LAURELS: Carvajal-Carmona Selected for Presidential Leadership Academy



  • Luis G. Carvajal-Carmona, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine
  • Jesús Velázquez, Department of Chemistry
  • Caitlin Patler, Department of Sociology
  • Erin Hamilton, Department of Sociology
  • Robin Savinar, Department of Sociology
  • Jason Smucny, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, and Center for Neuroscience
  • Angel Desai, Department of Internal Medicine and Global Migration Center

Luis G. Carvajal-Carmona headshot
Luis G. Carvajal-Carmona

Professor Luis G. Carvajal-Carmona of UC Davis Health has been selected by the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities for its Presidential Leadership Academy, or La Academia de Liderazgo, a one-year program is designed to prepare the next generation of culturally diverse leaders for executive and senior-level positions in higher education. 

Carvajal-Carmona holds the Auburn Community Cancer Endowed Chair in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine, School of Medicine; and serves as the associate director for basic science at the Comprehensive Cancer Center and co-director of the Community Engagement Program at the Clinical and Translational Science Center.

He is the founder and director of Latinos United for Cancer Health  Advancement, or LUCHA, an initiative that aims to increase Latino participation in cancer screenings, research studies and clinical trials. LUCHA’s ultimate goal is to improve cancer health outcomes among Latinos by using community-driven and culturally and linguistically appropriate and respectful approaches.

He is the third UC Davis faculty member to be chosen for the 3-year-old academy, following law professor Raquel Aldana in 2019 and history professor  Lorena Oropeza in 2020. Oropeza also serves as associate vice chancellor for academic diversity, a position formerly held by Aldana.

The academy seeks to increase the number of talented individuals who aspire to leadership positions at Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) and emerging HSIs, such as UC Davis. More than a dozen nationally recognized current and emeriti presidents and senior-level administrators serve on the faculty. Mentorship with a university president is a key component, as well as the development of a special project designed to have an impact at the fellow’s current institution.

— Lisa Howard, senior public information officer, UC Davis Health

Jesús Velázquez headshot
Jesús Velázquez

Assistant professor Jesús Velázquez has been named to Chemical & Engineering News’ Talented 12, class of 2021. The Talented 12 program highlights early career researchers in the chemical sciences who are tackling difficult global problems.

“C&EN’s Talented 12 is an annual opportunity to take a look at the young visionaries and entrepreneurs who are taking the chemical sciences in new and innovative directions,” Bibiana Campos Seijo, editor-in-chief and vice president of C&EN Media Group, said in a statement.

Velázquez was recognized for his research on the design of solid-state materials for use in renewable energy and environmental remediation applications. Each of the Talented 12 will give a snapshot of their life and research during a free virtual symposium Sept. 27 and 28. Register for the event on C&EN's website.

Velázquez joined the Department of Chemistry in 2016. His other early career honors include a National Science Foundation CAREER grant and recognition as a Royal Society of Chemistry emerging investigator; a Research Corporation for Scientific Advancement Scialog Fellow; a Cottrell Scholar; and a faculty scholar in the UC Davis Center for the Advancement of Multicultural Perspectives on Science (CAMPOS).

— Becky Oskin, content strategist, College of Letters and Science 

Caitlin Patler, Erin Hamilton and Robin Savinar headshots
From left: Caitlin Patler, Erin Hamilton and Robin Savinar.


Two faculty members and a doctoral student in sociology recently received the Best Publication Award for 2021 from the American Sociological Association’s Sociology of Mental Health Section.

Assistant Professor Caitlin Patler, Associate Professor Erin Hamilton and Ph.D. student Robin Savinar won the award for “The Limits of Gaining Rights While Remaining Marginalized: The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program and the Psychological Well-Being of Latina/o Undocumented Youth,” which is due to be published in the September edition of Social Forces.

All three award recipients are affiliates of the UC Davis Global Migration Center. In addition, Patler and Hamilton are affiliated with the Center for Poverty and Inequality Research, while Patler also is affiliated with the Human Rights program and Hamilton with the Hemispheric Institute on the Americas.

— Karen Nikos-Rose, senior public information officer, News and Media Relations

Jason Smucny headshot
Jason Smucny

Jason Smucny of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, School of Medicine, and the Center for Neuroscience recently received a Mentored Research Scientist Career Development Award from the National Institutes of Health.

In his research, Smucny uses computational psychiatry — combining different data types — to identify ways to improve the understanding and treatment of mental illness. 

The NIH award provides support for intensive supervised career development in the biomedical, behavioral or clinical sciences leading to research independence. Smucny will participate in a multiyear training and mentoring program in machine learning and deep learning skills, including studies with computer science professor Ian Davidson, an expert in machine learning and data mining algorithm development.

Smucny said he will use data from the ABCD Study to look for biomarkers that might be able to predict the longitudinal trajectory of psychoticlike experiences in children, as these may be risk factors for mental illness in adulthood (while also suggesting the need for early treatment). ABCD is the largest long-term study of brain development and child health in the United States. 

Another area where deep learning may be able to help people with psychosis is with medication. Currently there are no biomarkers that can predict how a patient with schizophrenia will respond to a particular medication. 

— Lisa Howard, senior public information officer, UC Davis Health

Angel Desai headshot
Angel Desai

Angel Desai, an adult infectious disease specialist at UC Davis Health and an affiliate of the university’s Global Migration Center, has been elected to  the independent, nonpartisan Council on Foreign Relations as a Stephen M. Kellen Term Member.

Desai is an assistant clinical professor in the Department of Internal Medicine, School of Medicine, with expertise in emerging infectious diseases, outbreaks, special pathogens, infection prevention and control, and tropical medicine.

The New York City-based Council on Foreign Relations is a membership organization of more than 5,000 U.S. citizens, including top government officials, renowned scholars, and leaders from the business and nonprofit sectors.

The Kellen Term Member Program, which aims to cultivate the next generation of foreign policy leaders, “encourages promising young individuals from diverse backgrounds to engage in a sustained conversation on international affairs and U.S. foreign policy.” Applicants must be 30 to 36 years old on Jan. 1 of the year of application.

The council installs a new class of term members annually. Terms run for five years.

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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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