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ADVANCE Scholar Award Recipients

ADVANCE Scholar Award Recipients


Natalia Caporale, Associate Professor of Teaching, Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior

Since joining UC Davis in 2016, Caporale has dedicated herself to identifying and addressing the barriers that continuously limit the success of racially minoritized students at UC Davis and nationwide. Her research interests center on issues of equity and diversity in science education, with a focus on understanding the barriers that minority and non-traditional college students face as they pursue their science degrees.

Elva Diaz, Professor, Department of Pharmacology

Diaz leads a research laboratory focused on understanding the molecular mechanisms of neural development. Using a variety of methods, including functional genomics, her lab examines alterations in synaptic plasticity and function and how these changes may lead to diseases of the nervous system. 


Miriam A. Nuño, Associate Professor, Biostatistics, Public Health Sciences

As a statistician, mathematical epidemiologist, and public health advocate, Nuño routinely pursues interdisciplinary collaborations in health disparities research. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, her involvement with community-based organizations and stakeholders has been instrumental in the development of solutions to reduce health disparities in racial/ethnic minorities.

Dean Tantillo, Professor, Chemistry

Tantillo’s research investigates the structures and reactivity of organic molecules and is a world leader in mechanistic organic chemistry. He is also an outstanding educator, recognized by both a UC Davis Academic Senate Award for Graduate and Professional contributions in 2016 and for his efforts in Undergraduate Teaching in 2011.


Diane M. Beckles | Professor, Plant Sciences

She received her BSc. in Biotechnology from the University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK (1993), and her Ph.D. in Plant Biochemistry from the University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK (1999). Her primary focus is on identifying genes that influence starch and sucrose accumulation in crop plants.

Luis Carvajal-Carmona | Professor, Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine

Carvajal-Carmona received a B.Sc. in Animal Science from the National University in Colombia (1998) and a Ph.D. in Human Genetics from University College London (2003). He joined UC Davis in 2012. His research group is interested in the study of cancer genetic susceptibility. 


Chen-Nee Chuah | Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Chuah is co-director of the newly formed Center for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence Research (CeDAR). She joined the UC Davis ECE faculty in 2002. Chuah is a leading researcher in the area of communication networks, with emphasis on internet measurements, routing and learning-based networked applications.

Jesús A. De Loera | Professor, Mathematics

De Loera is chair of the graduate group in Applied Mathematics. He joined the UC Davis faculty in 1998. His area of expertise is at the intersection of combinatorics, discrete mathematics, optimization and computer science.


Jonathan EisenProfessor, Director, UC Davis Microbiome Special Research Program, Evolution and Ecology; Medical Microbiology & Immunology, School of Medicine
Emphasis in my lab is in the study of the ecology, evolution and function of microbes and microbial communities. Our work includes The genomic basis for the origin and evolution of new functions, ecology and evolution of microbial communities; co-evolution of microbes and their carrying vessels (i.e., hosts); variation in “evolvability"; development of phylogeny-driven computational tools to analyze genomic and metagenomic sequence data.

Veronica Martínez-Cerdeño | Associate Professor, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Stem and progenitor cell properties and behavior in the normal and pathogenic developing cerebral cortex, with an emphasis in autism. Stem and progenitor cells as treatment for traumatic and neurodegenerative diseases. Stem and progenitor cell role in the evolution of the cerebral cortex.


Siobhan Brady | Associate Professor, Plant Biology
Genomics, Developmental Biology, Plant Biology, Systems Biology, Transcriptional Networks

Sheila David | Professor, Chemistry
We use chemical approaches to investigate the fascinating area of DNA repair. Damage to DNA can result in deleterious outcomes, such as cancer and aging; fortunately, most DNA damage is repaired by DNA repair enzymes. Our laboratory focuses on the repair of damaged DNA bases which is mediated by the process of base excision repair. 


JoAnne Engebrecht | Professor, Molecular and Cellular Biology
We are investigating several aspects of germ line biology using the nematode, Caenorhabditis elegans and related nematodes. The C. elegans germ line is particularly amenable to these studies due to its unique structural organization, the molecular genetics of the system, and the high degree of conservation with genes and pathways in humans.

Annaliese Franz | Associate Professor, Chemistry
Research in the Franz group combines organic synthesis, catalyst development, and chemical biology with applications for the synthesis of bioactive products, biofuels and materials. Our primary focus is to develop new reactions and catalysts for the efficient and enantioselective synthesis of bioactive and therapeutically-relevant molecules.

Sharon Strauss | Professor, Evolution and Ecology
I study how evolutionary history shapes the traits and ecology of species.My goals are to use ecological and evolutionary processes to understand mechanisms that allow species to coexist in complex and diverse assemblages in nature, and to also understand how evolutionary processes of adaptation and speciation influence species' niches. I am also interested in using evolutionary processes to manage biodiversity, and the linkages between these principles and disease and resource management.

Read more about the 2016 award presentation here


Judy Callis | Professor, Molecular and Cellular Biology
My laboratory studies two processes. The first is the ubiquitin pathway, which is a protein modification pathway, whereby the protein ubiquitin is covalently attached to other proteins. We also study a family of proteins called pfkB proteins, which have diverse and uncharacterized roles. We are focusing on a subset of pfkB proteins localized to the plant plastid. Some of these are important for chloroplast transcription and we are determining their functions.

Gail Patricelli | Professor; Animal Behavior Graduate Group Chair, Evolution and Ecology
Behavioral ecology, bioacoustics and conservation in birds, with a focus on understanding the diversity and complexity in animals signals. Current projects address breeding behaviors, sexual selection, acoustic communication, and the effects of noise pollution on sage-grouse and other wildlife.


Karen Bales | Professor, Psychology
Professor Bales studies the physiology, neurobiology and development of social bonding, particularly in monogamous species.  She works with prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster) and titi monkeys (Callicebus cupreus), both species in which males and females form pair-bonds, and males help care for infants. 

Tina Jeoh | Associate Professor, Chancellor's Fellow, Biological and Agricultural Engineering
Bioconversion of lignocellulosic biomass to fuels and chemicals. Microencapsulation of bioactives