Nationally, seventeen U.S. Presidents, 40 Supreme Court justices, and 140 Nobel laureates can be counted among the ranks of Phi Beta Kappa Members.
PBK Member Spotlight
Vian Nguyen is a 2021 UCI graduate who majored in Comparative Literature and minored in Asian American Studies. As an undergraduate, she worked at UCI Libraries as a Student Assistant for the Orange County & Southeast Asian Archives, Special Collections and Archives, and External Relations. She interned for Transforming Knowledge, Transforming Libraries, where she taught students about oral histories and learned about community archiving practices. She was a part of UCI Women's Rowing, the Humanities Center's Stories from the Sea Project, Viet Stories Oral History Exhibition, ASUCI's Sustainability Commission, the Humanities Honors Program, and Model United Nations. As a UROP Fellow, she and her team, “EcoSpuddies” taught lessons to Montessori School students about environmental issues and solutions to understand the impact of environmental education on intergenerational learning within families. Nguyen aspires to share her love for storytelling, teaching, and sustainability in the field of education.
Click here to learn more about Vian
2) What life events or personal mentorships, if any, directed you to the field of study you have chosen for your future endeavors?
Every teacher I've had in my life has taught me the value of being an educator who is kind, steadfast and firm in their values and morals. My parents and grandparents have taught me the values of being compassionate,creative, and determined to always find solutions to any complex problem. There are so many reasons why I have pursued a master's degree in Education. Sometimes, I think that the answer lies deep in my roots. My grandpa was a Literature and English teacher in Vietnam, who continued to teach even when it risked him losing his life. He was imprisoned for a few years away from his family as they fled as refugees to America during the Vietnam War. Hearing this story as a young girl instilled within me a vision of Education that was rooted in courage, bravery, compassion and care for others.
3) Did you ever seek information and advice from the SOP advising team? If so, what type of advice were you seeking and what was your experience with them?
The SOP advising team played a huge role in building my confidence to even apply to the programs I applied to. Through SOP, I worked on my applications for Soros, Gates Cambridge, and Fulbright ETA. My main advisor was Brendan, and he constantly supported me with every meeting and suggestion. I really appreciated that he was patient and supportive, while really being honest and encouraging. Additionally, my interview practice for Fulbright was impactful for me not just for the sake of the application itself, but it also helped build my confidence in myself so much. Everyone at the SOP office is so kind, encouraging, and inspiring and I am so thankful for all their genuine help and care throughout this process.
To learn more about SOP and the resources available to high-achieving students visit our website.
2021 PBK Member Spotlights
Notable Campus Members
Prestigious Scholarship Awards
Recent UCI Alumni
Throughout her time in college, Malak Kudaimi was active in establishing and maintaining food security efforts on campus, including serving as Student Manager at the FRESH Basic Needs Hub, the largest college basic needs center in the country. Kudaimi achieved summa cum laude honors in two majors, International Studies and Public Health Policy; was elected to Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society as a junior (top 1%); and was among only nine students to complete the highly selective Public Health Honors Program in 2017-18.
Dr. Dean Franco was awarded an honorary PBK membership by The Phi Beta Kappa Chapter at Wake Forest University in April 2019. With a BA from UC Irvine, a MA from California State University, Long Beach, and a PhD from University of Southern California, Dr. Dean Franco now holds a double appointment as Wake Forest Professor of Literature and Director of the Wake Forest Humanities Institute.
Since joining Wake Forest in 2001, he has introduced new courses into the curriculum, including Studies in Chicana/o Literature and Multiethnic American Writers, and he has taught courses on comparative race studies, human rights and literature, literature and theory, and first year seminars on secularity and religion, and uncertainty.
Yareli Castro Sevilla
Yareli Castro Sevilla was inducted as a PBK member her junior year in 2016. In 2017, Yareli graduated from UC Irvine with a joint degree in Political Science and History, and served as the 2017 School of Social Sciences commencement speaker. Yareli currently attends Harvard University as a PhD student, studying American Studies.
During her time at UCI, Yareli was an active member of the UCI community. As a strong advocate and leader for immigrant and undocumented rights, her involvements at UCI were dedicated to taking action for causes she believes in. She participated in several on-campus organizations throughout the years, including DREAMS at UCI, Anteater Ambassadors Network, and ASUCI.
Distinguished UCI Faculty and Staff
UCI Chancellor Howard Gillman
Howard Gillman became the sixth chancellor of the University of California, Irvine in September 2014. He is an award-winning scholar and teacher with an expertise in the American Constitution and the Supreme Court, and holds faculty appointments in the School of Law, the Department of Political Science, the Department of History, and the Department of Criminology, Law, and Society.
Under Chancellor Gillman's leadership, UCI has accelerated its ascendancy among globally preeminent research universities. It has been ranked in the top 10 of all public universities in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.
Reines is UCI’s Founding Dean of Physical Sciences and co-recipient of the 1995 Nobel Prize for discovering the neutrino.
In the beginning of the 1950’s Reines used a water tank located close to a nuclear reactor and discovered reactions showing the existence of the neutrino. He devoted the major part of his career to the understanding of the neutrino’s properties and interactions. His imposing volume of work has led to the vast enrichment of our knowledge to the role of the neutrino not only in particle physics, but in astrophysical processes as well. The UCI Fredrick Reines Hall has been named in his honor.
UCI founding professor F. Sherwood Rowland received the 1995 Nobel Prize for his ground-breaking work as being part of the first group of scientists to warn that chloroflurocarbons (CFCs) released into the atmosphere were depleting the earth’s vital ozone layer – and that this depletion would become catastrophic.
The research of Rowland and his group brought worldwide attention to the impact of human-contributed pollution on a planetary scale. His game changing work was among the first to directly effect a global shift in policy, preceding the current debate on climate change. UCI Rowland hall is named in his honor.
Russell Turner was named UCI Men’s basketball coach on April 9, 2010, and has since led the Anteaters of UCI to a number of school record-breaking victories including the first NCAA tournament in school history and breaking the school record for season wins. His 2019 team ranks 1st in the nation in 2pt FG defense, and 5th overall in FG defense for Division I teams, are tied with Stony Brook for the best road game record at 13-2, and boasted an undefeated road game record in the Big West.
Turner has been named Big West Coach of the Year three times within six years, most recently in 2019, where he coached his team to a fourth regular season conference championship.
Elizabeth F. Loftus
Loftus is a Distinguished Professor of Psychological Science, Criminology, Cognitive Science, and Law & Society at UCI. She is one of the nation’s leading experts on memory, serving as an expert witness or consultant in hundreds of cases. Her award winning studies of the human memory and her experiments reveal how memories can be changed by things that we are told.
Some of her accolades include being awarded the Gold Medal Award for Life Achievement in the Science of Psychology by the American Psychological Foundation, the Western Psychological Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and the UCI Medal.
J. Hillis Miller
Miller is a Distinguished Research Professor of Comparative Literature at UCI. He is a prominent American deconstructionist and has been an important humanities and literature scholar specializing in Victorian and Modernist literature, with a keen interest in the ethics of reading and writing as a cultural act. He left Yale University to Join UCI in 1986, a recruit that was hailed as an “absolute breakthrough” for literary criticism at UCI.
Miller was honored with a lifetime achievement award by the Modern Language Association in 2005, and the Ian P. watt Prize for Excellence in Conrad Scholarship by the Joseph Conrad Society of America.
Maddy is a Distinguished Professor of Logic and Philosophy of Science and Mathematics at UCI. She is well known for her influential work in the philosophy of mathematics, where she has worked on mathematical realism and naturalism, with a concentration on set-theoretic realism. She received her Ph.D. from Princeton University.
Maddy has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences since 1998, and in 2006 the German Mathematical Society awarded her a Gauss Lectureship.
Janda was Phi Beta Kappa President for the consecutive years of 2016 and 2017, and the Dean of the UCI School of Physical Sciences. He has been a professor of chemistry at UCI since 1992, and since his first term as dean, the school has continued to climb in rankings and gained international reputation for excellence in research and teaching. All four departments are ranked above 90th percentile by the National Research Council. He earned his Ph.D from Harvard University.
Recently, his research has focused on the study of gas clathrate-hydrate solutions. Among his many accolades, he has been named a fellow of the American Physical Society.
Menkel-Meadow is a Distinguished Professor of Law at UCI, coming from the Georgetown University Law Center with previous teaching positions at UCLA, Harvard, Stanford, and University of Pennsylvania. She is a founder of the dispute resolution field and an international expert in alternative dispute resolution, writing and lecturing extensively in these fields.
Menkel-Meadow is the recipient of the first-ever Award for Outstanding Scholarly Work presented by the American Bar Association’s Dispute Resolution section. They lauded her as a “tireless, prolific and influential researcher and writer” who put forth the transformative idea of lawyer as a problem solver 25 years ago.
Block is a Professor of History at UCI. She is a prolific researcher, writer, and educator on the topics of race, sexuality, gender, and Native American and colonial history. She obtained her Ph.D. in History from Princeton University.
Her research and numerous published works have been cited in L.A. Times, where her historical research was praised by UCI for being “brought into the debate on an important contemporary issue”. She is serving as the Keynote Speaker for the 2019 Phi Beta Kappa Initiation Ceremony.