Fulbright Scholars Enhance Teaching While Engaging in Research
In 2018-19, San Jose State University has been host to three Fulbright Scholars from other countries who are adding to their research portfolio while also teaching courses to Spartan students. The scholars include Ling Yu (Melody) Wen, whose area of expertise is human resources management and corporate training; Lela Mirtshkulava, who is engaged in computer engineering and computer science; and Monika Petraite, who worked on entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial strategies.
Their presence has landed SJSU on the Chronicle of Higher Education‘s list of top producers of Fulbright Scholars, master’s institutions. The list is compiled each year with information from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, which runs the nation’s flagship international educational exchange program.
Education and Silicon Valley
Wen specifically selected SJSU for its location in Silicon Valley, its history as the oldest public university on the West Coast and its ranking as the number one provider of employees to high-tech firms in Silicon Valley.
Since arriving on campus in September 2018 with a Senior Fulbright Scholar Grant, she has conducted in-depth interviews with CEOs and top managers in the high-tech industry to explore what skill sets they believe are the most important in creating an innovative atmosphere and corporates’ human capital management. Wen also interviewed students, professors and career center staff at SJSU for their input.
“The research provides a successful model of establishing a link from school to workplace—San Jose State University and the high-tech industry in Silicon Valley as an example,” she said. “The future perceptions of differential talents and the needs of human capital in the high-tech industry would be beneficial for educational policies and strategies of talent development mechanisms in both Taiwan and America.”
During the Fulbright year, Wen was invited by the Namibia University of Science and Technology and University of Missouri-Columbia as a visiting professor to share the results of the Fulbright research.
Wen is a senior professor in the Department of Finance at the National Changhua University of Education in Taiwan and has also served in as a department chair, college dean, dean of International Affairs, and in a variety of administrative roles. She earned her PhD in business education from the University of Missouri, with a focus on human resource management. She has been honored with Teaching Excellence and Service Excellence awards four times during her 24-year tenure in Taiwan, and has been a visiting professor in Germany, Mainland China, Malaysia and Namibia. She was appointed as a distinguished professor at Beijing Forestry University, China since 2015. She also has more than 20-year experiences as a consultant and corporate trainer, as well as the coordinator of National Curriculum and chief judge of National Talent Competitions for High School Students, Ministry of Education, Taiwan.
“Without SJSU and the Lucas College and Graduate School of Business providing the opportunity, I couldn’t complete my Fulbright study,” she said. “I would like to extend my appreciation to Dean Dan Moshavi and Associate Dean Meghna Virick of the Lucas College and Graduate School, and Camille Johnson, interim director of the School of Management, as well as all of the faculty, professors and students of SJSU and CEOs of high-tech industry in Silicon Valley who devoted their time and effort to my Fulbright research. Words are not enough to express my gratitude.”
Balancing Teaching and Research
Lela Mirtskhulava experience in the realm of artificial intelligence is unique. She was the first to develop an artificial intelligence capable of diagnosing stroke patients: her prototype artificial intelligence distinguishes between stroke patients and normal subjects with > 99 percent accuracy. She has been honored with the Best Paper Award in 2013 at the University of Cambridge, UK. She was invited as a featured speaker at the AIMed 2017 and AIMed 2018 conferences in Los Angeles.
“I have been working for more than eight months as a Fulbright Research scholar at San Jose State University with most amazing faculty and staff,” she said. “I enjoyed auditing the classes besides my research project thanks to Dr. Xiao Su giving me this opportunity. For academics, both the teaching and research are so attractive and interconnected things. To promote the teaching processes as well as to advance our field requires much time devoted to research, publication and presentation. On the other hand, teaching is one of our primary obligations as a scholar. Only putting them both together makes possible to reach the right balance in our academic life.”
She said at SJSU she has been able to prolong her research and teaching, while her daughter completes a full academic year at a local middle school. Her daughter has been inspired by her teachers while Mirtskhulava is inspiring her own set of students in the two courses she is teaching to postgraduate students; one on deep learning and one on system software.
“This gives me an excellent opportunity to teach the students and promote them to work on their research projects as it is required within these courses,” she said. “I’ve learned about SJSU’s teaching methodology by attending the classes as well my experience of teaching at San Diego State University where I hold an associate professor position.”
Prototyping Artificial Intelligence
Mirtskhulava was a featured speaker at DataAI National Summit (DANS), Silicon Valley organized by American Association of Precision Medicine and presented the results of the project she is currently working on. The main idea of the project is brainwave monitoring that focuses on neurological monitoring which incorporates the monitoring of brainwaves electroencephalography (EEG). Ischemic stroke occurs as a result of disruption of cerebral blood flow which results in neuronal cell death. Brainwave monitoring over EEG has been a commonly used method in neurological monitoring to diagnose and monitor various neurological diseases such as ischemic stroke. In the given project, Android Neural Network (ANN) is designed and a direct neural interface (DNI) is implemented using NeuroSky’s EEG biosensor for brainwaves recognition. A mobile EEG monitor is connected to a patient’s smartphone over Bluetooth that can transmit real-time brainwave data.
Mirtskhulava is an associate professor of computer science at Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University in the country of Georgia as well as San Diego State University Georgia (a collaborative progam between SDSU and Georgian partner universities that offers select STEM degrees). As a Fulbright Research Scholar, she is teaching part-time in the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering this year. Mirtskhulava received her PhD in computer science. She has served in various capacities at several Georgian universities and has 15 years of industry work experience as an ICT senior engineer at Ericsson Ltd and Geocell LLC, Georgia. She Mirtskhulava was invited to the University of Cambridge in England to conduct the scientific workshops in 2013. She was the recipient of DAAD Scholarship Certificate in scope of Academic staff exchange program, at Westsaxson University of Applied Sciences Zwickau, Germany in 2016. She has also developed new curriculum in computer engineering and technologies at International Black Sea University, Georgia where she served as program coordinator of bachelor programs in Informatics and as a quality assurance manager at the same university. She participated in new program development in computer science for ABET at Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University. She is supervising master students and PhD students in Georgia.