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Crystallized Climate

The Nature of the Humanities

Visiting Artists

Cave rocks reveal 20,000 years of climate history — and clues to the future. Page 16

Literature gives scholars a lens on our environment — and a tool for change. Page 20

Renowned art scholars will call UC Davis home, thanks to Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem. Page 30

Letters Science FALL 2020

Psychology of a PANDEMIC


From the

I

DEAN

n this issue of our College of Letters and Science magazine, we explore questions affecting Aggies near and far. From COVID-19 to Black Lives Matter to the California wildfires fueled by climate change, this has been a year of unprecedented challenges for the Aggie family. Last spring, the College moved more than 1,500 courses online for 25,000 students in just 10 days. We are offering remote learning again this fall. Our goal, in both instances, was simple: maintaining the continuity of instruction, allowing our students to make progress toward their degree, while keeping our community safe. The fact that we were able to do this during a global pandemic is a testament to our

faculty’s unwavering dedication to teaching excellence. Faculty and students in the College of Letters and Science have persisted in the face of disruptions to continue finding solutions to today’s big challenges, and our donors and alumni are rising up to support our community. Our faculty are on the front lines of COVID-19 research, and beginning on page 8, we investigate the psychology behind a pandemic. In “Mural of Remembrance” on page 7, we hear from an alumna whose mural in Minneapolis went viral online during the Black Lives Matter protests following George Floyd’s death. On page 16, we highlight researchers who are studying caves to find clues to climate change. Our alumni are taking action to ensure student

success beyond the classroom, and donors like Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem are shaping students’ lives through philanthropy and the arts (see page 30). The College of Letters and Science, even in the darkest of hours, continues to shine bright. Our campus remains a beacon of what public higher education can mean for our state and the world beyond. Our Aggie spirit remains undimmed. I sincerely hope that you and your family are staying safe and healthy, and my thoughts are with you in these challenging times. Sincerely,

Ari Kelman Interim Dean


FALL 2020

Published by: College of Letters and Science University of California, Davis One Shields Avenue Davis, CA 95616 Ari Kelman, Interim Dean

CONTENTS 16

Kristin Ede, Director of Strategic Communications Editors: Kathleen Holder, Editor Heidi Sciutto, Assistant Editor Writers: Jeffrey Day, Kristin Ede, Kathleen Holder, Becky Oskin Cavers collect a stalagmite that records climate conditions from thousands of years ago.

Photographers: Hector Amezcua, Justin Han ’21, Karin Higgins, Joe Proudman, Gregory Urquiaga, Mike Valenzuela Design: Steve Dana The University of California does not discriminate in any of its policies, procedures, or practices. The university is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer. Comments? Comments and questions about this issue can be sent to the editor at lettersandscience@ucdavis.edu. Update your information To update your contact information, or if you would prefer not to receive the magazine, please email lsdevelopment@ucdavis.edu or visit lettersandscience.ucdavis. edu/form/stay-in-touch. lettersandscience.ucdavis.edu

FEATURES

8

On the Cover: Psychology of a Pandemic What toll is social distancing taking on our psyches? Researchers are trying to find out.

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20

California caves show us the potential consequences of global warming.

Faculty and students are deepening the world’s understanding of global warming’s impacts on the human experience.

Crystallized Climate

The Nature of the Humanities

UC Davis College of Letters and Science @UCDLandS UC Davis College of Letters and Science @UCDLandS UC Davis College of Letters and Science

Cover:

Design by Steve Dana/UC Davis. Illustration by Malte Mueller/Getty Images.

ALSO IN THIS ISSUE Pride Points. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Community Connections. . . . . . 4 Trailblazers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Alumni in Action . . . . . . . . . . . . 24

Support for Innovation. . . . . . . 28 Reflections. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 On the Bookshelf. . . . . . . . . . . . 32 End Notes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33


2,000

Number of years UC Davis anthropologists and geneticists traced back the DNA of Inuit sled dogs, one of the last remaining Indigenous, pre-European dog lineages in the Americas.

What’s turning heads

Where four majors ranked in GradReports’ 2020 Best Colleges for Earning Potential: philosophy (No. 7), geology (No. 8), statistics (No. 15), and anthropology (No. 25).

62+M

$

across 460 projects Total College of Letters and Science research awards for our faculty and researchers’ activities across campus.

2

1

#

UC DAVIS COLLEGE OF LETTERS AND SCIENCE

UC Davis' ranking for diversity and internationalization (QS World University Rankings: 2020 USA).

2.5M

$

The estimated amount of textbook cost savings to UC Davis students, thanks to LibreTexts, an online textbook platform started by chemistry professor Delmar Larsen.

Dave Brenner/Getty Images

PRIDE POINTS

in the College of Letters and Science

1,500

Number of College of Letters and Science spring courses moved to remote instruction in 10 days due to COVID-19.

4.5B YEARS

Age of giant rock regions that UC Davis geologists have located deep inside Earth — as old as the planet itself.


15

#

The latest ranking by U.S. News & World Report for UC Davis Master of Fine Arts degree programs — up from 27th in 2017.

Luke Younge

Jasmine Washington ’18, Austin Taylor Brown ’19, and Anna Rita Moukarzel ’20 perform with puppets in a stage adaptation of Toni Morrison’s novel The Bluest Eye. The show garnered four citations at the 2O19 Kennedy Center’s American College Theater Festival.

FALL 2020 2020 LETTERSANDSCIENCE.UCDAVIS.EDU LETTERSANDSCIENCE.UCDAVIS.EDU FALL

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First Steps for

First-Gen BY KRISTIN EDE

4

M

ike Valenzuela recalls his first day at college many years ago. As he made his way toward the exit sign at his new student orientation at California State University, Long Beach, he felt that he didn’t belong at college. Overwhelmed after walking from table to table for two hours, he turned to make the trip home to Boyle Heights, the Los Angeles neighborhood where

UC DAVIS COLLEGE OF LETTERS AND SCIENCE

he grew up. Out of the corner of his eye, he felt someone watching him. “Where I come from, if someone’s watching you, you pay attention,” he said. When he turned, he found a tattooed veterano (veteran) who looked like he could have been one of his uncles. The older man threw his head back and nodded. “In my hood, that was a sign of respect and an invitation to talk to him,” Valenzuela said.

Valenzuela walked over to the Chicano studies table, where Professor Joe Lopez told him, “Sit down. You’re not going anywhere.” That interaction changed the course of his life. Lopez soon became his mentor, inspiring Valenzuela’s own career-long passion of supporting first-generation students. Valenzuela’s family never expected him to go to college. His father came from a long line of soldiers,


Community Connections

More than 44% of students in the College are firstgeneration, and 38% of undergraduates are from underrepresented minority groups.

First-Generation First-Year Seminar students come together for a teambuilding exercise outside the Social Sciences and Humanities Building.

and Valenzuela was told to enlist in the U.S. Army after high school. However, his father died during his senior year, and Valenzuela says that is the only reason college ever became an option for him.

A career built on giving back

Today, Valenzuela has more than 20 years of experience mentoring, teaching, and supporting first-generation students in the College

of Letters and Science’s Undergraduate Education and Advising office. More than 44% of students in the College are first-generation, and 38% of undergraduates are from underrepresented minority groups. To help them thrive, Valenzuela, along with academic advisors Janet Gutierrez and Frances Gamez and Professor Emeritus James McClain, developed the First-Generation First-Year Seminar, a course exclusive

to the College. His first class began in 2015 with about 20 students. In 2019-20, more than 140 first-generation students participated. Valenzuela understands the compounded weight a typical college “first” carries — from the first step onto campus to the first time lying awake in a town, like Davis, that is the cultural and economic opposite from where they grew up. “Coming from many of these places that our

students come from, they’re guarded. When I was in their shoes, it took me over a year to trust and let my guard down. I was way goofier than I ever realized,” he added with a laugh.

Ensuring a successful transition The yearlong course eases the transition to life away from home. Students learn the difference between a goal and a mission, and why they should choose a major

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Nearly 500 College of Letters and Science first-generation faculty and staff also give back through the campuswide First Generation Initiative.

that aligns with their passions. They gain public speaking and communication skills, and are connected with campuswide resources like the Aggie Pantry, which provides food-insecure students with groceries free of charge. Jorge Santiago (political science and history, ’21) transferred to UC Davis in fall 2018 and immediately took Valenzuela’s seminar. His biggest lessons learned were how to manage his time and ace challenging coursework. “Before I took the seminar, I felt weird asking for help,” Santiago said. “The course breaks that fear down. It introduced me to peers who could relate to what I was going through,

Mike Valenzuela, academic advisor for Undergraduate Education and Advising in the College of Letters and Science, has more than 20 years of experience in working with underrepresented minority and firstgeneration college students.

and opened so many doors to the full UC Davis experience.” Another key goal of the course is to close the achievement gap by teaching students crucial study habits needed to succeed at a top-ranked public university. “We push our students quite hard,” Valenzuela says. “That’s why nearly all of them are in good standing at the first quarter. That defies just about every statistic for first-generation student persistence that you can find.” “Students who participated in the fall 2019 First-Year Seminar for first-generation students showed an average GPA of 3.16 over three terms, which is .18 points higher than all undergraduate first-generation students at UC Davis,” said Beth Floyd, director of Undergraduate Education and Advising. The biggest challenges his students face are “imposter syndrome” and a lack of the tight-knit familial structure many grew up with, Valenzuela said. The cohort model used in his class helps students form close bonds and feel a sense of belonging. They often call Valenzuela their “college dad,” and say they found a second family through the experience.

A campuswide effort

Nearly 500 College of Letters and Science first-generation faculty and staff also give back through the campuswide First Generation Initiative, which aims to provide a sense of connection, access, and encouragement for first-generation students by sharing stories and resources. The initiative provides a department directory — from American studies to statistics to psychology — of first-generation College contacts that students may reach out to for support. Whether through structured curriculum or a hand extended in help, the College is weaving a rich safety net of support for first-generation youth. As Valenzuela says, “You just never know when that student is going to stop in front of my table, just like me.”

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Community Connections

Lorie Shaull

MURAL of Remembrance

J

ust days after George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police in May, alumna and artist Greta McLain, with Cadex Herrera and Xena Goldman, created a mural at the intersection where he died. Floyd’s face emerges from a giant sunflower, the center covered with names of other victims of police violence, and painted across his chest are the words “I Can Breathe Now.” In the weeks following his death, the mural went viral online as Black Lives Matter protests erupted worldwide. As a child, McLain (B.A., art, ’05) studied Spanish and learned about the mural tradition that originated in early 20th-century Mexico and blossomed in California as part of the Chicano art movement in the 1960s and 1970s. Attending college in California seemed a way to connect to this art form, so after high school she left Minneapolis to attend UC Davis. She studied mural making and Greta McLain ’05

BY JEFFREY DAY

other political and social art under the tutelage of Professor Malaquías Montoya. “He changed my life,” said McLain, who stays in close contact with her former professor and lifelong mentor. “I’m so proud to be his former student and do the work I get to do.” Montoya, who taught in the Chicana and Chicano studies program and art department for 20 years, has always used his art as a tool for political and social movements. He co-founded Taller Arte del Nuevo Amanecer (TANA), an arts collaborative of the Chicana and Chicano studies program in Woodland, California. “Whatever the cause, you can address it through art,” Montoya said. After her studies and with Montoya’s encouragement, McLain moved back to the Minneapolis neighborhood where she grew up, and where Floyd was killed. “He told me to go first to my community and do community work where I’m from, lifting and luchando (striving) through art,” she said. McLain has murals across the U.S. and Latin America, but has dedicated the majority of her work to her native Minneapolis with more than 30 community murals in schools, community centers, and local businesses. FALL 2020 LETTERSANDSCIENCE.UCDAVIS.EDU

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Trailblazers

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Psychology of a Researchers study the social and emotional toll of sheltering in place, and ways people cope BY KATHLEEN HOLDER

“We can think of this as an opportunity to learn — and, by learning, to help." – Paul Hastings

A

fter COVID-19 precautions shut down the campus last spring — and with it most UC Davis laboratories — psychology professors turned their research upside down and shifted focus, fast. Social scientists, in particular Professor of Psychology Paul Hastings, recognized the unprecedented human “experiment” presented by the pandemic and global efforts to “bend the curve.” “In research methodology textbooks, this kind of situation is called a natural experiment,” Hastings said. “The world has done an experiment on the population. And these kinds of natural experiments open the possibility for gaining new knowledge.” Humans, by nature, are social beings. How are they affected by long-term restrictions keeping them apart? Hastings normally conducts physiological measurements to help understand the factors that shape social and emotional functioning from early childhood into adulthood. He was engaged in multiple studies and about to launch more across the U.S. and in Ghana, Jordan, Bangla-

desh, and Chile. “All of those projects stopped,” he said. “For me, there was this period of, ‘What do I do with myself?’” A new plan emerged quickly. First, Hastings checked on the well-being of the 20 graduate and undergraduate students who work in his Healthy Emotions, Relationships and Development Laboratory at the Center for Mind and Brain. After ensuring that everyone was OK, he organized a Zoom video meeting and presented the graduate students with a choice. “I said to them, ‘We can think of this as an opportunity to learn — and, by learning, to help. Do any of you feel like you have the bandwidth to start a new project now?” With an enthusiastic “yes” from four graduate students, Hasting launched not just one but two new studies. The first looks at how people respond emotionally and socially to sheltering in place and physical distancing. The second examines the various ways that parents cope with having their children home full time, and how well those responses work for parents and children.

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Trailblazers

(Continued)

TOP 10

Emotional Responses to the Pandemic n

Compassion

n

Love

n

Nervousness

n

Gratitude

n

Sadness

n

Disappointment

n

Sluggishness

n

Sleepiness

n

Moral disgust

n

Anger

From preliminary findings of a survey by psychology researchers Eliza Bliss-Moreau and Anthony Santistevan.

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In addition to Hastings’ projects, two other studies in the Department of Psychology are exploring that question in the hopes of helping people best cope with this and future pandemics. “We know from much briefer and more localized quarantines that there are adverse impacts on mental health,” Hastings said. “It’s one of the reasons why people in the mental health community very quickly mobilized to try to get messages out about being aware, doing things to protect yourself and your family.” But until now, there has been little research on the human toll of extended, widespread quarantines. During the 1918–19 flu pandemic, psychology was a young science, focused more on perception and cognition. During the SARS outbreak in 2003, quarantines were limited to certain areas of East Asia and Canada.

A test of human nature

The personal impacts of social distancing took even psychology associate professor Eliza Bliss-Moreau by surprise, although she researches emotional and social experiences and their connections to healthy aging. “I study this stuff — I think about this constantly. I had no idea how it would impact me,” said Bliss-Moreau, who is also a core scientist at the California National Primate Research Center at UC Davis. “It doesn’t matter what culture, ethnic group, race, or age — healthy humans are social beings. And that is being put to the test in an interesting way.”

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Like Hastings and other colleagues, Bliss-Moreau had to put experiments on hold. With her research team scattered, she said, “There was a lot of checking in. And then pretty quickly, by the second week of March, ‘Wow, life got really different, really fast. We should be studying this.’” With doctoral candidate Anthony Santistevan, Bliss-Moreau created a survey asking people about their emotional and social experiences before and during the pandemic.

Love, compassion, and reasons for hope

Preliminary results from data collected March 30–April 30 reveal positives along with the negatives of social distancing. The top five most intensely rated emotions were compassion, love, nervousness, gratitude, and sadness. While the study needs to be broadened to better represent diversity, Bliss-Moreau said the top two rated emotions — compassion and love — indicate that many people are more concerned about their communities than themselves. “That actually gave me hope when I saw it,” she said. Another finding is that participants of all ages shifted their communications toward close friends and family, a process that typically occurs as people grow older. Those two findings may be connected, she said. “[The pandemic] creates a context where you have to stop and prioritize. That can feel very challenging to people initially. But by investing ultimately in close social relationships and being able to reflect on experiences differently, our data


suggest that people feel gratitude and compassion and love.” Bliss-Moreau said knowledge gained from studies of the impacts of this pandemic could help people better cope with the next. “You have to look at what is happening in this moment in order to take care of people in the next moment.”

Stress on students

Professors Christopher Hopwood and Wiebke Bleidorn began nine months of surveying 500 UC Davis students in March, with a follow-up planned next July as part of their research on personality change. They will compare their results to those of the same number of students assessed last year for research on the effects of study abroad on personal, academic, and interpersonal development. Their preliminary data from the online project found that students experiencing pandemic restrictions

feel as though they have less social support from their families and less positive emotions, but believed more in their ability to cope. “They expressed more worries about the impact of COVID-19 on public health, society, the economy, as well as their own academic productivity, social functioning, and finances,” Hopwood said. “Students who worried more about COVID-19 were also more stressed, but also tended to be more academically and communally motivated.”

Looking at children’s well-being

Unlike Hopwood and Bleidorn, who frequently use online data, developmental psychologist Hastings had to quickly change course from in-person to virtual assessments. He and psychology assistant professor Camelia Hostinar ask parents 500 questions about ways

COVID-19 Research A glance at some studies in the College of Letters and Science. Asian American studies In a survey of California Filipinos last spring, the UC Davis Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies found about 40% of households had a health care worker residing there, but more than 95% of the respondents said they had not been tested for the coronavirus. Communication Analyzing more than 12 million COVID-19 related posts on China’s popular microblog Weibo, Cuihua “Cindy” Shen and colleagues found that people’s posts about symptoms and diagnosis of the disease can predict daily case counts up to seven days ahead of official statistics. Economics Looking at the financial effects of pandemics dating back to the 14th century, economists Òscar Jordà, Sanjay Singh, and Alan M. Taylor said the COVID-19 pandemic could depress investment opportunities for decades. Mathematics Two mathematicians, Thomas Strohmer and Javier Arsuaga, are using data science to address problems related to the pandemic — privacy risks of virus tracking and mutations in COVID-19’s “S” protein, respectively.

Clockwise from top left: Paul Hastings, Wiebke Bleidorn, Christopher Hopwood, and Eliza Bliss-Moreau

Physical sciences Physicist Daniel Cox and chemist Michael Toney are adapting their technology for amyloid-based, self-organizing protein scaffolds for possible use in diagnostic tests or for virus-neutralizing masks and other protective equipment. FALL 2020 LETTERSANDSCIENCE.UCDAVIS.EDU

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Trailblazers

(Continued)

the quarantine has impacted their well-being. In a follow-up, the team asks parents, as well as their children and teens, to do a series of online tasks to assess the impacts of pandemic-related stress on children’s ability to understand and manage their reactions to feelings and things happening around them. “We’re trying to understand how the coordination of home life by parents is helping to foster and maintain the social and emotional well-being of their children,” Hastings said. “We hope to be better prepared to give advice and guidance in the future.” Current advice by health care professionals to help families cope with stress is based on data from people struggling with everyday challenges, like job loss or marital difficulties. Until now, there have been no studies on what happens to children’s development when a pandemic keeps them away their friends.

“They are spending 24 hours a day in a home environment, in the company of their parents,” Hastings said. “That might not be abnormal for infants and toddlers, but by preschool age, that’s not how children live. And by adolescence, that directly impacts the fundamental need of adolescents for engagement with their peers. That peaks in the teenage years — adolescents spend more of their waking hours in the company of their same-age friends than they do in the company of their family.”

A collective human effort

The second study on personal and social reactions to the pandemic was open to anyone. Data from the first wave of participants — about 750 UC Davis undergraduates — found a high rate of emotional distress and anxiety over the quarantine. Undergraduates who had stable childhoods appeared to handle

“We have gotten a lot better with dog training and fitness! We’ve also started doing house dinners where we all eat together as a family, and we’ve begun doing arts and crafts.” – Zulma Castellon, a senior double majoring in sociology and psychology (pictured with roommate Maggie Ewing)

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the stress better than those who had more unsettled upbringings, Hastings said. The students reported about half their behaviors in response to the quarantine as focused on taking care of themselves. The other half was about caring for other people in their communities. “Young people, people in their teens and 20s who have a tendency to think of themselves as invincible, are not fighting against quarantine; many of them are reaching out to help their neighbors, checking with people who need assistance and making sure they are OK, making masks to share, cheering on health care workers … those have all been remarkable scenes of collective human experience that were impressive.” And that, Hastings said, gave him hope.


Scott Judson, pictured with wife Kristen ’09 and children Sydney and Tanner.

Silver Linings UC Davis photographer Karin Higgins visited Aggies at their homes this spring, capturing images of their lives in isolation and asking each person to share the silver lining of this experience. For more "Pandemic Portraits," visit photostories.ucdavis.edu/ pandemic-portraits.

“We have been fortunate to spend significant time as a family and witness the kids develop a loving and playful relationship.” – Scott Judson (B.A., political science, ’09; J.D. ’12), attorney and Cal Aggie Alumni Association president-elect

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Trailblazers

Telemedicine Alumnus Tom Nesbitt laid the foundation for virtual health care

Tom Nesbitt demonstrates telehealth technology at UC Davis Health.

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Pioneer O

BY BECKY OSKIN

ne of the lasting consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic will be the massive expansion of health care services delivered remotely. “The COVID-19 crisis has accelerated policy change tremendously, and I think we will see a strong push to continue telemedicine visits,” said Tom Nesbitt (B.A., psychology, ’75; M.D. ’79), who launched the UC Davis Health System’s first telehealth program in 1992. Nesbitt’s pioneering leadership in telemedicine has been recognized by the American Telemedicine Association and the American Hospital Association. Nesbitt’s interest in technology emerged from his commitment to improving health care access for rural communities. Early in his career, he treated patients in northern Idaho who traveled long distances to seek care. When he joined UC Davis Health in 1988, Nesbitt was determined to find solutions for geographic health disparities. His first foray into remote care was a program to bring obstetrics to a small hospital in Colusa County in Northern California. “The problem was doctors were uncomfortable practicing without adequate backup for emergency situations,” Nesbitt said. The solution was a landline link from Colusa to UC Davis Medical Center, whose professionals could monitor women in labor. Nesbitt helped transform telemedicine during his three decades with UC Davis from a telephone link to a robust program that ramped up to 1,000 patient visits per day

during the coronavirus outbreak. Through it all, Nesbitt relied on the core values he learned as a student. “There is a culture at UC Davis — and the College of Letters and Science — of trying to make the world a better place, and making sure you apply your education to help the people most in need,” he said. Nesbitt retired in 2018 as interim vice chancellor for human health sciences and associate vice chancellor for strategic technologies and alliances. He now serves as co-leader of the Healthy Aging in a Digital World initiative, which is seeking new approaches that will allow people to live at home for as long as possible. The UC Davis initiative will support a world-class center to explore everything from community design to artificial intelligence that predicts the onset of disease. “Age shouldn’t define how and where people live,” he said.

“There is a culture at UC Davis — and the College of Letters and Science — of trying to make the world a better place, and making sure you apply your education to help the people most in need.” – Tom Nesbitt

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Trailblazers

Caving experts Morgan Diefenbach (left) and Brian Sakofsky (right) collect a stalagmite in August in a cave south of Sequoia National Park.

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Crystallized CLIMATE BY BECKY OSKIN

Cave formations could help California cope with climate change threats

T

he luminous rock formations in California Cavern have entranced explorers for centuries. The minerals shimmer “like a glacier cave, with icicle-like stalactites and stalagmites combined in forms of indescribable beauty,” John Muir wrote in 1876. Trapped among the glittering crystals are tiny water droplets, remnants of the ancient liquid that built the cave’s amazing architecture. The droplets preserve what rain and snow was like thousands of years ago. “They are literally a time machine crystallized in rock,” said Isabel Montañez, Distinguished Professor and Chancellor’s Leadership Professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. California Cavern, in Calaveras County east of Stockton, is one of hundreds of caves hidden beneath the Sierra Nevada foothills. By cracking open stalagmites from these caves, Montañez and her students have teased out a timeline of Northern Califor-

nia’s climate history stretching back nearly 20,000 years. Their work rivals ice cores from Greenland or Antarctica in precision, and provides direct measurements of past temperature and precipitation. Montañez hopes this climate archive will help predict how rain and snow in the Sierra may shift with warmer temperatures. “As we move into a world that might see two to four degrees of warming in our lifetime, the big question mark is how temperature variability will impact precipitation in California,” Montañez said. She also has undergraduate researchers working with fossil dripwater to discern episodes of drought, flood, and fire. “The most interesting thing to me was that this is incredibly new science,” said Daphne Kuta, (B.S., geology, ’19), who is now a staff geologist at a Bay Area consulting firm. “We’ve barely scraped the surface of cave monitoring and analysis.”

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Trailblazers

Squeezing water from a stone

(Continued)

Stalagmites are built drop by drop. Inside a cave, each splash of dripwater leaves behind layers of minerals that slowly amass into otherworldly structures. The layers grow seasonally or annually, like tree rings, and their age can be determined with great accuracy. This means each speck of water trapped within or between the minerals can provide detailed and quantitative climate information. However, understanding the environmental history preserved in caves requires more than measuring fossil dripwater. Because surface water trickles through plants, soil, and rock before it emerges underground, Montañez and her students must monitor their caves to provide a framework for interpreting the stalagmite climate record. As a privately owned cave open to tourists, California Cavern offers easy access to researchers. But at Lilburn Cave in Sequoia National Park, Montañez partners with experienced cavers from the nonprofit Cave Research Foundation to set up weather stations and collect samples. Doctoral student Barbara Wortham is one of the people lucky enough to have visited Lilburn Cave, which is only open to researchers. “It’s thrilling,” Wortham said. “It’s a seven-mile hike in, and we live in pretty rough conditions, but it’s just so fun that I can’t not do it.”

Revealing the past

Caver Ceth Parker admires formations in the Crystal 67 cave during an expedition to remove a stalagmite for climate testing.

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Extracting bits of fossil dripwater is no easy task either. Wortham has developed new ways to target trapped water hiding inside stalagmites. First, she created a 3D map of the rocks to find the most promising Cave photos by Greg Roemer-Baer/ Cave Research Foundation


targets for chemical analysis. Wortham scanned the stalagmites with X-ray computed tomography at the UC Davis Center for Molecular and Genomic Imaging, and neutron computed tomography at the UC Davis McClellan Nuclear Research Center. It’s the first time that combined tomography has been used to examine stalagmites, she said. Then, Wortham chipped off small pieces of rock with dripwater inside, crushed them by hand and siphoned out the fluid. Analyses of different isotopes in the fossil water, when compared to present-day samples, tell Wortham whether the dripwater fell as rain or snow, and what the air temperature was at the time. (Isotopes are atoms of the same element that contain different numbers of neutrons.) Wortham also collaborated with Sujoy Mukhopadhyay, a professor of geochemistry, to adapt methods for measuring noble gases, originally developed for volcanic basalt rocks, to stalagmite research. “It’s really cool that this project is an integration of so many types of geology,” said Wortham, who plans to become a professor. “Students are coming out of the lab with skills that land them amazing jobs.” The team’s most recent study revealed the Sierra mountains were 5.1 degrees Celsius colder about 18,000 years ago and received much more snow. “We knew that when California is colder it gets wetter, and when California warms it is drier, but we didn’t know by how much,” Wortham said. Wortham said fossil water can also reveal whether winter precipitation was dropped by a cold winter storm from the northern Pacific Ocean or a warm atmospheric river from the tropics. This helps scientists identify changes in atmospheric circulation

Distinguished Professor and Chancellor’s Leadership Professor Isabel Montañez

patterns that are caused by high-pressure ridges offshore of California. (A persistent high-pressure ridge was responsible for the severe drought that ended in 2017.) The team’s initial findings suggest the subtropical Pacific was a large source of precipitation in California during the ice age. “The balance of these two precipitation sources is changing through time,” Wortham said.

Forecasting the future

Climate researchers expect California’s storm patterns to further shift as the ocean and atmosphere continue to warm. The state will still receive about the same amount of rain and snow, but its snowpack will diminish and there will be fewer spring and fall storms. This could bring more extreme floods and droughts, and keep the state dry during its windy, fire-prone fall months. Predicting California’s climate relies on sophisticated mathematical models. Montañez has spent much of her career ground-truthing climate models with information collected from Earth’s rock record. Paleoclimate data from natural records are

essential to testing the accuracy of climate models. For example, if a climate model can’t match the actual temperature and precipitation documented from caves, tree rings, and other natural archives, then the model may overestimate or underestimate future changes. Montañez is also cautious to limit the damage caused by collecting stalagmites, and minimize how much material is used for testing. For example, Wortham’s new techniques were developed on samples from McLeans Cave, near Angels Camp, which were collected before the cave was flooded by New Melones Lake in the 1970s. The team is also working in sites invisible to normal visitors, and replacing removed stalagmites with plaster copies to limit aesthetic impact. Thanks to the improved analytical techniques such as those developed at UC Davis, there is now growing interest in testing climate models with data from caves. “Analyzing California’s climate past will provide important insights into the longterm impacts of climate change,” Montañez said.

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Trailblazers

The Nature of the

BY JEFFREY DAY

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hrough a rich and interwoven mix of the humanities — literature, human rights, ethnic studies, art — UC Davis faculty and students are deepening the world’s understanding of climate change and its lasting grip on the human experience. Recent graduate Jumana Esau (B.A., English, ’20), pictured above, combined her passions for literary scholarship and human rights to explore climate change and its impact on overlooked and vulnerable populations. Her honors thesis examines African futuristic works in climate fiction. “My professors demonstrated how literature is a viable tool for marginalized communities affected by climate change,” said Esau, who won the University Medal and the College of Letters and Science Herbert A. Young Award in June. She is continuing her studies in fiction and climate change

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at the University of Cambridge as a Gates-Cambridge Scholar. A student studying climate change and fiction isn’t a surprise to those familiar with the Department of English. At a university known globally for its environmental sciences, faculty across the humanities are also leaders in examining climate change in new ways. “One of the things literature, poetry, and art does is provide us with ways of imagining these changes and grappling with a response,” said Margaret Ronda, an associate professor of English. When he arrived in 2003, Associate Professor Michael Ziser was one of the first UC Davis English department faculty members to specialize in eco-criticism: the study of literature and the environment from an interdisciplinary point of view. The department has continued to add faculty with interests and expertise in eco-criticism and


“My professors demonstrated how literature is a viable tool for marginalized communities affected by climate change.”

Reading list

A sampling of books on the environment by faculty in the humanities.

– Jumana Esau

climate fiction, or “cli-fi,” literature that deals with climate change and global warming. “It was still a marginal area at the time,” Ziser said. “During the last decade or so, there’s been a growing interest across the humanities.” This emphasis is one aspect of the UC Davis English department that attracted Ronda and Associate Professor Tobias Menely, who were hired in 2014. “UC Davis faculty have long been known for cutting-edge eco-criticism,” said Menely, a specialist in 18th-century literature. “Re-examining literature of earlier eras from an ecological perspective shows historic shifts in humans’ relationship with and understanding of climate.” Work by UC Davis humanities faculty on climate change is often interdisciplinary, with English professors collaborating on classes and publications with those in history, human ecology, and American studies. Ziser and American studies professor Julie Sze have collaborated on several climate change projects, including this fall’s issue of American Quarterly. Sze’s most recent book explores how climate change has an outsized impact on economically and racially marginalized communities. Attention to and protests about these inequities “have foregrounded the convergence between ‘environmentalism’ and ‘social injustice/ inequality,’” she says. Other College faculty are advocating for traditions and cultures impacted by climate change. Beth

Rose Middleton, professor and chair of Native American studies, centers her research on Native American environmental policy. “Tribes are on the front lines of climate change,” said Middleton, a fellow with the John Muir Institute One Climate Initiative and an investigator with the Southwest Climate Adaptation Center. “Often, Indigenous peoples have been pushed into marginal areas of their homelands; historically, they would have been able to adapt by moving when sea levels rise or aridity increases, but they can no longer do that.” This has taken a toll on Native American cultural practices such as basketmaking, ceremonial regalia creation, and stewardship and harvesting of traditional foods. “It’s not just about the science, but also about behavioral, spiritual, and emotional health,” Middleton said. As director of the Human Rights Studies Program, Professor Keith Watenpaugh teaches courses that explore the complex intersection of human rights and climate change internationally. Watenpaugh’s class had a big impact on Esau, who grew up in Jordan as well as California. In Jordan, she saw human-made climate disaster unfold along the Jordan River, which has been nearly drained dry by climate change, conflict, and overuse. Whether looking at climate change through the lens of literature, cultural traditions, human rights, policy, or poetry, the bottom line is straightforward, said Watenpaugh. “You have a basic human right to live in a climate that will not kill you.”

Environmental Practice and Early American Literature (2013), by Michael Ziser, associate professor of English. Literary history from the perspective of its environmental context, weaving together texts with ecological histories of tobacco, apples, and honeybees. Remainders: American Poetry at Nature’s End (2018), by Margaret Ronda, associate professor of English. PostWorld War II poems reflecting on ecological issues, including climate change brought on by global development. Environmental Justice in a Moment of Danger (2020), by Julie Sze, professor of American studies. The disproportionate impact of climate change on economically and racially marginalized communities. Climate and the Making of Worlds: Toward a Geohistorical Poetics, by Tobias Menely, associate professor of English. To be published in 2021.

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A page from Witness to the Age of Revolution, written by Charles Walker and illustrated by Liz Clarke. 22

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Trailblazers

Graphic history portrays odyssey of Juan Bautista Túpac Amaru BY KATHLEEN HOLDER

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ome stories of the past are so remarkable, they deserve to be shown as well as told. A new graphic history by Professor Charles Walker brings to life the odyssey of Juan Bautista Túpac Amaru, whose account of his 40 years as a Spanish political prisoner was so harrowing that it was discounted as fiction and lingered for decades in obscurity. Witness to the Age of Revolution uses images drawn from archival documents to chronicle Juan Bautista’s story and show readers how historians construct the past. Illustrated by South African artist Liz Clarke, the publication is part of a graphic history series published by Oxford University Press. “I saw it as a fun summer project, but it took me two years or so,” said Walker, professor of history and director of the Hemispheric Institute on the Americas at UC Davis. “Historians are trained to guide [readers] through writing. And in a comic, you can’t do that — you have to let the images speak.” Walker briefly wrote about Juan Bautista in his award-winning 2014 book The Túpac Amaru Rebellion. That book focused on the 1780–83 revolt that was launched in Peru by Juan Bautista’s halfbrother, José Gabriel Túpac Amaru, and spread to become the largest rebellion in the history of Spain’s American empire. Walker said he had long wanted to give more attention to Juan Bautista and his ringside view of events during the Age of Revolution (1780s to 1820s) in the Americas and Europe.

Charles Walker, professor of history

A descendant of the last Inca rulers, Juan Bautista was imprisoned on both sides of the Atlantic after José Gabriel was executed and much of his family arrested or killed. Juan Bautista’s ordeal included two years in jail in Cusco; a 700-mile foot march in chains over the Andes to Lima; two years aboard a ship to Spain; and more than 30 years of detention in Ceuta, a Spanish garrison city on the northern tip of Africa. In 1822, he was freed with the help of a priest and a Maltese-Argentine naval veteran and sent to Argentina, where he was hailed as a hero. Juan Bautista died in 1827 in Buenos Aires without fulfilling his dream of returning to his native Peru. “I want to chronicle his story but not speak for Juan Bautista Túpac Amaru, whose first language was Quechua,” Walker writes in his preface. In his own account of his life, Juan Bautista expressed his “hope that these memoirs make people think about how to prevent tyranny, which proved in my case to be so abominable.” FALL 2020 LETTERSANDSCIENCE.UCDAVIS.EDU

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Alumni in Action

Never Have I Ever

If not for a UC Davis acting class, alumna Richa Shukla Moorjani might never have become a Netflix star BY JEFFREY DAY

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fter Richa Shukla Moorjani (B.A., communication, ’11) switched her major from theatre to communication, she accepted that she wouldn’t have a career as a performer. Then, in her senior year, she took an acting class that put her back on a path that led to a major role on a hit television series. “Taking that class made me realize acting was what I really wanted to do,” said Moorjani. In 2019 Moorjani landed a co-starring role in the Netflix series Never Have I Ever, created by Mindy Kaling. The series centers on high school student Devi, who is dealing with the usual teen anxieties while struggling with her Indian American identity and her father’s death. Moorjani plays Devi’s cousin from India, Kamala, who is living with Devi and her mother while earning her doctorate. Performing runs in Moorjani’s family; her parents met when her father was auditioning singers for his Bollywood music band. Moorjani shares their passion for the arts, and began taking dance lessons when she was 5. At UC Davis, she was involved with dance groups as a performer and choreographer. “Because my parents are artists, they always encouraged me,”

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she said. “They’ve always been supportive, but they did have practical concerns. I always tell them, ‘It’s your fault I’ve pursued this.’” After graduation, Moorjani moved to Los Angeles, landing television roles on NCIS and 9-1-1, and, most importantly, Kaling’s The Mindy Project. Even so, she had to audition alongside thousands of others for the role of Kamala. Moorjani relates to the emotional struggles of both Devi and Kamala in Never Have I Ever, but unlike Devi, she has never been conflicted about her Indian identity. She grew up in a household rich in Indian culture and involved in the Indian American community in Silicon Valley. That doesn’t mean it was always easy. “At the end of the day, we still live in America and are still a minority,” she said. “Even trying out for high school theatre, I felt sometimes I didn’t get roles because of the color of my skin.” Being in Never Have I Ever, Moorjani feels she’s part of something that will make the world better for young Indian Americans. “When I was growing up, no one who looked like me was on TV,” she said. “What’s great about the show is it is about an Indian American family, but the themes are universal.”

UC DAVIS COLLEGE OF LETTERS AND SCIENCE

Richa Shukla Moorjani (B.A., communication, ’11), center, with Never Have I Ever co-stars Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, left, and Poorna Jagannathan, right.


Lara Solanki/Netflix

Other Alumni of Television Claire Bennett

(M.F.A., dramatic art, ’06) Emmy Award-nominated production designer on Modern Family (ABC).

Justin Chu Cary (B.A., sociology, ’05) Plays Spears on Netflix’s zombie thriller Black Summer.

Sonya Eddy

(B.A., African American studies, ’94) Portrays nurse Epiphany Johnson in daytime soap opera General Hospital (ABC).

Tim Mizrahi

(B.A., international relations, ’98) Vice president of business and legal affairs, and content acquisition at Netflix.

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Alumni in Action

Beyond the Clas Dean’s Advisory Council campaigns for access to life-changing scholarly pursuits

BY KRISTIN EDE

If you’d like to contribute funds to take students beyond the classroom, visit give.ucdavis.edu/ go/beyond.

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he alumni-led Dean’s Advisory Council (DAC) is defining the future of student retention and success in the College of Letters and Science, and they’re looking outside the classroom to make it happen. With 65% of all UC Davis undergraduate credits earned in the College of Letters and Science, the College has a unique duty to ensure all students have access to hands-on experiences that complement classroom learning,

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provide career preparation, and develop critical thinking skills. The Beyond the Classroom fund supports opportunities to deepen disciplinary knowledge through meaningful experiences — internships, service learning, clinical opportunities, professional development, travel abroad, global engagement, and field research. Many of the College’s students come from underprivileged backgrounds and would not otherwise have the opportunity to gain these real-world skills without

the generosity of donors’ support.  In a 2019 survey* of leadership at four-year public institutions, 91% rated practical experiences outside the classroom — such as internships, service, or experiential learning — as highly effective in fostering student success and retention. Thanks to the dedicated fundraising efforts of the DAC, the Beyond the Classroom fund has afforded hundreds of students the opportunities to explore new horizons, such as interning at UC Davis Medical Center or conducting family research for the Anti-Defamation


The volunteer Dean’s Advisory Council aims to give all students access to hands-on learning experiences — like California Capitol internships pursued by Julianne Cravotto (B.A., political science and history, ’19).

League while studying abroad in Germany. If you’d like to contribute funds to this critical effort, visit give.ucdavis.edu/go/ beyond.

* Ruffalo Noel Levitz, 2019 Effective Practices for Student Success, Retention, and Completion Report

Kenton Goldsby (B.A., Spanish and religious studies, ’20) traveled to Spain as part of his studies at UC Davis. “[Studying abroad] was a great way for me to enhance my Spanish language learning and cultural competency,” he said.

The Dean’s Advisory Council (DAC) is the primary alumni volunteer advisory body for the College of Letters and Science, and is composed of civic, business, and education leaders from the College’s community of alumni, donors, emeriti, and friends.  In addition to the DAC, there are many other ways to volunteer time, energy, and skills to support the College and empower future generations of students. Choose from any of the volunteer groups below to make a difference today. To learn more about these groups or to join, contact Charlene Mattison at cmattison@ucdavis.edu. n

C.N. Gorman Museum Advisory Council

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Earth and Planetary Sciences Advisory Council

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Global Tea Advisory Council

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Government and Public Policy Alumni Group

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Physics Advisory Board

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World Water Advisory Council

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Young Alumni Advisory Board

GET

ssroom

WAYS TO GET INVOLVED

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Support for Innovation

Transforma Gifts Endowed professorships give faculty and their students freedom to explore new areas

BY BECKY OSKIN

“Endowed chairs are transformative tools for bringing world-class faculty to UC Davis and enabling them to do amazing things.” – Nicholas Pinter

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ndowed chairs play a vital role in advancing the College of Letters and Science’s mission, empowering rising faculty stars to pursue revolutionary ideas and students to dive into research opportunities and innovative teaching alongside them. “Endowed chairs are transformative tools for bringing world-class faculty to UC Davis and enabling them to do amazing things,” said geomorphologist Nicholas Pinter, who holds the Roy J. Shlemon Chair in Applied Geosciences in the Depart-

ment of Earth and Planetary Sciences. Seventeen endowed chairs and three professorships are held in the College of Letters and Science, thanks to the generosity of donors such as Roy Shlemon, a consulting geologist based in southern California. The most recent endowment — the Louise H. Kellogg Chair in Geophysics — was created in honor of Distinguished Professor Louise Kellogg, who died in 2019. The $2 million gift from Doug Neuhauser, Kellogg’s husband, recognizes her


ative

legacy as a leading geophysicist and mentor to early career and underrepresented scientists. Both the Shlemon chair and the Kellogg chair encourage faculty to tackle real-world problems through the geosciences. Pinter’s research on natural hazards shows the profound impact these gifts can make.

Helping cities adapt to climate change A nationally recognized expert in flood risks and management, Pinter joined

UC Davis in 2015 from Southern Illinois University, assuming the Shlemon chair from Professor Emeritus Jeffrey Mount. He is particularly interested in managed retreat — moving entire communities to escape flooding and sea level rise. “Through the endowed chair, I have the freedom to explore new research areas and develop them to the point where we can seek National Science Foundation funding,” Pinter said. Currently, Pinter is investigating the strategies

The ecogeomorphology class, co-taught by Nicholas Pinter, rafted more than 100 miles down the Colorado River for firsthand lessons in hydrology, geology, and ecology. Pinter listens as Edith Leoso, historian for the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Chippewa Tribe in Wisconsin, explains the area’s flood history.

Midwestern towns used to migrate away from severe flood zones. Through the Shlemon endowment, Pinter dispatched undergraduate James “Huck” Rees (B.A., geology, ’19) to research the challenges and costs, both financial and personal, of managed retreat. Rees recently received a Fulbright Award to continue his work in Fiji, where coastal communities are threatened by sea level rise. The Shlemon chair also sponsors life-changing adventures for students

in “Ecogeomorphology,” a course offered by the Center for Watershed Science. Each spring, undergraduates and graduate students travel to iconic locales such as the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon and the Copper River in Alaska. “Dr. Pinter displays an endowed professorship altruism far beyond what was expected,” Shlemon said. “This is truly remarkable; and hence I am delighted to continually learn from his experience, his joy of teaching, and his ongoing research activities.”

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Support for Innovation

Visiting Artists Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem establish premier artist-in-residence program at UC Davis BY KRISTIN EDE

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Shrem artists will join UC Davis as visiting faculty for one academic quarter to teach undergraduate studio classes and graduate seminars and deliver a public lecture. The artists will live in Davis and be offered a private studio to create works in their dedicated medium. The gift also creates a program manager/curator position to oversee the program. In addition, four high-profile Spotlight Artists will be invited to visit each year for up to 10 days to conduct seminars accessible to undergraduate and graduate students, and to present public lectures to the university and broader art communities. The artists will also engage with the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art on innovative collaborations. “My husband, Jan, and I are very happy to establish The California Studio at UC Davis,” said Maria Manetti Shrem. “In addition to the outstanding art studio faculty, students will now be exposed, informed, and inspired by a broader Maria Manetti Shrem and Jan Shrem

he UC Davis College of Letters and Science art studio program is growing, thanks to a generous $750,000 gift from Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem to formally establish The California Studio: Manetti Shrem Artist Residencies at UC Davis. The exciting new program will bring preeminent visiting art scholars and innovative artists to campus from around the world over the next three years. The artist-in-residence program will select artists through a highly competitive application process. Each year, two talented Manetti

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UC DAVIS COLLEGE OF LETTERS AND SCIENCE

group of accomplished visiting artists. Promoting education is our top priority with our charitable endeavors.” “I am so grateful to Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem for their long-standing support of the arts at UC Davis,” said Chancellor Gary S. May. “Their generosity will further enrich our campus culture, strengthen our global position as a leader in academic excellence, and is sure to inspire artists for years to come.” Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem gave a lead gift in 2011 to help establish the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art, which opened on campus in 2016. The visiting artist program adds further prominence to the campus’s already top-ranked art studio program. The UC Davis Master of Fine Arts program was recently ranked No. 15 nationwide by U.S. News & World Report alongside peers such as the New York Parsons School of Design, Pratt Institute, UC Berkeley, and others. Because of current COVID-19 state guidelines and restrictions, the first program is tentatively scheduled to begin in person at UC Davis in fall 2021. The visiting artists will be announced prior to the launch.


Reflections

Ducks swim in the UC Davis Arboretum Waterway.

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ave you ever mused over the cusp of light in your morning coffee cup, or eyed the highlight on a polished cue ball? What you were observing was an optical phenomenon called a caustic. Caustics are patterns that emerge from the reflection of light rays off surfaces — like the sparkle of sunlight on Lake Spafford in the UC Davis Arboretum. The

mathematics that explains caustics is called contact geometry. That’s the specialty of Roger Casals, an assistant professor in the Department of Mathematics. Casals was recently awarded both a Sloan Research Fellowship and a National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development award to support his work. Contact geometry has connections to string theory, which

seeks to explain all fundamental particles and forces in the universe as tiny, vibrating, one-dimensional strings. So the next time you gaze into your morning coffee, you’re connecting with the basic mathematics of the universe. Adapted from a story by Andy Fell, UC Davis Strategic Communications.

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On the

BOOKSHELF For understanding current issues The New Noir: Race, Identity, and Diaspora in Black Suburbia (University of California Press), an award-winning book by Orly Clergé (sociology), explores the richly complex worlds of a generation of Black middle-class adults who migrated from throughout the African diaspora to American suburbia.

For a weekend getaway Exploring the Berryessa Region: A Geology, Nature, and History Tour (Backcountry Press), by the late Eldridge Moores and Peter Schiffman (earth and planetary sciences), with Marc Hoshovsky, Judy Moores, and Bob Schneider (B.S., geology, ’72), is a field guide to this biologically diverse landscape west of Sacramento and north of San Francisco.

The Second American Revolution: The Civil War-Era Struggle Over Cuba and the Rebirth of the American Republic (University of North Carolina Press), by Gregory Downs (history), presents the Civil War as part of an international struggle over competing visions of the world’s future.

For delving into popular culture The Simpsons’ Beloved Springfield: Essays on the TV Series and Town That Are Part of Us All (McFarland), edited by Karma Waltonen (University Writing Program) with Denise Du Vernay, examines the show’s exploration of gender roles, music, death, food politics, and more.

A landmark reference The first encyclopedia to merge global history and LGBTQ history into one resource, edited by Howard Chiang (history), was named the best reference source of 2019. The landmark Global Encyclopedia of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) History won the 2020 Dartmouth Medal, presented by the American Library Association’s reference and collection development librarians division.

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Robert Alexander/Getty Images

End Notes Double Centenarians

This year marks centennial milestones for two professors emeriti — Wayne Thiebaud (art) and Albert McNeil (music). Thiebaud, best known for his paintings of cakes and pies, turned 100 in November. McNeil, a choral director who devoted his career to preserving the African American spiritual, celebrated his 100th birthday last February. Both professors had profound impacts on generations of students. Thiebaud, who joined UC Davis in 1960, officially retired from the faculty in 1991 but continued to teach into the next decade. McNeil, founder of the Albert McNeil Jubilee Singers, taught on campus 1966–90.

Prized Fiction

Wildlife ecologist Laura Marsh (B.S., animal behavior, ’85) won the College’s 2020 Maurice Prize for Fiction for her manuscript SAV•AGE(S), set in Papua New Guinea during World War II. Established by best-selling author John Lescroart, the annual $5,000 Maurice Prize recognizes the best booklength prose fiction written by a UC Davis graduate who has not yet published a novel.

Ear of the Governor

Marianne Page, professor of economics and director of the Center for Poverty and Inequality Research at UC Davis, has been appointed to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s new Council of Economic Advisors.

A visitor to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., admires Cakes (1963) by Wayne Thiebaud.

Page is among 13 academic scholars and state officials appointed to advise Newsom and state Department of Finance Director Keely Martin Bosler on wide-ranging economic issues.

Rx for Graduate Research

The coronavirus pandemic forced linguistics doctoral student Peter Torres to change directions on his research on conversations about another “epidemic” — the opioid crisis. Support from a new Dean’s Graduate Summer Fellowship helped give him a new start. Torres is one of 32 graduate students in programs across the College who received 2020 summer research awards ranging from $2,500 to $5,000. The awards are supported in part by smaller donations made to the College’s Annual Fund.

HIGH HONORS Historian Andrés Reséndez is the first UC Davis professor to receive a Carnegie Fellowship. Reséndez will use the $200,000 stipend to research how Ferdinand Magellan’s epic 1519–22 voyage transformed the world.

Art history professor Heghnar Zeitlian Watenpaugh received two prestigious honors — a Guggenheim Fellowship and a $60,000 National Endowment for the Humanities Public Scholar Award — to work on a book about the medieval Armenian city of Ani.

Jane-Ling Wang, distinguished professor of statistics, received a Humboldt Research Award in recognition of her lifetime achievements in statistics. The award comes with a 60,000 euro cash prize and a travel stipend to spend up to one year in Germany collaborating with colleagues.

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College of Letters and Science Office of the Dean University of California One Shields Avenue Davis, CA 95616-8572 (4342)

Your Valuable Perspective Community is more important than ever in these unprecedented times. As the largest college at UC Davis, we firmly believe that Aggies helping Aggies starts with us. In the coming months, our College Relations and Development team will be reaching out by phone and email to many of our alumni and friends. We care about how you and your family are doing, and want to learn more about how our College and our alumni network can support you. We also hope to gather your valuable opinions on what the next chapter should look like for the College of Letters and Science.

We look forward to talking with you soon. Go Ags! If you’d like to contact us directly, reach out anytime to lsdevelopment@ucdavis.edu or at 530-752-3429.

Profile for UC Davis College of Letters and Science

UC Davis College of Letters and Science Magazine — Fall 2020  

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