Expertise in Math, Natural Sciences Multiplies with Professor Additions

Dr. Bruce Novak

Dr. Bruce Novak

Ten new tenured or tenure-track faculty members joined UT Dallas’ School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics this fall, adding depth to the University’s expertise in biology, physics and mathematics while bolstering interdisciplinary research in fields such as energy and medical imaging. 

Six faculty members were added to the Department of Mathematical Sciences, a department that has expanded considerably. 

“We have roughly doubled the size of the tenured/tenure-track faculty in the mathematics department over the past three years,” said Dr. Bruce Novak, dean of the school and Distinguished Chair in Natural Sciences and Mathematics. 

“Strategically, it has been important to expand this department, not only to meet the needs of a growing student population, but also to bolster other departments. In these hires, we’re really trying to identify people who have natural overlaps in existing and, more importantly, budding programs across campus.” 

The school comprises six departments: physics, mathematics, biology, chemistry, science and math education, and geosciences, which recently named Dr. John Geissman, professor of geosciences, as its new department head. 

Novak said the school continues to build key competencies in high-demand fields such as biostatistics, and medical science and imaging, as well as in energy and energy-related disciplines. Toward that end, next year the school will likely add expertise in geosciences and condensed-matter physics, which encompasses research on solar cells and novel battery technology. 

In the coming months, the school also will spearhead a search for an O’Donnell Distinguished Chair who will specialize in analytical chemistry and conservation science as part of UT Dallas’ Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History

“Faculty members in the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics are very excited about partnering with area museums and bringing scientific expertise to art conservation and the study of artists’ materials,” Novak said. “It’s certainly an exciting time for us as we continue to expand the breadth and depth of our research and teaching programs.” 

Dr. Maxim Arnold

Dr. Maxim Arnold

Dr. Maxim Arnold, assistant professor of mathematical sciences 

Previously: Visiting research scientist, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 

Research interests: Nonlinear dynamics, hydrodynamics, mathematical physics and engineering, control theory

Quote: “The UT Dallas mathematics department has a faculty that is quickly evolving, and many faculty members work in my areas of research, which include nonlinear dynamics, statistical physics and hydrodynamics. I am trying to use the methods of these areas to describe the dynamics of large but finite systems of particles, which resemble fluid dynamical systems. I’m also interested in research that applies to engineering problems, such as control theory, motion planning, etc.” 

Dr. Nikki Delk

Dr. Nikki Delk

Dr. Nikki Delk, assistant professor of biological sciences 

Previously: Research assistant professor, Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, Rice University 

Research interests: Characterization of autophagy function, signaling pathways and therapeutic targets in bone metastatic cancers 

Quote: “My research is focused on cancers that are incurable once they have metastasized, or spread, to bone. I am particularly interested in prostate and breast cancers. Unfortunately, these cancers have developed ways to survive and continue to spread in metastatic environments that are not native to the cancer cells. Specifically, I’m investigating a cell-survival process called autophagy, in which a cell eats part of itself as a way of maintaining quality control and recycling cell contents. Cancer cells that metastasize to the bone are potentially surviving through autophagy and become treatment resistant. Some of the goals of my lab at UT Dallas are to characterize autophagy in treatment resistance, identify signaling pathways that regulate autophagy in cancer cells, and figure out how to use these pathways as therapeutic targets.” 

Dr. Tae Hoon Kim

Dr. Tae Hoon Kim

Dr. Tae Hoon Kim, associate professor of biological sciences 

Previously: Associate professor, Department of Genetics, Yale University 

Research interests: Functional genomics, cancer genetics and emerging mechanisms of genome expression; transcription insulation, transcription elongation and long range chromosomal interactions 

Quote: “If you were to lay out all 23 human chromosomes end to end, the DNA molecule would be about 2 meters long. That long fiber has to fit inside a very small space, in the nucleus in each cell. If a nucleus were the size of a basketball, that fiber would be about 150 miles long. The way genetic information is packaged within each cell determines how cells read and use that information. In my lab, we work on factors that regulate the folding of DNA and those that mediate communication between genes and their control elements.” 

Dr. Frank Konietschke

Dr. Frank Konietschke

Dr. Frank Konietschke, assistant professor of mathematical sciences

Previously: Visiting professor of biostatistics, Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich

Research interests: Biostatistics, nonparametric statistics, resampling techniques, analysis of high dimensional data 

Quote: “The aim of my research is the development of new statistical methods, with applications in life sciences, engineering and econometrics. The focus is particularly on nonparametric statistics and resampling methods, which can be used even with small sample sizes. For example, in cancer trials, small sample sizes, perhaps only 10 study participants, occur frequently. These new methods are designed in a way that reliable conclusions can be drawn by their application.” 

Dr. Yifei Lou

Dr. Yifei Lou

Dr. Yifei Lou, assistant professor of mathematical sciences 

Previously: Data analytic scientist, Parkland Center for Clinical Innovation 

Research interests: Compressive sensing and its applications; image analysis, including medical imaging, hyperspectral imaging and imaging through turbulence; optimization algorithms and high-performance computing 

Quote: “Compressive sensing is a field that includes developing methods for compressing data and reconstructing data. It’s very important in medical applications such as CT scans, where you want to minimize the amount of radiation given to the patient and the amount of scanning time. But reconstructing those images with reasonable quality poses a major problem in mathematics. My research also includes developing techniques to recognize objects through turbulence, such as through the blurring effect of heat waves created by a barbecue or the heat of the desert. These methods can be useful in video surveillance and remote sensing.” 

Dr. Lloyd Lumata

Dr. Lloyd Lumata

Dr. Lloyd Lumata, assistant professor of physics

Previously: Postdoctoral fellow, Advanced Imaging Research Center, UT Southwestern Medical Center 

Research interests: Biomedical physics, biomedical nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and imaging, hyperpolarized magnetic resonance 

Quote: “My research is in biomedical physics, developing new technology and instrumentation that will make MRI images clearer and from which we can get more diagnostic information. Using these new techniques, we can gain information about metabolic states of diseases like cancer or diabetes, for example. I am very excited to do this research at UT Dallas because the University is growing rapidly, and there is a great deal of energy here. In addition, the proximity of the campus to UT Southwestern offers opportunities for collaborations that will benefit both institutions.” 

Dr. Tomoki Ohsawa

Dr. Tomoki Ohsawa

Dr. Tomoki Ohsawa, assistant professor of mathematical sciences 

Previously: Assistant professor, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Michigan, Dearborn 

Research interests: Hamiltonian dynamics, symplectic methods in mathematical physics, optimal control theory, quantum and semiclassical mechanics 

Quote: “My research focuses on the mathematics behind problems in physics and engineering. On the physics side, I’m interested in quantum mechanics and its applications to chemical physics. On the engineering side, I’m interested in control theory, which is basically about how to maneuver things like mechanical systems. There is mathematics, specifically differential geometry, that is common to both of these areas, and that can be applied to these problems. I am really excited to be at UTD, because the math department here has a lot of people who are working on geometry and topology and applications of those ideas.” 

Dr. L. Felipe Pereira

Dr. L. Felipe Pereira

Dr. L. Felipe Pereira, professor of mathematical sciences 

Previously: Associate director, Center for Fundamentals of Subsurface Flow, School of Energy Resources, and Distinguished Professor of Mathematics and Petroleum Engineering, University of Wyoming 

Research interests: Modeling of multiphase subsurface flows in porous media; carbon dioxide storage, oil reservoir characterization and simulation; high performance, parallel, scientific computing 

Quote: “My research in applied mathematics has been focused on modeling the flow of oil in underground reservoirs — information needed for the efficient extraction of this precious resource. As a sign of changing times, I also have investigated injection strategies aiming at storing carbon dioxide permanently in deep saline aquifers. I’m currently interested in the modeling and simulation of fluid flow in very heterogeneous formations, such as oil shale. The possibility of moving to an expanding mathematics department in a University with plans to advance innovative, interdisciplinary research and education was a very appealing opportunity to me.”

Dr. Anh Tran

Dr. Anh Tran

Dr. Anh Tran, assistant professor of mathematical sciences 

Previously: Ross Assistant Professor, Ohio State University 

Research interests: Quantum topology, knot theory, quantum computing, applications of mathematics to biology 

Quote: “The field of quantum topology is rather new, and it has applications in quantum computing. The field is only about 30 years old, the same age as me. Knot theory originated in biology, in studies of DNA, where researchers want to understand the structure of the DNA molecule and how it interacts with itself. There are other faculty members at UT Dallas whose work is related to my own in these areas, so I’m glad to be a part of the University.” 

Dr. Fan Zhang

Dr. Fan Zhang

Dr. Fan Zhang, assistant professor of physics 

Previously: Postdoctoral fellow, University of Pennsylvania 

Research interests: Topological insulators and superconductors, graphene and novel quantum materials, many-body physics, quantum Hall effects

Quote: “Electrons are fundamental particles related to most aspects of modern life — computers and all kinds of electronic devices rely on the behavior of electrons. We study many-body and topological behaviors of electrons in order to deepen our fundamental understanding of their nature and to create more advanced technologies that improve our lives. UT Dallas is growing very fast, toward being one of the top universities in the country. I believe the city of Dallas and UT Dallas represent the future, so it is a golden opportunity for me to be here.”

                                         New Faculty Series
News Center is publishing profiles of tenured and tenure-track professors who have recently joined the University. The following schools’ profiles have been published:

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].

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