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Meet UCR’s new faculty members

November 17, 2020
Author: University Communications
November 17, 2020

This fall, UC Riverside welcomed more than 40 faculty members from a variety of disciplines.

Learn more about the new faculty below:

College of Humanities Arts and Social Sciences


Courtney Baker, an associate professor of English, joined UCR following her tenure as an associate professor of American studies and co-founder of Black studies at Occidental College. Before that, she was an associate professor in English at Connecticut College. She obtained her doctorate in literature at Duke University and her bachelor’s in women’s studies at Harvard University. Her research focuses on African American and Black diaspora visual culture, theories of humanity, representation, and narrative, as well as American literature and film. Her book, “Humane Insight: Looking at Images of African American Suffering and Death,” was published in 2015.



andré carrington, an associate professor of English, is a scholar of race, gender, and genre in Black and American cultural production. His first book, “Speculative Blackness: The Future of Race in Science Fiction,” interrogates the cultural politics of race in the fantastic genres through studies of science fiction fanzines, comics, film and television, and other speculative fiction texts. He is a past recipient of fellowships from the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University and the Penn Humanities Forum at the University of Pennsylvania (now the Wolf Center for Humanities).






Yong Cho, an assistant professor of art history, earned his doctorate in history of art at Yale. His primary areas of research and teaching include art and architecture of East and Central Asia from medieval and early modern periods, Buddhist art and architecture, nomadic art and architecture, visual and material cultures of shaman rituals, textile history, animal-human relationships in visual culture, and diaspora studies. His current book project, tentatively titled “The Mongol Impact: Rebuilding the Arts System in Yuan China (1271-1368),” investigates a moment of major cultural transformation in the imperial court of China, when the Mongols became rulers of a world empire.



Rob Clark, an associate professor of sociology, received his doctorate in sociology from Indiana University. He previously taught at the University of Oklahoma. His research agenda focuses on international development, the distribution of income in the world economy, and the global spread of institutions across the world polity. He is particularly interested in the effect of globalization (trade, foreign investment, international organizations) on economic growth, the evolution of income disparities as they exist within and between countries, and cross-national convergence in welfare outcomes, institutional forms, and cultural scripts.




María del Rosario Acosta López, a professor of Hispanic studies, was previously an associate professor of Philosophy at DePaul University, Chicago; and an associate professor of philosophy at University of the Andes in Bogotá, Colombia. She obtained her doctorate in philosophy from the Colombian National University, and was a Humboldt postdoctoral fellow at Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany. She teaches and conducts research on romanticism and German idealism, aesthetics and philosophy of art, contemporary political European philosophy, and more recently, her work has also moved into the areas of decolonial and Latin American studies, with emphasis on questions of memory and trauma in the Americas.

Savannah Esquivel, an assistant professor of art history, received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Iowa, a master’s in art history from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and a doctorate in art history from the University of Chicago. Her research investigates how Mexico’s Indigenous communities engaged with Christian material culture after the Spanish invasion in 1519. Esquivel is also a fellow in The Huntington-UC Program for the Advancement of the Humanities, an innovative partnership designed to advance the humanities at public universities. 






Diogo Ferrari, an assistant professor of political science, received his doctorate in political science and scientific computing with a dual degree in statistics from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He previously taught at the University of Chicago. His research focuses on political methodology and comparative political behavior. He investigates the relationship between socioeconomic conditions, cognitive perceptions about the socioeconomic environment, attitude formation, and political behavior. He has conducted national surveys and survey experiments to investigate how different groups react to information about the causes of inequality, the state of the economy, and social demand for welfare policies.




Ayana Flewellen, an assistant professor of anthropology, is the co-founder of the Society of Black Archaeologists and sits on the board of Diving With A Purpose. She received her doctorate in anthropology and master’s in African and African diaspora studies from the University of Texas, Austin. Her research and teaching interests are shaped by and speak to Black Feminist Theory, historical archaeology, maritime heritage conservation, public and community-engaged archaeology, processes of identity formations, and representations of slavery.        





Dana Kaufman, an assistant professor of music composition, earned her Doctor of Musical Arts in Composition at the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music. Her music has been heard throughout North America and Europe, and at venues such as New York Opera Fest, Contemporary Music Center of Milan,  Hartford Opera Theater, and Opera on Tap Chicago. A composer of primarily vocal/operatic music, Kaufman has also focused on composing for trans voices and pushing for inclusivity in opera.








Amy Kroska, a professor sociology, received her doctorate from Indiana University in 1997.  Prior to UCR, she worked at the University of Oklahoma and Kent State University. Her research and teaching interests include social psychology, gender, family, mental health, and emotions. Her recent studies examine status and stigma processes related to gender, mental health, and crime. Her previous studies have examined factors that affect gender ideology, housework divisions, and the affective meanings tied to gendered roles and family work behavior. Her research has appeared in Social Psychology Quarterly, Social Forces, and Social Science Research.




Jorge Leal, an assistant professor of history, received his doctorate from UC San Diego. Leal is a cultural and urban historian of the ethnic Mexican and Latinx experience in Southern California. His research and teaching fields include Mexican American/Chicanx history, transnational history, and the relational study of race, ethnicity, gender, and migration. Prior to earning his doctorate, he was an active participant in the L.A. Latina/o music scene, both as a rock critic and concert producer. He is also the curator of The Rock Archivo LÁ, a public history repository that collects, shares, and examines Latina/o/x youth culture.




Linda Lemus, an assistant professor of teaching and Hispanic studies, received her doctorate from the University of Arizona where she studied second-language acquisition and teaching. Her research interests include language and identity, heritage language learners, translanguaging, the hidden curriculum, curriculum development, and language and technology.





Carla Mazzio, an associate professor of English, earned her doctorate at Harvard University and specializes in early modern literary and cultural studies. Her publications have focused on dramatic innovation in relationship to the history of the "inarticulate" person or community, the history of media technologies and the printed book, and the history of science (particularly mathematics, meteorology, and the history of embodiment). She is the author of “The Inarticulate Renaissance, Language Trouble in an Age of Eloquence,”co-author of “Book Use, Book Theory: 1500-1700,” editor of “Shakespeare & Science,” and co-editor of three other books.






Alexandra Sasha Newton, an associate professor of philosophy, received her doctorate in philosophy from the University of Pittsburgh in 2010 and master’s in philosophy and German literature from the University of Tübingen in Germany. Her research focuses on the German philosopher Immanuel Kant, on the post-Kantian German Idealists, and on the contributions the philosophers of this period can make to contemporary philosophy. Newton was previously an assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an assistant professor at the University of Leipzig in Germany.




Ugo Troiano, an associate professor of economics, received a doctorate in economics at Harvard University and was an assistant professor at the University of Michigan. His research focuses on the intersection between public finance and political economy and topics such as maternity leave provisions, fiscal restraints, political accountability, and compliance with revenue collection. Trojano’s research is interdisciplinary and uses concepts that pertain to other fields such as psychology, sociology, law, and political science.





Jasmin Young, an assistant professor of ethnic studies, holds a bachelor’s degree in Africana Studies from California State University, Northridge, a master’s in African American Studies from Columbia University, and a master’s in Gender Studies from the London School of Economics and Political Science. She received her doctorate in history from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Young’s research interests center broadly on the intellectual history of Black women, state violence and resistance, and radical Black feminism. She co-edited the “Black Power Encyclopedia: From ‘Black is Beautiful’ to Urban Uprisings” and is currently developing her manuscript, “Black Women with Guns: Armed Resistance in the Black Freedom Struggle.”



Wei Zhao, an associate professor of sociology, received his doctorate in sociology from Duke University.  Before joining UCR, he worked at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. His research focuses on organizational sociology, economic sociology, social inequality, and Chinese society. His recent work has examined social inequality in multiple dimensions during China’s market transition. Other projects have investigated organizational practices and changes, such as in human resource management and network patterns, through China’s market transition and globalization processes.   






For more on the new faculty members go to the CHASS website.


College of Natural & Agricultural Sciences


Miguel Arratia, an assistant professor of physics, received his doctorate from the University of Cambridge in 2016. He specializes in experimental nuclear physics. He seeks to understand the origin of the fundamental properties of the atomic nucleus such as its spin, mass, and size. He works in experiments using powerful electron beams, such as those available at the Thomas Jefferson National Laboratory and the future Electron-Ion Collider, to obtain tomographic images of the atomic nucleus at the quantum level.




Ana Bahamonde, an assistant professor of organic chemistry, earned her doctorate in organic chemistry at the Institute of Chemical Research of Catalonia in Spain. Her research interests are in the areas of asymmetric catalysis, physical organic chemistry, photochemistry, and organometallic chemistry. She works on the development of processes based on ligand-metal cooperativity to facilitate the controlled formation of highly reactive species to enable mechanistically distinct reactions aimed to solve challenging problems in organic synthesis.



Brian Collier, an assistant professor of mathematics, earned his doctorate in pure mathematics at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. His research interests are in differential geometry and algebraic geometry. Most of his work has focused on the Nonabelian Hodge correspondence, which links certain classical geometric objects such as hyperbolic geometry with holomorphic objects called Higgs bundles. He is particularly interested in problems that rely on the interplay of many areas of math such as dynamical systems, gauge theory, low dimensional topology, PDEs, Lie theory, and geometric group theory.






Analisa Flores, an assistant professor of teaching in the Department of Statistics, earned her doctorate in statistics at UCR. She previously taught as a lecturer in the department for 10 years. Her research interests are in undergraduate education, effective course design, and student engagement and success.




Patricio Gallardo, an assistant professor of mathematics, earned his doctorate in mathematics from Stony Brook University with a focus on algebraic geometry. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Georgia at Athens. Afterward, he continued his postdoctoral training at Washington University in St Louis. Within geometry, Patricio's research specializes in understanding the behavior of geometric objects within families. 



Estela A. Gavosto, a professor of teaching in the Department of Mathematics and special advisor to the dean of CNAS in STEM initiatives, earned her doctorate at Washington University in St. Louis and completed postdoctoral training at Princeton University and the University of Michigan. Her mathematical research focused on several complex variables and complex dynamics. She has worked extensively in programs funded by the National Institutes of Health that prepare underrepresented students for biomedical research careers. Her main interest is to develop programs that broaden participation in STEM careers.





Ysabel Giraldo, an assistant professor of entomology, earned her doctorate in biology at Boston University with a focus on ecology, behavior, and evolution. Her research interests are in the neurobiological basis of complex insect behaviors. Drawing on her varied experience in ecology, behavior, and neuroscience, her research program takes an integrative approach to understanding insect navigation.



Jia Gou, an assistant professor of mathematics, earned her doctorate in applied mathematics at the University of British Columbia. Her research interests are in the areas of mathematical biology and applications of dynamical systems. Her work includes understanding the mechanisms of tissue growth control by constructing and investigating models that involve cellular level details. She is also interested in analyzing mathematical models of spatial and temporal phenomena in biology, using techniques such as asymptotic and perturbation methods, and numerical simulations.





Eloísa Grifo, an assistant professor of mathematics, received her doctorate at the University of Virginia. Before joining UCR, she was a postdoc at the University of Michigan. Her research is in commutative algebra, an area of pure mathematics with connections to most other areas of mathematics, as well as practical applications in robotics, physics, and computer science. She is broadly interested in the relationship between commutative algebra and homological algebra, algebraic geometry, and arithmetic geometry.



Amy Murillo, assistant professor of entomology, earned her doctorate from UCR. Her research focuses on management of arthropod pests of animals. She is particularly interested in host-ectoparasite interactions in poultry, a system that allows for basic research with agricultural applications. Her lab is currently investigating how mites and lice affect chicken behavior and welfare.




Edward Schwieterman, an assistant professor of astrobiology , earned his docotorate in astronomy and astrobiology at the University of Washington. His research interests and activities include integrated climate, photochemical, and spectral modeling of terrestrial exoplanets and the analysis of early Earth as an exoplanet analog. He is particularly interested in studying the planetary processes, atmospheric chemistry, and the possible remote biosignatures of exoplanets in their circumstellar habitable zones.




For more go to the CNAS website.



Graduate School of Education


Eui Kyung Kim, an assistant professor in the school psychology program, received her bachelor’s in, Psychology, Korea University; master’s in Mental Health Counseling from Boston College; and doctorate in counseling, clinical, and school psychology from UC Santa Barbara. Her research focuses on understanding risk and resilience among children and adolescents. She has been conducting research on universal mental health screening, early identification, and prevention services for children's social and emotional health.  She also conducts research internationally, examining the social and emotional development of children and adolescents from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds.



Alice Y. Lee, an assistant professor of critical literacy,  received her doctorate in language and literacy; Master of Education in elementary education; and bachelor’s in political science and economics, all at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Lee theorizes about the racial and linguistic life experiences of teachers. She studies maltreatment of Black language speakers in schooling. 





Amos Lee, an assistant professor of teaching, has a doctorate in curriculum and instruction from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. As a former elementary and middle school teacher in small urban schools, his area of interest is equity issues in school systems. Lee has also taught a prison-based course on critical race theory within education and conducts research supporting incarcerated scholars to share their stories with a broader audience. He serves on the editorial review board of the Journal of Higher Education in Prison.





Stephanie Moore, an assistant professor in the school psychology program, received her doctorate in counseling, clinical, and school psychology from the UC Santa Barbara. Moore’s research focuses on school-based prevention and early intervention to prevent mental illness and promote wellness. Her research background is in early identification, including universal mental health screening and evaluation of rating scales, to inform referral to intervention. 






Anthony Muro Villa III, an assistant professor of STEM Teaching and Learning, taught high school mathematics for 11 years in Ventura. He recently received his doctorate in mathematics education with an emphasis in race, inequality, and language in education. He has broad experience working and producing scholarship within a research-practice partnership, teaching within teacher education, and developing and leading teacher professional development. His current work centers on how power operates in mathematics classrooms to promote or inhibit students’ learning opportunities. 






For more go to the GSOE website.



Marlan and Rosemary Bourns College of Engineering


Basak Guler, an assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, received his doctorate from the Department of Electrical Engineering at the Pennsylvania State University. She was a postdoctoral scholar in the Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at University of Southern California. Her research is on developing scalable, privacy-preserving, and context-aware communication and information processing frameworks for large-scale distributed networks.




Allan Knight, an assistant teaching professor in Computer Science and Engineering, is a software engineer, researcher and architect with extensive experience in developing software for real-time collaboration, telecommunications, VoIP solutions, medical devices, and high-performance networking. His research interests include multicore programming, automatic integration of educational media, and facilitation of evaluating educational media techniques. He received his bachelor of science in computer engineering from California State University, San Bernardino; and his doctorate in computer science at UC Santa Barbara.



Elena Kokkoni, an assistant professor of bioengineering, joined the faculty this fall but has been with the department as a researcher since 2018. Previously, she was at the University of Delaware, where she received her postdoctoral training in human-robot interaction and completed her doctorate in biomechanics and movement. During those years, Kokkoni was a member of the GoBabyGo! team and worked on the development and evaluation of novel interventions and technologies to advance the motor ability of children with physical challenges. She has also received a master's degree from the University of Nebraska, Omaha and conducted research in the Nebraska Biomechanics Core. At UCR, she aims to create and assess novel enriched learning environments that combine assistive technology and motor training, and to apply those in real world settings for high-dosage neurorehabilitation.



Tamar Mentzel, an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, earned her  bachelor’s in physics and mechanical engineering from Yale University, where she graduated magna cum laude and was awarded the Deforest Pioneers Prize for distinguished creative achievement in physics. Tamar earned her doctorate in applied physics from Harvard University, where she was awarded the National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship and the National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship. As a post-doctoral researcher at Harvard, she worked on doping topological insulators in the search for topological superconductivity. She holds patents for optoelectronic devices made of semiconductor nanocrystals and for a technique for measuring electrical conductance in extremely resistive materials.





Iman Noshadi, an assistant professor of bioengineering, received his bachelor of science from Shiraz University in Shiraz, Iran; his master’s from University Technology, Malaysia; and Ph.D. from the University of Connecticut. He was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His research interests are physical Sciences; life sciences; organic and hybrid materials; and catalyst and biomaterial synthesis.





Erfan Nozari, an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, received his bachelor of science in electrical engineering-control from Isfahan University of Technology, Iran in 2013 and an interdisciplinary (joint) doctorate in engineering sciences (Mechanical Engineering) and cognitive xcience at UC San Diego. He was previously a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Pennsylvania.






Jonathan Realmuto, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering, received his bachelor of science in mechanical engineering from University of Nevada, Las Vegas; and his doctorate in mechanical engineering from the.  University of Washington. His research investigates theoretical and engineering foundations of human-robot systems aimed at restoring and enhancing human mobility and perception, including wearable and assistive robots, active prostheses and orthoses, and neuroprostheses.





Elaheh Sadredini, an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, received her doctorate in computer science at the University of Virginia. She interned at Friedrich Alexander University, Apple Inc., and eBay research. Sadredini’s focus of research is on novel computing paradigms, near-data processing, and application-specific reconfigurable accelerators. Her work has been recognized with several awards, including the John A. Stankovic Graduate Research Award from computer science department at the University of Virginia and the International Studies Office Graduation Award at the University of Virginia.



Yun Shen, an assistant professor of chemical and environmental engineering, received her bachelor of science at the College of Environmental Science and Engineering, Hohai University, China, her master’s degree at the College of Environmental Science and Engineering, Peking University, China, and her doctorate in Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She’s been a visiting scholar at the National Cancer Institute, National Institute of Health; and postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Michigan. Her research areas include pathogen transmission across water and air; pathogen persistence and control in environmental matrices; and interactions between biofilms and nanomaterials.




School of Business


Eric Allen, an assistant professor of accounting, earned his doctorate and master’s degrees in business administration from UC Berkeley after working as a tax accountant, business manager and senior auditor. His undergraduate degree in economics and business administration is from the University of Redlands. At UCR, he is teaching a course in individual income taxation. Allen’s research interests include the effect of statutory requirements on firm income tax planning and disclosures; efficiency of firms’ tax planning decisions; and financial statement analysis. He also has studied marathon running through an economics lens. 






Naman Kiran Desai, an assistant professor of teaching in accounting, earned his doctorate in accounting at Florida State University, where he served as a lecturer before taking faculty roles at University of Central Florida, the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, and St. Mary’s College, California. He has a master’s degree in accountanting from the University of Alabama and a bachelor of commerce degree from Gujarat University, Ahmedabad. Having earned the international designation of chartered accountant (equivalent in the United States to a CPA), Desai brings professional experience to the classroom.


For more go to the School of Business website.



School of Medicine



Dennis B. Alters, M.D., a clinical professor of psychiatry, is also a staff psychiatrist for the Riverside County Department of Mental Health. Alters worked in private practice for nearly 30 years before coming to Riverside while also serving as a clinical professor of psychiatry at UC San Diego.  He earned his bachelor’s in chemistry and his medical degree from the University of Miami, Florida, and completed residencies in surgery, ophthalmology, psychiatry and child psychiatry. 






Ann Cheney, an assistant professor in the Department of Social Medicine Population and Public Health, is a medical anthropologist with research expertise in in health services research and community based participatory research. Dr. Cheney’s work focuses on the impact of structure in health with a focus on Latino immigrant farmworkers in rural southern California. She is the director of HABLAMoS (Hispanic and Bilingual Longitudinal Ambulatory Medical Studies), a four-year program for medical students that focuses on Spanish language acquisition and studies in cultural and structural competence. Dr. Cheney is faculty supervisor of the Global Health at Home group and oversees the Coachella Valley Free Clinics.




Asma Jafri, M.D., a clinical professor of health sciences, assumed the role of chair of Family Medicine in May. She has extensive experience in Graduate Medical Education and has been the Program Director of two different residencies in California. She has previously served on the advisory board of the Canyon Springs Health Academy in Moreno Valley. She has also served as a consultant for the Department of Aging in Riverside County. She currently co-chairs the Public Health Committee at UCR.






Laurie Jo Moore, MD, specializes in psychiatry and psychotherapy and has had a longstanding interest in social psychiatry. She received lifetime board certification from The American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, 10 years subspecialty board certifications in addictions and geriatrics and she is a fellow of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists. Dr. Moore just completed a book called “What's Behind Social Hatred.” She has a special interest in bipolar disorder, trauma, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy  for post-traumatic stress disorder, and intensive short-term dynamic psychotherapy. Dr. Moore was a founding member of the Women's Health Clinic in Portland, Oregon.



Sunil K. Patel, MD, is a board-certified pediatrician practicing in the Inland Empire for over 27 years and a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr. Patel attended Smt. NHL Municipal Medical College before completing his pediatric residency at New York Medical College. Dr. Patel takes pride in holding active medical memberships including in organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, and the Indian Medical Association of Southern California. Dr. Patel’s practice includes general pediatric care, immunizations, preventative care, sick appointments, well-child visits and more with a special interest in the preventive care and newborn care aspects of pediatrics.



Jami Woods, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry in the Department of Psychiatry, boarded in psychiatry and is certified as a subspeciality in psychopharmacology. Originally a pharmacist by training, Dr. Woods went back to medical school and practiced primary care medicine for about eight years before completing a second residency in psychiatry. Her areas of academic interest include the neurobiology and treatment of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, autism spectrum disorders, and gender dysphoria. 




The School of Medicine also welcomed faculty members for whom biographical summaries were not available: Bobby Garcia,  Crystal Glassey, Andres Gonzalez, Andrew Hwang, Matthew Schrader, Bhavish Trikamji, and Rasik Zackria.