Chancellor's Fellows Honors Go to Four College Faculty

Photo of UC Davis muralist and two students, with mural in background and paints on table in foreground.
Maceo Montoya, shown here during the 2014 painting of a mural in the Yolo County Juvenile Detention Facility, is one of four faculty in the College of Letters and Science to be named 2020 Chancellor's Fellows. (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)

Four associate professors in the College of Letters and Science recently were named Chancellor’s Fellows for excellence in their research, creative work, teaching and service.

The college's newest Chancellor's Fellows include an expert on immigrant family well-being, an artist/author, a political theorist and an archaeologist:

They are among 12 new fellows campuswide.

“When you look at our new fellows’ accomplishments to date, you can’t help but be impressed,” Chancellor Gary S. May said. “Their department chairs see it, their deans see it, their peers see it — and all of us know more great work lies ahead.”

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the program that provides philanthropic support to exceptional early career faculty members. Each Chancellor’s Fellow keeps the title for five years and receives a $25,000 prize for their research or other scholarly work. Funding comes from private donations to the UC Davis Annual Fund and the UC Davis Parents Fund.

Here are the new fellows in the College of Letters and Science:

Erin Hamilton

Department of Sociology

Portrait photo of UC Davis sociologistHamilton studies when, why and how people migrate — and what the consequences are for migrants, their families, and the communities they leave and enter. The co-author of Population Health in America, she is currently working on two areas of research: the well-being of young adult immigrants in California, funded by the National Science Foundation, and child and family migration between Mexico and the U.S., funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and UC MEXUS.

“The type of research conducted by Erin is extremely policy relevant, and … at the boundary between demography, economics, sociology and health care.’ — Giovanni Peri, professor, Department of Economics, and founding director, Center for the Study of 21st-Century Global Migration

Maceo Montoya

Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies

Portrait photo of UC Davis writer and artistScholar, writer, artist — Montoya brings together his skills in all these areas for his research and teaching. He is author of three books of fiction — The Scoundrel and the Optimist, The Deportation of Wopper Barraza, and You Must Fight Them: A Novella and Stories — and two nonfiction books, including Chicano Movement for Beginners, which he also illustrated. Montoya’s artwork has been exhibited around the world and he has led several mural projects throughout the region.

“Professor Montoya has consistently taught a set of courses that engages his range of expertise, from the small, practice-based mural workshop to the Chicano novel to the ever-growing introduction to Chicana/o culture.” Elizabeth Spiller, dean, College of Letters and Science

Shalini Satkunanandan

Department of Political Science

Portrait photo of UC Davis political scientistAs a political theorist, Satkunanandan is gaining a reputation for her new insights into the writings of major thinkers — Nietzsche, Heidegger, Plato, Kant and Weber — and her contributions to contemporary debates about the place of morality in politics. Other scholars in the field describe her work — including the award-winning book Extraordinary Responsibility: Politics Behind the Moral Calculus — as original, “very first rank” and “nothing less than brilliant.”

“She has a unique and powerful voice as a political theorist, and all the more remarkably so for someone at her early career stage.” — Elizabeth Spiller, dean, College of Letters and Science

Nicolas Zwyns

Department of Anthropology

Portrait photo of UC Davis archaeologistThis archaeologist’s work focuses on the “northern route” taken by early modern humans as they started to migrate from Africa into the rest of the world. As evidence of his growing international reputation, Zwyns provided the archaeological context for a complete genome sequence extracted from 45,000-year-old modern human skeletal remains from western Siberia, a study that was published in Nature.

“His research stands out because of his ability to move seamlessly between detailed analyses of stone tools and ‘big picture’ models that integrate archaeological, genetic and fossil evidence.” — Elizabeth Spiller, dean, College of Letters and Science


— Adapted by Kathleen Holder, content strategist in the UC Davis College of Letters and Science, from an article in Dateline UC Davis