PRESS RELEASE / ANNOUNCEMENTS Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Four new talented professors joined the Westmont faculty this fall

Four new talented professors joined the Westmont faculty this fall. Donald
Patterson (computer science), Ronald See (psychology), Amanda Silberstein
(chemistry) and Sameer Yadav (religious studies) arrived in August and have begun
Patterson, who taught at UC Irvine last semester, earned bachelor’s and master’s
degrees at Cornell University before serving as a naval operations officer for four years
in Japan and Sardinia. “It was in our family DNA,” he says. “My dad was in the Navy,
my uncle was in the Navy, both my grandfathers were in the Navy, so it was not a
strange thing for us.”
He earned a doctorate from the University of Washington, and received multiple
grants and won awards for articles on collapse informatics and abstract object usage.
“I was interested in computers back in elementary school,” he says. “I saw both the
operational side of computers when I was in the military and then I went back to grad
school and focused on the development and forward-looking side.”
Among his many scholarly interests are ubiquitous computing, human-computer
interaction and artificial intelligence. “I’m interested in the way that intelligent user
interfaces can change the way we operate with each other at a social and
organizational level,” he says. “In particular, I’m interested in sustainability and
looking at developing world situations that can use technology in innovative ways to
expand infrastructure and access. I’m looking at our future in terms of environment
and global change seeing how we can prepare now by developing computer systems
to increase our resilience.”
See, who is teaching primarily in the area of neuroscience, graduated from UC
Berkeley before earning a master’s and doctorate at UCLA. He has held long-term
academic appointments at the Medical University of South Carolina and at
Washington State University. Most recently, he taught for three years in the
Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Tabuk in Saudi Arabia.
“God has given my wife and me exciting opportunities to use our abilities and
training to go into places where others can’t as believers, particularly within the
Muslim world,” he says. “We have been in Northern Saudi Arabia in a remote tribal
area, developing a medical school and living incarnationally, using the skills we had
in a professional and living our Christian lives within that context. That’s been one of
our driving motivators.”
See has extensive international experience, serving as a Fulbright Lecturer at the
University of Ljubljana in Slovenia as a visiting fellow at Oxford University, and as a
one-year visiting professor at Kuwait University. As an undergraduate, he also did a
year of study at Georg-August University in Germany.
“I speak German fluently in addition to English, and my Arabic is pretty weak,
fortunately all of the teaching was in English and my colleague’s English was far
better than my Arabic,” he says.
Dr. See has been the principal investigator or co-investigator on 16 grants from
the National Institutes of Health, and has been the primary author or contributing
author on more than 130 scholarly articles.
“Over the last 20-25 years, I developed a program in looking at the neurobiology
of drug addiction, particularly the factors that drive the process of relapse,” he says.
“This is a real fundamental problem, not so much why do people try cocaine, meth or
alcohol? It feels good. But what is it that drives some people to go back to it over and
over again while they’re trying to stop. We’ve studied a number of factors related to
brain neurochemistry, brain circuits that are altered by the addictive drugs, with the
goal of trying to come up with interventions, particularly logical interventions that
might break the cycle.”
A member of more than 30 dissertation committees, See has long worked with
students on research projects. “I’m excited about the integration of faith and the
discipline,” he says. “This Christian liberal arts environment is exciting to me after
having been in the secular Muslim world for 30 plus years and to now be in a place
where Christ holds preeminence.”
Silberstein, a graduate of Cal Tech who earned a doctorate at UCLA, became
familiar with Westmont through her sister, Megan, who graduated in 2014 with a
bachelor’s degree in music. “I would come up and visit on weekends and go to her
music events,” Amanda says. “I told her years ago that I could see myself living in
Santa Barbara, it’s a wonderful place.”
As a postdoctoral scholar at Cal Tech, she examined the effectiveness and toxicity
of polyamides targeting liver cancer in cell culture. Silberstein, who won numerous
fellowships during her graduate studies, served as an intern at Genentech in San
Francisco and worked as a lab scientist for Advion Biosciences in Ithaca, New York.
“Chemistry is my family business,” she says. “My grandfather and my uncles are
all chemists, and some of my earliest memories are of my grandfather taking me out
at night to point out constellations or planets in the night sky. I was probably the
only five year old who knew the phases of the moon. I developed an early interest in
science and that directed my career path in college and beyond.”
At Westmont, she will focus her research on synthetic chemistry. “I’ll be working
on methodology development and hopefully in the future working to total synthesis,
making naturally occurring small molecules.”
She is looking enthusiastic about integrating faith into her sessions. “Having a
largely secular education, I am looking forward to bringing my faith into my work,
examining it for myself and demonstrating for students the interplay between
Christianity and science.”
Yadav was born and raised Hindu in Idaho with parents who emigrated from
India. “Hindu and Idaho, sounds like a sitcom,” he says. “My conversion was in my
senior year of high school/first year of college, and I have an identical twin brother
who is now a pastor. He and I are the only Christians in our family and it was through
his conversion that led me to the Lord.”
This unique upbringing gives Yadav an interesting perspective on how Christians
think about God’s presence in the world. “All Christians believe that God is
omnipresent, so He’s everywhere, but there’s a sense in which God’s being
everywhere has the paradoxical consequence that God seems to be nowhere,” he
says. “It’s difficult to say what we mean when we talk about God’s presence in a locale
given that God’s presence is global.
Yadav graduated from Boise State University before earning master’s degrees from
the Master’s Seminary and Yale Divinity School. He earned a doctorate at Duke,
focusing on systematic and philosophical theology, with secondary concentrations
in the Hebrew Bible and moral theology. His book, “The Problem of Perception and
the Perception of God,” addresses philosophical issues in how we ground Christian
belief and practice.
“From very early on in the church’s history, theologians have thought a lot about
experiencing God and what it might be like to experience God and how to describe
experiences of meeting God,” he says. “So my book and my work merges these
different disciplines and areas of the philosophy of mind and early Christian
mythical tradition, to articulate a contemporary way of thinking about how to
describe God’s presence to us.”
He is working on a book about Gregory of Nyssa, a fourth century Cappadocian
Eastern church father. “He is well known for developing what has been called the
theology of the spiritual senses, to describe our unique sensitivities that we as
humans have towards God,” he says. “We have unique sensitivities towards other
physical things, such as seeing light in a particular way. Well, we also have some kind
of sensitivities towards God in a particular way. So, what are those like? How do they
work? How do you train those faculties to be able to particularly hone in on God’s
Yadav was most recently serving as a postdoctoral fellow in the John Wesley
Honors College of Indiana Wesleyan University.


Scott Craig (805) 565-6051
Fax (805) 565-7349

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