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Faculty Endowed Chairs

Started in 1983 by former Chancellor Richard C. Atkinson, nine endowed faculty chairs have been established by past gifts from Chancellor’s Associates. According to Chancellor Khosla, “Endowed chairs help us to recruit and retain exceptional faculty in a variety of fields and bridge funding gaps in state support. They are vital to our teaching and research mission.”

Chancellor’s Associates Endowed Chairs have been used to fund faculty research, teaching, and scholarly activities throughout campus, from cognitive science and economics to physics and molecular biology.

Learn more about our Chancellor’s Associates Endowed Chairs and read our exclusive Q&A interviews below to get the inside scoop.

 

Welcome to our newest Chancellor’s Associates Endowed Chair: Margaret Roberts

M.-Roberts-Headshot.jpgChancellor’s Associates Chair I is held by Margaret Roberts, an associate professor in the department of political science and co-director of the China Data Lab at the 21st Century China Center. Her research focuses on the intersection of political methodology and the politics of information, specifically methods of automated content analysis and the politics of censorship and propaganda in China.

Margaret received a PhD in government from Harvard University, and a MS in statistics and a BA in international relations and economics from Stanford University. Her book, Censored: Distraction and Diversion Inside China's Great Firewall, published by Princeton University Press in 2018, was listed as one of the Foreign Affairs Best Books of 2018, was honored with the Goldsmith Book Award, and has been awarded the Best Book Award in the Human Rights Section and Information Technology and Politics Section of the American Political Science Association.

Margaret’s interest in China was sparked by a college visit in which she ended up stranded alone at the airport. There, she met a non-English speaking Chinese couple who had also missed their flight and didn’t know what to do. That encounter, and communicating through a dictionary, triggered Margaret to take Mandarin classes her freshman year and her curiosity about China spiraled from there.

What does recently being appointed Chancellor’s Associates Endowed Chair mean to you?

“Financially, it means having the flexibility to explore. I can use these funds to explore new areas of research that are potentially high-risk or research projects that we don’t have enough background data to get funding for, which creates all these creative possibilities. It also means opportunities to fund students who are working on exciting things and make it so they have more time and resources for their research. 

Symbolically, I am very honored to be appointed to the Chancellor’s Associates Endowed Chair position that was held by the late Jeff Elman, a distinguished professor of cognitive science. He was a mentor to me and it is inspiring to hold his chair position now.”

Read our Q&A below with Margaret to get an inside scoop on one of UC San Diego’s faculty members that is breaking the mold.

Chancellor’s Associates Chair I: Margaret Roberts

1. Where is your favorite spot on campus?
It’s hard to pick just one. When I need to think about a problem, I run on the eucalyptus running trail, which usually solves it. My second favorite spot is Art of Espresso. It is a really nice coffee shop where you can sit underneath the trees.

2. If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be? 
I really like tomatoes, specifically heirloom tomatoes. I like them with a little vinegar like a caprese salad, but without the cheese. I eat them all the time.

3. What is the most interesting thing about you that we wouldn’t learn from your resume alone or that most people don’t know about you? 
One thing that I was really into for a long time was conflict resolution. When I was in middle school, they had a conflict resolution training and I took it. Then throughout high school and college, I did a lot of community resolution – where you sit down as a mediator between a parent and a teen, or a victim and an offender, or just two people in conflict for whatever reason. You have a process that you go through to help people come to their own resolution. It taught me all these skills, especially listening. It is very different from what I do now, but I spent an enormous amount of time on it and it is one of the perks of my education that I value the most because I use it all the time.

My experience with conflict resolution is also what led me to start thinking about politics. I was interested in how political conflicts are resolved.

4. What was your dream job growing up?
For a long time, I just wanted to teach and do research. I tried a bunch of different things – working in civil society, working as a pollster, but it was obvious that teaching was a good fit for me. I can think about my own questions and I can decide which questions are important and go after those questions.

5. What is your fondest memory from college? 
My favorite memories from college are from the weekends. My three siblings went to college around the same time that I did. We were fortunate to all be in the Bay Area together. We grew up spending a lot of time outside – backpacking, camping, rafting. We would go away on weekend adventures, which was really fun.

I had an amazing college experience, I feel very lucky. I met my husband in college and I still keep in touch with my closest college friends to this day.

6. Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give your 18-year-old self?
When I was 18, I felt like anything where I wouldn’t be good at it that I shouldn’t do it. It took me a while to change that perspective and mindset. Now I really enjoy stepping into new areas and I enjoy the learning curve a lot. I would have told my 18-year-old self “just do what you want to do, explore all of the things!”

With research, you are trying to do something new. That means you are going to fail, you have to for a few times before you finally get it or before you have that little breakthrough. Those breakthroughs are so exciting that the failing is worth it.

7. Who has made the biggest impact on your life? Why? 
My parents, they were always taking us places and pushing us to explore the world. They would take us traveling so that we could try different types of experiences and interact with people who live in very different ways. They gave me that attitude to explore, which eventually led me to China.

8. If you could have the answer to any question, what would that question be? 
This is more a superpower than an answer to a question, but I would like to get inside someone else’s brain. To be able to actually see how even one other person completely sees the world. I think that would answer so many questions that I have – like why communications break down, why people have very different opinions even though they see the same facts. It would answer a lot of questions about how identity shapes people’s beliefs and people’s opinions.

9. Tell us something about you that is nontraditional.
I eat cereal for dessert. My favorite is Honey Nut Cheerios with dried oatmeal on top and milk. I often have a bowl of cereal before I go to bed, my dad did this too.

10. How do you want to be remembered?
What I aspire to in doing this type of work is trying to seek out truth. That is the goal of research to find some truth and communicate it. Yet, there are so many impediments to doing that. I really believe in freedom of information and I believe in free communication. I hope that my work is seen as helping advocate for that by shedding light on it.

Chancellor’s Associates Chair II: Cristina Della Coletta

cristina-della-coletta.jpgSince Cristina Della Coletta was appointed dean of the UC San Diego Division of Arts and Humanities in 2014, the recognition, prestige and visibility of the entire division has soared. A dedicated advocate of the principles of equity, diversity and inclusion, Dean Della Coletta spearheaded the creation of the Institute of Arts and Humanities, the Institute for Practical Ethics, and the Arts and Community Engagement initiative, with an overall pledge to educate the whole individual: “We do not merely generate knowledge, but create a culture devoted to the application of knowledge for the common good,” she said.

1. Where is your favorite spot on campus?
The library.

2. If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Pizza margherita.

3. What is the most interesting thing about you that we wouldn’t learn from your resume alone (or that most people don’t know)?
I was an equestrian. I had a white horse, and even his name was fairy tale-like: Folletto del Colle Rosso.

4. What was your dream job growing up?
Teacher.

5. What is your fondest memory from college?
The wonder of my first day as an exchange student at UCLA.

6. Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give your 18-year-old self?
Be patient.

7. Who has made the biggest impact on your life? Why?
My husband. He sees things differently from me and he is funny.

8. If you could have the answer to any question, what would that question be?
What will our planet be like in year 3000?

9. Tell us something about you that’s nontraditional.
My research is nontraditional. It combines the humanities and the arts with architecture and engineering, in partnership with UC San Diego’s Cultural Heritage Engineering Initiative and the Polytechnic University of Turin. My collaborators and I are working to create a digital project that includes a 3D reconstruction of the Turin 1911 World’s Fair. The Chancellor’s Associates Endowed Chair is allowing me to expand beyond traditional disciplines and connect the arts and humanities with technology.

10. How do you want to be remembered?
As a champion of equity, diversity, and inclusion.

Chancellor’s Associates Chair III: Susan Golden

Susan GoldenSusan Golden joined the Division of Biological Sciences at UC San Diego in 2008. As director of the Center for Circadian Biology, Susan also created the BioClock Studio, an innovative interdisciplinary course where undergraduates work collaboratively to develop scientific and communication skills while producing creative educational materials on circadian biology. She is passionate about writing and making research understandable, especially to undergraduates and the public. Susan’s research focuses on the cyanobacteria, S. elongatus, which uses a circadian clock to control physiological events and gene expression. She currently is collaborating with her husband, fellow professor, James Golden, on research using the metabolic engineering of cyanobacteria to produce biofuels.

1. Where is your favorite spot on campus?
The terraced area between the Snake Path and Warren Mall. My husband and I like to eat our lunch there and watch the people, dogs, birds, and lizards going about their lives.

2. If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
It’s a tie between Thai green curry and Lobster, with a piece of dark chocolate for dessert.

3. What is the most interesting thing about you that we wouldn’t learn from your resume alone (or that most people don’t know)?
I played the bassoon for 7 years when I was a teenager

4. What was your dream job growing up?
I always expected to be a writer, and very briefly majored in journalism before switching to Biology, but I really didn’t have a single path in mind.

5. What is your fondest memory from college?
My ecology class took a field trip to the Mississippi gulf coast. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

6. Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give your 18-year-old self?
Learn to do what you choose to do, and not what others expect you to do.

7. Who has made the biggest impact on your life? Why?
My mother taught me to love reading and learning, and my husband of 40 years has been a partner in both my professional and personal life. I have to credit both of them at the top of the list.

8. If you could have the answer to any question, what would that question be?
Can humanity learn to live rationally, compassionately, and sustainably?

9. Tell us something about you that’s nontraditional.
I’ve been scuba diving in dozens of places around the globe.

10. How do you want to be remembered?
As having helped others achieve their goals.

Chancellor’s Associates Chair IV: Steven Boggs

dean-boggs.jpgSteven Boggs joined UC San Diego as dean in 2017, from UC Berkeley. An explorer of the universe and accomplished astrophysicist, Steven’s research is in experimental high energy astrophysics, developing and flying X-ray, gamma-ray, and cosmic-ray instruments to study supernova. As dean, Steven has championed support for students outside the classroom, fostering greater connections for students with alumni, industry partners, faculty, and donors. Under his leadership, the Division of Physical Sciences recently launched its Student Success Center earlier this year, to provide students professional development, support, and advice tailored to planning for their careers in science.

1. Where is your favorite spot on campus?
Library Walk, there is so much energy, it makes me long to be a student again.

2. If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Chocolate croissants and espresso. Don’t judge!

3. What is the most interesting thing about you that we wouldn’t learn from your resume alone (or that most people don’t know)?
I was the bassist in a punk rock band in my 20s. Glad astrophysics worked out.

4. What was your dream job growing up?
Astronaut, which got me hooked on physics and astronomy.

5. What is your fondest memory from college?
My summer research projects. So much to explore!

6. Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give your 18-year-old self?
Always make time to help others along the way.

7. Who has made the biggest impact on your life? Why?
Two of my high school math teachers in rural Kentucky, who happened to be brothers. They created new math classes to keep me challenged and are largely responsible for preparing me for college. I will always be grateful for their extraordinary efforts.

8. If you could have the answer to any question, what would that question be?
What’s the right question to ask?

9. Tell us something about you that is nontraditional.
Where to start…

10. How do you want to be remembered?
For discovering something new about this amazing universe, and enabling the next generation to discover even more.

Chancellor’s Associates Chair V: Marta Kutas

Susan Golden

Marta Kutas came to UC San Diego as a postdoctoral research neuroscientist in 1978, later joining in its infancy the Department of Cognitive Science, which was one of the first in the world. As director of the Center for Research in Language, she runs the Kutas Cognitive Electrophysiology Lab, which studies how the mind-brain processes language and meaning. She conducted some of the first neurolinguistics studies resulting in the  discovery of the N400 brain wave with Steven Hillyard. An immigrant from Hungary who fled the Hungarian Revolution, Marta sees the Chancellor’s Associates Endowed Chair V as an opportunity to be a role model, especially for women, so that they can see that it’s possible for them to do it too.

1. Where is your favorite spot on campus?
The talking tree among the trees behind the student health center.  The tree and its environs are beautiful. The idea is creative.  Some of the words (e.g. Obama) are highly inspirational and make me feel hopeful

2. If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Depends on whether I want a short, medium, or long life (longest possible).  What is more important: taste, health/nutritional value, texture? How long would the meal last? Who is making the meal? Am I eating alone or with others? How is it being paid for?

This seems like a deceptively easy question, and yet if you take it seriously then all the factors (and more) would interact.

An automatic answer: lecho (hungarian pepper-tomato stew) with scrambled in eggs, fresh bread with hard crust, watermelon

3. What is the most interesting thing about you that we wouldn’t learn from your resume alone (or that most people don’t know)?
I started writing poetry as a postdoctoral fellow (in a car on the way to Joshua Tree to stave off boredom) and have written many poems since on napkins, table cloths, tablets, magazine pages, etc. about everything – life, love, friendship, politics, social issues, science, and people.  Besides the ones I’ve read aloud, are ones embedded in hanging art pieces, or digitally recorded and archived on the internet.  Some are short and some are long. Mostly they rhyme.  I hope to publish a book of them (or some) some day.

4. What was your dream job growing up?
Never had a dream job. In all honesty I had little idea what jobs were available.  Among the jobs that I was aware of (doctor, lawyer, business person, factory worker, driver, service worker, engineer, teacher, salesperson, actor, musician, artist, journalist), my parents wanted me to be a medical doctor. I would have loved to be an artist of some sort but I did not have the talent/skills and was very worried about not having a job with fiscal security in retirement.

5. What is your fondest memory from college?
I made money by working in the dorm kitchens at meal time. My fondest memory is of Sunday mornings laughing and joking with the kitchen crew as we prepped breakfast and brunch standing over a vat of cracked eggs, cracking 2-3 eggs per hand into what looked like an ocean, or over a very hot, oily, steaming flat stove, sipping on tomato juice.

6. Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give your 18-year-old self?
Exercise religiously. Live intentionally. Don’t be hard on yourself. Take it as it comes.

7. Who has made the biggest impact on your life? Why?
My parents. They taught me to be self-reliant and persistent, that hard work pays off, and to never give up.

8. If you could have the answer to any question, what would that question be?
What don’t we (as a people) know?  Are there forces, physical laws that will give us a different perspective on how we perceive life once we discover them?

9. Tell us something about you that’s nontraditional.
I am nontraditional in most respects; it’s more difficult to come up with a way in which I am traditional.

10. How do you want to be remembered?
I want to be remembered as an honest person with integrity who tried their best who could be counted on as needed

Chancellor’s Associates Chair VI: Mark H. Thiemens

MarkThiemens.jpg

From Mount Everest to the South Pole, Mark Thiemens’ research has taken him around the world since he joined UC San Diego in 1980. A prolific scientist, his research focuses on analyzing isotopic compositions, particularly in meteorites, as well as air and ice samples from across the globe. The scope of his research covers issues pertaining to climate change, paleoatmospheres, and the origin of life in the solar system. Mark enjoys mentoring students and often welcomes high school students from under-represented schools in the San Diego area to tour his lab.

1. Where is your favorite spot on campus? 
I really like the Garden above the Milton Book statue that is embedded along the snake path to the library. The entire setting there is so tranquil and well done.

2. If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Basically its split between Fesanjan (a Persian dish best made by my wife) and any spicy Thai or Vietnamese dish, especially seafood based.

3. What is the most interesting thing about you that we wouldn’t learn from your resume alone (or that most people don’t know)?
I have done field sampling for climate work at the South pole, Greenland summit, Tibetan glaciers, and Mt Everest; all are published. I have an asteroid named for me (7004 markthiemens) by an international astronomical society for my work on the origin of the solar system using meteorites and Apollo moon rocks. For my atmospheric work I have worked in the Ecuadorian Rain forests, across China, and at volcanic lakes in the northeast area between Mongolia, Russia and North Korea. Our sampling work has involved building and flying rockets from White Sands missile range and high altitude balloons and shipboard collections in the Indian Ocean.

4. What was your dream job growing up?
To become a scientist that would allowd me to build instruments and to work outside; especially on space or climate.

5. What is your fondest memory from college?
My class last at the University of Miami. I had finished my physics chemistry and mathematics courses and needed another science elective and I took a geology course. The Professor was Cesare Emiliani who was PhD student of Harold Urey (his second PhD) at the University of Chicago. He was one of the discoverers of how we can use isotopes to measure temperature over long time periods. To this day, this is the only way to get temperatures of the past. Without this work, there would be no way to discuss climate change because you would have no record of temperature change except measured by people, which is a shorter term and limited record. This goes from present to hundreds of million years ago. If you look at the bronze plaque on Urey Hall, the first building at UCSD, there is a squiggly line. This is the temperature change of the ocean using oxygen isotopes and he is one of the people at Chicago who developed that technique in the early 1950s.  The temperature though was in the oceans deep past. He was an inspirational lecturer and his class set me in my direction.  I was later a post doc at the University of Chicago and it was in Urey’s old lab, still used after he left to come to UCSD and my office was Emiliani’s old office.

6. Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give your 18-year-old self?
Try hard to find a job that didn’t involve breaking up old roads or digging ditches in swamplands of south east Virginia.

7. Who has made the biggest impact on your life? Why?
Emiliani as I said and my wife, who has been involved with everything I did at UCSD, from one of our first dates at UCSD, through our kids birth at UCSD til today. She has also been important in extending who we knew and, for example we were great friends with Frieda Urey and family as well as Hans and Ruth Suess.

8. If you could have the  answer to any question, what would that question be?
What is the Universe actually made of?

9. Tell us something about you that’s nontraditional.
See answer 3. Basically everything.

10. How do you want to be remembered?
For the science that I did across the disciplines and that I was able to help people in their careers.

Chancellor’s Associates Chair VII: Stephen M. Hedrick

shedrick-002.jpgDr. Stephen Hedrick joined UC San Diego in 1983 and has been in integral part of the Division of Biological Sciences ever since. He served as Chair of Biology in 1996-1998 and Chair of Molecular Biology in 2007-2012. Stephen’s research focuses on T cell antigens and proposes novel genetic approaches to reprogramming T cells for use in cancer immunotherapy. A California native, Stephen enjoys spending time in the outdoors and is an avid cyclist.

1. Where is your favorite spot on campus?
I enjoy parking down in the Osler Parking structure, and then walking up through the old Revelle campus past Che Café, the “Stonehenge” sculpture, the mid-century Galbraith Hall and the PSA fountain. I do that almost every day. The scale of the buildings and the plaza combine with the quiet to help me focus on important aspects of life.

2. If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
I suppose it would include essential food groups. It would be vegetable-based, have multiple textures and colors, and it would be savory, but not too spicy. It would be like a bowl from Café Gratitude. But make no mistake, eating that would get really old.

3. What is the most interesting thing about you that we wouldn’t learn from your resume alone or that most people don’t know?
My interests are varied to the point of cognitive dissonance. I love reading and thinking about scientific concepts, be they Darwinian evolution or human cognition, and this is true whether or not I have any expertise in the subject. I love nature: hiking, skiing, running, cycling. But I’m also a motor-head. I own three sports cars: two Porsches and an antique Corvette. I alternate between reading Nature and BringaTrailer.com.

4. What was your dream job growing up?
I was firmly of the Sputnik generation, so it was assumed I would go into science. But in high school, I wanted to be a lawyer and argue about large legal issues. Good thing I forgot about this goal, because I would have made a terrible lawyer.

5. What is your fondest memory from college?
Hmmm. Probably not for public consumption.

6. Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give your 18-year-old self?
Either grow up quickly or take some time to mature by working in some exotic place for a couple of years. Either way, once I attended college, I would advise myself to take advantage of the academic side of college, earn high grades, and actively work to find an occupation that would be rewarding. Through dumb luck, opportunity, and the help of key individuals, I managed to find a place in the world that has given me great satisfaction.

7. Who has made the biggest impact on your life? Why?
The person who has made the biggest impact on my life, is Susie, my dear wife of 43 years. Of course, my parents, for different reasons, but also my very charismatic doctoral advisor. He had some of the traits and skills that I lacked, like a meticulous attention to detail combined with a strength of character and a quiet masculinity.

8. If you could have the answer to any question, what would that question be?
How does the brain store and process information (see, I do not need any expertise whatsoever to find a scientific question interesting), or alternatively, what would be the form of life that separately evolved on another planet. Put another way (with apologies to Stephen Jay Gould), if we could rewind the tape of evolution, how would it play out a second time.

9. Tell us something about you that’s nontraditional.
For a faculty member/scientist at a great university, my entire formal education took place entirely within California public schools.

10. How do you want to be remembered?
I loved science, I greatly enjoyed seeing and interpreting new results, and I relished the successes of my fellows and colleagues. Also, I loved my family!

Chancellor’s Associates Chair VIII: Michael Holst

ucsd-math-michael-holst-profile.pngMichael joined the Mathematics Department at UC San Diego in 1998, and also joined the Physics Department in 2009. Michael’s research areas are at the intersection of mathematics and physics, with a focus on partial differential equations (PDE), and with applications primarily in biophysics and general relativity. His research projects center around developing mathematical techniques and computer algorithms for solving PDE problems that arise in nearly every area of science and engineering. A Colorado native, Michael enjoys spending time with his family and his cats, and has a black belt in taekwondo. Said Michael, “The Chancellor’s Associate Chair support has been a really important resource for my work, and it has been an honor to hold this chair since 2012.”

1. Where is your favorite spot on campus?
Art of Espresso (the wonderful Mandeville Coffee Shop). 

2. If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Sushi for dinner.

3. What is the most interesting thing about you that we wouldn’t learn from your resume alone (or that most people don’t know)?
I have held my high school’s discus throw distance record for nearly 40 years.

4. What was your dream job growing up?
Guitarist in a rock band or a flamenco group.

5. What is your fondest memory from college?
Meeting my life partner Mai.

6. Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give your 18-year-old self?
Exercise more, eat less, and spend more time with family.

7. Who has made the biggest impact on your life? Why?
My family, because of the love and experiences we all share.

8. If you could have the answer to any question, what would that question be?
How do we build a sustainable future for this planet and all of its inhabitants?

9. Tell us something about you that’s nontraditional.
I have worked for pay in many jobs ranging from farm hand to wedding officiant.

10. How do you want to be remembered?
As someone who was kind and had courage.

Chancellor’s Associates Chair XI: Katja Lindenberg

Coming soon...