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2020 Bios

Matthew State MD, PhD is the Oberndorf Family Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry, Chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences (DPBS), Director of Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute (LPPI), President of the Langley Porter Psychiatric Hospital and Clinics (LPPHC), UCSF Health Senior Vice President for Behavioral Health, and member of the steering committee of the Weill Institute for Neurosciences at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF). He completed his residency and fellowship in psychiatry and child and adolescent psychiatry at UCLA. During his clinical training, he developed a strong interest in rare genetic syndromes manifesting psychiatric symptomatology and elected to continue his education by pursuing a PhD in genetics at Yale. He joined the Yale faculty in 2001. In 2013, he moved to UCSF to lead the DPBS and LPPI.

Over the past 20 years, his laboratory has contributed to major advances in the genetics and biology of developmental neuropsychiatric disorders, including autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and Tourette disorder (TD). Along with a handful of other laboratories, Dr. State’s research group has been a leader in demonstrating the central role of rare, spontaneous mutations to ASD and TD. In collaboration with Nenad Sestan at Yale, the State lab has also pioneered the use of systems biological approaches to identify key aspects of the cellular and developmental characteristics of ASD pathology, identifying the role of human mid-fetal cortical excitatory neurons in the etiology of the syndrome. 

Under his leadership, the UCSF DPBS has championed collaboration across the neurosciences at UCSF and pursued a major expansion of research, clinical services, and advocacy, including overseeing the construction of the Nancy Friend Pritzker Psychiatry Building and the Joan and Sanford I. Weill Neurosciences Building. He has championed multiple initiatives at the intersection of mental health and diversity, equity, and inclusion, human rights, homelessness, and climate change. He has been the recipient of numerous awards including a Distinguished Citizen Award from the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco, the Ruane Prize from the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation, and the Rhoda and Bernard Sarnat International Prize in Mental Health from the US National Academy of Medicine. He was elected to membership in the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) in 2013.

Brenda Stevenson, PhD is the inaugural Hillary Rodham Clinton Chair in Women’s History at St. John’s College at the University of Oxford.  She also is the Nickoll Family Endowed Chair in the Department of History and a Professor of African American Studies at UCLA. Stevenson is a social historian whose work centers on gender, race, family, and social conflict in America and the Atlantic World. She was born and raised in Portsmouth, Virginia, the daughter of James William and Emma Gerald Stevenson. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia where she was a DuPont Regional Scholar and an Echols Scholar. Stevenson then enrolled in Yale’s M.A. Program in African American Studies where she began her edition of The Journals of Charlotte Forten Grimke. This work became part of the groundbreaking Schomburg Library of Nineteenth Century Black Women’s Writers.

Stevenson continued in the Yale Ph.D. program in American History. There, she was most influenced by her advisor John Blassingame and faculty members Nancy Cott, David Brion Davis, Gerald Jaynes, V.P. Franklin, Sylvia Boone, and Edmund S. Morgan. Her Ph.D. dissertation became her award-winning book, Life in Black and White: Family and Community in the Slave South. Her other works include: The Contested Murder of Latasha Harlins: Justice, Gender and the Origins of the Los Angeles Riots (which won the OAH’s Rawley Prize) and What is Slavery?, as well as several edited volumes and scholarly and popular media articles on race, women, film, and art. She is a member of several editorial boards of scholarly journals, a Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians (OAH) and served as Chair of both History and African American Studies. Stevenson is often heard on local NPR affiliates and interviewed in national and international media. She has contributed to numerous documentaries, co-curated museum exhibitions and convened many conferences.

Professor Stevenson’s research has been supported by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the Ford and Mellon Foundations, the American Association of University Women, the Center for Advanced Study of the Behavioral Sciences, the American Academy in Berlin, the National Humanities Center, and others. She is the recipient of the UCLA Gold Shield Award, the John Blassingame Award, the Ida B. Wells Award and the Carter G. Woodson Medallion.

Dorceta Taylor, PhD is a professor at the Yale School of the Environment. Prior to that she was a professor of environmental sociology at the University of Michigan’s School for Environment and Sustainability (SEAS) for 27 years.  She was the James E. Crowfoot Collegiate Chair and the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at SEAS.   She also holds a joint appointment with the Program in the Environment. Dr. Taylor is the former Field of Studies Coordinator for SEAS’ Environmental Justice Program and a past Chair of the American Sociological Association’s Environment and Technology Section.  Professor Taylor received PhD and Master’s degrees from the School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and the Department of Sociology at Yale University in 1991, 1988, and 1985. 

In 2014 Dr. Taylor authored a landmark national report, The State of Diversity in Environmental Institutions: Mainstream NGOs, Foundations, and Government Agencies.  She authored a second diversity report in 2014 entitled, Environmental Organizations in the Great Lakes Region: An Assessment of Institutional Diversity. 

Dr. Taylor has written influential books including her most recent, The Rise of the American Conservation Movement:  Power, Privilege, and Environmental Protection, published in 2016 during the 100th-year anniversary of the founding of the National Park Service.  The book examines how conservation ideas and politics are tied to social dynamics such as racism, classism, and gender discrimination. Revelations made in the book about the ideologies of John Muir, the slave-owning past of John James Audubon, and the eugenicist history of the Save the Redwoods League and the National Park Service have led to the Sierra Club, the National Audubon Society, and the Save the Redwoods League acknowledging the problematic discourses and actions of their founders.  Recent congressional hearing on lack of diversity in the Department of the Interior have also acknowledge the significance of this work as well as other institutional diversity research.

Taylor’s 2014 book, Toxic Communities: Environmental Racism, Industrial Pollution, and Residential Mobility (New York University Press), examines the racial and socio-economic dimensions of exposure to environmental hazards in the U.S. She is also the author of The Environment and the People in American Cities: 1600s-1900s. Disorder,Inequality, and Social Change (Duke University Press). The book examines the history of environmental inequality and urban environmental activism. Dr. Taylor received the Allan Schnaiberg Outstanding Publication Award given by the Environment and Technology Section of the American Sociological Association in 2010.

Dr. Taylor was honored by the Smithsonian Institution in 2019.  She is the recipient of several awards including the National Audubon Society Women in Conservation Award, the National Science Foundation Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring, the Burton V. Barnes Award for Academic Excellence from the Michigan Chapter of the Sierra Club, the Charles Horton Cooley Award for Distinguished Scholarship from the Michigan Sociological Association, and the Frederick B. Buttel Distinguished Contribution Award from the Environment and Technology Section of the American Sociological Association.

Veronica Vaida, PhD received her B.Sc. degree (1973) in chemistry at Brown University and
completed her Ph.D. (1977) degree at Yale. In 1977 Dr. Vaida went to Harvard University, as a Xerox post-doctoral fellow, then as an assistant and associate professor in chemistry. In 1984 Professor Vaida moved to the University of Colorado, Boulder where she is currently a Professor of Chemistry and a fellow of CIRES (Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences). Her teaching and research have followed an interdisciplinary path at the interface of physical chemistry and atmospheric science. At the University of Colorado she focused on light-initiated reactions of molecules, radicals, water complexes and aerosols of interest in planetary atmospheres including the contemporary and prebiotic Earth. Veronica Vaida has been a fellow of the Sloan Foundation (1980), the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Teacher Scholar (1984), Erskine (University of Canterbury, New Zealand 1994), Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard (2004-2006), was elected fellow of AAAS and APS. She received the ACS Wilson award in spectroscopy in 2011 and the ACS Langmuir Award in chemical physics in 2020.Veronica was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2012 and the National Academy of Sciences in 2020.