LAURELS: Student Researchers and Their Mentors

Student in blue shirt explains research to a half-circle of people gathered round poster display
A presentation at the Undergraduate Research Conference, held in April. (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)


  • Joanna Chiu, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
  • April Ferre, School of Medicine
  • Zoe Pestana, College of Letters and Science
  • Shuxiao Zhang, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
  • Roger Boulton, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and College of Engineering
  • Andrew Waterhouse, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
  • Ye Chen-Izu, College of Engineering and School of Medicine
  • Zhongli Pan, College of Engineering
  • Magdalena Wojcieszak, College of Letters and Science

The Undergraduate Research Center closed out the academic year with a ceremony for the presentation of chancellor’s awards and other honors to students for research excellence, creativity and publishing, and to a faculty member, lab manager and two graduate students for their mentorship of undergraduate researchers.

The Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence in Mentoring Undergraduate Research were given as follows, by category:

Joanna Chiu headshot, UC Davis faculty
Joanna Chiu
April Ferre headshot, Ph.D., lab manager, UC Davis
April Ferre

Here are the student award categories and recipients:

  • Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research and Dean Keith Simonton Prize — Ibrahim Dagher, philosophy; and Alyse Lodigiani, cognitive science. Honorable mention: Samuel Carter, neurobiology, physiology and behavior; Quincy Kumfert, political science, and genetics and genomics; and Alex Neupauer, genetics and genomics.
  • Dean Keith Simonton Prize for Creativity in Undergraduate Research — Alicia Dye, cognitive science-neuroscience emphasis; and Peter Reifenstein, biochemistry and molecular biology.
  • Hanson Family Undergraduate Research Publishing Award — Samuel Carter, neurobiology, physiology and behavior; Ibrahim Dagher, philosophy; and Indira D’Souza, global disease biology.

Roger Boulton headshot, UC Davis faculty
Roger Boulton
Andrew Waterhouse headshot, UC Davis faculty
Andrew Waterhouse

Two emeritus professors were among the eight recipients of Wine Lifetime Achievement Awards presented last week by the California State Fair and its Wine Advisory Task Force. In a showing of UC Davis' major role in the state's wine industry, all eight recipients — two per year for 2020 through 2023 (making up for pandemic years when the awards were no presented) — have UC Davis connections.

The honored professors:

  • Roger Boultondistinguished professor, who retired in 2019 from the Department of Viticulture and Enology, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, and Department of Chemical Engineering in the College of Engineering.
  • Andrew Waterhouse, professor, who retired in 2022 from the Department of Viticulture and Enology, and who this month is stepping down after five years as the director of the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science. 

Of the other six recipients, five are winemakers who attended and/or earned degrees at UC Davis:

  • Cathy Corison, M.S. ’78, owner, Corison Winery, St. Helena
  • Randall Grahm ’79, owner, Bonny Doon Vineyard, Santa Cruz
  • Ed Moody ’73, M.S. ’74, head winemaker, Bronco Wine Co., Ceres (retired)
  • Michaela Rodeno ’68, M.A. ’70, owner, Villa Ragazzi Vineyards and Winery, Napa; and wine industry advisor and retired executive
  • Dave Stare, owner, Dry Creek Vineyard, Healdsburg

The eighth Lifetime Achievement Award went to Bob Thompson, wine writer, who is among the contributors to the UC Davis Library’s Wine Writer Collections.

“Our wine industry would not enjoy the vibrant condition it does today without your pioneering work,” said Mark Chandler, chief judge of the California State Fair Commercial Wine Competition, a Lodi winemaker and industry consultant.

Waterhouse, in his farewell column in the RMI e-newsletter, said that besides being “humbled and honored” to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award, he was “pleasantly surprised that our work at UC Davis receives this level of attention from industry members.”

“As I mentioned in my remarks that evening, our students are our most important product, and with their energy and creativity, they will continue to help the wine industry thrive,” he said.

Ye Chen-Izu headshot, UC Davis faculty
Ye Chen-Izu

Ye Chen-Izu recently earned an Outstanding Investigator Award from the federal government, providing $7.76 million over seven years in support of her research into how the heart functions as a smart pump and how mechanical stress such as high blood pressure leads to heart disease.

Chen-Izu is a professor of biomedical engineering, pharmacology and cardiology, with appointments in the College of Engineering and the School of Medicine.

Her award is from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health.  

Unlike a research grant, the Outstanding Investigator Award does not provide funding for specific projects. Instead, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute offers the award as extended assistance and flexibility on research programs to experienced principal investigators who have proven their ability to make significant contributions in heart, lung, blood or sleep research. 

Since joining UC Davis in 2009, Chen-Izu has pushed the cardiology field forward through her interdisciplinary approaches to biomedical engineering, such as the innovative cell-in-gel technology that allows researchers to study how mechanical load, or physical stress, operates at the cellular and molecular levels in the heart. 

“Hypertension is very common in the adult population,” she said. “However, the cellular and molecular mechanisms linking mechanical load to heart diseases still remain a mystery. Hence, it is important to study the mechanisms and develop better drug therapies to prevent heart diseases.”

Read more in this article on the College of Engineering website.

Zhongli Pan headshot, UC Davis faculty
Zhongli Pan

Sacramento-based Comstock’s Magazine recognized Zhongli Pan’s AIVision Food as the magazine’s Startup of the Month for May. Pan is an adjunct professor in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, College of Engineering.

AIVision Food develops smart technology to protect crops from pests. Pan and his eight-person team designed a device they call SmartProbe to remotely monitor food processing and storage facilities. This process is usually done manually, which takes time, costs more and can lead to oversights, according to Pan.  

SmartProbe employs a camera and temperature and relative humidity sensors to detect and track pests. Photos are sent to a computer system that uses an algorithm to determine the presence and number of insects, and alerts facility managers by message or email so they can take action sooner than they might had then been relying on manual detection.

“Because human detection couldn’t find insects early, the damage was already done,” Pan told Comstock’s. “But we found insects when the people couldn’t find them. Even when the number was large. That’s why we call it early detection technology.”

Read the article in Comstock’s Magazine.

Magdalena Wojcieszak headshot, UC Davis faculty
Magdalena Wojcieszak​

Professor Magdalena Wojcieszak of the Department of Communication, College of Letters and Science, has been accorded fellow status in the International Communication Association, an honor recognizing distinguished scholarly contributions to the field.

Fellow status is conferred upon only 4.5% of the association’s membership of more than 7,000 scholars across in excess of 80 countries. To achieve such status, a nominee must be endorsed by a majority of all existing fellows and approved by the board of directors.

Wojcieszak researches how the changing media environment creates both opportunities and challenges for informed publics, tolerant citizenry and responsive governance. For example, she aims to identify the role of interest bias and political bias in algorithms that determine what information is presented in people’s social media feeds — and how to minimize those biases.

Read more in this article by Greg Watry, content strategist and writer, on the College of Letters and Science website.


Social Justice Awards presented at the 13 th annual Equity Summit included one for the Hispanic-Serving Institution Community Council.

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

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