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School of Science Welcomes Seven New Full-time Faculty Members

 

The School of Science is pleased to welcome seven new full-time faculty members for Fall 2017.  Brief biographical sketches are listed below.

 

L-R: Bharath Muthuswamy (Computer Science); Melkamu Woldemariam (Biology); Nick Battista, Matt Mizuhara, Susan Schmoyer, Tamika Royal-Thomas (Mathematics). Not pictured: Kalani Hettiarachchilage (Physics).

 

Nick Battista (Assistant Professor of Mathematics) is an applied mathematician specializing in mathematical biology, scientific computing, and numerical analysis. He earned bachelor’s degrees in both mathematics and physics, as well as a master’s degree in applied mathematics from the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). At RIT he focused on black hole physics and astrophysics. He went on to receive his Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), where he made the transition from astrophysics into mathematical biology. While at UNC, he was apart of the many interdisciplinary research groups, including the vascular biology group in UNC’s medical school, the integrative muscular physiology group, the physical biology of organisms group, and focused research group in fluid dynamics. He uses computational modeling to study the underlying hemodynamics in various stages of heart development, wind turbine design and wind farm configuration, aquatic locomotion and maneuverability, and comparative biomechanics. He is also very passionate about creating educational tools and software to help students and other scientists get involved in fluid dynamic and other math modeling research, which otherwise would traditionally require a steep learning curve.

Kalani Hettiarachchilage (Visiting Assistant Professor of Physics) is a theoretical/computational physicist specialized in novel analytical & computational techniques to treat strongly correlated systems. She earned her Ph.D. in computational-condensed matter Physics from Louisiana State University (LSU) and she held a two-year postdoctoral position at center for computational technology and Physics at LSU. Studying the origin of exotic quantum phases such as coexistent and inhomogeneous phases, quantum criticality, secondary ordered phases close to quantum critical points are the major initiative of her field of condensed matter Physics. Furthermore, she is using computational methods based on the density functional theory to calculate material electronic structure to understand correlation between electronic structure and physical properties. During her graduate and postdoctoral training, she has published her work in peer-reviewed journals and has presented at scientific conferences. In addition to her previous teaching positions at The College of New Jersey and the College of Staten Island as an adjunct professor, she has focused to educate her students by learning and improving her teaching skills to promote interdisciplinary education among her students in Physics.

Matthew Mizuhara (Assistant Professor of Mathematics) is an applied mathematician specializing in mathematical biology. He earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics at Bucknell University and is completing his PhD in mathematics at Penn State University.  His current research combines modeling, analysis, and numerical simulations to study biological problems; in particular his work focuses on actin-driven cell motility.  His work addresses the question of how various biophysical mechanisms interact to give rise to persistent cell motion, as well as how cells initiate motion from a resting state.  He is also interested in promoting STEM diversity and has participated in several outreach programs for underserved communities in STEM.

Bharathwaj Muthuswamy (Visiting Assistant Professor of Computer Science) is an electrical engineer and computer scientist, specializing in nonlinear dynamics, memristors, and embedded systems.  He received his BS, MS, and PhD degrees in Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences from the University of California, Berkeley.  Dr. Muthuswamy has been employed by Los Alamos National Laboratory, (former) Sun Microsystems, and (former) National Semiconductor.  He has held visiting professor appointments at the University of California, Berkeley, University of Western Australia, and the Vellore Institute of Technology.  He was a former assistant professor at the Milwaukee School of Engineering.  For the past two years he worked as a software engineer for Tarana Wireless, specializing in network layer software for non-line of sight backhaul radios.  He has co-authored one book, “A Route to Chaos using FPGAs” and is currently co-authoring a second book, “Introduction to Nonlinear Circuits and Networks” (both published by Springer-Verlag).  He also systematically designed the “Muthuswamy-Chua” chaotic circuit – the simplest possible chaotic circuit that only has one inductor, capacitor, and memristor.

Tamika Royal-Thomas (Assistant Professor of Statistics) received her Ph.D. in Biostatistics from Florida State University (FSU). Prior to joining TCNJ, she worked as a Lecturer and Biostatistician at the Caribbean Institute for Health Research at The University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona Campus. She also worked at Winston-Salem State University as an Assistant Professor in Statistics. Dr. Royal-Thomas has also been employed in the pharmaceutical industry (at Sanofi Pasteur, a leading vaccine company worldwide), while at FSU. Her research interests include longitudinal data analysis, early life predictors of cardiovascular disease, factor analysis, principal component analysis, survival analysis and meta-analysis. Dr. Royal-Thomas has several research publications and has done several oral presentations at international statistical conferences, including Joint Statistical Meeting (JSM) and Eastern North American Region/International Biometric Society (ENAR) meetings.

Susan Schmoyer (Visiting Assistant Professor in Mathematics) is a pure mathematician specializing in algebraic number theory.  She earned her bachelor’s degree from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College (now Randolph College) and her Master’s degree at Virginia Tech.  During her Ph.D. at The University of Maryland in College Park, Dr. Schmoyer started her research on cryptographic pairings on elliptic and hyperelliptic curves.  Her research on the Tate-Lichtenbaum pairing led to new proofs of famous reciprocity laws.  Dr. Schmoyer taught at The United State Military Academy and Worcester State University before coming to The College of New Jersey. Dr. Schmoyer also enjoys using the computer algebra program “Sage” to study and draw hypotrochoids and epitrochoids, better known as Spirograph curves.  Dr. Schmoyer is a dedicated teacher, and she enjoys teaching a wide variety of undergraduate math courses.

Melkamu G. Woldemariam (Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology) is a molecular ecologist studying regulation of plant defense responses against herbivore attack. He earned his Ph.D. from the Friedrich-Schiller University and the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany. His research at the Max Planck Institute was centered on understanding the ecological roles of regulatory genes that orchestrate jasmonate-mediated transcriptional and metabolomic responses of Nicotiana attenuata plants against attack by the specialist herbivore, Manduca sexta. Prior to joining TCNJ, he worked as a post-doctoral researcher at the Boyce Thompson Institute in Ithaca, NY. His research is geared towards identifying novel regulatory mechanisms in plants and describing their role in orchestrating the transcriptomic and metabolomic responses of plants during attack by insect herbivores. He uses genetic, transcriptomic, metabolomics, and ecological approaches to unravel the molecular and chemical underpinnings of plant-insect interactions.

 

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