- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Seven members of the Senate and seven members of the Federation won awards for their teaching, research or public service. The ceremony took place in the International House.
Provost Mary Croughan, in her welcoming address, praised the 14 recipients for their excellent work, and also thanked the entire faculty workforce for their research, teaching and public service commitments during the two-year pandemic. Richard Tucker, chair of the Academic Senate, presented the Senate's awards and Martin Smith, chair of the Academic Federation, handed out the Federation's awards.
- Professor Diane Ullman, former chair of the Department of Entomology (now the Department of Entomology and Nematology) won one of the Academic Senate's three Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching Awards. She was nominated by UC Davis Distinguished Professor Jay Rosenheim.
- Professor Joanna Chiu, vice chair of the department, received one of the three Distinguished Teaching Awards, Graduate/Professional category, from the Academic Senate. She was nominated by medical entomologist-geneticist and assistant professor Geoffrey Attardo.
- UC Davis distinguished professor Walter Leal won the 2022 Distinguished Scholarly Public Service Award from the Academic Senate for his series of webinars educating the public about COVID-19. He was nominated by UC Davis distinguished professor Bruce Hammock, who holds a joint appointment with the Department of Entomology and Nematology and the Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Professor Diane Ullman
Professor Ullman, an entomologist and an artist, joined the UC Davis faculty in 1991 after serving as an associate professor of entomology at the University of Hawaii.
Wrote one student: "My experience in her course last spring was one that lifted my spirits, enriched my education and strengthened my love for art and science during a time when it was difficult to feel positive about anything.”
Rosenheim noted that Ullman's commitment to mentorship motivated her to "create a nationwide mentorship program as part of a $3.75 million grant from the USDA, for which she was the lead principal investigator, to give undergraduate students a closely mentored opportunity to conduct individual research projects. This program (Vector Pathogen Educational Network or VPEN) trained 28 postdoctoral researchers and graduate students to be mentors, and then paired each with an undergraduate student researcher mentee."
Rosenheim described the Ullman-created entomology class, ENT 001, "Art, Science and the World of Insects," as "a unique and creative course to bring together art and science. The class includes two hours of lecture each week plus a single three-hour “labudio” – i.e., a combination of a science laboratory and an art studio. The lectures cover the biology and ecology of insects, including their interactions with humans and their importance in human culture."
Undergraduate entomology student Kyle Elshoff, Class of 2024, related that Professor Ullman is "one of the best instructors" he's ever had. "She has a love and passion for both art and science that is infectious and inspires further discussion and exploration by students outside of class."
Ullman received a bachelor of science degree in horticulture from the University of Arizona and her doctorate in entomology from UC Davis in 1985. Her credentials include: chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, 2004-2005; associate dean for undergraduate academic programs for the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, 2005 to 2014; and co-founder and co-director of the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program, launched in September 2006. A Fellow of both the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2014) and the Entomological Society of America (2011), Ullman was named the 2014 recipient of the ESA National Excellence in Teaching Award.
Professor Joanna Chiu
Nominator Geoffrey Attardo, a co-instructor and a guest lecturer in some of her classes, wrote: "Joanna is skilled at communicating complex/abstract topics. She has a clear and concise manner of delivering information which is essential when dealing with aspects of molecular biology/genetics/biochemistry. This is especially so for students with little to no background in these fields. The nature of these topics requires students to internalize the information and visualize abstract interactions invisible to the naked eye. I have observed (and in fact taken classes myself) where this type of information is presented in a dense and impenetrable lecture format with little to no interaction between the professor and the students."
Graduate students Erin Taylor Kelly, Lindsey Mack, Christine Tabuloc and Yao Cai, and alumnus Kelly Hamby (now an associate professor/Extension specialist, Department of Entomology, University of Maryland) all praised her commitment to students and her ability to stimulate questions and acquire skills.
Wrote Hamby: "Her office is always open to students, whether they are visiting high school students, undergraduates, or graduate students, her own students or someone else's. She carefully guides students throughout their experiments, directly providing technical training—side by side at the bench—while developing their critical thinking and communication skills. Joanna not only imparts excellent analytic and laboratory molecular skills to her students, but also commits to providing ongoing professional advice and development."
Professor Chiu is the co-administrator of the campuswide Research Scholars in Insect Biology, which aims to provide undergraduates with a closely mentored research experience in biology. A 2019-23 Chancellor's Fellow, she received the 2019 Physiology, Biochemistry and Toxicology Award from the Pacific Branch, Entomological Society of America. She holds a bachelor's degree in biology and music from Mount Holyoke College, Mass., and a doctorate in molecular genetics from New York University. She served as a postdoctoral fellow in chronobiology--molecular genetics and biochemistry--at the Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.
UC Davis Distinguished Professor Walter Leal
“On March 22 came the first reported death from COVID in Yolo County,” wrote Hammock. “On April 23, Distinguished Professor Walter Leal, as a timely service to the UC Davis community and the general public, organized and moderated the first of his COVID-19 symposiums. What Dr. Leal did, and did so well in the throes of the raging pandemic, was to help the UC Davis community and the general public understand a disease that would go on to claim the lives of nearly 800,000 Americans. Two weeks prior to each symposium, he worked daily from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m., reading the scientific literature, interviewing experts, lining up the speakers; gathering relevant questions from the public, and generally, taking care of all the logistics."
The webinars drew scores of comments. “You are my heroes,” wrote one viewer. “This (the symposium) gave me a sense of hope and calmed my anxiety like nothing else. Part of what has been so hard is all the disinformation and complete lies and contradictions that are happening daily. To hear people, real doctors and scientists who are knowledgeable talk about what is going on and why is so appreciated! I learned so much; wish you were the ones leading [our] government through this! Having a family zoom tonight to relay the info! I (offer) much gratitude to UC Davis! My husband says ditto.”
“Few are aware that Dr. Leal interrupted his sabbatical leave to complete his mission,” Hammock pointed out. “Personally, this was not unusual. Having known Dr. Leal for more than two decades, I am fully aware of how altruistic and dedicated he is. He firmly believes that a primary mission of a land-grant university is to serve the public.”
A native of Brazil and fluent in three languages, Leal was educated in Brazil, Japan and the United States, pursuing the scientific fields of chemical engineering, agricultural chemistry, applied biochemistry, entomology and chemical ecology. After serving in a leadership capacity in Japan's Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries for five years, he joined the Department of Entomology faculty in 2000. Leal chaired the department from 2002 to 2013 before accepting an appointment as a professor of biochemistry with the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology.
Widely recognized for his research, teaching and mentorships, Leal is an elected Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, American Association for the Advancement of Science, California Academy of Sciences, Royal Entomological Society and the Entomological Society of America (ESA). The UC Davis Academic Senate named him the recipient of its 2020 Distinguished Teaching Award for Undergraduate Teaching, and the Pacific Branch of ESA presented him with its 2020 Award of Excellence in Teaching. Leal was recently selected the 2022 recipient of the College of Biological Sciences (CBS) Faculty Teaching Award. The Leal lab also won the 2020 Lab Safety Award for exceptional safety culture, signed by UC Davis Chancellor Gary May and Eric Kvigne, associate vice chancellor, Safety Services.
Faculty Distinguished Research Award. The Academic Senate's 2022 Faculty Distinguished Research Award went to UC Davis Distinguished Professor Pamela Ronald of the Department of Plant Pathology for her work in infectious disease biology and environmental stress tolerance in plants. "Professor Ronald has made discoveries that have informed our understanding of plant immune systems and have positively affected the lives and livelihoods of millions worldwide," according to a UC Davis Dateline news story. "Her work is highly recognized, having earned several national and international honors. Notably, her studies on rice — particularly on strains resistant to flooding--have helped to identify and develop more robust, tolerant varieties given our changing global climate. Her studies have also explored thenature of disease resistance in specific strains to counter diseases that had previously devastated production. Moreover, Professor Ronald's efforts to educate the public, particularly on the role of biotechnology in agriculture and to address concerns about genetically modified crops, are recommendable."
James H. Meyer Distinguished Achievement Award. Professor and Cooperative Extension Specialist Thomas Harter of the Department of Land, Air and Water Resources won the Academic Federation's highest honor, the James H. Meyer Distinguished Achievement Award, given in recognition of the recipient's record in research, teaching and/or public service.
See UC Davis News website for capsule information on all 14 recipients./span>