Leadership & Committees

The Center for Planetary Health summons the impressive resources of all ten UC campuses and two national laboratories, as well as the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UCANR), the UCSB National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS), and the UC Natural Reserve System (NRS), to guide activities, identify strategic opportunities, and overcome challenges.

PHCOE Co-Directors

Samantha Ying, PhD

UC Riverside

Samantha (Sam) Ying is a professor in the Environmental Science Department at UC Riverside.  She is passionate about her research, teaching, and, in particular, engagement with her students and community.  She is dedicated to empowering the disadvantaged and ensuring equity for all.  Sam’s research and teaching focus on chemical and biological processes within soils that shape water quality, food security, and the global cycles of critical elements such as carbon and nitrogen.  Her work seeks to provide soil and water management practices for a healthy and sustainable future while training the leaders of tomorrow.   Sam received her B.S. from UC Santa Barbara and Ph.D. from Stanford University; she joined the UCR faculty in 2015.

Woutrina Smith, DVM, MPVM, PhD

UC Davis

Woutrina SmithWoutrina A. Smith, originally from Alaska, studied at Pomona College and then earned her DVM, MPVM, and PhD degrees from UC Davis. Her research program utilizes a One Health approach locally and globally to bring together professionals and stakeholders across disciplines spanning the natural and social sciences. Dr. Smith has active research projects in Africa and Asia, as well as in California, where multidisciplinary teams work together to solve complex health problem in innovative ways. As capacity lead for the global USAID Predict Program for the past seven years, Dr. Smith works with scientists and stakeholders in 30 countries to help build local capabilities to conduct health surveillance in animal and human populations at key interfaces where new diseases are likely to emerge. She was involved in the UCGHI One Health Center of Expertise and has made linkages with all ten UC campuses, the UC national laboratories, and many international partner institutions. She teaches in the professional DVM, graduate, and undergraduate programs, where she brings her field and laboratory research experiences into the classroom to provide real world context.

PHCOE Deputy Directors

Georgia Kayser, PhD

Georgia Kayser
UC San Diego


The CPH is organized into three working groups corresponding to the vast majority of global mortality. These working groups are working towards solutions from these threats to human and animal health and link the solutions to our five research goals.

Infectious diseases

Woutrina Smith, lead

Environmental exposure-related diseases, illness and death

Samantha Ying, lead