LAURELS: Marcu Elected to Inventors Academy

Quick Summary

  • Marcu: Biomedical engineer works in biomedical optics
  • Nunnari, Scholey: New fellows of American Society for Cell Biology
  • Dan Gusfield: New fellow of Association for Computing Machinery
  • ‘Forbes’ names Zhou Yu a ‘young star’ in computer science
  • Law school achievers: Afra Afsharipour, Anupam Chander, Aaron Tang
  • Lorena Oropeza: Equity Award from American Historical Association
  • Daniel Leyson: Men’s water polo Coach of the Year

Biomedical engineering professor Laura Marcu is among 155 newly elected fellows of the National Academy of Inventors. She is the eighth UC Davis faculty member to be elected to the academy since its founding in 2010.

Laura Marcu mugshot

Marcu’s research is in the area of biomedical optics, with a particular focus on research for development of optical techniques for tissue diagnostics. Earlier this year, she developed a catheter probe capable of imaging arteries inside a living heart. This innovative tool could help cardiologists predict heart attacks more reliably.

“My passion is to develop optical diagnostic technologies that can impact the management of human diseases and that address critical societal problems — for example, cancer and cardiovascular disease,” Marcu said.


Election as an NAI fellow is the highest professional distinction accorded solely to academic inventors who have demonstrated a prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made tangible impacts on quality of life, economic development and the welfare of society.

The NAI now has 912 fellows representing more than 250 research universities and governmental and nonprofit research institutes. The 2017 fellows are named inventors on nearly 6,000 issued U.S. patents, and all the fellows, 2010-17, hold more than 32,000 issued U.S. patents.

More new fellows:

  • American Society for Cell Biology — Jodi Nunnari, who studies mitochondria, and Jonathan Scholey, who studies motor proteins. Nunnari is a distinguished professor and Scholey is a distinguished professor emeritus, both in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology. Read more on the College of Biological Sciences website.
  • Association for Computing Machinery — Dan Gusfield, distinguished professor of computer science, recognized for his contributions at the intersection of computer science and computational biology.

Zhou Yu mugshot

Forbes recently named UC Davis’ Zhou Yu, assistant professor of computer science, as a “young star” of science in the magazine’s annual “30 Under 30” feature. The magazine chose 30 “youthful visionaries” in each of 20 industries.

Yu joined UC Davis earlier this year after completing her Ph.D. in computer science at Carnegie Mellon University.

In a brief profile, Forbes noted Yu’s research on algorithms that enable software to adapt to users. Digital assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri have gotten people used to talking to computers, the profile states, but the assistants are a long way from understanding important parts of human communication. “That’s where Yu’s work fits in,” wrote Forbes, noting that Amazon recently awarded her a $100,000 grant to develop a social “chatbot” for Amazon’s Echo platform.

According to Forbes, the magazine develops its “30 Under 30” lists from “thousands of nominations, leaning on the collective wisdom of our online community, ace reporters and a panel of A-list judges.”

Honors for School of Law professors:

  • Afra Afsharipour, outstanding mentor award from the Association of American Law Schools’ Section on Business Associations. She does research in the areas of comparative corporate law, corporate governance, mergers and acquisitions, securities regulation, and transactional law.
  • Anupam Chander, the Martin Luther King Jr. Professor of Law and director of the California International Law Center, elected to the American Law Institute — a prestigious honor given that membership is limited to 3,000 at any one time. He is the author of The Electronic Silk Road: How the Web Binds the World in Commerce, and serves on global expert groups having to do with the digital economy and internet fragmentation. Read more.
  • Aaron Tang, winner of the Association of American Law Schools’ Scholarly Papers Competition, for “Rethinking Political Power in Judicial Review,” and, as such, invited to present his paper at the association’s annual meeting in San Diego in January. His teaching and research interests include constitutional law, education law, federal courts, labor law, and the intersections among civil litigation, the political process, and public policy more broadly. Read more.

Lorena Oropeza mugshot

The American Historical Association announced that it will present its 2017 Equity Award to Lorena Oropeza, associate professor of history. The award presentation is scheduled at the association’s annual meeting in January in Washington, D.C.

The annual award recognizes individuals and institutions for excellence in recruitment into the profession and retention of members of underrepresented racial and ethnic groups into the profession.

Earlier this year Oropeza received a Chancellor’s Achievement Award for Diversity and Community, recognized for her socially and politically engaged scholarship, community outreach and unique approach to undergraduate teaching, as well as her mentoring of graduate students. Among those students, many are the first in their families to obtain college degrees, let alone Ph.D.s, and several have said that without Oropeza’s guidance, they would not have remained in the program.

Men’s water polo coach Daniel Leyson is the coach of the year in the Western Water Polo Association for the second year in a row. The honor is decided by vote of all of the conference’s head coaches.

Leyson this season — his fifth as the head coach — led his Aggies to a 22-7 record. They won the association title for the second consecutive year, and again advanced to the National Collegiate Athletic Association Championship.

Officially, Leyson is the UC Davis Child and Meisel Families Director of Men’s Water Polo — the university’s first endowed coaching position, made possible by a donation from the families of two water polo alumn

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