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2022 CBS Graduate Student Award Recipients

Awards recognize excellence in mentorship and research

This year’s graduate student awards emphasize the importance - and success - of mentoring younger scientists, and demonstrate the UC Davis commitment to collaboration, support and partnership that define interdisciplinary science. Graduate student awards support travel, research and professional development opportunities, and are made possible by generous philanthropic contributions to the college.

CBS Dean’s Mentorship Award

The Dean’s Mentorship Award recognizes graduate students who have demonstrated excellence in the mentorship of undergraduate students.

2022 CBS Dean’s Mentorship Award
Colton Baumler
Colton Baumler

Colton Baumler - Biochemistry, Molecular, Cellular, Developmental Biology Graduate Group
“Colton has routinely shown his passion for mentoring students and for increasing inclusion and access to opportunities for students in our lab and at UC Davis. Colton is a founding member of the UC Davis SACNAS Chapter for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. He was a mentor for the UC Davis Biology Undergraduate Scholars Program, the UC Davis Rocketry Team, and participated in the Young Scientist Program. Colton has also given seminars on diversity and life during BMCDB recruitment events to help with incoming graduate students. He is a first-generation college student, a veteran, and has been self-guided and self-motivated for much of his academic career. Time and again he has shown he is committed to mentoring others.” - Crystal Rogers, assistant professor, Department of Anatomy, Physiology, and Cell Biology, School of Veterinary Medicine

Roilea Maxon
Roilea Maxon

Roilea Maxson - Biochemistry, Molecular, Cellular, Developmental Biology Graduate Group 
“Not only has Roilea excelled in her research endeavors, but she has excelled in training the next generation of scientists to do the same. For the past year, Roilea has been devoted to training her undergraduate mentee, who will be a co-author on a manuscript that we are currently writing. In addition to her mentorship roles in the lab, Roilea has previously taken on a number of mentorship roles in the community, especially to encourage and guide individuals from underrepresented and diverse backgrounds as they pursue their scientific dreams. She is an amazing student who strives every day to support those around her and who herself comes from an underrepresented background and understands how important mentorship and encouragement are for personal and professional success.” - Kassandra Ori-McKenney, associate professor, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology

Veronica Thompson
Veronica Thompson

Veronica Thompson - Plant Biology Graduate Group
“Veronica is passionate about promoting the engagement of undergraduate students in original research. During her time in my lab, she has mentored four undergraduate students, two of whom will be graduating this spring and have applied to doctoral programs in the biological sciences. Another former undergraduate mentee is currently working as a technician in a wildlife research lab and plans to apply to doctoral programs next year. What sets Veronica apart from other graduate students I have advised is her very intentional efforts to promote critical thinking in her mentees. Her explicit goals as a mentor are to help students understand the scientific process, get comfortable with asking questions, and better understand graduate academic programs.” - Stacey Harmer, professor, Department of Plant Biology

Monsanto Endowed Student Fund in Agricultural Biotechnology Award

This Monsanto Endowed Student Fund in Agricultural Biotechnology Award is available to outstanding College of Biological Sciences graduate students who are preparing for careers in agricultural biotechnology.

2022 Monsanto Endowed Student Fund in Agricultural Biotechnology Award

Calvin Huang - Plant Biology Graduate Group
“Calvin works tirelessly and has been extremely productive. Calvin has no hesitation to devote 100% of his efforts towards learning whatever is necessary to advance his research. It was not rare to find Calvin having already completed his experiments and getting ready to teach at 9:00am. He is technically competitive after learning so much from colleagues in the lab and across the campus, and he has become a knowledge and technical source for many of us. Calvin is never intimidated by technical challenges and is ready to acquire new skills whenever needed. It has been a tremendous privilege and honor for me to work with Calvin. I look forward to witnessing his continuous success in coming years!” - Bo Liu, professor, Department of Plant Biology

Alexander Kehl
Alexander Kehl

Alexander Kehl - Biophysics Graduate Group
“I have had the honor of working with Alex for several years now. First as an undergrad during his senior year, and subsequently as a graduate student who has joined my lab as part of the biophysics graduate group. Alex is an incredibly fast learner, has a strong scientific intuition, and is not afraid to tackle challenging problems. He is easily in the top 2% of his peers. Alex has a bright future and I have no doubt will be a star in the field. He also always takes time to help newer students in the lab and motivate the next generation of scientists.” - Justin Siegel, associate professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine, School of Medicine

Eric and Louise Conn Graduate Student Award in Plant Biochemistry

The Eric and Louise Conn Graduate Student Award in Plant Biochemistry supports outstanding graduate students performing research in the field of plant biochemistry.

2022 Eric and Louise Conn Graduate Student Award in Plant Biochemistry
Mona Gouran
Mona Gouran

Mona Gouran - Plant Biology Graduate Group
“Mona joined my lab in in September 2016 as a Master’s Student. She transferred to the Ph.D. program in 2017 and has made several major advances in the field of plant biochemistry. These advances have required embracing and developing novel technologies and methods as well as analyses in a ‘non-model’ organism. She is courageous in her scientific approach as well as diligent and persistent in her pursuit of academic science. Mona is dedicated to her lab work and deeply enjoys lab work and learning how to use new technologies. She is always available with an open mind and a humble presence. She is a team player and a leader and expects rigor of all lab members in their science.” - Siobhan Brady, professor, Department of Plant Biology

Calvin Huang - Plant Biology Graduate Group (see 2022 Monsanto Endowed Student Fund in Agricultural Biotechnology)

Sharon Grey Memorial Award

The Sharon Gray Memorial Award was created to honor the life of Dr. Sharon Gray, a postdoctoral scholar with a passion and commitment to mentoring women in science. The awards provide funds for the mentor and mentee to use in educational and professional development opportunities.

2022 Sharon Grey Memorial Award
Carly Hawkins
Carly Hawkins

Carly Hawkins (mentor) - Animal Behavior Graduate Group
Katie Smith (mentee) - Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior
“Carly joined my lab as a Ph.D. student in 2018 through the Animal Behavior Graduate Group. Katie joined my lab as a freshman in 2018 as an undergraduate research intern. Both are extraordinary scientists and extraordinary people. Carly is the first in her extended family to receive a college degree and the first to pursue graduate education. She credits her ability to overcome these barriers to the help of mentors along the way who gave her advice and encouragement at critical times. As a result, Carly believes strongly in the value of mentorship and has been a fantastic mentor to undergraduates in my lab, especially first-generation and under-represented students. Over the years Katie has been in my lab, she has been operating on the level of a top graduate student. She took a graduate level seminar course in ecophysiology—as a freshman—because she wanted to prepare herself as much as possible for her research project. Both Carly and Katie have ‘the stuff’ to become truly great researchers—creativity, curiosity, fierce intelligence, and an unquenchable drive to learn and discover. In addition to all this, they are both wonderful people—inspiring, kind, helpful, and natural leaders.” - Gail L. Patricelli, professor, Department of Evolution and Ecology

Roilea Maxson (mentor) - Biochemistry, Molecular Cellular Developmental Biology Graduate Group
Kailea Wiese (mentee) - Biotechnology (College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences)
“Roilea has been devoted to training her undergraduate mentee, Kailea Wiese, who is a co-author on an abstract we submitted to the Drosophila Research Conference and will be a co-author on a manuscript that is currently in preparation. Roilea and Kailea have worked incredibly hard to develop a very exciting project about the effects of traumatic brain injury on fly behavior and neuronal health. Roilea has an amazing commitment to mentoring the next generation of scientists from underrepresented and disadvantaged backgrounds. She feels very strongly about recruitment and retention of students from underrepresented populations and she has invested a lot of her time and effort into giving Kailea the best possible laboratory experience. As a result, Kailea is committed to continuing her academic path and plans to attend graduate school after graduation. I have watched Roilea thrive and grow as a mentor. She has not only developed her own self-esteem, but has cultivated confidence in Kailea as well.” - Kassandra Ori-McKenney, assistant professor, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology

Alyssa Phillips

Alyssa Phillips (mentor) - Plant Biology Graduate Group
Julianna Porter (mentee) - Genetics and Genomics
“Alyssa’s background was not in computational biology or genomics when she entered the lab, but she learned extremely quickly and works now at ease on the command-line, programs in python and R, and executes large computational analyses on the remote HPC cluster. She also quickly got up to speed on the theory and background relevant to her project, attending summer courses in Seattle, reading relevant textbooks, and taking additional courses in theory and practice. Alyssa has parlayed her rapid learning not only into research productivity, but also into a truly impressive effort mentoring an undergraduate in the lab, Julianna Porter. Under Alyssa’s guidance Julianna has learned nearly as fast as Alyssa herself did. Alyssa designed the overall research project Julianna is working on, but is careful to provide Julianna with substantial freedom in exploring approaches and specific avenues of investigation within the project. It has been truly a pleasure to watch Alyssa grow into such a great mentor and see what a wonderful impact she’s had on Julianna.” - Jeffrey Ross-Ibarra, professor, Department of Evolution and Ecology

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