Faculty members awarded

The Chancellor’s Medal and the annual Chancellor’s Associates Faculty Excellence Awards were presented on Feb. 24 in the Mandeville Auditorium. The presentation event was organized by the Chancellor’s Associates.

The Chancellor’s Medal, which is the highest recognition that UCSD offers an individual, was awarded to philanthropist and community leader Darlene Shiley. Shiley, who chaired the Chancellor’s Associates, was honored for her contributions to education and the larger San Diego community. She has been involved in UCSD, Scripps Clinic, the Old Globe Theatres and the Salk Institute. In 1988, Shiley and husband Donald pledged the leadership gift for the Shiley Eye Center, located on the East Campus of UCSD.

Recipients of the Chancellor’s Associates Faculty Excellence Awards were Vilayanur Ramachandran for excellence in research in arts, humanities and social sciences; J. Andrew McCammon for excellence in research in science and engineering; Kim Griest for excellence in undergraduate teaching; Joseph Esherick and Paul Pickowicz for excellence in graduate teaching; and Ross Frank for excellence in community service.

Ramachandran, a professor of psychology, was given the award for his international contributions to the areas of cognitive neuroscience and brain research. He is one of the top researchers in the country in his field, and his creative research style has allowed him to link many interdisciplinary boundaries.

“”[Ramachandran] is known worldwide for his originality, extraordinary breadth of interests and for a distinctive research style that draws heavily on his knowledge of evolution and the workings of animal brains to design new pivotal tests of human brain function,”” said James Kulik, chair of the department of psychology.

McCammon, a chemistry and biochemistry professor, was honored for his accomplishments in computational biology and theoretical chemistry. He has been a pioneer in using modern computational methods to perform biochemistry research.

“”In our future work, we’ll develop physics-based computer models of human cells and their organelles to provide better targets for the design of pharmaceuticals,”” McCammon said.

Griest, a physics professor, was recognized for her interactive and inspiring teaching style and for her contributions to the area of astrophysics. Currently, Griest is also part of a satellite mission to find extra-solar planets, and is working on theories of dark matter and vacuum energy.

“”I wanted to be an astronomer from around age 5,”” Griest said. “”Then I wanted to do physics when I discovered that in high school. So astrophysics is perfect for me!””

History professors Esherick and Pickowicz have made the graduate program in Chinese history into one of the top-ranked programs worldwide. They have shown a passion for teaching and mentoring graduate students.

“”It’s very gratifying to be recognized for something that we work very hard at and really enjoy doing,”” Esherick said. “”Graduate teaching is very special, because you are trying to develop able, young people to be independent scholars in their own right — and it is wonderful to see them develop and mature, each in their own special way, during the years of Ph.D. study.””

Frank, an associate professor of ethnic studies, was honored for his educational and outreach efforts to aid Native-American communities in San Diego. He also played an important role in creating the Tribal Digital Village, which links 18 reservations with educational partners.

Ramon Gutierrez, an ethnic studies professor, said that Frank has been “”catalytic in rethinking UCSD’s approach to Native-American student outreach.””

Each year, the recipients of the Chancellor’s Associates Awards are nominated by their peers and are then reviewed by a team under the direction of Senior Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs Marsha Chandler. The nominations are then forwarded to a volunteer committee for final reviewing. Criteria for review focus on the quality and quantity of each nominee’s contributions to his or her field. In addition to recognition, recipients also receive a $2,500 honorarium.