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LAURELS: Muir Institute Names New Fellows

By Dateline Staff on October 17, 2019 in University

Quick Summary

  • JMIE Fellows in various disciplines have a common foe: climate change
  • Atmospheric scientist Da Yang named a Packard Fellow
  • Professor and former astronaut Stephen K. Robinson: Newly elected associate fellow, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
  • Neuroscientist Joy Geng, Center for Mind and Brain, inducted into Davis High School Hall of Fame
  • Sandra Ernst of College Opportunity Programs feted for volleyball career at Ripon College
  • College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences bestows Awards of Distinction
  • Wildlife veterinarian Joe Gaydos, director of SeaDoc Society, earns Local Hero Award in Washington’s San Juan Islands
  • Michael Carter, agricultural and resource economics, shares 2019 Publication of Enduring Quality Award
  • “Experienced planners” contribute to UC Davis selection as a “top pick” for corporate training sessions

The John Muir Institute of the Environment recently named its 2019 Muir Institute Fellows, an interdisciplinary mix of seven faculty and staff members engaged in the fight against climate change. Each receives $5,000 in research funding.

Launched in 2017, the fellows program recognizes exemplary UC Davis faculty and staff whose careers and research epitomize the institute’s mission: Discover. Research. Solve. Each recipient receives $5,000 to help seed their research.

The new fellows:

  • Tessa Hill, professor, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, and associate director of the Coastal and Marine Sciences Institute
  • Carson Jeffres, research ecologist, Center for Watershed Sciences
  • Mark Lubell, professor, Department of Environmental Science and Policy, and director of the UC Davis Center for Environmental Policy and Behavior.
  • Majdi Abou Najm, assistant professor, Department of Land, Air and Water Resources.
  • Kate Scow, distinguished professor of Soil Science and Microbial Ecology in the Department of Land, Air and Water Resources; director of the Russell Ranch Sustainable Agriculture Facility; and chair of the International Agricultural Development Graduate Group
  • Laura S. Van Winkle, professor, Department of Anatomy, Physiology and Cell Biology, School of Veterinary Medicine.
  • Ayako Yasuda, professor of finance, Graduate School of Management

Communications specialist Lisa Howard has more information about the new fellows in this article on the Office of Research website.

Former astronaut Stephen K. Robinson, a professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, has been elected an associate fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, recognizing him for outstanding work in the field.

Joy Geng mugshot

Neuroscientist Joy Geng, associate professor at the Center for Mind and Brain, has been inducted into the Davis High School Hall of Fame.

The Davis Enterprise, reporting on her induction, wrote that the books she read at Davis High served as inspiration for a career that took her to prestigious universities on the East Coast, London and eventually back to Davis. 

“In her senior year English class taught by Mrs. Ballard, Geng said, books like Crime and Punishment and Invisible Man taught her about people with very different lives and sparked her interest in ‘trying to understand what motivates people to behave the way that they do.’

“With this in mind, she decided to major in psychology at Cornell University and says she is thankful for the way her Davis teachers encouraged her to ask questions. ‘I felt like they gave me a chance to be well prepared when I went to college,’ she said.”

Sandra Ernst, a program assistant in College Opportunity Programs has been inducted into Ripon College Athletic Hall of Fame, Ripon, Wisconsin. The 2003 graduate was a Red Hawk volleyball star, earning first-team all-conference honors three times.

For College Opportunity Programs, administered by the School of Education, she is based in Redding and works with high school and middle school students around Northern California — students who are typically first-generation-to-college and low-income — helping them prepare for college through the GEAR UP and TRIO programs.

The College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences recently presented its 2019 Awards of Distinction:

  • Alumni — Carol L. Folt, Ph.D., ’82, newly appointed president of the University of Southern California; Vicki Kretsinger Grabert ’77, president and principal hydrologist with Luhdorff & Scalmanini Consulting Engineers, Woodland; and Jennifer Fitchhorn-Walker ’94 and Ph.D., ’00 (veterinary medicine), director of milk quality for Danone North America
  • Young Alumni — Briana Perry Stoops ’08, Cred., ’09 (agricultural education), and M.A., ’10 (education), agriculture teacher at Woodland High School
  • Friend — Harold McClarty, fifth-generation California farmer who built the international tree fruit and grape-growing business HMC Farms
  • Faculty — Richard J. Sexton, professor, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics
  • Emeriti — David E. Ramos, who holds three UC Davis degrees — B.S., ’56 (animal science), M.S., ’59 (horticulture) and Ph.D., ’74, plant pathology — and went on to work as a UC Cooperative Extension specialist
  • Staff — Carol Hillhouse, associate director, Student Farm

Read more about the recipients in this article on the CA&ES website.

Joe Gaydos mugshot

Wildlife veterinarian Joe Gaydos, director of UC Davis’ SeaDoc Society, has been named the recipient of the Local Hero Award from the Friday Harbor Film Festival in Washington’s San Juan Islands, where he lives and where the SeaDoc Society is based. The society is a program of the university’s Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center.

The award honors a resident or former resident of the San Juan Islands who has made “outstanding contributions to our quality of life, impacting people, animals, the arts, health or the environment.” The award presentation is scheduled for Oct. 27 during the film festival.

Gaydos, a wildlife veterinarian, can often be found addressing diseases in endangered orcas and other marine life, testifying to state agencies about wildlife and ecosystem health, or translating science to the general public through everything from a children’s book to a YouTube series and numerous public talks. 

Read more about Gaydos in this article on the Friday Harbor Film Festival website.

Michael Carter mugshot

Professor Michael Carter and co-author Chris Barrett of Cornell University recently received the 2019 Publication of Enduring Quality Award from the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association. Carter is a professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics and director of the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Markets, Risk and Resilience.

The winning paper, “The Economics of Poverty Traps and Persistent Poverty: An Asset-Based Approach,” appeared in the Journal of Development Studies in August 2006.

The award, among the association’s most prestigious, recognizes publications that are at least 10 years old and are judged to have had a major long-term impact on the profession.

An article on the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics website explains why Carter and Barrett’s paper has had a far-reaching impact on the way economists think about poverty traps:

“Empirical studies typically measure who is poor at a given point in time. Carter and Barrett focus on the question of who is likely to remain poor in the future.”

The article continues: “It (the paper) develops asset-based poverty measures that help us understand the structure and persistence of poverty. It also presents feasible estimation strategies to identify poverty traps and extends the widely-used Foster-Greer-Thorbecke class of poverty measures.”

Unique Venues, a marketing and membership organization, recently declared UC Davis a “top pick” for corporate training sessions on the West Coast. Unique Venues selected UC Davis, in part, because of the “experienced planners” of Conference and Event Services.

Oh, and the campus is “gorgeous,” according to Unique Venues.

Conference and Event Services, led by Lina Layiktez, handles all the details, from registration and technology options, to on-site catering, and even the printing of training materials.

Simply put, UC Davis “will leave your employees impressed,” reads a Unique Venues blog post dated Aug. 22. The organization listed seven “top picks” on the West Coast — including one other UC campus, Santa Cruz.

Unique Venues noted that UC Davis can accommodate up to 6,500 people for corporate training sessions. For multiday sessions, campus residence halls and on- and off-campus hotels can accommodate 3,900 guests.

“A multitude of amenities and unique experiences await your guests when you choose UC Davis as your next venue for a West Coast training session,” Unique Venues declared. 

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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