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LAURELS: Simine Vazire Wins Prize for Open Social Science

By Dateline Staff on October 24, 2017 in University News

Quick Summary

  • Simine Vazire, Department of Psychology, co-founded society that encourages open, reproducible science
  • Eliza Bliss-Moreau and Colin Reardon named Murray B. Gardner Junior Faculty Research Fellows
  • Katia Vega and Tom Maiorana design themselves achievements in design
  • King Hall honors: Angela Harris, Dean Kevin R. Johnson and Immigration Law Clinic
  • College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences presents Awards of Distinction
  • Louise Ferguson receives Outstanding Extension Educator Award from American Society for Horticultural Science
  • Dickson Emeriti Professorships go to Peter Hays, Martha Macri and Frederic Troy II

Simine Vazire, associate professor of psychology, has won a Leamer-Rosenthal Prize for Open Social Science, in the Leaders in Education category. The award recognizes her efforts to advance reproducibility, openness and credibility in the social sciences — through the courses she teaches at UC Davis and by co-founding the Society for the Improvement of Psychological Science.

The Berkeley Initiative for Transparency in the Social Sciences awarded eight Leamer-Rosenthal Prizes for 2017, to six Emerging Researchers and two Leaders in Education, selected from 58 nominees representing an array of social science disciplines in 10 countries.

The Leamer-Rosenthal Prize was created by a group of scientists in 2015 to counter a “credibility crisis” resulting from a series of scandals involving fake results and irreproducible findings.

She is president of the Society for the Improvement of Psychological Science, the organization that she co-founded in 2016 with the aim of encouraging open, reproducible science. She is senior editor of the society's journal Collabra: Psychology.

“It’s human nature to want to be right and look good and make a living,” Vazire said. “Right now, there’s a lot more reward for finding what you predicted (or predicting what you found) and getting surprising, extraordinary results than for getting results that are robust.”

She teaches courses in research methods, a topic she studies in addition to her work in people’s self-knowledge of their own personalities and behaviors.


The Center for Comparative Medicine has named two Murray B. Gardner Junior Faculty Research Fellows for 2017-18, providing $50,000 to each fellow to help them through one of their biggest challenges as early-career faculty: securing their first major research grants. Besides funding, the fellows receive mentoring by UC Davis faculty colleagues to help develop and submit proposals to the National Institutes of Health.

The new fellows:

  • Eliza Bliss-Moreau, Department of Psychology, and a core scientist at the California National Primate Research Center — She studies the biological underpinnings of human and animal emotion and the evolution of the brain, and will use her Gardner award for research on how the Zika virus affects infants’ developing brains.
  • Colin Reardon, Department of Anatomy, Physiology and Cell Biology, School of Veterinary Medicine — After having identified a unique subset of B- and T-cells that are specifically recruited during intestinal bacterial infection, he will now work to determine the role of these cells and elucidate the mechanisms of protection that are elicited.

Professor Emeritus Gardner, a veterinary pathologist, established the fellowship program in 2016 for UC Davis assistant professors who are studying animal models of human disease, like he did in pioneering the concept of “One Medicine, One Health.”


Two assistant professors of design have designed these fine achievements:

  • Katia Vega — She’s among the “Top 20 Most Influential Latinos in Technology,” named by CNET en Español in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month (October). “At the intersection of art and science, Katia Vega finds beauty — technological beauty, to be specific,” CNET en Español says in describing her work in wearable technology. “The Peruvian scientist wants the human body to become a platform for interaction in seeking ‘a symbiosis between the body and devices.’ Thus, beauty implements such as make-up and artificial nails go beyond their conventional function: You can play a virtual piano by just moving your fingers with false nails, change television channels by simply blinking the eyes adorned with artificial eyelashes, or control your phone by just touching your hair.”
  • Tom Maiorana — He’s been named a fellow of UC Davis’ John Muir Institute of the Environment. In a recent project for the institute’s OneClimate initiative, he led a team that created an exhibit showing the many multidisciplinary connections in climate science research all across UC Davis. See the exhibit in this OneClimate video.

The court rules in favor of the School of Law, for these achievements:

  • Angela Harris, professor emerita — Elected to the American Law Institute. Prior to her recent retirement from full-time teaching, she held the Boochever and Bird Endowed Chair for the Study and Teaching of Freedom of Equality, and served as the director of the Aoki Center for Critical Race and Nation Studies.
  • Immigration Law Clinic — It received the Justice Leadership Award from the Multi-Cultural Community Council, an organization started by Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig. The award honors law school lecturers Holly Cooper and Amagda Pérez, the clinic’s co-directors, and their students for their work in representing documented and undocumented immigrants from all over the world.
  • Kevin R. Johnson, dean — Appointed to the American Bar Association’s Accreditation Committee, whose work includes the review of Juris Doctor degree and post-J.D. programs, foreign summer and winter intersession programs, semester abroad programs, and individual student programs for foreign study.

The College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences recently celebrated two harvests: the harvest of the fields and the harvest of Awards of Distinction, given to faculty, staff, alumni and friends of the college.

Presented annually during the College Celebration, the awards recognize contributions and achievements that enrich the image and reputation of the college and enhance its ability to serve the public through cutting-edge research, top-notch education and innovative outreach.

“College Celebration puts the spotlight on people who bring great distinction to the college through actions that demonstrate our values of service, quality and commitment into action,” Dean Helene Dillard said.

Here are this year’s honorees:

  • Young Alumna — Jennifer Pierre ’03 (B.S., environmental biology and management), honored for her early career success in the complex world of water management.
  • Alumni — Jack De Wit ’66 (B.S., agricultural business management), rice farmer and industry leader; Donald Norene ’73 (B.S., agricultural science and management), walnut farmer and industry leader; and Max Rothschild ’74 (B.S., animal science), who went on to earn advanced degrees in animal genetics and is now a distinguished professor at Iowa State University.
  • Friends — Katherine “Kate” Mawdsley, retired from the UC Davis Library, who volunteers at the Center for Plant Diversity and the UC Davis Arboretum; and Gabe Patin, seed industry executive who was instrumental in the development of the Seed Biotechnology Center at UC Davis.
  • Faculty — Ed DePeters, professor of animal science, honored for his work with the California dairy industry and for inspiring legions of UC Davis students to pursue dairy science.
  • Staff — Charles “Chik” Brenneman, M.S. 2000 (food science with a concentration in enology), winemaker and facility manager for the Department of Viticulture and Enology.

Read more about the award recipients.


The American Society for Horticultural Science recently presented its Outstanding Extension Educator Award for 2017 to Louise Ferguson, a Cooperative Extension specialist and faculty member in the Department of Plant Sciences.

Ferguson coordinates and leads the state’s extension programs for pistachios, table olives and figs. Working with farm advisors throughout California, her team coordinates statewide meetings, short courses and field days with strong industry support. She established the Fruit and Nut Research and Information Center in 1996 and served as the director for 16 years.

She is also acclaimed for her work in Afghanistan, Egypt, Iraq, and Pakistan.


The UC Davis Emeriti Association recently awarded three Edward A. Dickson Emeriti Professorships for 2017. The awards, named after a former regent and given at each UC campus, support emeriti in their continued research, teaching and-or public service.

Here are the UC Davis recipients and their projects:

  • Peter Hays, Department of English — His professorship will subsidize illustrations for a new book, Reading: The Old Man and the Sea, the fourth volume in Kent State University’s “Reading Hemingway” series. The illustrations are meant to clarify the numerous interconnecting elements in The Old Man and the Sea and the thoughtful approaches Hemingway took in planning the book.
  • Martha Macri, Department of Native American Studies and Department of Linguistics — She will investigate the origins and cultural evolution of human communication systems by comparing two early scripts from Mexico and Central America.
  • Frederic Troy II, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine, School of Medicine, and a founding member of the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center — His award will go toward his investigation of a tumor-associated cell surface sugar antigen, part of his continuing research into sialoglycans, which have a variety of biological, biophysical and immunological functions.

Dateline UC Davis welcomes news of faculty and staff awards, for publication in Laurels. Send information to dateline@ucdavis.edu.

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About the author(s)

Dateline Staff Dave Jones, editor, can be reached at 530-752-6556 or dljones@ucdavis.edu. Cody Kitaura, news and media relations specialist, can be reached at 530-752-1932 or kitaura@ucdavis.edu.

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