Randy Schekman, the UCLA alumnus who was awarded the 2013 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine, will be the keynote speaker for the UCLA College of Letters and Science’s commencement ceremonies on Friday, June 13. He will speak at both the 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. ceremonies in Pauley Pavilion.
During the ceremonies, UCLA Chancellor Gene Block will present Schekman with the UCLA Medal, the university’s highest honor.
A faculty member at UC Berkeley for 37 years, Schekman won the Nobel Prize for his role in revealing the machinery that regulates the transport and secretion of proteins in human cells, research that holds promise for advancing our understanding neurological and immunological disorders.
"Randy Schekman is among the world's truly outstanding scientists, a champion of public higher education and a credit to UCLA," Block said. "Through his accomplishments and his service, he embodies what it means to be a Bruin, and I am delighted he will be addressing graduates and proud to present him with the UCLA Medal."
A professor of molecular and cell biology, Schekman has been a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator since 1991. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and editor-in-chief of eLife, an open-access online science journal. He earned his bachelor's degree in 1971 from UCLA, where he created his own major in molecular biology, which did not previously exist at UCLA; it is now one of the campus’ most popular science majors.
"Randy Schekman is an exceptional scientist whose discoveries of machinery regulating vesicle traffic — a major transport system in our cells — are truly remarkable," said Joseph Rudnick, senior dean of the College of Letters and Science and dean of the physical sciences. "He is also deeply devoted to UCLA and the University of California, and an outstanding speaker who has inspired his students and colleagues throughout his nearly four decades at UC Berkeley."
In a recent interview with the UCLA Newsroom, Schekman spoke about his memories of UCLA, his passion for science and the importance of public research universities.
The UCLA Medal is bestowed on those of exceptionally distinguished academic and professional achievement whose bodies of work or contributions to society illustrate the highest ideals of UCLA. Recipients have included national and international leaders in government, education, science, industry and the arts. Previous recipients include Nobel laureates, President Bill Clinton, UCLA alumnus and Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, basketball coach John Wooden, Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun and UCLA alumna and astronaut Anna Lee Fisher.
UCLA is California’s largest university, with an enrollment of more than 40,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The UCLA College of Letters and Science and the university’s 11 professional schools feature renowned faculty and offer 337 degree programs and majors. UCLA is a national and international leader in the breadth and quality of its academic, research, health care, cultural, continuing education and athletic programs. Seven alumni and six faculty have been awarded the Nobel Prize.