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New Faculty Members Expand, Strengthen Research

September 29, 2014
Faculty Hires Increase Scope of Campus Research Expertise

UC Merced has hired 34 faculty members for the 2014-15 academic year, giving the campus 212 tenure-track professors who expand the depth and breadth of research expertise.

Excluding student employees, the campus now has about 1,300 total staff and faculty members, which also includes 149 lecturers.

Whitney Laster  joins SSHA.The faculty hires reflect areas of rapid enrollment growth as well as the greatest potential for interdisciplinary collaboration and research.

To fulfill the goal of enrolling 10,000 students by 2020, we are investing in faculty who further the already diverse areas of research found at UC Merced,” Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Tom Peterson said. “This year’s crop of new faculty expands the scope of research across all three of our academic schools.”

For example, history Professor Ma Vang is the campus’s first Hmong studies expert — and the second Hmong-American to receive a tenure-track faculty appointment in the University of California system. Joining her in the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts are experts in Indian music and Bollywood film songs, social stratification, linguistics, health economics and world heritage.

In the School of Natural Sciences, Professor Emilia Huerta-Sanchez joins the Quantitative Systems and Biology Graduate Group as a biostatistician with expertise in natural selection. She joins fellow new hires in chemical sciences, biological sciences, applied mathematics and biophysics.

The School of Engineering has added several new faculty members to fill roles in mechanical engineering, computer sciences and materials science.

Many of our new hires have already won major awards for their research and publications,” said Marjorie Zatz, vice provost and dean of graduate studies. “These outstanding faculty members offer our current and prospective graduate students terrific opportunities for interdisciplinary research collaborations and training.  Individually and as a cohort, these stellar experts contribute to UC Merced’s growing prestige across a wide range of research areas.”

The new faculty members joining campus this fall are:

  • Ryan Baxter — assistant professor, chemical sciences; School of Natural Sciences
  • Jayson Beaster-Jones — assistant professor, music/ethnomusicology; School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts
  • Laura Beaster-Jones  —  LPSOE, biological sciences; School of Natural Sciences
  • Po-Ya Abel Chuang  — assistant professor, mechanical engineering; School of Engineering
  • Justin Cook — assistant professor, economics; School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts
  • Edward Flores — assistant professor, sociology; School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts
  • Sidra Goldman-Mellor — assistant professor, prevention sciences; School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts
  • Aaron Hernday — assistant professor, quantitative systems and biology; School of Natural Sciences
  • Justin Hicks — lecturer with potential security of employment, economics; School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts
  • Emilia Huerta-Sanchez — assistant professor, quantitative systems and biology; School of Natural Sciences
  • Kirk Jensen — assistant professor, quantitative systems and biology; School of Natural Sciences
  • Matthew Kaiser — associate professor, English; School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts
  • Shilpa Khatri — assistant professor, applied mathematics; School of Natural Sciences
  • Whitney Laster — assistant professor, sociology; School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts
  • Keke Lei – assistant professor, quantitative psychology, School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts
  • Brad LeVeck — assistant professor, political science; School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts
  • Bin Liu — assistant professor, biophysics; School of Natural Sciences
  • Alexandra Main — assistant professor, developmental psychology; School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts
  • Noemi Petra — assistant professor, applied mathematics; School of Natural Sciences
  • Gabriela Rubio — assistant professor, economics; School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts
  • Karl Ryavec — associate professor, world heritage; School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts
  • Ketki Sheth — assistant professor, economics; School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts
  • Stephanie Shih — assistant professor, computational linguistics; School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts
  • Benjamin Stokes — assistant professor, chemical sciences; School of Natural Sciences
  • Anand Bala Subramaniam – assistant professor, materials science and engineering; School of Engineering
  • Ma Vang — assistant professor, history (Hmong studies); School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts
  • Stephen Wooding — assistant professor, public health; School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts
  • Matthew Zawadzki — assistant professor, health psychology; School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts

The following faculty members begin their appointments in January 2015:

  • Nicola Lercari — assistant professor, world heritage; School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts
  • Rowena Gray — assistant professor, economics; School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts
  • Dong Li — assistant professor, computer science and engineering; School of Engineering
  • Ala Qattawi — assistant professor, mechanical engineering; School of Engineering
      

James Leonard

Executive Director of Public Relations

Office: (209) 228-4408

Mobile: (209) 681-1061

jleonard3@ucmerced.edu