Fire, Water and Spirit

This year, I’ve gotten the opportunity to write about wildfire researchers, stem cell scientists, pioneering STEM educators, a MacArthur genius, and the first woman to receive tenure in SJSU’s chemistry department—to name a few.

Craig Clements in Paradise, 2018. Photo by the SJSU Fire Weather Research Lab.

Craig Clements in Paradise, 2018. Photo by the SJSU Fire Weather Research Lab.

I will never look at a forest the same, thanks to the expertise and wisdom of SJSU’s Associate Professor of Meteorology and Climate Science Craig Clements. He shared his experience collecting data 100 feet from the plumes outside Paradise in November 2018, accompanied by an undergraduate and a graduate student researcher. Check out our spring/summer feature “On Fire” to learn more.

Titus Kaphar, a painter and sculptor who addresses the lack of representation of people of color in the history of Western art, at his studio in New Haven, CT. (Photo by John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation)

Titus Kaphar, a painter and sculptor who addresses the lack of representation of people of color in the history of Western art, at his studio in New Haven, CT. (Photo by John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation)

Sculptor and artist Titus Kaphar sees art as an opportunity to shed light on history—and to examine and challenge commonly accepted narratives. The founder of a collaborative artist space in New Haven, Kaphar is a true visionary.

The teachers and staff of San Jose’s AdVENTURE STEM school. Photo by David Schmitz.

The teachers and staff of San Jose’s AdVENTURE STEM school. Photo by David Schmitz.

What exactly is STEM education and why does it matter? I had the chance to interview a number of teachers at San Jose’s AdVENTURE STEM middle school, as well as the dean of SJSU’s Connie L. Lurie College of Education, chemistry professor Lionel Cheruzel, and Intel’s Rita Holiday. Read more on Washington Square.

Marc Slattery dives in Pohnpei, Micronesia. Photo by Debora Gochfeld.

Marc Slattery dives in Pohnpei, Micronesia. Photo by Debora Gochfeld.

SJSU alumnus Marc Slattery studies how the chemistry of marine invertebrates could help scientists understand how to develop drugs. The professor of pharmacognosy and environmental toxicology at the University of Mississippi was awarded the 2018 Distinguished Research and Creative Achievement in recognition of his work.

Members of the  Stem Cell Internships and Laboratory-Based Learning  program will be graduating in 2020 with either a master’s in biological sciences or a master’s in bioinformatics. Photo by Salma Farid.

Members of the Stem Cell Internships and Laboratory-Based Learning program will be graduating in 2020 with either a master’s in biological sciences or a master’s in bioinformatics. Photo by Salma Farid.

The Stem Cell Internships and Laboratory-Based Learning program at San Jose State offers graduate students experience in stem cell research labs while they pursue their degrees, preparing them for competitive careers in academia, biotech or research.

With Ruth Yaffe at her house in Los Altos, March 2019. Photo by Tom Sanders.

With Ruth Yaffe at her house in Los Altos, March 2019. Photo by Tom Sanders.

In March 2019 I had the opportunity to meet pioneering professor/scientist Ruth Yaffe, who started teaching in SJSU’s chemistry department in 1957, later becoming the first tenured woman professor in the department. A pioneering chemist with a love for Great Danes, it was a pleasure to learn more about her.