Nine new faculty members join the UCI School of Physical Sciences

Wed, 10/17/2018
Alexandra Nay

Ranging from high frequency trading and cancer research to neutrinos and the exploration of habitable planets, the new faculty members bring transformative research and innovation to the School of Physical Sciences. The new team members are: 







Elizabeth Bess

Assistant Professor, UCI Department of Chemistry

  • Trillions of bacteria live in the human GI tract—called "the gut microbiome." Elizabeth Bess and her team investigate the link between the gut microbiome and breast cancer, devising new ways to predict and prevent this disease.
  • Bess joined the Department of Chemistry at UCI in summer 2018. Her lab is fusing chemistry and microbiology to interrogate the chemical mechanisms by which the human gut microbiome impacts human health and disease. She received her B.S. degree from the University of Utah in Biological Chemistry in 2009. During this time, she performed research on pain perception in the Emergency Department at the University of Utah School of Medicine, worked as an autopsy assistant at the Utah Office of the Medical Examiner, and taught violin lessons to budding musicians. In 2015, Bess earned her Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry. Under the mentorship of Professor Matthew Sigman at the University of Utah, she developed mathematics-based tools to quantitatively describe and predict the outcomes of catalytic reactions. As an HHMI postdoctoral fellow of the Life Sciences Research Foundation, Bess worked in the microbiology lab of Professor Peter Turnbaugh at the University of California, San Francisco (2015-2018). Here, she investigated how gut bacteria beneficially metabolize components of plant-based diets to prevent breast cancer. During her postdoctoral stint, Bess enjoyed leading yoga classes for UCSF scientists.

Paata Ivanisvili 

Assistant Professor, UCI Department of Mathematics 

  • Paata Ivanisvili’s research interests include analysis, probability, partial differential equation, and geometry.  
  • Ivanisvili received his bachelor’s degree in mathematics in 2011 at St. Petersburg State University, Russia. In 2015, he obtained his Ph.D degree in mathematics at Michigan State University.  He was as a postdoctoral researcher at Princeton University and joined the UC Irvine as an assistant professor in the department of mathematics in the summer 2018.

Jeffrey Ludwig 

Lecturer PSOE, UCI Department of Mathematics

  • Jeffrey Ludwig’s research is focused on quantitative methods for statistical arbitrage and algorithmic high frequency trading in the global financial markets.
  • Prior to joining UCI’s Department of Mathematics, Dr. Ludwig was the Founding Director and Head of Ph.D. Research at Jump Labs, the research division of Jump Trading, a high frequency trading firm based in Chicago, IL. There he was involved in research for quantitative high frequency trading spanning machine learning, datamining, text mining, signal processing, high performance computing, and low latency telecommunications in collaboration with academia.  Previously he served as a portfolio manager for SAC Capital Management where he managed quantitative futures strategies spanning equities, fixed income, commodities, and volatility.  Before this, he was Director of the Algorithmic Trading Group at Barclays Capital in New York and London. From May 2004 to September 2010 he served as a portfolio manager for Millennium Partners, L.P. Earlier in his career, Mr. Ludwig served as a senior vice president and portfolio manager Pimco.
  • Ludwig earned a B.S. in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering, a M.S. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, all from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has published 12 journal articles and holds one U.S. patent.

Connor Mooney 

Assistant Professor, Department of Mathematics

  • Connor Mooney’s research investigates partial differential equations, which model many phenomena in physics and arise naturally in geometry. He is especially interested in the regularity (differentiability, analyticity) properties of solutions.
  • Some of his work is on the Monge-Ampere equation, a fully nonlinear PDE that arises in problems involving isometric embeddings, optimal transport, and meteorology.
  • Mooney received his B.S. Mathematics from Stanford University in 2011 and his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 2015.  He was a Postdoctoral Researcher at ETH Zurich, a NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellow, UT Austin, and was awarded a NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellowship and a NSF Graduate Research Fellowship.  

Juan Ochoa-Ricoux 

Professor, Department of Physics & Astronomy 

  • Juan Ochoa-Ricoux’s research is focused on neutrinos, ghostly elementary particles that can penetrate extremely large amounts of matter. Neutrinos can teach us volumes about the processes and the sources that produce them, both inside and outside our planet. Prior to joining UCI in 2018, he was a professor of physics at the Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile for 5 years.
  • Ochoa-Ricoux received his undergraduate degree in physics in Monterrey, Mexico. In 2003, he moved to Caltech where he earned his Ph.D. In 2009, he was awarded a Chamberlain Fellowship at Berkeley Lab, where he worked in an experiment that studies neutrinos produced by 6 nuclear reactors in the southeast of China.

Joseph Patterson 

Assistant Professor, UCI Department of Chemistry

  • Joseph Patterson’s research interests include polymers, materials and nanoscience, specifically, soft matter, self-assembly, nanomaterials, cryo-EM, and liquid phase EM. At his lab, The Patterson Lab, his team uses advanced electron microscopy techniques to explore the nanoscale dynamic processes which are essential to soft matter formation and application. Through visualization and quantitative analysis of these processes they aim to drive advancements in soft matter research and create the next generation of functional nanomaterials.
  • Patterson received his M.S.  in Chemistry in 2009 from the University of York, located in the UK, and in 2013, he earned his Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Warwick.

Paul M. Robertson 

Assistant Professor, Department of Physics & Astronomy 

  • Paul M. Robertson’s research focuses on the development of techniques and instruments to discover and characterize exoplanets- planets orbiting nearby stars. His work has led to insight into the formation of the Galaxy's planets and will reveal potentially Earthlike planets that future space missions will search in order to extract signs of extraterrestrial life. 
  • Robertson received his undergraduate degree in Physics and Mathematics in 2008 from The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas, Austin in 2013. He was a NASA Sagan Fellow at Penn State University, and a member of the Center for Exoplanets and Habitable Worlds. 

Javier D. Sanchez - Yamagishi 

Professor, UCI Department of Physics & Astronomy

  • Javier D. Sanchez -Yamagishi’s research area is Condensed Matter Physics which includes 2-dimensional materials, graphene, electronic transport, nanoscale magnetometry and quantum phenomena.  
  • Sanchez-Yamagishi received his B.S. in Physics from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, in 2008 and earned his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2015. Sanchez also completed a post doctorate fellowship at Harvard Quantum Optics Center.    

Houlin Xin

Professor, UCI Department of Physics & Astronomy 

  • Houlin Xin’s lab focuses on energy material related research. The research spans tomographic and atomic-resolution chemical imaging of battery and fuel cell materials to in situ environmental study of heterogeneous catalysts to the development of deep learning enabled self-driving TEM.
  • Xin graduated in Physics from Cornell University in 2011, and he worked at Brookhaven National Laboratory as a permanent staff member and principle investigator from 2012- 2018.