New Social Sciences Faculty

Here, we introduce some of the newest members of the social sciences faculty at UC Davis.

Damien Caillaud - UC DavisDamien Caillaud

Assistant Professor of Anthropology

Damien Caillaud researches gorilla behavior and evolution, with a focus on how habitat variability and human activities influence gorillas’ social network, habitat use, demography and the spread of infectious diseases. Caillaud, who joins UC Davis this fall from the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund in Atlanta, does most of his fieldwork on Grauer’s gorillas in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. He also studies mountain gorillas with the Fossey Fund’s Karisoke Research Center in Rwanda.

Initially trained as a veterinarian, Caillaud has been studying wild primates since 2003 and received his Ph.D. on western lowland gorillas at the University of Montpellier. He then worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany and at the University of Texas at Austin. He has done fieldwork on wild African primates in the Republic of Congo, Namibia, Uganda, Madagascar, DR Congo and Rwanda. This quarter, he is teaching a graduate seminar, ANT 298: “Modern tools for data collection, management and analysis."

Drew Cingel

Assistant Professor of Communication

Cingel joins UC Davis this fall from Northwestern University, where his dissertation research focused on how Drew Cingel - UC Davischildren understand moral messages on television and apply them in real-world situations. Cingel’s research interests include the effects of social media on adolescent socio-emotional development, children’s learning from media, and the influence of media on child and adolescent moral reasoning.

Cingel has also investigated how text messaging impacts grammar skills in young teenagers. This quarter, he is teaching CMN 141: Media Effects, which he will teach again in winter, and he is in the process of developing a new undergraduate course, CMN 147: Children, Adolescents, and the Media, which will be offered in spring.

James Cloyne - UC DavisJames Cloyne

Assistant Professor of Economics

James Cloyne joins UC Davis this fall from the Bank of England, where he was a Senior Research Economist. Cloyne is already a familiar face at UC Davis, however, having previously taught as a visiting professor in fall 2015.

Among other activities of note,  he has served as an economic policy adviser to the Office of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. With research interests including quantitative and applied macroeconomics, monetary policy, public finance and economic history, he focuses in the areas of empirical macroeconomics and monetary and fiscal policy.

Heather Hether

Lecturer PSOE

Department of CommunicationHeather Hether - UC Davis

Joining the UC Davis Department of Communication last June,  Heather Hether brings a focus on health-related communication and social media. Currently, she is researching how health organizations use social media to build online communities with key publics, employing a multi-method approach to examine impacts on organizations and their stakeholders.

Hether, whose interests include digital pedagogy and communication ethics, has also explored the communication of health information through non-traditional channels, including the health content (and implications for audiences) of popular prime-time television shows. This fall, Hether is teaching CMN 161: Health Communication.

Justin Leroy

Assistant Professor of History

Justin Leroy - UC DavisJustin Leroy joins UC Davis this fall from Harvard University, where he was a postdoctoral fellow in Global American Studies at the Charles Warren Center. Leroy’s research interests lie in African American history of the 19th-century United States, with particular focus at the intersections of: intellectual history; slavery and abolition; the Atlantic world; black political thought; comparative histories of empire; and the history of capitalism. Currently, Leroy is at work on his first book, Freedom’s Limit: Racial Capitalism and the Afterlives of Slavery, and he has also outlined a second project that will examine the history of race and finance.

Leroy will teach History 177A: History of Black People and American Race Relations, 1450-1860 in winter 2017; and History 177B: History of Black People and American Race Relations, 1860-Present as well as History 102X: Capitalism and Slavery in spring 2017.

Arman Rezaee

Assistant Professor of Economics

Arman Rezaee - UC DavisArman Rezaee joins UC Davis this fall after completing his doctorate at the University of California, San Diego. Rezaee is a development economist whose research seeks innovative ways to improve government services in fragile states through examining the intersections of service delivery, political economy and technology.

Rezaee, who is particularly concerned with challenges of service provision in rural settings, focuses much of his research on Pakistan, where he has employed large-scale field experiments utilizing cellular technology, as well as natural experiments using historical archival data. He also has active projects in Uganda and the Philippines.

Jeanette B. Ruiz

Lecturer PSOE

Department of Communication

Jeanette B. Ruiz - UC DavisJeanette Ruiz, who joins the Department of Communication as a Lecturer PSOE this fall, specializes in strategic communication with a focus in emerging concepts and practices in digital and social media. Ruiz, who completed her doctoral work at UC Davis last year, focused her dissertation on the ways that online communication and social networks influence vaccine compliance, shedding light on the persistence of the "anti-vaxxer" movement.

Currently, Ruiz is continuing research related to the effects of media advocacy and media campaigns on public health initiatives and how social network factors affect student success outcomes. Her past work has examined how international Internet social networks affect public health communication, issues of Internet ownership and governance, and offered critical cultural assessments of media advocacy.

This fall, Ruiz is teaching two large courses in Communication: Strategic Communication in Public Relations and Interpersonal Communication Competence which has been recently revamped to focus on professional interpersonal communication.

Kenji Sagae

Assistant Professor of Linguistics

Kenji Sagae - UC DavisKenji Sagae joins UC Davis this fall from his year-long work as a co-founder of KITT.AI, an artificial intelligence platform for voice-controlled applications. Previously, Sagae was a research assistant professor at the University of Southern California’s Computer Science Department and project leader at the USC Institute for Creative Technologies. Sagae’s research interests, which lie in the area of computational linguistics, comprise data-driven and linguistically-motivated models of structure in natural language.

He is interested in automatic analysis of child language, human language technology applications, multimodal processing and human communication dynamics; and he has conducted research in areas including child language development, bioinformatics and virtual human dialogue systems. In winter, Sagae will teach LIN 127: Corpus and Text Analysis.

Monica Singhal

Associate Professor of Economics

Monica Singhal - UC DavisMonica Singhal joined UC Davis in January from Harvard University, where she has been an associate professor of public policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government since 2010. Singhal, who specializes in taxation and redistribution and public finance in developing countries, also serves as a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research and a Faculty Affiliate of the International Growth Center. In addition, Singhal is on the board of directors of the National Tax Association.


Rachel St John

Associate Professor of History

Rachel St. John - UC DavisRachel St John joins UC Davis this fall after teaching previously at New York University and Harvard University.  St John’s research focuses on nineteenth and twentieth century North American history, with a particular emphasis on state-formation and nation-building. Her first book, Line in the Sand: A History of the Western U.S.-Mexico Border, explored the history and transformation of the western U.S.-Mexico border up to the creation of the modern boundary line.

Currently,  St John is engaged in work on a second book, The Imagined States of America: The Unmanifest History of Nineteenth-century North America, which will examine the rise of diverse nation-building projects in North America in the nineteenth century.

Takuya Ura

Assistant Professor of Economics

Takuya Ura - UC DavisTakuya Ura joins UC Davis this fall after completing his doctoral work at Duke University, where his dissertation developed and applied microeconometric techniques to empirically relevant problems, such as improving measurement in areas including return to college attendance and rates of labor force participation. Concentrating in econometrics, Ura maintains a focus in microeconometrics and causal inference. Ura will teach second-year Ph.D. econometrics in winter quarter, and undergraduate econometrics in spring.


Jingwen Zhang

Assistant Professor of Communication

Jingwen Zhang - UC DavisJingwen Zhang, who joins UC Davis this fall, brings a focus on health promotion, social influence, and interventions utilizing innovative online communication platforms. Zhang recently completed her doctoral work at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication, where her dissertation, entitled Online Social Network Physical Activity Intervention for Young African American Women, examined the efficacy of interventions via online social networks for promoting health behavior in young adults.

Zhang’s current research examines development of persuasive online networks using mobile technologies and computational approaches. She is also involved in research on communication for development, an interest that traces back to her work with UNICEF.

Zhang, who begins teaching in winter, will teach CMN 112: Theories of Persuasion in winter and spring 2017, and will teach a graduate seminar, CMN 232: Health Communication, in spring as well.

Eliza Bliss-Moreau

Assistant Professor of Psychology

Eliza Bliss-Moreau - UC DavisEliza Bliss-Moreau is a core scientist at the California National Primate Research Center. She is also a member of both the Neuroscience and the Animal Behavior Graduate Groups. Bliss-Moreau started her career as a social psychologist studying humans, receiving a Ph.D. in psychology in 2008 from Boston College. She completed postdoctoral training at UC Davis in nonhuman primate neuroscience, primatology, and systems science. She was an Academic Federation faculty member in the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine prior to joining the Department of Psychology.

Bliss-Moreau’s multi-method, multi-level, multi-disciplinary, multi-species research program is focused on understanding the biological mechanisms that generate healthy and unhealthy emotions and social behavior, with the goal of developing new effective treatments and interventions for emotion-related psychopathology. She has received substantial funding as PI and Co-I from both the NIH and NSF and received national recognition for her innovative research, including being named as one of the Association for Psychological Science’s “Rising Stars” and as a Kavli Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences.

Bliss-Moreau will begin teaching during winter quarter 2017 with an upper-division seminar course – PSC 190: Comparative Affective Science. In spring 2017, she will teach PSC 121: Physiological Psychology.

Erie Boorman

Assistant Professor of Psychology

Erie Boorman - UC DavisErie Boorman recently moved from the FMRIB (Functional MRI of the Brain) Centre at the University of Oxford to UC Davis. A core faculty member at the Center for Mind and Brain, he investigates the computational and neural architecture of reinforcement learning and decision-making. Erie Boorman is a member of the Society for Neuroscience, the Society for Neuroeconomics, and the Organization of Human Brain Mapping. Current research topics include causal learning, structure learning, domain generality of prediction and selection systems, and behavioral adaptation.

Lindsay C. Bowman

Assistant Professor of Psychology

Lindsay C. Bowman - UC DavisLindsay C. Bowman received her Ph.D. in developmental psychology from the University of Michigan. With experience as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Maryland Child Development Lab and as a research fellow in the labs of cognitive neuroscience at Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital, her work brings together unique perspectives on neuroscience, cognition, and social understanding in the developmental context. She uses a combination of neuroscientific and behavioral methods to illuminate developing cognition and pathways to adaptive and maladaptive social behavior across infancy and childhood.

Bowman is a member of professional organizations including the Society for Research in Child Development, the Cognitive Development Society, the Cognitive Neuroscience Society, and the International Congress on Infant Studies. She has received awards from the Canadian Psychological Association, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the University of Michigan, and Queen’s University.

Bowman is also the principle investigator of the Brain and Social Cognition (BASC) Lab in the Center for Mind and Brain at UC Davis. She welcomes participation from undergraduate and graduate students who have interests that overlap with her research focus.

Gerardo Con Díaz

Assistant Professor of Science and Technology Studies

Gerardo Con Díaz - UC DavisGerardo Con Díaz joins UC Davis this fall from Yale University, where he completed a Ph.D. in history (history of science and medicine). A historian of software law, he is at work on his first book, Intangible Inventions: A History of Software Patenting in the United StatesCon Díaz’s broader interests address the relationships among science and technology, business, and law from the nineteenth century to the present day. 

This fall, Con Díaz is teaching STS 20: Methods in Science Studies. In Winter Quarter 2017, he will teach STS 180: Topics in HPS, with the special topic of “Computing, Data, and Law.” 

Paul Eastwick

Associate Professor of Psychology

Paul Eastwick - UC DavisPaul Eastwick serves as the principal investigator for the Attraction and Relationships research laboratory. Through his research, he has sought to build connections between attraction/close relationships research, evolutionary psychology, social psychological perspectives on person perception and implicit social cognition.

Eastwick is currently an associate editor at Psychological Bulletin, and he serves on the editorial boards of The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Social Psychological and Personality Science, The Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, and The Journal of Social and Personal RelationshipsHis research has been funded by the National Science Foundation.

Andrew Fox

Assistant Professor of Psychology

Andrew Fox - UC DavisAndrew Fox is a member the California National Primate Research Center (CNPRC), as well as of a number of organizations including the Society for Neuroscience and the Society of Biological Psychiatry.

"In The Fox Lab for Translational Affective Neurosciencewe want to understand the neurobiology of “affective style.” We want to understand why some people are afraid to leave the house, while others enjoy the feeling of danger. We want to understand why some people callously abuse, while others become overwhelmed with empathy. We hope that understanding the biology of affective style will lead us to a better understand humanity and help people make choices about who they want to be.

Much of our research aims to understand the biology that underlies dispositional anxiety. This kind of understanding could allow for specific interventions to ameliorate anxiety disorders and reduce the suffering of anxious individuals. To do this, we use varied tools to study humans and nonhuman primates, including: high-throughput computing, neuroimaging, RNA-sequencing, cellphone-based experience sampling, and designer receptors exclusively activated by designer drugs."

Omar Garcia-Ponce

Assistant Professor of Political Science

Omar Garcia-Ponce - UC DavisGarcia-Ponce specializes in comparative politics, political behavior, and political economy of development. He has two main lines of ongoing research. One examines how violent conflict affects behavioral outcomes and the development of institutions. The second is on the political economy of organized crime, with a regional focus on the U.S.-Mexico drug trade.

From a methodological perspective, his expertise is in quantitative approaches to causal inference, survey methodology, and field experiments. His work has been published or is forthcoming in the American Political Science ReviewElectoral Studiesand theJournal of the European Economic Association. 

Camelia Hostinar

Assistant Professor of Psychology

Camelia Hostinar - UC DavisCamelia Hostinar is a developmental psychologist who studies how the social environment shapes health, with a focus on the activity of the stress-response and immune systems. She is probing the pathways linking early-life stress to later risk for disease and investigating protective processes that could short-circuit these adverse trajectories.

Hostinar operates the Social Environment and Stress (SES) Lab, in which she welcomes the participation of graduate students with interest in this area of study. She also is affiliated with the UC Davis Center for Poverty Research.

Hostinar investigates the ways in which childhood poverty and other forms of early-life adversity influence later development and health. She has particular interest in protective factors that may buffer children and adolescents from chronic stress and subsequent physical or mental health problems. Her work examines developmental processes at multiple levels of analysis, incorporating endocrine and immune biomarkers, electrophysiological data, genetic assays, and behavioral measures. She seeks to improve understanding of the role of early-life stress in shaping self-regulatory skills, and to illuminate how stress-buffering processes such as supportive social relationships exert their effects.

Ryan Hubert

Assistant Professor of Political Science 

Ryan Hubert - UC DavisHubert’s research uses game theory, machine learning and text analysis to study U.S. political institutions.

Before pursuing a Ph.D. in political science at University of California, Berkeley, he earned an M.P.A. from Columbia University and a B.A. in politics and economics from Brandeis University. He also worked in the corporate practice at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP in New York, and interned at the U.S. Embassy in Norway.



Philippe Rast

Associate Professor of Psychology

Philippe Rast - UC DavisPhilippe Rast is working on the development and application of statistical models for estimating the way that developmental change occurs and how individuals differ in this change. His research lies at the intersection of advanced quantitative methodology, psychometrics, and the empirical study of lifespan development and aging. He is on the editorial board of The Journal of Gerontopsychology and Geriatric Psychiatry and he is a member of several professional organizations including the American Statistical Association (ASA), the American Psychological Association (APA) and the Gerontological Society of America (GSA)For the 2016 American Psychological Association conference, he was co-chair for the Division 5 “Evaluation, Measurement and Statistics” program.

Philippe Rast integrates methods for simultaneously examining intra-individual variability (change at the individual level) and inter-individual differences in such changes while relating such examination to cognitive processes. His research also includes the development of longitudinal study designs. Here, his focus is on the identification of optimal features such as number of measurement occasions, time interval between occasions, or sample size to maximize statistical power (ability to detect desired effects) and quality of parameter estimation. Professor Rast applies and evaluates this methodology in the area of cognitive development, particularly in adult populations, where he examines how cognitive aging is related to health, affect, and well-being.

Lindsay Reid

Assistant Professor of Political Science

Lindsay Reid - UC DavisLindsay Reid joins UC Davis this fall after completing her doctorate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Reid's research interests lie in the study of civil war resolution, with a specific focus on examining how peace agreements and peace processes influence both the durability and the quality of peace following civil wars. In particular, she researches the mechanisms of women's empowerment and inclusivity in the wake of civil war.

This quarter, she is teaching POL 121: Scientific Study of War.



Mijke Rhemtulla

Assistant Professor of Psychology

Mijke Rhemtulla - UC DavisMijke Rhemtulla recently joined UC Davis from the Psychological Methods group at the University of Amsterdam. She received her doctorate in psychology from the University of British Columbia, where she studied early language and concept development. She was a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Research Methods and Data Analysis at the University of Kansas before becoming an assistant professor at the University of Amsterdam.

Rhemtulla develops and studies methods and models within the SEM (structural equation modeling) framework, focusing on practical issues such as how to fit models to ordinal and incomplete data, how to optimize planned missing data designs for SEM models, and how to use item parcels to minimize bias. She also studies theoretical problems, such as how to interpret latent variable representations of psychological constructs, and what theoretical implications arise from competing (e.g., network) models of psychological constructs.

—Phyllis Jeffrey