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2016 Alumni Award Honorees

Embracing curiosity and disrupting the status quo is the Triton way. UC San Diego alumni carry an agility and open-minded spirit that sets them apart, as they make a difference at home, in their communities and around the globe.


Bruce Beutler, '76

Bruce Beutler

Bruce Beutler, '76, Biological Sciences

Bruce Beutler is an immunologist, geneticist and a professor and director of the Center for Genetics of Host Defense at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. He received the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Jules Hoffman for their discoveries surrounding the activation of innate immunity.

Timothy Gallaudet, M.S. ’91, Ph.D. ’01

Timothy Gallaudet

Timothy Gallaudet, M.S. ’91, Ph.D. ’01, Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Rear Admiral Timothy Gallaudet has been instrumental in the development of the U.S. Navy’s climate change policy. He provides naval leadership on all issues related to oceanography, meteorology, hydrology, precise time, climate change, the Arctic, maritime domain awareness and geospatial and celestial referencing.

Sherri Lightner, ’72, M.S. ’78

Sherri Lightner

Sherri Lightner, ’72, M.S. ’78, Mathematics, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Sherri Lightner serves as Council President for the City of San Diego. She is the first female engineer to serve on the Council, and the first female Council President. She has served as the councilmember for District One, which includes La Jolla and UC San Diego, since December 2008. Her priorities include economic development and expanding the tech, cyber tech and blue tech industries in San Diego.


David Peterson, M.A. ’05

David Peterson

David Peterson, M.A. ’05, Linguistics

David Peterson is a writer and language creator, best known for creating the Dothraki and High Valyrian languages for the hit HBO series, Game of Thrones. In 2011, he became the alien language and culture consultant for the Syfy original series, Defiance. He is also the language creator of Syfy’s Dominion. He is the author of Living Language: Dothraki and The Art of Language Invention.

Ashley Van Zeeland, M.B.A. ’12

Ashley Van Zeeland

Ashley Van Zeeland, M.B.A. ’12, Rady School of Management

Ashley Van Zeeland is co-founder and CEO of Cypher Genomics, a San Diego-based company revolutionizing human health through genomic interpretation. Today, she is chief technology officer at Human Longevity, Inc., which acquired Cypher Genomics, to help build the world’s largest and most comprehensive database of genomic, phenotypic and clinical data, transforming the practice of medicine.

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