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UC San Diego Announces 2018 Chancellor’s Medalists

Honorees recognized for their dedication to supporting health care, basic sciences and engineering

They are trailblazers, industry titans and philanthropic leaders. With their generosity, they are advancing health care, basic science and engineering to make a better tomorrow. The recipients of the University of California San Diego’s 2018 Chancellor’s Medal include: UC San Diego alumnus and Qualcomm co-founder, Franklin Antonio; former member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Lynn Schenk; co-founders of one of the nation’s most generous foundations supporting science research, Marilyn and Jim Simons; and chairman of the Tata Trusts, which are among the largest philanthropic trusts in India, Ratan N. Tata.

The Chancellor’s Medal is one of the highest honors given by UC San Diego to recognize exceptional service in support of the campus’ mission.  Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla will bestow the prestigious awards upon the honorees during UC San Diego’s annual Founders Dinner on Nov. 17. The annual event, which recognizes the founders who have made the university one of the world’s top research universities, will this year also celebrate the UC San Diego School of Medicine’s 50th Anniversary. 

“This year’s Chancellor’s Medal recipients are remarkable visionaries,” said Chancellor Khosla. “Their generosity is helping to enhance our students’ experience on campus and spur scientific research that will ultimately make the world a better place to live with more effective treatments and cures for devastating diseases; a deeper understanding of our universe; and engineering advancements in the fields of medicine, technology, energy and security.”

The Chancellor’s Medal is given annually to community leaders and philanthropists whose long-standing contributions and involvement have supported promising students, furthered meaningful research, and helped the campus and local region grow and prosper. This year’s recipients have all contributed to the Campaign for UC San Diego, and have played a key role in advancing health care, basic research, engineering and more on campus. The medalists include:

Franklin Antonio


Franklin Antonio

UC San Diego alumnus Franklin Antonio is a co-founder of Qualcomm, where he currently serves as chief scientist. He graduated from UC San Diego with a bachelor’s degree in Applied Physics and Information Science in 1974. Since that time, he has made transformational technological advances that have touched each of our lives.

In 2017, Antonio gave $30 million to UC San Diego in support of the Jacobs School of Engineering. The Jacobs School is one of the top 12 engineering schools in the nation, and boasts the nation’s top bioengineering program. In recognition of the gift, UC San Diego will name a planned building for engineering research and education Franklin Antonio Hall. The approximately 200,000-square-foot building—slated to open in fall 2021—is designed to facilitate cross-disciplinary collaborations that are critical for solving the most toughest health, energy, autonomy and security challenges. Antonio is a member of the Dean’s Council of Advisors and an inaugural member of the Center for Wireless Communications at the Jacobs School of Engineering. He is also funding development of the Pulsed All-sky Near-infrared Optical SETI (PANOSETI) observatory being built by UC San Diego’s Physics department.

Antonio worked at Linkabit for 12 years before joining former UC San Diego professors Irwin Jacobs and Andrew Viterbi, with four others to create Qualcomm in 1985. He led the growth of Qualcomm’s engineering departments, served as project engineer for the company’s OmniTRACS satellite communication system, and contributed to Qualcomm’s code division multiple access (CDMA) technology and Globalstar low-Earth-orbit satellite system. He has provided strategic technical guidance and engineering mentoring across all of Qualcomm’s engineering programs. He holds 378 granted and pending patents worldwide.

Lynn Schenk


Lynn Schenk

The Honorable Lynn Schenk has broken glass ceilings throughout her career, helping to make our region—and UC San Diego—what it is today. She was the first woman to represent San Diego in the U.S. House of Representatives elected in 1992. In that role, she obtained federal funding for the world’s largest outdoor shake table, which allows UC San Diego researchers to test engineering models in earthquake simulations. From 1999 to 2004, Schenk served as Chief of Staff to California Governor Gray Davis.  In that role, she was instrumental in securing state funding to establish The Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. She was a key player in establishing the UC system wide Gray Davis Institutes for Science and Innovation known at UC San Diego as The Qualcomm Institute (formerly CALIT2).

In the same trailblazing spirit, Schenk established the C. Hugh Friedman and Lynn Schenk “Dare to Fail” Endowment Fund, which creates the Schenk - Friedman Dare to Fail Scholars Program. The Program is designed to provide promising young scientists with vital funding to pursue challenging and uncharted research across the biological sciences, at both UC San Diego and across the Torrey Pines Mesa at The Scripps Research Institute. The funding will support research with potential to address some of the world’s most urgent issues—from health care to sustainable energy. The gift also honors the memory of Schenk’s late husband, Professor C. Hugh Friedman.

Following a long and distinguished career in public service, Schenk, a lawyer, is now involved in private business and serves on the board of two Fortune 500 companies. She is a member of the UC San Diego Foundation Board, and is deeply involved in San Diego as a community leader. She was a commissioner of the San Diego Unified Port District and has served on numerous boards and commissions, including the San Diego Symphony, The Legal Aid Society and the Red Cross. She is also a founding mother of California Women Lawyers and the Lawyers Club of San Diego.

Marilyn and Jim Simons


Jim and Marilyn Simons


Marilyn and Jim Simons are co-founders of the Simons Foundation, whose mission is to advance the frontiers of research in mathematics and the basic sciences. The foundation is one of the nation's leading private funders of scientific research, and UC San Diego has received nearly $60 million from the Simons Foundation in support of scientific projects. This support helped to establish the Simons Observatory in Chile’s Atacama Desert, where UC San Diego astrophysicists are leading efforts to better understand the first few moments of time after the Big Bang. The foundation has also dedicated funding to cutting-edge sciences across campus, including autism research, engineering, mathematical and biological sciences, psychiatry, neuroscience and the San Diego Supercomputer Center. It has also provided support for graduate students and investigators at UC San Diego.

With the belief that basic science underlies major breakthroughs in everything from human health and technology to space exploration, the Simons Foundation joined with five other foundations to create the Science Philanthropy Alliance. This alliance champions and encourages other philanthropists to fund basic science research to address some of the world’s greatest challenges.

Jim Simons is chair of the Simons Foundation, and founder and board chair of Renaissance Technologies, a highly quantitative investment firm from which he retired in 2009 after serving as its CEO for more than 30 years. Previously, he was chairman of the Department of Mathematics at Stony Brook University. Earlier in his career, he was a cryptanyalyst at the Institute for Defense Analyses in Princeton, N.J., and he taught mathematics at MIT and Harvard University. His mathematical work on Chern Simons theory has had an important effect on a wide range of areas in theoretical physics. Jim is a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Marilyn Simons has served as president of the Simons Foundation since its inception in 1994 and has played an important role in growing the foundation, its programs and its impact around the globe. She is an advocate for science outreach, and is involved in K-12 education.

Ratan N. Tata and Tata Trusts


Ratan Tata

Ratan N. Tata is chairman of the Tata Trusts, which are among the largest private philanthropic trusts in India. In 2016, the Tata Trusts donated $70 million to UC San Diego to establish the binational Tata Institute for Genetics and Society, a collaborative partnership between the university and research operations in India. The Tata Institute for Genetics and Society’s mission is to advance global science and technology through socially conscious means to develop solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges, from public health to agriculture. UC San Diego’s newest cutting-edge science building was named Tata Hall in recognition of the Tata Trusts’ support. 

Tata was chairman of Tata Sons until his retirement in 2012. He was also chairman of the major Tata companies, including Tata Motors, Tata Steel, Tata Consultancy Services, Tata Power, Tata Global Beverages, Tata Chemicals, Indian Hotels and Tata Teleservices. During his tenure, the group’s total revenues grew to over $11 billion. He is also president of the Court of the Indian Institute of Science and chairman of the Council of Management of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research. The Government of India honored Tata with its second-highest civilian award, the Padma Vibhushan, in 2008.

The Tata Trusts seeks to catalyze societal development while ensuring that initiatives and interventions have a contemporary relevance. Through direct implementation, co-partnership strategies and grant making, the Trusts support and drive innovation in the areas of education; healthcare and nutrition; rural livelihoods; natural resources management; enhancing civil society and governance and media, arts, crafts and culture.

For a full list of Chancellor’s Medalists from past years, click here.

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