Office of Research OR Leadership - Office of Research

OR Leadership

Learn more about our Executive & Senior Leaders

Executive Leadership

Vice Chancellor for Research

Simon J. Atkinson

Simon Atkinson serves as vice chancellor for research at the University of California, Davis. He oversees the Office of Research, with responsibility for review and acceptance of extramural research awards; research relationships with government and industry; encouraging and assisting faculty in developing research and scholarly studies; oversight of intramural research support; functional responsibility for organized research units and projects; management of certain research-related programs, instrumentation and facilities; management of several UC Natural Reserve sites; review and approval of the use of human subjects and conflict of interest disclosures; and coordination of patenting and licensing of campus intellectual property.

Atkinson previously served as vice chancellor for research at the University of Kansas from 2019-2023 where he had primary responsibility for research on the Lawrence campus. In addition to research administration, his portfolio included oversight of 11 research centers and the KU Natural History Museum.

Prior to his role at KU, Atkinson was vice chancellor for research at Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) and associate vice president for research for Indiana University, with systemwide responsibility for innovation and commercialization. He was chair of the IUPUI Department of Biology in the Purdue School of Science for 5 years, director of the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Medical Biophysics at the Indiana University School of Medicine for 6 years, and president of the IUPUI Faculty Council.

Atkinson is a molecular cell biologist recognized for studies in the cellular mechanisms and prevention and treatment of acute kidney injury. He has taught cell biology and biochemistry to undergraduate, graduate and medical students. In 2005, he co-founded INphoton, a life sciences company.

Atkinson has a doctorate in molecular biology from the University of Cambridge and a bachelor’s degree in cell and molecular biology from King’s College London. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

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Associate Vice Chancellor for Interdisciplinary Research and Strategic Initiatives

Cristina Davis

Cristina DavisCristina Davis joined the Office of Research in 2022 as the Associate Vice Chancellor of Interdisciplinary Research and Strategic Initiatives after serving and the associate dean of research in the College of Engineering. Davis is a professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

Davis arrives in the role with nearly 20 years of experience working with multidisciplinary research teams in the areas of chemical sensing to tackle fundamental problems and develop niche application areas. She has been an advocate for interdisciplinary research support at a national level for many years — with federal, state and local entities. Defense, National Institutes of Health, Food and Drug Administration, among others.

In addition to her research accomplishments, Davis has considerable experience dealing with intellectual property, including patents and copyright code software coding. She is the inventor on 13 issued patents, with many more pending, and has played an instrumental role in the formation of three startups over her career. Davis has authored and co-authored numerous scientific papers and published more than 100 peer-reviewed journal articles in high-impact journals and top-tier conferences.

Davis has a B.S. in mathematics and biology (double major) from Duke University and a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from the University of Virginia, Charlottesville. Davis joined UC Davis in 2005 as an assistant professor.

More About Interdisciplinary Research and Strategic Initiatives | Contact Cristina Davis

Associate Vice Chancellor for Research Administration and Central Services and Interim Associate Vice Chancellor for Innovation and Technology Commercialization

Denise Ehlen

Denise EhlenDenise Ehlen is the Associate Vice Chancellor for Research Administration and Central Services within the Office of Research where she oversees Sponsored Programs, Finance and Business Operations, Human Resources, Marketing and Communications and Information Systems.

Denise Ehlen also serves as the Interim Associate Vice Chancellor for Innovation and Technology Commercialization, overseeing the InnovationAccess and Venture Catalyst units.

Most recently, Ehlen served as the associate vice president of Research Administration Services Units in the Office of Research Administration at Emory University. In that role, she oversaw nine Research Administration Service Centers with approximately 180 staff providing pre- and post-award support for faculty across the campus. From 2016 to 2018, she served as the director of Operations in the same office, leading the development of their shared services operating model. Prior to that, Ehlen held various leadership roles at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater as the director for Business Outreach, interim executive director of the Whitewater University Technology Park and Innovation Center and director of Research and Sponsored Programs.

Ehlen possesses a B.S. in political science from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and will defend her master’s thesis in the fall. She also holds professional certificates in research administration (SRA), social entrepreneurship (USASBE), technology transfer (WKI) and business coaching (Growth Wheel).

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More About Innovation and Technology Commercialization

Associate Vice Chancellor for Research and Teaching Animal Care Program

Laurie Brignolo

Laurie BrignoloDr. Laurie Brignolo serves as Associate Vice Chancellor for the Research and Teaching Animal Care Program as well as Attending Veterinarian. In her new role, she is responsible for long-range planning, leadership, and oversight of animal care and use at UC Davis. The executive director manages and strategically harmonizes the distributed operations of over 1 million square feet of animal holding space in 200+ buildings that are overseen by individual vivarium managers. Since April 2013, Dr. Brignolo served as the director of the Laboratory Animal Medicine Residency Program. In parallel with this, she served as associate director of Campus Veterinary Services starting in January 2013. She was senior veterinarian of Campus Veterinary Services from September 2011 until December 2012 and prior to that served as both senior veterinarian and manager of the Primate Medicine Department within the California National Primate Research Center. Dr. Brignolo also serves in a number of external capacities: as a veterinarian for the Global Veterinary Alliance, which is a non-profit 501(c3) organization that brings high quality veterinary care to underserved areas around the world; as an ad hoc consultant for the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC); as a locum (relief) veterinarian for the Banfield Veterinary Hospital, and as a volunteer veterinarian with the California Animal Shelter Friends to save shelter animals from euthanasia. Dr. Brignolo is a Diplomate of the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine (ACLAM), and is a member of the American Association of Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS), the American Society of Laboratory Animal Practitioners (ASLAP), the Association of Primate Veterinarians (APV), and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

More about Research and Teaching Animal Care Program | Contact AVC Brignolo

Senior Leadership

Sponsored Programs

Executive Director, Research Administration: Ahmad Hakim-Elahi

Ahmad Hakim-ElahiAhmad Hakim-Elahi is Executive Director, Research Administration, and Director of Sponsored Programs. Sponsored Programs assists the campus research community in its efforts to secure extramural funding while promoting proper stewardship of those funds. Ahmad received his B.S. degree in Mechanical and Agricultural Engineering, received his M.S. degree in Agronomy in 1977 and his Ph.D. in Genetics in 1981, both at the University of California, Davis. He received his J.D. degree from Santa Clara University in 1990. He is a member of the State of California Bar, the U.S. District Court, Northern California, and the U.S. Patent Bar, allowing him to practice before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Following the completion of his Doctoral and Post-doctoral training at UC Davis, he joined a San Francisco Bay Area plant biotechnology corporation as a research scientist, practicing plant breeding and biotechnology.  During the 12 years of his association with the company, he served in various positions of successively higher responsibilities, including the group leader of the company’s plant breeding team, the research administrator overseeing all company research, and then as the in-house legal counsel. He was a member of a team that moved the company from being a privately-owned entity into a publicly-traded corporation in 1986. From 1994 to 1996, Ahmad was the senior manager of the technology and licensing office at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, where he established the first campus-based office of sponsored programs and licensing and technology transfer.  In 1996, he joined Sponsored Programs at UC Davis as a contracts and grants officer, and since 1998 he has been serving the campus as the Director of Sponsored Programs.

More About Sponsored Programs | Contact Sponsored Programs Staff

Information Technology Systems & Services

Director: Lou Dulaney

Lou DulaneyLou Dulaney is responsible for managing the Information Technology Systems & Services (OR IT) team, which provides IT Support and Services for our OR Units. OR IT provides the foundational support for vendor management, infrastructure, hardware, software, and systems for institutional activities at Office of Research. These include, but are not limited to USIL, Systems Administration, Desktop Support, Network, Authentication, Application Software and Reporting, providing extensive functional support for our OR Units in requirements gathering and functional support for OR IT supported applications.

Lou is able to bring clarity and adroitness at defining requirements, objectives, budgets and timelines coordinating IT projects and governance across all stakeholders. Aligning and articulating the immediate effort within organizational objectives. She is a passionate people leader with over 15 years managing IT teams in the private sector. Lou holds a master’s degree in Business Administration, bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and various certifications including PMP, ITIL and Six Sigma Yellow Belt.

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Interdisciplinary Research Support

Director: Sheryl Soucy-Lubell

Sheryl Soucy-LubellSheryl Soucy-Lubell is the Director of Interdisciplinary Research Support in the UC Davis Office of Research. The Interdisciplinary Research Support team coordinates the preparation of major grant proposals for large-scale, interdisciplinary research programs. As director of this unit, Sheryl identifies and develops collaborative efforts in pursuit of extramural funding opportunities; advises campus administrators in prioritizing research efforts by determining UC Davis research capacity in specific areas and forecasting opportunities for success prior to committing resources; and conducts campus-wide research development activities such as workshops, trainings, program officer visits, funding opportunity searches and dissemination, and research team building. Sheryl also oversees the administration of the Limited Submissions program, which is a service of the Office of Research that assists faculty in identifying Limited Submission opportunities and coordinates the campus review and nomination of applications for those opportunities. The program identifies and advertises nearly 200 such opportunities each year, about two-thirds of which require review and nomination. She received a B.A. in Biology and Environmental Studies at Dartmouth College, a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolution at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, and conducted post-doctoral research in the Department of Biological Sciences at Florida State University.

More About Interdisciplinary Research SupportContact Interdisciplinary Research Support Staff

Marketing and Communications

Director: AJ Cheline

Aj ChelineAs Director of Marketing and Communications for the Office of Research, AJ Cheline is responsible for developing strategies and implementing tactics to increase global awareness of research and technology development at UC Davis. AJ returned to UC Davis after 15 years of working in various marketing roles within the medical device and healthcare industries. He earned a master’s degree in biomedical engineering from UC Davis and a bachelor’s degree in physiology from the University of Arizona. AJ’s experience in research, technology development and commercialization helps him connect with campus researchers, innovators and entrepreneurs. He holds multiple U.S. patents and has published his research in several journals.

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Research Ethics and Compliance Office

Director: Alaisha M. Hellman

Alaisha M. HellmanAlaisha Hellman is the Director of Research Ethics and Compliance Office. She comes to the role with more than 15 years of experience in research administration, compliance and program management. Before joining UC Davis, Hellman served in the role of Export Control (EC) Officer and Conflict of Interest (COI) Coordinator at UC Berkeley where she created and managed the respective programs. She also has experience with foreign influence and related compliance concerns, policies and processes. Hellman holds a ​​Bachelor of Arts in Legal Studies from the University of California, Berkeley. She is a member of the Association of University Export Control Officers, Society for International Affairs and the AAMC Forum on Conflict of Interest.

More About Research Ethics and ComplianceContact Research Ethics and Compliance Office Staff

Human Resources

Manager: Marlene Denham

Marlene DenhamMarlene Denham is the Human Resources Manager in the Office of Research. She has a degree in Business Administration and over 20 years of experience working in a professional office setting, including eight years as an office manager/supervisor working with staff, students, directors, tellers, supervisors, faculty, customers, deans, etc. As the Human Resources Manager, Marlene is responsible for managing the OR HR team which provides strategic and analytical support and advice for academic federation and staff personnel functions throughout the Office of Research. The OR HR unit handles human resource issues such as policy interpretations; recruitments; academic federation appointments; retention; classification; compensation; merits and promotions; employee and labor relations issues; general benefits; and training and development. The OR HR unit builds a culture of organizational excellence, acceptance and a support system for a diverse community of talented employees and ensures they feel valued and vested in the organization.

More About OR Human Resources | Contact OR Human Resources Staff

Research Programs

Executive Director: Nancy Bulger

Nancy BulgerNancy is responsible for the programmatic oversight of the interdisciplinary research units that report to the Office of Research. She provides strategic guidance and advice to the Vice Chancellor for Research & the Associate Vice Chancellor for Interdisciplinary Research and Strategic Initiatives relative to strategic academic and resource planning, short and long-range policy development, communications and high level analyses of new program development. She received her Ph.D. from Purdue University.

More About Research Programs | Contact Research Programs Staff

Strategic Initiatives

Manager: Ana Lucia Cordova

Ana-Lucia-Cordova-KreylosAna Lucia Cordova is passionate about enabling cutting edge research, and supporting scientist in the development of their projects and ideas. She brings to UC Davis extensive experience managing research collaborations and projects, and developing intellectual property and research agreements. At UC Davis she supports strategic partnerships with national and international institutions, seed funding programs, as well as the Microbiome Special Research Program. She graduated from UC Davis with a doctorate in Agricultural and Environmental Chemistry, and a double B.Sc. in Biology and Chemistry from the University of Sonora, in Mexico.

More About Strategic Initiatives | Contact Strategic Initiatives Staff

Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC)

Director: Donna Routley

Donna RoutleyUC Davis’ Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) oversees the university’s animal care and use program and is responsible for reviewing all animal use protocols and amendments, ensuring compliance with federal and state regulations, inspecting animal facilities and laboratories, and overseeing training and educational programs. Donna Routley serves as the Director for the UC Davis IACUC. As Director, Routley oversees IACUC activities and manages the team of professional administrative staff supporting this faculty based committee.

Routley holds a Bachelor degree in Environmental Studies, is a Certified Professional IACUC Administrator (CPIA), a Registered Laboratory Animal Technologist (RLATG), and a Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT). She is passionate about the UC Davis Animal Care Program, recognizing and valuing the immense responsibility of supporting the research and teaching mission of the university while ensuring compliance with applicable laws, regulations, policies and procedures.

More Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee | Contact Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee

Institutional Review Board

John TupinJohn Tupin started his career conducting issue research and creating white papers for the American Hospital Association and the California Association of Hospitals and Healthcare. John joined the University of California, Davis where he worked for the Physicians Practice Board and Health Sciences Advancement campaigns including the MIND Institute, The UC Davis Center for Biophotonics and the UC Davis Transplant Center. John founded LifeWave, Inc. which develops ultrawide band radar for medical and defense applications. John served as a contractor to the USAF Clinical Investigation Facility at Travis AFB where he managed the Institutional Review Board and advised the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee and served as the intellectual property coordinator. John Currently serves as the Director of the University of California, Davis Institutional Review Board. John holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from the University of California, Davis and a Juris Doctorate from Lincoln Law School and is a member of the State of the California Bar.

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