Gordon Moore ’50

A few years before co-founding Intel, one of the largest and most revered semiconductor chip makers in the world, Moore wrote that the amount of transistors on integrated circuits — essentially, the complexity of computers — doubles every two years. Now called “Moore’s Law,” that estimate is gospel in the computer industry, and Moore a prophet of Silicon Valley. In the early years, as electronics were being installed into almost every consumer item, “we had the feeling that this was the basic technology of some kind of a revolution,” he said in a 2012 NPR interview with himself and fellow Intel icon Andy Grove Ph.D. ’63. Still wanting to do more, Moore and his wife began the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation in 2000 to support their combined passions: environmental conservation, patient care, science, and Bay Area-focused projects. The foundation emphasizes planning, partnership, and — when necessary — learning from mistakes. “Failures are not something to be avoided. You want to have them happen as quickly as you can so you can make progress rapidly,” Moore once said. He received the Berkeley Medal in 1996, the university’s highest honor.


Business and Economics, Honors and Awards, Innovators, Technology and Engineering

Jennifer Granholm ’84

The economic battle that rolled across America started in Michigan, and Granholm was one person who took the blows. But as the state’s first female governor from 2003–11, she worked tirelessly to salvage the state’s auto and manufacturing industries and add emerging sectors. After leaving office, she hosted Current TV’s political news analysis show “The War Room” and co-wrote the Washington Post bestseller A Governor’s Story. In a review, President Bill Clinton wrote that Granholm “faced extraordinary challenges with grace, intelligence, and tenacity. … She embraced the challenge of rebuilding Michigan’s economy … with new ideas, new jobs, and new businesses.” Concerned that the United States is lagging behind in energy policy, Granholm is now zeroing in on creating jobs in the clean energy sector. She is back at Berkeley as a professor at the Goldman School of Public Policy and is being awarded by the Cal Alumni Association in 2014 for Excellence in Achievement. Watch her TED2013 talk on clean energy, or follow her on Facebook and Twitter @JenGranholm.

Education, Honors and Awards, Public Service and Activism

Minh Dang ’06, M.S.W ’13

Every April, Dang celebrates what she calls “Freedom Day” — the anniversary of breaking away from a life of being sexually abused and trafficked. Since MSNBC aired the documentary Sex Slaves in America: Minh’s Story in 2010, Dang has become an unbending force in the fight to end the commercial sexual exploitation of children — helping many heal the pain and shame associated with it. She has courageously addressed tens of thousands of survivors, advocates, and other concerned citizens, as well as directed Don’t Sell Bodies, founded by actress Jada Pinkett Smith. Recognized by the White House in 2013 as a Champion of Change, Dang said, “There was a time that I could only imagine breathing beyond the next day, let alone being at the White House.” She credits her Berkeley undergraduate experience for teaching her how to “stand up for justice” and looks forward to April 16, 2026, when her “days in freedom will finally match my days in slavery.” The Cal Alumni Association honored Dang with the 2014 Mark Bingham Award for Excellence in Achievement by a Young Alumna. Read her blog Minh Speaks Truth, or follow her on Twitter @minhspeakstruth or Facebook.

Honors and Awards, Public Service and Activism

William Powers Jr. ’67

Powers has a favorite story that goes like this: A professor fills a vat with rocks and asks his students if it’s full. Yes, they say. He repeats this process with pebbles, sand, and finally water. When asked what the moral is, the students say there’s always room for more. But the professor disagrees. If you want the big rocks to fit, you have to put them in first. As the University of Texas at Austin’s president since 2006, former dean of its law school, and one of the country’s foremost scholars in personal injury and product liability, Powers knows how to keep his eyes on the big rocks. As an administrator, he gets high marks for his efforts to reform the undergraduate curriculum, diversify the faculty and student body, and save public higher education in a state that is eagerly trying to cut it to the bone. As a legal consultant, he chaired the 2001 committee that wrote the now-definitive Powers Report on the ethical and fiscal demise of Enron Corp. The Cal Alumni Association named Powers its 2014 Alumnus of the Year. Reflecting on his time at Berkeley and his UT leadership, Powers said in a California magazine article, “That’s what these great universities do for people. Kids still show up and think they’re the ones who don’t belong. But they do belong. They show up and it changes their lives.”

Education, Honors and Awards

Vijay Iyer M.A. ’94, Ph.D. ’98

2013 winner of the MacArthur Foundation’s “genius” grant, Iyer, a jazz composer-pianist, is quickly ascending as a trendsetter through his eclectic mix of improvisation-based solo and ensemble compositions, cross-genre collaborations, and research on listening. Although Iyer, who holds a Ph.D. in the cognitive science of music, had planned on a career in the sciences, “Little by little I found myself pulled into a community of artists that valued the history and the aliveness of jazz,” he said in a video. Counting the classical music of his South Indian heritage, West African drumming, and African American masters such as Duke Ellington and Thelonious Monk among many influences, Iyer creates imaginative, rhythmic — even disorienting — works. While Accelerando features his superb trio and topped charts worldwide with its accessible experimentalism, his latest project, Holding It Down, is a collaboration with poet Mike Ladd that focuses on the experiences and dreams, from the mundane to the harrowing, of veterans of color who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Follow Iyer on Facebook or Twitter @vijayiyer.

Arts and Entertainment, Honors and Awards

Daniel Koshland Jr. ’41

Though his father helped lead Levi Strauss & Co. for decades, Koshland built his life around science, not jeans. A third-generation Cal grad, he was a longtime professor of molecular and cell biology at Berkeley and a brilliant scientist known for his work on proteins and enzymes. In the 1980s, he spearheaded a massive reorganization of 11 biology departments that included a new curriculum to reflect advances in genetics and protein interactions. A subsequent campaign renovated one campus building and funded two others, one of which is named in Koshland’s honor. As his colleague Robert Tjian said, “People thought the reorganization was impossible, and I think no one else could have pulled it off.” Koshland also served as the editor of Science from 1985–1995, turning “a good, but stodgy journal” into the nation’s leading voice of science. Extending his vision and generosity beyond Berkeley, he established a scholarship program for San Francisco public high school students. Nga Pham, a 2012 recipient, said in a video, “This is the first time that I’ve wanted to go to college so bad. Even though I only came here two years ago, I realized that there’s nothing that I cannot do.” Among Koshland’s many awards are the National Medal of Science in 1990, the Berkeley Medal, and Alumnus of the Year in 1991.

Honors and Awards, Science

Jill Costello ’10

When Costello, a healthy, nonsmoking athlete, was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer as a junior, she did not let it stop her from giving life her all. Telling her mom cancer was “just another thing on my plate,” according to a Sports Illustrated profile, the beloved women’s crew coxswain instead focused on leading her team and graduating from Cal. Embracing grueling workouts and aggressive treatments without complaint, Costello went on to become the PAC-10 women’s rowing athlete of the year, organize Jog for Jill, an ongoing charity run, and graduate with a 4.0 GPA. She held onto the philosophy to “do what makes you happy in the moment ” until her death at age 22 in 2010. Inspired by Costello’s courage, the campus co-hosts a jog each spring, and childhood friend Kelcey Harrison ran from Times Square to San Francisco in 2012 to raise funds for Jill’s Legacy. She was joined by Costello’s teammates and coach on the final leg across the Golden Gate Bridge. Costello was the first athlete to receive the NCAA’s Inspiration Award posthumously.


Honors and Awards, Sports

Aaron Rodgers

Like the Green Bay Packers, Cal recognized Rodgers’ talent when others were more skeptical. The star quarterback transferred to Berkeley in 2003 and became the Golden Bears’ starter in his fifth game. After a junior year in which Cal finished 10-1 and advanced to the Holiday Bowl, Rodgers entered the NFL draft, where he famously (and awkwardly) sat undrafted until the Packers selected him 24th. He sat on the bench behind Green Bay legend Brett Favre for three seasons, only to take over in 2008 and fulfill his potential. A three-time Pro Bowl player, Rodgers led the Packers to victory in Super Bowl XLV, earning the game’s MVP award in the process. “It’s something that gives me perspective all the time, knowing that the road I took was difficult,” he told the Associated Press in 2011. “But it did shape my character and it shaped my game as well.” Follow him on Twitter.

Honors and Awards, Sports

Ritankar Das ’13

Little did Das know as a pre-teen that his makeshift experiments using kitchen gadgets would lead to becoming Berkeley’s University Medalist — the top graduating senior — a few years later. Now 18, Das founded an undergraduate research journal, wrote and taught poetry, and brought science to underserved middle and high school students, among a whirlwind of successes that earned him more than 40 awards. A double major in bioengineering and chemical biology and a minor in creative writing, he is the youngest medalist in at least a century. “In my 30 years at Berkeley, I cannot think of a single undergraduate student who would match Ritankar’s accomplishments,” wrote chemistry professor Marcin Majda. Headed to the University of Oxford and MIT for his master’s and Ph.D., Das spoke at the Class of 2013 commencement. He said society tends to put everything into boxes labeled “success or failure. But I believe there’s a third box, and it’s called ‘not trying.’ … We must follow our ideas, even if they sound crazy or impossible.”

Honors and Awards, Public Service and Activism, Science

Anu Sridharan ’09, M.S. ’10

In almost every city in South Asia, knowing when or whether water will flow is a daily stressor. Residents must skip work, keep kids home from school — even miss a wedding or funeral — just waiting for the precious necessity to arrive. Building upon a novel team project that won Berkeley’s Big Ideas competition, Sridharan cofounded NextDrop, which uses simple technology and cell phones to alert residents when water is running in their neighborhoods. It also delivers real-time data on reservoir levels to the utility to improve their distribution decisions. Today NextDrop is serving 50 percent of Hubli, India, and envisions expanding to other developing continents. Sridharan, chosen by Forbes in 2012 as a 30 under 30 social entrepreneur, said in a TedXTalk, “If we are supposed to solve the pressing problems of tomorrow, the only way we can do it is by questioning everything.” Follow NextDrop on Facebook or Twitter @nextdrop.


Honors and Awards, Innovators, Technology and Engineering