Carolyn Thomas

Portrait of Carolyn Thomas

Position Title
Vice Provost and Dean for Undergraduate Education


Carolyn Thomas is Professor of American Studies and Vice Provost and Dean for Undergraduate Education at the University of California, Davis.  She works across our colleges and divisions and directly with students to achieve Undergraduate Education’s vision: that UC Davis have the strongest learning environment of any research university in the nation. She has previously served as program chair, director of the UC Davis Humanities Institute, and convener of a UC system-wide humanities consortium.

As a faculty member, Carolyn’s research has explored how technological innovation and food production, combined with marketing and advertising, impact Americans’ definitions of “health.” She has been featured on NPR and the BBC for her award-winning book, Empty Pleasures: The Story of Artificial Sweeteners from Saccharin to Splenda (2010). She has written two books, two edited volumes, and roughly twenty articles on such topics as the origins of weight training, the mechanization of tomatoes in California, the fondness for Krispy Kreme donuts in the South, and the ineffectiveness of “diet” foods as weight-loss tools. Carolyn is the recipient of the Chancellor’s Award for Distinguished Undergraduate Mentoring at UC Davis, and her current research and administrative work focuses on enhancing student academic success through teaching and advising.

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