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Research Training Faculty

The twenty-five science faculty members below are available as research directors for the conduct of Scholar research. More information on any faculty member and his/her research areas may be obtained at the faculty member's web page by double-clicking on his/her name.


Radi Al-Jishi, Professor, (Ph.D., 1982, Massachusetts Institute of Technology). Physics. Theoretical condensed matter physics. Theoretical studies of tubular structure of molecular dimensions.

Yong Ba, Assistant Professor of Chemistry (Ph.D. 1995, Gerhard-Mercator University, Duisburg, Germany). Physical Chemistry. Magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Development and application of magnetic resonance techniques for the study of short-range-ordered materials.

Ray de Leon, Assistant Professor,(Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles, 1998). Research interests are 1) Neural mechanisms underlying robotic-assisted recovery of walking in a rodent model of spinal cord injury and 2) Physiological, psychological and social effects of excercise training in people with spinal cord injury.

Jessica Dennis, Assistant Professor (Ph.D., 2003, University of California Riverside). Developmental and multicultural psychology, specifically acculturation, family relationships, identity formation, and academic behaviors in late adolescence and early adulthood.

Ramani Durvasula, Ph.D. (Associate Professor, Psychology, Ph.D. 1997 - UCLA).   Health and clinical psychology , specifically the role of psychopathology and personality disorders on health and risk behaviors in persons infected with and at risk for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. 

Joel W. Ellwanger, Assistant Professor, (Ph.D., 1997 Northwestern University). Psychophysiology of memory and attention. Forensic and diagnostic applications of psychophysiological measures.

Krishna Foster, Assistant Professor, (Ph.D., 1998, University of Colorado, Boulder). Physical Chemistry. Studies on the effects of freezing on aqueous phase reaction kinetics and photochemistry relevant to atmospheric chemistry.

Raymond E. Garcia, Professor, (Ph.D., 1976, University of California, Riverside). Biochemistry. Regulation of apolipoprotein and plasma lipoprotein metabolism by dietary cholesterol. Elucidation of the biochemical mechanisms involved in the development of atherosclerosis.

Scott D. Grover, Professor, (Ph.D., 1980, University of California, Los Angeles). Biochemistry. Enzymes as control elements in metabolic regulation. Molecular characterization of binding sites for enzyme activators and inhibitors.

Carlos G. Gutierrez, Professor, (Ph.D., 1975, University of California, Davis). Organic Chemistry. Synthesis of natural and designed molecules for high affinity complexation of ferric ion as probes in the study of iron acquisition, transport, and utilization in bacteria. Development of compounds potentially useful as therapeutic agents for the management of human disease resulting from toxic iron or actinide overload.

Silvia Heubach, Associate Professor of Mathematics (PhD in Applied Mathematics, 1992, University of Southern California, Los Angeles). Probability Theory. Enumerative Combinatorics. Mathematical Models in biology, ecomomics and computer science.

Alicia Izquierdo, Assistant Professor of Psychology (Ph.D. 2003, The George Washington University). Neuroanatomy of flexible decision making and executive function; Neurobiological mechanisms of impaired decision making in drug abuse; Cognitive/behavioral animal models of executive function.

Crist Khachikian, Associate Professor, (Ph.D., 1999, University of California, Los Angeles). Environmental Engineering and Chemistry. Interested in the persistence and fate of organic and inorganic contaminants in urban soils in sediments. Also interested in biogeochemical cycling of contaminants and nutrients in surface waters and groundwater.

Patrick Krug, using a combination of molecular, chemical, and behavioral techniques to study how planktonic stages of marine animals locate and colonize good habitats, and connect populations genetically. My lab also studies coevolution of marine herbivores and algae, testing how adaptation to novel host algae may fuel speciation in the sea.

Eric L. Kohatsu, Associate Professor (Ph.D., 1992, University of Maryland, College Park, Counseling Psychology).  Research interests are in cross-cultural psychology, racial identity theory and its applications, Asian American psychology, racism, intergroup/race relations, minority mental health issues, and alternative healing approaches in counseling.  Currently investigating aversive racism, “color-blindness,” and anti-Asian American prejudice, interpersonal racism and quality of racial contact between Asian Americans, Latinos, and African Americans, and impact of life events on identity development among Asian Americans and Latinos.

Philip S. LaPolt, Assistant Professor, (Ph.D., 1988, University of California, Los Angeles). Anatomy. Endocrine, biochemical, and molecular mechanisms regulating ovarian and neuroendocrine functions.

Alison McCurdy, Assistant Professor, (Ph.D., 1995, California Institute of Technology). Organic Chemistry. Synthesis of organic molecules designed to mimic calcium signaling in cells by binding and releasing calcium ions in response to light. Investigation of the energetics of amino acid side-chain interactions in simple artificial proteins.

Nancy L. McQueen, Associate Professor, (Ph.D., 1986, University of California, Los Angeles). Microbiology. Studies on the pathogenesis of Sendai virus. Intracellular and surface transport of envelope proteins in relation to viral assembly and budding. Recombinant DNA techniques, tissue culture, and protein analysis are among the techniques used.

Jamil Momand, Assistant Professor, (Ph.D., 1989, University of California, Los Angeles). Biochemistry. Redox regulation of signal transduction pathways with an emphasis on the p53 tumor suppressor protein. Effect of redox changes on DNA binding proteins. Development of new assays for quantitative and qualitative analysis of oxidation reactions of protein amino acid residues.

Scott Nickolaisen, Associate Professor, (Ph.D., 1991, University of Southern California). Physical Chemistry. Studies of reaction kinetics and photochemistry for species that participate in tropospheric ozone production and stratospheric ozone depletion.

Robert M. Nissen, Associate Professor, (Ph.D., 2000, University of California, San Francisco). Developmental Genetics. The neural crest are an embryonic stem cell population that give rise to diverse adult cell types and structures such as the melanocytes (pigmentation), enteric nervous system, craniofacial bones and teeth. We employ molecular genetic and cell biological approaches to identify and study the genes required for neural crest cell development using the zebrafish as a model organism.

Edith Porter, Assistant Professor, (M.D., 1989, University of Mainz, Germany). Innate host defense mediated by natural antibiotic peptides and phagocytes on our body surfaces. Interaction between first line defense and the invading pathogens. Proteinchemistry, immuno assays, antimicrobial assays, phagocytosis, tissue culture, recombinant DNA techniques.  

Pamela Regan, Professor (Ph.D. Psychology and Ph.D. Minor Statistics, 1994, The University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN).  Psychology.  Primary research focus is in interpersonal relationships.  Recent work includes studies of attraction and mate preference, courtship, and both “positive” (love, satisfaction) and “negative” (jealousy, infidelity) relationship experiences.  Secondary research focus is in human sexuality, with a particular emphasis on the role of hormonal processes in motivational aspects of human sexual response (i.e., sexual desire).  Tertiary research focus is in health psychology, with a particular interest in psychosocial adjustment and neurocognitive function in HIV+ adults and in disordered eating and weight control behavior among ethnic minority populations.

Carlos Robles, Professor, (Ph.D., 1979, University of California, Berkeley). Biology. Marine predatation relating to the distribution and abundance of their prey.

Amelia Russo-Neustadt, Assistant Professor, (M.D., 1990, Ph.D., 1998, University of California, Irvine). Neurobiology. Physical activity, antidepressants and BDNF induction.

Tina Salmassi, Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences (Ph.D. 2001, California Institute of Technology). Environmental Microbiology. Microbial Ecology. Environmental Chemistry.

Matthias Selke, Assistant Professor, (Ph.D., 1994, University of California, Los Angeles). Organic Chemistry. Chemistry of singlet oxygen as a tool to model oxygen activation by transition metals in enzymatic processes.

Sandra Sharp, Associate Professor, (Ph.D., 1981, University of California, Los Angeles). Molecular Biology. Regulation of differentiation in mouse muscle cell culture. Use of protein and nucleic acid based cell and molecular techniques to investigate partial vs. terminal differentiation and interactions of transcription factors.

Harmit Singh, Assistant professor in Food Science program, (Ph.D. organic chemistry 1993) My research is focused on chemistry of food proteins, functional foods with health promotion or disease prevention effects. I am also interested in use of high power ultrasound (sonication) to disrupt biopolymers. Some examples of particular interest are Gluten-free products - to modify sorghum flour proteins using sonication and compare its dough making capability with wheat flour. Quantitative and antioxidant activity - evaluation of anticancer isoflavone molecules in soy foods such as tofu and soy milk Physical and enzymatic modification of cereal proteins to develop hypoallergenic foods.

Wayne Tikkanen, Professor, (Ph.D., 1982, University of California, Santa Barbara). Organometallic Chemistry. Characterization and use of asymmetric organo-zirconocene complexes in organic synthesis.

Linda M. Gutierrez Tunstad, Associate Professor, (Ph.D., 1990, University of California, Los Angeles). Organic Chemistry. Design, synthesis, physical and binding properties of host molecules with preorganized cavities of molecular dimensions.

Robert L. Vellanoweth, Assistant Professor, (Ph.D., 1988, University of California, Berkeley). Biochemistry. Characterization of biochemical and molecular genetic events in the programmed aging of leaf tissue in Arabidopsis; ROS-mediated signal transduction in the initiation of the senescence program.

Xin Wen, Assistant Professor, (Ph.D., 2005, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY). Biophysical Chemistry. Our research interests are at the chemistry-biology interface. We aim to understand the relationships between protein structure, dynamics, and function upon the ligand binding by biological, chemical, biophysical, and structural methods. We are currently working on two biological systems to: 1) Identify highly efficient enhancers of antifreeze proteins and address fundamental questions in enhancement mechanisms for their final biomedical applications; 2) Investigate the interactions between toxic metal ions and zinc finger proteins for a better understanding of metal (ion) carcinogenesis.

H. Howard Xu- Assistant Professor of Microbiology (Ph.D., 1992, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities). Microbial Genomics, Medical Microbiology, Biotechnology. Research focus is the discovery of novel antibiotics using molecular biology, biochemistry, microbial physiology, genomics and High Throughput Screening (HTS) approaches.

Feimeng Zhou, Assistant Professor, (Ph.D., 1993, University of Texas, Austin). Analytical Chemistry. Characterization of chemically and biologically modified electrode surfaces using voltammetry, quartz crystal microbalance, and scanning probe microscopy DNA biosensor development. Electron and metal transfers in electroactive proteins.


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