What Hellman Awards Mean to Recipients

As UC Davis celebrates a new endowment from the Hellman family, to support Hellman Fellowships in perpetuity, we invite you to meet four of UC Davis’ fellows to learn what their fellowships mean to them. (Fellowship years in parentheses.)

Amber Boydstun mugshot

Amber Boydstun (2011), associate professor, Department of Political Science, who researches the interaction between media and politics, running lab experiments and large-scale studies to examine how media coverage can shape public opinion. “The Hellman Fellowship was invaluable, coming at exactly the point in my career when I needed a win, both financially and psychologically. I used the funds to finish a project that yielded two journal articles and a finished book that I don't think I would have been able to complete otherwise. But just as important as the monetary support, being selected as a Hellman Fellow signaled to me that I belonged in academia and in the UC system. It boosted my confidence in my research agenda. I've received many grants and fellowships and awards over the years, but looking back the Hellman Fellowship — and the motivation for its creation in the first place — is the most meaningful to me.”

Daniel Choe mugshot

Daniel Ewon Choe (2019), assistant professor, Human Development and Family Studies, Department of Human Ecology, who studies stress, self-regulation and resilience in low-income mothers and children. He is co-investigator on a $2.7 million study funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. “The Hellman award is the first grant I’ve received as a principal investigator, which is a milestone for assistant professors who are building their research programs. It allowed me to take risks in launching a novel study of the biological, social and environmental correlates of mental health and resilience in low-income families with young children. The award also boosted my confidence in grant writing, which was diminished after many failed grant proposal submissions. I’m grateful that the Hellman award has afforded me the opportunity to conduct rigorous scientific inquiry into the systemic effects of poverty on human development.”

Alejandro Martinez mugshot

Alejandro Martinez (2018), assistant professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, who studies soil-enabled renewable geothermal energy. He received a National Science Foundation CAREER Award in 2020 for his work on bioinspired geotechnics. “The Hellman Fellowship provided me with valuable resources to perform exploratory research which I have continued throughout my time as an assistant professor. This fellowship supported two graduate students who helped complete research that has been published in a journal paper and provided preliminary data to obtain further funding from NSF. The recognition of the Hellman Fellowship also helped me strengthen my qualifications for other fellowships and awards. I am very grateful for this support.”

Frances Moore mugshot

Frances C. Moore (2018), assistant professor, Department of Environmental Science and Policy, a climate scientist who has received attention for her work that looks at how social media can help capture data during flooding or other climate events. “The Hellman Fellowship was critical in funding initial work on a project to better measure the ecological costs of climate change. I was able to use pilot work funded by the fellowship to successfully apply for a four-year grant from the National Science Foundation to continue it. This is a major step forward for my career and an important investment in the science and economics of the ecological damages from climate change.”

See all of UC Davis’ Hellman Fellows, 2008-19.

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