JS Students Raise Money for Charity

In April, students in the College of Applied Sciences and Arts Justice Studies Crisis Intervention/Mediation/Restorative Justice class presented a check for $112 to Janet Childs, the director of educational servcies for the Centre for Living with Dying. Childs, who is invovled with Bay Area Critical Incident Stress Management and a grief counseling and crisis program for youth called Healing Heart, served as a guest speaker in Virginia Montelongo’s course. SJSU students learned about what constitutes a crisis, who to engage in crisis worker scenarios and debriefing techniques. The students raised money through recyling bottles and cans as part of a “Give Back to Your Community” activity in their class.

NSF Awards SJSU $900K for New Computing Equipment

Sen Chiao

Sen Chiao

San Jose State University professors Sen Chiao, Ehsan Khatami, Kamran Turkoglu, Brooke Lustig and Aaron Romanowsky have received a $900,798 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Their project, “MRI: Acquisition of Hybrid CPU/GPU High Performance Computing and Storage for STEM Research and Education at San Jose State University,” will support the purchase of new equipment that will benefit students.

The funding will primarily be used to purchase a high-performance computing (HPC) system to provide faculty and students regular access to a modern, on-campus facility for computational science and engineering research.

“As a key hub for STEM fields in the San Francisco Bay Area, this facility will promote the progress of science and engineering, as well as offer a wide diversity of experiences for our students, through required laboratory courses and research opportunities,” said Chiao, the principal investigator on the grant.

The interdisciplinary project includes faculty and students from biological sciences, chemistry, computer science, aerospace engineering, computer engineering, meteorology and climate science, physics, astronomy, mathematics and statistics.

The new equipment will add to SJSU’s ability to train students in the fields of biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and information technology. Chiao estimated that more than 200 students a year would benefit from access to the HPC system in STEM-related courses or research.

Some of the projects that will be undertaken with the new computing system include: on-demand numerical weather prediction, assimilation, and analysis (Atmospheric Science); dynamical modeling of orbits and dark matter in gas-poor galaxies (Physics and Astronomy); computational modeling of Tat peptide mutants binding to BIV TAR RNA and protein-protein interfaces (Biochemistry); quantum mechanical properties of materials in the atomic scale (Physics and Astronomy); guidance and trajectory optimization strategies in presence of wind, and spacecraft and orbital trajectory optimization (Aerospace Engineering); genomic assessment of adaptation, and pharmacological and evolutionary perspective on bioactive compounds in marine invertebrates (Biological Science); high-resolution simulations of weather phenomena, dust transport, and climate on Mars (Planetary Science); and efficient algorithms for modeling large amount of data in high dimensions (Mathematics and Statistics)

Chiao is the director of the Center for Applied Atmospheric Research and Education (CAARE), funded with another NSF grant.

“This new facility will enable many further follow-up projects with CAARE, including cross-disciplinary collaborations as well as participation from the wider SJSU community,” he said.

CommUniverCity Honored by APA

Using a map of the neighborhood, profesor Rick Kos leads youth through an exercise that helps them identify neighborhood assets and constraints. Photo by Dayana Salazar

Using a map of the neighborhood Rick Kos, an SJSU lecturer and practione-in-residence, leads youth through an exercise that helps them identify neighborhood assets and constraints.
Photo by Dayana Salazar

The California chapter of the American Planning Association awarded San Jose State University’s CommUniverCity program an Academic Award of Excellence for the Greater Washington – Voices of the Community neighborhood planning project in July. The planning project was previously recognized with the American Planning Association’s California Northern Chapter Academic Award in June and will go on to compete on the national level.

The project was overseen by CommUniverCity with support from faculty members and instructors in the departments of Urban Planning, Anthropology and Spanish. Classes included H. Fernando Burga’s fall 2013 URBP 201, Richard M. Kos’ spring 2014 URBP 203, Chuck Darrah’s fall 2013 ANTH 149 and Damian Bacich, whose students provided the Spanish translation of the report from English.

SJSU affiliates worked closely with city officials, Santa Clara University’s Ignatian Center and neighborhood partners such as Mamas Unidas, Sacred Heart of Jesus Community Parish, Community United San Jose and Catholic Charities in reaching out to community members.

Through personal conversations with community members, the report found that residents had five priorities for their neighborhood:

Fostering healthy lifestyles

Improving walkability and pedestrian activity

Supporting information retail

Promoting affordable housing

Identifying the needs of middle school students

SJSU Salzburg Scholars Discuss Global Citizenship in Austria

Eve Allums, ’18 Political Science, took her first trip outside the United States this summer along with 16 other SJSU students who were selected as Salzburg Scholars this year. She and the other students attended the Global Citizenship Alliance Seminar in Salzburg, Austria, from June 9-16.

Allums said she first learned about the Salzburg Scholars program, in which SJSU students take a global citizenship course in the spring semester, attend a week-long summer seminar in Austria, and then work on a campus project the following year, when she was a freshman.

Her English 1A lecturer Jessy Goodman, ’14 MFA, incorporated global citizenship topics into her English 1A course. The lectures prompted Allums to switch her major to political science and to get involved with former Salzburg Scholars who created SJSU’s Cultural Showcase Event. Goodman herself was an SJSU Salzburg Scholar as a graduate student, and later served as a Fellow.

The SJSU Salzburg program was established in 2005 by Dr. William Reckmeyer, current program director, and Dr. Mark Novak, as a way to enhance the education of global citizens at SJSU. Since its inception, student scholars and faculty/staff fellows have participated as part of the Salzburg Global Seminar (now known as the Global Citizenship Alliance) each summer with a requirement to return to campus in the fall to work on a year-long project to promote global citizenship on campus.

Allums said the program cemented for her that she wants to pursue international law after she finishes her bachelor’s degree.

The program was honored as one of the “Top 10 Programs on Global Citizen Diplomacy,” in U.S. higher education in 2010 by the U.S. Center for Citizen Diplomacy, NAFSA, and the U.S. State Department.

During the week-long seminar in Salzburg, SJSU students met with students from other U.S. universities to learn about global citizenship through topics such as refugees, economics, and the Holocaust.

Aaron Friedman, ’17 Marketing, said the part of the program that really struck him was the visit to the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site and time with a speaker who survived the Holocaust.

“It shows how brutal history can be and how we need to keep talking about it so we don’t repeat it,” he said. “It was a very powerful example of how we really do need to remember history.”

During the week, the students divided into small groups to discuss some topics more in depth and made a presentation on the last day. Friedman’s group focused on ethnocentrism.

“It was interesting how we find ourselves classifying other people,” Friedman said. “There is ‘us’ and there is ‘them.’ Breaking away from these words helps us see the world from a more objective point of view.”

Allums’ group discussed refugees and came up with the concept of creating a support system called the “Beehive” where refugees would be able to connect with resources in their new homes for networking, job hunting and help with integrating into a new society.

“We want to make it a real thing,” Allums said, noting that a few of the students in her group were from SJSU and San Francisco State University. “We can start off small, but our ideas are to make it self-sustaining.”

The 2016-17 Salzburg Scholars also include:

Kristen Anderson, senior, College of Social Sciences

Celina Cesena, graduate student, Connie L. Lurie College of Education

Raissa Chiri-Zarzosa, senior, College of Social Sciences

Taylor Colunga, graduate student, Connie L. Lurie College of Education

Grecia Cuellar, junior, Lucas College and Graduate School of Business

Shriel Deogracias, junior, College of Social Sciences

Brandon Do, junior, College of Applied Sciences and Arts

Yen Huynh, freshman, College of Science

Jatinder Kaur, senior, Lucas College and Graduate School of Business

Sabrina Leung, junior, Lucas College and Graduate School of Business

Adriana Muratalla-Morales, junior, College of Humanities and the Arts

Nyantara Narasimhan, junior, College of Applied Sciences and Arts

Tony Nguyen, Lucas College and Graduate School of Business

Lisa Ruder, junior, College of Social Sciences

Matthew Vella, senior, College of Humanities and the Arts

SJSU Business Grad Supports Accessible Software at Google

Jyotsna Kaki, '06 Management Information Systems, works as an accessibility software testing engineer at Google.

Jyotsna Kaki, ’06 Management Information Systems, works as an accessibility software testing engineer at Google.

When Jyotsna Kaki, ’06 Management Information Systems (MIS), was a student at San Jose State in the Lucas College and Graduate School of Business, she offered to help a classmate in need when the other student fractured a wrist and was unable to take notes. At the time, Kaki discovered the Disability Resource Center (DRC), now known as the Accessible Education Center, where staff members provided her guidance on how to best support her peer.

More than a decade later, Kaki, who became blind while she was a student at SJSU, is still helping others as a software accessibility test engineer for Google. She oversees a central accessibility team of test engineers and trains other Google employees to conduct accessibility testing. Her story was recently featured on CNN Money, with a video and article.

Kaki became blind a semester after she discovered the DRC while helping her classmate. In fall 2004, she woke one morning with blurriness in her right eye. She had been diagnosed with a benign, slow-growing brain tumor as a child. The tumor had grown into the optic nerve and she underwent surgery to regain her sight. Instead, her optic nerve was damaged during the surgery and she was left with a permanent visual impairment.

“It was unexpected,” she said. “I don’t remember much from the month after I found out.”

But her mother tells her less than 10 minutes after discovering she was blind, Kaki called her brother to ask him to help her get back on campus. Within a month, she was back at San Jose State.

When she returned to campus, she felt isolated from her peers who did not interact with her as they had before she lost her vision. Her professors tried to be accommodating, but sometimes did not know how to help her. She turned to the DRC for support. They provided training on how to use screen reading technology, helped her get accessible textbooks and she learned Braille to get through the rest of her coursework.

“Everything pretty much started there (in the DRC),” Kaki said. “Most professors were helpful, but they didn’t have the necessary information.”

Kaki completed her degree two years after she lost her vision with a 3.8 GPA, higher than her GPA before her impairment. After graduation, her brother passed her resume to a friend who worked at Google without telling her. She thought a professor might have sent her resume in, but later discovered it was her brother. When she was invited in for an interview, she did not think she would get the job. They offered her a position and she has since taken on the role of leading a team of engineers. In the last decade, she said she has seen the focus on accessibility increase at Google and she is proud to be part of the efforts.

“It’s been really great because at the end of every day, I can go to sleep satisfied that what I am doing is going to help someone,” she said. “I have been lucky to help other people get assistance and help make products successful. It’s been a great experience and I’ve learned a lot.”