Physical and Biological Sciences Division honors three prominent alumni

The division’s Distinguished Alumni Awards recognize contributions to society by graduate and undergraduate alums

Colleen Reichmuth
Cora E. Randall
Ramon Resa

The Division of Physical and Biological Sciences is honoring three stellar alumni—atmospheric scientist Cora E. Randall, pediatrician Ramon Resa, and marine scientist Colleen Reichmuth—with the 2023 Distinguished Alumni Awards in recognition of their achievements and contributions.

The division established the awards to honor graduates of the division who have gone on to extraordinary accomplishments in diverse fields and whose careers are characterized by sustained and exemplary contributions to society through research, practice, education, policy, or service.

Colleen Reichmuth

A triple-degree holder from UC Santa Cruz, Colleen Reichmuth is a senior research scientist at UCSC’s Institute of Marine Sciences, studying comparative cognition, bioacoustics, and behavioral ecology with a focus on amphibious marine mammals. Reichmuth earned her B.A. in biology, M.S. in marine sciences, and Ph.D. in ocean sciences at UC Santa Cruz and has spent most of her career at Long Marine Laboratory, where she heads the Pinniped Cognition and Sensory Systems Lab. Her team carries out diverse lab and field studies of seals, sea lions, walruses, and sea otters to explore how these semi-aquatic carnivores have evolved to operate within terrestrial and marine habitats.

Projects in Reichmuth’s lab address challenging conservation problems such as ocean noise, harmful algal blooms, climate change, and habitat loss, often centered on the behavior and biology of individual animals. At heart, her research uses psychobiological approaches to better understand how animals experience the world around them, including how they solve problems, cope with stressors, and communicate with one another. An advocate for best practices for animal welfare in research, Reichmuth is a National Geographic Explorer, serves on the Committee of Scientific Advisors for the Society for Marine Mammalogy, and has been recognized as a Fellow of the Acoustical Society of America. As a first-generation American and first-generation college student, she credits her parents with instilling a love of learning that is best shared with others.

Cora E. Randall

Cora Randall is a senior research scientist in the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics and distinguished professor emerita in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (ATOC) at the University of Colorado, Boulder. She earned her Ph.D. in chemistry and biochemistry at UC Santa Cruz in 1985.

After an initial career focused on time-resolved laser spectroscopy of biological molecules, Randall spent 33 years working first on the Hubble Space Telescope and later on satellite missions devoted to examining Earth's atmosphere. She has led numerous research programs and is currently deputy principal investigator for the NASA Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere (AIM) satellite mission and principal investigator for the AIM Cloud Imaging and Particle Size instrument. Her professional work has ranged from polarization optics to astronomy to atmospheric science and solar-terrestrial relationships. Her current research emphasizes the atmospheric effects of energetic particle precipitation, stratospheric ozone depletion, polar mesospheric clouds, gravity wave observations, and satellite measurement validation. She chaired the CU Boulder ATOC Department for five years and has led many university activities, including a four-year overhaul of the undergraduate general education requirements. She has won many awards in recognition of her scientific contributions and service and is a fellow of the American Geophysical Union and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Ramon Resa

Dr. Ramon Resa was raised in the tiny community of Goshen, CA, near Fresno. One of 15 children raised by his grandparents in a world of poverty, neglect, and disregard for education, Dr. Resa credits his grade-school teachers with opening his eyes to the idea of going to college and becoming a doctor. He earned his B.A. in biology at UC Santa Cruz in 1976. Upon completing his medical education, Dr. Resa returned to the San Joaquin Valley to open a pediatric practice in Porterville, CA, where he has spent three decades working with poor and underserved children.

Dr. Resa’s memoir Out of the Fields: My Journey from Farmworker Boy to Pediatrician shares how he found the courage to pursue his vision of becoming a doctor. Through his book, public appearances, and blogs, Dr. Resa has educated and inspired parents, students, educators, medical professionals, and business groups across the country to keep hopes and dreams alive, even when there is no visible evidence that our dreams can come true.

Dr. Resa is featured in a documentary film, Told They Can’t, which will be shown at the Humanities Lecture Hall on Friday, May 20, at 4:30 p.m. The film tells the inspiring stories of several professionals of color who succeeded despite the odds being stacked against them in childhood. The screening will be followed by a moderated discussion between Diane Wagner, executive producer, and Dr. Resa himself.