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.

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

Academic Spotlight November 2018: Emeritus and Retired Faculty Support Scholarly Work

By David Goll

For the fifth consecutive fall semester, San Jose State University’s faculty will have the opportunity to apply for an internal grant from the Emeritus and Retired Faculty Association (ERFA). Applications for the 2018-19 research grants awarded by ERFA are due Dec. 5. The application and more information are available online. The organization—comprised of former SJSU faculty members, some of whom are still teaching on a part-time basis—provides grants of $2,500 to selected faculty members to further their research, scholarship and creative activities agenda.

Last year’s recipients say ERFA’s Faculty Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity Awards have been a boon to their research. Though the program has typically made two such grants annually, a larger budget last year allowed for three awards. They were given to Ruma Chopra, professor of History; Ningkun Wang, assistant professor of Chemistry; and Alan Soldofsky, professor of English and Comparative Literature and director of Creative Writing.

Chopra used her award to travel to various libraries across the United Kingdom to conduct research on how climate-based migrations shaped empires — in this case, the eighteenth-century British Empire’s expansion into the Americas, West Africa, South Asia and the South Pacific.

“I researched how the environment, topography, and proximity to water shaped decision-making at local and imperial levels,” she said, citing their powerful influence in the 1700s, before the conveniences of electricity changed our sense of being surrounded by nature. The research is helping fuel her plans to write a book on the subject, for which she is already writing a proposal. She conducted her research last winter at The National Archives and The British Library, among other institutions.

“The work most historians do involves many trips to archives,” Chopra said. “Getting small pots of money to continue that work is vital. I was so grateful this money came my way during a key time in the development of this book project.”

Chopra said she found members of the ERFA committee that reviews grant applications to be knowledgeable and enthusiastic.

“It’s wonderful how supportive ERFA is when it comes to encouraging research,” she said. “We are incredibly fortunate.”

Wang was in her first semester as an SJSU faculty member a year ago when she learned of the ERFA grant program through the university’s Office of Research.

“Thought I would give it a try,” she said. “I’d never heard of a program where retired faculty did something like this. It’s very encouraging for new faculty when people who have been there before understand the value of supporting research.”

Her project is potentially groundbreaking for the healthcare industry. She’s studying how specific enzymes and proteins affect aging and diseases associated with that process, including diabetes and Alzheimer’s. She is working with seven undergraduates and three graduate students on her work.

“We want to contribute to our collective academic knowledge on this subject, not make the next miracle drug,” she said, noting that some pharmaceutical companies are working on creating new drugs to treat ailments of aging.

Using the ERFA grant as seed money, Professor Wang is now applying for additional grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. The ERFA grant also paved the way for three of her student researchers to present results of their work at the annual conference of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology next year in Orlando, Fla.

Soldofsky used his grant to conduct interviews with American poets who were either born outside the United States, or are the children or grandchildren of immigrant families who retained their indigenous language and/or culture.

“As a Latina that loves and sometimes writes poems, I am looking forward to his future anthology of poems,” said Elba Maldonado-Colon, 2018-19 ERFA president and retired SJSU Professor of Education who still teaches part-time. “Of the 25 applicants, the SJSU ERFA Committee had the challenging task of selecting three faculty members for the available awards. Not easy.”

Maldonado-Colon added that in addition to tenured and tenure-track faculty lecturers with at least six years of continuous service to SJSU are also eligible for the grants.

October 2018 Newsletter: Provost Update – Building Scholarship Through RSCA

Dear University Community,

As we approach the midpoint of the fall semester, there are many exciting events that will highlight the extraordinary research, scholarship and creative activities of our faculty and students. First, the Institute for the Study of Sport, Society and Social Change, with support from our Campus Reading Program, will host its inaugural Student Research Fair on Oct. 15. As a former student-athlete and women’s basketball coach myself, I know the interrelatedness that provides interdisciplinary possibilities for the exploration of ideas.

Additionally, this month we continue our University Scholar Series on Oct. 24 with a lecture by Nursing Professor Deepika Goyal, who will share new findings on postpartum depression in Asian American women. On Nov. 2, we will celebrate the scholarly works of dozens of faculty members at the Annual Author and Artist Awards. Read more in this newsletter about these and other recent events that elevate our reputation and our scholarly work.

I am pleased to share that we have made considerable progress toward implementing our new Research, Scholarship and Creative Activities Reassigned Time program and will do so officially in January 2019. This program represents our best efforts to align the scholarly expectations of tenure-track faculty with the expectations of the Academy; to increase recognition that students are, and will be, prepared successfully by successful teacher-scholars; and to honor our evolving relationship with our surrounding community and Silicon Valley.

Eligible and interested tenured and tenure-track faculty submitted their applications to their Dean’s Office at the end of September. I look forward to receiving college submissions later this month and announcing selected candidates for our first five-year cycle in November.

I also would like to note that we have 43 faculty members who received tenure and/or promotion this year based on their dedicated teaching, exemplary RSCA work and strong record of service. This fall we invited them to share some notes about themselves for profile stories on the Academic Spotlight blog. You can read the first of these profiles online now. Look for more throughout this semester.

I continue to look forward to our work together.

Sincerely,

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

Faculty News and Notes for September 2018: Publications, Quotes and More

Department of Film and Theatre Lecturer Kirsten Brandt directed the African-American Shakespeare Company’s production of Richard III in July at the Taube Atrium Theatre in San Francisco. Before becoming a freelance director, she served as artistic director of San Diego’s Sledgehammer Theatre for seven years.

School of Management Associate Professor Gretchen Vogelgesang Lester published “Autocratic Leaders and Authoritarian Followers Revisited: a Review and Agenda for the Future” in The Leadership Quarterly, an article that discusses why people elect leaders who restrict freedom.

An August article in The Guardian about “skim reading” in the digital age and the profound societal effects of that trend referenced the research of iSchool Professor Ziming Liu.

Department of Physics and Astronomy Assistant Professor Thomas Madura spearheaded a STEM camp in Kalamazoo, Mich., for blind and visually impaired students from around the state. The camp was sponsored by the Bureau of Services for Blind Persons (BSBP), a program that helps students transition from high school to postsecondary education or employment.

Department of Economics Assistant Professor Raymond March posted an article on The Independent Institute’s blog titled “If Telemedicine Is Underachieving, Government Is to Blame.” “An unfortunate consequence of any regulation is that it restricts the number of alternative products and services available to consumers,” March wrote.

Communications Studies Professor Matthew Spangler was interviewed about SJSU’s Communications Studies program by MastersinCommunications.com in August. The site’s mission is to help students make informed decisions when planning their academic and professional goals.

The Atlantic Monthly interviewed Department of Sociology Assistant Professor Elizabeth Sweet on the culture of “stifling” masculinity. Sweet, who studies gender in 20th-century children’s toys, reported that American gender categories “are more rigid now than at any time in history.”

Department of Nutrition, Food Science and Packaging Chair Ashwini Wagle gave the keynote address at Silicon Valley’s Rise Against Hunger event in July. An international hunger relief organization, Rise Against Hunger aims to end hunger by 2030 and operates meal packaging locations in 25 cities throughout the U.S. and at five international locations. “When you package a meal with Rise Against Hunger, you are simultaneously empowering people to become nourished and live a healthy life,” Wagle said.

KTVU interviewed School of Management Professor Robert Chapman Wood about the announced closing of all Orchard Supply Hardware stores. “Somebody decided that OSH was a small problem in a company with really big problems. And so they gotta close it,” Wood said.