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Welcome New Faculty

We Are Pleased to Welcome and Introduce the School of Natural Sciences’ Newest Faculty Members.

 

 

Daniel Beller

Assistant Professor

Physics

Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Beller’s research centers around theoretical soft matter physics and focuses on defects in liquid crystals and colloidal crystals, often in the context of self-assembly strategies for particles at the micro and nano scales. He also studies problems in population genetics in connection with analogous questions in statistical physics. In his current research, he is studying the dynamics of biomaterials that form non-equilibrium, "active matter" analogues of liquid crystals. Before coming to UC Merced, Beller was a post-doctoral scholar at Harvard University and Brown University.

 

 

Kinjal Dasbiswas

Assistant Professor

Physics

Ph.D., University of Florida

Dr. Dasbiswas’ research focuses on a theoretical description of the active material properties of the cellular cytoskeleton. The goal of his research is to elucidate the organizational role that physical factors such as mechanics play in biology. Much of Dasbiswas’ work is informed by experiments and is in close collaboration with experimentalists. His research interests lie in the realm of theoretical soft matter and biological physics, particularly in using continuum theories of matter and statistical physics to understand and describe biological materials, cells, and tissue.

 

 

 

Changho Kim

Assistant Professor

Applied Mathematics

Ph.D., Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology

Dr. Kim worked as a post-doctoral scholar at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory after completing his Ph.D. in Chemistry at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST). His current research includes the modeling of reactive electrolyte systems aiming at the simulation of small-scaled batteries and micropumps, and he investigates the underlying stochastic dynamics description of such systems as well as the effects of thermal fluctuations. His approaches are based on both continuum description (fluctuating hydrodynamics) and particle dynamics description (molecular dynamics).

 

 

Aurora Pribram-Jones

Assistant Professor

Chemistry & Chemical Biology

Ph.D., U.C. Irvine

Dr. Pribram-Jones develops finite-temperature and ensemble electronic structure methods for use in materials science, quantum chemistry, and warm dense matter theory. She collaborates with researchers at Harvey Mudd College, using high-performance computing to simulate ordered and disordered complex alloys. A former President's Postdoctoral Fellow at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and UC Berkeley, her activities within the community have included coordinating the Computational Chemistry and Materials Science Summer Institute, and visiting elementary schools to discuss the many ways to be a chemist, and how superheroes rely on metallurgy in the Marvel Universe.

 

 

 

Shahar Sukenik

Assistant Professor

Chemistry & Chemical Biology

Ph.D. Hebrew University

By combining live cell microscopy, spectroscopy, and computer simulations, Dr. Sukenik’s lab aims to understand how the environment surrounding proteins affects their behavior inside and outside the cell, in health and disease. During his time as a Ph.D. student at Hebrew University, Sukenik studied the biophysical chemistry of proteins – the molecular machines that enable life. His graduate research led him to pursue postdoctoral research with Martin Gruebele at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he developed microscopy methods to study how proteins function and interact in live cells.

 

 

Tommaso Buvoli 

Visiting Assistant Professor

Applied Mathematics

Buvoli is a visiting assistant professor in mathematics at the University of California Merced. Previously, he completed his graduate degree in applied mathematics at the University of Washington. His research areas are numerical analysis and scientific computing. He is primarily interested in high-order time-integrators, exponential integrators, and parallel-in-time methods. He also enjoys teaching numerical analysis and programming techniques.

 

 

Nicholas Knight

Visiting Assistant Professor

Applied Mathematics

Ph.D., U.C. Berkeley

Dr. Knight is a visiting assistant professor of Applied Mathematics at UC-Merced. He studies numerical algorithms for linear algebra problems. He also enjoys exploring the California outdoors.

 

 

Jennifer Pett-Ridge  

Adjunct Professor

Life & Environmental Sciences

PhD., U.C. Berkeley

Dr. Pett-Ridge’s research uses the tools of systems biology and biogeochemistry to link identity and function in environmental microbial communities. Pett-Ridge is a senior staff scientist and group leader at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory who uses the tools of systems biology and biogeochemistry to link, identity, and function in environmental microbial communities. Recently awarded a DOE Early Career award to work on responses of tropical soil microbes to climate change, she has also pioneered the use of NanoSIMS isotopic imaging in the fields of microbial biology and soil biogeochemistry.