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School of Natural Sciences Welcomes 9 New Faculty Members

February 17, 2005

MERCED, CA — The School of Natural Sciences at the University of California, Merced, has hired nine new faculty members in the last several months, bringing the total number of professors at the university so far to 41.

“We are pleased to have recruited nine additional outstanding research and teaching professionals,” said Dean Maria Pallavicini, who has overseen the faculty hiring process for the school. “It is particularly exciting to introduce a group of young professors with exceptional creative energy and innovative ideas to the development of our campus, and especially to the experience of forging effective learning relationships with students.”

The new group is entirely made up of first-time professors who they have gained teaching experience by seeking out opportunities to interact with students during their graduate education and postdoctoral positions. These young academics are expected to complement the dedicated, experienced group previously hired by the School of Natural Sciences.

The new professors demonstrate a wide variety of prestigious backgrounds and relevant interests.

  • Miriam Barlow, who studies evolutionary biology, particularly in bacteria, will join UC Merced this summer following her postdoctoral fellowship at Emory University in Atlanta.
  • Jinah Choi, a virologist specializing in Hepatitis C research, earned her Ph.D. from the University of Southern California and worked as a postdoctoral researcher here at UC Merced.
  • Jessica Lee Green, a microbial ecologist who makes extensive use of computer modeling, held a prestigious fellowship in Bioinformatics at UC Davis, funded by the National Science Foundation, before assuming professorial duties late last year.
  • Arnold Kim, whose interdisciplinary studies bring together mathematics, physics and computer science, was a postdoctoral researcher at Stanford before his 2004 arrival in Merced.
  • Jennifer Manilay, an immunologist, received a Ph.D. from Harvard and is currently completing a postdoctoral appointment at UC Berkeley. She will arrive in Merced this summer.
  • Mónica Medina, a population geneticist who focuses on marine life, currently works at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. She will also arrive in Merced this summer.
  • Matthew Meyer, who works in organic chemistry with the aim of developing new medications, came to Merced in January 2005 from a postdoctoral position at UC Berkeley.
  • Kevin Mitchell, an atomic and molecular physicist, received his Ph.D. from UC Berkeley and completed a postdoctoral appointment at the College of William and Mary before coming to UC Merced.
  • Rudy Martin Ortiz, who studies the mechanisms of problems like diabetes, obesity, hypertension and high blood pressure, was a postdoctoral researcher at Tulane University Medical School before his recent arrival here.

Each new professor is expected to establish research — advising graduate and undergraduate assistants in the process — and to help plan and teach courses at the university. Faculty members also contribute to the research and function accomplished at UC Merced's interdisciplinary institutes — the established Sierra Nevada Research Institute and the World Cultures Institute, as well as planned institutes in systems biology and energy.

The university will continue high-intensity faculty hiring in all three schools (Natural Sciences; Engineering; and Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts) over the next several months to meet the goal of 60 professors on campus to teach the first 1000 students when classes begin on September 6. With additional adjunct faculty and instructors, those students are expected to enjoy a faculty-student ratio of at least 15:1, likely better.