19 New Professors On Board for Fall

MERCED - Freshmen and transfer students aren't the only new faces on campus at the University of California, Merced, this fall. The three schools at the newest campus in the UC system are welcoming 19 new faculty members for the fall 2008 semester. The total number of faculty members at UC Merced is now 117.

"As we enter our fourth year, UC Merced is proud of the growth it has accomplished - both in terms of student enrollment and faculty appointments," said Keith Alley, executive vice chancellor and provost. "Our students are fortunate to have the opportunity to work with such accomplished professors, and we are excited to have such enthusiastic faculty on board."

As professors in the UC system - the research arm of California's three-tier higher education system - these individuals have a unique mandate to perform exemplary research at the forefront of their fields and then bring that knowledge into the classroom to benefit their students.

The School of Engineering has secured two new professors:

  • Elliott Campbell, an assistant professor, was most recently a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford. He holds a Ph.D. in civil and environmental engineering from the University of Iowa and investigates how bioenergy systems might supply energy needs and affect the climate.
  • Ming-Hsuan Yang is a new assistant professor. He was previously a senior research scientist with the Honda Research Institute in Mountain View and holds a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He studies computer vision for robotics applications.

The School of Natural Sciences has brought in five new faculty members:

  • Harish S. Bhat is an assistant professor specializing in applied mathematics. He holds a Ph.D. from Caltech in control and dynamical systems and has previously served on the faculties of Claremont McKenna College and Columbia University.
  • Stephen C. Hart joins the school as a full professor. He was previously on the faculty in ecosystem ecology at the Northern Arizona University School of Forestry. Hart holds a Ph.D. from UC Berkeley in soil science and studies the biogeochemistry of forest soils and vegetation.
  • Linda S. Hirst is an assistant professor in physics. She was previously on the faculty at Florida State University and holds a Ph.D. in physics from Manchester University (United Kingdom). Hirst's specialty is biophysics and soft-matter physics.
  • Eric Menke is a new assistant professor. He comes most recently from a postdoctoral appointment at UCLA and holds a Ph.D. in chemistry from UC Irvine. Menke specializes in nanotechnology for energy collection and storage, specifically for solar energy applications.
  • Lin Tian joins the faculty as an assistant professor following her postdoctoral appointment at Stanford. She holds a Ph.D. in physics from MIT and studies quantum engineering and nanomechanical systems.

The School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts welcomes 12 new professors:

  • Susan Amussen most recently mentored doctoral learners in a variety of interdisciplinary fields at Ohio's Union Institute and University. She earned her Ph.D. at Brown University and studies early modern England, women's history and Atlantic history.
  • Irenee Beattie joins the school an assistant professor of sociology. She was previously an assistant professor at Washington State University, and earned her Ph.D. from the University of Arizona, Tucson. Her areas of interest include education, racial/ethnic and gender inequality, adolescent transitions to adulthood and law/policy.
  • Ignacio Lopez Calvo, a literature professor, comes to UC Merced from the University of North Texas. He earned his Ph.D. in romance languages from the University of Georgia, and he studies Spanish language and literature.
  • Christopher T. Kello is an associate professor of cognitive science. He earned his Ph.D. in experimental psychology from UC Santa Cruz, and most recently has worked as an associate professor at George Mason University and an expert consultant for the National Science Foundation. His research interests include reading, speech, neural networks and complex systems.
  • Nathan Monroe is the newest assistant professor of political science. He comes to UC Merced from the University of the Pacific and holds a Ph.D. in political science from UC San Diego. His research focuses on American political institutions, especially the U.S. Congress.
  • Sholeh Quinn is an associate professor. Most recently, she taught history at Ohio University. She received her Ph.D. in near Eastern languages and civilizations from the University of Chicago. Her specialty is the history of 16th and 17th century Iran, with emphasis on historiography.
  • Linda-Anne Rebhun joins the school as an associate professor in UC Merced's newest major, anthropology. She holds a Ph.D. in cultural and medical anthropology from UC Berkeley and specializes in gender, sexuality, reproductive health and popular medicine.
  • Anna Song joins the faculty as an assistant professor following her postdoctoral appointment at UC San Francisco. She has a Ph.D. in psychology from UC Davis and studies psychosocial decision-making and risk behavior.
  • Mike Spivey joins the cognitive science faculty as a professor. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Rochester and has taught at Cornell University and the Max Planck Institute in Munich, Germany. His research interests include language/vision interaction, sentence processing, word recognition, memory and neural networks.
  • Nella Van Dyke is an associate professor from Washington State University, where she taught in the women's studies department. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of Arizona and studies political social movements; hate crime; and gender, race, class and sexuality.
  • Jack Vevea is an associate professor who most recently taught at UC Santa Cruz and holds a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. His research interests include experimental psychology and statistics.
  • Peter Vanderschraaf is a philosopher who joins the faculty as an associate professor. He comes to UC Merced from Boston University and holds a Ph.D. from UC Irvine. His research focuses on the analysis of social conventions and their role in moral and political philosophy.

These 19 professors bring the total faculty count at UC Merced to 117, including several top-tier administrators who hold faculty appointments and the directors of the campus' writing program and Spanish language program.

The efforts of the faculty in supporting UC Merced's students body - expected to top 2,500 this fall - are complemented by dozens of highly qualified lecturers and teaching assistants - not to mention tutors and other staff members - who ensure students receive personal attention at a level unsurpassed in the 10-campus University of California system.

UC Merced has also already received commitments from four academics who plan to join the faculty within the next year:

  • Asmeret Asefaw Berhe, joining the faculty of the School of Natural Sciences as an assistant professor, previously was a President's Postdoctoral Fellow at UC Berkeley, where she also earned her Ph.D. in environmental science, policy and management. She studies soil erosion and carbon dynamics. She is scheduled to start work at UC Merced Jan. 1, 2009.
  • Teamrat S. Ghezzehei, a new assistant professor in the School of Natural Sciences, was previously a research scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. His Ph.D. from Utah State University is in soil physics, and he now studies questions of flow and water retention in soils. He plans to start his UC Merced appointment Jan. 1, 2009.
  • Lilian P. Davila plans to join the School of Engineering as an assistant professor Jan. 1, 2009. She has been a President's Postdoctoral Fellow at UC Merced since 2006 and holds a Ph.D. in materials science and engineering from UC Davis. Her research uses simulation and characterization techniques to study materials at the nano scale.
  • Jessica Trounstine will join the faculty of the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts in summer 2009. She holds a Ph.D. from UC San Diego and specializes in the politics of U.S. cities. Presently, she is an assistant professor of politics and public affairs at Princeton.

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