UCSD to present awards for excellence on June 5


The UCSD, celebrating its 50th anniversary this fall, has produced a group of outstanding alumni, including those who will be honored June 5 at the annual Awards for Excellence program, part of the alumni association’s second annual Alumni Weekend.

  • Outstanding Alumna: Bun-Ching Lam, Ph.D. ’81

The music of Lam inspires audiences around the globe. Her orchestral compositions have been performed by the American Composers Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra, and the National Youth Orchestra of Holland, among others.
In 2009, Heidelberg University, Germany, presented a retrospective of her chamber music. She’s the recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship, National Endowment of the Arts funding, and countless international prizes and commissions. Lam received a Ph.D. in music from UCSD.

  • Professional Achievement: LaVerne Ragster, Ph.D. ’80

As a conservationist, research scientist and education administrator, LaVerne Ragster has not only transformed the Caribbean region, but has earned national and worldwide respect from leading climate change scientists and environmental leaders.
The immediate past president of the University of the Virgin Islands, Ragster has pioneered sustainable development, and her work with Caribbean universities and nongovernmental organizations has intensified interest in natural resource management. She received a Ph.D. in biology from UCSD.

  • Distinguished Service, Thom Sherman, ’88

An executive vice president at The CW network, Thom Sherman started his career in drama like many others before him — as a student actor. Following graduation, he moved to Los Angeles and struggled as an actor before accepting a job in production. Since then, he has been a major creative force at two television networks. An early organizer of the UCSD Alumni Association’s Entertainment Alliance, he is passionate about helping young people find jobs and mentors in the entertainment industry.
Sherman received a bachelor of arts degree in theatre from UCSD’s Warren College.

  • Distinguished Teaching, Sam Popkin

A professor of political science at UCSD since 1975, Popkin is a political analyst, public opinion expert and prolific author. An adviser to five presidential campaigns, his experiences have ranged from polling and strategy for the Clinton campaign, to playing Ronald Reagan during debate rehearsals for President Carter. From 1983 to 1990, he consulted with CBS News election units on surveys and analysis, and has been a consultant to political parties in Canada and Europe.