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LAURELS: 2 new fellows of California Academy of Sciences

By Dave Jones on October 13, 2015 in University

Two professors who study far-ranging aspects of ecology  — from primate interactions with snakes and leopards to chemical communication in insects — are UC Davis’ newest fellows of the California Academy of Sciences.

Anthropologist Lynne Isbell and chemical ecologist Walter Leal are due to be honored with 10 other new fellows at the academy’s annual meeting Tuesday (Oct. 13) in San Francisco. The academy selects its fellows in recognition of their contributions to the natural sciences.


Isbell earned a UC Davis Ph.D. in animal behavior in 1990 and joined the anthropology faculty in 1996. Her research focuses on primate behavior and ecology, particularly food competition, ranging behavior, predation and dispersal. She also investigates visual neuroscience and primate interactions with species as diverse as ants, snakes and leopards.

Today she is using GPS technology to study leopard-primate interactions in Kenya, and collaborating with neuroscientists to examine primate neuronal responses to snakes.

Her book, The Fruit, the Tree and the Serpent: Why We See So Well, received the 2014 W.W. Howells Book Prize from the American Anthropological Association for best book in biological anthropology.


Leal came to UC Davis in 2000 as a faculty member in the Department of Entomology, where he subsequently served as chair. He’s now affiliated with the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology in the College of Biological Sciences.

He is internationally known for his pioneering work in insect olfaction. He has identified and synthesized complex pheromones from a number of insects. He and his laboratory discovered the molecular underpinnings that make DEET effective in repelling mosquitos.

Educated in Brazil and Japan, Leal was the first non-Japanese scientist to earn tenure in the Japan Ministry of Agriculture. He is a member of the Royal Entomological Society (honorary fellow), the American Association for the Advancement of Science (fellow), the Entomological Society of America and the Brazilian Academy of Sciences. He is co-chair of the 2016 International Congress of Entomology.


The German economics association Verein für Socialpolitik recently honored UC Davis’ Alan Taylor and his co-author for their paper “Credit Booms Gone Bust: Monetary Policy, Leverage Cycles and Financial Crises, 1870-2008.”

Taylor, a professor in the Department of Economics and the Graduate School of Management, wrote the article with Moritz Schularick of the Bonn Graduate School of Economics.

The association deemed “Credit Booms Gone Bust” the best paper published on economic history during 2012-15, and for this achievement the authors will receive a Schmölders Prize.

“We had a lot of high quality submissions, but your paper impressed us by the way you bring economic history to a key debate in macroeconomics,” Nikolaus Wolf, economics professor at Humboldt University of Berlin, wrote to Taylor and Schularick.


The Society for Personality and Social Psychology recently announced that it will present its 2015 Distinguished Scholar Award to Phillip Shaver, distinguished professor emeritus of psychology and director of the Adult Attachment Lab.

A selection committee called Shaver “one of the most productive and talented contributors to research on personality, emotion and relationships during recent decades.”

“His pioneering theories, methods, and findings have revolutionized the study of interpersonal relationships,” the selection committee wrote. “Indeed, one cannot imagine the field of close relationships without Professor Shaver’s contributions.”


Chancellor’s Science Fellow Amandeep Kaur has been named a 3rd Congressional District Woman of the Year.

She is among 35 women so honored by Democratic Rep. John Garamendi and his Women’s Initiative Network. Garamendi’s district includes UC Davis.

“Today, we’re identifying and celebrating women who are outstanding leaders, women who have contributed to the betterment of their communities,” Garamendi said during the awards ceremony Sept. 22.

In a booklet of profiles on all of the recipients, the congressman’s office describes Kaur as “a passionate leader and advocate for underrepresented student groups at UC Davis.”

Kaur earned a UC Davis Ph.D. in physics in 2014, and, while pursing her degree, she served as graduate student assistant to the chancellor. In this role, she hosted Diversity Dialogues on Graduate Education — strategy sessions to empower female students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM; students of color, international students, undocumented students, student veterans, dtudent parents, LGBTQIA-identified students, and students with visible-invisible disabilities.

“She says her true calling is public service and making an impact in the lives of people,” her award profile states.

In 2013, she founded a workshop series called Emerging Leaders in Public Policy and Service, or ELIPPS, and expanded it last summer to include internships for graduate students at state and regional government agencies, and a nonprofit public-benefit organization, all in Sacramento. She’s also the director of Empowering Women in STEM.


Dean Kevin R. Johnson of the School of Law is the recipient of a Diversity Visionary Award from Insight Into Diversity magazine. The award recognizes significant contributions to diversity in higher education.

Johnson is the Mabie-Apallas Professor of Public Interest Law and Chicana/o Studies.

“As a legal scholar, he has concentrated on issues of civil rights and immigration, illuminating ways in which the law can promote a more equitable society for people of all races and backgrounds,” states an award profile that appeared in the magazine’s July-August issue.

“Wearing his administrative hat, Johnson has worked tirelessly to ensure that UC Davis School of Law is among the most diverse of all top-tier law schools and the most welcoming for students of all nationalities, ages, faiths, immigration statuses and backgrounds. He has worked to recruit top legal scholars from a diverse range of backgrounds to the faculty, and he often personally contacts promising minority student applicants to encourage them to enroll.”


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Media contact(s)

Dave Jones, Dateline, 530-752-6556,