October 7, 2019

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Researcher in white lab coat using a pipette while two students watch

Professor awarded prestigious early-career grant

Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry Misty Kuhn received a prestigious $1.9 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in August. Typically awarded to research-intensive universities, the Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award for Early Stage Investigators grant is aimed at launching the careers of highly talented young faculty members. It will fund five years of Kuhn’s research delving into the shape and functions of proteins that could lead to clues about how to fight disease-causing bacteria. Kuhn, the second person to receive the award in the California State University system — and the first woman to do so across all 23 campuses — is the first recipient at SF State.

“This grant is awarded to outstanding investigators,” said Dean of the College of Science & Engineering Carmen Domingo. “We are incredibly proud of Misty’s achievement. To be selected for this grant, Misty showed that this highly technical work could be performed here at SF State and, importantly, with our students.”

Kuhn’s work will focus on a group of under-researched proteins called polyamine acetyltransferases, laying the foundation for understanding how they function in bacteria. Bacteria have the ability to grab DNA from their environment — and when that scavenging allows them to build the kind of proteins Kuhn studies, the microbes can become resistant to antibiotic medications meant to kill them. The award will pay for the work of student researchers — Kuhn’s lab currently hosts 15, mostly undergraduates — as well as the purchase of state-of-the-art equipment that will let the team explore the proteins in more detail.

“This grant will enable us to bring new technologies that we don’t currently have here at the University, which will add to the depth of student training,” Kuhn said.

Pale brown frog sitting on a leaf

Researchers reveal global extent of frog-killing fungus

In a new study coauthored by SF State biologists, scientists revealed a genetic test that allowed them to draw a worldwide map of a deadly frog fungus in its various forms. That information, along with future discoveries made possible by the new method, may help scientists answer long-standing mysteries about the amphibian epidemic.

“This is a really important moment that could help us better understand the worst case of a disease in vertebrates in recorded history,” said Professor of Biology Vance Vredenburg, a coauthor of the study.

That disease, caused by the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), has driven hundreds of amphibian species extinct. Scientists have been investigating where the fungus comes from and where each of its various strains reside, but there was a roadblock. “Previously, in order to get useful data, you needed large amounts of Bd DNA,” Vredenburg explained. “But nearly all of the available samples — skin swabs that are not harmful to collect from frogs — have very small amounts of Bd DNA on them.”

For the current study, scientists borrowed technologies from medical research to create a new genetic test that determines what variant of the fungus a frog has. The new test requires only small snippets of DNA. The international team of collaborators then used the test to analyze 222 fungus samples collected from 24 countries. The analysis revealed the distribution of Bd lineages around the globe.

“Our paper opens the door to further advances from our labs and many others around the world,” said Vredenburg.

The study was published online in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Sept. 23. Learn more about the research on the SF State News website.

Instructor stands in the front of a large lecture hall

Study examines when teachers go off-script as a teaching tool

Think about a teacher you had whose teaching style or personality made their lessons more interesting and accessible. What if it was possible to measure that rapport? A new study, led by Professor of Biology Kimberly Tanner and featuring 37 SF State faculty members, students and staff as coauthors, shows that it is possible — and suggests that this factor may be crucial to the learning process. 

While an instructor’s first impulse may be to maximize limited class time by sticking strictly to the material, that approach has its downsides, according to Tanner. “Then we’re not coaching our students, and we’re not cheering them on,” she said. Teaching isn’t just about providing information, Tanner argues. Keeping students engaged with course material can come down to how that information is framed, especially for students who are underrepresented in higher education.

Tanner and other Department of Biology faculty began studying these interactions during a three-year professional development effort to improve teaching in the department. The first step was to develop a system that could reliably identify and describe the things instructors say that aren’t related to course material, which the research team call “instructor talk.” After recording and analyzing a classroom’s instructor talk during one semester, the team created a rubric with categories like encouraging students to collaborate and building relationships through personal anecdotes.

After that trial run, researchers expanded the study to more than 60 courses in community colleges and at SF State and developed a simpler, quicker way to study instructor talk in classrooms. The team published their findings in the journal CBE — Life Sciences Education on Aug. 30. Learn more about the study on the SF State News website.

CampusMemo submission reminders

CampusMemo is published each Monday morning throughout the fall and spring, with a hiatus during the winter break and a monthly schedule over the summer. News and announcements should be sent to the editors via the online submission form. The limit per entry is 250 words. Items for the Events listings are drawn from the online University Calendar. If you want an event to be listed, go to the University Calendar page and click Submit an Event. Please submit all CampusMemo items by 5 p.m. on the Tuesday preceding publication. Strategic Marketing and Communications cannot ensure publication of late submissions.

SF State receives efficiency leadership award

SF State has been awarded a 2019 California Higher Education Collaborative (CHEC) Focus on Efficiency Award for its efforts to improve efficiency through DocuSign. The award recognizes organizations that have implemented innovative practices to improve operational performance, services and outcomes in higher education. Executive Director of Administration and Finance Jesus Garcia and his team accepted the award last week at the 2019 CHEC conference at UCLA’s Luskin Conference Center.

Call for nominations: Assigned Time for Exceptional Levels of Service to Students

Nominations for Assigned Time for Exceptional Levels of Service to Students awards are now open. Faculty members may nominate themselves or other eligible members in a letter no longer than two pages long. If nominating someone, please include a statement to the effect that the faculty member is not already receiving assigned time for the same general category of supported activity during AY 2020-21. Senate policy S18-271 is on the Senate website and includes details on eligibility, supported activities, review criteria and process.

Awards for AY 2020-21 will be announced in February. All nominations must be received by the Academic Senate office in ADM 551 or at senate@sfsu.edu no later than 5 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 8. 

Purchasing accessible technology: annual reminder

SF State is committed to using the most accessible technology products and services to ensure the campus technology environment is inclusive and welcoming to faculty, staff and students with disabilities. Accessible procurement applies to all technology products that are purchased, used or developed at SF State. Employees who purchase technology via p-card or requisition are required to follow the Technology Acquisition Review (TAR) process. This process includes both accessibility and IT security reviews and keeps the campus in compliance with federal and state laws. For information on the accessibility review process, please contact the Disability Programs & Resource Center or review procurement procedures online.

Academic Senate report

The Academic Senate met Tuesday, Oct. 1, in the Seven Hills Conference Center. A summary of the meeting follows.

  • The Senate approved revisions to the Master of Science in Biology: Concentrations in Cell & Molecular Biology, Integrative Biology and Physiology & Behavioral Biology.
  • The Senate approved by General Consent a revision to the Master of Arts in Museum Studies.
  • The Senate heard in first reading a proposed Certificate in Enterprise Cybersecurity and a resolution calling for CalPERS to divest from fossil fuels.

The full agenda, meeting materials and minutes can be found on the Senate website.

Gender-affirming voice workshop planned

The Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences is currently looking for participants who would be interested in a weekly gender-affirming voice group workshop. This would be geared toward transfeminine, transmasculine or non-binary individuals who would like to learn healthy strategies for strengthening and maintaining a healthy gender-affirming voice. This workshop will help you feel more empowered and confident when communicating both personally and professionally by supporting one another in individual and group voice sessions. Participants should be able to commit to weekly three-hour group meetings. The time and day will be based on the group’s availability. Send a message to VoiceClinicSFSU@gmail.com for more information. 

Connor to present on R statistics software, Oct. 7

Professor of Biology Edward Connor will give a Stat CORR (Statistics Community of Representative Researchers) presentation about “Getting Started with R Statistics Software” today at noon in the Faculty Commons (LIB 286). There will be pizza. For more information contact Richard Harvey at ext. 8-3478 or rharvey@sfsu.edu or Edward Connor at ext. 8-6997 or efc@sfsu.edu

Professors to address film controversies, Oct. 7 & 10

School of Cinema Professors Joseph McBride and Steven Kovacs invite the campus community to attend class sessions this week that will address the issue of “political correctness” and film. The professors — both of whom are teaching sections of the course “Cinema 373: Film and Society” this semester — were spurred to open their classes to the broader University community by new controversies over old works of art. (Bowling Green State University in Ohio recently decided to take the names of actresses Dorothy and Lillian Gish off its theater because one of the sisters appeared in the racist 1915 film “The Birth of a Nation,” for instance.) McBride’s class will meet in the Fine Arts building’s Coppola Theater at 3:30 p.m. today, while Kovacs’ class will meet there at 3:30 p.m. this Thursday.

Fall 2019 Career Fair, Oct. 8

The Department of Recreation, Parks & Tourism and Holistic Health Studies invites the campus community to the fall Career Fair Tuesday, Oct. 8, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Jack Adams Hall (fourth floor of the Cesar Chavez Student Center). This is an excellent opportunity to network and apply for part-time, full-time or seasonal employment; volunteer opportunities; and internships. There will be over 38 student-focused organizations and 40 agencies on hand. For more information visit the Recreation, Parks & Tourism website, call ext. 8-2030 or email rpt@sfsu.edu

Promotion and Tenure Celebration, Oct. 10

Academic Affairs will be honoring faculty members who were granted tenure and/or received a promotion this academic year. The celebration will be held from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 10, in the Vista Room. See a full list of 2019-2020 honorees on the Faculty Affairs website. Congratulations to all our tenured and/or promoted faculty! 

“Jewish Studies and Radio,” Oct. 10

As part of the Department of Jewish Studies’ #JewishStudiesAnd lecture series, there will be a presentation on “Jewish Studies and Radio” by radio host and producer Devon Strolovich Thursday, Oct. 10, at 3:30 p.m. in HUM 415. An expert on medieval Judeo-Portuguese manuscripts, Strolovitch is the producer of KALW’s “Philosophy Talk” and host/producer of KALW’s “Fog City Blues.” He will discuss his academic background and how it led to his career in radio. The event is free and open to the public. Reception to follow. For more information visit the Department of Jewish Studies website.

“Philosophy Talk” tackles sanctuary cities debate, Oct. 14

The campus community is invited to be part of a live audience recording of the public radio show “Philosophy Talk” on Monday, Oct. 14, at 4 p.m. in the Cesar Chavez Student Center’s Jack Adams Hall. Professor of Philosophy Shelley Wilcox, the author of “How Can Sanctuary Cities Be Justified?,” will join philosophers Josh Landy and Ken Taylor to discuss the topic of sanctuary cities. The show will also feature an audience Q&A as well as comedy and music.

This event is sponsored by the SF State Philosophy Club. More information is available on the Department of Philosophy website.

Campus Safety Week, Oct. 14-18

SF State is hosting the third annual Campus Safety Week Oct. 14-18. Campus departments and third-party organizations will be tabling from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, Oct. 14, for Campus Safety Day. Safety-related sessions and trainings — from a self-defense workshop to a chance to meet therapy dogs — are scheduled throughout the week. More session details can be found on the Enterprise Risk Management website.

ITS cyber security events, Oct. 14 & 15

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month. Information Technology’s (IT) theme for its cyber security awareness campaign is “Own IT!” Take ownership of your data and the devices you use to connect. Being connected means we are dependent upon each other to stay safe online. If you do your part protecting your data and devices, it increases security for everyone. Visit the ITS webpage for tips to help you own your online presence and protect yourself when you connect.

IT will also host two events as part of Campus Safety Week. There will be a cyber security table event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, Oct. 14, near Malcolm X Plaza. Drop by to discuss cyber security issues or enter a raffle for a security-themed gift basket. There will also be a cyber security information session from 3 to 4 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 15, in LIB 121. Learn easy-to-use techniques to improve your cyber hygiene and tricks to keep your devices and data safe online.

CEETL’s Happy Hour workshop series, Oct. 17

The Center for Equity and Excellence in Teaching and Learning’s (CEETL) Happy Hour Workshop Series continues from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 17, in LIB 286. This latest workshop — “Use Student Feedback to Improve Your Course” — will be led by Lecturer of English Crystal Wong. Participants will reflect on improvements they wish to make to their courses (such as enhanced student experience, engagement and outcomes) and learn ways to gather student feedback to target those improvements. CEETL will provide light snacks and beer, wine and sparkling water. Please register online to reserve your space. For additional information contact the CEETL team at ceetl@sfsu.edu.

Graduation Initiative 2025 Symposium broadcast viewing sessions, Oct. 17 & 18

CEETL and Academic Technology will host live broadcast sessions for the California State University Graduation Initiative 2025 Symposium on Thursday, Oct. 17, and Friday, Oct. 18.

The CSU Graduation Initiative 2025 aims to ensure that all CSU students have the opportunity to graduate in a timely manner according to their personal goals, positively impacting their future and producing the graduates needed to power California and the nation. Use Qualtrics to register for one or more of the following sessions. For more information email ceetl@sfsu.edu.

  • Thursday, Oct. 17, from 1 to 2:30 p.m.
    • Welcome and Opening Remarks
  • Thursday, Oct. 17, from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m.
    • Grad Talks: CSU, Chico President Gayle Hutchinson, moderator
    • Closing Remarks: CSU Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs Loren J. Blanchard
  • Friday, Oct. 18, from 8:45 to 9:30 a.m.
    • Morning Address: CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White and Cal State Student Association President Michael Wiafe
    • Keynote Speaker Governor Gavin Newsom: “The Future of Public Higher Education in California”
  • Friday, Oct. 18, from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m.
    • Breakout Session: Student Success: In Their Own Words
  • Friday, Oct. 18, from 10:40 to 11:40 a.m.
    • Breakout Session: Using the BCSSE Survey to Generate Targeted Support and Interventions for First-Year Students
  • Friday, Oct. 18, from 12:15 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.
    • Keynote Speaker Lande Ajose: “College Completion and Equity … An Imperative for California”

San Francisco Archives Crawl, Oct. 19

The California Historical Society will host a San Francisco archives crawl from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19. The archives crawl is designed to celebrate archives in the Bay Area and encourage guests to explore and engage with institutions that collect, preserve and provide access to archival material. Pick your own starting point at one of these two institutions: the California Historical Society (678 Mission Street, San Francisco) or the Labor Archives & Research Center at SF State. When you visit the Labor Archives & Research Center you’ll meet archivists and see archives from the Environmental Design Archives, the California State Archives, the Archives of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, the Sutro Library, the California State Library, the SF State University Archives and SF State’s Global Museum. For more details about the crawl and information about each repository visit sfarchivescrawl.blogspot.com.

CEETL’s Equitable Teaching workshop series, Oct. 22, 25

CEETL's Equitable Teaching Series explores foundational teaching approaches that foster equity and inclusivity in support of student success. The latest workshop, Active and Inclusive Learning Strategies, will be held twice this month. Faculty can take part in the workshop Tuesday, Oct. 22, from noon to 1:30 p.m. in LIB 286 or Friday, Oct. 25, from noon to 1 p.m. online via Zoom. In this workshop you will share experiences with active and inclusive learning strategies, explore and evaluate a variety of strategies that foster equitable student engagement and create a plan to implement active and inclusive learning strategies in your teaching.

Register via Qualtrics for the Oct. 22 workshop in LIB 286.

Register via Qualtrics for the Oct. 25 workshop online via Zoom.

Questions? Contact the CEETL team at ceetl@sfsu.edu.

First-Year Seminar/Area E Instructor professional development workshops, Nov. 1 & 8

CEETL, First Year Experience (FYE), Writing Across the Curriculum/Writing in the Disciplines (WAC/WID) and colleagues from the Department of English Language and Literature are working together to offer professional development opportunities for faculty teaching a First-Year Seminar/Area E course on Friday, Nov. 1, from 1 to 3:30 p.m. and Friday, Nov. 8, from 1 to 3:30 p.m. Workshops will focus on written assignments for Area E, Elli Review and E-portfolio. Lecturers will receive $250 for preparation (approximately two hours) and attendance for each Friday they attend. Lunch will be provided on both days. If interested, please RSVP via Qualtrics.

Monday, Oct. 7

Recital: Graduate voice students: 1:10 p.m. in Knuth Hall, Creative Arts building

Tuesday, Oct. 8

Equitable Teaching Series: TILT Your Assignment: noon in LIB 286

Wednesday, Oct. 9

Recital: MadrigalChor Kiel: 1:10 p.m. in Knuth Hall, Creative Arts building

The Best of Yugoslav Cinema: Early Works: 6:30 p.m. in the Coppola Theatre, Fine Arts building

Thursday, Oct. 10

Intel Business Management Group Recruiting Event: 1 p.m. in LIB 121

Lecture: Jewish Studies and Radio: 3:30 p.m. in HUM 415

MPA Prospective Student Informational Session: 6 p.m., online via Zoom

Death Penalty: Ineffective, Irreversible, and Immoral: 6:30 p.m. in LIB 121

Friday, Oct. 11

Equitable Teaching Series: TILT Your Assignment: noon, online via Zoom

AS Liberal and Creative Arts Town Hall: 1 p.m. in the Little Theatre, Creative Arts building

Recital: Christopher Adler: City Lights and Other Stories: 1:10 p.m. in Knuth Hall, Creative Arts building

“Color Your World: A Children’s Musical”: 7 p.m. in the Little Theatre, Creative Arts building

Saturday, Oct. 12

“Color Your World: A Children’s Musical: 10 a.m. in the Little Theatre, Creative Arts building

Superfest: The 33rd International Disability Film Festival: noon at Freight and Salvage, 2020 Addison Street, Berkeley

“Color Your World: A Children's Musical”: 1 p.m. in the Little Theatre, Creative Arts building

Sunday, Oct. 13

Superfest: The 33rd International Disability Film Festival: 11 a.m., Contemporary Jewish Museum, 736 Mission Street, San Francisco

“Color Your World: A Children's Musical”: 1 p.m. in the Little Theatre, Creative Arts building

Matsumoto on the agony of defeat

An episode of the popular podcast “Revisionist History” cited research by Professor of Psychology David Matsumoto. The episode, “A Silver Lining,” examined the dangers of comparing yourself to others. Matsumoto came up thanks to his study of judo medalists at the 2004 Summer Olympics. An expert on facial expressions, Matsumoto found that gold and bronze winners looked happy, but silver medalists not so much. “The martial artists who won silver weren’t just less happy than those in first and third place. They were in a completely different state of mind,” said podcast host Laurie Santos, a Yale psychology professor. “Their facial expressions showed distinctly negative emotions — emotions like sadness, anger and disgust.” Listen to the complete episode.

Smith assesses odds of “President Harris”

Professor Emeritus of Political Science Robert Smith commented on U.S. Senator Kamala Harris’ presidential campaign in a KGO-TV news segment. The report noted that Harris trails the Democratic frontrunners in California polling, but Smith said she still has a chance. “Senator Sanders, Senator Warren, V.P. Biden are leading nationally, and I think [the poll numbers are] generally California following that trend,” Smith said. “She will be able to make or break in California if she does well in Iowa.” See the full report on the KGO-TV website.

Yang weighs in on take out

In another KGO-TV segment, Assistant Professor of Hospitality and Tourism Management Sybil Yang commented on a move toward delivery-only business models by several local restaurants. Although moving out the tables and focusing on deliveries might seem like a big cost-saver because it eliminates overhead, Yang thinks restaurant owners are underestimating the complexity of going virtual. “Going the virtual route sounds easier but not really,” she said. “It’s an operational nightmare on top of an already complex operation.” Her prediction for the future of San Francisco dining: “We’ll probably see more chains because they’re probably more able to open up.” See the full report on the KGO-TV website.

Purser meditates on mindfulness

Professor of Management Ronald Purser discussed the mindfulness and wellness movement on the radio program “The Progressive Commentary Hour.” The author of the recently published book “McMindfulness: How Mindfulness Became the New Capitalist Spirituality,” Purser discussed the origins of the movement and its surprising transformation into big business. “I was baffled to see how the Buddhist spiritual path which has been around for several millennia suddenly just morphed into a very profitable industry,” Purser said. “I think the U.S. meditation market … is estimated to be valued at $1.5 billion, and the market data forecast that it will grow to over $2 billion by 2022. So there’s an incredible monetary interest in commercializing and commodifying what essentially was a very counterculture anti-establishment movement back in the ’60s and ’70s.” Listen to the full interview online.