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.