Spotlight: CNAS Department Chairs

With the CNAS community back on campus, your department chairs want to make sure that you are on-track for a stellar year. In this edition of the CNAS Blog, find out what they are looking forward to with students being back on campus, how students can get involved in research, and tips to succeed both in and out of the classroom.  Here are your 2021-2022 CNAS Department Chairs and read the Q&A below to get to know your department chairs.


Jingsong Zhang
Professor of Chemistry and Chair of the Department of Biochemistry

Botany and Plant Sciences
Patty Springer
Professor of Genetics and Chair of the Department of Botany and Plant Sciences

Leonard Mueller
Professor of Chemistry and Chair of the Department of Chemistry

Earth & Planetary Sciences
Gordon Love
Professor of Geochemistry and Chair of the Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences

Rick Redak
Professor of Entomology and Chair of the Department of Entomology 

Environmental Sciences
David Volz
Professor of Environmental Toxicology and Chair of the Department of Environmental Sciences 

Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology
Leonard Nunney
Professor of Biology and Chair of the Department of Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology

Fred Wilhelm
Professor of Mathematics  and Chair of the Department of Mathematics

Microbiology and Plant Pathology
Howard Judelson
Professor,  Plant Pathologist, and Chair of the Department of Microbiology and Plant Pathology

Molecular, Cell, and Systems Biology
Morris Maduro
Professor of Biology and Chair of the Department of Molecular, Cell, and Systems Biology

Tim Paine
Distinguished Professor and Entomologist, Emeritus; Chair of the Department of Nematology; Tokuji and Bettie L. Furuta Endowed Chair; UC Riverside Distinguished Teaching Professor

Physics and Astronomy
Kenneth Barish
Professor and Chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy

Yehua Li
Professor of Statistics and Chair of the Department of Statistics


What are you looking forward to most with students back on campus?

Jingsong Zhang, Biochemistry: We look forward to helping our students back to in-person classes as smoothly as possible.

Patricia Springer, Botany and Plant Sciences: Seeing them in person! I am so happy to see students on campus.

Leonard Mueller, Chemistry: Without a doubt, I am most excited to see students back in the lab! Chemistry is an experimental science and you have to get your hands in gloves and get to work at a bench. We are also really thrilled to welcome Chem 1 students to our newly renovated teaching labs in Pierce Hall. 

Gordon Love,  Earth and Planetary Sciences: The buzz and chatter of their interactions and meeting new students in person.

Rick Redak, Entomology: The simple interactions of saying hello and bumping into them on campus.

Fred Wilhelm, Mathematics: Seeing people learning, teaching, and researching.

Morris Maduro,  Molecular, Cell, and Systems Biology: Restoring a sense of excitement about learning as part of a larger community.

Tim Paine, Nematology: Talking with students and answering their questions.

Yehua Le, Statistics: To have more engagement with in-person teaching and research activities.

What are some goals and initiatives the department has planned this year?

Leonard Mueller, Chemistry: Safety first!  We hope all the students enjoy their experimentation in the lab, but remember safety first - wear your lab coat, goggles, and PPE at all times!

Gordon Love, Earth and Planetary Sciences: To consolidate our position as a world class department for teaching and research and expand our research portfolio through new avenues; such as sustainability, climatic & environmental change and planetary sciences.

Rick Redak, Entomology: Complete our strategic plan and hopefully hire some new faculty members. Grow both our undergrad and grad majors. Enhance our human diversity within the faculty, staff, and students.

Fred Wilhelm, Mathematics: Highlight faculty research and share knowledge with our students.

  • Workshop for Excellence & Diversity: is on Women in MathArt on October 16-17, 2021
  • Our Association for Women in Mathematics chapter is hosting a Sonia KovalevskY on Saturday February 26, 2022, 10am-4pm.
  • Professors Weisbart and Poon are developing a new pre-calculus/calculus sequence through a California Learning Lab grant

Morris Maduro, Molecular, Cell, and Systems Biology: This academic year, among other things, we hope to move the interdepartmental CMDB graduate program and the undergraduate CMDB major into the department; work on our academic plan; and find ways to bring attention to the achievements of our faculty.

Yehua Le, Statistics: To develop more teaching and interdisciplinary research opportunities in business analytics, data science and public health.

How can students learn about research opportunities in your department?

Jingsong Zhang, Biochemistry: The Biochemistry Department has a strong record in mentoring undergraduate researchers. Please visit the department website to learn more about faculty research and available research opportunities.

Patricia Springer, Botany and Plant Sciences: Email faculty whose research sounds interesting to you and ask if they have research openings. Not all faculty post on the research portal (, although this site has good tips for contacting faculty.

Leonard Mueller, Chemistry: The faculty all maintain research websites. It is best to start there and find research that is particularly interesting to you. Then take a look at a few papers and contact the faculty member. Email is fine, but we all respond well to students who just stick their heads in our doors.

Gordon Love, Earth and Planetary Sciences: Our department website lists the research interests of all our faculty. 

Rick Redak, Entomology: Simply email our faculty. All of us are found at

Fred Wilhelm, Mathematics: For research opportunities in the Mathematics Department, go to either or  You can also contact Professors Weitao Chen, Kevin Costello, or Jose Gonzalez.

Morris Maduro, Molecular, Cell, and Systems Biology: Students should look at the research areas covered by our faculty through our departmental web page (, and contact faculty with whom they might be interested in working.

Tim Paine, Nematology: Look at faculty websites to find match to match interests and contact them for an appointment.

Yehua Le, Statistics: Visit our website and reach out to our graduate and undergraduate faculty advisors. 


What advice can you offer students for a successful academic year?

Patricia Springer, Botany and Plant Sciences: Attend office hours and get to know your professors! Everyone is eager for face-to-face interactions after 18 months of zoom.

Leonard Mueller, Chemistry: There is the "what" and the "so what."  You need to know first, but it is the second you are going to college for.

Gordon Love, Earth and Planetary Sciences: Stay on top of the course work from Week 1, cramming for finals and mid-terms can often backfire!

Rick Redak, Entomology: Discipline yourself to stick to a schedule so you do not put anything off until the last minute (e.g., study for an exam!). Staying caught up with your studies will essentially be a full-time job.  If you have a part-time job, discipline and scheduling will be a life-saver. Having said all of that, take a day,  or day-and-a-half to destress and have some fun.

Fred Wilhelm, Mathematics: Be flexible, have fun, and take it one moment at a time.

Morris Maduro, Molecular, Cell, and Systems Biology: Students will be starting or returning to UCR this year with the experience of face-to-face classes a distant memory. Students and faculty need to be patient with each other as we try to return to a more normal way of doing things, realizing that we might have forgotten how to interact face-to-face in a classroom, and how to take in-person exams.

Tim Paine, Nematology: Respect serendipity and seize opportunities.

Yehua Le, Statistics: Stay connected with your professor and classmates, either virtually or in-person. Stay safe.

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