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September 01, 2015

New faces on campus

Niaz Abdolrahim Niaz Abdolrahim

Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering
PhD: Washington State University (2013)

Niaz Abdolrahim recently completed her postdoctoral appointment at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering, where she investigated the computational modeling of interface structure and interface-defect interactions in metallic films.

Abdolrahim is experienced in solid mechanics, continuum mechanics, plasticity, crystal plasticity, finite element methods (FEM), molecular dynamics simulations, Monte Carlo methods, nanoscale metallic composites, thin films, nanoporous materials, multiscale modeling of materials, computational solid mechanics, and mathematical modeling.

Scott AbramsonScott Abramson
Assistant Professor of Political Science
PhD: Princeton University (2014)

In addition to exploring the origins of the modern territorial state, Scott Abramson examines the ways in which political regimes transmit power across generations, the causes of the industrial revolution, and the effects of new military technologies on Japanese state-formation during the Sengoku period. His research uses a combination of formal, quantitative, and historical methods to focus on political development and state formation.

Abramson’s current book project is The Production, Predation, and the Origins of the Territorial State. Using a new dataset describing the existence, location, and boundaries of every European state between 1100 and 1789, this book represents the first-ever set of systematic empirical tests of competing theories of state formation.

Paul Audi Paul Audi
Associate Professor of Philosophy
PhD: Princeton University (2007)

Paul Audi comes from the University of Nebraska–Omaha, where he was an associate professor (2013 to 2015) and an assistant professor (2007 to 2013). Prior to that, he was a visiting instructor in philosophy at Colgate University.

As a metaphysician and philosopher of mind, Audi focuses on the nature of properties and relations of determination and dependence. He writes that in the study of minds and morals, in order to definitively establish that some kind of entity exists, one must take a stand on what sorts of properties there are, which ones are fundamental, and how those that are fundamental give rise to those that are not.

Audi’s work on the concept of grounding has been at the center of recent debates about relationships of determination. A related strand of his work concerns mental causation and how mental phenomena could influence physical phenomena in the way that a common sense understanding of human action assumes.

Yu Awaya Yu Awaya
Assistant Professor of Economics
PhD: Pennsylvania State University (2015)

Yu Awaya is a game theorist whose work has focused primarily on the theory of repeated games. In his thesis, Awaya examines the issue of price-fixing by firms. While antitrust laws prohibit explicit agreements among firms to rig prices—and hence also communication among firms about such matters—there remains the question of whether firms can somehow contrive such pricing arrangements tacitly even when it is difficult for them to monitor the decisions of their rivals through communication. Awaya explains how it is possible for firms to collude, and it helps us understand how to detect such behavior.

In 2014, Awaya’s paper “Community Enforcement with Observation Costs” was published in the Journal of Economic Theory. He has given presentations on economic theory around the world and has refereed for the International Journal of Economic Theory and the Journal of Political Economy.

Xuwen Chen Xuwen Chen
Assistant Professor of Mathematics
PhD: University of Maryland— College Park (2012)

Prior to coming to Rochester, Xuwen Chen served as a Tamarkin assistant professor at Brown University from 2012 to 2015.

Chen works on the analysis of partial differential equations. He is interested in dispersive equations and kinetic theory. His research on the rigorous analysis of many-body systems has been published in the Archive for Rational Mechanics and Analysis and the Journal of the European Mathematical Society. He has also published in a variety of journals including the Analysis & PDE, Communications in Mathematical Physics, and Journal de Mathématiques Pures et Appliquées. His current research is funded by a National Science Foundation grant.

Hayley Clatterbuck Hayley Clatterbuck
Assistant Professor of Philosophy
PhD: University of Wisconsin— Madison (2015)

Hayley Clatterbuck is a philosopher of science with expertise in formal epistemology and research projects in philosophy of biology and philosophy of cognitive science. Her dissertation, “Are Humans the Only Theorizers? A Philosophical Examination of the Theory-Theory of Human Uniqueness,” examines the hypothesis that humans are unique in having evolved the capacity to theorize or reason about theoretical entities, events, and relations in a way analogous to the use of theories in scientific practice.

Clatterbuck’s publications have focused on chimpanzee mind reading, the epistemology of thought experiments, and evolutionary drift and selection and have appeared in such publications as Mind & Language, Synthese, and Biology and Philosophy. She has also refereed for the latter two publications.

Gourab GhoshalGourab Ghoshal
Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy
PhD: University of Michigan—Ann Arbor (2009)

Gourab Ghoshal joined the University this year as assistant professor of physics and astronomy with joint appointments in the Departments of Computer Science and Mathematics. Prior to that, he served as a research scientist in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard University.

Ghoshal is trained as a statistical physicist and works in the field of complex systems. His research interests are in the theory and applications of complex networks as well as nonequilibrium statistical physics, game theory, econophysics, dynamical systems, and the origins of life. He is the editor of a book on complex networks (published by Springer), and his work has been published in Nature, Science, and Physical Review Letters.

Catherine (Cassie) GlennCatherine (Cassie) Glenn
Assistant Professor of Clinical and Social Sciences in Psychology
PhD: SUNY Stony Brook University (2012)

Cassie Glenn’s research aims to advance understanding of the psychological processes that lead to suicidal and self-injurious behaviors and the ability to predict which individuals are at greatest risk for self-harm.

Given that suicidal and self-injurious behaviors initially begin and increase drastically during adolescence, her research is particularly focused on the development, prediction, and ultimate prevention of these behaviors in youth.

Most recently, Glenn finished a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University funded by the National Institute of Mental Health.

Thomas Howard Thomas Howard
Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and of Computer Science
PhD: Carnegie Mellon University (2009)

Thomas Howard ’04, who joined the faculty in January, is a member of the Goergen Institute for Data Science and holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. Most recently, Howard was a research scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory in the Robust Robotics Group. Prior to that, he was a research technologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in the Mobility and Robotic Systems section and a lecturer in mechanical engineering at the California Institute of Technology.

Howard’s research interests span artificial intelligence, robotics, machine learning, signal processing, and human-robot interaction. His work focuses on improving the optimality, efficiency, and fidelity of models for decision making in complex and unstructured environments with applications to robot motion planning and natural language understanding.

Stephen Kleene Stephen Kleene
Assistant Professor of Mathematics
PhD: Johns Hopkins University (2010)

Stephen Kleene ’04 was a visiting member of the mathematics department at Brown University during the 2014–15 academic year and a National Science Foundation Fellow/CLE Moore Instructor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 2010 to 2014.

Kleene’s research is principally in geometric analysis and differential geometry, with an emphasis on the theory of minimal surfaces and mean curvature flow and related equations. Some of his recent work has been focused in the construction of various examples of solitons for the mean curvature and related flows, which arise as singularities.

Catherine KuoCatherine Kuo
Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering
PhD: University of Michigan (2002)

Prior to joining the University, Catherine Kuo was at Tufts University, where she was an assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering and in the Program of Cell, Molecular, and Developmental Biology within its Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences. She was also a visiting scientist in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Her research explores musculoskeletal tissue mechanobiology and developmental biology in order to inform tissue engineering and regenerative medicine approaches. A specific focus of her work is to characterize the mechanical and biochemical microenvironments of embryonic, healing, diseased, and aging tissues to provide design criteria for biomaterials and bioreactor cultures that guide stem cell differentiation and neo-tissue formation.

Amanda Larracuente Amanda Larracuente
Assistant Professor of Biology
PhD: Cornell University (2010)

Amanda Larracuente was a postdoctoral researcher at the Whitehead Institute at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 2009 to 2011 and, later, a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Postdoctoral Fellow at Rochester.

Larracuente researches the mutational and population genetic forces that shape genome evolution, organization, and content. She is interested in the most enigmatic features of eukaryotic genomes, including Y chromosomes and evolutionarily “selfish” DNAs (genetic entities that parasitize genomes). Her lab uses computational, population genomic, cytological, and molecular methods and Drosophila fruit fly species as models.

Ellen MatsonEllen Matson
Assistant Professor of Chemistry
PhD: Purdue University (2013)

Ellen Matson joined the faculty after completing a postdoctoral appointment at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign.

At Illinois, she studied the synthesis and reactivity of molecular complexes containing transition metal atoms from the first row of the periodic table. The complexes were of keen interest due to their unique electronically flexible ligand platforms.

Matson seeks to develop a research program focused on the extension of the traditional definition of “ligand” from organic molecules designed to provide “protection” for reactive metal atoms to bound molecules. These can intimately participate in and guide chemical reactivity.

Jude MitchellJude Mitchell
Assistant Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences
PhD: University of California–San Diego (2012)

Jude Mitchell studies visual processing and selective attention. He works to understand the principles governing brain activity, eye movements, and their roles in perception.

Mitchell’s research has led to important discoveries, such as how different classes of neurons in the brain contribute to attention and how attention reduces noise in neural circuits to improve perception. In recent years, Mitchell has pioneered a model that offers several practical advantages for understanding the human brain, including the opportunity to study genetic models of mental disease.

Mitchell’s background includes both computational and experimental approaches to the study of neuroscience—during his graduate studies at the University of California– San Diego and his postdoctoral research at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California.

Ronni PavanRonni Pavan
Associate Professor of Economics
PhD: University of Chicago (2005)

Ronni Pavan’s research focuses on labor economics and urban economics.

In a series of papers, Pavan has documented the causes for the wage premium observed in large cities relative to small ones and has analyzed the influence of city size on income inequality. For the work, he received a National Science Foundation grant. In a separate line of work, Pavan has been studying the interplay of human capital, in particular its acquisition through education and income.

Pavan was a faculty member at the Department of Economics at Rochester from 2005 to 2013, at which time he left to join Royal Holloway, University of London.

Juan Rivera-Letelier Juan Rivera-Letelier
Professor of Mathematics
PhD: Université de Paris Sud (2002)

Juan Rivera-Letelier comes to Rochester from Pontificia Universidad Católica in Santiago, Chile. He has held positions at Brown University, where he was a distinguished visiting associate professor, and at the Institute for Mathematical Sciences at SUNY Stony Brook, where he was a postdoctoral researcher.

Rivera-Letelier’s research is primarily in the area of dynamical systems, which can be described as the theory of long-term behavior of maps under iteration. The main focus of his research has been on one-dimensional systems of diverse origin: arithmetic, p-adic, real, and complex. He has recently applied ideas from dynamical systems to the study of statistical mechanics, in particular, the area of low temperature phase transitions.

Steven Rozenski Steven Rozenski
Assistant Professor of English
PhD: Harvard University (2012)

After a year conducting research as an Alexander von Humboldt Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Göttingen, Germany, Steven Rozenski joined the English department. Rozenski’s research focuses on devotional culture and translation in late-medieval England and Germany, incorporating perspectives from both art history and musicology. He is particularly interested in investigating the networks of cultural exchange and strategies of translation that led to the success of the most popular literary texts of the period.

During the past summer, Rozenski participated in a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminar, “Arts, Architecture, and Devotional Interaction,” at the University of York. His research and teaching have been supported by fellowships and grants from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (2014–15), the Harvard College Fellows program (2012–14), and the German- American Fulbright Commission (2003–04).

Andrew WhiteAndrew White
Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering
PhD: University of Washington (2013)

Andrew White joined the University faculty in January.

From 2013 to 2014, White was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Chicago’s Institute for Biophysical Dynamics. At Chicago, he developed new methods for mixing simulations and experiments.

At Rochester, White continues his modeling work of combining simulations and experiments in peptide self-assembly and glassy liquid crystals. Some of the tools he uses include molecular dynamics, dynamic graphical models, peptide synthesis, and self-assembly characterization. His research involves computeraided design of materials. White is also an accomplished artist. His work appeared in Science and Nature in 2010 and at the Visualization Center Museum in Sweden in 2013.

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