Peter A. Underhill

'70 Oceanography

Peter A. Underhill (‘70, Oceanography) is a renowned geneticist and researcher known for his groundbreaking work in molecular analysis of DNA sequence variation in human populations.

Underhill completed a Master's degree in 1976 and a Ph.D. in 1981 in Marine Studies from the University of Delaware.

Since 1992, Underhill has been at the forefront of pioneering research on human Y chromosome diversification. His work has led to the development of a robust gene tree that provides valuable insights into human evolution, providing the laboratory equivalent of a time machine. One of his notable contributions was patenting a process called Denaturing High-Performance Liquid Chromatography, which allows for quick comparison of nucleotide sequences on the Y chromosome among different individuals. His work has been featured in The New York Times, CBS, and CNN, among other news outlets.

Throughout his career, Peter served as a Research Associate at Stanford University School of Medicine for 27 years until his retirement in 201 2017. From 1983 to 1989, he worked as a Molecular Biologist at SRI International, Menlo Park, Calif. He has shown his commitment to education and philanthropy by donating to various Cal Poly Humboldt Student Scholarships, including the Humboldt Oceanography Trust, Humboldt Student Success Scholarship, Humboldt Loyalty Fund, and the Marine Lab Enrichment Fund over the last 32 years.

2023 Distinguished Alumni Winner Peter Underhill