LAURELS: Advising professionals recognized

Four academic advising professionals — faculty and staff alike — are the first at UC Davis to receive Excellence in Advising Awards at the regional level. The honorees:

  • Hwai-Jong Cheng, professor, Center for Neuroscience, in the “faculty advisor” category
  • Ed DePeters, professor, Department of Animal Science, in the “faculty advisor” category
  • Beth Floyd, director, Academic Advising, College of Letters and Science, in the “advising administrator” category
  • Melissa Whaley, student affairs officer, Department of Environmental Science and Policy, in the “advisory primary role” category

The awards are from the Pacific Region of the National Academic Advising Association, or NACADA. 

“I am especially proud of the fact that the advising excellence of both faculty and professional staff has been acknowledged by our NACADA region,” said Carolyn Thomas, vice provost and dean of Undergraduate Education. “These awards recognize our campus’s renewed dedication to student success.”

Academic Advising plans to nominate all four regional award recipients for national advising awards.

Cheng, Floyd and Whaley were among eight recipients of the campus’s 2015 Advising Awards, which honored Floyd as Outstanding Advising Administrator, Whaley as Outstanding Innovative Advisor and Cheng as Outstanding Faculty Advisor.

The other campus Advising Award recipients:

  • Perry Gee, Department of Chemistry — Outstanding Academic Advisor
  • Laura Knox, Deans Office, College of Letters and Science — Outstanding Peer Advisor
  • Eric Sanchez, assistant director, TRIO Scholars Program, Student Academic Success Center — Outstanding Student Affairs Advisor
  • Joanne Snapp, director, Health Professions, College of Biological Sciences — Outstanding Campus Collaborator
  • Julie King Zech, Dean’s Office, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences — Outstanding New Advisor


Ross Thompson, a distinguished professor of psychology, has been elected president of the board of directors of Zero to Three, a national nonprofit organization that promotes the health and development of children from birth to age 3.

Matthew Melmed, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based organization, called Thompson “one of the shining lights in the child development field. His voice will guide us as we build on our legacy of helping to create a better society for infants, toddlers and families.”

Thompson is a leading expert in early personality and socio-emotional development in the context of close relationships. He has worked on the applications of developmental relational science to public policy problems concerning children and families, such as divorce and child custody, child maltreatment, grandparent visitation rights, and research ethics.

He is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and the Association for Psychological Science; a founding member of the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child; and a member of the Scientific Advisory Board for the National Institute for Early Education Research.

He joined the Zero to Three board in December 2005, chairing many committees and most recently serving as vice president.

Zero to Three was founded in 1977 to bring together experts on parenting, child behavior and development, care and education, and public policymakers to help ensure children get a strong start in life. The organization reaches more than 2 million parents and tens of thousands of professionals annually.


The U.S. Animal Health Association recently presented its Medal of Distinction to Richard Breitmeyer, director of the UC Davis-based California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System, a partnership between the School of Veterinary Medicine and the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

The award recognizes outstanding leadership and service to the science-based, voluntary nonprofit association, which strives to protect animal and human health, through prevention and control of livestock and poultry diseases.

As director of the laboratory system, Breitmeyer oversees diagnostic services to veterinarians as well as livestock and poultry producers throughout the state. In addition to the flagship diagnostic laboratory at UC Davis, the system includes laboratories in Turlock, Tulare and San Bernardino.

Related story: Lab system wins $1.89 million federal grant for toxicology testing

Breitmeyer came to UC Davis as the laboratory system director in 2010, after having served since 1993 under three California governors as the first state veterinarian, attached to the California Department of Food and Agriculture. He joined the state agency as a veterinary medical officer in 1984.

Raised on an egg-producing poultry farm in Orange County, Breitmeyer holds two degrees from UC Davis: Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (1980) and Master’s of Preventive Veterinary Medicine (1988). Early in his career, he worked in private veterinary practices in Arcata and Arroyo Grande.


Two plant sciences professors — Kent Bradford and Gurdev Khush — are among Seed World magazine’s picks for its list of the 100 most transformational men and women in the seed industry in the last 100 years.

“These are individuals who have provided leadership during trying times, insight to complex issues and a commitment to something larger than self,” Seed World editors wrote in the magazine’s centennial edition, published this month.

The magazine recognized Bradford in connection with the UC Davis Seed Biotechnology Center, where he is the founding director. Seed World cites the Plant Breeding Academy as one of the center’s most prominent programs, hosting workshops in the United States, Asia, Europe and Africa, training seed industry personnel to become plant breeders and filling a shortfall in the profession.

Seed World lauded Gurdev Khush, an adjunct professor, for his 34 years at the helm of the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines, during which time the institute developed more than 300 breeding lines that have been released as new varieties by rice improvement programs throughout the world. One of those varieties is IR36, the most widely planted food crop ever grown. Since its creation, rice production has increased from 257 million tons to 686 million tons per year.


New fellows:

• Physics professor Kai Liu, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. The board of directors recognized Liu’s contributions to the “understanding of magneto-transport effects and magnetization reversal in nanostructures.” His research has implications in the field of integrated circuits and microprocessors — their energy consumption and structural integrity. Liu joined the faculty in 2001. He’s also a fellow of the American Physical Society and the Institute of Nanotechnology (United Kingdom).

Frank Zalom, distinguished professor of entomology, Royal Entomological Society, London. He’s an expert in integrated pest management, or IPM, whose research focuses on California specialty crops, including tree crops, grapes and berries, and tomatoes and other fruiting vegetables. He also studies international programs in IPM. A member of the UC Davis entomology department since 1980, Zalom also has fellowship in the Entomological Society of America, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the California Academy of Sciences.


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

Follow Dateline UC Davis on Twitter.


Media Resources

Dave Jones, Dateline, 530-752-6556,

Primary Category