The Caltech Distinguished Alumni Award

The Caltech Distinguished Alumni Award is the highest honor the Institute bestows upon a graduate, and is 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 (B.S., M.S., Engineer's, or Ph.D.) at Caltech may be considered eligible for this award. Graduates who currently are on the faculty or staff of Caltech are not eligible, with the exception of those who have achieved the rank of Emeritus/a 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 a total of 266 alumni as standouts in science, engineering, business and the arts.

2019 CALTECH Distinguished Alumni Awards 

Caltech presented the 2019 Distinguished Alumni Awards on Saturday, May 18, 2019, as part of the Caltech Alumni Association's Seminar Day.

The 2019 Distinguished Alumni Award recipients are:

Fred A. Blum (MS ’64, PhD ’68, Physics)
CEO, Trilience Research
For his entrepreneurial leadership in the development and commercialization of high-performance GaAs and GaN semiconductor electronic and optical devices with revolutionary applications in communications and lighting. 

Emily A. Carter (PhD ’87, Chemistry)
Dean of Engineering and Applied Science, Princeton University
For her visionary leadership in sustainable energy and engagement with the broader scientific community and for her development of powerful theoretical methods based on quantum mechanics that have greatly influenced chemistry and engineering.

William Dally (PhD ’86, Computer Science)
Chief Scientist and Senior Vice President of Research, NVIDIA
Professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering, Stanford University
For his significant contributions to the architecture of interconnection networks. He developed much of the technology found in modern interconnection networks including wormhole routing, virtual-channel flow control, global adaptive routing, modern network topology, deadlock analysis, performance analysis, fault-tolerance methods, and equalized high-speed signaling.

Charles M. Rice III (PhD ’81, Biochemistry)
Maurice R. and Corinne P. Greenberg Professor, The Rockefeller University
For developing a treatment for patients chronically infected with the Hepatitis C virus that is highly effective (99% cure rate) and which has no significant side effects. For this achievement, Charles Rice, along with Ralf Bartenschlager and Michael J. Sofia, received the highly prestigious Lasker Award in Clinical Medicine in 2016.

Anneila I. Sargent (MS ’67, PhD ’77, Astronomy)
Ira S. Bowen Professor of Astronomy, Emeritus, Caltech
For her contributions to our understanding of how stars and planetary systems form and evolve, her dedication to enhancing observatory capabilities for the scientific community, and her national and international leadership in her field.

Recent RECIPIENTS OF THE CALTECH Distinguished Alumni Awards



You can help us recognize a Caltech graduate by nominating them for the 2020 Distinguished Alumni Awards when the nomination period re-opens in May.