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41st Annual Faculty Excellence Awards Honors Outstanding Teaching, Research and Service

As educators, they inspire students to be passionate about learning; as researchers, their advancements have international impact; and as citizens, they promote equitable access to education. Six UC San Diego faculty members will be honored at the 41st annual Chancellor’s Associates Faculty Excellence Awards for going above and beyond to make a positive impact in their teaching, research and service. The recognition ceremony will be held Thursday, April 2 at 5:30 p.m. in Atkinson Hall at the Qualcomm Institute.

“I congratulate this year’s Faculty Excellence Award honorees for their commitment to our campus and service to the community,” said Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “The contributions of these faculty members have led to a better understanding of our world, stronger learning outcomes among students and a more inclusive campus space.”

The annual ceremony celebrates the accomplishments of UC San Diego faculty as a whole, while highlighting the important contributions of the university’s most exemplary teachers and researchers via brief video presentations. Chancellor’s Associates, a program for donors who give an annual leadership gift of $2,500 or more to the university, will recognize the outstanding accomplishments of university faculty members with a citation and $2,500 award.

The recipients of the 2015 Chancellor’s Associates Faculty Excellence Awards include: Melissa Famulari, associate professor of economics, for excellence in undergraduate teaching; Laurence Milstein, professor of electrical and computer engineering, for excellence in graduate teaching; James Hamilton, professor of economics, for excellence in research in humanities and social sciences; Martin Yanofsky, distinguished professor of biology, for excellence in research in science and engineering; Dennis Childs, associate professor of literature, for excellence in community service; and Roger Reynolds, professor of music, for excellence in performing and visual arts.

Award candidates are nominated by their academic peers, with final selection by a committee comprising Chancellor’s Associates donors. Criteria for selection are based on faculty member achievements, reputation, and impact on students and the academic community.

About the 2015 Chancellor’s Associates Faculty Excellence Awards recipients:

Photo: melissa famulari

Melissa Famulari, Associate Professor of Economics
Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching

Melissa Famulari has created a more effective teaching program for undergraduate economics by redesigning the UC San Diego curriculum to implement multiple channels for learning and retention. Her leadership extends throughout the University of California system with the development of interactive technologies for intermediate microeconomics and service to students with disabilities. Famulari’s work has been recognized by the largest Instructional Learning Technology Initiative grant across the University of California.

“Melissa Famulari is a superb educator who has changed the lives of many undergraduates for the better,” said James Rauch, professor and chair of the Department of Economics. “The cornerstone of her teaching is her ability to engage students in class and get them to share her passion for learning and the course material. I cannot think of enough superlatives to match the feelings that we all have for her magnificent work to foster excellence in undergraduate education at UC San Diego.”

Photo: Laurence Milstein

Laurence Milstein, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Excellence in Graduate Teaching

For more than 38 years, Laurence Milstein has been a model for attracting top graduate students to UC San Diego. He engages students using a blackboard and handwritten notes to clarify fundamental theoretical concepts vital to communication and storage systems. Inspired by his knowledge, passion, responsibility and patience, Milstein’s more than 55 doctoral advisees and countless master’s students and postdoctoral trainees have gone on to make significant contributions in academia and industry.

“Professor Milstein is an excellent teacher, a quality that is essential for the perpetuation of the technical education,” said Paul Yu, provost of Revelle College and former chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “His patient, yet detailed, approach in explaining complex concepts in simple terms to students has been the key element in successful classroom teaching for several generations of engineering instructors at UC San Diego.”

Photo: James Hamilton

James Hamilton, Professor of Economics
Excellence in Research in Humanities and Social Sciences

James Hamilton is an internationally recognized, groundbreaking scholar in econometrics and macroeconomics, lauded for the breadth and impact of his contributions in business cycles, monetary policy, oil prices, exchange rates and government debt. Since 1981, he has published 81 influential books and articles. Hamilton’s Times Series Analysis is the textbook for most graduate econometrics courses and practicing economists, and his research has been cited an estimated 40,000 times.

“James Hamilton’s research has had an enormous impact on both academics and policy makers,” said James Rauch, professor and chair of the Department of Economics. “He has contributed a fundamental new econometric method for thinking about business cycles and a host of other macroeconomic and finance phenomena.”

Photo: Martin Yanofsky

Martin Yanofsky ’78, Distinguished Professor of Biology
Excellence in Research in Science and Engineering

Martin Yanofsky is a world leader in developmental and evolutionary plant biology, specifically regulatory genes. His discoveries are featured in basic cell and molecular biology textbooks used by thousands of students, and his 23 patents have profound implications for global agricultural resources. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences, Yanofsky has contributed to the UC San Diego faculty for 24 years.

“Martin Yanofsky’s research has contributed to progress in understanding mechanisms of developmental biology, with application to food crops that can have a sustaining impact on the environment, agricultural practices and improvement of human health,” said Lorraine Pillus, professor and chair of the molecular biology section. “His work has been driven by exceptionally creative and skillful strategies for gene discovery and his recognition of both the evolutionary and practical significance of his findings.”

Photo: Dennis Childs

Dennis Childs, Associate Professor of Literature
Excellence in Community Service

A scholar-activist, Dennis Childs has distinguished himself as a leader in steering UC San Diego to a safer, more inclusive and socially just space. His dedication to creating an environment that supports and values diverse backgrounds has enabled youth from underrepresented communities to obtain a world-class education. By focusing on the school-to-prison pipeline and migrant detention/deportation, Childs has improved community outreach, undergraduate retention and graduate student mentorship.

“Dennis Childs has brought considerable credit to UC San Diego in its mission of promoting diversity, equitable access to education and the educational advancement of students in underrepresented groups,” said Stephanie Jed, professor and chair of the Department of Literature. “His community service is outstanding, and he has done all of this important work while maintaining an extremely active and engaged research agenda and recently completing a significant scholarly book.”

Photo: Roger Reynolds

Roger Reynolds, Professor of Music
Excellence in the Performing and Visual Arts

Roger Reynolds is synonymous with the graduate-level music composition program, which is among the best worldwide. A Pulitzer Prize-winning composer, Reynolds maintains a high level of research on composers, aesthetics and creativity while producing boundary-crossing musical works that embrace new technologies and transform tradition. As a mentor, he has had an impact on students since 1969 and is noted for his ability to challenge students to find their own voice.

“Roger Reynolds is a composer of wonders. He inspires us to be better than we think we can be, to continue to question and challenge our limitations and to create,” said Susan Narucki, professor and associate chair of the Department of Music. “I’ve witnessed his complete dedication to the artistic process, which results in profound engagement and utter joy in collaboration. It is no doubt one of the reasons he is so prolific as a composer and why his music remains vital and true.”

For more information on Chancellor’s Associates, please visit

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