Award recipients

Three Academic Federation Awards go to Plant Sciences – Bruce Linquist, Jeff Mitchell, Ken Tate

The Academic Senate and Academic Federation at UC Davis have chosen their award recipients for 2020 — members honored for their teaching, research and public service.

The awards reception has been postponed to the next academic year, along with the lecture traditionally given by the recipient of the Academic Senate’s highest honor, the Faculty Distinguished Research Award. It goes this year to Nathan Kuppermann, Distinguished Professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine.

The Academic Federation’s highest honor, the James H. Meyer Distinguished Achievement Award, named after the late chancellor, goes to Linda Harris, Cooperative Extension specialist, Department of Food Science and Technology.

The Department of Plant Sciences is honored to have three Academic Federation recipients this year:

Read about all recipients below.

Academic Federation Awards

James H. Meyer Distinguished Achievement Award

Linda Harris






Linda Harris, Cooperative Extension specialist, Department of Food Science — She has developed an internationally recognized outreach program and is one of the most successful and important food safety microbiologists in the world today. Her tireless efforts researching and educating on foodborne pathogens have improved the safety of the food supply and people around the world. Her scientific achievements, devotion to translating academic research into actionable education, public and university service, and outstanding representation of UC Davis both nationally and internationally exemplify the qualities celebrated by the James H. Meyer Distinguished Achievement Award.


Excellence in Graduate/Professional Teaching or Mentoring


Micaela Godzich, assistant clinical professor, Department of Family and Community Medicine, School of Medicine — She has quickly become recognized as a leader in mentorship of trainees. She is the director of the newly created and highly successful Academic Coaching program designed to mentor and support medical students. She also serves as the associate director for the Family and Community Medicine residency program, where she has updated the curriculum and has become a highly sought mentor for trainees.


Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching

Jeff Mitchell

Jeffrey Mitchell, Cooperative Extension specialist, Department of Plant Sciences, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences — He is the primary instructor for courses in field and vegetable crop production. He has created transformative learning experiences that provide students with hands-on training in the field, numerous opportunities to interact with growers and industry professionals, and exposure to the latest crop production methods. His extensive experience with diverse agricultural systems, use of innovative classroom technology and dedication to student success ensures that his students are well prepared for the next steps in their careers in the agricultural sciences.


Lisa Klotz, continuing lecturer, University Writing Program — She is the primary instructor for the UWP’s course on writing for the legal profession. She has created a foundational learning experience for undergraduate students interested in legal careers. Her experience as an attorney, extensive knowledge of legal writing practices, use of carefully structured assignments and individual mentorship of students ensures that students are not only successful in developing the writing skills required of her course, but that they are also well prepared to make informed decisions about pursuing careers in the legal profession.


Excellence in Research

Bruce Linquist

Bruce Linquist, Cooperative Extension specialist, Department of Plant Sciences, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences — He leads a world-class, well-funded and well-published research program focused on rice production with a broader goal of reducing the negative effects on the environment, food safety and water use. He and his team developed an innovative approach that can significantly reduce water use, methane emissions and heavy metal uptake, while maintaining rice yields. In 2016-17, he led two teams to develop the metrics for a Fieldprint Calculator for quantifying greenhouse emissions and a yield gap analysis of U.S. rice systems. His research is of immediate and direct importance to California growers, as well as to growers nationally and internationally.


Distinguished Service

Ken Tate

Kenneth Tate, Cooperative Extension specialist (Russell L. Rustici Endowed Specialist in Cooperative Extension in Rangeland Watershed Science) and professor, Department of Plant Sciences — Abandoning a planned sabbatical, he offered workshops and webcasts to serve residents suffering through the multiyear California drought. Furthermore, he has demonstrated an impressive ability to build consensus among diverse audiences on controversial topics. His service to the state is matched by an extensive history of committee work across campus. His outstanding work and dedication exemplify distinguished service.


Academic Senate Awards

Faculty Distinguished Research Award


Nathan Kuppermann, Distinguished Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine, School of Medicine — He has made outstanding contributions to the science of pediatric emergency medicine. His research has improved infant care and helped establish the Pediatric Emergency Research Networks, a multisite international collaborative research team that conducts rigorous, pioneering investigations into the prevention and management of acute illnesses and injuries in children. His work on traumatic brain injuries, hemorrhagic torso trauma, diabetic ketoacidosis and life-threatening bacterial infections in febrile infants has established best practices for effectively treating major childhood emergencies


Distinguished Scholarly Public Service Awards

Tonya Fancher

Tonya Fancher, professor of clinical internal medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, School of Medicine — She addresses disparities in health care access. She incorporates community engagement and service into training programs that address challenges unique to underserved communities. Moreover, she directly provides health care in underserved communities through her work in the Transcultural Wellness Center and by overseeing student-run clinics that provide free medical care to Sacramento’s underserved populations. She developed innovative programs to improve recruitment and retention of students from underrepresented groups and disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds, including outreach programs in K-12, community college and post-baccalaureate programs. She also provides regional and statewide leadership on the California Future Health Workforce Commission.

Jonathan London

Jonathan London, associate professor, Department of Human Ecology, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences — As director of the Center for Regional Change and co-director of the Community Engagement Core, he fosters collaborations among researchers, community groups and policymakers to address public health, housing, education equity and environmental justice issues. These efforts develop policies and programs supported by hundreds of millions of state and foundation dollars, effectively addressing issues including equitable drinking water access, identification of locations in greatest need of environmental protection, and climate-smart transportation. He also serves on the state task force on nitrates in drinking water and on the advisory board of a California public environmental health program.

Kadee Russ

Kadee Russ, associate professor, Department of Economics, College of Letters and Science — She substantially improves public discourse and policy related to international trade. She served in the Obama administration as the senior economist for international trade and finance, Council of Economic Advisers, and she devotes considerable effort to educating the public on the costs of tariffs and policy uncertainty. She has published multiple pieces at the nonpartisan EconoFact and interacts extensively with the media, including PBS, CNBC, BBC, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal. In addition, she has testified in several California legislative committees to educate legislators on how tariffs and potential trade deals might impact California’s economy.


Distinguished Teaching Awards: Undergraduate


Christyann Darwent, professor, Department of Anthropology, College of Letters and Science — She is recognized for her outstanding ability to make the subject of archaeology personally meaningful to students. She incorporates popular culture, local events, hands-on material exploration and personal anecdotes into her lectures. Students also greatly appreciate her enthusiasm and sense of humor. Beyond the classroom, her dedicated mentoring enables students to learn how to curate museum collections or conduct fieldwork under difficult conditions in the Arctic. Under her mentorship, undergraduates have presented papers about their research at scientific conferences, published papers on their research, and moved on to museum jobs or graduate school.

Walter Leal

Walter Leal, Distinguished Professor, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, College of Biological Sciences — He is renowned for both his research in chemical ecology and his highly innovative classes in insect physiology and biochemistry. He has fully embraced the digital revolution in classroom instruction and mentorship through a variety of media, including podcasts, Zoom and Skype, and Camtasia, which allows him to create videos to explain solutions to assigned problems (eSolutions), answer questions from lectures (eClarifications) and address questions before exams (eReviews). Students recognize the time, effort and attention to detail that he puts into his classes, and it inspires them to work just as hard to excel.

Bettina Ng'weno

Bettina Ng’weno, associate professor, Department of African American and African Studies, College of Letters and Science — She has demonstrated a profound commitment to undergraduate teaching and student learning throughout the years. A kind and inquisitive teacher, she promotes intellectual curiosity in the classroom that goes beyond the limits of her syllabus. Students praise her for demanding critical thinking, comparative broad perspectives, and introspection about self-perceptions. She excels at explaining and presenting to her students the complex history of the African people and their diaspora around the world. Her approach to teaching is rigorous yet humorous and engaging. Finally, as a mentor, she genuinely lives the practices and beliefs she exemplifies when she teaches.


Distinguished Teaching Award: Graduate and Professional

James Adams

James Adams, professor, Department of Political Science, College of Letters and Science — He is recognized for his exceptional efforts in the area of graduate teaching and mentorship. He is an extraordinary teacher, and his courses are among the most popular and highly enrolled in his department’s Ph.D. program. Moreover, he is a dedicated and highly engaged mentor, and graduate students routinely seek his advice. He publishes frequently with his students and helps them develop rich and productive research programs. He has an impressive record of placing his Ph.D. students in prestigious positions, and many of his former students comment on how he taps into his enormous network within the larger political science community for the benefit of his students.

Pam Houston

Pam Houston, professor, Department of English, College of Letters and Science — She has been an inspirational teacher and mentor to generations of graduate students in the Creative Writing Program. Despite the demands of her own writing career — as a prolific author of critically-acclaimed novels, essays, short stories and autobiographical nonfiction — she has served on 103 master’s committees and been the primary advisor for 59 students. Many of her students have won prestigious awards for fiction and have published collections, novels and memoirs. One former student says that Professor Houston is “a teacher who truly loves to teach, and who finds joy in helping her students improve their writing and develop as thinking citizens of the world.”

Rajiv Singh

Rajiv Singh, professor, Department of Physics, College of Letters and Science — He has demonstrated outstanding accomplishments in graduate academic advising and research. He has a notable record of teaching excellence across a wide range of courses, including the introductory sequences for physical science, engineering and biological science majors as well as more than 50 graduate courses in the 30 years he has been teaching. Many students comment on his extensive knowledge, enthusiasm, teaching clarity and lecture organization. Even as a vice chair in his department, he chooses to maintain a full teaching load rather than take a teaching release — a clear example of his love for teaching and exemplary service to the physics department.

(Adapted from original article in Dateline. Dave Jones is Dateline editor,; Cody Kitaura is news and media relations specialist,




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