Introducing our New Faculty

Oct 1, 2019
Introducing our New Faculty

By Josh Baxt


Welcoming new faculty to CSE is an important rite of fall. It signals the start of a new school year and new ideas and research recirculating through the department. This year, we have several new faculty joining the CSE Department.

“One of the reasons we are top-rated program is that we can attract some of the best minds in the discipline,” says department chair Dean Tullsen. “They know that UC San Diego is a great place to teach, conduct research and collaborate.”

2019-2020 New Faculty

Assistant professor Albert Chern comes to CSE from the Technische Universitat Berlin, where he conducted his postdoctoral research in mathematics. Chern earned his PhD at Caltech and studies the interplay between differential geometry, algebraic topology, differential equations and computational mathematics. His work has helped generate novel applications in fluid dynamics, geometry processing and classical numerical PDE challenges, such as absorbing boundary conditions in wave computations.

Most recently, associate professor Nadia Heninger was a faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania. Heninger’s research focuses on security, applied cryptography and algorithms, with particular interest in cryptography in practice, cryptanalysis, privacy, computational number theory and coding theory. She is best known for identifying widespread vulnerabilities in cryptographic keys on the Internet. Heninger received her PhD at Princeton.

Rob Knight, a highly regarded professor in the UC San Diego Pediatrics Department, will continue his appointment as a professor with CSE. A tireless researcher, Knight has helped revolutionize our understanding of the microbiome. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Academy of Microbiology and the founding director of the Center for Microbiome Innovation at UC San Diego.

Home grown assistant teaching professor Niema Moshiri recently received his PhD at UC San Diego. He focuses on developing high-quality, online educational materials, mostly as massive adaptive interactive texts. These can be used in flipped classes or integrated into massive open online courses. Moshiri will also investigate open computational problems in HIV epidemiology.

Acting assistant professor Pat Pannuto comes to CSE from UC Berkeley, where they will soon receive their PhD. Pannuto seeks to increase the digital world’s reach into the physical world. Their work identifies opportunities for systems-based solutions that enable the study of broad classes of phenomenon that previously could not be measured. These include fine-grained interaction behavior in social groups, in-body physiology and country-scale power grid performance estimates.

Assistant teaching professor Gerald Soosai Raj comes to CSE from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he recently received his PhD. Soosai Raj seeks to design and evaluate student-centered methods to teach computer science to diverse learners. He studies the impact bilingual CS education has on non-native English speakers; the effectiveness of live-coding when teaching introductory programming; and bridging the gap between academia and industry.

Acting assistant professor Jingbo Shang recently earned his PhD at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. His research focuses on developing data-driven approaches, with little human curation and labeling, to transform unstructured text data into structured heterogeneous information networks. With these tools, actionable knowledge could be flexibly and effectively uncovered based on a user’s instructions.

Prior to joining CSE, assistant professor Yiying Zhang was at Purdue. Zhang works on the intersection between systems and security, programming languages and ML/AI. She explores new ways to build software, hardware and networking systems for the next generation of data centers by focusing on operation and distributed systems, computer architecture and data center networking. She received her PhD at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.