2024 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

The Distinguished Alumni Award (DAA)—Caltech’s highest honor for alumni—is presented this year to four alumni who, because of both personal commitment and professional contributions, have made remarkable impacts in a field, on the community, or in society more broadly.  

David Brin, BS ’73 AY
Author

For his enduring excellence in storytelling, examining how change, science, and technology affect the human condition in his New York Times-bestselling science fiction novels; for his support of revolutionary ideas in space science and engineering through NASA's Innovative and Advanced Concepts Program.

Louise Chow, PhD ’73 CH  
Retired faculty, University of Alabama at Birmingham

For her pioneering methods in electron microscopy, which led to the Nobel Prize-winning discovery of split genes, one of the most important breakthroughs in molecular biology; for research that has opened doors to improved diagnosis and treatment of human papillomaviruses.

William“Bill” Coughran, BS ’75 MA, MS ’75 MA
Investor, Sequoia Capital 

For his influential role as a Silicon Valley executive, mentor, and investor, helping ambitious startups grow into transformative companies; for overseeing the development and continuous improvement of iconic products at Google, including Chrome, maps, and Google search.

Timothy M. Swager, PhD ’88 CH
John D. MacArthur Professor of Chemistry, MIT

For his groundbreaking advancements in molecular electronics and chemical sensing, which created a new generation of devices with unparalleled levels of chemical sensitivity; for translating these discoveries to benefit humanity, such as keeping troops safe from explosives.

Nader Engheta
MS
 ’
79
PhD
 ’
82
 ’
82
  ·  
H. Nedwill Ramsey Professor at the University of Pennsylvania

Karen Maples, MD
BSS
 ’
76
 ’
 ’
  ·  

Eugene Myers
BS
 ’
75
 ’
 ’
  ·  
Director of the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics

Kenneth Suslick
BS
 ’
74
 ’
 ’
  ·  
Marvin T. Schmidt Professor of Chemistry, Emeritus, at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

About the Award

The Caltech Distinguished Alumni Award is the highest honor the Institute bestows upon a graduate, and it is given in recognition of "a particular achievement of noteworthy value, a series of such achievements, or a career of noteworthy accomplishment." 

Living alumni who have attained any degree (BS, MS, Engineer, or PhD) at Caltech may be considered eligible for this award. No anonymous or self-nominations will be accepted. Graduates on the faculty or staff of Caltech are not eligible, except those who have achieved the rank of Emeritus/Emerita Professor. 

Members of the Institute’s Board of Trustees are not eligible until they have achieved the rank of Life Trustee. Selections are made by the President of Caltech based on recommendations from a committee comprising faculty, staff, and alumni; the President’s recommendations are confirmed by the Board of Trustees. 

Since the award's inception in 1966, Caltech has recognized 280 alumni for contributions and achievements in a variety of industries and disciplines such as science, engineering, business, education, medicine, and the arts. 

Submit a Nomination

Nominations are being accepted now through January 12, 2024.  

Do you know of a graduate worthy of recognition for a particular achievement, a series of such achievements, or a career of noteworthy accomplishment?

To submit a nomination, click here.

All nominations must be submitted online and by the deadline to be considered.  

Recent Distinguished Alumni