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New Faculty in the Eberly College of Science

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Nathan Gemelke, 2011

Nathan Gemelke, assistant professor of physics

Nathan Gemelke is a physicist whose research focuses on the behavior of atomic gases as they transition from one quantum phase to another at temperatures near absolute zero -- the theoretical point at which all random motion ceases. He and his collaborators recently created the first direct images showing the transition between phases of such "ultracold" gases held in an egg-crate-like container formed by interfering laser beams. These high-resolution images reveal a peculiar self-organization of atoms resembling tiered cakes, which have been dubbed "wedding cake" structures. In other work, Gemelke and his collaborators demonstrated the peculiar effects of quantum mechanics in a rapidly rotating gas of atoms, where whirlpools known as "vortices" begin to overlap.  Gemelke's research is an important step toward understanding the complicated and enigmatic quantum mechanics of electrons in solids at very low temperatures. His research also makes important advances in the categorization of unique forms of matter.

Before joining Penn State, Gemelke was a Grainger Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Chicago. In 2007, he joined the James Franck Institute to participate in research on atomic gases. Since then, he also has helped to develop Chicago's SMART (Science, Mathematics and Research Training) outreach program, which provides instruction in the physical sciences to minority and at-risk high-school students.

Gemelke has published numerous papers in journals such as Nature and Physical Review Letters. He has given talks at many conferences across the United States, and in 2007, he was invited to deliver the 66th Arthur H. Compton Lecture Series at the Enrico Fermi Institute at the University of Chicago.

In 2007, Gemelke earned his doctoral degree at Stanford University under the direction of Nobel Laureate Steven Chu. In 1999, he received his bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Miriam Freedman, 2011

Miriam Freedman, assistant professor of chemistry

Miriam Freedman studies the structure and behavior of airborne particles in the troposphere -- the lowest and most volatile layer of the Earth's atmosphere where most weather phenomena take place. The goal of her research is to understand how atmospheric aerosols, clouds, and radiation interact and affect our planet's climate. Freedman uses spectroscopic and surface science techniques to explore the structure and properties of airborne particles. Her research has applications in the study of climate change.

Before joining the Penn State faculty, Freedman was a postdoctoral fellow at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado. In 2008, Freedman received a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Climate and Global Change Postdoctoral Fellowship.

Freedman has published numerous papers in peer-reviewed journals such as the Journal of Chemical Physics, the Journal of Physical Chemistry A, and the Journal of Physical Chemistry B. She has presented her research at conferences in Canada and the United States. Her teaching experience includes chemistry and mathematics at the undergraduate and graduate levels.
Freedman earned doctoral and master's degrees at the University of Chicago in 2008 and 2003, respectively. She also received a master's degree in mathematics from the University of Minnesota in 2002. She earned a bachelor's degree at Swarthmore College in 2000.

Frederico Rodriguez Hertz, 2011

Federico Rodríguez Hertz, professor of mathematics

Federico Rodríguez Hertz is a mathematician who studies how physical objects change in state and behavior over time. This field of mathematics, called ergodic theory, is part of the branch of mathematics known as dynamical systems, and has many applications in statistical mechanics, number theory, and geometry. His doctoral thesis was published in the Annals of Mathematics and made a crucial advance in the field. Rodríguez Hertz also has produced important research in rigidity theory, which describes the flexibility and motion of groups of rigid bodies. His work in nonuniform-measure rigidity has provided new insights into ergodic theory.

Rodríguez Hertz has received several honors in recognition of his pioneering work in mathematics. Among them are an invitation to give an address at the International Congress of Mathematicians in 2010 in Hyderabad, India, a 2009 award from the Mathematical Union for Latin America and the Caribbean, and a 2005 Premio Roberto Caldeyro Barcia Award from Uruguay's Basic Science Development Program.

Before joining Penn State's Eberly College of Science, Rodríguez Hertz was a professor of engineering at the Universidad de la República in Uruguay, where he had served as a faculty member since 2002.

Rodríguez Hertz has published numerous research papers in peer-reviewed journals such as Inventiones Mathematicae, Contemporary Mathematics, and Journal of Modern Dynamics. In addition, Rodríguez Hertz is a member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Modern Dynamics. He has served as a referee for many scholarly journals including Annals of Mathematics and Inventiones Mathematicae, and as an evaluator for the Fondo Nacional de Desarrollo Cient•fico y Tecnologico, a Chilean research foundation promoting basic scientific and technological development in the country. He has given invited talks and workshops in conferences and at academic institutions in the United States, Canada, Brazil, Uruguay, Chile, Poland, Mexico, Germany, Italy, France, Portugal, and India.

Rodríguez Hertz earned a doctoral degree at the Instituto Nacional de Matemática Pura e Aplicada in Brazil in 2001.

Timothy Jegla, 2011

Timothy Jegla, assistant professor of biology

Timothy Jegla's research focuses on electrical signaling in the brain. Using mouse genetics, pharmacology, and electrophysiology, Jegla studies how ion channels -- which gate electrical signals in our cells -- initiate sensory perception and control the excitability of neurons. His most recent work involves the study of a malfunctioning potassium channel, Kv12.2, which leads to epilepsy in mice.

Before joining Penn State's faculty, Jegla was an assistant professor in the Department of Cell Biology at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California. He also served as Chief Scientist at Icagen Inc. in North Carolina, and was a group leader in the Discovery Biology division at the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation in San Diego, California. He was a postdoctoral researcher at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at Stanford University from 1996 to 1997.

Jegla has published numerous papers in journals such as Science, Nature, and the Journal of Neuroscience. He holds many patents related to his research on ion channels. He has served on the Steering Committee for the San Diego Consortium for Systems Biology. His other professional memberships include the Biophysical Society, the American Physiological Society, and the Society for Neuroscience.

In 1996, Jegla received a doctoral degree in neuroscience from Washington University, where he studied the evolution of ion-channel signaling. He earned a bachelor's degree in biology at Carleton College in 1990.

Benjamin Lear, 2011

Benjamin Lear, assistant professor of chemistry

Benjamin Lear's research focuses on the science of energy conversion and the investigation of chemical reactions involving electron transfer. His research has many practical applications to materials and energy science. In particular, Lear studies biosensors -- devices that convert biological responses into electrical signals -- and photovoltaic technology -- the process of converting solar radiation into direct-current electricity. In addition, Lear has focused his career on the application of molecular building blocks in the construction of electronic components -- a branch of nanotechnology called molecular electronics.

Before joining Penn State as a faculty member, Lear was a postdoctoral researcher at the Ohio State University. He has authored many papers published in journals including Inorganic Chemistry, the Journal of the American Chemical Society, and the Journal of Physical Chemistry. He has presented his research at meetings and symposia across the United States.

Lear earned doctoral and master's degrees in inorganic chemistry at the University of California at San Diego in 2007 and 2004, respectively. He received a bachelor's degree in biochemistry from the University of California at Davis in 2002.

Suvrath Mahadevan, 2011

Suvrath Mahadevan, assistant professor of astronomy and astrophysics

Suvrath Mahadevan's research focuses on developing instrumentation to discover exoplanets -- planets outside our solar system. Such planets can be found near faint M stars, the most numerous stars in our galaxy, and around stars like our own Sun. To detect exoplanets around M stars, Mahadevan has developed a high-precision radial-velocity instrument that he and his colleagues use with Penn State's Hobby Eberly Telescope.

Before joining the Eberly College of Science as a faculty member, Mahadevan was a research associate in Penn State's Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, where he focused on instrumentation and exoplanet science. During his graduate years, Mahadevan worked with the Kitt-Peak Exoplanet Tracker, an instrument attached to a telescope at the Kitt Peak National Observatory. Using this instrument, he assisted in the discovery and analysis of an exoplanet located 100 light years away with a mass close to that of Jupiter.

Mahadevan also is a member of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey III's MARVELS (Multi-object Apache Point Observatory Radial Velocity Exoplanet Large-area Survey) project to search for exoplanets. In addition, he helped to develop the PARAS (PRL Advanced Radial Velocity All Sky Search) instrument -- a very-high-precision radial-velocity optical spectrograph on the Gurushikhar peak in India.

Mahadevan has published his research in Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, the Astrophysical Journal, and the Proceedings of the Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers. He has presented papers and has given invited talks at scientific conferences throughout the United States and abroad.

Mahadevan completed a doctoral degree at the University of Florida in 2006. He earned a bachelor's degree in engineering physics at the Indian Institute of Technology in 2000.

Yingwei Mao, 2011

Yingwei Mao, professor of biology

Yingwei Mao's research focuses on how particular genetic defects play a role in the onset of mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, depression, and bipolar disorder. Recently, Mao and his colleagues pinpointed the specific neurological effects of deficits within a gene that is disrupted in schizophrenia  -- the DISC1 gene. Mao's research identified that a faulty DISC1 gene interrupts division of neural stem cells in the hippocampus -- a process crucial to healthy brain development and maintenance. In Mao's study, mice with either a defective or absent DISC1 gene displayed behavioral abnormalities such as hyperactivity -- one of the symptoms of schizophrenia -- as well as other symptoms of mental disease such as depression. Mao and his colleagues also successfully restored normal neuronal growth to affected mice by treating them with a molecule that inhibits GSK3beta -- an enzyme normally regulated by DISC1. The treatment mimicked the effects of lithium, a medication frequently used in the treatment of bipolar disorder. Mao's research could provide a valuable tool in drug development for patients with mental illnesses.

Before joining the Eberly College of Science faculty at Penn State, Mao was a research fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Picower Institute for Learning and Memory and at Harvard Medical School's Department of Pathology.

In 2003, the University of Michigan School of Medicine honored Mao with a Thomas Baum Travel Award. In 2007, the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression awarded Mao a Young Investigator Award. Mao has published numerous papers in peer-reviewed journals such as Nature, the Journal of Cell Biology, and Neuron. His research on the DISC1 gene was the cover story in the journal Cell in 2009, and he contributed a chapter to the Encyclopedia of Neuroscience. He has presented abstracts and has given invited talks in many meetings and at research institutions in the United States and abroad. Mao's memberships in professional societies include the Society for Neuroscience and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Mao holds two patents related to his discovery of the effects of the DISC1 gene.

Mao received a master's degree in biomedical sciences from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in 2002. In 2005, he received a doctoral degree from the University of Michigan.

Alex Radosovitch, 2011

Alex Radosevich, assistant professor of chemistry

The primary focus of Alex Radosevich's research is to develop more efficient chemical reactions that reduce the environmental impact of chemical production. The methods developed in Radosevich's laboratory can be applied to a range of areas, from pharmaceutical synthesis to fuel production. To identify these new approaches, Radosevich designs special compounds called redox catalysts that accelerate the rate of a chemical reaction by controlling electron gain or loss.

Before becoming a faculty member in Penn State's Eberly College of Science, Radosevich was a postdoctoral fellow in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Department of Chemistry. He also taught several courses in organic chemistry at the University of California, Berkley.

Radosevich has published papers in many peer-reviewed journals including the Journal of American Chemistry, Inorganic Chemistry, and the Journal of Organic Chemistry. He has presented his research at many national and international conferences.

Radosevich received a doctoral degree in organic chemistry from the University of California at Berkeley in 2007. He earned a bachelor's degree at the University of Notre Dame in 2002.

Jan Reimman, 2011

Jan Reimann, assistant professor of mathematics

Jan Reimann's research focuses on the relationship between computability and randomness. In particular, Reimann uses the theory of computer algorithms to measure the complexity of random sequences of data -- text or numbers that represent real events such as a series of coin tosses or rolls of a die. This approach -- called Kolmogorov Complexity -- uses principles of both computer science and probability theory, a branch of mathematics that assigns probabilities to particular outcomes to determine how such outcomes can be predicted. Reimann's goal is to show that the abstract notions of mathematical logic, such as computability and definability, can contribute to a better understanding of complex random phenomena encountered in the real world.

Before joining Penn State's Eberly College of Science as an assistant professor of mathematics, Reimann was a Morrey Assistant Professor at the University of California, Berkeley. From 2004 to 2007, he was a research assistant at the Institute for Computer Science at the University of Heidelberg, Germany.

In 2009, the Department of Mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley presented Reimann with a Distinguished Teaching Award. In 2008, he received both a National Science Foundation award and a John Templeton Foundation grant.

Reimann has published numerous papers in journals including Mathematical Structures in Computer Science, Theory of Computing Systems, and Annals of Pure and Applied Logic. He is a referee for several peer-reviewed journals including Proceedings of the London Mathematical Society and Bulletin of Symbolic Logic. In addition, he co-authored a Scholarpedia article explaining the origins and applications of algorithmic randomness. He has given invited talks at symposiums and workshops throughout the United States and in South America, Asia, and Europe. He also has served as an organizing-committee member for several conferences on computability, randomness, and mathematical logic in Heidelberg, Germany.

Reimann earned a doctoral degree in mathematics and an undergraduate diploma at the University of Heidelberg, Germany in 2004 and 1997, respectively.

Marcel Salathe, 2010

Marcel Salathé, assistant professor of biology

Marcel Salathé studies how diseases spread across populations, and how multiple factors -- such as genes, environment, and culture -- interact to affect disease dynamics. Salathé has a background in population genetics, but after he noticed how many vaccine-preventable childhood diseases had made a comeback in recent years, he changed his research focus to include the spread of infectious disease. Although a rise in vaccine-preventable diseases is usually attributed to a decline in vaccination rates, Salathé's recent research findings suggest that patterns of social interactions -- known as social networks -- provide better models to explain why frequent outbreaks occur even when vaccination rates are steady or on the rise. Using an interdisciplinary approach that combines biology, computer sciences, and social sciences, Salathé investigates how people form opinions about health and disease, and how these opinions affect behaviors and eventually drive the dynamics of epidemics.

In one of Salathé's most recent projects, he used wireless sensors to collect interaction data among students at a high school. By recording how many person-to-person interactions occurred, he was able to show how influenza-like diseases might spread in a closed group of people. Salathé has used the data to study disease dynamics and to help develop improved disease-control strategies.

Salathé also studies the evolution of epigenetic mechanisms -- processes by which temporary modifications to an organism's DNA result in changes to the organism's appearance, or phenotype, without permanently affecting the DNA sequence itself. How such epigenetic phenomena evolve, and how they affect host-parasite interactions, are open questions of great importance for the understanding of host-parasite coevolution.

Prior to joining Penn State, Salathé was a postdoctoral researcher at Stanford University from 2008 to 2010, and at the Eidgen'ssische Technische Hochschule (ETH) in Zurich from 2007 to 2008. In 2008, he was awarded the ETH Zurich Medal and a Branco Weiss Fellowship.

Salathé earned a doctoral degree at the ETH Zurich in 2007, a master's degree at the University of Basel in 2002, and a bachelor's degree at the University of Basel in Switzerland in 2001.

Karl Schwede, 2011

Karl Schwede, assistant professor of mathematics

Karl Schwede's research focuses on a branch of mathematics called algebraic geometry -- the study of geometric objects called algebraic varieties and the equations that define them. This field of study has important applications in cryptography, string theory, and coding theory.
Prior to becoming a Penn State faculty member, Schwede was a postdoctoral researcher and assistant professor at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, as well as a researcher at the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute in Berkeley, California.

Schwede has published numerous research papers in journals including Advances in Mathematics, the American Journal of Mathematics, Mathematische Annalen, and Algebra and Number Theory. He has served as a referee and reviewer for several peer-reviewed journals including the Journal of the American Mathematical Society, the American Journal of Mathematics, and Advances in Mathematics.

From 2004 to 2008, Schwede helped build and maintain the website Situs Geometriae Algebraicae, designed to help students of algebraic geometry find references. He also helped develop and plan the University of Michigan conference "Frobenius splitting in algebraic geometry, commutative algebra, and representation theory" in May 2010.

His teaching experience includes algebra, precalculus, calculus, multivariable calculus, linear algebra, honors calculus, topology, and introduction to schemes and cohomology.
In 2006, Schwede earned a doctoral degree in mathematics at the University of Seattle, Washington.

Mauricio Terrones, 2011

Mauricio Terrones, professor of physics

Mauricio Terrones is a physicist who has made many important contributions to the field of nanoscience -- the chemical and biological manipulation of structures with dimensions of 1 to 100 nanometers. In his research, he produces novel carbon-based nanomaterials, whose potential applications are industrial, biomedical, and electronic. To analyze the properties of these materials, Terrones uses electron microscopy.

He also has co-developed new and low-cost methods for the production of nanomaterials. Other research groups now use his innovative techniques to produce nanomaterials.

Before joining the Eberly College of Science at Penn State, Terrones was a professor at the Institute of Physics at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), and at the Instituto Potosino de Investigaci•n Científica y Tecnológica (IPICYT) in San Luis Potosí, Mexico. At IPICYT, Terrones established a new laboratory devoted to the synthesis of nanostructured materials and secured funding for instruments and equipment such as electron microscopes and synthesis reactors.

Among Terrones's many awards and honors are a 2010 Chair of Excellence at the Department of Materials Science at the Universidad Carlos III in Spain; a 2009 Somiya award for international collaborations; a 2008 Japan Carbon Award for Innovative Research; a 2007 Fernando Alba Medal for his contributions to experimental physics; and the 2006 TWAS prize in Engineering given by the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World in Mexico for his work on doped carbon nanotubes. In 1999, Terrones received an Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship, with which he carried out research for 14 months at the Max-Planck-Institut fur Metallforschung in Germany. In that same year, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization awarded Terrones the Javed Husain Prize for his contributions to the field of carbon nanotechnology. He was a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Sussex from 1997 to 1999.

Terrones has authored over 280 papers in refereed journals including Nature, Science, Nature Nanotechnology, Nature Materials, Physical Review Letters, Nano Letters, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and Applied Physics Letters. His works have been cited more than 9000 times worldwide. Terrones is a fellow of Mexico•s Academy of Sciences for the Developing World and the Mexican Academy of Sciences. He is also a member of the International Advisory Board of the journals Nano Today and Carbon, a member of the American Chemical Society, and a founding member of the Mexican Society for Crystallography and the Mexican Society of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology.

In 1997, Terrones earned a doctoral degree in chemical physics at the University of Sussex, United Kingdom, under the direction of Nobel Laureate Harold W. Kroto.

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