October 2018 Newsletter: Student Researchers Look at Sport and Social Change

Students Aurelyn Ancheta, Joanna Peet and Anthony Abuyen will present their analysis of content on ESPN and ESPNW at a Student Research Fair October 15. Photo: Melissa Anderson

Students Aurelyn Ancheta, Joanna Peet and Anthony Abuyen will present their analysis of content on ESPN and ESPNW at a Student Research Fair October 15. Photo: Melissa Anderson

As San Jose State University’s Institute for the Study of Sport, Society and Social Change prepares to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Spartans Tommie Smith and John Carlos taking a stand for human rights at the 1968 Olympics, a new crop of students will be sharing their own research and ideas around how sports and athletes can change the world. The inaugural Institute for the Study of Sports, Society and Social Change Student Research Fair will feature the research and scholarly work of more than 50 students from several departments across campus, according to Interim Director of the Institute and Professor of Sport Sociology and Sport Psychology Ted Butryn.

The Student Research Fair will be Oct. 15, from 9 a.m. to noon, in the Diaz Compean Student Union Ballroom. It will kick off with a keynote address by Marques Dexter, a third-year PhD student from the University of Georgia. Dexter is studying sports management and policy with a research focused on the racial, athletic and academic identities of African-American male athletes.

“There are three central pillars for the Institute—research, programming and education,” Butryn said. “This ties into all three. Monday morning on the 15th (of October) will be the kick off of an incredible week of events.”

The students involved in the research fair fall into three categories: some will be presenting proposals for future research studies, others will be presenting posters related to the subject of this year’s Campus Reading Program book The John Carlos Story, and several teams of students have completed research and analyzed data.

Many of the student research teams worked on their projects over the summer, not for course credit, but for the experience of participating in important scholarly work. Aurelyn Ancheta, Joanna Peet and Anthony Abuyen, all kinesiology undergraduates who plan to graduate in 2019, were encouraged by Professor Bethany Shifflett to work on a research project. They all were enrolled in Shifflett’s Measurement and Evaluation course, where they formed a study group.

“I thought, ‘Yes, it’s finally my first chance to do research,’” said Ancheta, who also shared that the experience has opened her to the possibility of pursuing a career in research.

The students set about analyzing the content on ESPN and ESPNW, a spin-off site that targets female readers, to see how much coverage each provided of female athletes. They will represent their findings from analyzing the content on both sites for three weeks over the summer at the Student Research Fair.

Abuyen found working as part of a team to be the most rewarding part of the experience.

“We all have school, work and exams, but if I wasn’t there I felt like I was letting them down,” he said.

Ancheta estimated the team spent well over 160 hours setting up their hypothesis, creating a method for collecting data, reviewing articles and analyzing their findings.

“I learned hard work and dedication is important to answer the questions that we need to answer,” said Peet, who wants to become an adaptive physical education teacher after she graduates. “Even with more awareness of female sports since Title IX started, women athletes are still underrepresented. In Sports Illustrated only two percent of the coverage consists of women. We are fighting for more female representation.”

Butryn said his department has taken the first step toward creating a new interdisciplinary minor in sports and social change that will broaden the opportunity for undergraduate students to engage in research in the coming years. The proposed minor is being reviewed at the College of Health and Human Sciences Curriculum Committee. After any revisions, if it the minor is approved at the college level, it will go to the University level for review.

“We look forward to making any necessary modifications so that, if all goes well, a year from now the research fair is one of the central experiences of all students in the minor,” Butryn said.

For a full list of events and activities, including tickets to the Oct. 17 Words to Action: Landmarks and Legacy of Athlete Activism Town Hall, visit the Institute website.

SJSU Students Build Hyperloop Prototype

Academic leaders and industry partners talk with members of SJSU's Spartan Hyperloop team at the Innovation Design Collaborative at San Jose State on Friday, June, 8, 2018. (James Tensuan/San Jose State University)

Academic leaders and industry partners talk with members of SJSU’s Spartan Hyperloop team at the Innovation Design Collaborative at San Jose State on Friday, June, 8, 2018. (James Tensuan/San Jose State University)

By David Goll

Visionaries view a futuristic tube containing capsules, or “pods,” speeding passengers more than 700 miles per hour between the Bay Area and Los Angeles in about a half hour as one way to help ease the Golden State’s congested roadways.

And engineers of the future studying today at San Jose State University want to play a big part in moving what is called “hyperloop” technology from design and testing phases into reality. They are looking for solutions for one of the world’s busiest travel corridors in the nation’s most-populous state, boasting the world’s fifth-largest economy.

“In general, there has been a lack of innovation in the transportation sector,” said Ali-Imran Tayeb, who earned bachelor’s degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Physics in December from SJSU. “The cars, planes and boats keep getting better, but we haven’t seen new forms of transportation systems. We learned a lot from the (2018 Hyperloop Pod) competition. There’s such a strong need for this type of travel.”

Tayeb co-founded the Spartan Hyperloop project three years ago and leads its Mechanical team. In July, he was among a team of 20 SJSU undergraduates and recent graduates who took their Spartan Hyperloop magnetic levitation creation to participate in the 2018 Hyperloop Pod competition sponsored by Space Exploration Technologies Corp., better known as SpaceX. Headquartered in the Los Angeles suburb of Hawthorne, SpaceX is most known for its space-exploration technology and rocket launches. It was founded and is led by Elon Musk, also the high-profile CEO and co-founder of the Fremont-based upscale electric car manufacturer, Tesla Inc.

This version of Spartan Hyperloop — a 6-1/2-foot long, 2-1/2-foot wide, 2-foot high, 320-pound creation composed of an aluminum frame, battery packs and high-speed spinning magnets among other elements — was built to half the scale of the SUV-sized vehicle envisioned to transport passengers and cargo. Design of the SJSU project beat out 100 other entries from universities worldwide, making SJSU one of only two teams to qualify for the SpaceX competition in the levitation category. Unfortunately, a technical failure on the road disqualified the team from competing against the other qualifying team, University of California, Santa Barbara.

Thomas Baker, an SJSU senior majoring in Electrical Engineering who heads up the Spartan Hyperloop Electrical team, said mechanical problems affected the prototype, but work will continue to perfect Spartan Hyperloop.

Baker said a perfected Spartan Hyperloop design would operate by taking advantage of the low-friction environment of the tube to generate enough speed to cause levitation.

He said the SJSU team has had up to 60 members. Funding for the project came mostly from the university and corporate sponsors, but $2,200 was also raised through a Crowdfunding campaign supported by University Advancement, Baker said.

“We’ve worked really hard to get students from all of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) disciplines involved, as well as business and marketing,” Baker said.

SJSU has participated in all three years of the SpaceX competition, he said, having previously been a runner-up in design, before building Spartan Hyperloop this year.

Musk’s initial Hyperloop concept, introduced in 2012, included reduced-pressure tubes providing pathways for pressured capsules propelled by linear induction motors and axial compressors riding on air bearings. A proposed 350-mile route connecting California’s two-largest population and business centers would roughly parallel Interstate 5 through the Central Valley. Another of Musk’s companies, The Boring Co., has also proposed smaller-scale projects in Los Angeles, Chicago, the Baltimore/Washington D.C. area, with a possible extension to New York.

One study put the cost of building the Bay Area-to-Los Angeles Hyperloop connection at $6 billion for a passengers-only option and $7.5 billion for a larger tube that would carry both people and vehicles. Plans to build a high-speed rail line, already under construction in the San Joaquin Valley, are now estimated to cost $77 billion to connect the Bay Area to Los Angeles, and up to $98 billion to complete the full 800-mile system.

Baker considers the Hyperloop system – still on the drawing boards — a better deal.

“I have reservations about high-speed rail, which is using older technology and requires lots of infrastructure costs,” he said, noting contrasts in cost and environmental impacts. “We would be able to line (the tube) with solar panels and use the resulting energy for local communities along the line or give back to the grid.”

Keck Foundation Grant Establishes Freshman Research Initiative

SJSU professors will are using a grant from the WM Keck Foundation to create a freshmen research initiative. Clockwise from back left: Assistant Professor Alberto Rascón, Jr., Professor Resa Kelly, the program evaluator; Professor Daryl Eggers; Assistant Professor Laura Miller Conrad; Mallory Kato, the program manager; and Professor Lionel Cheruzel, the principal investigator on the grant. (Photo: Jim Gensheimer)

SJSU professors are using a grant from the W. M. Keck Foundation to create a freshmen research initiative. Clockwise from back left: Assistant Professor Alberto Rascón, Jr., Professor Resa Kelly, the program evaluator; Professor Daryl Eggers; Assistant Professor Laura Miller Conrad; Mallory Kato, the program manager; and Professor Lionel Cheruzel, the principal investigator on the grant. (Photo: Jim Gensheimer)

The new Freshman Initiative: Research to Engage Students (F.I.R.E.S) will launch this year and is poised to help the university advance both its research and student success missions. Enabled by a $325,000 grant from the W. M. Keck Foundation, this new program aims to engage undergraduate students in scientific research from the very beginning of their time at San Jose State University.

The team spearheading this program includes four chemistry professors from the College of Science with experimental research laboratories: Professor Lionel Cheruzel, the principal investigator on the grant, Assistant Professors Laura Miller Conrad and Alberto Rascón, Jr., Professor Daryl Eggers, Professor Resa Kelly, the program evaluator along with Mallory Kato, the program manager.

Cheruzel and his colleagues strive to usher in a research-driven educational culture by introducing first-year students to the benefits of research. In order to do so, an introduction to research course (Chem 190) will be used to foster student’s spirit of discovery and train them in the basic skills necessary to excel in a research environment.

At the end of the course, students will work directly with two professors’ laboratories in two-week research streams. During these streams, students will have the opportunity to look closely at the various research questions being investigated, perform cutting-edge research, and learn how to be part of the scientific community.

Cheruzel believes the experience will motivate these students to [continue] on in one of the various research laboratories throughout the remainder of their undergraduate career to supplement their degree.

“There are benefits to having students who can stay on for three or four years doing research,” Cheruzel said. “Some of my most productive students have come straight out of Chem 1A.”

Within each of the research laboratories, the professors have seen how engaging in lab work and publishing their findings in notable journals has benefitted their students. After applying their education to real-world problems, demonstrating a persistence to training and developing stronger connections with faculty, these research students not only leave SJSU with a bachelor’s degree but with a skillset that distinguishes them from their competition.

“They are highly marketable,” Cheruzel said, noting that many of his former students have gone on to prestigious graduate schools or started careers with prominent biotech companies.

Based in Los Angeles, the W. M. Keck Foundation was established in 1954 by the late W. M. Keck, founder of the Superior Oil Company.  The Foundation’s grant making is focused primarily on pioneering efforts in the areas of medical research, science and engineering and undergraduate education.  The Foundation also maintains a Southern California Grant Program that provides support for the Los Angeles community, with a special emphasis on children and youth.  For more information, please visit www. wmkeck.org.

 

 

 

Peggy Stevenson Honored with CSU Innovation and Leadership Award

SJSU students partnered with Columbia Law School students during an alternative spring break in which pairs worked to help clients expunge their records for misdemeanor charges. (Photo: James Tensuan, '15 Journalism)

SJSU students partnered with Columbia Law School students during an alternative spring break in which pairs worked to help clients expunge their records for misdemeanor charges. Center, Margaret “Peggy” Stevenson, works with students. (Photo: James Tensuan, ’15 Journalism)

The California State University (CSU) announced its Innovation and Leadership Award recipients on Aug. 28, with Margaret “Peggy” Stevenson from San José State selected as an honoree. Stevenson’s work in creating the SJSU Record Clearance Project was the basis of the award, which honors innovative faculty.

“World-class CSU faculty are leading the charge as our university continues its remarkable progress in improving student learning and degree completion,” said CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White. “These exceptional recipients demonstrate leadership in their respective fields and incorporate cutting-edge techniques into curriculum. Their commitment to student success ensures that the value of a CSU degree continues to increase.”

A selection committee reviewed 366 nominations to identify the one inaugural awardee from each of the CSU system’s 23 campuses.

The Record Clearance Project is a unique program that involves undergraduates in providing legal services, under Stevenson’s supervision.  Stevenson, an attorney, started the Record Clearance Project at SJSU in 2008.  In 2011 the program was a formalized in three classes in the Justice Studies Department in the College of Health and Human Sciences. Hundreds of students have been involved in what they frequently call “life-changing” work.

Professor Rita Manning, Philosophy, who nominated Stevenson, stated, “As the prelaw advisor at SJSU I strongly recommend this program to all students with an interest in careers in law. They simply will not get an experience like this outside of law school (and many of our students want to work in legal fields that do not involve law school) nor will they have a better opportunity to make such an immediate and positive impact on the lives of people in our community.”

Justice Studies Department Chair James Lee said, “Peggy Stevenson created and manages the most impactful educational experience I have ever seen. Participating students walk away with a deep understanding and appreciation for law, and they take life-long lessons about humanity. I deeply respect Peggy’s dedication to educating our students in this unique, meaningful way.”

SJSU alumnus Earl Cease completed the Record Clearance Project five years ago.  According to Cease, “the Record Clearance Project gave me the encouragement I needed to enter law school. Working with our clients and watching their lives change one petition at a time made me believe I have what it takes to make the strenuous journey through law school and become an attorney.” Since passing the bar exam, Cease has volunteered with the Record Clearance Project as a supervising attorney.

Stevenson ran clinics and taught law students for twelve years at Stanford and Santa Clara law schools before starting the Record Clearance Project. Before that, she practiced law in Legal Services offices in Boston, the Los Angeles area and New Jersey. Besides the RCP courses, she also teaches Courts and Society at SJSU.

I-House Alumni Celebrate 40 Years

It was 1981. Bob Aron was a local student majoring in jazz. Yvette Young was from Panama and pursuing a degree in industrial management. For her, it made sense as a student from abroad to live at the International Center, now known as San Jose State University’s Phyllis Forward Simpkins International House. He ended up there as almost a fluke, when a friend who enrolled at SJSU the year before sent a dorm deposit to the wrong place and ended up with a spot reserved in the International Center instead of the residence halls.  Aron visited is friend and thought it looked like a nice place to live so he signed up, too.

“It is crazy to live with a bunch of people from different places,” Aron said. “I grew up in the ’80s in California (when it wasn’t as diverse). It was the first time I met someone from Bangladesh. You start to realize how little you know.”

Aron, ’85 Music, and Young, ’84 Industrial Management, started dating all those years ago after meeting in the university residence and 37 years later, they are married and retired from lucrative careers – Aron from Apple and Young from the mortgage industry. They both served on the planning committee for the 40th Anniversary Alumni Reunion hosted August 1-5 that brought more than 200 former residents and their family members back to San Jose.

“If more people in the world had an opportunity to live in the International House, the world would be a better place,” said Leann Cherkasky Makhni, director of the I-House. “When people from around the world live together under one roof, we start to know each other as individuals and make lifelong friendships.”

Located on 11th Street, the house is noticeable for both the many columns that adorn the front porch and the flags that fly from the rooftop. Those who have resided within its walls over the past 40 years endearingly call it I-House. Founded in 1978 by SJSU Alumni Alan and Phyllis Simpkins, the couple was actively involved in the development of the housing program and maintenance of the facility. They donated the building to the SJSU Research Foundation in 1997. Around 4,000 students have resided in the home in the four decades since it opened.

The reunion began with a kick-off reception and alumni music program; a trip to the redwoods and steam train, complete with a beach bonfire and s’mores in Santa Cruz; bowling on campus, a barbecue at I-House and a pub crawl; a 40th Anniversary Gala Dinner where the Simpkins’ grandson Mike Bordoni spoke about his grandparents’ legacy; and farewell brunch to say goodbye at the end of the five day event.

Whether they stayed for one semester, or lived there while completing an undergraduate or graduate degree, all the alumni gathered for a recent afternoon of bowling at the Diaz Compean Student Union recall their time fondly, and for some, like Aron and Young, their experience changed the course of their lives.

Young recalled the day and weekend trips she and her fellow students took to San Francisco and Yosemite.

“Those are still very fond memories,” she said, mentioning a hike in Yosemite when the hikers were not equipped with enough water or the right shoes. “It was very memorable and I did things I’d never done before.”

The pair kept in touch with a core group through the years, and reconnected with more people from I-House on social media.

“Facebook came along and it got easier,” he said. “I like watching other people here who haven’t seen each other in years and its fun watching people from the different eras.”

Stijn Van Den Broek is one of those more recent residents. He visited SJSU for one semester as a foreign exchange student in fall 2014 from the Netherlands. A week in, he and the other residents went to Santa Cruz for a bonfire. He started talking with a German girl Michaela Fuhlert who complained about how noisy the people were in the room next door. It turned out to be Van Den Broek’s room. The two started dating immediately and got engaged the day of the gala at the beach where they had their first conversation. They currently live in Germany where Fuhlert is beginning a teaching career and Van Den Broek is pursuing a master’s degree in marketing communication.

For Fuhlert living in I-House was an adjustment not only to a new culture, but to living with a roommate.

“In Germany, you don’t have roommates at university,” she said, noting that the study abroad experience helped her mature. “You get more confident in handling things and it makes you grow up.”

The alumni who attended travel from as close by as San Jose to as far away as China, some with spouses and families in tow. At least 40 countries were represented at the reunion, with alumni traveling from more than 20 countries to be back at SJSU.

Hiroki Moriomoto attended SJSU in 2013-14 as a Teaching English as a Second Language student. He served as a resident advisor in I-House where he also made many friends.

“It was exciting to meet people from all over the world,” he said. “I’ve had the chance to travel with friends in Taiwan and Italy.”

Eldita Tarani, ’18 MA, came to SJSU from Kosovo in 2014 as a Fulbright Scholar in research and experimental psychology. She selected the I-House because she thought it would be a good experience.

“I-House is like a little family,” she said. “The best part of it is the diversity. It offers a family in a foreign land for strangers who have never been here before.”

She said while many of the other residents were younger than she was, she still managed to connect with many of them.

Many of the students credit Makhni with creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere.

“Leann has been running the house for the last 25 years and she does such a great job of maintaining the feeling of a home,” Aron said. “Everyone feels that way.”

“If more people in the world had an opportunity to live in the International House, the world would be a better place,” Makhni said. “When people from around the world live together under one roof, we start to know each other as individuals and make lifelong friendships.”