Sixteen new faculty members — including 7 tenure-track faculty — have joined the Wiess School of Natural Sciences this year. Welcome to Rice!

Faculty Composite image

Tenured/Tenure track:

David Fisher, professor of mathematics, is a mathematician whose research interests center around discrete subgroups of Lie groups. This involves various aspects of dynamical systems and ergodic theory, geometry and topology, geometric group theory and representation theory and has connections to areas such as number theory and theoretical computer science. Fisher completed his the University of Chicago in 1999. After that he was an NSF postdoctoral fellow and Gibbs Assistant Professor at Yale University.
Fisher was then an assistant professor for three years at the City University of New York with appointments at Lehman College and the Graduate Center. In 2005, Fisher moved to Indiana University, where he was most recently Distinguished Professor and Ruth N. Halls Professor of Mathematics before joining the Rice faculty. In the summer of 2022, Fisher gave an invited address at the International Congress of Mathematicians.

Raúl Hernández Sánchez, assistant professor of chemistry, designs novel supramolecular architectures to create functional organic electronic materials, new polynuclear metal catalyst systems to facilitate challenging bond-breaking and novel bond-forming pathways, and develops high-performing polymeric membranes for water purification.
Prior to joining the Rice faculty, Hernández Sánchez received his Ph.D. in chemistry at Harvard University. For his postdoctoral training, Raúl was awarded a Columbia Nano Initiative Postdoctoral Fellow at Columbia University. In 2018 he joined the University of Pittsburgh as an assistant professor in chemistry. Hernández Sánchez comes to Rice as a 2021 NSF CAREER awardee.

Laura Lavery, assistant professor of biosciences, is a molecular neuroscientist who combines approaches in in vivo neuroscience with biochemical and biophysical tools to determine the mechanism and function of epigenetic factors that control gene expression to drive healthy brain development. These investigations set the stage to determine how pathogenic mutations identified by human genetics studies cause neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs). The mission of the lab is to advance fundamental mechanistic understanding for NDDs related factors to aid in knowledge-based therapeutics and patient care.
Lavery earned her Ph.D. in Biophysics from the University of California, San Francisco, and was awarded the Clements Distinguished Thesis Award for her discoveries. Supported by a postdoctoral fellowship from the Life Sciences Research Foundation, she completed her postdoctoral training in neuroscience and human genetics at Baylor College of Medicine.

Brandon Levin, assistant professor of mathematics, is a mathematician who works at the intersections of number theory, algebraic geometry and representation theory in what is known as the Langlands' program. He is particularly interested in deformation of Galois representations and p-adic Hodge theory.
Prior to joining the Rice faculty, Levin was an assistant professor at the University of Arizona. He received his Ph.D. from Stanford University and held postdoctoral positions at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton and the University of Chicago, where he was a Dickson Instructor. His research is currently supported by an NSF Collaborative Grant and a Sloan Research Fellowship.

Megan Reiter, assistant professor of physics and astronomy, focuses on the role of stellar feedback in the survival of protoplanetary disks and the composition and evolution of the planet-forming disk environment.
After completing a Ph.D. in astronomy at the University of Arizona, Reiter was a Dean B. McLaughlin Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Michigan and a Rutherford International/Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellow at the UK Astronomy Technology Center.

Hans Renata, associate professor of chemistry, develops new catalysts and synthetic approaches to bioactive molecules. He is particularly interested in repurposing nature’s catalysts — enzymes — for potential solutions to address outstanding challenges in chemical synthesis. Ultimately, his research will expedite access to important therapeutic agents and chemical probes to study disease-relevant processes.
Renata completed his Ph.D. at The Scripps Research Institute and pursued postdoctoral training at the California Institute of Technology. In 2016, he began his independent career at Scripps Florida and joined the Rice faculty in 2022 as a Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas scholar in cancer research.

Sam Yruegas, assistant professor of chemistry, is focused on designing new sustainable catalysts using earth-abundant early main group metals. With a strong emphasis on organometallic chemistry, the interdisciplinary work in the Yruegas Group will advance the synthesis of innovative pharmaceuticals, optoelectronic devices, and polymers.
Yruegas is a native Texan and completed her Ph.D. in chemistry at Baylor University. She pursued postdoctoral training at Princeton University before joining the Rice faculty as a Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas scholar.

Non-Tenure track:

Kenneth Chiu, instructor of mathematics, is a mathematician whose research interests include arithmetic geometry and complex geometry. Chiu completed his Ph.D. at the University of Toronto.

George Domat, instructor of mathematics, is a mathematician studying geometry, topology and geometric group theory. He is particularly interested in understanding the groups of symmetries of 2D surfaces, including their coarse geometry and their connections with the geometry and topology of 3D manifolds. Prior to coming to Rice, Domat completed his Ph.D. at the University of Utah.

Michael Furtado, lecturer of kinesiology, is a Board Certified Neuological Clinical Specialist through the American Physical Therapy Association. He specializes in vestibular rehabilitation and in managing the recovery of amputees and owns an outpatient private practice where he performs clinical practice and research in patients with patients with vestibular dysfunction and neurological deficits. He completed a DPT at Boston University and an Ed.D. in Health Professions at A.T. Still University. He owns an outpatient private practice in Houston

Zhuoya He, lecturer of Earth, environmental and planetary sciences, uses satellite gravimetry and numerical models to estimate past and ongoing sea level changes. Her work focuses on reconstructing global and regional sea level changes through observations of ice sheets and glaciers melting, ocean warming, and groundwater extraction. She is also interested in researching how people teach and learn geosciences.
Prior to joining the faculty at Rice University, she received her Ph.D. and completed her postdoctoral training in Earth System Science at the University of California, Irvine.

Jocelyn Holt, faculty fellow in ecology and evolutionary biology, is an evolutionary ecologist who studies insect symbiotic interactions, particularly of pests associated with agroecosystems. Holt integrates the microbial and population genetic composition of insects to understand how these factors modulate insect traits and their symbiotic interactions. Her research also aims to inform more tailored and sustainable pest management practices.
Holt completed a Ph.D. in Entomology at Texas A&M, before which she was a professor at San Jacinto College. As a graduate student, she was awarded a Diversity and Excellence Fellowship and an Entomological Society of America Comstock Award. She was also awarded a USDA NIFA Predoctoral Fellowship to study the population genetic composition of invasive sorghum aphids and their bacterial symbiont.

Khanh Le, Lovett Instructor of Mathematics, is a mathematician whose research interests include geometry, topology in low dimension and group theory. Le completed his Ph.D. at Temple University.

Long Li, G.C. Evans Instructor of Mathematics, is a mathematician who works in the field of spectral theory of almost periodic operators. His research aims to reveal more interesting properties of operator from the almost periodic family. Li completed his Ph.D. in mathematics in Nanjing University, China and was awarded the National Scholarship for postgraduate students in 2017.

Rafael S. Marcondes, faculty fellow in ecology and evolutionary biology, is an evolutionary biologist and ornithologist. He uses birds as models to address classic questions and hypotheses in evolutionary biology. His work has touched on all levels of biological organization, from DNA sequences, to phenotypes, to deep-time evolutionary trees.
Marcondes, a native of São Paulo, Brazil, received his Ph.D. from Louisiana State University. His awards and accolades include those from Brazil’s National Council for Scientific and Technological Development and the American Society of Naturalists.

Emily McMillon, R.T.G. Lovett Instructor of Mathematics, is a mathematician interested in algebraic coding theory with a focus on graph-based codes and iterative decoder analysis. McMillon completed her Ph.D. in mathematics at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a doctoral minor in electrical engineering.