New faculty build on campus strengths

UC Santa Cruz is welcoming 43 new faculty members to campus this academic year. Areas of expertise include psychology, mathematics, astronomy and astrophysics, computer science and engineering, and much more. 

UC Santa Cruz now has 620 Senate faculty members, which includes.

Marcela Alfaro Córdoba, assistant teaching professor (LPSOE)
Marcela Alfaro Córdoba is interested in developing novel statistical methods to address scientific questions related to natural sciences while providing computational solutions for reproducible scientific work. Her focus is not only on the statistical practice but also on modern pedagogical approaches in the statistics curriculum.

Jasmine Alinder, dean
Jasmine Alinder joined UC Santa Cruz from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where she was a professor of history and associate dean of the humanities in the College of Letters and Science. Alinder is an interdisciplinary, community-engaged scholar and teacher of public history, the history of photography, and the history of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

Roxanne Beltran, assistant professor
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Roxanne Beltran studies marine mammal behavior in the context of physiological limits and life history trade-offs. She is particularly interested in using predator movements to measure the impact of climate change on ocean ecosystems.

Guido Bordignon, assistant teaching professor (LPSOE)
Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology
Guido Bordignon focuses on developing and ensuring the adoption of evidenced-based teaching strategies to reduce the achievement gap in life science disciplines. Currently, Bordignon is studying the use of avatars to promote Science Identity to minimize unconscious gender and underrepresented minority biases. Bordignon is also studying how to apply other new technologies to scientific teaching, such as augmented and virtual reality.

Megan Boudewyn, assistant professor
Megan Boudewyn’s research program is broadly focused on higher-order cognition, using a cognitive neuroscience approach to bridge the domains of language, executive control, and attention.

David Boyd, assistant professor
Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology
David Boyd’s lab will study how stromal cells, which make up the connective tissue in the lung, respond to respiratory viruses and regulate the balance between a strong immune response and tissue function. Because age is the most important risk factor for severe respiratory infections, the Boyd Lab is interested in how the responses of stromal cells change with age and the mechanisms by which they drive disease severity.

Kevin Bundy, assistant professor
Astronomy and Astrophysics
Kevin Bundy is an observational astronomer specializing in large cosmic surveys in order to address key questions about the formation and assembly of galaxies. He is a leader of instrumentation projects for large telescopes and is developing new technological tools to enhance our ability to collect light from the cosmos.

Shelley Chan, associate professor
Shelly Chan is a historian of modern and global China with a focus on migration and diaspora. Her current research focuses on the history of homeland visits to China and Taiwan during the Cold War and an imagined Chinese geography known as the South Seas (Nanyang).

Roberto de Rook, assistant professor
Roberto de Rook’s interdisciplinary work examines the relationships between learning, technology, and social justice. He primarily does this through ethnographic design work, but also through critical, digital discourse analysis and participatory methods.

Ioannis Demertzis, assistant professor
Computer Science and Engineering Ioannis Demertzis focuses on building simultaneously practical and provable secure cryptographic solutions with applications to cloud computing security, encrypted systems, and databases. He is interested in efficient and secure real-world privacy-preserving systems. Some of his recent projects include I/O efficient secure schemes, private query processing on relational/graph encrypted databases, mitigating leakage abuse attacks on searchable encryption, and scalable oblivious indexing techniques.

Carol Greider, distinguished professor
Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology
Carol Greider’s research focuses on the ends of chromosomes, called telomeres and the enzyme required to maintain them, telomerase. Insufficient telomerase leads to telomere shortening with each cell division. Patients with short telomeres have age-related degenerative diseases including pulmonary fibrosis, bone marrow failure and immune dysfunction. On the other hand, too much telomerase leads to long telomeres which predispose to cancer. The Greider lab is studying the fundamental mechanism of telomere equilibrium maintenance to better understand how to intervene in these diseases.

Giulia Gurun, assistant teaching professor
Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology
Giulia Gurun is interested in the relationship between chromatin structure and function in the regulation of gene expression, and using the budding yeast as a model to study epigenetic disease.

Kathleen Gutierrez, assistant professor
Kathleen Gutierrez is an assistant professor in history. She specializes in Philippine botany, modern Southeast Asia, and science and technology studies. Her writing and research to date have contributed to the history of science in the Philippines, weaving and textile studies, and the environmental humanities.

Galina Hale, professor
Galina Hale’s current research interests include international finance and banking, climate change and financial system, and sustainability of global food system. Hale’s work is mostly empirical, including big data and network analysis.

Hannah Hausman, assistant professor
At its core, Hannah Hausman studies how people learn best, how they think they learn best, and why these two things don’t always align. Right now, Hausman is focused on understanding when and why making errors initially can enhance long-term learning. In addition to being fascinated by basic memory processes, Hausman is deeply passionate about translating the science of learning into actionable strategies that empower students to be effective lifelong learners.

Soleste Hilberg, assistant teaching professor (LPSOE)
Solest Hilberg’s research focuses on issues related to educational equity, including classroom observation tools, pedagogical practices to support the success of students traditionally underserved by schools, formative assessment practices, and college student retention for students from low-income backgrounds.

Liv Hoversten, assistant professor
Liv Hoversten’s research program focuses on the neurocognitive mechanisms of language processing, with a special focus on reading and bilingual language control. She uses eye-tracking and electrophysiological methods to investigate questions about the time course and flow of information throughout the language processing system during written and spoken communication.

Nia Imara, assistant professor
Astronomy and Astrophysics
Nia Imara studies the formation of stars throughout the universe, using both observational and theoretical techniques. She is also a visual artist interested in the intersection between art and science.

Natalie (Naya) Jones, assistant professor
Naya Jones is a geographer and cultural worker whose work focuses on Black geographies of health and healing in North and Latin America using arts-based methods. Along with research on Afro-Latinx health outcomes, her current projects with community partners focus on African-American holistic health care seeking and practice and Black environmental knowledge beyond the American South. She is an assistant professor of sociology and core faculty in the Global and Community Health program.

Caitlin Keliiaa, assistant professor
Feminist Studies
Caitlin Keliiaa is a feminist historian versant in the interdisciplinary fields of Native American studies, labor studies, and critical race and ethnic studies. Her scholarship uncovers Native experiences in the 20th-century with particular attention to histories of Indian boarding schools, outing programs, Indian labor exploitation, and surveillance of Native bodies.

Zehang “Richard” Li, assistant professor
Zehang “Richard” Li is interested in statistical methods and tools to address scientific questions in demography, epidemiology, and global health. He is currently working on latent variable modeling in messy, high-dimensional data, space-time models, causal inference, and applications in health data.

Xavier Livermon, associate professor
Feminist Studies
Xavier Livermon researches the intersection of popular culture, gender, and sexuality in South Africa and the African Diaspora. His research interests include Black Queer Studies, African Studies, Popular Culture Studies, and Black (Queer) Social and Political Thought.

Sarah Loerch, assistant professor
Chemistry and Biochemistry
Sarah Loerch’s lab is interested in understanding the mechanisms of protein translation. Simply said, how a cell instructs a ribosome, our molecular machines that synthesize protein, to make the right protein at the right time and in the right place. A major focus is on protein translation control in neurons, where dysregulation leads to a wide spectrum of diseases like depression, autism spectrum disorders, and neurodegeneration.

Robert Lund, professor

Jorge Mascarenhas Menna Barreto, acting assistant professor
Jorgge Menna Barreto, Ph.D. is a Brazilian artist and educator, whose practice and research has been dedicated to site-specific art for over 20 years. Since 2014, he has been studying possible relations between site-specific art and agroecology, centring around agroforestry. He is also a translator, presently finishing a version of Anna Tsing’s book, The Mushroom at the End of the World, to Brazilian Portuguese.

Aims McGuiness, associate professor
Aims McGuinness is a historian of modern Latin American and the United States whose research focuses on the history of Panama and the U.S. empire.

Steve McGuire, assistant professor
Electrical and Computer Engineering Steve McGuire develops techniques to help robotic systems better understand the world around them, particularly in difficult-to-understand and hazardous environments. His work includes not only onboard sensing and perception, but also the human operators and personnel forming the complete system. One key component of his work is the idea of mutual adaptation, or enabling robots to alter their behaviors based on their operators’ experiences and physiological signals of opportunity. His principal application involves systems performing the dull, dirty, and dangerous tasks particularly suited to human-robot teams.

Maywa Montenegro, assistant professor
Environmental Studies
Maywa Montenegro’s research focuses broadly on transitions to socially just and sustainable food systems. Within that purview, she has projects in: agrobiodiversity, seeds, and relationships to human food security & nutrition; CRISPR-Cas9 biotechnology and implications for food justice and democracy; and knowledge politics in agroecology and food sovereignty. She brings a background in biology, journalism, and political ecology to her research and public writing pursuits.

Sagnik Nath, assistant teaching professor (ALPOSE)
Computer Science and Engineering Sagnik Nath has worked on the development and design of asynchronous cells for Single Flux Quantum (SFQ) technology that allows it to be compatible with commercial design flow approaches in industry. The asynchronous cell design approach has demonstrated potential to implement power efficient high performance computing as opposed to the exponential power expenditure with respect to performance of traditional semiconductor based computing.

Michael Patnode, assistant professor
Microbiology and Environmental Toxicology
Michael Patnode studies how beneficial and harmful bacterial species living in the human intestine compete with one another for nutrients in food, and how our immune systems influence the outcomes of these competitions.

Kailani Polzak, assistant professor
History of Art and Visual Culture
Kailani Polzak’s research focuses on European visual culture in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries with particular attention to histories of science, aesthetic philosophy, race, colonialism, and intercultural contact in Oceania. She also maintains a methodological interest in the questions raised by writing about and curating colonial histories from multiple perspectives.

Eréndira Quintana Morales, assistant professor
Eréndira Quintana Morales is an archaeologist investigating the dynamic interactions between food, environment, and society in the context of current challenges related to food insecurity, climate change, and sustainability. Her work is based around the Western Indian Ocean rim (Kenya, Tanzania, SW Madagascar) and integrates various archaeological approaches, including zooarchaeology, biomolecular methods, and community engagement through a decolonizing framework.

Hannah Raila, assistant teaching professor
Hannah Raila is a clinical psychologist who investigates links between cognition and emotion, including the “diet” of visual information that we consume as we navigate the world (e.g., whether we see the crack in the wall or pass by it unaware), the factors that predispose us to detect this emotional information in the first place, and how this diet of information influences our emotions. To study our visual biases and how they relate to how we feel, she leverages tools from cognitive psychology—including eye tracking and continuous flash suppression—and focuses on questions related to internalizing disorders such as depression and OCD.

Zouheir Rezki, assistant professor
Electrical and Computer Engineering
Zouheir Reiki’s research in wireless communications and networking includes security and privacy of data networks, applying machine-learning techniques to design and optimize modern communication systems, information theory, optical communication, and application of communication technology for smart grids. He is the recipient of a 2020 NSF CAREER Award. He is an IEEE Senior Member and served as an editor of IEEE Wireless Communications Letters.

Sarah Sanford, assistant teaching professor (LPSOE)
Sarah Sanford is an artist and art educator whose practice incorporates photography, printmaking, drawing, and installation to create hidden worlds of biological landscapes and scientific abstractions. Capturing the physical nature of light is a dominant component to the imagery she creates. Drawn to its ethereal properties and transient nature, her work explores themes of time passage, impermanence, and interconnectedness.

Magy Seif El-Nasr, professor
Computational Media
Magy Seif El-Nasr’s research focuses on (a) developing automated tools and techniques for authoring, adapting, and personalizing virtual environments, and (b) developing evidence-based methodologies to measure the effectiveness of game environments. She published the first book on game analytics, Game Analytics: Maximizing the Value of Player Data. Her work is internationally known. She is a HEVGA (Higher Education Video Game Alliance) Fellow and serves as an associate editor for IEEE Transactions on Games and IEEE Transactions on Affective Computing.

Shaheen Sikandar, assistant professor
Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology
Normal tissues and tumors consist of communities of cells that are heterogeneous. Shaheen Sikandar is interested in understanding the functional roles and molecular pathways active in subpopulations of cells in normal and tumor tissues. The lab’s goal is to leverage this information to enable the design of better therapeutic strategies for cancer.

Tyler Sorensen, assistant professor
Computer Science and Engineering

Jennifer Tseng, assistant professor
Jennifer Tseng is a poet and fiction writer currently at work on a collection of stories.

Gina Ulysse, professor
Feminist Studies
Gina Ulysse is a multidisciplinary artist-scholar whose ethnographically grounded practice is inspired by her method/praxis of rasanblaj (the gathering of ideas, things, people, spirits). Using a multitude of forms (writing, photography, performance-installation), her work reflects deep interest in historical and contemporary Black diasporic conditions.

Xin Wang, assistant professor
Computer Science and Engineering
Xin Wang’s research interests include natural language processing, computer vision, and machine learning, with an emphasis on building embodied AI agents that can communicate with humans using natural language to perform real-world tasks. In the realm of NLP, he is interested in natural language grounding, knowledge-based reasoning, and multilingual understanding. His interest in computer visions includes vision and language, visual navigation and robotics, and activity understanding. The areas of machine learning he is particularly interested in are deep learning, self-supervised learning, reinforcement learning, and multimodal machine learning.

Cihang Xie, assistant professor
Computer Science and Engineering
Cihang Xie is a computer vision and machine learning researcher. His research goals include building human-level computer vision systems, particularly in securing model performance under the worst-case scenario and endowing models with interpretability. Cihang is also interested in deep learning and its applications, such as autonomous vehicles.

Jeremy Yamashiro, assistant professor
Jeremy Yamashiro is a cognitive psychologist interested in social remembering: how remembering in communication with others can drive convergence onto shared ways of remembering across dyads and larger social network structures, collective memory, social representations of history, and moralized remembering.