A biweekly publication for faculty and staff

Campus’s First Set of Cluster Hires Comes Aboard

September 7, 2016

As UC Merced begins its 12th academic year, 18 new ladder-rank professors join the faculty across all three schools. Among the new academics are the campus's first "cluster hires" — four assistant professors who conduct research within a specific interdisciplinary theme — in the area of computational science and data analytics. 

Campus view from canalAlex Petersen (management) takes a data-oriented approach to researching the evolution of large multiscale socio-economic systems. Paul Smaldino (cognitive and information sciences) uses mathematical models and computer simulations to study the dynamics of human behavior, evolution and culture. Emily Jane McTavish (life and environmental science) studies the combination of phylogenetic methods and genomics. And David Strubbe (physics) uses high-performance computing to research the electronic and optical properties of materials for solar energy and other applications.

According to Vice Provost for Faculty Gregg Camfield, faculty searches are usually focused on a specific research and teaching need. In conducting a search for several candidates at once in a broad area, “many promising candidates applied because they found the promise of academic innovation to be quite attractive. I believe we attracted scholars who otherwise would not have come our way.”

Alex Petersen

That sentiment is echoed by the newly hired professors. Smaldino, for example, said that the most exciting research right now is happening in areas that span the boundaries of traditional academic disciplines.

“This interdisciplinary cluster hire, and others like it at UC Merced, are providing opportunities for those of us who work at the frontiers,” he said. “The university's commitment to supporting interdisciplinary work is one of the biggest draws in coming here, and I couldn't be more excited to join this community.”

Future cluster hires will fit into the following themes:

  • Sustainability
  • Inequality, Power and Social Justice
  • Adaptive and Functional Matter
  • Entrepreneurship and Management
  • Human Health Science

A complete list of new faculty hired for the 2016-17 year follows.

School of Engineering

School of Natural Sciences

  • Anna Beaudin — assistant professor, molecular cell biology
  • Xuecai Ge — assistant professor, molecular cell biology
  • Emily Jane McTavish — assistant professor, life and environmental sciences
  • Liang Shi — assistant professor, chemistry and chemical biology
  • David Strubbe — assistant professor, physics
  • Stephanie Woo — assistant professor, molecular cell biology
  • Maria-Elena Zoghbi — assistant professor, molecular cell biology

School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts

  • Sharla Alegria — assistant professor, sociology
  • Glynis Gawn — lecturer with potential security of employment (LPSOE), social science and management
  • David Jennings — LPSOE, cognitive and information sciences
  • Andrew C. Johnston — assistant professor, social science and management
  • Kit Myers — assistant professor, humanities and world cultures
  • Paul Smaldino — assistant professor, cognitive and information sciences