Rachael French and Miranda Worthen Receive Early Career Investigator Award

The San Jose State University Research Foundation has selected the recipients of the 2016 Early Career Investigator Award: Associate Professor Rachael French, from the Department of Biological Sciences, College of Science, and Assistant Professor Miranda Worthen, from the Department of Health Sciences and Recreation, College of Applied Sciences and Arts. The Early Career Investigator subcommittee, which includes Research Foundation board members and faculty, recommended their selection for this year’s honor.

French has received more than $1.2 million in external research funding, either as a principal investigator or co-principal investigator. Using the common fruit fly (Drosophila) as a research model, her lab seeks to identify the neurodevelopmental pathways that are altered by exposure to alcohol during development, and the genes underlying those pathways. Understanding these pathways may lead to future therapeutic measures to treat fetal alcohol syndrome. She mentors both undergraduate and graduate students in her lab. The students who have worked in her lab have achieved exceptional levels of success, winning awards for outstanding presentations and going on to promising academic careers of their own.

Worthen’s research examines the psychosocial experiences of vulnerable populations that have undergone high levels of trauma, with an emphasis on those who have participated in armed forces or have been impacted by exposure to war. Her publication track record is lengthy and impressive, with many of her articles published in high impact factor journals. She has been awarded external funding for her work with the Native American Health Center on suicide prevention, youth empowerment and tobacco use reduction among urban Native youth. She frequently presents at conferences throughout the United States and in Europe.

Save the Date

French and Worth will be honored at SJSU’s annual Celebration of Research, to be held on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017, from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Diaz Compean Student Union Ballroom.

The SJSU Research Foundation Early Career Investigator Awards recognizes tenure-track faculty who have excelled in areas of research, scholarship or creative activity as evidenced by their success in securing funds for research, publishing in peer-reviewed journals, and carrying out other important scholarly and creative activities at an early or beginning point in their careers at SJSU. Our two recipients are examples of individuals who have achieved this level of success.

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

September 2016 Newsletter: Development Efforts Support Student Success

Photo by David Schmitz Students in the Spartan Scholars Program gather with a peer mentor after class. The Koret Foundation gave $2 million to SJSU to support student success initiatives, including the Spartan Scholars Program.

Photo by David Schmitz
Students in the Spartan Scholars Program gather with a peer mentor after class. The Koret Foundation gave $2 million to SJSU to support student success initiatives, including the Spartan Scholars Program.

As Student Affairs and Academic Affairs staff and faculty launch initiatives to support student success, two recent gifts to the university are specifically earmarked to fund such efforts. University Advancement received a $15 million gift from Lupe Diaz Compean and a $2 million gift from the Koret Foundation last spring.

Compean’s gift will support student success initiatives and scholarships. The donation will also support the maintenance of SJSU’s newly renovated and expanded Student Union, and the many activities housed in this structure located in the heart of campus.

“San Jose State has been in conversation with the Compeans for the past two decades,” said Vice President for University Advancement Paul Lanning. “Throughout this time, Lupe Diaz Compean has been crystal clear that her motivation in making the gift was to benefit students, honor her family and her late husband by naming a facility, and demonstrating that by working hard and getting an education, anyone can achieve what she has in her lifetime.”

The new student union was dedicated in honor of her and her late husband on Sept. 1. The facility is now known as the Ramiro Compean and Lupe Diaz Compean Student Union.

In addition, SJSU received $2 million from the Koret Foundation as part of a multi-year $50 million initiative to support higher education at a dozen institutions in the Bay Area. SJSU’s funding will be used to create a new student information analytics system that will improve advising; support the Spartan Scholars Program, a newly launched summer bridge program that is aimed at increasing retention and graduation of underrepresented students; and provide scholarships for students with the most need.

“This is a significant start to our efforts to seek funding to support student success initiatives, and it will be complemented by what will ultimately be the $8 million Compean Endowment for Student Success Initiatives once that fund matures,” Lanning said.

The goals of the gifts are in line with SJSU’s Four Pillars of Student Success plan, which is focused on college readiness, advising, student engagement and clearing bottlenecks.

“The Koret Foundation is proud to fund this initiative that builds on and expands our longstanding commitment to these important Bay Area academic institutions,” said Michael Boskin, President of the Koret Foundation. “This program is designed to be a catalyst for new approaches to optimize student success, improve completion rates, and bolster career advancement opportunities, particularly among underserved populations.”

In support of the campus priority, Lanning created a new position in University Advancement to continue fundraising efforts around student success. Emily Lane, hired in August, is the new director of development for student success.

Share Thoughts on Mentor, First-Year Experience Programs

As SJSU’s Four Pillars of Student Success is rolled out this semester, students, faculty and staff have an opportunity to provide input on two key components of student engagement — faculty/staff mentor and first-year experience programs.

Project Succeed Discussion Sessions

RSVP at http://tinyurl.com/sjsu-discussion or to gale.holdren@sjsu.edu

Faculty/Staff Mentor Program

Planning and implementing the new faculty mentor program

Sept. 9, from 9 a.m. to noon in ENG 285

Coffee and lunch will be provided

First-Year Experience

Brainstorming session on FYE and its future at SJSU

Sept. 23, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., in ENG 285

Lunch will be provided

Through a U.S. Department of Education Title III Strengthening Institutions five-year grant, a group of faculty and staff members have been working to establish sustainable best practices for student success.

“We want to provide support to students in the first two years,” said Pat Backer, the director of the grant dubbed Project Succeed and a professor in the College of Engineering. “Many of our students are the first in their family to go to college and they are not from traditional college-going backgrounds. They need to learn how to navigate the college environment.”

In its first year, Backer and her collaborators selected five areas of focus that they believed could be sustainable once the grant period is completed. The areas include block scheduling, the mentor program, peer educators and mentors, first-year experiences, and student living learning communities in the residence halls.

The discussion on Sept. 9 will address how to expand on a pilot faculty/staff mentor program that started in spring 2015. Maria Alaniz, a professor in the College of Social Sciences and the coordinator of the mentor program, helped to implement an online portal that matches students and mentors. For more information on the pilot, visit https://mentorcommunitysjsu.xinspire.com/.

The discussion around first-year experience on Sept. 23 will aim to answer questions about what type of programs are sustainable at SJSU, what will fit in with SJSU’s culture and what students want. Models could include a general education course, an extended orientation model, or programming in the dorms.

Faculty Are Invited to Apply for University Grants Academy

Members of the University Grants Academy meet for a work session as a deadline approaches in their grant process. The inaugural academy provided support to two cohorts of faculty members.

Members of the University Grants Academy meet for a work session as a deadline approaches in their grant process. The inaugural academy provided support to two cohorts of faculty members.

Professors Amy D’Andrade and John Lee will again be leading the San Jose State University Grants Academy (UGA) program, with two informational sessions planned for September for tenured/tenure track faculty members who are interested in applying to participate this year.

Of the 2015-16 participants, 20 participants had completed a full proposal by the end of the program and as of the end of July, ten UGA participants had submitted proposals to the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and other private funders for a combined total of nearly $4 million. Others have upcoming submission deadlines for proposals.

“In addition to these concrete outcomes, each of the UGA participants learned how to access the campus units and partners who will support them through the process of grant writing and grant submission, and made connections with successful SJSU grant writers who served as mentors,” D’Andrade said.

Two Informational Sessions: Thursday, Sept. 8, from noon to 1 p.m. via WebEx (email amy.dandrade@sjsu.edu for an invitation) and Friday, Sept. 9, from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m., in IRC 210

Contact Info: Professor Amy D’Andrade, UGA Director, amy.dandrade@sjsu.edu

Website Link: http://www.sjsu.edu/research/funding/funding-opportunities/uga/

“Participants became more adept at all the major steps involved with writing an external grant proposal,” said D’Andrade, a social work professor and associate dean for research in the College of Applied Sciences and Arts. “After the UGA, participants reported feeling much more capable of locating a funder, drafting a budget and writing a strong proposal narrative for an external grant.”

The UGA launched in fall 2015 as an opportunity for faculty members to gain advice and insight on applying for external grants to support their research. Candidates who were selected had a viable project and were ready to apply for external funding. In addition to assigned time of 0.2, the program included informational sessions held in the fall, with representatives from the Office of Research, Research Foundation, University Advancement and the Center for Faculty Development. In addition, the 24 faculty participants received mentoring from SJSU faculty members who successfully received external grant funding, and received multiple reviews of their proposal drafts from UGA peers, campus experts, mentors and senior scholars from outside the university.

“The inaugural participants contributed several constructive ideas on how the program can be made even better,” said Lee, a professor of mechanical engineering in the Charles. W. Davidson College of Engineering. “They had suggestions on modifying the structure, sizing and sequencing of activities so that feedback could be used more interactively and constructively. I really look forward to benefitting from their suggestions in the next go-around.

First-year participant Child and Adolescent Development Associate Professor Nadia Sorkhabi, from the Connie L. Lurie College of Education, had a strong publication record and had largely been conducting research using intramural grants, which she believed provided her with an empirical basis to apply for external funding.

“By attending the talks and workshops, and consulting individually with Dr. Amy D’Andrade, Dr. Gilles Muller, Dr. Pamela Stacks and others, the most daunting aspects of grant writing – such as budget – were made manageable and even simple,” Sorkhabi said. “We also received invaluable emotional and motivational support, and encouragement, which I believe is among the most important impediments in undertaking grant writing.”

Professor Cay Horstmann, who teaches computer science in the College of Science, said he applied to participate in the UGA to get support in applying for external funding. While he has been at SJSU for many years during which he has been actively involved in publishing books and conducting research with graduate students, he had been unaware that the National Science Foundation (NSF) is now providing significant funding to universities whose primary mission is teaching

“I didn’t know that, and there is definitely money available for computer science education,” he said.

One of the key things Horstmann appreciated about the UGA was the opportunity to learn about other research interests on campus.

“It puts us together with other people – otherwise you are a lone player,” he said, noting that he met a colleague who is working with an NSF grant on math education and that they may be able to collaborate in the future.

D’Andrade said she appreciated the chance to get to know other faculty on campus, but also to see their work come together.

“In addition to having the opportunity to become acquainted with a great group of creative and determined faculty, it was wonderful to see all the proposals come together over the semester, piece by piece, and to see the list of all proposal titles at our final celebration,” D’Andrade said.

May 2016 Newsletter: Grant Fosters STEM Course Redesign

SJSU professors are redesigning lower division math and physics classes that are requirements for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) majors.

SJSU professors are redesigning lower division math and physics classes that are requirements for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) majors.

For the next four years, several faculty members in the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering and the College of Science will be working to transform gateway science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) courses with a $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education. San Jose State University is one of 18 colleges and universities in the nation to receive a 2015 First in the World grant.

SJSU faculty members will work with CSU Los Angeles and Cal Poly Pomona representatives on creating flipped classroom materials that will be piloted at all three campuses. At San Jose State, Provost Andy Feinstein and Associate Professor Laura Sullivan-Green, from civil and environmental engineering, are co-directors on the grant. The first courses that will be updated are Math 30 (calculus I) and Phys 50 (physics I). The classes are a requirement for many STEM majors and a prerequisite for upper division work. The SJSU team plans to implement the flipped classroom model in fall 2016. Flipped courses often include richer and more readily accessible online supplemental study materials; more elaborate and interactive homework and self-check instructional materials; and more engaging in-class teaching strategies.

“We all know that innovation can take many forms and as a key part of the Administration’s goal to promote college access and affordability, the First in the World program aims to support a wide range of innovation to improve student success,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, in a press release. “We are pleased to support these educational leaders who are driving exciting innovations to achieve those goals.”

As part of SJSU’s Four Pillars of Student Success, university leaders are focused on clearing course bottlenecks. Surveys of students revealed that a major challenge to success is course bottlenecks – impasses where they cannot enroll in a course they need to make progress toward their degrees, or when they cannot successfully complete a course and move forward. The university will offer up to 500 additional course sections in 2016-17 to clear bottlenecks. The CSU Chancellor’s Office Proven Course Redesign and Promising Practices grants along with the First in the World grant are targeted at improving successful completion of general education courses that are needed for students to move on to upper division work.

“We are hosting faculty and campus coordinators from our two partner campuses the first weekend in June to facilitate community-building and course material development,” said Sullivan-Green, noting that 30 faculty members and administrators are involved between the three campuses in the First in the World Grant.