Academic Spotlight November 2018: SJSU Celebrates 2018 Authors and Artists with Reception

Photo: Daniel Mitre, BFA and minor in Business, '19 At San Jose State University's Annual Author and Artist Awards guests peruse some of the books published by Spartan faculty members in 2018.

Photo: Daniel Mitre, BFA and minor in Business, ’19
At San Jose State University’s Annual Author and Artist Awards guests peruse some of the books published by Spartan faculty members in 2018.

By David Goll

When they are not preparing the next generation of Silicon Valley students for momentous futures, San Jose State University’s faculty are researching some of the world’s most topical issues.

The published and performed work of more than two dozen San Jose State University faculty members were celebrated during a Nov. 2 ceremony at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library. More than 100 people turned up for the event to recognize the efforts involved in editing and authoring scholarly books on topics ranging from politics to 3-D printing to cybersecurity, creating celebrated theater stage design and writing an adaptation of an internationally acclaimed play.

The seventh annual Author and Artist Awards presentation was held in the library’s spacious eighth-floor Grand Reading Room, where 29 pieces by 26 authors and artists were recognized.

“The work you do has such an impact on students,” said Joan Ficke, interim provost and senior vice president for Academic Affairs, during her welcome remarks. “It benefits all of us. The research is what is actually important. The students follow in your footsteps.”

Of the 26 faculty members recognized, two honorees were asked to make extended presentations of their work.

“Here we are in the spectacular Grand Reading Room, the crowning glory of our library,” said University Library Dean Tracy Elliott said. “The perfect place to honor the best of the best. (They) are the reason San Jose State is considered one of the top public universities for academic research.”

Associate Professor Virginia San Fratello, who teaches Interior Design, presented the book she co-authored entitled Printing Architecture: Innovative Recipes for 3D Printing. She noted it’s now possible to 3D print an entire structure. Taking advantage of the city of Oakland’s liberal review process for small residential units to help combat the housing crisis, San Fratello displayed such a home created by 3D-printed tiles.

She showed striking photographs of more whimsical printed objects, too, including coffee cups and coffee pots made of coffee “flour,” sugar spoons spun out of the granulated sweet stuff, and saltshakers constructed of salt.

“I approach these tasks like a chef in the kitchen,” she said.

Matthew Spangler, an associate professor of Communication Studies, also shared information about his creative work. He first read the book The Kite Runner in 2005. The 2003 novel by Afghan-American author Khaled Hosseini detailed the tumultuous political and social events in his native country along with the exodus of refugees from Afghanistan to Pakistan and the United States — including the Bay Area.

The book changed Spangler’s life. He wrote a stage play based on the novel, which was first presented by SJSU students in 2007.

“Thirteen years later, 44 theater groups have done 15 different productions of the play worldwide,” Spangler said, including the theater capital of London last year. Other productions have been presented in Cleveland, Calgary, Tel Aviv, Liverpool and Nottingham. “Over 400,000 people have seen those plays,” he said. “That’s way more than read my scholarly articles and books.”

College deans introduced each of the other authors and artists, sharing a few notes about their scholarly and creative endeavors. See the list of all authors and artists on the library website.

February 2016 Newsletter: Provost Update: A Culture of Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity

As Provost, I am always excited to learn about the amazing research, scholarship and creative activity (RSCA) our students and faculty accomplish. I also understand the dedication that is required to balance teaching, service and RSCA. From my own experience in conducting and publishing research, I know both faculty and students benefit from a campus culture that supports such endeavors.

I am committed to creating an environment that fosters this important aspect of higher education. In the last two years, we have invested $2.2 million to support university-wide workshops and college-specific programs to assist faculty in starting or continuing their RSCA agendas. Annual funding for RSCA has been built into our budget and we are finalizing a plan to ensure it remains a key priority.

My hope is that our current planning efforts will foster more stellar research like that of two faculty members honored at the Celebration of Research this month with Early Career Investigator Awards. Aaron Romanowsky, from the Department of Physics and Astronomy in the College of Science, and Virginia San Fratello, from the Department of Design in the College of Humanities and the Arts, both exemplify the Spartan spirit of innovation. Romanowsky and his students are discovering new galaxies while San Fratello is using 3-D printing to create sustainable building materials. Both have been recognized by colleagues in their disciplines and have been successful in securing funding to further their research.

At the Celebration of Research, I was also pleased to highlight our Undergraduate Research Pairs program and see the wide range of projects students are pursuing with faculty mentors, some of which we highlight in this month’s newsletter. High-impact practices, including undergraduate research, improve student learning and support student retention, but faculty also benefit from students as research assistants. I applaud our faculty for their commitment to engaging students in their research along with attracting public and private funding to support regional, national and global collaborations.

The SJSU Research Foundation plays an essential role in sustaining our efforts. In 2014-15, the Research Foundation oversaw more than $63 million in revenues that included resources from grants and contracts with government agencies, corporations and private foundations to support more than 150 RSCA projects. See the full list of contracts and awards along with stories of faculty and student work in the San Jose State University Research Foundation 2014-15 Annual Report published this month. I am dedicated to the continued growth of the SJSU research enterprise and the role of the SJSU Research Foundation in supporting our campus.

Two faculty members recognized for Early Career acheivements

The SJSU Research Foundation will honor the 2015 Early Career Investigator award recipients at SJSU’s Celebration of Research. This year’s event will be Feb. 10, 2016, from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Student Union Ballroom.

Virginia San Fratello

Virginia San Fratello

Aaron Romanowsky

Aaron Romanowsky

Research Foundation Executive Director Sandeep Muju announced the 2015 Early Career Investigator awardees in August. This year’s recipients include Assistant Professor Aaron Romanowsky, from the College of Science’s physics and astronomy department, and Assistant Professor Virginia San Fratello, from the College of Humanities and the Arts design department.

The SJSU Research Foundation Early Investigator Award recognizes tenure-track faculty who have excelled in the areas of research, scholarship or creative activity as evidenced by their success in securing funds for research, publishing in peer-reviewed journals, and carrying out other important scholarly and creative activities early in their careers at SJSU.

Romanowsky has been especially productive in his field of astrophysics with an emphasis on dark matter and galaxy formation. In less than three years at San Jose State, he has produced 47 refereed publications in journals such as the “The Astrophysical Journal,” including an article co-authored with then students that was published this summer on a “hypercompact cluster.” He recently received $40,718 from the National Science Foundation to continue his research.

San Fratello has a history of successfully securing funding from a variety of sources. Her research and scholarship in the field of design is focused on materials and fabrication processes, including 3-D printing. She recently received a $90,000 grant from the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

Each year, one faculty member is selected from the College of Science or the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering, and one faculty member is selected from the other colleges. The awardees received a cash reward of $1,000 and will be recognized at the SJSU Celebration of Research in February.

New RSCA supports announced for fall 2015

New tenure-track faculty members pay rapt attention at orientation.

New tenure-track faculty members pay rapt attention at orientation.

Many research, scholarship and creative activity-related sessions are being offered this fall with the support of the Academic Affairs RSCA and Professional Development Support priority group. The offerings for fall 2015 include nine new programs funded by the priority group as well as enhancements to programs that have been offered in the past.

The sessions are the collaborative efforts of the staff of the Office of Research, the Research Foundation, the Tower Foundation, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Library, the Center for Faculty Development as well as a number of faculty members and administrators across campus. See a list of upcoming activities.

One of the first sessions, a University Grants Academy, had a full turnout for a meeting on Sept. 4. The programs are designed to support faculty from all disciplines, from scientists to singers. Other upcoming topics include “Moving from Idea to Proposal,” “Tips from Journal Editors and Librarians,” and “What You Need to Know About Budgets,” among other programs.

The sessions are open to both returning and new faculty. This year 58 new tenure-track fraculty joined SJSU and many of them are excited to get started on their research, scholarship and creative activity agendas.

Ozgur Keles joins the biological, chemical and materials engineering department from the Illinois Institute of Technology. He is interested in research that involves 3-D printing for medical applications.

Another new faculty member, Faranak Memarzadeh joins the Hospitality Management department from Texas Tech University. She said she plans to continue with the subject at SJSU, with an emphasis on how hotel costs affect travelers to the Bay Area.

“I want my research to move in the right direction,” she said.