Skip to main content
You are here

LAURELS: Hildreth elected to Harvard's Board of Overseers

By Dave Jones on June 2, 2014 in University News


Dean James Hildreth of the College of Biological Sciences has been elected to the Harvard Board of Overseers, one of the university’s two governing boards. He earned a bachelor’s degree there in 1979.


Hildreth traveled to Harvard for the May 29 announcement, which took place on commencement day — the official starting date for the new board members’ six-year terms. Harvard degree holders did the voting, choosing Hildreth and four others from among eight candidates, all nominated by the Harvard Alumni Association.

“I am excited to be on the board, and hope to be involved in efforts to sustain the availability of a Harvard education for students from disadvantaged backgrounds — as was the case for me back in 1975,” Hildreth said. “I am sure that the experience will help me be a much better leader for my students, faculty and staff."

After graduating from Harvard magna cum laude in chemistry, Hildreth went to Oxford University as a Rhodes scholar, earning his doctorate in immunology in 1982, and then to Johns Hopkins University, earning a medical degree in 1987.

He has been a UC Davis dean since 2011, coming here from Tennessee’s Meharry Medical College, where he served as director of the Center for AIDS Health Disparities Research.

In researching the mechanisms by which HIV subverts host pathways and molecules, Hildreth and his team discovered cholesterol to be active in HIV’s ability to penetrate cells, and how removing the fatty material from a cell’s membrane can block infection. This became the basis for developing topical microbicides — or chemical condoms — to block transmission of the virus.

Hildreth is a member of the Institute of Medicine (one of the National Academies of Science) and the Johns Hopkins Society of Scholars.


The National Association of College Stores recently presented its Innovation Achievement Award to UC Davis Stores for its Smart Start program, introduced in 2012 as an alternative to “the hectic and sometimes flawed nature of textbook reservations.”

Smart Start, developed in consultation with incoming students and UC Davis Stores’ student staff, encourages new students to visit the store to do their textbook shopping on move-in weekend, instead of reserving their books online. The store beckons student with a festive atmosphere and emphasizes student-to-student contact between freshmen and staff to create the most welcoming experience possible.”

Jason Lorgan, director of UC Davis Stores, received the award during the Campus Market Expo, or CAMEX, held in Dallas. He commended his entire team for the achievement and their student-driven focus, saying, “Thank you for all you do each day for our students, and in the case of this award, for listening to our students and acting on their advice.”


UC Davis is “home” (or the former home) or four of this year’s recipients of distinguished service awards from UC’s Agricultural and Natural Resources:

  • Eric Mussen, Cooperative Extension specialist (bees) in the Department of Entomology and Nematology, outstanding extension award.
  • Rob Atwill, director of Veterinary Medicine Extension, and Ken Tate, Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Plant Sciences, outstanding team award. They have collaborated since 1994 on a series of projects assessing the potential risk to rangeland surface-water quality and human health from livestock-associated pollutants. 
  • Pamela Geisel, recently retired as the statewide UC Master Gardener Program, outstanding leader award.

As individual award recipients, Mussen and Geisel received $2,000 each, while Atwill and Tate shared $5,000.


Diane Barrett is a new fellow of the Institute of Food Technologists and Paul Singh is a new member of the institute’s board of directors.

Barrett and Singh are both in the Department of Food Science and Technology, Barrett as a Cooperative Extension specialist, and Singh as a distinguished professor.

Barrett is a liaison between the fruit and vegetable industries of California and her university colleagues, conducts short courses on fruit and vegetable quality evaluation and processing methods, and carries out applied research. She has directed the UC Davis site for the National Science Foundation’s Center for Advanced Processing and Packaging for more than 10 years.

Singh, an engineer, uses computer-aided modeling in his research of heat and mass transfer in foods during drying, thermal processing, immersion frying, air-impingement processing, freezing and frozen storage. He also studies food breakdown during digestion using computational fluid dynamics, in vitro and in vivo systems. This research is aimed understanding the role of food material properties and designing future foods for health.


Dawn Sumner, professor, and Eric Cowgill, associate professor, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, have been elected fellows of the Geological Society of America.


Cooperative Extension specialist James Oltjen will be recognized as a new fellow in the American Society of Animal Science, and two other faculty members in animal science will receive awards when the society holds its annual meeting in July:

Oltjen, a specialist in animal management systems, is one of two new fellows in the “extension” category.

The award recipients:

  • Ermias Kebreab, professor, Sesnon Endowed Chair — American Feed Industry Association Award in Ruminant Nutrition Research, honoring research excellence in ruminant nutrition for work published within the last decade.
  • Alison Van Eenennaam, Cooperative Extension specialist — Extension Award for outstanding achievement in animal science outreach.


The Organization of American Historians recently presented its Avery O. Craven Award to Ari Kelman for his book A Misplaced Massacre: Struggling over the Memory of Sand Creek, published last year. Kelman is a professor of history and associate vice provost for honors in the Office of Undergraduate Education.

The Craven Award, named after a former president of the organization, is given annually to the author of the most original book on the coming of the Civil War, the Civil War years or the Era of Reconstruction, with the exception of works of purely military history — the exception recognizing Craven's Quaker convictions.

In a news release, the organization recognized Kelman’s insight and critical reflection in A Misplaced Massacre, in which he explores the paradoxes of creating a place of welcome, tolerance, and regeneration from the killing fields of war.

Founded in 1907, the Organization of American Historians is the largest learned society and professional organization dedicated to the teaching and study of the American past.


Homegrown honors:

The Cool Davis Foundation recently recognized Professor Andrew “Andy” Frank, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, as an Eco Hero for his pioneering work on plug-in hybrid electric vehicles that use fewer and cleaner energy resources.

The city and its Natural Resources Commission recently presented an Environmental Recognition Award to Isao Fujimoto, senior lecturer emeritus in the Department of Human Ecology (formerly Human and Community Development) and the Asian American Studies Program.

According to The Davis Enterprise: “As a lecturer at UC Davis, Fujimoto has mentored and inspired the community and regional leaders who founded the Davis Food Co-op and the Davis Farmers Market. He promoted organic farming in Yolo County, as well as similar developments throughout California and across the United States.

“He regularly held informal lectures and gatherings at his house in the 1970s and ’80s, with his home serving as a meeting place for people involved in sustainable agriculture, permaculture, organic gardening and farming, among other sustainable practices.”


The UC Davis California Lighting Technology Center recently LEEP-ed to an award for best use of lighting controls in a parking facility.

LEEP stands for the national campaign Lighting Energy Efficiency in Parking, a collaboration of the Building Owners and Managers Association International, the Green Parking Council and the International Facility Management Association, in association with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Alliance.

LEEP, in presenting its first set of awards, recognized the California Lighting Technology Center’s work at NorthBay VacaValley Hospital in Vacaville. The center undertook the demonstration project in collaboration with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Department of Energy.

Energy metering shows the control system is reducing annual energy use an additional 36.6 percent beyond the savings from replacing all luminaires with light-emitting diode luminaires, according to the California Lighting Technology Center.

Read more about the project.


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

Follow Dateline UC Davis on Twitter.


Media contact(s)

Dave Jones, Dateline, 530-752-6556,