New faculty at UW Tacoma in 2020-21

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We are pleased to introduce 12 faculty members who have recently joined the UW Tacoma community.

The pandemic has changed the way many things get done at UW Tacoma, but our fundamental missions of teaching, scholarship and community engagement continue. Faculty are central to carrying out those missions and every year we welcome new faculty to our community.

The 2020-21 academic year is no different in that regard. Below are short biographies of 12 individuals who have joined the UW Tacoma family.

(These biographies of new, competitively-hired faculty were prepared by the Office of Academic Affairs.)

Alison Gardell, Assistant Professor
Sciences & Mathematics

Ph.D. in ecology, University of California Davis

Along with her Ph.D. from UC Davis, Alison Gardell earned a B.S. in Marine Science and Biology from the University of Miami.

She completed a postdoctoral position in ecotoxicology at the University of Alaska Anchorage. Prior to joining the faculty at the University of Washington Tacoma, she was an Assistant Professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage-Kenai Peninsula College. Alison’s research utilizes an integrative approach to understand mechanisms of toxicity that affect the health of aquatic organisms.

Teaching, 2020-21

Biochemistry II (TCHEM 406)
Biomedical Research Experience (TBIOMD 495)

Cassie M. Miura, Assistant Teaching Professor
Writing Studies
Culture, Arts & Communication (CAC)

Ph.D. in comparative literature, University of Michigan

Cassie Miura has published on first-generation pedagogy, theories of the emotions, and early modern/Renaissance literature. The volume “Positive Emotions in Early Modern Literature and Culture”, of which she is co-editor, is forthcoming this spring from Manchester University Press.

Teaching, 2020-21

Introduction to Academic Writing (TCORE 101)
Argument and Research in Writing (TWRT 211)
Writing for Social Change (TWRT 388)

Chris Barrans, Assistant Teaching Professor
Social Work
School of Social Work & Criminal Justice

M.S.W. University of Washington

In addition to his duties as an Assistant Teaching Professor, Chris Barrans serves as Practicum Coordinator in the School of Social Work Criminal Justice. In that role, he connects students to practicum experiences in the field, helping them put into practice the concepts and teaching learned in the classroom.

His interests include HIV/AIDS issues, LGBTQ rights and perspectives, especially trans and gender non-conforming experiences. Prior to his position at UW Tacoma, he worked in HIV medical case management in the South Sound for nearly a decade, and will continue his work of increasing access to HIV medications, care and prevention for all communities while decreasing HIV-related stigma.

Teaching, 2020-21

Practicum (TSOCWF 415)
Social Welfare Practice III: Organizations and Communities (TSOCWF 312)

Eva Y. Ma, Assistant Teaching Professor
Molecular & Cellular Biology
Sciences & Mathematics (SAM)

Ph.D. in molecular and cellular biology, University of Washington

Eva Ma taught biology courses and labs part-time since 2012 at UW Bothell and UW in Seattle before coming to UW Tacoma as a full-time temporary lecturer in 2018. In addition to teaching undergraduates, she also mentors postdoctoral fellows on course design and teaching using student-centered pedagogies through the STEP-WISE (Science Teaching Experience Program - Working in Science Education) teaching apprenticeship at UW.

Teaching, 2020-21

Molecular Biology (TBIOL 304)
Introductory Biology II (TBIOL 130)
Genetics & Genomics (TBIOL 304)

Heather E. Dillon, Professor
Mechanical Engineering
School of Engineering & Technology (SET)

Ph.D. in mechanical engineering, University of Washington

Heather Dillon is Professor and Curriculum Chair of Mechanical Engineering at UW Tacoma, where her research team is working on renewable energy systems, solid-state lighting, energy efficiency in buildings, fundamental heat transfer studies, and engineering education.

She is the chair of the Engineering Division of the Council on Undergraduate Research and recently served as the Fulbright Canada Research Chair in STEM Education at the University of Calgary, Alberta. Before joining academia, she worked for the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) as a senior research engineer working on both energy efficiency and renewable energy systems, where she received the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science Outstanding Mentor Award. During her time at the University of Portland she received the Provost’s Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Research Faculty Member (2017) and the Outstanding Scholarship Award (2020) for excellence in research.

Teaching, 2020-21

Introduction to Computer Modeling (TME 310)

Hee-Seok Kim, Assistant Professor
Mechanical Engineering
School of Engineering & Technology (SET)

Ph.D. in mechanical engineering, University of Washington

Hee-Seok Kim’s research examines advanced energy conversion and storage systems from materials to devices. His current research interests are in developing skin-like wearable bioelectronics systems for human-machine-interfaced health monitoring, based on Bio-Electro-Mechano-Engineering. In addition to his UW Ph.D., he received his B.S. and M.S. in School of Mechanical Engineering from Sungkyunkwan University in Korea. Prior to joining UW Tacoma, he was an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of South Alabama after completing his postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Physics at the University of Houston.

Teaching, 2020-21

Mechanics of Materials (TME 222)

Jinlan Ni, Assistant Professor
Milgard School of Business

Ph.D. in economics, Purdue University

Jinlan Ni’s primary research interests are applied microeconomics, financial economics and the Chinese economy. Her work has appeared in journals including “Journal of International Money and Finance,” “Journal of Comparative Economics,” “Energy Economics,” and “China Economic Review.” Prior to joining UW Tacoma, she was a professor of economics at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. In her professional service, she was president of the Chinese Economists Society (CES, 2013-14), CES regent chair (2015) and is the founding director of the CES China office. She has served as a guest editor for the scholarly journals “China Economic Review,” “Review of Development Economics” and “Growth and Change” and is an editorial board member of the journal “The Chinese Economy.”

Teaching, 2020-21

Econometrics (TBECON 220)
Intermediate Macroeconomic Theory (TBECON 421)
Quantitative Analysis for Business (TBUS 301)

Nafiul Alam Siddique, Assistant Teaching Professor
Electrical & Computer Engineering
School of Engineering & Technology (SET)

Ph.D. in electrical and computing engineering, New Mexico State University

In addition to his Ph.D., Nafiul Siddique received a B.S. in electrical engineering from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, and an M.S. in electrical engineering from Portland State University.

After he completed his Ph.D., he was a postdoctoral researcher at NMSU. Before joining UW Tacoma, he worked as an assistant professor at Langston University in Oklahoma. His research interest is in on-chip memory, computer architecture, embedded systems and performance evaluation.

Teaching, 2020-21

Computer Architecture (TEE 372)
Embedded Systems Design (TCES 460)
Microprocessor Systems (TCES 430)

Ronald J. San Nicolas, Assistant Teaching Professor
Social Work
School of Social Work & Criminal Justice

Ph.D. in social welfare, University of Hawaii at Manoa

Ronald (“Ronnie”) San Nicolas joined the faculty at UW Tacoma in 2017 and teaches in the undergraduate and graduate social work programs. He presently serves as the coordinator of the Simon Family Endowment Autism MSW Fellowship Program and is an offsite field instructor. He has a combined 30 years of community behavioral health practice and university teaching experiences in Guam, Hawaii, and Washington state. He resides with his family in Thurston County and volunteers in the community on several behavioral health and neurodevelopmental initiatives.

Teaching, 2020-21

Applied Statistics for Social and Human Services (TSOCWF 351)
Cultural Diversity and Social Justice (TSOCWF 404)
Diversity and Societal Justice (TSOCWF 504)

Seung-Jin (“SJ”) Lee, Assistant Professor
Mechanical Engineering
School of Engineering & Technology (SET)

Ph.D. in mechanical engineering, University of Washington

Seung-Jin Lee’s research focus is on the lifecycle sustainability of emerging technologies, such as transportation, biofuels, green buildings, and consumer products. His tools of research include lifecycle assessment (LCA), industrial ecology, material flow analysis, energy efficiency, market diffusion models, reuse and recycling, and sustainable development. Prior to his current position, he was an associate professor in mechanical engineering at the University of Michigan-Flint.

Teaching, 2020-21

Statics (TME 221)

Tom Capaul, Assistant Teaching Professor
Computer Science
School of Engineering & Technology (SET)

Master of Computer Science, Eastern Washington University

After graduating from Spanaway High School, Tom Capaul attended UW in Seattle where he was a member of the Husky Marching Band. He completed his B.S. in computer science and his M.C.S. at EWU, and since then has had more than 20 years teaching experience at EWU and UW Tacoma. He has an equivalent span of experience consulting to industry. He has served as the Pacific Northwest regional director of the International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC) since 2012.

Teaching, 2020-21

Software Engineering and Development (TCSS 504)
Fundamentals of Object Oriented Programming (TCSS 143)

Zhiquan (“Andy”) Shu, Assistant Professor
Mechanical Engineering
School of Engineering & Technology (SET)

Ph.D. in mechanical engineering, University of Washington

Before joining UW Tacoma in Sept 2020, Andy Shu worked at Washington State University for five years. His research interests have been focused on cryobiology and biopreservation (preservation of living cells, tissue, organs at low temperatures for long periods), artificial organs (e.g., artificial kidneys, artificial livers), and biotransport (heat and mass transfer in biological systems). He has taught and will teach a broad range of courses in thermo-fluids and control systems, such as thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, heat transfer and mechatronics. He has served in leadership positions with the Society for Cryobiology since 2018.

Teaching, 2020-21

Dynamics (TME 223)

Written by: 
John Burkhardt / February 9, 2021
Media contact: 

John Burkhardt, UW Tacoma Communications, 253-692-4536 or