Skip to main content
You are here


By Dateline Staff on October 9, 2018 in University

Quick Summary

  • Agency supports Alan Hastings and Rachael Bay in projects aimed at ‘Understanding the Rules of Life’
  • Celina Juliano wins NSF funding to develop genomic tools, using hydra as her model
  • Plant biologist Philipp Zerbe wins Young Investigator Award
  • Sherena Edinboro and Charlene Green of UC Davis Health named Exceptional Women of Color
  • Music faculty members Kurt Rohde and Jeffrey Thomas figure prominently in “San Francisco Classical Voice” Best of the Bay honors, as decided by public vote
  • Anthropologist Lynne Isbell is the new president-elect of the American Society of Primatologists

The National Science Foundation selected two UC Davis faculty members for RAISE and EAGER awards in support of “Understanding the Rules of Life,” one of “10 Big Ideas for Future NSF Investments.”

Alan Hastings mugshot

Alan Hastings, professor, Department of Environmental Science and Policy, received a RAISE award, for Research Advanced by Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering, a category for projects that appear to promise transformational advances. His award of just under $1 million is for a project that involves using statistical physics to better understand synchrony across biological and ecological systems, which has implications for extinction risk and human health.

Rachael Bay mugshot

Rachael Bay, assistant professor, Department of Evolution and Ecology, received an EAGER award, for Early-Concept Grants for Exploratory Research, a category for work in its early stages on untested but potentially transformative ideas or approaches. Her award of roughly $300,000 for a project that involves linking physiology, morphology and genomics to investigate adaptation to rapid environmental change. Read more about Bay and her work.

The NSF presented RAISE and EAGER awards to 29 projects nationwide. “We expect the science coming out of these awards to reveal new ‘rules of life’ that will contribute to a predictive understanding of living systems,” said Joanne Tornow, acting assistant director of the NSF’s Directorate for Biological Sciences.

Celina Juliano mugshot

The NSF recently presented an EDGE grant of $1.5 million to Celina Juliano, assistant professor, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology. EDGE stands for Enabling Discovery Through Genomic Tools.

Working with hydra, a small freshwater invertebrate that’s got a knack for biological immortality and regeneration, Juliano is developing genomic tools to aid in regenerative research and hopefully increase the number of researchers using hydra as a model system. Read more about Juliano and her work.

Philipp Zerbe mugshot

Philipp Zerbe, assistant professor, Department of Plant Biology, recently received the Phytochemical Society of North America/Elsevier Young Investigator Award for his research aimed at protecting food crops such as maize. In particular, he investigates how crops deal with environmental stressors at the molecular level, and by doing so he aims to define the networks that give rise to chemical defenses.

The award, presented at the society’s annual meeting, includes funding that will allow Zerbe and his team to advance their research. Read more Zerbe and his work.

Two UC Davis employees are among this year’s Exceptional Women of Color, recognized by the Sac Cultural Hub Media Foundation for “demonstrating commitment and leadership skills in their organizations and in the community.”

The UC Davis honorees, both of whom are affiliated with UC Davis Health:

Sherina Edinboro mugshot
  • Sherena Edinboro — A clinical nurse II and master’s degree leadership student at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing. She received her award in the category of Health, Sports and Wellness.
Charlene Green mugshot
  • Charlene Green — A director in the School of Medicine, overseeing the Office of Admissions, Office of Student and Resident Diversity, and Student Development Office (which includes all comprehensive student support services for the M.D. Program). She received her award in the category of Education and Research.

The awards ceremony took place at the 10th annual Exceptional Women of Color Conference. “This year (with 19 awards) marks a milestone in recognizing over 200 amazing and incredible women of color over 10 years,” said Pleshette Robertson, founder and chief executive officer of the Sac Cultural Hub Media Foundation.

Held Oct. 6 in Sacramento, the conference had a theme of “Women Matter: Claiming Our Physical Health and Financial Wealth.” Conference sponsors included the Office of Student and Resident Diversity, UC Davis School of Medicine; and the UC Davis Office of Campus Community Relations.

Founded in 2003, the Sac Cultural Hub Media Foundation promotes health, education, diversity, leadership, wealth and business skills in the urban community. Signature events include the Exceptional Women of Color Conference and the Black Physicians Forum.

Music faculty members figure prominently in 2017-18 Best of the Bay honors, decided by a reader poll conducted by the online San Francisco Classical Voice.

• Best New-Music Performance — Left Coast Chamber Ensemble’s “Death and a Knight,” pairing two one-act chamber operas by Kurt Rohde, Jan and Beta Popper Professor of Music: Death With Interruptions and Never was a knight ... . 

SF Classical Voice, in its review, hailed the score of “Never was a knight …”: “The music is gorgeous, its lyricism buoyed by Rohde’s imaginative hand for orchestration

The ensemble performed “Death and a Knight” in November in San Francisco, after a preview performance of Death With Interruptions at UC Davis.

Rohde, a violist, is a performer and artistic advisor with the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble.

• Best Festival — For the third year running: the American Bach Soloists Festival and Academy. Professor Emeritus Jeffrey Thomas is the American Bach Soloists’ artistic and music director.

Thomas served as co-director of the 2018 academy, built around the theme, “The Glorious Court of Dresden,” with concerts, workshops, lectures and master classes exploring music composed in and around the German “Jewel Box” city. SF Classical Voice, in one of its reviews, noted: “Regardless of the program, American Bach Soloists is simply a phenomenal Baroque choir and orchestra.”

• Best Vocal Recital — “William Sharp Sings Bach in the Chapel of Grace,” with musicians of the American Bach Soloists/

Anthropologist Lynne Isbell, who studies the behavior, ecology and evolutionary history of primates, is the new president-elect of the American Society of Primatologists.

Isbell, professor and chair of the Department of Anthropology in the College of Letters and Science, assumed the elected position during the society’s Aug. 8-11 meeting in San Antonio. She will serve two years as president-elect, then move up to president in 2020. 

The society, which has close to 400 members, aims to promote and encourage the discovery and exchange of information regarding primates, and is open to anyone engaged in scientific primatology or interested in supporting those goals.

Read more about Isbell’s work in this article on the College of Letters and Science website.

Dateline UC Davis welcomes news of faculty and staff awards, for publication in Laurels. Send information to

Follow Dateline UC Davis on Twitter.

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