UCSC Excellence: Graduate, Faculty, Alumni Notes

  • Hydrogeologist Andrew Fisher honored by Geological Society of America

    Andrew Fisher, professor of Earth and planetary sciences at UC Santa Cruz, has done influential research on groundwater and aquifers, as well as water circulation in the seafloor. In recognition of his contributions, the Geological Society of America (GSA) will award Fisher the 2016 O. E. Meinzer Award from the GSA's Hydrogeology Division.

    Fisher will receive the award, recognizing his "distinguished body of work in the field of hydrogeology and, particularly, marine hydrogeology," at the annual meeting of the GSA in September.

  • Graduate research on toxic metals earns international award

    The International Association of Geochemistry has awarded the Kharaka Award to UC Santa Cruz alumnus Kingsley Odigie for his Ph.D. thesis research on remobilization of toxic metals by wildfires. Odigie earned his Ph.D. in environmental toxicology in 2014.

    The Kharaka Award is given to scientists from developing countries. Odigie, who is from Nigeria, is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the U.S. Geological Survey science center in Santa Cruz. "He is a stellar individual, whose research is truly deserving of such recognition," said Russell Flegal, professor of environmental toxicology and Odigie's thesis adviser at UC Santa Cruz.

  • Stories of research, excitement, and surprise at Graduate Research Symposium

    Graduate student researchers from across the divisions explained their work to a diverse audience during the 12th Annual Graduate Research Symposium at McHenry Library in April. The symposium included graduate student presentations in a variety of formats, including posters, short talks, films, and other media.

    StoryCruz, UC Santa Cruz's oral storytelling project, was there to capture the stories of graduate students and their research.

  • Biology grad wins seed funding for biotech startup company

    Antonio Lamb transferred to UC Santa Cruz from the University of Hawaii to study marine biology, but he soon discovered a passion for molecular biology and biotechnology.

    Inspired by professors such as Jeremy Lee and Michael Rexach in the Department of Molecular, Cell and Developmental (MCD) Biology, Lamb grew increasingly interested in both the concepts of genetics and molecular biology and their practical applications in biomedicine and other areas. He became a regular at BioCurious, a community "biohacker" space in Sunnyvale, where he experimented with plant tissue culture and other techniques. He even bought some used equipment on eBay and set up a laboratory in his garage so he could practice the concepts he was learning in his classes.

  • Patricia Zavella wins anthropology association gender equity award

    Patricia Zavella, UC Santa Cruz professor of Latin American and Latino studies, has been named winner of the 2016 American Anthropological Association’s Committee on Gender Equity in Anthropology Award.

    The awards committee said Zavella’s career accomplishments advancing the status of women, and especially Latina and Chicana women have been exceptional. Her scholarship, teaching, advocacy, and mentorship have made critical contributions to understanding how gender, race, nation, and class intersect in specific contexts, the committee’s chair wrote in notifying Zavella of the award last week.  

  • Art professor Dee Hibbert-Jones wins Northern California Area Emmy award

    UC Santa Cruz associate professor of art Dee Hibbert-Jones and San Francisco artist Nomi Talisman have been honored with yet another award for their acclaimed animated documentary film, Last Day of Freedom.

    At the 45th Annual Northern California Area Emmy Awards, presented on June 4 at the SFJAZZ Center in San Francisco, they picked up a 2016 Emmy in the “Documentary-Topical” category for “Truly CA 1101: Last Day of Freedom,” which aired on KQED-9.

  • The sky is no limit for planet-hunting grad student

    Every night for a year, astronomy graduate student Jennifer Burt would settle into a small room on the UC Santa Cruz campus and begin her job as a planet hunter.

    While most people slept, Burt would examine weather, atmospheric conditions, and time of year before deciding which stars on a long list of possibilities would be the best targets for a powerful telescope located at Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton. A run of fingers over computer keys would then start the telescope searching portions of the night sky for its prey: planets that orbited stars beyond our solar system.

    “After a year,” said the 28-year-old with a laugh, “I thought maybe we should automate this thing because I would like to sleep at night."

    Which is exactly what the competitive ballroom dancer and former Cornell University grad did. She went to work helping write software that turned the $12 million telescope into a robotic version of herself. It became the first automated planet finder in the world.

  • Linguistics professor Pranav Anand receives Dizikes Award for teaching in Humanities

    Associate professor of linguistics Pranav Anand was presented with the John Dizikes Teaching Award in Humanities at the Humanities Division’s 2016 Spring Awards celebration held at the Cowell Provost House.

    Established in 2002 to honor outstanding teaching by humanities faculty, the annual award is named in honor of emeritus professor John Dizikes, one of UC Santa Cruz’s founding faculty members. It is designed to celebrate the Humanities faculty’s commitment to excellence in teaching and its impact on undergraduate students.
  • International economics graduate named deputy governor of China’s central bank

    An early graduate of the international economics Ph.D. program at UC Santa Cruz has been named to a top position at China’s central bank, a move seen as a step toward a future high-level appointment to the International Monetary Fund.

    China’s State Council appointed Zhang Tao, who received his masters and Ph.D. degrees from UCSC, as deputy governor of the People’s Bank of China. If he replaces Zhu Min, a current IMF deputy managing director (and previous People's Bank deputy governor), in July, as is believed, Zhang will become the second Chinese national to hold a senior position at the Washington, D.C.-based international organization.

  • Two UC Santa Cruz film professors receive Fulbright Scholar Awards

    Two UC Santa Cruz professors of film and digital media have been honored with Fulbright Awards to conduct research during the 2016-17 academic year.

    Sharon Daniel is a media artist who produces interactive and participatory documentaries focused on issues of social, economic, environmental and criminal justice. As a Fulbright Scholar, she will be working with the Research Institute for Art and Design in the Faculty of Art, Design and Built Environment at Ulster University to develop an interactive web documentary based on interviews with former paramilitaries and Restorative Justice practitioners in post-conflict Belfast.

    Irene Lusztig is a filmmaker, media archeologist, and visual artist. Her film and video work mines old images and technologies for new meanings in order to reframe and revive forgotten and neglected histories. Lusztig has received a Fulbright Scholar Award to work at the University of Lisbon (ULisboa), Institute of Social Sciences. She will be conducting initial archival research that will lay the groundwork for a new film project exploring colonial auto-ethnography, with an emphasis on Portuguese colonialist home movies filmed in Angola during the final years before Angolan independence in 1975.

  • Astronomer Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz awarded Niels Bohr Professorship

    The Danish National Research Foundation has awarded a $5 million Niels Bohr Professorship to Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz, professor and chair of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz.

    Ramirez-Ruiz is one of seven international scholars selected this year for the Niels Bohr Professorship Program, which aims to attract top international researchers to Danish Universities. The five-year award will support an international research collaboration in theoretical astrophysics led by Ramirez-Ruiz, who will divide his time between UC Santa Cruz and the Niels Bohr Institute (NBI) at the University of Copenhagen.

  • UCSC politics professor Mark Massoud wins Carnegie Fellowship

    Mark Fathi Massoud, associate professor of politics and legal studies at UC Santa Cruz, has been named a 2016 Andrew Carnegie Fellow. The award, from the Carnegie Corp. of New York, supports high-caliber scholarship in the social sciences and humanities.

    Massoud’s proposal, “Human Rights and Islamic States: Can Religion Rebuild the Rule of Law After War?” builds on his research on law in conflict settings and on Islamic law and society. At UC Santa Cruz, Massoud teaches courses in international law, human rights, and comparative law.

  • Earth scientist James Zachos honored by European Geosciences Union

    James Zachos, professor of Earth and planetary sciences at UC Santa Cruz, will receive the 2016 Milutin Milankovic Medal from the European Geosciences Union. 

    The award recognizes Zachos "for his groundbreaking contributions to documenting and understanding climate change throughout the Cenozoic." He will give the Milankovic Medal Lecture at the EGU General Assembly 2016 in Vienna, Austria, in April.
  • Tom Pettigrew wins sociology association’s top award for study of race relations

    om Pettigrew, UC Santa Cruz research professor of social psychology, has been named winner of the American Sociological Association's Cox-Johnson-Frazier Award, the group’s highest award for contributions to the study of American race relations.

    Pettigrew joined the faculty in 1979 after teaching at the University of North Carolina and Harvard. He retired in 1994, but has continued to conduct research in social psychology. He has been at the forefront of studies of racial prejudice for more than five decades. An expert on black-white relations in the United States, he has also conducted intergroup research in Australia, Europe, and South Africa.

  • Two UC Santa Cruz professors win Sloan Research Fellowships

    The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has awarded Sloan Research Fellowships to two UC Santa Cruz scientists: Andrew Skemer, assistant professor of astronomy and astrophysics, and Kristy Kroeker, assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology.

    Skemer specializes in direct imaging of extrasolar planets, developing new astronomical instruments and observational techniques to improve the ability of astronomers to see and study very faint planets near their bright host stars. As a Hubble Fellow at the University of Arizona, he built an innovative spectrograph (Arizona Lenslets for Exoplanet Survey, or ALES) for the Large Binocular Telescope, and he is now using it to obtain spectra of all currently known directly imaged exoplanets. A spectrograph spreads out the light from an object into a spectrum of different wavelengths, which can yield clues to the physical properties of a planet.

    Kroeker's research focuses on the effects of environmental change in dynamic and complex coastal ecosystems. Carbon dioxide emissions are driving unprecedented environmental changes, including climate change and ocean acidification. Kroeker has done notable work on the ecological effects of ocean acidification, and she notes that most ecosystems face a whole range of stressors, from warming to overfishing. She plans to conduct large-scale studies of seagrass and kelp forest ecosystems, looking at multiple environmental drivers and their effects on species interactions and ecosystem function.

  • Biomolecular engineer Camilla Forsberg receives Presidential Award

    Camilla Forsberg, professor of biomolecular engineering and co-director of the Institute for the Biology of Stem Cells at UC Santa Cruz, has received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their research careers.

    Forsberg's research interests encompass stem cells, blood cell development, genomics, and more. Her laboratory studies hematopoietic stem cells, which are responsible for generating a life-long supply of mature blood cells. These stem cells give rise to all of the different types of mature blood cells, and Forsberg is working to understand how this process is regulated in order to prevent and treat both genetic and acquired disorders of the hematopoietic system, including anemia, autoimmune disease, leukemias, and lymphomas.

  • Prestigious Switzer Fellowship awarded to UCSC grad student

    Joseph Hoyt, a graduate student in ecology and evolutionary biology (EEB), has been awarded a Switzer Environmental Fellowship from the Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation. The prestigious fellowship recognizes promising environmental leaders and provides $15,000 to support their research.

    Hoyt studies the ecology of infectious wildlife diseases, with a focus on white-nose syndrome in bats. White-nose syndrome is a deadly fungal disease that was first detected in North America in 2006 and has since killed millions of bats. Hoyt's contributions include a study identifying strains of bacteria that occur naturally on bat skin and inhibit the growth of the fungus. Trials are under way to see if the bacteria can be effective in limiting the spread of the disease.

  • Assistant Professor Kristy Kroeker receives Packard Fellowship

    The David and Lucile Packard Foundation has awarded a Packard Fellowship for Science and Engineering to Kristy Kroeker, Assistant Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at UC Santa Cruz.

    The Packard Fellowship, one of the nation's most prestigious honors for young faculty members, gives Kroeker $875,000 over the next five years to support her research on environmental change in dynamic environments and complex ecosystems. Kroeker is interested in how the rapidly accelerating changes in our environment will alter the fundamental ways that marine ecosystems work in the future.

  • Graduate Student Awarded Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship from NOAA

    Ecology & Evolutionary Biology graduate student Sarah Keinle was awarded the Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship for her work on marine mammals, specifically elephant seals. From her biography at the scholarship site: 

    Ms. Kienle’s project will allow her to examine behavioral variability in this species, and she hopes that this research will provide insights into how individuals, particularly males, will be differentially affected by climate change across the species range. The results of this project will likely identify crucial foraging hotspots for adult males and characterize oceanographic features that drive foraging intensity. As ocean ecosystems continue to change dramatically, these results will be timely in their potential to predict the impact of changing abiotic factors on the foraging ecology of male northern elephant seals—information that is vital for the management and protection of the species.

  • Professor Sue Carter elected Fellow of American Physical Society

    Sue Carter, Professor of Physics and Associate Dean of Graduate Studies, has been elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS) in recognition of her outstanding contributions to physics.

    Carter's research focuses on energy-related technology including photovoltaics, solid-state lighting, and luminescent solar concentrators. With expertise in thin-film technologies and printable semiconductor materials, she has developed processes that can lower the manufacturing costs for solar cells. Carter has also been actively engaged in entrepreneurship, launching three start-up companies ranging from photovoltaic technologies to K-12 science education. She directs the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurial Development at UC Santa Cruz.

  • Alumna Gillian Welch receives Lifetime Achievement Award in Songwriting

    UC Santa Cruz alumna Gillian Welch and her musical partner David Rawlings took home a Lifetime Achievement Award in Songwriting at the 2015 Americana Music Awards Sept. 16.

    Held at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, they were honored alongside fellow lifetime achievers Ricky Skaggs, Don Henley, Buffy Sainte-Marie, and Los Lobos. Each of the honorees performed during the three-hour celebration.

    The performances will air later this year on the PBS concert series, Austin City Limits.

    “These artists have not only influenced the Americana community, but the musical landscape on the whole,” said Jed Hilly, executive director of the AMA. “They all have been an inspiration to our community.”

  • Astronomer Claire Max appointed director of UC Observatories

    UC President Janet Napolitano has appointed Claire Max, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz, as director of UC Observatories, a multi-campus research unit that serves eight UC campuses.

    A distinguished scientist, Max has been serving as interim director of UCO since June 2014.

    “I am thrilled to be named the new director of UC Observatories, where I will be able to support the vital research and scientific aspirations of the UC astronomy community,” said Max. “I look forward with great pleasure to working with my fellow astronomers, the UC Office of the President, and the broader UC community to develop and implement a shared vision for UC Observatories.”

  • Doctoral Graduate receives Fulbright for study in Israel

    A recent UC Santa Cruz Ph.D. graduate has won a Fulbright postdoctoral award to support 20 months of research at an Israeli university where he will look at how different groups justify violence on moral terms.

    Andrew Pilecki (andrewpilecki.com) is the first postdoctoral Fulbright scholar to study at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya, a private university near Tel Aviv. Pilecki received his Ph.D. this summer in social psychology and looks at moral stereotypes and how they are used to justify violence against others.

  • The University Library and Humanities Division have jointly awarded a two-year Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) Postdoctoral Fellowship

    The University Library and Humanities Division have jointly awarded a two-year Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) Postdoctoral Fellowship supporting digital humanities scholarship to Rachel Deblinger. As a CLIR Digital Humanities Specialist, Deblinger will have the opportunity to build a community around digital humanities scholarship at a time when the practice is emerging at UCSC. Collaborating with librarians, faculty and students across multiple divisions, Deblinger will explore online collaborative research practices supporting digital humanities and develop a pilot infrastructure to support this research. She will also examine the role of the University Library supporting digital humanities, conduct workshops, and help to facilitate graduate research.

    “This is a very exciting opportunity for the campus,” said Elizabeth Cowell, University Librarian. “Working with the CLIR fellow and our faculty we can identify the expertise and services the Library can foster in support of emerging digital humanities scholarship needs.”

  • Institute for Humanities Research Selected for Mellon Grant

    The Institute for Humanities Research (IHR) at the University of California at Santa Cruz has been selected to participate in a major new grant awarded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes (CHCI), of which the Institute for Humanities Research is a member.  The $1.35 million grant is awarded for the second phase of Integrating the Humanities across National Boundaries, an initiative designed to foster new forms of collaborative research and partnerships among the organization’s international members via two pilot projects.

  • UCSC Earth Scientists Awarded AGU Medals

    The American Geophysical Union (AGU) has awarded medals to two UC Santa Cruz scientists in recognition of their breakthrough achievements in Earth science. Gary Glatzmaier and Thorne Lay, both professors of Earth and planetary sciences at UCSC, will receive the AGU's John Adam Fleming Medal and Inge Lehmann Medal, respectively.

    The Fleming Medal, established in 1960, is named in honor of John Adam Fleming, who made important contributions to the establishment of magnetic standards and measurements. It is given annually to one honoree for "original research and technical leadership in geomagnetism, atmospheric electricity, aeronomy, space physics, and related sciences."

    The Lehmann Medal, established in 1995, is named in honor of Inge Lehmann, who made many contributions to the understanding of the Earth's deep interior, including her discovery of the Earth's inner core in 1936. It is given annually in recognition for "outstanding contributions to the understanding of the structure, composition, and dynamics of the Earth's mantle and core."

  • $4-million Gift to Support Sustainable Agriculture

    A $4-million gift to the University of California, Santa Cruz will establish an endowment to support the Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture, the nation's first hands-on training program for beginning organic farmers at a public university. 

    The apprenticeship is one of the core programs of the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems (CASFS) at UC Santa Cruz and has earned an international reputation for the skill and knowledge of its instructors and researchers for more than 45 years. 

  • Astrophysicist Douglas Lin wins 2014 Brouwer Award

    Douglas N. C. Lin, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz, has been chosen to receive the 2014 Brouwer Award for outstanding contributions to the field of dynamical astronomy. The Brouwer award is bestowed annually by theDivision on Dynamical Astronomy of the American Astronomical Society.

    Lin is best known for his pioneering work on the origin and evolution of planetary systems. He has made fundamental contributions to the understanding of astrophysical disks, including protoplanetary disks (the disks of gas and dust from which planets form around stars), the rings of Saturn, spiral disk galaxies, and the accretion rings around black holes that power quasars.

  • Social Sciences division ranked 7th for faculty impact in news media

    The Social Sciences Division at UC Santa Cruz ranks seventh in the nation in a study based on faculty citations in the news media compared with federal research funding. 

    The Faculty Media Impact Project of the Center for a Public Anthropology based its study on the concept that social science researchers have a responsibility to share their findings with the broader public and that an accessible method of reaching the public is through popular media. Traditionally, researchers and institutions have been evaluated based on citations in academic journals.

  • Astronomer Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz wins fellowship at Harvard's Radcliffe Institute

    Astrophysicist Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz is among a select group of 50 artists and scholars chosen for the Radcliffe Fellows Program.

  • Two UCSC professors elected to National Academy of Sciences

    Two scientists at UC Santa Cruz--James Estes, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, and Thorne Lay, professor of Earth and planetary sciences--have been elected to the National Academy of Sciences in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original scientific research. Membership in the academy is one of the highest honors a U.S. scientist can receive.

  • Alumna Kathryn Sullivan on Time's '100 Most Influential People' list

    UCSC alumna Kathryn Sullivan, a former astronaut who is now the administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), is featured on Time magazine's 2014 list of the "100 Most Influential People in the World." Sullivan was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in March to lead NOAA as under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere.

  • $1 million gift from alumna Julie Packard funds student programs at UCSC

    UC Santa Cruz has received a $1 million gift from alumna Julie Packard, executive director of the Monterey Bay Aquarium. By establishing the Dean's Fund for Diversity in the Sciences, Packard's gift will support programs at UCSC that help underrepresented minority students excel in the sciences and mathematics.

  • UCSC receives NEA grant for art/science project on ocean ecology

    UC Santa Cruz has been awarded a $45,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to supportBlue Trail: Imagination and Innovation for Ocean Sustainability--a series of interactive visual and sonic art installations that will be spread out across the San Francisco waterfront.