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Senate, federation awards reception and lecture set for May 14

By Clifton B. Parker on May 3, 2013 in University

The Academic Senate and Academic Federation will come together to present their highest honors and to hear this year’s Faculty Research Lecture.

As the recipient of the Faculty Research Lecture Award, the senate’s highest honor, Professor Jodi Nunnari of the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology plans a talk on the topic, “I Breathe for Mitochondria.” See separate story on Nunnari.

Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Ralph J. Hexter will join the senate and federation in recognizing Nunnari and the other award recipients (profiled below).

The senate will present six Distinguished Teaching Awards, in undergraduate and graduate-professional categories; and four Distinguished Scholarly Public Service Awards. The federation will present two awards: Excellence in Teaching and Excellence in Research.

The program is scheduled for Tuesday, May 14, in the Activities and Recreation Center Ballroom, starting with the awards program at 5:15 p.m. and followed by a reception at 6:30 and the Faculty Research Lecture at 7:15.

RSVPs are requested by May 10, and can be arranged online.


Distinguished Scholarly Public Service Awards

  • John M. Eadie, professor, wildlife, fish and conservation biology; and animal science — He is a service-oriented academic, best illustrated by his role in drafting the North American Waterfowl Management Plan 2012. This plan is an ambitious strategy to restore waterfowl populations through habitat protection, restoration and enhancement. His contributions to the plan spanned socioeconomic, political and ecological issues, and helped ensure it be implemented within a science framework. He also maintains a heavy department and university service load. His leadership, enthusiasm and ability to synthesize and integrate information endear him to colleagues and also make him unusually effective in his service efforts. 

  • Scott Fishman, professor, clinical anesthesiology, and chief, Division of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine — He is an internationally renowned clinician and activist educator whose career has focused on advancing treatment for patients in pain and improving quality of life. For more than a decade, he has led efforts to raise awareness among practicing physicians, state and federal legislatures and the general public that relief from pain needs to be balanced with effective risk management strategies to prevent prescription drug abuse. 

  • Jay Lund, professor, civil and environmental engineering, and director, Center for Watershed Sciences — He is one of California’s top water experts and a leader in reforming water resource management in the state. He has brought his unique talents in modeling, economics, engineering and geography to bear on some of the thorniest and most pressing water issues in the state. He has consistently and effectively brought science to policy, influencing policymakers, government agencies and public interest groups. He helped found the California Water and Environmental Modeling Forum, which has impacted the way water managers operate in the state. He developed CALVIN, California’s only statewide water resource optimization model, which is used by many agencies to evaluate water policy and operations scenarios. He also played a central role in the development of a series of assessments of California water policy in collaboration with the non-profit Public Policy Institute of California.  His work on the Sacramento –San Joaquin Delta has led to or informed multiple institutional changes and groundbreaking legislation on the Delta.

  • Joy Melnikow, professor, family and community medicine, and director, Center for Healthcare Policy and Research — In addition to being a distinguished family physician known for providing the best care to patients, Melnikow has made significant contributions to health policy through her work on the Let¹s Get Healthy California Task Force and U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Members of both bodies are selected for their abilities to recommend changes that benefit the health of the state and the nation. Her investigations have identified ways to improve cancer-screening guidelines, develop successful disease-prevention programs and assure the effective use of health-care resources. Frederick Meyers, executive associate dean of UC Davis Health System, said in his letter nominating her for the award that Melnikow has "a national and international reputation for clear thinking, excellent communication skills and rigorous application of the principles of evidence-based medicine and clinical epidemiology to health outcomes research, prevention and policy."

Distinguished Teaching Awards: Undergraduate

  • Matthew Augustine, associate professor, chemistry — He was already an outstanding chemistry researcher when he arrived at UC Davis as a new assistant professor in 1997, but it was in front of the General Chemistry lecture class that he discovered his love of teaching. Adopting a style that department vice chair Neil Schore calls "energetic but conversational," Augustine regularly earns comments such as, "best chemistry teacher," "give this man a raise," or simply, "awesome!"  An avid surfer who has been known to solve problems in quantum mechanics while trying to catch waves, Augustine is noted for an ability to teach complicated concepts in a casual, relatable environment without watering them down.

  • Manuel Calderón de la Barca Sánchez, associate professor, physics — In his teaching, Calderon "leaps the orchestra pit," making the distance between students and instructor disappear, wrote Professor Gergely Zimanyi in nominating Calderon for the award. Rather than lecturing directly, he nudges students towards discovering answers for themselves through strings of questions, whether he is talking to UC Davis physics students or a crowd of high schoolers at an outreach event in the Bay Area. Calderon uses his office hours to guide students through the material, connecting ideas presented in class, and helps students develop the skills to succeed professionally. "It is through his dedication to mentoring that I have gained much needed confidence to pursue post-graduate studies," wrote one former student.

  • Catherine Chin, associate professor and director, religious studies  — Her research focuses on early Christian social and intellectual history, ritual, literary cultures of late antiquity and the early middle ages, pre-modern notions of gender, sexuality, and the body. She is praised by colleagues and students alike for her enthusiasm and influence in the department. One student who nominated her said she is “the most influential professor in the Religious Studies Department.”  Said one colleague, “I have seen many professors in action in my years at Davis, and she is the best I have ever seen at evoking from students sophisticated analysis and original theories about texts -- all this in a seemingly effortless manner.” Her most recent publication is Grammar and Christianity in the Late Roman World (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008). 

  • Thomas Gordon, professor, plant pathology, and Science and Society — Known by his peers as a remarkable storyteller who artfully uses humor and analogy to grab the interest of his students, Gordon is passionate about teaching. While juggling a productive research program and demanding administrative duties as chair of the plant pathology department for more than seven years, he continues to take on more than his share of teaching responsibilities at the undergraduate and graduate levels.  Perhaps his “signature” course is “Mushrooms, Molds and Society,” an undergraduate course, which he initiated in1997. As one of the campus’s most highly enrolled classes, it now attracts more than 500 students annually and is one of the top five classes recommended to incoming freshmen.

Distinguished Teaching Awards: Graduate-Professional

  • Elizabeth Freeman, professor, English — She came to UC Davis in 2000 from Sarah Lawrence College. Freeman has written numerous scholarly articles and two books, and is now the editor of GLQ, a journal of Lesbian and Gay studies. “Her graduate seminars, which range in subject from surveys of mid-nineteenth American literature to theoretical inquiries about the relation between sexuality and temporality, consistently fill up with students,” wrote Scott Simmon, chair of the English Department, in recommending her for the award. “Professor Freeman has also taught a wide range of graduate courses focused on the professionalization of our PhD. Students, including an introductory course on graduate study in the field, courses on how to publish an article and how to teach composition.”

  • Sharon Strauss, professor, evolution and ecology, and Center for Population Biology — She has trained 18 graduate students during her faculty career at UC Davis, with alumni describing her as their "mentor for life," yet her strongest contribution to graduate education at UC Davis may be through her leadership in two Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) programs sponsored by the National Science Foundation. These prestigious awards are meant to encourage new models of graduate teaching that cross disciplines. Strauss is principal investigator on two of the six IGERT grants that UC Davis has received, on Biological Invasions and on Responding to Rapid Environmental Change. Trainees come not just from the graduate groups in Ecology and Population Biology, but also History and Economics, and trainees emerge with an understanding not just of biology and ecology but of the social and legal aspects of environmental problems. Strauss also hosts an annual roundtable on work/life balance for graduate students. "She encourages her students to be excellent educators and engaged citizens as well as top-notch scientists," wrote Professor Artyom Kopp, in nominating her for the award.


Excellence in Teaching

  • Scott Herring, lecturer, University Writing Program — Herring is a regular reporter for the Yellowstone Report, and he has published two books, Opening Days: Classic Waterfowling in California and Lines on the Land: Writers, Art, and the National Parks. Herring’s experience as a writer, focusing on natural resources, for a variety publications, informs his teaching and makes his classroom a richer place for students, wrote one colleague. “What really set Dr. Herring apart from many of my other professors, was his interest in helping each individual student,” wrote a student who nominated Herring.  “This was demonstrated not only by his availability for help and advice outside of class, but also how he tailored his teaching to each student to make it as useful for that person going forward.”

Excellence in Research

  • Ann Powell, associate researcher, Department of Plant Sciences — An internationally recognized expert on how genes and biological mechanisms and pathways, interact to affect fruit ripening and disease resistance in tomatoes, Powell and colleagues in 2012 announced a discoverythat caught the attention of scientists, agriculturists and consumers around the world. The researchers reported discovering a gene mutation that tomatobreeders have for decades been selecting as they bred commercial tomato varieties because it caused the tomatoes to be uniformly light green beforethey ripened and suitable for harvesting all at the same time. Powell and fellow researchers demonstrated that this desirable trait was accompanied by an unintended reduction in sugars that compromises the flavor of the fresh tomatoes and their desirability for processing. This work promises to open the door to developing tomatoes with heirloom-quality flavors as well as hardiness for harvest and processing

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Media contact(s)

Clifton B. Parker, Dateline, (530) 752-1932,