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2018 Alumni Award Honorees

For 40 years, UC San Diego has recognized outstanding alumni who have brought honor and distinction to the university. In celebration of our anniversary milestone, we’re enormously proud to acknowledge 40 exceptional Tritons, 40 years and younger.

As leaders and changemakers, our 2018 honorees represent UC San Diego’s incredibly creative, courageous spirit and more than 185,000 alumni, dedicated to creating positive change through nontraditional thinking. Like our young university, they have already begun to reshape the world and we can’t wait to see what they’ll do next.

CHANGE AGENTS

Through vision and influence, these individuals catalyze actions and reactions, disrupting the status quo. They lead by example with compassion, serving as voices for communities and inspiring new cultural directions.

Wesley Chan '06

Wesley Chan

Wesley Chan '06

Co-Founder, Wong Fu Productions

Co-Founder of independent digital production company, Wong Fu Productions, which boasts three million subscribers around the world and over 500 million views for dramatic short films and comedy sketches on YouTube.

Shraddha Chaplot '08

Shraddha Chaplot

Shraddha Chaplot '08

Mad Scientist at ConsenSys and Founder, Playful Ponderies, LLC

With engineering, public service and inclusivity at her core, Chaplot pursued dream jobs in founding startup company, Playful Ponderies LLC—to follow passions in partnering with those who are interested in collaborating on "outside the box," creative, experimental projects—and with current position as Mad Scientist at ConsenSys, a blockchain software technology company, working on a grand scale agricultural project involving interactive farming backed by the blockchain.

Ted Fu '06

Ted Fu

Ted Fu '06

Founder, Giant Hugs

Launched Giant Hugs to help successful creators including Ryan Higa, Wang Leehom, Arden Cho, D-trix, Wong Fu Productions and many others connect with their fans via quality products that support their craft. By donating a large portion of the proceeds from each sale to various charities, Giant Hugs helps people and the trailblazers they follow—influencers and brands alike—be a force for good.

Alicia Garza '02

Alicia Garza

Alicia Garza '02

Co-founder/Special Projects Director, Black Lives Matter/National Domestic Workers Alliance

Activist and editorial writer who has organized and had international impact around the issues of health, student rights and services, protections for domestic workers, ending police brutality, anti-racism and violence against trans and gender non-conforming people of color.

Kent Lee '07

Kent Lee

Kent Lee '07

Executive Director, Pacific Arts Movement (San Diego Asian Film Festival)

Selected in 2017, at age 31, to serve as the executive director of Pacific Arts Movement (Pac Arts) in San Diego, one of the largest media arts organizations in North America that focuses on Asian American and Asian international cinema.

Regan Linton, MFA '13

Regan Linton

Regan Linton, MFA '13

Artistic and Executive Director, Phamaly Theatre Company

As one of the few professional theatre actors who use 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 disabled actors, and as a National Facilitator with the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Institute at the Theatre Communications Group.

Allison Long Pettine '04

Allison Long Pettine

Allison Long Pettine '04

Founder, Crescent Ridge Partners; Founding Partner, Seed San Diego

President and Founder of Crescent Ridge Partners, a San Diego-based seed stage venture fund, and founding partner of Seed San Diego, a small group of investors determined to change the landscape for investing in San Diego by connecting promising entrepreneurs to capital.

Keri Yen Ng '02

Keri Ng

Keri Yen Ng '02

Vice President, Regulatory, Clinical, and Quality, Willow

Ng has 15 years’ experience in the medical device industry, taking medical devices from concept to commercialization and delivering more than 40 medical devices into the hands of physicians and patients.

Peter J. Preuss, MBA '14

Peter Preuss

Peter J. Preuss, MBA '14

Director of Business Development, Tecate Group

Professional experience at leading edge of technologies and education in virtual reality, augmented reality, AI, robotics and energy, working to democratize the field of robotics and automation.

Amanda Schochet '11, MS '14

Amanda Schochet

Amanda Schochet '11, MS '14

Co-Founder, MICRO

Heads a non-profit organization that builds and distributes vending-machine-sized science museums designed to reach people as they go about their daily lives: in hospital waiting rooms, libraries, airports and the DMV.

Philip Wang '06

Philip Wang

Philip Wang '06

Co-Founder, Wong Fu Productions

Co-Founder of independent digital production company, Wong Fu Productions, which boasts three million subscribers around the world and over 500 million views for dramatic short films and comedy sketches on YouTube.

Hillary Whittington '04

Hillary Whittington

Hillary Whittington '04

Human Rights Activist and Author

Co-author of, Raising Ryland: Our Story Of Parenting A Transgender Child With No Strings Attached.

Christopher Yanov '99

Christopher Yanov

Christopher Yanov '99

Founder & President, Reality Changers

As an undergraduate, Yanov worked with gang members, trying to steer troubled youth away from violence and drugs. He started Reality Changers in 2001 with just $300 (winnings from an appearance on Wheel of Fortune!) and a goal: building first generation college students. Sixteen years later, Reality Changers has raised nearly $2,000,000 in scholarships for low-income youth to attend UC San Diego.

EXPLORERS

Going out of their comfort zones is all in a day’s work for these alumni. They pursue the mysteries and hidden elements of time, energy and the universe, relentlessly going beyond what is known to answer questions and find solutions.

Albert Yu-Min Lin '04, MS '05, PhD '08

Albert Lin

Albert Yu-Min Lin '04, MS '05, PhD '08

Co-Director, Distributed Health Labs at UC San Diego

Research Scientist at UC San Diego and an Explorer of the National Geographic Society in the field of technology-enabled exploration, with interests spanning citizen science, crowdsourcing, human-centered computing, GIS, big data, satellite imaging and expedition-based research.

Jessica Meir, PhD '09

Jessica Meir

Jessica Meir, PhD '09

Astronaut, NASA

Selected in June 2013 as one of eight members of the 21st NASA astronaut class, Meir completed astronaut candidate training in July 2015, and is now qualified for future assignment.

Kate Rubins '99

Kate Rubins

Kate Rubins '99

Astronaut, NASA

Completed her first spaceflight on Expedition 48/49 (July to October 2016), becoming the first person to sequence DNA in space. Spent 115 days in space and conducted two spacewalks.

Alexander Schafgans '05, MS '07, PhD '11

Alexander Schafgans

Alexander Schafgans '05, MS '07, PhD '11

Principal Scientist, Cymer

Expert in optics, magnetic field effects, point-probe nanoscopy, cryogenics and high-vacuum applications. Familiar with graphene, metamaterials and organic semiconductors.

HEALERS

Applying medical expertise and research, these are the brilliant individuals who work tirelessly to cure disease and restore health. Their enthusiasm and dedication is mobilized towards relief and results, and they harness creative and innovative solutions in carving a path to a new future.

Melanie Hayden Gephart ’01, MAS ’07, MD ’07

Melanie Hayden Gephart

Melanie Hayden Gephart ’01, MAS ’07, MD ’07

Neurosurgeon, Stanford University

Committed to improving the care of patients with brain tumors and understanding the underlying mechanisms of disease progression, research lab looks to develop new treatments and diagnostic techniques for the future patients who will be in the clinic tomorrow.

Albert Hsiao, MS ’03, PhD ’05, MD ’07

Albert Hsiao

Albert Hsiao, MS ’03, PhD ’05, MD ’07

Associate Director, Cardiovascular Diseases, Center for Translational Imaging & Precision Health at UC San Diego

A physician-scientist-engineer developing new strategies for diagnosis and intervention for cardiovascular disease and oncology, established the "cardiovascular imaging" core of the Center for Translational Imaging and Precision Medicine (CTIPM) at UC San Diego.

Chukwuemeka Okeke, PharmD '12

Chukwuemeka Okeke

Chukwuemeka Okeke, PharmD '12

President & Founder, RISE Global Health Initiative

Founder, President and CEO of RISE Global Health Initiative, a 501(c)3 charitable organization in the U.S. focused on improving health equity for individuals around the world through the development of scalable solutions.

Matthew Schultzel '05

Matthew Schultzel

Matthew Schultzel '05

Colorectal Surgeon, Scripps Health

Minimally invasive colorectal surgeon performing single incision and natural orifice general and colorectal operations. As one of the only doctors in Southern California with these skills, Schultzel has performed more single incision operations than any other doctor on the West Coast, and now teaches these skills as a respected leader in the field.

MASTERMINDS

Meet the risk-takers who confront problems head-on and drive economic growth in the process. These individuals are business builders and leaders who seek and solve pressing issues with passion and initiative, developing their industries with heart and meaning.

Daniel Caspi '02

Daniel Caspi

Daniel Caspi '02

Doctor & Founder; Hep C Cure Patent, Element26

Served on the team at AbbVie pharmaceuticals that developed the hepatitis C cure, Viekira Pak™, a patent that bears his name.

Sarah Guthals BS '10, MS '13, PhD '14

Sarah Guthals

Sarah Guthals BS '10, MS '13, PhD '14

Engineering Manager, GitHub; Founder, We Can

Started San Diego-based ThoughtSTEM to increase access to high-quality computer science education for kids through in-person courses, online courses and software.

Nicole Truitt, MS '03

Nikki Truitt

Nicole Truitt, MS '03

Managing Partner, Vis Natura Ventures

Serves as Staff Scientist in Applied Physics at Caltech and as an advisor to the governments of Japan and Korea regarding innovation and accelerator programs.

Paul Martini '01

Paul Martini

Paul Martini '01

CEO and Co-Founder, iboss Cybersecurity

CEO and Co-founder of iboss Cybersecurity, Martini pioneered the award-winning iboss Secure Web Gateway (SWG) and has furthered iboss’ position as a leading security innovator with the introduction of FireSphere™ Advanced APT Defense.

Byron Myers, MBA '10

Byron Myers

Byron Myers, MBA '10

Co-Founder and Executive Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Inogen

Deloitte's 2017 Technology Fast 500™ recognized Inogen as One of the Fastest Growing Companies in North America, and the co-founders were awarded as Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneurs of the Year and Inc. Magazine’s 30 Under 30 Coolest Entrepreneurs in America.

David Puerta, PhD '06

David Puerta

David Puerta, PhD '06

COO and VP of Discovery, Forge Therapeutics

Co-founder of biotechnology company, Forge Therapeutics, which is developing life-saving treatments for bacterial infections.

Andrew Radin '07

Andrew Radin

Andrew Radin '07

Chief Marketing Officer & Co-founder, twoXAR

CMO of TwoXAR, an artificial intelligence (AI)-driven biopharmaceutical company, co-founded with a business partner sharing the same name and a passion for entrepreneurship and technology.

Sameer Samat '01

Sameer Samat

Sameer Samat '01

Vice President, Product Management, Google

VP at Google responsible for the Google Play product, engineering and experience teams.

Pierre Sleiman, MBA '13

Pierre Sleiman

Pierre Sleiman, MBA '13

Founder and CEO, Go Green Agriculture

At Go Green Agriculture, innovation and farming are combined to find new ways to grow healthy food locally and reduce environmental impact. Go Green has become one of the largest organic-hydroponic producers in the U.S, producing 500,000 heads of hydroponically grown organic lettuce per month.

Joshua Windmiller '07, MS '09, PhD '12

Joshua Windmiller

Joshua Windmiller '07, MS '09, PhD '12

Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer, Biolinq Inc.

Founder and Chief Technology Officer of Biolinq Inc, a venture-backed medical device enterprise aimed at commercializing nanotechnology through applications in healthcare and personal wellness.

SOCIAL INNOVATORS

Introducing the imagineers who are transforming society to create a better world. They leverage teams to confront complex problems, inspiring people, institutions and governments to work together in realizing a more inclusive, secure and sustainable planet.

David An, MPIA '07

David An

David An, MPIA '07

Senior Research Fellow, Global Taiwan Institute

Accomplished as a U.S. Fulbright Scholar, U.S. diplomat covering political military affairs in East Asia for 6 years, and a U.S. adviser to the United Nations.

Emily Callahan, MAS '14

Emily Callahan

Emily Callahan, MAS '14

Co-founder, Blue Latitudes

Utilized graduate thesis work on the Rigs-to-Reefs program to launch Blue Latitudes, LLC, a certified Women Owned Small Business on a mission to work with government and industry, alike, in uniting science, policy and communication to solve complex ecological challenges associated with re-purposing offshore oil and gas platforms as reefs.

Matt Ellis '03

Matt Ellis

Matt Ellis '03

CEO and Founder, Measurabl

Founded Measurabl, the world’s fastest-growing commercial real estate technology startup, as a platform for energy, sustainability and corporate responsibility reporting.

Elena Foukes Lucas, MPIA '12

Elena Foukes Lucas

Elena Foukes Lucas, MPIA '12

CEO & Co-founder, Utility API and Treviso Partners

Serial entrepreneur in clean tech and energy who founded two companies in three years: UtilityAPI, which automates the process of collecting electricity data for solar, energy storage and energy management companies to help estimate potential costs and savings for customers; and Treviso Partners, which provides business development, marketing, strategic planning and resourcing services for start-ups, businesses in transition, new initiatives and market development programs in the clean tech, sustainability and social impact sectors.

Amberlea Jackson, MAS '14

Amberlea Jackson

Amberlea Jackson, MAS '14

Co-founder, Blue Latitudes

Actualized the commercial potential of UC San Diego graduate research work on the Rigs-to-Reefs program by co-founding Blue Latitudes, LLC, a certified Women Owned Small Business on a mission to work with government and industry, alike, in uniting science, policy and communication to solve complex ecological challenges associated with re-purposing offshore oil and gas platforms as reefs.

Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, MS '09, PhD '11

Ayana Elizabeth Johnson

Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, MS '09, PhD '11

Founder & Principal, Ocean Collectiv

Founder and president of Ocean Collectiv, a strategy consulting firm for conservation solutions grounded in social justice and envisioning, while working toward a healthy ocean that supports food security, economies and cultures.

Tamar Benzaken Koosed, MPIA '09

Tamar Benzaken Koosed

Tamar Benzaken Koosed, MPIA '09

Founder, Manaus Consulting; President, Save the Syrian Children

Founder and President of MANAUS Consulting, a corporate responsibility and international development consulting firm that has hired nine UC San Diego alumni from the School of Global Policy & Strategy.

Ashley Van Zeeland, MBA '12

Ashley Van Zeeland

Ashley Van Zeeland, MBA '12

Chief Technology Officer, Human Longevity, Inc.

Career is focused on commercializing life science technologies and developing synergistic relationships between commercial and academic research pursuits. Co-founded Cypher Genomics, now part of Human Longevity Inc., producing groundbreaking work in the genetics of autism and supervising large-scale genetic sequencing studies.

Milana Vayntrub '08

Milana Vayntrub

Milana Vayntrub '08

Actress and Comedian; Co-Founder, #CantDoNothing

An actress, comedian, writer and producer known for playing the character Lily Adams in a series of AT&T television commercials. Vayntrub has also appeared in the television series This Is Us as Sloane Sandburg and was recently cast in the lead role of Marvel superheroine Doreen Green/Squirrel Girl in Freeform's upcoming television series, New Warriors.

Start a Nomination

We’re seeking nominations for the True Triton Awards, recognizing exceptional volunteers, and the UC San Diego Alumni Awards, showcasing four different categories of impact. This is your opportunity to recognize exceptional alumni who have made a significant difference.

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