In honor of the campus's 45th anniversary, we've chosen 45 inspiring graduates to profile. In anticipation of our 50th, we'll also introduce five young alums with brilliant futures ahead of them. Selection criteria


  • William D. "Bro" Adams
  • William T Fujioka
  • Ronald R. Gonzales
  • John Laird
  • Julie Packard
  • Francisco J. Rosado-May
  • Art Torres


William Adams

William D. "Bro" Adams

Guiding light of Colby College

1982, Ph.D. history of consciousness

Current position: President, Colby College (Waterville, Maine)

William "Bro" Adams initially pursued an academic career after leaving UCSC, serving on the faculties of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Santa Clara University, and Stanford University. However, when William Chace (then Stanford vice provost and professor of English) headed east to become president of Wesleyan University, he invited Adams to become his executive assistant.

Adams says he made the transition from academic to administrator with some reluctance, because he enjoyed teaching and research, but he has found university administration extremely rewarding. In 1995 he was named the 14th president of Bucknell, a prestigious private university in Pennsylvania known for its commitment to undergraduate education. Five years later he was hired as the president of Colby College in Maine, a private liberal arts college that consistently ranks among the top in the nation.

"UCSC decisively shaped my intellectual interests and fostered a strong appreciation for the liberal arts tradition."

Ronald Gonzales

Ronald R. Gonzales

Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley CEO

Kresge College • 1973, B.A. community studies

Current position: President & CEO, Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley (HFSV)

Ron Gonzales is a philanthropy, business, and government leader with more than 35 years of public- and private-sector experience. Prior to joining the Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley (HFSV), he served as mayor of San José (1999–2006), and as an executive with Hewlett-Packard in the areas of marketing, human resources, and corporate philanthropy. Gonzales served for eight years (1989–1996) on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors and was a two-time mayor and member of the Sunnyvale, Calif., City Council (1979–1987).

He has served on numerous nonprofit boards and is the founder of the Role Model Program, for which he received a national Daily Point of Light Award. HFSV is a public foundation dedicated to inspiring community philanthropy and investment in the health, educational achievement, and leadership development for a thriving Hispanic community in Silicon Valley. His experience at UCSC, Gonzales says, helped him understand how his education could enable him to pursue his lifetime goal of improving the lives of others.

John Laird

John Laird

Serving the people of California

Stevenson College • 1972, B.A. politics

Current Position: Secretary for Natural Resources, State of California

2003–04 Alumni Achievement Award recipient

John Laird was appointed California Secretary for Natural Resources by Governor Jerry Brown in January 2011. He has spent 35 years in public service, including 23 years as an elected official. Laird served from 2002 to 2008 in the California State Assembly, representing the 27th District (Santa Cruz and Monterey counties). A Democrat, he was appointed chair of the Assembly Budget Committee early in his tenure and had 82 bills signed into law, including the landmark Laird-Leslie Sierra Nevada Conservancy Act.

Laird has also been a strong supporter of state funding for higher education, and in 2008 was named Legislator of the Year by the Alumni Associations of University of California. Laird previously served as mayor and city council member of Santa Cruz and on the Cabrillo College Board of Trustees. He was one of the first openly gay mayors in the U.S. and also one of the first to serve in the California legislature.

Laird gives his UCSC education a lot of credit for his success: "I remember the first paper I turned in as a UCSC student," he says. "The professor wrote on it, 'If there is a point here, I'm missing it.' I went from that to writing an honors thesis and being elected to public office. That's what a UCSC education did for me."


Julie Packard

Julie Packard

Monterey Bay Aquarium co-founder

Crown College • 1974, B.A. biology • 1978, M.A. biology

Current position: Executive director, Monterey Bay Aquarium

1987–88 Alumni Achievement Award recipient

Julie Packard helped found the Monterey Bay Aquarium and has served as the aquarium's executive director since it opened in 1984.

Her dedication to advancing ocean conservation has been demonstrated through the aquarium and far beyond. She serves on numerous boards, including the California Nature Conservancy, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. She was also a member of the Pew Oceans Commission, which in 2003 issued recommendations for a comprehensive overhaul of national ocean policy.

Packard was the 1998 recipient of the Audubon Medal for Conservation. In 2009, she was elected as a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the nation's most prestigious honor society, and was named a California Coastal Hero. In 2010, she received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation in recognition of her "tireless career commitment to marine conservation."

Says Packard, "I am hugely grateful for the opportunities UCSC gave me as an undergraduate to spend time with top research scientists and be able to do science, not just hear about it."


Francisco Rosado-May

Francisco J. Rosado-May

Founder, Intercultural Maya University

1991, Ph.D. biology

Current Position: Founding president, Intercultural Maya University of Quintana Roo, Mexico

Francisco Rosado-May's path to university president began in the rural village of Felipe Carrillo Puerto, where he and other eager Mayan youngsters gathered in a hallway for classes. Rosado-May earned government fellowships to attend high school and study agricultural engineering in Tabasco, Mexico, where he met his mentor, UCSC faculty member and agroecology pioneer Stephen Gliessman. While completing his doctorate at UCSC, Rosado-May joined the team planning the first university campus for his native state of Quintana Roo. He became president of the University of Quintana Roo in 2002, and under his leadership it became one of Mexico's top three public universities. Rosado-May also led planning for the new Intercultural Maya University of Quintana Roo (UIMQROO), one of nine intercultural public university campuses throughout Mexico. UIMQROO was built on an innovative academic model that reflects the needs of the Maya community and incorporates their history. Rosado-May became the new university's first president in 2007. He continues to develop this academic model, which meshes Western systems of knowledge creation with traditional Mayan knowledge and belief systems to address global problems.

"Our goal is not only to increase the number of indigenous people achieving higher education," says Rosado-May, "but also to bring cultures together; to bridge differences and work together."


Art Torres

Art Torres

Prominent state leader

Stevenson College • 1968, B.A. politics

Current position: Vice chair, governing board of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine

1988-89 Alumni Achievement Award recipient

In a public-service career spanning more than three decades, Art Torres has distinguished himself by tackling complex policy issues and standing up for those without a voice. Torres served for 20 years in the California State Legislature, eight as a member of the assembly and 12 as a state senator. He also chaired the state's Democratic Party from 1996 to 2009.

Torres is known for leadership in bipartisan initiatives addressing health care, education, the environment, and human rights. He co-authored the California Clean Water Act (Proposition 65) and also fought against pesticide poisoning and exposure to toxic chemicals and asbestos. His dedication to preventing pesticide poisoning comes in part from his work in the 1970s with the United Farm Workers Union. Torres currently serves as vice chair of the governing board of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), which oversees the allocation of $3 billion to California universities and research institutions for stem cell research. Torres credits his UC Santa Cruz education with, among other things, "helping me to become an independent thinker."


William T Fujioka

William T Fujioka

CEO of Los Angeles County

Crown College • 1974, B.A. sociology

Current position: CEO of Los Angeles County

William T Fujioka, a public administrator with 36 years of experience in local government, has served since 2007 as chief executive officer of the County of Los Angeles, the largest county in the nation with more than 100,000 employees. He manages a $23 billion budget and is responsible for countywide policy and program leadership. As CEO, Fujioka oversees the delivery of services to the county's more than 10 million residents, including health and social programs, public safety and municipal services, and programs for recreation, culture, and the arts. At the top of his priority list is the delivery of health care services to low-income residents. One of his major accomplishments was heading efforts to build a new Martin Luther King Jr. Hospital in South Los Angeles, in partnership with the University of California. Fujioka was born and raised in Los Angeles County and has spent his entire career working as a public servant for city and county government.

Fujioka says that attending UCSC in the '70s, with its distinctive learning environment, helped frame his social awareness and provided the foundation for a career in public service. "In Los Angeles County," Fujioka says, "we have an opportunity to provide meaningful and lasting contributions that improve the lives of those we serve; and we do so with great pride, commitment, and dedication."



  • Gary Heit
  • Kenneth S. Kendler
  • Deborah Madison
  • Cheryl Scott
  • Michael Wilson


Gary Heit

Gary Heit

Neurosurgeon and researcher

Oakes College • 1977, B.A. individual major (psychology)

Current Position: Physician/neurological surgery and director of functional neurosurgery, Permanente Medical Group—Redwood City Medical Center

2007-08 Alumni Achievement Award recipient

Before joining Kaiser Permanente in 2004, Gary Heit served as a member of the neurosurgery faculty at Stanford University, where he was the director of functional neurosurgery. While there, he founded the Functional Neurosurgery Program, which specializes in Deep Brain Stimulation as a treatment for chronic pain, movement disorders (such as Parkinson's and dystonia), and epilepsy, as well as other advanced therapies for pain and movement disorders. As a neurosurgeon, Heit is able to integrate his research with practical applications. He also co-founded Americare Neurosurgery International, a nonprofit that supports modern neurosurgery in developing countries.

As a UCSC undergraduate, Heit was inspired by legendary faculty like psychologist Bruce Bridgeman and biologists Léo Ortiz and Harry Noller—and he was also able to gain valuable hands-on research experience. After graduating from UCSC, Heit went on to receive his Ph.D. in neuroscience from UCLA and his M.D. from Stanford. He sums up his UCSC experience as follows: "Everything I learned back then is now outdated and useless. But my mentors had the wisdom to teach me how to think critically. That skill has sustained and enabled me through my career and all life endeavors—a true gift of education."

Kenneth S. Kendler

Kenneth S. Kendler

Psychiatric genetics researcher

Cowell College • 1972, B.A. biology and religious studies

Current positions: Rachel Brown Banks distinguished professor of psychiatry and human and molecular genetics, Virginia Commonwealth University • Director, Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics

Kenneth Kendler is internationally known for his pioneering research in psychiatric genetics—in fact, Nobel–prize winning psychiatrist Eric Kandel called Kendler "the most influential psychiatrist of his generation."

Kendler leads a 50-person multidisciplinary research group at the Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics that studies the genetics of mental illness. He conducts research in large twin samples and has conducted molecular genetics investigations for several major psychiatric and substance use disorders, including schizophrenia, major depression, alcoholism, smoking, and nicotine dependence. Kendler has published widely and has won over a dozen national and international awards for his work. He is the editor of Psychological Medicine and on the editorial boards of the Archives of General Psychiatry, British Journal of Psychiatry, Acta Psychiatria Scandinavia, and Molecular Psychiatry.

Kendler has warm memories of his days at UCSC, where he recalls being inspired by such legendary faculty as biologist Cedric Davern, historian and religious scholar Noel King, and sociologist Herman Blake. It was in one of Blake's classes that Kendler met his wife, Susan Miller (Crown '72), who is also a physician on the VCU faculty.

Deborah Madison

Deborah Madison

Greens Restaurant founding chef, author

Cowell College • 1968, B.A. sociology

Current position: Food writer/chef/farmers market advocate

Deborah Madison was the founding chef of the legendary Greens Restaurant in San Francisco, one of the earliest restaurants to have a farm-driven menu. She is the author of 10 highly acclaimed cookbooks—including The Greens Cookbook and Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone—for which she received the International Association of Culinary Professionals' Julia Child Cookbook of the Year award (as she also did for The Savory Way).

Madison has received the MFK Fisher Mid-Career award and three James Beard awards, and has been inducted into Who's Who in American Wine and Food. Madison is now widely known as a cook, writer, and cooking teacher specializing in seasonal vegetables that emphasize farmers' market produce and help connect people to the sources of their food. Her recent books include a Local Flavors: Cooking and Eating from America's Farmers' Markets (2008); and What We Eat When We Eat Alone (2009), a humorous look at the secret pleasures of solo eating. Her latest book is Seasonal Fruit Desserts: From Orchard, Farm, and Market (2010). Madison also writes about food and farming for Gourmet, Saveur, Orion, and the blogs Culinate and Zester Daily. She is involved with school garden programs in New Mexico and is an advisory board member of the Santa Fe Food Bank.

"UCSC was a great adventure," recalls Madison, "only in its second year when I came as a junior. Alan Chadwick [founder of UCSC's Farm and Garden] was a major influence. He scared the wits out of me, though, when I first met him, running at me waving his arms and shouting that I was stepping on a bed (which I was not!)."


Cheryl Scott

Cheryl Scott

Award-winning medical epidemiologist

Oakes College • 1974, B.A. biology

Current position: Physician and medical epidemiologist; recently retired from the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

2005–06 Alumni Achievement Award recipient

Cheryl Scott is an award-winning medical epidemiologist whose career has taken her around the world, including work in Africa, India, and the Caribbean.

As director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) operations in Tanzania from 2001 to 2005, Scott was in the thick of the global battle against AIDS. Nearly 1.5 million Tanzanians, or an estimated 10 percent of the population, were living with HIV/AIDS at the end of 2003. Under Scott's leadership, CDC-Tanzania helped the nation's government improve its national HIV/AIDS surveillance system, strengthen laboratory services, advance blood-transfusion safety, and prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission. From 2006 through 2010, Scott was assigned from the CDC to the California Department of Public Health Tuberculosis Control Branch and led California's Multidrug-Resistant TB Service.

"UCSC and Oakes College introduced to me the value of community service during the early '70s," says Scott, "and provided a critical framework in which to learn servant leadership. Several key individuals I met while at UCSC have continued to underscore and help me keep these values relevant, particularly as we all endeavor to contribute to a changing world."


Michael Wilson

Michael Wilson

Green chemistry leader

Stevenson College • 1984, B.A. biology

Current Positions: Research scientist, Center for Occupational & Environmental Health (COEH), School of Public Health, UC Berkeley • Associate Director for Integrative Sciences and Systems Studies, Berkeley Center for Green Chemistry (BCGC)

Michael Wilson is a pioneer in the emerging field of sustainable or "green" chemistry. With 74 billion pounds of industrial chemicals produced and imported each day in the U.S. (much of it toxic or ecotoxic) Wilson's work focuses on transforming the nature of chemical design and production.

He spearheaded formation of UCB's Berkeley Center for Green Chemistry in 2004, the nation's first major academic program to advance green chemistry through interdisciplinary scholarship. Wilson was chief author of an influential 2006 UCB report to the California State Legislature, Green Chemistry in California: A Framework for Leadership in Chemicals Policy and Innovation, and his work helped launch California's sweeping Green Chemistry Initiative.

He serves on California's Green Ribbon Science Panel and Biomonitoring Scientific Guidance Panel, and is also a member of International Panel on Chemical Pollution (Stockholm, Sweden) and the International Scientific Advisory Committee for Sustainable Chemistry (Antwerp, Belgium). Wilson's interdisciplinary approach can be traced back to his days at UCSC, where his senior thesis on the science, policy, and ethical aspects of genetic engineering won honors from noted UCSC biologists Eugene Cota-Robles and Robert Sinsheimer.



  • Adilah Barnes
  • bell hooks
  • Kent Nagano
  • Jock Reynolds
  • Lawrence Weschler


Adilah Barnes

Adilah Barnes

Award-winning actor/producer

Cowell College • 1972, B.A. individual major

Current positions: Actor/writer/producer • Co-founder, Los Angeles Women's Theatre Festival

An award-winning actor with over 40 years of experience, Barnes is best known to television audiences for her role as Anne Marie on ABC's Roseanne. Recent TV appearances include ABC's The Middle and CBS's Cold Case, and her film credits include the blockbuster Erin Brockovich and Murder By Numbers.

Barnes co-founded the Los Angeles Women's Theatre Festival, an annual multicultural festival now in its 17th year. Barnes and the Festival won the prestigious Women in Theatre Award in 2006. Barnes has also toured 40 states and three continents with her one-woman play, I Am That I Am: Woman, Black. Her first book, On My Own Terms, was published in 2008 and ranked third on the Essence magazine best-seller list (just behind two books by President Barack Obama).

She is the 2010 recipient of the Winona Fletcher Award for Outstanding Achievement and Artistic Excellence in Theatre, the 2010 Lifetime Achievement Award in Entertainment, and the Spirit of Peace Award. Barnes is founder of the Writers Well literary retreat for women in Atlanta, Georgia, and has been honored with the establishment of the Adilah Barnes Arts and Literary Achievement Scholarship for inner city youth in Minneapolis.

"I am deeply humbled to be honored is this very meaningful way," says Barnes. "I have simply followed my callings over the years, and I acknowledge UCSC for being a major turning point in my life and my career in entertainment. I was there during my coming of age, and UCSC gave me the opportunity to stretch my wings and soar."

bell hooks

bell hooks

Internationally recognized author,
cultural critic

1983, Ph.D. literature

Current position: Distinguished professor in residence in Appalachian studies at Berea College (Berea, Kentucky)

For the past three decades, bell hooks has been internationally recognized as a feminist, scholar, poet, speaker, and author.

She has published more than 30 books and numerous articles that address topics related to black feminist scholarship, popular culture, race theory, sexuality studies, and gender studies. In 1992, a Publishers Weekly poll named her book Ain't I A Woman: Black Women and Feminism "one of the 20 most influential women's books of the last 20 years." The Atlantic Monthly has described her as "one of our nation's leading public intellectuals," and Utne Reader called her one of "100 Visionaries Who Could Change Your Life."

Early in her career, hooks changed her name from Gloria Jean Watkins to bell hooks (not capitalized) in honor of her mother and grandmother. She has said that both the pseudonym and the decapitalization are attempts to take the reader's focus away from the author and place it on the content of the work.

She has held faculty positions at Yale University, Oberlin College, and City College of New York. In October 2010, Berea College celebrated the inauguration of The bell hooks Institute: A Center for Critical Thinking, Contemplation and Dreaming.

Kent Nagano

Kent Nagano

Acclaimed opera and symphony conductor

Porter College • 1974, B.A. with highest honors, music, sociology

Current positions: Conductor laureate, Berkeley Symphony Orchestra • Conductor laureate, Deutsche Symphonie Orchester • Music director, Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal • General music director, Bavarian State Opera and Bavarian State Orchestra Munich

1986–87 Alumni Achievement Award recipient

Kent Nagano is an internationally acclaimed opera and symphony conductor, serving as Berkeley Symphony Music Director from 1978 through 2009. In 2006, he was named music director of the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal and also became general music director of the Bavarian State Opera in Munich. Nagano's early professional years were spent in Boston, working with Seiji Ozawa at the Boston Symphony Orchestra. In 1984, Olivier Messiaen selected Nagano to assist in premiering his opera, Saint François d'Assise. He became the first music director of the Los Angeles Opera in 2003. A much sought-after guest conductor, he has worked with most of the world's finest orchestras including the Vienna, Berlin, and New York Philharmonic Orchestras. He has recorded widely, receiving multiple Grammy awards as well as prizes from Grammophone, Grand Prix du Disque, Edison, and Musical America.

"When I began my relationship with UCSC in 1969," recalls Nagano, "the university was just starting out. UCSC's unique structure placed exceptional scholars in close working relationships with students, which meant that one could find so many inspirational mentors. In my case, those included Edward Houghton (professor of music who later became UCSC's Arts Division dean) and Mark Messer (professor of sociology). The faculty were the most qualified and brilliant you could find anywhere."


Jock Reynolds

Jock Reynolds

Visual artist, Yale Art Gallery director

Stevenson College • 1969, B.A. psychology

Current position: Director, Yale University Art Gallery

Jock Reynolds is both a visual artist and the Henry J. Heinz II Director of the Yale Art Gallery, America's oldest university teaching museum.

After graduating from UCSC he received an M.F.A. in sculpture at UC Davis and then went on to teach for a decade at San Francisco State University, directing the graduate program in SFSU's Center for Experimental and Interdisciplinary Arts. He also exhibited his art widely and helped found 80 Langton Street, one of San Francisco's premier alternative artists' spaces.

Reynolds and his artist wife Suzanne Hellmuth then moved east to become artists-in-residence at MIT, and Reynolds went on to direct the Washington Project for the Arts in the nation's capital and the Addison Gallery of American Art at Phillips Academy, Andover.

He assumed his current position at Yale in 1998, where he is now overseeing a major expansion of the art gallery's facilities, staff, collections, and educational programs, while also continuing to produce numerous exhibitions and publications.

A member of UCSC's Pioneer Class, Reynolds has an important place in campus history. As captain of the soccer and rugby teams, he nicknamed the ruggers "The Slugs," a name later adopted for UCSC's famous mascot. Reynolds says he remains devoted to the many UCSC professors who taught him so well as an undergraduate.


Lawrence Weschler

Lawrence Weschler

Acclaimed New Yorker writer, author

Cowell College • 1974, B.A. philosophy, Western civilization

Current positions: Director, New York Institute for the Humanities, NYU • Artistic director emeritus, Chicago Humanities Festival

Lawrence Weschler was for more than 20 years (1981–2002) a staff writer at The New Yorker, where his work shuttled between political tragedies and cultural comedies.

He is a two-time winner of the George Polk Award and also a recipient of the Lannan Literary Award. Weschler's books of political reportage include The Passion of Poland (1984); A Miracle, A Universe: Settling Accounts with Torturers (1990); and Calamities of Exile: Three Nonfiction Novellas (1998). His acclaimed "Passions and Wonders" series includes counterpunctal biographies of artists Robert Irwin (1982/2009) and David Hockney (2009) and Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder (1995) about the Museum of Jurassic Technology in LA. The latter was shortlisted for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Another book in the series, Everything that Rises: A Book of Convergences (2006), received the 2007 National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism.

Weschler has taught at Princeton, Columbia, UCSC, Bard, Vassar, Sarah Lawrence, Occidental, and NYU. He is also a contributing editor to McSweeney's, the Virginia Quarterly Review, and the Threepenny Review. In 2010 he was a Getty Research Fellow and the Osher Fellow artist-in-residence at the San Francisco Exploratorium.

Weschler always specifies that he is an alumnus of UCSC's Cowell College. There, pursuing "truth in the company of friends," he dabbled widely, studying "nothing that would bring him any good" (in the words of his grandmother). In his own estimation, though, he learned the only two things one truly needs to get from college: "How to frame questions and how to learn—after which the entire rest of one's life can and will be a continuing and brimming education."



  • Malcolm Blanchard
  • Brent R. Constantz
  • Drew D. Goodman
  • Randall P. Grahm
  • Drummond Pike
  • Daniel Roam


Malcolm Blanchard

Malcolm Blanchard

Senior software engineer at Pixar

Crown College • 1972, B.A. information and computer science

Current position: Senior software engineer, Pixar Animation Studios

Malcolm Blanchard is a pioneer in the field of computer graphics and the application of computer technology to filmmaking. He was the first to develop techniques that are now commonly used, such as combining computer-generated images with photographs, drawing smooth lines on computer screens, and timeline-based user interfaces for film-editing systems. He was a founding member of several of the most prominent computer-graphics laboratories and companies. While a senior at UCSC, he was introduced to the then-new field of computer graphics by Ken Knowlton, who was on leave from Bell Labs for a year of teaching at UCSC.

Blanchard went on to graduate school at the University of Utah, which at the time was the world's preeminent computer-graphics research facility. In 1975, he joined fellow Utahan Ed Catmull to found the Computer Graphics Lab at the New York Institute of Technology. He later became a founding member of the Computer Division at Lucasfilm, where he developed computer systems for Industrial Light and Magic (Lucasfilm's special-effects division). In 1986, Blanchard continued with the Computer Division as it was spun off from Lucasfilm and eventually became Pixar Animation Studios, known for such animated blockbusters as Toy Story, A Bug's Life, Monsters, Inc., and WALL-E.

Blanchard's most vivid UCSC memory is visiting the home of David Huffman, a founding member of UCSC's Information and Computer Science Department and famous for the development of Huffman coding. In the family room, Blanchard was startled to find a wall of terrariums filled with snakes (Huffman was quite a rattlesnake aficionado), and recalls thinking, "I'd hate to be here during an earthquake!"

Rattlesnakes aside, says Blanchard, he was impressed that Huffman, one of UCSC's most prominent and senior faculty members, "delighted in teaching introductory courses and working closely with the youngest students."

Brent R. Constantz

Brent R. Constantz

Medical and environmental innovator

1984, M.S. Earth sciences • 1986, Ph.D. Earth sciences

Current positions: Founder, chairman, Calera Corporation • Consulting professor, Stanford University

1998 Alumni Achievement Award recipient
2009 Global Ocean Hero Award

When Brent Constantz invented revolutionary products for healing broken bones, he was inspired by the research on coral reefs he had conducted as a UCSC graduate student.

Constantz is known for the development of innovative high-performance medical cements and devices. He founded and was CEO of three medical device companies, is named as inventor on more than 70 issued U.S. patents, and his cements for bone fractures are used worldwide.

Now, drawing on the same source of inspiration, Constantz has developed a new process for making construction cement that could help reverse global warming. His latest company, Calera, captures carbon emitted by power plants and converts it into a form that can be reused to make "green cement" (the standard manufacturing process for the cement used in concrete releases huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere). Calera's subsidiary, Moss Landing Cement Company, has built several pilot plants and a large-scale demonstration plant at Moss Landing, just down the coast from Santa Cruz.

The company recently began a concrete demonstration project in Santa Cruz to start introducing the new material to the building industry. Constantz is also leading a new effort to supply potable water to Santa Cruz and Monterey counties, drawing deep water from the Monterey Submarine Canyon for desalination at Moss Landing.

Constantz says, "UCSC offered the unique combination of very solid scientific credentials in the geological and biological sciences with the freedom to work transparently across the various disciplines required for the study of biomineralization, which encompasses crystallography to physiology, and everything in between. Of course, the campus's greatest attribute is the quality of its faculty."

Drew D. Goodman

Drew D. Goodman

Organic farming innovator

College Eight • 1983, B.A. environmental studies/environmental design

Current Position: Co-founder, Earthbound Farm

Starting in 1984 with a 2.5-acre raspberry farm in Carmel Valley, Drew Goodman and his wife, Myra, have built their pioneering company, Earthbound Farm, into the world's largest grower of organic produce.

Undaunted by those who said it couldn't be done, in 1986 they became the first company to successfully market prewashed, packaged greens for retail sale, starting a salad revolution and introducing organic produce to big-name retailers including Costco, Walmart, Safeway, and Albertsons. Earthbound Farm now produces more than 100 varieties of certified organic salads, fruits, and vegetables with 150 growers farming 35,000 acres. Their organic growing methods avoid the use of more than 11 million pounds of synthetic chemicals annually.

Goodman, who worked in the field every day until the mid-1990s, says, "We never intended to have a business on this scale—it just evolved, and we grew with it. Our success shows that organic farming is viable on a large scale."

He adds that UCSC provided the ideal education for an innovator because it offered so many opportunities to try new things. "You can't be afraid to fail—you learn by experimenting and succeeding and/or failing. Education is about being taught how to think, rather than how to do something."


Randall P. Grahm

Randall P. Grahm

Bonny Doon Vineyard impresario

Porter College • Preferred year 1974: Studied philosophy, literature and pre-med

Current Position: Winemaker and president-for-life, Bonny Doon Vineyard

Randall Grahm, founder of Bonny Doon Vineyard, is a legend in the U.S. wine industry for his biodynamically produced, adventurous wines. He is equally well known for his whimsical wit and humor. Grahm's entertaining winery newsletters not only promote his wines but also offer a glimpse into the deeper philosophical questions that attend wine culture.

Grahm's recent book, Been Doon So Long: A Randall Grahm Vinthology (University of California Press, 2009), is a collection of newsletter pieces and articles written for various wine publications. In 2010 the book received two important prizes—a James Beard Award for Best Wine and Spirits Book of 2010 and the Georges Duboeuf Award for Best Wine Book of the Year. The New York Times called the book, "Brilliantly observed and beautifully rendered." Food & Wine called it, "Sharp, irreverent musings on wine—everything from literary spoofs to serious essays." Grahm was recently inducted into the Vintner's Hall of Fame at the Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena, one of a handful of living winemakers to obtain that distinction. He also enjoys the rare privilege of having an asteroid named in his honor.

Says Grahm of his time at UCSC: "I was fortunate enough to have been exposed to some great meta-thinkers at UCSC, Gregory Bateson and Norman O. Brown, to name just two, and I think that this in part propelled me to often look into the deeper meaning of things. There are some advantages to remaining a puer aeternus, as sometimes happens to UCSC alumni—the ability to continually look at the world with fresh eyes."


Drummond Pike

Drummond Pike

Tides Foundation founder

Stevenson College • 1970, B.A. politics

Current Position: Founder and former CEO, Tides

Drummond Pike founded Tides in 1976 and served as Tides CEO until he stepped down recently (fall 2010) to pursue other projects.

Tides—which oversees the Tides Foundation, the Tides Center, and Tides Shared Spaces—has helped increase the capacity and effectiveness of thousands of social change organizations. Tides provides fiscal sponsorship for more than 200 nonprofit projects across the country, launches and operates green nonprofit centers, and has managed philanthropy for hundreds of donor advised funds, funder collaboratives, and regranting programs. Over the past decade, Tides has administered well over $1 billion in grants and programmatic activity, and is often among the top 100 largest charities in the U.S.

Pike helped pioneer fully staffed donor-advised funds in philanthropy and has supported grassroots and public interest organizations through environmental and social change philanthropy throughout his career. Pike also founded The Advocacy Fund as a platform to support legislative advocacy initiatives on climate change, immigration reform, social security, and other issues. Prior to founding Tides, Pike served as executive director of the Shalan Foundation. He also co-founded and served as associate director for the Youth Project in Washington, D.C., and was among the founders of Working Assets (now Credo Mobile).

UCSC provided excellent preparation for an innovator, says Pike. "It gave me and others an opportunity to create things from scratch—an underground newsletter, The Stevenson Libre, the Inter-College Board, and the office of Campus Representative, none of which existed before we arrived in the fall of 1966. I've been creating and building organizations ever since." He adds, "UCSC also challenged me to think critically and to express myself in both spoken and written forms—skills that have served me invaluably over the years."


Daniel Roam

Daniel Roam

Management consultant, bestselling author

Merrill College • 1988 - B.A. art/biology

Current positions: Internationally recognized author and consultant • President, Digital Roam, Inc.

Dan Roam is the author of the international bestseller The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures. The book was named Best Innovation Book of the Year by BusinessWeek, Fast Company, and the Financial Times and became Amazon's No. 5 business book of 2008.

Roam is the founder of Digital Roam, a consulting firm that helps major companies solve complex problems through the art of visual thinking. He has worked with leaders at Microsoft, Google, Walmart, Boeing, Lucasfilm, Gap, Kraft, Stanford University, MIT, the U.S. Senate, the U.S. Navy, and the White House Office of Communications. Roam and his whiteboard have been featured on CNN, MSNBC, ABC News, Fox News, and NPR, and his visual explanation of the American health care debate was named the "The World's Greatest Presentation of 2009" by BusinessWeek.

Says Roam: "I have a unique view of how people can look at problems, and UCSC played a big part in helping me develop that vision. At UCSC, I was encouraged to pursue an unconventional, interdisciplinary education that meshed fine art, science, and business."


Know other
accomplished alums?

Please tell us about them!


  • Joseph Lyman DeRisi
  • Victor Davis Hanson
  • Steven A. Hawley
  • William James Kent
  • Geoffrey W. Marcy
  • Kathy D. Sullivan
  • Richard White


Joseph Lyman DeRisi

Joseph Lyman DeRisi

Groundbreaking medical researcher
and professor

Crown College • 1992, B.A. biochemistry and molecular biology

Current positions: Professor, Gordon Tomkins chair and vice-chair of Biochemistry & Biophysics, UC San Francisco; Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator • California Institute for Quantitative Biomedical Research (QB3) investigator

2006–7 Alumni Achievement Award recipient

Joe DeRisi has been called a "virus detective," a "scientific polymath," and a "rock star of the science world." He helped pioneer and disseminate DNA microarray (or "gene chip") technology while a graduate student with Patrick O. Brown at Stanford. Together with UCSF researcher Don Ganem, he developed and deployed the ViroChip, which he used to assist in the identification of the causative agent of SARS in 2003. In parallel, DeRisi has been developing and using new approaches to study malaria, one of the top causes of childhood mortality.

DeRisi received a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation fellowship in 2004. In 2008 he was awarded the 14th Annual Heinz Award for Technology, the Economy and Employment for "extraordinary breakthroughs in detecting both new and existing viruses." In 2010, his QB3 team received a $1 million award from the W. M. Keck Foundation to develop technology that will help design a vaccine for malaria and other infectious diseases. DeRisi is known as a strong supporter of free and open access to scientific research, posting his results online and in journals that support open access.

At UCSC, DeRisi says, he was inspired to pursue a career in biochemistry by taking courses with legendary faculty like Harry Noller. He subsequently gained valuable hands-on lab experience working in the lab of DNA researcher Larry Peck. "UCSC gave me the opportunity to participate in real research as an undergraduate, which was critical for my educational and career development. There is simply no substitute for getting your hands wet in the lab. I highly doubt I would have made it this far without those early opportunities."

Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson

Historian, author, Hoover Fellow

Cowell College • 1975, B.A. literature (highest honors, classics; college honors, Cowell College)

Current positions: Martin and Illie Anderson senior fellow in residence in classics and military history, Hoover Institution, Stanford University • Professor of classics emeritus, California State University, Fresno • Syndicated columnist, Tribune Media Services

2001–02 Alumni Achievement Award recipient

Victor Davis Hanson has attracted wide public and scholarly acclaim for his provocative perspectives on the demise of the family farm; the role of the humanities; war and military history; and the global role of the U.S. He is a nationally syndicated columnist for Tribune Media Services, and was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2007 and the Bradley Prize in 2008. Hanson, who is the fifth successive generation to live in the same house on his family's farm, was a full-time orchard and vineyard grower from 1980 to 1984. He is the author of hundreds of articles, reviews, scholarly papers, and editorials on a wide range of topics and has written or edited 19 books, including Carnage and Culture (2001), a New York Times bestseller.

Hanson's recently released book The Father of Us All: War and History, Ancient and Modern (2010) is an anthology of essays and reviews from the past decade. He also edited Makers of Ancient Strategy: From the Persian Wars to the Fall of Rome (2010), bringing top scholars together to explore warfare, strategy, and foreign policy in the Greco-Roman world.

"UCSC was an anomaly between 1971 and 1975," says Hanson. "In those days, socially, culturally, and politically, campus life was unstructured, anarchistic, pure chaos. Yet educationally, the classics program, especially Greek and Latin language and literature, was traditional, philological, and structured. In other words, a wonderful 19th century Oxford sort of education amid 1970s Northern California. I learned a great deal from that odd marriage, namely that knowledge comes in many forms and that accepted conventions, hierarchy, titles, and certificates are not necessarily a guide to wisdom. At 18 that was a valuable lesson that has stayed with me the last 40 years."


Steven A. Hawley

Steven A. Hawley

Astronaut turned physics professor

1977, Ph.D. astronomy and astrophysics

Current positions: Professor of physics and astronomy, University of Kansas • Director of engineering physics, University of Kansas • Former astronaut, NASA

1985-86 Alumni Achievement Award recipient

Steven Hawley was selected as a NASA astronaut in January 1978. He made five space flights from 1984 to 1999, logging a total of more than 770 hours in space. From 2003 to 2004, Hawley served as First Chief Astronaut for the NASA Engineering and Safety Center, and from 2002 to 2008 he headed the Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science Directorate. Hawley was inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame in 2007. He retired from NASA in 2008 to join the University of Kansas faculty.

"There was never any doubt that I wanted to be an astronomer," says Hawley, "and that was my goal when I went to UC Santa Cruz. UCSC was fairly young when I was looking at graduate schools, but it already had a world-class astronomy department, and I was lucky enough to get in."

His career as an astronaut was not in the original plan, Hawley adds, but when the opportunity came along, he jumped at it and never looked back. Several of his space missions were enormously important to the field of astronomy: Hawley was part of the Discovery crew that deployed the Hubble Space Telescope in 1990 and was also on a Hubble maintenance flight in 1997. In 1999 he helped deploy the Chandra X-Ray Observatory.

William James Kent

William James Kent

Helped map the genome

Kresge College • 1981, B.A. mathematics • 1986, M.A. mathematics • 2002, Ph.D. biology

Current position: Research Scientist, UC Santa Cruz

As a graduate student in 2000, Jim Kent played a crucial role (with UCSC's David Haussler) in sequencing the human genome.

Kent created the UCSC Genome Browser, an open-source, web-based tool now used by biomedical researchers throughout the world. "The Genome Browser and some of the other tools that Jim has built are so widely used and have had such an impact, that he is kind of a folk hero in this field," Haussler says.

The UCSC group has since been involved in other major genome sequencing work, and UCSC remains among the top campuses in the nation for its research in molecular biology and genetics. In a recent analysis, Kent was ranked fourth on the list of researchers with the most high-impact papers in this field between 2002 and 2006. Kent had a major role in the most cited paper in the survey, a landmark 2002 report in Nature on the mouse genome.

Kent earned three degrees at UCSC. "As a student," he says, "I really appreciated UCSC's emphasis on teaching and research, as well as the collaborative, less competitive, approach. I also enjoyed the college environment, which made it a lot easier to connect with people and make friends. And I still love the bridges that allow you to see through the tree canopy."


Geoffrey W. Marcy

Geoffrey W. Marcy

Discoverer of planets

1982, Ph.D. astronomy and astrophysics

Current positions: Professor of astronomy, UC Berkeley; Adjunct professor of physics and astronomy, San Francisco State University • Director, Center for Integrative Planetary Science, UC Berkeley

1996–97 Alumni Achievement Award recipient

Geoff Marcy is one of the pioneers and leaders in the discovery and characterization of planets around other stars. He and his collaborators have discovered over 200 of the 500 known extrasolar planets, allowing study of their masses, orbits, multi-planet architectures, and formation. Among the planets discovered are the first multiple-planet system, the first Saturn-mass planet, the first Neptune-mass planet, and the co-discovery of the first transiting planet. Marcy is a co-investigator on the NASA Kepler mission, which is dedicated to discovering and characterizing Earth-size planets. He is also the director of UC Berkeley's Center for Integrative Planetary Science, which studies the formation, geophysics, chemistry, and evolution of planets.

Marcy is an elected member of both the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (2002) and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences (2010). He is the recipient of many awards including the Carl Sagan Prize for Science Popularization (2009), the Shaw Prize (2005, shared with M. Mayor), Discover Magazine Space Scientist of the Year (2003), the NASA Medal for Exceptional Scientific Achievement (2003), Beatrice Tinsley prize from the American Astronomical Society (2002), and California Scientist of the Year (2000). He has over 400 publications in refereed journals.

Marcy notes that his time at UCSC had a major impact on his career. "The faculty at UCSC taught me the value of venturing to secure interpretations and unimpeachable conclusions. The UCSC faculty taught by example—taking data carefully and piercing the frontier only as far as the data allowed."


Kathy D. Sullivan

Kathy D. Sullivan

First U.S. woman to walk in space

Cowell College • 1973, B.S. Earth sciences

Current position: Founding director, Battelle Center for Mathematics and Science Education Policy at the University of Ohio's John Glenn School of Public Affairs

1984-85 Alumni Achievement Award recipient

A scientist, astronaut, and award-winning educator, Kathy Sullivan became the first U.S. woman to walk in space in 1984. She is a veteran of three shuttle missions and a 2004 inductee to the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame. In 1993, Sullivan left NASA to serve as chief scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. As a member of the Pew Oceans Commission, Sullivan was part of a team that called for the immediate reform of U.S. ocean policies. From 1996 to 2006, Sullivan served as president and CEO of COSI (Center of Science & Industry), an innovator of hands-on, inquiry-based science learning resources. She was named founding director of the Battelle Center in November 2006.

In January 2011, Sullivan was nominated by President Barack Obama to become Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Observation and Prediction, a position that oversees the National Weather Service and other programs related to predicting oceanic, atmospheric, and climate dynamics.

Sullivan entered UCSC as a foreign languages major and discovered she needed three science classes to fulfill general education requirements. After trying what she described as "every trick in the book to get out of them," Sullivan enrolled in oceanography and Earth sciences classes, which proved a turning point in her life. She still recalls the strong encouragement and support she received from UCSC faculty. "The faculty let learning flourish," she says. "We pursued discovery together, and they treated us like peers."


Richard White

Richard White

Leading American West scholar

Cowell College • 1969, B.A. history

Current position: Margaret Byrne Professor of American History, Stanford University

Richard White is considered one of the nation's leading scholars in three related fields: the American West, Native American history, and environmental history.

White joined Stanford in 1998 and is the author of six books, including his classic The Middle Ground: Indians, Empires and Republic in the Great Lakes Region, 1650-1815, which was named a finalist for the 1992 Pulitzer Prize and received five major history prizes. The Middle Ground was recently re-released in a 20th anniversary edition. White's forthcoming Railroaded: The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern America (2011) is an incisive history of the transcontinental railroads and how they transformed America in the decades after the Civil War.

Among other honors, White received a MacArthur Foundation fellowship in 1997 and the Andrew Mellon Foundation Distinguished Achievement Award in the Humanities in 2006. He is the principal investigator for the Shaping the West project, part of Stanford's Spatial History Project. Shaping the West is an attempt to create collaborative projects that employ visualizations as well as narratives to understand the past.

White says that his UCSC undergraduate education provided a solid foundation for his later work. "The faculty at Santa Cruz taught me to think, and the student body encouraged me to take chances. The university as a whole made me realize that no position, discovery, or opinion is any better than your ability to explain it, justify it, and defend it."


Justice Seekers

  • Laurie Garrett
  • Teri L. Jackson
  • Roberto Nájera
  • George Robert Perkovich
  • Jason Rao
  • M. Sanjayan
  • Julia E. Sweig


Laurie Garrett

Laurie Garrett

Best-selling author and Pulitzer winner

Merrill College • 1975, B.A. biology

Current positions: Author, journalist, policy analyst • Senior fellow for global health, Council on Foreign Relations

1995–96 Alumni Achievement Award recipient

Laurie Garrett is a leading expert on global health, with a particular focus on newly emerging and re-emerging diseases and their effects on foreign policy and national security.

She currently heads a global health program that was rated the No. 8 best health-related think tank in the world, and the only top-rated effort focused on global health. Garrett is the best-selling author of The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance and Betrayal of Trust: The Collapse of Global Public Health. Her new book, I Heard the Sirens Scream: How Americans Responded to the 9/11 and Anthrax Attacks, will be released in the spring of 2011.

Garrett began her journalism career as an award-winning science reporter for Berkeley's iconic KPFA radio. Later, as a medical and science writer for NPR and Newsday in New York City, she became the only reporter ever to have been awarded all three of the Big "Ps" of journalism: The Peabody, the Polk (twice), and the Pulitzer. Her work has also been recognized with three honorary Ph.D.s and numerous other awards.

As a UCSC undergraduate, Garrett was inspired by legendary faculty like Page Smith, Noel King, and Harry Noller. As part of an independent study, she co-developed and co-taught UCSC's first women's health class (and very possibly the first such course at any university). Female Physiology and Gynecology attracted 300 students in its first year and double that the second.

"It is impossible for me to imagine any other undergraduate experience that could have offered the knowledge, flashes of genius, creative terrain, humane values, dreams, and hopes that I got from UC Santa Cruz," says Garrett. "When I was 16 years old I told my mother, 'If I don't get into Santa Cruz I'm not going to college.' My intuition was spot-on. UCSC and I were a match made in heaven, and nothing I have seen elsewhere has shaken the conviction I held as a teenager: UC Santa Cruz is the best."

Teri L. Jackson

Teri L. Jackson

Superior court judge

Stevenson College • 1977, B.A. politics

Current positions: Superior Court judge of California, County of San Francisco; Adjunct professor, University of California Hastings School of Law

Teri Jackson spent many years as a highly respected trial attorney, and in 2002 she was the first African American woman appointed to the Superior Court bench in San Francisco.

Prior to her appointment, Jackson gained extensive experience in both civil and criminal litigation at the prestigious law firm of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, LLP, with specialties in the areas of Proposition 65, employment, trade secret, environmental, real estate, and bankruptcy law. For over 14 years, she was a prosecutor for the San Francisco District Attorney and the San Mateo County District Attorney. As assistant DA in San Francisco, she was managing attorney for homicide, domestic violence, and misdemeanor trials.

Jackson has served as chair of the State Bar of California Committee of Bar Examiners; a board member of the California Court Reporter's Board, Northern California; president of the Black Women Lawyers Association; and a board member of the Peninsula Community Foundation. Throughout her career, Jackson has been dedicated to encouraging increased participation by women and people of color in the legal profession. She has also been active in education, serving as a mentor and encouraging young people to pursue higher education.

"I greatly value the education I received at UCSC," says Jackson, who graduated from high school with honors at the top of her class when she was just 15. "I was just 16 when I went to college, and UCSC provided a supportive environment that helped me thrive."

Jackson has especially fond memories of legendary faculty members Herman Blake and Carlos Noreña and of mentors Josie King, of the Oakes College counseling staff, and Professor Carolyn Martin Shaw (then Carolyn Clark) of Kresge College. Jackson also appreciated UCSC's narrative evaluation system: "It provided an objective reflection of my strengths and weaknesses, something that's needed in education today."

Roberto Najera

Roberto Nájera

Cutting-edge public defender

Merrill College • 1979, B.A. sociology

Current position: Former deputy public defender, Contra Costa County

2004–05 Alumni Achievement Award recipient

Roberto Nájera has dedicated his career to providing outstanding legal representation for low-income clients.

He is best known for successfully arguing a landmark statute-of-limitations case before the U.S. Supreme Court. After 30 years as an attorney and 20 years in the Public Defenders Office, Nájera recently retired to pursue other interests.

The fifth of six children, Nájera grew up in a working class family in the coastal town of Davenport, just 10 miles north of Santa Cruz. After graduating from UCSC (earning honors in sociology and Merrill College honors), he obtained a law degree from Harvard. Nájera began his legal career with La Raza Centro Legal in San Francisco, briefly went into private practice, then joined the Legal Aid Society of Marin County and Legal Aid Society of Contra Costa County. In 1989, he went to work for the Contra Costa County Public Defenders Office. In 2003, Nájera argued a case before the U.S. Supreme Court that ultimately overturned a 1994 California statute-of-limitations law, freeing many who had been unconstitutionally convicted. In 2004, Nájera's work was recognized with the prestigious Kutak-Dodds Prize from the National Legal Aid and Defenders Association. He was also named Public Defender of the Year by the California Public Defenders Association.

Nájera says he still gets very nostalgic each time he visits UCSC. "I had a wonderful time there and got a great education. The UCSC faculty were top notch—I'd put my Santa Cruz education up against Harvard anytime." Nájera has another ongoing UCSC connection—his sister, Olga Nájera-Ramírez, is now professor of anthropology at UCSC.


George Robert Perkovich

George Robert Perkovich

Nuclear arms expert

Cowell College • 1981, B.A. politics

Current position: Vice president for studies/director of the Nuclear Policy Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

George Perkovich has spent more than two decades researching nuclear arms strategy and nonproliferation, and he is one of the most influential voices on international nuclear arms issues.

His work focuses on South Asia and Iran, as well as on broader international security challenges related to nuclear weapons. He has a particular interest in how aspirations for justice affect the politics of preventing nuclear weapons proliferation.

Perkovich is the author of the award-winning book India's Nuclear Bomb (2001) and coauthor of the Adelphi Paper, Abolishing Nuclear Weapons, published in 2008 by the International Institute for Strategic Studies. This paper is the basis of the book, Abolishing Nuclear Weapons: A Debate, which includes 17 critiques by 13 eminent international commentators. Perkovich coauthored the Carnegie Endowment's 2005 report WMD in Iraq: Evidence and Implications, which was the first to call for the creation of an independent commission to investigate U.S. intelligence failures in Iraq. He is an adviser to the International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations' Task Force on U.S. Nuclear Policy.

Recalling his undergraduate education, Perkovich says, "At UCSC I received the greatest boost a person can get. I was encouraged to think without boundaries, but within reason; to respect conventional wisdom by questioning it seriously."


Jason Rao

Jason Rao

International biosecurity expert

Porter College • 1993, B.A. chemistry (synthetic organic chemistry)

Current position: Senior policy advisor for global science engagement in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (National Security and International Affairs Division)

Jason Rao has spent the last decade pioneering new programs in international science diplomacy across the globe, bringing thousands of scientists together to meet the world's major challenges in health, energy, security, and the environment.

Before joining the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Rao served in the U.S. Department of State working on a range of foreign assistance initiatives, including projects in Russia, Central Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, and South and Southeast Asia.

In 2007, he served at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad as advisor for health security, where he was instrumental in reviving the U.S.-Pakistan Science and Technology Cooperation agreement. In 2009, Rao was named a Brookings Legislative Fellow in the 111th Congress, working on the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, where he drafted legislation to strengthen global health security measures.

Rao was previously an American Association for the Advancement of Science Diplomacy Fellow, as well as a scientist in the pharmaceutical industry and fellow at the National Institutes of Health. After graduating from UCSC, Rao went on to earn a Ph.D. in biochemistry, cellular and molecular biology from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, but he credits his time under UCSC mentor Bakthan Singaram (professor of chemistry) as the most influential and inspirational in his career. "My greatest mentor was Bakthan Singaram, who taught me so much more than chemistry. UCSC provided an ideal environment to learn, explore my interests, and develop my talents."


M. Sanjayan

M. Sanjayan

Nature Conservancy lead scientist

1997, Ph.D. biology

Current positions: Lead scientist, The Nature Conservancy • Research faculty affiliate, Wildlife Program, College of Forestry, University of Montana

As lead scientist for The Nature Conservancy, Sanjayan not only provides science expertise and guidance to the organization, but has also become an important public voice for nature and the global environment.

His ability to translate science and conservation in ways that inspire people to take action has made him a frequent guest on NBC's Today Show and other news and commentary venues such as the Letterman Show. Sanjayan has hosted documentaries for the Discovery Channel (Powering the Future, Mysteries of the Shark Coast, and Expedition Alaska) and the BBC (Wildlife in a War-Zone), and he was featured in National Geographic TV's Earth Report 2009 and on Discovery Channel's Planet Earth: The Future. Sanjayan's work has received extensive print media coverage—from Vanity Fair to National Geographic Adventure and The New York Times. In 2007 he was named as one of Men's Journal's "Heroes of 2007," and in 2010 Outside magazine profiled him in a feature article.

Sanjayan's scientific work has been published in Science, Nature, Conservation Biology, and other journals, and he co-edited (with fellow UCSC alumnus Kevin Crooks) the book Connectivity Conservation (2006). Sanjayan is a sought-after speaker whose on-stage appearances at international gatherings have included the Aspen Ideas Festival, International Women's Forum, TED Global, and the Clinton Global Initiative. He was recently named a Catto Fellow by the Aspen Institute.

At UCSC Sanjayan studied with Michael Soulé (professor emeritus of environmental studies who is widely considered the father of conservation biology), and he is carrying on that tradition. As Sanjayan says, "As a graduate student at UCSC, I realized that we are the luckiest generation. A few decades ago we understood our planet insufficiently. A few decades hence, our knowledge may come too late. Though we may witness the worst right now, we have the opportunity to do the most."


Julia E. Sweig

Julia E. Sweig

Leading expert on Latin America policy

Porter College • 1986, B.A. Latin American studies

Current position: Nelson and David Rockefeller senior fellow for Latin America studies and director for Latin America studies, Council on Foreign Relations (CFR)

Julia Sweig is an internationally recognized authority on Latin America and U.S. foreign policy, especially with respect to Latin America.

An award-winning and prolific writer, she is the author of Inside the Cuban Revolution: Fidel Castro and the Urban Underground (2002) and Friendly Fire: Losing Friends and Making Enemies in the Anti-American Century (2006). Sweig's most recent book is Cuba: What Everyone Needs to Know (2009). Her writing also appears in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Financial Times, Foreign Affairs, Cigar Aficionado, The Nation and a host of international publications—in Spain, Mexico, Brazil, and Cuba, for example. She is researching a new political biography about the people behind Brazil's new global footprint.

Sweig says that UCSC's interdisciplinary Latin American Studies program provided ideal preparation for her career, and it also gave her the opportunity to work with inspirational faculty who included Saul Landau, Sonia Alvarez, Gabriel Berns, and Jim O'Connor. She notes that she also misses riding her bike up and down the steep UCSC hill, and adds, "I'd love to be back on that bike!"



  • Shannon M. Brownlee
  • Richard Harris
  • Laurie R. King
  • Jayne Ann Krentz
  • Steven P. Martini
  • Joe Palca
  • Dana Priest
  • Katy Roberts


Shannon M. Brownlee

Shannon M. Brownlee

Prominent writer and essayist

College Eight • 1979, B.S. Biology • 1983, M.S. in Marine Sciences

Acting Director, New America Health Policy Program, New America Foundation (a non-partisan think tank in Washington, D.C.) • Writer, Essayist • Instructor, The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice • Woodrow Wilson Visiting Scholar

Shannon Brownlee is a nationally known writer and essayist whose work has appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, New York Times Magazine, The New Republic, Slate, Time, Washington Monthly, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and the British medical journal BMJ among many other publications. She is best known for her groundbreaking work on avoidable health care, the patchy quality of medical evidence, and the implications for health-care policy. Her book, Overtreated: Why Too Much Medicine is Making Us Sicker and Poorer, was named the best economics book of 2007 by New York Times economics correspondent David Leonhardt. Brownlee's current research and writing focus on issues surrounding delivery system reform, clinical evidence, and health-care costs. A former senior writer and editor at U.S. News & World Report, Brownlee lectures regularly at universities, medical schools, and in public venues around the country. Her work has won numerous top journalism awards, and Overtreated was a semifinalist for the National Book Award. In 2009 Brownlee was named one of four writers who changed the world by the World Federation of Science Journalists.

"I went to Santa Cruz because the campus was beautiful, there weren't any grades, and it was a hard campus to get into," says Brownlee. "Looking back, I can now see it was also a breeding ground for independent thinkers and doers. Being a Banana Slug was great training for breaking down intellectual barriers, even though at the time, it just seemed like a cool place to be."


Richard Harris

Richard Harris

NPR science correspondent

Crown College • 1980, B.A. Biology

Current Position: Science Correspondent, National Public Radio

2010–11 Alumni Achievement Award Recipient

Award-winning journalist Richard Harris reports on science issues for NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition. Harris, who joined NPR in 1986, has reported from the ends of the earth, including Timbuktu, the South Pole, the Galapagos Islands, the center of Greenland, the Amazon rain forest, and the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro (for a story about tuberculosis). In 2010, Harris's in-depth coverage of the blown-out BP oil well in the Gulf of Mexico uncovered the fact that the well was spewing out far more oil than the official estimates indicated. Harris's awards include honorary membership in Sigma Xi, the scientific research society (2002); the Sagan Award for improving public understanding of science (1999); and a Peabody Award for investigative reporting about the tobacco industry (1995). Before joining NPR, Harris was a science writer for the San Francisco Examiner. Harris is co-founder of the Washington, D.C., Area Science Writers Association, as well as past president of the National Association of Science Writers.

As a UCSC biology major, Harris found himself drawn to journalism while taking a science writing course from John Wilkes (founding director of UCSC's Science Communication Program). Reporting satisfied his eclectic interest in science. "Everything I looked at interested me," he said. "UCSC offered a spectrum of opportunities and enabled me to pick and choose—to combine, for example, writing and science. And that opportunity, that encouragement, was just terrific for me."


Laurie R. King

Laurie R. King

Best-selling mystery novelist

Kresge College • 1977, B.A. Religious Studies

Current position: Novelist, Writer

Laurie R. King is an award-winning crime writer whose novels range from police procedurals to futuristic speculation, and include the New York Times best-selling historical series featuring "the world's greatest detective—and her husband": Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes. Beginning with 1993's A Grave Talent, King uses the crime novel as subversive entertainment, the storyteller's art that sneaks ideas of substance into rousing good tales.

King's B.A. in religious studies led to an M.A. in Old Testament theology (and later, an honorary doctorate) from the Graduate Theological Union. When she turned from a life of God to a life of crime, she took her past with her, shaping several of her novels around her interest in theology. Her UCSC senior thesis, "The Holy Fool in Western Culture," inspired the second Kate Martinelli novel, To Play the Fool; an independent study course in the symbols of alchemy laid the foundation for A Darker Place.

A Grave Talent, featuring San Francisco homicide inspector Kate Martinelli, won both the Edgar Award for Best First Novel and the Creasey Dagger from Britain's Crime Writers' Association. Later books have won or been nominated for an alphabet of prizes, from Agatha to Wolfe; The Beekeeper's Apprentice (the first Russell & Holmes novel) was named one of the century's best crime novels by the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association. In 2010, King was inducted into the Baker Street Irregulars; she has been the guest of honor at the annual mystery conventions Left Coast Crime and BoucherCon; and in 2006 she was Santa Cruz County's artist of the year.

King says that UCSC's broad and eclectic academic experience was ideal preparation for a novelist. "I studied Chinese language and Russian spirituality, Jungian archetypal psychology, and alchemical symbolism. I labored in the campus organic garden and wrote bad poetry about the experience. I read Lao Tse and Jacob Neusner and Carl Jung and Frank Waters, all of whom had something to say about the human religious experience. I read and listened and talked—and I was at home."


Jayne Ann Krentz

Jayne Ann Krentz

Popular, prolific fiction author

Stevenson College • 1970, B.A. History

Current position: Novelist, Writer

Romance novelist Jayne Ann Krentz is one of the country's best-loved and most prolific writers, with an impressive string of New York Times best sellers to her credit. Krentz uses three different pen names, one for each of her three fictional "worlds." As Jayne Ann Krentz (her married name) she writes contemporary romantic suspense. She uses Amanda Quick for her novels of historical romantic suspense, with Jayne Castle (her birth name) reserved these days for her stories of futuristic/paranormal romantic suspense. "I am often asked why I use a variety of pen names," Krentz says. "The answer is that this way readers always know which of my three worlds they will be entering when they pick up one of my books." Krentz' latest book—Quicksilver, published under her pseudonym Amanda Quick—is due out in April 2011.

In addition to her fiction writing, Krentz is the editor of, and a contributor to, a nonfiction essay collection, Dangerous Men and Adventurous Women: Romance Writers on the Appeal of the Romance, published by the University of Pennsylvania Press. She has a strong commitment to her chosen genre, saying, "This is the only genre where readers are guaranteed novels that place the heroine at the heart of the story," Krentz says. "These are books that celebrate women's heroic virtues and values: courage, honor, determination and a belief in the healing power of love."

"I was a small-town girl from a very small-town high school," says Krentz. UCSC opened my eyes to the world and gave me the self-confidence I needed to pursue a big-girl dream. It was not so much what I learned at UCSC—although that was important—it was that I learned how to learn."


Steven P. Martini

Steven P. Martini

Best-selling mystery novelist

Cowell College • 1968, B.A. Politics

Current position: Writer/Novelist

Steve Martini is a best-selling mystery novelist, with 14 legal thrillers released to date. After graduating from UCSC, Martini's first career was in journalism, including a stint as correspondent at the California State Capitol in Sacramento specializing in legal issues. He went on to earn a law degree, then had a successful private law practice in California where he appeared in both state and federal courts. He also worked as a legislative representative for the State Bar of California, served as special counsel to the California Victims of Violent Crimes Program, and was an administrative law judge and supervising hearing officer.

In 1984, Martini turned his talents to fiction, drawing on both of those earlier careers. Compelling Evidence, the novel that introduced fictional attorney Paul Madriani, was published by Putnam in 1992. That book was a national best seller and earned Martini a wide critical and popular following. His most recent Paul Madriani book is The Rule of Nine (2010).


Joe Palca

Joe Palca

NPR science correspondent, author

Graduate Division • 1982, Ph.D. Psychology

Current position: Science Correspondent, National Public Radio

Since joining NPR in 1992, Joe Palca has covered a wide range of science topics—everything from biomedical research to astronomy. He also occasionally fills in as a guest host for NPR's Talk of the Nation Science Friday. Palca began his journalism career in television in 1982 as a health producer for the CBS affiliate in Washington, D.C., and then worked for Nature and Science magazines. He has won numerous awards, including the National Academies Communications Award for excellence in communicating science, engineering, and medicine to the general public. He has also received the Science-in-Society Award of the National Association of Science Writers, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science Journalism Prize. In 2009 Palca was the first-ever science-writer-in-residence at the Huntington Library in San Marino, Calif. With Flora Lichtman, Palca is the coauthor of soon-to-be-released (April 2011) book Annoying: The Science of What Bugs Us, which explores psychology, evolutionary biology, anthropology, and more, to uncover the roots of human annoyance.

As a UCSC graduate student, Palca conducted research on sleep physiology with professor of biology (now emeritus) Ralph Berger, and in 2003 he interviewed Berger on NPR to mark the 50th anniversary of the discovery of REM sleep. Palca also notes that the teaching experience he acquired as a UCSC grad student was good career preparation. "Science journalism has a lot in common with teaching," he says. "After all, if you can get people interested in statistics—that's what I taught at UCSC—you can get them interested in anything!"


Dana Priest

Dana Priest

Pulitzer-winning investigative reporter

Merrill College • 1981, B.A. Politics

Current Position: Reporter/National Security Correspondent, The Washington Post

2008–09 Alumni Achievement Award Recipient

Dana Priest is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist and author. She has worked over 20 years for The Washington Post, reporting from hot spots around the world, including Panama, Iraq, Kosovo, and Afghanistan. As one of the Post's specialists on national security, she has written frequently about the U.S. "War on Terror." Priest earned her second Pulitzer Prize in April 2008 for an exposé of the mistreatment of wounded Iraq war veterans at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. That made her the first UCSC graduate to have twice been awarded journalism's highest honor. Her first Pulitzer was awarded in 2006 for exposing secret U.S. government "black site" prisons, the international transport of terror suspects, and the torture memo that authorized "enhanced interrogation" techniques. That reporting also won her a George Polk Award. Priest's widely acclaimed 2003 book about the U.S. military's expanding responsibility and influence, The Mission: Waging War and Keeping Peace With America's Military, earned the New York Public Library Bernstein Book Award and was a finalist for The Pulitzer Prize in non-fiction.

As an undergraduate, Priest was editor of UCSC's City on a Hill Press, and she says she still appreciates the opportunities the campus provided. "I chose UCSC because it had a reputation for independent thinking, for critical thinking. You could make your own path there."


Katy Roberts

Katy Roberts

High-ranking editor at The New York Times

Kresge College • 1974, B.A. Politics

Current position: Commentary editor,, New York Times

2000-01 Alumni Achievement Award Recipient

Katy Roberts has held a wide range of top positions in her long career with The New York Times (she has worked for The Times since 1982). She was editor of The Times's Op-Ed page from 1995 to 2000. She was named National Editor in 2000 and helped direct the paper's coverage of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. She was the editor of the "Sunday Week in Review" section for five years, and has also been a story editor for The New York Times Magazine covering foreign affairs. Roberts recently joined the digital side of The Times, to oversee commentary projects, most notably the creation of the Room for Debate discussion site. Before joining The Times, Roberts worked for The Minneapolis Star, where she was deputy opinion page editor and an editorial columnist.

Roberts says that she draws on her UCSC liberal arts background every day in her work, a field where critical thinking is crucial and learning is never-ending. Over the years, she has had to become a temporary expert in subjects as diverse as land-use policy, space shuttle technology, Nicaraguan dynasties, immigrant health care, and Afghan ethnic groups. "I did my undergraduate work at UC Santa Cruz, and my graduate work at The New York Times," says Roberts. "It's been a continuing education."

Roberts went to high school in Rialto, Calif., in the San Bernardino area, at a time when even top students were lucky to go to college. Her mother was a widow, and her family struggled financially. "UC Santa Cruz gave me the foundation for a life I could never have dreamed of. I know that students now will say the same thing, when they look back in 35 years."


+5 Up & Coming

  • Cary Joji Fukunaga
  • Marla C. Geha
  • Azadeh Moaveni
  • Maya K. Rudolph
  • Danielle L. Soto


Cary Joji Fukunaga

Cary Joji Fukunaga

Award-winning indie director

College Eight • 1999, B.A. history

Current position: Film director

Cary Fukunaga is one of the film industry's hottest new directors. His first short film, made while a student at New York University, was screened at the Sundance Film Festival and won a 2005 Student Academy Award. That film, Victoria Para Chino, was based on the true story of the worst single case of illegal immigrant death in U.S. history. Fukunaga's first feature-length film, Sin Nombre, won him the Sundance Festival's 2009 Best Director award. Sin Nombre, filmed in Spanish, is a gritty portrayal of Mexican drug gangs and Central Americans trying to reach the U.S. Fukunaga spent two years researching the film, riding on the immigrant-carrying freight trains and interviewing incarcerated gangsters in Mexican prisons. In a change of pace, Fukunaga has just completed a critically acclaimed new screen adaptation of Charlotte Bronte's novel Jane Eyre, starring Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender.


Marla C. Geha

Marla C. Geha

Galaxy explorer, star chaser

2003, Ph.D. astronomy and astrophysics

Current position: Assistant professor of astronomy and astrophysics, Yale University

Dubbed the Star Chaser by Popular Science magazine, Marla Geha is an observational astronomer who explores the formation, evolution, and destruction of dwarf galaxies. Her current work includes observations of ultra-faint galaxies recently discovered in orbit around our Milky Way. These objects are the least-luminous and most dark-matter-dominated galaxies in the known universe, providing significant constraints on galaxy formation processes and the nature of dark matter. Popular Science named Geha one of 2009's "Brilliant 10" young scientists and researchers. In 2010, she was named an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow, a prestigious award that provides financial support for early-career scientists.

Geha says that her time at UCSC had a profound impact that went beyond just her career. "The UCSC faculty are world-class researchers and world-class people. In Santa Cruz, I learned to appreciate that great work happens when life outside of work is going well, too."


Azadeh Moaveni

Azadeh Moaveni

Author, Time contributor

Oakes College • 1998, B.A. politics

Current positions: Journalist, author; Contributing writer, Time magazine

Iranian-American writer Azadeh Moaveni is the award-winning author of Lipstick Jihad and Honeymoon in Tehran, and co-author, with Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi, of Iran Awakening. She has lived and reported throughout the Middle East, and speaks both Farsi and Arabic fluently. As one of the few U.S. correspondents allowed to work continuously in Iran since 1999, she has reported widely on youth culture, women's rights, and Islamic reform for Time, the New York Times Book Review, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times. She is currently a Time magazine contributing writer on Iran and the Middle East.

Moaveni credits UCSC professors Edmund "Terry" Burke of history and Isebill "Ronnie" Gruhn of politics with training her to appreciate the importance of history behind current events; and she adds that writing instructor Conn Hallinan, her adviser at UCSC's City on a Hill Press, inspired her to practice "engaged journalism." Moaveni says she originally chose UCSC because, "I wanted to attend a UC with a democratic ethos that sought to replicate what was desirable in small, private colleges: intimate, rigorous learning that went on in a small room between a handful of people. Amazingly, that's exactly the experience I had."


Maya K. Rudolph

Maya K. Rudolph

Actor, Saturday Night Live comedian

Porter College • 1995, B.A. art (photography)

Current position: Actor, comedian, singer

As a little girl, Maya Rudolph begged her parents to let her stay up late to watch Saturday Night Live—and her idol was SNL's Gilda Radner. Rudolph grew up to become one of the show's most popular cast members herself. She was part of regular SNL cast from 2000 to 2007, and she still returns for special appearances. Rudolph is known for her hilarious portrayals of Oprah, Whitney Houston, Donatella Versace, Michelle Obama, and many others.

Before turning to comedy the 1990s, Rudolph pursued a successful music career. Her first band (Supersauce) was formed at UCSC with fellow students, and she went on to sing and play keyboards with The Rentals. After leaving the band, Rudolph pursued her childhood dream of a career in comedy, first as part of the famed troupe The Groundlings, then as part of Saturday Night Live. Her film appearances include roles in Robert Altman's A Prairie Home Companion, the 2009 film Away We Go, and in MacGruber, Grown Ups, and Bridesmaids.



Danielle L. Soto

Youthful leader

College Ten • 2008, B.A. environmental studies

Current position: City Councilmember, Pomona, Calif.

In 2008, while still a UCSC undergraduate, Danielle Soto ran for and won a seat on the City Council of Pomona, California (her hometown), and she was sworn in just days after her last exam. With a population of nearly 150,000, Pomona is the fifth-largest city in Los Angeles County. In 2010, Soto was named Democrat of the Year for her assembly district.

Politics runs in Soto's family. Her grandfather Phil Soto was one of the first Latinos elected to the California Assembly, and her grandmother Nell Soto served in both the state Assembly and Senate before retiring from politics in 2008 the age of 81. In fact, Nell Soto began her political career by winning the same District 1 Pomona City Council seat that her granddaughter Danielle Soto now holds.

"I'm really proud of my UCSC education," says Soto, adding that it provided excellent preparation for serving in government. At UCSC she studied state and national environmental policy and took courses on water policy and land-use planning. She also did an internship in environmental interpretation that she credits with boosting her public-speaking skills. As a member of a political family, Soto says, "I had a pretty good idea what I was getting into—and I'm humbled and appreciative of the confidence people put in me with their votes."