Assistant Professor Minghui Diao, Department of Meteorology and Climate Science, College of Science, and Assistant Professor Susan Snycerski, from the Department of Psychology, College of Social Sciences, have been chosen to receive the Early Career Investigator Award for 2018. The pair will be honored at the annual SJSU Celebration of Research on April 23, 2019, from 3 to 6 p.m. in the Diaz Compean Student Union ballroom. The event is open to the entire SJSU campus community.
Research with a global impact
Diao’s research focuses on the impact of clouds and aerosols on global climate change and regional air quality. Her work includes aircraft-based field campaigns to study regions as remote as Antarctica and the Southern Ocean; high precision laser instrument development; and computational global model simulations for comparisons with aircraft-based measurements and satellite remote sensing data. Since arriving at SJSU in 2015, she has secured a substantial amount of extramural sponsored funding for her research, primarily from the National Science Foundation and NASA.
She has published peer-reviewed articles in top tier journals, including Science, Nature Geoscience, Geophysical Research Letters, Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmosphere, Bulletin of American Meteorology, and Atmospheric Physics and Chemistry.
In addition to these activities, Diao has been a science team member for eight major NSF flight campaigns. She has taken part in field campaigns to Australia, Chile, Costa Rica, Germany, New Zealand, the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as Alaska, Hawaii, and other parts of the United States.
Diao is active in her field on a national level, having chaired numerous sessions at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) annual meetings in 2016, 2017 and 2018. She served as a NASA panel reviewer in 2017, and has been a member of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) Cloud Physics Committee since 2016, which is in charge of updating the Glossary of Meteorology.
Also of significance is Diao’s engagement of students in her research. One graduate student was the lead author on a published paper, and is now pursuing his PhD in the School of Meteorology at the University of Oklahoma. She brought graduate and undergraduate students with her to the National Center for Atmospheric Research to do summer research with aircraft instruments and global climate model simulations in 2016 and 2018. Since 2016, her students have given five oral presentations at AMS and AGU annual meetings.
A behavioral theory and motivation expert
Snycerski’s interdisciplinary research combines concepts and topics from the fields of behavior analysis, consumer behavior, and psychopharmacology. Her recent studies, conducted in collaboration with current and former SJSU graduate students, have investigated sports fans’ perceptions of cannabis use by professional athletes, alcohol use and aggression in sports fans, and educational attainment and employment status of Bay Area medical cannabis patients.
Snycerski is considered a subject matter expert on the behavioral theory and study of motivation, having co-developed The Motivating Operations Concept (MOC), a leading theory in behavior analysis that is included in undergraduate and graduate textbooks and training materials worldwide. The MOC is also used in the examination to earn a Board Certified Behavior Analyst license, which is the only professional credential in her field.
Since 2017, she has served as the principal investigator of a previously awarded cooperative agreement that funds advanced rotorcraft research in collaboration with scientists from the U.S. Army Aviation Development Directorate. In the last year, she has significantly increased extramural sponsored funding for SJSU’s human factors and aerospace engineering research at NASA’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Field. This research has resulted in technological advances in the areas of adaptive autonomy, future lift systems, and human-centered display design.
In 2018, Snycerski was awarded a new cooperative agreement at NASA Ames. This three-year agreement funds research conducted entirely by students working at NASA’s Arc Jet Complex at Moffett Field, where materials that can withstand the heat environments to which spacecraft will be exposed are extensively tested. Such tests are imperative for NASA’s Journey to Mars mission, as well as other space travel missions. Both undergraduate and graduate students will apply the science of macroergonomics (a subdiscipline of human factors/ergonomics) to the complex research processes and tasks conducted at this facility.
Snycerski is an active scholar with more than 1,000 citations to her work (Google Scholar). She has published in the primary journals in her field, including Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, The Analysis of Verbal Behavior, and Perspectives on Behavior Science. She has actively included SJSU students in her research, resulting in several conference presentations with SJSU students as co-authors.
About the award
The SJSU Research Foundation Early Career Investigator Awards recognize tenure-track SJSU faculty who have excelled in areas of research, scholarship, and creative activity. Consideration is given to both 1) externally funded contract and grant activity, and demonstration of ways in which such awards contribute to the improvement of the infrastructure, research capability, and recognition of San José State University; and 2) publications in top-ranked peer-reviewed journals, authorship of respected scholarly books, exhibits in renowned galleries, or other artistic endeavors.
Two award categories have been created to ensure the broadest participation possible from all academic units: Category 1 awards a faculty member in the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering or in the College of Science, and Category 2 awards a faculty member in all other colleges and the SJSU Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library.