The budget cuts have resulted in UCR hiring only 20 new faculty this year, but the new hires are some of the very best in their fields, their expertise ranging from reconfigurable computing, the phases of matter, water management, and the epidemiology of HIV to how students learn math and science and the history of photography.

The new faculty hires are:

College of Humanities, Arts and Sciences

Kendra T. Field
Acting Assistant Professor of History

Ph.D., expected from New York University 2010.

Before coming to UCR, Field spent a year as the Charles Eastman Fellow in Native American Studies at Dartmouth College.

Her current project narrates the migration and settlement of African Americans from the Deep South to Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma) after the Civil War, as well as subsequent migrations to Mexico and West Africa. Her recent awards include the 2009 Huggins-Quarles Award of the Organization of American Historians and a Ford Foundation Diversity Fellowship. Prior to pursuing her doctorate she spent five years working in education and public policy in New York City and listening to family stories as she re-discovered her love of history and why it matters.

Weihsin Gui
Assistant Professor of English

Ph.D., Brown University

Gui’s research and teaching areas include modern and contemporary British literature, postcolonial Anglophone literatures (with a special interest in the English-language writing of Southeast Asia), postcolonial theory, and cultural theories of nationalism, diaspora and globalization. He is working on a book manuscript about national consciousness and culture in postcolonial and global Anglophone literatures. He is also co-editing a special issue of the journal Diaspora on the conjunction of postcolonial discourse, diaspora, and world literature, as well as a critical anthology on Singaporean poet Arthur Yap.

His essays and reviews have appeared in Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, The Journal of Postcolonial Writing, and Novel.

Susan Laxton
Assistant Professor of Art History

Ph.D., Columbia University

Prior to her appointment at UCR, Laxton taught 20th century art and the history of photography at Princeton University and Barnard College.

She did postdoctoral work as a Gould Fellow at Princeton University. Her interests range across the alternative art practices introduced by the European avant-gardes of the 20th century, among them photography, collage, photomontage, and automatic or chance-based processes – all practices that emphatically challenged the conventions of traditional mediums like sculpture and painting.

She is the author of the exhibition catalog “Paris as Gameboard, Man Ray’s Atgets,” and is completing a second book on ludic strategies in Dada and surrealism at the Institute for Advanced Studies.

Misaki N. Natsuaki
Assistant Professor of Psychology

Ph.D., UC Davis

Natsuaki completed her postdoctoral training at the Institute of Child Development at University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.

Her research examines the development of psychopathology during adolescence. She is particularly interested in emotional and behavioral problems during pubertal transition.

At UCR she will continue to investigate the roles of biological and contextual factors in child and adolescent psychopathology.

Robin Nelson
Assistant Professor of Anthropology

Ph.D., University of Michigan

Nelson joins UCR after a research and teaching postdoctoral fellowship in the Laboratory of Human Biology at Northwestern University. As a biological anthropologist, Nelson employs evolutionary theory in studies of human sociality and health outcomes.

Her dissertation research examined the extent to which variability in received investment from kin and social contacts affected the phenotypic expression of biological trait indicators of health status among Jamaican adults.

With an increased focus on critical periods of human growth and development, she continues to research culturally salient forms of social and financial capital and the health of peoples in the Caribbean.

Wendy Weiqun Su
Assistant Professor of Media and Cultural Studies

Ph.D., University of Minnesota

Su’s research falls on the intersection of international communication globalization, China studies, and cultural studies.

Su is interested in China’s communication and cultural policy studies, transnational film studies, audience research, and the impact of transnational capital and American culture on China’s media and cultural landscape.

Her dissertation critically reviews China’s encounter with global Hollywood from 1994 to 2008, and analyzes the changing government policy debates and resistance in China regarding Hollywood imports.

Before coming to the United States to pursue her Ph.D. she was a longtime journalist in mainland China and Hong Kong.

Graduate School of Education

Marsha Ing
Assistant Professor of Education

Ph.D. UCLA

Ing studies how students learn math and science in the classroom. She uses case studies of individual classrooms as well as analysis of national data sets.

She will help GSOE expand its offering in statistical methods and applications. She began her undergraduate career as a student at the University of Hawaii in the teacher education program. As an undergraduate she discovered her passion for research and she changed her major and earned her degree in educational psychology.

Bourns College of Engineering

Philip Brisk
Assistant professor of computer science and engineering

Ph.D., UCLA

Since 2006, Brisk has been a postdoctoral scholar with the Processor Architecture Laboratory at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL), one of the two Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology.

His research interests include reconfigurable computing, application- specific processors and their design tools, compilers, and high-level synthesis.

School of Business Administration

Yun Liu
Acting Assistant Professor of Finance

Ph.D., expected from the University of Maryland

Liu’s primary research interests are in corporate finance, focusing on governance, compensation mergers and acquisitions, and networks. She has been awarded the Business Dean’s Fellowship at the University of Maryland and the Graduate Fellowship at Simon Fraser University.

She was also noted for Excellent Academic Performance, given an Advanced Student Award, and awarded the Sumitomo Bank Scholarship and the Motorola Scholarship at Peking University. She was the 2006 winner of the Krowe Award for Teaching Excellence, and the 2006 winner of the Joseph Wikler Award for Teaching Excellence at the University of Maryland.

Sukwon (Thomas) Kim
Assistant Professor of Finance

Ph.D., Vanderbilt University

Kim’s research interests include financial markets, investments, financial institutions, corporate finance and derivatives. He has industry experience as a fixed-income securities dealer for Kookmin Bank in Seoul, Korea.

He has experience as an operations officer, 1st Lieutenant for the Republic of Korea Marine Corps. and is member of the American Finance Association, Financial Management Association, and Beta Gamma Sigma. He is bilingual in English and Korean.

College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences

Vivek Aji
Assistant professor of physics

Ph.D., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

He is the recipient of a University of Illinois Excellence in Teaching Award, a Certificate of Merit for Academic Excellence from IIT Kanpur, and an NCERT National Merit Scholarship. Aji’s research is described as the study of the many phases of matter.

Strongly interacting many-particle systems often behave in a manner dissimilar to their constituents and lead to new states and new functionalities. He focuses on developing an understanding of how this comes about and how it can be utilized to our advantage.

Kurt Anderson
Assistant professor of biology

Ph.D., UC Santa Barbara

His research interests span quantitative population, community, and applied ecology with an emphasis on modeling spatial dynamics.

His research activities are broad, and include examining responses to spatial variation in streams and rivers, modeling spatially explicit consumer-resource interactions, and estimating demographic and dispersal rates using mark-recapture techniques.

Marc W. Bockrath
Associate professor of physics

Ph.D., UC Berkeley

Bockrath’s research interests are focused on the electronics and mechanics of systems that have critical dimensions on the nanometer scale. Such length scales approach the atomic scale and the ultimate limit to miniaturization.

Examples of such systems include carbon nanotubes and individual molecules, but can in general be any nanostructured material created by chemical or biological synthesis.

Anupama Dahanukar
Assistant professor of entomology

Ph.D., Duke University

Dahanukar studies the gustatory or taste system in insects. Soluble or “contact” chemicals, which insects assess in food sources, substrates on which to lay eggs, or even other non-specific individuals, are sensed by neurons of the taste system, and this information is processed by the central nervous system, which dictates very specific behaviors in response to particular stimuli: Sucrose is consumed and caffeine avoided, for example.

She uses a multidisciplinary approach to understand the molecular and neuronal mechanisms that underlie the function of the taste system. She hopes to apply some of these principles to develop novel strategies to control the consumption of agricultural crops by pests.

Matthew Daughterty
Assistant specialist in the Cooperative Extension Service and assistant entomologist for the Department of Entomology

Ph.D., UC Berkeley

Daughterty’s research focuses on population and community ecology, particularly as they relate to the management of non-native arthropod pests and pathogens.

This work employs field and laboratory experiments complemented by population dynamics and statistical modeling to provide an integrative understanding of population and disease dynamics.

Current and recent research topics include: the role of climate in plant disease severity, how vector behavior mediates disease spread, effects of resource productivity on pest population dynamics, and the significance of food web complexity for pest management.

Ariel Dinar (joined UCR in December 2008)
Professor and environmental economist and director of the Water Science and Policy Center

Ph.D., Hebrew University of Jerusalem

As director of the Science and Water Policy Center, Dinar will enable the Water Science and Policy Center to connect science and policy to address local, regional and international water scarcity and water-quality challenges.

Dinar’s personal research involves the strengthening of policy and economics components in regional management of water and related resources. He studies management options for the conjunctive use of wastewater, groundwater and surface water in a regional context; and economy-wide impacts of water-related and non-water-related policies on water availability and use. He focuses on understanding strategic behavior of regulators and stakeholders in designing and implementing water-related policies.

Exequiel Ezcurra
Professor of ecology and director of UC MEXUS (University of California
Institute for Mexico and the United States)

Ph.D., University College of North Wales

Ezcurra’s research is in the areas of conservation science, the ecology and biogeography of coastal deserts, land-ocean interactions and their impact on both marine and terrestrial environments, the application of mathematical modeling in ecology and conservation, and the management of natural resources in areas under traditional use.

Li Fan
Assistant professor of biochemistry

Ph.D., Michigan State University

His research deals with the structure and function of proteins with emphasis on their 3D structure and their interaction with partners or ligands. He takes a cross-disciplinary approach with protein X-ray crystallography as the primary technology. Although his research aims to understand the molecular mechanisms of basic cell processes, Fan hopes that his work will have implications for human health and agriculture.

Joao Pedra
Assistant professor of entomology

Ph.D., Purdue University

Pedra studies the mechanisms of immunity and pathogenesis triggered by the tick-borne pathogen A. phagocytophilum. A. phagocytophilum is an obligate intracellular bacterium that cycles between a mammalian host and an arthropod vector. A. phagocytophilum infects polymorphonuclear leukocytes and causes human granulocytic anaplasmosis – the second most common tick-borne disease in the United States.

Three broad questions are currently under investigation: What are the mechanisms of A. phagocytophilum immunity in the mammalian host and the tick vector?; Are the mechanisms of innate immunity evolutionary conserved in ticks and mammals?; and What are the molecular and cellular events that enable A. phagocytophilum to evade host and vector immunity?

Caroline Roper
Assistant professor of plant pathology and microbiology and an assistant plant pathologist.

Ph.D., UC Davis

Roper’s research program focuses on the molecular basis of the host/pathogen interactions of plant pathogenic bacterium that live in the specialized niche of the plant xylem tissue. She is focusing her efforts on understanding the strategies this group of plant pathogens employ during the initial stages of infection. In particular, she is working on Xylella fastidiosa, a serious bacterial pathogen of grapevine and citrus among other economically important hosts.

Jason Stajich
Assistant professor of plant pathology and microbiology and assistant bioinformaticist

Ph.D., Duke University

Stajich’s research focuses on the evolution of fungi using genomic data, molecular evolution, and comparative approaches.

He is interested in how species form in fungi, in particular how pathogenic fungi emerge such as the frog-killing chytrid fungus or the cause of the human pathogen Coccidiodes (valley fever). He is building new computational tools to apply to genomic data to learn how cell walls evolved and how small RNAs regulate gene expression in fungi.

Jan Walter
Assistant professor of plant pathology and microbiology

Ph.D., Humboldt University (Berlin)

Walter’s research is on the epidemiology of HIV. An estimated 2.5 million children below 15 years of age were living with HIV infections in 2007, nearly all of them in developing countries. The vast majority of them acquired HIV from their mothers during pregnancy, delivery, or breastfeeding. Causes for this large number of transmissions include limited access to antiretroviral treatment and health services, lack of safe alternatives to breastfeeding and non-exclusive breastfeeding during the first months of life. Walter collects high-quality epidemiological data that aid the improvement of prevention methods for mother-to-child HIV transmission. He also conducts relevant lab assays that allow the analysis of natural correlates of disease transmission and progression, and that may provide insights into the underlying biological mechanisms of the disease.

Chi Wang
Acting assistant professor of statistics

Ph.D., expected from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

In 2008, Wang received the International Biometric Society, Eastern North American Region, Distinguished Student Paper Award. Wang’s research aims to develop new methods for statistical problems arising from biological and medical studies. He is interested in survival analysis, genetics, and genomics, and in providing collaborative biostatistical consultation for researchers in other disciplines.