LAURELS: Lifetime Awards for May, Aldredge


  • Gary S. May, chancellor
  • Ralph C. Aldredge, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
  • Valerie Eviner, Department of Plant Sciences
  • Andrea Cann Chandrasek, School of Law
  • Hemant Bhargava, Graduate School of Management
  • Aditya Tadimeti, Global Environmental Change Lab
  • Erwan Monier, Department of Land, Air and Water Resources
  • Kayton Carter, Student Affairs
  • Leanna Friedrich, College of Letters and Science
  • Jim Fadel, Department of Animal Science

Updated 2:30 p.m. Feb. 10: Watch the tribute video shared today by the American Association for the Advancement of Science when it presented its Lifetime Mentor Award to Chancellor Gary S. May.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest scientific organization, will present its 2021 Lifetime Mentor Award to Chancellor Gary S. May, in a ceremony Wednesday (Feb. 10) during the association’s annual meeting, being held virtually.

Gary S. May headshot

The award honors researchers who have positively impacted a department or institution over the course of 25 years through mentoring students who are underrepresented in STEM fields, such as women, African American, Native American and Hispanic men, and people with disabilities.

“It’s truly an honor to receive the AAAS Lifetime Mentor Award,” May said. “Mentors have been a powerful force in my life. Because of their support, I’ve made it a priority to uplift others on their own roads to success. Each of us can make a difference and help someone else on their path to personal or professional achievements.”

Throughout his 30 years as a professor of engineering and an administrator, May has founded several programs that support underrepresented minority students in STEM and also mentored more than 100 graduate students. Many of May’s mentees have gone on to become mentors themselves, with their own careers in academia and industry.

In 1992, May founded the Summer Undergraduate Research in Engineering/Sciences, or SURE, program. Of the more than 500 undergraduates who have participated in SURE, 75 percent have gone on to attend graduate school. In 2013, May helped launch the University Center of Exemplary Mentoring, an initiative that awards stipend support to minority Ph.D. students in the eight schools of Georgia Tech’s college of engineering.

In 2018, May launched the UC Davis Leadership Job Shadow Program to encourage students to build meaningful relationships with campus leaders and to learn more about the inner workings of a research university. He is an active participant in the very popular program, which has been on hiatus since the start of the pandemic. He also came up with the idea for Envision UC Davis Program, run by Graduate Studies, which sponsors California residents hoping to apply for graduate school within the next two years, allowing them to envision their future as a graduate student at UC Davis.

Read the UC Davis news release.

Ralph Aldredge headshot

Ralph Aldredge, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, and associate dean for undergraduate education in the College of Engineering, has been named the recipient of the National Society of Black Engineers’ 2021 Golden Torch Award for Lifetime Achievement in Academia.

The society, one of the largest student-governed organizations in the world, uses the torch as a symbol of “our everlasting, burning desire to achieve success in a competitive society and affect positive change in the quality of life for all people.”

Recipients of the Golden Torch Award for academics are recognized for at least 15 years of significant contributions to academic engineering development, leadership in their campus communities and involvement in education programs that benefit African American students on a national or local level.

As an engineering professor and administrator, Aldredge has been particularly interested in increasing enrollment and retention of students from underrepresented minority groups. He was integral to the development of the holistic-review freshman admissions policy at UC Davis, which expanded access to applicants from disadvantaged backgrounds who have overcome hardships while achieving academic success.

“I am truly honored to be recognized,” said Aldredge, who has served as faculty advisor to the Black Engineers Association, the UC Davis student chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers. “I thank my sponsors and colleagues who have chosen to honor me with this distinction for my efforts to advance opportunities for African Americans in engineering and science. I am especially grateful to my students, who continue to inspire and challenge me to do all I can to expand the impact of engineering education.”

Valerie Eviner headshot

Valerie Eviner, a professor of ecosystem management and restoration in the Department of Plant Sciences, has been named a fellow for the 2021 North American cohort of the Earth Leadership Program.

Global successor of the renowned Leopold Leadership Program, the Earth Leadership Program enables outstanding scientists to work together with diverse stakeholders to become agents of change within and beyond their universities to address pressing global sustainability challenges. 

Eviner joins 20 other academics working in a wide array of disciplines related to sustainability. Eviner studies plant-soil interactions to better inform ecosystem management, restoration and sustainability efforts.

Read more on the Department of Plant Sciences website.

Andrea Cann Chandrasek headshot

UC Davis law students nominated Andrea Cann Chandrasek and the Western Region of the Black Law Students Association agreed: She is the region’s Professor of the Year.

Chandrasek has been a professor and Martin Luther King Jr. Hall research scholar since 2013, first in an acting capacity and now with a permanent appointment. Her research interests include criminal law, law and economics, quantitative methods, criminal justice public policy analysis, and policing.

She holds a J.D. from Stanford Law School and a Ph.D. in economics from UC Berkeley. She was a visiting assistant professor at Northwestern School of Law and a fellow at Stanford Law School before coming to UC Davis.

Hemant Bhargava headshot

Chief Data Officer Magazine has named Hemant Bhargava to its inaugural List of Leading Academic Leaders for 2021. Bhargava is a professor in the Graduate School of Management and director of the school’s Center for Analytics and Technology in Society.

“These outstanding academic professionals are leading the way with innovative ideas leveraging data and analytics,” the magazine says in its introduction to the list. “They are using their talents to provide true value and real world results.” 

Aditya Tadimenti headshot

The Society for Science named Aditya Tadimeti, a high school student intern at UC Davis, among the top 300 scholars in the 2021 Regeneron Science Talent Search, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious science and math competition for high school seniors.

Erwan Monier headshot

Tadimeti joined Associate Professor Erwan Monier’s Global Environmental Change Lab as an intern in February 2019. Monier is an associate professor in the Department of Land, Air and Water resources.

The Society for Science recognized Tadimenti for his work using machine learning to predict the size of wildfires in California. 

The Regeneron Science Talent Search chose the top 300 scholars from 1,760 applications received from 611 high schools across the United States and 10 other countries. Scholars were chosen based on their exceptional research skills, commitment to academics, innovative thinking and promise as scientists.

Staff and faculty from UC Davis are among the recipients of 2021 awards from Region 9 of NACADA, “the global community for academic advising”:

  • Kayton Carter, executive director, Student Affairs Retention Initiatives, and director, Strategic African American Retention Initiative and Center for African Diaspora Student Success — Excellence in Advising award in the administrator category
  • Leanna Friedrich, academic advisor, undergraduate education and advising, College of Letters and Science — Excellence in Advising award in the category of advisor primary role
  • Jim Fadel, professor, Department of Animal Science — Certificate of Merit in the category of faculty advisor

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