Stories that Inspire and Amaze

This spring I had the opportunity to interview a number of amazing Spartan scientists. Among them:

Steven Valdespino, ’19 Biochemistry, Mulatwa Haile, ’19 Biological Sciences, SJSU Biological Sciences Associate Professor Katie Wilkinson, Apoorva Karekal, ’20 MS Biological Sciences. Photo by Josie Lepe.

Steven Valdespino, ’19 Biochemistry, Mulatwa Haile, ’19 Biological Sciences, SJSU Biological Sciences Associate Professor Katie Wilkinson, Apoorva Karekal, ’20 MS Biological Sciences. Photo by Josie Lepe.

Finding One's Way: Proprioception and Biological Research: How do we use sensory information to move, balance, and position ourselves? Associate Professor of Biological Sciences Katherine Wilkinson developed a neurophysiology lab at SJSU to explore how and why the human body interacts with the world around us.

L-R: Idan Siman-Tov, ’19 Biological Sciences, Veronica Bi, ’20 Biological Sciences, Jordan Mitchell, ’19 Biological Sciences, Nebat Ali, ’19 Biological Sciences, Muhammad Taha Muqtadir, ’19 Biological Sciences, Anjana Baradwaj, full-time research associate and Associate Professor of Biological Sciences Miri VanHoven. Photo courtesy of Miri VanHoven.

L-R: Idan Siman-Tov, ’19 Biological Sciences, Veronica Bi, ’20 Biological Sciences, Jordan Mitchell, ’19 Biological Sciences, Nebat Ali, ’19 Biological Sciences, Muhammad Taha Muqtadir, ’19 Biological Sciences, Anjana Baradwaj, full-time research associate and Associate Professor of Biological Sciences Miri VanHoven. Photo courtesy of Miri VanHoven.

Solving DNA Puzzles, One Worm at a Time: How do neurons transmit messages throughout the body? How are memories formed? Miri VanHoven’s neurogenetics lab at San Jose State explores big questions.

Jaime Alcala, ’19 Geology; Hollianne McClure, ’20 Geology; Alianora Walker, ’20 MS Geology; SJSU Geology Professor Manny Gabet; and ranger Rob Cala of San Mateo County Parks’ Fitzgerald Marine Preserve examine a site at the San Gregario fault at Pillar Point Bluff, Calif. Photo courtesy of Assistant Professor of Geology Kim Blisniuk.

Jaime Alcala, ’19 Geology; Hollianne McClure, ’20 Geology; Alianora Walker, ’20 MS Geology; SJSU Geology Professor Manny Gabet; and ranger Rob Cala of San Mateo County Parks’ Fitzgerald Marine Preserve examine a site at the San Gregario fault at Pillar Point Bluff, Calif. Photo courtesy of Assistant Professor of Geology Kim Blisniuk.

Geology From the Ground Up: SJSU Assistant Professor of Geology Kim Blisniuk explores how geologists measure seismicity and communicate earthquake risk to the communities that could one day be affected.

California Assemblymember Evan Low. Photo by David Schmitz.

California Assemblymember Evan Low. Photo by David Schmitz.

Evan Low’s American Dream: Evan Low, ’03 Political Science, was the youngest openly gay mayor of an American city.

Women in sport

This year I've enjoyed the incredible privilege of interviewing a number of woman athletes who graduated from San Jose State University. Over the past several months I have sought out women of different generations who have competed at the collegiate, national, Olympic and professional levels--women who have created opportunities for subsequent generations before, during and after the passage of Title IX. I'm proud to share their stories:

Photo: Otto Brettmann/ Brettmann / Getty Images

Photo: Otto Brettmann/ Brettmann / Getty Images

Margaret Jenkins, '25 Education, threw discus in the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam as a member of the first women's track and field team representing the United States. She pitched for her high school baseball team, which lost only one game, participated in two Olympic Games, collected more than 100 medals throughout her career and was inducted into three halls of fame before her death in 1996 at age 92. Read her story here.

Photo: David Schmitz

Photo: David Schmitz

"Small acts of defiance make change," says Carolyn Lewis, '70 Kinesiology, '70 Teaching Credential. The four-sport collegiate athlete became a coach and athletics administrator and helped create SJSU's Gender Equity Plan. Read her story here.

Photo: SJSU Athletics

Photo: SJSU Athletics

Record-setting gymnast Thomasina Wallace, '12 Kinesiology, says "20 percent of the sport is talent and 80 percent is how mentally prepared are you to perform your routines while others are judging you." Read her story here.

Photo: courtesy of Tracy Hanson

Photo: courtesy of Tracy Hanson

SJSU alumna and LPGA golfer Tracy Hanson supports athletes who face significant obstacles, including abuse and performance acceptance, in their pursuit of sport. Read her story here.

Photo: Courtesy of West Coast Fencing Archive

Photo: Courtesy of West Coast Fencing Archive

"To see women perform at high levels, and to hear those women speak and present themselves, I think changes a lot of people's opinions and outlook on women," says Gay MacLellan, '83 MA Kinesiology. Read her story here.

Photo: David Schmitz

Photo: David Schmitz

"Sport is a great equalizer," says Dana Dormann, '90 Finance. Now associate head coach of SJSU's women's golf team, Dormann competed on the team that took Spartan golf to victory in the 1987 NCAA Championships. Read her story here

Photo credit: David Schmitz

Photo credit: David Schmitz

"I came from a family that didn't put any boundaries on gender," says two-time Olympic medalist swimmer Lynn Vidali Gautschi '76 Kinesiology, '77 Teaching Credential. "I had no idea that only 25 percent of women in the United States were in sports at that time. Read her story here.

Photo: David Schmitz

Photo: David Schmitz

Olympic medalist Marti Malloy, '10 Advertising, '15 MS Mass Communications, says training with legendary judo coach and @SJSU alumnus Yoshihiro Uchida gave herperspective on social justice in athletics -- and helped her dismiss stereotypes about women in sports. Read her story here.

Photo: Courtesy of Stacey Johnson

Photo: Courtesy of Stacey Johnson

Champion fencer Stacey Johnson, '80 Public Relations, has made it her mission to “speak actively for women.” As the first woman president to hold a four-year term as president of the U.S. Fencing Association, it is thanks in part to her efforts that women fencers could finally compete in all three disciplines of the sport at the Olympic level. Read her story here.

I feel incredibly lucky to meet and learn from such talented and hardworking individuals here at San Jose State. I hope this is just the beginning!