Deans’ Awards spotlight excellence


Outstanding performances from faculty, staff and teams at the UC Davis School of Medicine, the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing and UC Davis Health receive high praise and this year’s Deans’ Excellence Awards. Winners are recognized for their contributions as transformative leaders in our community and the extraordinary work they do on behalf of our patients, staff members, faculty, students and the public.

“This year’s recipients embody the spirit of UC Davis Health – exemplary leadership, innovation and collaboration,” said Allison Brashear, School of Medicine dean. “We congratulate and thank all of them for their dedication to excellence.”

The recipients hail from faculty, staff and interdisciplinary teams at UC Davis Health. Thanks to these amazing thinkers and doers, UC Davis Health continues to serve as a destination of choice for world-class health care.

Excellence in Equity, Diversity and Inclusion:

David Cooke – Community Engagement

Piri Ackerman-Barger – Education/Teaching

Jorge Garcia – Education/Teaching

Excellence in Education/Teaching:

Emily Andrada

Niroop Ravula

Excellence in Mentoring:

Clara Paik – Clinical Care

Lavjay Butani – Education/Teaching

Lee-Way Jin – Research

Inspirational Resident Mentorship Award – Ping Song

Inspirational Fellow Mentorship Award – Kearnan Welch

Vice Chancellor’s Staff Mentor Award – Brian Groeschel

Inspirational Faculty Educator Award – Laura Kenkel

Karen Eilers Award for Staff Excellence - Michele Ono

“These awards recognize the amazing pool of talent here at UC Davis Health,” said Stephen Cavanagh, School of Nursing dean. “They are proof that, together, we can far beyond expectations by excelling in individual fields and collectively telling our stories of success.”

The following teams won excellence awards:

Team Award for Excellence in Clinical Care

Emergency Department and Psychiatric Consult Team (team leader Aimee Moulin)

This team includes faculty from the ED, Psychiatry, the Psychiatric Evaluation Service from Social Services, Clinical Case Management, Substance Use Disorder Navigator and the navigator from Hope Cooperative. They are recognized for their efforts addressing gaps in the community in substance use treatment, supportive housing, as well as streamlining clinical processes with medical clearance, and most recently opening a patient-centered treatment area to that focuses on recovery. This team has minimized the trauma associated with a traditional ED setting.

Team members include Emilie Bhe, David Liu, Huma Attari, Lorin Scher, Debra Kahn, Nathan Kuppermann, Tommy Trevino, Sandra Overby, Judith Rodgers, Roger Cook, Maya Malekano, Catherine Swope, Craig Harris, Duane Wright, Pamela Schwartz, Lora Knippers-Davis, Saira Matthiesen, Melissa Morales, Alison Kemps, Christine Waligora, Kellie Curnutt, Stephen Keenan, Cesar Mardones, Regina Blaine, Katherine Roper, Xeng Thao, Susan Harris, Jolene Ford, Andrea Kutler and Karina Mendoza-Gonzalez.

Team Award for Excellence in Education/Teaching

Central Valley Road Trip (team leader Jann Murray-Garcia)

Since 2017, Dr. Jann Murray-Garcia and her Interprofessional Central Valley Road Trip team have taken 170+ faculty members, staff, administrators and students on an unforgettable immersive journey through California’s Central Valley to connect with underrepresented communities. This team effort is unparalleled as this educational experience producing life-long learners who care for and are engaged with the communities they serve.

Team members include Victoria Ngo, Jacqueline Dyson, Marissa Miller, David Hosley, Stacy Munoz

Team Award for Excellence in Research

Surgical Bioengineering Laboratory Research Program Team (team leader Aijun Wang)

This team leads a key research center within the Department of Surgery and makes high impact discoveries through a multidisciplinary, collaborative team-based approach with mentoring opportunities. Research within the lab has generated considerable impact in the biomedical engineering and regenerative medicine fields. In Fall 2018, they were awarded 5.6 million-dollar CIRM CLIN1 grant with the overarching goal to develop a stem cell product for the fetal treatment of spina bifida. The research focused on isolating stem cells from human placental tissue, then utilizing those stem cells to treat birth defects such as spina bifida and hemophilia.

Team members include International Scholars:  Chuanchao He, Siqi He, Xinke Zhang, Hongyuan Chen Graduate Students: Kaitlin Clark, Lalithasri Ramasubramanian, Leora Goldbloom-Helzner Research Fellows: Jordan Jackson, Sarah Stokes, Christina Theodorou, Kaeli Yamashiro Postdoctoral Scholars: Dake Hao, Kewa Gao Staff: Alicia Hyllen, Alexandra Iavorovschi, Priya Kumar, Zach Paxton, Ivonne Palma, Christopher Pivetti, Lizette Reynaga, Robert Rigor, Olivia Vukcevich CIRM Bridge Students: Mounika Bhaskara and Hila Shimshi Swindell.

Team Award for Excellence in Community Engagement

Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (CEDD) Team (team leader Robin Hansen)

CEDD provides a link between UC Davis and the community to improve the quality of life for individuals with developmental disabilities. Projects that earned them this recognition this year include Sankofa, a parent support group for African American families that brings information and resources out to people in the community. Another program Vamos a Platicar (Let’s Talk) supports Spanish-speaking parents of children with autism and other neurodevelopmental disorder through a six-week series that provides information about diagnosis and services and allows parents to share their experiences with the community. Third, Apoyo de Padres para Padres (Parents Supporting Parents) is an ongoing parent support group that is conducted entirely in Spanish. It is an opportunity for parents of children with disabilities to share their thoughts and feelings in a supportive and confidential environment.

Team members include Janice Enriquez, Lori Llewelyn, Maribel Hernandez, Patrick Hugunin, Diane Larzelere, Robert Levy, Cathy Mikitka, Elizabeth Morgan, Angie Rivera, Erin Roseborough, Steve Ruder, Patty Schetter and Robin Stewart.

Team Award for Excellence in Community Engagement

Center for a Diverse Healthcare Workforce Team (team leader Tonya Fancher)

The Center for a Diverse Healthcare Workforce team uses research, best practices and dissemination to share innovative, systemic approaches to diversifying the health care workforce. They have successfully created structured spaces to allow partners to learn from one another and discover, as a collective, how they can change the health care landscape. The center engages stakeholders in a yearlong partnership to focus on a topic and problem-solving strategies relative to workforce diversity.

Team members include Mallory Johnson, Kupiri Ackerman-Barger, Charlene Green, Arra Jane Concepcion, Maya London and Nuhira Ahmed Masthan.

Team Award for Inclusion Excellence in Education/Teaching

SEED: Supporting Educational Excellence in Diversity Team (team leader Puja Chadha-Hooks)

The SEED team developed content that employs the flipped classroom model to bring educators into a safe domain to develop and practice skills that are critical across the health system domains from the classroom to the clinic. SEED provides UC Davis Health educators with badly needed tools to engage with and be effective in an increasingly diverse environment. The sparkle of the program is its commitment to inclusive practice to recognize and solve problems and manage conflict.

Team members include Erica Thomas, Hendry Ton, Rebecca Jorrin, Michael Donath, Kevin Nguyen, Esther Kang, Hana Anderson, Alejandra Beristain-Barajas, Joanna Arnold, Swati Rao, Kupiri Ackerman-Barger, Yoongi Tom, Shea A Hazarian, Jeffrey Duong and Ruthie Gordon.

“Thanks to these amazing thinkers and doers, UC Davis Health continues to serve as a destination of choice for world-class health care,” said UC Davis Health CEO David Lubarsky. “We celebrate these health care heroes with deep gratitude and admiration.”

Congratulations to all the winners!

UC Davis Health is improving lives and transforming health care by providing excellent patient care, conducting groundbreaking research, fostering innovative, interprofessional education, and creating dynamic, productive partnerships with the community. For more information, visit