Stellar new faculty strengthen campus research, teaching

Students walking on campus

To build on existing research strength and branch into new areas of inquiry, UC Santa Cruz has recruited 40 new tenure-track faculty members for the academic year that starts this week.

Hired into all five academic divisions, the faculty members bring expertise in theater arts, human disease, language, climate change, inequality and many other areas. UC Santa Cruz now has 639 ladder-rank faculty members.

“It’s thrilling to welcome a new group of creative and accomplished artists, scholars, innovators and problem-solvers to our community,” said Campus Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Lori Kletzer. “Our faculty members provide UC Santa Cruz students with a world-class experience, while creating new knowledge and understanding with their research and creative scholarship.”

Arts Division

Kristen Gillette, Assistant Teaching Professor
Performance, Play, and Design
Kristen Gillette is a visual communications designer and storyteller, focusing on innovative and radical methods for connecting with intentional communities. As a teaching professor, their research focuses on developing engaging, accessible, equitable courses, and learning experiences.

Pamela Rodriguez-Montero, Assistant Professor
Performance, Play, and Design
Pamela Rodriguez-Montero is a Costa Rican theatrical designer, educator, and visual artist. Her areas of interest include Mesoamerican ceremonial dance/drama, intersectionality in theatrical design, anti-racism in the practice of costume, makeup and hair design, and digital rendering techniques.

Matthew Schumaker, Assistant Professor
Matt Schumaker is a composer whose concept-driven works are supported by research in the areas of computer-assisted composition and interactive computer music.

​​Celine Parreñas Shimizu, Dean
Celine Parreñas Shimizu is an award-winning filmmaker and film scholar of race, sexuality and transnational popular culture.

Baskin School of Engineering

David Bernick, Associate Teaching Professor
Biomolecular Engineering
David Bernick’s teaching and research focus on uses of synthetic biology and bioengineering for issues of global need. He mentors the International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) Project at UCSC and is currently the Director for the Undergraduate program in Biomolecular Engineering.

Reuben Domike, Teaching Professor
Technology and Information Management
Over the past twenty years, Reuben Domike has been involved in developing technology start-up companies in the areas of software; management consulting; industrial water filters; and essential oil extraction. This entrepreneurial experience in developing technology companies informs his teaching. His research has been in the area of technology development in pharmaceutical manufacturing.

Leilani Gilpin, Assistant Professor
Computer Science and Engineering
Leilani Gilpin’s research enables complex mechanisms to use explanations to dynamically detect and mitigate anomalous behaviors.

Dianne Hendricks, Associate Teaching Professor
Biomolecular Engineering
Dianne Hendricks’s research is in engineering education. She studies and designs teaching strategies that help students solve engineering problems in creative ways; prepare students for leadership and effective communication in the professional world; and emphasize diversity, equity, and inclusion in how students design and implement engineering projects.

Alexandra Kolla, Assistant Professor
Computer Science and Engineering
Alexandra Kolla’s primary research goals are directed towards developing and using spectral graph theory, statistical physics, and convex optimization techniques in order to solve key open questions in the fields of algorithms, complexity theory, and graph theory.

Vanessa Jonsson, Assistant Professor
Applied Mathematics
Vanessa Jonsson studies how the immune system evolves in the context of human disease. Her research lab develops mathematical models and computational methods to analyze high throughput genomic and immunological data towards ultimately engineering the human immune system to more effectively fight off disease.

Karen Miga, Assistant Professor
Biomolecular Engineering
Karen Miga’s lab focuses on genomic and epigenetic structure within human centromeres and constitutive heterochromatin, which are now emerging to the forefront of genomics. She is particularly interested in understanding how satellite DNAs, or the tandem repeats in these regions of the genome, are epigenetically regulated, change over time, and how this new variation contributes to disease.

Paul Parker, Acting Assistant Professor
Paul Parker is interested in computationally efficient modern methods to model dependent data including spatial, temporal, spatio-temporal, and functional dependence among others. His dissertation focused on applications to official statistics, although he is interested in a wide variety of application areas. 

Andrew Quinn, Acting Assistant Professor
Computer Science and Engineering
Andrew Quinn develops systems, tools, and techniques that increase software reliability in order to prevent, endure, and fix catastrophic bugs. Software systems are notoriously buggy, and bugs have led to large-scale power outages, massive financial loss, and even loss of life.

Kathryn (Kate) Ringland, Assistant Professor
Computational Media
Kathryn (Kate) Ringland conducts research at the intersection of technology, communities, and disability. She is currently studying how playful online communities create access and care for marginalized members using a Critical Disability perspective.

Norman Su, Associate Professor
Computational Media
Norman Su directs the Authentic User Experience Lab (AUX Lab), where they integrate empirical and humanistic methods in human-computer interaction to study and design with subcultures. By amplifying and predicting societal concerns and innovations, his research on subcultures envisions designs for members of marginalized and mainstream cultures

Yuyin Zhou, Assistant Professor
Computer Science and Engineering
Yuyin Zhou’s research interests span in the fields of medical image computing, computer vision, and machine learning, especially the intersection of them. Zhou’s ultimate research goal is to make medical AI systems more reliable to deliver transparent and trustworthy solutions in the face of the more complex real-world clinical settings.

Humanities Division

Jody Biehl, Visiting Associate Professor
Jody Biehl’s research focuses on telling immigration and refugee stories, student press issues, media literacy and creative nonfiction. 

Josefina Bittar, Assistant Professor
Languages and Applied Linguistics
Josefina Bittar studies contact between languages and bilingualism. Bittar is particularly interested in indigenous languages in contact with Spanish.

Marisol LeBron, Associate Professor
Feminist Studies
An interdisciplinary scholar, Marisol LeBrón’s research and teaching focus on social inequality, policing, violence, and protest.

Rachel Walker, Professor
Rachel Walker is a theoretical phonologist, with central contributions on the cognitive representation of consonants and vowels, positional prominence, and long-distance processes in sound patterns of the world’s languages. In recent research, she has examined the complex nature of liquid consonants and investigated the phonology of Ladin, a threatened minority language spoken in Northern Italy.

Physical and Biology Sciences Division

Aris Alexandradinata, Assistant Professor
Aris Alexandradinata investigates solid-state materials through the lens of quantum mechanics and topology, with an eye toward applications in sustainable technologies.

Valerie Cortez, Assistant Professor
Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology
Valerie Cortez’s research examines how astroviruses infect the gut and their role in regulating mucosal immunity. The lab is interested in understanding the host and virus factors that dictate astrovirus disease and to use astrovirus to explore goblet cell biology.

Ari Friedlaender, Professor
Ocean Sciences
Ari Friedlaender studies the interactions between marine mammals and their ocean environments. Through the use of biologging instruments and multi-disciplinary research, he aims to understand how marine mammals are affected by variability and disturbance in marine ecosystems.

Kasia Jankiewicz, Assistant Professor
Kasia Jankiewicz works in geometric group theory which is the study of the interplay between the geometry of shapes and the algebra of their symmetries. 

Jesse Kass, Assistant Professor
Jesse Kass works in algebraic geometry, the study of the geometry of solution sets of algebraic equations.

Geri Kerstiens, Assistant Teaching Professor
Chemistry and Biochemistry
Geri Kerstiens’s research focus is on chemistry education. Kerstiens will be engaging in curriculum design for the general chemistry series. Kerstiens hopes to expand this to research on the efficacy of explicit nature of science instruction on students’ learning experiences, as well as improving the accessibility and equity of courses.

Tamara Pico, Assistant Professor
Earth and Planetary Sciences
Tamara Pico’s research focuses on better understanding past ice sheets and sea level over the last ice age.

Laura Sanchez, Associate Professor
Chemistry and Biochemistry
Laura Sanchez lab’s interest is to elucidate the chemistry by which cells and microbes communicate with one another or with their surroundings to coordinate biological functions in complex backgrounds. The lab uses a variety of biological models such as cheese rind derived microbial communities, ovarian cancer, and biofilm forming Gram-negative bacteria and mass spectrometry tools to study this chemistry.

Daniel Turner-Evans, Assistant Professor
Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology
Daniel Turner-Evans’s research explores how neurons in the brain connect to one another to generate cognitive processes such as working memory or goal-directed action selection.

Social Sciences Division

Carla Hernández Garavito, Assistant Professor
Carla Hernández Garavito's research centers on the reinvention of communal identities and landscapes in the Peruvian Andes in contexts of indigenous and European colonialism. Hernández Garavito's research combines archaeological research, material analysis, spatial modeling, and archival sources. 

Rekia Gina Jibrin, Assistant Professor
Rekia Gina Jibrin’s research speaks to the ways schools shape race relations. She examines how caring, anti-punitive neoliberal policies reproduce anti-Blackness and class oppression. Focusing on restorative justice as one such caring alternative to disproportionate school discipline, her work illuminates how punishment and care practices reproduce or contest the dehumanizing racial conditions of urban school life.

Michael Leung, Associate Professor
Michael Leung’s research focuses on developing statistical tools for analyzing social network and microeconometric data.

Julian Martinez-Iriarte, Assistant Professor
Julian Martinez-Iriarte specializes in econometrics and labor economics.

Natalia Ocampo-Penuela, Assistant Professor
Environmental Studies
Natalia Ocampo-Peñuela is a tropical conservation ecologist who focuses on birds and biodiversity hotspots. Her research spans the conservation of biodiversity in natural, agricultural, and urban landscapes. She has done most of her research in her native Colombia and specializes in the use of spatial tools.

Josephine Pham, Assistant Professor
Studying race, racial literacy, and racial formation processes through an interdisciplinary lens, Josephine Pham employs methodological tools from educational anthropology and learning sciences to examine the micro-interactional processes that produce racially transformative classrooms and schools. Drawing on her relational experiences as a daughter of Vietnamese refugees, former classroom teacher, and teacher educator, she is particularly interested in the day-to-day practices and learning of teachers of Color working towards liberatory education.

Alicia Riley, Assistant Professor
Alicia Riley studies how structural racism and social stratification lead to inequitable outcomes in health and mortality. 

Thomas Serres, Assistant Professor
Political Science
Thomas Serres is a specialist of North African and Mediterranean politics. Serres’s first book studies the government of a longstanding political, social and economic crisis in Algeria, and the tension between the management of the crisis and the potential collapse of the political order.

Gerelt Tserenjigmid, Assistant Professor
Gerelt Tserenjigmid’s research interests are decision theory and behavioral economics. In most of his research, Tserenjigmid studies bounded rationality and well-documented behavioral phenomena that cannot be explained by the standard models in economics.

Dong Wei, Assistant Professor
Dong Wei’s main research area is microeconomic theory, focusing on questions in information economics and dynamic games. The applications of his research include attention management, price discrimination, and corporate finance.

Ariel Zucker, Assistant Professor
Ariel Zucker’s research evaluates policies to improve health and environmental conditions in underserved communities worldwide, with a focus on countering behavioral biases in personal decision making.