News Release

UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering Hires 26 New Faculty in Fall 2017

San Diego, CA, October 2, 2017 -- The University of California San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering hired 26 professors this year. In the last four years alone, the Jacobs School has hired more than 75 new professors. Women and men from groups traditionally underrepresented in engineering make up one third of these hires.

“The Jacobs School is growing with a purpose,” said Albert P. Pisano, dean of the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering. “We are growing to make deeper and broader impacts through transformative research.”

The hires come at a time when the Jacobs School is reinventing undergraduate education through hands-on curricula; expanding its graduate programs to meet industry needs; and focusing on high-impact research that serves the global good.

As of Fall 2017, the Jacobs School has 246 professors and approximately 9,000 students, which includes both graduate and undergraduate students.

Research summaries for the 26 new professors are listed below. (Download a PDF of the 2017 new faculty brochure here.) Many are working in new strength areas the Jacobs School had added in the last four years, including: nanomaterials for biomedical and renewable energy applications; context-aware robotics; computer vision and machine learning; and hardware-software co-design and cyber-physical systems.



Assistant Professor
Alexandrov aims to leverage the information hidden in large-scale omics data to better understand the mutations causing human cancer; to identify potential strategies to prevent cancer; and to develop innovative approaches for targeted cancer treatment.
Previously: Postdoctoral Fellow, Los Alamos National Laboratory
PhD: University of Cambridge

Assistant Professor
Contijoch develops innovative imaging approaches for diagnostic and research evaluation of cardiovascular disease. Current projects seek to utilize advanced magnetic resonance imaging and computed tomography to assess the material properties and function of the right ventricle and pulmonary vasculature.
Previously: Postdoctoral Fellow, UC San Diego School of Medicine
Ph.D. University of Pennsylvania

Assistant Professor
The King Lab studies diseases in which the immune system becomes activated even though there is no infection, such as heart attacks, metabolic disease, autoimmunity, or cancer. He combines conventional biological methods with novel bioengineering techniques to develop therapies that limit organ dysfunction and promote healing, repair and regeneration.
Previously: Cardiology Fellow, Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Ph.D. MIT/M.D. Harvard Medical School

Assistant Professor
Kwon engineers nanoscale materials that interact with biological systems. Inspired by nature and guided by engineering principles, she is interested in using the unique properties that occur at nanometer length scales to build new tools to study, diagnose, and treat diseases of the central nervous system, particularly traumatic brain injury.
Previously: Postdoctoral Fellow Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Ph.D. University of Washington

Professor of Practice
Miller-Montgomery is executive director of the UC San Diego Center for Microbiome Innovation. She leads a team focused on expanding industry and academic collaborations in microbiome research. She has worked in large biotech and multinational companies as well as start-ups. Most recently, she led a biotech focused on nucleic acid purification.
Previously: CEO, MO BIO Laboratories
Pharm.D., Ph.D. Bordeaux University, France

Assistant Professor
Valdez-Jasso studies the biomechanics of soft tissues and constructs multi-scale mathematical models of organ and tissue function. Her research particularly focuses on modeling the heart and pulmonary arteries to better understand the changes during pulmonary arterial hypertension.
Previously: Assistant Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago
Ph.D. North Carolina State University



Associate Professor
Esmaeilzadeh is a computer architecture expert whose work focuses on designing next-generation systems to accelerate emerging applications. He aims to make immersive machine intelligence a reality by bridging the gap between algorithms and innovative hardware technologies through fullstack solutions. He is the founding director of the Alternative Computing Technologies Lab.
Previously: Assistant Professor, Georgia Institute of Technology
Ph.D. University of Washington

Assistant Professor
Gao develops design automation techniques for cyber-physical systems, such as autonomous cars and cardiac pacemakers. He leads the development of dReal, an automated reasoning tool capable of verifying and synthesizing complex cyber-physical system designs. The tool has been used by many groups, including the Toyota Research Institute, NASA, and the Royal Victoria Infirmary in the UK.
Previously: Postdoctoral Researcher Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Ph.D. Carnegie Mellon University

Assistant Professor
Polikarpova’s goal is to build practical tools and techniques that make it easier for programmers to construct secure and reliable software. Her research focuses on software security, automatic debugging, and automatically generating programs that meet high-level specifications.
Previously: Postdoctoral Researcher Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Ph.D. ETH Zurich

Assistant Professor
Su is interested in artificial intelligence disciplines, including machine learning, computer vision, computer graphics, robotics and smart manufacturing. He focuses on deep learning for 3D data understanding and interconnecting 3D data with images, texts, etc. Applications include robotics, autonomous driving, virtual/augmented reality, smart manufacturing and more.
Previously: Ph.D. Candidate, Stanford University
Ph.D. Stanford University

Assistant Professor
Zhao’s research connects computer architecture and system software, with an emphasis on memory and storage systems, acceleration mechanisms, and high-performance computing. Her research is driven by emerging technologies such as 3D integration and nonvolatile memories, and modern applications like big-data analytics, machine learning and scientific computing.
Previously: Assistant Professor, UC Santa Cruz
Ph.D. Penn State



Assistant Teaching Professor
Baghdadchi develops discovery-based curricula with active learning strategies for electrical engineering lecture and lab courses. She also develops hands-on educational programs for middle school and high school students to enhance their education in science and engineering. Her research focuses on designing new optical systems for tissue imaging.
Previously: Lecturer and Ph.D. Candidate, UC San Diego
Ph.D. UC San Diego

Assistant Professor
Bharadia innovates and translates fundamental ideas in communication theory to build communication systems that solve practical problems. His research develops systems for low power Internet of Things communication, high throughput wireless communication, full duplex wireless networks, wireless imaging and wireless sensing systems.
Previously: Postdoctoral Associate, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Ph.D. Stanford University

Teaching Professor
Schurgers’ research and teaching expertise is in embedded systems. He develops undergraduate courses focused on active learning and hands-on project classes for undergraduate as well as high school students. He also co-directs Engineers for Exploration, a program in which undergraduates work with other scientists to create real-world technologies.
Previously: Course Instructor, UC San Diego

Professor of Practice
Seshadri’s interests are in wireless communication systems, health and wellness technologies and massive online education. He worked at AT&T first as a member of the technical staff and then later as head of communications research. Later, he joined Broadcom to develop the company’s wireless strategy and served as Mobile and Wireless CTO until 2016.
Previously: Senior Vice President and CTO, Broadcom Corporation
Ph.D. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Assistant Professor
Touri’s research focuses on the theoretical aspects of computation, optimization, and control over networks. His work can be used to analyze opinion formation in social networks; to study the formation of networks in robotic systems; and to design mechanisms for efficient power grids.
Previously: Assistant Professor, University of Colorado Boulder
Ph.D. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Professor of Practice
Whelan designs and engineers aircraft, RADAR systems, space-based communications and navigation systems, and diagnostic sensors for high energy density physics experiments. He holds more than 50 patents and is a member of the National Academy of Engineering. His work has been used in space mission systems, airborne navigation and surveillance systems.
Previously: Vice President CTO, Boeing Defense Space & Security

Associate Professor
Zhang focuses on wireless systems and ubiquitous computing, which have applications for the Internet of Things. He designs wireless network protocols that can achieve wire-speed connectivity anytime, anywhere. He also develops systems that repurpose commodity wireless devices to sense human activity and location with near-vision precision.
Previously: Assistant Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Ph.D. University of Michigan



Assistant Professor
Arefiev uses supercomputer simulations to study how light of extreme intensities, such as laser light, interacts with matter. His goal is to develop new sources of high-energy particles and photons for applications such as material testing, ultra-fast imaging, element detection, cancer treatment and energy production.
Previously: Research Scientist, University of Texas at Austin
Ph.D. University of Texas at Austin

Teaching Professor
Becker teaches courses in applied mathematics and mechanics as well as probability and statistics to help introduce students to the university’s new initiative on data science. She is also taking a leadership role in the new Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences undergraduate major at UC San Diego.
Previously: Professor, University of Hawaii
Ph.D. UC San Diego

Assistant Professor
Boechler uses fundamental principles to design materials with new mechanical properties. His work involves designing microstructures and nonlinear systems to create adaptive, resilient materials for applications including impact protection, signal processing, national defense, and civil infrastructure.
Previously: Assistant Professor, University of Washington
Ph.D. California Institute of Technology

Assistant Professor
Frazier combines structural engineering and materials science to create new materials for applications such as long-distance signal transmission and enhanced vibration suppression. By employing theoretical approaches and experimental collaborations, he designs small-scale features of materials in order to control their responses at larger scales.
Previously: Postdoctoral Scholar, California Institute of Technology
Ph.D. University of Colorado Boulder

Assistant Professor
Lucas is a technologist and sea-going oceanographer who develops marine measurement systems. He uses these cutting-edge observations to study atmosphere-ocean interaction, ocean ecosystem structure and function, and environmental fluid mechanics. His research establishes a framework to assess the impact of projected changes in the ocean on its small-scale dynamics.
Previously: Assistant Research Oceanographer, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego
Ph.D. UC San Diego



Assistant Professor
Pascal develops and employs first principles electronic structure calculations and simulations to study the chemical physics of energy-related systems at the nanoscale. He is particularly interested in the molecular structure and dynamics of batteries, fuel cells and capacitors, disorder in condensed phase systems, and spectroscopy at interfaces.
Previously: Project Scientist, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Ph.D. California Institute of Technology

Assistant Professor
Shah develops polymeric biomaterials that can regulate molecular interactions at the nanoscale. His research focuses on understanding how these interactions can be used to guide the behavior of blood and immune cells in the body, with the aim of developing new therapeutic approaches for tissue repair, cancer and autoimmune diseases.
Previously: Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard University
Ph.D. Massachusetts Institute of Technology



Assistant Professor
Tomac’s research focuses on exploring and building the civil engineering infrastructure to support renewable and sustainable energy resources. Her research interests revolve around soil and rock mechanics, hydraulic fracturing, geo-reservoirs and carbon dioxide sequestration. She is actively involved in geotechnical engineering practices in Europe and the United States.
Previously: Assistant Research Scientist, UC San Diego
Ph.D. Colorado School of Mines

Media Contacts

Daniel Kane
Jacobs School of Engineering