New Hires Expand Depth and Breadth of Natural Sciences Faculty

Dr. Bruce Novak

Dr. Bruce Novak

The School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics added seven tenure-track faculty members this fall, further building on a “dynamic and diverse” pool of expertise in the departments of physics, chemistry and biochemistry, geosciences, and biological sciences. 

“This is an exciting time for our faculty members — and our students — as new research facilities are coming online, including the opening of the new Bioengineering Sciences Building,” said Dr. Bruce Novak, dean of the school and Distinguished Chair in Natural Sciences and Mathematics. 

“We’re still celebrating and inspired by the fact that one of our alumni won the 2015 Nobel Prize in chemistry, which just reinforces the fact that the quality of the research and the teaching in the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics is truly outstanding. We’ve come to expect great things from our faculty, and our newest additions will no doubt advance their fields and make a lasting impact on students.” 

The school comprises six departments: biological sciences, chemistry and biochemistry (formerly the Department of Chemistry), geosciences, mathematical sciences, physics, and science and math education

Two departments have recently changed leadership. Dr. Mark Lee, who has been a professor of physics at UT Dallas since 2010, is now head of that department, and Dr. Vladimir Dragovic is head of the Department of Mathematical Sciences. He joined the faculty as a professor of mathematical sciences in 2012. 

“Our faculty are utilizing the latest research techniques and facilities, and inventing some of their own, and many are working at the interface of multiple disciplines,” Novak said. “All this expertise and innovative thinking makes for a very dynamic and diverse research and teaching environment, so our students graduate well-prepared to meet the world’s scientific and societal challenges.” 


New Tenure-Track Faculty 

Zachary Campbell

Dr. Zachary Campbell

Dr. Zachary Campbell, assistant professor of biological sciences 

Previously: postdoctoral fellow, Department of Biochemistry, University of Wisconsin-Madison 

Research interests: synthetic biology, biochemical genomics, RNA-protein interactions, stem cell biology, bioanalytical and quantitative methods 

Quote: “For a long time, RNA was sort of the forgotten middle child of biology. Having been relegated to the fringes of science for decades, I spend my days thinking about a new class of RNA that has emerged as a dominant player in genome structure — a sort of macromolecular glue that holds the whole genome together. Being engaged in biological sciences at UT Dallas is terrific because of concentrated excellence in molecular and computational biology that creates fertile ground for cross-disciplinary work that will result in major breakthroughs. Also, there is a tremendous willingness to support young faculty, and that supportive climate is very special.” 

Sheena D'Arcy

Dr. Sheena D'Arcy

Dr. Sheena D’Arcy, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry

Previously: Howard Hughes Medical Institute postdoctoral research fellow, Colorado State University

Research interests: chromatin dynamics, cell-specific gene expression, X-ray crystallography, structural biology, hydrogen-deuterium exchange, mass spectroscopy 

Quote: “Even as an undergraduate I was naturally drawn to structural biology and biochemistry. My laboratory is focused on two areas: studying proteins that regulate the dynamics of chromatin, and a technique called hydrogen-deuterium exchange coupled to mass spectroscopy. The latter technique will allow us to answer interesting questions that we haven’t been able to answer with more traditional structural approaches. I am optimistic that Texas will offer a lot of support for research, and I am excited to work with the many great scientists in the area.” 

Dr. Bing Lv

Dr. Bing Lv

Dr. Bing Lv, assistant professor of physics

Previously: research assistant professor, Texas Center for Superconductivity, University of Houston 

Research interests: experimental condensed matter physics, high temperature superconductivity, materials science 

Quote: “My research area is in experimental condensed matter physics and materials physics. I hope I can help to build a very strong interaction between condensed matter physicists and solid-state chemists with my educational background. The majority of my research efforts will be looking for and characterizing new materials that will be useful in superconductivity, frustrated magnetism, quantum phase transitions, multiferroics, and high performance of thermoelectric, thermal conducting, organic-inorganic hybrid photovoltaic materials with energy applications. UT Dallas has rapidly growing research programs, a wonderful research environment and great administrative support, which will be ideal for junior faculty to grow and build up world-class research programs.”

Dr. Gabriele Meloni

Dr. Gabriele Meloni

Dr. Gabriele Meloni, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry

Previously: postdoctoral researcher, California Institute of Technology 

Research interests: structure and function of transmembrane metal-binding proteins, medical applications of metal-based complexes, metalloneurochemistry 

Quote: “In all living organisms, metals play a fundamental role. Without these essential trace elements, no living organism could survive. I am a bioinorganic chemist, and in my research I use biochemical, chemical and biophysical tools to characterize the structure and function of metal-binding proteins and biomolecules in general. It’s a great opportunity to be at UT Dallas because the pool of faculty is very dynamic and very diverse. Also, the University environment is very research-oriented and growing, so there is a lot of potential to make an impact.” 

Dr. Faruck Morcos

Dr. Faruck Morcos

Dr. Faruck Morcos, assistant professor of biological sciences

Previously: postdoctoral fellow, Center for Theoretical Biological Physics, Rice University 

Research interests: protein interactions, statistical inference, information theory, biological physics, computational and systems biology 

Quote: “I have an interdisciplinary background in computer science, math and biophysics, but most of my research work has been on biology. Basically, I’m trying to bridge these areas to solve biological problems. I use statistical methods and information theory to connect information from genomic data sets with biomolecular structure and function as well as interactions. UT Dallas is in a growth phase and is investing a lot in new faculty, and I am quite motivated by the University’s focus on research. Because my work is shifting toward applications for disease and medicine, being close to UT Southwestern Medical Center is also very appealing.” 

Dr. Xiaoyan Shi

Dr. Xiaoyan Shi

Dr. Xiaoyan Shi, assistant professor of physics

Previously: postdoctoral appointee, Quantum Phenomena Department, Sandia National Laboratories 

Research interests: experimental condensed matter physics, novel quantum materials, low-temperature physics, superconductors, topological matters, semiconductor heterostructures 

Quote: “Quantum materials represent a majority part of modern condensed matter physics research. In my research, by cooling the materials down to several millikelvin, thousandths of a degree above the absolute zero temperature, thermal motions in materials will be strongly depressed and the quantum nature of the many-electron system emerges. Our goal is to explore and understand the vast quantum materials world and investigate applications. I am very excited to do this research at UT Dallas because the University has a rapidly growing and well-balanced research environment. In addition, it offers great opportunities for collaborations within the campus and nationwide.” 

Dr. Hejun Zhu

Dr. Hejun Zhu

Dr. Hejun Zhu, assistant professor of geosciences

Previously: Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellow, Jackson School of Geosciences, UT Austin 

Research interests: structural and computational seismology, seismic structure of Earth’s crust and upper mantle, reservoir scale imaging and inversion 

Quote: “My research uses seismic waves, generated either by earthquakes or by man-made sources, and new seismic imaging techniques to image subsurface structures at both continental and reservoir scales. I am developing new methods and techniques to tackle challenges in seismic imaging, which could be used by oil companies to locate hydrocarbons, for example. The results of my research play an important role in understanding both the internal structure of our planet, as well as in finding oil and gas. The geosciences department at UT Dallas has very strong research on exploration seismology and global seismology, and I think there will be a lot of opportunities to collaborate with other faculty members.”  


New Faculty Series

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

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

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