Fall 2021 Incoming Rausser College Faculty

September 02, 2021

Rausser College of Natural Resources welcomes seven new faculty members to the College this year. Their fields of research range widely, including environmental and energy economics, climate change adaptation, human physiology and disease, Indigenous environmental studies and archeology, urban carnivore behavior, synthetic biology and genomics, and other areas. The College looks forward to their contributions to our community—from groundbreaking research to excellence in teaching. Welcome to Rausser College!

Ana Paula Arruda headshot

Ana Paula Arruda

Department of Nutritional Sciences and Toxicology

Ana Paula Arruda’s research examines how nutritional stress leads to organelle dysfunction and metabolic deterioration in the context of metabolic diseases such as obesity and diabetes. More specifically, her goal is to understand how nutritional fluctuations in physiology and disease impact the spatio-temporal regulation of organelle architecture and inter-organelle physical communication in metabolic tissues such as liver. Using interdisciplinary approaches such as high-resolution fluorescence imaging and ultrastructure microscopy, biochemistry, genetics, and physiological studies, her Lab aims to unravel new molecular players and new functional outcomes of inter-organelle signaling in metabolic regulation. Arruda earned her master’s and PhD in Biochemistry at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. She then joined Harvard University for her postdoctoral studies supported by a fellowship from PEW trusts. Before joining Rausser College as Assistant Professor, she worked as a research scientist at the Sabri Ülker Center at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Iryna Dronova headshot

Iryna Dronova

Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management

Iryna Dronova specializes in landscape and ecosystem ecology, remote sensing and geographic information system (GIS), spatial analysis, wetland and urban ecology, urbanization, and ecological restoration. She is interested in complementary benefits of field methods, remote sensing, and modeling to facilitate scaling of ecosystem processes and services from local assessments to policy-relevant levels, and to support development of more sustainable landscape design and environmental planning practices. Her research group is also developing new indicators and strategies to monitor vulnerable, limited-access ecosystems such as restored wetlands based on cost-effective, accessible remote sensing data. Dronova has worked in the grasslands of Ukraine, forests of northern Michigan, and wetlands of China and California. She joined the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management (ESPM)— where she obtained her PhD—as an associate professor in August 2020, and she holds a simultaneous faculty appointment in the UC Berkeley College of Environmental Design.

Meg Mills-Novoa headshot

Meg Mills-Novoa

Energy and Resources Group, Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management

Meg Mills-Novoa has worked as a climate change adaptation scholar and practitioner for over a decade in the United States, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, New Zealand, and Vietnam. She draws on ethnographic, quantitative social science, and participatory spatial methods to research the enduring impact of climate change adaptation projects on landscapes and livelihoods, particularly in the Andes. This work informs the design and implementation of adaptation initiatives that effectively and equitably respond to the impacts of climate change. Mills-Novoa is also the co-principal investigator of an interdisciplinary research team that brings together insights from conservation studies and land use science to examine the interaction between agricultural expansion and conservation in protected areas across the Amazon basin. Mills-Novoa earned her PhD and MA in the School of Geography and Development at the University of Arizona, and a BA in environmental studies and conservation biology from Lewis & Clark College. She joins the faculty as an assistant professor jointly appointed to ESPM and ERG, and is part of the Climate Equity and Environmental Justice faculty cluster hire.

Peter Nelson headshot

Peter Nelson

Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management

Peter Nelson (Coast Miwok and tribal citizen of the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria) works at the intersection of anthropological archaeology, Indigenous environmental studies, and Native American studies, in collaboration with tribal nations and Indigenous peoples in California and abroad. He researches issues of cultural heritage preservation, settler colonialism, climate change, and Indigenous landscape management. After receiving his PhD in Anthropology at Berkeley, he was an assistant professor of American Indian Studies at San Diego State University. As part of the Native American Studies and the Environment cluster hire, he joined ESPM and the Department Ethnic Studies as an assistant professor in January 2021.

Christopher Schell headshot

Christopher Schell

Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management

Christopher Schell’s research incorporates urban ecology, animal behavior, physiology, and socio-eco-evo dynamics to investigate how cities shape human-wildlife interactions. In addition, his work investigates how social inequity (e.g., socioeconomics, residential segregation, gentrification, redlining) influences urban biological communities within and among cities. His recent works have described how persistent human interactions shape coyote phenotypes, as well as articulated the role socioeconomic disparities play in influencing the spatial distribution of urban wildlife. After receiving his PhD in Evolutionary Biology from the University of Chicago, and an NSF postdoctoral fellowship at Colorado State University, he taught as an assistant professor at the University of Washington, Tacoma. He joins the ESPM faculty as an assistant professor.

Patrick Shih headshot

Patrick Shih

Department of Plant and Microbial Biology

Patrick Shih specializes in synthetic biology, biochemistry, metabolic engineering, and evolutionary biology. Specifically, he develops approaches from synthetic biology to engineer plant systems for applications in agriculture, sustainability, human health, and bioenergy. He leverages genomics and molecular biology to investigate how the evolution of early microbial metabolisms like photosynthesis shaped the planet over geological time. After obtaining a PhD in Plant Biology from Berkeley, he completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Joint BioEnergy Institute. Previously, Shih was an assistant professor at UC Davis. This summer, he joined UC Berkeley as an assistant professor in Plant & Microbial Biology. He also holds appointments as the Director of Plant Biosystems Design at the Joint BioEnergy Institute and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Katherine Wagner headshot

Katherine R. H. Wagner

Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics

Katherine R. H. Wagner's research focuses primarily on environmental and energy economics and public finance. She uses a range of empirical tools to study questions related to environmental externalities, climate change, and natural resources. Her dissertation research focused on social welfare in markets for natural disaster insurance. After earning her PhD in Economics with distinction from Yale University in May 2020, Wagner was a postdoctoral fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research. She also holds an MA in Economics from the University of British Columbia and a BA in Economics and Accounting from McGill University. She joins the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics as the Edwin C. Voorhees Endowed assistant professor.