11 faculty members named AAAS’ 2020 Fellows

11 faculty members named AAAS’ 2020 Fellows

Photo Credits: UC Davis. Eleven professors from UC Davis were elected as fellows for 2021's class of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Two faculty fellows explain what the recognition means to them

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has selected 11 UC Davis faculty members to receive its 2020 Class Fellows award.

The association, which is the world’s largest scientific society, selects fellows by nomination of candidates by their peers and colleagues.

All faculty being recognized include: 

  • Jonathan Eisen, a professor of evolution and ecology
  • Tessa Hill, a professor of Earth and planetary sciences
  • Mark Huising, a professor of neurobiology, physiology, and behavior
  • Daniel Kliebenstein, a professor of plant sciences
  • Laura Marcu, a professor of biomedical engineering
  • Lisa Miller, a professor of anatomy, physiology and cell biology
  • John Owens, a professor of electrical and computer engineering
  • Pablo Ross, a professor of animal science
  • Jeffrey Ross-Ibarra, a professor of evolution and ecology
  • Valerie Avenir, a professor of plant sciences
  • Stacey Harmer, a professor of plant biology

Andy Fell, a spokesperson for UC Davis, touched on what this means for UC Davis.

“We’re always pleased to see our faculty members honored in this way,” Fell said. “The university [continues] to provide an environment where everyone can strive and emphasizes the diversity and quality of our faculty.” 

Valerie Avenir, who has been a plant sciences professor at UC Davis for 12 years, is currently studying the functions of ecosystems and humans’ dependency on them. She is working with land managers on how these processes can be enhanced to benefit both the ecosystems and humans. 

“[The award is] an honor that someone would recognize me and my contributions,” Avenir said. 

She offered students and researchers who are early in their career advice for entering this field. 

“When you’re doing work in a different way than folks have done in the past, it can feel really discouraging that maybe you’re not getting some grants your first few tries for some of your ideas that are new or pushing the boundaries,” Avenir said. “Early in your career it can feel really discouraging but stick with your vision and confidence about the contributions that you see you can make.”

Stacey Harmer, who has been a plant biology professor at UC Davis for 18 years, shared similar advice. 

“You got to be stubborn,” Harmer said. “I had some low points, especially in graduate school, where things just didn’t work. That’s really hard after you’ve spent six months [on it] but you have to roll with it and say ‘Onto the next thing.’”

Harmer is currently researching circadian rhythms in plants and the impact it has on plant processes. She said she is thankful for the support UC Davis faculty and students have given her. 

“Davis is a really friendly campus and so, if I have a question about something, it’s a big university and lots of biologists, there’s probably someone on campus who knows more about it than I do and generally speaking they’re happy to help me,” Harmer said. 

She notes that her work is a collaborative effort between herself and the graduate and undergraduate students who help to develop research in her lab. 

All 498 fellows will be virtually recognized in an induction ceremony scheduled for Feb. 13.

Written by: Annette Campos — campus@theaggie.org

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