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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

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
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)
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
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. ’03, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology)
Julie Packard
Founder and executive director of the Monterey Bay Aquarium (Crown ’74, B.A. Biology; M.A. ’78)
M. Sanjayan
Emmy nominee and science documentary and news host for CBS, PBS, BBC, Vox, and Discovery (Ph.D. ’97, 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)
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
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)
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
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
J. Doyne Farmer
Award-winning econophysicist, pioneer and pioneer of chaos theory (Ph.D. ’81, Physics)
Robert Shaw
Pioneer of chaos theory and MacArthur Fellow (Ph.D. ’80, Physics)
Science communication alumni
Nsikan Akpan
Science editor at National Geographic, former science producer at PBS NewsHour (’14, 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)
Nadia Drake
Award-winning science journalist at National Geographic and Wired (’11, Science Communication)
Leslie Fink
Head of Media Relations and Public Information, Office of Legislative and Public Affairs at National Science Foundation (’83, Science Communication)
Laura Helmuth
Health, Science, & Environment Editor at The Washington Post (’98, Science Communication)
Daniela Hernandez
Digital science editor at Wall Street Journal (’12, Science Communication)
Jennifer Leman
Science journalist and editor at Popular Mechanics (’18, Science Communication)
Tanya Lewis
Health and medicine editor at Scientific American (’12, Science Communication)
Rosie Mestel
Chief magazine editor at Nature (’91, Science Communication)
Clara Moskowitz
Senior editor, physics and astronomy at Scientific American (’07, Science Communication)
Danielle Venton
Editor and reporter for KQED Science, an NPR-member radio station for the San Francisco Bay Area (’11, Science Communication)