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2021 ADVANCE Scholar Award Recipients

The Office of the Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, through the ADVANCE Program and its Center for the Advancement of Multicultural Perspectives on Science (CAMPOS) is delighted to announce the 2021 ADVANCE Scholar Award recipients:

Diane Beckles
Plant Sciences, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences


Luis Carvajal-Carmona
Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine, School of Medicine

The ADVANCE Scholar Award highlights and celebrates the contributions that STEM faculty at UC Davis have made to their fields through outstanding scholarship and mentorship. The award aims to encourage excellence in research as well as leadership and outreach to underserved communities and/or mentorship of under-represented students. 

Diane M. Beckles

Diane Beckles

Dr. Diane Beckles is a professor in the Department of 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).

In 1998, she was a Plant Biochemistry Postdoctoral Fellow for the John Innes Centre for Plant Sci. Res., UK. In 1999, she was a Visiting Research Scientist at DuPont, Delaware working with Agricultural Biotechnology. In 2003 she joined the UC Davis faculty, was promoted to Associate Professor in 2011, and to Professor in 2021. Dr. Beckles has received several awards including the inaugural Chancellor’s Fellowship for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in 2020, and the Graduate Program Advising and Mentoring Award (also in 2020). The nomination letter highlighted her leadership in developing the Plant Agricultural Biology Graduate Admission Program (PABGAP) with two Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tuskegee University and Fort Valley State University. She is the principal investigator on a UC-HBCU Initiative Grant to broaden the recruitment and retention of African American graduate students within the University of California System. PABGAP was designed to develop a pipeline of undergraduate students from the two HBCUs to UC Davis Ph.D. programs. Emphasis was placed on developing relationships and building trust with the HBCUs and their students. Most recently, she was Nominated and Selected for the UC Women’s Initiative for Professional Development Program (2021).

Professor Beckles She has authored 52 peer-reviewed research publications (one in press), 3 book chapters, and has been granted 4 patents. Her CV includes an extensive list of service, including her roles as a CAMPOS Faculty Affiliate, team member of FRIENDS, Plant Agricultural Biology Graduate Admissions Pathway (PABGAP), and member of CBS Recruitment Advisory Committee for a faculty position under the UCOP funded Advancing Faculty Diversity Grant. She was also a member of the Plant Sciences Undergraduate Curriculum Committee (2018-2020), Faculty Mentoring Committee (2018-current) and Faculty Search Committee: Plant & Animal Nutrition Genomics (2018).

Dr. Beckes currently serves as master advisor for the Biotechnology major. She has served on thesis committees of 17 Ph.D. and 18 MS. Students and on 54 Qualifying Exam Committees in 7 different graduate groups. Of her 7 PhD students, 5 have graduated, 4 have faculty positions and one is an Associate Research Professor at the M.I.N.D. Institute. Of her 5 MS. Students, 3 have graduated, 2 have pursued PhDs and 1 is an industry scientist.

Luis Carvajal-Carmona

Luis Carvajal-Carmona

Dr. Carvajal-Carmona is Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine (School of Medicine). He is Associate Director for Basic Science at the UCD Comprehensive Cancer Center (2019-present) and Auburn Community Cancer Endowed Chair in Basic Science at the UCD Comprehensive Cancer Center (2019-present). Dr. 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 after employment as Research Fellow at the London Institute (2004-2008), as honorary lecturer at the Institute of Cancer, Queen Mary University of London (2007-2011) and as Senior Fellow at the Wellcome Trust Center for Human Genetics, University of Oxford (2008-2012). At UC Davis, Dr. Carvajal-Carmona moved quickly up the ranks, receiving promotion to Associate Professor with tenure in 2016 and promotion to Full Professor in 2019.

He has authored over 90 research publications and currently has several active grants. He is the PI in a NIH/NCI R01 grant (2018-2023) to carry genetic studies of homologous recombination deficiency in Hispanic gastric cancer. He is contact PI in the NIH/NIC U54 grant awarded to UCD (2018-2023), and project leader of one of the Research Projects under this award. Dr. Carvajal-Carmona also has active funding from the California Office of Planning and Research, a PDXnet-pilot grant, and a UC Davis Dean’s Fellowship in Precision Health Equity. The nomination letter states that Dr. Carvajal-Carmona’s current grants total more than $12 million in research funding. Dr. Carvajal-Carmona successfully combines excellence in research with a strong commitment to addressing health disparities in medicine through research, teaching, and mentoring. He is the Director of the Latinos United for Cancer Health Advancement (LUCHA) initiative at the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Co-Director of the Community Engagement Program at the UC Davis Clinical and Translational Sciences Center. The impact of COVID-19 in the state of California, and in particular for Latinos and farmworker communities, led Dr. Carvajal-Carmona to refocus the efforts in LUCHA and at the CTSC, to help these communities. He also serves as local Co-PI of the STOP COVID-19 project, a $4M statewide effort funded by the NIH CEAL program, which develops and implements culturally and linguistically tailored COVID-19 education for marginalized communities in the state. He sits in several advisory boards and national committees, all focused on tackling cancer health disparities through research and community interventions. The nomination letter states that Dr. Carvajal-Carmona is a “keen supporter of a diverse biomedical research force” having mentored dozens of undergraduates and graduate students, 95% of whom are first generation graduates and members of underrepresented groups. He submitted the new “Fresno State-UC Davis Bridges to the Doctorate” to the NIH. This is a training grant to help underrepresented masters students in biomedical sciences from Fresno State to transition to a Ph.D. at UC Davis.