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Meet the College of Sciences Newest Faculty

The College of Sciences is welcoming 13 new tenured, tenure-track and professional faculty members from all over the world in fall 2021.

Meet these extraordinary scientists, and find out why they’re excited to join the Wolfpack.

Zixuan Cang

Zixuan Cang

Assistant Professor, Mathematics

Research Focus: My research focuses on using topological and geometric methods for finding structures in complex biological data relating to functions and mechanisms. I use topological and geometric data analysis methods and integrate them with data-driven modeling.

Why NC State?: I am excited to join the Department of Mathematics because its faculty spans diverse research fields. There are also great opportunities for interdisciplinary research collaborations across the university.

Laura Colmenarejo

Laura Colmenarejo

Assistant Professor, Mathematics

Research Focus: My research starts at the intersection of algebraic combinatorics and representation theory of finite groups and expands to other areas such as algebraic geometry, physics and stochastic analysis. Many of the problems I work on involve figuring out a formula to count a set of objects with some properties or understanding what properties of those objects can give us more information or tools to solve other problems.

Why NC State?: The Department of Mathematics is a very strong department with a lot of initiatives that I want to be part of and values that I share. I am very excited to continue growing professionally and personally as part of NC State, and I’m also looking forward to living in Raleigh, where the weather is warmer and similar to Madrid, where I grew up.

Maggie Curry

Maggie Ellis Curry

Assistant Professor, Marine, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences

Research Focus: I am a geologist interested in the coevolution of tectonics, mountain landscapes and associated basins. I approach tectonics as a system, studying the growth and erosion of mountains and their relationship to the subsidence and stratigraphy of basins.

Why NC State?: I am thrilled to join the Wolfpack and return to the Triangle, having long considered it home. I am excited to be part of the diverse and vibrant atmosphere here at NC State.

Catherine Davis

Catherine Davis

Assistant Professor, Marine, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences

Research Focus: My research revolves around linking modern ocean conditions and ongoing climate change with marine records of the past. I am especially interested in ocean acidification and deoxygenation, in terms of both the connection with global climate and how marine organisms and ecosystems respond to such chemical changes in their environment. To get at these questions, my research uses laboratory cultures, oceanographic observations, and the marine microfossil and sedimentary record.

Why NC State?: I was attracted to NC State by the broad range of interdisciplinary research both within the department and across the campus; the open, collegial atmosphere; and amazing students. I’m excited to become a part of the vibrant research community active in the Department of MEAS, at NC State and throughout the Research Triangle.

Danny Doucette

Danny Doucette

Teaching Assistant Professor, Physics

Teaching Focus: First of all, I’m a teacher. My goal is to help my students learn physics, a subject that can serve as a springboard for their academic goals. I’m specifically interested in finding ways to improve equity and inclusion in physics education, and especially in introductory physics lab courses. My goal is to innovate and implement ways to help all students succeed in physics, and especially in physics labs.

Why NC State?: Over the coming years, we’re going to transform introductory physics labs so that students have a better experience and learn more about how experimental physics works. In the lab, all students will have an opportunity to see themselves as physicists, regardless of their backgrounds and career aspirations.

Jonathan Hall

Jonathan Hall

Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences

Research Focus: My research aims to identify and characterize genes and cell signaling pathways that influence our susceptibility to skin cancer. The top layer of our skin, the epidermis, is composed of cells called keratinocytes that provide our first line of defense against numerous environmental factors. I am focusing on understanding how keratinocytes decide to survive or induce programmed cell death in response to infection, DNA damage induced by UVB solar radiation or tumor stress.

Why NC State?: While I am a new faculty member at NC State, I am not new to NC State. During my time here, I have been so impressed by the research infrastructure and the collaborative environment at this university. I am excited by the mission of the Center for Human Health and the Environment and look forward to developing new research collaborations and mentoring and training the excellent students that this university attracts.

Hangjie Ji

Hangjie Ji

Assistant Professor, Mathematics

Research Focus: My research interests lie in nonlinear partial differential equations, scientific computing and data-driven mathematical modeling. I use both analytical and numerical techniques to study dynamical phenomena in physics, engineering and other disciplines. For example, I have collaborated with experimentalists to study fiber coating dynamics and am now working on deep neural networks guided by partial differential equations for applications in medical and material sciences.

Why NC State?: I am very excited about participating in the interdisciplinary research community here at NC State. Its great location also provides many possibilities for research collaborations with scientists from neighboring universities.

Andy Manion

Andy Manion

Assistant Professor, Mathematics

Research Focus: My research explores the interconnections between the geometry and topology of shapes, algebraic principles of symmetry, and high-energy quantum theories in physics. My goal is to advance our understanding of both pure mathematics and of the world around us.

Why NC State?: I was especially attracted by the strength of the Department of Mathematics in both algebra and topology, as well as the many resources available in the wider Triangle area. I’m excited to work together with my colleagues across boundaries to advance the frontier of knowledge and to push toward applications in mathematics and beyond.

Camilo Rey-Sanchez

Camilo Rey-Sanchez

Assistant Professor, Marine, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

Research Focus: My goal is to understand how different ecosystems are regulating atmospheric processes that are relevant for weather, climate and air quality predictions. My lab looks at the effect of plant diversity and land cover changes on local weather phenomena and the main environmental drivers of greenhouse gas emissions in natural and agricultural systems.

Why NC State?: I’m excited to be part of a large institution with a strong research focus and multiple avenues for research development. In particular, NC State facilities like the Center for Marine Sciences and Technology and the Lake Wheeler Road Field Laboratory provide great opportunities for research.

Andrew Sageman-Furnas

Andy Sageman-Furnas

Assistant Professor, Mathematics

Research Focus: My research focuses on understanding the curvature of shapes that are faceted, rather than completely smooth. These may be real-world objects like glass architectural roofs, mathematical objects like lattices or polyhedra, or computational mesh data for animated movies or engineering simulations.

Why NC State?: I was drawn to NC State because of its focus on building strong foundations for interdisciplinary mathematics, which play an increasingly critical role in modern life. I am excited to join such an open and welcoming community, and my family and I are looking forward to exploring North Carolina’s natural beauty.

Fatma Terzioglu

Fatma Terzioglu

Assistant Professor, Mathematics

Research Focus: In my research, I study inverse problems arising in medical, industrial and homeland security imaging. Solving an inverse problem often requires the development of analytical and/or computational techniques that take measurement data about an unknown object of interest as input and produce, for example, an image of the unknown object.

Why NC State?: NC State is an excellent research university. My research is highly interdisciplinary, so it is great that the Department of Mathematics facilitates collaborations with other disciplines. Also, the department has a strong graduate program, and I look forward to teaching and mentoring motivated graduate and undergraduate students.

Travis Varner

Travis Varner

Teaching Assistant Professor, Chemistry

Teaching Focus: I’m focused on preparing the next generation of diverse scientists to think both critically and creatively. With my students, I aim to inspire within them a sense of confidence and curiosity. To achieve these outcomes, I take seriously my responsibility as an educator to provide instruction that is accessible and clear, develops independent higher-order thinking, and encourages collaboration.

Why NC State?: The Department of Chemistry has an outstanding reputation for the education it provides to its undergraduate students. I’m excited to work alongside the faculty here to continue providing valuable learning experiences for the exceptional students of NC State.

Yi Xiao

Yi Xiao

Associate Professor, Chemistry

Research Focus: My research combines analytical, biological and materials chemistry to develop sensors and assays that can detect a variety of small molecules such as medical biomarkers, pharmaceutical drugs and hazardous substances. The research results in actual tangible products that can potentially be used to tackle real-world problems in the fields of medical diagnostics, environmental monitoring and forensics.

Why NC State?: I was attracted by the exceptional diversity, motivation, work ethic and ingenuity of the students; the remarkable track record of the Department of Chemistry faculty; and the high-quality resources available for research across NC State. I am very excited to collaborate with my colleagues in my department and other faculty across the university.

This post was originally published in College of Sciences News.