September 5, 2023

News and Announcements

two students in restaurant service attire pass through double doors holding plates

The Vista Room, the sit-down service training restaurant, is open Tuesdays only for lunch at 11:45 a.m. starting today, Sept. 5. More information can be found on the Vista Room website or make your reservation directly through Yelp

Juan Mendoza using lab equipment

SF State alumnus Juan Mendoza gets emotional thinking about how much has changed in his family in just one generation. His parents immigrated to the United States from a small farming town in Mexico where they had limited educational opportunities. Thanks to them, Mendoza is now at a top research university as a faculty scientist whose accomplishments were recently recognized by one of the premier research organizations in the United States. 

“That potential is out there. It could be anyone. [But] I had to be found to be where I am,” said Mendoza (B.S., ’03), crediting SF State’s part in his journey. When the Howard Hughes Medical Institute named him one of 31 inaugural Freeman Hrabowski scholars earlier this year, he was quick to thank his SF State mentors for setting him up for success. 

Mendoza’s recent accolade recognizes early career faculty for their outstanding research and commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion in science. The research award provides up to $8.6 million for each scholar for the next 10 years. 

“Working at San Francisco State with other students is when I fell in love with research science. That got me through the really tough times at the graduate level and at the postdoc level and still gets me through hard times now as faculty as well,” said Mendoza, who is an assistant professor at the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering. 

As an undergrad, Mendoza originally transferred to SF State from a private university in Washington state because it was more affordable. An aspiring physician, he was a Biochemistry major but struggled academically, partly because he worked so much. He ultimately left school early to join the dot-com boom and worked in tech for a few years. When the economic upheaval after 9/11 left him unemployed, Mendoza returned to SF State to finish his bachelor’s degree. 

“I don’t know how but somehow [Frank Bayliss] found me,” Mendoza said, explaining that Bayliss — the director of the Student Enrichment Opportunities (SEO) office at the time — completely shifted his educational experience. Bayliss helped Mendoza get a fellowship and connect with SF State faculty. 

“What really changed my life was being able to focus on studying and research. That really brought out that excellence in me,” Mendoza said. In addition to financial support, SEO helped him connect with faculty like Chemistry and Biochemistry Professor Raymond Esquerra. This network helped him get research experience and solid letters of recommendation, giving him a chance at really good Ph.D. programs, Mendoza adds. 

“Dr. Esquerra is someone that I just completely admire,” said Mendoza, who was a postbaccalaureate researcher in Esquerra’s lab. This lab was where Mendoza fell in love with protein structure and its role in human health and biology. His mentor was the first to encourage Mendoza to combine his computational tech background with chemistry. 

“It got me so excited. It gave me that first idea of combining both lab science and computation, which at that time was a lot rarer than it is now,” he explained. Computational science is now heavily integrated into many life science and biotech jobs. 

At the University of Chicago, Mendoza runs his own lab and mentors his own host of students. His group studies the biophysics of the immune system. They want to understand how proteins interact and how scientists can bioengineer protein structure and protein interactions to improve human health. His lab also uses computational tools to advance protein engineering. So much of this started at SF State, says Mendoza — and he’s determined to give his students the same kind of support that made such a difference for him. 

“I want to pay it back,” he said. “I’m just one person, but San Francisco State and the SEO office have helped so many people. I’m just trying to do my little part, not only in my lab, but in other parts of campus.”

Jay Jeffrey smiles in front of a pink wall

Named by The Advocate as one of the “five hottest transgender comedians,” Jay will perform at 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 8, in the Student Life Events Center.  

Jay is a regular on the college comedy tour circuit, performing standup comedy followed by an audience Q&A. Per his bio, Jay’s favorite television credit is winning $1,500 on “Let’s Make a Deal” dressed as a panda. 

Visit the GatorFest page for more information and the full GatorFest schedule

The Nicholas J. Certo Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences University Clinic, in Burk Hall 114, is open for speech therapy services this fall semester. The clinic serves clients and their families who need support in augmentative and alternative communication, autism spectrum, developmental language disabilities, traumatic head injury, strokes and more.  

The clinic schedules clients throughout the week at a variety of times. Some services are offered virtually. Please visit the clinic web page or email for more information or to apply. 

The Employee and Family Housing office provides comfortable and convenient on-campus housing options for SF State faculty and staff. With apartment options located in University Park North and University Park South, living on campus eliminates your commute to work, brings you closer to campus resources, and introduces you to a diverse community of individuals dedicated to uplifting SF State’s mission.  

Please email the Employee and Family Housing office at for current availability and rates. 

The SF State Academic Senate met on Tuesday, Aug. 29, at Seven Hills Conference Center and via Zoom. A summary of the meeting follows. The senate: 

  • Held election for at-large representative to Executive Committee: David Hellman, Library 

  • Adopted by consent Error Correction on S22-301 Sabbatical and Leaves with Pay Policy.  

Visit the Academic Senate website for the full agenda, meeting materials and minutes. 

Training sessions this fall for the Grants Management System (GMS) are now listed on the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs (ORSP) website. Use the training sign-up sheet to sign up. 

The system is used to initiate proposals working with ORSP through the proposal development and submission process. Sessions include: PI Training to Initiate Proposals and GMS Budget Overview. Those who have completed one of the sessions are more than welcome to sign up again for a refresher training. Please direct your questions or login issues to the GMS Help Desk

The Career and Leadership Development (CLD) team in the Division of Graduate Studies and Career Development invites the campus community to the Part-Time Job Fair on Thursday, Sept. 7, noon – 3 p.m. in Jack Adams Hall. This University-wide event is a fantastic opportunity for students to explore part-time job and internship opportunities from a diverse group of employers, including nonprofit organizations. Please stop by and meet the division team and learn more about employers interested in contributing to SF State students’ career development. 

CLD and the Division of Graduate Studies and Career Development would like to thank their friends from the Japanese Community Youth Center, Management Leadership for Tomorrow, Sherwin-Williams, San Francisco Beacon Initiative, San Francisco Unified School District and Enterprise Holdings.

Are you a Gator² (alumni who are also staff or faculty)? The Alumni Association invites our Gators² to the 2023 Campus Alumni Luncheon on Thursday, Sept. 21, 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. on the fifth-floor patio of the Administration building. Connect with colleagues who are also Gators and learn about what’s new on campus.  

Admission is free, but registration is required. The deadline to register is 8 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 13. For questions, please contact Marciana Flores

“See You Space Cowboy ... From Hokusai to Hiphop” will open Saturday, Sept 23, in the Fine Arts Gallery in the Fine Arts building. The opening reception is 1 – 3 p.m. The best times to visit this free exhibit are Tuesdays through Fridays, noon – 4 p.m., or by appointment. 

The exhibit explores the influence of Japanese graphic arts, manga and anime on contemporary visual culture. It includes an original Hokusai portfolio on loan from the Sutro Library; works from Rozeal. with Apexer, Yuki Maruyama, Craig Nagasawa, Mike and Mark Davis aka The Madtwiinz, Masako Miki, Sylvia Solochek Walters, Daniel Acosta, Gajin Fujita, Erika Klash and a selection of anime-inspired skate decks. Major support for this exhibition has been provided by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. 

The exhibit will run through Thursday, Oct. 26. The closing reception is Friday, Oct. 20, 5 – 8 p.m. 

“See You Space Cowboy” is organized by Sharon E. Bliss, Kevin B. Chen and Anthropology Professor Dawn-Elissa Fischer with recent SF State alum Cooper Fareira and student Zaki Willis. 

On Tuesday, Sept. 26, the Alumni Association and SF State historian Mark Sigmon will host Gators Talkin’ Baseball, the third annual virtual history lesson about America’s favorite pastime, a sport that’s reflective of the cultural heritage and social themes of the times. In honor of the Oakland Athletics and John Fisher moving to Las Vegas, this year’s topic will cover bad Major League Baseball owners. 

Submit your baseball questions in advance when you RSVP for the event. For questions, please contact Ken Maeshiro

The Alumni Association invites you to a special night at the Sequoyah Country Club in the beautiful redwoods outside of Oakland on Wednesday, Sept. 27. The elegant club is the perfect setting to hear about the latest SF State news as well as meet new and old Gator friends. Hors d’oeuvres and wine will be served. Wachira Black Label Sparkling Wine will be featured.  

Limited tickets available. Register by Sept. 19. For questions, please contact Marciana Flores

The ADVANCE Scholars’ hub will convene in a monthly cohort of invited fellows beginning in October. There will be six sessions, in October, November, December, February, March and April. All fellows will receive $1,000 for their engagement in monthly discussion. Please apply by Sept. 15 using this application portal.  

The ADVANCE Transforms Scholars’ hub is a project of National Science Foundation ADVANCE Transforms. The goal is to create institutional mechanisms to support advancement for women faculty in STEM, focusing on women of color faculty. 

The 2023 – 2024 Scholar’s Hub theme is “Building New Relationships, Fostering a Culture of Care among new and recently joining SF State Faculty.” 

Please join the SF State Alumni Association on Saturday, Oct. 7, at Ceja Vineyards in Napa for a special wine tasting event from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Longtime SF State supporter Amelia Ceja will guide a sampling of some of their finest wines. Afterward enjoy a lunch with new and old Gator friends, catered by Marco from SF State’s Taqueria Girasol.  

The cost is $50 per person. Space is limited. Please RSVP by Friday, Sept. 15. For questions, please contact Ken Maeshiro

The SF State Safe Zone Ally program seeks staff, faculty and administrators to become safe zone allies for the campus LGBTQ+ community. The Safe Zone Ally program’s mission is to foster a welcoming, inclusive, and equitable campus environment by building a support network for people of all gender and sexual identities. Safe Zone allies are active and visible volunteers who are open to talking to members of the LGBTQ+ community in a confidential and supportive environment.  

To become a Safe Zone ally, volunteers must complete a Safe Zone Ally training. Several Safe Zone Ally trainings are offered throughout the year. The next training will be held virtually in two parts (participants must be able to attend both): Friday, Nov. 3, 1 – 4 p.m., and Friday, Nov. 10, 1 – 4 p.m. For details about the training and to register, please RVSP to Rick Nizzardini (You must pre-register in order to participate). 

SF State Spotlight

Recreation, Parks, Tourism and Holistic Health Professor Erik Peper and alum Pamela Jertberg authored the article “The Healing of Vulvodynia from the Client’s Perspective,” republished in Townsend Letter on Aug. 27. The paper explores how a person was able to find relief from her condition by practicing biofeedback, meditation and visualization and working with a holistic health coach. 

Pride Magazine, based in North Carolina, featured former Psychology Professor and Dean of Undergraduate Studies Joseph L. White as one of four pioneers of Black mental health on Aug. 26. Regarded as “the father or godfather of Black psychology,” the late White was SF State’s 2008 Alumnus of the Year. 

“A pioneer in modern Black psychology, he helped found the Association of Black Psychologists as well as the Black Studies program at San Francisco State University in 1968,” the article stated. “Dr. White received many awards during his career, including the Citation of Achievement in Psychology and Community Service from President Bill Clinton.” 

The NumberPhile podcast features an in-depth interview with Mathematics Professor Federico Ardila, discussing a range of topics including math, music, diversity and higher education. He says he cherishes being a member of the SF State faculty. 

“This is where I wanted to be, and I was extremely excited to find this job, be very serious about my research, very serious about my teaching,” Ardila said in the Aug. 23 interview. “[I am able to] work with this amazing student population that I wanted to work with, that is extremely diverse, and I get to be in the Bay Area.” 

In 1970, a groundbreaking class in La Raza Journalism at SF State established the El Tecolote newspaper and launched many careers, including for Edgar Sanchez (B.A., ’74). In an essay published Aug. 24 in El Tecolote, Sanchez tells his story of enrolling in SF State in 1970 through the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) and embracing his growing enthusiasm for reporting.  

Under the leadership of Professor Juan Gonzales (B.A., ’68), El Tecolote was — and still is — a bilingual newspaper distributed in San Francisco’s Mission District. 

“My involvement, starting with the second edition in September 1970, led to a 32-year career as a professional news reporter — first, at the Palm Beach Post in Florida and later, the Sacramento Bee,” Sanchez wrote. “While most of my assignments were local, I also covered news across the Americas, including three expeditions to document the civil war in my homeland, El Salvador. 

“Now semi-retired, I say: ‘Thank you, Tecolote. My gratitude for opening doors for me. Your impact endures.’” 

John Logan, professor and director of Labor and Employment Studies, is quoted extensively in an Aug. 26 story in The Guardian detailing union-busting efforts by Starbucks. 

“Unless Starbucks is made to pay a real price for its illegal conduct, there will be no reason for it not to violate the law,” Logan said. “I would like to see a discussion of having criminal penalties for CEOs whose companies engage in egregious unlawful practices.”