RSCA in Five: Faculty Short Talks on Community Engagement

RSCA flyer

Much of the research, scholarship, and creative activity on campus is designed to bring educational, economic, and social benefits to our local and global communities. Here we invite talks that showcase RSCA projects conducted in collaboration with our community partners. We welcome talks from Community-based Participatory Research practitioners, community-action researchers, participatory action research, ethnographers, and/or other methods that directly involve the community in the design, execution, evaluation, and/or dissemination of research.

Lunch will be served.

Join us on December 2, 2022 from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. as we explore these fields together. Please note that this event will be held in person, in Meeting Room 3 A&B, in the SJSU Student Union.

You may register for the event on our RSVP form.

SJSU welcomes the following faculty who will be presenting their research.

rachel berkowitz

Dr. Rachel Lynn 

College of Human & Health Sciences, Department of Public Health & Recreation

Joint Talk Title: Community-Engaged Applied Research: Lessons Learned from the Santa Clara County Health Equity Agenda Qualitative Research Project

Dr. Berkowitz has worked for over a decade in public health as a researcher, teacher, and practitioner. Throughout her career, she has focused on how systems, structures, and places create and perpetuate health inequities. Her research uses quantitative, qualitative, and participatory methods and draws on the principles and approaches of critical race theory, community-based participatory research, human-centered design, and implementation science. Originally from South Florida, she received her Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Cultural Anthropology with a minor in Global Health Studies from Northwestern University, her Masters of Public Health (MPH) in Global Health with a focus on Community Health and Development from Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, and her Doctor of Public Health degree (DrPH) from the School of Public Health at University of California, Berkeley.

Professor Kim Blisniuk

Dr. Kimberly Blisniuk

College of Science, Department of Geology

Talk Title: Searching for the Hidden History of Past Really Big Earthquakes

Prof. Kim Blisniuk researches the surface of the earth to study hazards, mainly “paleo” earthquakes", preserved in the landscape. She combines field mapping near active faults with geochronology to better understand the movement of these faults over Quaternary timescales. These data are used in probability earthquake models to assess seismic hazards throughout California. SJSU and its surrounding urban region are susceptible to earth hazards, including earthquakes, liquefaction, and landslides. The societal impact of this research is high because the rate at which a fault moves—how fast it moves over time—is proportional to the fault’s seismic hazard potential. These data points are used to refine earthquake hazard models that forecast the potential of future earthquakes and their recurrence. 

Andrew Carter

Dr. Andrew Carter |

College of Health and Human Sciences, Department of Public Health and Recreation

Talk Title: "You Don’t Look Like a Farmer”: A Critical Analysis of Black Women Farming Narratives

Dr. Carter’s research interests include health disparities, critical food studies, community-based participatory research, and intercultural communication, where he
examines intersections of culture, power, resistance, meaning construction, and voice in public
discourses on health. A primary feature of his work explores how Black farmers challenge
norms, power inequities, and structural barriers in the agriculture industry to preserve their
cultural legacies and use farming as an emancipatory vehicle to address broader social, public
health, and economic disparities among the Black community. His talk will focus on the lived
experiences and advocacy efforts of National Women in Agriculture Association, the largest non-profit
for Black women in agriculture nationally.

Yu Chen

Yu Chen

Lucas College and Graduate School of Business, School of Information Systems and Technology 

Talk Title: Broadening Inclusive Participation in Artificial Intelligence Undergraduate Education for Social Good Using A Situated Learning Approach

Dr. Yu Chen is an assistant professor at the School of Information Systems and Technology in the Lucas College and Graduate School of Business at San Jose State University (SJSU). Her research interests include technology for social good, conversational agents, and health informatics. This talk will introduce an educational research project that engages undergraduate students to create artificial intelligence (AI) powered tools that address important social issues in their communities. This project is sponsored by the National Science Foundation IUSE and HSI grant, and she is leading the effort with three CSU campuses and the Chancellor's Office. 

Vicky Gomez

Vicky Gomez |

College of Human & Health Sciences, Department of Public Health & Recreation

Joint Talk Title: Community-Engaged Applied Research: Lessons Learned from the Santa Clara County Health Equity Agenda Qualitative Research Project

Dr. Vicky Gomez, Assistant Professor at San José State University, was born and raised in San Francisco’s Mission District and obtained her BS in Health Science and BA in Raza Studies from San Francisco State University (SFSU). She went on to obtain her Master of Public Health degree (MPH) in Community Health Education from SFSU in 2009. In 2018, she completed her Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) degree from UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health. 

Dr. Gomez is an experienced community-based participatory researcher with an emphasis on centering meaningful community engagement. Her current research agenda includes addressing health inequities in marginalized communities, addressing imposter syndrome among first-generation college students as co-researchers, and creating digital stories as a community health promotion strategy. 

Rhonda Holberton

Rhonda Holberton |

College of Humanities & the Arts, Department of Art & Art History

Talk Title: H&A in San José: Campus & Community Series

Rhonda Holberton is a digital media artist. Her recent research projects include a Knight Foundation grant to prototype the initiation of a Digital Stewardship Center at SJSU and an NEA Grant to support artistic interpretations responding to historical archives housed within San José. Her talk will focus on an interdisciplinary initiative she spearheaded with the College of Humanities Research committee to support inter-institutional collaborations and public research within the college.

grace howard


College of Social Sciences, Department of Justice Studies

Talk Title: The Pregnancy Police: What's coming post-Dobbs?

Grace Howard is an Assistant Professor of Justice Studies at SJSU. Her book, The Pregnancy Police: Conceiving Crime, Arresting Personhood, is forthcoming with University of California Press. Her area of expertise is in the law and politics of reproduction, with an emphasis on the criminalization of pregnancy and the legal dimensions of personhood for people with the capacity for pregnancy.

Amna Jaffer

Dr. Amna Jaffer |

Connie L. Lurie College of Education, Department of Counselor Education

Talk Title: Counseling for Social Justice - A Qualitative Exploratory Study

Amna Jaffer is a lecturer in the Department of Counselor Education teaching classes on career exploration to undergraduate students and preparing graduate students to work as counselors in K-12, higher education, and community/clinical settings. Dr. Jaffer's qualitative research focuses on the role of school counselors as social justice advocates for all students. The data from interviews with school counselors and other school professionals and educators illuminates the desire to meet professional ethical standards of disrupting inequities. However, school counselors serve student numbers that are far above the maximum recommended by national and local professional associations in school counseling and this has made the task of advocacy both challenging and essential. Dr. Jaffer received her Ed.D and MA from SJSU and completed her BA in psychology and theatre at Agnes Scott College in Atlanta as an international student from Pakistan. Dr. Jaffer is also a trainer, educator, and practitioner of Psychodrama and Group Psychotherapy.

Elena Klaw

Elena Klaw

College of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology

Talk Title:

Dr. Elena Klaw is a Psychology Professor and a licensed clinical psychologist. She serves as the Director of the SJSU Center for Community Learning & Leadership and Director of the Veterans Embracing Transition Project (VET). From 2013-2015, she served as Chair of the Veterans Advisory Committee. Dr. Klaw has served as principal investigator on multiple large grants awarded federal and state funding to design and implement the AmeriCorps Civic Action and College Corps Programs involving SJSU students in community service. She also served as a co-principal investigator on the project, Exploring Intimate Partner Relationship Issues Among Veterans and Their Partners on College Campuses in California, funded by the Blue Shield of California Foundation. She has published in the areas of intimate violence prevention, peer leadership, service-learning, mutual help, and mentoring, and has presented her work at many local, state, and national conferences and meetings. She is lead editor on an upcoming book to be published by Stylus Press, tentatively titled Healing the World through Higher Education.

Shannon Rose Riley

Shannon Rose Riley |

College of Humanities & the Arts, Humanities Department

Talk Title: Clearing Microaggressions through Embodied Somatic Practices

Shannon Rose Riley is Professor & Chair of Creative Arts and Humanities at San José State University as well as a Registered Somatic Movement Therapist and Educator. She is the author of Performing Race and Erasure: Cuba, Haiti, & U.S. Culture, 1898-1940 and a co-editor of Mapping Landscapes for Performance as Research: Scholarly Acts & Creative Cartographies, as well as the forthcoming, Geographies of Us: Ecosomatic Essays and Practice Pages. Riley is also a Public Voices Fellow with The Op-Ed Project and SJSU. Her RSCA-in-5 presentation explores how to use simple somatic practices to help clear the physical and emotional impacts of microaggressions.

Mojtaba Sharifi

Dr. Mojtaba Sharifi

College of Engineering, Department of Mechanical Engineering

Talk Title: Development of Assistive Robotic Systems Based on Community Needs and Viewpoints

Mojtaba Sharifi is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Mechanical Engineering at San Jose State University. He leads research projects on the design, control, and autonomy of assistive and rehabilitation robotics, including lower-limb and upper-limb exoskeletons for safe, compliant, and intelligent interaction with humans. Prior to this, he was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow with the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Department of Medicine at the University of Alberta, Canada. His interdisciplinary research includes intelligent control, dynamics, and design of robots (in biomedical applications: rehabilitation, surgery, and imaging), wearable and assistive robotics (exoskeleton, prosthesis, and orthosis), human-robot interaction (using impedance control and learning), haptics, collaborative robotics and telerobotics (using bilateral and multilateral control), control and modeling of musculoskeletal systems, and biological systems. 

Megan Thiele

Megan Thiele Strong

College of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology and Interdisciplinary Social Sciences

Talk Title: Dialoguing through Difficulty: Using Dialogue as Social Justice Action

Megan conducts research at the intersection of education, inequality, and policy. At SJSU, she teaches courses in Social Stratification, Environmental Sociology, Statistics and Research Methods. Recent work has looked at antiracism, environmental justice and lastly, the link between teacher pay and teen mental health.