University of Connecticut University of UC Title Fallback Connecticut

New Faculty 2017-2018

Mohamad Alkadry comes to the University of Connecticut from Florida International University in Miami, FL. He has over 50 peer-reviewed articles, peer-reviewed book chapters, and journal symposia. He is co-editor and co-author of three books: Women and Public Service: Barriers, Challenges and Opportunities (2013, 2014), These Things Happen: Stories from the Public Sector (2002), and Scaling Up Microenterprise Services (1998). His work has also been published in many high-profile journals, and he has served as an associate managing editor of Public Integrity, a distinguished research fellow with the Public Procurement Research Center, and a member of the Commission on Peer Review and Accreditation. His practitioner experience includes service as a senior research associate at the Center for Urban Redevelopment and Empowerment (Florida Atlantic University) and as a value-for-money (performance) auditor with the Office of the Auditor General of Canada (Ottawa).

Emma Amador is a historian of Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rican diaspora, whose research focuses on women, gender, and sexuality. Her broader research interests include Latino/a, Caribbean, and Latin American History. She is currently working on a book manuscript that explores the history of welfare, territorial social citizenship, and welfare rights in Puerto Rico. This project examines how the U.S. welfare state became a site where Puerto Ricans have struggled for social justice, labor reform, and decolonization.

Alexander Balatsky studies quantum matter where quantum coherences and correlations dominate the properties. His focus is on equilibrium states and the dynamics of correlations as a route to control quantum matter. He is developing mining and large scale analytics tools to computational materials databases with the goal to develop predictive tools for new materials. Materials of interest are Dirac, topological and organic materials, superfluids, and superconductors. He is a Los Alamos Fellow, a fellow of the American Physical Society, and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Heather Battaly specializes in epistemology, ethics, and virtue theory. She is the author of Virtue (Polity 2015), the editor of Virtue and Vice, Moral and Epistemic (Blackwell 2010), and the editor of the Journal of Philosophical Research. She has published widely on the topics of intellectual virtue and virtue epistemology. She has received funding from the John Templeton Foundation for research on intellectual humility, and from the Spencer Foundation for work on educating for intellectual virtue. Her currents projects focus on: intellectual humility; closed-mindedness; slackers, quitters, and procrastinators; and vice epistemology.

Nicola Carpentieri studies Arabic literature, Mediterranean studies, and the history of medicine. He received his Ph.D. in Arabic and Islamic studies from Harvard University in 2012. His present research focuses on Arabic literature and Mediterranean culture. In particular, he is interested in the Arabic songs and odes composed by court secretaries (kuttāb) in medieval Sicily. These texts and their social significance are entangled with cultural tropes and practices of the wider Mediterranean: the early Italian poetic tradition, Byzantium, the Muslim East, North Africa, and Iberia. His other academic interests cover Arabic medical texts (particularly on psychosomatics), Greek into Arabic and Arabic into Latin translations, the 'School of Toledo,’ the Sicilian-Arab poet Ibn Ḥamdīs, and contemporary Arabic writing.

Aurel-Mihai Fulger works in algebraic geometry. His research looks at cone structures associated to sets defined by polynomial equations and aims to connect geometric properties of the latter with convex geometric characteristics of the former.  He received his Ph.D. in 2012 from the University of Michigan. Before joining UConn, he held post-doc positions at Princeton University and École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland.

Alexander Gorka’s laboratory utilizes organic synthesis, biological chemistry, and various optical methods to develop chemical tools for the selective visualization and manipulation of target phenomena in physiological environments. These include small molecules, bio-conjugates, and other materials that respond to specific stimuli by altering optical properties and/or releasing biologically active molecular cargo. His laboratory aims to apply these tools to probe basic and therapeutic questions regarding microbial-host interactions in the context of the microbiome, cancer, and infectious disease.

Yuwen Gu's research interests include high-dimensional statistical inference, variable selection, model combination, nonparametric statistics, causal inference, and large-scale optimization. His current research projects study several non-standard regression techniques for high-dimensional data analysis. These methods have unique advantages over the standard least squares regression and have applications in large-scale data that exhibit heterogeneity or heavy tails. He is also working on applications of statistical learning and causal inference methods in social and economic data.

Luchang Jin studies lattice field theories. With lattice regularization, a concrete definition for many quantum field theories can be provided. A concrete definition not only helps us understand quantum field theory better, but also enables us to perform large scale numerical calculations. This is especially useful for quantum chromodynamics (QCD) in a low energy region. Because of its non-perturbative nature, performing lattice calculations is the only way to access its properties from first principles. With decades of continuous efforts, lattice calculations have become a relatively mature field. The spectrum of low energy QCD can be determined with sub-percent accuracy nowadays. Jin also studies some quantities which only become accessible to lattice calculation very recently, e.g. the hadronic contribution to muon anomalous magnetic moment (muon g-2), the parton distribution functions (PDF) of pion and proton.

Min Seong Kim’s research mainly focuses on developing new testing procedures that account for heteroskedasticity and dependence of economic data in parametric and nonparametric frameworks. He is also currently interested in econometric issues in panel data models, such as the incidental parameters problem and common factor approach with application to policy analysis and identification of comparative advantages in international trade.

Sarah Knutie is an evolutionary ecologist whose research spans both fundamental and applied ideas in disease ecology and evolution. Specifically, her research addresses how animal hosts defend themselves against parasites while balancing other selective pressures. She is also interested in how anthropogenic factors, such as climate change, pollution, and urbanization, affect disease risk. Knutie’s current research questions include: 1) What is the role of host-associated microbiota in shaping disease ecology?  2) How does urbanization shape the evolutionary ecology of host defenses against invasive parasites? 3) What environmental factors drive inter- and intraspecific changes in host defenses against parasites over time?

Victor Hugo Lachos Davila’s primary research interests are in clustered/correlated data, longitudinal data, spatial models, censored regression models, finite mixture of distributions, augmented models, semiparametric statistical techniques, and time-series analysis, using both Bayesian and frequentist paradigms. He has published around 90 peer-reviewed journal papers, and many of his research results have been made freely available to the research community via R packages such as CensSpatial, ARCensReg, mixsmsn, CensMixReg, and FMsmsnReg.

Sean Li’s research deals with the interaction between analysis and geometry, mainly in the setting of metric spaces. He is specifically interested in questions concerning rectifiability, differentiation, and metric embeddings. As such, his research touches on subjects related to geometric measure theory, harmonic analysis, metric geometry, and functional analysis.

Bob Lupton's research examines public opinion and voting behavior in the United States, especially the influence of the foundational predispositions of ideology, core values and partisanship, as well as their contextual correlates, on citizens' orientations toward the political world. Elite opinion—particularly that of party activists who shape the attitudes and behavior of elected officials and the mass public alike—is central to his research agenda. His scholarly interests extend to a range of questions involving political psychology, political cognition and comparative political behavior.

Catherine Matassa investigates the behavioral and evolutionary ecology of predator-prey interactions and how these interactions scale up to shape community dynamics and ecosystem function. Her research approach utilizes manipulative field and laboratory experiments to address theory and to understand the mechanisms underlying the ecological and evolutionary outcomes of species interactions. Trained as a benthic marine ecologist, she primarily conducts her research in the shallow subtidal and rocky intertidal communities throughout New England. She will join the UConn faculty in January of 2018.

Joseph McAlhany specializes in the intellectual history of the late Roman Republic, with additional specialties in Medieval Latin and translation studies. He co-published a translation of Guibert of Nogent’s Monodies (Penguin), and is currently preparing an edition and translation of the collected fragments of Marcus Terentius Varro for the Loeb Classical Library. Recent publications include articles on the Roman historian Sallust in The Classical Journal, on Latin textual criticism in The Journal of Medieval Latin, and on translation and humanism in Educational Theory. A forthcoming poetry translation will appear in Asymptote.

Daniel McCarron’s research manipulates light-matter interactions to produce atomic and molecular materials in the quantum regime. Specifically, he is interested in methods to produce samples of ultracold polar molecules to test the science of many-body quantum systems, develop new quantum technologies, and advance ultracold chemistry. His experience spans techniques to produce ultracold molecules both directly, by cooling room temperature molecules, and indirectly, by carefully assembling molecules from pre-cooled atoms. Daniel is a member of the Atomic and Molecular Spectroscopy and Ultracold Atoms and Molecules research groups at UConn.

Linnaea Ostroff’s research focuses on how changes in synapse structure and synaptic connectivity underlie emotional learning, particularly learning to differentiate between safety and danger. Brain circuits converging on the amygdala mediate defensive responses to threatening stimuli, and the inability to suppress these responses is characteristic of a number of psychiatric disorders. To investigate the synaptic connections in these circuits and how they change with memories of safety and danger, serial electron microscopy reconstructions are combined with immunohistochemistry and viral vector based neuroanatomical tracing techniques.

Evan Perkoski studies issues relating to terrorism, insurgency, and violent and nonviolent uprisings. In his book project, he explores the fragmentation of militant organizations (like Al Qaeda) and the conduct and survivability of breakaway splinter groups (like the Islamic State). Some of his other work looks at the onset of mass killings in popular uprisings, the logic of covert and clandestine cyber operations, and how cooperation and competition influence the behavior of militant groups. His research generally leverages new data and quantitative methods to understand political violence.

Debapriya Sarkar joins the English department and the maritime studies program at the UConn Avery Point campus. She works on early modern literature and culture, poetry and poetics, epic and romance, early modern women writers, the history and philosophy of science, and environmental humanities.  Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Shakespeare Studies, Spenser Studies, Exemplaria: Medieval/Early Modern/Theory, and in edited collections. She joins UConn after having taught at Hendrix College, and after spending the 2016-2017 academic year at the Folger Shakespeare Library as a NEH/Folger Shakespeare Library Long-Term Fellow. She received her Ph.D. in English from Rutgers University in 2014, with a dissertation that was awarded the 2015 J. Leeds Barroll Dissertation Prize from the Shakespeare Association of America.

  • Sumarga (Umay) Suanda
  • Assistant Professor of Psychological Sciences
  • Email:
Umay Suanda is a developmental psychologist interested in early cognitive, social, and language development. His research focuses on how infants, toddlers, and young children learn words. He studies the cognitive processes that underlie how children learn the meanings of words. He also studies the communication and interaction patterns of parents and their toddlers, and how these patterns support language development. More recently, he has begun to study why infants and toddlers develop language at different rates, and how these differences matter for later development. He is the recipient of graduate and post-doctoral fellowships from the National Science Foundation and a career development award from the National Institutes of Health.

Clay Tabor works on the development, application, and evaluation of Earth system models for understanding Earth’s past and future. Paleoclimate modeling is a powerful tool for assessing model capability and understanding key transitions in Earth’s climate history. In his research, Tabor takes a model-proxy comparison approach to investigate past greenhouse and icehouse climates. By examining Earth’s past, he looks to advance our understanding of Earth system responses to various forcings and evaluate the ability of climate models to accurately simulate past climate states. He is currently exploring the glacial-interglacial cycles of the past 3 million years and the asteroid impact that led to the end Cretaceous mass extinction 66 million years ago.

Lynne Tirrell a leading researcher in the area of socially applied yet technically adept philosophy of language. Her path-breaking paper, “Genocidal Language Games,” is taught all over the U.S. in philosophy graduate programs, undergraduate programs, and even in prisons. She has related work on transitional justice and apology, forgiveness, and reconciliation, as well as work on metaphor, storytelling, pornography, and feminist theory. She also has an extensive service record as chair of the American Philosophical Association Committee on Public Philosophy, and she is associate editor for the newly revitalized Journal of Philosophical Research.

Carlos A. Trallero’s research interests include: Attosecond science, strong field molecular spectroscopy, cohere control, higher-order harmonic generation, non-Gaussian optics, strong field science at long wavelengths, and ultrafast optics.

Scott Wallace is a writer, photographer, and television producer who covers the environment, vanishing cultures, and conflict over land and resources in the world's remote frontier regions. He is a frequent contributor to National Geographic and author of the bestselling book, The Unconquered: In Search of the Amazon's Last Uncontacted Tribes. 

HaiYing Wang’s recent research focuses on informative subdata selection for big and massive data analysis. His goal is to take small subsamples of the full data that preserve the major relevant information contained in the massive full data. This research also develops fast algorithms to extract useful information from big data. His other interests include model selection and model averaging, measurement error models, non-/semi-parametric regression, and optimal and adaptive experimental design.

Simon White researches the mechanism of assembly of RNA viruses. In particular, the Picornaviridae encompass many important human and animal pathogens, such as polio, foot and mouth disease, and the common cold. These viruses have a significant global impact on health care systems and farming industries. White’s research focuses on understanding how this family of viruses hijack the infected cell’s machinery to produce new viral particles. He uses a combination of cryo-electron microscopy, cell biology, and single molecule biophysics to understand this process and identify novel targets for the development of anti-viral drugs.

Ling Xiao's research focuses on fully nonlinear elliptic equations arising from geometric problems and related geometric flow problems. She studies existence, regularity, and qualitative properties of solutions. She is especially interested in the interaction between these two fields; that is, using fully nonlinear equations to study curvature flow or using a flow method to solve a classical problem in PDE.

Bin Zou’s research interests lie in the areas of actuarial science, mathematical finance, and stochastic control. He has worked on optimal investment-consumption problems, optimal insurance/reinsurance problems, portfolio optimization with transaction costs and hedge fund management under behavioral models, and systemic risk.