SANTA CRUZ, Calif. -

The executive director of the Monterey Bay Aquarium is giving back to her alma mater in a major way.

Julie Packard has gifts UC Santa Cruz $1 million to establish the Dean's Fund for Diversity in the Sciences. The fund will support programs that help underrepresented minority students excel in the sciences and mathematics.

Packard earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in biology at UCSC.

"I am grateful for the opportunities UCSC gave me as an undergraduate to spend time with top research scientists and be able to do science, not just hear about it," Packard said. "I want my gift to help ensure that underrepresented students in the sciences are able to enjoy the same opportunities at UCSC that I did."

She has served as the executive director of the Monterey Bay Aquarium since it opened in 1984.