Work Life Faculty Advisor Biographies

Michael R. Hill, Professor - Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, College of Engineering

Professor Mike Hill and Family

I arrived at UC Davis in the Fall of 1996 to pursue teaching and research in Mechanical Design. I have an active research program in the areas of fatigue and fracture of materials, with a special emphasis in the influence of manufacturing-induced stresses (residual stresses) on structural performance. My research is carried out in close collaboration with a range of industry and government partners. I teach graduate and undergraduate courses in experimental methods and in mechanical design, where students learn to create new systems, select materials of construction, and design parts to sustain service loading.

I married Jeanine in 1992, and we were blessed with twin boys in 1998. The first year or two with twins was a crazy and exhausting time, and I took the time to be fully involved in the boys early years. UC Davis policies that support work-life balance for Faculty allowed me to delay my academic review schedule by one full year. (Even though I was initially told “male faculty aren’t eligible,” I quickly learned that those policies apply to all faculty who have or adopt a child.).

I am proud that UC Davis has taken steps to support young faculty and that we recognize how challenging it is to balance an academic career with family life, and I am glad to carry this message to my colleagues.

Philip Kass, Vice Provost and Professor of Analytic Epidemiology - Department of Population Health and Reproduction, School of Veterinary Medicine and Department of Public Health Sciences, School of Medicine

The Kass Family: (clockwise from left) Phil, Lauren, Alex, Claire and Holden.

My research interests include determinants of health and disease in companion animal populations, non-experimental inference and epidemiologic theory and analysis. I first came to UC Davis as an undergraduate in 1976. After two years here, I went on the Education Abroad Program to Stirling University in Scotland for a year. When I got back I started as a student in the School of Veterinary Medicine, obtaining my DVM degree in 1983 and MPVM degree in 1984. After a year and a half of private practice, I decided to return to UC Davis to pursue my MS in statistics in 1988 and my PhD in epidemiology (then called comparative pathology) in 1990. I spent my last year of my PhD doing a concurrent post-doc in environmental epidemiology at the UCLA School of Public Health. I then joined the faculty of the School of Veterinary Medicine in 1990. I’ve also been a multiple-time visiting professor at the Koret School of Veterinary Medicine in Israel.

I’ve been married to my wife, Claire, since 1999, and have three children: Lauren, Alex, and Holden, who is a teenage and still lives with us. We enjoy our two Yorkshire Terriers named Moxie McLovin and Squirt...More>>  

Michael J. Lazzara, Associate Professor - Spanish & Portuguese, Humanities, Arts & Cultural Studies

Michael Lazzara's Family

The Lazzara Family

I arrived at UC Davis in 2004 after completing my Ph.D. at Princeton University. My research looks at processes of historical memory construction in Latin American societies transitioning from dictatorship to democracy, particularly Chile and Argentina. I frequently teach courses that look at the intersections among art, literature, politics, and history in these contexts. One of my favorite aspects of teaching is developing courses for UCD’s study abroad programs. I regularly lead a Summer Abroad course for undergraduates in Chile and in 2014-15 will participate as an instructor and faculty leader for UCD’s Quarter Abroad program in Mendoza, Argentina.

My wife Julia and I got married in 1999 and recently celebrated our fifteenth anniversary. It is certainly challenging to balance the demands of two full-time careers with the responsibilities of raising two young children. We consider our work-life balance a “team effort” that Julia and I work very hard to achieve. I have found UC Davis to be quite receptive to assisting faculty with children. After the births of Ana and James...More>> 

Karen McDonald, Professor - Chemical Engineering & Materials Science, Associate Dean - College of Engineering

The McDonald Family  - Bryan, Colin, Karen and Steve

When I joined the faculty in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science in 1985 I had a one year old son, Colin, who was born while I was a graduate student and my husband was doing a postdoc. My second son, Bryan, was born at the beginning of my second summer at UC Davis. Starting an academic career straight out of graduate school with two small children and commuting an hour each day (we live in Fairfield) was quite challenging but I appreciated all of the support I got from my department and the campus. It was a critical time in my career and I extended the tenure clock one year which allowed me the time I needed to prepare a solid dossier and get tenure. My kids are now grown and my husband and I celebrated our 25th anniversary last year. Colin graduated with a degree in Civil Engineering from UC Davis, married Jenna McKnight (also a UC Davis alumnus) last year and is working in LA, and Bryan is a Structural Engineering student at UC San Diego. I'm pleased to serve as a faculty advisor for work-life, and hope that I can serve as a resource and help other faculty navigate those critical periods in their careers and family lives.

Alyson Mitchell, Professor - Department of Food Science and Technology

Professor Mitchell and her two girls, Kalia & Devin.

I am UC Davis through and through! I received my B.S. in Environmental Toxicology and my PhD in Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of California Davis. I was appointed as an assistant Professor in the Department of Food Science and Technology (FST) in 2000. My research interests focus on the application of analytical chemistry for optimizing the nutritional quality of fresh and processed foods.  My research program is concentrated on: elucidating chemical reactions and changes in composition that occur in fruits and vegetables as a result of plant breeding, pre- and post-harvest processes, identifying and profiling plant metabolites for food authentication, safety and biological relevance, and developing methods for the characterization and mitigation of chemical carcinogens developed during food processing. I teach three courses at UC Davis including: The Chemical and Physical Analysis of Foods, Food Toxicology and Food Folklore and Health. 

I have three wonderful daughters: April (30), Kalia  (13) and Devin (11).   April is now married and off on her own successful career in the restaurant industry. Kalia is in the 8th grade at Holmes Jr. High and Devin is in the 6th grade AIM program at North Davis Elementary.  Looking back on my tenure at UC Davis always makes me giggle. My hiring start date, and maternity leave date nearly over-lapped. I was 5 months pregnant...More>>  

Courtney G. Joslin, Professor - School of Law

Courtney G. Joslin

Courtney Joslin received her undergraduate degree from Brown University and her law degree from Harvard Law School, where she was an executive editor of the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review. Prior to joining the faculty at UC Davis, Professor Joslin served as an attorney at the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), where she litigated cases on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families.

Professor Joslin's areas of interest include family and relationship recognition, particularly focusing on same-sex and nonmarital couples. Professor Joslin's publications have appeared or are forthcoming in the Boston University Law Review, the Harvard Civil Rights - Civil Liberties Law Review, the Harvard Law & Policy Review, the Iowa Law Review, the Ohio State Law Journal, and the Southern California Law Review. Her article, Protecting Children(?): Marriage, Gender, and Assisted Reproductive Technology was selected as a winner of the 2010 Dukeminier Award.

Suzana Sawyer, Associate Professor of Anthropology

Professor Sawyer and Family

I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology and joined UC Davis in 1997.  My research has examined conflicts that emerge among extractive industries, state governments, and local peoples (both indigenous and non-indigenous) in Latin America and beyond. My first book explored these dynamics in the context of indigenous mobilization in Ecuador (Crude Chronicles 2004). My second book project is tracing these concerns as they work themselves out in a 15-year-old transnational lawsuit in the US and Ecuador. An edited book project looks at these dynamics in Australia, Bolivia, Chad, India, Nigeria, the Philippines, and Peru with respect to questions of indigeneity and global governance.

I am part of that female cohort who chose to have children later in life. Our daughter (Zoe) was born within a year after I received tenure. My partner is also a UC Davis faculty and we are grateful for the university’s faculty work/life balance program. He was able to use UCD’s Parental Leave soon after Zoe was born. And I have made use of the university’s Maternity Leave, Active Duty Modified Service, and now Associate Step IV policies...More>> 

Jocelyn Sharlet, Associate Professor - Comparative Literature

Jocelyn Sharlet

Jocelyn Sharlet

I work on pre-modern Arabic and Persian literature and teach mainly in the Comparative Literature Department. I also teach courses in the Arabic Program and the Middle East/South Asia Studies Program, both of which I helped to establish. My first book focuses on literary patronage of medieval Arabic and Persian poets. I explore how poets managed risk in patronage and used their rhetorical skills to achieve social mobility across boundaries of ethnicity, religion and social class. Most of my smaller projects and my second book project address new roles for informal leisure and pleasure themes in Arabic poetry and prose of the late 9th-early 11th centuries. I show how poets and writers use these themes to develop a literary mode of writing that offers an indirect commentary on social tensions, conflicts and crises.

I came to UC Davis in 2002, when I was expecting my first child because we were able to use the POP program for my husband. My older son who was born in 2002...More>> 

Tamara Y. Swaab, Professor - Dept. of Psychology and the Center for Mind and Brain at UC Davis

Tamara Swaab's Family

The Swaab Family

Tamara Y Swaab, PhD, is Professor in the Dept. of Psychology and the Center for Mind and Brain at UC Davis. She earned her PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience at The Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics and the University of Nijmegen, The Netherlands.

Dr. Swaab’s research focuses on the cognitive and neural underpinnings of language processing in monolingual and bilingual readers and listeners. With her students and colleagues she has examined the relation between language processing, language experience and other cognitive functions. She has tested this relation by modelling individual differences in language processing as a function of measures of inhibitory control, working memory and vocabulary knowledge. She also has studied deficits in sentence and discourse processing in patients with schizophrenia, who have known problems in the controlled maintenance of contextually relevant information, in order to examine the role of executive functions during language processing and to test the nature of language comprehension problems in these patients. She further examines language comprehension in older adults to assess a potential trade-off between changing cognitive abilities and increased language experience.  Dr. Swaab’s research capitalizes on multiple research methods to gain the deepest possible understanding of the psychological processes and brain mechanisms that we use to extract meaning from text and conversation...More>> 

Diane L. Wolf, Professor of Sociology, Director of Jewish Studies Program

Diane Wolf

Diane Wolf

I have focused on gender and family dynamics throughout my career, starting in peasant households in Indonesia and resulting in a book called Factory Daughters (1992, UC Press),continuing with children of Filipino immigrants in California about which I have published articles, and then focused on Jewish children who were hidden in Gentile families during World War II in Holland (Beyond Anne Frank, 2007, UC Press). I am very interested in how memory gets produced and reproduced especially in and after contexts of trauma. This is reflected in a book I co-edited, Sociology Confronts the Holocaust: Memories and Identities in Jewish Diasporas (2007, Duke Univ. Press). Finally, my work reflects a deep concern with methods and how we do what we do. I edited Feminist Dilemmas in Fieldwork (1996), and have since written about gender, globalization and methodology. 

I came to UC Davis in 1989 as an advanced assistant professor and have been part of a department where there are many women most of whom are feminists and outspoken colleagues. That was especially reassuring as a junior faculty member having come from my first job in a department where it was disadvantageous to be a woman and the "f" word was not to be spoken...More>>