Two faculty members recognized for Early Career acheivements

The SJSU Research Foundation will honor the 2015 Early Career Investigator award recipients at SJSU’s Celebration of Research. This year’s event will be Feb. 10, 2016, from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Student Union Ballroom.

Virginia San Fratello

Virginia San Fratello

Aaron Romanowsky

Aaron Romanowsky

Research Foundation Executive Director Sandeep Muju announced the 2015 Early Career Investigator awardees in August. This year’s recipients include Assistant Professor Aaron Romanowsky, from the College of Science’s physics and astronomy department, and Assistant Professor Virginia San Fratello, from the College of Humanities and the Arts design department.

The SJSU Research Foundation Early Investigator Award recognizes tenure-track faculty who have excelled in the 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 early in their careers at SJSU.

Romanowsky has been especially productive in his field of astrophysics with an emphasis on dark matter and galaxy formation. In less than three years at San Jose State, he has produced 47 refereed publications in journals such as the “The Astrophysical Journal,” including an article co-authored with then students that was published this summer on a “hypercompact cluster.” He recently received $40,718 from the National Science Foundation to continue his research.

San Fratello has a history of successfully securing funding from a variety of sources. Her research and scholarship in the field of design is focused on materials and fabrication processes, including 3-D printing. She recently received a $90,000 grant from the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

Each year, one faculty member is selected from the College of Science or the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering, and one faculty member is selected from the other colleges. The awardees received a cash reward of $1,000 and will be recognized at the SJSU Celebration of Research in February.

SJSU receives First in the World grant

A student works in a chemical engineering lab at SJSU. Photo by Bob Bains.

A student works in a chemical engineering lab at SJSU.
Photo by Bob Bains.

San Jose State University is one of 17 colleges and universities in the nation to receive a First in the World grant from the United States Department of Education.

The $3 million grant will support the university-wide priority of improving student success. The grant proposal focused on strengthening foundational science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) classes to improve retention and graduation rates with an emphasis on high-impact practices such as training faculty on active learning and flipped classrooms.

SJSU’s grant application was selected from more than 300 submissions nationwide for a share of the $60 million.

“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.”

The grant will be administered through the SJSU Research Foundation with Provost Andy Feinstein serving as the principal investigator working collaboratively with faculty in STEM disciplines.

The competition this year solicited applications in focus areas that included improving teaching and learning, improving student support services, developing and using new assessments of learning and improving success in developmental education. The 17 recipients are from 14 states, including CSU Los Angeles.

Grants: Green Ninja Project receives $1.1 million from NSF

A grant will fund the Green Ninja Film Academy.

A grant will fund the Green Ninja Film Academy.

An interdisciplinary research team from San Jose State has been awarded $1.1 million from the National Science Foundation to design and implement the “Green Ninja Film Academy (GENIE),” an intervention that leverages well-established research on motivation to encourage student interest and engagement in the STEM-related field of climate change.

The project is aimed at scientifically-underserved middle school students who will be guided through a structured storytelling and filmmaking experience that builds competencies in science, engineering design, media technology and communications. During the three-year project, 60 teachers and at least 2,000 students will directly participate in the GENIE project, with additional participation from parents, friends, and teachers who attend the Green Ninja Film Festival. GENIE is also designed around helping teachers prepare to implement the Common Core and Next Generation Science standards using climate change as a context.

The project builds on the established Green Ninja Project, an SJSU initiative that develops media to inspire student interest in science and the environment. The principal investigators of the NSF grant are SJSU professors Eugene Cordero (Meteorology and Climate Science), David Chai (Animation/Illustration), Ellen Metzger (Geology and Science Ed), Grinell Smith (Elementary Education) and Elizabeth Walsh (Meteorology and Climate Science and Science Education).  More information about the project can be found at

Grants: College of Ed professors receive $2.5 million for research

Faculty member in San Jose State’s Connie L. Lurie College of Education’s Department of Communicative Disorders and Sciences have received two grants this fall.

From left, Asociate Profess Wendy Quach, Professor June McCullough, Assistant Professor Pei-Tzu Tsai and Professor Emeritus Gloria Weddington received U.S. Department of Education grants.

From left, Associate Professor Wendy Quach, Professor June McCullough, Assistant Professor Pei-Tzu Tsai and Professor Emeritus Gloria Weddington received U.S. Department of Education grants.

The first award, from the Office of Special Education at the United States Department of Education, will provide $1.25 million over five years for Project Tapestry, a program designed to alleviate severe shortages in culturally-competent speech-language pathologists in California schools. The project will be directed by Associate Professor Wendy Quach, with Assistant Professor Pei-Tzu Tsai serving as project coordinator. The grant supports a collaborative effort among San Jose State University faculty, community experts, and school professionals throughout Silicon Valley. Project Tapestry will support 30 graduate student scholars enrolled in the SJSU speech-language pathology master’s degree program who will participate in culturally-responsive assessment and intervention for children with communication disabilities.

The second award, also for $1.25 million over five years from the Office of Special Education at the United States Department of Education, is entitled Project EPICS. This grant will support a partnership between San Jose State University and the University of Guam to provide much needed graduate training in speech-language pathology to serve the residents of the Pacific Islands. Project EPICS will be co-directed by Associate Professor Wendy Quach and Professor June McCullough, with Professor Emeritus Gloria Weddington serving as the project coordinator.