University Scholars Series: Jennifer Rycenga Speaks on Abolitionist Prudence Crandall

Photo: David Schmitz Professor Jennifer Rycenga

Photo: David Schmitz
Professor Jennifer Rycenga

Professor of Comparative Religious Studies Jennifer Rycenga has been immersed in writing a comprehensive cultural biography of white Abolitionist educator Prudence Crandall (1803-1890) who has interested Rycenga since first discovering the fellow educator in the late 1990s. She first learned of Crandall when she traveled to New England to visit the historic Crandall Academy, which now houses a museum. She soon recognized that the Academy’s founder had a rich story and decades later, Rycenga is ready to share her findings as part of the spring 2019 University Scholar Series on Feb. 20, at noon in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library, Room 225/229.

Rycenga, who teaches in the College of Humanities and the Arts Department of Humanities, has long had an interest in Abolitionist history, women’s religious history, feminist theories of music, and theoretical issues concerning philosophies of immanence and panentheism. Her latest work combines several of those interests.

During her University Scholars Series talk, she will share a story from Canterbury, Conn. circa 1830s, where women and men, Black and white, young and old, worked together to offer advanced formal education for Black women. Crandall became their teacher, and though the school was subjected to “constant racist vigilante and legal violence, the education and learning there were genuine,” Rycenga says.

Read a Q&A with Rycenga.

Upcoming University Scholar Series events

Tatiana Shubin, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, on “Moving in Circles: the Beauty and Joy of Mathematics for Everyone

March 27, noon to 1 p.m.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library Room 225/229

Ellen Middaugh, Department of Child and Adolescent Development, on “Coming of Age in the Era of Outrage: Digital Media and Youth Civic Development”

April 24, noon to 1 p.m.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library Room 225/229

Sandra Hirsh, School of Information, on “Blockchain: Transformative Applications for Libraries and Education”

May 8, noon to 1 p.m.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library Room 225/229

All events are free and open to the public. Lunch is provided.

Faculty Notes for January 2019: Publications, Quotes and more

African American Studies Chair Theodorea Regina Berry took part in a panel discussion on “Family Roots and Personal Identity” at the Los Altos History Museum in November. Her most recent book, States of Grace: Counterstories of a Black Woman in the Academy, was published by Peter Lang Publishing in 2018.

Emeritus Professor of Sociology Robert Gliner’s documentary on climate change, One Carbon Footprint at a Time, aired January 2 and January 3 on PBS station KQED. The documentary features students from SJSU’s Global Climate Change class, SJSU alumni and faculty, and students from two San Jose middle schools. interviewed College of Science Program Director Tonja Green about her role as an “influencer” in the biopharma industry and about the university’s Medical Product Development Management program. An SJSU alumna, Green was a research assistant at Stanford University School of Medicine before entering the field of biopharma. Prior to returning to her alma mater, she worked at Syntex, Abbott Diabetes Care, and Arete Therapeutics, among other companies. Read more at:

The Mercury News interviewed Department of Political Science Associate Professor Garrick Percival on several Bay Area cities’ shift to district elections and the “quiet revolution” underway to provide minorities a larger voice in local government. Read more at:

KTVU Fox News interviewed Management Professor and Lucas College of Business Interim Associate Dean Meg Virick about the gender pay gap in Santa Clara County. According to recent U.S. Census Bureau figures, women in Santa Clara County earn 62 cents for every dollar earned by a man, a decline of five cents since 2015. Read more at:

The Mercury News interviewed Department of Justice Studies Lecturer Greg Woods about the rise in violent crime in San Jose in 2018 and about whether increasing the number of police officers in the SJPD will effectively combat that trend. Read more at:

Assistant Professor Smallwood publishes findings in ‘Science’

Christopher Smallwood

Christopher Smallwood

San Jose State University Assistant Professor Christopher Smallwood’s latest research appears in Science on Dec. 14. A member of the College of Science Department of Physics and Astronomy, he worked with colleagues at the University of California, Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to study the electronic and magnetic properties of the cuprate high-temperature superconductor bismuth strontium calcium copper oxide (Bi2212) using the novel spectroscopic technique of spin- and angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy (SARPES). Their article is entitled “Revealing hidden spin-momentum locking in a high-temperature cuprate superconductor.”

SARPES is a spin-sensitive variation of the more commonly implemented technique of angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy (ARPES), which itself is an electron spectroscopy technique based on the photoelectric effect that makes it possible to observe the relationship between the energy and momentum of a material’s electrons [see panel (A) below]. As such, the technique enjoys the distinction of being among the most important modern experimental probes of material properties in existence, providing information on the role of a material as an electrical conductor or insulator, on the presence or absence of topological order, and (in this case) on the propensity of the material to exhibit superconductivity and magnetic order.

Their work is important as superconductivity is an exotic state of matter in which a material’s electrical resistivity drops perfectly to zero at low temperature. Due to the superior way in which electricity can flow in this state, materials exhibiting superconductivity have found their way into a number of applications including nuclear magnetic resonance (MRI) and the technology enabling high-energy particle accelerators. The phenomenon is also of great intrinsic scientific interest as the onset of superconductivity at anomalously high temperatures in copper-oxide-based and iron-based materials remains an unsolved question in condensed matter physics.

Experiments were performed by graduate students Kenneth Gotlieb and Chiu-Yun Lin under the leadership of Professor Alessandra Lanzara at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and UC Berkeley. With the spin resolution enabled by SARPES, the study reveals and characterizes magnetic properties of Bi2212 that have gone unnoticed in previous studies [see panel (B), where the blue shading indicates spin polarization; and panel (C) which depicts a theoretically proposed spin texture], and which run counter to some of the prevailing theoretical ideas about the material’s electrical properties. In particular, the findings pose new challenges for the Hubbard model and its variants where the spin-orbit interaction is mostly neglected, and they raise the intriguing question of how cuprate superconductivity emerges in the presence of a nontrivial spin texture, as superconductivity and magnetism are normally considered to be competing forms of long-range electronic order.

‘One Carbon Footprint At A Time’ Airs on KQED

San Jose State University Emeritus Professor Bob Gliner’s latest documentary will premiere on KQED on Jan. 2 at 11:30 p.m. and repeat on Jan. 3, at 5:30 a.m.

The former Sociology professor is a prolific filmmaker who has traveled the world to produced documentaries focused on social issues and social change. He combines his interest in education and climate change in his latest half-hour documentary, “One Carbon Footprint At a Time.” The film highlights how education can inspire everyday actions that play a critical and potentially transformative role in affecting climate change. The film explores a unique interdisciplinary Global Climate course at SJSU as well as classes at two San Jose area middle schools to see how the curriculum influences students to make changes in their daily lives.

The documentary features SJSU students, alumni and two faculty members, Eugene Cordero, from Meteorology and Climate Science, and Anne Marie Todd, from Communications Studies.

Gliner has received more than 16 awards for his films and was named as San Jose State’s 2002 President’s Scholar. For more information on Gliner’s latest documentary as well as other work, visit his website. For updates on the SJSU alumni featured in the film, visit the program’s website.

Moss Landing Professors Discuss ‘Tsunami Fish’ on CNN

San Jose State University’s Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (MLML) experts have a theory about how one fish swimming in the waters of the Monterey Bay ended up far from its natural habitat along the shores of Japan. A black-and-white striped fish known as the barred knifejaw, divers interviewed by CNN reporters described it as distinctive from the native fish in the cold and murky waters of the Bay.

Jonathan Geller, a professor and researcher based at SJSU’s MLML, told CNN on Dec. 13 that the fish likely landed in California as an after effect of the 2011 tsunami. Geller co-authored an article in Science that notes 289 living Japanese coastal species documented along the shores of Hawaii and North America following the tsunami in 2011.

“These currents circle around and around and then just depending on local conditions the water may move on shore,” Geller said. “This fish stands out because it looks quite alien in our water and it’s definitely a species we haven’t seen here before this event,” Geller told CNN, adding that many of the other species found looked like they belong.

Colleague and MLML researcher Rick Starr said the fish is unlikely to become invasive as fish from warmer areas can survive in cold water, but may not be able to reproduce.

“People have seen multiple fish, it’s not just one, but they’re all the same size indicating that they’re not offspring,” Starr said. “We’re not seeing multiple different size classes, so the best guess right now is that these fish are all older fish that haven’t reproduced.