Faculty Notes

Faculty members in the Division of Social Sciences help develop today's undergraduates to become critical thinkers – to ask the "why" questions in the tradition of great philosophers and to answer the "why" questions of economics, anthropology, psychology and politics. They guide these answers through their own research and accomplishments, some of which are detailed below.

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Recent Honors and Awards


Drew Halfmann, associate professor of sociology, won the 2013 Distinguished Scholarship Award for his book Doctors and Demonstrators: How Political Institutions Shape Abortion Law in the United States, Britain and Canada (University of Chicago Press, 2011).

Robert May, distinguished professor of philosophy, won the Charles P. Nash Award. The Charles P. Nash Prize, funded by the campus community and the Nash family and friends, is awarded by the Davis Division of the Academic Senate, the UC Davis Academic Federation, the Davis Faculty Association and the Nash Family to acknowledge achievement in and commitment to promoting shared governance in keeping with Charlie Nash’s exceptional efforts in promoting and advocating for faculty interests and welfare.  The prize is awarded to an individual who clearly represents advocacy, achievement and dedication within a body of service that exemplifies Charlie’s legacy.

Charan Ranganath, professor of psychology, received the Parke-Davis Exchange Fellowship in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Cambridge, UK, where he will be a visiting scholar. Ranganath will be working with researchers in the psychology department and in the Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit. He will also work on a book about human memory for the general public. He also received a $40,000 fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, one of 175 awarded to scientists, artists and scholars by the foundation this year. And he was awarded the Leverhulme Trust Visiting Professorship. The professorship supports travel to, and living expenses in, United Kingdom for sabbatical leave.

Almerindo Ojeda, professor of linguistics, was invited to speak at the International Multidisciplinary Colloquium: Mass/Count in Linguistics, Philosophy and Cognitive Science. The aim of this colloquium is to provide a platform of exchange between linguists, philosophers and psychologists, working the different aspects of the mass/count distinction. Such a resolutely interdisciplinary approach is indeed necessary to fully apprehend the new questions that are presently arising in connection to the mass/count distinction. This multidisciplinary conference aspires to move this scientific debate forward, and contribute to the evolution of current methodology.

Steven Luck, professor of psychology and director of the center for mind and brain, was elected a 2012 Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. His research focuses on the neural and cognitive mechanisms of attention and working memory in healthy young adults and dysfunction of these mechanisms in psychiatric and neurological disorders, such as schizophrenia. He also works to develop, promote and teach methods for recording brainwaves.

Dean Simonton, distinguished professor of psychology, won the Distinguished Scientific Contributions to Media Psychology Award by the American Psychological Association. The award was given in recognition of his original empirical research on cinematic creativity and aesthetics. Over the past decade, this research program has produced 15 journal articles, three book chapters, and two books.

Kevin Grimm, associate professor of psychology, won the award for Excellence in Service to Graduate Students. The award recognizes those who work diligently to advance the status of graduate students.

Scott Carrell, associate professor of economics, received the 2012 IZA Young Labor Economist Award for his and Mark Hoekstra's article "Externalities in the Classroom: How Children Exposed to Domestic Violence Affect Everyone's Kids". The award-winning paper studies whether children from troubled families generate negative spillovers on the educational achievements of their peers. The prize money of 5,000 Euros is shared between Carrell and Hoekstra.

Latest Grants and Research


Kyle Joyce, assistant professor of political science, and Zeev Maoz, distinguished professor of political science, were awarded a $255,220 grant by the National Science Foundation. This grant will support a new project that examines the effects of shocks on international networks. Shocks (i.e., sudden and dramatic events such as wars and financial crises) can induce significant changes in how states interact. In this project, they examine how shocks change the structure of interactions in military alliance, international trade, and conflict networks. This project combines network analysis with agent-based modeling to develop a systematic explanation of shock-related effects.

Almerindo Ojeda, professor of linguistics, was awarded a $10,000 grant by University of California Humanities Research Institute. The grant will fund development of open-access websites to track the global diffusion of artistic styles, and subjects (see e.g. colonialarts.org). The grant will benefit a group of scholars throughout the UC campuses. PIs are Elisabet Honig (UCB) and Almerindo Ojeda (UCD).

Beverly Bossler, professor of history, was awarded a $15,000 grant by Henry Luce Foundation/American Council of Learned Societies China Program. This grant was awarded to fund a collaborative workshop entitled "Letters in Late Song China (1160-1270)."  An international and interdisciplinary group of scholars will meet at UC Davis in June 2014 to read and discuss a wide a variety of letters written in the late Song dynasty. Notoriously difficult to read, these letters provide a window onto Song society, politics, literature, and religion, and will enhance our understanding of Chinese culture during a period of rapid change and development.

Amber Boydstun, assistant professor of political science, was awarded a $180,000 grant by National Science Foundation. This grant is part of a collaborative NSF award totaling $750,000 between UC Davis, Carnegie Mellon, University of Maryland, and UNC Chapel Hill. The interdisciplinary project is aimed at developing new methods for identifying and measuring how policy issues are defined, or framed, in the news. Although media framing has been shown to influence on public opinion and public policy, existing methods of manual text analysis make it difficult and time consuming to study patterns and effects of media framing on a large scale. This collaboration will produce new algorithms for automatic identification of frames in the news, yielding an interactive interface that allows scholars and citizens to observe patterns in how frames develop over time that cannot be seen with the naked eye.

Suad Joseph, distinguished professor of anthropology and women and gender studies, was awarded a $610,000 grant by Ford Foundation, Doha International Family Institute & British Council. In May 2013 the Ford Foundation awarded Suad Joseph a grant for the Arab Families Working Group, which with UC Davis matching funds is $340,000.  The project, “Training for Engaged Research” will train junior faculty at Egyptian public universities in proposal writing and research design, including funding seed grants.

Suad Joseph, distinguished professor of anthropology and women and gender studies, was awarded $261,050 by the Doha International Family Institute of the Qatar Foundation for a state of the art book on Arab families. Suad Joseph participated in the launching workshop for the Consortium for Gender and Women’s Studies in the Arab Region. Dr. Joseph also participated in the planning meeting for Al-Manhal, the Arab Social Science Portal and won two grants from the British Council to bring two scholars from Europe to UC Davis.

George Barnett, professor of communication, Raissa D’Souza, associate professor of computer science and mechanical and aerospace engineering, Kyle Joyce, assistant professor of political science, and Zeev Maoz, distinguished professor of political science, were awarded a $275,691 grant by the National Science Foundation. This grant will support a new interdisciplinary project that examines the effects of shocks (e.g., terrorist attacks, volcanoes) on the structure of interacting social and physical networks. The researchers are interested in how a shock in one network (e.g., airline) influences other networks (e.g., railway). This project combines mathematical modeling, agent-based modeling, and empirical analysis to assess the conditions under which networks fail due to shocks or are resilient to shocks.

Ming-Cheng Lo, professor of sociology, was awarded a $35,000 grant by UC Pacific Rim Research Program. to explore how governments, NGOs, and survivors of natural disaster can best meet the challenges of post-disaster reconstruction. This project investigates how different types of civic engagement shape the debates and outcomes of community reconstruction. The project will also study how survivors draw upon local cultural repertoires, while also creating new rituals, symbols, or narratives, to make sense of their sufferings and articulate their subjectivities. The research team will conduct comparative ethnographic research and in-depth interviews in Taiwan and Japan, in the areas afflicted by Typhoon Morakot and the 3.11 earthquake-tsunami, respectively.

Teresa Steele, associate professor of anthropology, was awarded a $170,078 grant by National Science Foundation and Leakey Foundation. These grants will fund two seasons (2014 and 2015) of excavation and analysis at Varsche Rivier 003, a new Middle Stone Age site in the Knersvlakte of southern Namaqualand, South Africa. With this project, we will investigate the evolving behavioral complexity of this period through the distinctive stone industries and associated faunal remains preserved. The site is significant because it preserves a sequence of stone industries infrequently found at other sites and it is located in an environmental zone that is distinct from other similarly aged sites.

Robert Bayley, professor of linguistics, has been elected Vice President and President-Elect of the American Dialect Society.  His two-year term as VP and program chair began earlier this month, and he'll assume the presidency in 2015.

Drew Halfmann, associate professor of sociology, won the 2012 Charles Tilly Best Book Award for his book titled Doctors and Demonstrators: How Political Institutions Shape Abortion Law in the United States, Britain and Canada (University of Chicago Press, 2011).

Charles Walker, professor of history and director of the hemispheric institute, won the Jose Maria Arguedas Essay Award for best essay on Peru for "When Fear Rather Than Reason Dominates: Priests Behind the Lines in the Tupac Amaru Rebellion" from the Latin american Studies Association.

Narine Yegiyan, assistant professor of communication, won the 2012 Communication and Social Cognition Distinguished Article Award, which is presented yearly to research exemplifying the best of communication and social cognition research. The award was presented to Yegiyan for her manuscript titled "Gun Focus Effect Revisited: Emotional Tone Modulates Information Processing Strategy".

Daniel Stolzenberg, assistant professor of history, won the UC President's Fellowship in the Humanities for the 2013-14 academic school year. Professor Stolzenberg will use the fellowship to conduct archival research for a book project about the early modern origins of Orientalist scholarship, focusing on Rome as a Mediterranean entrepôt for the circulation of knowledge between Christian and Islamic societies.

Baki Tezcan, associate professor of history, was awarded a $5,000 grant by the Institute of Turkish Studies. This grant, in the application for which was greatly assisted by Adam Siegel from the Shields Library, will be used to enhance the Turkish collection of the Shields Library.
Baki Tezcan, associate professor of history, was awarded a $3,500 grant by the Institute of Turkish Studies. The grant will be used to fund a conference on the history of science in the early modern Islamic world, which is organized by the Middle East/South Asia Studies Program in close cooperation with the Center for Science and Innovation Studies. The aim of the conference is to critically examine the prevailing assumptions about scientific decline in the Islamic world after the classical age.

Mario Biagioli, distinguished professor of science and technology studies, was selected as a co-PI of a $3,100,000 "mega grant" from the Russian Federation to further Science and Technology Studies at European University at St Petersburg. This is the first time that an independent university in Russia gets more than two million dollars for research from a government-run competition. The bulk of the grant will go to the production of a book-length study of contemporary Russian computer scientists, their IP strategies, and the business models they are developing.  It will be conducted by a team of grad students and junior faculty from Russia, the Netherlands, and the UK.  Professor Biagioli will act as the team supervisor, together with co-PI Vincent Lepinay.  They plan to have a large conference at UCD to present the results of the project, in the context of an event comparing silicon valley computer science business and IP models with those of the Russians.

Jeffrey Sherman, professor of psychology, received an Anneliese Maier Research Award from the Humboldt Foundation. The collaboration award is presented annually to outstanding researchers from other countries with the aim of advancing the internationalization of the respective disciplines in Germany. The award amount of 250,000 EUR can be used to fund research cooperation with specialist colleagues in Germany over a period of five years. The researchers are nominated by academic collaboration partners at German universities and research institutions. Funding for the award is provided by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

Dina Okamoto in the Department of Sociology was awarded a $368,596 grant by Russell Sage Foundation for "Immigrant-Native Relations in 21st Century America: Intergroup Contact, Trust, and Civic Engagement." This interdisciplinary project seeks to address ongoing debates about ethnic diversity by investigating where and how contact occurs between immigrant and native groups, and how their contact in turn predicts trust and civic engagement.  The project will include a large-scale survey, in-depth interviews, and field work in two traditionally black-white metropolitan areas—Philadelphia and Atlanta— and examine intergroup contact experiences among immigrant Mexicans and South Asian Indians, and native-born blacks and whites. 

Alison Ledgerwood, assistant professor of psychology, and Amber Boydstun, assistant professor of political science, were awarded a $150,000 grant by the National Science Foundation. This grant will support a new interdisciplinary project that advances an expanded theoretical understanding of framing effects by investigating how encountering different descriptions of the same issue over time can influence people's preferences and decisions. In this project, they examine the hypothesis that loss frames (e.g., describing an economic policy in terms of jobs lost) may be fundamentally stickier than gain frames (describing the same policy in terms of jobs saved) in their ability to shape people's thinking. We examine the basic psychological mechanisms underlying this effect as well as its potentially sizeable implications for political and economic behavior.

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