LAURELS: Career With ‘Cherry’ on Top

Plus, More Honors for Faculty, Staff and Transportation Services

Distinguished Professor Simon Cherry delivers lecture in front of title slide, "A Matter of Time"
Distinguished Professor Simon Cherry delivers the Benedict Cassen Lecture in June during the annual meeting of the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging.


  • Simon Cherry, College of Engineering and UC Davis Health
  • Michele Barbato, College of Engineering
  • Karen McDonald, College of Engineering
  • Heather Bischel, College of Engineering
  • Raquel Aldana, School of Law
  • Transportation Services
  • Lisa Brown, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
  • Jemi Okolo, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
  • Gwen Arnold, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
  • Elizabeth Dui, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

The Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging recently presented its Benedict Cassen Prize to UC Davis’ Simon Cherry for his “seminal contributions” to the field, including his co-leadership role in the development of EXPLORER, the world’s first total-body scanner using positron emission tomography, or PET.


EXPLORER PET scanner, bright blue opening, with EXPLORER name on the side

VIDEO: UC Davis Health is home to the first ever total-body PET scanner, a game changer in diagnosing and treating many diseases, such as cancer, arthritis and cardiovascular disease. Read more.

“You don’t do this on your own,” said Cherry, distinguished professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, College of Engineering, and the Department of Radiology, UC Davis Health. “I’ve had the fortune of collaborating with some tremendous people throughout my career, and, if it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t have been able to do the work that we’ve done. I would be nothing, nothing without all the other people — the students, the postdocs, the faculty that I collaborate with. I owe them an enormous debt of gratitude.” 

The society’s Education and Research Foundation gives the Cassen prize every two years in recognition of outstanding achievement and work leading to a major advance in nuclear medicine science. The award’s namesake invented the rectilinear radioisotope scanner — the first instrument capable of making an image of radiotracer distribution in body organs of living patients.

Cherry received his $25,000 prize and delivered the Benedict Cassen Lecture in June during the society’s annual meeting, held this year in Vancouver, British Columbia. In his lecture, “A Matter of Time,” he discussed time and its role in nuclear medicine, from historical developments occurring over decades to technologies that can detect photons with a precision of tens of picoseconds. 

Read the complete story by Noah Pflueger-Peters, content strategist, College of Engineering.

Michele Barbato and Karen McDonald headshots
Michele Barbato and Karen McDonald

More from the College of Engineering:

  • Michele Barbato, professor, Department of Civil Engineering — Recipient of a 2021 Outstanding Reviewer Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers, for his work for the Journal of Composites for Construction.
  • Karen McDonald, distinguished professor, Department of Chemical Engineering — Recipient of the Daniel I.C. Wang Award from the American Chemical Society’s Division of Biochemical Technology and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers’ Society of Biological Engineering, for excellence in  biochemical engineering. Read the complete story by Noah Pflueger-Peters.

Heather Bischel headshot
Heather Bischel

Heather Bischel, assistant professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, recently received a CAREER grant from the National Science Foundation.

CAREER is shorthand for the Faculty Early Career Development Program, which describes the awards as the NSF’s most prestigious in support of faculty members beginning their independent careers and “who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization.”Bischel’s CAREER project is titled “PFAS-BioAction: Innovative Treatment of Municipal Solid Waste Organics Through Insect-Mediated Bioprocessing and Sequestration of Poly- and Perfluoroalkyl Substances.” She will investigate the potential of  black soldier fly larvae to treat and degrade persistent and toxic contaminants such as PFAS (poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances). that are often present in landfilled organic wastes.

Raquel Aldana headshot
Raquel Aldana

Raquel Aldana, a Martin Luther King Jr. Professor of Law, has accepted an invitation to join the Council on Foreign Relations, the independent, nonpartisan U.S. membership organization, think tank and publisher.

Membership in the 101-year-old council comprises more than 5,000 U.S. citizens, including scholars, government officials, journalists, students, religious leaders, business executives and nonprofit professionals, among them many of the most prominent leaders in international affairs.

The council provides resources for its members and a forum for discussion, without taking positions. Instead, the council’s website declares, “Our goal is to start a conversation in this country about the need for Americans to better understand the world.”

Aldana joined UC Davis in 2017 as associate vice chancellor for academic diversity — the first to hold the position. She joined the law school at the same time and has been a full-time faculty member since  stepping down from her associate vice chancellor role in 2020.

Her research has focused on transitional justice, criminal justice reforms and sustainable development in Latin America, as well as immigrant rights.

Before UC Davis, she was a professor of law at the University of the Pacific’s McGeorge School of Law, Sacramento, and the William S. Boyd School of Law, University of Nevada.

The International Parking and Mobility Institute announced that it will present a 2022 award of merit to Transportation Services for its operational pivot during the pandemic from monthly to daily parking rates, allowing for flexible commute planning.

Perry Eggleston headshot
Perry Eggleston

The awards presentation is scheduled as part of the institute’s Parking and Mobility Conference and Expo, July 24-27, in New Orleans.

The international award comes on the heels of state recognition for Transportation Services, named 2021 Public Parking Program of the Year by the California Mobility and Parking Association (which up until March of this year was known as the California Public Parking Association).

“The tragedy of the pandemic opened a door for us, and we decided to enact a yearslong sustainable commuter plan in a matter of months,” said Perry Eggleston, executive director of Transportation Services. “Paying for parking in bulk as opposed to a la carte presents issues for most of today’s commuters who need flexibility now — especially in the face of flexible work modes or public health crises.

“We knew campus parking was going to be flipped on its head,” he added. This meant onboarding ParkMobile, transitioning to license plate recognition technology, developing a new daily pricing structure and communicating the change to the entire campus.”

Read more on the Transportation Services website.

4 headshots
From left: Lisa Brown, Jemi Okolo, Gwen Arnold and Elizabeth Dui.

The College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences recently presented its Eleanor and Harry Walker Academic Advising Awards for 2022:

  • Lisa Brown, academic student advisor, with the Department of Plant Sciences
  • Jemi Okolo, academic advisor, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics
  • Gwen Arnold, lead faculty advisor, Department of Environmental Science and Policy  
  • Elizabeth Dui, peer advisor, Department of Nutrition

“Faculty, staff and peer advisors provide a critical network of support for our students, guiding them along the path toward graduation,” said Sue Ebeler, associate dean of undergraduate academic programs, who oversaw the Walker advising awards committee. “Along the way, advisors support students in meeting academic requirements to complete their degrees, as well as connecting students to a diverse array of campus resources. Advisors help to create a rich and engaging environment for our students to thrive academically, professionally and personally.”

Harry Walker, a professor in the Department of Land, Air and Water Resources for more than 40 years, and his wife, Eleanor, created the awards to celebrate excellence and innovation in academic advising. Harry died in 2012 and Eleanor died in 2021.

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

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Dateline Staff: Dave Jones, editor, 530-752-6556,; Cody Kitaura, News and Media Relations specialist, 530-752-1932,

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