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Professor honored for Academic Senate service

By Iqbal Pittalwala | Inside UCR |


Manuela Martins-Green, chair of the Department of Molecular, Cell and Systems Biology at UC Riverside, has received the 2020 Oliver Johnson Award for Distinguished Leadership in the Academic Senate.

The award is the highest honor given out by the University of California, bestowed biennially to a member of the UC faculty who has performed outstanding service to the Academic Senate at both the systemwide and campus levels.


Manuela Martins-Green
Manuela Martins-Green


Martins-Green, who joined the UCR faculty in 1993, is the first faculty member on campus to win the award since Oliver Johnson, a UCR professor of philosophy after whom the award is named, received the honor in 1998, the year the award was established. The award will be presented to Martins-Green and Robert Powell of UC Davis, the other recipient of the award this year, at the July 22 systemwide Academic Council “virtual dinner.” 

“I feel privileged to receive this honor,” said Martins-Green, a professor of cell biology. “It has been an honor also to serve the Academic Senate at the campus and systemwide levels and to be able to discuss issues of interest to the faculty and create changes to improve faculty welfare.”

The Oliver Johnson Award for Distinguished Leadership in the Academic Senate is given every other year to a UC faculty member who has made outstanding contributions of time and talent to the Academic Senate, shown exceptional abilities in working with different university constituents effectively, and has made a major impact on faculty governance.

“Being the first UC Riverside faculty member in more than two decades to receive this award is a major honor not only for Dr. Manuela Martins-Green, but also for all of us at the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences and UC Riverside,” said Kathryn Uhrich, dean of the UCR College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences. “Her contributions to the Academic Senate continue to have a profound impact on faculty governance across the UC system. I couldn’t be prouder that Dr. Martins-Green’s commitment to excellence is being recognized with the Oliver Johnson Award.”

As chair of the Riverside division of the Academic Senate for 2004-06, Martins-Green received a seat on the UC Academic Council and advocated for faculty diversity. She informally mentored faculty, especially junior women faculty members. She brought more visibility and stature to the senate, developed policy for systematic review of undergraduate programs, established online course evaluations, and developed ways to re-engage the UCR faculty with the senate at large. She was also a major advocate for launching a medical school at UCR.

Martins-Green received her bachelor’s degree in biology at the University of Lisbon in Portugal. She received her master’s degree in plant pathology at UCR and her doctoral degree in zoology at UC Davis. An expert on wound healing, she was elected in 2016 to serve as vice president for research for the Wound Healing Foundation. The following year she became the chair of the UCR Department of Molecular, Cell and Systems Biology. She is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including the UCR Distinguished Service Award and the Innovative Teaching Award.

All members of the Academic Senate are eligible for the Oliver Johnson Award for Distinguished Leadership in the Academic Senate, with the exception of those who have served on the Academic Council during the prior three years. The University Committee on Committees, or UCOC, solicits nominations from the divisional Committees on Committees at the beginning of every other academic year. The UCOC recommends two nominees for final selection to the Academic Council. 



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