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Hellman Fellows Fund Grants
$2.4 Million to Support Research
of UC San Diego Junior Faculty

Gift supports Hellman Fellows program at UC San Diego, a model for other universities

June 7, 2011

By Jade Griffin

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Photo of Warren Hellman
Warren Hellman

The Hellman Fellows Fund has made a grant of $2.4 million to the University of California, San Diego to support junior faculty members in their scholarly work as they strive for tenure with the university.  The gift from the Hellman Fellows Fund provides renewed funding to UC San Diego’s Hellman Fellows program, which was established in 1994 with a $2.5 million gift from Warren and Chris Hellman and their family.

Hellman fellowships enhance junior faculty members’ progress toward tenure by providing funds for research projects and other scholarly efforts that establish credibility for faculty members. 

“The Hellmans’ generosity and confidence in our young faculty over the years has had a profound impact on the scholarship of over 200 promising faculty members,” said Suresh Subramani, executive vice chancellor. “The research resulting from their generosity will continue to contribute to many fields of study and enrich the intellectual fabric of this campus.”

Since its inception at UC San Diego, the program has provided financial support and encouragement to a total of 250 young faculty members who show capacity for great distinction. This number includes 26 new Hellman Fellows for the 2011-12 academic year, which were recently announced.

Since creating the successful program at UC San Diego, the Hellmans have used the university as a model to establish similar programs to support young faculty members at 13 universities, including nine UC campuses.

“Creating the Hellman Fellows program is one of the best things my family has ever done with our giving,” said Warren Hellman.  “At UC San Diego, the Hellman Fellows awards help steward young faculty toward tenure at the university. Over the past 17 years, I’ve had the opportunity to meet with hundreds of these fellows. Learning about their accomplishments and their potential is a very gratifying experience.”

UC San Diego assistant professor of anthropology, Joseph Hankins recently learned that he was selected as a Hellman Fellow for 2011-12, and will receive funding to support his research on “Residues and Contamination: A Social Ecology of Pollution in Japan.” Hankins’ research examines ways in which survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs and their descendants have been marginalized. People hesitate to marry them, live near them or work close to them. His focus on people’s ideas of pollution and contagion will also have application to the current Japanese nuclear disaster. 

“Private funding is becoming increasingly important as public funding retreats,” said Hankins. “As long as the situation is not reversed, private, philanthropic support will be essential to conduct research even at public institutions.”

Support from the Hellman Fellowship will help Hankins travel to Japan for research to finish his first book, “Working Through Skin: Making Leather, Making a Multicultural Japan,” and lay the foundation for a second book. 

“A finished book, plus a solid start on a second book project, will put me in a very strong position to achieve tenure at UC San Diego,” said Hankins. “I am very thankful to the Hellmans for their generosity that will help make this possible.”

The Hellman Fellowships support young faculty in a wide range of areas. The 2011-2012 recipients from Physical Sciences, Biological Sciences and Engineering include: Eric Allen, molecular biology; Pedro Cabrales Arevalo, bioengineering; Renkun Chen, mechanical and aerospace engineering; Alison Coil, physics; Michael Galperin, chemistry and biochemistry; Todd Kemp, mathematics; Jill Leutgeb, neurobiology; Ulrich Muller, chemistry and biochemistry; and Scott Rifkin, ecology, behavior and evolution.

Recipients in Arts and Humanities, Social Sciences and other areas of campus are Prashant Bharadwaj, economics; Gabriela Caballero Hernandez, linguistics; Sarah Creel, cognitive science; Davide Debortoli, economics; Kirstie Dorr, ethnic studies; Joseph Hankins, anthropology; Todd Henry, history; Mark Jacobsen, economics; Tara Knight, theatre and dance; Thomas Medvetz, sociology; Gabriel Mendes, ethnic studies; Douglas Nitz, cognitive science; Ayse Saygin, cognitive science; Pamela Smith, Rady School of Management; Jong-sung You, Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies; Angela Yu, cognitive science; and Junjie Zhang, Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies.

Warren Hellman is co-founder of the private equity firm, Hellman and Friedman in San Francisco. He and his wife, Chris, along with their family have made an impact in a wide range of areas from the arts to education. Warren Hellman also underwrites the annual Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival held in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco each October.  


Media Contact: Jade Griffin, 858-855-5309 or jadegriffin@ucsd.edu

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