- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
The three-pronged Chancellor's Award, launched in 1994, annually honors three outstanding mentors: a graduate student; a postdoctoral fellow or project scientist; and a faculty member.
Professor Chiu, who joined the faculty in 2010, focuses her research on the molecular and cellular biology of circadian rhythms and seasonal rhythms.
Chiu lab member and doctoral candidate Christine Tabuloc, who will be receiving her PhD this month, nominated her for the award. A team of five other Chiu lab alumni submitted a group letter of recommendation.
"I joined Dr. Chiu's laboratory at the beginning of my second year here at UC Davis and remained a member of the lab for 3 years as an undergraduate, 2 years as a technician, and 6 years as a graduate student," Tabuloc wrote. "Throughout all my time in the Chiu lab, Joanna has never failed to amaze me with her kindness, patience, and her consistency and perseverance in helping all students, both in her lab and in other labs, succeed. I cannot think of anyone more deserving of this award than Dr. Chiu."
"Dr. Chiu welcomed me into her lab back in 2012," Tabuloc related. "I had just finished my first year of college, and I had virtually no research experience. Despite this, Joanna took a chance on me and invited me to join her lab. Throughout the years, Joanna has taught me many skills—both at the bench and skills that translate outside the lab and even beyond academia. Joanna has taught me everything I know from performing an experiment with all the proper controls to mentoring students and giving effective and clear presentations. What makes her so outstanding is her commitment to helping us improve as scientists and researchers and preparing us for our future career endeavors."
Tabuloc praised Professor Chiu for teaching her effective communication, organization, time and personnel management, and resilience.
"One thing that I find unique about Joanna is her ability to see our potential before we even see it in ourselves," Tabuloc wrote. "Joanna often says that once we step into the doors of the lab, we are no longer students rather, we are scientists. She encourages us to think like scientists and gives everyone equal opportunity to pursue their scientific questions of interest and carry out independent projects."
"Not only have I experienced Dr. Chiu's mentorship first-hand, but I have also had the privilege of watching her mentor all the undergraduate students that have joined her lab throughout the years. In fact, since my time here, I have watched at least 35 undergraduates be mentored by Joanna, and many of these students were authors on publications in peer-reviewed journals such as Scientific Reports, Journal of Pest Science, BMC, Ecology, Current Biology, Nature Communications, Journal of Economic Entomology, and PLOS Genetics. More so, a true testament to her success as an undergraduate mentor are her students' successes: furthering their education at academic institutions such as Cornell, Stanford, Columbia, UCB, and UCLA or landing industry jobs at companies such as 10X Genomics. Many of these students still keep in contact with Dr. Chiu, and she continues to provide advice and guidance such as reviewing resumes and helping them prepare for interviews. Joanna is not just our mentor when we are at UCD, she is our mentor for life."
Group Letter. The former lab members who teamed to write the group letter, all praised her impactful influence--her mentoring, her encouragement, her constructive feedback, and her strong support:
- Lisa Soyeon Baik, now a postdoctoral fellow at the Carlson lab, Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, Yale University
- Daniel Ewels-Labolle, PhD student at Cornell
- Jessica West, PhD student at Cornell
- Katherine "Katie" Freitas, PhD student at Stanford University
- Kiya Jackson, who received her bachelor's degree in biological sciences, then joined the UC Davis Postbaccalaureate Research Education Program, and will be heading to UCLA for her PhD
"She helped me to gain confidence and to envision myself as a scientist. She not only gave me a start in my scientific career, but her mentorship has far exceeded my time in her laboratory. She has continually supported me through graduate school and now as a postdoctoral researcher."--Lisa Soyeon Baik
"I can say without a shadow of a doubt that I would not have been able to get to where I am now without Joanna's mentorship, advice and overwhelming support."--Daniel Ewels-Labolle
"As a PhD student at Cornell, I am immensely grateful for the training I received as an undergrad from Dr. Chiu. Not only did she train me thoroughly in basic biochemistry and molecular biology techniques, but she also pushed me to be independent and think critically about my science, skills essential for graduate school."--Jessica West
"Beyond teaching me practical research skills, Dr. Chiu helped to spark the most important thing a person needs to be a successful scientist: pure joy in the pursuit of knowledge."--Katie Freitas
"I believe Dr. Chiu is a valuable mentor for undergraduate researchers because she offers her time and expertise to train well-rounded scientists, regardless of the stage at which they start their career and regardless of what career they hope to pursue."--Kiya Jackson
Chiu joined the Department of Entomology and Nematology in 2010 as an Assistant Professor, and advanced to Associate Professor and Vice Chair in 2016, and to Professor and Vice Chair in 2021. She was named one of 10 UC Davis Chancellor's Fellows in 2019, a five-year honor awarded to associate professors who excel in research and teaching. The UC Davis Academic Senate honored her with a Distinguished Teaching Award, Graduate/Professional category, in 2022.
Chiu co-founded and co-directs (with professors Jay Rosenheim and Louie Yang) the campuswide Research Scholars Program in Insect Biology, launched in 2011 to provide undergraduates with a closely mentored research experience in biology. The program's goal is to provide academically strong and highly motivated undergraduates with a multi-year research experience that cultivates skills that will prepare them for a career in biological research.
Chiu received her bachelor's degree in biology and music from Mount Holyoke College, Mass., and her doctorate in molecular genetics in 2004 from New York University, New York. She trained as a postdoctoral fellow from 2004 to 2010 in molecular chronobiology at the Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine, at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.