New College, New Dean: Graduate Studies and Marc d’Alarcao

Photo: Brandon Chew Marc d'Alarcao, the former associate dean of research for the College of Science and professor of chemistry, has been appointed as the interim dean for the newly created College of Graduate Studies.

Photo: Brandon Chew
Marc d’Alarcao, the former associate dean of research for the College of Science and professor of chemistry, has been appointed as the interim dean for the newly created College of Graduate Studies.

As a professor of chemistry with 30 years of experience in higher education split between San José State University and Tufts University, Marc d’Alarcao said his favorite part of teaching is when he sees students begin to understand how new knowledge is created.

“Knowledge is always continuing to grow,” he said.

Now d’Alarcao will be essential in creating a new college at SJSU as the interim dean of the College of Graduate Studies, designed to support graduate students in a variety of ways, including in advancing their fields through their research, scholarship and creative activities.

“We have a very large graduate student population of about 8,000,” he said. “They deserve to have an advocate who is solely focused on their needs.”

Interim Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs announced the creation of a new College of Graduate Studies in fall 2018.

“The creation of a College of Graduate Studies has been front and center inAcademic Affairs for well over a year and a half,” Interim Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Joan Ficke wrote in a January announcement about d’Alarcao’s appointment. “It dovetails with increasing commitments to our faculty administering graduate programs, and to our substantial graduate students’ population. It also signifies our re-visioning what SJSU contributes to Silicon Valley and to the world beyond.”

At Tufts, d’Alarcao mentored graduate students, including both master’s and PhD candidates, and regularly involved students at all levels in his research. His work at both universities has focused on biological and medicinal chemistry including the design and synthesis of potential antitumor agents, and a study of insulin action by synthesis of molecules related to insulin signal transduction with potential utility as treatments for type II diabetes mellitus.

“The thing that attracted me to SJSU was the outstanding faculty and students,” he said.

He has been working to expand research, scholarship and creative activities since his arrival at SJSU–as a faculty member, as a member of the AcademicSenate, and most recently, as the associate dean of research for the College of Science.

“Marc is an excellent choice to lead the College of Graduate Studies,” said Michael Kaufman, dean of the College of Science. “He has deep knowledge of the university and great skill in leading transformation both within and beyond college boundaries. His thoughtful approaches to challenges and opportunities make him the ideal person to enhance and expand SJSU’s graduate educational endeavors.”

Aside from advocating for graduate students, d’Alarcao articulated a few other reasons the new college is essential to the university’s priorities. First, he said it will continue to enhance research, scholarship, and creative activity, especially engaging graduate students. Second, it will position SJSU to expand its doctoral offerings — the university currently offers a doctorate in education and a doctor of nursing practice. Lastly, it will serve as a platform to better highlight the extraordinary work of our talented graduate students, both for internal and external audiences.

“For graduate students, success often means excellence in research or creative activity,” he said, adding that many of SJSU’s graduate programs require the generation of new knowledge or other creative products as a central component of the students’ experience.

d’Alarcao received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Bridgewater State College, in Massachusetts, during which he worked as a research assistant in microbiology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester. He completed his PhD in organic chemistry at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, followed by postdoctoral studies at Harvard University under the mentorship of E. J. Corey, who would later become a Nobel laureate.

Research Foundation Offers Grant Guidance and More

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.

Rajnesh Prasad, executive director of the Research Foundation

Rajnesh Prasad, executive director of the Research Foundation

“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.”

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.

Selection for RSCA Assigned Time Cycle 2 Starts

As San José State University continues its commitment to expanding its research, scholarship and creative activities enterprise, eligible faculty are invited to apply for the next cycle of the Faculty Research, Scholarship and Creative Activities (RSCA) Assigned Time Program. Applications for the second cycle are due to respective dean’s offices in each college on March 28, 2019, and should include a cover sheet, curriculum vitae, scholarly agendas for the next five years and RSCA metric data.

The first cycle provided awards to 141 individuals, including 49 tenured faculty members and 92 probationary faculty members, who now have university support to balance their teaching and scholarly pursuits. As the university moves forward with phase-in, increasing numbers of faculty members will receive awards until all RSCA productive faculty are teaching not more than 18 weighted teaching units per year.

Each college has created field-appropriate metrics that are used to select participants in the program and to evaluate their progress on their RSCA agenda. Each award is for a period of five years, with a formal review after year three and RSCA metric data submitted annually.

The benefits of the RSCA Assigned Time program extend beyond faculty. The program expands opportunities for students to engage with dedicated mentors while developing critical thinking, communication and collaboration skills that are key for the workforce. In addition, the outcomes of RSCA at San José State have local and global impacts on innovation and entrepreneurship.

For more information, visit the Office of Research online or faculty can contact their dean’s office for more information.

Internationally-Known Writer Nayomi Munaweera Joins SJSU as Author-in-Residence

Nayomi Munaweera

Nayomi Munaweera

Acclaimed Bay Area novelist and nonfiction writer Nayomi Munaweera has been appointed as the 2019 Connie and Robert Lurie Distinguished Author-in-Residence at San Jose State University. Munaweera is the award-winning author of Island of A Thousand Mirrors and What Lies Between Us, and has been named one of Bustle Magazine’s “Twelve Women of Color Writers You Need to Know.” She is teaching the Graduate Fiction Workshop for spring 2019. Munaweera will present a public reading of her fiction followed by an onstage conversation with SJSU Professor of English Revathi Krishnaswamy on Feb. 28, at 7 p.m. in the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library, Room 225/229 as part of the Center for Literary Arts 2018-19 season.

Both of Munaweera’s novels have Sri Lanka as a backdrop, the place where she was born. Munaweera grew up in Nigeria before immigrating with her family at the age of 12 to Los Angeles. In Island of a Thousand Mirrors, a story that explores the Sri Lankan civil war, she had little first-hand experience of the conflict so “it took a lot of research to get the book right.”

Munaweera earned her bachelor’s in literature and a master’s in South Asian Literature from University of California, Riverside. She is an alumna of Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation’s (VONA) Voices of Our Ancestors Writing Workshop and the Squaw Valley Community of Writers. She teaches at Mills College and at the Ashland University low-residency MFA Program. She holds writing workshops in Sri Lanka through a program called Write to Reconcile in which she co-teaches with legendary Sri Lankan writer, Shyam Selvadurai. Their aim is to use creative writing as a tool of reconciliation and healing for both Tamil and Sinhala survivors of the civil war.

Her first novel was the Commonwealth Regional Prize Winner and her work has been shortlisted for the Northern California Book Award and the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature. She has presented her work around the world at literary festivals in Jaipur, Mumbai, Galle and the Bay Area.

The Lurie Distinguished Visiting Author-in-Residence in Creative Writing was established in 1999, offering students the opportunity to study with nationally and internationally known authors. The most recent authors have included award-winning travel writer and editor of National Geographic Traveler Don George and author of a New York Times Notable Book Vendela Vida. See the full list ofenglish ( Read more about Munaweera (