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LAURELS: JaRue Manning, ‘Double’ Distinguished Emeritus

By Dateline Staff on March 14, 2017 in University

JaRue Manning recently received the Distinguished Emeritus Award for 2017. But, in his case, let’s call it the “Double” Distinguished Emeritus Award. For, he not only continues to teach microbiology, the field in which he took emeritus status in 2008, but also has educated himself in another discipline, viticulture and enology.

“Professor Manning literally reinvented himself after his retirement as a wine scholar,” Professor Wolf-Dietrich Heyer wrote in nominating Manning for the Distinguished Emeritus Award, given by the UC Davis Emeriti Association. Heyer is the chair of Manning’s home department, microbiology and molecular genetics in the College of Biological Sciences.

Andrew Waterhouse, professor of viticulture and enology, wrote a letter in support of the nomination, saying: “I can say without a doubt that JaRue is one of the most active (emeriti) I have ever witnessed. And, unusually, when most emeriti’s efforts remain close to their original areas of expertise, JaRue’s seem to have gotten progressively wider.”

Waterhouse noted how Manning developed an interest in Italian wines through his many research collaborations and through extensive travels there. “To further that knowledge, he audited virtually every one of VEN’s classes, and attended most of the extension classes and field days,” Waterhouse said.

He said Manning worked with VEN’s student wine tasting group, Vitis, to make presentations about Italian regions and their wines, and often augmented the tastings with wines he brought back from Italy. “Student tastings are usually led by the most knowledgeable student, but, in this case, students had the pleasure of being led by a virtual walking textbook of Italian wine knowledge,” Waterhouse wrote.

More recently, Manning has advocated for the importation of Italian cultivars that are not now included in UC Davis’ collection, according to Waterhouse, adding that Manning is particularly interested in Nebbiolo, one of Italy’s most highly respected cultivars but one with a reputation as being among the most difficult to grow. “JaRue has worked toward establishing a research trial aimed at comparing ‘superior’ selections of Nebbiolo in the Sierra foothills,” Waterhouse said.

Axel Borg, distinguished research librarian in wine and food science at UC Davis, also supported Manning’s nomination, noting how, in retirement, he began engaging in science in a new way — not only as a “scientist” (relying on experiments) but also as a “humanist” (telling science history by critically examining the written record).

“This is both very unique and extremely important,” Borg said. “Professor Maynard Amerine (legendary faculty member in the Department of Viticulture and Enology) said that only a scientist could adequately write the history of science, because of the need to understand the science behind the history.

“To do this, Professor Manning has, over the course of almost two decades, engaged librarians in the social sciences and humanities about how their faculty members do research in the written record. At the same time, he immersed himself in the written record, both published and unpublished.

“In essence, he took his academic abilities in inquiry and observation, retrained himself in another discipline and began to examine that scientific field with the lens of a humanist. This is extraordinarily difficult, and I was there to witness many of his struggles with this other form of academic inquiry. This is utterly remarkable.”

Manning has studied the unpublished papers of faculty and others in the area of viticulture and enology, and, at Professor Heyer’s encouragement, taken on a project to document the history of the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at UC Davis, dating back to 1897 and a course in bacteriology offered by Professor Frederic Bioletti.

Fereydoun Hormozdiari of the School of Medicine, the Genome Center and the MIND Institute has been named a 2017 Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow in computational and evolutionary molecular biology.

​Fereydoun Hormozdiari​ mugshot

He is one of 126 early-career scholars to receive the prestigious award, which comes with $60,000 over two years to conduct leading-edge research.

Hormozdiari, assistant professor in the medical school’s Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine, specializes in computational biology and genomics. His research mainly explores the underlying causes of complex disorders, such as autism and intellectual disability. He is developing and utilizing novel computational methods to find the potential genetic variants that contribute to these disorders.

“It is like looking for a specific needle in a stack of needles,” he said.

Hormozdiari received his master of science and doctoral degrees in computing science at Simon Fraser University, British Columbia, Canada, and a bachelor of science degree in computer engineering from Sharif University of Technology, Tehran, Iran. He joined the UC Davis faculty in 2015.

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation makes grants to support original research and broad-based education related to science, technology and economic performance; and to improve the quality of American life. Candidates for the research fellowship awards must have earned a Ph.D. or equivalent degree after September 2009 in the field of chemistry, computational or evolutionary molecular biology, computer science, economics, mathematics, neuroscience, ocean sciences, physics or a related field. 

— Carole Gan, UC Davis Health

Natalie Popovich mugshot

Natalie Popovich and Kiara Winans comprise one of 18 teams selected worldwide for the yearlong Schmidt MacArthur Fellowship program in circular economics. Popovich is a graduate student in agricultural and resource economics, and Winans is her mentor on her Circular Economy Innovation Project.

Now in its fifth year, Schmidt MacArthur is the only circular economy fellowship program in the world. The program is for post-graduate or U.S. graduate students in design, engineering and business, and their mentors.

“I want to bolster my systems-thinking perspective of production systems and supply chains to inform my own policy and economic research,” Popovich said. “I plan to be a leader in the movement toward a more circular economy by incorporating principles of circularity into the field of environmental economics.”

Kiara Winans mugshot

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation describes the circular economy as an economy that is “restorative and regenerative by design, and which aims to keep products, components and materials at their highest utility and value at all times, distinguishing between technical and biological cycles.”

Winans, creator and co-director of the UC Davis Industrial Ecology Program, said: “The Ellen MacArthur Foundation, together with the Schmidt Family Foundation, have made strides towards increasing understanding of a circular economic model that is restorative and regenerative by design. I know Natalie will be a champion of this new paradigm and I am excited to see her excel in achieving her goals.”

In June, Popovich and Winans will participate in a weeklong summer school in London with the other fellowship teams from around the world.

The American Institute of Steel Construction announced that it will present a Special Achievement Award to Professor Amit Kanvinde, chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, in recognition of his work on joints and connections for steel columns used in building construction. The presentation is scheduled during the North American Steel Construction Conference, March 22-24, in San Antonio, Texas.

Walmart Stores Inc., the world’s largest retailer, recently heard from UC Davis’ Christine Bruhn on the topic, “Do Consumers Really Do What They Say They Do?” Bruhn is a Cooperative Extension specialist emerita in food science and technology, with a particular expertise in consumer attitudes and perceptions.

Bruhn gave her talk at Walmart headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, in the company’s Emerging Issues program. Walmart broadcast the talk throughout the company’s administrative units in the United States and China.

After she gave her talk, Walmart presented her with a crystal glass remembrance recognizing her as a “Food Safety Champion.” 

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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