Spotlight Story

Christine Gulbranson ‘96
Takes Innovation to the Fifth Degree

Equally at home with scientists, executives, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists, alumna Christine Gulbranson ‘96 is an innovator to watch. At 34, she has an academic, professional and leadership record few her age can match.

Not only does the Graduate School of Management teach innovation, it truly lives it. It’s a model for many business schools to follow.”

Gulbranson earned five degrees, including an MBA, from UC Davis—all by the age of 25. She coupled an undergraduate degree in physics with undergraduate, master’s and doctoral degrees in material science engineering.

She says working in teams in the MBA program and learning that critical business decisions, unlike science, cannot always wait for “definitive” data have been vital to her career. “I appreciated the skills needed to survive in a competitive arena and I wanted to combine the challenges of business with my technical abilities, so an MBA was the perfect degree,” says Gulbranson,

Gulbranson began her career as director of research collaborations in the University of California’s Office of the President. She forged still-thriving partnerships among thousands of scientists in industry, at national laboratories and at universities—programs that led to advances in polymer design and human genomics.

An expert in photonics, optics and nanotechnology, Gulbranson’s research breakthroughs include a patented laser treatment of quantum-confined nanocrystals, and she has more patents pending. MIT’s Technology Review magazine once named her among its “Top 100 Young Innovators in the World.”

Melding her science and business backgrounds, Gulbranson spent two years as a partner at Global Catalyst Partners, a Bay Area venture capital firm that specializes in the high-tech sector.

Most recently, she has ventured out on her own, launching two nanotechnology firms and a consulting practice. She is also founder and CEO of Don’t Abuse, a non-profit organization that educates children about abuse and how to get help.

Gulbranson recently joined the Graduate School of Management’s Dean’s Advisory Council, which offers strategic recommendations on the future development of the School.

“My days are in a constant state of motion, I often need to think like a VC, a CEO, a CFO and a vice president of marketing all within a matter of hours,” she says. “The UC Davis MBA prepared me well to excel in these roles.”