$3.5 Million Dollars in Federal Funding Awarded to SJSU Researchers for STEM-Related Projects

by | Jun 28, 2024 | Featured, Research and Innovation

This year, SJSU STEM researchers have received $3.5 million in federal grant funding to support research projects. Photo by Jim Gensheimer.

Summer can be a quieter time on many university campuses, but San José State University’s researchers are hard at work, and they have $3.5 million in federal grant funding to prove it. The funding, which comes from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Department of Defense (DOD) and National Science Foundation (NSF) will support seven STEM research projects.

Thanks to U.S. Representatives Zoe Lofgren (CA-18), Anna Eshoo (CA-16), Ro Khanna (CA-17), and Jimmy Panetta (CA-19), who advocate for increases to federal research funding year after year, the projects will continue to help students and researchers as they investigate projects ranging from cancer cell behavior to fjord ecosystems.

“San José State University is a hub for innovative and cutting-edge STEM research. We’re proud to announce this federal funding that will help advance health research which always has the potential to save lives and improve our nation’s understanding of educational and environmental phenomena,” said Reps. Lofgren, Eshoo, Khanna and Panetta.

“We greatly appreciate the support from our congressional delegation in advancing research in health, education, and the environment with meaningful impact on the region,” adds Marc d’Alarcao, interim vice president for research and innovation and dean of the College of Graduate Studies. “San José State University is an important contributor to the STEM ecosystem in two ways: as a research site where innovations originate, and as a generator of a skilled workforce through our educational programs. This funding will strengthen our capacity in STEM research and therefore pay dividends in both areas.”

These projects include:

  • $1.4 Million from the NSF to study the effectiveness and retention rates of high school math educators in high-need school districts, overseen by Ferdie Rivera, professor of math education and director of the Ed.D. leadership program.

 “Our research aims to serve the national need of determining factors that influence effectiveness and retention for secondary mathematics teachers in urban school districts, especially in high-need school districts,” Rivera explains. “We will identify and describe the role of individual, interpersonal, organizational, community and policy factors in early-career middle school and secondary mathematics teachers’ enactment of effective mathematics teaching practices and decisions to either stay, move or leave the profession.” 

In order to do this, the three-year project will involve partnerships across eight CSU campuses: Cal Poly Pomona; CSU East Bay; CSU Long Beach; CSU Monterey Bay; CSU Sacramento; CSU San Marcos; Fresno State University, and SJSU, who will collect information about mathematics teachers in their first five years of teaching in both high-need and non-high-need school districts in California, from 2018-2023. The researchers will seek to discover the experiences of these teachers and “the various supports they receive to become effective, highly qualified mathematics teachers,” in addition to factors that allow them to either persist in their careers as math teachers, move to other positions or leave the profession altogether.

This significant grant will allow them to survey teachers all across the state, as well as create initiatives and pathways that allow dynamic, inclusive teaching policies and teachers to thrive. Rivera describes himself and his co-PI Peter Gao, assistant professor of mathematics, and team members from the other participating CSUs as “so pleased” to receive the grant.

While the shortage of math teachers within and outside California is a serious issue, we are also interested in understanding what makes a successful, highly effective mathematics teacher whose teaching practice is influenced by personal, interpersonal, organizational, community and policy factors,” he says. “The collaboration involving eight CSUs is phenomenal and the first of its kind as well. We hope to learn deeply about how well we at the CSU are preparing our future math teachers to cope and be successful in dealing with the realities of everyday mathematics teaching.” 

Check out Rivera’s other work with VR and math education here.

 Additional grants include:

  • $1.3 million from the Department of Defense in support of state-of-the-art instrumentation to study air-sea interaction and the impact of the lower atmosphere turbulence and thermodynamics on optical and radio frequency propagation, overseen by Qing Wang, adjunct faculty, and Tom Connolly, associate professor at SJSU’s Moss Landing Marine Laboratories.

  • $186,411 from the NIH to purchase equipment to study the structures of proteins, overseen by Ningkun Wang, associate professor of chemistry.

  • $146,500 from the NIH to study cancer cell behaviors, overseen by Bree Grillo-Hill, associate professor of biological sciences.

  • $146,500 from the NIH to study pneumonia-causing bacteria, overseen by Walter Adams, assistant professor of biological sciences.

  • $146,500 from the DOD to study how impaired neurons affect muscle movement, overseen by Katherine Wilkinson, professor of biological sciences.

Read more about Wilkinson’s other lab work in proprioception here. 

  • $78,440 from the NSF to study fjord ecosystems, overseen by Dustin Carroll, project director at SJSU’s Moss Landing Marine Laboratories.

In addition to federally funded research, Research and Innovation secured a $35,000 grant from the Margoes Foundation to support the 2024 SpartUp Summer Intensive and the SpartUp Incubator.

Learn more about the incredible research and innovation at San José State.