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LAURELS: Isabel Montañez Receives Top Geology Award

By Dateline Staff on June 19, 2017 in University

Chancellor’s Leadership Professor Isabel Montañez has been named the recipient of the Geological Society of America’s 2017 Laurence L. Sloss Award, the society’s highest honor in sedimentary geology.

The award recognizes lifetime achievements that best exemplify those of the award’s namesake, a former president of the society and a professor at Northwestern University who died in 1996.

In a statement, the society noted Montañez’s sustained level of scientific contributions, as well as her service to the Geological Society of America. Further, the statement commended her as an inspiration to young female geoscientists.

The award presentation is set for October at the society’s annual meeting. Montañez is the society’s president-elect.

Montañez joined the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences in 1998. Her research centers on periods of major climate change and ecosystem change in Earth’s deep past, as well as understanding how carbon dioxide in the atmosphere influences climate.

Recent projects include developing proxies for paleoclimate reconstructions and for climate change during the Paleozoic Era. Montañez’s research also extends to more recent Pleistocene records of rainfall in California.

Montañez is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Geochemical Society and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.

The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation of Berlin has presented awards to two members of the UC Davis faculty:

  • Magali Billen, professor of geophysics — Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award, given to internationally renowned scientists who completed their doctorates within the last 18 years. Billen uses high-performance computing to create, simulate and solve three-dimensional models of the Earth’s interior and the complex geometry of subduction zones. She earned a doctorate in geophysics at the California Institute of Technology. 
  • Hans-Georg Müller, distinguished professor of statistics — Humboldt Research Award, given in recognition of fundamental discoveries, new theories or insights that have had a significant impact on the awardee’s field of research. Müller specializes in nonparametric statistics, biostatistics and statistical methodology for stochastic processes (data that includes random variables that change over time). He earned a doctorate in statistics at Heidelberg University.

The foundation’s awards promote international scientific collaboration and networking among scientists and scholars. As such, Billen and Müller each receives a stipend to spend up to a year in Germany collaborating with colleagues there.

Distinguished Professor Michael Savageau has been elected a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, the honorific leadership group within the American Society for Microbiology, the world’s oldest and largest life science organization.

Michael Savageau at computer
Savageau shares visuals from his research on quantitative systems biology. 

Savageau holds dual appointments in the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics in the College of Biological Sciences, and the Department of Biomedical Engineering in the College of Engineering.

His research explores the function, design and evolution of cellular and molecular networks. Using quantitative systems biology, he seeks to characterize the design principles for gene circuits that control important patterns of cellular behavior.

A pioneer in his field, Savageau has made major impacts in microbiology through the development of mathematical models and computational analysis of complex biochemical systems. His work has provided novel methods for the comparison of different systems, improving an understanding of biological design.

A faculty member since 2003, Savageau is a member of the National Academy of Medicine, and a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Law faculty newly elected and re-elected:

  • Lisa R. Pruitt, Martin Luther King Jr. Professor in the School of Law, has been elected vice president of the Rural Sociological Society. Her recent work explores the legal relevance of rural spatiality, including how it inflects dimensions of gender, race and ethnicity. Pruitt’s work also considers rural-urban difference in transnational and international contexts.
  • Kevin R. Johnson, dean of the School of Law, will continue his service as president of Legal Services of Northern California, re-elected by the board of directors to the post he has held since 2003. Legal Services of Northern California operates in 23 counties, offering free legal services to low-income clients. Johnson, the Mabie-Apallas Professor of Public Interest Law and Chicana/o Studies, is an internationally recognized scholar in the fields of immigration law and policy, refugee law and civil rights.

Professor Karima Bennoune is among Lawdragon magazine’s “500 Leading Lawyers” for 2017. Lawdragon formulates its list on the basis of editorial research by the magazine’s staff, along with submissions from law firms and comments that come in through the magazine’s websites, which invites people to recommend their favorite lawyers.

Bennoune is an author, lecturer, teacher and international law scholar. She is the first Arab-American to be honored with the Derrick A. Bell Award from the Section on Minority Groups of the Association of American Law Schools.

In 2014, she received the Dayton Literary Peace Prize for her book Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Untold Stories from the Fight Against Muslim Fundamentalism.

Group photo in ornate Senate chamber
In the Senate chamber, from left: Sen. Bill Monning, D-Carmel, majority leader; Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento; Amagda Pérez and Holly Cooper, co-directors of the Immigration Law Clinic; Rachel Ray, managing attorney at the UC Immigrant Legal Services Center; Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa; David Gomez, attorney fellow at the UC Immigrant Legal Services Center; Kevin R. Johnson, law school dean; and Sens. Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont, and Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley.

The state Senate recently presented resolutions to the School of Law’s Immigration Law Clinic and UC’s Immigrant Legal Services Center honoring their contributions to the state and its immigrant population. The UC center is based at the UC Davis School of Law.

Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, presented the resolutions to a King Hall contingent that included Amagda Pérez ’91 and Holly Cooper ’98, co-directors of the Immigration Law Clinic; Rachel Ray ’11, managing attorney at the UC Immigrant Legal Services Center; David Gomez ’15, attorney fellow at the UC Immigrant Legal Services Center; and Dean Kevin R. Johnson

“In today’s political climate, many immigrants are afraid about how the next executive order or piece of legislation could turn their lives upside down,” Dodd said. “Organizations like the Immigration Law Clinic and the UC Immigrant Legal Services Center provide immigrants with the resources they need to ensure they know their rights. I am honored to represent UC Davis as their senator and commend the outstanding work done by these organizations.”

Dean Johnson said the Immigration Law Clinic and Immigrant Legal Services Center “have changed countless lives and helped make California a better place for all of us.”

Steve Elliott and Kathy Keatley Garvey have official status as “ACE” writers and photographers, honored with a total of five awards from ACE: the Association for Communication Excellence in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Life and Human Sciences.

Elliott, communication coordinator for the Western Integrated Pest Management Center, at UC Agriculture and Natural Resources in Davis, received a gold award (first place) for promotional writing for “Safflower Makes an Areawide IPM Program Work,” published in the Western IPM Center newsletter, Western Front; and a bronze award (third place) for his “Loving the Land of Enchantment” photo essay, published on the website. (ANR, the University of Arizona and Oregon State University are partners in the federally-funded Western IPM Center.)

Garvey, communications specialist for the Department of Entomology and Nematology, received a silver award (second place) for “The Predator and the Pest,” a series of photos depicting a praying mantis dining on a cabbage white butterfly (posted on Garvey’s “Bug Squad” blog); a bronze for her feature photo of a monarch butterfly clinging to someone’s index finger; and a bronze for blog writing for “A WSU-Tagged Monarch: What a Traveler!”


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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