LAURELS: Scientist Named ‘Public Engagement Fellow’

Photo: Tessa Hill at the beach
Tessa Hill has been named a Public Engagement Fellow in climate science.

Quick Summary

  • King Hall Outreach Program wins ABA’s pipeline diversity award
  • Top articles: 2 on memory and 1 about triclosan
  • Fire chief certification puts Trauernicht in elite company

Tessa Hill, associate professor of earth and planetary sciences, is among the first 15 Public Engagement Fellows named by the Leshner Leadership Institute at the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The inaugural cohort focuses on climate science (subsequent cohorts will address other areas of science).

Hill studies the response of marine species — such as oysters — to environmental disturbance. She’s a member of the Bodega Ocean Acidification Research group at the UC Davis Bodega Marine Laboratory.

In addition, she leads a National Science Foundation-supported program whereby she works with future science teachers — kindergarten through 12th grade — to help them infuse their classrooms with climate change science.

In selecting its Public Engagement Fellows, the Leshner Leadership Institute looked for scientists who demonstrated leadership and excellence in their research careers, and interest in promoting meaningful dialogue between science and society. The leadership institute is managed by the AAAS Center for Public Engagement with Science and Technology, established by Alan I. Leshner in 2004.

The fellowship program calls for Hill and the other new fellows to be at AAAS headquarters in June for a week of intensive training in public engagement and science communication. After that, within their own communities, the fellows are asked to develop public engagement activities and opportunities for other scientists.


The American Bar Association is honoring the UC Davis School of Law for its successful efforts in “pipeline diversity,” that is, bringing students from underrepresented communities into the pipeline that leads to law school and the practice of the law.

The 2016 Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Award For Excellence in Pipeline Diversity recognizes the King Hall Outreach Program, or KHOP, which helps first-generation college students and economically disadvantaged students prepare for the law school admissions process.

The American Bar Association Council for Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Educational Pipeline selected KHOP for this year’s pipeline diversity award. KHOP “is an example of pipeline programming that optimizes the kind of efforts that the pipeline council hopes to continue to encourage and foster,” Kenneth G. Standard, council chair, said in a news release annoucing the award.

The award presentation is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 5, in San Diego, during the ABA’s midyear meeting.

A gratified Dean Kevin R. Johnson said: “We as a country need lawyers from all walks of life, and to achieve that goal, we need programs like KHOP to help provide access to legal education for underrepresented communities.

“I would like to thank the many UC Davis School of Law faculty, alumni, students and staff who have contributed to KHOP’s success.”

The national award follows the California State Bar’s presentation of its Education Pipeline Award to KHOP in 2014.

KHOP, established in 2001, provides mentoring and prelaw advising during the school year, and runs summer sessions on writing, analytical and logical reasoning skills and study techniques to help prepare students for the Law School Admission Test, or LSAT. The program also counsels prospective law school students on career paths.

To date, 240 students have successfully completed the two-year program, and 100 students have completed at least one year. Among KHOP program alumni, 99 percent have graduated from four-year institutions and 41 percent are enrolled or have graduated from law programs.


The journal Neuron recently chose its 12 best articles of 2014-15, including two from UC Davis teams engaged in the study of memory. The authors included two faculty members: Charan Ranganath, professor, and Brian Wiltgin, associate professor — both of the Department of Psychology and the Center for Neuroscience.

“States of Curiosity Modulate Hippocampus-Dependent Learning via the Dopaminergic Circuit” — Ranganath and co-authors Matthias Gruber, postdoctoral researcher, and Bernard Gelman, research scientist, wrote about the role of curiosity in learning and memory.

“Cortical Representations Are Reinstated by the Hippocampus during Memory Retrieval” Wiltgen and co-authors Kazumasa Tanaka, Anahita Hamidi, Yuki Nakazawa and Jalina Graham, all of the Center for Neuroscience, told how they used light to erase specific memories in mice, and proved a basic theory of how different parts of the brain work together to retrieve episodic memories.

The journal reprinted the articles in the Best of Neuron series. The editors, in a forward, noted the articles were among the journal’s most downloaded documents of the year and span “the most exciting research of last year.”

Related stories: “Curiosity helps learning and memory”  and “Manipulating memory with light”


Another top article:

Entomology professor Bruce Hammock co-authored a paper judged among the best of 2015 by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

The paper, “The Commonly Used Antimicrobial Additive Triclosan is a Liver Tumor Promoter,” emerged from NIEHS-funded research led by Hammock and UC San Diego’s Robert Tukey. Each of them directs the Superfund Research Program at their respecvtive schools.

The NIEHS ranked the triclosan study No. 2 out of 2,514 published papers dealing with NIEHS-funded research. The Hammock-Tukey paper appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Triclosan is a widely used antibacterial chemical found in cosmetics, soaps, shampoos, toothpastes and many other household products. “This study, using laboratory mice, raises concerns about the safety of triclosan in humans,” said Hammock, who holds a joint appointment with the Department of Entomology and Nematology and the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center.

“These findings add to earlier reports triclosan can disrupt hormones and impair muscle contraction.”  


Nate Trauernicht has earned fire chief certification designation from the office of the state fire marshal. Trauernicht serves as chief of the UC Davis Fire Department and the city of Davis Fire Department.

State Fire Marshal Tonya Hoover presented Trauernicht’s certification at the Jan. 12 City Council meeting. Trauernicht is only the 30th person to earn the state’s fire chief certification since it was established in 1998.

Certification is based on a candidate’s education and experience, and competency in management, leadership and technical knowledge.


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

Follow Dateline UC Davis on Twitter.

Media Resources

Dateline Staff, News and Media Relations, 530-752-6556,

Primary Category

Secondary Categories

Environment Human & Animal Health Science & Technology Society, Arts & Culture Education