Alumni News

In Memoriam: Alumnus Scott Lay

Thousands of people kept up with California political news by reading The Nooner, a daily nonpartisan email newsletter produced by UC Davis alumnus Scott Lay. This week, readers learned from The Nooner that Lay had died at age 48.

‘A Monumental Step’ in Reclaiming a California Indigenous Language

For his graduate research comparing languages around the world, Lewis Lawyer couldn’t find a single published reference book on Patwin, an endangered language once spoken in hundreds of Northern California communities, including what is now Davis. So, on his way to completing his UC Davis doctorate, Lawyer wrote one. With the release of "A Grammar of Patwin," the findings of his dissertation are now available to scholars as well as to Patwin/Wintun people working to revitalize their ancestral language.

Alumni Honor Father With Gift to Department of Chemistry

When it came to commemorating their father’s life, two alumni and another sibling followed his lifelong example by giving back. Emery Pharma founder Ron Najafi (Ph.D., chemistry, ’89), ophthalmologist Kathryn (Katy) Najafi-Tagol (B.S., chemistry, ’90), both pictured above, and brother Alex established the Dr. Mohsen Najafi Pharmaceutical Chemistry Research Fund in the UC Davis Department of Chemistry.  

Alumnus Part of Nobel Peace Prize-Winning Organization

Humanitarian work has taken Jon Brause (B.A., international relations, ’83) all over the world — to North Korea, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, the Philippines and more. As director of the Washington Liaison Office at the United Nations World Food Programme, he is immersed in global crises the organization was created to address. That work was rewarded in December, when the WFP won the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize.

‘Aggie for Life’ Bill Hollingshead Will Be Missed

A self-described “Aggie for life,” alumnus Bill Hollingshead (B.A., political science, ’60) died in early February. Hollingshead and his wife, Dianne, were longtime donors to UC Davis and devoted patrons of the Department of Music. He was well-known for his enthusiastic love of his alma mater. In 2012, he received the Aggie Service Award from the Cal Aggie Alumni Association, which honors alumni who demonstrate exemplary Aggie pride and commitment of time, energy, volunteerism and leadership to UC Davis.

Young Alumna Awarded Prestigious US State Department Fellowship

Recent graduate Nina Forest is unsure where in the world her UC Davis bachelor’s degree in international relations will take her. But after receiving a prestigious national scholarship, she knows how she’ll get to professional destinations around the globe — via a career in the U.S. Foreign Service.

Alumna Earns Prestigious Marshall Scholarship

A recent UC Davis College of Letters and Science graduate has been awarded a prestigious Marshall Scholarship, a decades-old British government program that pays for American students to pursue advanced degrees at British universities. Valencia Scott (B.A., anthropology and international relations, ’20) will pursue a doctorate in criminology at the University of Oxford, where she will focus her studies on the criminalization of Black immigrants. She is planning a career in international human rights law.

Three Newly Elected California Leaders Reflect College’s Civic Impact

A student and two alumni of the UC Davis College of Letters and Science assume new positions as elected public officials this month — science and technology studies major Hipolito Angel Cerros on the city council in the Tulare County community of Lindsay and political science graduates Alex Lee and David Cortese in the California Legislature.

Alumna Anthropologist and Media Scholar Receives MacArthur ‘Genius’ Grant

UC Davis alumna Mary L. Gray, an anthropologist and media scholar who investigates how labor, identity and human rights are transformed by the digital economy, has been named a 2020 MacArthur Fellow. Gray (B.A., anthropology and Native American studies, ’92) is one of 21 fellows announced Oct. 6 by the MacArthur Foundation.

After Beating Leukemia, Aggie Will Ellis Finds a Cause in Helping Cancer Patients

After two decades of volunteer work with cancer charities, Will Ellis (B.A., communication and Italian, ’04) wasn’t about to let the cascading crises of 2020 derail him. Despite pandemic restrictions on in-person events, Ellis raised more than $103,000 in 10 weeks for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) Greater Bay Area Chapter to win its “Man of the Year” title.

Alumni and Friends Honored With UC Davis Alumni Awards

Three College of Letters and Science alumni and two supporters will receive UC Davis Alumni Awards. They are among eight alumni and friends being honored by the Cal Aggie Alumni Association (CAAA) for their contributions in many fields and to the university. The awards will be formally presented at the Alumni Awards Gala on Feb. 7, 2020.

Seven College Alumni Offered Fulbright Awards

Thirteen UC Davis students and alumni have been awarded 2018–19 Fulbright fellowships — the largest group of Aggies ever awarded. Seven of them are recent graduates of the College of Letters and Science.