Portrait photos of nine assistant professors — five women and four men.
The 2022 class of Hellman Fellows, from left: Top row — Rachel Bernhard, Erin Gray, Wang Liao, José Juan Pérez Meléndez and Fatima Mojaddedi. Bottom row — Emily Morgan, Michael Singh, Hannah Tierney and Ben Weber. (Courtesy photos)

9 College Faculty Join Society of Hellman Fellows

Media Resources

Nine early-career faculty in the College of Letters and Science were recently named to UC Davis’ 15th annual class of Hellman Fellows.

They are among 12 faculty campuswide to receive Hellman Fellowships. Grants to the 2022 fellows, all of them assistant professors, range from $15,500 to $36,000, for a total of $300,000.

Here are the newest College of Letters and Science members of the UC Davis Society of Hellman Fellows and their research projects:

  • Rachel BernhardDepartment of Political Science 
    "Appearance-Based Discrimination in Politics”
  • Erin GrayDepartment of English 
    “In the Offing: Law-Founding Violence and the Moving Image of Lynching”
  • Wang LiaoDepartment of Communication
    “Artificial Intelligence Stereotypes and Social Influence Potentials”
  • José Juan Pérez MeléndezDepartment of History
    “Monarchies in the Americas: Haiti, Mexico, Brazil and the Struggle for Legitimacy in the 19th Century”
  • Fatima MojaddediDepartment of Anthropology 
    "Shelter for the Night: Reason and Reckoning in Afghanistan”
  • Emily MorganDepartment of Linguistics  
    “Modeling How Language Learning by Individuals Leads to Language Evolution Over Time”
  • Michael SinghDepartment of Chicano and Chicano Studies 
    “Exploring Gender and Sexuality With Latino Male Teachers” 
  • Hannah TierneyDepartment of Philosophy 
    “Experimental Philosophy Lab”
  • Ben WeberDepartment of African American and African Studies 
    “The Global Reach of Mass Incarceration”

Early-career conundrum

“Hellman Fellowships help our faculty members begin their research programs in earnest,” said Phil Kass, vice provost of Academic Affairs, which administers the awards. “We are fortunate to be able to provide this assistance.”

The fellows program was founded in 1995 when San Francisco philanthropists Warren and Chris Hellman partnered with their daughter Frances Hellman, at the time a recently tenured member of the UC San Diego faculty. Frances subsequently moved to UC Berkeley, where she served as the chair of physics and dean of the Division of Mathematical and Physical Sciences.

The younger Hellman advised her parents of the conundrum of young faculty members exhausting their start-up funds after two to three years, then having difficulty securing external support before their research was viable.  

And so the Hellman family began awarding their fellowships, first at UC San Diego and UC Berkeley and eventually to all of the UC campuses. Hellman Fellowships arrived at UC Davis in 2008, and, counting this year’s awardees, have now been presented to 190 early-career faculty members.

Two years ago the Hellman family ended its annual fellowship funding, instead providing endowments to the campuses — $6 million for UC Davis — and stipulating that each campus establish a Society of Hellman Fellows to award fellowships in perpetuity. 

The Hellmans also intended their endowments to serve as leverage for further contributions to each campus’s Society of Hellman Fellows. For more information on donating to the UC Davis society, contact Jennifer Prahl, director of foundation engagement, Office of Development and Alumni Relations:

Hellman history

Adapted from a Dateline UC Davis article.


Primary Category

Secondary Categories

Society and Culture