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New Faculty 2017 Archives

New faculty: Tuya Pal, associate professor of medicine and Ingram Associate Professor of Cancer Research

Oct. 26, 2017—A high school science class discussion about how genetic traits are passed down from one generation to another inspired Tuya Pal to pursue a career in clinical genetics. Pal is a physician who specializes in cancer health disparities among diverse populations.

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New faculty: Daniel Work, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering

Oct. 26, 2017—Daniel Work can’t think of a better place to research traffic issues than Nashville. He’s bringing his expertise on applying cyber-physical systems—the combination of physical systems with technological advances—to transportation to a city that adds roughly 85 new residents per day.

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New faculty: Renã A. S. Robinson, associate professor of chemistry

Oct. 23, 2017—Renã A. S. Robinson’s interest in aging dates back to her childhood. Her mother spent her spare time as a caregiver attending to elderly people with dementia. Now an analytic chemist, Robinson is investigating the science behind this very human condition. She is employing the emerging field of proteomics to study the process of aging as well as neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.

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New faculty: Erin Calipari, assistant professor of pharmacology

Oct. 23, 2017—Erin Calipari could be described as a code breaker. Using technologies that allow her to probe the activity of single neurons in awake and behaving animals, she is piecing together the neural code that controls motivation and decision-making.

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New faculty: Yolanda J. McDonald, assistant professor of human and organizational development

Oct. 19, 2017—A self-described “medical geographer,” Yolanda J. McDonald, an assistant professor of human and organizational development, begins each new research project with the “where” of things, before getting to the who, what, when and how.

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New faculty: David Ikard, professor of African American and diaspora studies

Oct. 19, 2017—While literary luminaries Toni Morrison and James Baldwin are among the top influencers on David Ikard’s research, he credits everything from political rhetoric to popular television series for sparking his scholarship.

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New faculty: Mariann Piano, professor of nursing and senior associate dean for research

Oct. 16, 2017—Four to five drinks in an evening. Starting the weekend on Thursday with happy hour. No big deal, right? Wrong, according to Mariann Piano, whose work indicates that binge drinking by young adults 18-30 may lead to vascular dysfunction and increased vulnerability to cardiovascular disease.

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New faculty: Marjan Rafat, assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering

Oct. 16, 2017—The regimen is all too familiar for those battling breast cancer and for their loved ones: tough rounds of chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. The patient goes on to live a long, cancer-free life when that regimen works. Marjan Rafat studies when it doesn’t.

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New faculty: Rhonda Williams, John L. Seigenthaler Chair in American History

Oct. 12, 2017—Middle Tennessee gains a community activist along with a respected historian with the addition of Rhonda Y. Williams to the Vanderbilt faculty.

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New faculty: James Booth, Patricia and Rodes Hart Professor of Educational Neuroscience

Oct. 12, 2017—One of James Booth’s biggest research challenges is keeping his young subjects from getting wiggly while measuring their brain activity during an MRI scan. As a neurocognitive researcher, he uses functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to tease out how children’s brains develop academic skills.

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Investing in community: Melissa Thomas-Hunt is the inaugural vice provost for inclusive excellence

Oct. 9, 2017—Melissa Thomas-Hunt, Vanderbilt’s inaugural vice provost for inclusive excellence, sees a big part of her new role as breaking down the traditional notions of “diversity.”

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New faculty: Kejia Hu, assistant professor of operations management

Oct. 9, 2017—Kejia Hu, new assistant professor of operations management, believes big data can be used as a tool for good, bringing about positive change in the marketplace. And her research can prove it.

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