The world is a better place because of the work of our Chancellor’s Fellows — early-career faculty members working to improve health, understand the challenges facing endangered species, cut greenhouse gas emissions and more.
This year’s class of Chancellor’s Fellows comprises 11 associate professors or recently promoted full professors — rising stars in their fields who have now received one of the university’s highest honors and will retain the title for five years.
“I continue to be awe-struck by the excellence and creativity of UC Davis faculty, and inspired by the brilliant leading-edge work they do, every day, in their teaching and research,” Interim Chancellor Ralph J. Hexter said. “I am honored to welcome this select group — distinguished by especially high accomplishment — to the ranks of the Chancellor’s Fellows.”
Funding for the program — $25,000 for each fellow to advance their research projects and other scholarly work — comes from private donations to the UC Davis Annual Fund and the UC Davis Special Giving Fund. See all of our Giving opportunities.
“We can’t thank our donors enough for supporting UC Davis’ early-career faculty members who are making a positive impact on our students and the entire university community, in addition to the world,” said Shaun Keister, vice chancellor of Development and Alumni Relations. “Without them, the Chancellor’s Fellows program would not be possible.”
The program was started in 2000, and this class brings the total number of faculty members who have received the honor to 120. This year’s fellows are:
Daniela Barile, Department of Food Science and Technology, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
She investigates complex chemical compounds known as “glycans,” critically important for studies of food and human health. Her research group is particularly interested in the molecular makeup of biologically active compounds found in food and food-processing waste — including whey from cheese making — and how such compounds interact with microbes in foods and the digestive tract. In nominating Barile, Dean Helene Dillard of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences described her strengths as an instructor: “She is one of those rare teachers who is as tough as nails and yet beloved by students.” Barile holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in pharmaceutical chemistry and a doctoral degree in food science/bioactive compounds, all from the University of Eastern Piedmont Amedeo Avogadro in Italy. She first came to UC Davis in 2008 as a postdoctoral researcher and joined the Department of Food Science and Technology faculty in 2011.
Amber Boydstun, Department of Political Science, College of Letters and Science
Her research couldn’t be more timely. She studies how issues make the news and how media coverage influences policymakers and voters. She collaborates with scholars in psychology, journalism and computer science, and uses lab experiments, large-scale media studies, and manual and computational text analysis in her research. Her 2013 book, Making the News: Politics, the Media and Agenda Setting, analyzed 31,034 front-page stories in The New York Times over an 11-year period to show how swings between “fire alarm” and “police patrol” modes of coverage skew the news. Colleagues nationwide describe her as a rising star of political science, adept at identifying important questions and then answering them. She serves on the editorial boards for the journal Political Communication and for the Women Also Know Stuff initiative, which seeks to increase representation of female political science experts in the news and on academic panels. Boydstun earned a doctorate and master's degree from Pennsylvania State University.
James Bremer, Department of Mathematics, College of Letters and Science
He specializes in devising innovative numerical solutions for mathematical equations, particularly partial differential equations. His contributions include new computational methods and important new insights for some of the most challenging problems in numerical analysis. Bremer’s branch of applied mathematics has real-life applications in engineering, technology and the sciences — acoustic radar and nanophotonics are just two examples. Dan Romik, math professor and department chair, noted Bremer’s work combines “brilliance, elegance and a great deal of technical skill.” Bremer was also described as a great colleague and teacher who “regularly receives high praise from students.” He came to UC Davis in 2007, and has a doctorate in mathematics from Yale University and bachelor’s degrees in mathematics and computer science from the University of Maryland, College Park.
Nann Fangue, Department of Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
She studies native fish species, their habitat requirements and how they respond to changing environments. She has brought to conservation biology a set of physiological techniques to analyze and predict the effects of changing environmental conditions on key fish species in the San Francisco Bay and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, as well as in polar and tropical systems. Most of the species she studies — green and white sturgeon, delta smelt, salmonids — are listed as endangered or threatened. Her work provides important contributions to understanding those species, their needs and the challenges facing them. Fangue’s excellence in advising was recognized with the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences’ 2016 Eleanor and Harry Walker Award, and the 2017 faculty advisor award from the Region 9 National Academic Advising Association. She earned her doctoral degree at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, and was a National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellow at UC Santa Barbara before joining UC Davis in 2009.
Bo Feng, Department of Communication, College of Letters and Science
Her research could have a direct impact on how well your doctors explain the tests and medicines they recommend for you in the future — and how well you follow their advice. Feng is an expert on supportive communication — the processes through which people seek, provide and respond to various forms of social support, whether in person or through social media. She also researches cultural and gender similarities and differences in how people give and receive advice and comfort. She joined UC Davis in 2006, after earning her doctorate at Purdue University. She is also an affiliate member of the UC Davis Feminist Research Institute and a member of UC Davis Health’s Center for Health Care Policy and Research. “She has become one of the go-to people on campus when researchers need consultation on problems related to communication and culture,” Li Zhang, interim dean of the Division of Social Sciences in the College of Letters and Science, wrote in nominating Feng.
Aldrin Gomes, Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior, College of Biological Sciences; and Department of Physiology and Membrane Biology, School of Medicine
How can we better understand cardiovascular diseases? Gomes’ research studies the molecular mechanisms of signal transduction and how biological pathways within cells control the degradation of proteins. “Dr. Gomes is an ideal recipient of this recognition; he is an outstanding colleague, teacher and researcher,” said W. Martin Usrey, neurobiology, physiology and behavior department chair. “His research is at the forefront of defining and understanding cardiac proteasomes in connection with primary diseases such as diabetic and inherited cardiomyopathies.” Gomes joined UC Davis in 2008 and has active grants with the National Institute of Health and the American Heart Association. He is a fellow of the American Physiological Society and a Hellman Fellow. Gomes conducted his postdoctoral work at the University of Miami Medical School from 1999 to 2004 and served as junior faculty at UCLA from 2004 through 2007. He received a doctorate in biochemistry and a bachelor’s degree, both from the University of the West Indies-St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago.
Yuming He, Department of East Asian Languages and Culture, College of Letters and Science
He, who studied at Peking University and UC Berkeley, came to UC Davis in 2012. She teaches classes on traditional Chinese fiction, major writers of China and classical Chinese. Her book Home and the World: Editing the “Glorious Ming” in Woodblock-Printed Books of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries won the 2015 Joseph Levenson Book Prize given by the Association for Asian Studies. “Professor He has received international acclaim for her scholarship on visual, literary and theatrical culture in Ming China,” Susan Kaiser, interim dean of the Division of Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies, wrote in her letter nominating He. “She is an excellent teacher who challenges students to make critical and creative connections between Chinese culture in the 16th and 17th centuries and their own lives, times and cultures. Professor He has already established her record as a colleague who performs excellent service in her department and beyond and is a prolific scholar at an early stage in her career.”
David Horton, School of Law
He is a prolific and influential trusts and estates scholar whom Kevin R. Johnson, dean of the law school, has called “perhaps the most promising scholar of his generation in the field.” Since joining the law faculty in 2012, Horton has published nearly a dozen articles, placing them in the California Law Review, Georgetown Law Journal, Vanderbilt Law Review and other leading journals. In 2014, his article “In Partial Defense of Probate” won the Association of American Law Schools Scholarly Paper Competition, and his work has been cited well over 100 times in articles by other scholars. He is a popular and gifted teacher, as evidenced by his selection as the winner of the School of Law’s 2015 Distinguished Teaching Award. He is also an active member of the UC Davis community, serving on the School of Law’s Admissions and Appointments committees, and on the Campus Judicial Board. Horton received his B.A. cum laude from Carleton College and his J.D. from the UCLA School of Law.
Tina Jeoh, Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, College of Engineering
She is noted for her work in developing sustainable biofuels and bio-based products. Jeoh is investigating how to best commercialize the conversion of cellulosic biomass — tough, fibrous plant parts such as straw, corn stalks or wood — into biofuels like ethanol. When compared to gasoline, this can cut greenhouse gas emissions in half. Her lab has also developed new methods for microencapsulating proteins, probiotics and other bioproducts in food and pharmaceutical applications. “Tina is an extraordinary scholar and mentor who has significantly advanced the science and engineering of sustainable fuel production and provided outstanding innovations in delivery of bioactive materials for health and nutrition,” said Bryan Jenkins, chair of the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering. In addition to research, Jenkins added that Jeoh is dedicated to advancing gender equality in the sciences and has “contributed enormously to STEM education and to enhancing opportunities for all.” Jeoh joined UC Davis in 2008. She earned her doctorate in biological and environmental engineering from Cornell University.
Alissa Kendall, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, College of Engineering
She is using a multidisciplinary approach to mitigate climate change. Her work combines principles of industrial ecology and engineering to develop and apply life cycle analysis methods to transportation technologies, civil infrastructure and agricultural production systems. Amit Kanvinde, chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, said Kendall brings together key areas of study to address a pressing global issue: “Her considerable breadth of inquiry is inspired by a common problem — the urgent need for climate change mitigation solutions.” Kanvinde added that Kendall has had remarkable success in winning research grants to do this. She has received a number of honors and awards for her work, including a Hellman Fellowship in 2009, and in 2013, Kendall was the first woman to receive the International Society of Industrial Ecology’s biannual Laudise Young Researcher Prize. Kendall joined UC Davis in 2007. She received a joint doctorate from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor’s School of Natural Resources and Environment, and the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
Emily Solari, School of Education
Her work has the potential to impact millions of children who are at risk for difficulties learning to read. Solari looks for the best ways to intervene, focusing on early identification and intervention, the development of curricula and techniques, and instruction and professional development for teachers. Her work has focused on English-language learners, children with specific reading disabilities and children with autism spectrum disorders. She is also director of the UC Davis Reading and Academic Development Center, which provides evidence-based educational services for people with reading difficulties. “I’m not sure if there is a ceiling to her growth, but if there is I’m sure it’s not yet in sight,” said Peter Mundy, associate dean for Academic Personnel and Research in the School of Education. Solari joined UC Davis in 2011, from the University of Texas Health Science Center Houston’s Children Learning Institute. She earned her doctorate at UC Santa Barbara and was a postdoctoral fellow at Lehigh University.