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.


Alexander Rudolph

Director, Cal-Bridge

Professor of Physics and Astronomy

Cal Poly Pomona

Email: alrudolph@cpp.edu

Cell Phone: 909-717-1851


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 (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.


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.

Early Career Investigator Awards

Early Career Investigator Awards

Camille Johnson from the College of Business and Juneseok Lee from the College of Engineering have received the SJSU Research Foundation Early Career Investigator Award for 2013.  Their selection is made at the recommendation of the Early Career Investigator Subcommittee of the Research Foundation Board of Directors.

“The SJSU Research Foundation Early Career Investigator Award recognizes tenure-track SJSU faculty who have excelled in areas of research, scholarship or creative activity as evidenced by their success in securing funds for their research, peer-reviewed publications and other scholarly and creative activities at an early or beginning point in their career at SJSU,” Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Ellen Junn said.

“Our two recipients are excellent examples of individuals who have achieved this level of success.”

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

Faculty Members Receive Early Career Investigator Awards

Camille Johnson

Camille Johnson, in her sixth year at SJSU, has demonstrated an outstanding record of research and scholarship in her field of social psychology. Since joining the Department of Organization and Management, Johnson successfully competed for a three-year National Science Foundation grant totaling $131,204 that has provided funding to furnish a behavioral research lab in the College of Business, furthering the research capabilities and infrastructure of SJSU’s Behavioral and Applied Research Group.  In addition, Johnson has established a strong basis for student mentoring with several of her students currently working as active researchers in industry and graduate school. Johnson has nine peer-reviewed publications, including two in top-tier journals as a first author. She has not only furthered her own research agenda, but has actively participated in the extension and support of the research culture at SJSU by serving as a mentor in the College of Applied Sciences and Arts Grants Academy, managing a research participant pool for all faculty, and organizing a series of research development workshops, all which serve to promote collegiality, research partnerships, and research productivity at SJSU.

Faculty Members Receive Early Career Investigator Awards

Juneseok Lee

Juneseok Lee, in his fifth year at SJSU, has been tremendously productive in his field of water resources engineering with major research focus on sustainability issues of water resources and infrastructure management.  Since joining the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, he has secured $385,399 to support his research.  His funding sources include the National Science Foundation, the California Water Service Company and Hewlett-Packard.  As an assistant professor, Lee has published seven journal articles including in The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management, The Journal of American Water Works Association, and The International Water Association: Water Supply, all highly respected journals in the area of water resources engineering.  In addition, Lee has made a total of 21 presentations at professional society meetings including the American Society of Civil Engineers conferences of which 10 were published in proceedings, and has delivered five invited talks to various professional research societies. Lee obtained his California Civil Engineering Professional Engineer License in 2011 and was selected as the 2011 ASCE Fellow for Excellence in Civil Engineering Education. Lee is a nationally and internationally recognized expert in his specialized area of sustainable water resources and infrastructure management.

Spartans Honored at CSU Student Research Competition

Spartans Honored at CSU Student Research Competition

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

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

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

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

Here’s more on SJSU’s winners.

Spartans Honored at CSU Student Research Competition

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

Brian Maurer 

Graduate student, Marine Science

Professor Nicholas Welschmeyer, faculty mentor

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

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

Spartans Honored at CSU Student Research Competition

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

Daniel Nguyen

Undergraduate, Chemistry

Assistant Professor Lionel Cheruzel, faculty mentor

Highly Efficient Light-Driven P450 Biocatalysts

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

Research Ship Returns from 17,000-Mile Journey

Vessel Completes 17,000-Mile Journey

Research Vessel Returns

A sign in Palmer Station, Antarctica, to which an arrow for Moss Landing was added by the Point Sur’s crew (Rebecca Shoop photo).

Cruise to support scientific operations near Palmer Station is a first for a National Science Foundation vessel of the R/V Point Sur’s “regional class” size.

Media Contact: Brynn Hooton-Kaufman, 831-771-4464MOSS LANDING, Calif. –

The Research Vessel Point Sur cruised into her home port of Moss Landing Harbor this Thur., May 2, returning from a research voyage to the Antarctic Peninsula.  The National Science Foundation vessel operated by Moss Landing Marine Laboratories has been gone more than five months, supporting research in the Southern and Pacific Oceans during a trip that was unprecedented by an NSF vessel of her size.

The 135-foot R/V Point Sur departed Moss Landing on Nov. 29 on a trip that took her more than 17,000 miles, and is one that is more commonly made by vessels that are 200 or 300 feet in length.  The Point Sur, as she is affectionately known by the MLML community, was chosen by NSF for the mission for her cost-effective, flexible size and her prior achievements working in the Aleutian Island Chain and Bering Sea in Alaska.

Ice Sheets

The Point Sur began her voyage with a month-long transit to Punta Arenas, Chile where final preparations were made, and geologists from the University of South Carolina boarded as the first science party of the trip.  The geologists made use of the Point Sur’s voyage to collect data to help determine if ice sheets deposited large quantities of sediment around Antarctica during the Cretaceous Period.  Principal Investigator David Barbeau chronicled the team’s progress from afar in Brooklyn on his blog, Antarctic Ice Dodgers 2013.  Breathtaking photographs on the blog depict the team venturing to sites to identify rocks and collect samples, and journal-like posts document the Point Sur crew’s valiant efforts to support the team and keep scientists safe.   On Jan. 18, Barbeau posted pictures of the Point Sur’s crew towing small icebergs away from his team’s pickup location on an island, writing, “…the (Antarctic Ice) Dodgers are indeed amongst fine people.”

The Point Sur arrived at Palmer Station on Anvers Island, Antarctica on Jan. 26, nearly 18 months after planning for the journey began.  At Palmer Station the science party from University of South Carolina disembarked, and the Point Sur was joined by members of the Palmer Antarctica Long Term Ecological Research Project (LTER), whose work has been conducted for more than 20 years.  The Point Sur transported the LTER scientists to the western side of Anvers Island to survey penguin colonies, reaching an area that had not been surveyed by land since the mid 1980s.

Tagging Whales

The Point Sur continued juggling science parties throughout her time in Antarctica, supporting a whale research group from Duke University who were able to tag so many whales that they ran out of tagging supplies.  Also before leaving Palmer Station, the vessel was able to host a scientific diving operation from the University of Alabama, studying a kelp-like brown seaweed called Ascoseira.  In his blog post titled “Long Stemmed Seaweeds, Magnificent Cliffs, with Memories of Old Heroes,” scientist Chuck Amsler writes of reaching his research site at Lemaire, “possibly the most beautiful spot on the entire Antarctic Peninsula if not the continent as a whole,” not reachable by Zodiacs launched from Palmer Station, and therefore only made possible on this trip by transport by the Point Sur.

In early March the Point Sur departed Palmer Station, beginning the two-month return trip home.  Again she was bestowed with safe travel across the Drake’s Passage, one of the most dangerous waterways of the oceans.   She has continued supporting science parties up the coast of the Americas, providing to all researchers resounding successes, and to some their most successful research cruises to date.   “We are proud of the excellent support of science provided by the Point Sur,” said Moss Landing Marine Laboratories interim Director Jim Harvey.  “It takes an incredible amount of planning, teamwork, and expertise to accomplish this extraordinary voyage.  We look forward to her arrival on Thursday.”

Moss Landing Marine Laboratories is the graduate program in marine science for California State Universities East Bay, Fresno, Monterey Bay, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Jose and Stanislaus. Learn more about MLML. View the Point Sur blog.

Showcasing Science Talent

Over 150 students working in the labs of 40 faculty members displayed 64 posters and one truck at the Ninth Annual College of Science Research Day held May 3 at Duncan Hall. Students and faculty were on hand to discuss their work with visitors including alumni and industry representatives. Most of the students were undergraduates majoring in biology, chemistry, computer science, geology, mathematics, meteorology and climate sciences and physics and astronomy. Associate Professor Craig Clements and his students also demonstrated their new mobile atmospheric profiling system, a truck pulling a compact trailer loaded with the latest tech tools including lidar and sodar, which use light and sound waves to track winds generated by wildfires.

Assistant Professor Receives Guggenheim

Assistant Professor Receives Guggenheim

Assistant Professor Receives Guggenheim

Assistant Professor Danielle Harris

Assistant Professor of Justice Studies Danielle Harris has received a $36,000 research grant from The Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation for a project exploring desistance from sexual offending (meaning no longer committing sexual offenses) in a sample of 100 men released from custody through a Massachusetts program from 1974 through 1991.

“Professor Harris’ work … is a powerful example of the important research being conducted in the justice studies department at SJSU; research that not only moves forward theory and practice, but that also has real relevance to marginalized communities and that helps in our collective efforts to achieve social justice through scholarship,” according to the CASA Blog.

In addition to her research, Harris is actively involved in the SJSU Record Clearance Project. Her research interests include many aspects of sexual offending: specialization and versatility; the criminal career paradigm; desistance; female sexual offending; and related public policy. She is the director of research for the Art of Yoga Project, a nonprofit organization that provides a yoga and creative arts curriculum to girls in custody. Learn more from the CASA Blog.

Middle School Students Become Scientists-for-a-Day

Middle Schoolers as Scientists-for-a-Day

By Brynn Hooton-Kaufman, MLML Development Associate

Middle School Students Become Scientists-for-a-Day

MLML Associate Professor Ivano Aiello leads a discussion on seafloor mud with Pacific Grove Middle School students (MLML photo).

Moss Landing Marine Labs’ Research Vessel Point Sur is currently returning from the waters of Antarctica, where it supported research funded by the National Science Foundation Office of Polar Programs. But before it left for the pole, students from Pacific Grove Middle School spent a day onboard the R/V Point Sur investigating local geology.

The trip was initiated by MLML Associate Professor Ivano Aiello, who wanted to bring K-12 students into the world of marine science.

Aiello recently served as the sedimentologist for a Bering Sea expedition aboard the JOIDES Resolution, a research vessel equipped to drill sediment cores from the ocean floor.

Part of the Integrated Ocean Discovery Program, the expedition’s purpose was to study the history of the oceans through sediments.

“The program has all the components – exploration, discovery, hand‐on applications of mathematical and physical science – to be an inspiration for youth, K‐12 students and their teachers,” said Aiello.

MLML’s Teacher Enhancement Program was instrumental in helping Aiello make this a reality. Program Director Dr. Simona Bartl matched Dr. Aiello’s proposed activities to middle school earth science standards, and offered the activity to past participants of TEP. Pacific Grove Middle School Teacher Kelly Terry’s class was selected.

“Having local higher education institutions willing to share their expertise and resources is huge,” she said. “We live in such a unique and special place…and learning more about what makes our area unique is one of the important things that I have brought away from my experience with TEP.”

Read more on the MLML blog.

Chemistry Professor Leads Students In Lanthanide Research

Professor Leads Students In Research Linked to MRIs

Chemistry Professor Leads Students In Lanthanide Research

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mentoring students

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

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

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

Studying Wildfires, Saving Lives

SJSU’s resident wildfire weather expert hit the road recently, driving all the way to Texas to learn more about the super dynamic atmospheric conditions inside and around blazes so we can better predict wildfire behavior, saving lives and property. Craig Clements, an associate professor with the Department of Meteorology and Climate Science, and his graduate students tested their mobile atmospheric profiling system, a truck pulling a compact trailer loaded with the latest tech tools including lidar and sodar, which use light and sound waves to track winds. Clements’ and his team led a group of over 50 scientists in an experiment called FireFlux II, which included airborne imagery from a helicopter that flew over the 150-acre controlled burn ignited by the Texas A&M Forest Service. Clements’ groundbreaking research is funded in part by a $900,000 grant from The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program, the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious award in support of junior faculty members nationwide. In 2011, Professor Clements received the SJSU Research Foundation‘s Early Career Investigator Award, which recognizes tenure-track faculty members who excel in research, scholarship and creative activity, and have secured funds for research early in their careers. View a related television news report.

Point Sur Reaches Antarctica

Point Sur Reaches Antarctica

Point Sur Reaches Antarctica

A team of scientists disembark from Moss Landing’s research vessel with the goal of “scouring islands for sedimentary rock looking for evidence that there may have been glaciers in the earth’s past when the planet was much warmer than it is today,” writes chef/steward/photographer Tara Pastuszek.

When scientists needed a lift to the South Pole, they called Moss Landing Marine Laboratories. So began a truly epic, 8,000-mile journey for the research vessel Point Sur and crew, full of spectacular sunsets, wildlife sightings and, just a few days ago, landfall at their ice encrusted destination, Palmer Station. Researchers on board include a team led by University of South Carolina PhD candidate Ben Oliver, whose blog offers many amazing photos. “Our current science party has been busy at work scouring islands for sedimentary rock looking for evidence that there may have been glaciers in the earth’s past when the planet was much warmer than it is today,” writes Point Sur crew member Tara Pastuszek on the Point Sur blog, which offers equally impressive imagery. “One of the objectives of this study is to gain insight into how glaciers will be impacted by modern climate change.” In this and many other ways, Point Sur and MLML support marine science research with worldwide impacts. MLML is a consortium of California State University campuses administered by San Jose State and the SJSU Research Foundation.