College of Science

College of Science welcomes 10 new faculty members

In its campaign to help UT Arlington attain Tier I research university status, attracting and retaining top-level faculty is one of the College of Science's top priorities. The College has hired seven new faculty members for Fall 2012, with three more set to join the ranks in Spring 2013.

The new faculty members bring with them a wealth of expertise and experience in research and teaching, including serving as principal or co-investigators on research grants and authoring or co-authoring papers published in various top professional journals.

"These newest members of our College of Science faculty are extremely impressive and accomplished in their fields and bring with them an abundance of energy and good ideas," said Pamela Jansma, dean of the College of Science. "We couldn't be happier to welcome them all to UT Arlington, and I know everyone joins me in looking forward to getting to know them and, in many cases, collaborating with them on important research."

New faculty members include:

Fall 2012

Dr. Alejandro Bugarin, assistant professor of chemistry/biochemistry. His research interests are in the development of new organic and organometallic reactions, or more specifically, the efficient construction of carbon-nitrogen bonds, redox economy, synergistic catalysis, and their application in total synthesis, materials, and bioactive molecules.

For the past year, Bugarin has worked as a postdoctoral associate in chemistry at the University of California at Santa Barbara, working on the mild aerobic oxidation of hydroxylamines and hydrazines. He earned a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Texas A&M University in 2011, an M.S. in Chemistry from the University of Texas at El Paso in 2005 and a B.S. in Chemistry, Pharmacy and Biology at the Universidad Autónoma de Zacatecas in Mexico in 2003. His doctoral training focused on asymmetric catalysis, including ligand, catalyst, and reaction design.

He has 10 years of experience as a teaching assistant and research assistant. At UT Arlington, Bugarin plans to establish a highly active research program focused on new synthetic strategies and their applications.

Dr. Todd Castoe, assistant professor of biology. Castoe's research interests are driven by his interest in understanding how genomic changes result in the extraordinary biological diversity of vertebrates, and in leveraging evolutionary variation to better understand the relationships between an organism's ecology, phenotype, and genotype.

"My research uses an array of integrative approaches to understand evolutionary mechanisms underlying organismal adaptations at both macroevolutionary and microevolutionary scales, and includes questions applicable to both NIH and NSF funding," he said. "My research interests also effectively bridge the fiends of field biology, ecology, evolutionary biology, and genomics."

Castoe has worked as a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Colorado School of Medicine since 2007. He is associate director of the school's Consortium for Comparative Genomics as well as a lecturer and lab instructor. He earned a Ph.D. in Biomolecular Science from the University of Central Florida in 2007, an M.S. in Biology from UT Arlington in 2001 under advisor Paul Chippindale, and a B.S. in Environmental and Forest Biology from State University of New York in 1999.

Since earning his master's from UT Arlington, Castoe has maintained close ties to the biology department. He has collaborated extensively with faculty members Eric Smith, Jonathan Campbell, and Cedric Feschotte.

Dr. Saiful Chowdhury, assistant professor in chemistry/biochemistry. Chowdhury is a bio-analytical chemist and his research focuses in the area of mass spectrometry-based proteomics. He develops mass spectrometry-based quantitative and chemical proteomics methods and probes for large-scale identification of protein-protein interactions and protein posttranslational modifications.

Since 2009, Chowdhury has worked as a research fellow at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) at NIH in North Carolina. In NIEHS, he has done extensive research in the area of lipid rafts proteome and signaling cascade of Toll-like receptors utilizing chemical cross-linking, quantitative proteomics and mass spectrometry. From 2006-09, he worked as a postdoctoral research associate at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Washington, where he developed several cutting-edge proteomics tools for global and targeted discovery of protein interactions using tandem affinity tag, chemical cross-linking approaches and mass spectrometry. In PNNL, he developed a click-chemistry based protein cross-linking and enrichment strategy and also contributed in the development of a software tool to analyze mass spectrometry data of cross-linked peptides.

Chwdhury earned a Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry from Washington State University in 2006, an M.S. in Organic Chemistry from Florida International University in 2001, an M.Sc. in Applied Chemistry and Chemical Technology from the University of Dhaka in Bangladesh and a B.Sc. (Honors) in Applied Chemistry and Chemical Technology from the University of Dhaka.

Dr. Matthew Fujita, assistant professor of biology. Fujita's research interests are in molecular evolution, evolutionary genomics, systematics and herpetology.

"My research goals and interests focus on understanding the evolutionary genetic and genomic processes affecting diversification in reptiles and amphibians by harnessing emerging phylogenetic, population genetic, and coalescent-based methods to analyze data collected using contemporary genome technologies and resources," he said. "I endeavor to integrate field work, computational genomics, and local as well as international collaborations. Every aspect of my research has benefitted from several grants and fellowships, including five from the National Science Foundation. Looking into the future, my research program will apply tools from functional genomics and rapidly expanding sequencing technologies to address the mechanisms driving the evolution of biological diversity in natural populations."

Fujita has worked as a postdoctoral researcher at Harvard University and Oxford University since 2009. He earned a Ph.D. in Integrative Biology from the University of California at Berkeley in 2009 and a B.S. in Cell Biology from the University of California at Davis in 2001.

Dr. Joseph Ngai, assistant professor of physics. Ngai has been pursuing fundamental and applied research on complex oxide thin films, grown using molecular beam epitaxy (MBE).

"Complex oxides exhibit a wide range of material behaviors including superconductivity, ferromagnetism, ferroelectricity and ionic conductivity," he said. "The epitaxial growth of complex oxide thin films and heterostructures provides a pathway to utilize these materials in energy and information technologies.

"I am now aiming to build a research program that pursues fundamental and applied research of artificial oxide heterostructures and superlattices."
Ngai has worked as a postdoctoral fellow and associate at Yale University since 2008. He earned a Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Toronto in 2007, an M.S. in Physics from the University of Toronto in 2002 and a B.S. in Physics from the University of Alberta in 2001.

Dr. Matthew Walsh, assistant professor of biology. Walsh is an evolutionary
Alejandro Bugarin Todd Castoe Saiful Chowdhury
Matt Fujita Joseph Ngai Matthew Walsh
Melissa Walsh Asish Basu Elizabeth Griffith
ecologist and his research unites field and laboratory components. His work has focused on three research areas: (1) the evolutionary consequences of harvesting in marine fishes; (2) the influence of the direct and indirect effects of predators on life history evolution in a killifish on the island of Trinidad; and (3) the cascading ecological and evolutionary consequences of phenotypic diversification in a fish predator in lakes.
W. Ashley Griffith
"My work investigates the ecological causes and consequences of evolutionary diversification in natural populations and a reoccurring theme in my research is the testing of evolutionary theory with empirical data in fish and aquatic invertebrates," he said. "My research program has been supported by grants and fellowships from multiple sources, including the United States NSF, and has yielded several first-authored papers."

Walsh has been a Gaylord Donnelley postdoctoral fellow at Yale University since 2009. He earned a Ph.D. in Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology at the University of California at Riverside in 2009, an M.S. in Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University in 2003 and a B.A. in Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia in 2000.

Melissa Walsh, lecturer in biology. Walsh has years of teaching experience, most recently as a visiting instructor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Quinnipiac University since 2011. She has also worked as an adjunct instructor and lecturer at Quinnipiac and Naugatuck Valley Community College, as a lab manager at the University of California, Riverside, and an ecologist with a consulting firm.

Walsh earned an M.S. in Marine Environmental Science from Stony Brook University in 2002 and a B.S. in Marine Biology and Environmental Science (double major) from the University of New England in 1997. She has teaching experience in courses such as biology, marine biology/ecology, oceanography, environmental science, zoology, and climate change.

Spring 2013

Dr. Asish Basu, professor and department chairman of earth and environmental science. Basu will join the College of Science faculty in January 2013, when he will become the new department chair, replacing John Wickham, who has served in that capacity for 20 years.

Basu's research interests are diverse and are primarily based on petrological, mineralogical and geochemical approaches in understanding aspects of Earth's evolution. He uses trace element, radiogenic and stable isotopes as principal tools in these studies, along with other standard laboratory and field observations.

He earned a Ph.D. in Geology from the University of California at Davis in 1975, an M.S. in Geophysical Science from the University of Chicago in 1969, an M.S. in Geology from Calcutta University in 1966 and a B.S. in Geology, Physics and Mathematics from Calcutta University in 1964. He worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Minnesota from 1975-77 and as a research scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey from 1977-78. He then joined the faculty of the University of Rochester as an assistant professor in 1978, where he had served until accepting the position with UT Arlington this summer.

Dr. Elizabeth Griffith, assistant professor of earth and environmental science. She specializes in environmental geochemistry and her research interests include stable isotope geochemistry, paleoceanography and biogeochemistry.

"My research uses geochemical tracers in the modern environment and on ancient samples to test our understanding of biogeochemical cycling in the ocean with the ultimate goal of better constraining these processes and understanding records of the past," she said. "I employ non-traditional stable isotopes (Ca) in combination with more traditional paleoclimate proxies."

Griffith has worked as an assistant professor of geology at Kent State University since 2010 and as a research fellow in the Institute of Marine Sciences at the University of California at Santa Cruz since 2008. She earned a Ph.D. in Geology and Environmental Science at Stanford University in 2008 and a B.S. in Geology and Geophysics from Missouri University of Science and Technology in 2000.

Dr. W. Ashley Griffith, assistant professor in earth and environmental science. His research focuses on structural geology and geomechanics, with an emphasis on the behavior of fractures in the earth's crust.

"The importance (both academic and practical) of fractures in the earth's crust cannot be overstated," Griffith said. "Among other things, fractures in rock dominate subsurface fluid flow, control earthquake hazards, and exert a huge influence on ground control problems in mining and civil engineering applications."

Griffith has worked as an assistant professor of geology and environmental science at Akron University since 2010. Prior to that, he served as an NSF postdoctoral scholar studying Earthquake Mechanics at Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia in Rome from 2008-09. He earned a Ph.D. in Geological and Environmental Science from Stanford University in 2008, an M.S. in Geosciences from the University of Massachusetts in 2003 and a B.S. in Geology from the College of William and Mary in 1999.

Posted September 12, 2012