LAURELS: NSF CAREER Award for Engineer



  • Alejandro Martinez, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Jesús Velázquez, Department of Chemistry
  • Paul Hastings and Eliza Bliss-Moreau, Department of Psychology
  • R. David Britt, Department of Chemistry
  • Sabyasachi Sen, Department of Materials Science and Engineering
  • Santiago Perez and Katheryn “Kadee” Russ, Department of Economics

Alejandro Martinez mugshot

Alejandro Martinez, assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, has received a CAREER award from the National Science Foundation’s Faculty Early Career Development Program, for his proposal, “Soil Penetration Through Bioinspired Stress State Manipulation.”

The grant is worth up to $500,000 over five years. Martinez studies bioinspired geotechnics, a field that looks to biological organisms for inspiration to solve problems in geotechnical engineering.

Martinez joined the UC Davis faculty in 2016. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering from the University of Texas at Austin, and master’s and doctoral degrees in civil and environmental engineering from Georgia Tech.

Read about UC Davis other NSF CAREER award recipient this year: Roger Casals Gutierrez, assistant professor in the Department of Mathematics, in a story that also reports on his being named a 2020 Sloan Research Fellow.

Jesus Velazquez mugshot

Jesús Velázquez, assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry, has been named a 2020 Cottrell Scholar — early-career recognition in the form of a $100,000 award for research.

The scholarship is from the Tucson, Arizona-based Research Corporation for Science Advancement, which describes itself as “a foundation providing catalytic and opportunistic funding for innovative scientific research and the development of academic scientists.”

Velázquez, who studies materials that have applications in nanoelectronics, energy conversion devices and environmental remediation, is no stranger to the Research Corporation for Science Advancement, which awarded him a Scialog Fellowship in 2017.

He joined the UC Davis faculty in 2016 and became eligible for the Cottrell Scholar program in 2019 (candidates must have completed their third year in their first faculty appointments). The foundation gives a total of 25 Cottrell awards annually in chemistry, physics and astronomy, to faculty members who have been identified as leaders in integrating science teaching and research.

Velázquez earned a Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Puerto Rico-Cayey and a Ph.D. at the University of Buffalo-State University of New York. He was a CAMPOS (Center for the Advancement of Multicultural Perspectives on Science) Faculty Scholar his first year at UC Davis.

Announcing the following fellows:

  • Paul Hastings and Eliza Bliss-Moreau, professor and associate professor, respectively, Department of Psychology, Association for Psychological Science, selected for “sustained outstanding contributions to the science of psychology in the areas of research, teaching, service and/or application.”
  • R. David Britt, Distinguished Professor, Department of Chemistry, International EPR (ESR) Society. Founded in 1989, the society promotes the development and application of electron paramagnetic resonance, also known as electron spin resonance.  

Sabyasachi Sen mugshot

Sabyasachi Sen, professor of materials science and engineering, has received the 2020 Otto Schott Research Award, recognizing excellence in the fields of glasses and glass ceramics.

The award is given every other year by the Donors Association for the Promotion of Sciences and Humanities in Germany, alternating with the Carl Zeiss Research Award. Both awards are top honors in the field of glass science.

Sen will be honored at a special ceremony at the annual meeting of the American Ceramic Society’s Glass and Optical Materials Division, May 17-21 in New Orleans.

Honors for articles and their authors, faculty members in the Department of Economics:

  • Santiago Perez, assistant professor — Winner of the 2020 award for Best Article Published by a Young Researcher, given by the National Academy of Economic Sciences of Argentina, for “The (South) American Dream: Mobility and Economic Outcomes of First- and Second-Generation Immigrants in Nineteenth-Century Argentina” (The Journal of Economic History, December 2017). Perez joined the UC Davis faculty in 2017. He is a graduate of the Universidad de Buenos Aires and Universidad de San Andrés (Argentina), and earned a doctorate in economics from Stanford University.
  • Katheryn “Kadee” Russ, associate professor — Recognized by Econofact for writing one of the publication’s top articles of 2019, “The Costs of U.S. Tariffs Imposed Since 2018,” in which Russ, a member of Econofact’s contributing network, discusses how “costs imposed by tariffs go beyond direct dollar-price increases on targeted goods.” She joined the UC Davis faculty in 2004. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from the College of William and Mary, a Master of Science in agricultural and applied economics from Virginia Tech, and an M.S. and Ph.D. in economics from Johns Hopkins University.

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