He is one of 33 recipients of the 2023 UC Davis Graduate Program Advising and Mentoring Awards.
"Your program selected you for this award due to your excellent service to your graduate program, as well as your positive impact on graduate students and your colleagues," wrote Jean-Pierre Delplanque, vice provost and dean of Graduate Studies, in a congratulatory letter. "We thank you for your investment in advising and mentoring graduate students and contribution to their success."
The nomination letter extolled his contributions: "What sets Louie apart are these three qualities: (1) He is honest to the unique needs and interests of each student. He knows that the diversity of ideas and perspectives fuels scientific progress. He respects each student's unique perspective and interests He gives his students opportunities to view themselves as intellectual colleagues and contributors. (2) He facilitates intellectual independence in his drive to help students transition from being consumers of knowledge to becoming producers of knowledge. (3) He learns from his students. He knows that mentorship is a two-way street."
Another excerpt from the nomination letter: "It is unusual and truly special, to find a mentor that perfectly balances generous, unwavering support with a deep appreciation for his students' independence. His supportive advising style, almost paradoxically, allows his students to develop a high degree of independence and self-motivation."
The recipients of the award include 14 from the College of Letters and Sciences; 7 from the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, 5 from the College of Biological Sciences, 6 from the College of Engineering, and one from the School of Medicine. (See news story)
Yang, who received his bachelor's degree in ecology and evolution from Cornell University in 1999, and his doctorate in population biology from UC Davis in 2006, joined the UC Davis faculty in 2009.
He co-directs and mentors students in the Research Scholars Program in Insect Biology (RSPIB), a campuswide program that he and Professors Jay Rosenheim (now a UC Davis distinguished professor) and Joanna Chiu (now chair of the Department of Entomology and Nematology) co-founded in 2011 to help students learn cutting-edge research through close mentoring relationships with faculty. The program crosses numerous biological fields, including population biology; behavior and ecology; biodiversity and evolutionary ecology; agroecology; genetics and molecular biology; biochemistry and physiology; entomology; and cell biology. The goal: 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.
Professor Yang is the second recipient of the campuswide award from the Department of Entomology and Nematology. Last year Rosenheim, who specializes in insect ecology, received the honor.
Highly honored for his advising and mentoring, Yang earlier received the 2023 Distinction in Student Mentoring Award from the Pacific Branch of the Entomological Society of America (PBESA), which encompasses 11 Western states, parts of Canada and Mexico, and U.S. territories. He was praised for "being a strong advocate for his students and fostering creative and critical thinking." His other honors include the 2017 Eleanor and Harry Walker Academic Advising Award from CA&ES. In 2018, he received the regional (Pacific Region 9, California, Nevada and Hawaii) Outstanding Faculty Academic Advisor from NACADA, also known as the Global Community for Academic Advising, and then went on to win NACADA's international award for the Outstanding Faculty Academic Advising Award.
Sounds like a great story, right?
Make that great cookies.
They weren't there to present their research on nematodes, aquatic insects or pollinators. They were there to enjoy some camaraderie at the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology's holiday party, and...drum roll...they won the top prizes in the cookie contest.
- Best chocolate cookie: Aquatic entomologist Sharon Lawler, professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, for her recipe, "Dirty Drunk Snowballs"
- Best non-chocolate cookie: Nematologist Steve Nadler, professor and chair, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, for his Internet-modified recipe, "Cranberry Orange Cookies"
- Best decorated cookie: Community ecologist Rachel Vannette, assistant professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, for her "Stamped Citrus Shortbread" recipe from the New York Times
William Tuck, academic personnel specialist in the Phoenix Cluster, which serves the Department of Entomology and Nematology and the Department of Plant Pathology, coordinated the event and awarded $25 Amazon gift cards to the winners.
The proof of the pudding? Empty containers.
Want to make the recipes? They shared!
Dirty Drunk Snowballs
By Sharon Lawler
1 box Trader Joe's Mini Dark Chocolate Mint Stars
1/4 cup dark rum (white rum or bourbon will also work)
1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
Grind up the cookies in a food processor or blender until pretty fine but with some texture left. Stir enough dark rum so that the crumbs hold together well, but stop before it gets soggy. Let the mix sit for 15 minutes or so. Sift the confectioner's sugar into a bowl. Roll the mix into small balls, and then roll them in the confectioner's sugar.
Cranberry Orange Cookies
By Steve Nadler
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granular white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)
1-1/2 teaspoons grated orange zest
5 tablespoons orange juice
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups orange-flavored dried cranberries (Trader Joe's)
1-1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
- Use a food processor to chop the dried cranberries
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- In a large bowl, blend together the butter, white granular sugar, and brown sugar until smooth.
- Whisk the egg in a small bowl, then mix into the large bowl.
- Add 1 teaspoon of orange zest and 2 tablespoons of orange juice into the large bowl and mix.
- In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
- Stir the flour mixture from step 6 into the large bowl.
- Mix in the chopped cranberries, working to distribute them evenly.
- Drop cookie dough mixture (rounded tablespoon) on ungreased cookie sheets. Space them 2 inches apart.
- Bake for about 12 minutes in the preheated oven (375 F). The edges will begin to turn golden brown when ready.
- Remove cookies from sheets and cool on wire racks.
- In bowl, mix 1/2 teaspoon orange zest, 3 tablespoons of orange juice, and the confectioner's sugar until smooth. Brush on the tops of the cooled cookies. Let dry.
By Rachel Vannette
Recipe from New York Times
For the Cookies
- 2 cups/255 grams all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
- ⅓ cup/45 grams cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup/225 grams unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened
- ½ cup/100 grams granulated sugar
- 1 orange (preferably tangelo)
- 1 lemon
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon lemon extract
- ¾ cup/75 grams sifted confectioners' sugar
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
- 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice, plus more as needed
For the Glaze:
- 3/4 cup/75 grams sifted confectioners' sugar
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
- 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice, plus more as needed
- Prepare the cookies: Add flour, cornstarch and salt to a medium bowl, and whisk to combine. Set aside.
- Combine butter and granulated sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Zest half the orange and half the lemon directly into the bowl. Reserve the lemon and orange for the glaze. Cream the butter mixture on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add vanilla and lemon extracts and beat on medium speed until well combined, scraping the bowl a few times as needed.
- Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat on low speed just until combined. Scrape the bowl and fold a few times to make sure everything is well combined. Wrap dough in plastic wrap, flatten into a disk, and chill until firm, at least 1 hour, and up to 3 days.
- Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cut dough in half and let one piece warm up for 30 minutes if it has chilled longer than an hour. Return the other half to the refrigerator. Portion the dough into pieces roughly the size of walnuts (a scant 2 tablespoons/about 35 grams), then roll each piece into a ball between your hands. One at a time, dip a ball of dough into flour and set on work surface. If dough balls soften too much, return them to the refrigerator to firm up for a few minutes. You want it cool, but malleable. Dip cookie stamp in flour, and press down on the ball of dough until it is about 1/4-inch thick. Remove stamp. (If dough sticks to stamp, carefully peel it off. Don't worry about excess flour as you will brush it off after chilling.) Trim the edges using a 2-inch cookie cutter, and transfer dough rounds to 2 parchment- or silicone mat-lined baking sheets, arranging them about 1 1/2 inches apart. Repeat with remaining dough.
- Once you have stamped out all the cookies, knead together the scraps to make a few more. Chill in the freezer until very firm, about 10 minutes. When cold, brush off any excess flour with a dry pastry brush.
- Bake until cookies just start to turn golden underneath, 12 to 14 minutes, switching the baking sheets from front to back and top to bottom halfway through baking time.
- Make the glaze while the cookies bake: Zest the remaining skin from the reserved lemon and orange into a small bowl. Add the confectioners' sugar, butter and orange juice and whisk until smooth. If glaze is too thick, add more orange juice. If it is too thin, add more confectioners' sugar. It should be the consistency of thin custard.
- Let the cookies cool for a few minutes on the baking sheets, and transfer to a wire rack set over a parchment- or wax paper-lined baking sheet. Pick up a cookie, and using the back of a small spoon, spread a generous teaspoon of glaze on a cookie, letting any excess drip onto the next cookie. Repeat until all the cookies are glazed. Cool completely. Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.
What an honor and so well-deserved!
Yang will receive the Outstanding Faculty Academic Advising Award from NACADA, also known as the Global Community for Academic Advising, at its Sept. 30-Oct. 3 conference in Phoenix, Ariz. He earlier received the 2017 Faculty Advisor Award of Excellence in NACADA's Pacific Region 9, comprised of California, Nevada and Hawaii.
The accolades flow.
“Professor Yang is dedicated to helping students link their academic studies to research and other careers,” said associate dean Susan Ebeler of Undergraduate Academic Programs, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. “ He has developed innovative mentoring programs that help students develop as scholars and scientists and he is committed to enhancing diversity and retention in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields. He has made exemplary contributions to student success in our college and campus-wide and it is great to see his contributions recognized.”
Yang, an associate professor who joined the UC Davis faculty in 2009, teaches Insect Ecology and Field Ecology. He holds a bachelor's degree (ecology and evolution) from Cornell University, 1999 and received his doctorate from UC Davis in 2006.
He is known for fostering creative and critical thinking, and challenging his students to succeed by linking their academic studies to research and other goals.
“Professor Yang epitomizes what makes a great professor: his command of the subject matter, his ability to stimulate discussions and involvement, and his kindly concern for their education, welfare and success,” said nematologist Steve Nadler, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. “He engages and challenges students in his lectures, in the lab, and in the field and encourages them not only to expect success but to pursue their goals.”
“His mentees not only include undergraduate and graduate students, but high school students and postdoctoral scholars and beyond,” Nadler said. “He attends to the unique needs and interests of each student, respecting their perspectives and ideas. Mentorship, he finds, is really about helping students identify the questions that they want to ask. His success is their success."
An important part of his advising is his work in the Research Scholars Program in Insect Biology (RSPIB), a campuswide program co-founded by Jay Rosenheim, Joanna Chiu and Yang. Aware that some of the most important skills for research biologists cannot be taught in big lecture halls or even in lab courses, they set out to help students learn cutting-edge research through close mentoring relationships with faculty. The program crosses numerous biological fields, including population biology; behavior and ecology; biodiversity and evolutionary ecology; agroecology; genetics and molecular biology; biochemistry and physiology; entomology; and cell biology. The goal? 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.
In addition to RSPIB mentoring, Yang mentors many undergraduates in his lab. He has welcomed and mentored students from UC Davis and from around the country with the National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates Program and the UC Davis-Howard University Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Ecology and Evolution Graduate Admissions Pathways (EEGAP) program
In the past year, Yang mentored 15 undergrads in his lab in studies that included: the nonconsumptive effects on monarch development to see if parasitoid avoidance behaviors in early development have a long-term cost for monarch development; the factors that contribute to herbivory by generalist herbivores on milkweed; the effects of a recently observed plant foliar fungal pathogen on milkweed on monarch growth and development; the costs of switching milkweed species for monarch larvae; and the density dependence in larval and adult blue milkweed beetles.
Former student Allyson Earl, now a researcher in Guam, credits Yang with shaping her academic career: "I had the pleasure of working under Louie Yang for the last year of my undergraduate degree at UC Davis as one of his research assistants. I watched as he worked tirelessly with several other student assistants in the lab on personal projects focused on our study subjects, Monarch butterflies. His mentorship style in these projects was one that guided students to draw their own conclusions rather than handing them answers, leading them to ask more complex questions and develop themselves as better students and scientists. I can say with confidence, he not only nurtured my desire to study the intricacies of ecology, but also to pursue a career in this field, without his guidance and support I would not be where I am today."
Yang also launched the Monitoring Milkweed-Monarch Interactions for Learning and Conservation (MMMILC) Project in 2013 for high school students in the environmental science program at Davis Senior High School or those associated with the Center for Land-Based Learning's GreenCorps program. They monitor milkweed-monarch interactions in a project funded by the National Science Foundation. Yang and UC Davis undergraduate and graduate students serve as mentors.
Established in 1983, the NACADA Annual Awards Program for Academic Advising honors individuals and institutions making significant contributions to the improvement of academic advising within higher education. Its membership totals more than 11,000.