January 21, 2020

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A tiny sea star in a person's hand

Researchers uncover clues to sea star disease 

All along North America’s West Coast, sea stars are vanishing. The colorful invertebrates are falling victim to one of the largest epidemics ever seen in the ocean: a mysterious plague known as sea star wasting disease. A new study by researchers in the lab of Professor of Biology Sarah Cohen delves into the dramatic decline this disease has caused in Leptasterias — also known as six-rayed sea stars — around San Francisco Bay. The research shows that the afflicted sea stars may have a lot to tell us about why wasting disease ravages some populations and leaves others relatively untouched.

Six-rayed stars are a crucial link in marine food chains, voraciously preying on animals like barnacles, snails and mussels and keeping their populations in check. With many sea star species in steep decline, the delicate tidepool ecosystems they occupy may be at risk, warns study lead author and SF State graduate student Noah Jaffe.

The team combined sea star counts from Jaffe’s fieldwork with pre-existing survey data from numerous sources that was compiled by co-author Renate Eberl, an SF State alum and a biology instructor at Santa Rosa Junior College. This allowed them to estimate Leptasterias populations at 46 sites along the California coast, both north and south of the Bay, as part of their investigation. They found that sea star numbers have declined dramatically in the area around San Francisco. Six-rayed sea stars at many of these beaches died out completely — in contrast, sea stars are still present farther south and abundant in tidepools farther north, even when the disease is present. The key to this difference may lie in ocean current patterns: the waters of the less-affected sites are cool and salty, while the water that flows south out of the Bay is “warmer, less salty and more variable. Those are all stressful things for these animals,” Jaffe explained. And that stress may be making them more susceptible to the unknown virus or bacteria that causes wasting disease.

The results of the research were published in PLOS One on Nov. 21.


Justin Martinez

University programs help underrepresented students succeed

For San Francisco State University senior Justin Martinez (left), the road to a bachelor's degree hasn’t always been smooth. Martinez — who entered foster care at 14 and, like many SF State students, is the first in his family to attend college — left the University twice due to personal hardships.

Fortunately, he’s found support staying on the road to graduation. With assistance from SF State’s Educational Opportunity & Pathway Programs (EOPP), Martinez is set to graduate next semester with a degree in Psychology. A collection of services, EOPP was created to strengthen the retention and graduation rates of students from historically underserved backgrounds — like Martinez.

“First-generation, underserved students are inevitably going to struggle because many things are stacked up against them,” Martinez said. “EOPP has the support to help these students get through it, especially during times when they may doubt themselves.”

Serving over 3,000 first-generation, low-income and former foster care students at SF State, EOPP consists of three programs: the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), Student Support Services (SSS) and the Guardian Scholars Program (GSP). Together, the programs help about 750 disadvantaged students graduate every year.

To participate in these programs, prospective freshmen and transfer students need to complete the EOP portion of the Cal State Apply application for undergraduate admissions. Once they are enrolled at SF State as an EOP student, they are eligible to apply for SSS and GSP. EOP applications for the 2020–2021 academic year will close on Jan. 31.

For more information, including important dates and deadlines, visit the EOPP website.


Skateboarder doing a trick

Study suggests skateboarders offer a life lesson for us all

Lecturer of Sport and Exercise Psychology Michael Boyd believes everyone can learn a valuable life lesson from a particular group of extreme athletes: skateboarders. Research by Boyd suggests that to find motivation in life, you need to focus on learning new things and taking a little risk.

Published in the Journal of Sport Behavior, Boyd’s paper is one of few studies that looks at the psychology of skateboarders. The objective? To determine, among a sample of skateboarders, if goal orientation — or the types of goals a person defines as success — and physical risk-tasking were associated with intrinsic motivation, which is engaging in behavior because it’s personally rewarding.

Boyd interviewed about 150 skateboarders between ages 18 and 32. The skateboarders were first surveyed to measure their appetite for physical risk-tasking. For Boyd, risk means trying new tricks in a safe way to improve skills; not recklessly performing potentially dangerous feats that are clearly beyond a skateboarder’s abilities. Scholars then surveyed skateboarders to determine whether they gravitate more toward task orientation or ego orientation. Athletes exhibiting task orientation feel successful when they learn a new skill through effort and practice, while those demonstrating ego orientation define success as performing better than other people, Boyd explains.

The data proved Boyd’s hypothesis correct: Skateboarders who demonstrated high levels of task orientation and willingness to take risks also showed higher levels of intrinsic motivation. That wasn’t the case for skateboarders who scored high for ego motivation. They exhibited lower levels of intrinsic motivation. This suggests that comparing your performance to other people isn’t conducive to being motivated. That serves as a life lesson for everyone, Boyd says.

“In life, work on your own improvement, forget about comparing yourself to others and take a little risk,” he said.


Symposiums explore Staff Council at SF State

An email to all campus employees sent Jan. 7 from Associate Vice President of Human Resources Ingrid C. Williams advised of upcoming Staff Symposiums to be held Jan. 16 and 17 to explore the creation of a Staff Council at SF State. (CampusMemo was on hiatus.) Inspired by Dylan Mooney, College of Health & Social Sciences staff member and a staff representative to the Academic Senate, and with the support of President Lynn Mahoney, Interim Vice President of Administration and Finance and CFO Jeff Wilson and AVP Williams, the events were well attended by campus staff, with over 260 RSVPs to the events over both days.

Questions were asked about how a Staff Council might work on our campus, and ideas were exchanged among attendees about what issues and community programs might be facilitated with this shared governance model. Whether you attended or not, all are welcome to provide their feedback and ideas online via Qualtrics. All campus staff (with the exception of administrators, MPPs, faculty and department chairs) are welcome to participate in this conversation.

A follow-up for all campus employees and next steps to further explore this concept will be posted in a future CampusMemo. If you have any questions about this process, please contact Dylan Mooney at djmooney@sfsu.edu or Ingrid C. Williams at icwilliams@sfsu.edu.


2019 W-2 Information

The State Controller’s Office (SCO) will mail employees the 2019 Form W-2 Wage and Tax Statement no later than Jan. 31 via the U.S. Postal Service. This includes wages paid in 2019 (December 2018 through November 2019 pay periods). W-2s are mailed to the home address on file for you as of Dec. 13, 2019 (and listed on your Oct. 2019 pay warrant). If your W-2 form is undeliverable, the USPS will return the W-2 statement to the Human Resources office in ADM 252. HR will attempt to notify employees within two weeks of returned W-2s.

If you do not receive your W-2 statement and it is not returned to Human Resources, you will need to file a duplicate W-2 request. You may request a W-2 for more than one tax year; however, only four prior tax years are available, and an $8.50 processing fee applies for each tax year requested.

Note: If the SCO sent your W-2 statement to the address on file as of Dec. 13, 2019 and you did not receive it, you may apply for a fee exception. To receive the exception, you must report the lost W-2 to Human Resources by Wednesday, Feb. 26.

For current active salaried employees, payment for the duplicate Form W-2 may be paid via payroll deduction by checking the appropriate option on Form 436. Once you submit Form 436, the SCO will deduct the fee from your next paycheck. The following employee categories cannot use payroll deduction:

  • Student assistants
  • Hourly employees
  • Special consultants
  • Inactive/terminated employees

All payments must be made via a money order or cashier’s check made payable to the State Controller’s Office. Personal checks are not accepted.

More information regarding Form W-2 is available on the California State Controller website. If you have questions regarding the 2019 Form W-2 Wage and Tax Statement, please contact the payroll representative for your area


University granted patent

SF State has been issued a patent for a method of analyzing teaching techniques using classroom sound levels. Professor of Biology Kimberly Tanner, director of the University’s Science Education Partnership and Assessment Laboratory, helped develop the tool through research funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and National Science Foundation. This is the first patent granted to the University in several years. Learn more about Tanner’s research at news.sfsu.edu


Distinguished faculty, staff award nominations open

Nomination applications for distinguished faculty and staff awards are now open. These awards provide an opportunity for our campus to recognize and honor outstanding tenured faculty, full-time lecturers and staff who have demonstrated significant long-term contributions to the University and to their disciplines. By recognizing the achievements of distinguished faculty in the areas of teaching, service, and professional achievement and growth the campus community celebrates the University’s climate of excellence. Complete the online nomination form.


Minimum wage increase

Effective Jan.  1, the California minimum wage increased from $12 per hour to $13 per hour. As a result, the California State University will change the salary range for certain Hourly Classification Codes. For details, please visit the Human Resources website.

If you have employees currently appointed at less than these new minimums, their pay rate will have been automatically updated to the minimum of $13 per hour effective Jan. 1. Please note: The full-time salary rate for non-hourly classifications that are below the new minimum increased to $2,254.00 per month effective Jan. 1.

Questions regarding the minimum wage increase should be directed to your department’s payroll representative.


Retirement Association offers faculty travel grants

The San Francisco State University Retirement Association awards grants to faculty and staff for career-related travel. When funds are available, travel grants are awarded annually, alternating yearly between faculty (even-numbered years) and staff (odd-numbered years). All faculty (tenured/tenure-track/lecturer appointed .4 or more/FERP) and staff appointed half-time or more are eligible. Management Personnel Plan (MPP) personnel and adjunct faculty are not eligible.

The deadline for submitting applications is April 1. The Travel Grants Committee reviews applications and selects awards based on the strength of the proposal: its value to the applicant’s work at SF State and to students and other members of the University community. The proposal should be directly related to the applicant’s professional activities (e.g., participation/presentation at a conference or workshop, summer field work, research or attendance at an institute). Travel must occur between May 1 of the application year and May 1 of the following year. Presenting at a conference, chairing a session at a conference, benefit to students and the University, explanation of budget, and the applicant’s professional preparation are all considered in reviewing applications and selecting grant recipients. The grant maximum is $1,000. Up to five grants may be awarded annually, funds permitting. 

The application form is available online at retire.sfsu.edu/travel-grants. The completed form should be sent to all members of the Travel Grants Committee.


Power and the People: The U.S. Census and Who Counts, Jan. 22

The campus community is invited to the Sutro Library Reading Room (J. Paul Leonard Library, fifth floor) from noon to 1 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 22, for a discussion of the U.S. census, why it matters and its historical context. To be presented by the curators of a new census exhibit at the UC Berkeley Library, the talk will explore race and ethnicity issues, measuring immigration, the citizenship question controversy and the census and genealogy. RSVP for this free event via Eventbrite.  


Faculty Retreat 2020, Jan. 23

Members of the SF State teaching community, be sure to attend the this year’s faculty retreat from 9:15 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 23, at Annex I. Faculty Retreat 2020 will be an opportunity to gather in a common space, in community, to honor the synergistic relationship between the University and our city as we share a collective responsibility to educate and lead a new generation of Bay Area residents. President Lynn Mahoney and Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Jennifer Summit will provide opening and closing remarks. There will be a plenary delivered by Professor of Asian American Studies Allyson Tintiangco-Cubales and Associate Professor of Latina/Latino Studies Jeff Duncan-Andrade as well as a project-based discussion and tabletop workshops to build momentum on multiple initiatives that foster pedagogies for inclusive excellence. The event will close with a reception to celebrate the productive discussions of the day and the scholarly and creative achievements of the past year.

Register for the retreat and sign up for tabletop workshops via Qualtrics. Visit the CEETL webpage for more information.


Gerontology Program info sessions, Jan. 28 & Feb. 18

The School of Public Affairs and Civic Engagement’s Gerontology Program will hold info sessions for prospective students from 5 to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 28, and from 7 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 18, in HSS 242. Additionally, an online webinar is scheduled from noon to 1 p.m. Tuesday, March 10. See details on the PACE and Gerontology Program websites. May 1 is the deadline for new student admissions applications for fall 2020.


University Budget Committee meeting, Feb. 3

The University Budget Committee (UBC) will meet from 10 a.m. to noon Monday, Feb. 3, in ADM 560. The UBC is charged with providing the University president with advice and recommendations related to budget policy, planning and review. Meetings are open to the public. There will be a 10-minute open forum period for interested members of the campus community to speak on budget and funding issues. The UBC meeting welcomes persons with disabilities and will provide reasonable accommodations upon request. If you would like reasonable accommodations for this event, please contact Nancy Ganner at ext. 5-7305 or ganner@sfsu.edu as soon as possible so your request may be reviewed.


In memoriam: Naomi Katz

Professor Emerita of Anthropology Naomi Katz died Nov. 9, 2019. Her B.A. was from Stanford and her Ph.D. (1967) in anthropology was from UCLA, with a dissertation on “The Kingdom of Dahomey: political organization and ecological relations in a slave trading state.” She came to SF State in 1970 and was named an emerita professor in 1994, when multiple sclerosis forced her into early retirement.

Katz’s journal articles included “Tradition and Adaptation in American Jewish Humor,” co-authored with her husband, Eli Katz (Journal of American Folklore, 1971); “The Subject as Subject: A Study of the Returning Woman Student,” co-authored, in Anthropology and Education Quarterly (1975); and “Social Anthropology and Some Trends in Contemporary Marxist Thought,” co-authored, in American Anthropologist (1978). She and Nancy Milton edited the book “Fragment from a Lost Diary and Other Stories: Women of Asia, Africa, and Latin America” (1973; republished in Britain, 1975).

A popular teacher, Katz was legendary for her graduate seminars. An activist for left causes since her Stanford days, she moved in 2012 to the Redwoods, a Mill Valley retirement community. There she continued her writing and activism through a memoir-writing group and the organization Mill Valley Seniors for Peace. Until her final weeks, Katz joined others from the Redwoods in weekly demonstrations against war. A memorial service will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. Jan. 25 at Northbrae Community Church, 941 Alameda, Berkeley.

Tintiangco-Cubales receives Lifetime Achievement Award

Professor of Asian American Studies Allyson Tintiangco-Cubales has been selected by the UC Davis Social Justice Awards Committee to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award for Embodying Equity and Diversity for her outstanding service record. The award will be presented at the 10th Annual UC Davis Equity Summit in March. Congratulations, Professor!


Veri talks tailgates

Associate Professor of Kinesiology Maria J. Veri and co-author Rita Liberti recently appeared on the podcast “New Books in Sports” to discuss their book “Gridiron Gourmet: Gender and Food at the Football Tailgate,” which examines the history and culture of tailgate parties. “We really see it as a way of presenting or reaffirming masculinity, just in a different way,” Veri said. Listen to the full interview online.


McGinnis presents on aging in California

Lecturer of Gerontology Patricia McGinnis presented on the topic “Federal Landscape and California Action Needed” at a meeting of the Long-Term Services and Supports Subcommittee of the state’s Master Plan for Aging (MPA) initiative earlier this month. The MPA was formed to help the state prepare for a rapidly growing over-65 population — a challenge McGinnis is keenly aware of as executive director of the nonprofit organization California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform.


Roe reviews travel credit cards

Associate Professor of Hospitality & Tourism Management Susan Roe wrote about the benefits of travel credit cards for the WalletHub website. “Travel credit cards can provide a variety of benefits that could be valuable to even the infrequent traveler including perks like waived checked baggage charges, no foreign transaction fees for international charges and companion fly free vouchers,” Roe wrote. Read the full article.


Gard on sticking to fitness goals

Professor of Psychology David Gard was quoted in a Shape article about maintaining motivation when setting personal fitness goals. People can become overwhelmed when they set ambitious goals, which discourages them from continuing. Gard suggests setting smaller, attainable goals. “Focusing too much on big goals can be more daunting; at some point, you may not be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” he said. “But with smaller goals, you constantly see progress, which is motivating.” Read the full article.


How does McBride do it?

“How Did Lubitsch Do It?” by School of Cinema Professor Joseph McBride was named 2019’s best book about silent film by the readers of the Silent London website. The book examines the life and career of film director Ernst Lubitsch.