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

Sauntharya Manikandan is currently a Legal Ops Analyst at TIBCO Software and serves as a fellow for both California’s Young Leaders Advisory Council and the Legal Education and Access Pipeline. She graduated magna cum laude in Spring 2021 with a double major in Psychological Sciences and Criminology, Law, and Society, with a minor in Digital Information Systems. On-campus she served as a Peer Academic Advisor for the School of Social Ecology, Lead Teaching assistant for the Saturday Academy of Law program, Campuswide Honors Collegium Ambassador, and as the ASUCI Legal Education Commissioner. A member of the Campuswide Honors Collegium and Social Ecology Honors program, she pursued a UROP funded research thesis on the implications of jury note taking on final trial verdicts. She was also selected to serve both as a cohort member of the Deconstructing Diversity Initiative at UCI, UCI Admin Intern program, and the UC Sacramento Internship Program. She is a 2021 inductee of the UCI Mu Chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society, the PSI CHI honors society and was selected for the Distinguished Anteater Award in 2020-2021. She plans to pursue a Juris Doctorate degree and hopes to focus on making legal education and access more equitable!

Click here to learn more about Sauntharya

1)  If we ask one of your friends to describe you, what would they say?

If a friend was asked to describe me I think they would mostly refer to my positive and adventurous nature! Of course there are times where I feel down or unmotivated, but I have always had a strong sense of bouncing back and being optimistic in myself  and in others. I love to encourage my peers and family members to try new things and always try to be open to what life has to offer! If there is one saying I resonate with my life philosophy, it was what my parents used to say when I was little “ நல்லது நெனச்ச நல்லது வரும்” which in english means if you think good things, good things will come!

2)  What life events or personal mentorships, if any, directed you to the field of study you have chosen for your future endeavors?

Being a first-generation Indian-American, politics was never spoken about in our household. My parents always had the mentality of “keep your head low and work hard”.  They were simply grateful to be living in the United States, and didn’t want to ask for more. In their world, politics and advocacy were not spaces meant for people like them, and so they were apprehensive in allowing me to pursue this path.

 I first explored this realm by chance in college, after taking an Introduction to Criminology course required for one of my psychology electives. Not only did I learn the characteristics of the U.S. criminal justice system, but also the injustices that perpetuate the system due to policies, racial biases, and lack of reform. This kickstarted my interest in the legal field and more importantly the barriers these systems faced. I joined the Pre-Law Society in my freshman year surrounding myself with those who had similar interests to me. From there I learned of opportunities like the Saturday Academy of Law and ASUCI, which allowed me to understand the deficits in legal education and awareness. I followed up with professors who helped me find those who were doing work in these fields like Dr. Elizabeth Loftus and her graduate student Jillian Kenchel, and was even encouraged by them to pursue an independently funded thesis under Dr. Dent’s Social Ecology Honors program! I took these experiences to explore SOP programs like Capital Fellows and Fulbright under the gentle push of my CHC advisors; especially since I was interested in understanding more of the political aspects involved in the legal system both in the United States and internationally. Most importantly I learned about myself and tackled my personal weaknesses with the gentle mentoring of  people like Andrea Reyes of UCI CSL, Jamie Shea of the SE Advising team, and the UCI counseling center. 

These mentors truly helped me navigate both personal and professional barriers as I found my future endeavors in helping change the legal field for the better.

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?

Yes, I am lucky to say that the SOP advising team has been part of my UC Irvine Journey since my sophomore year and has been a great resource in seeking knowledge on not only what opportunities are available to me, but also providing me guidance on ways to approach these opportunities. I was able to apply for scholarships like Strauss, Fulbright and the Capital Fellows Program, even making it as a finalist for the latter Capital Fellows Program. One of the most valuable resources throughout the application process were the advisors themselves, people like Brendan Park, Courtney Santos, and Theresa Nguyen helped me work through countless drafts, prepped me for interviews, and most importantly instilled confidence in my abilities when faced with doubts on whether I was qualified to be applying. Without their push and encouragement, as well as support from my UC Irvine Faculty recommenders, I would not have been able to get as far as I have today!

To learn more about SOP and the resources available to high-achieving students visit our website.

2021 PBK Member Spotlights

To learn more about Inbar, click here!

To learn more about Vanessa, click here!

To learn more about Irene, click here!

To learn more about Mando, click here!

To learn more about Irene, click here!

To learn more about Misha, click here!

To learn more about Karishma, click here!

To learn more about Katia, click here!

To learn more about Kimberly, click here!

To learn more about Aparna, click here!

To learn more about Ravi, click here!

To learn more about Malak, click here!

Notable Campus Members

Prestigious Scholarship Awards

Recent UCI Alumni

Malak Kudaimi

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. 

Dean Franco

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.

Frederick Reines

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

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.

Penelope Maddy

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.

Kenneth Janda

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.

Carrie Menkel-Meadow

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.

Sharon Block

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.

Charter Founding Members

Jonas Schultz

Bill Parker

Virgina Trimble