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Famous Berkeley Alumni

Steven Chu
Nobel Laureates
Steven Chu, Ph.D. 1976, is the current U.S. Secretary of Energy. Chu previously was director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory where he galvanized the Berkeley research community around the quest for scientific solutions to the twin problems of global warming and the need for carbon-neutral renewable sources of energy. He has called these problems "the greatest challenge facing science" and has rallied many of the world's top scientists to address it. It was at Bell Laboratories where Chu performed the research that led to his shared 1997 Nobel Prize in physics, developing methods to cool and trap atoms with laser light. More Berkeley Nobel laureates>
Maxine Hong Kingston
Arts and Letters
The Stockton, Cal.-born daughter of Chinese immigrants, Maxine Hong Kingston '62 was one of the first Asian-American writers in the United States to achieve wide recognition and acclaim for her work. Her most famous book, "The Woman Warrior" (1976), for which she won a National Book award, remains widely taught in universities around the world. In 1997 President Bill Clinton awarded Hong Kingston a National Humanities Medal for bringing the Asian-American experience "to life for millions of readers and [inspiring] a new generation of writers to make their own unique voices and experiences heard." More arts and letters alumni>
Carl Franklin
Carl Franklin didn't have far to travel when he enrolled at UC Berkeley; the A-list movie director grew up just a few miles north, in Richmond. A history major bitten by the theater bug, he moved  to New York to act right after graduating in 1971. Shakespeare in the Park turned into cookie-cutter roles on TV shows like the A-Team and MacGyver, which drove Franklin to begin writing and directing his own films. After a rocky start, he had his first hit with 1991's "One False Move," an independent thriller that he wrote and directed. After the film's unexpected success, Franklin went on to direct "Devil in a Blue Dress," "One True Thing," "High Crimes," and "Out of Time." More entertainment alumni>
Natalie Coughlin
Swimmer Natalie Coughlin has won 11 Olympic medals. In 2008 at the Beijing Olympics, Coughlin added six medals to the five she had won in Athens in 2004. In 1998 here at Cal, she became the first person to ever qualify for Nationals in every event, every distance and every stroke.  The Bay Area native was the NCAA Swimmer of the Year in 2001, 2002 and 2003 and on two days in March 2002, produced the fastest swims ever in the 100y freestyle, 100y and 200y backstroke and 100y butterfly.
More sports alumni>
Maria Echavaste
Maria Echaveste, J.D. '80, was deputy chief of staff for the Clinton Administration from April 1998 until Dec. 2001, making her the highest-ranking Latino ever to have served in the White House. The oldest of seven children of farm workers, she was an accomplished bankruptcy litigator before joining Clinton’s 1992 Presidential campaign, later heading the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division. Today she works with Nueva Vista, a public policy and Latino advocacy group, and is a member of the Executive Committee of the Democratic National Convention. More government/law alumni>
Steve Wozniak
Wizardly Steve Wozniak '86, fondly known as "Woz," took quite a while to complete his degree in electrical engineering and computer science (EECS). That's because in 1972 he took some time out to help birth the personal computer revolution. He designed Apple Computer's first line of products, the Apple I and II, with Steve Jobs, and helped produce the Macintosh; in 1987 he returned to Berkeley to finish his B.S. Now a well-known Silicon Valley icon and philanthropist, Wozniak was awarded the National Medal of Technology in 1985 and inducted into the Inventors Hall of Fame in 2000. More technology alumni>
Brian Maxwell
PowerBar founder Brian Maxwell came to Cal in 1971 on a track scholarship, coached the Golden Bears in distance running, and singlehandedly launched the energy-snack craze. In 1977, he was ranked the No. 3 marathon runner in the world and in 1980, was part of the Olympic team that boycotted the games in Moscow. PowerBar started in his kitchen in 1987, when Brian and his wife, Jennifer, began to cook up prototypes out of frustration with the junk food his athletes favored. Before his death this year, Maxwell was a generous supporter of his alma mater, helping renovate Haas Pavilion and underwriting new turf for Kleeberger Field, now known as the Maxwell Family Field. More business alumni>
Clark Kerr
Clark Kerr, Ph.D. '39, is widely revered as one of the most important figures in public education of the 20th century. Kerr served as UC Berkeley's first chancellor, from 1952 to 1958, when he became president of the University of California system, serving until 1967. It was an era of tremendous growth, planning and student unrest. By the time he departed, the nine-campus UC system was in place, and enrollment had doubled to 87,000 students, and the state had implemented his Master Plan for Higher Education, which assured access to public higher education for all California students and defined the roles of the state's educational institutions — and landed Kerr on the cover of Time magazine. More education alumni>
Alice Waters
Other fields
Alice Waters opened her Berkeley restaurant Chez Panisse in 1971, just four years after she graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in French Cultural Studies. California cuisine would never be the same. More than anyone else, Waters is responsible for the idea that the food we eat should be grown locally using sustainable, organic methods. The recipient of numerous culinary awards, Chez Panisse is still the favorite destination of visiting celebrities like Bill Clinton as well as Berkeley students with something to celebrate … and deep pockets. More alumni>