Harvey Mudd College Magazine, fall/winter 2015

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Kit for a Cause George Korir ’06 creates a clever and useful chemistry kit for under-resourced communities. | 26










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Where the Heart Is

Wayne and Julie Drinkward Residence Hall Each dorm on campus has its own culture, and the newest, the Wayne and Julie Drinkward Residence Hall, designed by Pfeiffer Partners Architects, is gradually being shaped by its first residents. The largest and tallest dorm on campus, Drinkward has suites (with kitchens) that house singles and doubles as well as halls (or “O’s”) that have a mix of singles and doubles. Distributed throughout its three floors are four lounges, the largest being this airy, light-filled main lounge.

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To create the feel of a workspace where ideas happen, a material palette of unfinished wood was used on the ceiling. Sections are broken up with sound-absorbing Tectum ceiling panels placed in an angular pattern to reflect the angles of the lounge roof exterior. Kaitlyn Loop ’19 (undeclared/ engineering) says, “The main lounge is most like home to me because it feels like I am in the family room at my home in Arizona. We get to talk about our day, share stories, eat meals together and work on homework just like I did at home in my family room.” Chalkboard (and clear glass) walls throughout Drinkward Hall foster spontaneous thought. Doodles, formulas, personal messages—all exemplify Harvey Mudd’s creative culture. Theo Hansel ’19 (chemistry and biology) says, “What I like most about Drinkward is how close all of the people in the dorm are with each other. The use of the study rooms for collaboration on homework assignments is a great example of this.” In addition to the “pterodactyl that lives on the second floor,” Sherman Lam ’16 (engineering) loves the suite community “studying together, cooking meals together and enjoying a shared space.”







Furniture is designed to be flexible and movable, allowing students to customize their space within the larger room. Nupur Banerjee ’19 (undeclared/ computer science) rarely sees the lounge empty. “I’m never too far away from a friend to talk to or study with,” she says. “The people in Drinkward make me feel at home, and I love that everyone is always happy to lend a hand and support each other.” Jakim Johnson ’19 (undeclared/ engineering) likes the whiteboards and chalkboards outside every door and can often be found here in the kitchen where “someone is usually cooking.” Lupe MacIntosh ’18 (physics), a resident of West, stops by often to visit Drinkward proctor and friend, Jessica Szejer ’16 (not pictured), and to take advantage of freshly baked cookies. The kitchen creates a gathering spot and plays host to a variety of functions. A six-burner range, two refrigerators and two dishwashers accommodate large groups easily. Jessica Lupanow ’18 (engineering) calls the lounge “super inviting” and likes that it’s “constantly filled with people baking, drawing and having pillow fights.”



PRESIDENT Inspiring Change

Features 22

Amanda Simpson ’83 makes career and personal transitions on her own terms.


fall semester—The Claremont Colleges are no exception. Most of you have seen media accounts of numerous protests by students of color over the systemic and specific injustices they face on campuses across the country. A key component of what I think makes Harvey Mudd College so distinctive is the strong sense of community this College inspires. I am incredibly grateful to our students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents and trustees for their interest and enthusiasm to engage in conversations about our commitment to diversity, inclusion and social justice, and I am proud of the way our students of color have partnered with the administration to discuss ways we can continue to integrate more inclusive practices. Our goal, as called for in the College’s Strategic Vision, is unsurpassed excellence and diversity at all levels. We’ve been working toward increasing diversity at Harvey Mudd for many years, and this fall, we welcomed the most diverse first-year class in our 60-year history. But we have to take this strategic goal further to ensure that all of our students can pursue their dreams in an environment that is inclusive and supportive. To achieve this, we’ve held open forums and capacity-building workshops sponsored by our Office of Institutional Diversity (OID), and we’ve expanded the role of Sumun (Sumi) Pendakur, associate dean for institutional diversity, adding her to the President’s Cabinet where she can advise on all matters—not just those related to diversity and inclusion. Based on our meetings with students, representatives from our Black Lives and Allies at Mudd student organization are meeting with each of the College’s department chairs and with Dean of the Faculty Jeff Groves to discuss ways to expand course options in ethnic and cultural studies, as well as social justice, while also considering ways to reduce unconscious bias and confront microaggressions in the classroom. These conversations will continue into the spring semester. During our winter break, the College renovated Platt Campus Center to create new office space for the Office of Institutional Diversity and to provide a center that fosters inclusivity and social justice. This new space will provide a valuable resource to our students and will help to improve service options offered through OID. Only through working together will we ensure that all members of our community can grow and learn to become outstanding leaders in their fields. We may be small—but our impact on society can be great when we join together to inspire change.


Tackling Global Poverty One Note at a Time George Korir ’06 helps create clever and economical diagnostic equipment that provides solutions for underresourced communities.


Dr. Sophie Will See You Soon Sophie Parks ’14 pursues a nontraditional medical school education, jelly beans and all.

Departments 01

















Maria Klawe President, Harvey Mudd College

The Sky’s Not The Limit




COVER IMAGE George Korir ’06 holds a chemistry kit he helped develop for low-resource settings. Photo by Seth Affoumado.




Facebook, Aug. 31, 2015: We posted a copy of rules for “Men’s Residence and Dining Halls—1957–1958” dated Sept. 21, 1957. bit.ly/HMC1957rules

Men are requested to respect the new plantings and not to play ball in the court. “So it looks like women were free to disrespect the new plantings and play ball in the court. That doesn’t seem fair.” –Jen Lindsay ’02

Service and Care of Property - Maid service will be provided each room one day a week. Bed linens will be changed and the room cleaned ... “We still had maids who cleaned the bathrooms in the early ’80s ... and sometimes folded laundry for us (though they were getting phased out as the new dorms opened up) .... but no linen service.” –Carolyn Wetzel Moegleln ’84

The Harvey Mudd College Magazine is produced three times per year by the Office of Communications and Marketing. Director of Communications, Senior Editor Stephanie L. Graham Art Director Janice Gilson Writer Eric Feezell Graphic Designer Robert Vidaure Contributing Writers Amy DerBedrosian, Ashley Festa, Lia King, Allison Marin, Douglas McInnis, Chris Quirk, Mara Watkins Proofreaders Eric Feezell, Kelly Lauer Contributing Photographers Seth Affoumado, Margarita Corporan, Shannon Cottrell, Keenan Gilson, Jeanine Hill, Steve Lerum, Cheryl Ogden, Deborah Tracey Vice President for Advancement Dan Macaluso Assistant Vice President of Communications and Marketing Timothy L. Hussey, APR

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Thanks for the page honoring Hank Riggs in the summer 2015 issue of HMC Magazine! Hank and Gayle arrived on campus just before our freshman class did in the fall of 1988. My first day on campus included a wonderful gathering and heartfelt discussion in his backyard. I had many positive interactions with both of them during my time at Mudd, ranging from frosh to proctor. Hank was very involved in campus life at a personal level. Some feedback regarding two of the points on that page: “3. Biology major is official, 1989” and “4. Establishment of new major in computer science, 1993.” As I recall, the computer science and biology majors were approved by the trustees at the same time: early spring of 1992. I believe that both of those degrees were first available to freshmen starting in the 1992–1993 school year. For most of my time at HMC (1988–1992) there were only four degrees available, and the fact that two new majors were being considered during my senior year generated lively debate on campus (especially since CS and biology were considered “soft sciences” by our physicist and chemist friends).

My friend and classmate Clifford Stein and I were actively involved in the process of defining a computer science degree with the faculty and trustees, particularly throughout our senior year of 1991–1992. Since our CS-focused Independent Programs of Study had been closely tracking that emerging curriculum, we later petitioned the trustees to receive that degree once it had been approved in early 1992. As a result, the two of us graduated in May 1992 with the first computer science degrees awarded by Harvey Mudd College.

Andy Gray ’92

I have received and read the summer 2015 edition of the College magazine. It is an outstanding issue in content, design and image building! Keep up the good work. Albert Dorman, Harvey Mudd College Trustee Emeritus

Opinions about the content of Harvey Mudd College Magazine are welcome. Letters for publication must be signed and may be edited for clarity and brevity.

The Harvey Mudd College Magazine (SSN 0276-0797) is published by Harvey Mudd College, Office of Communications and Marketing, 301 Platt Boulevard, Claremont, CA 91711. Nonprofit Organization Postage Paid at Claremont, CA 91711 Postmaster: Send address changes to Harvey Mudd College, Advancement Services, 301 Platt Boulevard, Claremont, CA 91711. Copyright © 2016—Harvey Mudd College. All rights reserved. Opinions expressed in the Harvey Mudd College Magazine are those of the individual authors and subjects and do not necessarily reflect the views of the College administration, faculty or students. No portion of this magazine may be reproduced without the express written consent of the editor. The Harvey Mudd College Magazine staff welcomes your input: communications@hmc.edu or Harvey Mudd College Magazine Harvey Mudd College 301 Platt Boulevard, Claremont, CA 91711 Join the online conversation.




True Value Sure, there are the national surveys that place Harvey Mudd College in the top tier for its STEM-focused liberal arts education, return on investment, engineering program and more. But perhaps the strongest affirmation of an institution comes from its alumni. For 60 years, Harvey Mudd College has committed to a specialized STEM education, one that demands a low facultyto-student ratio, small classes, modern facilities, necessary student support services, exceptional faculty, research opportunities and modern equipment and instrumentation. No denying: Costs are high for Harvey Mudd’s distinctive, personalized, technology-intensive education, but data support that it’s worth the financial investment. Our curriculum continues to prepare students to appreciate and use critical analysis, to innovate and learn new technologies and to solve problems others are just beginning to tackle. While the College has been recognized nationally for preparing students for high-paying jobs (median starting salary for HMC Class of 2015: $92,500), there’s more to the story. After six decades, we’re still true to our mission of preparing leaders to better understand the impact of their work on society. Alumni tell us they are well positioned for career trajectories that lead them to professional success, regardless of their chosen field. And many pursue lifelong learning, leading to interesting, well-rounded lives. But don’t take our word for it. Here are comments from selected alumni who agreed to share their responses from the 2014 Higher Education Data Sharing Consortium Alumni Survey.

What do you especially value about your undergraduate experience? “ How intense it is and how challenged I was. The residential collaborative environment is something I really miss.” NATE BEAN ’14

“ I greatly value the breadth of courses I took at Harvey Mudd College. While I am not an expert in any field, I feel confident that I have the tools to learn quickly and be effective in any position.” HECTOR CUEVAS ’09

“ The close community is still the biggest draw to HMC for me. The way that people look out for each other and help each other is not seen anywhere else.” NATASHA PARIKH ’14

“ Being able to interact and engage with individuals of a variety of backgrounds has drastically increased the number of opportunities I have had to meet many people and constantly learn from them. I chalk this ability up to the broad base Mudd gave me.” CHRISTIAN STEVENS ’14

“ The focus on teaching students how to learn things. It has made it much easier for me to learn new concepts and solve new problems.” JOSHUA COBB ’09

“ The personalization of the school: how I had access to the complete faculty, administration and resources of the school. Also, the personal growth I experienced from being surrounded by other brilliant, passionate people—really, it was the perfect environment.” ROSS A. WATKINS ’83

“ It taught me how to juggle a lot of responsibilities without breaking down. Made me tougher and stronger.” FANGZHAO AN ’14

“ Working on problem sets in small groups with faculty members there to help. It turns out that this is often how you work through problems as a professional scientist, and it is very effective for learning.” CANDACE CHURCH JOGGERST ’04

“ It pushed me and challenged me in a way nothing had before, expanded my skills and abilities, and gave me a lot of confidence in my later endeavors.” COURTNEY MCQUEEN ’04

“ My time at Harvey Mudd made me much more attuned to interacting with people different from myself.” MARY CARPENTER ABE ’81

“ With a solid foundation in many subfields of science, I find myself often picking up a textbook and working through problems to learn a new skill or field of knowledge. After picking up enough fundamentals while at Harvey Mudd, I find this surprisingly easy to do.” BEN PRESKILL ’09



“ The small size allowed for extensive interaction with faculty and other students. Faculty members were only expected to teach and encourage research in undergraduates, so it provided an excellent atmosphere.” NADIA ABUELEZAM ’09

“ (HMC) taught me how to fail and recover from that, both emotionally and practically.” KATHY FRENCH ’97

“ HMC was incredibly difficult at points, but the opportunities I’ve had and the skills I am left with were monumentally transforming.” HALLIE KUHN ’09

“ The opportunity to compete as an NCAA athlete. That experience was wonderful in itself and taught me things (perseverance, self-motivation, etc.) that I never learned in a classroom.” KEVIN ANDREW ’04

“ I was able to take Japanese at Pomona College and then study abroad in Japan for a semester. That was a very important experience for me in terms of personal growth.” OBOSA OBAZUAYE ’14

“ The challenging level of the classes, the close-knit community (part of which came from living on campus), the fact that everyone there was very smart and dedicated to their studies.” COURTNEY KEELER ’14

“ Taking classes at the other Claremont Colleges exposed me to new attitudes of learning and ways of reading.” MORGAN LUCKEY ’14

“ The non-competitive atmosphere.” ANONYMOUS ’04

“ Honor code and the feeling of trust.” JOHN LARSON ’79

“ HMC developed my academic independence, confidence as a researcher and attention to the impact of my work on the world.” AURORA PRIBRAM-JONES ’09

“ The quality and willingness of professors to help students learn. The amazing community and support system available through peers.” ANTHONY CHUNG ’14

“ I feel prepared for any job. I gained technical skills and experience at Harvey Mudd, but more importantly I became a better problem solver. I’m able to solve problems creatively, whether they are coding problems or broader problems in my job.” MARISSA NOVAK ’14

“ I really appreciate that I developed close, personal connections with HMC faculty, who continue to support me and stay in touch with me. I also really valued the fact that most students live on campus and complete the same Core Curriculum for most of the first two years. Knowing that everyone else around me had the same workload and struggles kept me from giving up.” CLAIRE O’HANLON ’09

“ The strong emphasis on solving problems using a broad intellectual toolkit. I also appreciate the institution’s cohesiveness and the faculty’s commitment to helping their students excel.” LAUREN WINKLER ’14

“ The habits I acquired at Harvey Mudd haven’t just helped me to study new topics, but they have helped me to be able to ask the questions and find and research the topic that will answer them.” JESSICA NELSON ’04

“ The attention and care faculty showed for the students was astounding. At Harvey Mudd, faculty members would spend enormous amounts of time mentoring, guiding, teaching and furthering the professional, academic and personal development of all of the students.”

“ Helped me develop strong writing skills and good professional skills in computer science—both of these were very helpful for employment! Helped me learn to socialize better by connecting me with like-minded peers, something I never had before college.” SERGEY TSALKOV ’09

“ We were presented with an incredible breadth of scientific topics, which has allowed me to communicate with people from a variety of academic backgrounds. This has been incredibly useful to me in the development of my career.” TARA LYDIARD-MARTIN ’04


“ I particularly loved when teachers made learning fun! When they went out of their way to make an interactive learning environment.”

“ The focus on humanities. The breadth of the Common Core.” ANDREW CARMAN ’09

“ My improved ability to learn by myself (i.e., from books, the Internet).” KATHERINE ANDERSON ’14







Onward, Upward, Drinkward An exceptionally warm day sent celebrants into the spacious and cool main lounge of the Wayne and Julie Drinkward Residence Hall for dedication festivities in September. Wayne ’73, an engineering graduate who has served on the board of trustees since 2005 (chair since 2012), shared that it was “otherworldly to have my name on a building” and expressed how much residential life at Harvey Mudd had impacted him and Julie PZ ’73, whom he met as an undergraduate. “You build bonds that last for a long time,” he said. President Maria Klawe called the Drinkwards “heroes” for their longtime support of the College.

The Drinkwards meet some of the dorm residents.



Aishvarya Korde ’17 in one of the 35 single rooms


Sustainable Synergies

Tanja Srebotnjak

Raising awareness about humanity’s increasing footprint on critical ecosystem services and resources is just one goal of the Harvey Mudd College Hixon Center for Sustainable Environmental Design, which the campus community officially launched Sept. 25. Tanja Srebotnjak, the inaugural Hixon Professor of Sustainable Environmental Design, was hired in fall 2014 to found the Hixon Center, to expand student and faculty experiences and to promote environmental science and design at the College and within the Claremont Consortium. Harvey Mudd’s Center for Environmental Studies (CES), established in 1999, has merged with the Hixon Center. Srebotnjak acknowledged the important role the CES— currently led by physics Professor Richard Haskell—has had in shaping Harvey Mudd’s environmental curriculum, research and campus operations. Merging the two centers maximizes resources available to educate students and enables enhanced research and service around important environmental issues,

says Srebotnjak, an environmental statistician who studies environmental and public health policy questions. Both the Hixon Professorship of Sustainable Environmental Design and the corresponding Hixon Center were established by Adelaide Hixon in memory of her husband, Alexander, an early trustee of the College. The Hixons have been generous donors to many important areas of the College, endowing a scholarship, a humanities forum and two professorships. With the leadership of grandson Dylan Hixon, a current Harvey Mudd trustee, the gift to establish the Hixon Professorship of Sustainable Environmental Design was finalized in 2013, leading to the hiring of Srebotnjak and her work to establish the Hixon Center. Its staff and student researchers will work with community partners to invigorate innovative thinking, scalable local action and global engagement, and to instill a high level of ethical and professional awareness in Harvey Mudd’s graduates concerning some of today’s most critical environmental challenges.

Bri Tec Ag

Anjaneya Malpani ’18 describes his research evaluating the hazards of oil and gas injection wells to engineering Professor Erik Spjut and Alexis Reyes.

Trustee Dylan Hixon reviews a project with Lee

Malpani’s work is one of the impact-focused

Norgaard ’18. Hixon remarked, “We’re very excited

projects the Hixon Center is undertaking.

about the idea of bringing design to the problem of

Wednesday, Nov. 18 4:30–5:30 p.m.







Equipped for Discovery Grant supports chemistry program


learning methods, including the use of instrumentation to better understand molecular structure and the properties of matter. A generous gift from the Fletcher Jones Foundation enables Harvey Mudd College to continue offering high-quality experiential learning that transforms students into professionals. With the $470,000 grant, the Department of Chemistry is addressing instrumentation needs in its chemistry laboratory courses for first years and sophomores. Part of the College’s Core Curriculum, introductory chemistry is a requirement for all students. The physical chemistry class plays an integral role in many students’ decisions to major in the chemistry degree program, which is American Chemical Society-approved. “Harvey Mudd College has achieved a reputation of outstanding quality in its chemistry program based in part on the access it gives students to sophisticated research-grade instrumentation in both instructional and research laboratories,” says Kerry Karukstis, Ray and Mary Ingwersen Professor of Chemistry and chair of the department. “This funding enables the department to upgrade and


augment its instrumentation holdings primarily for use in our instructional laboratories.” The department will upgrade its UV-visible spectrometers with a suite of 12 modern, computercontrolled instruments that will be used throughout the curriculum (especially in the general chemistry laboratory). It will also introduce two bench-top nuclear magnetic resonance instruments for molecular structure determination in the first-year course and will add a modern laser light-scattering instrument for the physical chemistry laboratory (a technique used to determine molecular size and the strength of intermolecular forces). In addition to acquisition of the instrumentation itself, the department will assess the impact of modern instrumentation on such factors as student interest in chemistry, intellectual curiosity and ownership over the process of discovery. Department leaders will work with the director of institutional research and effectiveness to design appropriate assessment tools for evaluating these factors. “We want students to have hands-on experience with modern scientific instrumentation and

state—farm workers, especially in unincorporated communities—are going to be facing enormous cost challenges, and we’ll have to think about that as a state and about that kind of real serious cost issue for people who can least afford to pay.”


“ What I want to start out

with is to impress on you how weird water is.”




laboratory where Srinidhi Srinivasan ’18 and Professor David Vosburg are shown working.

understand the kinds of information different instruments yield,” says Karukstis. “Students will see that chemistry is an important contemporary science that contributes to the discovery of new knowledge and the solution of human and environmental problems.”

Annenberg Leadership and Management Speaker Series Feb. 23, March 8, March 22 and March 29 hmc.edu/annenberg

Moody Lecture March 3

Video: bit.ly/Nelson15-Fayer Video: bit.ly/Nelson15-drought

instructional laboratories, including the General Chemistry

Upcoming Talks


“ I think that some of the poorest people in this

T he grant will modernize two of the chemistry department’s



Creativity flows at new center ONE OF THE FIRST DISPLAYS THIS FALL

in the Rick and Susan Sontag Center for Collaborative Creativity was artwork by Harvey Mudd students in the class Fluidity: Art, Science & Images/Special Topics in Art, taught by Rachel Levy, associate professor of mathematics and associate dean for faculty development, and Ken Fandell, associate professor of art and Michael G. and C. Jane Wilson Chair in Arts and the Humanities. By exploring art and mathematics in images and fluids, students gain perspective on the theory and context of fluid visualizations and create visual works informed by art’s historical and theoretical contexts. The Center, created with a $25 million gift from Rick and Susan Sontag—1964 graduates of Harvey Mudd College and Pomona College, respectively—is an innovative setting where students from the five Claremont Colleges can work in creative teams. Nicknamed “The Hive” for the buzz of creative thought and collaborative activity it is designed to foster, the center supports students’ creative development and helps equip them to work collaboratively to address the future’s most ambiguous problems and complex challenges. Emma Meersman ’16, one of the students whose work was featured there, says, “I am very glad to have a space like The Hive. I think that it encourages collaboration between the colleges and allows students to interact in an open, creative environment. The Fluidity course challenged me to think about how scientific concepts could be applied to an art project as well as how to view scientific experiments through an artistic lens. The course encouraged students to experiment and discover new things about the world, a value that is also reflected in The Hive.”


Incidental Instability by Allison Barry ’16. Using a rattleback—a spinning top in the shape of semi-ellipsoid that exhibits a scientific phenomenon—Barry worked with the unstable nature of the rattleback motion within the context of a fluid. “I was surprised by many of the flows, and they manifested the idea that sometimes the best art is not what you intend to create or where you expect it to be.”

Step by Step by Emma Meersman ’16. How a small drop of

Warped Dimensions by Nicky Subler ’16. Subler shot this with a

liquid affects a much larger pool provided the impetus for

Canon Powershot in automatic macro mode. She placed honey

Meersman’s project. She documented the process of hibis-

on an angled glass plate, backed by a page from a lab notebook,

cus tea diffusing into water. “Much like the drops of tea, all

and lit it with a desk lamp. “Part of art is the ability to see beauty

of the time invested in something will contribute to an end

in mistakes, in messes. Or to see beauty where someone hasn’t

result … a second of time here or there will slowly saturate

looked yet.”

the pool of experience.”






Creative writing Professor Salvador Plascencia wants to see where the imagination can go. Written by Eric Feezell


science, but a logistical problem. “How do you move this character there?” the College’s new assistant professor of creative writing reflects. “How do you get this character to fight that character? How do you heal that character, get him to the hospital? It’s logistics.” For a writer often labeled as experimental, Plascencia is surprisingly interested in writing’s moving parts: words, syntax, the labor-intensive stuff of grammar. Close reading. Sentence isolation. While his literature courses explore broad problems related to politics, history and identity, in his workshops, the sentence is king. He’s fond of employing constraint exercises—short spurts of prose that focus on those diminutive yet crucial mechanics. A lipogram, for example, might require students to pen 300 words without using the letter “e.” Or students might “inherit” a century-old word bank and construct something syntactically new from this list. “Anytime there’s intense focus on the word or the sentence, that’s really what we want to do,” he says. “Pragmatically, we can’t all write novels and talk about them in a workshop setting. I’m much more interested in the sustained effort of a single page.” Following creative writing positions at Pitzer and Pomona colleges, as well as at UC Riverside, USC and CalArts, Plascencia heard about an opening at Harvey Mudd through the 5-C grapevine. He says he wasn’t daunted by the idea of teaching writing at a STEM institution. Plascencia’s interest is in magical realism, a genre that incorporates fantastical or mythical elements into an otherwise realistic narrative. “So that’s probably not science related,” he says jokingly. “My critical inquiry class is called Unreality, so we’ll be looking at [Gabriel García] Márquez, [Jorge Luis] Borges. I have not really thought about any sort of technically related thing.” He does not envision STEM shaping his instruction in major ways, at least to start.



“ I think about whether a piece of writing has potential

trajectories that are exciting to me. My hope is students never try to tame or correct what’s happening, but rather be open to the potential of what it could be.


“My function is to explore humanities,” says Plascencia. He aims to teach writing as craft, rather than explore broad, conscious themes related to science or otherwise. He’s also not concerned with students (or himself) getting published. “I think about whether a piece of writing has potential trajectories that are exciting to me,” he says. “My hope is students never try to tame or correct what’s happening, but rather be open to the potential of what it could be.”

Plascencia’s own novel, The People of Paper (McSweeney’s Books, 2005), was rejected by more than a few major publishers. “All of them,” he says rather proudly. (Many of these same publishers scrambled after the fact to release the paperback.) Now translated into a dozen languages, The People of Paper has received critical acclaim and earned him the Bard College Fiction Prize/writing residency in 2008. His stories and reviews have appeared in Los Angeles Times, Tin House and

Also Introducing…

In addition to Plascencia, four other outstanding teacher-scholars began tenure-track appointments this fall. Previously a National Research Council postdoctoral fellow at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Brian Bryce joins the Department of Engineering. He focuses on societally impactful research in electronics, with a concentration on applications with positive environmental implications.

Translated into a dozen languages, The People of Paper has received critical acclaim and earned Plascencia the Bard College Fiction Prize/writing residency in 2008.

McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern. Poets & Writers called Plascencia one of the 50 most inspiring living authors in the world, noting “Plascencia alters our experience of the text and challenges our associations of symbol and meaning by incorporating drawings, figures and text objects into his writing.” Still, he remains reluctant to qualify writing in terms of accolades or publishing credits. “My first draft [of The People of Paper] was a B- story in an undergraduate workshop,” he says. “But the way we talked about it was not ‘how to fix it,’ but ‘where can this go?’ So I’m far more interested in the trajectories of where the imagination can go than in controlling or taming it.” After graduating from Whittier College with a B.A., Plascencia went on to Syracuse for an MFA in creative writing, studying under author George Saunders, whom he considers a mentor. Now in the instructor’s seat himself, he’s taught numerous creative writing workshops and a slew of interesting literature classes,

including fall semester’s Lit 179L: The Novel as a Print Technology. He’s at work on various writing projects—most notably a novel about a newly discovered ocean in Southern California’s San Gabriel Valley, which he admits he’s “having trouble finishing.” For now he relishes the chance to introduce his favorite works—books by James Baldwin, Roberto Bolaño, Borges, Márquez—to a new crop of “sophisticated readers” who “are able to take the text and talk about it in any way.” Acclimating to the Harvey Mudd environment is also a priority, he says, and the cross-disciplinary nature of the College intrigues him. “Ken [Fandell] is next door, a photographer, and then Gary [Evans], an economist, and this idea that it’s all close together—conversations with people in different areas of expertise are basically built into the architecture of the campus. In other places, all I had [nearby] were other English professors. So even just how you bounce around campus, it makes these conversations possible.”

Jason Gallicchio joins the Department of Physics. He comes to California from the University of Chicago and worked previously on the South Pole Telescope. Besides his work on the cosmic microwave background, Gallicchio aims to close a loophole in tests of Bell’s inequalities by using telescopes that look at widely separated quasars to generate the random settings in delayed choice experiments.

After a two-year visiting professorship at Harvey Mudd, Jae Hur joins the Department of Biology. He specializes in molecular and cellular biology with an emphasis on aging and longevity.

Matthew Spencer, a visiting professor last year, joins the Department of Engineering. His interests include engineering education, digital and mixedsignal circuit design, microelectro-mechanical systems and simulation techniques.





We Are How We Eat Courses explore the origins of food and taste

“ Why is iceberg lettuce

shipped across the country from California to New York when you can grow lettuce just fine in New York?


molecular biology major, she read an article in the American Chemical Society’s newsletter about the chemistry of whipping egg whites—why using a copper bowl helps to stabilize them. She says it was one of those watershed moments. “For me it was both how to make a better angel food cake, and larger than that. I grew up in a family of very good cooks, and I cook a lot myself. I ended up moving to Chicago and going to culinary school, and it was there that I discovered the field of food science.” After getting her professional cookery certificate and her M.S. in food chemistry from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Spackman received her PhD in food studies from New York University. There, she focused on the technologies of taste and flavor analysis with particular regard to water, the “one thing that’s supposed to be flavorless,” she says. “I spent five years looking at the way that technologies from the food science industry have been adopted by the water industry.” As the current Hixon-Riggs Early Career Fellow in Science, Technology and Society at Harvey Mudd, Spackman teaches a course called Where Food Comes From, the focus of which is the historical development of the contemporary agricultural system. “Why is iceberg lettuce shipped across the country from California to New York when you can grow lettuce just fine in New York?” she asks. “There’s an uncomfortable tension around how we imagine our farms as small, family-owned enterprises and the mega-industrial things they actually are. They don’t fit that image of what we think farms should be. What are the consequences of that shift?” Harvey Mudd students, Spackman observes, come into the classroom unburdened by assumptions about the agricultural system—for instance, they have a very different view of genetically modified food than her NYU students did. “Harvey Mudd students are much more willing to say, ‘What’s the data?’ I personally hope that


students leave the class with knowledge of the unintended consequences of technology and the importance of thinking about scale in trying to effect change,” she says. It’s the creativity of the food world that appeals to Anya Kwan ’17. “After I graduate Mudd, I would like to be a part of the food industry, probably as an R&D chef. I recognize that changing food to make it cheaper will be important in the future.” For Isabell Lee ’16, examining the history of food through the lenses of immigrant labor in agriculture or women’s influence on food retail has been key to understanding its politics. “Working our way through history will really allow us to understand the likely confusing subtleties of modern food policy,” she says. To get at those subtleties, Spackman prizes interactive experience. Her class traveled to L.A. City Hall for L.A. County’s Food Day and to the Los Angeles Wholesale Produce Market to talk with Heath & Lejeune, a certified organic wholesale distributor. During spring, Spackman will circle back to her passion, teaching a course called Technologies of Taste. The class will visit Gold Coast Flavor Company and Cal Poly Pomona’s sensory science lab to understand why and how people taste. And it will examine the development of sensory science from the 1950s onward, focusing on water and the tricky, ever-evolving process of quantifying subjective experience into objective measurements.

Throughout the years, Harvey Mudd students have enjoyed an array of food-related courses, including Chemistry of Cooking, taught by Professor Adam Johnson (above); The Science of Cooking, taught by physics professors Jim Eckert and Patti Sparks; and Food and American Culture, taught by history Professor Hal Barron.



Riffing On Gamelan In case you didn’t know, Bill Alves is into “heavy metal.” This becomes apparent on his newest release, Guitars & Gamelan (MicroFest Records), which features the traditional Indonesian bells and metallophones of gamelan music along with intricate, intense electric guitar. Several guest artists feature on the effort. HMC American Gamelan, which includes five Harvey Mudd students and three faculty members, performs with Grammy-winning classical guitarist John Schneider on Alves’ “Concerto for Guitar and Gamelan.” Indonesian rhythms and electric guitars are on display in a work recorded by HMC’s Electronic Music Ensemble—which features six Harvey Mudd students—as well as in another piece Alves composed for the Los Angeles Electric 8, an octet of electric guitars. Formed by Alves in 2000, the HMC American Gamelan is an ensemble that uses traditional Javanese instruments to play Western music. Gamelan aficionados can see the group in concert April 24 on campus as a part of MicroFest, the Southern California festival of music in nonstandard tunings.

No Diving! Grants from the Hearst Foundation and the National Science Foundation mean Harvey Mudd College students no longer have to use a faculty member’s private swimming pool to deploy and test underwater robot systems. The College’s new underwater robotics laboratory includes a large tank, vision-based positioning system, associated computer technology, observation platform and workspace. “This facility will provide an essential tool for both teaching and research,” says engineering Professor Christopher Clark. “It will provide a location for conducting labs as part of our new engineering

sophomore course sequence, the first course of which will be required for all students at Harvey Mudd.” Beginning in spring 2017, students enrolled in Experimental Engineering (E80) will work in teams with remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) to design and build their own sensor packages. The course will culminate in the deployment of these ROVs in the ocean. With many scientific applications, robotics engineering is a technological frontier that builds on the College’s existing strengths in engineering, computer science and other interdisciplinary sciences.





It’s In the Cards


How well do you know your partner? Where do you and your partner stand on the things that actually matter in a relationship? Associate Professor of Psychology Debra Mashek has lent her expertise to a new game designed to strengthen romantic relationships. Invented by Mashek and former dating coach and neuroscientist Mel Malka “for couples who need to talk,” Lay Your Cards on the Table offers a fun, productive way for couples to engage in the important conversations necessary to support successful long-term relationships. The game is simple. One partner flips over a prompt card and lays it on the table. Then, both partners reveal their responses. If answers are in agreement, the couple moves on. If not, the card is set aside for a later conversation. “So often the science of relationships remains buried in journals, inaccessible to people navigating the trials and tribulations of intimate relating,” says Mashek. “Lay Your Cards on the Table brings the science directly to couples by helping them talk about the things that really matter in relationships.”

Mathematical Merrymaking The math we learned in school—from basic counting and arithmetic to algebra, geometry and beyond—can be easy, intuitive and fun, says mathematics Professor Art Benjamin. And he provides countless examples of why in his latest book, The Magic of Math: Solving for x and Figuring Out Why. Here’s one: Think of a number between 20 and 100. Add the digits together. Now subtract the total from your original number. Finally, add the digits of the new number together. You’ve got 9, right? Benjamin shows readers how to appreciate math the way he does. Proofs can seem like tedious little frustration machines, but Benjamin helps readers see them as gems of logic that are integral parts of a beautiful whole. “One of the great joys of doing mathematics,” he writes, “is the ability to prove things true beyond a shadow of a doubt.”

Exploring Science, Society “Scientism” refers to the application of methods, attitudes and concepts drawn from the natural sciences to human activities in areas ranging from politics and economics to education and business. Richard G. Olson ’62, emeritus professor of history, explores the benefits and limitations of scientism in his latest book, Scientism and Technocracy in the Twentieth Century: The Legacy of Scientific Management. Specifically, Olson examines scientific management, a movement concerned with improving economic efficiency that was initiated at the beginning of the 20th century by mechanical engineer Frederick Winslow Taylor. Olson is the Willard W. Keith Jr. Fellow in Humanities.



Honors, Promotions Fostering a Creative Curriculum Rachel Mayeri’s teaching and artwork situate media at the center of culture and politics and serve as a conduit for personal expression. As an artist, she often makes videos about the intersection of science and art. Since 2002, Mayeri has taught courses in art and media studies that help promote critical thinking and creative expression. In recognition of her work, she was promoted to full professor with continuous tenure. Her videos, installations and writing projects explore topics ranging from the history of special effects to the human animal. One of her ongoing projects explores the primate continuum through a series of experimental videos titled Primate Cinema, which has received numerous awards and grants. Her film Primate Cinema: Apes as Family was selected for the Sundance and Berlinale film festivals. Recently, she was invited to Berlin’s Haus der Kulturen der Welt during its Ape Culture show to participate as a juror and artist in Synapse Curatorial Network—a workshop for curators on bridging art and science—specifically on the topic of human-animal relations. In 2016, Mayeri will have shows at Art Laboratory Berlin on non-human subjectivities and in Australia on women/art/science.

In Memoriam

Rachel Mayeri

Kirk Norenberg ’81 “I took his Strength of Deformable Solids class my junior year. I enjoyed his straightforward development of concepts and came away each day feeling that I had learned something. His course was part of the foundation of my 30-plus-year career as a mechanical engineer and his approach was something I tried to emulate as a mentor to young engineers.”

De Pillis Joins 2016 AMS Fellows Lisette de Pillis is one of 50 mathematicians to be inducted into the American Mathematical Society’s 2016 class of Fellows for outstanding contributions to mathematics. De Pillis, Norman F. Sprague Jr. Professor of Mathematics and the Life Sciences, was recognized for her research in mathematical oncology and cancer immunology, including cutting-edge developments in the mathematical modeling of cancer immunology. She was also acknowledged for her leadership in mathematical biology education and for her community service activities. Chair of the Department of Mathematics, de Pillis has been instrumental in shaping the College’s mathematical biology major, one of the first such undergraduate majors in the country. She is widely recognized as an active advocate for women in the mathematical sciences.

Engineering Professor Emeritus Harry E. Williams Jr. passed away Sept. 23, 2015. He joined Harvey Mudd in 1960 as a professor of physics, then moved to engineering where, for the next 40 years, he taught courses from fluid and solid mechanics to thermodynamics and more, helping to build the department from its infancy. Williams, an HMC Honorary Alumnus (1999), retired in 2000 but remained an active part of the Harvey Mudd community as a professor emeritus, maintaining an office and continuing to publish collaborative works. Community members have shared memories of Williams on a memorial website (hmc.edu/harry-williams). Here are a few of the remembrances:

Clare (Pitkin) Livak ’75 “Professor Williams made Fluids seem so easy. He had a way of explaining principles that made sense. I enjoyed his classes.”

Lisette de Pillis

Sam Tanenbaum, professor of life sciences and engineering and dean emeritus “Harry Williams was truly a ‘one of a kind’ member of the Harvey Mudd community. He was a meticulous scholar who set very high standards for the accuracy of his own research and for the work of students in his courses or Clinic teams. On a personal level, he was a truly sweet and generous man. During my years as dean of faculty he would occasionally disagree with some decision I made, and he wasn’t shy about letting me know about it; but that never interfered with our warm friendship and our mutual respect.”




What’s Over the Horizon?

With a little help from Mudders, New Horizons has begun to unlock the mysteries of the farthest worlds ever explored by humankind. Written by Eric Feezell


dorms to start the 2009–2010 academic year—some a tad homesick no doubt—Pluto-bound spacecraft New Horizons was also far from home, continuing its 9.5-year, three-billion-mile interplanetary traverse from Cape Canaveral to the outer reaches of the solar system, hurtling through the starry void at 51,000 miles per hour, somewhere between Saturn and Uranus. Back on Earth, the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) Clinic team was busy optimizing code. Predominantly engineers, they were tasked with improving execution time and output quality of an optimal image subtraction algorithm—software important to the study of Pluto and the distant Kuiper Belt, to which Pluto serves as gateway. The Kuiper Belt represents a third zone of our solar system, chock full of Pluto-like dwarf planets and other novel celestial objects—all potential extended-mission targets for New Horizons. Seniors Austin Lee, Chris Sauro and Florian Scheulen, along with juniors Steven Berry, Cullen McMahon and Claire Robinson, had little inkling their work would come to play a crucial role in one New Horizons astronomer’s ongoing planetary research. And of course they had no idea where they’d be come July 15, 2015, the day scientists calculated New Horizons’ arrival at Pluto’s system— or that their Clinic project would play such a crucial role.

Space for the Stars The 2009–2010 SwRI Clinic team was given two tasks. First they sought to help astronomers better isolate images of Pluto and other Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs) within dense star fields. Under the advisement of engineering Professor Patrick Little, the team began optimization on a previously existing imaging algorithm designed to account for differences in nearly identical astronomical images




due to changes in atmospheric conditions. Matching like qualities between images and then subtracting them eliminates fixed objects from the frame to provide less cluttered images. “The tricky part was getting the images from different nights to match, both in terms of aligning them as well as accounting for varying atmospheric conditions,” recalls Lee, now an engineer at Oracle Labs. “To add difficulty, these objects are very hard to detect in the first place, and the search space is truly enormous. A computational approach is absolutely required.” While the previous code functioned well, its execution time was glacial. SwRI needed a much faster algorithm to complete ground-based telescopic research for New Horizons’ extended-mission target as well as for ongoing photometry of Pluto. “A major focus of the project was to take that package that already existed but was excruciatingly slow to run,” says Marc Buie, SwRI Clinic liaison and New Horizons astronomer. “I gave them the code, and they dove into it. They had to learn how it worked, build tools for validating whether it was working and speed it up.” This last part the team found daunting. “I remember running initial software tests

before we made any changes,” says Robinson, who now performs data-link at Honeywell. “It took hours to process a 600-by-600-pixel image, and Marc was hoping to analyze 60,000-by-60,000-pixel images.” Such an improvement would allow ground-based telescopes to capture Pluto images of previously unattainable clarity. Ultimately the optimization succeeded, with noticeable improvement to image-processing quality at each step. Further, by the end of first semester, the team had sped up the process by a factor of 1,000. Rather than taking the better part of a day to process a pair of images, it now took only seconds. “Without their work, I couldn’t use this tool,” says Buie. “We’re talking about terabytes worth of data to process. Without being able to run this on a finite time scale, New Horizons would have passed Pluto long before we finished our research.” Their optimization work remains hugely valuable for ground-based study, says Buie, who continually observes Pluto against a complicated background of stars to monitor the long-term brightness of its surface. It’s also aided him in ground-based photometry aimed at detecting new satellites and rings around Pluto.

New Horizons/ Pluto facts

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft captured this high-resolution enhanced color view of Pluto on July 14, 2015.

•P luto is the largest, brightest, first-discovered and, to our knowledge, most complex of all Kuiper Belt Objects. • New Horizons astronomers have nicknamed Pluto’s “heart” Tombaugh Regio for Clyde Tombaugh, who discovered the planet. • New Horizons crossed the moon’s orbit in nine hours (typically takes several days) and reached Jupiter in 13 months (previous mission took 4.5 years). Along its three-billion-mile journey from Cape Canaveral to Pluto, the craft set speed records for crossing the orbits of every planet in the solar system.

The Tartarus Dorsa mountains rise up

•T o reach Pluto, New Horizons had to fly through a very narrow window of space (about 100 km per side)— equivalent to a golf putt from L.A. to New York that lands in a soup can.

along Pluto’s day-night terminator and show intricate, puzzling patterns of blue-gray ridges and reddish

•N ew Horizons arrived to Pluto’s system just 96 seconds off schedule (early).

material in between.

Moving Target The team’s second task was to locate potential extended-mission KBO targets for New Horizons. However, problems with image processing, as well as the sheer enormity of the project, made this impossible. “To be honest, I was a little disappointed after the project was over, because we failed one of the key requirements: finding a KBO,” says Scheulen, now a structures engineer for SpaceX. “Now I realize that it was just a task too big for us to manage.” Instead, the group found itself devising Dewarp, an image-registration program designed to reduce camera distortion. “Before you can do image subtraction and run the OIS code that they optimized, you actually have to register the two images together,” explains Buie. “Every time you take a picture, the telescope might not be pointed in the exact same spot, stars have shifted a little bit and, furthermore, the cameras that we’re using have some distortion in the optics.” Even the tiniest pixel shifts might cause optical distortion. The team’s “misregistration” problem required a program that could resample the images onto a perfect grid, upon which they could control

image alignment and scale by stacking them rectilinearly. Dewarp provided this capability and decreased differential distortion. “All the software I wrote as part of the [New Horizons] navigation team included things learned from the tools we wrote for ground-based research, including the Dewarp program,” says Buie. “It is a fundamentally important tool in my arsenal and is at the heart of almost everything that I was doing to support the [New Horizons] mission.” Buie also used Dewarp to search for hazards in New Horizons’ trajectory, including potentially disastrous dust particles. “Imagine a grain of rice broken into three pieces,” says Buie. “One of those pieces, if the craft hit it, would be lethal. We were looking with both Hubble Space Telescope and on-board cameras as New Horizons approached [Pluto].”

Grateful to Students A founding member of the “Pluto Underground”—a dozen planetary scientists who devoted decades of research and advocacy to push Pluto exploration to the top of NASA’s agenda—Buie has studied

the planet since the early 1980s, developing a compelling case for Pluto as the next frontier of space exploration. And throughout that research, he says, student collaboration has been key. “I’ve involved students every step of the way,” he says, “mostly undergraduate and summer research projects through the NSF’s [Research Experiences for Undergraduates] Program. I was very keen to give HMC Clinic a try.” Though the team never got to explore extended-mission targets as the original Clinic project called for (the Hubble Space Telescope was required for this enormous undertaking), they provided an invaluable technical boost. “They broke the logjam of difficulty I was having with the software—not being able to read and get this stuff processed,” says Buie. “It gave me the next generation of tools I needed to tackle the problems.” “I don’t think I fully realized how impactful [the work] would really be,” says Scheulen. “I wasn’t aware of how many people and organizations were involved in the project, or that Marc would be able to use our code for so many additional applications.”




“ I saw there was a

True Colors

problem I knew enough about to understand and that I had the technical skills to solve, and surprisingly, no one else had done so.

Student helps many see what they’re missing Written by Lia King


during his summer internship at Facebook, Vincent Fiorentini ’16 realized that the document’s most important text was written in red, not black. This wasn’t surprising to him: Fiorentini is red-green colorblind, and the color red looks quite dark— almost black—to him. Fiorentini was diagnosed with color-blindness at age 7 when a teacher noticed he was using a green crayon for his skin color in a self-portrait. Over the years, he’s taught himself what colors common objects like fire hydrants and stoplights are, and he says that functionality can be almost as good as having full-color vision. Still, that moment of confusion at his internship yielded an important realization: He didn’t always have to be satisfied with being functional. His computer could fill in the gaps, provide nuance, tell him more about color than he’d been able to teach himself. “I thought, ‘I know computers.’ I saw there was a problem I knew enough about to understand and that I had the technical skills to solve, and surprisingly, no one else had done so. This wouldn’t be Uber for cats or something, where someone develops a product for a need that doesn’t exist,” Fiorentini says, laughing. He set about creating Color Blind Pal, an app to help colorblind people. He worked roughly 100 hours writing code to develop each of the two versions of the app—one for Macs that was released on Aug. 5 and another for iOS devices that followed on Sept. 15. He plans to release the app on Android next. “Accessibility was really important to me,” he says. “I figured I could hone in on my own experience as a colorblind person to figure out what features I’d need to hopefully help other colorblind people.” First and foremost, the app needed to determine what color something was. “There are certain shades that colorblind people can distinguish just fine—so the trick is to translate the full spectrum to a shorter spectrum. I came up with some simple mapping where you take the full range of colors and




squish it down to half of the range of colors. The basic idea of the shift is taking all the colors in the input image and then, for any one of those colors, replacing it with a different color half as far along the spectrum,” says Fiorentini. This process brings what the colorblind person is seeing closer to what a non-colorblind person would see. Though the colorblind person still isn’t seeing the exact color, he or she is now able to distinguish it from black. Color Blind Pal has three basic modes. The first is color inspector, in which it delivers to its user descriptive information about the particular color, including the hue, saturation and value (or lightness) of the image that the user has captured on his or her device’s screen. The second is a mode that corrects for color-blindness, in which a filter running at the bottom of the screen shifts colors so the user can distinguish colors better and more accurately. And the third is a simulation experience, or the “empathy mode,” as Fiorentini has dubbed it, in which the user can see the world as a colorblind person would. Color Blind Pal has an extra function, or “stripe mode,” in which the user can see the original color of an image, but also get information about its hue. “An example is if I can distinguish orange, red and purple, and I can distinguish blue, green and yellow, but I can’t distinguish orange/red/purple from blue/ green/yellow. If I set the app to draw stripes on orange/red/purple and I see a striped pattern over a

color that looks like red or green, I’ll know it has to be red. I’ve found this helpful when looking at maps with a lot of color labels,” Fiorentini says. He credits the computer science and writing classes he’s taken at Harvey Mudd with showing him how to architect an app and present it with clarity and succinctness. “A lot of the changes I made from the computer application to the all-purpose phone app were informed by thinking about someone who’s not a 20-year-old computer science student.” The app’s gotten some great press (especially in Europe), with mentions in The Telegraph, The Mirror and Huffington Post UK, and has been downloaded some 12,000 times. Fiorentini’s also received Facebook messages from strangers all over the world who are using it. These comments run the gamut from grateful to amazed to mock (or maybe not so mock) revelatory: “This is amazing. If you’re not a hero, I don’t know who is,” one user wrote. “My friend is 30 and only just learned that peanut butter is not green,” another commented. “My life has been a lie,” a third said. Fiorentini briefly considered charging for the app, but, inspired by Harvey Mudd’s mission statement, decided to keep it free forever. Applying his technical skills to make a positive impact on society, he says, just seemed like the right thing to do.





what neither can achieve alone—that’s the mission of James Boerkoel’s HEATlab researchers. Juniors Kyle Lund and Sam Dietrich, members of the Robot Brunch team, are trying to get multiple agents—in this case robots that each have their own schedule of tasks—to work together. Erin Paeng ’17 and Jane Wu ’18 are working on the Human Robot Conavigation project, which involves understanding how humans and robots interact with each other and how this is different from humans interacting with other humans. Both projects were accepted to the student abstract and poster program of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence Conference. The Mudders will join students from around the world converging on Phoenix, Arizona, in February to present and discuss their work, meet peers who have related interests and introduce themselves to AI researchers, practitioners, scientists and engineers in affiliated disciplines. Both projects carry broad implications for real-world human-robot interaction applications. “Scheduling robust interactions among teams of robots is becoming increasingly important,” explains Boerkoel, assistant professor of computer science and HEATlab director. One example he cites: Amazon employs over 30,000 pallet-moving robots that are tasked daily with coordinating their movements through

crowded warehouses in order to deliver packages in time for the holidays. Boerkoel also emphasizes the importance of human-robot trust in our daily lives. “Whether it be vacuuming their home, setting their thermostat or parallel parking their car, people have been increasingly trusting automated technologies to perform tasks on their behalf,” says Boerkoel. “For robotics to be effective, we need to know how, when and why people trust robots to make decisions for them.”

5-C Leaders Unite “ I think the 5-C committee will help increase communication across the campuses, and it will encourage all of us to work together more on consortium-wide events. It can sometimes feel like the campuses are working independently of one another, and this committee would help us create a more involved student body. I think it can help Mudders find ways to get involved across all 5-Cs and to have access to resources at the other campuses. ”

Erin Paeng ’17, Sam Dietrich ’17 and Kyle Lund ’17 are studying the various ways robots interact with each other and with humans.

Maddie Hartley ’16, president of the Associated Students of Harvey Mudd College, commenting about the Associated Students of The Claremont Colleges Committee, a new body composed of student representatives from all the undergraduate Claremont Colleges who will address issues that impact the 5-Cs.





Talented Mathematician ALREADY A PUBLISHED

mathematician and seasoned presenter, mathematics major Madeleine Weinstein’16 is getting noticed: She was selected as an Honorable Mention recipient of the Alice T. Schafer Prize for Undergraduate Women in Mathematics. Given by the Association for Women in Mathematics, the prize is for the most outstanding female mathematics undergraduate in the United States, and receiving honorable mention is a notable honor. Weinstein has been recognized by Harvey Mudd faculty with two departmental honors, the Giovanni Borrelli Mathematics Prize and the Robert James Prize. A faculty nominator says she is “extraordinarily talented, has a great work ethic, is creative and has remarkable mathematical maturity.” Weinstein participated in three highly competitive Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) programs: the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute, the SMALL REU at Williams College and University of Minnesota, Duluth. As a sophomore in the SMALL REU, she worked on three projects: Ramsey Theory, Zeckendorf Decompositions and Benford’s Law. Her work resulted in two papers accepted, one paper in revision and three more under review. At Duluth, she proved stronger invariance properties of the Sprague-Grundy function that encompass three conjectures of Fraenkel and Ho; this work resulted in a single author paper submitted to Integers. She has given numerous presentations at national conferences and received an Outstanding Presentation Award at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in 2014. She also participated in the Budapest Semesters in Mathematics program. A unicyclist who loves musicals and NPR, Weinstein is working on a thesis project in algebraic geometry with Dagan Karp, associate professor of mathematics. Her long-term goal is to earn a PhD in mathematics and teach at the university level.



Dude, Where’s My Bike? A hackathon is when people get together for an extended period (12 to 48 hours) to design, create and innovate, on hardware and/ or software. During Harvey Mudd’s fall hardware hackathon (MuddHacks), students combined their programming and building skills to make some interesting contraptions. One of them was a smart bike lock that could be secured wirelessly (via a smartphone) and monitored online. It’s equipped with sensors to inform an owner if his or her bike is being tampered with.

Smart bike lock inventors Kirklann Lau ’16, Mo Zhao ’16, Alex Rich ’16, James Palmer ’18 and Adam Schiller ’16


Online extra: Video of MuddHacks event, bit.ly/MuddHacks15


Fall sports by the numbers

7 The finish for the men’s cross country team

at the NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships Nov. 21. This was the Stags’ best showing at nationals in program history. Senior Zorg Loustalet was the leader for the Stags and finished 29th out of 275 runners, earning All-American honors for the third consecutive year. He is the only repeat All-American in Stags history. Also with strong finishes were Kyle Lund ’17, Kevin Huang ’18, Joshua Sealand ’17 and Jacob Higle-Ralbovsky ’16. The women’s cross country team finished 13th.

84 saves for junior goalie Kelly McConnell,

who contributed to the Athenas’ success (second place finish in the regular season). Defensive captain Jacey Coniff ’18 (Rookie of the Year) was named to the first All-SCIAC women’s soccer team, her first all-conference award.

266.75 Score for 1-meter event for diver

Carli Lessard ’17, who also won the 3-meter springboard at the Athenas’ meet Dec. 5 against Redlands, whom they defeated. At the double dual meet against Caltech and Whittier in January, Lessard again won both springboard events. At press time, the Athenas and Stags were both 6–0 in SCIAC competition.

13 Number of contests won in the men’s

swimming and diving team SCIAC dual meet against Redlands in December. The Stags earned first, second and third in the 400 medley relay and the 200 free. John Jeang ’19, Aaron Lutzker ’19 and Jackson Crewe ’19 each won three events: They all participated in the 400 medley relay, plus Jeang won the 100 free and 400 free relay, Lutzker won the 200 butterfly and 200 breaststroke, and Crewe won the 200 free and 500 free.

Hardnose dominant against opposing offensive lines that teams rarely tried to run the ball between the tackles, say his coaches. The dedicated team captain was awarded the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference’s Defensive Player of the Year award for Division III football and was named to D3Football.com’s All West Region Team. For the 2015 season, the Stags led the conference in points allowed per game (21.9), rushing yards allowed per game (105.8) and interceptions (17). Slaats captained the defensive line with 46 tackles on the season and led the team with 7.5 “tackles for loss,” setting opponents back 14 yards. This is Slaats’ second All-SCIAC award after a previous First Team selection in 2014, during which he started all nine games and tallied 32 tackles, one sack and one fumble recovery. Justin Luthey, CMS football defensive line coach, calls Slaats the most hardworking, dedicated and compassionate player he’s ever coached. “He has held himself to a standard of excellence and was never satisfied with his performance, “ says Luthey. “There wasn’t a play in any practice or game that he took off, and he was always hungry to improve. He was dedicated in his off-season training and to his role in our defense fully.” On the academic side, the engineering major with a concentration in economics has undertaken several internships, most recently working with alumnus Olivier Chaine ’95 performing data analytics and software development in the field of landing page optimization. Slaats aspires to work as an entrepreneur and eventually start his own business incorporating technology and finance. He also has been a strong advocate for studentathletes struggling for work-life balance. His involvement with the Student Athletic Advisory Committee (SAAC) for Claremont-Mudd-Scripps has taken him to conferences to discuss NCAA regulations for SCIAC and their impact on students. Slaats works with other Harvey Mudd athletes/scholars—including fellow juniors Kelly McConnell (soccer) and Rachel Mow (cross country)—to foster dialogue on improving the student-athlete experience at Mudd. He has given tours and hosted prospective athletes/scholars from all sports and has served as a dorm athletic representative.



Paul Slaats ’17, center

“ T here wasn’t a play in any practice or game that he

took off, and he was always hungry to improve. He was dedicated in his off-season training and to his role in our defense fully.




Amanda Simpson ’83 makes career and personal transitions—on her own terms. Interview by Ashley Festa



sat in her Pentagon office looking out her windows— at a brick wall. While she does get some sunlight into her office, the new deputy assistant secretary of defense for operational energy in the U.S. Department of Defense has a better view from inside the room. On one wall is her Harvey Mudd College diploma—a bachelor of science in physics—along with a master’s degree in engineering, a master’s of business administration and several certificates of achievement. On another wall above her desk hang two prints she’s had since her days in West Dorm, and 30 years later, they still inspire her. Both depict World War I bi-wing aircraft in combat, and for Simpson they represent heroism, innovation and progress. Like the aviation engineers who designed WWI aircraft, Simpson also has pushed the boundaries of aerospace technology throughout her career. Now serving at the pleasure of the president, Simpson leads the organization responsible for all the U.S. military’s use of energy around the globe. The trajectory of her career has been a series of seized opportunities, each one taking her down a new path and shaping who she is today.

Ms. Simpson's remarks are her own and do not reflect the views of the Department of Defense.



Simpson takes the controls of an Army Black Hawk helicopter, one of more than 60 aircraft that she’s flown.



Simpson was a guest of NASA for the final flight of the Space Shuttle Endeavour, STS-134.

it’s the environment that has been fostered there, with regards to building a well-rounded individual, that really makes it stand out. Harvey Mudd isn’t just churning out engineers and scientists; it’s churning out valuable members of the community. Describe your experience in Harvey Mudd’s Bates Aeronautics Program. The Bates Program was a key foundation of where I am today. What you did in Bates was the practical application of the science and technology we were learning in the classroom and the laboratory. It was also about expanding our own experiences, breaking the bonds of Earth and learning about not just the mechanics of flight, but the responsibilities and implications and how it all worked together. There’s a picture of Iris Cummings—before she married Howard Critchell—here in the Pentagon in a display about women in aviation, and even today she’s a constant inspiration.

What drew you to the aviation and aerospace arena? I grew up in the sixties, and I remember the Gemini and Apollo missions. I wanted to be an astronaut. I remember in third grade ordering a book from the Scholastic catalogue on the building blocks of the universe. To get a book that’s about 600 pages that goes into the details of all the elements and how they interact and their foundational building blocks—what third grader does that? That’s where my interests always were. In aviation and aerospace, the sky isn’t the limit; we are only limited by our imagination, and I see our imagination as limitless. Why did you choose Harvey Mudd College? Harvey Mudd was not my first choice. It wasn’t even my second choice. It was my backup after MIT and Caltech. Looking back, I think it was the best accidental decision I have ever made. That’s quite a compliment to Harvey Mudd. Harvey Mudd is an incredible school, and it’s because of the professors and the people, the administration. The academics are incredible, but



What skills have stuck with you from the Bates Program? I use teaching in aviation or in a variety of other venues, whether it be a formal course, like in a school, or informal. I’m teaching, in a way, to my employees on a regular basis. I learned a different approach to flying an airplane. I’ve flown more than 60 different makes and models in 30-some-odd years. But the skills I learned were not aircraft-specific, so I was able to translate from the Cessnas that we learned at Bates to occasionally flying the Piper, the low-wing aircraft. Then next thing you know, I’m flying Mooneys, and then I’m getting into twins and light jets and a variety of different aircraft. The basic skills we learned were directly transferrable. I got to fly a Black Hawk helicopter with the Army a couple years ago and went up with a tech pilot. I have almost no helicopter experience, and I’m doing maneuvers and things, and he says, “Are you sure you’ve never flown a helicopter?” My favorite was the T-39, the Sabreliner. It was a fun plane to fly. I have almost a thousand hours flying one, and I could make it do almost anything I wanted. I have the ability to adapt and the ability to get to the core of the issue. When you’re flying an airplane, you can have a great time and you’re enjoying the scenery but you still have to remember that you’re flying an airplane. So in business or in government, you still have to remember that

you have a certain responsibility to your number one mission, and keeping that in mind is always important as you’re moving through. You graduated in 1983, and your college peers knew you as a man. How did your Harvey Mudd friends react when they learned of your transition? Every one of them was supportive. I transitioned back in late 1999 into 2000, and at my 20-year reunion, I think that’s when everyone first saw me, saw Amanda. I don’t think I lost any friends from Harvey Mudd. At the reunion, I remember I was in a conversation with a professor, and he said I sounded familiar. I told him who I was, and he just gave me a huge hug. That’s my memory of experiences with Harvey Mudd. Before your work in the Obama administration, you were involved in politics. What drew you into that arena? Politics and serving others had always been very high on my list, and I felt one way to do that would be to run for public office. In 2001, I was appointed to be on the City of Tucson Commission on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Issues, and we would meet monthly to see what we could do to make life better for the citizens of Tucson. That was very rewarding. I served on a lot of different boards during that time. There were a variety of ways I found that I could serve the community. In 2004, I ran for the State House in Arizona and won the primary election. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get enough financial backing to sway the general, but I learned a lot and made a lot of great connections. I met representatives of Senator Clinton’s and Senator Obama’s campaigns back in 2008. You’ve had several positions in the Obama administration. Would you describe some of the highlights? After Obama’s inauguration in 2009, I received a phone call from the White House that they were looking for people who understood politics and were experts in their field. They thought I could contribute to the administration, and I’m not one to say no to the White House. So I started out as the senior technical advisor in the Department of Commerce, focusing on export controls. We started the Export Control Reform project, which looked at how the United States

controls the technology it exports. We’ve revised those regulations to focus on protecting only critical military technology and do a better job of leveraging the global economy. It’s a major revision that has been highly successful. After that project, I was asked to be the special assistant to the Army acquisition executive. We oversaw all the investments the Army was making in new technology as well as all the purchases of everything from bullets and uniforms to tanks and attack helicopters, information systems and intelligence and surveillance. Then I was tapped to become the executive director for the Energy Initiatives Task Force, which I transformed into the Office of Energy Initiatives. It focuses on leveraging third-party private financing to bring energy security to Army installations through the use of renewables. We brought in over $1 billion in outside investment to help secure the Army. Today, as the deputy assistant secretary of defense for operational energy, I lead an organization that’s responsible for the military’s use of energy—all the fuel that goes into the aircraft and ships and trucks and tanks and generators, and even batteries on soldiers who are deployed around the world. We also look at how we can use energy to increase the capability of our forces around the world so that we can fight and win and bring our troops home. Do you have a favorite project? In Frederick, Maryland, I flew over the large solar array that’s going online there in a few months. The project down in Fort Huachuca, Arizona, which is

Simpson and her partner, Jennifer Watkins, meet President Barack Obama.

As executive director of the Energy Initiatives Task Force, Simpson worked on six projects, including the Fort Huachuca Renewable Energy Project, a solar array park that provides about 25 percent of the Fort’s electricity requirement.

online, is the largest solar array in the Department of Defense. In Fort Drum, New York, they have a power plant that runs on biomass. It’s wood chips, primarily, and they’re going to isolate the base for a test and run it for two weeks, strictly off that one power plant to show that in the event of an ice storm or other emergency, Fort Drum can be selfsufficient for energy. That’s a huge, huge win. Very proud of that one. What response did you get when it was announced that you are the first openly transgender woman appointed by a U.S. president? That was back in late 2009. It was strange to see my name and face on all the news outlets. ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, Fox, they all did stories about me. All the late-night talk shows did jokes about me. But I knew in the long run it wasn’t going to be the news outlets or late-night pundits who would define who I was. I let myself be defined by my work, and my reputation was going to be built on that, not what someone says on TV. There are a lot of people in the world who resist change or aren’t comfortable with something they don’t understand, and part of my job is to move everybody forward. What has been your biggest contribution to the LGBTQ community? I was able to be the role model for others, showing that after transitioning one’s gender one can still advance one’s career. Don’t let others define you.

Your potential is yours, not what other people think you’re capable of. You’ve earned quite a bit of recognition. Which honors are you particularly proud of? I was named a Woman of Distinction by the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders, and I spoke at their national conference last year. It was a room of 3,000 women, and when I was introduced, I got a standing ovation, the only one of the evening. Afterward, they had a meetand-greet and I had a line it took me two hours to work through, there were so many people who wanted to meet me and talk to me. That floored me. Do you have any advice for students who might be considering a career in government? I don’t know that there is a more noble job than to be able to serve others, and government is a career of service to the citizens. I find it very rewarding. Don’t expect to be wealthy in money, but you can anticipate being wealthy in satisfaction for what you’ve done.

To read more about Simpson’s memories of Mudd, meeting President Obama, her role models and more, read the full interview transcript online at magazine.hmc.edu.





Tackling Global Poverty One Note at a Time

Clever and economical diagnostic equipment provides solutions for under-resourced communities Written by Douglas McInnis | Photos by Seth Affoumado



economical, poverty-fighting tool? When you put it into the hands of scientists for whom poverty is personal. The fifth of eight children, George Korir ’06 spent most of his formative years in Roret, a small village outside the city of Nakuru, Kenya. His father, a veterinarian, and mother, a nurse, grew crops to earn income so they could send their children to the best schools. Korir remembers Roret as an exciting place to grow up. “We often played with our neighbors, grew most of the food we ate and felt happy and safe.” He also remembers some of the harsh realities, particularly access to water. Families relied on untreated rainwater that was stored during two rainy seasons. Korir would let the mosquito larvae swim to the bottom before carefully drinking. And with no hospitals close by, medical emergencies could be especially harrowing— family members and friends experienced many close calls with issues like asthma attacks and allergic reactions to bee stings. Consequently, Korir excelled in first aid training and found himself drawn to medicine in addition to math and science.

Korir has turned his interests into a practical application, turning programmable music box technology into a revolutionary miniature chemistry lab, built with under-resourced communities in mind. Today he is a joint master’s (medicine)/PhD (bioengineering) candidate at Stanford University, where he works with his mentor, Manu Prakash, assistant professor of bioengineering. “To do this kind of work, you have to have a sense of empathy about the problems of the world. George and I are on the same page,” explains Prakash, who grew up in Rampur, India. Beyond compassion, Korir brought a solid science education to the task. He attended Kenyan schools, which provided a rigorous education and exposed him to science early. After eighth grade, Kenyan children take an entrance exam to determine who goes on to the national high schools for top students. Korir won admission to Starehe Boys Center in Nairobi. After graduation, he applied to Harvey Mudd on the advice of a friend and at the encouragement of his father. It was at Mudd that Korir says he stumbled upon biomedical engineering, uniting his passion for medicine and engineering.



The $5 chemistry kit at a glance The kit is hardy, hand-held and tiny: two inches long, one-and-a-half inches wide and one inch high. It weighs less than four ounces. sers assemble the device themselves, U saving the cost of factory assembly. T he punch technology used in programmable music boxes and the new chemistry set was also used to program early computers and looms in the textile industry. he set can boost agricultural profits by T determining which nutrients are needed to boost crop output and which the soil already contains. This is a critical advantage in developing countries, where subsistence agriculture often dominates the economy. The kits can also test for disease in farm animals. T he kits can be used for rapid disease

“ We are developing diagnostic equipment for regions

that have little infrastructure and little capital for buying scientific equipment. Our goal is to equip them to do complex tests.

W hen snakebite victims can’t identify the type of snake that bit them, the kit can make the determination, allowing quick confirmation of the correct anti-venom. Source: George Korir and Manu Prakash


Korir took his Harvey Mudd engineering degree and went to work at a Maryland medical device firm, developing technology for prosthetic limbs. While pursuing a master’s degree in biomedical engineering at Johns Hopkins University, he received a fellowship enabling him to travel to Geneva, Switzerland, where he worked at World Health Organization headquarters developing medical equipment maintenance strategies for developing countries’ resource-planning software. After graduating from Johns Hopkins, he worked at a medical technology startup and a cancer research lab before landing at Stanford. Now his focus is


testing in humans and for testing pharmaceuticals for purity.


on the development of medical technologies for low-resource settings. “We are developing diagnostic equipment for regions that have little infrastructure and little capital for buying scientific equipment,” says Korir. “Our goal is to equip them to do complex tests. But the equipment won’t be expensive and won’t require a lot of sophistication to operate. The complexity will be within the equipment.” The chemistry kit he and Prakash have developed could be used to test drinking water for contaminants, do basic genetic tests, boost farm output or allow children in the poorest schools to

delve into science. The target regions are home to those who live on less than $2 a day. On a recent trip to Kenya, Korir visited hospitals, ideal places for such a device. “They had lots of needs, especially in the area of diagnostics,” he says. The genesis of the $5 chemistry kit began with a 2010 Christmas party. Prakash received one of the party gifts—a music box—from his wife. He studied it and then created his own music box that operates on paper punch tapes fed into the box with a hand crank. Where holes exist on the tapes, small tines catch, triggering a musical note. Each punch tape

1. Base plate




2. Paper guide plates




3. Chip cartridge platform 4. Side plates


5. Paper hole puncher



6. Side gear rods holder 7. Driver rods with gear trains


8. Bolts and nuts


9. Punch card tape 10. Hand crank


11. Microfluidic chip cartridge




12. Completely assembled device




can be programmed to code for a different song. One day, as Prakash was playing with the device, he had an aha! moment. He theorized that the same simple technology could be used for a small chemistry kit. But instead of notes, the holes in the punch tape would generate emissions of a tiny quantity of chemicals needed to run a test. Changing the punch tape could allow the user to run a completely different test. For example, the punch tape might generate the chemicals needed to do an assay, test for a certain disease or check soil to learn what nutrients must be added to grow a crop. The list of potential applications is limited only by the imagination. “People will come up with uses for the problems they face,” says Korir, who knows all about being resourceful. He spent his childhood building things with his friends, “using whatever materials we could lay our hands on.” Corn stalks and thorns became toy planes. Old milk crates, basketball hoops. Wires and discarded flip flops,

fantastic toy cars. He even learned how to sew and knit. Prakash was familiar with Korir’s extensive academic background and abilities and turned to him to transform the vision into a working product. Korir had worked through some 20 prototypes when Popular Science named the chemistry kit one of 10 brilliant ideas of 2015. The magazine dubbed it “a medical lab in a music box.” The system has several advantages. It requires no electricity since it operates with a hand crank, and it does not require extensive training to use it. It’s also small enough to fit in a pocket. To create the kit cheaply, the pair had to think like misers. In the world of extreme poverty, cutting the cost by just a nickel can dramatically widen the circle of people who can afford it, Prakash says. Cost constraints also had a second benefit— they spurred creativity. The chemistry kit joins another invention from Prakash’s lab: the 50-cent microscope. Together, the two devices constitute a

basic laboratory for less than the cost of a burger, large fries and a large soft drink. The devices also offer a low-cost introduction to science for children who could not otherwise afford more expensive equipment. “There are kids in America’s rural areas, suburbs and cities who could never afford a fullpriced chemistry set or microscope,” Korir says. With no more than the chemistry kit and an Internet connection, a child could teach himself to think like a chemist, says Korir. Moreover, the amount of chemicals contained in the kit is so small, there’s no danger of mixing the wrong things and accidentally blowing something up, he says. Now that the basic device is complete, Prakash plans to send chemistry kits to a few users to see what applications they might develop. Eventually, the kits will be mass-produced for the global market. “Once you have a community of users, people will really teach themselves a lot,” says Korir. “We envision building an online community of users to share ideas, just like open-source software.”




Alumna pursues non-traditional medical school education, jelly beans and all Written by Allison Marin | Photos by Margarita Corporan



treat patients before their third year, but for Sophie Parks ’14, patient care began almost immediately, during ambulance runs in Manhattan and Long Island. Parks spent her first 10 weeks at Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine becoming a certified emergency medical technician (EMT), where she treated asthma attacks, allergic reactions, head injuries, a cardiac arrest and a heroin overdose. “We were thrown into the deep end immediately, so nothing since then has been as hard to adapt to,” she says. But the EMT training experience that stands out the most was a day of disaster training with the New York City Fire Department. The situations were very realistic—a simulated subway bombing took place in a real subway car filled with live “victims,” loud noises and smoke. Other simulations included a ferry accident and a bus bombing, and Parks also practiced operating the Jaws of Life, a hydraulic tool used to extricate victims from wreckage. Now in her second year at Hofstra NS-LIJ, Parks is part of a new generation of medical students whose education is self-directed, hands-on and patient-centered. From a very young age, Parks was interested in medicine, and she knew she wanted to go to medical school even before she came to Harvey Mudd. Unlike most kids, she loved going to the doctor. “I was always fascinated by doctors. They were people I trusted,” Parks says. Her favorite toys were a plastic medical kit and coat emblazoned with “Dr. Sophie.”



“ G oing to medical school

from Harvey Mudd is not a typical path, but I was really drawn to the College’s goal of educating students on the fundamentals of the sciences. I knew that I wanted that. – SOPHIE PARKS ’14

When selecting a college that would help her achieve her goal of becoming a doctor, Parks wanted a place where she could develop a strong foundation in the sciences. “Going to medical school from Harvey Mudd is not a typical path, but I was really drawn to the College’s goal of educating students on the fundamentals of the sciences. I knew that I wanted that,” she explains. After graduating from Harvey Mudd with a degree in biology and chemistry, Parks wanted to be closer to her hometown of Manhattan, so she applied to medical schools in New York, including Hofstra NS-LIJ. One of the things that attracted Parks to Hofstra NS-LIJ was the students’ enthusiasm for the new curriculum. “The faculty were there because they absolutely believed in how they were teaching. It reminded me of Harvey Mudd, and I wanted a similar learning environment again,” she explains. The Hofstra NS-LIJ MD program, which just graduated its first class in 2015, is vastly different from a traditional medical education. First, there’s a lot of emphasis on self-directed learning. All material is reinforced in lectures, but a key component of the curriculum takes place in small groups that meet several times a week to discuss different clinical cases. Overall, Parks finds this approach, termed PEARLS—Patient-centered Explorations in Active Reasoning, Learning, and Synthesis— to be a great way to learn. On a typical Monday, the group of eight students is given two cases, each including the patient’s history, symptoms and lab findings. The students then generate a set of learning objectives about each case—things they want to know more about, focusing on the science behind the underlying disease process. Each student then individually researches all of the learning objectives before the next group session, using whatever resources they want. “We’re not all using the same books, so we end up having really great discussions later in the week,” Parks explains. The rest of the week, the students discuss what they’ve learned in their research and integrate it



into big-picture questions that help them understand the material and combine multiple concepts. One of her favorite aspects of medical school so far has been when she meets patients in the clinic with conditions that have been covered in a PEARLS session. “That’s when I realize how much I’ve learned, and that I can apply what I’ve learned to ask the patient the right questions,” Parks says. And instructors make sure she sees a lot of patients. In addition to the EMT training, she was also paired with physicians specializing in internal medicine, obstetrics/gynecology and surgery during her first year, where she learned more about each of these specialties hands-on. One experience in particular, less than two months into medical school, stands out. The first day of her OB/GYN rotation she went to meet with the doctor she would be shadowing so they could get to know each other, but Parks ended up staying for the rest of the afternoon and helping him deliver two babies. “It was so exciting,” she says. “I keep having little experiences like this, that remind me why

I’m here.” This year, she is rotating with internists, pediatricians and psychiatrists. Training in how to interact and empathize with patients is another big part of the Hofstra NS-LIJ curriculum and something the students practice every week. One especially memorable exercise in empathy was a lesson on medication adherence. To teach the students how difficult it is for patients to manage multiple medications, the students were given a sack full of 10 different types of jelly bean “drugs” along with instructions for dosing. They had to develop a schedule and adhere to it for one week. “It was very valuable. Even when they’re jelly beans, it was difficult to follow all of those directions,” Parks says. Parks isn’t sure what field she would like to specialize in yet. “I’m more drawn to fields that are procedural, like surgery, because they tend to be more interdisciplinary. I like working on a team,” she says. But Parks is also interested in fields like neurology that deal with diseases that doctors still don’t know very much about. “I want to be constantly learning,” Parks adds.

Parks is one of the NS-LIJ students featured in the film Doctors of Tomorrow. View it at bit.ly/SParks15.



Learning how to interact and empathize with patients is an important part of Parks’ training to become a doctor.


In recent months, alumni and families around the country have gathered with faculty, staff and students for activities that range from welcoming the newest members of our community to marking HMC’s 60th anniversary. Summer send-off parties welcoming incoming students and their families were held in nine cities, and we sincerely thank our parent hosts: Matthieu Devin P12 P15 and Catherine Granger P12 P15, Craig and Sharon Stanfill P15, Paul and Meredeth Stucky P15, Brian Arbogast P17 and Valerie Tarico P17, Ira Lichtman P14 and Kahne Krause P14, Himanshu and Mita Thaker P16, and Stuart and Terri Ravnik P19. During fall, alumni and parents enjoyed the 7-College Worldwide Happy Hours, networked at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing in Houston, met the new Vice President for Student Affairs Jon Jacobsen in New York, and toured sights along Highway 395 in Reno/Carson

City, Nevada, through a travel program planned and led by Alumni Association Board of Governors members Bill Hartman ’62 and Mala Arthur ’82. In December, the Harvey Mudd community enjoyed nationwide events celebrating the 60th anniversary of the College’s founding (Dec. 14, 1955). Celebratory events were held in more than 20 locations, including Claremont, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Portland, Seattle, Baltimore, Boston, New York City, Denver, Houston and Chicago, as well as Austin, Texas; Madison, Wisconsin; Washington, D.C.; and Charlotte, North Carolina. Many thanks to everyone who helped plan and host these events! If you’re interested in receiving invitations to activities in your area, make sure we know where you are. Send an email to alumni@hmc.edu or parents@hmc.edu to update your geographical and email addresses.

Alumni Weekend 2016 The hardest naturally occurring College is celebrating its diamond anniversary, and Alumni Weekend— Friday, April 29, through Sunday, May 1—is a big part of the festivities. In addition to highlighting reunion year classes ending in “1” and “6” and recognizing the Class of 1966 for its 50th reunion, the College is planning 60th anniversary festivities for all alumni. alumni.hmc.edu/alumni-weekend

Family Weekend 2016: Prepare to Have a Blast Enter your student’s orbit at Harvey Mudd College’s Family Weekend, Feb. 19–20. Build water bottle rockets, explore the campus, participate in activities with students, faculty and staff and help the College celebrate its diamond anniversary! Visit the Family Weekend web page at hmc.edu/parents to find the schedule of events, hotel information and registration form.

Eclipse 2017 On Aug. 21, 2017, a total solar eclipse will stretch across North America from northern Oregon to South Carolina. The Harvey Mudd College Alumni Association will host events in four locations along the path of totality. • Madras, Oregon. Probably the best viewing location, weather-wise, in the U.S. • Alliance, Nebraska. Right on the centerline and home of Carhenge. • Columbia, Missouri • Charleston, South Carolina


Community Connections

Alumni and friends participating in the fall Highway 395 trip listen as organizer Bill Hartman ’62 discusses the October 1963 nuclear test at the Project Shoal site, approximately 30 miles southeast of Fallon, Nevada.


Family Weekend | Feb. 19–20, Claremont Brunch at the American Chemical Society Annual Meeting | March 13, San Diego 60th Anniversary Celebration With Maria Klawe | April 1–2, London Alumni Association Board of Governors Meeting April 2, Claremont Alumni Association Pizza Party With HMC Seniors | April 2, Claremont Alumni Weekend | April 29–May 1, Claremont

Office of Alumni and Parent Relations, 909.621.8436

Interested? Complete the interest form at alumni.hmc.edu/eclipse17 or email alumni@hmc.edu.





Have Hammer, Will Travel While navigating her own career, Fiona Tay is preparing the way for others. By Eric Feezell | Photo by Jeanine Hill


laptop to reveal a fitting emblem: a claw hammer. “I’ve always been one to smash glass ceilings,” she says with a smile. It’s true. In high school, she became the first woman to win the Singapore Physics Olympiad. The 2012 computer science graduate finished Harvey Mudd in just three years and is already a leader in tech at just 25. The self-identified feminist is working to empower women through organizations like Write/Speak/Code and Women Who Code and by sharing her experiences through Twitter and blogging. “There are so many things I care about changing in the tech industry,” she says. Tay is a full-stack software engineer for global hospitality giant Airbnb, whose meteoric ascent and bizarre advertising tactics have attracted attention both positive and negative. Airbnb offers over two million listings in 34,000 cities worldwide and gets more than 870,000 unique visitors daily—with forecasts for continued growth. Tay played a prominent role on the three-person engineering team that oversaw Airbnb’s major 2014 rebranding campaign, leading the reskinning of its mobile web and email platforms. She spoke at CSSConf Asia 2014 and CSSConf Australia 2015 about the monumental task of rolling out the website’s new CSS framework. Tay says her passion is “creating infrastructure that is scalable and works solidly.” She describes her



“ D iversity and inclusion are really important to me

personally. I’m passionate about raising awareness of the issues that exclude women and people of color. – FIONA TAY ’12

job as equal parts creating new tools and figuring out how to migrate the legacy code. She’s also worn other hats. She jumped from infrastructure to product work for six months, developing better tools for users to find answers on the help center. At a 2013 hackathon, Tay and her team of mostly female engineers and designers prototyped a smarter and simpler listing page that was eventually launched by the search team. But she’s more than an engineer, having undertaken an advisory role raising awareness for underrepresented groups on the company’s Tech Diversity Leadership Team (TDLT) and revamping the interview process for front-end engineers along the way. “Diversity and inclusion are really important to me personally,” she says. “I’m passionate about raising awareness of the issues that exclude women and people of color. Software engineer is my job title, and if I stopped writing code I’d be out of a job, but as far as my role on the TDLT, I’m helping shape our approaches to interviewing and mentorship.”

Tay grew up and attended high school in Singapore, where she says boys and girls alike are encouraged to excel academically. Her mother, an accountant who worked for Ernst & Young, was also more educated than her father—uncommon in Singapore. “That kind of worked to my advantage. I was like, I’m a girl but I’ll just do math and be smart,” she says. “No one cares if you’re cool.” “I came [to Mudd] with a lot of extra preparation,” says Tay, who tested out of first-year chemistry and physics, helping accelerate her graduation. Now, she’s eager to talk with current students and help prepare them for life beyond the Mudd “bubble”—especially those headed to industry jobs in Silicon Valley, which she admits was a difficult transition. “I definitely feel like I had a big culture shock coming out of Mudd, so I do my best to kind of pay it forward,” she says. “I meet [current Mudders] and can’t help but see, oh, this is a younger me.”

1981 | Reunion Year

1963 More than 200 members of the Harvey Mudd community turned out Nov. 5 to support engineering alumnus Michael Wilson (James Bond series co-producer) at a special screening of Spectre at Sony Pictures Studios. The movie showed in 71 countries, and its release coincided with Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), a Mexican holiday to honor the dead and a thematic element of the film (“the dead are alive”).


Henry Brady (mathematics and physics), dean of UC Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy, received a visit during Thanksgiving break from six sophomore Mudders. Shown above are Abby Tisdale, Kate Reed, Carla Becker, Henry, Jason Casar, Rebekah Justice and Varsha Kishore. Kate’s mother, Bora Reed P18, works with Henry.


David Abe (engineering),

head of the Electromagnetics Technology Branch at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), was named Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers for leadership and contributions to the development of high-power microwave and millimeter wave vacuum electronic devices. As a supervisory research physicist at NRL, David leads a 47-person multidisciplinary group of physicists, materials scientists, engineers, mechanical designers and technicians involved in research and exploratory development of radio-frequency concepts, materials, devices, components and circuits in the ultra-high to terahertz frequency range. “One of Dr. Abe’s most significant accomplishments is his work with multiple-beam klystrons,” says Baruch Levush, superintendent of the Electronics Science and Technology Division. “His team used an innovative development approach that emphasized simulation-based design to achieve optimized performance without the need for multiple hardware prototyping.” At the University of Maryland, David was a major contributor to several high-power microwave research projects, including experiments with plasma-filled backward-wave oscillators, overmoded backward-wave oscillators and the first U.S. experiments with multiwave Cherenkov generators. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Naval Research Laboratory/

Jack Cuzick (mathematics)

received the American Cancer Society Medal of Honor, the highest award bestowed by the society. A 2010 HMC Outstanding Alumnus, Jack was recognized in the category of clinical research for his contributions to the field of biostatistics, epidemiology and clinical medicine. Head of the Centre for Cancer Prevention and John Snow Professor of Epidemiology at Queen Mary University of London, Jack has been a leading epidemiologist working in cancer screening and prevention for more than three decades and has played a major role in developing chemopreventive breast cancer medications that reduce risk in women with a high chance of developing the disease. Read more at bit.ly/HMCcuzick.

(engineering), CEO and founder of Mavenlink. “This award has a lot of significance because it recognizes our culture and our people. We are focused on creating an environment that inspires collaboration and continuous improvement, and where you enjoy coming to work every day. We know that our people are paramount to our success, and I am humbled to say that we have the most incredible team.” Mavenlink delivers enterprise-class Software as a Service (SaaS) for project management, project collaboration, resource planning, project accounting and business intelligence, all in one application. In 2015, Mavenlink experienced a record-breaking year for customer acquisition and raised $19 million in funding to fuel growth, totaling $40 milliion of venture capital raised by October. In April, Gartner named Mavenlink a 2015 Cool Vendor, a coveted recognition from the leading technology research and advisory firm. Ray also received the Outstanding Private Company CEO award at the Orange County Tech Alliance’s Annual Innovation Awards in October.

1995 The global law firm Jones Day announced that Carl Kukkonen (engineering) joined the firm’s intellectual property practice and will be based in its San Diego office. Carl will focus on the software, electrical engineering, medical devices and energy industries, among other key industries and technologies that impact clients in the technology cluster of San Diego. Carl has been twice named by the Daily Journal as one of the Top 25 Portfolio Managers/

Jamie Hartman)

1986 | Reunion Year David Ho (mathematics) and Rebecca Burns ’09

Legacy Families, Class of 2019

(engineering) hosted a networking reception in New York during the fall for those working in the New York City finance industry. Rebecca is an associate at Bank of America Merrill Lynch and David is partner at First Principles Capital Management.

In addition to being selected from an outstanding group of 4,119 applicants, these members of the Class of 2019 have another reason to celebrate: They are following in the footsteps of another Mudder in their family.

1988 Mavenlink, a leading global provider of integrated business and project management software, was named a 2015 Best Place to Work by the Orange County Business Journal. “We are honored to be named a best place to work,” says Ray Grainger

Kaylene Chan– father, Karl Chan ’89 John Gaskin– brother, Josiah Gaskin ’13 Erica Goodwin– father, David Goodwin ’79 Vivaswat Ojha– sister, Vidushi Ojha ’17 Nathan Pope– grandfather, Kenneth Pope ’61 Caroline Sinclair– father, Rodney Sinclair ’81




Patent Prosecutors in California, is a 2015 Southern California Super Lawyer (intellectual property) and is an eight-time San Diego Daily Transcript Top Attorney.

1996 | Reunion Year A five-minute short film produced by Raymond Montemayor (engineering) was selected as one of the 25 Best Visual Effects finalists featured on StarWars.com. Star Wars Episode IV: A Toy Story features a Star Wars fanatic who sells his toy collection to help salvage his relationship with his girlfriend. An unbelievable adventure with his toys makes him realize that he doesn’t need to change for anyone. Raymond, an engineer turned artist, spent 12 years designing communication chips for the wireless and cable TV industries. He founded PixelPlex in 2012 to pursue his interests in digital media design, providing services as a motion graphics designer, visual effects artist and 3-D animator. A lifelong Star Wars fan, Raymond has focused his love for art and technology to produce the Star Wars fan film: bit.ly/1PWm5M4.


Brian Zinda ’97 and former CMS baseball Coach Randy Town

In 1996, as a pitcher for Claremont–Mudd Scripps (CMS) baseball, Brian Zinda (engineering) pitched 11 complete games out of 13 starts (84.6 percent). CMS Athletics honored this accomplishment and more when it inducted Brian into its Hall of Fame Nov. 14. The two-time first-team All-Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference recipient (1996 and 1997) had a dominant four-year tenure on the mound for the Stags, posting 27 wins overall and setting CMS records for regular season wins and complete games. Brian was an All-American and Team Most Valuable Pitcher (1996), a two-time


All-Region selection (1996 and 1997) and team captain (1997) over a career that included 47 starts and 23 complete games. Among other notable accomplishments, Brian led the Stags to a pair of wins over Cal Lutheran in the 1996 playoffs. From 1996 to 1997, he won a CMS record 14-straight decisions, and he once pitched 14 1/3 innings in a single game against University of Redlands. After Mudd, Brian worked as a systems engineer on communications satellites for Northrop Grumman before transferring within the company to a location in northern England in 2007. Upon returning to the United States in 2013, Brian found systems engineering work with Northstrat Inc., a Virginia company specializing in software applications that use advanced development technologies and platforms for the intelligence community. He lives with his family—including a daughter and a son—in Washington, D.C.

Certificate in Geriatric Pharmacy Practice and now is a licensed pharmacist in the state of Washington.


This past July, Janet Davis (computer science) and her spouse, Brooks Davis ’98 (computer science), moved from Grinnell, Iowa, to Walla Walla, Washington. Janet is blogging about her experiences starting a new computer science program at Whitman College: blogs.whitman.edu/countingfromzero/.

A gene drive is a sequence of DNA that can cause a mutation to be inherited by the offspring of an organism with nearly 100 percent efficiency. In a Nov. 5 interview on NPR, evolutionary engineer Kevin Esvelt (biology) weighed the ethical issues against the technique’s potential (bit.ly/NPResvelt). Kevin is a Wyss Institute Technology Development Fellow and lead author of two publications. The first describes the proposed technical methods of building gene drives in different species, defines their theoretical capabilities and limitations, and outlines possible applications. The second, featured in Science, provides an initial assessment of potential environmental and security effects, an analysis of regulatory coverage and recommendations to ensure responsible development and testing prior to use. Kevin noted the genomic changes made by gene drives should be reversible. In the eLife publication (http:// dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.03401), Kevin and other scientists outline numerous precautionary measures intended to guide the safe and responsible development of gene drives, many of which were not possible with earlier technologies.


Alexis Kaushansky (chemistry) accepted a


If you want to know more about canary launches, just ask John Kodumal (computer science), CTO and co-founder of LaunchDarkly, a continuous delivery platform. John gave a talk on the topic—which refers to rolling out features to a small number of users to assess overall system reaction—at the WebRTC Summit in November. He has worked as a development manager at Atlassian, where he led engineering for the Atlassian Marketplace, and as an architect at Coverity, where he worked on static and dynamic analysis algorithms. He has a PhD from UC Berkeley in programming languages and type systems.

2003 Kendra Nelson Dresner (chemistry) has graduated

from the University of Washington with a doctor of pharmacy degree and received the prestigious Wolters Kluwer Award of Excellence in Clinical Communication. She also earned the Plein

tenure-track assistant professorship at the Center for Infectious Disease Research (formerly Seattle BioMed) and started her independent lab investigating treatments for malaria.

2006 | Reunion Year Megan Yarnall (chemistry) was one of six Athena

alumnae to brave the frigid waters of Lake Tahoe in July for the 10-plus-mile Trans Tahoe Relay. This year’s group, led by Kevyn Klein CMC ’08, consisted of four other former CMS swimmers: Elica Sharifnia CMC ’12, Emma Jones CMC ’12, Samantha Kepler CMC ’06 and Clare Hudson CMC ’05. Faced with average July water temperatures between 55 and 60 degrees (wetsuits aren’t allowed), choppy waters and an altitude of more than 6,200 feet, the “CMSwammers” team completed the relay in 4:54:18. In 2012, the former Athenas won their age group, and in 2015 they finished fourth. This was the sixth year a group of Athenas completed the race.


The Road Before Take-off By Chris Quirk | Photo by Shannon Cottrell

“ T hey say that aviation proceeds one innovation at a time. This is my contribution to the state-ofthe-art.

– J EREMIAH MCCOY ’04, SAY THE WORDS “FLYING CAR” and it’s hard not

to think of George Jetson zipping around in his glass-domed buggy, leaving an exhaust trail of pristine concentric circles. Even though aircraft maneuver on pavement every day, the concept of a flying car still seems pretty outlandish. But getting a car airborne isn’t rocket science. Designing a flying car that meets the imposing array of traffic, aeronautical and safety regulations to operate on roads and in the air is another beast all together. Jeremiah McCoy ’04 is a third-generation aeronautics man who has been rolling around the idea of a flying car since he was in high school. To create the market for it, he is counting in equal part on the allure of the skies as well as the futility and frustration all drivers face. “If you’ve ever spent time just sitting there in Los Angeles commuter traffic, a flying car starts looking pretty good,” he says. “It will get you from point to point. To fly now, you have to get in a car, drive to the airport, fly to another airport, get into another car, drive to where you are going and then reverse that for the return trip. With a flying car you drive to the airstrip, take off, land and drive straight to your destination.” McCoy’s grandfather, Col. Howard M. McCoy, was a command pilot and chief of the Propeller Unit of the Army Air Force during World War II, where he designed propellers for warplanes. Later, Col. McCoy was appointed chief of air technical intelligence. “He was one of the first people to work on reverse engineering the V-1 bombs that were launched at London,” McCoy says. Jeremiah’s father, a pilot and sailor, built exotic kit aircraft in the family garage in Colorado. When Jeremiah was born, his parents were living on a boat in the Caribbean that his father had built, and on return visits, his father would fly a single-engine Cessna between islands. Jeremiah’s introduction to piloting came at the age of 12, during one of those Caribbean trips. “I remember sitting in my dad’s lap in the copilot seat. There were dual controls, and he let me take hold of the steering wheel and fly the plane over the sea. It was beautiful.” During the last 10 years, McCoy has worked in the aerospace and defense industry as a test engineer, while in his spare time focusing his attention on creating a commercially viable flying


car in a burgeoning field of potential competitors. There are several teams hoping to develop and market a flying car, each with unique design features. One is an elongated sports car with a single propeller and wings that fold back onto the roof like a pair of surfboards. Another team has adopted a tilt rotor design, like that of the controversial V-22 Osprey. A third is a gyrocopter—a helicopter with a smaller, conventional propeller in the rear for propulsion. McCoy has come up with some innovations that he hopes will help him leapfrog the pack. First, he has invented and patented a telescoping wing mechanism, so the wings can retract into a highly compact airfoil shape. “They say that aviation proceeds one innovation at a time,” says McCoy. “This is my contribution to the state-of-the-art. It reduces the storage space of the wings by 75 percent.” He is also making the vehicle a threewheeler, rather than a regular four-wheel car. “It’s a lot easier to make a three-wheeler street legal,” McCoy points out. “My design would be governed by motorcycle regulations. They aren’t as stringent as the safety regulations for cars, which need crumple zones, airbags and other features that add weight. Once we get the prototype going, we can adapt it to a car.”

The third and maybe most important part of the design in terms of the long-term feasibility of the enterprise is that the entire flying apparatus will be available as a modular rack system, so it could be mounted wholesale onto a different type of car. “The rack system reduces weight, and most sports cars are already aerodynamic. The modular mechanism could be licensed and sold to automobile manufacturers to use on their own cars.” The road to a final design can be bumpy, McCoy acknowledges. Early in 2015, a failure occurred during a flight test of the original prototype. “The canard design that I had come up with proved to be too unstable for such a small model, and we had a crash,” says McCoy. “Since then, I’ve redesigned the scale model to have a more traditional tail, although we have kept the telescoping wings and the modular approach.” It hasn’t been fully built yet, but the design is complete, and the parts are being made. The newer version of the prototype is designed for mass production, to be sold as a kit. McCoy’s focus now is tapping into the model/RC hobbyist market before seeking funds for a full-scale, life-sized flying car.





2011 | Reunion Year Drew Macrae (engineering) is CTO at Linkitz, a

toy company that encourages children to explore electronic toys as a way to inspire a lifelong interest in STEM. Kids age 4 and up can create and customize their own wearable toys, “a first-ofits-kind approach to introducing kids to technology and coding.” Read more about Drew and Linkitz at bit.ly/HMCmacrae.


Martha Cavanaugh-O’Keefe (chemistry and biology) married Gregory Jackson this past summer. Mudders in attendance were Amanda Hickman, Brandon Smith, Erin Heyer, Mina Youssef and William Buck Schulze. Martha’s married name is now O’Cavson.

In Memoriam

2009 Janet Komatsu (engineering) recently moved to

San Francisco and now works as a senior research and development engineer at Medtronic. She was previously at Arsenal Medical, a biomedical startup in Boston.

2010 Jonny Simkin (engineering) is CEO of SwyftApp

(http://swyftapp.com/), a mobile app that helps city residents find the fastest, most affordable and most environmentally friendly ways to get around town. To accomplish this, Swyft analyzes real-time pricing and travel times across various modes of transportation, like public transit, ridehailing/taxi, carshare, bikeshare, walking and more. “We’re on a mission to reduce urban congestion and carbon emissions by making it easy for city residents to get around town without driving their own car.” Jonny was a Robert Day Scholar at CMC and a director of product at Rafter Inc. Prior, he was the co-founder and CEO of SwoopThat LLC and HubEdu Inc. (acquired in 2012).



AABOG member Kacyn Fujii (engineering) hosted a fun evening with lasers for alumni and friends Nov. 10 at Laser Quest Mountain View. Participants enjoyed a high-tech game of tag, food, drinks and great conversation. “It’s safe to assume there’s still some public distrust over rail automation systems, just like there is for driverless cars,” writes Hannah Groshong (engineering) for redOrbit.com (May 29, 2015) in response to the question “Why don’t we have more fully automated trains?” Hannah writes about two automation technologies: Positive Train Control and GE’s Trip Optimizer system. “It would certainly be interesting to see studies on the perception of rail automation systems, from the perspective of both the public and locomotive engineers, as the technology continues to be developed.” Hannah is researching the role of automation systems in freight rail applications as a graduate student in the Technology and Policy Program at MIT.

Matt McAdams ’92 (physics) suffered a cardiac dysrhythmia and passed away suddenly April 26, 2015, while biking near his home in Golden, Colorado. Matt was founder and president of Woodridge Software, his latest in a series of Colorado-based technology startup companies that included TrackVia, Senware and LeagueLink. He grew up in Wayzata, Minnesota, where he was captain of the cross country team at Wayzata High School. In addition to Harvey Mudd, he attended University of Illinois and California Institute of Technology, where he earned a master’s and a PhD in physics. Matt loved the outdoors, loved to code and loved the Minnesota Vikings. He is survived by his wife, Jennifer; children, Abbie and Luke; and many more family members and friends.

Annual Report Academic Year 2014–2015

Harvey Mudd

is on a mission … To invest in people, programs and places that will advance the College’s strategic vision



























Prestigious National Fellowships & Scholarships







To promote sustainability research and practice

To attract and retain diverse students of extraordinary ability


To educate a new generation of scientists, engineers and mathematicians







To provide unparalleled undergraduate research opportunities MORE THAN

$4.17 million



To prepare passionate problem solvers to contribute to society

Best Undergraduate Engineering Program U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT (TIED WITH ROSE-HULMAN)

Ranked No. 1 nationally for return on investment – PAYSCALE



phase of The Campaign for Harvey Mudd College—our first comprehensive campaign in nearly 20 years—it’s a pleasure to report that we continue to see a wonderful response to the many investment opportunities critical to the College’s future. Donors added $13.5 million in new gifts and pledges to the Campaign during the 2014–2015 fiscal year, and as of June 30, 2015, the Campaign totaled more than $122.3 million in gifts and pledges. This represents an impressive 81.5 percent of the $150 million goal at the Campaign's halfway mark.


nearly 850 guests, including 545 alumni, as they returned to campus for another action-packed Alumni Weekend. In addition to these large on-campus events, more than 700 alumni, parents and guests participated in off-campus events and activities across the country and abroad, rivaling the attendance record set during 2013–2014 campaign launch events. Our students continued to support advancement efforts by partnering with staff for the third straight year to conduct an all-student philanthropy campaign. The Student Philanthropy Committee—involving a

$122,344,639 CAMPAIGN TOTAL AS OF JUNE 30, 2015


While this annual advancement update highlights many encouraging numbers and activities, I recognize that everything we do at Harvey Mudd builds on the outstanding work of those who came before us. When looking at fiscal year 2014–2015 total cash flow (all cash, including new gifts, payments on prior-year pledges and realized bequests), Harvey Mudd received more than $16.2 million in private gifts from alumni, parents, trustees, corporations, foundations, students and other friends. We are especially pleased with the increased participation and engagement of our alumni and parents, whose combined contributions were 31 percent higher than last fiscal year and included many new and increased gifts. In addition, the 31.26 percent participation rate among alumni was more than a full percentage increase over the prior year. This comes at a time when the national trend among many colleges and universities shows sharp declines in alumni participation. Alumni, parents and friends are also showing support for the College with strong attendance at events on and off campus. On campus, advancement staff partnered with the entire campus community to host more than 350 family members and guests in February for Family Weekend, and then in May, we welcomed



dedicated team of student volunteers—gathered input from fellow students before conducting a focused campaign to raise $4,237 to support students seeking learning opportunities at conferences. The students were especially pleased to set a new participation record; they achieved an increase of nearly two percent over last year, with 47.4 percent of the entire student body participating. While this annual advancement update highlights many encouraging numbers and activities, I recognize that everything we do at Harvey Mudd builds on the outstanding work of those who came before us. The 2015–2016 academic year provides an opportunity to celebrate the College’s 60th anniversary and, as we do so, to honor the past while looking to the future. Harvey Mudd has accomplished so much in such a short time, and much of our past success, as well as our confidence in a strong future, is a result of the time, energy and resources of the many people who believe in the mission of the College.



Campaign Initiatives & Priorities 35%












Raised to Date $35,457,912






(Faculty Positions, Student Scholarships and Financial Aid)

(New and Renovated Research, Academic and Residential Facilities)

(Research, Experiential Learning, Faculty and Curriculum Development)



Sources of Gifts



$383,883 CORPORATIONS, 2%

$16,257,715* TOTAL

* Includes total received from/on behalf of Current Trustees: $4,744,792

Gifts From Individuals

$4,022,093 ALUMNI, 29%

$2,537,028 PARENTS, 19%

$137,241 FACULTY & STAFF, 1%

$6,900,962 OTHER INDIVIDUALS, 51%

$13,597,324 TOTAL



Philanthropic Giving by Fiscal Year 2014–2015

































Total Philanthropic Giving







Annual Mudd Fundd Designated/Restricted

NOTE: Prior-year numbers reflect what was printed in past annual reports. Although the numbers have adjusted slightly over the years, we continue to report/print the previously printed numbers for consistency.




Financial Review


Financial Position

Endowment Investments


Harvey Mudd College ended the fiscal year with assets in excess of $462 million. This total comprises primarily investments of $331 million and of land, buildings and equipment of $113 million. Liabilities of $58 million consist primarily of long-term notes and bonds payable and of accounts payable and accrued liabilities. During the 2014–2015 fiscal year, total net assets decreased by $13 million. This decrease in net assets resulted from using prior gains in the investment pool—through endowment payout—to support the operations of the College. As of June 30, 2015, net assets totaled $404 million in three net asset categories: 1) unrestricted (those over which the College has discretion) of $154 million, 2) temporarily restricted (those given to the College for a specific purpose) of $116 million, and 3) permanently restricted (those given to the College to be held in perpetuity) of $134 million.

The endowment experienced an increase in market value to $289 million at year-end, representing an equivalent of $360,794 per student. Endowment payout supported 21 percent of the College’s operating budget during the fiscal year. The performance return of (0.6 percent) for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2015, was lower than policy portfolio benchmarks due to certain investment managers underperforming relative to their benchmarks, though long-term returns remain comparably strong. The College is also in the process of further diversifying the portfolio to take advantage of historically wellperforming asset classes common in many endowment portfolios.

The College is pleased with the positive operating results and continued support of alumni, parents and friends through The Campaign for Harvey Mudd College. We have completed the Drinkward Residence Hall, and it is great to see the student community occupying this amazing facility. The College is excited for the learning activities and growth opportunities that new facilities and campaign gifts provide for current and future Mudders.

Financial Operations Total revenues for fiscal year 2014–2015 were $63 million, which includes continued strong support of the College through gifts and grants. Total expenses for 2014–2015 were approximately $61 million. For the year ending June 30, 2015, the College experienced an operating budget surplus after transfers to high-priority areas, as approved by the Board of Trustees Budget and Financial Planning Committee. The key factors influencing the positive operating balance were increased net student revenues, additional grant and Clinic revenues and savings from several operating budget areas.


Endowment Market Value



$283,696 $275,000



$241,584 $225,509




$150,000 JUNE 30, 2011

JUNE 30, 2012

JUNE 30, 2013

JUNE 30, 2014

The College’s audited financial statements are located online at: hmc.edu/bao/financial-affairs.




JUNE 30, 2015



Tuition, fees, room and board Less financial aid Net student revenue Federal grants Private gifts and grants Private contracts Endowment payout




















Other revenue



Total Revenue




Total Revenue














Public service



Academic support



Student services



Institutional support



Auxiliary enterprises








Total Expenses Excess revenue/expenses Pooled investment (losses) Other changes in net assets Change in Net Assets












Total Expenses 11% STUDENT SERVICES








Julie and me was seeing the new residence hall take shape. Julie, a Pitzer graduate, and I have fond memories of residential life on our campuses. It is in these spaces that we met and built bonds that have lasted a lifetime. So it has made sense to us to invest in a place that helped change our lives. Harvey Mudd is where I first learned the power of collaboration and innovation, forces that continue to drive the College after 60 years. Previously, I wrote about the steady progress the College has made diversifying the student body over the past several years. It was a joy to see our efforts come to fruition with the entering Class of 2019, our most diverse ever. These students have had a major and positive impact on the Harvey Mudd campus and on its culture. Most recently, our students of color have taken a constructive approach to ensuring that all students can thrive in a supportive and genuinely inclusive community by partnering with the administration to discuss possible improvements. I have been impressed with the leadership and commitment shown by all of our students in seeking ways to ensure Harvey Mudd works toward making everyone feel part of the campus community. The trustees plan to make this a topic of one of our January meeting plenary sessions and will invite representatives from the faculty, Division of Student Affairs and members of our increasingly diverse student body to talk more about ways we can work together toward this important goal. One of the reasons I enjoy being a member of the Harvey Mudd community is that I like being a part of things that are changing. As you have read in this annual report, there’s a lot going on. The College joined many other forward-thinking institutions by offering three free massive open online courses (MOOCs) in computer science and physics via edX.org. These faculty/student-designed courses present the College as a leader in hands-on education and are aimed at strengthening computer



My goal as an alumnus, supporter and board chair is to keep things at Harvey Mudd in motion and moving forward. science and physics education in the nation’s schools. We established and staffed the Hixon Center for Sustainable Environmental Design, which will build on the many sustainability initiatives and goals achieved since Harvey Mudd’s founding and draw on its collaborative spirit. And we are making great strides in changing the face of STEM by improving the percentage of women in our student body and by introducing science and technology to diverse communities. The board is now turning its attention to future faculty/student research funding, especially for summer research, given the anticipated decline in foundation grant support over the next few years. Fundraising for experiential learning is a key goal of The Campaign for Harvey Mudd College, and the trustees aim to meet this goal as we move toward the $150 million campaign goal. Of course, sometimes change brings sadness. The community mourned the loss of

Henry “Hank” Riggs, the third president of Harvey Mudd (1988–1997), who passed away in June. During his nine years as president, the College expanded its campus, increased enrollment and endowment, and launched new departments in biology and computer science. He and his wife, Gayle, enriched the Harvey Mudd community through their shared commitment to each constituency, strengthening the bonds of the College community. Such a legacy has everything to do with our current successes as well as with what we hope to accomplish. My goal as an alumnus, supporter and board chair is to keep things at Harvey Mudd moving forward. Thanks to those who are helping us to maintain this momentum by offering advice and support. Let’s make sure our College continues to change for the better.


HARVEY MUDD COLLEGE: CELEBRATING 60 YEARS Inspire the next generation of STEM Leaders


person and offering experiential learning opportunities, Harvey Mudd College is preparing the next generation of scholars who will lead us into the future. Willard Matteson, a retired high school physics and algebra teacher residing in Encinitas, California, believes strongly in fostering great leaders. He recently established a charitable gift annuity that will ultimately provide scholarship support for Harvey Mudd students. When asked what inspired his gift, Matteson replied, “If the U.S. is going to keep up with or stay ahead of the rest of the world in STEM, we need more entrepreneurs. Harvey Mudd is highly

ranked, so I decided that it would be a good place for scholarship assistance to encourage more young people to consider majoring in STEM subjects.” Matteson served during World War II in the U.S. Army Air Force, then pursued a college education under the G.I. Bill. Out of his desire to give back, he made a gift in the form of a charitable gift annuity that will have an enduring impact at Harvey Mudd by providing educational opportunities for many of its students. Not only that, he will receive a guaranteed income for life as well as an income tax deduction. He also receives the satisfaction of knowing he is inspiring the next generation of STEM leaders.







You transfer cash, securities or other property to Harvey Mudd College.


You receive an income tax deduction and may save capital gains tax. Harvey Mudd pays a fixed amount each year to you or to anyone you name for life. Typically, a portion of these payments is tax-free.


When the gift annuity ends, its remaining principal passes to Harvey Mudd.


The IRA Charitable Rollover has been permanently extended Individuals age 70½ or older can make a charitable contribution up to $100,000 from their IRA. While the contribution is not eligible for an income tax deduction, it will count toward the minimum required distribution and will be excluded from adjusted gross income for the year. Find more details at hmc.edu/plannedgiving.

Harvey Mudd College 301 Platt Boulevard | Claremont, CA 91711 hmc.edu/magazine

Portal by Jim Wu ’16. Wu used a DSLR camera with macro lens to capture this image of soap film against a black background. “I recruited my friend, Laura Zhang, to hold the soap film and perturb it by adding soap droplets to the top and blowing gently on the film … It seems as if we, the onlookers, are peering through a portal into another vibrant and colorful world.” Wu’s artwork, created for the class Fluidity: Art, Science & Images/Special Topics in Art, was one of the first displays this fall in the Rick and Susan Sontag Center for Collaborative Creativity. Read more on page 9.

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