Spotlighting alumni achievers in the worlds of eco-chic fashion, national politics, athletics, public service, entertainment, astronauts and more.

For a memoriam, please visit In Memoriam page.

Gregory Schell '92

September, 2021

Gregory Schell '92 has produced a feature film called, Mayberry Man. The movie follows an arrogant movie star is trapped in a modern day Mayberry where he's given a chance to discover the true meaning of friendship and family.

George Thurlow '73

September, 2021

George Thurlow '73, former Executive Director for UCSB Alumni Affairs, has joined the Board of Directors for the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara. After earning a BA in sociology at UCSB, Thurlow embarked on a 20-year career in journalism, including a three-year stint as Professional in Residence at CSU Chico, before returning to Santa Barbara to become publisher of the Independent in 1994. His writing and reporting have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The Sacramento Bee, TIME magazine, the San Francisco Examiner, and numerous other newspapers and magazines. He retired from Alumni Affairs in December 2020.

Dr. Ricardo F. Vivancos-Pérez '06

August, 2021

Modern and Classical Languages Professor Ricardo F. Vivancos-Pérez has published, as lead editor, the first critical edition of Gloria Anzaldúa’s iconic book Borderlands / La Frontera.

Elizabeth Tandy Shermer '09

August, 2021

graduated with a Ph.D. from UCSB in 2009. Soon thereafter, she served as the assistant director at the Center for the Study of Work, Labor, and Democracy at the University. During that period, Ms. Shermer was chosen to deliver a commencement address for UCSB undergraduates. Today, Dr. Shermer is an Associate Professor of History at Loyola University Chicago where she teaches courses in twentieth-century United States history. Shermer is the author of the highly praised book Indentured Students: How Government-Guaranteed Loans Left Generations Drowning in College Debt (Harvard University Belknap Press 2021). The press release below was sent to national television and radio program producers as well as editors of major magazines. A similar version was sent to a select group of prestigious colleges, universities, and city forums. This week, we began introducing Professor Shermer to members of the U.S. Senate for the purpose of providing valuable insights related to the student loan crisis.

Jeffrey Stine '84

August, 2021

Jeffrey Stine '75, MA '78, Ph.D. '84, the curator for environmental history at the National Museum of American History, has published Green Persuasion: Advertising, Voluntarism, and America’s Public Lands with Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press. The book is available online as a free downloadable PDF from the Press’s publication archive.

Eric P. Wendt '86

August, 2021

Eric P. Wendt '86, the longest-serving Green Beret on Active Duty, retired on the 19th of August, in California overlooking the beautiful Monterey Bay. The US military conducted a joint service retirement ceremony for the Lieutenant General. With a remarkable career, spanning over 34 years of active duty, including over 4 years in the Light Infantry, followed by 30 years as a Green Beret. He also retired at the highest rank achieved by any Special Forces branched/career-long Green Beret since the Green Berets were created in 1952.

Chuck Hanson '71

July, 2021

Chuck Hanson '71, has published Secrets of Successful Parenting: A Proactive Approach to Raising a Well-Behaved, Happy Child. A compilation of over 40 years of guidance for parents in his pediatric practice in Walnut Creek, California. It offers a fresh look at an age-old problem and focuses on defining a limited set of concise parenting goals that will assure success throughout the entire age spectrum.

Dr. Ralph J. Lamson '72

July, 2021

Dr. Ralph J. Lamson '72 has published Emergence in all Seasons. A book review by UCSF Clinical Professor of Psychiatry accompanies this publication.

Stephen Davis '93

May, 2021

Stephen Davis, ’93, has been named to the 2020 Forbes/Shook Best-in-State Wealth Advisors. Davis is a financial advisor in the Westlake Village office of UBS Wealth Management. Davis has more than 27 years of experience in the financial advising industry. The Forbes/SHOOK list is made up of 4,000 financial advisors across the country that are judged on the basis of interviews, compliance records and revenue generated for the firm. Davis is a member of the UCSB Alumni Association Board of Directors.

Renée Patin Farrington '60 '60

May, 2021

Renée Patin Farrington '60, has published In the Shadow of the Sign, Chapters showcase all aspects of UCSB in her days including fashion, Greek life, the origin of the Gaucho mascot and much more!

Ken Stanton '75

May, 2021

Ken Stanton '75 has published his fourth book No Mere Pastime, A Life in High Places. It chronicles 50 years of adventuring in the outdoors - big wall climbing in Yosemite and the Dolomites, alpine climbing in the Sierra.

Jazmín Aguilera '11

April, 2021

is head of audio at the Los Angeles Times. Most recently, she hosted and produced “The Cut” at New York Magazine. Before that, Aguilera worked as interim executive and senior producer at Conde Nast, developing, producing and scoring podcasts for magazines including Vogue and Pitchfork. She also worked at the New York Times, making episodes for “The Daily,” and at “Snap Judgment” as a producer. She is a two-time Third Coast Audio Festival competition winner, earning both gold in 2018 and silver in 2019 in documentary. Aguilera is an International Women’s Media Fund Grant winner and has earned top ranks on the best podcast episodes of the year lists from IndieWire and Spotify. A native of Santa Cruz, she graduated from UC Santa Barbara with a degree in global studies and is an avid Archie Comic collector.

Cody Makela '08

April, 2021

has been named standout financial planner by Arlington Financial Advisors, an independent financial advisory firm located in the heart of Santa Barbara.

Dawn Wright '94

April, 2021

is among the newly elected members of the American Academy of Arts & Science. She completed an interdisciplinary Ph.D. in physical geography and marine geology. She is the chief scientist at the Environmental Systems Research Institute

Candace R. DesBaillets '07

March, 2021

has joined Fox Rothschild LLP in Seattle as an associate in the Labor & Employment Department. Candace defends employers in individual and class action litigation, including against claims involving discrimination, disability accommodations, harassment, retaliation and wage and hour violations.

Matt Mendenhall '75

February, 2021

Matt Mendenhall '75 has published two books; Adventures in the Justice Factory: Courtroom Tales of a Notoriously Unreliable Witness (2020), and Curios: Poems and Prose (2021).

Dr. Ron J Popenhagen '94

January, 2021

has published, Modernist Disguise: Masquerade in Modern Performance and Visual Culture. Popenhagen's research and coursework at UCSB provided a significant foundation for this manuscript on French/European Modernism. This January 2021 publication is an integral addition to the publisher's series on the modernist 19th and 20th centuries. The Series is Edinburgh Critical Studies in Modernism, Drama and Performance. The interdisciplinary book encompasses Anthropology, Dance, French Studies, Indigenous Performance, Literature, Mask, Mime, Music and Opera, Painting, Photography, Sculpture, and Theatre.

Jeanette Morgan Shaw '89

January, 2021

Jeanette Morgan Shaw, ’89, has been elected to the Tigard City Council in Portland, OR. Shaw is the co founder and partner in Techolicy LLC in Portland. She currently is the senior director of Policy, Communications and Marketing for Forth. Previously she was vice president of government relations for National Semiconductor. She also previously served as the executive director of the Oregon Wine Board. She received her executive MBA from Stanford and previously served as a member of the Board of Directors of the UC Santa Barbara Alumni Association.

Laurie Von Straussenburg '84

January, 2021

Laurie Von Straussenburg, ’84, has launched her own CPA firm in Mesa, AZ. Her firm provides tax and accounting services for both individuals and corporations. She has been in the accounting industry for 30 years and a CPA for 20 years. She is certified in California, New York and Arizona.

Joe Acaba '90

December, 2020

Joe Acaba, ’90, has been named by NASA to the team that will make the early Artemis Moon missions. NASA’s goal is to put people on the moon by 2024 and Acaba joins a team of 18 astronauts that will be assigned the first missions. Acaba has been a NASA astronaut since 2004. He has logged a total of 306 days in space on three different missions. In 2009 he served on the International Space Station and conducted two spacewalks. In 2012 he flew a Russian Soyuz spacecraft to the Space Station and served as flight engineer. He has served as a flight trainer for the Soyuz in Star City, Russia. He received his degree from UCSB in geology, received a masters of science in geology form the University of Arizona, and a ME from Texas Tech in 2015.

Ashley M. Ratcliff '06

December, 2020

graduate of UCSB (major: Sociology, minor: Professional Writing - Editing Emphasis) recently published a self-help memoir, Jesus Year, about her journey with multiple sclerosis — from the jarring decline in health to her diagnosis, to finding her new normal and inspiring fellow chronically ill people along the way. It became a bestseller on Amazon earlier this month.

Sheila Hwang

November, 2020

was among 100 St. Louis-area educators to receive “Emerson’s Excellence in Teaching Award.” The awards pay tribute to area educators from kindergarten to college teachers for their achievements and dedication to the field of education. Emerson is a global technology and engineering company. Hwang is a professor of English at Webster University in St. Louis. She is currently working on a project entitled “The Watering Place in Jane Austen’s Novels: Space, Language, and Consumerism.”

Orlando Johnson '12

November, 2020

a star basketball player at UCSB has signed a contract to play in Australia with the Brisbane Bullets of the National Basketball League. Johnson was selected in the second round of the NBA draft in 2012 by the Sacramento Kings and was immediately traded to the Indiana Pacers. Johnson has played in the NBA and professional teams in Spain, the Phillipines, China, Lebanon, Bosnia and Taiwan. Last year he played for the Avtodor Saratov in Russia averaging 14 points and four rebounds per game.

Chloe Martinez '13

November, 2020

has published a chapbook of poems “Corner Shrine.” She is currently the program coordinator of the Center for Writing and Public Discourse and a lecturer in Religious Studies at Claremont McKenna College. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Award in poetry three times.

Arvind Gupta '02

October, 2020

has published a new book “Decoding the World: A Roadmap for the Questioner.” The book explores how to use clean-tech to solve some of the most vexing problems facing the world, from food shortages to climate change. Gupta founded and grew IndieBio into the largest biotech seed-fund VC in the world, according to his publicist. Gupta received his degree in microbiology.