LAURELS: Geochemical Society Recognizes Navrotsky, Casey, Montañez

Photo: Faculty members, posing outside, in a line
Honored by the Geochemical Society, from left: Alexandra Navrotsky, William Casey and Isabel Montañez.

Quick Summary

  • More new fellows: Faltis and Davis
  • Perschbacher elected to American Law Institute
  • Law professor Ventry joins IRS Advisory Council
  • Awards for law school's Bennoune and Shestowsky
  • Psychologist Bleidorn receives SAGE Young Scholar Award
  • Statistician Wang earns place in award statistics
  • Mathematician Luli wins NSF Early-Career Development Award
  • Genome Center's Dennis named Sloan Research Fellow
  • UC Davis named Tree Campus USA for 8th year in a row

The Geochemical Society announced major awards and fellow status for three UC Davis professors. Presentations are scheduled during the Goldschmidt Conference, to be held in Yokohama, Japan, in June.

  • Alexandra Navrotsky, professor, Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science; director, Nanomaterials in the Environment, Agriculture and Technology Organized Research Unit; and interim dean of the Division of Mathematical and Physical Sciences in the College of Letters and Science — Victor Moritz Goldschmidt Award, given for major achievements in geochemistry or cosmochemistry, and named for V.M. Goldschmidt, considered the founder of modern geochemistry and crystal chemistry. With this award, Navrotsky is named a fellow of the society.
  • William Casey, professor, Department of Chemistry — Clair C. Patterson Award for environmental geochemistry, given for an innovative breakthrough in fundamental science in that field.
  • Isabel Montañez, professor, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences — Named a Geochemical Society Fellow, bestowed upon scientists who have, over some years, made major contributions to the field of geochemistry.


More new fellows:

  • Christian Faltis, professor, School of Education — American Educational Research Association, recognizing substantial research accomplishments. Faltis holds the Dolly and David Fiddyment Chair in Teacher Education, and serves as co-director of his school’s teacher education program.
  • Cristina Davis, professor, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering — American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, recognizing her outstanding contributions to noninvasive chemical and biological sensing tools, algorithms and applications.


Professor Dennis Ventry of the School of Law has been appointed to the Internal Revenue Service Advisory Council. Ventry is an expert in tax law and legal ethics.

The council comprises tax professionals and academics, and representatives of small and large businesses, the payroll community and the public. They advise the IRS on tax administration policy, programs and initiatives.

Ventry’s research interests include tax expenditure analysis, family taxation, professional responsibility and standards of care, tax filing and administration, tax compliance, public finance, and tax and legal history. In addition, he was recently added as a co-author on the casebook, Federal Income Taxation, with Daniel L. Simmons (UC Davis professor emeritus of law), Paul McDaniel and Martin McMahon Jr.


Rex Perschbacher, professor and former dean of the School of Law, has been elected to the American Law Institute, widely considered the nation’s most important nongovernmental organization in the area of legal reform.

Perschbacher served as dean from 1998 to 2008 and as associate dean from 1993 to 1998. He has taught at UC Davis since 1981 with an emphasis on the areas of civil procedure, professional responsibility and clinical teaching. He received the law school’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 1992 and a Special Citation Affirmative Action and Diversity Achievement Award in 2001.

Membership in the American Law Institute is a distinct professional honor, limited to 3,000. At this time, UC Davis counts 18 faculty members and emeriti as members, for one of the highest proportions of any law school — an indicator of the UC Davis law school faculty's involvement in cutting-edge legal research and the most pressing legal and social issues of our times.

The institute oversees projects that often form the basis of laws enacted across the country and become standards cited in judges’ legal opinions, lawyers’ briefs and scholarly articles.

See all of UC Davis’ members of the institute.


More honors in the School of Law:

  • Professor Karima Bennoune — Rights and Leadership Award from the International Action Network for Gender Equity and Law, recognizing her commitment to women’s human rights, for her work to improve people's understanding of fundamentalist ideologies, and for her efforts on other issues in the same vein, for example, by supporting change agents of peace. The network comprises lawyers who volunteer their time to promote and help secure equity and rights for women and girls around the world. The award presentation is set for April 12 in San Francisco at the network's third anniversary celebration, "Acts of Courage, Seeds of Hope," where Bennoune, as the Rights and Leadership Award recipient, has a place on the program as the keynote speaker.
  • Professor Donna Shestowsky  Mangano Dispute Resolution Advancement Award from the Hugh L. Carey Center for Dispute Resolution at St. John’s University, New York. The annual award recognizes scholars whose published empirical research has advanced and furthered the understanding of the values and skills of dispute resolution. Shestowsky’s award relates to the research she did for “The Psychology of Procedural Preference: How Litigants Evaluate Legal Procedures Ex Ante,” published in the Iowa Law Review in 2014. The award presentation is set for March 14 at the Carey Center’s annual reception.


Wiebke Bleidorn, assistant professor of psychology, is one of six psychologists nationwide selected to receive 2016 SAGE Young Scholars Awards given by the Foundation for Personality and Social Psychology in collaboration with SAGE Publications. Bleidorn was featured recently in Time magazine for her cross-cultural study of the self-esteem gender gap in 48 countries.


Distinguished Professor Jane-Ling Wang of the Department of Statistics is the recipient of the Gottfried E. Noether Senior Scholar Award from the American Statistical Association.

The award is presented annually to a distinguished senior researcher/teacher in the field of nonparametric statistics, which allows for analysis of a broad range of data types, such as sets with no numerical significance — gender, hair color or hometown are good examples.

The Noether awards — senior scholar and young scholar — were established in 1999 as a tribute to Gottfried Emanuel Noether, a leading scholar in nonparametric statistics with interests in research and teaching. Each award recipient is invited to deliver a lecture.

The late Peter Hall, who was a UC Davis distinguished professor, received the Noether Senior Scholar Award in 2007.


Kevin Luli, assistant professor, Department of Mathematics, is the recipient of a prestigious Early-Career Development Award from the National Science Foundation. He’s getting $480,000 over five years to support his research and education-related activities.

He’s researching obstacle avoidance algorithms, which could help in designing automated systems for guiding unmanned aerial vehicles through complex terrains.

The NSF’s Faculty Early-Career Development Program supports faculty who perform outstanding research, are excellent educators, and who integrate education and research in their work. 


Megan Y. Dennis has been named a 2016 Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow in Neuroscience. She uses genomic and genetic techniques to explore the underlying causes of neurological disorders such as autism and intellectual disability.

She joined UC Davis last year as an assistant professor with appointments in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine (School of Medicine), Genome Center and MIND Institute.

The award comes with $55,000 over two years, money that Dennis said she will use to pursue research focused on characterizing the functional role that human duplicated genes play in neurological development and disease — namely in generating — “humanized” zebra fish. She said she hopes the work will offer insights into the underlying etiology of human neurological traits and disorders and pave the way for additional gene discovery and clinical applications with the potential to improve the lives of people suffering from diseases with no effective cures or treatment.

Read the UC Davis Health System news release.


The Arbor Day Foundation has named UC Davis a Tree Campus USA for the eighth year in a row. That’s every year since the foundation launched the designation to honor colleges and universities for their commitment to effective urban forest management.

 Tree Campus USA

“Students are eager to volunteer in their communities and become better stewards of the environment,” said Matt Harris, chief executive of the Arbor Day Foundation. “Participating in Tree Campus USA sets a fine example for other colleges and universities, while helping to create a healthier planet for us all.”

The nonprofit Arbor Day Foundation has helped U.S. campuses plant thousands of trees, and Tree Campus USA colleges and universities invested more than $36.8 million in campus forest management last year. More information about the program is available here.


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