Back to
Columns Magazine
Class Notes

Crop Drop
There are so many P-Patches and home gardens around Seattle that we could live off all that homegrown food, right? Not even close. A College of the Environment study found that Seattle’s urban crops could feed only 1 to 4 percent of the city’s population—and that’s if all viable backyard and public green spaces were converted to growing produce. We’d actually need a 58-mile expansion around the city to meet 100 percent of Seattle’s food needs. Well, that and a Dick’s Drive-In not too far away.

Hot Dog!
Retired Costco Wholesale executive Joel Benoliel was appointed to the Board of Regents in January. Benoliel, ’67, ’71, replaces former Starbucks exec Orin Smith. Meanwhile, Regent Joanne Harrell, ’76, ’79, isn’t going anywhere. Gov. Jay Inslee, ’73, reappointed her to another six-year term.

Viva Vivian
The honors keep rolling in for Vivian Lee, ’58, ’59, the retired nurse, philanthropist and social justice force-of-nature. In January, she received the Distinguished Service Award from UW Health Sciences / UW Medical Center. And this month, she will be inducted into the Washington State Nursing Association Hall of Fame.

Crowning King
A world leader in cancer genetics, Mary-Claire King has been awarded the National Medal of Science. King, professor of genome sciences and medicine, was the first to demonstrate that a genetic predisposition for breast cancer exists as the result of inherited mutations in the gene she named BRCA1. She and UW colleague Tom Walsh also devised a scheme to screen for genes that predispose to breast and ovarian cancers.

Shuttle Detective
This past January 28 marked the 30th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. After the tragedy, President Reagan brought in a Husky, Joe Sutter, to help figure out what happened. The fatal flaw, Sutter and the Rogers Commission determined, was the freezing temperatures that weakened the O-rings. Sutter, ’43, was the Boeing engineer who is most famous for designing the 747.

Four Fine Fellows
Four UW researchers are new fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Qiang Fu, professor of atmospheric sciences, explores how radiative heat is transferred through Earth’s atmosphere. Anthropologist Kathleen O’Connor researches reproductive ecology. Pathologist Peter Rabinovitch works on the biology of longevity. And Ning Zheng, a pharmacologist, studies the coordination, timing and precision of protein interactions.

Still Golden
No surprise here: UW is one of the most sustainable schools in all of North America. According to the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System, we received a Gold Rating with a score of 77.47 percent­—the best among Pac-12 universities that have submitted reports, and third highest of the 252 currently rated schools. The ratings are administered by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. You can take that to the bank. Or the recycling bin.

Inventor of the Year
David Eyre and his UW team have developed an osteoporosis diagnostic test that’s the “gold standard” for measuring accelerated bone loss through detection of collagen breakdown. For his work, Eyre, who holds the UW’s Ernest M. Burgess Endowed Chair for Orthopaedic Investigation, was named 2015 Inventor of the Year by UW Medicine.

Roaring Read
One of The New York Times notable 100 books for 2015, The Shape of the New: Four Big Ideas and How They Made the Modern World explores how capitalism, socialism, evolution and liberal democracy reverberated through modern history and shaped our world. The book was authored by two faculty members of the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies: Daniel Chirot and Scott Montgomery.

The Heat Is On
The UW joined universities nationwide in signing on to a White House pledge on climate change. The White House and the State Department brought together leaders from higher-education institutions to call for action on climate change and encourage an agreement at the Paris Climate Change Conference. And it worked.

Minds of Influence
If you thought the UW would be all over the 2015 list of “The World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds,” give yourself a high-five. Twenty-seven UW researchers were honored by the Thomson Reuters list, which recognizes scientists who are most cited by their peers. Three UW scientists—Christopher Murray, Mohsen Naghavi and Theo Vos—were among 2015’s “hottest researchers,” meaning they had produced more than a dozen highly cited papers since 2012. Only the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard had more researchers on the list.

Marilynne Musings
Marilynne Robinson, perhaps the most heralded writer the UW has ever produced, has a new book out: The Givenness of Things: Essays. Robinson, ’68, ’77, already owns a 2005 Pulitzer Prize for her novel Gilead, two National Book Critics Circle Awards for Fiction (2004, 2014) and the 2012 National Humanities Medal.

Lynn Is In
Movie and TV director Lynn Shelton, ’87 (Laggies, Your Sister’s Sister), has officially made it in Hollywood: she has been invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Membership in the 6,000-person organization is by invitation only. Window seat for two at Spago, please.

Send Your App
Those engineers never rest, do they? The Department of Bioengineering is launching its newest graduate program, the Master of Applied Bioengineering, this fall. Applications are being accepted as we speak (or type).

Fly Away
His books and illustrations of life in the wild have taken us on soaring adventures. Best-selling author Tony Angell, ’62, has done it again with House of Owls, which pairs stories of his encounters with the winged creatures in his Lake Forest Park neighborhood with enchanting pen and ink drawings. That book just received the 2015 National Outdoor Book Award.

Great Scott
First, he was inducted into the USA Table Tennis Hall of Fame. And now Michael J. Scott has a new honor to add: 2015 Distinguished Service Award from the U.S. Sports Academy. Scott, ’43, has served as a U.S. national team physician, and conducted drug tests at the Pan-Am games, Olympics and world championships. You don’t even want to ask about his serve.

Up and In
All his life, 5-foot-9 Isaiah Thomas was told he was too small to play basketball in college, let alone the pros. Well, the former Husky basketball star and Boston Celtics all-star can just smile again at the naysayers. He will be inducted into the Pac-12 Hall of Honor on March 12. Dunk you very much.

Huzzahs for Hirsch
When students at Shorecrest High School in Shoreline want to take a risk like joining a club, trying out for a sport or asking someone to a dance, they often turn to school psychologist Steve Hirsch. His compassion and commitment to students is a big reason why the Washington State Association of School Psychologists named Hirsch, ’79, ’86, the 2015 School Psychologist of the Year.

Hiring Helen
She loves getting kids into school. And now Helen Garrett will be doing that here as the new university registrar and chief officer for enrollment information services. She joins us from Lane Community College in Eugene, Ore., where she spent 15 years working in enrollment management, student affairs, admissions and as the bursar.

For Our Veterans
The UW’s sterling record of serving the needs of veterans has long been saluted. But that effort got a boost in December with the opening of the new Office of Student Veteran Life. It will collaborate with student support and academic departments, create relationships with campus partners and increase community awareness on how best to support student veterans.

Power Play
Leave it to those UW engineers to come up with ingenious ways to do things better. They developed a novel technology that uses a common Wi-Fi router—a source of ubiquitous but untapped energy in indoor environments—to power devices. Popular Science magazine included this discovery in its annual ‘Best of What’s New 2015’ awards. Who knew?

Map of Tears
The Mapping Memory project follows the extraordinary paths of Jewish refugees around the time of World War II as they attempted to escape the advancing Nazi war machine. Ryan Gompertz, ’15, now a UW Law student, created the touching online project for The Stroum Center for Jewish Studies.

Valerie Curtis-Newton

Stage Setter | Seattle’s Intiman Theatre plans to highlight plays by African American women playwrights in 2016. Artistic director Andrew Russell hired Valerie Curtis-Newton, the head of Performance, Acting and Directing at the UW School of Drama, to co-curate the season’s offerings. Curtis-Newton, ’96, is honored to present works by “amazing writers” like Alice Childress, she told The Seattle Times. Also a playwright, her first play was such a hit that she quit her day job as an insurance underwriter. The rest, as they say, is history, or should we say, theater.—JULIE GARNER

William Davis

Early Educator | Serving his country. That’s what drives William Davis. It’s why he joined the ROTC while he was a UW student and why he held numerous leadership positions in the Marines. And why he was named CEO of the Young Marines, a national youth education and service organization for boys and girls age 8 through high school. One of its biggest priorities is spreading anti-drug messages nationwide. Before joining the Washington, D.C.-based organization, Davis, ’87, was head of a Louisiana military academy he built from scratch in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. “We have a national security imperative to educate youth,” says Davis, the married father of a young son. “Questionable ethics and behaviors don’t work in America.”—JON MARMOR

Matt Hofmann

Malt Man | Inspired by his high school chemistry class, Matt Hofmann went home and started distilling alcohol. Later, as a resident of McMahon Hall, he fashioned mail- ordered parts into a compact dormitory-sized still. Fortunately, none of the RAs caught wind. He kept at it, eventually travelling to Scotland for formal training in distillery science. Today he is the co-founder and master distiller of Seattle’s Westland Distillery and one of the first American producers of single malt whiskey. He received a 95 point rating from Wine Enthusiast for his brew aged in wood from sherry casks. Hofmann was also named one of Forbes’ Food and Drink 30 under 30. Cheers to you, Matt. —HANNELORE SUDERMANN

One Response to Class Notes

  1. Lorena says:

    I don’t even know what to say, this made things so much easrei!

What Do You Think?

Use the form below to comment on this story. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Personal attacks, insults, profanity, solicitations and spam are prohibited. The UW Alumni Association reserves the right to remove comments. For more information, please read our comment FAQ.