MERCED, CA -The University of California, Merced, announces the
addition of 23 new faculty members who began work at the newest UC
campus on or before July 1, adding their expertise to the teaching
and research potential at UC Merced for the 2006-07 academic year.
“We have recruited exceptional teachers and researchers from the
world’s leading institutions,” said UC Merced Executive Vice
Chancellor and Provost Keith Alley. “The search committees have
worked diligently to build both the quality and diversity of the faculty.
“The breadth of their interests and experience will
significantly expand our research capabilities and academic
programs through the growth of new courses and majors,” Alley
added. “That expansion will help us attract and retain more
students and develop new knowledge and programs that will expand
the economic and cultural fabric of our communities.”
The total number of active faculty members, including
administrative faculty, now stands at 85.
Joining the ranks of UC Merced’s nationally renowned faculty:
* Andres Aguilar joins the School of Natural Sciences following
his postdoctoral research at the Southwest Fisheries Science Center
operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration at
UC Santa Cruz. He specializes in the genetics of fish populations
and holds a Ph.D. from UCLA.
* François Blanchette joins the School of Natural Sciences
as an assistant professor after completing postdoctoral research
primarily in mathematics applied to fluid mechanics and
sedimentation at the University of Chicago. Blanchette looks
forwarded to collaborating with engineering, physics and chemistry
faculty on applied mathematics problems.
* Yihsu Chen is an economist specializing in the economics of
public decision-making related to environmental engineering. He
completed his doctoral research at Johns Hopkins University and
will hold a joint appointment in Engineering and Social Sciences,
Humanities and Arts.
* Carlos Coimbra joins the School of Engineering after six year
as a member of the faculty at the University of Hawaii - Manoa. He
is a mechanical engineer with interests in solar energy and
aerospace applications who earned his Ph.D. at UC Irvine.
* Michael Dawson, an evolutionary biologist specializing in the
demography, population genetics, range expansion and range limits
of coastal marine invertebrates, was most recently a postdoctoral
researcher at UC Davis. He completed his Ph.D. work at UCLA and
will join the UC Merced School of Natural Sciences.
* Benoît Dayrat is a biologist with expertise on botany and
fossil snails who previously worked as a research associate at the
California Academy of Sciences, holds a Ph.D. from the National
Museum of Natural History in Paris and is the author of a French
book on the history of botany. He will join the faculty of the
School of Natural Sciences at UC Merced.
* Robin Maria DeLugan, a socio-cultural anthropologist, comes to
UC Merced after completing a UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship
at UC Berkeley. She is part of the School of Social Sciences,
Humanities and Arts.
* Kevin Fellezs, a musicologist whose research interests include
U.S. national popular culture, African American music cultures, and
Asian American music cultures, will join the School of Social
Sciences, Humanities and Arts.
* Marcos García-Ojeda arrived in Merced in May after
completing postdoctoral research at the Pasteur Institute,
University of Paris, France. His studies of T cells, hematopoetic
(bone marrow) stem cells and HIV will proceed through the UC Merced
School of Natural Sciences.
* Sayantani Ghosh was awarded a SUN Microsystems Postdoctoral
Research Fellowship for conducting research in the field of Quantum
Information Processing at UC Santa Barbara before coming to the UC
Merced School of Natural Sciences. She earned a Ph.D. in physics
from the University of Chicago.
* Ajay Gopinathan is a professor of physics who joins UC
Merced’s School of Natural Sciences after a joint postdoctoral
fellowship at UC Santa Barbara and Los Angeles, where he studied
biopolymer systems and diffusion and binding. Gopinathan also
received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.
* Thomas Hansford, a political scientist joining the School of
Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts, comes from a teaching
position at the University of South Carolina. Hansford has written
numerous articles on judicial politics and is co-author of a book
on the interpretation of precedent on the U.S. Supreme Court.
* Kathleen Hull, an anthropologist and archaeologist
specializing in Native American sites in the Yosemite Valley, was
previously with Statistical Research, Inc., and has taught at CSU
campuses in San Bernardino and San Jose since receiving her Ph.D.
from UC Berkeley in 2002. She joins the faculty of the School of
Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts at UC Merced.
* Michelle Khine, the newest member of the School of
Engineering, researches and develops Biological
Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems devices, resulting in several
patents. Khine earned her Ph.D. in bioengineering from UC San
* Lara Kueppers studies climate change by investigating nutrient
cycling in forest ecosystems. Most recently a postdoctoral
researcher at UC Santa Cruz, she earned her Ph.D. from UC Berkeley
in 2003 and will join the UC Merced School of Natural Sciences for
* Todd Neumann recently received his Ph.D. from the University
of Arizona in economics. Neumann’s areas of research and interests
in industrial organization, labor economics and economic history
will be a great benefit to the School of Social Sciences,
Humanities and Arts.
* Stephen Nicholson, a scholar whose research and teaching focus
on the electoral process and behavior, political parties and
interest groups, previously held an assistant professorship at
Georgia State University. He will teach and conduct research in the
School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts at UC Merced.
* David C. Noelle has accepted a joint appointment in the
schools of Engineering and Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts. He
conducts computer-based research in cognitive neuroscience, with
emphasis on models of learning and memory. Noelle was previously an
assistant professor at Vanderbilt University. He holds a Ph.D. from
UC San Diego.
* Jay Sharping joins the UC Merced School of Natural Sciences
after a postdoctoral fellowship at Cornell University. His research
on devising new applications for photonic and nanoscale technology
has resulted in several patents.
* ShiPu Wang completed his Ph.D. in art history at the UC Santa
Barbara. He is accomplished in photography and film with focuses in
20th-Century American Art and Theory and Modern Chinese Art and
will join the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts.
* Simón Weffer-Elizondo held a National Science Foundation
Minority Postdoctoral Fellowship at Harvard University before
accepting a faculty appointment in the School of Social Sciences,
Humanities and Arts at UC Merced. His research interests include
urban inequality, race/ethnic relations, political sociology,
immigration and social stratification.
* Anthony Westerling, an engineering economist, will hold a
joint appointment in Engineering and Social Sciences, Humanities
and Arts following a successful stint at the Scripps Institute of
Oceanography. He recently published a widely acclaimed paper in
Science Express regarding the relationships between climate change
and forest fires. The results of this research were featured in
more than 60 newspapers nationwide and in other media outlets.
* Alexander Whalley will join the school of Social Sciences,
Humanities and Arts as a professor of economics. Whalley recently
completed his Ph.D. at the University of Maryland and specializes
in labor economics, macroeconomics and applied econometrics.
All these faculty members officially joined the university at
the rank of assistant professor, with the exception of Coimbra, who
will be an associate professor. A few more new professors may still
sign on before this fall.
For more information on new faculty hires in the schools of
Engineering or Natural Sciences, please contact Ana Nelson Shaw in
the Office of Communications at (209) 724-4406, or by e-mail at
For information on new faculty members in the School of Social
Sciences, Humanities and Arts, please contact Lorena Anderson in
the Office of Communications at (209) 724-4408, or by e-mail at