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UCR Assistant Professors Receive NSF CAREER Awards

RIVERSIDE, Calif. ( — Eight researchers from the University of California, Riverside have been awarded Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) awards from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The CAREER award is one of NSF’s most prestigious awards. It supports promising assistant professors as they pursue outstanding research, excellence in education, and the integration of these activities.

Faculty members from UCR’s Bourns College of Engineering received five awards and faculty from the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences received three. The 2017 projects and awardees are:

Rational Design of Magnetic Materials Featuring Low-dimensional Subunits, by Boniface Fokwa, assistant professor of chemistry. Award amount: $604,000.

Optoelectronic Probes of Interlayer Electron-hole Pair Multiplication in Atomic Layer Semiconductor Heterostructures, by Nathaniel Gabor, assistant professor of physics and astronomy. Award amount: $542,000.

Beyond Conventional Drinking Water Management: Control of Redox-driven in situ Release of Accumulated Inorganic Contaminants from Water Distribution Infrastructure, by Haizhou Liu, assistant professor of chemical and environmental engineering. Award amount: $512,000.

Advanced Optical and Electrical Characterization of Novel Van der Waals Heterostructure Materials, by Ming Liu, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering. Award amount: $460,000.

Empowering Attacker-centric Security Analysis of Network Protocols, by Zhiyun Qian, assistant professor of computer science and engineering. Award amount: $500,000.

Printable and Injectable Chromatic Nanosensor for One-step, Naked-eye Detection, by Hideaki Tsutsui, assistant professor of mechanical engineering. Award amount: $500,000.

High Order Structure-preserving Numerical Methods for Hyperbolic Conservation Laws, by Yulong Xing, assistant professor of mathematics. Award amount: $400,000.

Development of Novel-scheme Nano-optical Chemical Imaging Spectroscopy, by Ruoxue Yan, assistant professor of chemical & environmental engineering. Award amount: $430,000.

Michael Pazzani, vice chancellor for research and economic development at UCR, said the awards demonstrate the caliber of research by junior faculty and their commitment to the educational mission of UCR. The university now has more active CAREER program awards than any other public university in California, with 35 active awards.

“These researchers exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through their exceptional research, commitment to education, and integration of research and education in a way that supports UCR’s commitment to offering hands-on research experiences to undergraduate students. We are very proud of these scholars and we look forward to seeing how their projects develop over the coming years,” Pazzani said.


Teacher Allegedly Called Black Students ‘Rats,’ School District to Take Action

A Florida teacher will face the consequences for making racist remarks against Black fourth-grade students at Carter G. Woodson Elementary — a school named for the father of African American history. The teacher called the children “rats” and said an early death or jail was in their future.

Duval County Public Schools (DCPS) said last week it will “take appropriate action in accordance with the collective bargaining agreement when school resumes for the 2017-2018 school year,” according to WJAX.

Following an investigation, DCPS district officials found enough evidence to substantiate further action against Carter G. Woodson Elementary School teacher Jordan Cataldo, who is white. The news channel noted that DCPS would not confirm the teacher’s name.

The school district said that “there was enough evidence reviewed by the district that substantiates further action; however, we cannot elaborate on an action that has yet to be defined.”

In May, Carter G. Woodson parent Tiera Ross summarized Cataldo’s alleged comments. Ross said her daughter and a group of Black girls were trying to return to the classroom, but the door was locked.

“[My daughter] said they were knocking on the door,” Ross said.

Cataldo allegedly told a group of students in the classroom, “Don’t let the rats back in the class to infest the class.”

Ross’ daughter said the teacher elaborated on her thoughts.

“[The teacher said], ‘They’re only going to amount to be a bunch of ratchet Walmart workers,’ and ‘That’s why their race is either dead or in jail,’” Ross said. “So then I was kind of outraged about the comments that were made.”

Duval County has a population of more than 900,000, and the median household income is $47,690. DCPS has confirmed it is going into the 2017-18 school year with $12 million less than expected but plans to cover the money lost.

Carter G. Woodson Elementary School is located in Jacksonville. It has approximately 600 students, and 97.7 percent of the student population identifies as Black. Students who come from low-income families account for 80 percent of Carter G. Woodson, according to

On average, a school in Jacksonville consists of approximately 41.7 percent Black students. The population of Jacksonville is 59.4 percent white, 30.7 percent Black, 7.7 percent Latino, 4.3 percent Asian and less than 1 percent American Indian. The median income per household is $46,764.

If it was indeed a group of Black girls who were chastised, that coincides with a report released last month that Black girls in the U.S. are disciplined more frequently and more severely than white girls.

The study finds substantial bias toward Black girls beginning at age five.

“Girl Interrupted: The Erasure of Black Girls’ Childhood,” published by Georgetown Law’s Center on Poverty and Inequality last week, states a study found that adults view Black girls as more adult-like than their white peers, especially in the age range of 5–14.

“What we found is that adults see Black girls as less innocent and less in need of protection as white girls of the same age,” said Rebecca Epstein, the lead author. “This new evidence of what we call the ‘adultification’ of Black girls may help explain why Black girls in America are disciplined much more often and more severely than white girls — across our schools and in our juvenile justice system.”

Ross told WJAX that she wants Cataldo fired for the treatment of the students.

“I’m so infuriated inside that I want to cry, but I’m not,” she said. “I’m going to be strong enough for my daughter to make sure that the situation is taken care of.”

Cataldo has not yet made public comments.


Preschool Services Department Administration Looking For Volunteers

San Bernardino County Preschool Services Department (PSD) is accepting letters of interest from individuals interested in serving as Community Representatives on the Head Start Policy Council for the program year 2017-18. Volunteer services in this role is limited to three one-year terms.

The Policy Council is a part of the formal structure of shared decision-making in the Federal Head Start/Early Head Start Child Development Program serving San Bernardino County. Meetings are held during the day, once a month and conference call meetings may occur as needed. According to the Federal Head Start Act membership of the Policy Council must consist of parents enrolled children, and community representatives drawn from former Head Start parents, the private community, civic and professional organizations, and others who are familiar with resources and services to low-income preschool age children and families.

Please submit letters of interest and experience including name, address, and day time telephone number no later than August 18, 2017 by 5:00 p.m. to:

ATTN: Tina Pham, Policy Council Coordinator

Letters of interest and requests for further information may be emailed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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