UCI’s New Academic Allstars
By Karen Zhou
It’s always a good sign to see people being hired.
Despite the current budget issues, UC Irvine welcomed new faculty members across nearly every department: engineering, law, medicine, biology, physical sciences, social ecology, social sciences, business, humanities, education and nursing science.
“Even in tight economic times, recruiting outstanding faculty remains among our highest priorities,” said Chancellor Michael Drake. “We are thrilled to welcome 69 new faculty. Included among them are a host of emerging stars as well as several more senior professors who are already regarded among the world’s leaders in their fields.”
The Henry Samueli School of Engineering welcomed a new dean, Gregory Washington. Hailing from Harlem, N.Y., Washington’s specialty is on dynamic systems, emphasizing “smart” materials that can be used to harvest energy and help to incorporate this into advanced automotive systems.
“I hope to bring a spirit of partnership where university and industry team together to unlock 21st-century research,” Washington said. “My favorite part is working with students and advancing research.”
Serving as the interim dean at Ohio State University, he has experience on his side as he ushers in an incoming class amid economic instability.
“The biggest tip for weathering the fiscal crisis is that we must be flexible and creative. We will have to try some new and different approaches,” he said.
As he takes the reins, he has only positive things to say about the UCI community.
“The students are more active and engaged than what I could see coming from Ohio,” he said before adding, “And the weather is absolutely perfect.”
Over at the School of Law, Professor Katherine Porter is eager to teach and help develop the new department.
“The campus is beautiful — it’s amazing how cohesive and connected it is,” Porter said. “It just feels like a university campus, a place of learning.”
Focusing on bankruptcy, consumer and commercial law, Porter strives to bring her practical experience to the classroom.
Porter recently testified in front of the Senate in Washington, D.C. She hopes that experiences like these will help bring greater recognition to UCI in circles where it is not known, such as the social sciences and public policy departments.
“UCI faculty are publishing articles in top journals, but they also understand that research is done to improve law by sharing their findings with a broad set of people,” she explained. “This is a key value of Irvine law because we are really training our students to become lawyers, not imitations of us as professors.”
Also at the School of Law, Professor Richard Hasen spent most of his summer finishing up his latest book entitled “The Voting Wars: From Florida 2000 to the Next Election Meltdown.”
Just as his title hints, Hasen’s forte is on the intersection between law and political science, namely election law.
“UCI has a world-class political science department for studying these kinds of issues,” Hasen said. “I hope I can add a perspective about how law and courts can affect these important political relationships.”
Although he has just started teaching courses this year at the School of Law, Hasen is already looking forward to possibly teaching in the political science department.
“I have always loved teaching,” he said. “There is a magical moment when a student ‘gets’ a difficult concept and takes it to the next level. It is very gratifying for me to watch my students succeed and thrive.”
He has one important tip, about success for students.
“Turn off the Internet when you walk into class,” he said. “You pay enough to be here: make sure you are completely into the game.”
The School of Medicine had the largest increase in faculty, with 15 new hires. Coming from Columbia University, Dr. Jaime Landman is the current Chair of the Department of Urology.
“When I came here and actually looked at UCI, I saw a combination of tremendous undergraduate resources and a medical school poised to be a preeminent national entity in the near future,” he said.
Indeed, the School of Medicine is growing for the better. For one, they are preparing to launch a new website that would allow surgical patients learn different relaxation techniques, helping patients with their upcoming surgery, as well as anyone with daily stress.
“Many professors and researchers at UCI are interested in using a holistic approach to caring for our patients — it’s exciting,” said Dr. Shu-Ming Wang, a new Professor of Clinical Anesthesiology, who grew up in Taiwan.
Dr. Wang seeks to use medication that benefits patients, while reducing the side effects of medication.
“I like to take care of people. I love successfully escorting my patients out from surgery without pain and seeing how happy their families are after,” he said. “It is truly a blessing to find an occupation you enjoy.”
In addition, the School of Medicine is also launching an MRI-guided cryoablation program, which is used to target cancer anywhere in a patient’s body. Unlike CT-guided ablation procedures, this new treatment works without radiation, instead destroying it using a needle.
“The medical colleagues I have interacted with to date are one of my favorite parts of UCI so far,” Landman said. “It truly is unique to see such comprehensive interdisciplinary collaboration with no conflict and no egos involved. This unique strategy results in superior patient care.”
He hopes to bring his technical skill set and a collaborative spirit to help develop minimally invasive treatments, as well as improve patient results.
“We can continue the UCI tradition of innovative treatment strategies by working in the laboratory to develop and realize novel concepts,” he said.
While these doctors are all business when it comes to their visions for UCI and their respective medical field, they still have their sense of humor.
“My impressions of UCI?” Wang said. “Well, the people are all very friendly on campus, but I also noticed that UCI Medical Center has been under construction nonstop!”
When it is all said and done, though, our newest faculty members have one common piece of advice for students, summed up perfectly by Dr. Landman:
“Do what you love and don’t let anything get in your way.”