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Faculty Hires Increase Scope of Research Expertise

September 29, 2014

The School of Engineering has hired four faculty members for the 2014-15 academic year, giving the campus 212 tenure-track professors who expand the depth and breadth of research expertise.

The faculty hires reflect areas of rapid enrollment growth, greatest potential for interdisciplinary collaboration, research potential and other factors aligned with the university’s strategic academic vision and long-term mission, said Tom Peterson, provost and executive vice chancellor.

Students in the classroom“To fulfill the goal of enrolling 10,000 undergraduate students by 2020, we have to make an investment in faculty who augment the already diverse areas of research found on our campus,” he said.

The new faculty members bring with them new facets of research in the disciplines of mechanical engineering, materials science and computer science.

For example, Po-Ya Abel Chuang, who most recently served on the faculty at Purdue University, is a subject-matter expert in thermal management, combustion, propulsion, turbomachinery and fuel cell technology. Here at UC Merced, he’ll continue his research into PEM fuel cell and thermal management with a focus in renewable energy. The assistant professor will also teach thermodynamics and a professional seminar course. Harvard graduate Anand Bala Subramaniam also joins the faculty this fall as an assistant professor. His research interests lie in understanding and controlling complex inorganic and biological interfaces. For example, that which exist between the cell membrane and the extracellular matrix.

“These outstanding professors offer our current and prospective graduate students terrific opportunities for interdisciplinary research collaborations and training,” said Marjorie Zatz, vice provost and dean of graduate studies. “Individually and as a cohort, these stellar experts contribute to UC Merced’s growing prestige across a wide range of research areas.”

Two more assistant professors will join the school in January. Dong Li is the newest hire in computer science. His research focus is scientific computer for extremely large-scale systems. Fitting with the school’s entrepreneurial spirit, Ala Qattawi will join the mechanical engineering faculty with an interest in areas of innovative manufacturing processes and design procedures. Her primary goal is generating optimized sustainable components and fabrication practices, mostly for sustainable scalable production volume with low capital investment.