March 10, 2023
Dear Members of Our Campus Community,
I am saddened to write to share with you the news that Professor Mel Manalis, a renowned environmental scientist, researcher, and teacher, passed away peacefully on January 1, 2023.
A research physicist and teaching professor in our Environmental Studies Program for 42 years until his retirement in 2017, Dr. Manalis was a pioneer in the study of wind as a viable energy source in California. He was a leading expert in the areas of quantifiable sustainability measures and renewable energy, including wind and solar energy conversion and assessment. A member of our Institute for Energy Efficiency’s Economics and Policy Solutions Group, he also specialized in integrated energy planning, industrial ecology, and green nuclear energy.
The impact of Dr. Manalis’s work is far-reaching. In the 1980s, he led a delegation of experts in wind energy to advise on a large-scale wind energy effort that became a major underpinning of the rapid advance in China’s wind power development. In addition, he conducted the first wind energy study of Vandenberg Air Force Base in Lompoc and the nascent study of solar energy applications for the California Energy Commission following the 1973 oil embargo.
A beloved teacher and mentor, Dr. Manalis taught nearly a dozen different environmental studies courses, including Energy and the Environment, which he developed. For more than a decade, it was the only upper division course required of all students majoring in Environmental Studies. He also pioneered the only undergraduate course on renewable energy taught on the campus. During his time at UC Santa Barbara, more than 6,000 students benefited from both his expertise as a scientist and his dedication as an instructor.
Dr. Manalis’s commitment to our University wasn’t limited to research and teaching. He was an early member of our Campus Sustainability Committee, helping to develop the Campus Sustainability Plan that serves as a blueprint for our campus’s ongoing sustainability efforts. With his wife, Marilyn, he was an ardent supporter of UCSB Arts & Lectures and of our Physics Department’s Peale Memorial Lecture Fund, established to honor Distinguished Professor Stan Peale.
The significance of Dr. Manalis’s contributions to UC Santa Barbara, to the field of environmental studies, and to our local community and the world at large are a source of pride for our campus and will never be forgotten. His legacy will continue through the impact of his own research, as well as through those who had the privilege of working with and learning from him, including our faculty, staff, students, and alumni. In addition, going into the future, students conducting research and leadership activities in energy can be supported through the Manalis Leadership Endowment.
Our hearts are with Marilyn, Mel’s three sons, and their families, as well as with Dr. Manalis’s many colleagues, former students, and friends. A celebration of his life at will take place at The Club and Guest House on Sunday, March 12. Our campus flag is lowered in his honor today, March 10.
Henry T. Yang