12 Hellman Scholars named | U.C. Davis

Adrienne Nishina was an assistant professor when she received a Hellman Fellowship in 2010 in support of her research project titled “Exposure to Ethnic Diversity in High School: Compelling Developmental Interests?

Today, as a full professor of human and community development in the Department of Human Ecology, she remains grateful for her Hellman funding. Through this, she said, “I was able to play with high-risk, high-reward ideas and pilot them in order to refine my study design, improve my research protocol, and show proof of concept to funding agencies.”

This month, UC Davis named its 15th annual class of Hellman Fellows, 12 other early-career faculty members who, like Nishina, aim to advance ttheir prospects for external funding. Grants for 2022 scholars, all assistant professors, range from $15,500 to $36,000, for a total of $300,000.

The Hellman Fellows class of 2022, left to right: top row – Rachel Bernhard, Erin Gray, Maciel Hernández, Haven Kiers, Wang Liao and Emily Meineke. Bottom row — José Juan Pérez Meléndez, Fatima Mojaddedi, Emily Morgan, Michael Singh, Hannah Tierney and Ben Weber.

Here are the new members of the UC Davis Society of Hellman Fellows and their research projects:

  • Rachel Bernard, Department of Political Science, College of Letters and Science — “Discrimination Based on Appearance in Politics”
  • Erin Grey, Department of English, College of Letters and Science — “In sight: The founding violence of the law and the moving image of lynching »
  • Maciel Hernandez, Department of Human Ecology, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences — “Promoting Resilience in Middle School Mental Health”
  • Haven Kiers, Landscape Architecture and Environmental Design, Department of Human Ecology, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences“The Seed Pile Project: Identifying viable native species for urban seed dispersal through community science”
  • Wang Liao, Department of Communication, College of Letters and Science — “Artificial intelligence stereotypes and potentials for social influence”
  • Emily Meineke, Department of Entomology and Nematology, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences – “Assessment of Preservation of Chemical Compounds in Pressed Plants”
  • Jose Juan Perez Melendez, Department of History, College of Letters and Science — “Monarchies in the Americas: Haiti, Mexico, Brazil, and the Struggle for Legitimacy in the 19th Century”
  • Fatima Mojadedi, Department of Anthropology, College of Letters and Science – “Shelter for the Night: Reason and Reckoning in Afghanistan”
  • Emily Morgan, Department of Linguistics, College of Letters and Sciences — “Modeling how language learning by individuals leads to the evolution of language over time”
  • Michael Singh, Department of Chicano and Chicano Studies, College of Letters and Science – “Exploring Gender and Sexuality with Latino Male Teachers”
  • Hannah Tierney, Department of Philosophy, College of Letters and Sciences — “Experimental Philosophy Laboratory”
  • Ben Weber, Department of African American and African Studies, College of Letters and Science – “The Global Reach of Mass Incarceration”

The conundrum of early career

“The Hellman Fellowships help our faculty members get started in earnest on their research programs,” said Phil Kass, vice provost for academic affairs, who administers the fellowships. “We are fortunate to be able to provide this assistance as a sign of support for them as members of our University community.”


The Hellman Fellows program dates back to 1995 when San Francisco philanthropists Warren and Chris Hellman created the fellowship program in partnership with their daughter Frances Hellman, then recently a tenured faculty member at UC San Diego. She then moved to UC Berkeley, where she is the former Chair of Physics and Dean of the Division of Mathematical and Physical Sciences.

She had informed her parents of the conundrum of young professors who exhausted their start-up funds after two or three years, then had difficulty obtaining external support before their research was viable.

This is how the Hellman family began awarding their scholarships, first at UC San Diego and UC Berkeley and eventually at all UC campuses. The Hellman Fellowships arrived at UC Davis in 2008 and, counting that year’s recipients, have now been presented to 190 early-career faculty members.

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

The Hellmans also wanted their endowments to leverage new contributions to each campus’ Society of Hellman Fellows. For more information about donating to the UC Davis Society, contact Jennifer Prahl, Director of Foundation Engagement, Office of Development and relations with alumni:

  • E-mail
  • Call – 530-752-1282