New Professors

SASN Welcomes New Faculty for the 2019–2020 Academic Year (Part 2)  

Each academic year the School of Arts and Sciences Newark welcomes new faculty to our family from across the liberal arts disciplines. This year’s group is diverse, spanning the social sciences, humanities, arts and physical sciences and coming from as far away as Hong Kong, New Zealand and Palestine. Below, in Part 2 of our series, we profile a handful of the professors making their SASN debut during the fall and spring semester.

Gauitra Bahadur | Journalism

Gaiutra Bahadur joins the RU-N faculty as an Assistant Professor in the Journalism department after stints as a lecturer at the University of Basel, in Switzerland, and City College of New York (CUNY). She started her career as a columnist for her hometown newspaper, The Jersey Journal, in Jersey City, NJ, before moving on to The Philadelphia Inquirer, where for a decade she was a general assignment reporter while covering courts and immigration, including the post-9/11 profiling of South Asian and Middle Eastern communities and the immigration debate in Congress. After that Bahadur spent two years at The Austin American-Statesman, in Texas, covering state government and demographics. Along the way she broke a story on the mining industry’s financing of an environmental textbook approved by the Texas Board of Education.

Bahadur is the author of Coolie Woman, a personal history of indenture in the West Indies that was shortlisted for Britain's Orwell Prize for artful political writing. Her essays, criticism and reporting have appeared in a wide range of publications, including The New York Times Book Review, The New York Review of Books, The New Republic, The Nation and Dissent. Her work has been recognized with literary residencies at the MacDowell Colony and the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center in Italy and fellowships from Harvard, the British Library and the New York Public Library. She is a two-time winner of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts Award for Prose.

At RU-N, she’ll be teaching a class on immigration beat reporting and the core course “Journalism, Ethics and the Law,” where students will study, among other things, the question of race and will be using the Central Park Five coverage as an extended case study.

"I'm very excited to be joining Arts, Culture and Media, with so many accomplished colleagues who care about their students,” says Bahadur. “My father earned a degree from Rutgers-Newark in his late 20s while working full-time and raising a family as a new immigrant. The education he got was the lever of our mobility, giving us a real foothold in a new country. My aspiration is to try to be a lever for my students into the worlds they want to make for themselves.”

Mohammed Herzallah | Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience

Formerly a four-year Post-doc Associate at RU-N’s Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience, Mohammed Herzallah begins his second tenure this fall, as a full-fledged Research Scientist at CMBN, focusing on the identifying neural and cognitive markers for the diagnosis of neuropsychiatric disorders. A native of Palestine, Herzallah was trained as both a physician and neuroscientist, receiving his M.D. degree from Al-Quds University, Palestine in 2009, and a Ph.D. in behavioral and neural sciences from Rutgers University in 2015.

I am looking forward to contributing to the expertise and versatility of the outstanding research team at CMBN.

Herzallah is the founder and director of the Palestinian Neuroscience Initiative at Al-Quds University, where he’s been expanding neuroscience research and training the next generation of Palestinian researchers and healthcare professionals. For his work Herzallah has received the Dr. Raniyah Ramadan Young Arab Neuroscientist Award (2011) and the TED Fellowship (2013).

He also was selected was selected by the Lancet to be on their Commission for Global Mental Health (2016) and as a Fellow of the Aspen Global Leadership Network in the Middle East Leadership Initiative (2019). His work has been featured by international media outlets including Forbes, Science Magazine, Nature, and TED Conferences. Herzallah was recently named an Aspen Fellow: He is part of the Middle East Leadership Initiative Class VI.

During the academic year, Herzallah will build a research program to examine the brain-behavior-symptom axis in human patients and animal models of psychiatric disorders. Once he and his team ID underlying mechanisms, they’ll attempt to build tools to diagnose certain psychiatric disorders and predict responses to treatment.

“I have always viewed Rutgers as my home, and I am deeply thrilled and honored to start at CMBN as a faculty member,” says Herzallah. “I am looking forward to contributing to the expertise and versatility of the outstanding research team at CMBN.”

Neepa Maitra | Physics

Neepa Maitra joins the RU-N Physics department after spending 15 years on the faculty at Hunter College of the City University of New York, where she taught physics and astronomy to undergraduates. She was also on the faculty at CUNY’s Graduate Center, where she taught and advised doctoral students. A native of New Zealand, Maitra did her undergraduate work there before migrating to the U.S. to complete her Ph.D. at Harvard. She then became a post-doctoral fellow at UC Berkeley and Rutgers University before moving on to CUNY.

Maitra’s research focuses on Time-Dependent Density Functional Theory, which recasts the quantum dynamics of interacting many-electron systems into a fictitious one in which they don’t interact, yet all exact properties of the true system can in principle be extracted from the fictitious one. The method is widely applied to a range of problems in materials science, condensed matter and quantum chemistry, including to the design of solar cell materials and biochemical applications. She also is working on coupled electron-ion dynamics with collaborators at Max-Planck Institute in Halle, Germany, which has applications in solar-cell device design.

This academic year she’ll focus on research in the fall and teach a graduate course in quantum physics come spring. She’s looking forward to recruiting undergraduates to work in her research group as she starts meeting new students.

“I’m really excited about starting at Rutgers-Newark,” says Maitra. “I love the mission of the university and the atmosphere in the Physics department, which is really warm and supportive.”



Photo top-left: by Joanna-Eldredge-Morrissey