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  • Diane Distefano

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  • Diane Distefano

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Meet the Alumni Award Honorees 2021

For 42 years, UC San Diego’s Alumni Awards have celebrated the distinguished work and personal accomplishments of Tritons who bring honor and distinction to our alumni ranks. This year, the spirit and ceremony will live on virtually—join us on Saturday, May 15 as we honor the following exceptional Tritons and take part in all that Alumni Celebration Weekend has to offer.

Outstanding Alumni

Franklin Antonio

Franklin Antonio ’74

Muir, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Scientist, engineer and inventor—the career of Franklin Antonio ’74 culminates in his role as chief scientist at Qualcomm, where he has made transformational technology that touches all of our lives. His support of the Jacobs School of Engineering, including the forthcoming Franklin Antonio Hall, helps ensure that the next generation of Triton innovators can improve and enhance lives as well.
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“It’s been fun to watch the incredible growth and evolution of UC San Diego since my graduation. I’m privileged to be a small part of it.”

Jessica Meir

Jessica Meir, PhD ’09

Marine Biology, Scripps Institution of Oceanography

An accomplished scientist, researcher and NASA astronaut, Jessica Meir, PhD ’09, has brought scientific exploration to the most extreme environments on and off the planet Earth. A member of the first all-female spacewalk, Meir is also a tireless proponent of science education, committed to inspiring the next generation of curious minds.
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“Scripps taught me how to be a critical thinker, to conduct research efficiently, and most importantly, it taught me a lot about working with a team.”


Jim Moffatt

James (Jim) Moffatt ’80

Warren, General Biology and Quant Econ & Decision Sciences

After a long career with consulting firm Deloitte, Jim Moffatt ’80 retired as the CEO of Global Consulting, having helped organizations around the world create significant societal impact. He was instrumental in developing the firm’s pro bono program, and he also applies his expertise to the university’s mission as a cabinet member of the Campaign for UC San Diego.

“Changemaking is really what UC San Diego is all about. It’s the heart of what I’ve aspired to do throughout my career.”

Shelley OConnor

Shelley O’Connor ’83

Muir, Psychology

Chairman and CEO of Morgan Stanley Bank, NA and Morgan Stanley Private Bank, NA, Shelley O’Connor ’83 is a leader in her industry and a dedicated advocate for women in the workplace. With more than 30 years at Morgan Stanley, O’Connor also works with several nonprofits to make the workplace more equitable and accessible for all.
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“UC San Diego gave me confidence to lead and take risks. Today those skills help me run successful businesses and drive change in my industry.”


Emily Koch

Emily Koch, MAS ’19

Marine Biodiversity and Conservation, Scripps Institution of Oceanography

A humanitarian and social ecologist, Emily "Emi" Koch founded the nonprofit, Beyond the Surface, providing positive youth development tools, training and safe spaces for children from small-scale fishing villages— to cultivate attuned, caring relationships with themselves, society and their marine environment. Her global approach is grassroots, personally engaging youth and their families to celebrate their strengths, while addressing challenges impacting their social-ecological wellbeing and sustainable futures.
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“My time at Scripps helped me understand the connections between human and ocean health.”

Anna Thorvaldsdottir

Anna Thorvaldsdottir, MA ’08, PhD ’11 Music

The musical compositions of Anna Thorvaldsdottir, MA ’08, PhD ’11, convey an auditory ecosystem where materials continuously grow in and out of each other, often inspired by nature. Using sound and nuance along with harmonies and lyrics, her work has influenced contemporary music across the globe, advancing frontiers of the art form.
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“The way I experience music is not just three-dimensional. It’s everywhere. I feel it physically and emotionally, everywhere.”

Emerging Leaders

Deepak Atyam

Deepak Atyam ’15

Muir, Aerospace Engineering

Co-founder and CEO of Tri-D Dynamics, Deepak Atyam ’15 is pioneering the field of 3-D printing using a cold metal fusion process, an innovative way to embed electronics in a variety of materials. He also serves as a mentor for current students and is part of several campus committees, including the Graduates of the Last Decade steering committee.
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“I want to see UC San Diego continue to grow and to be a leader to drive transformational change in our world and what we see in everyday life.”

Lauren Yee

Lauren Yee, MFA ’12

Theatre and Dance

Playwright Lauren Yee, MFA ’12, has produced acclaimed and deeply personal theatrical works that reflect her Asian heritage, bringing a fresh voice to the spotlight and reaching a new generation of theater audiences. Her plays “The Great Leap” and “Cambodian Rock Band” have received several awards and are widely produced around the nation.
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“I’ve always wanted to be a storyteller. And when I realized that I could tell stories through theater […] that’s when I knew this is what I wanted to do.”

The Alumni Awards are part of the annual Alumni Weekend Celebration, May 14-15. Register today!

Email us if you know a Triton to nominate for an award at our next Alumni Celebration.

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