COP welcomes its newest faculty

Meet the Professors

This year, College of the Pacific is proud to welcome seven new faculty members to the Pacific family.

Be sure to say hello when you see them on campus!

Jane Khudyakov: Biological Sciences

JaneKhudyakovHometown: Sierra Madre, CA

What are your research interests?

I am interested in understanding how animals in nature cope with extreme environmental and physiological challenges that would be intolerable to humans, such as food and oxygen deprivation that are routinely experienced by marine vertebrates. I use a variety of approaches (field experiments, endocrinology, molecular biology and genomics) to examine how hormones and gene networks drive organisms’ responses to such challenges, and how these responses can be dysregulated by chronic stress caused by human activity or environmental change. Currently, I am working with northern elephant seals along the California coast. I hope that physiological insights from wild animals can inform both treatments of human disease and conservation of animal species that are especially susceptible to stress.

Why should someone take your class?

I am infinitely fascinated by biology and love sharing that excitement and curiosity with others! In my classes, I emphasize the “big picture” and critical thinking about biological concepts and mechanisms. I encourage students to think like scientists and to keep asking “why?”, not just in my classes but throughout their academic, professional, and personal journeys.

Why are you excited to be at Pacific?

I was attracted by Pacific’s commitment to excellence in student-centered education, small size and the sense of inclusive community that I felt when I first visited. I am excited to join the Biological Sciences department and work alongside exceptional faculty and students that are dedicated to both pedagogy and scholarship and share my excitement for biology!

Anything else you’d like us to know about you?

I am also passionate about food, literature, and the outdoors.

Courtney Jensen: Health, Exercise, and Sports Sciences

CourtneyJensenHometown: Salem, Oregon

What are your research interests?

Medical epidemiology (mostly patient outcomes in trauma care) and stress physiology (such as physiological adaptation in extreme environments).

Why should someone take your class?

I teach Exercise Physiology, a field in which presenters commonly lose their audiences through over-reliance on jargon, acronyms, and memorized bromides rather than clarity, insight, and empathy.  Not surprisingly, many students have an uncomfortable relationship with “science.”  I try to undo that by providing a context for the material and delivering it with enthusiasm, and, wherever possible, humor.

Why are you excited to be at Pacific?

I did my master’s degree at Pacific about a decade ago.  Most people either identify with their undergraduate degree or their terminal degree.  I always split the difference and identified with Pacific.  So for me, teaching here is a homecoming of a kind.  I’m very happy to be back.

Anything else you’d like us to know about you?

I did well as a competitive bodybuilder… when I was younger.

Laura D. Gutierrez: History

Laurie GutierrezHometown: Arcadia, CA

What are your research interests?

20th century Mexican history, U.S.-Mexico migration, deportation policy, public health, Chicana/o history, guest worker programs

Why should someone take your class?

In my classes, students get the chance to immerse themselves in archival materials and engage in the process of writing history. In Latin American history, we touch on issues of human rights, social inequality, colonization, migration, international relations, and race relations. However, we don’t just learn about historical events, but about how history is written and remembered. To do this, we look at letters, newspapers, reports and all kinds of sources to understand what life was like for the people and places we study.

Why are you excited to be at Pacific?

After being at large universities for more than a decade, I’m thrilled to joining the tight-knit campus community here where students and professors get the chance to learn from each other. I love the small class sizes, the engaged students, and the emphasis on teaching.

 

Daniel Jontof-Hutter: Physics

DanielJontofHutterHometown: Melbourne, Australia. I came to America because I wanted to learn from the scientists who send space probes across the Solar System and put telescopes in space.

What are your research interests?

My research is in exoplanets, finding and describing planets around other stars. Our ultimate goal is to find planets that have the right conditions for life as we know it. In some cases, the size of an exoplanet can be directly measured from how much starlight is reduced when the planet passes between us and the star. We can also measure the mass of an exoplanet by observing the subtle effects of a planet’s gravity on the motion of its host star, and even the neighboring planets in the same system. Measuring both planetary sizes and masses is the key to characterizing the density, composition, surface gravity, escape speed and atmospheric scale-height of a world many light-years from us. My goal is to push exoplanet characterization to worlds that are smaller, cooler and closer to being habitable than our current techniques allow. I also work on comparing systems of multiple exoplanets to the Solar System to understand how planetary systems form and whether systems like our own are common or rare.

Why should someone take your class?

My passion for learning inspires my passion for teaching! I cannot help but share the amazing journey of science with my students. I share how the universe works, and how we reached our current understanding. There are so many exciting discoveries that are changing our understanding of the universe, and too much of it is poorly explained to the public. For my students that want to continue in physics or astronomy, I would like to teach them the practical skills they need to make their own scientific discoveries and communicate them to scientists. For those that will continue into other fields, I would like to teach the importance of the scientific method, how we know what we know, and how important advances in physics have been for all humanity. At the end of the semester, I want my students to be excited to hear the latest news in physics and astronomy and be able to explain these discoveries to their friends and families.

Why are you excited to be at Pacific?

Becoming a faculty member at Pacific is a great honor. We have the perfect combination of top-class facilities, great faculty and a size that enables us to engage with every student. I am very impressed by the dean and the faculty’s dedication to innovative STEM teaching. I am also particularly excited to be able to encourage students to gain valuable experience in world-class research.

Anything else you’d like us to know about you?

Besides my passion for astronomy, I love playing soccer and spending time with my family, including taking my children, aged 2 and 4, on hikes.

Elisa Toloba: Physics

ElisaTolobaHometown: Madrid, Spain

What are your research interests?

Galaxy formation and evolution. Dwarf galaxies. Halo substructure. Globular clusters. Dynamics. Stellar populations. Dark matter.

Why should someone take your class?

My classes about astronomy are devoted to the big question of how the universe works. We will discover the knowns and unknowns about the origin of the universe, how the first stars and galaxies formed and how they evolved to become what we see today. The students will familiarize with the sky as a “time machine”: looking at the night sky we are looking through time, we can see all the way down to the beginning of the universe itself. They will learn how to use this powerful tool to answer these questions. The students will have the opportunity to be involved in real research and make a contribution to science proving some new answers. They will also realize that these new answers open many more questions. In astronomy, the more we know the more conscious we are about the how far we are from understanding it all.

Why are you excited to be at Pacific?

Pacific is a unique university in their commitment with students. Their motto ‘’professors that know your name’’ shows the dedication that professors put in the learning process and preparation for the future career of the students. The classes have small/medium size which provides the perfect atmosphere for an interactive and collaborative learning. The discussions in class make the students relate the technical concepts learnt in the classroom with the real world. On top of this very innovative teaching method the students participate in real research and even attend to professional conferences to disseminate their findings!

Anything else you’d like us to know about you?

I am very excited with mentoring research. There is no need of any previous knowledge or experience. If anybody wants to learn astronomy and participate in my own research, please contact me!

Mahshid Ghaemmaghami: Psychology

Mashid GhaemmaghamiHometown: Ottawa, Canada

What are your research interests? 

Assessment and Treatment of Problem Behavior, Functional Communication Training and Skill-Based Delay Tolerance Training, Self-control and Impulsivity, Autism and Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention, Compliance Training, and Behavioral Parent Training

Why should someone take your class?

The course I am currently teaching is an introduction to psychology that will introduce students to the different psychological approaches to understanding the science and philosophy of human behavior and the brain.  We cover a variety of topics within the field of psychology such as learning and motivation, human development and the biological basis of behavior, social behavior, and other complex skills such as language, thinking, remembering, and creativity. Students will be introduced to some of the possibilities that a career in psychology presents, and but will also learn about the scientific approach to evaluating information and explanations for human behavior which may be helpful in their everyday lives and chosen careers.

Why are you excited to be at Pacific? 

I am excited to be a part of an institution that values teaching and scholarship. The emphasis on the students’ educational experience and success is one that I value highly. In addition to teaching in the classroom, I’m also excited to involve both undergraduate and graduate students in applied research and to help them develop as future researchers and scientist practitioners that will contribute to both the accumulation and dissemination of knowledge in the field of behavior analysis and psychology.

Corey Stocco: Psychology

CoreyStoccoHometown: Minneapolis, MN

What are your research interests?

My current research and practice includes understanding and treating dishonesty, improving the on-topic conversation of individuals with autism, teaching organizational and study skills to college students, and teaching interview skills to college students.

Why should someone take your class?

Many of the problems in the world are being solved by scientists. The process of science allows us to understand, solve, and prevent these problems; without it, we are often dangerously wrong. If students wish to learn more about the scientific process and scientific thinking, then they should take my classes.

Why are you excited to be at Pacific?

There are many reasons to be excited, but I am most excited about working with the faculty and students in the psychology department. They are doing a lot of cool things and I am looking forward to being a part of that group.

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