New Social Sciences Faculty (Part Two)

In the second of two features, we introduce some of the newest members of the social sciences faculty at UC Davis.

Nicolas Caramp

Assistant Professor of Economics 

Dr. Nicolas Caramp earned his PhD in June 2017 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, with a dissertation entitled Essays on Macroeconomics and Financial Fragility. His primary areas of specialization are macroeconomics, finance, and international economics. His current research explores how information asymmetry in financial markets could have created the conditions that lead to the Great Recession. He also works on understanding the channels through which monetary policy affects the economy.

Before attending MIT, he studied at the Universidad Torcuato Di Tella in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Nicolas is a big soccer fan and has quickly adopted the local team, Sacramento Republic FC, as his own.


Randy Haas

Assistant Professor of Anthropology 

Dr. Randy Haas is an archaeologist and assistant professor of anthropology. He earned his Ph.D. in 2014 from The University of Arizona. Prior to joining the UC Davis faculty in 2017, he was a postdoctoral research associate at the Universities of Maryland and Wyoming. 

Dr. Haas studies the evolution of complex human behaviors among ancient forager societies. Before market and agricultural economies emerged around 10 thousand years ago, forager economies were the only human economies on the planet for some 200 thousand years. Dr. Haas uses the archaeological record of past forager societies to understand how our biology, cultures, and social organization evolved in forager contexts. His current work examines how early human populations of the Andes Mountains of Peru adapted to physically challenging alpine environments above 3800 meters in altitude and how cooperative social structures, potato and quinoa agriculture, and alpaca husbandry evolved between 12,000 and 3500 years ago.


Brenna Henn

Associate Professor of Anthropology

Brenna Henn began her PhD by studying the deep population structure and complex migration patterns of African hunter-gatherer groups. She continues to have an interest in diverse, indigenous populations from around the world who harbor genetic (and linguistic and phenotypic) variation that is often overlooked in more commonly studied urban populations. Motivated by her prior PhD (2009) training in anthropology and evolutionary genetics at Stanford University, she aims to approach questions of genetic and phenotypic diversity from an interdisciplinary standpoint.

After her PhD, Dr. Henn enjoyed a ‘personal genomics’ interlude at 23andMe, Inc., working on their ancestry team and doing research development with Dr. Joanna Mountain. She then began a postdoctoral position in Dr. Carlos Bustamante’s lab (2010) in the Department of Genetics, Stanford University School of Medicine. During the postdoc, Dr. Henn led several African genomic projects aimed at understanding the origins of modern humans and dispersals Out-of-Africa. Dr. Henn joined Stony Brook University, SUNY in 2013, and will join UC Davis in January 2018.


José Juan Pérez Meléndez

Assistant Professor of History

José Juan Pérez Meléndez is a historian of Latin America and the Atlantic who specializes on nineteenth-century Brazil. His research, which centers on political, business and migration history, has taken him to archival collections in Brazil, England, and Portugal. Before arriving at Davis, Prof. Pérez Meléndez completed a postdoctoral stay as a Max Weber Fellow at the European University Institute in Florence. He is currently writing a book, tentatively titled Peopling for Profit: Colonization and the Brazilian Empire, 1808-1878, which deals with the global and domestic lineaments of early migration policy in nineteenth-century Brazil.

Professor Pérez Meléndez earned his PhD in history at the University of Chicago and has taught in a range of educational settings including New York City public schools, the University of Chicago, and an associates degree program run by the Prison University Project at the San Quentin state prison, in San Rafael, California.


Brendan Price

Assistant Professor of Economics

Brendan Price joins UC Davis from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where his dissertation studied how workers and firms adjust to globalization, technological change, and labor market reforms. A Research Affiliate of the UC Davis Center for Poverty Research, Dr. Price has broad interests within labor economics, public finance, spatial economics, and international trade. He specializes in the study of US and European labor markets using applied microeconomic tools paired with large-scale administrative datasets.  Current projects include a firm-level analysis of how Chinese import competition has reshaped the US labor market; a study of how "cohort-crowding" impacts hiring and training in entry-level labor markets; and an evaluation of Germany's Hartz IV reform, which overhauled the provision of long-term unemployment benefits.

Dr. Price will teach Ph.D. Labor Economics in the winter quarter and Intermediate Microeconomic Theory in the spring. A native of the Northeast, he enjoys hiking, kayaking, running, and poetry.


Sanjay R. Singh

Assistant Professor of Economics

Sanjay R. Singh earned his PhD at Brown University, with a thesis entitled Essays in Macroeconomics and Secular Stagnation. His primary areas of specialization are macroeconomics, monetary economics and international economics. Dr. Singh earned his BA in Economics at St. Stephen’s College in New Delhi and his work has appeared in IMF Economic Review.


Jenna Stearns

Assistant Professor of Economics

Jenna Stearns earned her PhD at UC Santa Barbara. Her primary research interests include family, gender, education, and health economics. She is particularly interested in the relationship between fertility choices and investments in human capital. Her current research examines the effects of family-friendly policies on labor market choices, productivity, family structure, education, and health outcomes. She uses state, national, and institutional policy changes as quasi-experimental variation in access to paid leave in order to identify causal estimates of program effects. Her research suggests that paid leave benefits can have large welfare-improving effects and may be a way to reduce socioeconomic disparities in health and labor market outcomes. It also highlights the fact that some policies that are aimed at promoting gender equality in the workplace can have negative consequences for women. Dr. Stearns’ work has appeared in the Journal of Health Economics and the Journal of Economic Perspectives.


Andrew Todd

Assistant Professor of Psychology

Dr. Andrew Todd comes to UC Davis from the University of Iowa, where he was an assistant professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. Todd earned his PhD in social psychology at Northwestern University, after which he completed postdoctoral training at the University of Cologne (Germany). As director of the Social Inference Lab, Todd is currently studying a variety of topics related to perspective taking and empathy, the cognitive processes underlying social judgment, and intergroup relations. This research has been funded by the National Science Foundation.


Magdalena Wojcieszak

Associate Professor of Communication

Magdalena Wojcieszak, who earned her PhD at the University of Pennsylvania, joined UC Davis from the University of Amsterdam. 

She is interested in political communication, public opinion, and in how the changing media environment creates both opportunities and challenges for informed publics, tolerant citizenry, and responsive governance. More specifically, she examines media and message effects on citizens’ attitudes, behaviors, and perceptions, especially in the context of polarization and intergroup relations in diverse societies. Some of the questions she explores include the following: Does news coverage about contentious political issues make citizens more polarized? What kind of media messages decrease prejudice toward personally disliked social groups? Are there ways to encourage people to select online content that challenges what they personally believe?

Dr. Wojcieszak’s work has appeared in the Journal of Communication, Public Opinion Quarterly, Political Communication, Communication Research, Political Psychology, New Media & Society, and the International Journal of Public Opinion Research, among other journals. She has received several awards for her teaching and research (including 2016 Young Scholar Award from ICA), and also several grants (including the ERC Starting grant). Dr. Wojcieszak serves as the editor of the International Journal of Public Opinion Research and on the editorial boards of the Journal of CommunicationPolitical Communication, and EastBound electronic journal. Also, she is the board member at large for Europe of the International Communication Association

Applying her research to real world conflicts, was working with the Center for Global Communication Studies (CGCS) at the Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania, assessing public opinion about the conflict in Darfur and examining how Iranian citizens and journalists inside and outside Iran engage with and use various media outlets and online, mobile and offline communication tools.