be held 12:30-4:30 p.m. July 21 and 7:30 p.m. July 22. The series will run concurrently with the ASP’s 2013 Annual Meeting, “Ensuring STEM Literacy.”

Plenary keyonte speakers include SJSU Associate Professor Natalie Batalha, who will discuss the NASA Kepler MissionDepartment of Physics and Astronomy Chair Michael Kaufman is a member of the event’s organizing committee. Assistant Professor Cassandra Paul and Assistant Professor Aaron Romanowsky will also serve as speakers.

The ASP is a nonprofit astronomy education organization whose goal is to increase science literacy by providing tools and materials to science educators, researchers, and the public. Every year, the ASP organizes a five-day conference during which several hundred K-12 teachers, university professors, researches, and public outreach professionals gather improve their crafts, network, and explore trends and best practices in astronomy and science education.

Conference Press Release

San Francisco – June 24, 2013 – The Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP), one of the most innovative and respected astronomy education organizations in the U.S., will host a series of public science talks in July by preeminent astronomers from NASA Ames, U.C. Davis and U.C. Berkeley. The talks are free and open to the public, and will take place on Sunday afternoon, July 21 from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m., and Monday evening, July 22 at 7:30 p.m., on the campus of San Jose State University, site of the ASP’s 125th Annual Conference, “Ensuring STEM Literacy.”

Covering topics from the latest NASA missions – including Planck and Mars – to cosmology to lunar science to infrared astronomy to asteroids, speakers come from the front lines of the latest in astronomy and space science:

Dr. Lloyd Knox has served as a professor of physics at UC Davis since 2001, and is an active researcher in the area of cosmology. Dr. Knox is currently a member of the Planck collaboration and South Pole collaboration, the former of which is arguably the most important experiment in cosmology today. The data from the Planck research is teaching cosmologists about the origin of all structure in the universe, in addition to answering numerous other cosmic questions. His impact on the field is evidenced by almost 4,000 citations of his 72 publications.

Dr. Pamela Marcum currently serves as the project scientist for NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) at Ames Research Center. After receiving her doctorate in astronomy from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Dr. Marcum joined the Department of Physics faculty at Texas Christian University (TCU) as the first tenure-track astronomer — and the first woman to be hired in that department. After nearly a decade there, she took temporary leave to become a visiting scientist at NASA Headquarters, serving for three years as program scientist for the WISE and Kepler missions. Following a one-year return to TCU, she left academia to work with the SOFIA team on achieving several major milestones, including the execution of SOFIA’s first science observations, installation of the first flight instruments, and an international deployment.

Brian Day, director of communication and outreach at the NASA Lunar Science Institute (NLSI), is responsible for connecting students and the public to lunar science and exploration. He has worked on diverse NASA lunar projects as the Education/Public Outreach Lead, in addition to working on E/PO sections for numerous NASA mission proposals. He is a member of NASA’s Speakers Bureau, giving popular talks at local high schools and community organizations. Additionally, he served as Chair of the Foothill College Observatory for 16 years, and is active in the amateur astronomy community.

Dr. Christopher McKay, from the Space Science and Astrobiology branch of NASA Ames, is currently involved in researching the evolution of the solar system and the origin of life. He is also helping to plan future Mars missions, including the possibility of human exploration. Dr. McKay has been involved in numerous field research projects concerning the surface of Mars, including polar and desert studies in the Antarctic Dry Valleys, the Atacama Desert, the Arctic and Namib Desert.

Dr. Alex Filippenko, professor of astronomy at UC Berkeley, is currently involved in research surrounding progenitor starts and details of the explosions of supernovae and gamma-ray bursts. His research also concerns the physical properties of quasars and active galaxies, in addition to the search for black holes in various celestial bodies. His is perhaps best known as being a part of the team that discovered the accelerating expansion of the universe, which is thought to be driven by “dark energy.” This discovery garnered a Nobel Prize in Physics in 2011 for team leaders.

The ASP is a nonprofit astronomy education organization that every year organizes one of the country’s most well-attended professional development meetings for science educators and public outreach professionals. This year marks the ASP’s 125th Annual Meeting, co-hosted by San Jose State University. Over five days, K-12 teachers, university professors, and leaders from planetariums, science centers, and research institutions gather to explore best practices and trends in science education and outreach.

Founded in 1889 in San Francisco, the ASP fosters science literacy through astronomy by serving professionals, educators and amateurs around the world, and engaging and inspiring current and future generations. The ASP publishes both scholarly and educational materials, conducts professional development programs for formal and informal educators, and holds conferences, symposia and workshops for astronomers and educators specializing in education and public outreach. The ASP’s programs are funded by corporations, private foundations, private donors, and its own members.

Marine Science Wave Expert

Research “From the Frontiers of Science”

Marine Science Wave Expert

Associate Professor Erika McPhee-Shaw

MOSS LANDING, CALIF. – 5 June 2013 – The inaugural Gordon Research Seminar in Coastal Ocean Circulation has invited Associate Professor Erika McPhee-Shaw of Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (MLML) to deliver the keynote talk this month at the University of New England.  The seminar is part of the Gordon Research Conferences, a group of prestigious international scientific conferences covering research from the frontiers of science.

The Gordon Research Conferences (GRC) were initiated in 1931 by Dr. Neil E. Gordon of Johns Hopkins University with the purpose of bringing together scientists to facilitate discussions and encourage the free exchange of ideas.  In 1996 an additional program, the Gordon Research Seminars, was developed to extend the gatherings to graduate students and post-doctoral researchers.

Today the GRC has grown to over 250 conferences and seminars scheduled for 2013, with only three on topics related to ocean sciences.  Dr. McPhee-Shaw will be the first ever keynote speaker for the Coastal Ocean Circulation Gordon Research Seminar, and will present to a group of 75 Ph.D. students and postdoctoral scholars.

Dr. McPhee-Shaw’s research focuses on internal waves, continental shelf and slope dynamics, and sediment and nutrient transport.  In addition to the invitation to speak at the GRS, she was also was recently elected chair of the Central and Northern California Ocean Observing System (CeNCOOS) executive council, and will serve in this position through February 2014.

Moss Landing Marine Laboratories is home to the master’s of marine science program for seven California State University campuses, including SJSU, which serves as administrator.

Moss Landing Marine Laboratories Director Named

Moss Landing Marine Labs Selects Director

Moss Landing Marine Laboratories Director Named

In his role as faculty advisor of the MLML Vertebrate Ecology Lab, Jim Harvey conducts research on marine turtles, birds and mammals.

Media contact: Brynn Hooton, 831-771-4464

MOSS LANDING, CALIF. – After a national search, James Harvey was named director of Moss Landing Marine Laboratories. Harvey was selected for the position by a search committee comprised of CSU administration, MLML faculty members, and members of the Monterey Bay scientific community.

Established in 1966, Moss Landing Marine Laboratories is the marine lab and graduate program in marine science for a consortium of seven California State University campuses, with overall management provided by SJSU. Today MLML has eight full-time faculty and nearly 100 graduate students enrolled in the program, with resources including a marine research library, 13 research vessels from 12 to 135 feet in length, and a fully-equipped diving program.  Harvey will oversee the MLML education and research programs, and serves as a member of the Executive Committee of MLML’s Governing Board of consortium campuses.

“I am humbled by the trust that others have placed in me and excited by the opportunity to serve MLML, San Jose State University, the consortium and the CSU,” said Harvey.  “This is a special place and I am honored to become director.”

Harvey has a long relationship with Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, first arriving as a graduate student in 1974.  After receiving a master’s of science in marine biology from MLML and SJSU, and a doctoral degree from Oregon State University, he returned to MLML as an instructor in 1989.  Harvey subsequently joined the faculty and earned full professorship by 2002, a position he held until recently when he assumed the role of interim director.

In his role as faculty advisor of the MLML Vertebrate Ecology Lab, Harvey conducts research on marine turtles, birds and mammals.  He is a founding member of Beach COMBERS, a local program that trains volunteers to survey beaches for marine birds and mammals on a monthly basis.  In addition, Harvey’s lab is a member of the U.S. Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program, helping sick and injured marine mammals and sea turtles found in Monterey County, and recovering dead animals to collect data and investigate the cause of death. He has advised over 70 graduate students during his tenure at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories.

“He’s ideally suited for the job and I’m looking forward to working with him,” said Christopher Scholin, president and chief executive officer of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, and member of the MLML director search committee.  “Jim comes to the position with a great deal of experience and vision for the lab’s future.”

Harvey is an active member of the scientific community, serving as chair of the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve Research Advisory Panel, advisor to the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Research Activity Panel, scientific advisor for The Marine Mammal Center, and member of the San Jose State University Research Foundation Board of Directors.

Learn more information about MLML and James Harvey.