LAURELS: Nepal Program ‘Highly Commended’

Woman and man pose in front of poster explaining their Nepal program.
Nancy Erbstein and Jonathan London, co-leaders of the Seminar Abroad program Nepal: Community, Technology and Sustainability.


  • Nancy Erbstein, School of Education
  • Jonathan London, Department of Human Ecology and Center for Regional Change
  • Jaroslav Trnka, Department of Physics
  • Joy Geng, Department of Psychology and Center for Mind and Brain
  • Michele Barbato, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Ralph Aldredge, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
  • Vinod Narayanan, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
  • Jennifer S. Curtis, College of Engineering
  • College of Engineering’s Best Teaching and Best TA awards

UC Davis’ Seminar Abroad in Nepal recently earned “highly commended” status in the category of Progressive Education Delivery, as judged by Professionals in International Education, or PIE, an independent media, recruitment and events company.

Nepal: Community, Technology and Sustainability was one of two UC Davis Global Affairs finalists in this year’s PIEoneer Awards program

The Nepal program is led by Nancy Erbstein, associate professor in residence in the School of Education and associate vice provost of Global Education for All in Global Affairs, and her husband, Jonathan London, associate professor of community and regional development in the Department of Human Ecology.

UC Davis also was a finalist for PIE’s Sustainability International Impact Award. Global Affairs pointed out that UC Davis experts are addressing, in their research, teaching and public service, all 17 of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

Jonathan London, an associate professor in the Department of Human Ecology and faculty director of the Center for Regional Change, has been named an Interdisciplinary Research Leaders Fellow of the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation. With accompanying grant funds, he will collaborate with a community-university team on a three-year study of air pollution control in the most heavily polluted communities in the San Joaquin Valley, which has the worst air in the country.

It will be first study of its kind to analyze the impacts of California’s Community Air Protection Program, or CAPP, established by Assembly Bill 617 in 2017, which is at the forefront of air pollution protection in the country. London recently completed a study of community engagement in the first phases of AB 617 and this new study will examine the impacts of its implementation.

Jaroslav Trnka headshot

Jaroslav Trnka, associate professor of physics, has won the 2020 Henry Primakoff Award for Early-Career Particle Physics from the American Physical Society. Besides his appointment in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, Trnka also works in the Center for Quantum Mathematics and Physics, or QMAP, run jointly by physics and astronomy and the Department of Mathematics. 

The award recognizes Trnka’s “seminal work on the computation of particle-scattering amplitudes, including the development of a new mathematical approach, the amplituhedron.” Mathematical concepts like the amplituhedron could help researchers unify quantum mechanics and Einstein’s theory of general relativity.

Trnka’s previous honors include the Young Scientist Prize in Particles and Fields from the International Union for Pure and Applied Physics, and the UC Davis Award for Innovation and Creative Vision.

— Becky Oskin, content strategist, College of Letters and Science

Professor Joy Geng of the Department of Psychology and Center for Mind and Brain has been named a fellow of the Association for Psychological Science for her contributions to the understanding of human cognition. Geng, who joined the faculty in 2008, studies how our goals and experiences interact with sensory events to determine what we perceive.

Recent honors for faculty members of the College of Engineering

  • Michele Barbato, professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, is the recipient of the 2020 Walter L. Huber Civil Engineering Research Prize from the American Society of Civil Engineers. The prize recognizes Barbato for his research in structural engineering, especially related to seismic and hurricane hazards. ... He also received the Fredrick Panhorst Structural Engineer Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers, Sacramento Section, given to members who have furthered techniques and provided outstanding service to the field of structural engineering.
  • Ralph Aldredge and Vinod Narayanan, professors, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, are newly elected fellows of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Fellow status honors members for their achievements, members for their achievements with more than 10 years of experience in mechanical engineering or a related field.
  • Jennifer Curtis, dean, has been named a fellow of the American Physical Society. The division of fluid dynamics nominated her for her seminal research advancements in understanding particulate flow phenomena and for the development of predictive models. ... Curtis also received the American Society for Engineering Education’s Benjamin Garver Lamme Award honoring leadership in engineering administration and education.

Starting this year, the College of Engineering is presenting Best Teaching and Best Teaching Assistant awards in each department. The awards recognize faculty and graduate students who show a strong commitment to the mission and vision of the college and consistently perform above and beyond to train and create the next generation of engineers and leaders.

Each department nominated and selected its award recipients. Learn more about them here and in this celebration video. (The Department of Biomedical Engineering will start participating next year.)

The honorees:

  • Biological and Agricultural Engineering —  Teaching: Jennifer Mullin, assistant professor of teaching. TA: Clay Swackhamer, Ph.D. candidate.
  • Chemical Engineering — Teaching: Priya Shah, assistant professor. TA: Amr Zedan, Ph.D. candidate.
  • Civil and Environmental Engineering — Teaching: Colleen Bronner, associate professor of teaching and vice chair of undergraduate studies. TA: Katie Hughes, Ph.D. candidate in the Environmental Dynamics Lab.
  • Computer Science — Teaching: Joël Porquet-Lupine, assistant professor of teaching. TA: Zee Chen, Ph.D. candidate.
  • Electrical and Computer Engineering — Teaching: William Putnam, assistant professor. TA: Satyabrata Sarangi, Ph.D. candidate
  • Materials Science and Engineering — Jeremy Mason, assistant professor. TA: Dayane Oliveira, Ph.D. candidate.
  • Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering — Teaching: Don Margolis, professor. TA: Chang Lee Vang, Ph.D. candidate

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