Latest campus and coronavirus information Roadrunner Return Fall 2020
Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Faculty cluster hires augment UTSA’s research expertise

Faculty cluster hires augment UTSA’s research expertise

SEPTEMBER 18, 2020 — Nine of the new faculty joining UTSA this year were hired as part of the Clustered and Connected Hiring Program in a transdisciplinary effort to bring together intellectually diverse researchers to augment existing UTSA expertise. This is a joint effort between Academic Affairs and the Knowledge Enterprise.

“Cluster hiring enables the university to bolster our cross-disciplinary capabilities by linking our strengths and approaches across academic colleges and departments,” said Kimberly Andrews Espy, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. “By better aligning our capabilities with federal priorities and facilitating collaboration among the full range of our faculty, we can realize significant impact more quickly and create a new whole that is greater than the sum of its disciplinary parts.”

The areas for the cluster hires, which include human performance, quantum information science, and social and environmental challenges in Latin America, were identified through the CCP’s competitive selection process. This hiring cycle, positions for the artificial intelligence cluster have been completed.


“This targeted cluster hiring program is critical for the knowledge enterprise because it deepens the established research areas of expertise we have cultivated.”



Human Performance

Denver M.Y. Brown, assistant professor of psychology, specializes in exercise and health psychology, studying the bidirectional relationship between the brain and physical activity. His primary research uses an interdisciplinary approach that bridges psychology and physiology to understand how mental fatigue affects physical activity behavior. Brown joins UTSA from a postdoctoral research fellowship in exercise medicine at the University of Toronto.

Jimi Francis, assistant professor of kinesiology, is interested in designing and implementing research studies conducted in real-world clinical settings and developing new technology with a focus on maternal-infant health issues, sport-specific nutrition recommendations and family health. A registered dietitian, clinical research professional and certified lactation consultant, she has broad experience in direct patient care. Francis joins UTSA from the faculty at The University of Texas at Tyler. 

Marzieh Hajiaghamemar, assistant professor of biomedical engineering, was recruited from a research faculty position at the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University. Her research has focused on traumatic brain injury to understand the relationships between biomechanics and acute and chronic neuropathological pathways following TBI in efforts to develop TBI prediction, prevention and diagnostic tools and discover possible cascades of TBI leading to neurodegenerative disease. She brings a broad range of skills in conducting human subject testing, in-vivo and in-vitro experiments, computational modeling, human motion analysis, impact testing and injury protection device development. 

Quantum Information Science

Assistant professor José Morales Escalante holds a joint position in the Department of Mathematics and Department of Physics and Astronomy. He brings to UTSA significant experience in computational science, engineering and mathematics research, having served on research teams as a postdoctoral fellow at both McMaster University in Canada and the TU Vienna Institute of Analysis and Scientific Computing after earning his Ph.D. from the Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences at UT Austin. 

Assistant professor R. Tyler Sutherland holds a joint position in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Department of Physics and Astronomy. His research focuses on quantum technology, quantum computing, quantum optics, quantum simulation, and atomic, molecular and optical physics. 

Social and Environmental Challenges in Latin America

Assistant professor Rebecca Bria is an anthropological archaeologist whose research in the Peruvian Andes examines how communities emerge and transform through human-environment interactions and how these interactions are mediated through ritual practice. Bria directs the Proyecto de Investigación Arqueológico Regional Ancash, or PIARA archaeological project and field school in the Santa Cruz district of Huaylas, Ancash, Peru, where excavations have uncovered nearly 4,000 years of uninterrupted prehistoric occupation and community development.

Kristen Brown, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, was recruited from a postdoctoral position with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, where she served as an environmental engineer in the agency’s Office of Research and Development. Her research investigates emissions from energy use as well as sustainable energy systems, and she uses computational modeling to evaluate air quality and determine how it affects human health.

Alfonso Fernández Rivera, assistant professor of geological sciences, studies hydroclimatic changes, mountain environments, and glaciers. He is motivated by integrated goals to better understand the atmosphere-cryosphere-hydrosphere nexus and apply new knowledge to sustainable policymaking. His work interweaves a range of quantitative techniques such as GIS, remote sensing, photogrammetry, hydroclimatic numerical modeling, stable isotopes and geodesy, among others.

Artificial Intelligence

Joseph Houpt, an associate professor of psychology, specializes in mathematical cognitive modeling as a framework for both understanding the underlying processes and for measuring human perception and performance. He is particularly interested in research at the intersection of psychology and artificial intelligence, including using machine learning to better understand human cognition and in the psychology underlying human-AI interaction. Prior to joining UTSA, Houpt served on the faculty of Wright State University. 

“This targeted cluster hiring program is critical for the knowledge enterprise because it deepens the established research areas of expertise we have cultivated over the years while emerging research specialties can develop and create new transdisciplinary domains. These new faculty members are key to broadening our lines of scientific inquiry and impact,” said Bernard Arulanandam, vice president for research, economic development, and knowledge enterprise at UTSA.

The CCP is one of the five complementary programs within Academic Affairs’ Strategic Faculty Hiring Initiative launched in early 2019 to support the hiring of promising, accomplished and diverse faculty in key areas to help the university address society’s grand challenges and support President Eighmy’s vision for UTSA.

Through cluster hiring initiatives, UTSA has recruited 39 exceptional faculty over the past four years to help advance UTSA’s areas of research excellence in areas including brain health, cybersecurity, cloud computing, analytics and data science, artificial intelligence, and machine learning.

KC Gonzalez



UTSA Today is produced by University Strategic Communications,
the official news source
of The University of Texas at San Antonio.

Send your feedback to news@utsa.edu.


UTSA Today is produced by University Communications and Marketing, the official news source of The University of Texas at San Antonio. Send your feedback to news@utsa.edu. Keep up-to-date on UTSA news by visiting UTSA Today. Connect with UTSA online at Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Instagram.


Events


Spotlight

Spotlight

mortarboard-spanish_680.png
UTSA receives national recognition for Latino enrollment, degree attainment

UTSA’s Mission

The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.

UTSA’s Vision

To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.

UTSA’s Core Values

We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.

UTSA’S Destinations

UTSA is a proud Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) as designated by the U.S. Department of Education.

Our Commitment to Inclusivity

The University of Texas at San Antonio, a Hispanic Serving Institution situated in a global city that has been a crossroads of peoples and cultures for centuries, values diversity and inclusion in all aspects of university life. As an institution expressly founded to advance the education of Mexican Americans and other underserved communities, our university is committed to ending generations of discrimination and inequity. UTSA, a premier public research university, fosters academic excellence through a community of dialogue, discovery and innovation that embraces the uniqueness of each voice.