2019 Early Career Investigator Award

Kim Blisniuk and Wilson Yuan Receive ECIA Awards

Assistant Professor Kimberly Blisniuk from the Department of Geology in the College of Science and Assistant Professor Yue "Wilson" Yuan from the Department of Justice Studies in the College of Health and Human Sciences have been chosen to receive the Early Career Investigator Awards for calendar year 2019. 

Kimberly Blisniuk

Kim Blisniuk’s research investigates and quantifies how landscapes evolve through time due to earthquakes and climate change. She is particularly interested in earthquakes that are preserved in the landscape along active faults because the rate at which a fault moves—how fast it moves over time—is proportional to the fault’s seismic hazard potential. A number of dating techniques are applied in measuring a fault’s movement, and Dr. Blisniuk is currently working with colleagues to develop a new dating technique, 36Cl/10Be burial dating. The societal impact of her research into these techniques is high because these new data will help refine earthquake hazard models that forecast the potential of future earthquakes and their recurrence in California. 

In 2019 Dr. Blisniuk received the National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award, the organization’s most prestigious award in support of early-career faculty. This added to her remarkable track record of funded research grants and awards from organizations such as the U.S. Department of the Interior’s National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program and the Southern California Earthquake Center.

This year Dr. Blisniuk will participate in an invitation-only Kavli Frontiers of Science symposium in Seattle, Washington, sponsored by the National Academy of Sciences. She has made presentations and given invited talks at the American Geophysical Union, the U.S. Geological Survey, Boston University, the California Institute of Technology, UCLA, and Université Grenoble. Her publication record is equally impressive, with her work having appeared in Nature Scientific Reports, Geology, and Journal of Geophysical Research, and elsewhere. In addition, she has been interviewed as a subject matter expert by Earth and Space Science News, National Geographic Magazine, the New York Times, ABC News, CBS News, KQED, and KTVU/Fox News.

Because of SJSU’s location near active faults, Dr. Blisniuk’s students have frequent opportunities to work in the field.

“Students study fault processes that generate surface rupturing earthquakes by collecting samples in the field, then processing those samples in the laboratory (SJSU, USGS, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory). The resulting data are used to better understand fault processes and assess potential hazards,” she explains. “Students also integrate field observations (mapping) of offset features along active faults in the landscape, compile high resolution digital topography data (LiDAR) in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) of these offset features, and apply different geochemistry/geochronologic techniques to constrain the ages of the offset landforms.”  

Dr. Blisniuk is expanding her research into science communication and education to reach a broader audience. Her studies are being integrated into a place-based mentoring program for SJSU undergraduate students, Promoting Undergraduate Research Experiences (PURE) in Geology. Her work is also being integrated into mobile field trips through a collaboration with the American Geophysical Union and Google. The mobile field trip guide will allow an even broader audience to visit sites along faults to see what a geologist sees.

Wilson YuanWilson Yuan’s research examines the origins of fear of crime and how individuals and communities react to criminal victimization in order to cope with its negative consequences, particularly in Asian and Latino immigrant communities. He explores whether an immigrant’s status is associated with victimization and how immigrants of different racial and ethnic groups mobilize formal and informal resources in response to crime.

Funded by a grant award from the National Institute of Justice, Dr. Yuan is launching an extensive mixed-methods city-level victimization study focused on the City of San José, California. A cross-sectional survey of local residents’ victimization experiences will be conducted, as will in-depth interviews with residents, police department officials, victim services providers, and members of community organizations. Together with six SJSU graduate students, Dr. Yuan expects to complete 2,400 surveys of adults from 80 primary sample clusters. In addition, in collaboration with SJSU colleague Dr. Edward Cohen of the School of Social Work in the College of Health and Human Sciences, he and his students will conduct semi-structured interviews with immigrants and focus groups among local stakeholders.

Since arriving at SJSU in 2016, Dr. Yuan has published eight peer-reviewed articles on the topics of criminal justice and criminology in high impact journals. With one of his SJSU graduate students as lead author, he co-authored “Surveillance-Oriented Security Measures, School Climate, Student Fear of Crime, and Avoidance Behavior” in the journal Victims and Offenders, which examined school security systems, students’ fear of crime, and behavioral reactions to crime. He has made a multitude of presentations across the U.S. at criminology conferences and has also made invited research presentations at law schools (Nankai University and Southwestern University of Finance and Economics), and at Harvard University.

Dr. Blisniuk and Dr. Yuan will be honored at the SJSU Celebration of Research on Thursday, March 26, 2020 from 3:00 - 6:00 p.m. A short video profiling their research will be shown at this festive event, and a showcase of more than 100 research posters developed by SJSU undergraduate and graduate students will be presented. The event will be held in the Diaz Compean Student Union Ballroom and is open to the entire SJSU campus community and the public.