Selection for RSCA Assigned Time Cycle 2 Starts

As San José State University continues its commitment to expanding its research, scholarship and creative activities enterprise, eligible faculty are invited to apply for the next cycle of the Faculty Research, Scholarship and Creative Activities (RSCA) Assigned Time Program. Applications for the second cycle are due to respective dean’s offices in each college on March 28, 2019, and should include a cover sheet, curriculum vitae, scholarly agendas for the next five years and RSCA metric data.

The first cycle provided awards to 141 individuals, including 49 tenured faculty members and 92 probationary faculty members, who now have university support to balance their teaching and scholarly pursuits. As the university moves forward with phase-in, increasing numbers of faculty members will receive awards until all RSCA productive faculty are teaching not more than 18 weighted teaching units per year.

Each college has created field-appropriate metrics that are used to select participants in the program and to evaluate their progress on their RSCA agenda. Each award is for a period of five years, with a formal review after year three and RSCA metric data submitted annually.

The benefits of the RSCA Assigned Time program extend beyond faculty. The program expands opportunities for students to engage with dedicated mentors while developing critical thinking, communication and collaboration skills that are key for the workforce. In addition, the outcomes of RSCA at San José State have local and global impacts on innovation and entrepreneurship.

For more information, visit the Office of Research online or faculty can contact their dean’s office for more information.

Academic Spotlight January 2019: University Library Supports Scholarly Efforts with Key Positions

Librarians Yen Tran and Kate Barron offer support services for faculty and student research, scholarship and creative activities in a variety of ways.

Librarians Yen Tran and Kate Barron offer support services for faculty and student research, scholarship and creative activities in a variety of ways. Photo by Brandon Chew

By David Goll

Student and faculty researchers have a new ally in their scholarly pursuit — two new University Library positions have been filled in the past year to gauge the impact of faculty research, scholarship and creative activities and to help researchers plan for collection and storage of data.

Yen Tran, a veteran librarian who arrived at SJSU in August 2016 and has previously worked at the University of Oregon, University of California, Santa Barbara and California Lutheran University, became the university’s first research impact librarian in January 2018. Kate Barron, who earned master’s and bachelor’s degrees from the University of Michigan and Rutgers University, respectively, became SJSU’s data services librarian in October 2017.

“The university has supported faculty in their research, scholarship and creative activities (RSCA) through a variety of methods in recent years, including university and college grants,” Tran said, noting that administrators were interested in a position that would support research management practices.

Tran said academic librarians are most appropriate to fill the research impact role, having a long history of tracking faculty scholarship. She described her main job duties as supporting faculty in understanding and demonstrating their research impact and compiling faculty RSCA output to identify trends. In the future, she may also be able to help with tracking funding and funding sources and support collaboration with other institutions.

Barron’s role was created to help researchers manage the evolving needs of data collection and storage. She said she wants faculty researchers university-wide to know she can help them save time and effort by finding information pertinent to their projects already compiled by academics elsewhere. She will also seek data and statistics for researchers, faculty and students alike.

“I want to get the word out about my services to academic departments across the campus,” Barron said, adding she already serves as a liaison between the library and the math, statistics and computer science departments. “I want to make sure faculty and students know our services are not limited to the sciences and engineering. We are also here for the social sciences, health and human sciences, education and the arts and humanities.”

Emily Chan, the University Library’s interim associate dean for research and scholarship, sees both roles as important as SJSU works to create a culture and environment conducive to teacher-scholars.

“Data is the new oil,” Chan said. “Today’s researchers and scholars are generating lots of data and we have the capability of storing that data. It can be reused.”

She sees immediate benefits of Tran’s work in helping researchers quantify the impact of their projects and creative activity, including tracking social media reactions.

“She will look at both the quantitative and qualitative,” Chan said. “This is invaluable in helping researchers identify and improve the impact of their work. And raising our research profile and reputation is very helpful in gaining recognition from donors and funders.”

Barron’s work will have long-term benefits as well in preserving data for years to come.

“We want access to data to be continuous and easily accessible,” Chan said. “We need to consider how we preserve valuable information and provide access to it. That includes for future generations of students and researchers.”

Tracking the RSCA output may also help in communicating about the stellar work completed at SJSU.

Tran hopes to help departments and colleges compare their output with other institutions.

“Most importantly, I think that a database of faculty RSCA where the information could be put on university, college or departmental web pages could facilitate greater visibility of faculty RSCA, which could help them find collaborators, student researchers or additional funds for their RSCA,” Tran said.

Interested faculty members or students can reach Tran at yen.tran@sjsu.edu, and Barron at kate.barron@sjsu.edu.

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.

Faculty Notes November 2018: Publications, Quotes and More

Professor Asha Weinstein Agrawal, Department of Urban and Regional Planning, was guest speaker at the Leonard Transportation Center’s November Dialogue Series in San Bernardino. Along with other panelists, she discussed the future of transportation funding in the state of California. Agrawal also directs Mineta Transportation Institute’s National Transportation Finance Center.

Professor Anuradha Basu, Department of Global Innovation and Leadership, took part in an October symposium, “Social Networks in a Transnational World: Chinese and Indian Entrepreneurs in the United States,” held at UCLA’s Asia Pacific Center.

Former SJSU Associate Professor Natalie Batalha, Department of Physics and Astronomy, joined UCSC’s Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics this fall. Named one of Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World” in 2017 for her work at NASA on the Kepler Mission, Batalha received her doctorate in astrophysics from UCSC and received that university’s Alumni Achievement Award in October.

Former SJSU Department of Educational Leadership Lecturer Kristyn Klei Borrero published Every Student, Every Day: A No-Nonsense Nurturer Approach to Reaching All Learners (Solution Tree Press) last month. Superintendent of Jackson (Miss.) Schools Errick L. Greene described the book as “a powerful road map for educators to build strong, productive relationships with students and their families.” Borrero currently serves as CEO of San Francisco-based CT3, a teacher training organization.

NBCBayArea.com interviewed Associate Professor Craig Clements, Department of Meteorology and Climate Science, about PG&E’s decision to shut off electricity to reduce life and property loss when weather conditions create severe fire hazards. Read more at: https://www.nbcbayarea.com/multimedia/Cutting-Power-Before-Wildfires-Can-Save-Lives-But-PGE-Says-Its-Complicated-495999451.html

Rewirenews.com interviewed Associate Professor Rachel French, Department of Biological Sciences, about President Donald Trump’s memo erasing legal protections for the transgender population. French was one of more than 1,600 scientists who signed an open letter of protest, stating that Trump’s claims were not “grounded in science.” Read more at: https://rewire.news/article/2018/11/02/scientists-blast-trumps-absurd-anti-trans-memo/

Associate Professor Nidhi Mahendra, Department of Communicative Disorders and Sciences, was one of five palliative care researchers who received funding from the Gary and Mary West Foundation last month. Mahendra’s project, “Investigating Communicative Access in Advance Directive Planning for Persons with Aphasia,” received a $10,000 grant.

ABC7news.com interviewed Professor Scott Myers-Lipton, Department of Sociology, about the city of San Jose’s new pilot program to employ the homeless. “We need these types of programs,” Myers-Lipton said. “Public work for people who don’t have jobs that pay a living wage.” The program will start by employing 25 participants at $15 per hour to clean trash off the streets. Read more at: https://abc7news.com/society/sj-launches-pilot-program-to-employ-the-homeless-/4556787/

TBW Books published former SJSU Department of Art and Art History Lecturer Mimi Plumb’s collection of photographs, Landfall, this month. Plumb signed copies of the volume, featuring images of California in the 1980s, at Paris Photo, the world’s largest international photography art fair, held at the Grand Palais des Champs-Élysées each November.

Wellandgood.com interviewed Lecturer Mary Poffenroth, Department of Biological Sciences, regarding the mental health advantages of watching “spooky” movies. “The horror genre gives us a safe space to express our fears, to talk about our fears, to say ‘I was scared!’ without having…to say you are a fearful person,” Poffenroth explained. Read more at: https://www.wellandgood.com/good-advice/why-do-people-like-horror-movies-mental-health/

The San Jose Mercury News interviewed Interim Associate Dean Meghna Virick, College of Business, about the walkout of thousands of Google employees over the company’s handling of sexual misconduct in the workplace. “The landscape has changed,” Virick said. “Companies have to come to the realization that you can no longer assume that you can keep things under wraps.” The protests followed revelations of a $90-million golden parachute payout to Andy Rubin, who resigned because of sexual misconduct allegations. Read more at: https://www.mercurynews.com/2018/11/01/google-employees-walk-out-over-handling-of-sexual-harassment/

Academic Spotlight November 2018: Provost Update – A Moment of Thanks in a Busy Year

As the season changes, some significant changes here at SJSU have begun to take effect as well, although they will always be mixed with the important traditions that honor our past. Most notably, this month we will be reviewing a record number of applications for the Staff Professional Development Grant; we will be announcing the first ever selected faculty for our new Research, Scholarship and Creative Activities Reassigned Time program; AND we will find time to celebrate a holiday or two.

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I especially want to share with all of you my gratitude for the support I have received in these few months that I have served as Interim Provost and Senior VP. Thank you first and foremost to the team in the Office of the Provost, who make every day joyful; thank you to the President and her Cabinet; the AALT Leadership Team and a very heartfelt thank you to so many of the faculty and staff with whom I have had the pleasure to interact and to work beside. Taken together, this is a wonderful community that takes its humanity and its work seriously, with kindness and tact.

A few important informational items, starting with our Graduation Initiative 2025 goals. Our four-year graduation rates hit 19 percent this year, up 10 percentage points in the past five years. We continue to make substantial gains on six-year graduation rates, transfer student graduation rates and we are two percentage points away from eliminating our Pell-eligible equity gap. We also continue to move forward with eliminating the underrepresented minority equity gap, which dropped to 10.5 percent this year.

Speaking of graduation, we will be celebrating our fall graduates in just a few weeks with two days of commencement ceremonies on December 19 and 20. These ceremonies allow us to recognize the achievements of our fall graduates with the same fanfare as those who graduate in the spring ceremonies. Students LOVE to see their faculty, introduce them to friends and family, and just basically celebrate with their faculty and staff. I do hope you can be available for these occasions. As a reminder, faculty who would like to rent regalia for the ceremonies can do so for free through the Spartan Bookstore website; the deadline to rent regalia is Nov. 21.

Last month, I had the opportunity to say a special thank you to the hardworking staff members in the Academic Affairs Division at our annual Staff Appreciation Breakfast. It was heartwarming to hear each dean and AVP give thanks to the employees in their college or unit, but especially to see some of the notes of appreciation from colleague to colleague. As our breakfast was held on Halloween, I was very impressed with everyone’s ingenuity and costume design!

On the evening of Nov. 2, I had the chance to interact with honored faculty and staff at the Annual Author and Artist Awards. The dozens of pieces completed this year by SJSU authors and artists have a significant impact on the world: this work adds to knowledge in your disciplines; spurs conversations about societally important topics such as politics, technology and diversity; and provides engaging curricular opportunities for students. As we focus this year on creating more balance for our faculty members to be teacher-scholars, it is especially imperative that we also take the time to celebrate accomplishments like these at events like these.

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving break and I look forward to our continuing work together.

Sincerely,

Joan C. Ficke
Interim Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs