News and Events

CLAS Welcomes New Faculty

This article was originally printed in the November 2005 issue of CLASnotes.

John Chambers

Jogn ChambersJohn Chambers is an assistant professor in the psychology department. He received a PhD from the University of Iowa in 2005, and his area of specialization is social psychology.

Chambers’ research interests involve how people make inferences about their own and other people’s abilities, traits, and risks for events. He also examines the illusions and biases that characterize people’s judgments about themselves and others. He plans to teach a graduate-level social psychology course and a judgment and decision-making course to advanced undergraduates.

H. Wind Cowles

H. Wind CowlesH. Wind Cowles is an assistant professor in the linguistics program who earned her PhD in cognitive science and linguistics from the University of California, San Diego in 2003. Before coming to UF, she was a postdoctoral research fellow in the psychology department at the University of Sussex, England and a visiting faculty member in linguistics at the University of California, San Diego.

Cowles’ research interests involve how people produce and comprehend sentences as part of a larger discourse. In particular, her work has focused on the interaction of information structure categories like topic and focus with the processing of syntactic structure and coreferential category terms. This fall, she is teaching Psycholinguistics and a graduate seminar on sentence and discourse processing.

Atiqa Hachimi

Atiqa HachimiAtiqa Hachimi is an assistant professor in the African and Asian languages and literatures department. She completed her PhD in spring 2005 at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and specializes in Arabic sociolinguistics, with a particular focus on North Africa. Prior to UF, Hachimi directed and coordinated the Arabic Language Program at the University of Hawaii, where she also was an instructor of Arabic language and culture.

Hachimi’s research interests include Arabic sociolinguistics, language and dialect contact and change in complex multilingual settings, particularly in North Africa, and language and gender. This fall, she is teaching Arabic 1 and 2 and plans to teach Arabic Sociolinguistics and Arabic 3 during the spring semester.

Corene Matyas

Corene MatyasCorene Matyas, an assistant professor of geography, earned her PhD from The Pennsylvania State University, focusing on climatology, in 2005. Before coming to UF she served as a graduate lecturer at Penn State and a visiting assistant professor at Ohio University.

While Matyas’ research interests include all types of severe weather and natural hazards in general, her current work focuses on hurricanes. Specifically, she is investigating the use of geographical methods such as GIS and the calculation of shape indices to quantify tropical cyclone rainfall patterns. Her long-term goal is to develop a model to forecast these rainfall patterns as storms make landfall. She teaches Climatology and Weather and Forecasting and also is developing a course on hurricanes for fall 2006.

Kenneth Merz

Kenneth MerzKenneth Merz is a professor in the Department of Chemistry and a member of the Quantum Theory Project. He comes to UF from The Pennsylvania State University, where he had taught since 1989. From 1998 to 2001, he also held positions at Pharmacopeia, Incorporated, a drug development company.

Merz earned his PhD in organic chemistry in 1985 from the University of Texas at Austin and held postdoctoral fellowships at Cornell University and the University of California, San Francisco. His research interests include computational chemistry and biology, and he is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a member of the editorial board for the Journal of Molecular Modeling. At UF, he is teaching Physical Chemistry and Organic Chemistry.

Aneta Petkova

Aneta PetkovaAneta Petkova is an assistant professor in the physics department. She earned a PhD in chemical physics in 2000 from Brandeis University and, before arriving at UF, was a research fellow at the National Institutes of Health, holding a postdoctoral research fellowship there from 2000 to 2004.

Petkova’s research interests are in experimental biophysics, in particular protein folding and amyloid folding. Her group will be using solid state nuclear magnetic resonance and other spectroscopic techniques to study membrane and amyloid-forming peptides and proteins. She is teaching Physics with Calculus 2.

Maria Portuondo

Maria PortuondoMaria Portuondo is an assistant professor of history who earned a PhD in the history of science and technology from The Johns Hopkins University in 2005. Prior to entering graduate school, she worked as an electrical engineer for 12 years, holding a BS in electrical engineering from the University of Miami.

Portuondo’s research interests include early modern European science and technology, 16th and 17th century Spain, invention and technology, and science and exploration. She is teaching The Practice of Science During the Scientific Revolution and New Lands, New Science: Exploration and Science.

Helena Alves Rodrigues

Helena Alvez RodriguesHelena Alves Rodrigues is an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science with a joint appointment in the Center for Latin American Studies. She earned her PhD from the University of Iowa in 2005, and her area of specialization is Latino politics, particularly Latino political participation and the political circumstances of Latino immigrants in the US.

Rodrigues’ research interests are within American politics and political behavior, including minority politics and minority political power. This fall, she is teaching Latino Politics in the United States. In the spring, she will teach Politics and Public Opinion and Introduction to Latino Studies.

Raúl Sánchez

Raul SanchezRaúl Sánchez is an associate professor of English. He comes to UF from the University of Utah and specializes in composition studies. He received his PhD from the University of South Florida, and his research interests include composition theory and critical theory.

In 2005, Sánchez published The Function of Theory in Composition Studies through SUNY Press. This semester, he is teaching a variable topic course called The End of Identity and the Beginning of Writing.

Jonathan Tan

Jonathan TanJonathan Tan is an assistant professor in the astronomy department who received his PhD in astrophysics from the University of California at Berkeley in 2001. He held postdoctoral research fellowships at Princeton University from 2001 to 2004 and also at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich from 2004 to 2005.

Tan’s research is focused on the origin of stellar systems, ranging from the very first objects that formed in the universe following the Big Bang to local star clusters such as in the Orion Nebula. This semester he is teaching Discover the Universe, with plans of teaching the graduate course, High Energy Astrophysics, in the spring.

Brigitte Weltman-Aron

Brigette Weltman-AronBrigitte Weltman-Aron is an associate professor of French in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures. She received a PhD in French from the University of Southern California in 1991, and her two main areas of specialization are the Enlightenment and 20th-century Francophone studies.

Weltman-Aron comes to UF from the University of Memphis, where she served as an associate professor of French from 2000 to 2005. Her research primarily focuses on literature—often through a feminist or postcolonial approach—and she is currently investigating French colonialism and cultural representations of Algeria through the works of contemporary Algerian women writers and of French women who grew up in Algeria. She is teaching undergraduate and graduate courses on Francophone language, literature and culture.

Ed White

Ed WhiteEd White is an associate professor in the English department. He received a PhD from Cornell University in 1998 and taught at Louisiana State University for six years before coming to UF. He specializes in colonial American literature and culture, with an emphasis on transcultural contact.

White has a book in press titled The Backcountry and the City: Colonization and Conflict in Early America. He is teaching an undergraduate course on myth and historical writing and a graduate seminar on public opinion in 18th-century America.

Kenneth Merz photo courtesy Kenneth Merz
All other Photos by Jane Dominguez

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