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2020 Oliver Johnson Award Recipients


Manuela Martins-Green

Professor Manuela Martins-Green

Manuela Martins-Green is a Professor of Cell Biology at UC Riverside whose research focuses on understanding the cell and molecular mechanisms involved in wound healing and tumorigenesis.

She is recognized with the Oliver Johnson Award for her outstanding and creative leadership at UCR, her transformative contributions to faculty governance there, her exceptional abilities in working effectively with all University constituents, her sustained excellence in serving the Divisional and systemwide Academic Senate, and her dedication to the diversification of the professoriate and mentorship of junior women faculty in STEM fields.

As chair of the Riverside Senate division (2004-2006), Professor Martins-Green secured funding that successfully doubled the number of staff and transformed the under-resourced Senate office into the vibrant and effective organization it is today. Martins-Green gave the UCR Committee on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion a permanent seat on the Executive Council and moved the Committee on Academic Personnel from the Academic Personnel office to the Senate. These actions helped elevate the faculty voice and effectiveness of shared governance on the campus and inaugurated a resurgence of interest in Senate service from junior faculty. For these and other efforts to improve the welfare of UCR faculty, Martins-Green was awarded the 2008 Distinguished Service Award for the UCR campus.

Martins-Green’s commitment to faculty welfare and diversity in the professoriate is reflected in her service as member and chair of the CODEO (2009-11, 2014-17), as chair of the UC-wide Committee on Affirmative Action and Diversity (UCAAD, 2010-13, 2015-17), and as a member of the UCR Faculty Welfare Committee (2019-22). She successfully advocated for expanding the UC President Postdoctoral Fellowship Program (PPFP), which helped advance faculty diversity on all of the UC campuses, and helped establish the UCR Postdoctoral Association, which contributed to ensuring all members of the University community are treated fairly. As chair of UCAAD, Martins-Green was a key player in the effort to modify APM 210.1.d to explicitly recognize in academic performance reviews research, teaching, and service activities that advance diversity.

Professor Martins-Green is recognized for her mentorship work across the larger UC community and in her principal scientific organizations—the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB), and the Wound Healing Society (WHS). She has been an active personal mentor to many junior women faculty at UCR in the Bourns College of Engineering (BCOE) and in the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences (CNAS). Since being selected as the UCR representative to the UC Presidential Summit on Gender Equity in 2002, many junior female faculty in the sciences have relied on her advice about navigating the academic ladder. Associate Professor Huinan Liu in the UCR Department of Bioengineering noted that, “I survived as the first women being granted tenure in my department, mostly because of Manuela’s encouragement, guidance, and support on many confusing but critical issues.” Further, after Martins-Green inaugurated a CODEO study of diversity statistics among UCR faculty and administrators and presented the results of the study to then-UCR Chancellor Tim White, UCR appointed its first woman CNAS Dean who then appointed women as department chairs and chose a woman as one of her Associate Deans. Martins-Green’s support for gender equity and the successful tenure of female faculty in the sciences is distinctive and exemplary. Her contributions to faculty diversity are not only interpersonal but structural. Professor Martins-Green received the UCR Innovative Teaching Award in 2008 with her colleague for innovations in a large lower-division Biology lecture class that enhanced student learning and cut the failure rate in half.


Robert Powell 

Professor Robert Powell

Robert Powell is a Professor of Chemical Engineering and a Professor of Food Science and Technology at UC Davis where he has been a faculty member since 1984. Powell’s experimental and theoretical research focuses on issues related to the flow of slurries and emulsions. These include foods like tomato paste or ketchup, personal care products like shampoos or creams, and fiber suspensions like those used in making paper or cellulosic ethanol. His research interests include the development of ways to equip manufacturing facilities that allow a much greater degree of precision and optimization.

Powell began his Senate service in 1988 as a member of the UC Davis Divisional Senate Committee on Research, became its Chair in 1989, and served in that capacity until 1992. From 1996 to 1998 he was the Faculty Assistant to the UC Davis Provost. In 1998-99 he was Special Assistant to the Chancellor with specific responsibilities to oversee the development Office of Outreach and International Programs in anticipation of the hiring of a new Vice Provost. During his time in these roles, he initiated the Chancellor’s Fellows program and led a task force that created a planning framework for the UC Davis Arboretum Waterway. He subsequently became involved in budget issues at Davis and served on its Committee on Planning and Budget, including a year as Chair. In 2003 he was elected to the Divisional Committee on Committees, which he chaired in 2005. He became Vice Chair of the Divisional Senate in 2006 and served as Chair from 2008 to 2011. He led the Senate at a crucial time, during the transition from Chancellor Vanderhoef to Chancellor Katehi. He also co-chaired the search committee for a new Provost, co-chaired the Committee on the Future of UC Davis, led the development of a structure for streamlining course approvals and initiated the restructuring of the academic personnel process.

Powell served as Chair of the systemwide Academic Senate in 2012-2013. In 2012-2013, he chaired the Intersegmental Committee of Academic Senates (ICAS) which coordinates activities among the three public higher education segments in California. Professor Powell’s term was highlighted by leadership in several areas, one of which was online education. As the Governor and the Regents strongly encouraged UC faculty to move rapidly towards online education, he led the Senate effort to bridge the gap between the University-wide administration, the campuses, and the faculty to create a new program to fund faculty work in this area. The work resulted in the collaborative online course effort between the Senate and the Provost’s office known today as Innovation Learning Technology Initiative (ILTI). Powell also oversaw the year-long discussion that resulted in the Academic Senate adopting an Open Access Policy on July 24, 2013. This ensured that future research articles authored by faculty at all ten campuses of UC would be made available to the public at no charge. It led to the systemwide adoption of an open access policy two years later. As Senate chair, Powell chaired the faculty committee that advised the Regents on the selection of the UC President and led the development of a Senate briefing book for incoming President Napolitano, a work that to this day lays out the importance and critical role of self-governance in promoting UC excellence.

From 2002 until 2011 Powell was the Chair of the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science. He is a member of the Society of Rheology, American Institute of Chemical Engineers, American Chemical Society and the American Physical Society. He is also a Fellow of the American Physical Society. Powell has held numerous advisory positions, including Science Advisor to the Secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency, the Executive Committee and Science and Technology Committee (Chair) of the Boards of Governors that oversee Los Alamos National Security LLC (until 2018) and Lawrence Livermore National Security LLC. Since 2018 he has been the chair of the Science, Technology and Engineering Committee of Triad National Security which currently oversees Los Alamos National Laboratory. He has held temporary positions at the Swedish Forest Products Research Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratory and the National Science Foundation. He was the Panel Manager for the USDA Nanoscale Science in Food and Agriculture program from 2005-2008 and 2017-2020.

Professor Powell’s public service activities have come to reflect those of a faculty member whose academic background is informing critical decisions facing California and the country. Colleagues say he has consistently demonstrated a keen ability to identify where the Senate can make a difference and bring people together toward common goals. When he has had to deliver messages that were not entirely welcome, he has done so with an ability to understand the recipient’s point of view, and keep that person as a friend of the University and the Senate.  With an extraordinary ability to put people at ease and engage in friendly conversation, Powell is widely praised by colleagues for being a staunch defender of the Academic Senate and his ability to diffuse conflict and work to reach common ground.

The comments of former Davis Division Senate Chair, Professor Linda Bisson, echo those of many others: “He leads from thoughtfulness and respect for all present and makes sure each person has a voice. He has always put the welfare of the students and the institution first.”