The UC Santa Cruz Division of Physical & Biological Sciences has empowered more than 31,000 alumni. All of them make an impact. Here are just a few of their world-changing accomplishments.

The UC Santa Cruz Division of Physical & Biological Sciences has empowered more than 31,000 alumni. All of them make an impact. Here are just a few of their world-changing accomplishments.

Alumna Kathryn Sullivan was the first U.S. woman to spacewalk
B.S. ’73, Earth Sciences

Alumnus Joseph DeRisi discovered the SARS virus
B.A. ’92, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

Alumna Julie Packard founded the Monterey Bay Aquarium
B.A. ’74, Biology; M.A. ’78, Biology

Alumnus William James Kent was the first to map the human genome
B.A. ’81, Mathematics; M.A. ’86, Mathematics; Ph.D. ’02, Biology

Alumnus Robert Shaw is a founding pioneer of chaos theory
Ph.D. ’80, Physics

Alumna Laurie Garrett is a Pulitzer Prize and Peabody Award winner
Merrill ’75, B.A. Biology

Every year, the division honors two alumni—a former graduate student and a former undergraduate student—whose careers are characterized by sustained and exemplary contributions to society through research, practice, education, policy, or service. Read about the Distinguished Alumni Award and its past honorees.

Astronomy & astrophysics alumni
Natalie Batalha
Former science lead for NASA’s Kepler Mission and Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World (Ph.D ’97, Astronomy & Astrophysics)
Alan Dressler
Award-winning astronomer at the Carnegie Institution for Science known for his work on Nova, National Academy of Sciences member and a NASA Public Service Medal recipient (Ph.D. ’76, Astronomy & Astrophysics)
Debra Fischer
Award-winning astronomer, part of the team to discover the first known multiple-planet system (Ph.D. ’98, Astronomy & Astrophysics)
Marla Geha
Named “Brilliant 10” young scientists by Popular Science, now an award-winning professor of astronomy at Yale University (Ph.D. ’97, Astronomy & Astrophysics)
Steven Hawley
Former NASA astronaut and NASA Distinguished Service Medal awardee (Ph.D. ’77, Astronomy & Astrophysics)
Mark M. Phillips
Inventor of the Phillips relationship and pioneer in supernova cosmology (Ph.D. ’77, Astronomy & Astrophysics)
Nicholas Suntzeff
Award-winning astrophysicist and cofounder of the High-z Supernova Search Team, which was honored with the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2011 for discovering dark energy (Ph.D. ’80, Astronomy & Astrophysics)
Chemistry & biochemistry alumni
Cora E. Randall
Randall spent 33 years working first on the Hubble Space Telescope and later on satellite missions devoted to examining Earth’s atmosphere. She has led numerous research programs and is currently deputy principal investigator for the NASA Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere (AIM) satellite mission (Ph.D. ’85, Chemistry and Biochemistry)
Joseph DeRisi
Award-winning American biochemist for printing the first whole genome array, discovering the SARS virus, and work on malaria, MacArthur Fellow and National Academy of Sciences member (Crown ’92, B.A. Biochemistry & Molecular Biology)
Michael Morgan
ACS Fellow, ACS James Bryant Conant Award Winner for high school chemistry teaching and Sal Castro Award winner (B.A. ’88, Chemistry)
Sarah Gerhardt
Legendary big wave surfer, the first woman to ride Mavericks (Ph.D. ’03, Physical Chemistry)
Howard Hang
Inventor of novel chemical tools for the study of microbe-host interaction (B.S. ’98, Chemistry)
Lara Mahal
Known for pioneering work establishing lectin microarrays as a new technology for glycomics (B.S. ’95, Chemistry)
Pamela Silver
Award-winning cell and systems biologist and cofounder of the emerging field of synthetic biology (B.A. ’74, Chemistry)
Gia Voeltz
Award-winning biologist exploring neurodegenerative diseases, HHMI Investigator (Crown ’94, B.S. Biochemistry & Molecular Biology)
Earth & planetary sciences alumni
Brent Constantz
Founder and CEO of Blue Planet Ltd, former Fulbright Scholar (Ph.D. ’86, Earth Sciences)
Eric Reynolds
Co-founder of Marmot with alumnus David Huntley, the outdoor gear company started as a UCSC student organization called Marmot Club (B.A. ’73, Earth Sciences)
David Huntley
Co-founder of Marmot with alumnus Eric Reynolds
Kathryn Sullivan
Former NASA astronaut and Astronaut Hall of Fame (2004), first U.S. woman to walk in space in 1984, 10th Administrator of the NOAA (Cowell ’73, B.S. Earth Sciences)
Ecology & evolutionary biology alumni
Claudio Campagna
Founded the Forum of NGOs for the conservation of the Patagonian Sea and collaborates with the IUCN Species Survival Commission (Ph.D. ’87, Biology)
Daniel Costa
Director of the Institute of Marin Sciences, California Academy of Sciences and the Society for Marine Mammalogy Fellow, held the Ida Benson Lynn Chair in Ocean Health at UC Santa Cruz from 2008 to 2013. He received the Antarctica Service Medal, and Costa Spur in Antarctica was named in recognition of his contributions to Antarctic research (Ph.D. Biology)
Jacob Martinez
Digital NEST founder and serves on the Board of Directors of Santa Cruz Works  (B.S. ’05, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology)
Jessica Kendall-Bar
Scripps Postdoctoral Scholar at UC San Diego, top winner in the “Research Scientist: Graduate Student” category for her work at UC Santa Cruz on data visualization tools (Ph.D. ’22, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology)
Julie Packard
Founder and executive director of the Monterey Bay Aquarium (Crown ’74, B.A. Biology; M.A. ’78)
Lisa Dabek
Senior conservation scientist at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, Washington, and founding director of the Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program in Papua New Guinea (B.A. ’83, Biology)
M. Sanjayan
Emmy nominee and science documentary and news host for CBS, PBS, BBC, Vox, and Discovery (Ph.D. ’97, Biology)
Shannon Brownlee
Groundbreaking researcher and writer on health care and policy (College Eight ’79, B.S. Biology; M.S. ’83, Marine Sciences)
Stacy Jupiter
Director of the Melanesia Program for the Wildlife Conservation Society, MacArthur Fellows Program (Ph.D. ’06, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology)
Mathematics alumni
Adragon De Mello
Graduated at age 11, at the time, he was the youngest college graduate in U.S. history (B.A. ’88, Computational Mathematics)
Chris Lay
Administrative director of the Kenneth Norris Center for Natural History at UC Santa Cruz (B.A., Mathematics)
Ian Walton
Served two years as president of the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges working for the statewide adoption of enhanced English and mathematics graduation competencies (Ph.D. ’77, Mathematics)
William James Kent
Part of the team to first map the human genome and create the open-source UCSC Genome Browser (Kresge ’81, B.A. Mathematics; M.A. ’86, Mathematics; Ph.D. ’02, Biology)
Molecular, cell, & developmental biology alumni
Danesh Moazed
Professor and HHMI Investigator in the Department of Cell Biology at Harvard Medical School (B.A. and Ph.D. Biology)
David Sofen
Urgent care doctor in Santa Cruz, medical director of patient experience for the Palo Alto Medical Foundation and works as a medical volunteer in developing countries (B.A. ’79, Biology)
Gary Heit
Received the Alumni Achievement Award presented by the UCSC Alumni Association for his development of deep brain stimulation, a treatment for neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and chronic pain (Oakes ’77)
Laurie Garrett
Pulitzer Prize winner for reporting from Zaire on the 1996 Ebola virus outbreak, George Polk Award (twice) and Peabody Award winner (Merrill ’75, B.A. Biology)
Ramon Resa
One of 15 children raised by his grandparents in a world of poverty, neglect, and disregard for education, Dr. Resa completed his medical education and opened a pediatric practice in Porterville, CA, where he has spent three decades working with poor and underserved children (B.A. ’76, Biology)
Thomas Webb
Director of medicinal chemistry in the Center for Chemical Biology at SRI Biosciences, where he leads small-molecule drug discovery for cancer and influenza (Ph.D. ’80, Synthetic Organic Chemistry)
Richard Harris
Award-winning NPR science journalist and host (Crown ’80, B.S. Biology)
William James Kent
Part of the team to first map the human genome and create the open-source UCSC Genome Browser (Kresge ’81, B.A. Mathematics; M.A. ’86, Mathematics; Ph.D. ’02, Biology)
Cheryl Scott
Award-winning medical epidemiologist and former director of the CDC operations in Tanzania (Oakes ’74, B.S. Biology)
Ocean sciences alumni
Colleen Reichmuth
A triple-degree holder from UC Santa Cruz, Colleen Reichmuth is a senior research scientist at UCSC’s Institute of Marine Sciences and head of the Pinniped Cognition and Sensory Systems Lab (B.A. Biology, M.S. Marine Sciences, and Ph.D. Ocean sciences)
Deborah Steinberg
International leader in understanding the zooplankton and jellyfish ecology along with how the food web structures the flux of carbon to the deep sea (Ph.D. ’73, Ocean Sciences)
Physics alumni
James Skinner
With 230 publications to his name, he has received many accolades, including a Guggenheim fellowship, the American Chemical Society Irving Langmuir Award in Chemical Physics, and memberships in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences (B.A. ’75, Chemistry and Physics)
J. Doyne Farmer
Award-winning econophysicist, pioneer and pioneer of chaos theory (Ph.D. ’81, Physics)
Michael Raymer
Knight Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences (Emeritus) at the University of Oregon, having been awarded the chair in 2006 (B.A. ’81, Chemistry and Physics)
Risa Wechsler
Professor of physics, particle physics and astrophysics at Stanford University and director of the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology (Ph.D. ’01, Physics)
Robert Shaw
Pioneer of chaos theory and MacArthur Fellow (Ph.D. ’88, Physics)
Susanne Hering
Founder and president of Aerosol Dynamics in Berkeley (Ph.D. ’69, Physics and History)
Science communication alumni
Clara Moskowitz
Senior editor, physics and astronomy at Scientific American (’07, Science Communication)
Daniela Hernandez
Digital science editor at Wall Street Journal (’12, Science Communication)
Danielle Venton
Editor and reporter for KQED Science, an NPR-member radio station for the San Francisco Bay Area (’11, Science Communication)
Jennifer Leman
Science journalist and editor at Popular Mechanics (’18, Science Communication)
Julia Calderone
Senior editor for parenting at The New York Times, former editor for Consumer Reports (’14, Science Communication)
Kenneth Chang
Science reporter at The New York Times (’95, Science Communication)
Laura Helmuth
Health, Science, & Environment Editor at The Washington Post (’98, Science Communication)
Leslie Fink
Head of Media Relations and Public Information, Office of Legislative and Public Affairs at National Science Foundation (’83, Science Communication)
Nadia Drake
Award-winning science journalist at National Geographic and Wired (’11, Science Communication)
Nsikan Akpan
Science editor at National Geographic, former science producer at PBS NewsHour (’14, Science Communication)
Rodrigo Pérez Ortega
Editorial director of The Open Notebook en Español and staff writer at Science, Pérez Ortega focuses on diversity in science (M.S. ’19, Science Communication)
Rosie Mestel
Chief magazine editor at Nature (’91, Science Communication)
Tanya Lewis
Health and medicine editor at Scientific American (’12, Science Communication)