College of Letters and Science Magazine - Fall 2018


2018 Letters and Science Magazine cover

Dean's Message: Experience outside the classroom opens doors for a lifetime

Elizabeth Spiller, dean of the UC Davis College of Letters and Science

Dean Elizabeth Spiller

UC Davis is known and nationally recognized for its commitment to broadening access to students who have traditionally found higher education out of reach. More than 40 percent of entering freshmen are the first in their families to attend college. As the largest and most diverse college at UC Davis, the College of Letters and Science is at the heart of this effort. 

Money Magazine recently ranked UC Davis in the top 10 on their list of the “most transformative” colleges in the U.S., while The New York Times places us third among colleges, both public and private, that are “doing the most for the American dream.”

These and other recognitions are heartening and remind us that opening the doors to the university is just a first step. One of my goals as dean is to expand opportunities for students to make the most of their degrees. Read the dean's full message.

Special Report: Beyond the Classroom

Alex Greb shares her research with another student

“Research was something I was always interested in when I came to UC Davis. I never imagined how far it would take me.” - Alexandra Greb


Cool Class Volcanology

It’s 3 a.m. and a group of UC Davis students are beginning an hours-long trek across barren lava fields under a sky crowded with stars. By sunrise, they’ll have reached glowing rivers of lava flowing from Kilauea Volcano. The sunrise trek is part of Geology 138, a class that vividly brings to life the basics of volcanology.

Alumni News

London Breed

London Breed, alumna, is first African American mayor of San Francisco.

Student News

Grad Student researcher speaks to man in Peru

The Maoist Shining Path guerrillas of Peru are more than just an academic subject to Renzo Aroni. The history graduate student grew up in the rebels’ mountainous home-base region during their 20-year war against the government.

Philanthropy Matters 

Irene Ezran benefitted from scholarships

Irene Ezran (B.A., international relations and Spanish, ’18) has had a lifelong fascination with international politics. With her sights set on a career as a foreign service officer, and with financial support from the Richard and Carolyn Palmer Scholarship, Ezran took her first summer internship at the United Nations.

Research in Action 

Carlito Lebrilla

Carlito Lebrilla’s pioneering work on how complex sugars affect health has led to collaborations across campus in everything from infant nutrition to cancer detection. His discoveries also played a central role in Evolve Biosystems, a startup company making probiotics to encourage a healthy environment in the infant gut and prevent digestive disorders.

Other News and Departments

UC Davis Global Tea Intitiative

Just three years old, the UC Davis Global Tea Initiative for the Study of Tea Culture and Science (GTI) is already gaining recognition as a major player in the world of tea. Tapping the growing enthusiasm of researchers, tea culture devotees, growers, and industry leaders, GTI is taking the next step toward making UC Davis as much a powerhouse in tea research as it is in wine, beer, and coffee studies.


2018 UC Davis College of Letters and Science Magazine


College of Letters and Science Magazine