Surfers walk on a beach at sunset

UCSB Geography Alumna Dr. Dawn Wright will give the Keynote at our Anniversary Celebrations on Friday, April 5th, 2024.

This event is open to the public, but we kindly ask that you RSVP.



Dr. Dawn Wright is Chief Scientist of Esri and is responsible for strengthening the scientific foundation for Esri software and services while representing Esri to the international scientific community and co-leading a number of research collaborations with Esri science users. She is also a Professor of Geography and Oceanography at Oregon State University where she has been on the faculty since 1995. In the early 1990s, while a geography doctoral student at UCSB, Dawn became the first female of African descent to dive to the ocean floor in the deep submersible Alvin. On July 12, 2022, she became the first person of African descent (of any gender) to dive to Challenger Deep, the deepest point on Earth, and to successfully operate a portable side scan sonar at full-ocean depth. This was accomplished in the deep submersible Limiting Factor.

Recently, Dawn was elected to both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering, as well as to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. She holds an Individual Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Physical Geography and Marine Geology from UCSB, an M.S. in Oceanography from Texas A&M, and a B.S. cum laude in Geology from Wheaton College (Illinois). While at UCSB Dawn was also on the Cycling Team that went to Collegiate Nationals in 1993 and took home a bronze medal (men and women combined points). It was also during her time at UCSB that her love for LEGO bricks grew into an absolute passion that enhances her work to this day.

Dr. Dawn Wright Keynote Announcement
Dr. Dawn Wright Keynote Announcement