LAURELS: A Medal for Keith David Watenpaugh

Watenpaugh and another person help someone register for Article 26 Backpack
Keith David Watenpaugh, right, professor and director of UC Davis Human Rights Studies, and Eslam Abo Alhawa, center, help Ali Almarzouki register for the Article 26 Backpack in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley. (Joe Proudman/UC Davis)

Quick Summary

  • Watenpaugh, director of Human Rights Studies, honored by Institute of International Education at its Centennial Summit
  • Dean Jennifer Sinclair Curtis named “distinguished” engineering alumna of Purdue University
  • Composers Conference guest composers: Kurt Rohde and Yu-Hui Chang
  • Bio-ag engineer David Slaughter is next recipient of Cyrus Hall McCormick-Jerome Increase Case Gold Medal

The Institute of International Education today (Feb. 19) awarded a Centennial Medal to Keith David Watenpaugh, professor and director of Human Rights Studies at UC Davis. The presentation took place at the institute’s Centennial Summit in New York City.

The institute cited Watenpaugh for his “friendship, guidance and dedication” in support of its mission, and made specific reference to his Article 26 Backpack project that uses face-to-face counseling and cloud-based technology to help refugees and other displaced people document and share their educational accomplishments. Launched in June 2018, Article 26 Backpack already has about 1,000 people using it.

Keith David Watenpaugh receiving an award.
Allan E. Goodman, left, president of the Institute of International Education, congratulates Professor Watenpaugh. (Joanna Regulska/UC Davis)

After the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, Watenpaugh became increasingly convinced of the role of higher education in building more just and peaceful societies in the wake of war. 

A historian of the modern Middle East, he has led a multidisciplinary research team that produced several major studies on Syrian students and scholars who are refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Greece and Turkey. 

He wrote the award-winning book Bread from Stones: The Middle East and the Making of Modern Humanitarianism. Most recently he was a distinguished visitor at the American Academy in Berlin.

Dean Jennifer Sinclair Curtis mugshot

Allan E. Goodman, president of the Institute of International Education,Jennifer Sinclair Curtis, dean of engineering and distinguished professor of chemical engineering, has been named a “distinguished alumna” of Purdue University, among seven alumnae and alumni to be so honored Feb. 21.

Curtis earned a Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering from Purdue and Ph.D. in the same discipline from Princeton. She is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and the American Society for Engineering Education and has served on numerous national advisory boards and committees, including the National Academies Chemical Science Roundtable (co-chair, 2013-18).

She has been engineering dean at UC Davis since 2015, moving here from the University of Florida where she served as associate dean for research and facilities in the College of Engineering.

Kurt Rohde, professor of music, and Yu-Hui Chang, who taught composition at UC Davis in the early 2000s, have been named guest composers for this year’s Composers Conference, July 28-Aug. 11, at Brandeis University. Headed by artistic director Mario Davidovsky since 1968, the Composers Conference has played a pioneering role in the performance of new works by emerging composers.

David Slaughter mugshot

The American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers announced recently its selection of UC Davis’ David Slaughter to receive the society’s 2019 Cyrus Hall McCormick-Jerome Increase Case Gold Medal, honoring “exceptional and meritorious engineering achievement in agriculture.”

Slaughter’s selection comes four years after his colleague Durham Ken Giles in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering won the award.

The front side of the medal features portraits of the award’s namesakes with their primary achievements: McCormick and the self-rake reaper, Case and the “reliable” threshing machine.

Allen Van Deynze, director of the research at the Seed Biotechnology Center, is the recipient of a lifetime achievement award from the 24th International Pepper Conference, held in November.

The conference gives the award to recognize individuals who have contributed to the advancement of Capsicum research, extension, technology and knowledge in the areas of breeding and genetics, horticultural management and production (including production methods, cultural systems and sustainable approaches), integrated pest management, and post-harvest issues.

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

Follow Dateline UC Davis on Twitter.

Media Resources

Dateline Staff, 530-752-6556,

Primary Category

Secondary Categories

Society, Arts & Culture