Mudd Magazine, fall/winter 2021

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mudd T H E M AG A Z I N E O F H A R V E Y M U D D C O L L E G E

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The Corner Man


Presidential Address the newest harvey mudd college building is also the oldest. The Rankin House, recently purchased by the College for future use as the president’s residence, is a historic Claremont home built in 1923. From the Craftsman-style exterior surrounded by verdant landscaping to the lovingly restored interior, the property is every bit as charming as one might imagine a 100-year-old house in Claremont to be. Thanks to the previous owner’s three-year renovation and expansion project begun in 2012, the property’s scale, technology and ecological sensitivity is entirely up-to-date for 21st-century living. Located on the northwest corner of Twelfth Street and College Avenue (a short walk from campus), the home is one of few in the area that met the criteria for the HMC president’s residence. The 5,000-square-foot home on a double lot (large enough to meet both residents’ needs and hosting needs of the College), the proximity to campus (it’s HARVEY MUDD COLLEGE MAGAZINE

a block away) and turnkey condition, not to mention the aesthetics of the property, checked all the boxes. “The College’s master plan calls for the demolition of the Garrett House [the current presidential residence] to make way for the construction of an approximately 20,000-square-foot building on its footprint,” says HMC Vice President, Chief Operating Officer and Treasurer Andrew Dorantes, who worked with realtor Ryan Zimmerman of Wheeler Steffen Sotheby’s International Realty to find and secure a suitable home. The property was listed by Tim Durkovic and Greg Holcomb of Douglas Elliman. “Upon President Maria Klawe’s announcement that she would leave the presidency at the end of her term in 2023, I spoke with her and HMC Board Chair James Bean ’77 about the possibility of buying a home near campus for the next president. Purchasing such a home will allow the College to fully execute its master plan.”





1. “My favorite thing about the property is the amalgamation of old and new,” says Dorantes. “The original central character and heritage of the house was preserved, yet the house is a smart house with lots of technology and sustainability features.” The home is powered by a 9KW solar photovoltaic array and two Tesla Powerwalls that store surplus energy. Water is heated by solar power; five skylights and three room-light reflectors minimize the need for indoor lighting during the day; and artificial turf significantly reduces water and landscaping costs.

herringbone floors, handcrafted oak panels and molding, and updated original windows and doors. Hidden acoustics and amplified electronics, inside and out, provide ideal accommodations for live entertainment.

2. A seated alcove is tucked beneath a custom staircase in the parlor room. Interior renovations by Su Bacon Designs include vintage oak

4. Rankin House is ideal for entertaining in numbers large and small. Three kitchens—two inside and one outside—can facilitate everything

3. Handcrafted oak panels, period lights and the original window frames and door are features of the formal dining room. All inside surface areas are finished with zero/low VOC materials, and windowpanes are energy-efficient. The first-level floors are made of reclaimed century-old oak.



from intimate, home-cooked meals to a large-scale catering operation. In line with the home’s blend of old and new, the antique ceiling detail in the main kitchen complements high-end appliances. Water runs through a whole-house micron filter, and state-of-the-art water conservation plumbing and leak-detection with automated shut off help conservation efforts. 5. The flexible layout features up to six bedrooms, six bathrooms and four fireplaces. Accordion doors open to a wrap-around porch, gardens, saltwater pool and spa with a waterfall and a water-current machine for lap swimming. A backyard gas firepit, and multiple gas outlets for external gas heaters facilitate comfortable outdoor living. FALL/WINTER 2021



Fall/Winter 2021 | Volume 22, No. 1

Departments 4

College News

16 Research 24 Mudderings 26 Class Notes



A Registrar is Born

The Corner Man

Mark Ashley, winner of the 2021 Mudd Prize, describes the multi-faceted role of a registrar.

Rafael Alvarez ’86 believes every student is a contender in the fight for college success.

Mudd Magazine is produced three times per year by the Office of Communications and Marketing. Director of Communications, Senior Editor Stephanie L. Graham, APR Art Director Robert Vidaure Senior Graphic Designer Joshua Buller


Assistant Director Sarah Barnes

Annual Report

Writer Leah Gilchrist

A Review of 2020–2021

Contributing Writers Kelley Freund, Jen A. Miller, Elaine Regus Contributing Photographers Seth Affoumado, Keenan Gilson, Jeanine Hill, Kat Johnson, Deborah Tracey Proofreaders Sarah Barnes, Kelly Lauer Vice President for Advancement Hieu Nguyen



Engineering the Creative Mindset

A Stabilizing Force

Meet engineering professor Ashwini Srikantiah.

Annie Kao ’02 is strengthening buildings and the profession.

Chief Communications Officer Timothy L. Hussey, APR Read Mudd Magazine Website: Go paperless: If you wish to stop receiving the printed magazine, write to us at We’ll send you an email when new editions are posted.

Mudd 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.

Follow HMC Twitter – @harveymudd Facebook – @harveymuddcollege Instagram – @harvey_mudd LinkedIn – harvey-mudd-college



First-Gen Pride

Net Gains

Student leader Shanni Lam ’22 sheds light on the first-gen experience.

Broad experience in college led to wide-ranging career success for Kenji Hashimoto ’91.


Copyright © 2021—Harvey Mudd College. All rights reserved. Opinions expressed in the Mudd 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. Mudd Magazine staff welcomes your input: or Mudd Magazine, Harvey Mudd College, 301 Platt Boulevard, Claremont, CA 91711


PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE We’re Blazing Trails and Sharing Success as i think back on my time at harvey Mudd College, a key reason I chose to become president 16 years ago was to help influence the world of higher education more broadly through the type of innovative educational efforts that trace back to HMC’s founding. The world continues to change rapidly, and in working to improve outcomes for all of our students, we have been fortunate to share best practices we’ve developed with an array of organizations, colleges and universities. One area where we have made a positive impact is in focusing on the gender composition of our student body and increasing the percentage of women students over time. In addition to changing the campus atmosphere (most would say, for the better), this has resulted in a number of firsts. Nationally, only 18.8% of engineering majors are women, and women comprise only 12% of working engineers. The National Science Foundation categorizes engineering as one of two STEM fields with “low participation” from women; computer science is the other with a national average of 13% female undergrad CS majors. In the Harvey Mudd class of 2014, 56% of students receiving HMC engineering degrees were women. This was the first time in the College’s history that we had a class with more women majoring in engineering than men; as far as we know it was the first time for any co-ed U.S. college. In 2018, HMC graduated its highest-ever percentage of women physics and computer science majors; 58% of physics majors and 56% of computer science majors were women. In 2019, the College continued its success in graduating high percentages of women in the three STEM fields where nationally women are still underrepresented: 49% of computer science majors, 43% of engineering majors and 43% of physics majors were women. Of total 2019 graduates, 46% were women. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, we continue to see progress in enrolling and graduating larger percentages of women in these critical areas.

By now you all know of the success we’ve had in championing our curricular and co-curricular efforts to diversify our student body in the critical areas of computer science, engineering and physics. Our faculty have worked hard to maximize our impact through sharing what we’ve learned through research papers, talks and partnerships with other colleges, universities and other organizations. Many factors proved key to our success: hands-on classes that incorporated project-based learning, a high percentage of female faculty and active mentoring. Engaging classes allowed diverse talents to emerge and had a great impact on building confidence in the abilities of all students but particularly in women. Experiential learning was threaded throughout programs, from the first year through senior year. We found that the earlier we exposed students to project-based learning, the better students performed in upper-level courses. Project-based learning has been shown to improve learning outcomes in both men and women, and several recent studies point to further benefits to women. Being innovative leaders in education has always been part of our DNA as a college. There is no better proof of this than the Clinic Program, which has benefited our students for generations and has served as a model for engineering departments around the country since its creation in 1963. Many colleges and universities have adopted similar capstone programs, including Stanford University in California, Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering in Massachusetts, Texas A&M University, and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Indiana. At Harvey Mudd, all computer science and engineering majors must take a full year of Clinic. Students in mathematics and physics may elect to take Clinic as their capstone experience, and biology and chemistry majors can participate in a Clinic project alongside their thesis capstone. At Harvey Mudd, we have always believed that innovation and creative problem-solving skills are key to meeting society’s needs,

strengthening the national economy and solving global problems. Industry partnerships like the Clinic Program provide an effective way for educational institutions to ensure that their students are working on cutting-edge technologies and gaining practical experience. Companies also benefit from the input and fresh perspectives students bring and often reap measurable value in terms of cost savings, product development and code for a new feature. Programs like these offer students an opportunity to channel their initiative, drive and intelligence in a real-world setting in partnership with corporate, national laboratory, agency and nonprofit sponsors. As I look back on all that we have accomplished together, I am proud that institutions across the country and world now look to Harvey Mudd for innovations in secondary and post-secondary education. As we move forward, I know we will continue to communicate our successes through the media, through publications, and via speaking engagements at colleges, universities and conferences. Stay tuned as we make plans to blaze new multidisciplinary trails with innovative pedagogy and curricular development in areas such as entrepreneurship, social justice and climate change.

Maria Klawe President, Harvey Mudd College



COLLEGE NEWS 2021–2022 Rankings


2021 Liberal Arts Colleges


Top 50 Best Value Colleges


Social Mobility & Research


Best Career Placement



Highest Midcareer Salaries


Best Schools for ROI

College Factual


Best Overall in the U.S.

U.S. News & World Report

#2 Undergraduate Engineering #6 Most Innovative Arts #28 Liberal College

Trustee Update New to the board Uma Rajesh P24

Mentor for students; EdTech startup investor; member, National Leadership Council, LeBonheur Hospital


Dreaming Big With the appointment of an inaugural director of entrepreneurship initiatives, the College’s entrepreneurial education offerings and activities are set to be strengthened and expanded. “There are a lot of initiatives already happening at Harvey Mudd, and now we can bring them all under one umbrella and add more, to create a truly impactful entrepreneurship program,” said Kash Gokli, Oliver C. Field Professor of Manufacturing Practice and Engineering Economics, who will take on this new role. Gokli will collaborate with a multiconstituency working group on entrepreneurship co-chaired by trustees Sergio Monsalve P25 and Bob Hulse ’96/97 and faculty members Albert Dato and Darryl Yong ’96. They’ll design and support a set of curricular and co-curricular activities that will nurture Mudd’s next generation of entrepreneurs. Gokli will build upon the substantial legacy of Gary Evans, professor of economics emeritus, and the ongoing efforts of the Harvey Mudd College Entrepreneurial Network. “We want to provide opportunities to students from their first year through the fourth, so they can learn and grow and become entrepreneurs,” Gokli said. “Starting with seminars, workshops, events, summer fellowships and eventually coursework, we hope to provide education, practical experience, networking and funding opportunities. Entrepreneurial skills and an entrepreneurial spirit can benefit students in all career paths.”



The Makerspace in Action ideas, imagination and innovation are taking flight on the ground floor of the new Scott A. McGregor Computer Science Center. Machines and materials in the new makerspace and adjoining shops are available to students working on projects for classes, clubs and personal passions, from airplane wings and hammers to rockets and skateboards. The makerspace encourages interaction among students from all disciplines and welcomes students from all of The Claremont Colleges. It encompasses a lounge, small meeting spaces, 3D printers and laser cutters, welding and painting booths and open space for large projects. The student machine shop and wood shop have been relocated so that they are just across the hall from the makerspace. “One of my favorite things to watch is an art student next to an engineering major next to someone interested in architecture all using the same piece of equipment in a totally different way and inspiring each other,” says Drew Price, machine shop manager. “Creativity comes from people of different backgrounds learning from each other and using the space together.” Alongside a director and manager, the makerspace is run by a team of student stewards. They are experienced in operating the various tools and machinery and train and encourage other students who need help. The stewards are also responsible for hiring and recruiting and get involved in budgetary decisions. “Big resonances come from the student workers who are teaching peers what they know and exploring together how they can figure out how to do something they don’t quite know how to do yet and reinforce learning opportunities when something doesn’t go quite right,” Price says. Students are able to use most machines independently after completing training or getting direction from a steward. While the makerspace is open 24/7, with stewards available in the afternoon and evenings, the machine and wood shops and welding machines are closed during non-staff hours for safety reasons. Safety issues in some makerspace workrooms demand that students pass a safety test before they are given card access. Kim Neal, the makerspace manager, has found the experience invigorating. She loves to hear

Domenico Ottolia ’22 pulls a pop rivet on the tailcone of the Vans RV12iS airplane being built in the makerspace.

the students interact and share their ideas and enjoys talking to them about their projects. The Friday before Halloween, the makerspace was humming with at least 20 students working on costumes. “The best one was Bowser, a boss in the Mario Bros. video game,” Neal says. “They had a giant horned shell on their backpack. It looked really fantastic!” Other recent projects created in the makerspace have included skateboards, parts for the MuddSub robot, rockets, and printing plates created with the laser cutter and resin printer. Felix Murphy ’24, one of four head makerspace stewards, says the neatest thing he’s seen is a shopping cart in the electronics studio with various devices strapped to it. “I’ve seen it randomly wheeled around different places on campus, and I really want to find out what that project is,” Murphy says. While some of the machines can be daunting, Murphy says most students he’s met are excited and willing to move out of their comfort zone. “Once students realize the whole makerspace is designed to keep them safe and stewards are here to help them out as much as possible, almost everyone is willing to try,” he says. Murphy, who spends most of his time in the makerspace, is creating workshops

where students can create quick and easy projects in 15 to 20 minutes to introduce them to the possibilities of the makerspace. Machine shop proctor Sidney Taylor ’23 encourages students to visit the makerspace complex even if they don’t have a project in mind; they can start by getting comfortable with the machines and figuring out how they work. Taylor has some designs brewing for a handle to attach to freeline skates to make it easier to carry them around campus. She’s also working to master the ProtoMAX waterjet cutter, a machine that can cut metal and other material. Jeff Groves, Louisa and Robert Miller Professor of Humanities and makerspace director, has heard from alums who are interested in coming back to the College and doing a project in the makerspace. Alums are welcome, Groves says, if their work doesn’t interfere with student use of the space. Groves believes the makerspace and shops will eventually become a seamless area for creativity and making where students will move from space to space building projects for classes or for meeting their personal interests. Based on current usage of the makerspace, that evolution is already beginning.




A Registrar is Born Mark Ashley, winner of the 2021 Mudd Prize, describes the multi-faceted role of a registrar. Written by Sarah Barnes

a lot has changed since mark ashley began his tenure as registrar and assistant vice president for student information management at Harvey Mudd College 10 years ago. “The volume of data the registrar’s office consumes and produces, the demands on the office as the College has expanded its curricular offerings, the need to integrate new technology with existing systems, ever-changing compliance reporting” are all elements of the registrar’s role that have increased and changed exponentially over the years. Ashley says the only area where he’s been able to scale back is paper usage. “We’ve moved more and more processes online, which positioned us well when the College went online at the start of COVID. If the pandemic had hit when I started at Mudd in 2011, when virtually every form was a paper form, it would have been much more difficult to maintain continuity. Today, we rarely even receive paper documents anymore. I hardly ever use my stapler.” With or without staples, Ashley holds


together the registrar’s mellifluous duties, work that Ashley admits even he didn’t fully comprehend until he started doing the job. “The registrar works with just about everyone at the College. Students often think of us as the office that deals with registration matters (it’s in the name!), and the folks who enable access to transcripts, enrollment verifications, etc., but there’s so much more that goes on behind the scenes to make the College operate. Even when I worked or studied at colleges and universities, I had no idea what the registrar really did until I actually was a registrar.” He’s become so adept at his role and for being a key collaborator on campus that Ashley was recognized for his extraordinary service to the College. During the Convocation ceremony in August, Ashley was awarded the Henry T. Mudd Prize. Among the many reasons President Maria Klawe gave for honoring Ashley, she noted “his tremendous impact on the College and its people,” as well as “his selfless commitment to the educational initiatives and priorities” of the College. Here’s more about his multi-faceted work plus his thoughts on administrative excellence and a monumental 5C project. How did you come to be the registrar at HMC?

No one ever says they want to be a registrar when they grow up. I was a PhD candidate in political science at the University of Chicago when I began working as master’s thesis advisor and administrator in their graduate program in international relations. While I had envisioned myself as a future professor, I realized I enjoyed the work of advising, teaching and administration far more than my dissertation research. I subsequently landed in North Carolina, where I served as associate dean for academic advising at Winston-Salem State University, a regional HBCU within the University of North Carolina system, and later registrar and director of institutional research

at Salem College, a women’s college. I was initially attracted to the institutional research aspect of the role, but it was the registrar side of the job that I came to enjoy the most. It’s also where I learned to love working at a small liberal arts college. In what ways are you a resource for faculty?

Faculty rely on the registrar’s office team for accurate, timely and thorough knowledge of academic policy, student degree progress and course records, curricular logistics, classroom utilization and institutional memory of the academic program of the College. While faculty enact the academic policies of the College and have primary oversight of the curriculum, the registrar’s office maintains the integrity and accuracy of academic records by enforcing those policies and ensuring that students’ degree requirements are met. We serve as resources for advisors, and we work closely with the academic deans and core curriculum director to ensure that students are in the courses they need to graduate. Whenever there’s an initiative that involves coursework, past, present or future, we’re likely involved. I serve on several committees alongside faculty, such as the Curriculum Committee (which reviews new majors and course proposals), the Scholarly Standing Committee (which reviews student requests for exceptions to policy, and which proposes revisions or additions to academic policy), the Core Implementation Committee (which, as its name suggests, coordinates the rollout of the new Core), and the Study Abroad Committee (which reviews student applications to study internationally, and which evaluates study abroad programs for their suitability for Mudders), just to name a few. I also advocate for HMC’s needs and interests in Claremont-wide discussions of consortial policy and academically focused technology, such as the new 5C student information system, which is itself a huge ongoing project.


What’s a typical day like for you?

One of the things I appreciate the most about my job is that there’s so much variation. The work of the registrar’s office sits at the intersection of so many aspects of the College, and I appreciate that I can interact with so many constituencies and have meaningful conversations about such a range of issues affecting students, faculty and staff. Some days I may be focused on drafting a proposed change to our audit policy, or helping departments think through the downstream curricular impacts of a change to a course offering, or debating how changes to one college’s data governance policy might affect the rest of the consortium, or troubleshooting a 5C course schedule display bug with colleagues in Computer Information Services, or collaborating with my colleagues in institutional research on compliance reporting that allows us to continue to offer financial aid, or helping a new transfer student figure out the optimal sequence of courses for the next semester, or, or, or … . I love the variety. And some days my work is entirely at the consortium level, since there’s so much collaboration to navigate. In her remarks about your award, President Maria Klawe mentioned your “vision of an administrative excellence that parallels the College’s teaching and research excellence.” What is that vision?

My goal is for the registrar’s office at Harvey Mudd College to be consistently known as a reliable, accurate and thoughtful source for timely and contextually informed information for all constituencies. I never want us to rest on our laurels, to require red tape for the sake of bureaucratic inertia, and as mentioned before, I believe it’s critical for us to be creative and iterative, perpetually reevaluating the work we do and

adjusting to new information and needs. I believe in cross-training and development, so there’s never a gap in our ability to support the needs of the College if someone falls ill or moves on to an amazing new opportunity. I’m a big fan of transparency and listening to ideas from others, regardless of the source, if there’s a way to make something better. And I can’t stand it when someone says, “that’s the way we’ve always done it.” I believe in hiring smart people, giving them projects that keep them interested and challenged and encouraging the team (and myself) to keep learning and improving. What’s coming up for HMC that you're excited about?

There’s a lot of great work going into the new Core curriculum, and I’m excited to see how students, faculty and staff will feel about this change as it happens over time. I’m also deeply involved in the implementation of a new student information system for the 5Cs, which is an enormous and time-consuming project. The process has been underway for several years already, but the complexity of fitting five independent institutions, with separate faculties, programs, policies and credit systems, and with no one in charge, is both a personal and technical challenge unlike any I’ve ever experienced.

Five Things to Know About the New Hixon Center 1

The first iteration of the Hixon Center (Hixon Center for Sustainable Environmental Design) was defined by student-faculty collaborations on sustainability. Reopened this fall as the Hixon Center for Climate and the Environment, the new center will build on that legacy by bringing together students and interested faculty across department lines for courses, research and Clinic programs that address environmental issues, while also providing a focal point for collaborations with the administration and the board of trustees to improve the College’s carbon footprint.


The center, to be located on the ground floor of the Olin Building, will serve as a home for students and faculty to explore their passion for the human and technical facets of a wide variety of environmental issues, with particular emphasis on solutions to the grand problem of climate change.


Lelia Hawkins, associate professor of chemistry, has been appointed the inaugural Hixon Professor of Climate Studies. She conducts research in the field of atmospheric chemistry and studies how atmospheric particles in urban settings (like smog) are transformed as they age, specifically in fog and cloud water. Hawkins expects many of her new offerings to be of interest to chemistry students.


What do you enjoy most about your job?

I love to be surrounded by such smart and creative people. Obviously, the students, who are the reason we’re all here. But I really love the people I work with, whether in the registrar’s office, on the data team, or members of the faculty and staff, and the wit and joy they bring to their work. I love the collaborative spirit at HMC and the good work we can do when we recognize that we’re on the same team.



The first offerings through the Hixon Center will be Introduction to Global Change, and Climate Science and Human Behavior. Students looking to apply the skills and perspectives they learned in the Core will have a small menu of courses, Clinics and research programs addressing everything from the physical science of climate and energy to the psychology, economics and policy questions that shape the human response to climate change. Until a full-time director of the center is named, the existing Hixon Initiatives Steering Committee, chaired by trustee Michael Schubmehl ’02 (math), will coordinate climate and environmental Clinics, speakers and student sustainability efforts.




Annual Report A Review of 2020–2021 By Jim Bean ’77, chair, HMC Board of Trustees

what a pleasure it is to start out this annual summary by celebrating our return to campus in 2021, a year and a half after the community departed because of the global pandemic. We are very grateful to our faculty and staff for the amazing work they are doing to maintain the College’s academic programs while supporting our students and each other. Also, we appreciate our students’ and families’ understanding and engagement as we’ve had to pivot to accommodate changing circumstances. The return to campus in fall was made possible by many community members, including student leaders, who collaborated to develop our #StaySafeAtMudd guidelines, containing protocols for prevention, quarantine and isolation. Everyone’s work enabled a safe, fun and collaborative on-campus experience for all students. The first contingent of students returned to campus during summer 2021 to participate in the Summer Research Program, makerspace development and on-campus work. Improving conditions allowed about half of the 214 student summer researchers to regain hands-on access to labs, shops and studios. We know this has been particularly challenging for our first-year and sophomore students, and we were thrilled to have them on campus for fall 2021, most for the first time. We experienced positive growth in our incoming class of 2025, which saw a nearly 40% increase in applications. Admission applications from women were up 42%, and we saw increases from Hispanic/LatinX students (up almost 50%) and African American/Black students (up 79%). The class is by far the most ethnically diverse class to be admitted to HMC. Preparations during the 2020–2021 academic year have laid the foundation for students to begin taking courses that make up the new Core Curriculum, approved by the faculty in May 2020. Known as Four Courses with Optional Electivity, it addresses two major themes that drove the review process: a refined focus of topics, giving students more


time to reflect on what they learn and a more direct engagement with the “impact” part of the College’s mission. An Implementation Committee continues working with departments and faculty to finalize important details, like understanding the downstream impact of the new Core on each department, determining the timeline for introducing new Core courses and evaluating funding and staffing needs. A pilot version of the Impact Course will be offered in spring 2022, and a full rollout of the Core will occur in fall 2022.

of the faculty and now coordinates its activities with the help of a manager and student stewards. During 2020–2021, the College took steps to expand initiatives in two important areas. The HMC Entrepreneurship Working Group, co-organized by trustees Sergio Monsalve P25 and Bob Hulse ’96/97 and professors Darryl Yong ’96 and Albert Dato, and joined by several members of the board, faculty and student body, named a director of entrepreneurship initiatives: Kash Gokli, Oliver C. Field Professor

“ The return to campus in fall was made possible by many community members, including student leaders, who collaborated to develop our #StaySafeAtMudd guidelines, containing protocols for prevention, quarantine and isolation. Everyone’s work enabled a safe, fun and collaborative on-campus experience for all students.”

New campus spaces and initiatives

Throughout the pandemic, construction work has been deemed essential, allowing the construction of the Scott A. McGregor Computer Science Center to stay on schedule and be completed on time for a spring 2021 opening. In addition to providing a new home to the Department of Computer Science, a highlight of the three-story, 36,000-square-foot building is its permanent makerspace, an all-campus, cross-departmental interdisciplinary space led by Director Jeff Groves, an experienced maker, teacher and administrator. Groves, Louisa and Robert Miller Professor of Humanities and former dean of the faculty, helped launch the makerspace initiative during his tenure as dean

of Manufacturing Practice and Engineering Economics. Gokli will strengthen and expand the College’s entrepreneurial education offerings and activities, and he will build upon the substantial legacy of Gary Evans, professor of economics emeritus, and the ongoing efforts of the HMC Entrepreneurial Network. The former Hixon Center for Sustainable Environmental Design reopened as the Hixon Center for Climate and the Environment, and Lelia Hawkins, associate professor of chemistry, was appointed the inaugural Hixon Professor of Climate Studies. The center is poised to become the locus for new climate studies courses as well as other curricular, co-curricular and research endeavors at Harvey Mudd and in the Claremont consortium.


The work of the Hixon Center, coupled with projects funded through the College’s Green Fund, which invests in sustainability improvements—recently three solar carport arrays and two level-two electric vehicle charging locations—will allow the College to reduce the rate at which it contributes to the depletion of natural resources and to incorporate concepts of sustainability into its academic and daily affairs. College visibility and recognition

The College’s efforts inside and outside the classroom continue to garner recognition. HMC ranked No. 1 among liberal arts colleges in Washington Monthly’s 2021 College Guide and Rankings issue, a rating of U.S. colleges and universities based on contributions to the public good. The College ranked No. 1 for the fourth year in a row for highest mid-career salaries among U.S. college and university graduates with a bachelor’s degree only, according to PayScale’s 2020-21 College Salary Report. Harvey Mudd topped the list with a median mid-career salary of $162,500. Median salary for graduates from the Class of 2021 is $117,500 compared to $112,500 for a Class of 2020 graduate. Harvey Mudd College continued its top rankings with Princeton Review, again ranking No. 1 for Best Career Placement, and is No. 2 for undergraduate engineering programs according to U.S. News & World Report, which placed our computer science program at the top of the undergraduate-only college category. Celebrating community members

While we have much to celebrate, I’d also like to take a moment to remember esteemed community members who passed away during the last year. In July 2020, we lost Mike Shanahan, a profoundly influential person in the life of Harvey Mudd College as a trustee, board chair and generous donor.


His gifts touched every aspect of the College. Others who deeply impacted the College were emeritus trustee Edward Landry; trustee Tony LaFetra; chemist, teacher and scholar Bob Cave; computer scientist Bob Keller; physicist, historian and alumnus Dick Olson ’62; biology chair and faculty member William K. Purves; engineering professor Jim Monson; and chemistry professor and dean emeritus F. Sheldon Wettack. We also mourn the loss of our alumni who passed away during this time. As you know, President Klawe shared that she will step down as president when her current contract ends June 30, 2023. It is important that we take the next two years to lay the groundwork for an exceptional presidential search, academic planning process and comprehensive fundraising campaign. To facilitate this, we will reach out to all College constituencies to get input on perceived challenges, opportunities and College attributes deemed immutable. Maria will be leaving a tremendous legacy at Harvey Mudd, and I am grateful for her partnership, dedication and limitless passion for the College. I look forward to joining with the entire Mudd community to celebrate Maria’s spectacular impact on the College. In the meantime, we will continue partnering with her and with you to advance the educational mission of the College.

For more detail about the past academic year, including financial and fundraising reports from the Business Affairs Office and the Office of College Advancement, review the online annual report at




Faculty Updates Research, Awards, Activities

the reason that apes don’t have tails while our monkey relatives do is that the TBXT gene is spliced differently in the two groups. Stoebel’s students examine the evidence from the paper to support these claims. Chemistry

To improve software quality, Lucas Bang and Tevfik Bultan, professor and chair of computer science at University of California, Santa Barbara, are seeking to improve software quality assurance techniques via their National Science Foundation-funded project “Automated Quantitative Assessment of Testing Difficulty.”

Karl Haushalter moderated a discussion with

activist Robin Barkins on the U.S. justice system, race and equity, sponsored by the Office of Community Engagement. The discussion centered on a critical examination of the relationship between the justice system and human health. Biology

Lelia Hawkins is taking part in a $12 million,

The journal Nature Ecology and Evolution published a study conducted by Catherine McFadden, Andrea Quattrini (former HMC postdoctoral researcher, now a research zoologist and curator of corals at the Smithsonian Institution), and Estefanía Rodríguez, a curator at the American Museum of Natural History. The research provides evidence that ocean geochemistry drives patterns of morphological evolution in anthozoans (corals and sea anemones). McFadden and her colleagues spent several years on the project, including time to develop a target-enrichment technique for genomic sequencing of anthozoan species. The result is a phylogeny showing that anthozoans have existed on Earth for 770 million years, long enough to experience massive shifts in climate, fluctuations in ocean chemistry and several mass extinctions. Several students in McFadden’s lab contributed to this research and related projects, including Alicia Pentico ’19, Justin Jiang ’23 (as a high school student), Brooks Macdonald ’20, Johnson Hoang ’20, Natasha Floerke ’19, Katie Erickson ’19, Aaron Friend ’17 and Emily Petroni ’21.

multi-state project funded by the National Science Foundation. Hawkins and her student researchers will set up instruments that measure airborne particulate matter at a site in Joshua Tree National Park, one of 12 such sites in the nation. Part of the Atmospheric SCience and mEasurement NeTwork (ASCENT), each site will be outfitted with state-of-the-art instruments for characterizing the properties of aerosols. Hawkins plans to incorporate the data from this project into a future course at HMC.

Inspired by a recent preprint on why apes (including humans) don’t have tails, Dan Stoebel developed a data interpretation activity on alternative splicing for his molecular genetics students. The preprint proposes that


Adam Johnson and his

thesis students Veronica Show ’21, Emily Fok ’22 and Ellie Kim ’22 are developing an in-house manual on both the theory and practice of single crystal X-ray diffraction. This new instrument allows student researchers to determine the molecular structure of small molecules and solids. Researchers collect data, solve structures and then deposit them in the Cambridge Structural Database. Computer Science

Software systems in programmable items— from household appliances to cars and planes—must be reliable and high quality to avoid inconvenient or disastrous consequences.

George Montañez and his students Eric M.

Weiner ’21, Aaron Trujillo ’21 and Abtin Molavi ’21 published “Hyperparameter Choice as Search Bias in AlphaZero” in the 2021 IEEE International Conference on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics. The paper looks at how the choice of a hyperparameter in the deep reinforcement learning system AlphaZero acts as a biasing mechanism, allowing human input into what has been argued to be a learning system that lacks human input. At the 2021 IEEE Conference on Games, Montañez and his students Amani Maina-Kilaas ’23, Cynthia Hom ’23, Cindy Lay CMC ’22 and Kevin Ginta (Biola University ’21) presented their paper, “The Hero’s Dilemma: Survival Advantages of Intention Perception in Virtual Agent Games.” Yi-Chieh (Jessica) Wu, Ran Libeskind-Hadas

and Matthew LeMay ’21 published “A Polynomial-Time Algorithm for Minimizing the Deep Coalescence Cost for Level-1 Species Networks” in the IEEE/ACM Transactions on Computational Biology and Bioinformatics. Engineering

An avid interest in learning more about and sharing cultural perspectives is leading Gordon Krauss, Fletcher Jones Professor of Engineering Design, to Africa. There, he’ll engage in bidirectional collaboration relating to teaching engineering design, sustainability and entrepreneurship as part of the U.S.- Africa Education Partnership developed by the Rice 360 Institute for Global Health.


Humanities, Social Sciences, and the Arts

HSA has a new arts website ( that will be updated dynamically as the department schedules arts events, including concerts and exhibitions, open calls for artists, and documentation from past events. Kyle Thompson is an organizer of Agency

and Intentions in Language 2, a virtual interdisciplinary and international workshop hosted by the College January 12–14, 2022. The workshop will bring together philosophers and linguists to share their perspectives on agency, intentional actions, accidental actions, responsibility and more.

Ambereen Dadabhoy

recently published “Something’s Rotten in Kashmir: Postcolonial Ambivalence and the War on Terror in Vishal Bhardwaj’s Haider,” in Shakespeare and “Barbarian Moors: Documenting Racial Formation in Early Modern England,” in The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare and Race. She’s also been a guest on several podcasts: Folger Shakespeare Library’s Shakespeare Unlimited, The East is a Podcast, episode on NYT’s Caliphate, and the Ottoman History Podcast.



A National Science Foundation grant will support Vatche Sahakian’s project to further explore the idea that gravity—which is tightly linked to our perception of space and time—might be an illusion, an approximate framework that is not fundamental. The three-year project, “RUI: Weaving space with quantum entanglement, and black holes in stochastic Matrix theory,” will use a mix of analytical and computational methods to examine how the way information intertwines in quantum mechanics might underly what we end up experiencing as space and gravity.

Mathematics Francis Su’s book

Mathematics for Human Flourishing has been published in Korean and is also expected soon in Chinese, Romanian and Turkish.

Talithia Williams received the 2022 Joint Policy

Board for Mathematics Communications Award for bringing mathematics and statistics to millions through her work as a scholar, TV host, renowned speaker and author. Darryl Yong ’96 is a recipient of the Alumni

Works by students from media studies professor Rachel Mayeri’s Art and Biology course were on display at Sprague Gallery in November. Undesirable Pets, an art and biology exhibition, was inspired by or created for reptiles, fish, bugs and other un(?) charismatic flora and fauna.

Association Board of Governors 2021 Outstanding Alumni Award, which recognizes impact on the College as well as service to society. Yong was recognized in part for his significant contributions to society through his mathematics instruction and his work to improve the quality of math education throughout the Los Angeles region.

Research by Sharon Gerbode and her students was accepted for publication by Physical Review E (PRE). The journal published “Discovery of grain splitting paves the way for better models of crystal growth” as a letter rather than a paper, indicating that it is a higher-impact result. Student authors of the research are Anna R. Barth ’21, Maya H. Martinez ’20, Cora E. Payne ’23, Chris G. Couto ’23, Izabela J. Quintas ’23, Inq Soncharoen ’24, Nina M. Brown ’19 and Eli J. Weissler ’19.




Shared Recognition

Mohamed Omar is first recipient of AMS Claytor-Gilmer Fellowship “i am outstandingly grateful for this fellowship, but I truly believe it is not about me, it’s about us,” says Mohamed Omar, associate professor of mathematics and holder of the Joseph B. Platt Chair in Effective Teaching. During fall 2021, he was awarded the inaugural AMS Claytor-Gilmer Fellowship, named for Dr. William Schieffelin Claytor and Dr. Gloria Ford Gilmer, the first African Americans to publish separate research articles in peer-reviewed mathematics journals. “It’s a recognition of the countless tolls that Black academics take to stay in the field. It’s a grievance for the countless opportunities lost because of the nuanced dances that Black academics have to tango day in and day out. It’s for the enthusiastic and hopeful Black student who holds on to hope despite countless efforts of the community to rob it. It’s for the Black faculty member whose unseen labor is rarely, if ever, recognized. It’s the beginning of a recognition of the many ways in which this profession is not inclusive to its Black members.” The Claytor-Gilmer Fellowship is a yearlong fellowship that aims to further excellence in mathematics research and to help generate wider and sustained participation by Black mathematicians. Awardees may use the $50,000 fellowship in any way that most effectively enables their research. Omar has an excellent track record in research and a notable research program, and he has displayed impressive leadership in mentoring and service to the mathematics community. He uses algebra in areas of discrete mathematics such as combinatorics, graph theory and discrete/convex geometry. During the 2021–2022 fellowship, Omar is pursuing two main lines of inquiry. First, he will study applications of the recently developed Slice-Rank Polynomial Method, which harnesses linear algebra to solve problems in extremal combinatorics involving restrictions on more than two sets from a family of sets. Second, he will explore graph propagation through an algebraic lens. Omar is heavily engaged in mathematics outreach and mathematics competition


Mohamed Omar

“ I am outstandingly grateful for this fellowship, but I truly believe it is not about me, it’s about us. It’s a recognition of the countless tolls that Black academics take to stay in the field.” — MOHAMED OMAR, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF MATHEMATICS

creation. He has served on organizing committees for the American Mathematics Competitions and Canadian competitions through the Center for Education in Mathematics and Computing. Omar posts regularly to his YouTube channel, ProfOmarMath, offering students insights

on creative approaches to undergraduate mathematics. “Though it may not sound like traditional outreach, one of the most enriching activities for me is direct contact with Black math faculty from across the United States,” Omar said. “We are few and far between; having a close network has had a tremendously positive impact on my well-being while in the career.” Omar earned his PhD in mathematics from the University of California, Davis, in 2011. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the California Institute of Technology before joining the Harvey Mudd faculty. In 2018, he won the Henry L. Alder Award from the Mathematical Association of America in recognition of his outstanding undergraduate teaching and dedication to inclusion in STEM education.

Watch Omar’s invited address at the 2020 Joint Mathematics Meetings on the art and craft of problem design for both classes and competitions.




Engineering the Creative Mindset Written by Jen A. Miller

ashwini (asha) srikantiah, clinical professor of engineering, engages in complex discussions about people—probably more than most engineers. But that’s for a good reason. Her work and research focuses on human-centered design, which means “keeping humans at the center of your mindset and your practice while trying to understand problems and developing solutions and ideas.” Srikantiah found the discipline in a roundabout way. A film major from Syracuse University, she started her professional career in the entertainment industry, where she worked on things like television productions and festivals. “I knew that I wanted arts and creativity in my life,” she says, but while she was surrounded by extraordinary talent, she also realized she wasn’t creatively fulfilled herself. “I started to get more attuned to all kinds of problems and issues we have in the world, and I felt this drive to help contribute to making some sort of tangible difference.” She went back to school, earning her MBA in strategy, innovation and business design from the University of Toronto Rotman School of Management. There, she discovered that “there’s a whole industry of people who are dedicated to applying creative mindsets and problem solving techniques to real-world problems.” She then joined Fidelity Investments, working in design and then product management at Fidelity Labs. The keystone project that she worked on for six years before coming to Harvey Mudd College was heading up the Fidelity Student Debt Program, building it from scratch to scale. “Fidelity cannot be in the business of long-term savings if we don’t help people with the situations they’re in today,” she says. That meant getting a deeper understanding people’s real financial lives, not just barking at 20-somethings to stop drinking fancy coffee. “We were going into people’s homes and having

Asha Srikantiah

them show me the ways that they set up their own money hacks,” she says. Through this kind of primary research, Srikantiah’s team found that workers were having a hard time paying off student loans and felt unempowered in their situation. So they created a line of workplace benefit programs that promote financial literacy and enable employers to contribute directly to their employees’ student loan payments. Srikantiah also successfully advocated for legislative change to make employer payments to student debt tax free for the employee, helping student debt holders even more. Srikantiah came to academia because she wants to teach the next generation of designers how their work also can help people solve real problems, and she chose HMC because of the school’s focus on making an impact, which is part of the College’s mission statement. “I was ready for my next challenge, and coming to a space with students who are really hungry and eager to make a positive difference in the world is a good match for me,” she says. As she just joined the College in 2021,

she is still setting up research projects that will use “the tools, mindsets and methods of human-centered design and apply all of that toward tackling gnarly problems with partner organizations,” she says. She’s also senior associate director of The Rick and Susan Sontag Center for Collaborative Creativity (The Hive), which provides learning experiences that move students through ambiguous real-world challenges toward creative solutions, and serves all seven Claremont colleges. While working on building partnerships locally to create community impact, she’s also looking for international opportunities to broaden learning with students, so that when they enter the workforce, Harvey Mudd graduates won’t “swoop into new contexts and immediately build things,” she says. By having design exchanges that foster empathy while in school, “they will really understand the people they’re working with, the context of different environments, and use design as a tool to ensure that what they’re bringing to the table is relevant and meaningful.”





First-Gen Pride Interview by Kelley Freund

it wasn’t until her junior year of high school that Shanni Lam ’22 realized she was on her way to becoming a first-generation college student. “I just assumed that most people were first-gen, because that’s how it was in my community,” she says. “I didn’t understand why colleges thought it was such a big thing, but now that I attend Mudd, I’m a lot more proud and a lot more vocal about it.” Today, the math/computer science major is helping other first-generation students find their way. Lam leads Project Decode, a student-run organization for first-generation and/or low-income students, and served as a mentor for Mudd’s Summer Institute program, which helps underrepresented incoming first years with the college transition process. “First-generation students have to overcome a lot more barriers than other students, so I have a newfound appreciation for my identity,” Lam says. What are the barriers first-generation college students face?

An obvious barrier is that we don’t have parents who can help with applying to college. First-gen students are also often low-income and attend more average (or below average) public schools, where the curriculum is less likely to prepare them for a college curriculum, especially Mudd’s curriculum. Another big barrier is a feeling of alienation. Prior to Mudd, I went to schools where most students were people of color and on free/reduced lunch. I only knew a handful of students whose parents went to college. Now, it’s weird hearing people tell me their parents are research biologists or engineers. It’s also weird hearing people speaking to their parents in full English, seeking job advice and getting help on their engineering homework, while I do the opposite, helping my parents find jobs. It reminds me how deeply class inequality hits in America.


Tell us about Project Decode.

Project Decode is Mudd’s student-led affinity group that provides guidance and networking for first-generation and low-income students. I serve as the group’s co-president and help plan many of the events, including workshops to help students understand things like financial aid and healthcare. The organization is also a space for people to hang out, meet new people and discuss the first-generation lived experience and issues at Mudd. Through your experiences with Project Decode and Summer Institute, what have you learned about how Mudd can support its first-gen students?

A major way is through recruiting and admissions. We need to have a more socioeconomically diverse student body. It’s important for first-gen students to know that there are others just like them at Mudd. Firstly though, most first-gen students likely won’t even know what Mudd or the other Claremont Colleges are. I didn’t until I lived literally 15 minutes away from Claremont my junior year, and even then, I only ever felt pushed toward public colleges. You study many languages. What do you enjoy about that?

I come from an interesting multilingual background. My parents and grandparents are ethnically Chinese, born and raised in Vietnam, so they speak Cantonese and Vietnamese. It wasn’t until recently that I learned that my dialect of Cantonese apparently has a Vietnamese accent and sounds somewhat old-fashioned and rural, as if I was from the ’60s. This motivated me to learn more about Cantonese, as it reinforced that every language has its own rich varieties. I am also learning Mandarin because it’s interesting to see the phonological and grammatical similarities and differences between Mandarin and Cantonese. Because of Sinospheric influence, I can also find similar sounding words in Vietnamese and Korean, the latter of which I began learning because I was briefly interested in K-pop and K-dramas. Since eighth grade, I’ve studied Spanish because it was very commonly spoken in the places I lived and most often offered at

Shanni Lam ’22

the high schools I attended. It’s very enriching to learn about different cultures and writing systems. What do you like to do in your spare time?

I consider myself a film buff, so I like to watch a lot of movies. I also like to go to the desert; it’s my favorite ecosystem. That sounds kind of weird, but it’s a nice place with its own flora and fauna with minimal light and noise pollution to slow down and think peacefully. I also like to go to different ghost towns or abandoned places. When I’m driving and see abandoned structures, I wonder what happened to them and feel nostalgic. It’s cool to explore and think about the past. What do you hope to do after graduation?

There are a few paths I’m considering. One is data analytics. More recently, I’ve been thinking about consulting. I feel like I’m good at quick math and being able to provide recommendations for other people. It would allow me to use more of my communication skills. I’ve also thought about being a community college professor because I’ve had some experience with tutoring and find it to be more accessible and widely impactful.


Ecosystem Monitoring The NOAA Office of Education provides a portal for many student opportunities offered across the agency. This year, the Northeast Fisheries Science Center hosted 18 students from seven states and two countries, and from 16 different colleges Skylar Gering ’22 and universities. Projects ranged from developing areas such as offshore wind energy, environmental DNA, ocean acidification, and ocean pollution, to technologies like bioacoustics, to problems important for NOAA’s missions to recover endangered species and build sustainable fisheries. Their study areas range from the Northeastern United States to waters off Australia and the Falkland Islands. Skylar Gering ’22, an NOAA Hollings Scholar, outlines her project, why it’s important, and provides insights about a marine science career. Hometown: Palm Desert, California Major: Computer science and mathematics Internship Mentors: Mike Jech, Yuan Liu and Rich McBride, Northeast Fisheries Science Center in Woods Hole, Massachusetts Project I compared two ecosystem monitoring techniques, active acoustics and environmental DNA (eDNA), to help provide evidence on the effectiveness of eDNA and to verify acoustic classifications. Acoustic (sound) data is collected and used to classify types of marine life found in the ocean. Environmental DNA data comes from water samples collected in the ocean and analyzed for DNA of marine life. I developed code to compare these two types of data. I virtually presented my work at the American Fisheries Society 2021 Annual Meeting and won the best student poster award. Insight I'm a computer science and mathematics major, and before this internship, I’d never worked with acoustic or eDNA data. I had the opportunity to jump into a new field, increase my skill set and push through new challenges. I now feel confident working with large acoustic data sets and have increased flexibility as I work towards scientific goals. I am grateful for my supportive mentors, and I’ve enjoyed working with such a diverse group of scientists.


The Muddraker Returns After pausing print issues due to COVID-19, The Muddraker staff has resumed printing issues and will produce two to three issues this academic year. A great way to stay current on Mudd happenings, The Muddraker is available by subscription ($25),


Mudd, Sweat and Cheers Balancing academics and athletics, HMC students make important contributions to Claremont-Mudd-Scripps sports teams. Cross Country– Making their 13th straight team appearance at nationals, the CMS women's cross country team earned the highest finish in program history, coming in second place to Johns Hopkins by just two points, led by four All-Americans who finished in the top 26. Meredith Bloss ’23 led CMS with a 13th-place finish in 21:17.4 to earn All-America honors (given to the top 40 finishers). Henry Pick ’23 was named the SCIAC Men’s Cross Country Athlete of the Year in a vote of the league’s coaches. He earned the honor on the heels of his first-place finish at the 2021 SCIAC Championships, held Nov. 3. Pick was joined on the All-SCIAC first-team by fellow Mudder Stevie Steinberg ’22, who finished third at SCIACs. They repeated on the first team after finishing in the Top 10 two years ago, when CMS earned the league title in a tiebreaker. Men’s Soccer– Eduardo De Anda ’22 earned a spot on the United Soccer Coaches All-Region X Second Team, finishing with a career record of 22-2-4, with his only other defeat coming in the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2019, as he never lost a regular-season game for CMS in his two seasons as starting goalkeeper. The Stags finished the season 14-2-3, going undefeated in the regular season against Division III opponents for the first time in program history, including the first undefeated season in SCIAC play since 1993. Football– Left guard Kamarion Porter ’23 is one of six CMS Athletics football players to earn first-team All-SCIAC honors. Defensive lineman Tyson-Jay Saena ’22 and kicker Alessando Maiuolo ’22 took second-team honors. Volleyball– The Athenas came up two wins short for the second national title in program history, falling 3-1 to Calvin in the NCAA Division III Semifinals. With the loss, CMS concluded its season with a 31-2 record, tying the program record for wins in a season and breaking the record for best winning percentage. The Athenas also had the second-deepest NCAA Tournament run in program history. Latest sports stats at






Back in the Labs

Engineering 1. Designing a 3-D Bioprinter Advisor: Steven Santana ’06 Students: Arya Mididaddi ’24, Clayson Briggs ’24 The field of tissue engineering seeks to simulate or supplement living tissues using biologically compatible materials. Extrusion-based 3-D bioprinting would automate the creation of these biomaterials with specific material properties unable to be replicated by hand. This could help create better environments for cells and make it easier to test and evaluate how cells respond to specific artificial materials and material properties. This summer, students designed and built a 3-D bioprinter by modifying a commercial 3-D printer to drive chemicals through a custom printhead. The bioprinter prints structures out of alginate, a polymer whose material properties can be tuned to match certain conditions of the body. Currently, work is being done to better characterize the printer to enable more accurate and repeatable prints.




There was a resurgence of activity on campus this summer as improving conditions allowed the return of researchers whose work required hands-on access to labs, shops and studios. More than 200 students conducted research, about half of them on campus. Mudders everywhere were able to enjoy the weekly Stauffer Lectures led by faculty scholars from each academic area who discussed their research interests and/or the scholarship they have produced. Here’s our annual roundup of selected projects.

Biology 2. In Vivo Characterization of Potential Bromodomain Protein Inhibitor in Trypanosoma brucei Advisor: Danae Schulz Student: Becca Blyn ’22, Gracyn Buenconsejo ’22 In humans and animals, the African trypanosome parasite causes a fatal disease called African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness). Researchers are investigating factors that are important for remodeling the parasite surface. In the mammalian host, parasites constantly change the proteins on their surface to evade the host immune system. Upon transfer to the fly, a new invariant protein coat replaces the varying one. To identify new factors important for this surface remodeling, they utilized a collection of ~7000 circular DNA molecules, each of which has a parasite gene that can be overexpressed when introduced into a parasite. Researchers screened this collection of DNA to try and identify genes that induce surface protein remodeling from the varying proteins of the bloodstream stage parasites to the invariant proteins of the insect stage. This process might be leveraged for novel therapeutics for the disease.

Physics 3. Investigating Cross-talk in High Density Neurochemical Sensor Arrays Advisor: Jessica Arlett Student: Rafael Porto ’22 Many advancements in neuroscience have stemmed from neuronal electrophysiology—the study of electrical signals in the brain. However, the study of neurochemicals provides another promising avenue for learning about how the brain functions, as well as for medical professionals to study and treat neurological disorders. Prof. Arlett’s research group aims to develop high-density sensors that will enable real time monitoring of neurochemical concentrations. Members of the lab are experimenting with novel ways to push the size limitations of electrochemical sensor arrays so as to minimize tissue damage from the implanted probes. One obstacle is that of chemical cross-talk caused by diffusion of molecules between sensors that can be just 20μm apart. This summer, researchers used high-precision fluid dispensing to draw enzymatic barriers in between sensors which could intercept stray molecules and investigated the effectiveness of this technique at reducing cross-talk.






Math 4. A Multilayer Bounded-confidence Model to Examine the Role of Media in the Emergence of Discord Advisor: Heather Zinn Brooks Student: Christina Catlett ’22 Many people now trust online social networks as their primary source of information, making it crucial to understand the way in which opinions are formed and develop on such networks. Working with Professor Heather Zinn Brooks under an NSF RUI grant, Catlett developed a multilayer bounded-confidence model describing the social psychology concept of “pluralistic ignorance” wherein the expressed opinions of a population diverge from their privately-held opinions due to social pressures. Incorporating a concept of media influence previously introduced by Zinn Brooks and collaborators, such a model can give insight into what qualities and structures of a media landscape could spark or exacerbate pluralistic ignorance on a social network.

Computer Science

Humanities, Social Sciences, and the Arts

5. Geometrization of Bias Advisor: George Montañez Student: Eric Chen ’24, Sophie Bekerman ’24, Lily Lin ’24

6. Migration is Not a Crime: Migrant Justice and the Creative Uses of Paddington Bear David Seitz, assistant professor of cultural geography

With the rapid expansion of machine learning, there’s a growing number of black-box algorithms whose decision-making processes are complex and unclear to users. Aiming to quantify any algorithm’s behavior, researchers characterized a theoretical aspect of algorithms—inductive orientation vector—that captures the probabilistic predictive behavior of an algorithm. They estimated inductive orientation vectors for several popular classification algorithms and compared them against each other on a suite of benchmark datasets. Taking advantage of the vector’s geometric structure, researchers clustered the algorithm’s behavioral outcomes to reveal similarities in predictions and their underlying assumptions. A literature review on algorithms with similar inductive orientation vectors revealed supporting evidence for researchers’ conclusions. This suggests that the inductive orientation vector can reveal hidden similarities between algorithms, whether black-boxes or well-studied, and helps researchers better understand algorithms.

During a Stauffer Talk Seitz described his work related to the well-known English children’s book character Paddington Bear, the product of numerous geographical displacements. Author Michael Bond was inspired to make Paddington an undocumented migrant by WWII and Cold War mass evacuations within Europe, but he relocated Paddington’s fictive origins to Africa and Peru. Fleeing earthquakes for England, Paddington assumes the name of the London train station where he is “found.” Bond’s work draws on colonial geographical ideas, and it idealizes Paddington as a non-threatening, assimilated immigrant. Drawing on archival work in Bond’s papers and interviews with his contacts, including migrant justice activists, Seitz’s research complicates those claims. Tracing the character’s uptake as an icon of migrant justice movements in the U.K. and Europe, it sheds light on Paddington’s emotional appeal and creative, unexpected use by activists to imagine more just futures.


Rafael Alvarez ’86 believes every student is a contender in the fight for college success Written by Sarah Barnes Photos by Kat Johnson


his formal title is director of the san Diego City College Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) program, but to his students, Rafael Alvarez ’86 is known as the Corner Man. Like boxers in the ring, Alvarez’s students rely on his training, coaching and motivation to stay in the fight for reaching their full potential in higher education. Having had to struggle to understand learning culture himself, Alvarez is dedicated to deconstructing, understanding and demystifying it for his students, and now—with his new book, Turning on the Lights: Using Learning Culture to Increase Student Success (—for all students. As a child, Alvarez commuted by bus from the working-class neighborhood of Encanto, San Diego, where he lived, to the wealthier, predominantly White part of town where he attended school. “I say I invented code switching,” Alvarez says, laughing. “During these very important developmental years, the environment on the bus was about survival, and it was a different type of survival in the classroom.” Alvarez looked at each day like a fight to understand and then apply one set of cultural norms among his neighborhood peers and another among his advanced placement classmates at school.



When he became a student at Harvey Mudd College, Alvarez found himself in an entirely new arena with a culture of its own. A first-generation college student, Alvarez found that even his college-prep high school (from which he graduated as one of 13 valedictorians and the only Latino valedictorian) hadn’t prepared him for the culture shock of HMC. “Learning culture exists in every institution of higher education and includes knowing how to approach the learning and having a mindset for learning,” he says, “yet it is largely unknown to students, particularly first-generation college students, especially historically underrepresented students of color. I got to Harvey Mudd, and there was a whole new fight. I was already used to not having others look like me, but I was in the dark at HMC with regards to knowing and applying the learning culture.” Indeed, all the points in round one went to Alvarez’s first HMC physics exam. “I’d never had physics before, and I failed. I’m fighting Calculus II, physics mechanics, Chem 200 and Pascal programming. And by the way, there’s an English class and, of course, swim class.” Alvarez was on the ropes. “I got my butt kicked. I was beat up pretty badly in physics, the lowest score. I told physics, ‘Okay. You got me that time, but you’re not going to get me again.’” At first, it looked like he had a binary choice: Either work much harder in physics and risk his grades going down in the other classes or “get beat up in physics” and retake it in another semester. But instead, Alvarez became his own corner man, tapping into his boxer’s fighting instinct and refusal to back down. “I came out of that corner, not just fighting physics, I fought every class. I had something inside me. I was not going to back down from a fight.” Alvarez passed all his classes first semester and went on to major in engineering. “I managed it, and I loved it,” he says. This experience inspired him as he continued in his career, finishing graduate school, working for a while in the defense industry and eventually becoming the founding MESA director at San Diego City College, a Hispanic-serving institution, in 2000. Everything changed for him and the MESA Program in 2009, when he discovered a research paper on college readiness and success among first-generation students. Through


interviews with students, the researchers identified key factors for success, including understanding the college system, college standards and the culture of college. “This was my epiphany moment,” he says. Alvarez had come to understand the factors for success through his HMC experience, but he knew that students in higher education were not explicitly being made aware of the learning culture. “Why was it necessary for students to fight their way through the dark as I did?” he says. “At that moment, I made it my mission to turn on the lights and transform the lives of my students by training them in the learning culture. All students have many strengths and great potential, but they also have gaps. The challenge is to learn this learning culture and use it to fill the gaps.” Over the next several years, the success of the San Diego City College MESA program led to invitations from colleges and student organizations asking Alvarez to share his insights, to explain how to shine light to empower students with the learning culture. “Sometimes there are the challenges in the mindset,” he says. “Possibly there are challenges in a student’s foundation for learning and knowing how to approach the learning. I validate the students first, and

the learning culture facilitates an increased sense of belonging. It begins with having that mindset and commitment and understanding the language of success, including selfadvocacy, emotional intelligence, mental toughness and goal-focus. My MESA Creators also know the secret to success, i.e., they must want it as much as they want to breathe, and they know that the purpose for the learning is freedom, which gives them the ability to define themselves, rather than be defined by others, outcomes or situations.” In 2021, after receiving the Outstanding Engineering Educator Award from the San Diego County Engineering Council, Alvarez was inspired to take his message to a larger audience. “The award inspired me to bring the learning culture revolution directly to students through Turning on the Lights,” he says. “This is truly more than just the idea of something, it’s a roadmap to something. This effort is a personal mission to fight for the success of students, but it is also a matter of equity and social justice. We are products of our environment, and the time has come to switch on the lights for students to make the learning culture a part of their environment. All students have the right to succeed.”



A Stabilizing Force This structural engineer is strengthening buildings and the profession itself Written by Jen A. Miller Photo by Seth Affoumado



nnnie tran kao ’02 can’t remember when she didn’t want to be an engineer. As a child, she’d go to the office with her father, a registered civil engineer who worked on infrastructure planning, and do things like “roll blueprints of new products and help him sweep up eraser shavings,” she says. “Sometimes it was just looking at plans and seeing how a city would come together.” She was so sure of her chosen profession that she started looking into the best engineering schools while still in middle school. Harvey Mudd College stood out and stayed her top choice by the time she was ready to graduate high school, in part because she knew she wanted to do research as an undergraduate. “I loved the idea of experiential learning in the setting of real-world issues, not just passively listening in a lecture hall,” she says. For three years she worked with Ziyad Durón ’81, Jude and Eileen Laspa Professor of Engineering. “We got to play with fire,” she says jokingly, but for a very important reason: conducting research on how sensors could “pick up vibrations of a building when it’s on fire, and how changes to those vibrations can be a signal to firefighters that they have to get out.” She’s still focused on safety. After earning her M.S. in structural engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, and working as a consultant for a structural engineering firm, she joined Simpson Strong-Tie, which creates innovative structural products like connectors, fasteners, anchors and component systems that make buildings stronger and safer. These products and systems “really help structures withstand earthquakes, hurricanes and other forces from Mother Nature that try to tear them apart,” Kao says. She started at the company as a branch engineer in Southern California and is now vice president of engineering at their headquarters in Pleasanton, California. Kao is also focused on how to attract more people to structural engineering, especially from traditionally underrepresented groups. A 2020 report from the National Council of Structural Engineers Associations found that 24% of structural engineers are women and that 23% are people of color. To work toward addressing these disparities, Kao is a founding member of the

The question Annie Kao ’02 hopes to address through her structural engineering advocacy work is: “How do we help ensure the future of our profession by being able to attract a wide variety of people?”

Women in Structural Engineering Committee of the Structural Engineers Association of Southern California. She’s also on the Simpson Strong-Tie Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Steering Committee. In 2019, she received the Barc Simpson Community Hero Award recognizing outstanding volunteer contributions by Simpson Strong-Tie employees, and she was also on the 2019 Girl Geek X ranking of top engineers. The big question she hopes to address through this advocacy work is: “How do we help ensure the future of our profession by being able to attract a wide variety of people?” Kao wants to reach kids who were like her younger self, with a spark of curiosity about math and science and a desire to know how things are put together. She knows she was lucky to see someone like herself in the role through her father, a Vietnamese refugee. She wants more women

and children of underrepresented groups to “see themselves as engineers, architects, building officials and other construction professionals who can shape their cities and communities,” she says. This isn’t just a nice thing to do but crucial as it becomes harder to “hire quality applicants at engineering firms and in the trades, because recruitment and outreach efforts haven’t been as active as you would hope,” she explains. Kao has never left Harvey Mudd far behind. From 2013 to 2015, she served on its board of trustees. She also married a classmate, Sean Kao ’02. The two met in front of an engineering professor’s office. “We have three future potential Mudders,” she says, referring to the couple’s children who, if they show the same spark as she did rolling blueprints in her father’s office, will be encouraged to figure out how things work, too.



MUDDERINGS AABOG Spotlight Recognition Award These inspirational alumni have had a tangible effect of noted magnitude that embodies the HMC visionary themes of innovation, leadership and impact through global influence and contributions to society.

Priya Donti ’15 (CS/math) Donti, a PhD student in computer science and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University, works at the intersection of artificial intelligence (AI) and electric power. She was selected as one of MIT’s Technology Review 2021 Innovators Under 35 for her initiative Climate Change AI, a group of volunteers from academia and industry that facilitates work at the intersection of climate change and machine learning. She is also one of 90 Siebel Scholars for 2022, talented students at 29 graduate schools of business, computer science, bioengineering and energy science in the United States, China, France, Italy and Japan. Her focus is on working to mitigate the impact of climate change on the world’s most vulnerable populations.

Kurt Dresner ’02 (CS/math) Dresner is an innovator in the field of autonomous intersection management. He and a co-author were awarded the International Federation on Autonomous Agents and Multi-Agent Systems’ Influential Paper Award for setting a new direction in the research of transportation systems for autonomous vehicles. In a world where drivers don’t get distracted, don’t fall asleep and can plan using more than just red, yellow and green, there’s no need to stop for an empty intersection. He got to work imagining such a future and the ways we could coordinate autonomous vehicle traffic for both increased throughput and safety.

Douglas Arent ’82 (chemistry) Through his internationally known expertise and collaborative skills, Arent served as one of the coordinating lead authors on a chapter of the Fifth Assessment Report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published in 2014. This report is used globally to chart nations’ plans for carbon reduction and climate resiliency, a clear example of a contribution to global society. Arent has worked in research on energy and sustainability for more than 30 years, publishing extensively on topics within clean energy, renewable energy, power systems, natural gas, and the intersection of science and public policy. He is executive director of Strategic Public-Private Partnerships.



Aurora Burd ’05 (physics) In 2019, through her job as a geoscience faculty member at Antelope Valley College, Burd was invited to teach Introduction to Earth Science with lab at the California State Prison Los Angeles County in Lancaster, California, the first time a lab science had been taught there. CSP-LAC has worked with California State University, Los Angeles since 2016 to offer inmates the opportunity to pursue a B.A. in communication through classes held inside the maximum-security men’s prison. “The students did exhibit much greater engagement during class and more curiosity regarding the material than my typical students. It actually reminded me of HMC, because the students were very willing to collaborate with each other and went to great lengths to make sure that everyone was successful in class. I feel strongly that education can be transformational.”

Nadia Abuelezam ’09 (mathematical biology) While at HMC, Abuelezam knew she wanted to use her knowledge of mathematics and biology to help people. As a result of Prof. Karl Haushalter’s course on HIV/AIDS and Society, she traveled to Uganda to work with an NGO helping people living with HIV/AIDS and saw firsthand how an infectious disease could affect every aspect of society. Trained in infectious disease epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, she is now an epidemiologist and assistant professor at the Connell School of Nursing. She has expertise in mathematical modeling and data analytic approaches in public health and in mitigating health inequities for vulnerable populations. Her current research focuses on understanding health risks in hard-to-reach populations, including immigrants. Early on and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Abuelezam worked hard to communicate facts and the science regarding pandemics, virus transmission and COVID. Her leadership and courage to speak out has made a tremendous impact.

F. Scott Porter ’87 (physics) After graduating from HMC and attending Brown University (PhD, condensed matter physics), Porter worked on a novel cryogenic solar neutrino detector at a low-temperature condensed matter laboratory. During his postdoctoral fellowship at the Naval Research Laboratory he developed cryogenic x-ray detectors for x-ray astrophysics, then joined NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in 1995 to continue this work. He has shared his expertise in x-ray astrophysics for 26 years at Goddard, where he developed instrumentation for 12 suborbital sounding rocket missions, three orbital x-ray telescopes and a CubeSat (launched September 27, 2021 with LandSat 9). He is working on x-ray instruments for the XRISM and Athena missions, on sounding rockets to be launched in December 2021 from Washington state and in June 2022 from Australia, and on a lunar lander instrument to be launched in summer 2023. He is the author or co-author of more than 400 peer reviewed articles.




Fred Hollinger (math) retired from the Air

Force (colonel) in 1994. He works in IT as a business analyst for Truist Bank and lives in Stone Mountain, Georgia.

Terry Lee (engineering) was as an Air Force


Ken Brown (chemistry) was a physician

practicing general internal medicine and critical care medicine in Claremont-Pomona for 35 years. He retired in 2012. He says, “We moved to Mount San Antonio Gardens (retirement community in Claremont) in 2016. I do wood working, hiking, singing and play on my 40 acres of Redwoods on the Northern California coast. I also enjoy the ocean at our house in Gualala, Mendocino County.”


this will be the first time he takes on the role of editor-in-chief. The first issue of CITRAP is set to be published in late spring/early summer of 2022.

Frank Greitzer (math) is

editor-in-chief of a new online, unclassified, peerreviewed journal, CounterInsider Threat Research and Practice (CITRAP), launched by The Defense Personnel and Security Research Center through The Threat Lab, and in cooperation with the National Insider Threat Task Force and DoD’s Counter-Insider Threat Program. Frank says, “Insider threats refer to the potential for individuals who have had authorized access to an organization’s assets to use their access, and who act—either maliciously or unintentionally—in a way that could negatively affect the organization. The CITRAP journal will champion the relevance and importance of multi-disciplinary social and behavioral science (SBS) research to counter insider threats, communicate both theoretical and practical advances in the counter-insider threat mission space and improve the translation of SBS counter-insider threat research into evidence-based practice.” As a leading researcher on insider threats over the last two decades—initially through his research as a chief scientist at the DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and currently through his consulting company, PsyberAnalytix—Frank has served on journal editorial boards and as an associate editor, but


officer in the aircraft maintenance field and logistics for 31 years, then worked for a federal agency as an IT project manager for 11 years. Retiring for the second time, he then “daycared” his two grandkids for four years. He continues to invest in the stock market from home.


Andrew Kaye (math) retired (for the fifth

time) just over a year ago. He was offered the position of lead enterprise architect with his last employer if they win a contract that is to be awarded next February. He says that his returns to work “have all been the result of employers who were seeking my skills inviting me to join their teams. Part of this is because what I do is done by very few, done well by even fewer and my 50+ years of support to the U.S. intelligence community makes my experiential background somewhat unique. “The good news has been that I have been ‘on the inside’ of many important events, and the bad news is that I know how often what we are being told in the popular press is total garbage, or at least is spun to the point of not being the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. And, as you might expect, the Harvey Mudd education and reputation have contributed significantly. My ability to think broadly, clearly and critically is highly sought-after but is also in diminishing supply; having the confidence in my conclusions that allowed me to speak truth to power has also been a great benefit. And largely because I have been fortunate to be a behind-the-scenes player with so many truly profound scientists, engineers and decision-makers, I have developed what, for me, has been a fundamental career mantra: I am obligated—ethically, morally and professionally—to give my very best effort: my best research, my best analysis, my best opinions. BUT I am NOT obligated to prevail! I have been involved in enough SAPs along the

way to know that sometimes decision-makers know stuff that I do not know.”


Robert L. Jardine (math)

writes, “Up to not much. Lots of reading, lots of listening to music. I just finished reading all of the ‘Callahan’ books by Spider Robinson—highly recommended! Big news is that I now have two granddaughters (4 years and 1 year). Recent favorite quote: ‘... a nuclear fission plant works because the gods breathe upon its mojo in such a way as to cause it to be far out’ (Spider Robinson in the novel Variable Star).”


John Sell (engineering) led the hardware

architecture of the Microsoft Xbox for more than 14 years, including the new Xbox One Series X and S. He was recently recruited to be the chief security architect for Intel’s Security Architecture and Engineering group.


John Bradfute (engineering) writes, “I met

my wife of 42 years in Idaho shortly after graduation, but went on to get a MSChE from the University of Minnesota. After a career working for Sealed Air/Cryovac that included (1) working in R&D developing new plastic packaging materials, primarily for food; (2) P&L responsibility for a small business segment; (3) process engineering responsibilities in North and South America; and (4) global purchasing of raw materials, I retired at the end of June 2019. It was a delight to work in Europe (Italy) for three years, develop customers in the Pacific Rim, help to improve process performance (rates, yields, quality) in multiple sites in both Latin America and the U.S., and finally, negotiate contracts with suppliers around the world. We retired to Colorado and retirement has been great! I finally have the time to work in my woodshop and have enjoyed the various projects undertaken in the last two years.




“At HMC, I learned the importance of balance, time management and a broad education.”

Net Gains Broad experience in college led to wide-ranging career success for Kenji Hashimoto ’91 Written by Jen A. Miller Photo by Marc Montoya

kenji hashimoto ’91 is the first to admit that, while he was a pretty good tennis player in college, he was not the best physics student. During his sophomore year at Harvey Mudd, his second on the varsity squad, he was struggling with his linear algebra class. He went to tennis practice anyway. Hank Krieger, a professor of mathematics who was also the tennis coach, pulled Hashimoto aside. “I hear you have a midterm in linear algebra tomorrow,” he said, as Hashimoto recalls. “I also hear you’re not doing very well.” Hashimoto might have expected a lecture. Instead, Krieger told him to just do his warm up, then go back to his dorm and study. When he was a senior, he struggled with quantum mechanics, and John Townsend, then chair of the physics department, offered to help him two days a week so that he could pass the course. “That never would have happened at a Division I school or even most Division III schools, but the fact that they knew and cared—to me, that sums up my HMC experience,” says Hashimoto, who not only played on the varsity squad all four years but was also captain his junior and senior years when HMC won the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and reached the semi-finals of the NCAA tournament. Tennis was “really competitive and interesting and stressful, and we traveled a lot, but at the same time, it wasn’t our entire life,” he says. “At HMC, I learned the importance of balance, time management and a broad education.” That’s served him well in his career, which has led him from the nonprofit sector to his current leadership role at Amazon. While still in college, in 1990, Hashimoto

started working for the newly founded Teach For America. He helped run the organization’s first-ever Summer Institute to train teachers. After graduation and two years working as a consultant for Accenture, he went back to Teach For America full-time, but not to work in the classroom. Instead, he helped run “every single back-office function. I got to run finance and human resources and technology and all the stuff a nonprofit doesn’t want to handle,” he says. It gave him a front-row view of what it takes to make an organization run and grow. He translated that experience into an MBA from Kellogg School of Management and then into a position at American Airlines, where he would stay for 22 years. He started as an analyst and worked his way up to senior vice president for finance and corporate development. Hashimoto spent about half his time in finance, with six years in commercial roles and six years in operations. When U.S. Airways and American Airlines merged in 2013, Hashimoto was responsible for overseeing the reorganization of US Airways Express and American Eagle regional flight services, which included more than 600 aircraft on 3,500 flights. His role was to “set a vision and support my teams to deliver all the pieces.” From there, they could focus on first-class service, Wi-Fi on airplanes, seat power and other things that customers desired. That experience especially prepared him for his job now, he says. As vice president of North America Sort Centers for Amazon, a role he started in October 2020 and expanded to include surface transportation

in July 2021, he oversees about 120 Amazon sort centers, which act as a bridge between Amazon fulfillment centers (or warehouses) and whoever will deliver those items to consumers—whether that delivery is done by an Amazon driver or the U.S. Postal Service— along with the large trucks that move those packages between the facilities. June 2021 was his first Prime Day, Amazon’s version of Black Friday, where the company offers customers with a Prime membership exclusive discounts and deals. At the sort centers, Hashimoto’s job was to “get people excited about serving our customers and making sure that we can get those packages out the door and do it safely,” he says. He admits that he was nervous, but even with the increased sales volume (worldwide, Amazon customers bought more than 250 million items, according to the company), the process was a smooth one. With his first Prime Day in the rearview mirror, Hashimoto is looking ahead to including more robots in Amazon’s operations. The technology will meet the specific needs of Amazon’s sort centers, where all kinds of items of many shapes and sizes are coming through every day. “The technology is really interesting in that it’s different from how a traditional human/material handling sort center works. You can’t really eyeball the floor and know how it’s going,” Hashimoto says. “It’s an exciting opportunity that improves safety for associates and still lets us grow very efficiently.”





David Gurney (math) is an assistant professor

of mathematics at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, Louisiana. He spends most of his time teaching elementary statistics courses. “For a few years, I tried getting my papers published in mathematics journals, but did not have much success. Now I just investigate math and stat topics that interest me, and if the investigation is fruitful enough, I will give a talk about it at the annual Louisiana/Mississippi MAA Meeting. My wife, Melissa, is a manager at a nearby Home Depot and we have two cats, Melvin and Penny. I like to travel to my hometown, Mount Vernon, Washington, when I have the chance and hike some of the trails in and around the Skagit River valley. Of course, last year we couldn’t travel and traveling this year seems like an iffy proposition, but I hope to be hiking in Washington state again [soon].”


Building on observations in 2015 by Margaret Murnane and Henry Kapteyn (physics), researchers at the University of Colorado made a discovery that might be used to create future electronic devices that generate less heat. Researchers in the Murnane/Kapteyn group and the Department of Aerospace Engineering Sciences found that, at the nano-scale, when heat sources are close together, the vibrations of energy they produce begin to bounce off each other, scattering heat away. As tech companies strive to produce smaller and smaller electronics, they’ll need to pay more attention to heat flow. Margaret and Henry have received numerous honors in physics, including HMC’s Outstanding Alumni Award (Henry).


Clarence Wang (chemistry), VP and head

of data sciences at Dyne Therapeutic, led a breakout session at the 2021 Bio-IT World Conference and Expo in September. Clarence presented alongside RCH Solutions’ chief technology officer, sharing best practices for the development of a Cloud-enabled, highperforming computing environment that supports the needs of both the business and


IT in organizations of all scales. As head of data sciences at Dyne Therapeutics, Clarence has led the application of computing systems in biopharma for over 25 years. Known for his balanced perspective of innovative yet practical approaches to the development of data-driven, technology-based solutions for R&D challenges, he has led scientists and technologists responsible for computational research and informatics, supporting a wide range of activities from discovery through product life cycle. Prior to Dyne, Clarence served as group head, science computing, in the Translational Sciences group in Sanofi. He holds a PhD in organic chemistry from Cornell University and was a 1984 Thomas J. Watson Fellow. Frank C. Hu ’83/84

(engineering), former vice president of Capital World Investors, an investment group in the Capital Group Companies Inc., has been named to the EQT Board of Directors. He has decades of financial experience and a deep understanding of the oil and gas industry. Frank most recently served as vice president of Capital World Investors, an investment group in the Capital Group Companies Inc., one of the largest investment management firms in the world. During his 14 years with Capital Group, he served as an analyst for investments in large oil and gas companies globally, directly managing nearly $10 billion in equities. Prior to joining The Capital Group Companies Inc. in 2003, Frank served as manager of project finance for Unocal Corporation and Global Energy Practice Consultant for McKinsey & Company. Prior to joining McKinsey in 2000, he held various leadership roles at Atlantic Richfield Company in both Los Angeles and Hong Kong relating to downstream operations and business development, refining and marketing investments, upstream divisions, portfolio management and treasury. Frank holds an MBA from the Amos Tuck School at Dartmouth College. He serves as an advisory board member for the Geology & Planetary Science Division at the California Institute of Technology.


Darwin D. Popenoe (physics) writes: “The

pandemic catalyzed Zoom reconnections between (organizer) Yesh Subramanian, Rich Ramroth, Daren Reid, Ken White, Ian Kennedy and me—almost as cool as an in-person reunion. I continue to enjoy my second career in cybersecurity.”


Shree Khare (engineering)

is chief information officer of Pelican Products, a designer and manufacturer of highperformance protective cases, temperature controlled packaging solutions, advanced portable lighting systems and rugged gear for professionals and outdoor enthusiasts. Shree comes to Pelican with more than 20 years of global experience in information technology. Previously, he was the CIO of Oakwood, a global extended stay hospitality provider, and he also has held senior roles at Classic Party Rentals, Mattel and Accenture. He earned an MBA from UCLA Anderson School of Management.


After 27 years working, building everything from LNG plants, nuclear storage facilities in Russia, the new nuke plants in Georgia and water pumping stations in Chile, G. Douglas Green (engineering) took a year off and left Houston for the family home in Mexico. He says, “We will see what is next.”


Bob Blackman (chemistry) is the Squires

Professor of History at Hampden-Sydney College. He says, “It’s a result of the work ethic I picked up as a chemistry major at HMC!” Adam Shane ’88/89 (engineering) works as a

security consultant to LAX airport. He says that even during COVID work-from-home orders, work continued at 100%. His company is expanding its L.A. office and doing work in San Diego and elsewhere. He writes, “Kathy and I celebrate our 25-year wedding anniversary this year. We have one child at Bowdoin College in Maine and another in high school in L.A. (a baseball player). I hope everyone is staying safe from the virus and fires and extreme weather.”



During the last five years, Gene Mason (engineering) has been doing medical IV infusion product design with Becton Dickinson, leading a project team. “BD is a great company, and I like working somewhere that is addressing the COVID crisis.”


David Williams (engineering) lives in Southern

California and is moving into his 25th year as a game (systems) designer. He says last year was the biggest release yet with The Outer Worlds getting terrific response, including several Game of The Year awards.

Over the past two years, Robin Willingham-Hsueh (engineering) has been learning about neurodiversity, emotional regulation and social thinking.


Karl Mahlburg (math) works alongside Andy

Bernoff on the Problem Solving Committee for the Putnam Competition.



Ben Elgin (CS) is a senior software engineer

at Bantam Tools, a machining manufacturer based in Peekskill, New York (though he’s still living in the Triangle region of North Carolina). “If you need a desktop CNC milling solution, look us up! It’s been a lot of fun working with machines that let people make all kinds of things.”


Brian Maul (engineering) is passionate about

how we power humanity and about solving the challenges to doing so sustainably. This was apparent in his Mudd Talks webinar “Powering the Energy Transition: Big Changes During the 2020s” on Oct. 13. Reliable, affordable electricity has powered many of the most important inventions of the last 200 years, from artificial light to computing and the Internet, and access is essential to modern life and economic equity. How we continue to power the next century of human development without the climate impacts of the last century is one of the defining challenges of our time. Brian discussed the state of the energy transition in the U.S., the surprising changes of the last several years and where we go from here. He is principal at Maul Energy Advisors where he provides strategy and other management consulting services to a variety of firms leading the energy transition. Prior to consulting, Brian led a development and construction management firm serving private equity investors in U.S. renewable energy projects; he has closed over $1B in energy transactions in his career. He is a graduate of Rice Business School.

Greg Pomrehn (engineering) has weathered

a challenging season at Boeing since the tragic 737 crashes in 2018. He says, “I’ve recently reflected on the importance, not only of quality engineering work, but the ability to communicate that importance to others in effective ways. Technical excellence is meaningless when no one is listening. Somehow survived 16 months of remote school and work with three kids (aged 2, 8 and 12) in the house. A roadtrip and distanced visit with Brian and Michelle Brenhaug was a pandemic highlight.”


is featured in the latest hiring campaign, was highlighted in the ASML International Women’s Day video in 2021 and was featured in a commercial that aired during the Tokyo Olympics. In September, The Center for Strategic and International Studies named Joseph Majkut (math) as director of the Energy Security and Climate Change Program. Joseph joins CSIS after five years as the director of climate policy at the Niskanen Center, where he led that group’s efforts to research and promote carbon pricing, low-carbon innovation, regulatory reform and other market reforms to speed decarbonization. Before that, he worked on climate change policy in the U.S. Senate as a congressional science fellow, supported by the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Geosciences Institute. He has testified before Congress on climate and science and is frequently cited by top climate trade publications and major media outlets.


Erika Rice Scherpelz (CS) and Jeff Scherpelz

(CS) work and live in the Seattle area and recently fulfilled a longtime dream of bringing the Whidbey Island cabin Erika’s grandparents built back into the family. “We’re looking forward to spending many happy weekends there with our kids, friends and family!”


Laura Angell (engineering) has been working

for ASML on the EUV lithography equipment for the last five years. In October 2020, she was promoted to manager of the Quality, Reliability and Root Cause Analysis team supporting the San Diego site. ASML is the “relatively obscure Dutch company” that is helping global foundries keep pace with Moore’s Law. Laura

Maureen Saint Georges (math) lives in Los

Angeles and works as a pediatric emergency physician at the Children’s Hospital of Orange County. She and her husband welcomed their second daughter, Zoe, at the end of 2020.


Parousia Rockstroh (math) was awarded a

RAND Presidential Medal for the design and analysis of graph theoretic algorithms for national defense.






University of Oregon with a PhD in physics in June 2020. His dissertation was titled “Field Emission Based Displacement Sensing Using a Carbon Nanotube Enhanced Electromechanical Probe.” In December 2020, he started a new job with KLA as an applications engineer in the eBeam division, supporting SEM inspection tools at Intel in Hillsboro, Oregon.

family in Rockville, Maryland since graduating. She worked in several roles over the past five years, including software development (where matrix decomposition made an appearance!), teaching for a programming boot camp and event planning for the MAA. She was also active as a volunteer for the Democratic party throughout the recent election cycle. She enjoyed the opportunity to host a round-table discussion about automation, AI and autonomous robotics in 2020. Joyce is highly interested in helping make math competitions more inclusive and would love to discuss this topic with other Mudders.

Rudolph Resch (physics) graduated from the


Moriah Gelder (engineering) is a civil engineer

at the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago. She writes, “I started this job in 2018, and before that I worked as an environmental engineer at an environmental consulting firm in Baltimore, Maryland. My current role at MWRD is in the Stormwater Management Department, and specifically I work on green infrastructure projects. Stormwater management and flooding is a big concern in the Chicago area, and our goal with green infrastructure is to install projects like permeable pavement and bioswales/rain gardens to be able to capture stormwater at the source and allow it to infiltrate into the ground or be soaked up by native plants. Without green infrastructure, stormwater will flow into combined sewers that can overflow and pollute Lake Michigan and nearby rivers during large rain events. Aside from work, I now live in Chicago with my partner (a fellow Mudd grad), our dog, close to lots of family!”


Brittany Borg (engineering)

writes, “After spending five years in engineering after graduating from Mudd, I made the leap to business school. I’m currently enrolled in an MBA + M.S. program at Northwestern University, building business and design acumen to transition my career towards marketing and product management.” She interned at Intuitive and developed their robotics platforms this past summer.


Joyce Yang (math) has been living near her


Max Hlavacek (math) is in the process of

getting a PhD in math at UC Berkeley, studying combinatorial questions about polytopes. “I actually haven’t been on campus in the past two years though, since I was visiting my advisor in Berlin for a year and then COVID happened. Now I am happily resettled in Berkeley with my partner and recently adopted a 20-pound cat named Squid!”


After spending a year at the self-driving car company Cruise, Daniel Johnson (math) moved to Montreal for a year-and-a-half-long position as an AI resident at Google Brain. At Google, he works on applying neural networks to discrete objects like graphs and trees and uses that to build machine learning systems that make predictions about computer programs. He recently moved to Toronto to start a PhD at the University of Toronto and the Vector Institute.

Ramita Kondepudi (engineering) finished

her first year of (remote) law school at the University of Washington. She says, “I’m loving law school and all the reading, writing and critical thinking that comes with it. I’m thinking about pursuing a career in technology law, either technology transactions or intellectual property. I moved to Seattle, where I spend most of my days trying new food places with fellow Mudd alums Anji Malpani, Shivam Malpani ’21 and Srinidhi Srinivasan. In July 2021, a number of our Mudd friends came to visit!” This year, Zayra Lobo (engineering) I got her master’s in computer science with a specialization in computational perception and robotics from Georgia Tech. She works at Cruise, an autonomous car company in San Francisco, as a software engineer interfacing cameras with the vehicle’s autonomy stack. Shailee Samar (CS) leads Mudd Meditates,

part of the HMC Alumni Virtual Hangout series. Her short yoga sequences and guided meditations are open to beginners, no equipment or yoga mats necessary. Check the Online Offerings web page for the latest schedule.


Matthew Huerta (engineering) has been

living in Seattle since graduation. He works for RS&H, an engineering consulting firm headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida, where he assists their Transportation Infrastructure


& Emerging Technologies team by providing hardware and testing support and by doing internal research for new technology solutions concerning traffic signal controllers, signal priority and other transit-based applications. In addition to frequent skiing and generally enjoying the Pacific Northwest, he’s also a club athlete and volunteer with the local Club Northwest track club in Seattle. Sara McAllister (CS) had a paper published

by the 28th ACM Symposium on Operating Systems Principles, which “seeks to present exciting, innovative research related to the design, implementation, analysis, evaluation and deployment of computer systems software.” She is first author on the paper “Kangaroo: Caching Billions of Tiny Objects on Flash,” which earned a best-paper award.


Flora Xia (engineering) is working on a PhD in

mechanical engineering at Caltech. “It’s been a great experience so far and I’m really grateful to have met so many new wonderful people.”


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Future Gift Guide We’re planning ahead for the next Ultimudd Gift Guide in summer 2022. Let us know about your business or suggest a fellow alum, and we’ll follow up. Email





Kevin Byram ’08 Kevin Byram ’08 (physics) of Herndon, Virginia, passed away after complications from treatment for leukemia on July 8, 2020. He leaves behind his wife, Caitlin Furjanic ’08, and his three children, Gavin, Catherine and Lillian Byram. At Harvey Mudd, Kevin majored in physics, but maintained an interest in mechanical and electrical engineering. Fellow students, professors and department members remember him as easygoing and an excellent teammate whose work was always thoughtful. He was known to be smart and collaborative and a clear communicator, who offered valuable insight to every project he touched. Kevin balanced his academic accomplishments with active ones. He played football for the CMS Stags for four years, coordinated the intramural sports program and served as the student council athletics chair. He lived in North Dorm, and one of his favorite events was the annual Hallowiener party, a tradition he hosted with fellow classmates for years after his time at Harvey Mudd. After Kevin graduated, he started his career as a systems engineer in Northern Virginia. He progressed as a leader in engineering, ultimately becoming a deputy program manager at General Dynamics Information Technology. Those interested in making a donation in memory of Kevin may contribute to the intramural program he helped to run. Please visit and denote Kevin’s name in the honoree field. Under designations, mark “Other” and indicate the Linde Activity Program fund.

Katherine Robin Wong Evans ’89, P24 Katherine Robin Wong Evans ’89, P24 (physics) died unexpectedly of a stroke on June 19, 2021 at the age of 53. Evans was born in Los Angeles and graduated from Immaculate Heart High School in 1985 before attending Harvey Mudd College. After college, she worked as a white water rafting guide in California, a ski lift operator in Utah, an environmental technician on Alaska’s North Slope and as a product designer at REI in Seattle. It was there that she began dating her future husband, Robert, and, within a few years, they quit their jobs to backpack across Europe and Asia for over a year. They moved to San Francisco in 1997 and made many friends as they explored that city’s vibrant nightlife. In 1998, Robert and Robin became husband and wife. In 2001, they started their family, purchasing a house in San Francisco’s Mission District and raising their children there. Robin became a devoted mother and a prominent parent at the international high school her children attended. Her home was a center of that community, with many dinners and parties thrown over the years. Robin was fortunate to be able to spend her summers in Hawaii and winters in Tahoe where she shared her love of the oceans and the mountains with her family. And throughout, she always made things, exploring her love of craft and art. Robin and Robert were planning their next adventure as COVID waned and their children went off to college. She is survived by her husband Robert ’90, her daughter, Clements ’24, her son, Liberty, and by many friends and family. HARVEY MUDD COLLEGE MAGAZINE

Roger Logan Williams ’63 Roger Logan Williams ’63 (engineering) died in August. He came to Harvey Mudd College from his hometown of Seal Beach. While at Mudd, he sang, played rugby and football and worked for Hewlett-Packard. He received a master of science in electrical engineering from Colorado State University in 1968. Roger married his first wife, Phyllis Tanzy Maxfield in 1964, and they ultimately settled in San Jose, California, where they welcomed daughters Stephanie and Neysa, and son Maxfield. After divorcing in 1974, Roger moved to Hawaii, working as a civil engineer, and was an avid scuba diver—even operating a small dive shop. He and his second wife, Ada (Mahler), married in 1976 and lived between Alaska and Hawaii, before settling in Bellevue, Washington, where Roger began his long career at Boeing as an engineering manager, working on important projects such as the 757, 767, 777, 787 and various satellite and weapons programs. Roger loved playing golf until his Parkinson’s diagnosis limited his ability to play. He played with the Duck Golf Association with many of his Boeing colleagues and enjoyed playing with his and Ada’s daughter, Ada Rose Mancusi (Williams). After divorcing in 2000, Roger was reintroduced to his high school prom date Gwen (Birt) whose sister was married Roger’s brother. Roger and Gwen married and lived in Bellevue and Port Orchard, Washington before finally settling in Madera, California, where they were involved with Grace Community Church, and Roger was a member of the Gideons International. Roger enjoyed playing and regularly winning at cards and dominoes with family and friends. In recent years, he took great pride showing his son around campus re-connecting with his Harvey Mudd classmates at campus events. He even played poker with current students after the 55th Reunion Celebration for the Class of ’63, showing that he could still bluff with the best of ’em. He will always be remembered for his kind and gentle demeanor, brilliance and ingenuity, his sense of humor, his love for everyone and knowledge of “state laws”—Roger’s clever way of answering “why” questions from his children and grandchildren. He will be greatly missed by his wife, Gwen, children, grandchildren, family and friends.


International Family Ties The College’s Parent Leadership Council (PLC) includes parents of current and recently graduated Harvey Mudd students who are committed to building community among our parents and fostering supportive relationships between parents and the College. Parent ambassadors Victor and Maggie Li P23, who live in China, are building the PLC community on an international scale. Here they discuss how membership in the PLC has given them a sense of inclusion and why they see their involvement as a potential channel for helping international students.

What do you like about the Parent Leadership Council? It is an access and platform to be close to HMC. As the parents of an international student, we are far away from the school physically. To be a PLC member is an effective way for us to be up-to-date on campus life and to be close to HMC, to our beloved kids there. What’s more, all the PLC parents are so caring and committed to HMC community. It’s like a warm family.

Why did you decide to become parent ambassadors?

How has the College been able to better support the Chinese parent community? [In China], we don’t have easy access to the Facebook HMC group, so the regular PLC update emails have been very helpful. We share the updates in the HMC China WeChat group. Direct email exchange with HMC faculty and college advancement staff has always been very smooth and timely. They address our concerns and pro-actively send email reminders for the international students or families. This is a big relief for all the Chinese parents, especially under the pandemic. Through the PLC channel, we successfully addressed some concerns, such as early check-in to dorms during summer 2021 and international student access to dorms over winter break.

What concern/project are you working on now? We’re interested in partnering with HMC faculty and staff to provide more support to the Chinese students after graduation, whether they continue their education or find a job. Under the current COVID-19 threat and other concerns, there seem to be increased restrictions on the Chinese

More Chinese students are joining HMC. Since Christmas 2018, when our son Derek got his HMC enrollment letter, there have been so many email exchanges with the faculty, especially during the pandemic. All parents’ concerns might be quite the same, and our experience might be helpful for other newly joined Chinese families. [Our involvement] might also help relieve some of the communication workload of HMC faculty, especially owing to the language and culture difference. We are so thankful for the caring HMC community and like to contribute.

The Li family.

students. We would like to build awareness among international students about existing HMC resources and to help expand these. As part of this project, we plan to start with some Chinese students on campus or alumni, getting their feedback and experience on HMC life and their advice preparing for graduation. We’d also like to help the College find more ways to take advantage of HMC graduates’ and parents’ resources to provide additional support to the on-campus students as they prepare for graduation.

If a parent wishes to become more involved at Harvey Mudd, what do you suggest? Don’t be shy, and no need to evaluate if your contribution to the school is too limited. The willingness itself is recognition and support of HMC. We’re always impressed by the close and warm family atmosphere of HMC, thanks to the efforts of PLC. Just sending an email to the school or to the PLC sharing your relevant resources and experiences would easily open a door. For information about volunteering at HMC or with the Parent Leadership Council, contact Jennifer Green (

301 Platt Boulevard Claremont, CA 91711

Ava Fascetti ’23 is a student in Introduction to Aviation, a new course being taught this fall by engineering professor David Harris. Twelve students and four proctors are working in HMC's new makerspace to build a Vans RV12iS airplane. To learn more about what's happening in the makerspace, see page 5.

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