University of California, Berkeley - Notable Alumni, Faculty, and Staff

Notable Alumni, Faculty, and Staff

Further information: List of University of California, Berkeley alumni, List of University of California, Berkeley faculty, and List of Nobel laureates associated with University of California, Berkeley
  • Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, BA 1950, 4th President of Pakistan, 9th Prime Minister of Pakistan

  • Earl Warren, BA 1912, JD 1914, 14th Chief Justice of the United States

  • Steven Chu, PhD 1976, Nobel laureate and current United States Secretary of Energy

  • Jennifer Granholm, BA 1984, First female Governor of Michigan

  • Robert Reich, Professor of Public Policy, 22nd United States Secretary of Labor

  • Christina Romer, Professor of Economics, 25th Chairperson of the President's Council of Economic Advisers

  • Steve Wozniak, BS 1986, co-founder of Apple Computer

  • Gordon Moore, BS 1950, co-founder of semiconductor company Intel

  • Eric E. Schmidt, MS 1979, PhD 1982, Executive Chairman of Google Inc.

  • Edmund Gerald "Jerry" Brown, Jr, BA 1961, Governor of California, former California Attorney General

  • Gregory Peck, BA 1939, Academy Award winning actor

  • Natalie Coughlin, BA 2005, multiple gold medal winning Olympic swimmer

  • Mostafa Chamran, Ph.D. 1963, Iranian scientist, Vice President and Defense Minister of Iran

  • Haakon Magnus, Crown Prince of Norway, BA 1999

  • Robert McNamara, BA 1937, President of World Bank (1968–1981), United States Secretary of Defense (1961–1968), President of Ford Motor Company (1960)

  • Daniel Kahneman, PhD 1961, awarded the 2002 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics for his work in Prospect theory

  • Bert Muhly, BS 1948, politician, academic, planning practitioner and social activist

26 alumni and 26 past and present full-time faculty are counted among the 71 Nobel laureates associated with the university. The Turing Award, the "Nobel Prize of computer science", has been awarded to nine alumni and six past and present full-time faculty.

Alumni have been involved in the field of politics and international relations, one of whom is Nicholas A. Veliotes (1928-). Veliotes went on to become the Ambassador to the countries of Jordan (1978–1981) and Egypt (1984–1986), among holding many other highly prestigious job titles and positions throughout his lengthy career.

Alumni have written novels and screenplays that have attracted Oscar-caliber talent. Irving Stone (BA 1923) wrote the novel Lust for Life, which was later made into an Academy Award–winning film of the same name starring Kirk Douglas as Vincent van Gogh. Stone also wrote The Agony and the Ecstasy, which was later made into a film of the same name starring Oscar winner Charlton Heston as Michelangelo. Mona Simpson (BA 1979) wrote the novel Anywhere But Here, which was later made into a film of the same name starring Oscar-winning actress Susan Sarandon. Terry McMillan (BA 1986) wrote How Stella Got Her Groove Back, which was later made into a film of the same name starring Oscar-nominated actress Angela Bassett. Randi Mayem Singer (BA 1979) wrote the screenplay for Mrs. Doubtfire, which starred Oscar winning actor Robin Williams and Oscar winning actress Sally Field. Audrey Wells (BA 1981) wrote the screenplay The Truth About Cats & Dogs, which starred Oscar-nominated actress Uma Thurman. James Schamus (BA 1982, MA 1987, PhD 2003) has collaborated on screenplays with Oscar winning director Ang Lee on the Academy Award winning movies Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Brokeback Mountain.

Alumni have made important contributions to science. Some have concentrated their studies on the very small universe of atoms and molecules. Nobel laureate William F. Giauque (BS 1920, PhD 1922) investigated chemical thermodynamics, Nobel laureate Willard Libby (BS 1931, PhD 1933) pioneered radiocarbon dating, Nobel laureate Willis Lamb (BS 1934, PhD 1938) examined the hydrogen spectrum, Nobel laureate Hamilton O. Smith (BA 1952) applied restriction enzymes to molecular genetics, Nobel laureate Robert Laughlin (BA math 1972) explored the fractional quantum Hall effect, and Nobel laureate Andrew Fire (BA math 1978) helped to discover RNA interference-gene silencing by double-stranded RNA. Nobel laureate Glenn T. Seaborg (PhD 1937) collaborated with Albert Ghiorso (BS 1913) to discover 12 chemical elements, such as Americium, Berkelium, and Californium. Carol Greider (PhD 1987), professor of molecular biology and genetics at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, was awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize in medicine for discovering a key mechanism in the genetic operations of cells, an insight that has inspired new lines of research into cancer, and Daniel Kahneman was awarded the 2002 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics for his work in Prospect theory.

John N. Bahcall (BS 1956) worked on the Standard Solar Model and the Hubble Space Telescope, resulting in a National Medal of Science. Peter Smith (BS 1969) was the principal investigator and project leader for the $420 million NASA robotic explorer Phoenix, which physically confirmed the presence of water on the planet Mars for the first time. Astronauts James van Hoften (BS 1966), Margaret Rhea Seddon (BA 1970), Leroy Chiao (BS 1983), and Rex Walheim (BS 1984) have physically reached out to the stars, orbiting the earth in NASA's fleet of space shuttles.

Undergraduate alumni have founded or co-founded such companies as Apple Computer, Intel, LSI Logic The Gap, MySpace, PowerBar, Berkeley Systems, Bolt, Beranek and Newman (which created a number of underlying technologies that govern the Internet), Chez Panisse, GrandCentral (known now as Google Voice), Advent Software, HTC Corporation, VIA Technologies, Marvell Technology Group, MoveOn.org, Opsware, RedOctane, SanDisk, Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker, VMware, and Zilog, while graduate school alumni have co-founded companies such as DHL, KeyHole Inc (known now as Google Earth), Sun Microsystems, and The Learning Company. Berkeley alumni have also led various technology companies such as Electronic Arts, Google, Adobe Systems, and Qualcomm.

Berkeley alumni nurtured a number of key technologies associated with the personal computer and the development of the Internet. Unix was created by alumnus Ken Thompson (BS 1965, MS 1966) along with colleague Dennis Ritchie. Alumni such as L. Peter Deutsch (PhD 1973), Butler Lampson (PhD 1967), and Charles P. Thacker (BS 1967) worked with Ken Thompson on Project Genie and then formed the ill-fated US Department of Defense-funded Berkeley Computer Corporation (BCC), which was scattered throughout the Berkeley campus in non-descript offices to avoid anti-war protestors. After BCC failed, Deutsch, Lampson, and Thacker joined Xerox PARC, where they developed a number of pioneering computer technologies, culminating in the Xerox Alto that inspired the Apple Macintosh. In particular, the Alto used a computer mouse, which had been invented by Doug Engelbart (B.Eng 1952, Ph.D. 1955). Thompson, Lampson, Engelbart, and Thacker all later received a Turing Award. Also at Xerox PARC was Ronald V. Schmidt (BS 1966, MS 1968, PhD 1971), who became known as "the man who brought Ethernet to the masses". Another Xerox PARC researcher, Charles Simonyi (BS 1972), pioneered the first WYSIWIG word processor program and was recruited personally by Bill Gates to join the fledgling company known as Microsoft to create Microsoft Word. Simonyi later became the first repeat space tourist, blasting off on Russian Soyuz rockets to work at the International Space Station orbiting the earth.

In 1977, a graduate student in the computer science department named Bill Joy (MS 1982) assembled the original Berkeley Software Distribution, commonly known as BSD Unix. Joy, who went on to co-found Sun Microsystems, also developed the original version of the terminal console editor vi, while Ken Arnold (BA 1985) created Curses, a terminal control library for Unix-like systems that enables the construction of text user interface (TUI) applications. Working alongside Joy at Berkeley were undergraduates William Jolitz (BS 1997) and his future wife Lynne Jolitz (BA 1989), who together created 386BSD, a version of BSD Unix that runs on Intel CPUs and which evolved into the BSD family of free operating systems and the Darwin operating system underlying Apple Mac OS X. Eric Allman (BS 1977, MS 1980) created SendMail, a Unix mail transfer agent that delivers 70% of the email in the world.

The XCF, an undergraduate research group located in Soda Hall, has been responsible for a number of notable software projects, including GTK+ (created by Peter Mattis, BS 1997), The GIMP (Spencer Kimball, BS 1996), and the initial diagnosis of the Morris worm. In 1992 Pei-Yuan Wei, an undergraduate at the XCF, created ViolaWWW, one of the first graphical web browsers. ViolaWWW was the first browser to have embedded scriptable objects, stylesheets, and tables. In the spirit of Open Source, he donated the code to Sun Microsystems, inspiring Java applets( Kim Polese (BS 1984) was the original product manager for Java at Sun Microsystems.) ViolaWWW also inspired researchers at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications to create the Mosaic web browser, a pioneering web browser that became Microsoft Internet Explorer.

Collectively, alumni have won at least twenty Academy Awards. Gregory Peck (BA 1939), nominated for four Oscars during his career, won an Oscar for acting in To Kill a Mockingbird. Chris Innis (BA 1991) won the 2010 Oscar for film editing for her work on best picture winner, The Hurt Locker. Walter Plunkett (BA 1923 ) won an Oscar for costume design (for An American in Paris). Freida Lee Mock (BA 1961) and Charles H. Ferguson (BA 1978) have each won an Oscar for documentary filmmaking. Mark Berger (BA 1964) has won four Oscars for sound mixing and is an adjunct professor at UC Berkeley. Edith Head (BA 1918), who was nominated for 34 Oscars during her career, won eight Oscars for costume design. Joe Letteri (BA 1981) has won four Oscars for Best Visual Effects in the James Cameron film Avatar and the Peter Jackson films King Kong, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King.

Alumni have collectively won at least twenty-five Emmy Awards: Jon Else (BA 1968) for cinematography; Andrew Schneider (BA 1973) for screenwriting; Linda Schacht (BA 1966, MA 1981), two for broadcast journalism; Christine Chen (dual BA's 1990), two for broadcast journalism; Kristen Sze (BA), two for broadcast journalism; Kathy Baker (BA 1977), three for acting; Ken Milnes (BS 1977), four for broadcasting technology; and Leroy Sievers (BA), twelve for production.

Alumni collectively have won at least eight Pulitzer Prizes. Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Marguerite Higgins (BA 1941) was a pioneering female war correspondent who covered World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. Novelist Robert Penn Warren (MA 1927) won three Pulitzer Prizes, including one for his novel All the King's Men, which was later made into an Academy Award winning movie. Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist Rube Goldberg (BS 1904) invented the comically complex—yet ultimately trivial—contraptions known as Rube Goldberg machines . Journalist Alexandra Berzon (MA 2006) won a Pulitzer Prize in 2009, and journalist Matt Richtel (BA 1989), who also co-authors the comic strip Rudy Park under the pen name of "Theron Heir", won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting. Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Leon Litwack (BA 1951, PhD 1958 ) taught as a professor at UC Berkeley for 43 years; three other UC Berkeley professors have also received the Pulitzer Prize.

Alumni have acted in classic television series that are still broadcast on TV today. Karen Grassle (BA 1965) played the mother Caroline Ingalls in Little House on the Prairie, Jerry Mathers (BA 1974) starred in Leave it to Beaver, and Roxann Dawson (BA 1980) portrayed B'Elanna Torres on Star Trek: Voyager.

Former undergraduates have participated in the contemporary music industry, such as Grateful Dead bass guitarist Phil Lesh, The Police drummer Stewart Copeland, Rolling Stone Magazine founder Jann Wenner, The Bangles lead singer Susanna Hoffs (BA 1980), Counting Crows lead singer Adam Duritz, MTV correspondent Suchin Pak (BA 1997), AFI musicians Davey Havok and Jade Puget (BA 1996), and solo artist Marié Digby (Say It Again). People Magazine included Third Eye Blind lead singer and songwriter Stephan Jenkins (BA 1987) in the magazine's list of "50 Most Beautiful People".

Alumni have also participated in the world of sports. Tennis athlete Helen Wills Moody (BA 1925) won 31 Grand Slam titles, including eight singles titles at Wimbledon. Tarik Glenn (BA 1999) is a Super Bowl XLI champion. Michele Tafoya (BA 1988) is a sports television reporter for ABC Sports and ESPN. Sports agent Leigh Steinberg ( BA 1970, JD 1973) has represented professional athletes such as Steve Young, Troy Aikman, and Oscar de la Hoya; Steinberg has been called the real-life inspiration for the title character in the Oscar-winning film Jerry Maguire (portrayed by Tom Cruise). Matt Biondi (BA 1988) won eight Olympic gold medals during his swimming career, in which he participated in three different Olympics. At the Beijing Olympics in 2008, Natalie Coughlin (BA 2005) became the first American female athlete in modern Olympic history to win six medals in one Olympics. (A panel of Sports Illustrated's swimsuit models voted Coughlin as one of the Top 20 Best-Looking Female Athletes.)

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