University Scholar Series


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For more information, email Project and Communication Manager Lesley Seacrist (

All students, faculty, and staff members are invited to attend these virtual events. Members of the public are welcome as well.

University Scholar Series

Hosted by Provost Vincent J. Del Casino, Jr., this series provides a unique opportunity for showcasing the important research and scholarly activities of SJSU faculty members.

Dr. Virginia San Fratello

Play, Clay, and Chardonnay

Presented by Prof. Virginia San Fratello, Department of Design

This event has passed. Presentation recordings will be found on the SJSU ScholarWorks page. 

Virginia San Fratello's research is grounded in the discipline of architecture as the basis for creative production. In 2002, following the attacks on the World Trade Center, she formed the creative practice Rael San Fratello, with her partner Ronald Rael, in order to imagine alternative outcomes for architectural practice in a post 9/11 world. A primary focus of their work folds together indigenous and traditional craft and material practice, contemporary design technologies, and storytelling, as strategies to unravel the complexities of contemporary society. She comes from an extremely rural background and grew up in the forests and tobacco farms of the deep South. Humor, play, and hybridity are important aspects of the work of Rael San Fratello, often layered with serious topics that span the themes of immigration, start-up companies, waste, homelessness, fashion, graphic design, and 3D printing. Her practice is closely tied to her commitment to public education in her role as professor and chair in the Department of Design at San José State University.

Dr. Tai-Ran Hsu

The Future of Sustainable Mechatronics is STEM Education

Presented by Prof. Tai-Ran Hsu, Department of Mechanical Engineering

This event has passed. Presentation recordings will be found on the SJSU ScholarWorks page. 


The term “mechatronics'' is a branch of engineering that specializes in synergistic integrations of both mechanical and electronic technologies (the essential high technologies of Silicon Valley). Many products that we use in our day-to-day lives involve this technology, from smart household appliances like the digital buttons to operate your clothes washer to the microcomputers and processors that power GPS on your car’s touchscreen. However, mechatronics has far reaching applications to power the products that combat our biggest challenges to ensure a better tomorrow like, 24-hour farming and electric transportation to help us confront climate change and hunger. Professor Hsu’s research focuses on the integration of STEM education and sustainable mechatronics, which he considers vital to maintain leadership in local and global economies. He believes one of the reasons Silicon Valley is the world leader in high technology is due to its excellent public education, especially STEM education. STEM education, with synergistic teaching, comprehensive curricula, and interdisciplinary collaboration, such as our mechatronics program, will make SJSU a model of effective teaching and learning, and it will ultimately make Silicon Valley stronger than ever in innovation.

Professor Hsu is a faculty member of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at San José State University (SJSU). With substantial financial support from the National Science Foundation and large high tech businesses in Silicon Valley, Hsu led an interdisciplinary group of faculty members from mechanical, electrical, materials, and general engineering, along with the Department of Physics and faculty from Mission College to establish the first, and still the only, mechatronics program at the undergraduate level in the country. He joined SJSU as a professor and chair of the department in 1990 and served for 12 years.


Dr. Susanna Khavul

Is Mobile Money a Digital Gateway to Financial Inclusion?

Presented by Prof. Susanna Khavul, School of Management


Large segments of the world’s population have no access to formal financial services and are considered financially excluded or unbanked. The vast majority live in developing countries, yet in the U.S., fifty million adults and their fifteen million children are underbanked and vulnerable. The recent widespread introduction of mobile money has made low-cost transfers, payments, and financial services available to a much wider segment of the population than the banking sector could reach in the past. Although widely adopted, the fundamental questions of whether mobile money fosters financial inclusion or is an effective tool for poverty alleviation remain unanswered. Professor Khavul will build on an interdisciplinary research program and offer insights into the digitization of financial services. Such reflections prove timely given the increasing number of Silicon Valley firms that are creating more diverse and complex FinTech solutions, at least some of which seek to close the gap in financial inclusion. 

Professor Khavul is a faculty member in the School of Management for the Lucas College of Graduate School and Business and Executive Director of GLAC: Silicon Valley Innovation Leadership Center.  She is also a Visiting Professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Her research focuses on strategy, entrepreneurship, and innovation and asks cross-cutting questions about how innovative high technology firms compete in a global economy. This is part of a stream of ongoing research on entrepreneurial finance, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer alternative financial instruments as well as FinTech innovations, financial inclusion, and mobile financial solutions in emerging and developed economies.