LAURELS: National Recognition for Plant Breeder Van Deynze


  • Seed Biotechnology Center’s research director wins Public Plant Breeding Award
  • Academic advisors, faculty and staff, earn regional honors for excellence
  • Classic professor David Traill wins Schliemann Medal for scholarship on pioneering and controversial archaeologist
  • Eva Mroczek receives 2017 Manfred Lautenschlaeger Award for Theological Promise
  • USDA, APLU honor Nutrition 10 legend Liz Applegate for excellence in teaching
  • Brianne Holden wins international education award on her first day of work at UC Davis Study Abroad
  • Daniel Leyson: Western Water Polo Association Men’s Coach of the Year

The National Council of Commercial Plant Breeders recently presented its Public Plant Breeding Award to Allen Van Deynze, research director for the UC Davis Seed Biotechnology Center.

The award recognizes outstanding basic contributions to the advancement of plant breeding and genetics in the public sector.

Van Deynze is responsible for developing, coordinating and conducting research and generating and disseminating scientific and informational content for the center’s educational and outreach programs.

The National Council of Commercial Plant Breeders announced the award during an American Seed Trade Association event in Chicago. Van Deynze was unable to attend, due to his work on a project with the African Orphan Crops Consortium, of which the Seed Biotechnology Center is a founding member.


A faculty member and three staff members have been recognized for excellence in their work as academic advisors at UC Davis, presented awards by the Pacific Region (California, Nevada and Hawaii) of the National Academic Advising Association, or NACADA. 

Two of UC Davis’ honorees won Excellence in Advising Awards:

  • Nann Fangue, associate professor, Department of Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology, in the faculty advisor category.
  • Julie Zech, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, in the new advisor category (three years or less as an advisor).

Two other advisors earned certificates of merit:

  • Nicole Rabaud, supervising graduate advisor, BFTV Cluster (departments of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, Food Science and Technology, Textiles and Clothing, and Viticulture and Enology), in the new advisor category.
  • Kelli Sholer, Department of Anthropology, in the category of advisor primary role (meaning the advisor’s primary role is the direct delivery of advising services to students).

“It’s phenomenal to have our advisors and faculty recognized, across three categories,” said Carolyn Thomas, vice provost of Undergraduate Education. “These are highly competitive awards — we have such a large region and there can be very few winners. It’s a sign of the strength of our campus advising community and our advisors’ abilities to change students lives for the better each day.”

 at the entrance to the Schliemann museum in Ankershagen, Germany.
Professor Traill at the entrance to the Schliemann museum in Ankershagen, Germany.

David Traill, professor emeritus in the Classics Program, is the recipient of the Schliemann Medal from the Heinrich-Schliemann-Gesellschaft (Society) in Germany.

The medal recognizes scholarship on Heinrich Schliemann, the pioneering archaeologist who excavated Troy and Mycenae of Ancient Greece.

Traill, who taught at UC Davis from 1970 to 2010, is the author of Schliemann of Troy: Treasure and Deceit and Excavating Schliemann, and he co-edited Myth, Scandal and History: The Heinrich Schliemann Controversy and a First Edition of the Mycenaean Diary.

In Schliemann of Troy, published in 1997, Traill argued that Schliemann was one of the greatest frauds of modern archaeological history.

The medal, Traill said, “is a significant award for those studying Schliemann, and I’m grateful for being awarded the medal despite my findings about Schlieman.”

The award presentation took place at the German Consulate in San Francisco.

Eva Mroczek, assistant professor of religious studies, has been named one of the recipients of the 2017 Manfred Lautenschlaeger Award for Theological Promise, for her book The Literary Imagination in Jewish Antiquity.

 Eva Mroczek

In the book, Mroczek examines how early Jewish writers imagined sacred writing before the Bible existed as a concept, and treats early Jewish literary culture on its own terms, rather than as a precursor to other Jewish and Christian texts.

The University of Heidelberg’s Research Center for International and Interdisciplinary Theology administers the awards program, honoring theological promise on the topic of “God and Spirituality” (broadly understood), as expressed by each applicant’s doctoral dissertation (accepted) or first book after dissertation. Applicants can represent any religious tradition and any academic field, and should be no older than 35.

An international, interdisciplinary and multireligious board of distinguished scholars evaluates and ranks the applications, and 10 awards are given annually.

The 2017 awards are due to be presented in conjunction with a research seminar in Heidelberg in May.

Mroczek discusses her book in this Frankely Judaic” podcast from the Jean and Samuel Frankel Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan.

 Susan Ebeler, Liz Applegate and Helene Dillard
Austin awards ceremony: Liz Applegate is flanked by Susan Ebeler, professor, viticulture and enology, and associate dean, Undergraduate Academic Programs, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences; and Helene Dillard, CA&ES dean.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities recently honored Nutrition 10 legend Liz Applegate in the awards program Excellence in College and University Teaching in the Food and Agricultural Sciences.

The USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture administers the annual awards program, and the APLU is a co-sponsor. Named one of six regional award recipients for 2016, Applegate received her award in November in Austin, Texas, during the APLU’s annual meeting.

Nominees are evaluated based on their ability as instructors, educational innovation, service to students, professionalism and scholarship. 

Applegate came to UC Davis as an undergraduate in 1974 and has been here ever since. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biochemistry and a Ph.D. in nutrition science, then stayed to teach Nutrition 10.

She stepped away from the lectern last June after 31 years and more than 60,000 students — and holding the title distinguished senior lecturer. Offered every quarter, Applegate’s NUT 10 became the largest class on campus and one of the most popular — named best general education course by students in 2007.

Applegate accommodated enrollment growth by taking her course online, in a so-called high-flex format — where students can attend lectures in person or virtually. Today, no longer lecturing, she is developing an online-only NUT 10 for use throughout the UC system.

“This will allow thousands more students, particularly international and non-native speakers, to enjoy a mode of learning well suited for today’s learning environment,” she said.

She became well known for her enthusiasm, compassion and informal style. “I’ve worked hard to create an inviting classroom for students—both face-to-face and online.”

Applegate motivates students to value the importance of healthy eating — as well as exercise — for optimal health. “My teaching philosophy embraces critical thinking, along with making nutrition science personally applicable and actionable,” she said.

Earlier coverage: “Popular Nutrition Teacher Bids Farewell to the Classroom”

 Daniel Leyson

After guiding the men’s water polo team to a school-record 23 wins, the conference championship and the program’s first NCAA tournament berth in 19 years, Daniel Leyson has received the title coach of the year, as voted by his counterparts in the Western Water Polo Association.

The Aggies went 6-0 in conference play, then toppled three-time defending champion UC San Diego in the conference final to advance to a play-in game in the National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament, where they lost 16-15 in overtime to Harvard.  

UC Davis finished the fall season with a winning percentage of .793 (23-6), a scoring average of 12.6 goals per game and a No. 10 final national ranking — all school benchmarks.

Brianne Holden started her new job as a program coordinator in Study Abroad on Dec. 13 — and learned that very same day that she had been named co-recipient of the Harold Josephson Award from the Association of International Education Administrators.

She came here from the University of Oregon, where she served as a program coordinator in Global Education Oregon while also working on her thesis on international student participation in study abroad and international experience programs.

The Josephson Award recognizes a highly promising graduate student in the field of international education.  The award presentation is set for Feb. 21 in Washington, D.C., as part of the association’s annual conference.

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