This year’s Lauds & Laurels event was held May 12
at the Hyatt Regency Irvine. Since 1971, the UCI Alumni Association and
its board of directors have annually presented Lauds & Laurels
awards to individuals demonstrating heartfelt dedication to the
university community. Here are the 2011 honorees:

Brian Skyrms, Extraordinarius, Distinguished Professor of Logic & Philosophy of Science

It’s rather fitting that world-renowned philosopher Brian Skyrms occupies an office on the seventh floor of UC Irvine’s Social Science Tower. The bearded professor is on a higher plane than most mortals – pondering life’s deepest questions and framing complex theories about how we interact and communicate.

A Distinguished Professor of logic & philosophy of science, who joined UCI in 1980, Skyrms thinks about stuff a lot. He helped start the new Department of Logic & Philosophy of Science in the School of Social Sciences. He’s published seven books and more than 100 articles on the philosophy of science, causation, decision theory, game theory, and the foundations of probability.

Skyrms is a member of all of the highest honorary societies for which he is eligible – the American Philosophical Society, the American Academy of Arts and the National Academy of Sciences, where he is only the third philosopher to have been elected since its incorporation by Abraham Lincoln in 1863.

His research and leadership have catapulted UCI’s Department of Logic & Philosophy of Science into the academic forefront. The department consistently ranks high in the Leiter’s Rankings of Graduate Programs in Philosophy in the English-Speaking World.

Daisy Verduzco Reyes, Outstanding Graduate Student, School of Social Sciences

A fifth-year doctoral candidate in sociology, Daisy Reyes analyzes the role of Latino student organizations on California college campuses in easing transitions into higher education for Latino students, ultimately contributing to increased graduation rates. Her exceptional research contributions aim to make both theoretical contributions to sociology, and policy-relevant insights in how to advance diversity on university campuses. The outstanding quality of her research earned her the prestigious UC/ACCORD dissertation fellowship and support from the Center for the Study of Democracy, the Center for Research on Latinos in Global Society, the Center for Organizational Research and the School of Social Sciences.

The oldest child of immigrant parents, Reyes is committed to ensuring her success helps others from similar backgrounds. She serves as a mentor to many of the younger graduate students and undergraduates on campus, and is the founder of the first Latino graduate students association at UCI. Outside the university, she has worked extensively with programs like Project Upward Bound, where she mentors low-income Latino and African American teenagers in Los Angeles. Her exemplary efforts earned her the 2010 Department of Sociology’s Outstanding Service Award.

Michael Nguyen, Outstanding Undergraduate Student, Health Sciences

This spring, Michael Nguyen will graduate with a degree in public health and minors in five subjects – Russian, conflict resolution, political science, educational studies and civic & community engagement – all while maintaining a high GPA. He has served as a teaching assistant for undergraduate courses, conducted research projects with faculty, and is one of a few students to earn the Advanced Mediator Certification after a 100-hour internship at the Orange County Human Relations Commission. He is active in the legislative council of ASUCI and has received several awards including the 2007 National Young American Award, 2008 Asian American Outstanding Student Role Model and 2006 Edison International Scholar.

Nguyen became the youngest city commissioner on the library board of trustees in Santa Ana, where he helped generate more than $250,000 in funding. He is the only student affiliated with UCI’s influential Chancellor’s Club Leadership Council.

Nguyen heads to medical school this fall, with the goal of someday becoming U.S. Surgeon General.

Tanya Taylor, Outstanding Student Athlete, Social Ecology

The year before Tanya Taylor joined the UC Irvine women’s soccer program, the team scored six goals the entire season. In 2010, with Taylor as captain, they scored 49. Her leadership set the tone for the team’s 17-game winning streak and a flawless record of 8-0-0 to win the Big West Conference. She led the team to the NCAA Sweet 16 Tournament for the first time in the 27-year history of UCI Women’s Soccer.

Described by her coach as one of the most dangerous forwards in women’s soccer today, Taylor was named 2010 Big West Conference Offensive Player of the Year, National Soccer Coaches Association of America Regional First Team and most recently, All-American Third Team. She is one of only nine nationally among NCAA Division 1 players to have recorded double-figure goals and assists. At UCI, she is third in career assists and tied for fourth in goals.

Taylor’s athletic accomplishments are matched by her achievements in the classroom and in the community. At soccer camps and clinics for local youth, she is affectionately known to the kids as Coach Tanya. The senior in criminology, law & society has been named Big West Scholar-Athlete and achieved Dean’s Honors for three consecutive years. She plans to attend graduate school.

Bill Maurer, Faculty Achievement, Social Sciences

Bill Maurer applies anthropological study to real-world issues. He excels in teaching, service and his research, which focuses on how money, finance and property interact with law. This wide-ranging work provides insights not only about people and cultures, but also exposes challenges to national and international monetary regulations. Maurer secured the attention of The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on mobile banking and financial inclusion that resulted in funding for a multimillion dollar Institute for Money, Technology & Financial Inclusion at UCI.

Maurer’s passion for the subject matter is never in question and there are few professors who could explain these matters as clearly and expertly as he does. Beyond being one of the best graduate-level professors in anthropology at UCI, he is also one of the biggest “cheerleaders” for graduate student education.

He has authored or co-authored three books, six edited collections, 33 peer-reviewed articles, 17 book chapters and 49 other publications.

Helen Morgan, Staff Achievement, Social Sciences

Considered the center of student services for the School of Social Sciences, Helen Morgan has distinguished herself as an educational leader for more than a decade. As director of social sciences’ Undergraduate Student Affairs Office for the past 10 years, Morgan’s good-natured outlook has revitalized the department and her served as a foundation for her success as a counselor.

Morgan organizes, manages and leads a counseling center team that assists the largest group of declared majors on campus – nearly 6,500 at any one time. In addition to advising students at the academic level, she helps them stay on the track to academic success, navigates financial aid matters, facilitates student/faculty communications and more. In short, she does what she can for any student in need.

Richard and Cheryll Ruszat, Outstanding University Service

Richard and Cheryll Ruszat, co-owners of four Montessori schools including the University Montessori School, exemplify outstanding university service. As UC Irvine Foundation Board Trustees, Chancellor’s Club co-presidents, volunteer leaders of the UCI Medal fundraising committee and UCI parents, the Ruszats have helped shape how campus interacts with the community.

Members of the Chancellor’s Club since 1986, the Ruszats served as co-presidents from 1999 to 2002 and again from 2008 to 2010. During this time the club offered meaningful events and recruited new members at a variety of support levels.

As foundation trustees, they have left their indelible mark on the university. Richard Ruszat has been an integral part of the success of the Shaping the Future Campaign. Cheryll Ruszat has served as chair of the foundation’s Donor Relations Committee, and she launched a program that actively involves trustees in personally thanking donors. This type of meaningful stewardship makes a difference to our donors.

Distinguished Alumni

Teal Wicks ’05, Claire Trevor School of the Arts

Teal Wicks has compiled an impressive theatrical résumé since graduating from UCI in 2005 and shares her talent for philanthropic purposes as well. Her extensive charity appearances and performances have benefited Physicians for Peace, Art4Life2, REAF, Family Violence Prevention Fund and UCI. Last year, she volunteered to help the campus raise more than $1 million in student support at the 2010 Medal gala.

Wicks credits her success to the training she received at the Claire Trevor School of the Arts. The academic rigor prepared her for difficulties she encountered breaking into musical theater. She was cast as the understudy for Elphaba in the Los Angeles production of Wicked in 2007. In 2008, she won the lead, and in 2009 again was selected to play Elphaba in San Francisco. Currently, she is defying gravity as Elphaba on Broadway.

Described as mature beyond her years with a steely focus and determination that enables her make it in the theatre business, there is no doubt that she will continue to impress.

Katherine Hills ’83, School of Biological Sciences

Katherine Hills founded, owns and manages Krush Creative Group, a full-service branding, marketing, advertising, design, public relations and event production agency in Irvine.

Hills also is co-owner and partner in PCH Filmworks, an independent film production company based in Irvine. She has written three full-length scripts – two anti-hero thrillers and a romantic comedy.

In addition to working with Krush Creative and PCH Filmworks, Hills serves on the Board of Directors of Summit7, a nonprofit organization raising funds to build homes for families in the U.S., Australia, Argentina, Russia, Tanzania and Nepal.

Her greatest impact on UCI and biological sciences has been her dedication to the Biological Sciences Mentor Program where she regularly speaks to undergraduates. Her energy, humor and expertise allow her to relate well to students, showing them it’s OK to be passionately analytical and creative.

Shelly Hoss, M.B.P.A. ’87, The Paul Merage School of Business

Shelley Hoss’ career in the nonprofit industry epitomizes the business professional that The Paul Merage School of Business envisions for all of its graduates. She received her master’s degree in business and public administration in 1987, when she was honored as a Phi Beta Kappa scholar.

Under Hoss’ presidency, the Orange County Community Foundation has granted more than $155 million to local, national and international charities. She gained national recognition for OCCF as the 11th most active grant maker among more than 750 U.S. community foundations.

Hoss is a valued guest speaker in MBA-level courses, as she considers it her responsibility to help nurture the next generation of business and community leaders. She’s devoted to mentoring and training students who share her passion to leverage generous donations and increase organizational efficiencies.

Judi Conroy, ’83, M.A. ’95, Ed.D. ’09, Department of Education

Judi Conroy graduated magna cum laude in 1983, received her master’s degree in English in 1995, and her doctorate in educational administration in 2009.

While at UCI, she developed surveys designed to track the experiences of teacher credential candidates. The initiative became part of an integrated information system for other UC campuses. Conroy helped develop scoring rubrics for the Performance Assessment for California Teachers, an assessment of teaching quality that is expanding to other states.

She serves on a task force with the Orange County Department of Education to develop a teacher-evaluation model using standardized data and classroom evidence to gauge effectiveness and improve practices.

Paramesh Gopi ’91, M.S. ’93, Ph.D. ’03, The Henry Samueli School of Engineering

Known for his passion for innovation, Paramesh Gopi is proud to say he’s been involved with nearly every major revolutionary consumer product launched in the past decade. He played an integral role in transforming embedded Wi-Fi and gigahertz ARM processors into platforms ranging from the Playstation to the iPhone.

As a UCI undergraduate, Gopi redesigned the curriculum for a series of microelectronic lab courses for electrical engineering students. His curricula and manual were implemented into UCI’s and Cal State Fullerton’s engineering programs. He again expanded the engineering curriculum in 1992 while earning his master’s degree. Along with faculty advisers, he conceived, organized and implemented a CEO seminar series, allowing industry luminaries to share their insights with UCI students.

As founder and president of Entrida Corporation, he implemented a summer internship program that enabled 10 UCI students each year to receive industry experience in a real-world engineering design environment.

Gopi is president and CEO of Applied Micro Circuits Corp., a global leader in energy-conscious computing and communications solutions for datacenter, telecom, enterprise and other consumer applications.

Hector Tobar, M.F.A. ’95, School of Humanities

As a writer and reporter, Hector Tobar makes you care about people whose circumstances are vastly different from your own. Whether writing about the homeless in Inglewood or Bedoiun villagers in Iraq, he highlights the quiet dignity and courage of everyday lives. “Talking to people and telling stories, it’s an honorable living,” he says.

Tobar earned his B.A. in Latin American studies from UC Santa Cruz and M.F.A. in writing from UCI. He has worked his way up from Los Angeles Times metro reporter to national and foreign correspondent, then bureau chief in Mexico City and Buenos Aires, and is now a weekly columnist. He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1992 for coverage of the Los Angeles riots.

Tobar’s two books are Translation Nation: Defining a New American Identity in the Spanish-Speaking United States, a nonfiction chronicle of how Latin American immigration is transforming U.S. society, and a novel, The Tattooed Soldier.

Jon Teichrow, ’86, Donald Bren School of Information & Computer Sciences

Jon Teichrow co-founded and has been serving as president of Mirth Corp., formerly WebReach, Inc., which was started as a consulting firm developing custom applications for large healthcare companies such as Pfizer. Mirth aims to transform health information technology by making it available via open course source to the healthcare community.

Teichrow’s technical, business and people skills have made Mirth a successful company, and enabled its co-founder to give back to UCI through financial support, curriculum advice, job offers and technical-career guidance. Mirth regularly participates in the Graduate Corporate Fellowship-Internship Program and has provided 13 fellowship-internships, enabling more than 52 students to benefit from real-world experience. Teichrow often offers part-time and full-time jobs to students upon graduation; about half of Mirth’s developers and engineers are UCI alumni.

Richard Kammerman, M.D., ’62. School of Medicine

Dr. Richard Kammerman has had a nearly 50-year career as a physician, teacher, mentor and UCI advocate. As part of a small group of physicians, Kammerman met with the late Chancellor Daniel Aldrich Jr. in the 1960s to discuss establishing a medical school on the UCI campus. Presently, he is a member of the Board of Trustees of the 41st Medical Trust and is a contributor to the book The Merger, which details the history of the UC Irvine School of Medicine.

Recognized not only at UCI but throughout Orange County, Kammerman was a devoted family practitioner before retiring in 1999. During his tenure, he was named “Physician of the Year” by both the Orange County Medical Association and Orange County Chapter of the California Academy of Family Practitioners.

His true passion is teaching family medicine. With unrelenting energy, he continues to serve as part of the UCI volunteer faculty. In 2004, he was the first recipient of the Richard Kammerman, M.D. Award, named in his honor for distinguished practice and teaching in family medicine. In 2010, Kammerman was awarded the “Excellence in Teaching Award” by the medical students.

David MacMillan, Ph.D. ’96, School of Physical Sciences

After receiving his doctorate in synthetic organic chemistry from UCI in 1996, David MacMillan rose rapidly to a position of leadership in the field. In 10 short years, he went from assistant professor at UC Berkeley to full professor at the California Institute of Technology, followed by a chaired professorship at Princeton University. He is currently the A. Barton Hepburn Professor of Organic Chemistry and chair of the Department of Chemistry at Princeton.

A signature feature of MacMillan’s contributions to science is his introduction of new concepts in chemical reactivity. He is the father of organocatalysis – a field where valuable, three-dimensional molecules are prepared in single-handed form using simple organic molecules as catalysts. His research had an enormous impact on pharmacology, and he is widely sought as a consultant to many of the world’s top pharmaceutical companies including Merck, Amgen, Bayer, Johnson & Johnson, Abbott and Gilead.

A rising star in organic chemistry, MacMillan has received some of the field’s most prestigious awards, including the American Chemical Society’s Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award and the Thieme-International Union of Pure & Applied Chemistry Prize in Synthetic Organic Chemistry. His 90 scientific publications already have been cited by more than 6,000 other publications and his papers receive more than 1,000 citations annually.

Joan Patronite Kelly ’77, School of Social Ecology

Joan Kelly has been providing urban and environmental planning services to private developers and public agencies throughout Southern California since 1977.

As managing principal of BonTerra Consulting, Kelly specializes in compliance for the California Environmental Quality Act and National Environmental Policy Act. She currently serves as the principal-in-charge and project manager of the Program Environmental Impact Report for the largest master planned community development project proposed in Los Angeles County, the 12,000-acre Centennial Specific Plan.

Kelly is a founding member of UCI’s Department of Planning, Policy & Design advisory board, serving continuously since the board’s inception in 2004. She is an ongoing advocate for the department’s degree programs, a thoughtful adviser, one of the most consistent community mentors for students, and a pillar in fundraising efforts. She consistently hires UCI students as interns and employees for her firm, acting as a liaison and mentor to students new in the field.

An authority on environmental planning, Kelly frequently provides advice and counsel to the department chair and other faculty members on matters pertaining to advancement and fundraising, community engagement and placement-related activities.

Scott Steiner ’96, School of Social Sciences

Scott Steiner is the youngest person ever elected to the Orange County Superior Court. Despite his relatively young age, his list of career accomplishments is quite extensive.

After graduating with honors in political science from UCI in 1996, Steiner went on to receive his J.D. from UC Hastings College of the Law in 1999. Following graduation, he returned to Orange County and was immediately hired as an assistant district attorney.

Over the next decade, Steiner developed an exceptional record as a district prosecutor. He worked in several units at the DA’s Office, eventually rising in ranks to tackle more challenging cases of prosecuting hate crimes, gang activity and other special prosecutions. In 2010, Scott was elected without opposition to the Orange County Superior Court and took the bench in January 2011.

Steiner’s community service does not end in the courtroom. He has served the community as planning commissioner for the City of Orange, the youth of Orange County as member of the YMCA Board of Directors, and his country as JAG legal adviser.

Steiner is known and respected for his active involvement in teaching at Chapman University Law School and at UC Irvine, as a lecturer for many community groups, and as a coach for students competing in the mock trial program sponsored by the Constitutional Rights Foundation.