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LAURELS: Colin Milburn Wins Dean’s Prize

By Dateline Staff on April 20, 2020 in University


  • Colin Milburn, English, Cinema and Digital Media, Science and Technology Studies
  • Hemant Bhargava, Graduate School of Management
  • Kim Elsbach, Graduate School of Management
  • Gary S. May, chancellor
  • Susan Ustin, Department of Land, Air and Water Resources
  • Lynn Kimsey, Department of Entomology and Nematology
  • Robert Kimsey, Department of Entomology and Nematology
  • Walter Leal, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology
  • Bryan Jenkins, Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering

Professor Colin Milburn has been named the inaugural recipient of the Letters and Science Dean’s Prize for Distinguished Contributions to the Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Milburn’s research focuses on the relationships among literature, science and culture, and includes work in science fiction, the history of science, nanotechnology, video games and the digital humanities.

“Professor Milburn embodies what makes the College of Letters and Science great: a fierce passion for the liberal arts and sciences, a true belief in the production and dissemination of original ideas, and a deep commitment to the public good,” said Ari Kelman, interim dean. The prize includes a privately funded award of $10,000.

Milburn holds appointments in the departments of English and Cinema and Digital Media, and is the director of Science and Technology Studies. He was the inaugural appointee to the Gary Snyder Chair Science and the Humanities, in 2012.

His recent books include Respawn: Gamers, Hackers and Technogenic Life and Mondo Nano: Fun and Games in the World of Digital Matter.

Read more in this article by Jeffrey Day on the College of Letters and Science website.

Hemany Bhargava mushot

Professor Hemant Bhargava of the Graduate School of Management and two-co-authors are still making news for their pioneering paper on advertising mechanisms in internet search engines, published in 2007.

Thirteen years later, “Implementing Sponsored Search in Web Search Engines: Computational Evaluation of Alternative Mechanisms,” is the recipient of the Test of Time Paper Award for publications dated 2003-07, from the Informs Journal of Computing. 

Bhargava joined the GSM faculty in 2003 and has held the Jerome and Elsie Suran Chair in Technology Management since 2011. He wrote the award-winning paper with Juan Feng, professor in the Department of Information Systems, College of Business, City University of Hong Kong; and David M. Pennock, a principal researcher with Microsoft Research.

“In the early 2000s, as we started this collaboration, internet search engines were only a few years young ... [and] we puzzled over how free search engines like Google could make money, never imagining today’s annual revenues well over $100 billion.” the co-authors said in a retrospective.

According to the Informs journal, “The paper reports extensive computational simulations, allowing the authors to compare expected revenue obtained from a variety of ad-placement strategies. The study provides insights into the impact of attention decay and other key factors.

“This highly cited paper continues to be an important reference for the community of researchers studying this rapidly growing sector of the advertising market. The work is a very nice example of the reach of operations research techniques into the new economy.”

Read the authors’ retrospective, “A Look Back: How Web Search Ads Emerged, Transformed Business,” on the Graduate School of Management website.

Professor of management Kim Elsbach, who holds the Stephen G. Newberry Endowed Chair in Leadership in the Graduate School of Management, has managed her way into the top 20 (10 women and 10 men) Long Distance All-Stars in U.S. Masters Swimming.

She won seven national championships in 2019 — three open-water events and four postals, or one-hour swims in a pool — earning 91 points, tops in the 55- to 59-year-old division and second-highest among the all-stars.

Chancellor Gary S. May has been named the recipient of two national awards:

  • Excellence in Education Award, from the National Medical Fellowships and the NMF Bay Area Council, which told the chancellor: “Your leadership in higher education, passion for mentorship, advocacy of diversity in STEM and contributions to the field of engineering makes you a true champion in your field. You are someone our young scholars should emulate as professionals and individuals.”
  • Career Services Champion Award, from the National Association of Colleges and Employers, which presents the award annually to a college or university president or chancellor from an accredited institution of higher education who supports the establishment of, and demonstrates forward-thinking leadership in support of, career services/education.

Susan Ustin mugshot

Susan Ustin, Distinguished Professor emeritus of environmental and resource sciences in the Department of Land, Air and Water Resources, and associate director of the John Muir Institute of the Environment, has been elected a fellow of the Ecological Society of America, recognized for pioneering the use of remote sensing technology for detecting changes in plant community characteristics, biological diversity and land use, and for her continued influence on the field of ecology.

The Pacific Branch of the Entomological Society of America switched its annual meeting to a virtual format this year, which meant virtual award presentations for three faculty members:

  • Lynn Kimsey, professor, Department of Entomology and Nematology, recipient of the branch’s highest honor, the C.W. Woodworth Award, named after Charles William Woodworth (1865-1940), who founded the UC Berkeley Department of Entomology. Kimsey is a UC Davis alumna, earning her undergraduate degree in 1975 and doctorate in 1979, and joined the faculty in 1989. She has administered the university’s world-renowned Bohart Museum of Entomology since 1990.
  • Robert Kimsey, forensic entomologist and associate adjunct professor, Department of Entomology and Nematology, recipient of the Distinction in Student Mentoring Award. He is holds two UC Davis degrees,  Bachelor of Science, 1977, and doctorate, 1984, and joined the faculty in 1990.
  • Walter Leal, chemical ecologist and distinguished professor, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, and former chair, Department of Entomology (now the Department of Entomology and Nematology), recipient of the Distinguished Achievement Award in Teaching. A member of the faculty since 2000, Leal has taught insect physiology for 13 years and biochemistry for six years.

The Pacific Branch takes in 11 western states, U.S. territories, and parts of Canada and Mexico.

Read more about the recipients in this blog post by Kathy Keatley Garvey, communications specialist with the Department of Entomology and Nematology.

Bryan Jenkins mugshot

The American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers announced Bryan Jenkins as the recipient of the 2020 James R. and Karen A. Gilley Academic Leadership Award, given annually to a department head in an accredited biological and-or agricultural engineering program around the world.

“This award better recognizes the outstanding faculty, students and staff of the department,” said Jenkins, chair of the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering since 2014. “I have been privileged to work in a great department and a great university.”

His duties as chair have included overseeing the department’s 100th anniversary celebration (in 2015) and the hiring of eight faculty members. All the while, he has continued his teaching, mentorship, research and professional service in energy systems and the conversion of biomass to energy.

A faculty member for 30 years, he holds the title of Distinguished Professor and is fellow of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers. He is the recipient of an Outstanding Achievement Award from the U.S. Department of Energy, the Linneborn Prize from the European Union and the Outstanding Senior Faculty Research Award from the College of Engineering.

Read more in this article by Noah Pflueger-Peters on the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering website.

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

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About the author(s)

Dateline Staff Dave Jones, editor, can be reached at 530-752-6556 or Cody Kitaura, news and media relations specialist, can be reached at 530-752-1932 or