Dr. Manalis Retires After 45+ Years Teaching Environmental Studies

This website celebrates Dr. Mel Manalis who, after 45+ years of dedicated service and teaching in the Environmental Studies Program at UC Santa Barbara, retired at the end of June, 2017.  He continues to serve the University in the capacity of Lecturer Emeritus and Research Associate.

Please help us recognize Mel's decades of accomplishments and impact on the 6,000 plus students he taught by submitting a comment, tribute, memory, or story to the list of comments and tributes highlighted below!

- Congratulations Mel and Thank You!

About Mel    |    Photos    |    Comments/Tributes About Mel


ABOUT DR. MANALIS:  With his background in physics, Mel’s research interests surround the development of quantifiable sustainability measures and renewable  energy. His research on wind energy and collaboration with Zond Wind  Power led to the creation of Environmental Studies’ first endowed chair.  The Dehlsen Chair. Mel has taught over 6,000 Environmental Studies  majors through a variety of energy and non-energy related courses. In  addition to developing ES’s pioneer course on Energy and the  Environment, and a course on Renewable energy, Dr. Manalis is credited  with creating the courses Industrial Ecology, and Quantitative Thinking  in Environmental Studies.  During the 1980’s, Mel led a seminal delegation of wind energy experts  to advise the Chinese government on how to initialize a large-scale wind  energy effort. This project has become the foundation of China’s rapid  advancement in wind power development. In addition, Mel conducted the  first wind energy study of Vandenberg Air Force Base in Lompoc,  California and the nascent study of solar energy applications for the  California Energy Commission following the 1973 oil embargo. Mel  currently serves as a member of the Institute for Energy Efficiency’s  Economics and Policy Solutions Group. He will remain working as a  research scientist with the Environmental Studies Program upon his  retirement.  In recognition of his service to ES and the environmental community, he  was presented the ES Program's 2017 Outstanding Community Service Award  at this year's Commencement Reception. 

click on photos to enlarge

Check out this short movie clip of Mel accepting the ES Program's 2017 Outstanding Community Service Award at ES's Commencement Reception.


Submit your own comment, tribute, memory, photo, or story about Mel to: esprogram@es.ucsb.edu 

1)  Hi Mel! Thank you for being such a great professor! I enjoyed the energy and environment class as well as the solar and renewable energy. You truly are a remarkable professor and I enjoyed your teachings in China's relations with wind energy. You'r the best! - Tracey

2)  Fabulous leader, impactful lecturer, outstanding humanity!  - Nichole

3)  One of my favorite classes in Environmental Studies was Mel's Energy and the Environment. I learned so much from that one class and it is still relevant today! My favorite memory of Mel was actually when he hosted a party at the Faculty Club (I think for his daughter's wedding), and I was bar tending. He was so busy being a gracious host that he kept losing his drink! Needless to say, I perfected the Old Fashioned that night. He also wrote me a glowing letter of recommendation for graduate school, which has certainly shaped the environmental professional I am today! Thanks Mel! Congratulations!  - Julie Hawkins '02

4)  I'm pretty sure you were throwing around the idea of retirement when I took your classes c. 2000! Congratulations on finally getting to put your feet up! I always enjoyed your classes, and especially enjoyed the trip to the oil rig and doing an energy audit of our house with a guy who turned out to be my future husband! Very romantic ;)  Our best to you and Marilyn,.  - Laurel (Frame) Brandt '02

6)  Mel, what an inspiration you were! You changed the course of my life and career. Three cheers for Mel!
 - Adam Brandt '03
7)  I became an ES major because of my passion for sustainable energy. Mel was my favorite professor and inspired me to think in new ways and challenged me to really think about the physics and different aspects of renewable energy.  - Kristina McHugh '14
8)  Thank you for being an inspiration and for introducing renewable energy and climate change issues to me. I have taken that through my career, and now lead Salt Lake City's Public Utilities Department, charged with providing water, sewer, stormwater, and street lighting services for Salt Lake City and the Wasatch Front in Utah. Your teaching instilled in me an ethic and priority to make sure we carry out this public work in a sustainable fashion. Thank you again.  - Laura (McIndoe) Briefer '93
9)  Mel, I loved working with you that year I worked in Environmental Studies. Congratulations on your retirement! I hope to still see you around.  - Kim Coonen
10)  I thoroughly enjoyed Mel's lectures and our friendly discussions during class. I wish him the best!  
- Brian Paland '00
11)  Dr. Manalis' class on energy and the environment really stuck with me and made me realize that it is possible to have a fossil fuel free future. I appreciate all of his work in renewable energy to help current and future generations. Thank you Dr. Manalis!  - Danielle R. '12
12)  Mel was a great instructor, it was always fun to have him teach about energy, his humor made some of the drier topics more tolerable. Congratulations Dr. Manalis!  - Angelica C. '11
13)  Thank you Dr. Manalis for taking the time to share your infinite knowledge about energy and the environment with more than 6000 students! I was fortunate enough to take your Solar and Renewable Energy class which swayed me to pursue a career in the energy sector. Congratulations on your retirement!  - Danielle J. '15
14)  I never had the opportunity to take one of Mel's classes. As a staff member at UCSB working on utility management and energy infrastructure, I consider it an honor to have been invited to come and present to his classes on the applied energy efficiency and renewable energy work happening at the campus. Mel, you have been an unparalleled mentor and friend and I'd like to thank you for your immeasurable contributions to the campus and to the learning and lives of our alumni. Best wishes on your continued research endeavors. - Jordan Sager.
15)  Thank you so much for everything you do. You were among the biggest inspirations for me as an undergrad and I truly valued our discussions and your encouragement and support. Congratulations on retiring!  - Gina Lucariello '98
16)  What an inspiring teacher and wonderful person! I took two of Mel's classes and also served as a grader for him. I learned so much, not only about energy and the environment, but about how to be inquisitive and analytical. I often tell people that my professors at UCSB were the best - sincere, happy, and intelligent people who want to share their love of their subject with their students - and Mel is always the one who is on my mind when I say that. Thanks so much, Mel, you have truly been an inspiration to so many!  
Lauren Kell '06
17)  I really enjoyed Mel's Energy and the Environment class and working as his aide; it was neat how much he truly cared about his students, the subject matter, and making the world better. UCSB's environmental studies department is pretty wonderful, and Mel's contribution to it has been remarkable. Thank you for everything, Mel, and congrats on your retirement!  - Melinda Clark '08
18)  Dr. Manalis, I learned a great deal in your classes, thank you! Good luck on your future endeavors.  - Jamie Green '14
19)  I was fortunate to take classes from Mel and to be his teaching assistant for energy and the environment. I always love his enthusiasm for teaching - his face lit up when we was teaching the students new topics like it was the first time he ever talked about this topic. I work in the environmental field and I am thankful to the amazing professors at UCSB- I was fortunate to get my undergraduate and graduate degrees from UCSB. Mel you will be missed but I am sure you will be off having fun and enjoying life with your family- you deserve to play!  - Karin Didriksen North '97
20)  When I started TAing for Mel, I was immediately struck by his genuine interest in his students. He would recount all of the amazing things they were doing--she's an amazing mathematician and a professional surfer! He (Adam Brandt) is going to do great things! We spent hours each week talking about energy, entropy and life. Mel not only listened to my ideas with eager curiosity... he created opportunities for me to grow into my current profession of an instructional designer. Through our teaching together and designing new courses, Mel became not only the most influential mentor of my life, but also a beloved family member. Mel, I hope that the Universe's entropic hangups help to keep you around for a long long time--you make this world a better place.  - Lisa Berry
21)  Mel was the best of the best in terms of inspiring his students. After taking his Energy and the Environment class, I switched to the B.S. so I could better understand the science behind environmental issues. I'm now a high school Chemistry, Biology, and Physics teacher and I credit Mr. Manalis for sparking my love of these subjects. The best part about his class was his jovial spirit. That's all too rare at the university level and it made me smile every time I was in his lecture hall. I wish you all the happiness in the world!  - Jamie (Ryan) Meisinger '11
22)  Mel, I fondly remember your classes, our numerous conversations, your mentorship and your friendship. If it were not for your coaching and encouragement, I would never have applied to MIT. This put me on a path to a successful career and a great time spent in Boston where I met my wife and mother of my two wonderful sons. For all that, I cannot thank you enough! Very best wishes to you on your retirement.
Mike A. '97
23)  Thank you, Dr. Manalis, for being one of the great UCSB professors that inspired me to begin, and contributed to, my oil and gas production undergraduate research project. I learned a great deal from that year long project, and it connected me with many professionals in the academic, government and industrial sectors related to oil and gas. This subsequently landed me a fulfilling career as an Environmental Project Manager first for local government, and most recently, the oil and gas industry. Congratulations on your retirement and thank you again for sharing your knowledge! - Laura Vlk '03
24)  Thank you for all of your hard work Mr. Manalis. I was lucky enough to attend UCSB and complete the Environmental Studies program back in 1990. Been working in the environmental field for the last 27 years. I love UCSB!  - Roger L. '90
25)  Thank you for your many years spent teaching and encouraging all of us ES majors! I enjoyed both your classes and working with you as a TA in the environmental math class. I have so many fond memories, especially that time we all went camping and even got school credit for it!  I wish you all the best in retirement.  - Laura Petersen '09
26)  As many others appreciated and noted here, Dr Manalis was able to bring interest to and shed an interest upon even the drier concepts he taught, thanks to his good cheer. He taught critical concepts to shape individuals across generations and many industries. In addition to being enriched by the excellent courses he taught to so many of us, I count myself lucky to have been invited to his home to pick (SO MANY) apricots and help Marilyn make freezer jam. Mel, you have inspired us and brightened our lives. Your work done at UCSB had enormous impact. Thank you!! - Maia Kazaks '08
27)  Thank you Mel! We will miss you. Mel was the reason I chose the environmental science, and later chose to focus my studies and career on energy. Loved the stories in class too, I'll never forget about how Mel saved an owl from a suspension bridge. Mel, you were a great preofessor and an inspiration to your students. Thank you!  - Claire '16
28)  Mel, I still remember your respect and caring as my Thesis Advisor.  The thesis was "Management Solutions to Reduce Plastics in the Waste stream." You were always calm and collected when facing an issue. I really appreciated you as my advisor. All the best for your retirement. - Glenn. Howland '90
29)  Mel was one of my favorite professors of all time. His two courses "Energy and the Environment" and "Renewable Energy" were unforgettable. - Jacob Helfman '11
30)  In 2012/2013 while in the honors program, I completed an honors project on ocean wave energy under the guidance of Dr. Manalis. He was kind, supportive, and a great resource for all things related to energy (especially renewables). I also gave a presentation in my Renewable Energy class on the topic I researched, which was great public speaking practice. I will always remember this time in my college career - thank you so much, Mel! We all wish you the best in retirement. - Savanna Vrevich '13
31)  Mel is an incredible teacher and mentor. His classes peaked my interest in the renewable energy field, and also served as a main catalyst for the Renewable Energy Initiative at UCSB. It was always a pleasure to learn from and work with him and I always appreciated his seeming endless energy! Thanks for everything Mel! - Michael Hewitt '10
32)  Mel, your classes were the highlight of my ES major. I thoroughly enjoyed both the subject matter and your enthusiasm for renewable energy. Happy to have this opportunity to let you know the impact you have had on me....Reading about you brought me right back to those classrooms...and that was decades ago! I still clearly remember the excitement and interest you generated within me. Best to you for your retirement. - Marlina Eckel '92
33)  Simply a great professor. Thank you Mel.  - Tin Cheung '93
34)  Dr. Mel Manalis is simply one of my heroes and one my my first models of an outstanding professor and environmental professional. He was one of two key mentors of mine (the other was Rod Nash) who helped me navigate the strange educational landscape that was UCSB in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He was a fantastic scientist and entertaining lecturer. I have too many memories to list. But they include everything from TAing for his Solar Energy classes to long talks about the uncharted career path that lay before me.

Among a long list of thanks, perhaps the most important was his offering to take me up to the San Francisco Bay Area to help him map the winds blowing under and around the Benicia Bridge in the East Bay. This was the first time a scientist ever extended a hand to me to say "come help me, I think you'd be great at this." That started a long career in ecology, conservation biology, and environmental assessment that has taken me from that salt marsh around the bridge pilings to Antarctica, the South Pacific, the Middle East, and numerous points in between. As a co-founder and now chair of my own version of ES (the ESRM Program) here at CSU Channel Islands, Mel's classes and his model of being a truly student-centered professor provide inspiration to for me and my program to this day (I still have my notebooks from his classes on my office shelf).

Mel: I wish you the best in the coming years. I hope you will be able to get a car that you don't have to scrunch yourself into now that you've retired!  -Sean Anderson ' 92

35)  I always enjoy hearing students say how much they admire you and appreciate your enthusiasm for teaching them about energy. Many of them pursued careers related to energy, including planning, thanks to you. Working with you has been one of the greatest joys of my time with UCSB and why I consider ES a family. I know you will continue to be active with ES and I will continue to smile every time I walk by your office and see your name by the door.  - Paul Wack

36)  Two Limericks about Mel by Professor Ed Keller:

When Mel appeared on the scene,
and was going to go green,
So he used the wind and sun,
to  be  happy as can be,  
And his energy (and conscience) were clean.

Mel is teacher by choice,
in that we all rejoice,
Has taught the thousands of ES alumni with BAs,
As well as all the BSs,
One fact is clear,
This is his year.