David Watson and Vinitha Menon Watson (12/50)
CCS is honored to showcase 50 individuals and activities during our 50th Anniversary to share our rich history and amazing people responsible for making our unconventional College possible! Return regularly to learn more.
CCS Computer Science alumnus David Watson (’99) and his wife Vinitha Menon Watson (College of Letters and Science ’99) are committed to making a positive impact in the world. They met at UCSB as students, and after graduating from CCS, David started his career as a software engineer in Silicon Valley as employee number 93 at Google. A few years later, Vinitha joined the Google team in 2003 and was hired to open the company’s first satellite office in India. The couple caught the startup bug and they left Google in the mid 2000s to start their own ventures.
Their current project is Zoo Labs, a non-profit Music Accelerator for artists seeking to make a sustainable livelihood from their craft. Vinitha is the Founder and Executive Director, and David is the Founding Partner. The non-profit—located in Oakland, California—offers musicians, via a two-week live-in residency, a chance to develop the skills needed to thrive in the modern music environment.
David and Vinitha generously endowed the Transdisciplinary Fund at CCS to augment cross-disciplinary discourse and collaboration among students by inviting scholars and practitioners who work at the intersection of two or more disciplines to CCS. During the College’s 50th Anniversary festivities this year, thus far the Fund has made it possible in Fall 2017 to bring to campus two separate Transdisciplinary Fellows who offered a series of workshops open to students and faculty at CCS and throughout UCSB. The two Fellows included MacArthur “Genius” Fellow Angela Belcher (CCS Biology ’91/PhD ’97; James Mason Crafts Professor of Biological Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering, Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, MIT); and art critic, science writer, and cultural geographer William Fox (Founding Director of the Center for Art + Environment at the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno, Nevada). CCS is known for its signature undergraduate experience—an experiential learning model —and the Fund plays a key role in this experience.