Seven UCI assistant professors in biological sciences, business, education, engineering, humanities and social ecology have been awarded 2018-19 Hellman Fellowships; each will receive up to $50,000.

The university has bestowed 53 of the fellowships – designed to support the research and creative activities of promising early-career academics – since 2013, when the Hellman Fellows Fund established the program at UCI with a five-year grant of $1.25 million. The program has been renewed for 2018 to 2020 with a $750,000 grant.

“UCI continues to thrive as an innovative environment for focused, action-oriented research that will have a meaningful impact on our community and the world,” says Diane O’Dowd, vice provost for academic personnel and professor of developmental & cell biology. “This year’s Hellman Fellows represent some of the best talent within our junior faculty, and we are deeply grateful to the Hellman Fellows Fund for its generosity and ongoing support.”

The campus’s 2018-19 Hellman Fellows include:
Jaeho Lee, mechanical & aerospace engineering, Henry Samueli School of Engineering: The Hellman Fellowship will support Lee’s research on bio-inspired selective emitters for dynamic surface cooling and all-day clean water generation in the ambient environment. His areas of expertise are heat transfer by metamaterials and thermal metrology. Lee earned master’s and doctoral degrees in mechanical engineering at Stanford University. Before arriving at UCI in 2015, he conducted postdoctoral work at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Stephen V. Mahler, neurobiology & behavior, School of Biological Sciences: Mahler was awarded a Hellman Fellowship to study how adolescent exposure to cannabinoid drugs – such as tetrahydrocannabinol, the main intoxicant in marijuana – alters long-term brain function and development. By better understanding the alarmingly persistent effects of adolescent THC use in rodents, he hopes to determine how and why early-life exposure to cannabinoids might put individuals at risk of forming other drug addictions later in life. Mahler finished master’s and doctoral degrees in biopsychology at the University of Michigan, as well as a master’s in social sciences at the University of Chicago, before coming to UCI in 2015.

Nick Marantz, urban planning & public policy, School of Social Ecology: Marantz studies local governance and the regulation of the built environment, particularly the efficacy of policy interventions intended to reduce inequality, such as those to improve housing affordability. The Hellman funding will support his research on the impact of public policy on apartment housing development in California’s coastal counties. He joined UCI in 2014, after earning a Ph.D. in urban & regional planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a J.D. at Harvard Law School.

Ana Muñiz, criminology, law & society, School of Social Ecology: Muñiz was awarded a Hellman Fellowship for her project on the creation of a digital infrastructure to classify and surveil immigrants. She will employ institutional ethnography, qualitative field methods and archival analysis to map the increasing interconnection between criminal and immigrant databases; information sharing among local, federal and international law enforcement agencies; and automated risk assessment programs that inform the gang classification of immigrants. Muñiz will also explore the implications of intelligence gathering and gang classification for racialized social control. She completed master’s and doctoral degrees in sociology at UCLA prior to her arrival at UCI in 2016.

Tingting Nian, information systems, Paul Merage School of Business: With her Hellman funding, Nian will investigate whether, and to what extent, gender bias exists in the online tech world, with an emphasis on open-source communities. She will utilize a variety of techniques, including machine learning and socioeconomic models, to examine the existence and nature of gender bias, as stereotypes about women’s computing abilities not only lead to treatment and compensation disparities, but also serve to reinforce “gender sorting” into different careers. Nian earned a doctorate in information systems at New York University and a bachelor’s degree in business administration at China’s Tsinghua University before coming to UCI in 2015.

Catherine Sameh, gender & sexuality studies, School of Humanities: The Hellman Fellowship will support the completion and production of Sameh’s first book, tentatively titled Gendering Reform, Networking Feminism: Women’s Rights Activism in Iran & the Diaspora. It will also help fund research toward her second book project, on transnational feminist engagements with Islamophobia. Sameh, who is affiliated with UCI’s Samuel Jordan Center for Persian Studies & Culture, came to UCI in 2014. She finished a Ph.D. in women’s & gender studies at Rutgers University and a bachelor’s degree in history at Lewis & Clark College.