Message From The Provost

What an exciting time it is at San José State!  Many of you have heard me say that in various meetings and events on campus, but my enthusiasm for what we have managed to accomplish is a constant sentiment for me. I hope it is for you as well.

My fundamental enjoyment is watching the Division of Academic Affairs as it re-visits its focus on the intellectual matters central to our role at the university. The faculty embrace of our RSCA Initiative has been enthusiastic and deep; our efforts to solidify approaches for our graduate students and our post-baccalaureate opportunities are coming to fruition; and the soundness with which we came through the various federal budget machinations and held true to our research needs (a shout-out to our Research Foundation!), is simply impressive.

I am delighted also that we have now consolidated many faculty development activities in the Office of the Provost, singularly, the Senior Vice Provost forAcademic Affairs, our own Carl Kemnitz.  Dr. Kemnitz played an integral role with University Personnel as we moved to tease apart functions that rightly belong in a central university human resource function from those which support and promote the lives of our teacher-scholars.  Here again, I have enjoyed immensely watching the commitment both Academic Affairs and University Personnel have made to elicit best processes and practices to support our human needs.

And then there is our COACHE (The Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education) Survey! Many of you have given generously of your energy to complete this Harvard-based national survey so that we may capture the essence of faculty satisfaction and frustration. We take very seriously our participation, and will use the results to continue our work on developing structures that support our core mission of providing the very best education and experience possible for our students, through our faculty.  So thank you in advance, for your participation, and your subsequent work to address the results and suggestions we elicit. It has long been time for an institution as significant as SJSU to be in this kind of comparative mix with other high-performing universities. Of course, there’s more. But this sense of excitement I mentioned above has roots in real and concrete efforts all directed toward the refinements any forward-looking university embraces. Sometimes, I daresay it’s all anxiety provoking, but to quote a very dear 92 year old friend—“change is good!”

Academic Spotlight January 2019: Students Gain Venture Capital Experience

(Top row left-right) San Jose State University students, senior Arjun Mathur, 20, 2018 graduate Yvonne Ng, and senior Huy Phan, 21, with Darci Arnolds, bottom left, an SJSU alumna who is an associate partner at Vonzos Partners, and SJSU Professor Tim Hendricks, an entrepreneur-in-residence, are photographed after a monthly pitch day event at TechLAB Innovation Center in Santa Clara on Monday, January 7, 2019. ( Josie Lepe/San Jose State University )

(Top row left-right) San Jose State University students, senior Arjun Mathur, alumna Yvonne Ng, and senior Huy Phan with Darci Arnolds, bottom left, an SJSU alumna who is an associate partner at Vonzos Partners, and SJSU Professor Tim Hendricks, an entrepreneur-in-residence, are photographed after a monthly pitch day event at TechLAB Innovation Center in Santa Clara on Monday, January 7, 2019. ( Josie Lepe/San Jose State University )

By David Goll

San Jose State students are gaining valuable hands-on experience with Vonzos Partners, a venture capital firm with a high-contact approach to startup funding and business acceleration. During the fall semester, Tim Hendrick, associate professor of advertising in the School of Journalism and Mass Communications, and his students worked with Vonzos and portfolio companies on a variety of communication and public relations projects. Bahram Parineh, a lecturer in Accounting and Finance, and his students developed the business plan Vonzos uses to attract fund investors. Additionally, Anuradha Basu, professor in the Lucas College and Graduate School of Business and director of the Silicon Valley Center for Entrepreneurship, had students work on an accelerator program pricing analysis. Typically, nine to 14 SJSU students engage with Vonzos each semester.

“My philosophy is that students learn by doing,” said Hendrick, an advertising industry veteran until joining academia in 2001, who is serving as an entrepreneur-in-residence with Vonzos. His students earn up to six academic units working with companies like Vonzos. “This kind of experience has students dealing with real life inside real companies. My students work on all kinds of projects, including social media, video, events and press releases.”

A team of Parineh’s students from the Sbona Honors Program in the college of business—seniors in accounting and finance Arjun Mathur, Huy Phan, Jessa Parayno and recent accounting graduate Yvonne Ng spent the fall semester working to refine the firm’s business plan, including making it more attractive to millennial investors.

“The biggest advantage as a student is learning about venture capital from professionals,” Mathur said. “There is little academic information about the VC industry and even less about the finance side of it. One single class taught by a finance professor at SJSU, but many do not even know it exists…Working at Vonzos for the semester bridged this gap, which truly made my education in finance feel complete.”

Phan agreed that the experience was valuable.

“The biggest advantage I got from working on the Vonzos business plan is that it allowed me to understand what type of skill sets are required in the industry, as well as understanding how to take on a big responsibility,” Phan said.

Ng said students don’t often get the opportunity to work with VCs. This project gave her insight into how Vonzos could attract a new generation of investors. “As a job seeker, it’s a great addition to my experience to inform recruiters what we can bring to the table,” Ng said.

The venture capital firm provides bridge funding, and hands-on executive business services through V-Scale, to revenue-generating companies in health and wellness markets that are developing core technology solutions that are highly technically differentiated. Their ambitious goal is to have a zero failure rate for the companies in which it invests. Additionally, Vivify Angels, a non-profit angel group, invests and supports diverse founding teams and socially beneficial companies. Vivify hosts Pitch Days the first Monday of each month, in which SJSU faculty and students participate.

The SJSU partnership with Vonzos was fostered by Darci Arnold, an SJSU graduate school alumna and associate partner at Vonzos. Arnold is a former vice president of global marketing at Seagate Technology LLC and senior director of Worldwide OEM Sales and Marketing at Komag, Inc. After semi-retiring, she returned to academia to study Global Citizenship & Enterprise Sustainability and attended the SJSU-Salzburg Program for Faculty & Administrators, which is where the network began. After graduation, she became a core faculty member at the Salzburg Global Seminar’s International Studies Program and also lectured at San Jose State.

“We’re a very different kind of VC business model for Silicon Valley,” said Angel Orrantia, Vonzos managing director, during one of the firm’s monthly “pitch days” when companies seek financial and business support from Vonzos. “Statistics reveal eight in 10 companies receiving VC funding will fail. We have a goal of zero failures.”

Arnold said she hopes to expand partnerships between SJSU and Vonzos.

“We’d like to build a network where we could engage along with some of our startup companies that often need help,” she said. “This might include engineering, computer science, the research department. We think it would make sense to build some interdisciplinary teams and our aspiration is to deepen the network.”

For more information, visit or connect with us 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.

SJSU Professor’s Design work Sets Stage for Fun Home

A scene from the musical Fun Home shows the set design of SJSU Assistant Professor Andrea Bechert.

A scene from the musical Fun Home shows the set design of SJSU Assistant Professor Andrea Bechert.

Andrea Bechert, an assistant professor and designer in the Department of Film and Theatre, will have her scenic design on display during an October run of the Tony Award-winning Best Musical Fun Home at the Mountain View Center for Performing Arts. The show, presented by TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, is based on MacArthur Fellow Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel that details her experience growing up in a loving yet dysfunctional family that owns a funeral home.

The set design was an especially challenging project as the storyline is based on Bechdel’s memories—it moves back and forth between the author’s childhood, college years and present life—sometimes with three actresses playing Alison at different ages on stage at once. Rather than building fully realist sets, she played with filing the stage with elements to suggest a home, such as a couch, a chair, with windowpanes and curtains in the background.

Bechert talked about her work on Fun Home in a recent San Jose Mercury News article, and noted that she felt an especially personal connection to Bechdel’s story.

“When I was an undergrad, I feel like I went through a lot of the same things that Alison Bechdel did,” Bechert said. “I was coming out and trying to come to grips with my sexuality, and it was still something that wasn’t talked about too much. People were starting to be okay with it.”

Fun Home will be presented October 3 – October 28 at Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro Street, Mountain View. For more information, visit

October 2018 Newsletter: Nursing Professor’s Research on Postpartum Depression Offers Advice to Clinicians

Deepika Goyal

Deepika Goyal

Deepika Goyal, a professor in the College of Health and Human Sciences Valley Foundation School of Nursing, will present the second University Scholar Series lecture on Oct. 24, from noon to 1 p.m., in MLK 225/229. During the event, she will share her research about Asian American women and postpartum depression. Her research suggests stigma, shame and lack of knowledge regarding postpartum depression symptoms may prevent this group from receiving timely treatment. Her findings provide information for clinicians on how to provide culturally-informed care and promote optimal maternal-child well-being outcomes.

In addition, Goyal has co-authored a new study published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine Postpartum Health special issue Sept. 27 that suggests a link between perinatal depression and the season in which a woman gives birth. Goyal worked with colleagues from the University of California, San Francisco to analyze information from 293 first-time mothers who had been involved in a randomized clinical trial on sleep before and after pregnancy.

The researchers found an overall risk of depression of 30 percent, with the lowest incidences when a woman’s final trimester coincided with longer daylight hours when the risk dropped to 26 percent. For the women who gave birth from August through early November when days are shortening, the risk was the highest at 35 percent.

“Among first-time mothers, the length of day in the third trimester, specifically the day lengths that are shortening compared to day lengths that are short, long or lengthening, were associated with concurrent depressive symptom severity,” Goyal said.

Based on these findings, the team has suggested that clinicians could suggest light therapy, outdoor activity during daylight hours and vitamin D as measures to minimize postpartum depressive symptoms.

“Women should be encouraged to get frequent exposure to daylight throughout their pregnancies to enhance their vitamin D levels and to suppress the hormone melatonin,” added Goyal, who said that clinicians should also advise their patients to get more exercise outdoors when weather and safety permit. “Daily walks during daylight hours may be more effective in improving mood than walking inside a shopping mall or using a treadmill in a gym. Likewise, early morning or late evening walks may be relaxing but would be less effective in increasing vitamin D exposure or suppressing melatonin.”

For more on the University Scholars Series, visit the events page online.