The University Scholar Series is co-sponsored by the Office of the Provost, the University Library, Division of Research and Innovation and the Spartan Bookstore. Hosted by Provost Vincent J. Del Casino, Jr., this series provides a unique opportunity for showcasing the important research and scholarly activities of SJSU faculty members. During each semester there are typically three speakers. The presentations included here date from the Fall 2010 semester to the present.
All students, faculty, and staff members are invited to attend these events. Members of the public are welcome as well.
If you would like additional information, please contact Annina Wyss-Lockner in the University Library at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The coronavirus pandemic has changed all of us in ways that may not be obvious until years from now. Marginalized populations, specifically communities of color and those economically disadvantaged, felt the brunt of this pandemic. Early on, it became clear that many Black and brown communities were more likely to contract and die from the coronavirus compared to other groups. Food shortages led to increased food insecurity especially among people of color and those economically disadvantaged. Anti-Asian sentiment reached crisis levels, with many in this community reporting physical attacks, largely due to the public rhetoric at that time. Dr. Dougan discusses her research on the experience of marginalized populations as a result of the pandemic, and highlights some bright spots on the horizon with respect to reducing health disparities.
Today’s ballroom dance culture has its origins in Vienna in the decades around 1800, when the ballrooms of the aristocracy were opened to the public. For the first time, members of all social classes could waltz together in the city’s glittering ballrooms, and composers like Beethoven and Mozart provided music for the latest fashionable dances. The world of the public ball ostensibly removed the rigid hierarchy associated with courtly dancing before the upheavals of the French Revolution, where dance was used primarily as an opportunity to display aristocratic manners. Yet as European monarchies sought to retain their relevance in nineteenth-century society, they found ways of reinventing their public image in ways that harnessed the new dance culture — ways which have left their trace in the dance and music of the period.
Jeff Rothenberg wrote that, “[d]igital objects last forever – or five years, whichever comes first.” Rothenberg gives as his example a CD that contains the secrets to his fortune, and the challenges his grandchildren would face in even finding an appropriate disk-drive in 2045. Since Rothenberg’s article was first published in the mid-90s, digital information and communication technologies (ICTs) have become ever more entrenched, and the cycles of change and development ever faster. Archivists, specialists in recordkeeping, race to ensure the long-term trustworthiness, accessibility, and useability of data, records, and other digital objects that are designed with the expectation of obsolescence and ever-faster cycles. Doing so is critically important. Without trustworthy records, it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to prove our rights, to hold bad actors accountable, to build on past research, and to maintain cultural heritage. In this talk, Dr. Hofman will explain how archival science’s ancient principles can improve our digital future, providing ways to examine new technologies and answer questions about trust, decision making, and power through the perspective of not just years, but centuries.
María C. Ledesma
In this presentation, Dr. Ledesma revisits the importance of decoding public narratives used to describe and explain polemic policies, such as race-conscious affirmative action. For example, she underscores the importance of always placing such policies within an accurate and rich historical context.
The State of the State: Regional Writing About the Past, Present, and Future State of Planet California
In this presentation, Dr. Norris will discuss his representation of the Oakland/Bay Area and California more broadly in his fiction and non-fiction writing. Norris’ novel The Confession of Copeland Cane (2021) takes place in a near future East Oakland battered by gentrification, environmental degradation, and a draconian police state. Meanwhile, the essays from his collection-in-progress Classroom California looks at the state from San Diego to San José through the lens of our vast community college system. Several essays in this collection have been published individually, including “One Coyote” and “A Complicated Relationship: How California’s Community Colleges Educate Future Police and Why Our Curriculum Needs to Change.” The essay-in-progress “Transparent California” begins from the claim that “California’s community colleges constitute vast, multiperspectival prism on to California” and then takes the reader on a cross-state journey where he meets with college presidents, professors, and students at several community college campuses.
Marine mammals play important roles in marine ecosystems and are often considered indicators of ecosystem health. Unfortunately, a growing human footprint in the marine environment has led to increased interactions between marine mammals and humans, leading to concerns about the impact of these activities on populations already facing other threats such as climate change. Exposure to disturbance from naval exercises and tourism results in short-term disruptions of natural behavior that may have energetic consequences or put the animals at greater risk to pressure related problems such as decompression sickness. To predict and quantify how marine mammals will respond to natural and anthropogenic stressors, it is essential to understand their physiological limits and the plasticity in the behavioral and physiological responses to stress. Dr. McDonald’s research addresses these knowledge gaps by 1) investigating the diving capacity and energetic requirements of breath-hold divers and 2) investigating the physiological and behavioral responses to anthropogenic stressors.
Kristen Radsliff Rebmann
Libraries exist as important community anchor institutions (CAIs), defined by the FCC “as schools, libraries, hospitals and other medical providers, public safety entities, institutions of higher education, and community support organizations that facilitate greater use of broadband by vulnerable populations, including low-income, the unemployed, and the aged” (FCC, 2011, p. 38). TV Whitespace (TVWS)-enabled cognitive radios can help libraries propagate robust, (backhaul) internet connections to new community spaces with the goal of keeping citizens connected in everyday and crisis situations. To leverage TVWS successfully, however, libraries, researchers, and information technology professionals must understand the availability of frequency spectrum in their area to know whether TVWS is an appropriate technology for implementation in their community. This presentation will share equity-focused analyses of corporate and public datasets that can help us understand the potential impact of TVWS networking technology to support digital equity among America’s rural and underserved communities.
Alberto Garcia Maldonado
Between 1942 and 1964, a bilateral initiative known as the Bracero Program allowed Mexican men to work in the United States as seasonal contract farmworkers, or braceros. All told, 4.65 million bracero contracts were distributed during the program’s duration, and a significant plurality of these contracts, at least 44 percent, went to rural workers from the Mexican states of Aguascalientes, Guanajuato, Jalisco, Michoacán, and Zacatecas. These five states were also an epicenter of conservative Catholic resistance to official policies like land redistribution and secular public education. This talk will explore how endemic, community-level conflicts between conservative Catholic and pro-government partisans fueled popular interest in migrating to the U.S. as braceros, influenced the bracero selection process, and shaped a regional migratory tradition that has endured into the early twenty-first century.
This event was not recorded.
Is Mobile Money a Digital Gateway to Financial Inclusion?
Large segments of the world’s population have no access to formal financial services and are considered financially excluded or unbanked. The vast majority live in developing countries, yet in the U.S., fifty million adults and their fifteen million children are underbanked and vulnerable. The recent widespread introduction of mobile money has made low-cost transfers, payments, and financial services available to a much wider segment of the population than the banking sector could reach in the past. Although widely adopted, the fundamental questions of whether mobile money fosters financial inclusion or is an effective tool for poverty alleviation remain unanswered. Khavul will build on an interdisciplinary research program and offer insights into the digitization of financial services. Such reflections prove timely given the increasing number of Silicon Valley firms that are creating more diverse and complex FinTech solutions, at least some of which seek to close the gap in financial inclusion.
Learning from Stuttering: A Path from Disorder to Diversity
Tripping over our words while talking is quite common. While most people can move on without much effort, one out of 100 speakers experiences getting stuck (stuttering) on a daily basis since early childhood, and moving on can be emotionally and physically taxing. Stuttering is a speech disorder that is genetic-neurological in nature, with symptoms that can be affected by multiple factors across the lifespan. The exact cause of stuttering remains unclear, but its negative consequences on self-perception, social attitude, and quality of life are well documented. Though there is currently no cure, speech therapy has evolved in dynamic directions to address the complex impacts of the disorder and to advocate for diversity and inclusion of those who speak differently. Dr. Tsai’s research investigates the underlying factors of stuttering and stuttering therapy, with a goal of developing culturally and linguistically responsive services for individuals who stutter and advocating for acceptance and diversity in communication.
Two Truths and a Big Lie: The ‘Honest’ Mendacity of Fascist Rhetoric
Fascists don’t just come to power—they have to persuade supporters, which is to say, they use rhetoric. One key to understanding fascist rhetoric is to understand fascists’ relationship to truth. In this talk, Skinnell distinguishes between two kinds of truth: factual and fascist. Factual truth is the theoretical basis for liberal democratic institutions, but there are inherent tensions between empirical fact and democratic values, including individualism, deliberation, and compromise. Fascists amplify and exploit these tensions to advocate for fascist truth. Fascist truth prioritizes performances of sincerity and authenticity over empirical facts. In fact, Skinnell contends that lying openly and egregiously reinforces a leader’s claim to authenticity because it shows their sincere commitment to the cause. In the end, Skinnell asserts that if we want to resist the re-emergence of fascism in the 21st century, we need to understand why people find fascist rhetoric so appealing in the first place.
Due to a campus-wide internet connectivity issue during the hybrid presentation on September 22, 2021, a re-recording of the original presentation has been provided and includes questions asked in-person and via Zoom.
The Future of Sustainable Mechatronics is STEM Education
The term “mechatronics'' is a branch of engineering that specializes in synergistic integrations of both mechanical and electronic technologies (the essential high technologies of Silicon Valley). Many products that we use in our day-to-day lives involve this technology, from smart household appliances like the digital buttons to operate your clothes washer to the microcomputers and processors that power GPS on your car’s touchscreen. However, mechatronics has far reaching applications to power the products that combat our biggest challenges to ensure a better tomorrow like, 24-hour farming and electric transportation to help us confront climate change and hunger. Professor Hsu’s research focuses on the integration of STEM education and sustainable mechatronics, which he considers vital to maintain leadership in local and global economies. He believes one of the reasons Silicon Valley is the world leader in high technology is due to its excellent public education, especially STEM education. STEM education, with synergistic teaching, comprehensive curricula, and interdisciplinary collaboration, such as our mechatronics program, will make SJSU a model of effective teaching and learning, and it will ultimately make Silicon Valley stronger than ever in innovation.
Professor Hsu is a faculty member of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at San José State University (SJSU). With substantial financial support from the National Science Foundation and large high tech businesses in Silicon Valley, Hsu led an interdisciplinary group of faculty members from mechanical, electrical, materials, and general engineering, along with the Department of Physics and faculty from Mission College to establish the first, and still the only, mechatronics program at the undergraduate level in the country. He joined SJSU as a professor and chair of the department in 1990 and served for 12 years.
Virginia San Fratello
Play, Clay, and Chardonnay
Virginia San Fratello's research is grounded in the discipline of architecture as the basis for creative production. In 2002, following the attacks on the World Trade Center, she formed the creative practice Rael San Fratello, with her partner Ronald Rael, in order to imagine alternative outcomes for architectural practice in a post 9/11 world. A primary focus of their work folds together indigenous and traditional craft and material practice, contemporary design technologies, and storytelling, as strategies to unravel the complexities of contemporary society. She comes from an extremely rural background and grew up in the forests and tobacco farms of the deep South. Humor, play, and hybridity are important aspects of the work of Rael San Fratello, often layered with serious topics that span the themes of immigration, start-up companies, waste, homelessness, fashion, graphic design, and 3D printing. Her practice is closely tied to her commitment to public education in her role as professor and chair in the Department of Design at San Jose State University.
A Quest to Control the Female Aedes aegypti Mosquito Population
Like many thousands of species of mosquitoes, the female Aedes aegypti mosquito loves to feed on humans. However, what makes the female Aedes aegypti mosquito unique is that she is a carrier of the Yellow fever, Dengue fever, Chikungunya, and Zika viruses. These viruses can be spread to human hosts leading to fever, muscle and joint pain, headaches, and vomiting or more serious conditions. Unfortunately, there are no licensed vaccines in the United States to combat these viruses. The only method proven effective to control mosquito populations are pesticides; however, the mosquitoes are becoming resistant and the pesticides have unintended harmful effects on other pollinators. The Rascón’s lab goal is to determine a new vector control strategy by focusing on proteases (enzymes that break down proteins), specific only against mosquito biological process, thus protecting other insects or species from the quest to control the female Aedes aegypti population.
Alberto Rascón is associate professor in the Department of Chemistry. He earned a PhD in Biochemistry at the University of Arizona on the expression and isolation of Aedes aegypti mosquito proteases. After his graduate studies, he joined Dr. James McKerrow’s lab at UCSF, an expert in parasitic protease biochemistry, working on proteases and enzymes in human parasitic worms, and proteases from human amoeba parasites. Dr. Rascón is a first generation Mexican American and in six and a half years at SJSU he has been heavily involved in underrepresented minority programs like the LSAMP, McNairs Scholars, NIH MARC, and RISE programs, eventually becoming a co-coordinator for the RISE program in 2016.
When local governments neglect public services or community priorities, how do concerned citizens respond? In The Help-Yourself City: Legitimacy and Inequality in DIY Urbanism, Dr. Douglas looks closely at people who take urban planning into their own hands with homemade signs and benches, guerrilla bike lanes, and more. He explores the frustration, creativity, and technical expertise behind these interventions, but also the position of privilege from which they often come. Presenting a needed analysis of this growing trend from vacant lots to city planning offices, The Help-Yourself City tells a street-level story of people’s relationships to their urban surroundings and a troubling individualization of participatory democracy.
Her Own Hero: The Origins of the Women's Self-Defense Movement, 1890-1920
At the turn of the twentieth century, women organized to demand greater social and political freedoms like gaining the right to vote. However, few realize that the Progressive Era also witnessed the birth of the women’s self-defense movement. Some women were inspired to take up boxing and jiu-jitsu for personal reasons that ranged from protecting themselves to rejecting gendered notions about feminine weakness. Women’s self-defense was both a reflection of and a response to the broader cultural issues, including the women’s rights movement and the campaign for the vote. The discussion surrounding women’s self-defense deconstructed powerful myths about the source of violence against women and opened up conversations about family violence. Through self-defense training, women debunked patriarchal myths about inherent feminine weakness, creating a new image of women as powerful and self-reliant. Whether or not women consciously pursued self-defense for these reasons, their actions embodied feminist politics and a collective action demanding emancipation from the constrictions that prevented women from exercising their full rights as citizens and human beings.
The Kent State Shootings at 50: Rage, Reflection, and Remembrance
Drawing from over 50 interviews from The Kent State Shootings Oral History Project, the authors examine how these detailed, varied and at-times contradictory accounts challenge and deepen our understanding of the events of May 4, 1970, which culminated in four KSU students killed and nine more wounded by gunfire from the Ohio National Guard. Simpson will explore how their methodology led to both obstacles and opportunities, resulting in a text departing in some ways from its original conception, yet one that fulfilled their objective to show how “The Long 1960s,” and the conflicts from that era that still rage in our own, can be illuminated at the intersection of individual and collective memory. He will also discuss potential avenues for further research as we near the 50th anniversary of this pivotal event in contemporary American history.
Understanding Intersections of Disability and Race: PK-12 Education, Justice Studies and Higher Education
Dr. Saili Kulkarni draws from the experiences of teachers and school professionals who support restorative practices for young children in an effort to create more inclusive, safe school environments for all learners. These practices help educators and professionals become proactive in their approaches to discipline rather than reactive. Kulkarni applies Disability Studies and Critical Race Theory (DisCrit) within teacher education to develop resistance-oriented teachers of color who will disrupt inequities for children of color with disabilities.
Blockchain: Transformative Applications for Libraries and Education
Blockchain applications and use cases for libraries have been at the center of an 18-month research investigation headed by Dr. Sandra Hirsh in the SJSU School of Information. This exploration has been informed by technology experts representing libraries, blockchain development, and urban planning. Forbes identified some current uses of blockchain that included student records and transcripts, and this project was highlighted as one of the 20 ways that blockchain will transform education. In Spring 2019, her book Blockchain will be published in the Library Future Series, and the Blockchain and Decentralization for Library and Information Science MOOC will be offered as part of this project. Dr. Hirsh is the Director of the School of Information. Prior to that, she worked in the Silicon Valley at Hewlett Packard Labs, Microsoft, and LinkedIn. She co-founded the Library 2.0 global virtual conference series in 2011 and is past president of the Association for Information Science & Technology (ASIS&T). The second edition of her book, Information Services Today: An Introduction, was published in 2018.
Coming of Age in the Era of Outrage: Digital Media and Youth Civic Development
Over the past decade, political discourse has been marked by an increasing use of outrage language, exacerbated by the dynamics of social and participatory media. Today's adolescents and young adults are learning how to be citizens in an environment where emotionally provocative language and personal insults accompany much of their exposure to news and political talk. In this presentation, I will sharing findings from a series of studies that shed light on the impact of outrage language on youth interest in political engagement, their capacity for evaluating political information and the potential for innovative classroom practices to address these dynamics.
Moving in Circles: the Beauty and Joy of Mathematics for Everyone
Tatiana Shubin joined the faculty of San Jose State University in 1985 after earning her Ph.D. in Mathematics from University of California, Santa Barbara. In 1998, she founded San Jose Math Circle and the Bay Area Math Adventures. In 2006, Shubin became a co-founder of the first Math Teachers' Circle in the US. This circle proved to be a seed which germinated to produce the entire Math Teachers' Circle Network. She launched the Navajo Nation Math Circles project in 2012, became a co-founder and co-director of the Alliance of Indigenous Math Circles, which aimed at spreading the culture of problem solving and the joy of doing mathematics to Native American students and teachers everywhere in the US.
In 2006, she won the Northern California, Nevada, and Hawaii Section (a.k.a. Golden Section) of the Mathematical Association of America Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics. In 2017, she received the Mary P. Dolciani Award which recognizes a pure or applied mathematician who is making a distinguished contribution to the mathematical education of students in the United States or Canada. Shubin also translated and edited several books published by the American Mathematical Society in the MSRI Mathematical Circles Library book series. She is also the chair of the Editorial Board of the series.
lntersectional Pilgrims in Canterbury: The Story of America's First Female Academy for African-American Women
Jennifer Rycenga is a Professor of Comparative Religious Studies in the Humanities Department at San Jose State University. Rycenga is finishing a comprehensive cultural biography of white Abolitionist educator Prudence Crandall (1803-1890). This talk will share the context and success of the Canterbury Female Academy, highlighting its place in both Black history and women's history. One story comes from Canterbury, Connecticut in the early 1830s, where Black and white, women and men, young and old, worked together to offer an advanced formal education for Black women. The teacher was a white woman, Prudence Crandall, who welcomed high-school-aged students from free Black families in the northeast. While the school was subject to constant racist vigilante and legal violence, the education and learning there were genuine. Many of the students went on to be leaders Qulia Williams Garnet), political activists (Sarah Harris Fayerweather, Mary Elizabeth Miles Bibb), and teachers (Mary Harris, Miranda Glasko) in the antebellum and post-Civil War eras. Rycenga's areas of interest include Abolition history, women's religious history, feminist theories of music, and theoretical issues concerning philosophies of immanence and panentheism.
The Philosophy of Brutality: A Preface in Three Parts
Dr. Carlos Alberto Sanchez's current research focuses on the philosophy of violence, particularly on the distinction between "violence" and "brutality." To highlight this difference, violence and brutality are thought within the context of Mexican narco-culture, a socio-political and historico-cultural phenomenon that challenges the very conception of violence, personhood, and culture itself. His talk will deal with issues surrounding this current work.
Professor Sanchez is currently the graduate advisor for the MA program in philosophy, Editor of the American Philosophical Association Newsletter on Hispanic/Latino Issues in Philosophy, Chair of Inter-American Relations for the Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy, and author of three books, co-editor of two critical anthologies, and has penned a couple of dozen articles on phenomenology or Mexican philosophy.
Neurological Accidents - Brain, Behavior and the Power of Rehabilitation in Alzheimer's Disease and Stroke
Dr. Mahendra's recent research focuses on developing evidence-based approaches for the clinical evaluation and rehabilitation of cognitive-communicative function in persons who have Alzheimer's dementia and strokes (including post-stroke language disorders called aphasia). Her research is motivated by a deep commitment to improving the quality of life of persons diagnosed with chronic, long-term neurological diseases that result in impaired cognitive function and communication. She has studied the effects of language and memory intervention, computer-based cognitive stimulation, video-modeling for rehabilitation training, and the clinical application of music and singing to improve speech in persons with dementia and aphasia.
Dr. Mahendra is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communicative Disorders and Sciences in the Lurie College of Education.
H2O in Interstellar Space: How the Universe Conspires to Make Water Everywhere
On October 28, 2015, Dr. Michael Kaufman spoke in the University Scholar Series hosted by Provost Andy Feinstein at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library. His talk was titled “H2O in Interstellar Space: How the Universe Conspires to Make Water, Water Everywhere.” Dr. Kaufman's astrophysics research focuses on the interactions and feedback between newly formed stars and the interstellar medium—the raw material from which stars form. He constructs computational models of the radiative transfer, dynamics and chemistry that occur in regions of active star formation, and uses these models to interpret observations with ground-based, airborne, and space-based telescopes. Dr. Kaufman is Professor and Chair in the Department of Physics and Astronomy.