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College of Science

College of Science News

College welcomes talented cohort of 17 new faculty members for 2020-21

New COS faculty include, top row from left, Heather Arterburn, Rachid Atmai, Nathan Brown, Heather Charles, Keaton Hamm; Mahmoud Jawad, Megan Korchinski; bottom row, from left, Pedro Maia, Matthew Robison; Ranny So, Logan Watts, Nevin Weinberg, Frederick Wilder, Dengdeng Yu.
New COS faculty since January 2020 include, top row from left, Heather Arterburn, Rachid Atmai, Nathan Brown, Heather Charles, Neda Ghazipour, Piya Ghose; middle row, from left, Keaton Hamm; Mahmoud Jawad, Megan Korchinski, Pedro Maia, Dylan Parks, Matthew Robison; bottom row, from left, Ranny So, Logan Watts, Nevin Weinberg, Frederick Wilder, Dengdeng Yu.

Maintaining and expanding top-tier programs in teaching and research requires attracting top-tier faculty, and the College of Science continues doing just that with the addition of 17 new faculty members to its ranks since the start of 2020.

The new faculty – 10 tenure track and seven non-tenure track – represent each of the six disciplines that comprise the College and bring expertise in a wide variety of fields.

“In keeping with one of the main goals of the College’s Strategic Plan, we have brought in an outstanding group of faculty to add depth to our already excellent roster,” College of Science Dean Morteza Khaledi said. “Our newest faculty will greatly augment our capabilities in teaching, and the tenure track members all bring solid, established, cutting-edge research programs which will further bolster our research strengths in many areas. I’m delighted to have all of them here and I know I speak for all of our faculty in saying we look forward to working with them.”

New tenure track faculty since January 2020 include:

Nathan Brown, assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences – Brown’s research interests include the use and development of a variety of geo- and thermo-chronometers, especially luminescence techniques, to learn about the recent history of rocks and sediments. He has co-authored 15 articles published in peer-reviewed journals. He received a B.S. in Geology, with a minor in Mathematics, from Wheaton College in Illinois in 2009, an M.S. in Earth and Environmental Sciences from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2011, and a Ph.D. in Geology from the University of California at Los Angeles in 2017. He worked as a postdoctoral fellow at UCLA from 2017-19 and is currently an NSF postdoctoral fellow at the University of California at Berkeley and the Berkeley Geochronology Center. He will join UTA in December 2020.

Piya Ghose, assistant professor in biology – Ghose’s research interests include cell biology, developmental biology, biochemistry, molecular biology, and genetics. In 2019 she received a Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) Recruitment Award in the amount of $2 million to establish a cancer biology research lab at UTA. She received a B.S. from the University of Calcutta and earned a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Rutgers University in 2012. From 2013-19 she was a National Institutes of Health postdoctoral fellow studying developmental genetics at The Rockefeller University in New York. She joined UTA in January 2020.

Keaton Hamm, assistant professor of mathematics – Hamm’s research interests include mathematics of data science, harmonic analysis, dimensionality reduction, subspace clustering, unsupervised learning, low-rank matrix approximations, sampling theory, signal processing, and radial basis function (RBF) approximation. He has authored or co-authored 13 articles published in peer-reviewed journals. He received B.S. degrees in Mathematics (with honors) and Chemical Engineering from Texas A&M University in 2010 and earned his Ph.D. in Mathematics from Texas A&M in 2015. He was an assistant professor at Vanderbilt University from 2015-18 and worked as a postdoctoral research associate in the NSF TRIPODS (Transdisciplinary Research in Principles of Data Science) program at the University of Arizona from 2018 until coming to UTA this semester.

Pedro Maia, assistant professor of mathematics – Maia’s research interests include applied mathematics, mathematical biology, computational neuroscience, traumatic brain injuries, neurodegenerative diseases, data-driven methods, and network science. He has co-authored 17 publications in peer-reviewed journals. He received a B.S.in Applied Mathematics, with an emphasis in Biophysics, in 2007 and a M.S. in Applied Mathematics in 2009, both from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. He earned a Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics in 2014 from the University of Washington in Seattle. From 2017-18 he worked as a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Radiology and the Brain and Mind Research Institute at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City. He was a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Radiology at the University of California at San Francisco from 2018 until joining UTA this fall.

Matthew Robison, assistant professor of psychology – Robison’s research examines some fundamental questions regarding the human cognitive system. He focuses largely on two core cognitive abilities: attention control and working memory. Specifically, his research tries to understand why people differ in these cognitive abilities. He has authored or co-authored 31 articles published in peer-reviewed journals. He received a B.B.A. (cum laude) in Entrepreneurship and Psychology from the University of Notre Dame in 2013 and earned M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Psychology from the University of Oregon in 2014 and 2018, respectively. He worked as a postdoctoral research associate in the Memory and Attention Control Lab at Arizona State University from 2018 until joining UTA this fall.

Byung Ran So, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry – The focus of So’s research is to understand how RNA-protein complexes play a role in coding and non-coding gene expression using various research tools including biochemistry, molecular/cell, and structural biology. Her current research topics include biogenesis of non-coding small nuclear RNAs; interconnection between splicing and cleavage and polyadenylation machineries in coding gene processing; and perturbation of RNA processing and its link to diseases. She has 14 publications in peer-reviewed journals and holds two patents. She received a B.S. in Chemistry and Chemical Engineering (2000) and an M.S. in Chemistry (2002) from Sungkyunkwan University in Korea, and earned her Ph.D. in Chemistry from Ohio State University in 2010. She worked at the University of Pennsylvania/Howard Hughes Medical Institute, first as a postdoctoral researcher (2010-17) and then as a research associate (2017-20) before coming to UTA this semester.

Logan Watts, assistant professor of psychology – The overarching goal of Watts’ research is to advance knowledge about the science and practice of organizational leadership, ethics, and creativity/innovation. His two research streams focus on the processes by which leaders impact ethical behavior and innovation at work, and the impact of consuming stories (e.g., from books, TV, movies) on leader development and decision making. He has published over 40 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters and co-authored the book, Ethics Training for Managers: Best Practices and Techniques. He received a B.S. in Psychology (with honors) with a minor in Business Administration from Abilene Christian University in 2010, an M.A. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from Middle Tennessee State University in 2012, and earned a Ph.D. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology with a minor in Quantitative Research Methods from the University of Oklahoma in 2016. He worked as an assistant professor at Baruch College and The Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY) from 2017 until coming to UTA this semester.

Nevin Weinberg, associate professor of physics – Weinberg’s research interests that include stellar fluid dynamics, tidal physics, compact object binaries, short-period exoplanets, and X-ray bursts. As principal investigator or co-PI he has received more than $2.6 million in research grants from NASA and the National Science Foundation since 2009, including two active grants totaling $1.26 million. He has published more than 40 articles in peer-reviewed journals He received an A.B. in Physics (with honors) and an S.B. in Mathematics from the University of Chicago in 2000 and earned his Ph.D. in Astrophysics from the California Institute of Technology in 2005. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics from 2005-06, a TAC postdoctoral fellow at the University of California at Berkeley from 2006-11, an assistant professor in the physics at MIT from 2011-16, and an associate professor of physics at MIT from 2016 until coming to UTA this semester.

Frederick Wilder, assistant professor of physics – Wilder’s research interests and skills include magnetospheric physics, magnetic field topology, magnetic reconnection, polar cap phenomena, magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling, space-based electric field measurements, and radar observation. He is currently chair of the National Science Foundation Geospace Environment Modeling (GEM) focus group project, “Magnetic Reconnection in the Age of the Heliophysics System Observatory.” He has published 74 articles in peer-reviewed journals, including 39 in which he was lead author or made significant contributions. He received a B.S. in Electrical Engineering in 2005, an M.S. in Electrical Engineering in 2008, and a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering in 2011, all from Virginia Tech. He was a postdoctoral researcher at ASTRA, LLC in Louisville, Colorado, from 2011-12, and then worked at the University of Colorado’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, first as a postdoctoral fellow (2012-14) and then as a research scientist II (2014-20), before coming to UTA.

Dengdeng Yu, assistant professor of mathematics – Yu’s research interests include many facets of Data Science, including neuroimaging data analysis, high dimensional data analysis, functional data analysis, imaging genetics, causal inference, and quantile regression. He has co-authored eight articles published in peer-reviewed journals. He received a B.S. in Computational and Applied Mathematics from Southeast University in 2007, an M.S. in Financial Mathematics from the University of Ulm in Germany in 2011, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Statistics from the University of Alberta in Canada in 2013 and 2017, respectively. He worked as a research and teaching assistant at the University of Alberta from 2011-17 and is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto and the Canadian Statistical Sciences Institute. He will join UTA in Spring 2021.

New non-tenure rack faculty who have joined the College since January 2020:

Heather Arterburn, assistant professor of instruction in biology – Arterburn is teaching classes in plant science and is the lab coordinator for the Department of Biology’s undergraduate introductory biology laboratories. While in graduate school, she worked as a graduate teaching assistant (GTA) in the following subjects: Anatomy & Physiology I Lab; Plant Science Lab; Cell and Molecular Biology Lab; Intro to Biostatistics; and Intro to Biology I. She was a guest lecturer in Intro to Biology I at UTA in Spring 2020. She also worked as a research assistant in the lab of Robert McMahon, professor emeritus in biology, from 2016-17. She received an A.A.S. in Veterinary Technology from the College of Southern Nevada in Las Vegas in 2003, a B.S. in Biology from UTA in 2014, and earned her Ph.D. in Quantitative Biology from UTA in 2020.

Rachid Atmai, lecturer in mathematics – Atmai’s present research involves mathematical models of consciousness. He has experience teaching discrete mathematics, calculus 1-3, linear and college algebra, elementary probabilities and statistics, and differential equations, among other courses. He received a master’s degree in Philosophy from the University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne in 2009 and earned a Ph.D. in Mathematics from the University of North Texas in 2015. He was a visiting scholar in the Department of Mathematics at Rutgers University in 2014 and was a postdoctoral researcher at the Kurt Gödel Research Center for Mathematical Logic at the University of Vienna in Austria from 2015-17. He worked as an instructor of mathematics at Mt. San Jacinto College and MiraCosta College in California from 2017-20 and most recently was a lecturer at the University of California at San Diego before coming to UTA this semester.

Heather Charles, assistant professor of instruction in biology – Charles has taught classes in human anatomy and physiology, cell biology, pathophysiology, embryology, neurobiology, and biological psychology. She also has experience training and supervising both undergraduate and graduate students in the lab. She received a B.S. in Biology (cum laude) from Waynesburg University in 2009 and earned a Ph.D. in Biology from Miami University in 2017, where her research interests included the interaction between immune and nervous systems, the role of glia in neuroinflammation, and the effect of neuroinflammation on behavior. She worked as a visiting assistant professor at Mount St. Joseph’s University from 2016-18, and was a visiting assistant professor at Miami University from 2018 until joining UTA this semester.

Neda Ghazipour, lecturer in earth and environmental sciences – Ghazipour has experience teaching courses in analysis of spatial data, geographic data analysis, geographic information systems, and remote sensing fundamentals. She received a B.S. in Geology/Earth Science from the University of Lahijan, Iran, in 2003, an M.S. in Engineering Geology from Azad University, Science and Research Branch, Tehran, in 2007, and a Ph.D. in Engineering Geology from the University of Geneva in 2015. She came to UTA in January 2020.

Mahmoud Jawad, lecturer in mathematics – Jawad is teaching classes and coordinating labs in elementary statistical analysis, as well as teaching other courses. He has taught courses in elementary statistics, college algebra, precalculus, multivariate statistical analysis, statistical inference, and mathematical statistics. He worked as a graduate teaching assistant for various math courses at UTA from 2015-18. He received a B.S. in Electrical Engineering in 1997, an M.S. in Electrical Engineering in 2002, and a Ph.D. in Mathematics in 2018, all from UTA. He worked as an adjunct lecturer at UTA and at Tarrant County College in 2018, and was a visiting lecturer at UTA in 2019.

Megan Korchinski, lecturer in earth and environmental sciences – The primary focus of her research is to explore the complex dynamics that characterize plate boundaries, and to gain insight into exhumation processes that drive the exposure of regions of deep crust at the Earth’s surface. She received a B.S. in Geology and Marine Biology in 2008 and an M.S. in Geology (with first class honors) in 2011, both from Victoria University of Wellington, in New Zealand, and a Ph.D. in Geology from the University of Minnesota in 2019. As a graduate student she worked as a teaching assistant for courses in geology and cinema laboratory, petrology, and solid earth dynamics. She was an instructor of Structural Geology and Introduction to Geology at the University of Wisconsin, River Falls, in 2020 before joining UTA this semester.

Dylan Parks, assistant professor of instruction in biology – Parks’ research interests include microbiology and genetics. He received a B.S. in Molecular Microbiology from UTA in 2012 and a Ph.D. in Quantitative Biology from UTA in 2018. As a graduate student he taught courses in microbiology, cell and molecular biology, anatomy and physiology, and methods in molecular microbiology (lab). Parks worked as a laboratory technician at Lakewood Brewing Co. in Garland from 2018-19 before coming to UTA in January 2020.

The College’s newest round of faculty hiring follows the Fall 2019 additions of James Coleman, the Dr. Richard N. Claytor Professor of Optics in the Department of Physics and Presidential Distinguished Professor in the College of Engineering; Catrina Coleman, professor of electrical engineering and an affiliated faculty member in the Department of Physics; Un-Jung Kim, assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences; Sherri McFarland, professor of chemistry and biochemistry; Alison Ravenscraft, assistant professor of biology; and assistant professors of instruction in psychology Rachel Baldridge and Mitchell Meltzer. The College hired 11 faculty members in Fall 2018.