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60 Years of Remarkable Women at UC San Diego

In honor of UC San Diego’s 60th anniversary, and as part of the celebration marking the 150th anniversary of the admission of women to the University of California, we are highlighting 60 remarkable women affiliated with UC San Diego.

This list does not represent all of the many incredible women who have been a part of UC San Diego over the years — it's just a sample of the notable women alumni, staff and faculty affiliated with our campus. The list was curated with input from various campus stakeholders.

Remarkable Women Nominations and Criteria

Going forward, we will seek nominations to expand the Remarkable Women project. Each fall, a campus call for nominations will be distributed and a committee will be formed to review and select additional women to be included on the Remarkable Women list.

When considering what it means to be remarkable, our criteria seeks to be as inclusive as possible as to not inadvertently replicate patterns of exclusion that can at times be present in other recognition processes. We seek to honor accomplishments of women that often go unrecognized. We honor the diverse experiences of gender in our communities and seek to recognize the remarkable contributions of all women (cis and trans).

Nominations will be accepted under the following categories:

  • Trailblazer: Women who were the first in their field and/or who have broken down barriers for other women in their field through engaged and active mentorship.
  • Changemaker: Women who have demonstrated leadership in advancing change efforts in their field and/or communities or who have been advocates for gender equity and social justice issues.
  • Innovator: Women who have pushed the limits of their field through innovation and invention.
  • Creator: Women who have made a significant impact in their field/community through entrepreneurship, the arts, sciences, or in other creative endeavors.
  • Emerging Leader: Women who are more junior in their careers and have made significant accomplishments in their field or community.
  • Unconventional Contributions: Women whose contributions may not fit neatly into one of the other categories, yet are remarkable and worthy of recognition.

Individuals nominated will be evaluated based on how well they fit under the category in which they are nominated, impact on their respective field or community, and their contributions to equity, diversity, and inclusion.

Photo portrait of Aimee Bender

Aimee Bender

CREATOR ▪ AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR ▪ ALUMNI ’91

Aimee Bender is an award-winning author. Her first book, The Girl in the Flammable Skirt, was chosen as a The New York Times Notable Book of 1998 and spent seven weeks on the Los Angeles Times bestseller list. Three years later, her novel, An Invisible Sign of My Own, was named as a Los Angeles Times Pick of the Year. In 2005 her published collection of short stories, Willful Creatures, was nominated as one of the Best Books of the Year. Her novella Bender has received two Pushcart Prizes, and was nominated for the James Tiptree, Jr. Award in 2005. Her short story Faces was a 2009 Shirley Jackson Award finalist.

Photo portrait of Alejandra Sotelo-Solis, UC San Diego alumni '01

Alejandra Sotelo-Solis

TRAILBLAZER ▪ FIRST LATINA MAYOR OF NATIONAL CITY ▪ ALUMNI ’01

When alumni Alejandra Sotelo-Solis was elected in 2008 to the National City Council she was only the second woman elected to the Council. In 2018, Sotelo-Solis became the first Latina Mayor of National City. Regionally, she serves on the SANDAG, Sweetwater Authority and MTS Board. Sotelo-Solis is also a board member of the SUHi Foundation which provides college scholarships to graduates of her alma mater. In addition, she serves on the NALEO (National Association of Latino Elected Officials) Educational Fund Board of Directors.

Photo portrait of Alicia Garza, UC San Diego alumni '02

Alicia Garza

CHANGEMAKER ▪ CO-FOUNDER OF BLACK LIVES MATTER ▪ ALUMNI ’02

Alicia Garza is a civil rights activist and editorial writer based in Oakland, California. Garza has organized around the issues of health, rights for domestic workers, ending police brutality, anti-racism, and violence against trans and gender non-conforming people of color. Garza currently directs Special Projects at the National Domestic Workers Alliance. Garza is also the Principal at the Black Futures Lab. Most notably, Garza co-founded the Black Lives Matter movement along with fellow activists Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi.

Photo portrait of Angela Davis

Angela Davis

CHANGEMAKER ▪ SOCIAL JUSTICE ACTIVIST ▪ ALUMNI MA ’68

Dr. Angela Davis is a renowned speaker, professor, author, political activist, and UC Santa Cruz Professor Emerita of History of Consciousness. During her time at UCSD, Davis was a founding member of the Black Student Union and an advocate for the establishment of a third college focused on social justice; this college is now known as Thurgood Marshall College. Dr. Davis is a founding member of Critical Resistance, a national organization dedicated to the dismantling of the prison system, and has authored nine books including Angela Davis: An Autobiography; Women, Race, and Class; and The Angela Y. Davis Reader: Are Prisons Obsolete?

Photo portrait of Ayana Elizabeth Johnson

Ayana Elizabeth Johnson

CREATOR ▪ UCSD 40 ALUMNI UNDER 40 ▪ ALUMNI ’91

Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson is a marine biologist, policy expert, and writer. Dr. Johnson is the founder and CEO of Ocean Collective, a strategy consulting firm for conservation solutions grounded in social justice, and founder of Urban Ocean Lab. Dr. Johnson volunteered as co-director of partnerships for the 2017 March for Science and was the inaugural member of the TED Residency program, as well as an Aspen Institute Scholar. In addition, Dr. Johnson co-created the Blue New Deal, a roadmap for including the ocean in climate policy. Dr. Johnson was honored as one of UCSD's Top 40 Alumni under 40.

Photo portrait of Cara Dessert

Cara Dessert

TRAILBLAZER ▪ FIRST QUEER LATINA CEO OF SAN DIEGO LGBT COMMUNITY CENTER ▪ ALUMNI ’05

Cara Dessert is an attorney and the first queer Latina Chief Executive Officer of The San Diego LGBT Community Center. Prior to being named CEO, she served as the organization’s Chief Development and Community Engagement Officer. Dessert was previously the Executive Director of Immigration Equality, a national organization focused on LGBT immigrant rights. She worked closely with the Obama Administration, as well as local, state and national organizations, working at the intersection of LGBT and immigrant rights.

Photo portrait of Carol Padden

Carol Padden

INNOVATOR ▪ PROFESSOR, DEAN OF SOCIAL SCIENCES ▪ MacARTHUR “GENIUS” FELLOW ▪ ALUMNI MA ’80, PhD ’83

Dr. Carol Padden is a Professor of Communication and the current Dean of Social Sciences at UC San Diego and an affiliate member of the Center for Research in Language. Her main areas of research are sign language structure, culture and community, and evolution of language. Padden's published writings encompass 43 works in 78 publications in 7 languages and 5,474 library holdings. She has been the recipient of various awards including the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, a UCSD Chancellor’s Associates Outstanding Faculty award and a Laurent Clerc Cultural Award for distinguished contributions to the field of deafness. Dr. Padden was awarded the 2010 MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship.


Photo portrait of artist Carrie Mae Weems

Carrie Mae Weems

CREATOR ▪ AWARD-WINNING PHOTOGRAPHER ▪ MacARTHUR “GENIUS” FELLOW ▪ ALUMNI MFA ’84

Carrie Mae Weems is an artist who works with text, fabric, audio, digital images, and installation video. Weems is best known for her work in the field of photography. Her award-winning photographs, films, and videos have been displayed in over 50 exhibitions in the United States and abroad, and focus on serious issues that African Americans face today, such as racism, sexism, politics, and personal identity. In 2013, Weems was a recipient of the MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship.

Photo portrait of Dina Maramba

Dina Maramba

CHANGEMAKER ▪ FORMER STAFF / TRIO DIRECTOR ▪ ALUMNI ’92

Dr. Dina Maramba previously served as Director of the Student Support Services TRIO program at UC San Diego. Dr. Maramba received the Senior Scholar Award and the Diamond Honoree Award from the Association of College Student Personnel Association. She was also awarded the Distinguished Contribution to Research and Scholarship on Asian Americans. Dr. Maramba is currently an Associate Professor at Claremont Graduate University’s School of Educational Studies.

Photo portrait of Eleanor Mariano

Eleanor Mariano

TRAILBLAZER ▪ U.S. NAVY REAR ADMIRAL ▪ PRESIDENTIAL PHYSICIAN ▪ ALUMNI MD ’77

Dr. Eleanor Mariano is a Filipina American physician and retired flag officer in the United States Navy. She is the first Filipino American and graduate of the Uniformed Services University of Medicine to reach the rank of Rear Admiral in the U.S. Navy. Dr. Mariano was also the first woman to become the Director of the White House Medical Unit. Dr. Mariano was the personal physician to Presidents Bush and Clinton.

Photo portrait of Elizabeth Bates

Elizabeth Bates

INNOVATOR ▪ FACULTY & FOUNDER OF UCSD'S DEPARTMENT OF COGNITIVE SCIENCE

Dr. Elizabeth Bates was an internationally renowned expert and leading researcher in child language acquisition, psycholinguistics, aphasia, and the neurological bases of language. She authored ten books and over 200 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters on these subjects. Dr. Bates was one of the founders of the Department of Cognitive Science at UC San Diego, the first department of its kind in the United States. She was also the director of the UCSD Center of Research in Language and the co-director of the San Diego State University/UCSD Joint Doctoral Program in Language and Communication Disorders.

Black and white photo portrait of Ellen Browning Scripps

Ellen Browning Scripps

TRAILBLAZER ▪ FOUNDER OF SCRIPPS INSTITUTE OF OCEANOGRAPHY

Ellen Browning Scripps was an American journalist and philanthropist who was the founding donor of several major institutions in Southern California, including what became the Scripps Institute of Oceanography. In 1924, she founded The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) in the La Jolla, California. She also donated millions of dollars to organizations worldwide that worked to advance democratic principles and women's education.

Photo portrait of Faustina Solis

Faustina Solis

TRAILBLAZER ▪ FACULTY ▪ UCSD'S FIRST LATINA PROVOST

In 1971, Faustina Solis joined the Department of Community and Family Medicine at the UC San Diego School of Medicine. Taking a leave of absence in 1976 to serve as Deputy Director for the California Department of Health Services, she returned to UCSD in 1978 as a full professor, the first at the medical school without a medical degree or doctorate. In 1982, she was appointed Provost of UCSD’s Third College, now Thurgood Marshall College. Solis also helped establish the San Ysidro Health Center where she remained a board member for many years.

Photo portrait of Flossie Wong Staal

Flossie Wong Staal

INNOVATOR ▪ RESEARCHER ▪ FACULTY / PROFESSOR EMERITA

In 1985, Dr. Flossie Wong-Staal was the first scientist to clone HIV and determine the function of its genes. From 1990 to 2002, she held the Florence Riford Chair in AIDS Research at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). In 1994, she was named as chair of UCSD's newly created Center for AIDS Research. In that same year, Dr. Wong-Staal was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the U.S. National Academies.

Photo portrait of Fran Berman

Fran Berman

TRAILBLAZER ▪ FORMER FACULTY ▪ FIRST WOMAN TO LEAD A SUPERCOMPUTER CENTER

In 1999, Professor Fran Berman founded the Grid Computing Laboratory at UC San Diego. In 2002, she was awarded the Endowed Chair in High Performance Computing in the Jacobs School of Engineering at UCSD. In 2001, Berman was appointed to direct the San Diego Supercomputer Center. She was and remains the only woman to head a major national supercomputer center.

Photo portrait of Geneva Lofton Fitzsimmons

Geneva Lofton-Fitzsimmons

CHANGEMAKER ▪ FORMER STAFF ▪ FIRST CAMPUS COORDINATOR FOR NATIVE AMERICAN OUTREACH

Geneva Lofton-Fitzsimmons served as the former coordinator of the American Indian Outreach Initiatives Program at the University of California, San Diego, which was created in 2000 under the Early Academic Outreach Program, increasing access to the campus for Native American communities. She later served as the Student Coordinator for CA NARCH (Native American Research Center for Health), supporting Native American students in STEM. Lofton-Fitzsimmons is a local tribal member from the La Jolla Indian Reservation.

Black and white photo portrait of Helen M. Ranney

Helen M. Ranney

TRAILBLAZER ▪ FORMER FACULTY ▪ FIRST AMERICAN WOMAN TO CHAIR A DEPARTMENT OF MEDICINE AT A MEDICAL SCHOOL

In 1973, Dr. Helen Ranney joined the UC San Diego faculty, and would become the first American woman to be chair of the Department of Medicine at a medical school. Dr. Ranney made significant contributions to sickle-cell anemia research. Dr. Ranney also played an important role on the national academic stage, serving as President of the American Society of Hematology, and as the first woman president of the prestigious Association of American Physicians.

Photo portrait of Hillary Whittington

Hillary Whittington

CHANGEMAKER ▪ AUTHOR ▪ ALUMNI ’04

Hillary Whittington is a Human Rights Activist and author of Raising Ryland: Our Story of Parenting a Transgender Child with No Strings Attached. The memoir tells the story of both the resistance and support the family experienced during their child's transition. Whittington strives to make the world a better place for Ryand and all LGBTQ people.

Photo portrait of Jessica Meir wearing a NASA spacesuit

Jessica Meir

TRAILBLAZER ▪ NASA ASTRONAUT ▪ ALUMNI PhD ’09

Dr. Jessica Meir was selected by NASA is 2013. In addition to her roles as a NASA astronaut, Dr. Meir is also a marine biologist and physiologist. On October 18, 2019, Dr. Meir and Christina Koch made history as the first women to participate in an all-female spacewalk. Dr. Meir also served as flight engineer on the International Space Station for Expedition 61/62.

Photo portrait of Joanne Chory

Joanne Chory

INNOVATOR ▪ FACULTY ▪ RESEARCHER

Dr. Joanne Chory is an award-winning plant biologist and geneticist who contributed groundbreaking work in the field through her research on how light affects plant growth and development, and more recently how to engineer plants to fight climate change. Dr. Chory was the recipient of the 2018 Gruber Prize in Genetics, 2018 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, and 2019 Princess of Asturias Award for Technical and Scientific Research.

Logo - Friends of the International Center, UC San Diego

Josie Foulkes

CHANGEMAKER ▪ FORMER STAFF ▪ FOUNDER, UCSD'S EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION CENTER

Josie Foulks founded UC San Diego's Early Childhood Education Center in 1969. In 1984, Foulks received the "Most Outstanding" award for her work as the Director of the UCSD Child Care Center. In 1996, Foulks was the recipient of the UC San Diego TWIN award. Following her retirement in 2010, Foulks has contributed as a long-time volunteer at UC San Diego's Resale Shop.

Photo portrait of Judith Dolan

Judith Dolan

CREATOR ▪ FACULTY ▪ TONY AWARD-WINNER

Dr. Judith Dolan is a Distinguished Professor of Directing & Design / Costumes at UC San Diego. Dr. Dolan has designed costumes for several productions for Director Harold Prince, including Candide, for which she received a 1997 Tony Award. Her designs have been seen in numerous companies in the U.S. and abroad. In 2014, the New York City League of Professional Theatre Women awarded Dolan the Ruth Morley Design Award for her career achievements and leadership in design.

Photo portrait of Judith Sweet

Judith Sweet

TRAILBLAZER ▪ FORMER STAFF / ATHLETIC DIRECTOR ▪ FIRST FEMALE NCAA PRESIDENT

Judith Sweet was the first woman physical education teacher at UC San Diego. In 1975, Sweet was named UC San Diego’s Athletic Director. In 1991 Sweet became the first woman president of the NCAA. At UCSD, Sweet was among the first athletic administrators in the country to implement Title IX. In the years since, Sweet has continued to advocate for universities to properly enforce Title IX. Under Sweet's leadership, UCSD won 27 of its 30 national championships while playing in NCAA Division III. This success advanced UCSD to Division II in 2000.

Photo portrait of Julie Swail Ertel

Julie Swail Ertel

INNOVATOR ▪ OLYMPIAN ATHLETE ▪ ALUMNI ’95

Julie Swail Ertel was the team captain of the US Women's Water Polo National Team that won the silver medal at the 2000 Summer Olympics. She competed in the triathlon at the 2008 Summer Olympics taking 19th place. During her undergraduate career, Swail Ertel was the recipient of many awards including being honored as the UCSD Athlete of the Year in 1994 and 1995.

Photo portrait of K. Megan McArthur wearing NASA gear

K. Megan McArthur

INNOVATOR ▪ NASA ASTRONAUT ▪ ALUMNI PhD ’02

K. Megan McArthur is an oceanographer and a NASA astronaut. She has served as a Capsule Communicator (CAPCOM) for both the space shuttle and space station. McArthur has flown one space shuttle mission, STS-125. She is known as the last person to be hands-on with the Hubble Space Telescope.

Photo portrait of Kate Rubins wearing NASA spacesuit, holding her helmet

Kate Rubins

INNOVATOR ▪ NASA ASTRONAUT ▪ ALUMNI ’99

In July 2016, NASA astronaut Dr. Kate Rubins became the 60th woman to fly in space. Most notably, during this expedition Dr. Rubins became the first person to sequence DNA in space, eventually sequencing over 2 billion base pairs of DNA during a series of experiments to analyze sequencing in microgravity. Dr. Rubins also grew heart cells (cardiomyocytes) in cell culture, and performed quantitative, real-time PCR and microbiome experiments in orbit.

Photo portrait of Kelly Lytle Hernandez

Kelly Lytle Hernandez

INNOVATOR ▪ AUTHOR ▪ MacARTHUR FELLOW ▪ ALUMNI ’96

Kelly Lytle Hernandez is a professor of History, African American Studies, and Urban Planning at UCLA where she holds The Thomas E. Lifka Endowed Chair in History. She is also the Director of the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA. One of the nation’s leading experts on race, immigration, and mass incarceration, Dr. Lytle Hernandez is the author of two award-winning books. She is also a 2019 MacArthur Fellow.

Photo portrait of Keri Yen Ng

Keri Yen Ng

INNOVATOR ▪ BUSINESS LEADER ▪ ALUMNI ’02

Alumni Keri Yen Ng is the Vice President of Willow. Ng helped launch the Willow breast pump. The device was awarded Best Wearable and Best Digital Health and Fitness by Engadget, and honored by Popular Science as one of the 100 greatest innovations in 2017. In the same year Ng was awarded as one of the 2017 40 Under 40 by the Silicon Valley Business Journal.

Photo portrait of Kimberly Phillips Boehm

Kimberly Phillips Boehm

CHANGEMAKER ▪ PHILANTHROPIST ▪ ALUMNI ’82

A long time donor to UC San Diego, Dr. Kimberley Phillips Boehm donated $1 million to the new PATHways to STEM through Enhanced Access and Mentorship Program (PATHS). Phillips Boehm has also held university faculty and administrative positions including serving as Provost and Dean of Faculty at Mills College. Dr. Phillips currently serves as the President-Elect of the Alumni Board.

Photo portrait of Lauren Yee

Lauren Yee

CREATOR ▪ AWARD-WINNING PLAYWRIGHT ▪ ALUMNI MFA ’12

Lauren Yee was the second most-produced playwright in the country for the 2019/20 season. Her plays The Great Leap and Cambodian Rock Band also top the list of top 10 most produced plays in the country. Yee also won the Horton Foote Prize for outstanding new American play in 2018 and was one of the 2019 Steinberg Playwright Award winners, among other honors.

Photo portrait of Manuelita Brown

Manuelita Brown

CREATOR ▪ ARTIST/SCULPTOR ▪ ALUMNI MS ’76

Renowned artist Manuelita Brown is the artist behind UC San Diego's infamous bronze Triton sculpture located in front of the Price Center, as well as the life-sized statue of Sojourner Truth and a bust of Justice Thurgood Marshall, both located at Thurgood Marshall College at UC San Diego. In 2018, her work was on display as part of the "Legacy in Black" at the San Diego History Center in Balboa Park.

Photo portrait of Marcia McNutt

Marcia McNutt

INNOVATOR ▪  ALUMNI PhD ’78

Dr. Marcia McNutt is the 22nd president of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) of the United States. Previously, Dr. McNutt was the first woman to hold the position of director of the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and served as science adviser to the United States Secretary of the Interior. Before working for USGS, McNutt was president and chief executive officer of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), professor of marine geophysics at the Stanford University School of Earth Sciences and professor of marine geophysics at University of California, Santa Cruz. Additionally, Dr. McNutt chaired the President's Panel on Ocean Exploration under President Bill Clinton.

Photo portrait of Dr. Margaret Allen

Margaret Allen

TRAILBLAZER ▪ SURGEON ▪ ALUMNI PhD ’78

Margaret Allen is a cardiothoracic surgeon and academic at the Benaroya Research Institute. Dr. Allen was the first woman to perform a heart transplant during her residency at Stanford University and in 1994 became the first woman and first thoracic surgeon to be elected national President of the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). Beyond cardiothoracic surgery, Dr. Allen's career entailed cutting-edge scientific research, public health advocacy, and health education for minority communities. One of her greatest achievements was the founding of the University of Washington Medical Center's first heart transplant program in 1985.

Photo portrait of Margaret Burbidge

Margaret Burbidge

TRAILBLAZER ▪ ASTROPHYSICIST ▪ PROFESSOR

Margaret Burbidge helped pave the way for women in science. Burbidge became the first woman president of the American Astronomical Society in 1976. In 1979, Burbridge was appointed the first director of UC San Diego’s Center for Astrophysics and Space Sciences where she served as director until 1988. In 1981 she was elected President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). At UCSD she helped develop the Faint Object Spectrograph for the Hubble Space Telescope, which launched in 1990. As professor emerita at UCSD she continued to be active in research until the early 21st century.

Photo portrait of Maria Goeppert Mayer

Maria Goeppert-Mayer

INNOVATOR ▪ SCIENTIST ▪ NOBEL PRIZE-WINNER

Maria Goppert-Mayer was one of the key scientists in the Manhattan Project, working on isotope separation. Goppert-Mayer was also one of UCSD's founding faculty members. In addition, she was the second woman to win a Nobel Prize in Physics in 1963. Goppert-Mayer was also a recipient of the Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement and Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1965.

Photo portrait of Marilyn Farquhar

Marilyn Farquhar

INNOVATOR ▪ RESEARCHER ▪ PROFESSOR

Dr. Marilyn Farquhar was Distinguished Professor of Cellular and Molecular Medicine and founding Chair of the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine. In 1970, Farquhar returned to Rockefeller, where she was appointed as a Professor of Cell Biology. Dr. Farquhar was Rockefeller’s first woman professor. Dr. Farquhar moved to Yale in 1973, where she eventually became Sterling Professor of Cell Biology and Pathology, and helped build a new Department of Cell Biology in the medical school. Right up until her death, Dr. Farquhar continued to serve as Director of the Electron Microscopy Core at UC San Diego School of Medicine.

Photo portrait of Marsha Stephanie Blake

Marsha Stephanie Blake

CREATOR ▪ ACTRESS ▪ ALUMNI MFA ’01

Marsha Stephanie Blake, UCSD alum, is an actress, known for her role as Linda McCray in the Netflix miniseries When They See Us, for which she received a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie nomination. Blake has also played recurring characters in Orange is the New Black, How To Get Away With Murder, and This Is Us.

Photo portrait of Judith Dolan

Marye Anne Fox

INNOVATOR ▪ CHANCELLOR EMERITA ▪ CHEMIST

Marye Anne Fox, renowned chemist, was the seventh Chancellor of UC San Diego and the first woman to be appointed as permanent Chancellor. During her tenure, Fox led the university through extraordinary campus growth and unprecedented financial challenges. In 1985, Fox was the first woman to give a plenary lecture at the National Organic Symposium. In August 1998, Fox was the twelfth chancellor of North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina. She was the university's first female chief executive, serving until July 2004. In 2010, Fox received the National Medal of Science.

Photo portrait of Melody Gonzales

Melody Gonzales

CHANGEMAKER ▪ SOCIAL JUSTICE ADVOCATE ▪ ALUMNI ’02

Melody Gonzalez served as a senior executive presidential appointee for the Obama Administration where she served as Deputy Chief of Staff at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management and as Chief of Staff to the the U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration. Prior to this, Gonzalez was the founding director of the Presidential Appointments Program for the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda which aimed to increase Latino representation in state and presidential appointments.Gonzalez currently serves as a senior advisor focused on Latino community advocacy for the National Education Association.

Photo portrait of Micha Cardenas

Micha Cardenas

INNOVATOR ▪ ARTIST/PROFESSOR ▪ AMUMNI MFA '09

Micha Cárdenas, PhD, is Assistant Professor of Art & Design: Games + Playable Media at UC Santa Cruz. cárdenas is writing a new algorithm for gender, race and technology. Her articles have been published in Transgender Studies Quarterly, GLQ: Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, AI & Society, Scholar & Feminist Online, the Ada Journal of Gender, New Media and Technology, among others. She has been a Lecturer in the Visual Arts department and Critical Gender Studies programs at UCSD and an Artist/Researcher at CRCA and the b.a.n.g. lab at Calit2. Her work has been exhibited internationally at museums, galleries, conferences, community spaces and public spaces.

Photo portrait of Nancy Cartwright

Nancy Cartwright

TRAILBLAZER ▪ PROFESSOR ▪ CARL GUSTAV HEMPEL AWARD RECIPIENT

UC San Diego Distinguished Professor of Philosophy Nancy Cartwright is the recipient of the Carl Gustav Hempel Award, recognizing lifetime achievement in the philosophy of science as well as scholarly excellence. Cartwright is the fourth recipient, and first woman. Cartwright was recently named one of the 50 most-influential living philosophers.Currently, Cartwright is the President of the Division for Logic, Methodology and Philosophy of Science and Technology of the International Union of History and Philosophy of Science and Technology.

Photo portrait of Naomi Izuka

Naomi Iizuka

CREATOR ▪ PLAYWRIGHT ▪ ALUMNI MFA ’92

Award-winning playwright, alumni Naomi Iizuka's plays have been produced all throughout the country. Alongside playwriting, Iizuka has taught playwriting at the University of Iowa and the University of Texas, Austin, and was a Professor of Dramatic Arts and Director of the Playwriting Program at UC Santa Barbara until January 2008 when she joined UCSD faculty as the head of MFA playwriting.

Photo portrait of Olivia Graeve

Olivia Graeve

TRAILBLAZER ▪ FACULTY ▪ ALUMNI '95

Dr. Olivia Graeve became UC San Diego's first Latina engineering professor in 2012. Dr. Graeve is also the founder and co-director of the CaliBaja Center for Resilient Materials and Systems, which brings together researchers from UC San Diego and the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM). Additionally, Dr. Graeve is the driving force behind the CaliBaja Education Consortium, which is a collaboration between UC San Diego and 13 institutions in Baja California that brings students from both sides of the border together to learn. Dr. Graeve also serves as faculty director of the IDEA Engineering Student Center at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering. In 2019 Dr. Graeve was inducted into the Academia Mexicana de Ciencias (Mexican Academy of Sciences or AMC).

Photo portrait of Patricia Churchland

Patricia Churchland

INNOVATOR ▪ PROFESSOR ▪ MACARTHUR GENIUS FELLOW

Patricia Churchland is an analytical philosopher, known for her contributions to neurophilosophy and the philosophy of mind. Churchland is UC President's Professor of Philosophy Emerita at UC San Diego, where she has taught since 1984. She has also held an adjunct professorship at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies since 1989. She is a member of the Board of Trustees Moscow Center for Consciousness Studies of Philosophy Department, Moscow State University. Churchland was awarded the MacArthur "Genius" Fellowship in 1991. In 2015, she was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.

Photo portrait of Persephone Lewis

Persephone Lewis

CHANGEMAKER ▪ ALUMNI ’04

A citizen of the Yomba Band of Shoshone Indians located in Central Nevada, Lewis has worked closely with San Diego tribal and urban communities since 2001. Lewis received her MA in Nonprofit Leadership and Management in 2009 from the University of San Diego. Her BA in Sociology and Ethnic Studies was received in 2004 at the University of California, San Diego. Perse currently serves as the university of San Diego's Tribal Liaison / Professor of Practice.

Photo portrait of Priti Gandhi

Priti Gandhi

CREATOR ▪ OPERA SINGER ▪ ALUMNI '94

Alumni Priti Gandhi, currently serves as the Chief Artistic Officer at the Minnesota Opera. Before joining the Minnesota Opera, Gandhi served as artistic administrator of San Diego Opera. During her time Gandhi was a key member of team that helped revitalize San Diego Opera after a near-closure in 2014. Gandhi has had a 20-year international opera career, appearing with the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Opera, Seattle Opera, San Diego Opera, Theatre du Chatelet, the Royal Opera House, Prague Estates Theatre, New York City Opera, Philadelphia Orchestra, and San Francisco Opera.

Photo portrait of Patricia Churchland

Rachel Axler

CREATOR ▪ AWARD WINNING SCREENWRITER ▪ ALUMNI MFA '04

Rachel Axler is a four-time Emmy Award-winning writer, currently working on HBO’s Veep. Axler has been a writer for Children's Hospital, How I Met Your Mother, The Goodwin Games, New Girl, Bored to Death, Parks and Recreation, Veep and The Daily Show.

Photo portrait of Rae Armantrout

Rae Armantrout

CREATOR ▪ PULITZER PRIZE WINNER ▪ PROFESSOR

Professor Rae Armantrout was part of the first generation of Language poets who are famously credited with introducing poetry to postmodernity. Armantrout has published 10 books of poems and has been published in diverse journals such as The New Yorker (August 2009), Poetry (June 2008), Conjunctions, Partisan Review, and the L.A. Times. Dr. Armantrout directed the New Writing Series at UCSD for nearly two decades, and co-organized the Page Mother’s Conference in 1999.

Photo portrait of actor Regan Linton

Regan Linton

CHANGEMAKER ▪ ARTISTIC DIRECTOR OF PHAMALY ▪ ALUMNI MFA '13

As one of the few professional theatre actors who uses a wheelchair, Linton has become a prominent voice for inclusion in the national theatre community. She serves as Artistic Director of Phamaly, the venerable Denver, Colorado theater company that stages plays entirely cast with actors with disabilities, and as a National Facilitator with the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Institute at the Theatre Communications Group. Linton has performed with nationally recognized theatres, including Oregon Shakespeare Festival, La Jolla Playhouse, Pasadena Playhouse, Big-I (Osaka, Japan), Mixed Blood (MN), The Apothetae (NY), and Phamaly (CO). Linton's writing has been featured in New Mobility Magazine, national TCG Diversity Salons, the Hollywood Fringe and the Chalk Repertory Theatre (Los Angeles).

Photo portrait of Roberta Louise Bobbi Gibb

Roberta Louise Bobbi Gibb

TRAILBLAZER ▪ FIRST WOMAN TO RUN BOSTON MARATHON IN 1966 ▪ ALUMNI '69

Bobbi Gibb is the first woman to have run the entire Boston Marathon in 1966. Gibb was the Boston Marathon women's winner for three consecutive years during an era when who women could not compete in the Men's Division ran and finished the race regardless. It wasn't until 1996 that the Boston Athletic Association retroactively recognized the women who finished first in the Pioneer Women's Division Marathon for the years 1966–1971 as champions.

Photo portrait of Ronda Henry Tilman

Ronda Henry Tilman

INNOVATOR ▪ COMMUNITY HEALTH RESEARCH LEADERSHIP AWARD RECIPIENT ▪ ALUMNI MD '92

Recognized as one of the “Best Doctors in America,” Henry-Tillman, M.D. is a surgical oncologist specializing in breast oncology at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Dr. Henry-Tillman has published and presented internationally, and has been involved in research on MRI and breast cancer staging, laser treatment of breast cancer, cancer health disparities, among other projects. In addition, Dr. Henry-Tillman has received a Community Health Research Leadership Award from the National Cancer Institute along with Acknowledgements in Cancer Excellence Community Outreach Award from the American Cancer Society.

Photo portrait of Olivia Graeve

Sally Ride

TRAILBLAZER ▪ FACULTY ▪ FIRST AMERICAN WOMAN IN SPACE

Former faculty Sally Ride became the first American woman to go into space in 1983, and remains the youngest American astronaut to have traveled to space, having done so at the age of 32. In 1989, she became a professor of Physics at UC San Diego, and Director of the California Space Institute. Ride was also the only person to serve to on the investigation committees for both the Challenger and Space Shuttle disasters.

Photo portrait of Sherley Ann Williams

Sherley Ann Williams

INNOVATOR ▪ FACULTY ▪ AWARD-WINNING POET

Professor Sherley Ann Williams was an award-winning poet, novelist, vocalist, Jazz poet, playwright and social critic. In 1973, Williams became a professor of African-American Literature at UC San Diego. Over the course of her career at UCSD, Williams served as Chair of the Literature department, traveled to Ghana as a senior Fulbright scholar, and served as a visiting professor at USC, Stanford, and Sweet Briar College. In 1998, Williams was awarded the African American Literature and Culture Society’s Stephen Henderson Award for Outstanding Achievement in Literature and Poetry. Two of her books were nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and she won an Emmy Award for her television performance of poems from this collection.

Photo portrait of Shirley Meng

Shirley Meng

INNOVATOR ▪ FACULTY ▪ RECIPIENT OF THE ZABLE ENDOWED CHAIR PROFESSOR IN ENERGY TECHNOLOGIES

Dr. Shirley Meng currently holds the Zable Endowed Chair Professor in Energy Technologies and is Professor of NanoEngineering and Materials Science at UC San Diego. Dr. Meng is the founding Director of Sustainable Power and Energy Center. Dr. Meng — who is known as the “battery doctor” — also founded Super 8 Technologies, a company that is developing battery technology that could be used by the military and in space exploration. Most recently, in 2019 Dr. Meng was a recipient of Chancellor’s Associates Faculty Excellence Award for Excellence in Research in Science and Engineering and the IBA2019 Research Award of International Battery Materials Association (IBA).

Photo portrait of Stephanie Akpa

Stephanie Akpa

CHANGEMAKER ▪ FACULTY ▪ ALUMNI '91

During her time at UCSD, Stephanie Akpa was a 2004 AEP McNair Scholar. Akpa received a J.D. from Yale and served as an Equal Justice Works Fellow for the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia. Akpa’s project helped to bridge the gap between health insurance coverage and access to quality health care for African-Americans living in poverty in the District of Columbia. In 2016, Akpa became Policy Council for U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren and in 2018, became Senior Council for U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren.

Photo portrait of Tracy Johnson

Tracy Johnson

INNOVATOR ▪ FACULTY ▪ ALUMNI '91

Dr. Tracy Johnson, was a UC San Diego Biological Sciences faculty from 2003 to 2013. In 2013, she received the UCSD Chancellor's Associates Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching and in 2013 was selected as one of the Top 20 Women Professors in California. In 2014, Dr. Johnson was named a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor. In 2020, Dr. Johnson was named Dean of the UCLA Division of Life Sciences.

Photo portrait of Vivienne Ming

Vivienne Ming

INNOVATOR ▪ THEORETICAL NEUROSCIENTIST ▪ ALUMNI '00

Dr. Vivienne Ming is a theoretical neuroscientist, entrepreneur, artificial intelligence expert, and author. She co-founded Socos Labs, her fifth company. She was named as one of the BBC 100 Women in 2017, and as one of the Financial Times' "LGBT leaders and allies today". She is frequently featured for her research and inventions in The Financial Times, The Atlantic, Quartz and The New York Times.

Photo portrait of Yareli Arizmendi

Yareli Arizmendi

CREATOR ▪ ACTOR AND WRITER ▪ ALUMNI MFA '92

Yareli Arizmendi is an award-winning actress, writer, producer, and documentary director. Arizmendi's most notable performances include her role as “Rosaura” in Like Water for Chocolate and “Lila Rodriguez” in A Day Without a Mexican which she co-wrote and co-produced. Arizmendi is also a dedicated creative activist, known for her Ted Talk, "Making the Invisible Visible." Currently, Arizmendi is working on her novel entitled The Story of Y: A Curious Memoir and collaborating on the script Another Day Without a Mexican: This Time It’s Personal.

Photo portrait of Yen Le Espiritu

Yen Le Espiritu

TRAILBLAZER ▪ FACULTY ▪ ALUMNI '85

Dr. Yến Lê Espiritu is an award-winning author and Distinguished Professor of Ethnic Studies at UC San Diego. Dr. Espiritu was the first faculty member in Ethnic Studies at UCSD and has served several terms as Chair of the Ethnic Studies Department, and also as its Director of Undergraduate Studies and Director of Graduate Studies. Dr. Espiritu has served as the President of the Association of Asian American Studies and Vice President of the Pacific Sociological Association. Dr. Espiritu is a Founding Member of the Critical Refugee Studies Collective.

Photo portrait of Yolanda Lopez

Yolanda Lopez

CREATOR ▪ ARTIST AND ACTIVIST ▪ ALUMNI MFA '79

Yolanda Lopez is a renowned activist and artist. During her undergraduate career Lopez was involved in a student movement called the Third World Liberation Front, which shut down SFSU in a 1968 strike. López became an international celebrity for her iconic Virgen de Guadalupe series of drawings, prints, collage, assemblage, and paintings. The series, depicted "ordinary" Mexican women with Guadalupan attributes. Lopez received praise for "sanctifying" average Mexican women, who were depicted performing domestic and other labor. Her work has been transformative for Chicanas and feminist movements.