Apr 14, 2020

Dear colleagues,

On behalf of Chancellor Gillman, we are pleased to announce that four UCI faculty members have been awarded 2020 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowships. Appointed on the basis of prior achievement and exceptional promise, the successful candidates were chosen through a rigorous peer-review process from almost 3,000 applicants. With specializations ranging from biochemistry and molecular biology to music and culture, fine arts and writing, these UCI faculty members join a diverse group of 175 scholars, writers, artists and scientists being honored in the foundation's 96th competition. UCI now has 37 Guggenheim Fellows from various backgrounds and fields of study.

The 2020 UCI Guggenheim Fellows are:

mark levine
Mark LeVine, professor of history; field of study: music research

Professor LeVine is a historian, musician, journalist and human rights activist. He will use the fellowship to help bring traditional musical instruments and training to the Kakuma Refugee Camp in northern Kenya, where musicians have been without these core components of their cultures and heritage for decades. His research and recording will produce a study exploring both the mixing between traditional and modern musical styles and how music functions as a mediator for interpersonal and intercommunal conflict. It is part of a larger collaborative project with UCI Chancellor's Professor of Drama Bryan Reynolds, Art at the Edge: Creativity and Conflict in Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia. Professor LeVine is the author and editor of a dozen books and has written for Al-Jazeera, JadaliyyaLe Monde, the Los Angeles TimesThe Boston GlobeThe Christian Science Monitor and Tikkun.

andrej luptak
Andrej Lupták, professor of pharmaceutical sciences, chemistry, and molecular biology & biochemistry; field of study: biochemistry and molecular biology

Professor Lupták plans to work on the discovery and development of ribonucleic acids regulated by light. He will continue his study of how large biological molecules, specifically RNAs, evolve and fold into unique shapes that let them perform a variety of chemical actions. Professor Lupták is focused on devising novel molecular evolution techniques to identify paradigmatic catalytic RNAs relevant to the origin of life on Earth, as well as developing photoregulatory RNAs that are deployed as synthetic-biology tools to manipulate the transcriptomes of model organisms with high spatial and temporal resolution.

jennifer pastor
Jennifer Pastor, professor of art; field of study: fine arts

Professor Pastor will use the award to complete a large body of sculptures. The sculptures are comprised of the essential marks of the history of action in a space of extreme spectatorship. Her work has been exhibited in national and international venues, including solo exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. In addition, her work has been featured in the Sao Paulo Art Biennial, the Venice Biennale and the Whitney Biennial and is in the permanent collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, MOCA Los Angeles, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the FRAC Bourgogne in France, the Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Collection in Italy, the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.

Amy Wilentz, professor of English; field of study: general nonfiction

Professor Wilentz plans to write a book about cultural appropriation in art and music in Haiti, France, the U.S. and elsewhere. As a journalist and writer, she has covered events in Haiti for decades. She has won the Whiting Award for nonfiction writing, the American Academy of Arts and Letters Rosenthal Family Foundation Award, the PEN/Albrand Award for First Nonfiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award for Memoir. She is the author of several books and has written for The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The New Republic, the London Review of BooksTime magazine, The Daily BeastPoliticoCondé Nast TravelerMother JonesHarper'sVogue and other publications.

Please join me in congratulating our colleagues on this outstanding recognition.


Hal S. Stern, Ph.D.
Interim Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor
Chancellor's Professor, Department of Statistics