College of Science and Mathematics Welcomes New Faculty Members, Grant’s Promotions

CSM Faculty honored at recognition ceremony.

The College of Science and Mathematics (CSM) is excited to welcome eight new faculty members. The Psychology Department, one of the largest in Fresno State, welcomes 4 new faculty, while the Biology, and Chemistry and Biochemistry Departments welcomes 3 and 1 faculty member, respectively. 

CSM Dean Dr. Christopher Meyer will introduce the new and promoted faculty at the Faculty Recognition Reception hosted by Dr. Xuanning Fu, Fresno State’s Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.

Below, find their statements, which include fun facts not captured in their CVs. 


Dr. Cynthia Hsu 

Education credentials

  • Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, Bryn Mawr College
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Pennsylvania 
  • Ph.D. in Neurobiology, Duke University 
  • BA in Computer Science and Molecular & Cell Biology, 
  • University of California, Berkeley 


Teaching: Expertise and experience in teaching neurobiology courses as well as innovative seminar courses, mentoring

Research: Neurogenetics, mechanisms of behavioral modification, neuronal circuits for regulating control and timing of excitability  

Statement about Dr. Hsu

Dr. Hsu’s postdoctoral research was in molecular biologist Amita Sehgal’s lab at the University of Pennsylvania. She plans to use the Drosophila model to investigate questions such as how sensory experiences (as a proxy for quality of waking experiences) drive sleep, the interactions between homeostatic and circadian neuronal circuits, and how these neuronal circuits are perturbed in disease states such as epilepsy. 

Fun Fact Not in her CV

Her interests outside research and teaching include karate, superhero movies, and anything involving cute animals.


Dr. Justin Shaffer 

Educational credentials 

  • Postdoctoral Scholar, NIH-IRACDA Postdoctoral Fellow, UC San Diego
  • Ph.D. in Plant Pathology & Microbiology, University of Arizona, Tuscon
  • BA in Environmental Studies, University of California, Santa Cruz
  • AA in Liberal Arts & Sciences, Moorpark Community College


Expertise and experience in teaching organismal biology, ecology, and the environment, microbial ecology and microbial genetics lab, mentoring

Research: Understanding how microbiological communities influence host health and environmental sustainability using modern genomic and bioinformatic approaches 

Dr. Shaffer’s Statement

My postdoctoral fellowship with the San Diego Institutional Research and Academic Career Development Award (IRACDA) program at UC San Diego was a significant achievement. 

The program provided invaluable experiences and professional development in outreach, mentoring, and teaching that will help me to thrive as a new faculty member here at Fresno State. Another meaningful achievement was publishing a first-author, high-impact paper with the Earth Microbiome Project Consortium, a diverse team of international researchers working together to describe the world’s microbial taxonomic and functional diversity. 

Some of my most meaningful achievements surround mentoring and teaching experiences, such as successfully using evidence-based practices and developing inclusive learning environments when teaching. 

I look forward to working with my department and the broader college to foster student retention and success, develop broadly recognized curricula for our students, and bridge education and research to help train the next generation of professionals. I’m also excited to learn more about the Fresno community and what broader impacts my work can extend to.

Dr. Hyunjin (Jin) Shim 

Educational Credentials

  • Research Professor, Ghent University Global Campus 
  • Postdoctoral Scholar, University of California, Berkeley
  • Visiting Research Fellow in Computer Science, Stanford University
  • Ph.D. in Biotechnology and Engineering, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL)
  • MS in Bioengineering, EPFL

Teaching: Expertise and experience in teaching bioinformatics, statistical population genetics, and microbiology; participates in outreach programs

Research: In-silico design of next-generation antibiotics at the intersection of microbiology, metagenomics, and machine learning 

Most meaningful achievement

As an independent researcher, my most meaningful achievement is exploring the field of next-generation antibiotics using diverse genomic tools. 

Thinking innovatively about new antibiotics is so important in academia, because big pharma companies do not invest in new antibiotics, which are less profitable than other drugs. 

New antibiotics can only be used sparingly against superbug infection cases, but they are vital for the survival of humanity in the long run. Many people in bacteria research left for virus research during the COVID-19 pandemic, and I persisted in this understudied and underfunded field, and I’m most proud of it.

Thoughts on research and teaching

One of the best aspects of being in research and teaching is the opportunity to be at the frontier of human knowledge. To expand this frontier, we must be brave and positive and not be afraid to fail (or be wrong). 

We can do this while meeting great thinkers of the era worldwide. I worked with exceptional scientists like Jennifer Doudna (2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry) and Jill Banfield (Pioneer of metagenomics). I was able to live in exciting places like Switzerland, the UK, South Korea, Philippines, and here in the US, all thanks to the mobility offered by the academic environment.

Fun Fact Not in her CV: 

Other interests: As a person, I enjoy creative writing and exploring different dimensions of being a human besides Science and Technology. My favorite book is ‘The Little Prince,’ which has a simple storyline but a deep perception, and I try to address vulnerable and emotional sides of myself through creative writing. 

I have a pen name – but it is a secret!



Dr. He Wei 

Educational credentials

  • Research Associate, Biological Engineering, MIT
  • Senior Postdoctoral Fellow, Biological Engineering, MIT
  • Postdoctoral Associate, Department of Chemistry
  •  Ph.D. in Chemistry, MIT
  • BS in Chemical Physics, University of Science and Technology of China

Teaching: Expertise and experience in mentoring, teaching chemistry lab courses, and active engagement in a rigorous teaching certificate program

Research: Development and characterization of multi-component polymerized magnetic nano-assemblies for analytical and environmental science; interdisciplinary background includes materials science and biological engineering

Most significant achievement

The synthesis of new 3-nm and later single-nanometer iron oxide nanoparticle cores, rendering their overall size smaller than the kidney clearance threshold of 5.5 nm and enabling kidney clearance in vivo for the first time of their kind.

Research and teaching

Specialized in materials science, analytical chemistry, and biochemistry. My lab synthesizes and develops nanomaterials into analytical sensors for biomedical and environmental applications.

Motivation to be a faculty member:

Mentor students, collaborate with peers, provide academic services, and perform innovative research.

Fun Fact Not in his CV: 

Hobbies: Badminton, hiking, and skiing.


Dr. Kelly Carrasco 

Dr. Kelly Carrasco.
Dr. Kelly Carrasco is a new faculty in the psychology department.

Educational background

  • Lecturer, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology
  • Ph.D. in School Psychology, University of Florida
  • MEd. in School Psychology, University of Florida
  • B.A. in Psychology, University of Texas, Austin

Teaching while traveling around the world experience

To liven up a list of accomplishments, Dr. Carrasco has described her academic career through mascots since mascots can convey the type of strength, stamina, and pride necessary to make it in academia. 

Dr. Carrasco began her educational journey as a Longhorn at the University of Texas at Austin, where she completed her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and moved on to become a Gator at the University of Florida, where she completed her Master of Education and Doctor of Philosophy in School Psychology. 

After completing her Ph.D., Dr. Carrasco became a shisa (pronounced /she-sah/), a guardian lion on the island of Okinawa in Japan, where she worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology. Here, she developed her research expertise in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and completed her training to become a licensed psychologist. 

If you’re still listening or reading, congratulations, you’ve done well on your test of sustained attention. Dr. Carrasco then took a faculty position at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand, where she took on a leadership position in their school psychology program and continued to publish articles related to ADHD with students and colleagues. 

Now, universities in New Zealand don’t have mascots, so we’ll adopt whatever image comes to mind when you think of New Zealand, like a kiwi, both the fruit and the flightless bird, or maybe a hobbit, depending on whether you’re a movie buff or not. 

While New Zealand was a decent place to ride out a global pandemic, Dr. Carrasco would like to remind everyone that New Zealand is far away, and family is too important to remain at the ends of the Earth. 

In summary, Dr. Carrasco is proud to call herself a Bulldog and join the Bulldog family at Fresno State.

Dr. Patrick Durkee

Dr. Patrick Durkee
Dr. Patrick Durkee enjoys playing music at open mics around Fresno in his leisure time.

  Educational background

  • Research Fellow, Institute for Advanced Study, Toulouse, France
  • Ph.D. in Psychology, the University of Texas, Austin
  • M.A. in Experimental Psychology, California State University, Fullerton 
  • B.A. in Psychology, California State University, Fullerton 

Teaching: Expertise and experience in teaching advanced statistical methodology in R and statistics and research design, personality

Research: Interests in examining the diversity of personality structures around the world while also providing a functional explanation for that cultural variation

Statement of accomplishment from Dr. Durkee

I’m most proud of my 2022 psych science paper, which highlights the diversity of personality structures worldwide while providing a functional explanation for that cultural variation. 

I’m also excited about ongoing theoretical work developing agent-based simulations to formalize models of personality processes and measurement. 

Teaching Pride

 I’m proud to have developed my personality class as a zero-cost course, and I added a HIP to the course over the summer, so I’m excited to see how students engage with that. 

Fun Fact Not in his CV: 

When I’m not researching or teaching, I enjoy playing music at open mics around Fresno and spending as much time as possible exploring CA’s beautiful nature. 


Dr. Jovonnie Esquierdo-Leal joins our Department of Psychology 

Educational Background

  • Lecturer, Psychology, California State University, Fresno 
  • Ph.D. in Psychology, Behavior Analysis Program, University of Nevada, Reno
  • M.A. Psychology (ABA Option), California State University, Fresno
  • BA in Psychology, California State University, Fresno  

Courses taught and professional background

Dr. Esquierdo-Leal teaches courses in ABA, including but not limited to single-case research designs, organizational behavior management and behavioral systems analysis, ethics, and philosophy.

Dr. Esquierdo-Leal is a doctoral-level board-certified behavior analyst (BCBA-D). Her clinical and applied experience includes working with individuals with developmental disabilities and implementing practices to improve organizational culture and climate. 

She is the co-chair of the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Board (DEI) and the co-coordinator of the ABAI DEI Program Area. She is also an active member and Planner of the Behaviorists for Social Responsibility Special Interest Group of ABAI. 

Her teaching, service, and research often overlap, with a special focus on cultural and behavioral systems science, leadership, social justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion, and complex verbal relations.

Most meaningful achievement personal statement 

I found it difficult to pick one achievement that is most meaningful to me. As a first-generation college student, one of my greatest achievements is being the first and only in my family to graduate college not just once but thrice (BA, MA, and Ph.D.). 

Research mindset

My research is dedicated to creating just, inclusive, and equitable environments—specifically, my research on implicit bias in hiring and decision-making. I focus on systemic change and leadership and leaders’ role in creating meaningful change.

 The desire to become a faculty member comes from the students and wanting to provide the same mentorship and support my professors gave me during my time at Fresno State, but also to be able to continue research and service that supports and strengthens cultures and communities.

Fun Fact Not in her CV: 

Something not in my CV is that I was a licensed foster parent in Nevada and adopted two amazing children. I like volunteering and supporting others on this journey, and I plan to work with the Central Valley Regional Center (CVRC) to begin some work in this area. 

Additionally, I like to spend time with my family (including three dogs) outdoors, gardening, hiking, and snowshoeing.

Alyssa Wilson joins our Department of Psychology 

Educational credentials

  • Associate Professor and Department Chair, The Chicago School of 
  • Professional Psychology Southern California 
  • Associate Professor and ABA Program Director, Saint Louis University
  • Ph.D. in Rehabilitation, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale 
  • MS in Behavior Analysis and Therapy, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale
  • BA in Psychology, University of Nevada, Reno

Teaching: Expertise and experience in teaching several diverse ABA courses with a teaching philosophy grounded in experiential learning theory and student-centered education methods

Research:  Behavior analytic assessments and interventions, treatment intervention planning, characterization of gambling behaviors; research incorporates service to the community 

Meaningful accomplishments

My two most meaningful achievements were when the research team I was a part of was spotlighted on a Bill Nye, The Science Guy episode on addiction, and the publication of my first solo-authored book that came out this summer. 

I am thrilled to have the opportunity to teach and mentor undergraduate students and give students opportunities to learn both inside and outside of the classroom. 

Fun Fact Not in her CV: 

I received a music scholarship as an undergraduate student at the University of Nevada Reno to play the clarinet in the orchestra. I ended up with a minor in music. 

I also dabble in mixed-media painting and photography. Some of my photos have made their way into local newspapers and magazines.