UC Davis is mourning the tragic loss of two alumnae from the class of 2015:
- Margery Magill, 27, fatally stabbed Aug. 27 while walking a dog in Washington, D.C., in an apparent random attack. Police arrested and charged a 24-year-old man in the killing.
- Kendra Chan, 26, who died with her father, Scott Chan, 59, in the Conception dive boat fire early Monday (Sept. 2) in the Channel Islands.
“UC Davis was Margery Magill, and Margery Magill was UC Davis,” her father, Jeff Magill, told Dateline UC Davis. She was environmentally conscious (hated Styrofoam, her dad recalled) and she loved agriculture. “She and UC Davis were a natural fit.”
Growing up on a Yuba County ranch, she visited UC Davis often with her parents, accompanying them for veterinary visits, horse events, and 4-H and FFA programs, for example. (Margery and her sister, Raeann, raised market goats.)
Bonnie Magill, the girls’ mother, is a UC Davis alumna three times over, having earned a bachelor’s degree in animal science (1980), and a teaching credential and master’s degree from the School of Education. She and her husband both worked as high school agriculture teachers for 30-plus years before retiring last year.
Margery majored in international agricultural development, volunteered for four years as an Aggie Ambassador in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, and lived and worked at the Goat Research Facility in her sophomore year.
She had visited 27 countries, often helping people with their farming practices as she put her studies to use. “Her incredible passion in the fields of food security and international agriculture will continue to inspire us,” Chancellor May said in a statement posted Aug. 29.
She also worked for women’s empowerment; her resume included a year as the marketing and communications manager for the Turkish Women’s International Network in Istanbul.
Besides Turkey, her travels took her to Costa Rica, Tanzania, Nicaragua, India and New Zealand, as well as Spain during a UC Davis Quarter Abroad. Back on campus, she worked in the Study Abroad office and held a job as a peer advisor in Student Housing. She was a lifetime member of the Cal Aggie Alumni Association.
She was not new to Washington. As an undergraduate, she worked at the Jane Goodall Institute, in an internship program coordinated by the UC Davis Washington Program.
“This internship introduced me to living and working in the D.C. area, and I knew after that summer that I would definitely return one day for good,” she said in a post on the Washington Program’s website.
First, though, after graduation, she worked as a grain merchandiser in Indiana and project coordinator for the Inspire Kentucky youth vote initiative (not to mention her time as a trivia host in Louisville). Finally, last year, she settled in her beloved Washington, where she worked as a program advisor and coordinator for the nonprofit Washington Center, which arranges internships and workshops for college students and recent graduates.
“She’s probably lived more in her life than a lotta people do in their whole life,” her father told KCRA Channel 3 television. “She just was a positive person, fun-loving, helpful — she just loved helping people out.”
Margery Magill: Celebrations of life
- District of Columbia — 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 10, Meridian Hill Park
- Yuba City — 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 19, Yuba-Sutter Fairgrounds and Event Center, 442 Franklin Ave. Dress is casual, according to Jeff Magill, who also noted: His daughter Margery’s favorite color was purple (like the Converse tennis shoes she always wore).
She is in her element, at the beach, waves lapping at the Southern California shore behind her in a Women’s History Month video from March 2018, produced by her employer, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Ventura.
“I had many inspirations to pursue a career in science,” says Chan, who, at the time of her death, had been working as a wildlife biologist for the federal government for about three years. “I grew up really fortunate to have parents (who) both majored in science, and they definitely encouraged me to pursue my interests.”
Indeed, she spent two summers doing research at UC Davis’ Bodega Marine Laboratory en route to graduating from the College of Biological Sciences with a bachelor’s degree in evolution, ecology and biodiversity.
Her parents thought so much of her UC Davis education that, in 2017, they set up the Bodega Marine Laboratory Undergraduate Research Scholarship to support other students with interests similar to their daughter’s.
“Definitely, she was an amazing student there; it was just an incredible experience she had at UC Davis,” her mother, Vicki Moore, told Dateline UC Davis.
“The professors she worked with and the research she did at Bodega Bay marine lab and at UC Davis proper were very, very instrumental in helping guide her life,” said Moore, who worked in environmental policy, advocacy and community organizing, before founding Living Classroom, a garden-based education program for grades K-6.
In her Women’s History Month video, Chan says: “Working in science has definitely influenced me as a person and as a woman because it’s taught me how to stand up for myself and how to empower myself with knowledge. How to look something up if I’m confused or how to ask questions rather than just take things at face value.”
The video includes still images highlighting her love of the outdoors. “Outside of work you can find me hiking around the hills here,” she says. “I love to explore, I love going camping, I love to ski, I love to go tide-pooling along the coast. I love to scuba dive. I grew up scuba-diving here in the Channel Islands. I would go with my dad every year. And I love it. It’s truly a transformative experience to be in the kelp forest.”
In the video, she encourages others to “stop and stare” at nature, like she did, to see all of the tiny little creatures come alive, to notice the tiny little details. “That’s what really gets me going. I also love seeing the big fish, but I also love seeing the little invertebrates.”
The video concludes with her saying: “Just get outside, get involved, work on citizen science projects. You don’t have to be a biologist on paper to be a scientist in real life.”
Friday night (Aug. 30), Moore drove with her husband to Santa Barbara Harbor, where they met their daughter Kendra, who lived in Oxnard. Father and daughter boarded the Conception for another of their twice-a-year dive trips in the Channel Islands.
Moore planned to reunite with them on Labor Day at the end of the three-day dive trip. Instead, the next day she was giving authorities a swab from the inside of her cheek, for DNA matching.
Chancellor May’s Sept. 4 statement reads, in part: “Kendra’s fascination with marine ecology will continue to inspire everyone she touched. She pursued her scientific curiosity with great zest at UC Davis, from working at our Bodega Marine Lab for two summers to studying biodiversity in the Stachowicz Lab.”
Scott Chan taught physics at American High School in Fremont after a 20-year career as an electrical engineer in Silicon Valley. He lived with his wife in Los Altos.
Father and daughter are survived by wife and mother Vicki Moore, and son and brother Kevin Chan. A celebration of life is being planned for October, for family and friends only.