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Newest "Dream Team" Adds Breadth to Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts

September 23, 2004
UC Merced Welcomes Nine New Faculty Members

MERCED, CA. — Nine new faculty members, in academic disciplines from economics to philosophy to theater, have joined the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts at the University of California, Merced, in recent months.

Shawn Kantor, Manuel Martín-Rodriguez, Teenie Matlock, Ruth Mostern, Dunya Ramicova, Belinda Reyes, Cristián Ricci, J. Arthur Woodward and Jeffrey Yoshimi all started work at UC Merced between July and September 2004.

Before the arrival of these professors, the faculty of the school consisted only of Dean Kenji Hakuta, historian Gregg Herken and psychologist William Shadish. The Schools of Engineering and Natural Sciences had already hired a strong complement of faculty, so this round of hiring brought needed balance to the 10th UC campus early in its development. The total number of full-time professors now on board in all three schools at UC Merced is 27.

“Hiring this group of scholars is a significant accomplishment that has consumed a major portion of our time over the last year,” says Hakuta. “We reviewed hundreds of applications and are pleased to have found excellent professors at every level whose research fits with our goal of building a solid, diverse offering of coursework and research opportunities at UC Merced. They are a dream team.”

Although focused in some broad groups of interest such as Spanish languages and literatures, Central Valley economic and social development, and digital humanities, the research interests of the new faculty members vary widely:

  • Professor Shawn Kantor was previously a professor of economics at the University of Arizona. He researches political economy, law and economics; United States economic history; economic development; and public economics.
  • Professor Manuel Martín-Rodriguez will continue his work in Chicana/o and Latina/o language, literature and culture, which he previously pursued at Texas A&M University.
  • Assistant Professor Teenie Matlock researches cognitive science, psycholinguistics, spatial cognition, metaphor, semantics and gesture. She comes to UC Merced from a research position at Stanford.
  • Assistant Professor Ruth Mostern's professional interests include geo-referencing and digital mapping of historical and cultural phenomena, specifically those of Middle Period China. She was previously with the Electronic Cultural Atlas Initiative at UC Berkeley.
  • Professor Dunya Ramicova is an Emmy-award winning costume designer for theatre, opera, ballet, dance, film and television. Her interests also include the history of costume design, history of clothing and fashion, drawing and watercolor painting. She joins UC Merced from UCLA.
  • Assistant Professor Belinda Reyes studies demography, immigration, immigration policy, immigrant adaptation, race and ethnicity, urban economics, and social and economic progress of race/ethnic minorities. She was previously with the Public Policy Institute of California.
  • Assistant Professor Cristián Ricci specializes in 19th- and 20th-century Spanish and Portuguese literature. He joins UC Merced from Whittier College in Southern California.
  • Professor J. Arthur Woodward is a psychologist who works in experimental design, statistical genetics, applied statistics and psychometrics. He comes to UC Merced from UCLA, where he chaired the Psychology Department.
  • Assistant Professor Jeffrey Yoshimi studies philosophy of mind, philosophy of cognitive science, phenomenology (especially Husserl) and neural networks. He was previously a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, San Diego.

The new faculty members plan to pursue their research and help build the interdisciplinary research institutes at UC Merced, including the World Cultures Institute, which will promote understanding of the peoples of California as to place and location, nature and society, culture and identity, and cultural understandings of scientific issues. In addition, their research hopes to address the social, economic and human development issues of the Central Valley, and to play a major role in public policy.