SJSU Hosts Eighth Annual Biomedical Device Conference

On March 29, San Jose State University hosted the Eighth Annual Biomedical Device Conference, with SJSU students, faculty and staff engaging with representatives from leading biomedical device companies. The annual event is coordinated by the Biomedical Engineering Society student group and Dr. Guna Selvaduray.

SJSU’s Biomedical Engineering Program continues to grow, with more than 300 undergraduate and 100 graduate students enrolled this year. The degree program launched four years ago and received accreditation from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc. (ABET) in 2016.

The annual conference allows students, faculty and staff to engage with representatives from the more than 1,000 medical device firms in the Bay Area. The day’s activities included plenary sessions with industry leaders such as Evidation Health, Medstars and HealthTech Capital and Abott Vascular; a panel on “How to (Boot Strap) Fund your Medical Device Company” and morning and afternoon parallel sessions in which participants selected workshops of particular interest to them.

More than 50 students shared their research and design concepts that will enhance treatment for a wide range of medical conditions, from diabetes to heart disease to spinal injuries. Most of the students were from SJSU, but a few visiting scholars from San Francisco State, the University of California Riverside and the University of Cairo also shared their work.

Occupational Therapy Students Present at Annual Conference

San Jose State University’s Occupational Therapy department will be well represented at the American Occupational Therapy Association Annual Conference March 30 to April 2, in Philadelphia. Department Chair Wynn Schultz-Krohn shared that 40 students will be presenting research projects that they complete as part of collaborative work with faculty. The conference is designed for practicing occupational therapists with several years experience so it is an accomplishment for student presentations to be accepted. This year’s event celebrates 100 years of the profession.

Poster presentations will be given on topics ranging from the relationship between stress factors and occupational engagement among occupational therapy graduate students to the effects of swaddling during bottle feeding in infants born preterm to fostering imaginative play in homeless preschool children, among others. One group of students who worked with Schultz-Krohn were selected to be highlighted as early researchers and will give a podium presentation on the efficacy of the cognitive orientation to daily occupational performance (COOP) intervention for children with developmental coordination problems. The students in the group include Nancy Huang, Monique Afram, Cameren Muller, Ashley Sanches and Tiffany Tzuang.

More than 50 OT students also presented at the Occupational Therapy Association of California Annual Conference in Pasadena in fall 2016.

March 2017 Newsletter: SJSU’s ‘Ask Me’ Campaign Offers Support to Students

Photo: Christina Olivas 'Ask Me' Campaign volunteers answer questions from students during its inaugural year in 2012. The program was started as part of Vision 2017's Helping and Caring goal.

Photo: Christina Olivas
‘Ask Me’ Campaign volunteers answer questions from students during its inaugural year in 2012. The program was started as part of Vision 2017’s Helping and Caring goal.

By David Goll

San Jose State University, among the largest and most urban of California State University campuses, can be a daunting, confusing place when you’re a new student.

Making the transition to SJSU from high school, community college or after several years in the workplace a bit less stressful was the driving force behind SJSU’s Helping and Caring campaign, first launched in spring 2012 as part of the university’s Vision 2017 campus improvement program. One of its most visible manifestations over the past five years has been the “Ask Me” tables set up at four key locations around the 154-acre downtown San Jose campus for two weeks at the start of each new semester: Clark Hall, MLK Library, the Event Center and the corner of Ninth and San Fernando streets.

“The whole idea (behind Helping and Caring) was to have faculty, staff and fellow students go the extra mile to help students,” said Fernanda Perdomo-Arciniegas, who is currently the deputy diversity officer and previously served as the director of Campus and Community Relations in the Office of the Vice President of Student Affairs. “It means going out of your way to help them instead of suggesting they talk to someone else or go elsewhere to resolve their problem.”

“People who work at tables came from all over campus,” Perdomo-Arciniegas said, noting that the collaboration helped to foster better communication across campus. “Many probably would never have met one another otherwise.”

The “Ask Me” tables provide help answers students’ questions before they even set foot in a classroom. Staffed with two people from the faculty, staff or student body, the tables feature laptops, so information not stored in volunteers’ heads is quickly accessible. Students asked a variety of questions about directions, deadlines, campus clubs and services. Data collected over the years led to FAQ “cheat sheets” providing information on the most frequent inquiries.

“We even offered hot chocolate on cold days and nights,” Perdomo-Arciniegas said.

Incoming freshman and transfer students are not accepted during the spring semester, so only a small number of graduate and international students arrive at SJSU in January, according to Sonja Daniels, associate vice president for Campus Life in the Office of the Vice President. She said the “Ask Me” tables were missing from campus at the beginning of the spring semester, but will be back for the fall semester when classes begin Aug. 23.

“We decided to not have them for spring and focus on fall,” Daniels said, noting the much smaller influx of new students at the start of the spring semester.

At the start of the fall 2016 term, senior Public Relations major Karly Tokioka said she volunteered to work shifts at an “Ask Me” table inside a tent at the entrance to Clark Hall. She answered many questions but also handed out a myriad of resources — including flyers and information brochures — along with free post-it notes, car charger adapters and scheduling planners.

“It’s hard enough to be on a new campus and find your way around,” Tokioka said. “It can really be intimidating as a freshman or transfer student to ask other students for directions, so I think it’s a great way to offer students a way to ask questions without feeling intimidated.”

Senior Bette Cheng, a Psychology major and “Ask Me” volunteer, said the tables provide a valuable service to bewildered, stressed-out students. However, even more than directions or advice on how to add a class, Cheng said she noticed gadgets like pens and USB drives were big hits.

“During tabling, I would have the students ask me a question in order to receive a freebie,” she said. “I found it effective because with a simple question, it led to asking multiple questions.”

SJSU Students Illustrate Their Perceptions of ‘Fake News’ During Adobe Creative Jam

 

By Barry Zepel

San Jose State University students used their creative wits, quick thinking and ability to collaborate using Adobe Creative Cloud Applications when challenged to design graphics in a tournament sponsored by the university’s eCampus Department and Silicon Valley-based Adobe Systems, Inc. Students applied to participate and nine pairs were selected to compete.

It was all part of the Feb. 24 “Adobe Creative Jam,” where the competing teams had three hours to produce computer-generated graphics that represent — to their imaginations — the theme “Fake News.” They were only informed of the topic, a phrase coined following the 2016 presidential election, by the event host at the start of the evening competition held in the Student Union.

Following the contest, each team’s design was projected on a screen while the competitors explained what the “fake news” catchphrase, used regularly by President Donald Trump, meant to them. Listening was an audience of more than 100 fellow students and six design and creative professionals. The creative professionals judged the submissions while the audience members also had a chance to cast a vote for the “People’s Choice Award.”

The artwork produced by the team of Mariella Perez and Miles Vallejos, both senior graphic design majors, was judged best by both voting bodies. Their design depicted many current national issues, including “Immigration,” being swept under a rug portrayed by the American flag.

“It was a fun challenge,” according to Vallejos. “It definitely took me out of my comfort zone.”

Perez explained how they approached the Creative Jam challenge. “We devoted the first hour to ideation and the final two hours to execution,” she said.

While the general audience honored just one team, the panel of judges recognized an additional twosome. Earning that second place nod, for their entry “News is Defined by Truth,” was the team of Vasudha Varma, a graduate student working on her master’s degree in human factors, and Ashley Chung, a freshman majoring in animation. Varma and Chung became acquainted online and only met in person for the first time just before the Creative Jam began.

In addition to getting a trophy, each winning competitor received a year of creative cloud membership from Adobe that allows them to use the software package for free after they complete their studies. As current SJSU students, they already have complimentary access to Adobe products.

Additional students who attended, while not selected for the design competition, still benefitted from the event. They were able to have their personal design portfolios reviewed and evaluated by creative directors and design professionals from organizations such as Facebook, Yahoo and other Silicon Valley-based agencies and technology companies.

Jennifer Redd, director of SJSU’s eCampus, noted that the Creative Jam is an example of the university’s partnership with Adobe.

“Tonight’s event was an opportunity for our students to showcase their skills as it relates to the Adobe Creative Cloud,” Redd said. “We work closely with Adobe and offer their software applications for the benefit of our students, faculty and staff.”

The company also hosts an annual Adobe Day in which SJSU faculty and staff visit the downtown San Jose headquarters to learn more about new products or features of existing products that can be used to enhance teaching and learning.

Adobe, which sponsors similar events for other universities around the country, is able to promote its software products on campus to discover how the students use them.

“Our goal tonight was to show what is available to San Jose State students and faculty, in terms of our mobile applications and desktop applications, while extending that into other disciplines outside of just the creative ones,” said Liz Arias, Adobe’s customer success manager whose clients include SJSU and other CSU campuses.

The graphic designs of each of the teams that competed in the Creative Jam, can be viewed online via Adobe’s Behance Portfolio Review website.

SJSU Recognizes Faculty, Students at Celebration of Research

Early Career Investigator Award Winners Rachael French, left, and Miranda Worthen pose for a photograph at San Jose State University on Friday, Feb. 3, 2017. (Photo: James Tensuan, '15 Journalism)

Early Career Investigator Award Winners Rachael French, left, and Miranda Worthen pose for a photograph at San Jose State University on Friday, Feb. 3, 2017. (Photo: James Tensuan, ’15 Journalism)

BY DAVID GOLL

Recognizing its robust research, scholarship and creative activity, San Jose State celebrated the latest recipients of the Early Career Investigator Awards.

The work of Rachael French, an associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, and Miranda Worthen, an assistant professor in the Department of Health Sciences and Recreation, were featured at the annual Celebration of Research awards ceremony Feb. 16 at the Compean-Diaz Student Union Ballroom.

Opening the ceremony, President Mary Papazian offered praise for the award-winning professors, as well as the Student-Faculty Research Pairs program, as integral components in cementing San Jose State’s position “at the center of Silicon Valley.”

French has generated more than $1.2 million in external funding to support her work examining how development of the common fruit fly is affected by laying its eggs in the alcohol-rich environment of newly rotting fruit. Financial backing for her studies, which started during her post-doctoral days at UC-San Francisco, comes from the National Institutes for Health and the National Science Foundation. Her research is aided by three graduate students and six undergraduate SJSU students.

During a brief presentation at the event, she explained her research — which has revealed the development and long-term survival of the flies have been improved by providing them with a low-fat diet — bodes well for finding eventual treatments for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome among humans. There are similar traits between humans and fruit flies born in alcohol-rich environments. In both, growth can be stunted and death rates higher.

“We have been effective at reducing the incidence of (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome) by telling pregnant women they should not drink,” French said. “But 50 percent of pregnancies are not planned and 50 percent of women drink. We still have 10 to 11 percent of women who drink during pregnancy.”

Providing young flies a low-fat diet has a protective effect, she said, generating normal survival and development rates.

Worthen told the audience her research into public health and social justice issues — including examining the plight of people who have suffered trauma, such as victims of gender-based violence and military war veterans — has been influenced and informed by her own background as having overcome a rare genetic disorder at birth.

More recently, she has dealt with an unusual health condition her young daughter exhibited shortly after birth.

She acknowledged the presence of her mother, Kaethe Weingarten, a retired associate clinical professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School, at the ceremony. She said her mother sparked her interest in these issues during childhood. The mother-daughter team has co-authored academic papers.

“My mother always impressed on me your own personal experience can have an important impact on your research and the questions you ask,” Worthen said.

She said she regularly impresses on her students that important issues in their lives should have an impact on their research and academic careers.

In addition to the Early Career Investigator Award winners, many of this year’s 16 student/faculty research teams were in attendance to present informational posters about their own projects.

Some of those present included Briza Diaz and Citlali Hernandez — students of AJ Fass, an associate professor in the Department of Anthropology — who conducted research into the economic and social effects from the 2006 eruption of a volcano near the small village of Pusuca, Ecuador. Diaz said Fass asked the pair to translate Spanish-language transcripts of public meetings during a campaign to resettle about 200 individuals and families who lived in the devastated region.

Julia Regalado, a student, and her faculty partner, Susan L. Ross, an associate professor in the Health Science and Recreation department, shared their research findings.The pair studied the impact of seven types of stimulation — including music and forms of tactile therapy — on children in persistent/permanent vegetative states. Ross said several of the approaches yielded positive results in evoking responses from the children.