Blog Content

Cyber Safety

August 20th, 2014 by Ron Rogers

Cyber Safety: Exploring the Human Element in Online Security

College of Social Sciences Newsletter, Spring 2014

Photo: Drs. David Schuster and Jeremiah Still

Drs. David Schuster and Jeremiah Still


David Schuster and Jeremiah Still, assistant professors in the Psychology Department of the College of Social Sciences, are using their expertise in human factors—the study of how our capabilities (and limitations) affect our ability to interact with technology—to find new ways of addressing the problem.The data loss and resulting avalanche of bad publicity were a stark reminder that no one—not even one of the nation’s largest department store chains—can count on fool-proof computer security. Everyone, from major corporations to the National Security Agency, is vulnerable.

They are part of a “cluster hire” of new faculty in library and information science, computer engineering, computer science and management information systems who have been brought aboard to create a cyber security research group at San José State University.

“It’s inherently an interdisciplinary problem,” Schuster says. “It’s going to require new solutions that we don’t just have in one of our fields.”

The pair brings to the project extensive experience in product design, human-computer interaction and robotics, as well as the determination to find fresh solutions to old problems. It’s a tall order, Still acknowledges. “The Internet is out of control,” he says. “We’ve never really been in control of it. If we think we’re in control, it’s an illusion.”

Schuster, a Green Bay, Wisc., native who studied psychology as an undergraduate at the University of Tampa, received his Ph.D. in human factors studies last summer from the University of Central Florida.

His graduate research was part of an ambitious U.S. Army project to build robots capable of assisting soldiers in tactical situations. “What the Army wants is to move from a paradigm of robots being driven around to a mode of interaction where a soldier will give a robot a high-level task, like, ‘Monitor this floor of the building,’” Schuster says.

At the moment, that goal is more akin to a pipe dream, he acknowledges. His own focus was on situation awareness in the humans-robot interaction —providing a soldier with goal-relevant knowledge to perform a particular task. That entailed asking information might be most relevant to a soldier at any particular point.

“It sounds intuitive,” Schuster says. “It sounds like we need to increase people’s understanding of what they need to know.” What isn’t particularly clear is how to measure or ensure that, he says.

Since arriving at San José State, Schuster has gotten up to speed on cyber security. The Target data debacle “underscores the fact that cyber security is far from a solved problem and really needs to be worked on,” he says. “It really shows the complexity of it as a problem.”

The heart of that complexity lies in the fact that information “is flowing in all different directions at one time,” he says. “You have to look at interactions between individuals and technology systems, and also interactions among individuals.”

Jeremiah Still has also been on a steep learning curve around cyber security since joining the faculty. One thing he’s learned is that computer users should create their strongest password for their email account, because if your email is attacked, hackers can reset the passwords to all of your other online accounts. “Passwords just aren’t working,” he says.

Still, who grew up in a small town on southern Missouri’s Ozark plateau, has been exploring the human-computer interface since he was a teenager, when his parents bought an HP desktop. By the time he was in high school, he was charging $150 an hour to help local businesses setup and maintain networks.

“Somebody would call me up and I knew how to fix the problem,” Still said. “I liked learning it, but once I figure it all out, it was boring.”

He earned a B.S. in psychology from Missouri Southern State University and moved on to Iowa State University for his Ph.D. in Human-Computer Interaction. Then, Still started a new human factors program at Missouri Western State University, where he designed the curriculum and taught all the classes.

Several factors contributed to Still’s decision to relocate to San José. “I had the opportunity to have collaborators,” he said. “I wanted to be somewhere where I was more immersed in technology. This is one of the hotbeds.”

Human factors research can be applied to virtually every form of technology, Still says. “I find stuff in the cognitive science literature that’s been around for 20 or 30 years,” he says. “How do we apply that to the design context?” For example, research that predicts where people’s eyes will land first when they visit a web page could be of great benefit in pricing online advertising.

Still, whose wife Mary is an SJSU lecturer in cognitive psychology and a collaborator in the cyber security effort, has been working with his students to create more intuitive Cyber Security interfaces. “We’re taking this basic technology that’s been around for a few years and understanding what the human needs are,” Still says.

Still and Schuster meanwhile are working with an industry partner to study how people approach computer security ratings. The question, Schuster says, is “How people make use of ratings related to security when they’re provided by other humans, or by some kind of automated method.”

That entails, among other things, an assessment of the accuracy of crowd-sourced ratings, he said. “Fundamentally, people and computers are good at different things,” Schuster says.

“People have different strengths than computers do. One of the strengths of people is that they are resilient, in the sense that they can deal with unique situations—things that are off the map, the unknown unknowns.”

New Assistant Professor Position

July 2nd, 2014 by Ron Rogers

Subject to Budgetary Approval
Department of Psychology
Biological Psychologist/Neuroscientist/Behavioral Medicine 

Job Opening ID (JOID): 22940 

Rank: Assistant Professor (tenure track)


  • A Ph.D. in Psychology or related field from an accredited university by August 2015.
  • Awareness of and sensitivity to the educational goals of a multicultural population as might have been gained in cross-cultural study, training, teaching, and other comparable experience are required.
  • Commitment to and demonstrated potential for teaching excellence.
  • Commitment to involve and mentor students in systematic investigation and research.
  • Demonstrated potential in research through peer-reviewed publications and presentations
  • A human research program requiring minimal research space or one that is supported through established partnerships with external research facilities.
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills and an ability to work in a collegial atmosphere of shared governance.



San Jose State University is a teaching institution that values mentored research. Teaching responsibilities for this position include undergraduate and graduate courses in biological psychology, neuroscience, psychopharmacology, writing, research methods, and introductory psychology as needed by the department. The successful applicant should be prepared to take an active role in the Department’s Masters of Arts in Research and Experimental Psychology program as an advisor serving on thesis committees. The candidate will participate in service through membership on department, college, and university committees, and through academic advising of students. The candidate must maintain a productive research program, which may consist of collaborative research across the University or with external medical or research facilities. The successful candidate must be prepared to address the needs of a student population of great diversity – in age, cultural background, ethnicity, primary language and academic preparation – through course materials, teaching strategies, and advisement.


Salary Range: Commensurate with qualifications and experience.

Starting Date: August 18, 2015 

Eligibility: Employment is contingent upon proof of eligibility to work in the United States.

Application Procedures: 

For full consideration send a letter of application, curriculum vitae, statement of teaching interests/philosophy and research plans, available evidence of teaching effectiveness or evaluations, and at least three signed, original letters of reference with contact information by Friday, October 10, 2014 to*:

Dr. Ron Rogers
Department of Psychology
San José State University
One Washington Square
San Jose, CA 95192-0120

*Please included the Job Opening ID (JOID) on all correspondence

About the Department: 

The Department of Psychology at San José State serves over 1200 majors with a dedicated full- and part-time faculty from all areas of psychology. The Department maintains a variety of facilities and support staff to enhance instruction and human research.

San José State University is California’s oldest institution of public higher learning. The campus is located on the southern end of San Francisco Bay in downtown San José (Pop. 1,000,000), hub of the world-famous Silicon Valley high-technology research and development center. Many of California’s most popular national, recreational, and cultural attractions are conveniently close. A member of the 23-campus CSU system, San José State University enrolls approximately 30,000 students, a significant percentage of whom are members of minority groups. The University is committed to increasing the diversity of its faculty so our disciplines, students and the community can benefit from multiple ethnic and gender perspectives.

San José State University is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer. We consider qualified applicants for employment without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, age, gender, gender identity/expression, sexual orientation, genetic information, medical condition, marital status, veteran status, or disability. This policy applies to all San José State University students, faculty, and staff as well as University programs and activities. Reasonable accommodations are made for applicants with disabilities who self-disclose. Note that all San José State University employees are considered mandated reporters under the California Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act and are required to comply with the requirements set forth in CSU Executive Order 1083 as a condition of employment. 
The latest San José State University Safety 101 Uniform Campus Crime and Security Report is available. You may request a copy of San José State University’s annual safety report by contacting the University Police Department at (408) 924-2222 or by visiting the University Police Department website at ( 

NASA Needs You!

May 29th, 2014 by Ron Rogers


Participants Needed

  for  NASA Research Study

 Researchers in the Human Performance Research Laboratory at NASA Ames Research Center (Moffett Field, California) are investigating how visual noise conditions impact binocular perception during visual detection and discrimination of varying contrast stimuli using a head-worn display device.

Sessions will run 9am-noon and 1pm-4pm daily.  Participants will be paid $40.50 for their time.

Participant Requirements:

  • Normal vision or corrected-to-normal vision with contact lenses (the head-worn device used cannot accommodate glasses.)
  • Participants must be ages 18-50
  • U.S. citizen/green card

How to sign up:

To schedule your participation, or ask questions about the study, please contact Kari Jordan at 650-604-5118 or at

Veterans Embracing Transition

May 23rd, 2014 by Ron Rogers
By Lauren Rohde, Community Relations, Lockheed Martin
Excerpt from the Lockheed Martin newletter

The end of the school year, the beginning of pool season and Mother’s Day. The month of May has a lot of connotations. It is also Military Appreciation month, which should be of special interest for Lockheed Martin employees since we all know, “We Never Forget Who We’re Working For.” But do we remember that solider once he or she returns home? What do we do to support our veteran population and help them successfully transition back into civilian life? These and similar topics were discussed in a Psychology 190 class at San Jose State University (SJSU) as part of their Veterans Embracing Transition (VET) Connect program supported by Lockheed Martin.

Representatives from Lockheed Martin were invited to attend the capstone class where students did

Image: Group photograph of award winners

Five of the seven veteran peer leaders proudly display their Lockheed Martin scholarships. The G.I. bill does not cover summer or winter breaks from school if students are not enrolled in class, so these scholarships help bridge the gap in financial aid.

research projects on post-traumatic stress disorder, veterans’ transitions and other issues surrounding military life. Part of the event was a recognition ceremony for their seven veteran peer leaders who helped the students learn about these issues. The peer leaders received Lockheed   Martin-sponsored scholarships to help cover costs over summer break while they are not enrolled in school.

“I’m grateful Lockheed Martin is recognizing what we’re doing here,” said Frank Martinez (pictured second from left), a veteran peer leader, Iraq veteran and member of the California Army National Guard. “I have an internship, but I’m not working. I can’t thank Lockheed Martin and their employees enough for their generosity.” During the capstone presentation, Frank shared a poignant video that he made while deployed to Iraq to show his family what it was like to be there.

Carli White, a 26-year-old SJSU student graduating next week with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, read a free verse poem she wrote. The poem is a reflection of her thoughts after spending a semester in a class on veterans’ issues and learning about the struggles that veterans face when they leave the service.

Mark Pinto (pictured middle), a peer leader and Gulf War Marine Corps veteran who is about to graduate with a master’s degree in photography, is a two-time recipient of the Lockheed Martin scholarship. “Going to school is hard, and I don’t know a vet who’s gone to school without financial struggles,” said Mark. “The relief [from these scholarships] really helps us move forward. You’re reaching out to all the vets, and it lets us know there are organizations out there that care.”

“Be informed on issues that affect vets,” said John Paul Arde (pictured second from right), an eight-year Marine Corps veteran and peer leader. “If you know vets, ask them how they’re doing and show them you care. Relate to them. Don’t quit on someone if they are having problems. I wouldn’t have anyone left if they all quit.”

The messages shared at the capstone event aligned with the core idea to raise awareness and help veterans in the ways they need support. In addition to teaming with local universities to aid veterans transitioning from the military to academics, Lockheed Martin is a strong supporter of military and veteran hiring programs and multiple nonprofits that provide a variety of services for veterans to help address their different needs.


Webcast: Psychology Convocation

May 20th, 2014 by Ron Rogers

24th Annual Psychology Convocation Ceremony
May 22, 2014 at 4:00p.m.

In recognition of the many family and friends who are unable to join you on this special occasion, the Department of Psychology is happy to announce that our convocation ceremony will be webcasted live starting at 4:00 pm (PST) on May 22, 2014.  Your loved ones can watch the event here or they can visit our Ustream channel for additional features.

Congratulations to all our graduates!!









Attention graduating seniors!

April 2nd, 2014 by Ron Rogers

Last Job & Internship Fair of the semester…


60 employers are registered in the Spring ’14 Business, Government & Nonprofit Job & Internship Fair. Over 10% of the employers attending have internship opportunities available. In addition, the largest majors employers are seeking to recruit from this event are:

  • Liberal Arts – 68%–College of Social Science and Humanities &Arts
  • CASA – 70%
  • Business – 65%

What do you need to attend?

Summer 2014 Course Offerings

March 24th, 2014 by Ron Rogers

Summer Session provides current San Jose State University students and the public an opportunity to take classes for college credit during one of three convenient time frames.  Whether you wish to get ahead in your studies, make up for courses missed, or explore new areas of study, Summer Session can help. Credit goes toward your degree. Courses and credit are also available to community college and other non-SJSU students as well.

How to Register:

Web Registration for matriculated students begins Monday, April 7 and closes Friday, May 23.   SJSU Student Registration:

  1. Verify that you have your UserID and password.
  2. Review the courses available and select your courses
  3. Go to to login and register, Choose “Summer Session One” for all of your classes. See Tutorial (PDF)

Registration for Open University or Non-matriculated students, who do not have official admission to San José State University, begins Monday, April 21 and closes Friday, May 23.

Summer Psychology/Statistics Courses:

Sub Cat # Sec. Class # Days Start End Date Date end Room Instructor
PSYC 1 01 30019 ONLINE 6/2/14 8/8/14  Online Snycerski
PSYC 1 02 30020 MW 9:00:00 12:45:00 6/2/14 7/3/14 CL205 Karlsson
PSYC 30 01 30021 MW 9:00:00 10:55:00 6/2/14 8/8/14 CL318 Trafalis
PSYC  100W 01 30034 MW 13:00:00 14:55:00 6/2/14 8/8/14 CL310 Huntsman
PSYC 102 01 30022 TR 9:00:00 12:45:00 6/2/14 7/3/14 CL205 Jones-Hagata
PSYC 110 01 30023 TR 9:00:00 12:45:00 6/2/14 7/3/14 CL316 Arias
PSYC 117 01 30024 MW 9:00:00 12:45:00 6/2/14 7/3/14 CL240 Oliveira
PSYC 120 10 30025 TR 9:00:00 10:55:00 6/2/14 8/8/14 CL318 Van Selst
PSYC 120 11 30026 TR 11:00:00 12:15:00 6/2/14 8/8/14 DMH339 Van Selst
PSYC 135 01 30027 MW 11:00:00 12:55:00 6/2/14 8/8/14 CL310 Huntsman
PSYC 142 01 30028 TR 13:00:00 16:45:00 7/7/14 8/8/14 CL316 Berg
PSYC 154 01 30029 TR 9:00:00 12:45:00 6/2/14 7/3/14 HGH223 Asuncion
PSYC 160 01 30031 MW 9:00:00 13:45:00 6/2/14 7/3/14 CCB102 Del Chiaro
PSYC 190 01 30033 MW 15:00:00 18:45:00 6/2/14 7/3/14 CL316 Fanos
STAT 95 01 30036 TR 13:00:00 16:45:00 6/2/14 7/3/14 CL316 Schuster
STAT 95 02 30038 ONLINE 6/2/14 8/8/14  Online Laraway
STAT 115 01 30039 MW 11:00:00 14:45:00 6/2/14 7/3/14 CL318 Hosoda


SPARC 2014 – Call for Submissions

February 20th, 2014 by Ron Rogers

Gain professional experience in a cooperative environment!

Since 1957, the Spartan Psychological Association Research Conference (SPARC) has been providing students of psychology the opportunity to present their original research in a conference setting.  Undergraduate and graduate students interested in presenting their psychological research at SPARC should submit an abstract for consideration by March 21, 2014.

Please join us this year – as presenter or attendee – for another outstanding program comprised of oral presentations, a poster session, and a keynote address from a distinguished scholar in psychology.

Submission Information:

Deadline: Friday, March 21, 2014
Submission Process:  Online Form

Keynote Speaker:

Dr. James McGaugh
Professor, University of California, Irvine
SJSU Psychology Alumnus
Web site

Event Information:

May 8, 2014
San Jose State University
Student Union Ballroom
Web site


Student-athletes work on sport transition study

February 18th, 2014 by Ron Rogers

Image:  Football game

by Spartan Daily, Feb 16, 2014

A group of San Jose State University athletes are  working on a study that focuses on the transition from high school to college football and the stresses that come with being a student athlete.

The study was launched in Fall 2012 with the help of Joanna Fanos, a psychology professor.

The program was created by Vince Buhagiar, a senior psychology major, graduate David Fales and David Catalano, a sophomore business management major.

Buhagiar, Fales and Catalano all played for the Spartan football team.

“The main basis of it is to help incoming freshmen with the transition between high school and college,” Buhagiar said. “We believe that is a struggle for anyone, but especially for athletes, because on top of the school and the social and the being away from home they have to juggle another part of their life which is athletics.”

Fanos said the study was influenced by a study at the University of North Texas titled “Helping Freshman Student Athletes Adjust to College Life Using Psychoeducational Groups,” written by Henry L. Harris, Michael K. Altekruse and Dennis W. Engels.

The UNT study split students into groups from basketball, cross-country, football, golf, swimming and diving, tennis, volleyball and track and field.

Groups discussed issues having to do with student athletics and the results showed that the sessions helped students adjust to the college environment, according to the study. 

The SJSU transition study focuses on male football players, Fanos said.

The transition group meets once a week, breaks into different groups and discusses different issues. In the Fall there will be a questionnaire given out which will assess the group members’ progress, she said.

“We hope that this season will be much more organized,” Buhagiar said.

Buhagiar said it took two years for the group to create a good framework for the study.

“It would be awesome if we could publish our study,”  Buhagiar said. “And other teams — whether it’s the coach and academic personnel from other colleges — reads it and decides that it’s a good idea and they initiate a similar project.”

The study focuses on adjusting to being away from home, not being the hero of the football team as high school students often are, dating, homesickness and other issues, Fanos said.

“These football players spend a tremendous amount of time training,” Fanos said.

She said student athletes often have to squeeze coursework in between sports training, classes, traveling for games and their social lives.

Many students have time to do their homework over the weekend, but the football players are doing it on the bus, Fanos said.

“These folks are great,” Fanos said. “I’m just very impressed with them.” 

New football players often red shirt, or sit on the bench during their first season, Fanos said.

She and Buhagiar both said red shirting causes athletes to feel left out, which can add to the stress of the high school to college transition.

“They feel like pieces of meat,” Fanos said. 

Twins Rebecca and Breanna Garcia, both junior psychology majors, are on the cross country and track teams and are helping with the study.

Breanna and Rebecca said they started working on the study this semester.

“I think it was really clear to us being division one athletes that a support group is vital to that transition,” Breanna said.

The group has started a literature review this semester, and will start collecting data from the football team in the 2014 football season, she said.

“You really have to stand back and realize that it’s not going to fall apart if you don’t meet a certain goal,” Rebecca said. “That you’re not going to crumple.”

The study is in the early stages of progress, Fanos said.

“I’m out there working with these guys every day and I’ve learned stuff about them that would make me gain a lot of respect,”  Buhagiar said. “Things that you wouldn’t talk about every day and it’s just surprising that they’re able to live with that and hold everything together so well.”