New and Familiar Faces in University Leadership

New and Familiar Faces in University Leadership


Dean, School of Engineering

Goel comes to UC Merced from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where he serves as the College of Engineering’s executive associate dean. He is scheduled to begin work with UC Merced in October. At Cal Poly, he manages the college’s day-to-day operations, along with a $40 million state-side budget and a $40 million gift and endowment fund. Goel has an expansive background in civil engineering research and is a national and international leader in the discipline of earthquake analysis and design structures.


Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Strategy

Spitzmüeller, who will join UC Merced in September, comes to UC Merced from the University of Houston, where she serves as project director of a nine-institution research consortium dedicated to examining validity and bias in promotion and tenure decision-making. Spitzmüeller, a psychology professor, also has led efforts to increase faculty grant expenditures and representation of under-represented populations in a variety of roles.


Vice Provost and Dean for Graduate Education

Leadership roles are nothing new to Hratchian, who assumes his new role after serving as chair of UC Merced’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. A member of the university’s faculty since 2013, Hratchian also served as interim co-director of cyberinfrastructure and research computing, and chaired the Academic Senate’s Graduate Council. The longtime researcher has been honored with a Hellman Foundation Fellowship and an NSF Career award.


Dean of the School of Natural Sciences

Dumont was reappointed to the role she has held since joining UC Merced in August 2017. Under her direction, the school has more than doubled per capita research expenditures while decreasing the DFW rate of lower-division courses by nearly 60%. More than half of the 33 faculty hired by the school since Dumont became dean identify as women. The school also established the university’s first Living Learning Communities for students.

Professors Appointed to Engineering Endowed Chairs

Two women have been appointed to endowed chairs in UC Merced’s School of Engineering.

Professor Ashlie Martini was awarded the Monya Lane and Robert Bryant Presidential Chair in Excellence in Engineering. Professor Sarah Kurtz was appointed to the Reno Ferrero Family Chair in Electrical Engineering.

Lane, vice chair of the UC Merced Board of Trustee, and husband Bryant established the endowment in 2019. Both are retired engineers from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Martini is the first to hold the chair.

Martini chairs the Department of Mechanical Engineering and studies tribology – the science of friction, wear and lubrication in mechanical systems. She and her students contributed recently to a NASA rover expedition to Mars.

“Having a noted engineering faculty role model who demonstrates the campus’ culture of innovation and inclusivity will serve as a welcoming beacon to broaden the pipeline of diverse engineering students and faculty,” Lane said.

The endowed chair awarded to Kurtz was established in 2006 with a donation by Ferrero, who in the years after World War II expanded a small business into an electrical contracting company with multiple central California locations. Ferrero, who died in 2012, was a generous supporter of student scholarships, the Merced College Technical Institute and UC Merced's electrical engineering program.

"I am truly honored to have been chosen for this chair, not only because of the donor and his achievements, that because this is going to greatly further the electrical engineering program at UC Merced," Kurtz said.

Having a noted engineering faculty role model who demonstrates the campus’S culture of innovation and inclusivity will serve as a welcoming beacon to broaden the pipeline of diverse engineering students and faculty.

Monya Lane, UC Merced Trustee


Drawing Green Power From Hydrogen

A UC Merced lab is partnering with researchers in the Philippines to generate hydrogen efficiently and convert it directly into electricity. Professor Po-Ya Abel Chuang’s team optimizing cell design and modeling hybrid systems to evaluate the feasibility and economic potential of large-scale deployment in the Asian archipelago. Chuang pointed out that the hydrogen energy technology can be used anywhere because fuel cells are reliable, easy to implement and have long lifespans. Chuang has a long history of fuel-cell research, working for General Motors developing fuel-cell cars and continuing that work as he joined the faculty at Purdue University before coming to UC Merced in 2014.

Mucus Molecules Thwart Fungal Infection

UC Merced Professor Clarissa Nobile and an international team of researchers have discovered which component in mucus prevents a fungus found in most humans from turning destructive. In its harmful form, the fungus Candida albicans can cause conditions such as oral thrush, vaginal yeast infections or even a life-threatening systemic infection. The researchers identify specialized sugar molecules, or glycans, as being able to suppress the fungus’s dark side. “I am really excited about this new work because I think it has important implications for how we develop new antimicrobial therapies in the future,” Nobile said.

Film Nominated at International Festival

A feature-length film by Professor Yehuda Sharim was a nominee at Ethnocineca, the International Documentary Film Festival Vienna. The film, “Letters2Maybe,” is based on events and dreams that took place in Merced and Houston from 2015 to 2020. It focused on activist Ana Maria Fabian Lomeli and “so many around the Central Valley who insist on demanding justice for all of us who seek refuge and refuse to surrender to silence," Sharim said. It was nominated in the Excellence in Visual Anthropology category at the eight-day festival last May.


Academic Personnel

June 1 – Aug. 8, 2022

  • Mary Grace Antonette Abear
  • Nazire Begen
  • Alice Berliner
  • Christine Chan
  • Marcos Chavez
  • Samuel Cleofas
  • Christopher Den Hartog
  • Sarah Devoto
  • James Dunn Jr.
  • Cesar Antonio Flores
  • Linda Gabriel
  • Jacqueline Gonzalez-Cruz
  • Geraldy Gutierrez Eisman
  • Jazmine Hidalgo
  • Estrella Herrera
  • Marybel Herrera
  • Junhyeok Jang
  • Jennifer Ann Jimenez
  • Henrik Larsson
  • Christopher Lee
  • Brittany Leathers
  • Edgar Martinez Alejo
  • Joshua Parker
  • Amanda Rea
  • Shelby Rosenfeld
  • Melisa Quintana
  • H. Tomas Rube
  • Natalie Santizo
  • Kelly Shepardson
  • Todd Sorensen
  • Abigail Smurr
  • Frederick Quinn
  • Van Vang
  • Apoorva Verma
  • Caleb Westby
  • Michelle Yeung