23 New Professors Join UC Merced for Fall Semester

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 Francisco/ Berkeley.

* 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 the fall.

* 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 ashaw@ucmerced.edu.

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 landerson4@ucmerced.edu.

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