Science Students Make a MARC

Graduating MARC students (l-r): Nebat Ali, ’19 Microbiology, Mulatwa Haile, ’19 Biological Sciences, Brianna Urbina, ’19 Biological Sciences, and Natanya Villegas, ’19 Microbiology. Photo: Roman Goshev.

Graduating MARC students (l-r): Nebat Ali, ’19 Microbiology, Mulatwa Haile, ’19 Biological Sciences, Brianna Urbina, ’19 Biological Sciences, and Natanya Villegas, ’19 Microbiology. Photo: Roman Goshev.

Between maintaining a strong GPA, studying for entrance exams, developing a strong resume and paying application fees, the path to graduate school can be a steep learning curve. For 30 years, the Maximizing Access to Research Careers (MARC) Undergraduate Student Training in Academic Research (U*STAR) program, sponsored by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, has provided financial support and mentorship for undergraduates who are underrepresented in the biomedical sciences to do research and prepare them for doctoral training. Directed by Microbiology Professor Cleber Ouverney, the MARC program offers two years of support in the form of educational grants, research and conference opportunities, and workshops designed to prepare students for graduate school. The MARC program works in synergy with other programs on campus such as Research Training Initiative for Student Enhancement (RISE), also funded by NIGMS and administered by Dr. Karen Singmaster in the Chemistry Department. For instance, a number of students may start their research experience in RISE before they move to MARC.

“The National Institute of Health is trying to diversify the scientists that are making decisions in science,” says Ouverney, a native of Brazil who pursued his graduate education in the U.S. “They are trying to fund students who are not normally seen in the sciences. About 75 to 80 percent of MARC students enter competitive PhD programs.”

One such alumnus is Alejandro Lopez, ’16 Psychology, who worked in Biological Sciences Professor Katherine Wilkinson’s lab before beginning his PhD program in neuroscience at Emory University. He says that his MARC experience prepared him well to apply for graduate school and instilled in him the desire to inspire others to study science.

“I want to make sure I stay involved in any type of program that encourages support for minority or underrepresented students like myself in the future, because I know that I was given so many opportunities being in the MARC program,” says Lopez. “I’ve always been taught to pay it forward. In 10 years I’d like to continue mentoring and teaching students and encouraging them to pursue hopefully a PhD in whatever STEM field they choose.”

Nebat Ali, ’19 Microbiology, Mulatwa Haile, ’19 Biological Sciences, Brianna Urbina, ’19 Biological Sciences, and Natanya Villegas, ’19 Microbiology participated in the MARC program. Ali worked in Biological Sciences Professor Miri VanHoven’s genetics lab before getting accepted into UCSF’s PhD in biomedical sciences program. Haile worked in Biological Sciences Professor Katherine Wilkinson’s neurophysiology lab and will be starting a PhD in neurophysiology at UC Irvine. Urbina worked in Biological Sciences Assistant Professor Rachael French’s genetics lab and will be pursuing a PhD in biochemistry, molecular, cellular and developmental biology at UC Davis. Villegas will be starting a PhD in molecular biology at the University of Oregon after completing her work in Biological Sciences Associate Professor Katherine Wilkinson’s neurophysiology lab.

The Future of Science

This week San Jose State University will celebrate the historic groundbreaking for its new Interdisciplinary Science Building on Thursday, April 25, at 10 a.m. on the university’s campus in front of Duncan Hall.

Following the ceremonial groundbreaking and program, attendees can see the future of SJSU science firsthand at the College of Science 15th Annual College of Science Student Research Day, located nearby in the Duncan Hall breezeway. More than 100 student-faculty teams will present original work in all science disciplines.

Complete ISB groundbreaking event information may be found at sjsu.edu/sciencepark.

San Jose State University Celebrates Historic Groundbreaking on Interdisciplinary Science Building

Media contact:

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

San Jose, Calif. — San Jose State University will celebrate the historic groundbreaking for its new Interdisciplinary Science Building on Thursday, April 25, at 10 a.m. on the university’s campus in front of Duncan Hall.

The first new academic building in 30 years, the Interdisciplinary Science Building construction is the first phase of the university’s new Science Park, part of San Jose State’s commitment to dynamic research and innovation environment in the heart of Silicon Valley.

“The breadth of scientific discovery and research that will take place at the ISB and our future Science Park will be astonishing,” said SJSU President Mary Papazian. “It will truly put us on the map, and we will rightly take our place among the most modern and innovative of all science colleges in the Bay Area and, indeed, the country.”

San Jose State’s research endeavors play a critical role in preparing graduate and undergraduate students who work side by side with faculty mentors. With $60 million in annual research expenditures, SJSU is a top-200 school nationally in terms of research spending. The university’s 33,000 students—including approximately 7,600 graduate students —bring an inherent creativity and diversity of thought and experience that can address and solve the most pressing problems facing society today.

“San Jose State has been meeting the needs of our region since our founding 160 years ago,” said Paul Lanning, vice president for university advancement. “The vision for the Science Park—and the impact it will have for our students and faculty—is unparalleled in SJSU’s history.”

“Our goal is to make research, teaching and collaboration inseparable,” said Michael Kaufman, College of Science dean. “The Interdisciplinary Science Building will be a huge leap forward in San Jose State’s ability to provide modern research experiences and enhanced faculty mentoring opportunities for our students.”

An artistic rendering shows what the Interdisciplinary Science Building will look like in 2021 when it is completed.

An artistic rendering shows what the Interdisciplinary Science Building will look like in 2021 when it is completed.

The Interdisciplinary Science Building will have eight floors of modern science laboratories and research facilities, as well as collaborative, flexible learning environments. The building will be home to chemistry and biology teaching and research spaces, an interdisciplinary Center for High Performance Computing, data and information science labs, and science administration. Each floor will seamlessly integrate teaching and research. Students who move through these programs will graduate with the theoretical background, hands-on skills and collaboration experience necessary to succeed in industry and advanced studies.  

Following the ceremonial groundbreaking and program, attendees can see the future of SJSU science firsthand at the College of Science 15th Annual College of Science Student Research Day, located nearby in the Duncan Hall breezeway. More than 100 student-faculty teams will present original work in all science disciplines. In addition, SJSU’s Celebration of Research will take place 3 – 6 p.m. April 23 in the Diaz Compean Student Union Ballroom.

Complete ISB groundbreaking event information may be found at sjsu.edu/sciencepark.


About San Jose State University

The founding campus of the 23-campus California State University system, San Jose State provides a comprehensive university education, granting bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in 250 areas of study—offered through its eight colleges.

With more than 35,000 students and nearly 4,370 employees, San Jose State University continues to be an essential partner in the economic, cultural and social development of Silicon Valley and the state, annually contributing 10,000 graduates to the workforce.

The university is immensely proud of the accomplishments of its more than 260,000 alumni, 60 percent of whom live and work in the Bay Area.

Annual Event Celebrates Faculty and Student Research April 23

Professor Emily Wughalter, Aqdas Lilani, Tiffany Raczynski and Tania Rojas pose for a photo at the Institute for the Study of Sport, Society and Social Change Student Research Fair in 2018. Photo by David Schmitz

Professor Emily Wughalter, right, and recent graduates Aqdas Lilani, Tiffany Raczynski and Tania Rojas pose for a photo at the Institute for the Study of Sport, Society and Social Change Student Research Fair in 2018. Photo by David Schmitz

SJSU’s Annual Celebration of Research on April 23, from 3 to 6 p.m. in the Diaz Compean Student Union Ballroom features a full program to celebrate student and faculty research. Students, faculty and staff are invited to watch presentations from 2018-19 Early Career Investigator Award recipients Assistant Professor of meteorology and climate science Minghui Diao and Assistant Professor of Psychology Susan Syncerski. During the event, SJSU Student Research Competition finalists will be recognized. The 12 undergraduate and graduate students will represent SJSU at the CSU Student Research Competition on April 26 and 27 at CSU Fullerton. In addition, 50 Undergraduate-Faculty Research Pairs will share posters of the work they’ve completed in the last year. The event is sponsored by the SJSU Research Foundation, the Office of Research and the Center for Faculty Development.

The Undergraduate-Faculty Research Pairs program offers grants to students who are engaged in research, scholarship or creative activities across a broad spectrum of disciplines, including the students who worked with kinesiology Professor Emily Wughalter on understanding how women athletes portray themselves on social media.

Women in Sports

Wughalter along with doctoral candidate from Oregon State University Jafra Thomas mentored four undergraduate students: Aqdas Lilani, Tiffany Raczynski, Tania Rojas and Bernice Fan. The SJSU students who graduated in spring 2018 reviewed studies from the 1970s that found women athletes to be “apologetic” and studied the way current-day female athletes presented themselves to see if attitudes had shifted.

“It was empowering to meet other women who felt the same way about how women should be allowed to be unapologetic about the sport they participate in,” said Bernice Fan, ’Kinesiology 18. “This experience empowered me to be more convicted in my beliefs and gave me an opportunity to not only learn from the individuals in the project but to learn from a woman in the past (Professor Jan Felshin) who shared the same perspective 45 years ago.”

Lilani, ’18 Kinesiology, minor, Nutrition and Food Science, said her focus on the research project was examining the behavior of a women’s rugby team.

“My favorite experience has been presenting our research because I felt empowered by the women in the room who connected with our research,” she said. “All the minutes our team spent on diving into literature and discussing our reflections came to life in that room.”

Thomas, who met Wughalter at the 2017 National Association of Kinesiology in Higher Education, said working on the student-led project offered insight into the portrayal of women in sports that he had not studied in his own coursework, but that he believed it would be helpful in his future teaching and research.

“I was pleased to work with these students and to introduce them to the design of research,” Wughalter said. “Their work has already been presented at the Institute for the Study of Sport, Society and Social Change Undergraduate Research Fair in October 2018 and then at a Western Society for Physical Education of College Women national conference. I am extremely proud of these students and their work.

Understanding Particles and Electrons

Kris McBrian, who will graduate in May 2019, and Elena Fader, who plans to graduate in May 2020, have been working with physics and astronomy Professor Ehsan Khatami. Fader is studying the properties of electrons moving around in an ionic crystal while McBrian has shown that a specific artificial neural network called a restricted Boltzmann machine can be used to simulate how quantum particles behave on a lattice.

“I’ve learned that being part of research is not only ideal for graduate school and experience, but it gives me an idea of which field I would like to pursue in the future,” Fader said. “Fortunately, the faculty in the physics and astronomy department are always looking for students interested in research.”

The experience has helped Fader move outside of her comfort zone and allowed her to network with a guest professor. McBrian said he was so intrigued with running simulations and machine learning he wanted to continue his work beyond a computational physics course project.

“As frustrating as it was at first, I’ll never forget the day when the simulation finally started agreeing with theory or the humbling experience of presenting this research at a physics conference,” he said.

Safer Li-ion Batteries

Victor Leong Gin He, a materials engineering student who will graduate in spring 2020, has been working with Assistant Professor of chemical and materials engineering Professor Dahyun Oh on creating safe Li-ion batteries in both aqueous and solid states.

“I joined the lab out of a curiosity to learn,” He said. “I wanted an opportunity to gain valuable experiences and a skill set before graduating. I stepped in with no knowledge of batteries and I’ve been growing at a steady pace thanks to the opportunity and guidance given by Dr. Oh.”

He said he is hoping to make a significant contribution to the electrochemical industry in the years to come.

Learning Numbers

Working with Associate Professor of child and adolescent development Emily Slusser, Sandra Arellano, who will graduate in May 2019, studied how children come to understand that number words refer only to discrete numerosity and not continuous spatial extent. They used three fun games to measure 3-5 year old’s understanding of number and counting as well as their executive functioning and control (a measure of general thinking and intelligence.) Results will be shared at an upcoming Western Psychological Association Conference in Pasadena.

Arellano signed on for the project because she wanted to gain research experience to better understand the field. She is now interested in pursuing a PhD in cognitive science.

“I enjoyed observing children’s cognitive abilities during the administered tasks and understanding that the data analysis can be applied to support children’s academics in the long run,” Arellano said.

ISB Groundbreaking

San Jose State University will break ground on its new Interdisciplinary Science Building (ISB) on Thursday, April 25, at 10 a.m. on the university’s campus in front of Duncan Hall, with the 15th Annual College of Science Student Research Fair taking place in the Duncan Hall breezeway following the groundbreaking ceremony. The building will expand opportunities for faculty and student research. Complete groundbreaking event information may be found at sjsu.edu/sciencepark.

SJSU OT Students Raise Money and Awareness of Important Role of Research in Their Field

San Jose State Occupational Therapy students and Department Chair Wynn Schultz-Krohn, far right, were honored at the American Occupational Therapy Association Conference for raising the most money as part of the St. Catherine Challenge, which benefits professional research in the field.

San Jose State Occupational Therapy students and Department Chair Wynn Schultz-Krohn, far right, were honored at the American Occupational Therapy Association Conference for raising the most money as part of the St. Catherine Challenge, which benefits professional research in the field.

Members of San Jose State University’s American Occupational Therapy Foundation Student Honor Society, Phi Theta Epsilon (PTE) and the Student Occupational Therapy Association, outdid themselves this year during an annual fundraising event that supports professional research initiatives. The Spartan students raised more than $9,000, exceeding the efforts of any other PTE chapters in the nation.

“As a public institution, many of our students have significant financial aid needs so the typical top fundraisers are PTE groups from private institutions,” said faculty advisor and chair of Occupational Therapy Wynn Schultz-Krohn. “This is really an example of ‘paying it forward.’”

Chelsea Holsonbake, whose research group is working on a retrospective program evaluation of a multifactorial fall prevention program for older adults, said the students even got some clients involved in the fundraising efforts.

“Some worked on integrating affected limbs while making cotton candy while others worked on community reintegration and social skills while selling cotton candy,” she said.

Clients to the on-campus OT clinic helped with the fundraising efforts through they worked on integrating affected limbs while making cotton candy while others worked on community reintegration and social skills while selling cotton candy.

Clients to the on-campus OT clinic helped with the fundraising efforts through they worked on integrating affected limbs while making cotton candy while others worked on community reintegration and social skills while selling cotton candy.

Research opportunities are key to the graduate student experience in OT, and at SJSU, students engage in three research classes and complete a final research project. During spring break nearly 40 students presented their research projects at the American Occupational Therapy Association Annual Conference, a peer-reviewed professional conference.

“Research is so important in the field of OT because we want to know our interventions are best for our clients, not just from our own observations but also from research and replicable data,” said Millie Book, who anticipates completing her master’s in OT in fall 2019.

Her research on friendships and social participation among young adults with autism will prove useful after graduation when she hopes to work in a rehabilitative or pediatric setting helping individuals with sensory integration techniques.

Monica Ondriezek, who will also graduate in fall 2019, has been conducting a historical narrative analysis of the OT department chairs.

“Although this study is not directly client focused, it seeks to identify core values that continue to influence OT education and the profession as a whole,” she said. “It helps to develop future occupational therapists who are dedicated to their clients.”

Kimiko McNeill, who plans to graduate in fall 2019, is working on the same research team as Ondriezek on the history of the OT program.

“Historical inquiry allows researchers to examine past, current and future trends that impact the profession,” she said. “The results of my research will have an impact on the curriculum and education of OT programs throughout the country and will also highlight the enduring values that persist through time in the OT department at SJSU.”

Department chair Wynn Schultz-Krohn and OT students pose with their first-place award for raising the most money of any other student group in the St. Catherine's Challenge.

Department chair Wynn Schultz-Krohn and OT students pose with their first-place award for raising the most money of any other student group in the St. Catherine’s Challenge.

Katie Poisson, who plans to finish her master’s in fall 2020 said she was initially drawn to SJSU’s program for its location, faculty and the opportunity to study abroad.

“I am really excited that we raised the most money (in the fundraising competition) and spotlighted this incredible institution,” she said. “Research is important because it allows us to expand into more settings where our work could be really valuable.”

Serina Murphy, also an intended fall 2019 graduate, is involved in research aimed at understanding how simulations, in comparison to traditional didactic teaching, effects social problem solving to potentially enhance the occupational therapy curriculum.

“Social problem-solving skills are particularly important to occupational therapy practitioners as it contributes to critical thinking skills necessary to work collaboratively with other healthcare professionals and understand the patients’ needs while reducing errors,” she said. “We have been working collaboratively with the SJSU’s  Valley Foundation School of Nursing to use the simulation lab.”

Murphy noted that occupational therapists can work with clients across the lifespan and she is considering the possibility of working in a neonatal intensive care unit.

“I’m looking forward to experiencing all I can to build a strong foundation and become a successful occupational therapist,” she said.

School of Information Leads Research on Blockchain use in Higher Ed and Libraries

Dr. Sandy Hirsh, left, and Dr. Sue Alman, presented their research at the National Blockchain Forum in August 2018.

Dr. Sandy Hirsh, left, and Dr. Sue Alman, presented their research at the National Blockchain Forum in August 2018.

For the past 18 months, Dr. Sandra Hirsh, director and professor in the School of Information, and Dr. Sue Alman, a lecturer in the School of Information, have been investigating how a revolutionary new technology could be used in libraries and universities. Their work was recently featured as a cover story in American Libraries, in an article entitled “Blockchain Reaction: How library professionals are approaching blockchain technology and its potential impact.”

Starting in 2017, Hirsh and Alman recognized an expanding literature about how blockchain technology was on the brink of revolutionizing the public and private sectors, including mentions of the emerging tool at conferences, in books, white papers, and more.

“Librarians had not been evidenced in these mainstream discussions,” Hirsh and Alman said. “However, the use of blockchain technology in libraries was on the radar of many information professionals.”

SJSU researchers Dr. Sandy Hirsh, second from the left, and Dr. Sue Alman, far right, served on a panel with colleagues Eric Meyer, of the University of Texas at Austin, and Vicki Lemieux, University of British Columbia, at the Association for Information Science and Technology Conference in Vancouver, Canada.

SJSU researchers Dr. Sandy Hirsh, second from the left, and Dr. Sue Alman, far right, served on a panel with colleagues Eric Meyer, of the University of Texas at Austin, and Vicki Lemieux, University of British Columbia, at the Association for Information Science and Technology Conference in Vancouver, Canada.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) awarded the pair a $100,000 grant to investigate applications of blockchain technology in libraries. As part of the project, they created a dedicated website and blog; organized a virtual conference as part of the Library 2.0 Conference series; hosted a Blockchain National Forum; sponsored a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) entitled “Blockchain & Decentralization for the Information Industries”; presented findings at numerous national and international professional conferences and webinars; and plan to publish a book this spring.

“While there are many individuals within the information professions who do have a technical understanding of blockchain, we quickly found that information professionals in general do not have a clear understanding about what blockchain is and what the possibilities are and they need training to help build that knowledge base,” the pair said.

They also discovered a wide range of ideas about possible applications of the technology in libraries, and realized it would be helpful to provide concrete examples of applications and opportunity to pilot some applications in a sandbox environment in order to understand what the next steps should be.

As they wrap up the grant with IMLS, Hirsh and Alman hope to pursue funding to continue with pilot blockchain projects for libraries. One idea they have discussed is developing an international interlibrary loan pilot for the International Federation of Library Associations and Institution’s voucher system.

“IFLA provides re-usable vouchers to help libraries easily pay for international interlibrary loan requests,” they said. “Each voucher represents a standard payment for one transaction. Blockchain would lend itself well because of the foreign currency transactions that happen and due to the transactional nature of interlibrary loans.”

Other ideas include creating a universal library card in public libraries as some library systems require a mailing address or limit access to a hometown or local library system; issuing credentials to library users who achieve certain skills; and determining the accuracy and consistency of archival records.

“We are currently working to develop one of more of these ideas into more robust proposals and to seek funding to build them out so that our field can have a good test case for blockchain technology,” they said.

Participants at the National Blockchain Forum in August 2018.

Participants at the National Blockchain Forum in August 2018.

The researchers continue to share their findings throughout this spring, including at a University Scholar Series talk by Hirsh on May 8 at noon in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library Room 225/229.

“The initiatives of the iSchool faculty are trend-setting in multiple areas, and our international reputation for educational and research excellence is widening,” they said.

Hirsh and Alman have attended or will attend more than 14 conferences or presentations by this summer including:

  • Blockchain: Transforming the Technological Future. (2019, June). Panel to be presented at the 2019 American Library Association Conference. Washington, DC.
  • Blockchain: The New Technology and Its Application for Libraries. (2019, June). Invited speaker at the 2019 Special Libraries Association Conference, Cleveland, OH.
  • Blockchain Technology in Education. (2019, June). Panel to be presented at the SIAA Ed Tech Industry Conference & CODiE Awards. San Francisco, CA.
  • Blockchain: Transformative Applications for Libraries and Education. (2019, May). Keynote to be presented at the San Jose State University’s 2019 University Scholar Series, San Jose, CA.
  • Blockchain & Opportunities for Libraries. (2019, March). Panel to be presented at the 2019 Computers in Libraries conference. Washington, DC.
  • Blockchain Possibilities: Investigation Findings. (2019, March). Paper presented at the Special Libraries Association (SLA) Trending Technology Webinar, Online Presentation.
  • Blockchain: An Investigation of Possible Library Applications. (2019, February). Paper presented at the 2nd International Conference on Changing Landscape of Science & Technology Libraries (CLSTL 2019), Gandhinagar, India, Online Presentation.
  • Blockchain: One Emerging Technology—So Many Applications. (2018, November). Refereed panel presented at the 81st Association for Information Science & Technology Annual Meeting, Vancouver, Canada.
  • Trendsetting at the SJSU iSchool : Blockchain and Information Services. (2018, November). Paper presented at the 2018 California Library Association conference, Santa Clara, CA.
  • Pros and Cons of Blockchain. (2018, October). Paper presented on a panel at Blockchain in Education West conference, Sunnyvale, CA.
  • Blockchain: Recommendations for the Information Professions. (2018, September). Paper presented as a free ALA Webinar, Online.
  • Blockchain – is it worth the fuss? – Flash Session.  (2018, August). Paper presented on a panel at the 2018 IFLA conference, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
  • Blockchain Technology. (2018, March). Paper presented on a panel at a webinar for the SLA Philadelphia and Pittsburgh Chapters, Online.  
  • Blockchain, Open Civic Data, and TV WhiteSpace – Three New Projects. (2018, February). Paper presented at an invited panel at the 2018 American Library Association Midwinter Conference, Denver, CO.

 

 

University Scholar Series Presents ‘Math Circles’

Professor Tatiana Shubin, center, works with students.

Professor Tatiana Shubin, center, works with students.

The next talk in the University Scholar Series is scheduled for March 27, at noon, when award-winning Professor Tatiana Shubin will give a talk on “Moving in Circles: the Beauty and Joy of Mathematics for Everyone.” In 2017, she received the Mary P. Dolciani Award, which recognizes a pure or applied mathematician for making distinguished contributions to the math education of students in the United States or Canada. She is credited with creating the San José Math Circle as a weekly space for middle and high school students to gather to engage in problem-solving work.

She is also a co-founder of the first Math Teachers’ Circle Network in the U.S., as a professional community of K-12 mathematics teachers and mathematicians. Groups meet regularly to work on rich mathematics problems, allowing teachers to enrich their knowledge and experience of math while building meaningful partnerships with other teachers and mathematicians.

In 2012, she launched the Navajo Nation Math Circles project and became co-founder/co-director of the Alliance of Indigenous Math Circles.  She aims to spread the culture of problem-solving and the joy of mathematics to Native American students and teachers.

Upcoming University Scholar Series events
Tatiana Shubin, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, on “Moving in Circles: the Beauty and Joy of Mathematics for Everyone”
March 27, noon to 1 p.m.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library Room 225/229

Ellen Middaugh, Department of Child and Adolescent Development, on “Coming of Age in the Era of Outrage: Digital Media and Youth Civic Development”
April 24, noon to 1 p.m.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library Room 225/229

Sandra Hirsh, School of Information, on “Blockchain: Transformative Applications for Libraries and Education”
May 8, noon to 1 p.m.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library Room 225/229

All events are free and open to the public. Lunch will be served.

The University Scholars Series was expanded this spring to include four talks by faculty members who are engaged in world-class research, scholarship or creative activities that connect to San Joes Staté University to hot topic global issues, such as social justice, civic engagement, emerging technology and STEM education.

Fulbright Scholars Enhance Teaching While Engaging in Research

Ling Yu (Melody) Wen is visiting San Jose State as a Fulbright Scholar as she conducts in-depth interviews with CEOs and top managers in the high-tech industry to explore what skill sets they believe are the most important in creating an innovative atmosphere and corporates’ human capital management.

Fulbright Scholars Enhance Teaching While Engaging in Research

In 2018-19, San Jose State University has been host to three Fulbright Scholars from other countries who are adding to their research portfolio while also teaching courses to Spartan students. The scholars include Ling Yu (Melody) Wen, whose area of expertise is human resources management and corporate training; Lela Mirtshkulava, who is engaged in computer engineering and computer science; and Monika Petraite, who worked on entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial strategies.Fulbright Logo

Their presence has landed SJSU on the Chronicle of Higher Education‘s list of top producers of Fulbright Scholars, master’s institutions. The list is compiled each year with information from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, which runs the nation’s flagship international educational exchange program.

Education and Silicon Valley

Wen specifically selected SJSU for its location in Silicon Valley, its history as the oldest public university on the West Coast and its ranking as the number one provider of employees to high-tech firms in Silicon Valley.

Since arriving on campus in September 2018 with a Senior Fulbright Scholar Grant, she has conducted in-depth interviews with CEOs and top managers in the high-tech industry to explore what skill sets they believe are the most important in creating an innovative atmosphere and corporates’ human capital management. Wen also interviewed students, professors and career center staff at SJSU for their input.

“The research provides a successful model of establishing a link from school to workplace—San Jose State University and the high-tech industry in Silicon Valley as an example,” she said. “The future perceptions of differential talents and the needs of human capital in the high-tech industry would be beneficial for educational policies and strategies of talent development mechanisms in both Taiwan and America.”

During the Fulbright year, Wen was invited by the Namibia University of Science and Technology and University of Missouri-Columbia as a visiting professor to share the results of the Fulbright research.

Wen is a senior professor in the Department of Finance at the National Changhua University of Education in Taiwan and has also served in as a department chair, college dean, dean of International Affairs, and in a variety of administrative roles. She earned her PhD in business education from the University of Missouri, with a focus on human resource management. She has been honored with Teaching Excellence and Service Excellence awards four times during her 24-year tenure in Taiwan, and has been a visiting professor in Germany, Mainland China, Malaysia and Namibia. She was appointed as a distinguished professor at Beijing Forestry University, China since 2015. She also has more than 20-year experiences as a consultant and corporate trainer, as well as the coordinator of National Curriculum and chief judge of National Talent Competitions for High School Students, Ministry of Education, Taiwan.

“Without SJSU and the Lucas College and Graduate School of Business providing the opportunity, I couldn’t complete my Fulbright study,” she said. “I would like to extend my appreciation to Dean Dan Moshavi and Associate Dean Meghna Virick of the Lucas College and Graduate School, and Camille Johnson, interim director of the School of Management, as well as all of the faculty, professors and students of SJSU and CEOs of high-tech industry in Silicon Valley who devoted their time and effort to my Fulbright research. Words are not enough to express my gratitude.”

Lela Mirtskhulava was a featured speaker at DataAI National Summit (DANS), Silicon Valley organized by American Association of Precision Medicine and presented the results of the project she has been working since arriving at San Jose State as a Fulbright Scholar.

Lela Mirtskhulava was a featured speaker at DataAI National Summit (DANS), Silicon Valley organized by American Association of Precision Medicine and presented the results of the project she has been working since arriving at San Jose State as a Fulbright Scholar.

Balancing Teaching and Research

Lela Mirtskhulava experience in the realm of artificial intelligence is unique. She was the first to develop an artificial intelligence capable of diagnosing stroke patients: her prototype artificial intelligence distinguishes between stroke patients and normal subjects with > 99 percent accuracy. She has been honored with the Best Paper Award in 2013 at the University of Cambridge, UK. She was invited as a featured speaker at the AIMed 2017 and AIMed 2018 conferences in Los Angeles.

“I have been working for more than eight months as a Fulbright Research scholar at San Jose State University with most amazing faculty and staff,” she said. “I enjoyed auditing the classes besides my research project thanks to Dr. Xiao Su giving me this opportunity. For academics, both the teaching and research are so attractive and interconnected things. To promote the teaching processes as well as to advance our field requires much time devoted to research, publication and presentation. On the other hand, teaching is one of our primary obligations as a scholar. Only putting them both together makes possible to reach the right balance in our academic life.”

She said at SJSU she has been able to prolong her research and teaching, while her daughter completes a full academic year at a local middle school. Her daughter has been inspired by her teachers while Mirtskhulava is inspiring her own set of students in the two courses she is teaching to postgraduate students; one on deep learning and one on system software.

“This gives me an excellent opportunity to teach the students and promote them to work on their research projects as it is required within these courses,” she said. “I’ve learned about SJSU’s teaching methodology by attending the classes as well my experience of teaching at San Diego State University where I hold an associate professor position.”

Prototyping Artificial Intelligence

Mirtskhulava was a featured speaker at DataAI National Summit (DANS), Silicon Valley organized by American Association of Precision Medicine and presented the results of the project she is currently working on. The main idea of the project is brainwave monitoring that focuses on neurological monitoring which incorporates the monitoring of brainwaves electroencephalography (EEG). Ischemic stroke occurs as a result of disruption of cerebral blood flow which results in neuronal cell death. Brainwave monitoring over EEG has been a commonly used method in neurological monitoring to diagnose and monitor various neurological diseases such as ischemic stroke. In the given project, Android Neural Network (ANN) is designed and a direct neural interface (DNI) is implemented using NeuroSky’s EEG biosensor for brainwaves recognition. A mobile EEG monitor is connected to a patient’s smartphone over Bluetooth that can transmit real-time brainwave data.

Mirtskhulava is an associate professor of computer science at Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University in the country of Georgia as well as San Diego State University Georgia (a collaborative progam between SDSU and Georgian partner universities that offers select STEM degrees). As a Fulbright Research Scholar, she is teaching part-time in the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering this year. Mirtskhulava received her PhD in computer science. She has served in various capacities at several Georgian universities and has 15 years of industry work experience as an ICT senior engineer at Ericsson Ltd and Geocell LLC, Georgia. She Mirtskhulava was invited to the University of Cambridge in England to conduct the scientific workshops in 2013. She was the recipient of DAAD Scholarship Certificate in scope of Academic staff exchange program, at Westsaxson University of Applied Sciences Zwickau, Germany in 2016. She has also developed new curriculum in computer engineering and technologies at International Black Sea University, Georgia where she served as program coordinator of bachelor programs in Informatics and as a quality assurance manager at the same university. She participated in new program development in computer science for ABET at Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University. She is supervising master students and PhD students in Georgia.

New College, New Dean: Graduate Studies and Marc d’Alarcao

Marc d'Alarcao

Marc d’Alarcao

As a professor of chemistry with 30 years of experience in higher education split between San José State University and Tufts University, Marc d’Alarcao said his favorite part of teaching is when he sees students begin to understand how new knowledge is created.

“Knowledge is always continuing to grow,” he said.

Now d’Alarcao will be essential in creating a new college at SJSU as the interim dean of the College of Graduate Studies, designed to support graduate students in a variety of ways, including in advancing their fields through their research, scholarship and creative activities.

“We have a very large graduate student population of about 8,000,” he said. “They deserve to have an advocate who is solely focused on their needs.”

Interim Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs announced the creation of a new College of Graduate Studies in fall 2018.

“The creation of a College of Graduate Studies has been front and center inAcademic Affairs for well over a year and a half,” Interim Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Joan Ficke wrote in a January announcement about d’Alarcao’s appointment. “It dovetails with increasing commitments to our faculty administering graduate programs, and to our substantial graduate students’ population. It also signifies our re-visioning what SJSU contributes to Silicon Valley and to the world beyond.”

At Tufts, d’Alarcao mentored graduate students, including both master’s and PhD candidates, and regularly involved students at all levels in his research. His work at both universities has focused on biological and medicinal chemistry including the design and synthesis of potential antitumor agents, and a study of insulin action by synthesis of molecules related to insulin signal transduction with potential utility as treatments for type II diabetes mellitus.

“The thing that attracted me to SJSU was the outstanding faculty and students,” he said.

He has been working to expand research, scholarship and creative activities since his arrival at SJSU–as a faculty member, as a member of the AcademicSenate, and most recently, as the associate dean of research for the College of Science.

“Marc is an excellent choice to lead the College of Graduate Studies,” said Michael Kaufman, dean of the College of Science. “He has deep knowledge of the university and great skill in leading transformation both within and beyond college boundaries. His thoughtful approaches to challenges and opportunities make him the ideal person to enhance and expand SJSU’s graduate educational endeavors.”

Aside from advocating for graduate students, d’Alarcao articulated a few other reasons the new college is essential to the university’s priorities. First, he said it will continue to enhance research, scholarship, and creative activity, especially engaging graduate students. Second, it will position SJSU to expand its doctoral offerings — the university currently offers a doctorate in education and a doctor of nursing practice. Lastly, it will serve as a platform to better highlight the extraordinary work of our talented graduate students, both for internal and external audiences.

“For graduate students, success often means excellence in research or creative activity,” he said, adding that many of SJSU’s graduate programs require the generation of new knowledge or other creative products as a central component of the students’ experience.

d’Alarcao received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Bridgewater State College, in Massachusetts, during which he worked as a research assistant in microbiology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester. He completed his PhD in organic chemistry at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, followed by postdoctoral studies at Harvard University under the mentorship of E. J. Corey, who would later become a Nobel laureate.

Selection for RSCA Assigned Time Cycle 2 Starts

As San José State University continues its commitment to expanding its research, scholarship and creative activities enterprise, eligible faculty are invited to apply for the next cycle of the Faculty Research, Scholarship and Creative Activities (RSCA) Assigned Time Program. Applications for the second cycle are due to respective dean’s offices in each college on March 28, 2019, and should include a cover sheet, curriculum vitae, scholarly agendas for the next five years and RSCA metric data.

The first cycle provided awards to 141 individuals, including 49 tenured faculty members and 92 probationary faculty members, who now have university support to balance their teaching and scholarly pursuits. As the university moves forward with phase-in, increasing numbers of faculty members will receive awards until all RSCA productive faculty are teaching not more than 18 weighted teaching units per year.

Each college has created field-appropriate metrics that are used to select participants in the program and to evaluate their progress on their RSCA agenda. Each award is for a period of five years, with a formal review after year three and RSCA metric data submitted annually.

The benefits of the RSCA Assigned Time program extend beyond faculty. The program expands opportunities for students to engage with dedicated mentors while developing critical thinking, communication and collaboration skills that are key for the workforce. In addition, the outcomes of RSCA at San José State have local and global impacts on innovation and entrepreneurship.

For more information, visit the Office of Research online or faculty can contact their dean’s office for more information.

SJSU’s Julia Curry Rodriguez Named Wang Family Excellence Award Recipient

Dr. Julia E. Curry Rodriguez has received the 2019 Wang Family Excellence Award for Outstanding Faculty Service.

Dr. Julia E. Curry Rodriguez has received the 2019 Wang Family Excellence Award for Outstanding Faculty Service.

Media contacts:

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

San Jose, Calif.—The California State University Chancellor’s Office announced today that San Jose State University’s Julia E. Curry Rodríguez, an associate professor of Mexican American Studies, is the recipient of the 2019 Wang Family Excellence Award for Outstanding Faculty Service.

Curry was selected for the prestigious award for her unwavering support of students, specifically immigrant and undocumented students in her two decades of service to SJSU. Since 2009, she has worked with the Chicano/Latino Faculty and Staff Association to provide scholarships for undocumented students, including the establishment of full-semester scholarships. She advocated institutionalizing services, support and resources for immigrant students, leading to the development of SJSU’s UndocuSpartan Resource Center in 2018.

“I have worked with thousands of students—many of whom are first-generation, immigrants or of immigrant origin,” says Curry. “Their tenacity, perseverance, humility, dignity and grace inspire me daily. Their example of lived commitment and struggle guide how I live out my profession.”

Curry has mentored five doctoral students through the Chancellor’s Doctoral Incentive Program (CDIP), two of whom are now CSU faculty. She also serves as the faculty advisor to Student Advocates for Higher Education, an undocumented student support group founded in 2003, and the Chicano/a/x Graduate Council.

Julia Curry Rodriguez received SJSU's Distinguished Service Award in 2014.

Julia Curry Rodriguez received SJSU’s Distinguished Service Award in 2014.

She was instrumental in developing a new bachelor’s degree in Mexican American Studies, coordinates with the National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies to address legal challenges, such as the Supreme Court Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)/Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) case, and organizes symposia covering policies related to in-state tuition and the California Dream Act.

Curry has also maintained an active research, scholarship and creative activities agenda. In 2003, she received a grant from the Ford Foundation to document services for binational students who immigrate to the U.S., then migrate back to their home regions in Mexico. Other recent research includes an article on “Decolonial Food for Thought: Mexican-Origin Food, Foodways, and Social Movements” in the Journal of Equity and Excellence in Education and a reader entitled Mothers, Mothering and Motherhood Across Cultural Differences.

The SJSU 2014 Distinguished Service Award recipient, Curry has been featured in SJSU’s My Story is Here campaign and in Washington Square magazine.

The Wang Family Excellence Award recognizes four outstanding faculty members and one outstanding staff member who, through extraordinary commitment and dedication, have distinguished themselves by exemplary contributions and achievements. Learn more about the CSU 2019 Wang Excellence Award recipients online.


About San Jose State University

The founding campus of the 23-campus California State University system, San Jose State provides a comprehensive university education, granting bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in 250 areas of study – offered through its eight colleges.

With more than 35,000 students and nearly 4,370 employees, San Jose State University continues to be an essential partner in the economic, cultural and social development of Silicon Valley and the state, annually contributing 10,000 graduates to the workforce.

The university is immensely proud of the accomplishments of its more than 260,000 alumni, 60 percent of whom live and work in the Bay Area.

CSU Shares Profile of SJSU’s Fritz Yambrach, Professor and Inventor

San Jose State University’s Professor Fritz Yambrach brings the same innovative and practical approach to his work, whether rebuilding the packaging program in the College of Health and Human Sciences’ Department of Nutrition, Food Science, and Packaging, creating internships for students with industry partners or developing a new way for people to carry water in developing countries.

When he was hired in 2006, the packaging program had five students enrolled and four courses. He has since developed 10 courses that include packaging for medical devices, pharmaceuticals and food processing, and built the program to an enrollment of 70 students.

Fritz Yambrach, a professor in Nutrition, Food Science, and Packaging helped to develop a way to package water to transport to disaster areas or areas where water is not readily available. (Photo: James Tensuan, '15 Journalism)

Fritz Yambrach, a professor in Nutrition, Food Science, and Packaging helped to develop a way to package water to transport to disaster areas or areas where water is not readily available. (Photo: James Tensuan, ’15 Journalism)

“I created course content I believed was useful to a working professional in the field,” Yambrach says. “Packaging is simply problem solving. I’ll give [students] relationships between items and then see how they put it together and make creative extensions.”

Yambrach is the latest San Jose State University faculty member to be featured in the CSU Spotlight with a new profile and video about his teaching philosophy and his research. He is the inventor of a water vest that is being tested in Haiti, Burundi and Ethiopia as an ergonomic, hygienic alternative to carrying water in buckets over long distances.

Fritz, who received the 2017 DuPont Diamond Packaging Innovation Award, said those who have tested the vest since 2006 found an unexpected benefit: “Young girls in Ethiopia were typically tasked with collecting water and it often meant they couldn’t go to school,” he explained. “The vest is allowing more girls to attend school since it makes transporting water much easier.”

Read more about Yambrach’s teaching and research in the CSU Profile, an SJSU Academic Spotlight story and an SJSU Washington Square profile.

SJSU Physics Professor’s Groundbreaking Research Featured in ‘Science’

Ehsan Khatami is one of two San Jose State University faculty members selected as an Early Career Investigator Award winners in 2017-18. (Photo: James Tensuan, '15 Journalism)

Ehsan Khatami is one of two San Jose State University faculty members selected as Early Career Investigator Award winners in 2017-18. (Photo: James Tensuan, ’15 Journalism)

San Jose State University Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy Ehsan Khatami in collaboration with a group of professors from MIT and the MIT-Harvard Center for Ultracold Atoms published today in the journal Science their latest experimental discovery about conduction in a tiny system of atoms in a vacuum.

Khatami, who was granted early tenure and promotion to associate professor this year, received a funding from the National Science Foundation with colleague Sen Chiao, of the Meteorology Department to build the first high-performance computing cluster on campus. The equipment has proven essential to his research as well as the work of students and faculty in other disciplines that require big data analysis.

In his most recent article, Khatami and his colleagues discuss an experiment that is impossible to perform using real materials. They were able to focus on the movement of atoms’ intrinsic magnetic field, or “spin,” across a few microns without disturbing their charge arrangement (charge is another intrinsic property of atoms) as the first of its kind with a quantum system. The results shed light on the mostly unexplored spin transport property of models condensed matter scientists use to describe the unusual behavior of solids at very low temperatures.

Atoms are like small magnets, so applying a magnetic force pushes them around, here to the left (top left). Since these atoms repel each other, they cannot move if there are no empty sites (top middle). But the atomic “magnetic needles” are still free to move, with stronger magnets (red) diffusing to the left in the image, and weaker magnets (blue) having to make room and move to the right (bottom row). This so-called spin transport is resolved atom by atom in the cold atom quantum emulator.

Atoms are like small magnets, so applying a magnetic force pushes them around, here to the left (top left). Since these atoms repel each other, they cannot move if there are no empty sites (top middle). But the atomic “magnetic needles” are still free to move, with stronger magnets (red) diffusing to the left in the image, and weaker magnets (blue) having to make room and move to the right (bottom row). This so-called spin transport is resolved atom by atom in the cold atom quantum emulator.

Khatami’s research aims to help scientists understand how superconductivity works—a finding that could potentially pave the way for a room-temperature superconductor, which would improve transportation and data storage and make homes more energy efficient by creating materials that allow better use of electricity. That is, as electricity goes through a device such as a phone or laptop, none of the electronic components would heat up. Superconductivity is the property of zero electrical resistance in some substances at very low temperatures (<-135 degrees Celsius).

The experiment was carried out using 400 atoms cooled down to just a hair above absolute zero temperature (<-273 degrees Celsius). The atoms were manipulated to be two different types and to act as if they were electrons in a solid with two species of spin. The atoms were then trapped in a square box to see how they would respond when magnetic fields keeping one species on the left side and one species on the right side of the box were turned off. Scientists watched the process by using an electron gas microscope to measure the speed at which mixing takes place and deduce the “spin” current.

Khatami compares the box of atoms to a shallow pool of water – if there was a divider in the middle with clear water on one side and water dyed black on the other side when the divider is suddenly removed the water would mix together and turn gray. The two shades of water would be similar to the two spin species in the quantum experiment, with the behavior of the atoms governed by quantum mechanics.

To support the experiment, Khatami used more than 300,000 CPU hours on SJSU’s Spartan High-Performance Computer to solve the underlying theoretical model that was emulated in the experiment to support experimental observations.

“As exciting as these findings have been, there are still so many unanswered questions we can explore using similar setups,” he said. “For example, the dependence of spin transport on the temperature or the concentration of atoms in the box can be studied.”

Khatami received the SJSU 2017-18 Early Career Investigator Award and has offered insights into his research on the web series Physics Girl. He was featured in the Fall/Winter 2018 edition of Washington Square alumni magazine.

Allied Telesis Pledges $500K Endowment Gift to SJSU’s MTI

Takayoshi Oshima, chairman and CEO of Allied Telesis, signed a gift agreement for $500,000 to the Mineta Transportation Institute in October.

Takayoshi Oshima, chairman and CEO of Allied Telesis, signed a gift agreement for $500,000 with the Mineta Transportation Institute in October. Photo: Nanzi Muro

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

SAN JOSE, CA – San Jose State University (SJSU) is pleased to announce a $500,000 gift commitment from Allied Telesis, Inc. to the Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) Strategic Initiatives Fund. The generous gift will establish a permanent endowment to provide long-term sustaining support to MTI’s cybersecurity program. Subject to approval by the Campus Naming Committee and the Academic Senate, the new program will be known as the Allied Telesis National Transportation Security Center.

Lucas College and Graduate School of Business Dean Dan Moshavi, center, signs a gift agreement with Allied Telesis.

Lucas College and Graduate School of Business Dean Dan Moshavi, center, signs a gift agreement with Allied Telesis. Photo: Nanzi Muro

The gift was formally announced Oct. 9 at a reception celebrating the opening of the Mineta Archives in the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library at San Jose State University. Takayoshi Oshima, chairman and CEO of Allied Telesis, a long-time friend of MTI founder and former Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta, has served on the Board of the Mineta Transportation Institute since August 2018. He was recently elected advisor emeritus to the US High Speed Rail Association (USHSR.)

Oshima founded Allied Telesis more than 30 years ago. Allied Telesis has headquarters in Silicon Valley and Japan. The company provides hardware and software products that allow customers to build secure, feature-rich and scalable data exchange solutions. Allied Telesis works with many of the same agencies as MTI in the public transit sector, including the Valley Transportation Authority.

“We started talking about synergy in how we could work together to improve cybersecurity in transportation on a national level,” said Karen Philbrick, executive director of MTI. “Thanks to Allied Telesis’s commitment to a permanent endowment, we can expand our work in this critical area.”

Paul Lanning, vice president for University Advancement and CEO of the Tower Foundation, congratulated Philbrick and her team on cultivating a strong partnership with Oshima and Allied Telesis.

“Allied Telesis has provided a tremendous gift that will add value for years to come in the transit sector,” Lanning said. “We hope to continue to build on the success of the Mineta Transportation Institute with this and future industry partnerships.”


About the Mineta Transportation Institute

At the Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) at San Jose State University (SJSU) our mission is to increase mobility for all by improving the safety, efficiency, accessibility, and convenience of our nation’s’ transportation system through research, education, workforce development and technology transfer. We help create a connected world. MTI was founded in 1991 and is funded through the US Departments of Transportation and Homeland Security, the California Department of Transportation, and public and private grants. MTI is affiliated with SJSU’s Lucas College and Graduate School of Business.

About San Jose State University

The founding campus of the 23-campus California State University system, San Jose State provides a comprehensive university education, granting bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in 250 areas of study – offered through its eight colleges.

With more than 35,000 students and nearly 4,370 employees, San Jose State University continues to be an essential partner in the economic, cultural and social development of Silicon Valley and the state, annually contributing 10,000 graduates to the workforce.

The university is immensely proud of the accomplishments of its more than 260,000 alumni, 60 percent of whom live and work in the Bay Area. 

Cal-Bridge Grant Readies SJSU Undergrads to Apply for PhDs in Physics and Astronomy

Students, faculty and administrators for the Cal-Bridge North program pose for a photo. Cal-Bridge scholars prepare to apply for PhD programs in physics and astronomy.

Students, faculty and administrators for the Cal-Bridge North program pose for a photo. Cal-Bridge scholars prepare to apply for PhD programs in physics and astronomy.

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

SAN JOSE, CA– San Jose State University joins a consortium of 15 California State University (CSU) and nine University of California (UC) campuses collectively awarded a five-year, $5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to dramatically increase diversity within the fields of physics and astronomy through the Cal-Bridge program.

The Cal-Bridge program launched four years ago. It creates a pathway for underrepresented minority students from multiple CSU campuses to gain the experience needed to apply for doctoral programs in physics and astronomy at UC campuses across California. Currently, students from underrepresented minority groups represent 30 percent of the U.S. population, but represent less than 4 percent of physics and astronomy PhDs recipients nationwide. The national average of underrepresented minorities, or URM students, earning a PhD in these fields is about 80 per year.

“Cal-Bridge has already shown spectacular results in its first phase in Southern California, with a 95 percent admission rate for CSU undergraduates into doctoral programs,” said Aaron Romanowsky, an associate professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at SJSU and co-director of the Cal-Bridge North Leadership Council. “Now with the expansion of the program into Northern California, and into physics as well as astronomy, we are excited to begin seeing even more access enabled for CSU students going into advanced STEM education and careers.”

Expanding into Northern California

The recent grant allows Cal-Bridge to expand from about a dozen scholars per year to as many as 50 statewide, with the addition of students from SJSU, San Francisco State, CSU East Bay and CSU Sacramento. SJSU is serving as a lead institution for Cal-Bridge North, with the support of Romanowsky and College of Science Dean Michael Kaufman, former chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy. SJSU students Jean Donet and Javier Bustamante joined the first cohort of Cal-Bridge North. Participating Cal-Bridge Scholars receive a full scholarship for the final two years of their undergraduate degree, based on demonstrated need; a year of scholarship funding to cover the first year of graduate school at a participating UC campus; mentoring from faculty members at both CSU and UC campuses; professional development opportunities and research opportunities.

Cal-Bridge is led by Principal Investigator and Director Alexander Rudolph, a Cal Poly Pomona professor of physics and astronomy. Cal-Bridge Scholars are recruited from the 15 CSU campuses and more than 30 community colleges in the Cal-Bridge network, with the help of local faculty and staff liaisons at each campus.

Success for Early Cohorts

The program has been highly successful in its first five years in developing a pipeline of highly diverse, qualified scholars, many of whom have already successfully matriculated to a PhD program in physics or astronomy. The program just selected its fifth cohort of 27 scholars from 10 different CSU campuses across the state, bringing the total number of scholars to 61 in five cohorts, including 35 Latinos, seven African-Americans and 27 women (16 of the 27 women are from underrepresented minority groups).

In the last three years, 19 of 21 Cal-Bridge Scholars who have earned their bachelor’s degree in physics have begun or will attend PhD programs in physics or astronomy at top programs nationally, including UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara, Harvard University, Northwestern University, the University of Maryland, Michigan State University and Penn State University.

Learn more about Cal-Bridge and watch a video about the program online.

CAL-BRIDGE CONTACT

Alexander Rudolph

Director, Cal-Bridge

Professor of Physics and Astronomy

Cal Poly Pomona

Email: alrudolph@cpp.edu

Cell Phone: 909-717-1851

LOCAL CONTACT

Aaron Romanowsky

Co-Director, Cal-Bridge North Leadership Council

Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy

San Jose State University

Email: aaron.romanowsky@sjsu.edu

About San Jose State University

The founding campus of the 23-campus California State University system, San Jose State provides a comprehensive university education, granting bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in 250 areas of study – offered through its eight colleges.

With more than 35,000 students and nearly 4,370 employees, San Jose State University continues to be an essential partner in the economic, cultural and social development of Silicon Valley and the state, annually contributing 10,000 graduates to the workforce.

The university is immensely proud of the accomplishments of its more than 260,000 alumni, 60 percent of whom live and work in the Bay Area. 

Santa Cruz Sentinel: San Jose State Researcher’s Never-Seen Sharks Featured on ‘Shark Week’

Posted Aug. 12, 2014 by the Santa Cruz Sentinel.

By Kara Guzman

After 60 days on a commercial fishing boat, 1,000 miles from land, San Jose State researcher Paul Clerkin discovered never-before-seen sharks, which will be featured on Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week” on Tuesday.

Clerkin, 29, first ventured to the southern Indian Ocean with the fishing crew to catalog their shark bycatch in 2012. In two months, he encountered 23 types of sharks, eight of which were new species.

Clerkin, a master’s student researching at Moss Landing Marine Labs, returned to the boat in March, this time with a Discovery Channel film crew for “Alien Sharks.” Clerkin said he’s not allowed to say how many new species he discovered this year, but he’s pleased with the trip’s success.

View the full story. 

Student Research Competition

35th Annual Student Research Competition

Student Research Competition

William Slocumb, ’14 Materials Engineering, collaborated with Andrea Kramer, an orthotic resident at Hanger Clinic, on research they presented at a recent conference (photo courtesy of William Slocumb).

Seven Spartans will advance to the 28th Annual California State University Student Research Competition May 2 and 3 at California State University, East Bay.

All seven students and their faculty mentors will be honored at the 35th Annual SJSU Student Research Forum beginning at noon April 10 in Engineering 285/287.

Student constructs prosthetic using tools.

Slocumb sections down materials for testing (photo courtesy of William Slocumb).

The Graduate Studies and Research Committee selects San Jose State’s finalists from a pool of nominees sent forward by SJSU’s seven colleges.

It’s important to note the competition is open to all students, including those majoring in the creative arts and design fields.

Each college has its own robust reviewing committee, so we ultimately see the best of the best,” said Cheryl Cowan, Graduate Studies and Research Administrative Support Coordinator.

Among this year’s winners are William Slocumb, ’14 Materials Engineering. His research, “Design of Bamboo Fiber Reinforced Composites for Use in Orthotics and Prosthetics,” focuses on making cost-effective prosthetics from sustainable materials.

Bamboo Prosthetics

Being selected to represent SJSU “is validating to me is [because this] shows that people are responding to what I’m doing and that this technology is doable, relevant and helpful,” he said.

Slocumb was inspired by a Chinese man who spent eight years building his own bionic hands after a fishing accident.

For people in developing countries, this research not only impacts their ability to thrive but also their survival and well being,” Slocumb said.

Pinto self portrait

A self portrait by Mark Pinto, ’14 MFA Photography.

Mentor and Professor Guna Selvaduray encouraged Slocumb to enter the competition because of his student’s “passion, productivity and capability to take complete ownership of the project.”

“Very few people are able to see the benefits of doing research that combines different traditional fields, and how the results can be used productively in a particular application,” Selvaduray said.

Connecting With Veterans

Mark Pinto ’14 MFA Photography, is one of two art students advancing to the systemwide research competition.

Representing “San Jose State and [showing] key people how great the art and graduate departments are–that is exciting to me,” he said.

Pinto’s entry, a collection of photography entitled “The War Veteran’s Voice,” provides insight into the extended costs of war.  A Marine veteran, Pinto learned a lot about himself while creating his entry.

It’s very personal, and each time I do it, I realize how connected I am to the veteran community, the suffering of the survivors, and those who did not make it as well,” he said.

Soldiers, represented by action figures, mourn the loss of a comrade, with gravestones in the background.

“Suicide Joe” by Mark Pinto.

M60-UCD1 galaxy

Faculty Notes: Research, Recognition and Recent Publications

Professor Goldston receives his award. Sandy Huffaker/American Mathematical Society photo

Professor Daniel Goldston, along with research colleague Cem Yalcin Yildirim, receives the Frank Nelson Cole Prize in number theory (Sandy Huffaker/American Mathematical Society photo).

Associate Professor Marjorie Freedman, Department of Nutrition, Food Science and Packaging, received a 2013 Guardians of Health Award from the California Center for Public Health Advocacy. The award recognizes individuals who have had an impact on the “health of children and adults who live in communities without easy access to healthy food or safe places to be physically active.” Freedman spearheaded the Healthy San Jose State initiative and helped bring the Spartan Smart Cart to campus. Recently she has worked with East San Jose’s multi-ethnic, low-income population at Most Holy Trinity Church to increase CalFresh enrollment and implement healthful food and beverage policies.

faculty notes

Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve, Olympia, Wash. (Flickr Creative Commons photo)

Associate Professor Emmanuel (Manny) Gabet, Department of Geology, developed a computer model that solved the mystery of the formation of Mima mounds. The largest structures built by mammals (other than humans), found on every continent except Antarctica, Mima mounds were built by gophers, Gabet’s research has proved. In December, he presented his findings at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union, held in San Francisco. He has been interviewed by BBC Radio about his research, and news of his discovery was reported in The Economist, The Huffington Post and elsewhere.

Professor Daniel Goldston, Department of Mathematics, along with research colleagues János Pintz and Cem Y. Yildirim, received the 2014 American Mathematical Society’s Frank Nelson Cole Prize in number theory. Presented every three years, the prize recognizes an outstanding research paper in number theory that has appeared in the preceding six years. Goldston, Pintz and Yildirim were honored for their work on “small gaps” between prime numbers, presented in their paper “Primes in tuples 1,” published in the Annals of Mathematics. The awards ceremony took place at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in Baltimore on Jan. 16.

Francisco González Gragera, Capricho de Cotrina

Francisco González Gragera, “El Capricho de Cotrina” (Jo Farb Hernandez photo)

Professor Jo Farb Hernandez, Department of Art and Art History, and director/curator of the Thompson Gallery, curated the fall exhibition “Singular Spaces—From the Eccentric to the Extraordinary in Spanish Art Environments” and authored the exhibition book of the same title. The result of 14 years of research and documentation, the exhibit and book chronicle art environments created by 45 self-taught Spanish artists, including Josep Pujiula and Joan Sala.

Alan Leventhal, Department of Anthropology, faculty advisor for the Native American Student Organization (NASO) and the SJSU chapter of the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS), helped promote King Library’s November/December 2013 exhibit honoring Native American veterans and celebrating Native American Heritage month. Leventhal has served as Muwekma Ohlone tribal archaeologist and ethnohistorian for 34 years.

M60-UCD1

M60-UCD1 (Chandra X-Ray Observatory photo)

Assistant Professor Aaron Romanowsky, Department of Physics and Astronomy, who studies the dynamics and evolution of galaxies, was part of a research team that discovered the dwarf galaxy M60-UCD1, an “ultra-compact” dwarf galaxy. Romanowsky was involved with the spectroscopic follow-up observations, using the Keck telescope, that determined the distance to the galaxy.

Associate Professor Cynthia RostankowskiDepartment of Humanities, and coordinator of the Humanities Honors Program, reported that humanities honors student Jacky Mai won the third annual Norton Poetry Recitation contest with a recitation of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130 and received a $200 Barnes & Noble gift certificate. SJSU was the only institution to have two students advance to the final round of the competition.

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.

 

Discovering Other Worlds

Discovering Other Worlds

Discovering Other Worlds

The IPPW conference will include a public lecture by Robert Manning of the Mars Science Laboratory at 5 p.m. June 18 in the Tech Museum. He will discuss the successful landing of the Curiosity rover, shown here in a self-portrait (NASA image).

Media contacts:
Pat Lopes Harris, San Jose State University, 408-656-6999
Ruth Dasso Marlaire, NASA Ames Research Center, 650-604-4709

SAN JOSE, CA – One of humankind’s most challenging ventures, sending space vehicles to other worlds, will draw 150 international experts to San Jose State University June 17-21 for the 10th International Planetary Probe Workshop. The event is co-hosted by SJSU and the NASA Ames Research Center. The conference is open to members of the media. Reporters should contact SJSU to RSVP.

“This workshop encourages international cooperation in planetary probe missions, new technologies, and scientific discoveries,” said SJSU Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Periklis Papalopoulos. “In addition, students from around the world will present their work and interact with the leaders in their discipline areas.”

Highlights will include the presentation of the Al Seiff Memorial Award to James O. Arnold. Arnold and Seiff were contemporaries, building careers around President Kennedy’s push to put a man on the moon. Both men played key roles in determining the aerodynamics and aerothermodynamics of the Apollo re-entry vehicle and other NASA space exploration missions.

This year’s keynote speaker is David Korsmeyer, director of engineering at Ames, who will discuss the past, present and future of planetary research at Ames.

Giant planets, airless bodies

The workshop also will include tours and sessions on many topics, such as missions to the “giant planets” (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune); missions to Mars; and key enabling technologies and instrumentation for missions to “airless bodies” (asteroids, comets and moons).

In addition, Ames will feature an exhibit at The Tech Museum of Innovation, featuring artifacts and models of current and previous spacecraft missions. The showcase of memorabilia will be on display June 20 – July 31.

The public is invited to view a full-size mockup of the Galileo probe (which entered Jupiter’s atmosphere in 1995), test models from Ames’ Arc-Jet and Hypervelocity Free-Flight Facility and models of future satellites.

Mission to Mars

The Mars Science Laboratory Project Chief Engineer Robert Manning also will be present to discuss the successful landing of Curiosity Rover on Mars. Manning will speak at 5 p.m. June 18 at the Tech. His talk is entitled “The Challenges of Going to Mars: Mars Science Laboratory” and is open to the public.

Manning was responsible for ensuring that the design, the test program and the team would collaborate to result in a successful mission.

Sponsors include SJSU, NASA, the European Space Agency, the National Center for Advanced Small Spacecraft Technologies, the Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of Idaho, Analytical Graphics Inc., Earthrise Space Inc. and Science and Technology Corp.

 

Man’s Best Friend, Even in Prehistoric California?

Man’s Best Friend, Even in Prehistoric Times?

Man’s Best Friend, Even in Prehistoric California?

The Department of Anthropology’s Alan Leventhal is exploring “the interrelationship between the genus Canis and hunter-gatherers through a case study of prehistoric Native Americans in the San Francisco Bay-Sacramento Delta area.” (photo courtesy of Alan Leventhal)

The Department of Anthropology’s Alan Leventhal and colleagues delve into this question in an article recently published by the Journal of Archeological Science (Volume 40, Issue 4).

The piece “explores the interrelationship between the genus Canis and hunter-gatherers through a case study of prehistoric Native Americans in the San Francisco Bay-Sacramento Delta area. A distinctive aspect of the region’s prehistoric record is the interment of canids.”

“This is the first application of using ancient DNA in California in order to segregate out whether these large canids were domesticated dogs, coyotes or wolves,” Leventhal said.

Leventhal talked to SJSU Today about his work. The following was edited for length and clarity:

SJSU: What do you teach?

Leventhal: I teach ANTHRO 195/280, which is an advanced practicum archeology lab class analyzing and excavating sites in the Bay Area with the local Ohlone tribe.

SJSU: Can you tell us about your research with dogs of Central California?

Leventhal: It’s principally focused on the identification of canid burials that were found in Central California. Sometimes, when we do measurements on the animal remains, some of them are so large that they look like they fall into the wolf category. Our group applied the use of ancient DNA in order to test the validity of these animal burials, which then also helps in terms of the interpretation of the symbolic placement of the human burials in the human cemeteries.

SJSU: How many people were in your group?

Leventhal: There were seven coauthors, some out of UC Davis and some with the Far Western Anthropological Research Group.

SJSU: What was your role?

Leventhal: Back in the 1990s, we excavated a site from the Kaphan Umux (“Three Wolves”) tribe that had 102 human burials and animal burials, which we thought because of their size, were wolves. When the human remains were reburied the tribe decided not to rebury the wolves for future research. Years later, my colleagues at UC Davis, who had a hard time locating previously published canid burials going back to the 1940s, wanted to know if the wolves were still available and I said yes. My effort was to contribute particular bone samples from a 1960 SJSU excavation of a mortuary mound by Coyote Hills in the East Bay and contact the photographers of the animal burials themselves.

SJSU: What interests you most about your research?

Leventhal: My research is on several levels. One is connecting the descendents of the San Francisco Bay Ohlones to their 10,000-year-old history, then training them to do their own archeology and working collaboratively with our students and the tribe. Another level is my students, who are authoring and coauthoring archeological reports from various sites in the Bay Area and all the way to Santa Cruz. I enjoy laying out a database of understanding the history of human adaption and the evolution of complex Native American societies that lived here.

SJSU: What are you working on now?

Leventhal: We are now working on an exhibit up at Oakland Museum on one of the largest mortuary mounds in Emeryville and interpreting the placement of validity in these towns.