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.

Research Foundation Fuels Faculty and Student Discoveries

Whether one is a seasoned researcher or someone just launching a scholarly agenda, San José State University’s Research Foundation has long offered administrative support to faculty members and students as they pursue intellectual exploration.

“The Research Foundation is the bridge between us researchers and our sponsors,” said David Schuster, an associate professor of psychology, who has a grant through the National Science Foundation. “With my current work, I sleep well knowing that I can turn to the foundation to help me navigate new situations that come up in my funded research, especially ones they may have seen many times already.”

He added that early in his career, he appreciated resources to help with grant proposals.

“At times, the hardest part is keeping up to date with the current regulations and grant formatting requirements, and the foundation has a lot of expertise in this area,” he said. “Last, but not least, my post-award manager, Luann Chu, helps me to manage my research budget.”

Rajnesh Prasad, executive director of the Research Foundation

Rajnesh Prasad, executive director of the Research Foundation

SJSU’s Research Foundation is one of the oldest nonprofit corporations associated with the California State University system, founded in 1932 and known initially as the San José State College Corporation.

“As the campus organization that supports the SJSU research community, we continue to be inspired by the talent and passion evidenced by faculty, staff, and student endeavors,” said Rajnesh Prasad, executive director of the foundation and senior director of Sponsored Programs.

Key services include:

  • Actively seeking out funding opportunities for faculty research.
  • Partnering with investigators in all aspects of proposal development and submission.
  • Supporting investigators with the management of the administrative and financial details of their projects after they have been awarded a grant.

Like Schuster, Meteorology and Climate Science Professor Eugene Cordero is working on a project funded by the National Science Foundation and works closely with a Research Foundation analyst to manage his grant, noting that he “can’t imagine this grant going so well without post-award manager Diem Trang Vo — she’s amazing.”

“The Research Foundation plays a key role in helping support my scholarly research,” he said. “And because Meteorology and Climate Science is one of the most research-active departments on campus, I also appreciate the advice and support that the Research Foundation provides to me and my department colleagues. We all realize it’s really a team effort to bring cutting-edge research to our university and students.”

Laurie Drabble, a professor in the School of Social Work, connected with the Research Foundation early on in her career at SJSU through workshops and training sessions. More recently she receives support as a principal investigator on two grants, one with the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities and one with the National Institute on Drug Abuse (both in collaboration with the Public Health Institute).

“One of the things I’ve found most useful is getting assistance with budget spreadsheets early on,” she said, of the pre-award phase. “It allows me to work out the grant concept in parallel with mapping out the budget and aligning resources.”

In some cases, Research Foundation services enable faculty to move the products of their work from the laboratory, classroom, and field into local, national, and international businesses and communities. This often results in initiatives that create strategically productive partnerships with Silicon Valley and its culture of creativity, diversity, and technology.

By the numbers for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2018:

  • #2 out of 23 CSU campuses in terms of extramurally funded sponsored grants and contracts (San Diego State is first)
  • $1.1 million in indirect revenue and strategic investment into the campus community
  • 290 proposals valued at more than $94 million submitted
  • 244 awards valued at more than $54 million received
  • 300 grants and contracts under management annually
  • 433 students employed as research project employees or Central Office Staff
  • 176 faculty members engaged in sponsored grants or research projects managed by the Research Foundation

The Research Foundation will be hosting the Annual SJSU Celebration of Research on April 23, from 3 to 6 p.m., in the Diaz Compean Student Union Ballroom. Faculty and student researchers will be honored at the event and the 2019 Research Foundation Annual Report will be released there. For more information on services, resources, and to view previous annual reports, visit the Research Foundation website.

Kevin Jordan and colleagues in flight simulator

SJSU Receives $73.3 Million Award to Participate in NASA Research

Kevin Jordan and colleagues in flight simulator

Kevin Jordan (front) with Tom Prevot (back left) and Vern Battiste (SJSU Research Foundation photo).

Cooperative Agreement Seeks to Enhance Safety and Efficiency of Air and Space Travel

Contact: Pat Lopes Harris, SJSU Media Relations, 408-656-6999

SAN JOSE, Calif., — The NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, Calif., has selected San Jose State University Research Foundation for a five-year, $73.3 million cooperative agreement to participate in the development of systems for improving the safety and efficiency of air and space travel. NASA scientists, along with SJSU faculty members and graduate students, will collaborate on this effort, funded by the largest federal award in SJSU history. The principal investigator will be Professor of Psychology and of Human Factors and Ergonomics, Kevin Jordan.

“San Jose State University is both proud and grateful to be selected to partner in Human System Integration Research at NASA Ames,” Jordan said.  “We are proud of the many accomplishments during our 26-year collaboration.  We are grateful for the opportunity to build on that collaboration to meet the design challenges of initiatives such as the Next Generation Air Transportation System and the Space Launch System. We are well positioned to face those challenges and we are committed to partnering with Human Systems Integration researchers in advancing NASA missions.”

This cooperative agreement will build upon Jordan’s 26-year association working with NASA to conduct research focusing on human factors in aeronautics and space exploration. A human factor is a physical or cognitive property that is specific to humans and influences functioning of technological systems.  Human Systems Integration Research studies how relationships between humans and machines can be optimized.

Under this cooperative agreement, San Jose State students and employees will work side-by-side with NASA scientists on a range of projects.  Examples include the Next Generation Air Transportation System, which seeks to modernize the nation’s air traffic system by increasing the capacity and safety of U.S. airspace and the Space Launch System, an advanced heavy-lift launch vehicle designed to take a crew vehicle, as well as important cargo, equipment and science experiments to Earth’s orbit and beyond.

The proposed projects will investigate the integration of unique human capabilities with future flight-deck (cockpit), air-traffic control, and mission planning and scheduling technologies. An important aspect of this award is that it will further SJSU and NASA’s efforts to provide graduate students with academic and professional training.

Dr. Kevin Jordan

In the past year, Jordan has overseen three cooperative agreements with NASA representing more than $10 million in funding and employing 75 researchers, including graduate students working toward degrees in psychology and human factors in ergonomics. Jordan has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in visual perception at San Jose State since 1984. During his career, Jordan has authored proposals resulting in over $125 million in funding to support collaborative research in aerospace human systems integration.

The San Jose State University Research Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation established to enable and promote externally-funded programs that further SJSU’s comprehensive educational mission, impact, and public benefit. Each year hundreds of local, state, and federal agencies, businesses, and other organizations partner with the research foundation to engage SJSU faculty and other university specialists to perform basic and applied research, public service and community projects, consulting, and other specialized educational activities impacting the region, the nation and the world.

San Jose State — Silicon Valley’s largest institution of higher learning with 28,000 students and 3,190 employees — is part of the California State University system. SJSU’s 154-acre downtown campus anchors the nation’s 10th largest city.

SJSU in the News: $2 Million Federal Grant to Sharpen Student Writing

SJSU gets federal grant to improve writing

Originally published by the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal Oct. 17, 2011.

by David Goll, Reporter

A $2 million grant has been awarded by the U.S. Department of Education to the San Jose State University Research Foundation to improve the writing skills of students.

The grant was awarded to the university because it is designated as serving Asian American, Native American and Pacific Islander students, but the programs it funds will be open to students of all backgrounds.

The grant will be used for several different programs. The first will be a one-credit writing workshop open to 50 remedial English students that could begin in the spring. Similar programs will be offered through the College of Social Sciences and College of Applied Sciences during the fall 2012 semester. Also funded by the grant will be writing workshops for faculty members led by Linda Mitchell, professor of English, and efforts by Kathleen Roe, professor of health science, in improving writing assignments in lower-division General Education courses.

“This grant is a tremendous ‘win-win’ for both SJSU students and faculty,” Maureen Scharberg, SJSU associate vice president for student academic success, said in a statement. “It will allow us to improve our students’ writing skills as well as provide additional writing workshops and writing support services.”

The move to improve students’ writing skills is expected to boost retention and graduation rates.

One year ago, university officials said a study showed nearly half of all freshman at San Jose State were not proficient in English. About 70 percent of black students, 60 percent of Hispanic students, 50 percent of Asian-American students and 30 percent of white students in the class of 2014 needed to take remedial English courses. It has been shown that students who need to take remedial English can take up to two years longer to earn a degree.

This fall, San Jose State has an enrollment of 28,000 students.

David Goll covers commercial real estate, retail, economic development and transportation at the Business Journal. His phone number is 408.299.1853.

Physics Professor Garcia works with animation students.

Physics Professor Helps Animators Create “Believable Yet Wacky Worlds of Their Own”

Physics Professor Garcia works with animation students.

Physics Professor Garcia works with animation students. Click on the image to view the video.

How do they make it look so real? When it comes to ensuring creatures like Toothless in “How to Train Your Dragon” are true to life, animators turn to experts, including SJSU physics Professor Alejandro Garcia. The National Science Foundation’s “Science Nation” online magazine recently created a fantastic video covering Garcia’s work with professional animators at DreamWorks and aspiring animators at SJSU. A course the professor developed with support from the NSF is invaluable for students. “I learned about the physics of jumps,”  Carlos Nunez said. “I learned about light and how light is affected by the world around us and how sound is affected.” View the video.

Dr. Ivano Aiello leads a class through Pinnacles National Monument.

Ivano Aiello, Marjorie Freedman Receive SJSU Research Foundation’s 2011 Early Career Investigator Awards

Dr. Ivano Aiello leads a class through Pinnacles National Monument.

Dr. Ivano Aiello leads a class through Pinnacles National Monument, where they learn how plate tectonics has moved well above sea level what was once under the ocean.

By Gerry Selter, Provost, and Jerri Carmo, Deputy COO, SJSU Research Foundation

We are pleased to announce that Dr. Ivano Aiello from the College of Science, and Dr. Marjorie Freedman from the College of Applied Sciences and Arts have both been chosen to receive the San José State University Research Foundation Early Career Investigator Award for 2011.  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. Our two recipients are excellent examples of individuals who have achieved this level of success.

Dr. Ivano Aiello is in his 5th year at SJSU’s Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (MLML), and has been tremendously productive in his field of geological oceanography.  Since joining the SJSU faculty, he has successfully competed for multiple grant awards totaling $750,000.  In addition to an impressive record of grantsmanship, Dr. Aiello has transformed and energized the Geological Oceanography program at MLML, attracting new and talented students and engaging other faculty in multidisciplinary studies.  He has developed several new courses from Paleoceanography to Field Mapping using computer controlled Lidar technology, and has been key to helping develop grants for the acquisition of equipment that will support the research needs of many at MLML.  Dr. Aiello regularly receives the highest rankings from students in his courses with his engaging and energetic style of teaching.  His capabilities have been recognized by program managers at Ocean Leadership who awarded him special funding to deliver talks about the US Deep Sea Drilling Program at universities across the country, thus becoming the program’s national spokesman.  He is an internationally recognized expert in geological oceanography, in the sub-discipline of paleoceanography and the deep biosphere.  This last year, Dr. Aiello assumed a leadership role on the US/International Deep Sea Drilling Program’s cruise to the Bering Sea, where the first and deepest cores of this area were recovered.  These cores will be used to reconstruct the history of productivity, past climate and the connectivity of the Pacific and Atlantic through the Arctic Ocean over time. In addition to all of this, Dr. Aiello conducts informal classes in Italian language and cuisine, which are attended by staff and students alike.  Dr. Aiello’s achievements are truly exceptional for a faculty member in his 5th year at SJSU.

Dr. Marjorie Freedman joined the Department of Nutrition, Food Science & Packaging six years ago, where her research has focused on examining the environmental correlates of food choices, obesity, nutrition labeling, portion sizes, community nutrition, and nutrition education.  Dr. Freedman’s dedicated scholarship has resulted in $225,000 in external grants, which helped create and expand the “Healthy San Jose State” initiative, including the Spartan Smart Cart.  Dr. Freedman regularly engages her students and those from other departments (including Business, Environmental Studies, and Art) in her research, and since coming to SJSU she has authored seventeen publications in peer-reviewed journals, and regularly presents papers and posters at national conferences. Dr. Freedman works actively in the public policy arena; she successfully advocated along with former councilmember Ken Yeager to effect 100% healthy vending machine policies in the City of San Jose libraries and 50 percent healthy vending policies in the City of San Jose.  She has also testified in favor of the ordinance banning on toys with unhealthy meals in Santa Clara County.  With obesity being the most significant public health issue of our time. Dr. Freedman’s research provides critical data to inform public policy development at the local and national level.  Dr. Freedman’s work significantly contributes to the research effort, impact and reputation of SJSU.

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 will go to a faculty member in the Colleges of Science and Engineering and another will be 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.

Please join us in congratulating the extraordinary achievements of Dr. Ivano Aiello and Dr. Marjorie Freedman, two outstanding members of the San José State University faculty.