Mudd Magazine, fall-winter 2022

Page 1


Living and Learning in Community


Alumni Weekend 2022

Lucien Malett ’24, Calvin Miles ’87, Iris Critchell, Bryan Reed ’92, Makenna Parkinson ’23 Greg Farnum ’09, Jenny Iglesias ’12, Kevin Riley ’12, Renee Gittins ’12, Zak Whaley

Download free images from HMC Flickr at

Jerry Van Hecke ’61, Bill Hartman ’62 Max Howard ’17, Patrick Meehan ’14, Alex Swafford ’15, Maya Ornstein ’14, Jeff Milling ’17, Jonathan Chang ’17, Paige Rinnert ’17, Michael Sheely ’17, Meredith Teo ’13 Wayne Wakeland ’72/73, Murray Thompson ’72, John Sawka ’72, Karl Rodnick ’72, Brian P. Flynn ’72, P05, Steve Wolfe 72 Hal Harris ’62, Mary Harris Anthony Selim ’97/98 and family PHOTOS BY PHOTOS BY SHANNON COTTRELL AND JEANINE HILL



Forget Starving Scholar. Think Empowered Academic.

Emily Roberts ’07 advises prospective grad students so they can thrive.


4 College News

10 Research

24 Mudderings

26 Class Notes


Annual Report

A Review of 2021–2022


Spread Joy, Feed People

How a pandemic, imagination, compassion, curiosity and engineering converged for an unplanned adventure.


Living and Learning in Community

Members of an award-winning student organization consider ways to maximize their beneficial impact on society through STEM and advocacy.


The Lure of the Deep Sea

Outstanding Alumnus

Steven Haddock ’87 wants marine science to be less of a mystery.

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Director of Communications, Senior Editor

Stephanie L. Graham, APR

Art Director Robert Vidaure

Senior Graphic Designer Joshua Buller

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Sarah Barnes

Writer Dominic Indolino

Contributing Writers

Kathryn Dunn, Andrew Faught, Leslie Mertz

Contributing Photographers

Shannon Cottrell, Jeanine Hill, Devon Overbey ’24, Lauren Radack, Jordan Stone ’24


Sarah Barnes, Kelly Lauer

Vice President for Advancement

Hieu Nguyen

Chief Communications Officer

Timothy L. Hussey, APR

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HA R VEY MUDD COLLEGE MAGAZINE 2 Fall/Winter 2022 | Volume 23, No. 1

Connecting, Growing, Moving Forward PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE

it was wonderful to welcome alumni and their families back to campus for Alumni Weekend 2022 in October. While it was a smaller gathering than our typical spring Alumni Weekend (our next one is April 28–30, 2023), we still had opportunities for connection, education and fun. In addition to this on-campus event, we’ve been holding events across the country for alumni, parents and friends. Plus, virtual programs that were put in place during the pandemic continue to prove popular, especially among our alumni.

During the weekend, I was very pleased to connect with some of the GOLD alumni in attendance. The GOLD Society was developed by and for alumni within 10 years of graduation, and it offers exclusive opportunities that help our more recent alumni connect with HMC and support each other in ways that are important to them (see page 24 for event photos and details).

Through the generosity of our alumni, parents and friends, we had one of our most successful fundraising seasons last year, raising approximately $17.5 million in overall gifts and new pledges (read more about this in our annual report, linked on page 8). Our momentum continues to improve for the current fiscal year with overall fundraising at $7.2 million compared to $2.9 million (FY 2022) and $1 million (FY 2021). A key component of our success has been a reorganized fundraising team, including four new front-line gift officers.

Our College community is growing in other strategic areas as well, including our board of trustees (page 4) and our faculty (page 9). This year, we are searching for 11 tenure-track faculty positions, anticipating hires in the humanities, social sciences and the arts (1), physics (1), mathematics (1), engineering (3), computer science (3); and the Hixon Center for Climate and the Environment (2).

Enthusiastic support garnered by the Hixon Center has been a major contributing factor to our fundraising progress. Since February 2022, $15 million in private support has been raised

for the Hixon Center. I’ve had the pleasure of traveling to several U.S. cities with Vice President for Academic Affairs and R. Michael Shanahan Dean of the Faculty Tom Donnelly and Director of the Hixon Center and Hixon Professor of Climate Studies Lelia Hawkins. We’ve received a great reception from the Mudd community as we’ve shared the vision of the new Hixon Center, including developing new joint majors and other opportunities to build a climate curriculum for tomorrow that centers on the science of climate change, the paths to climate resilience, and the role of the technical disciplines in each, as well as the intersection of all these with the humanities, social sciences and the arts. Our students are already benefiting from these efforts. A new Impact course, which focuses on the intersection of science and society through the lens of climate change, is a required course for this year’s sophomores as part of our newly revised Core Curriculum (read more on page 5).

As you may have heard, the presidential search committee has announced my successor. After visiting campus in November for a public presentation and reception and being confirmed by the board, Harriet Nembhard has been appointed the sixth president of Harvey Mudd College. I look forward to working with her to ensure a smooth transition as I prepare to step down from the presidency June 30, 2023. Watch your email and our social media channels to stay current on what’s to come!


Honor Code Refresh

with cases involving academic dishonesty on the rise shortly before and after students returned to campus from the quarantine, the College began efforts with all students to promote, reintroduce and educate about the Honor Code. In upholding the Honor Code, the fabric of the College’s culture, students are expected to act as responsible individuals, conduct themselves with honesty and integrity both personally and academically, and respect the rights of others. The College considers these standards essential to its academic mission and community life.

Programs and events serve to reacquaint students with the Honor Code and to encourage conversations about it throughout the year. During fall semester, there were two sessions about the Honor Code during New Student Orientation; meetings in the dorms at which proctors and mentors emphasized the Honor Code and its importance; student leader training that included sessions on the Honor Code; and a talk during Convocation about the importance and impact of the Honor Code.

The Division of Student Affairs continues to work with students on other programming ideas to help educate the campus community on the Honor Code.

Trustee Update New to the board

Harvey Mudd’s McGregor Center, designed by Steinberg Hart, is one of Learning by Design’s Grand Prize Award winners that feature elements that make a learning environment successful. Judges commented: “… modern and colorful with great amenities to a college campus with the courtyards and social gathering spaces. Very nice sequence of light-filled spaces and a well-balanced ecosystem of program and collaboration spaces. Love how the building engages students from across the campus.”

Doo Chung ’11 (engineering)

Market Intelligence Product Owner, Chevron

Dylan Hixon

President, Arden Road Investments

Tony Li ’82 (math)

Vice President, Juniper Fellow, Juniper Networks

Murray Rode P26

General Partner, Bow Capital Management

“Architecturally Brilliant”

Susan Sontag POM ’64

Role model, philanthropist

Susan Sontag, a role model, philanthropist and wife of Frederick “Rick” Sontag ’64, died Sept. 10 on the couple’s 57th wedding anniversary. The couple grew up in Long Beach, where Susan was high school salutatorian, and began dating during college—Susan at Pomona College and Rick at Harvey Mudd. They married shortly after graduating, and Susan worked as a court reporter before becoming a mother of three children.

Rick bought an aircraft engine parts business in 1980, and Susan provided moral support and, when needed, staff support, seeing it through challenging times to considerable success. In 1994, Susan was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer and given three years to live. She survived the disease but had substantial deficiencies that worsened over the next 28 years until her death. She faced her continuing loss of competence with courage and determination and became a role model for people facing serious medical issues.

After their company, Unison, was sold to G.E. in 2002, the couple started The Sontag Foundation to sponsor research related to brain cancer; it is one of the largest private funders of brain tumor-related research in the U.S., having administered 61 grant awards to scientists at 34 major cancer centers. Her stirring 2008 speech to the annual meeting of the Society for Neurooncology encouraged the doctors in the audience “to find the cause and a potential cure for this devastating disease.” Other organizations inspired by Susan are the Northeast Florida-based Brain Tumor Support Group for caregivers and their brain tumor patients that she and Rick regularly attended and the Brain Tumor Network, a nonprofit to help patients find treatment and cope with the disease.

The couple’s educational philanthropy includes landmark gifts to Pomona College (Sontag Residence Hall), The Claremont Colleges (Rick and Susan Sontag Center for Collaborative Creativity/The Hive) and to Harvey Mudd (Frederick and Susan Sontag Residence Hall; Aviation Room; Linde Activities Center; scholarships).

At Susan’s memorial service, Rick said, “Susan’s story of courage and bravery has given hope to so many.” Read more about Susan at

Presidential Search Complete

The sixth president of Harvey Mudd College has been announced. More information about Harriet Nembhard will be provided over the coming months via the College website, email and social media, and she’ll be featured in the summer Mudd Magazine (August 2023).

Teachable Moment

The Class of 2026 is the first to begin the new Core curriculum approved by the faculty in May 2020. This curriculum allows students to take four courses (plus a lab) throughout the Core without the need to overload during the Core and to have the option to take five courses beginning in the second semester. This year’s sophomores are taking the new Impact Course, which focuses on the intersection of science and society through the lens of climate change. They are studying its causes, consequences and the possibilities for amelioration along with faculty members from STEM and HSA departments.


STEM & Social Impact: Climate Change


Lelia Hawkins (chemistry), Vivien Hamilton (HSA), Julie Medero (CS), Paul Steinberg (HSA), Darryl Yong ’96 (math), Rachel Mayeri (HSA), Peter Saeta (physics)


Climate change is used as an opportunity to explore the impact of our work on society. Four primary components of this exploration are critical analysis of the social context of STEM, the expansion and application of concepts from the Core to understand this socialtechnical problem, collaborative projects that promote positive change in the world, and communicating our project designs and professional choices.

Selected reading

• “Climate Change and Social Vulnerability in the United States: A Focus on Six Impacts,” U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Sept. 2021

• “Indigenous Prophecy and Mother Earth” by Sherri Mitchell in All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis, edited by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katharine K. Wilkinson


Plenary sessions explore topics such as environmental justice, earth system science, the relation between expertise and power, policy processes, data science, community engagement, multidisciplinary collaboration, impactful careers, and science communication. Individual sections explore particular climate-related issues in greater depth. Final team projects challenge students to apply these concepts in proposals for climate solutions.


Startups Seek Amazing Mudders” for Internships

inspiring, validating, confidencebuilding: This is how Harvey Mudd students describe their time working in—and learning about—startup technology companies as part of the College’s new Entrepreneurial Summer Fellowship. In all, 19 students gained first-hand experience at a dozen companies, many run by Mudd alums, and got a taste of the startup space.

“For this College-wide program, companies tell us what they’re looking for, students do the same, and then we match them up,” says Kash Gokli, inaugural director of entrepreneurship initiatives and Oliver C. Field Professor of Manufacturing Practice and Engineering Economics. He notes that both the students and the companies reported numerous benefits.

The student view

“I did research on campus before, but I also wanted to see what it’s like in the industry and see my engineering knowledge being applied,” says Jenny Wathanakulchat, a senior engineering major who spent 12 weeks as a test-and-integration engineer intern at the robot-pizza-making company Stellar Pizza. Besides reviewing new components and reporting back to the design team, she also helped communicate the technology to its end-users, she says. “One of the biggest things I learned was how to incorporate the human aspect—engaging with operators to make sure everyone knows how the tech works and how to do it safely.”

Stellar Pizza had one intern, but other participating companies accepted more. Aquilius, a life science and medical technology incubator, brought in interns from several schools, including three from HMC. Interns attended lecture-style meetings centering on the ins and outs of running a new tech company, while also working in teams to solve one of several real-world, biology-related problems. “The idea was that we would create a little company from the start, develop actual

prototypes and finally present that project to a panel of investors who would vote on which company had the most potential for moving forward,” explains junior engineering major Devon Overbey. To sweeten the pot, Aquilius offered a $10,000 prize for the top team project.

“The whole experience was solid,” Overbey says. “I’ve been thinking about starting a company since high school, but this internship definitely made me feel more confident in my abilities, especially the fact that my team’s project showed promise to actual investors and we ended up winning the prize, which we split three ways. That was really cool.”

The company view

Other participating companies included Flycoin, a cryptocurrency-based, frequent-flier-loyalty program, and Trilo Bio, a robotics synthetic biology startup.

“We wanted HMC interns because Mudders are amazing,” said Nate Daiger, Flycoin CTO. “I’ve met lots of them through HMC INQ (, and if you’re looking for smart people who can jump into any tasks and tackle them with aplomb, I don’t think you can do any better. And that’s what startups need most.” The company’s three Mudd interns excelled, he said. “Everyone here, including many HMC grads, was extremely impressed with their skill and diligence.”

Trilo Bio decided to offer an internship because it was “an opportunity to nurture a relationship with a Harvey Mudd student just beginning their career,” says co-founder and CEO Roya Amini-Naieni. “When I was younger and just starting out, someone let me join their

research team. What I’ve found is that people who are given an opportunity early on tend to work harder and be more creative because it’s their first chance,” she says. She was not disappointed, describing her company’s intern, Arman Khasru ’25, as a “super-independent” person who dove right into a microfluidics project to assist with genetic engineering experiments. “He was our first intern ever at the company, and he did well,” she says.

What’s next?

With the program’s successful first year in the books, Gokli now hopes to expand it. “My plan is to make it a bigger-impact program, perhaps even doubling the number of students who participate.” To do that, he encourages other companies to contact him by email ( He notes that HMC fully or partially funded some of the internships in 2022, so he is seeking other ways to sponsor students in 2023 and beyond. “This is especially important for students who are perhaps disadvantaged or are first-year students and typically would not get a nice internship like this,” he says, noting that the investment helps students build their portfolio of knowledge and experience.

The benefit to students is real, agrees Wathanakulchat. “Mudd is a very hands-on experience already, but it’s still not ‘real’ compared to the business world. It’s a really good, comforting moment to see that what you did in classes actually applies. It’s very validating.” Besides, she adds, “I had such a good time.”


The Hixon Center and Our Climate Future

In webinars and presentations across the U.S., President Maria Klawe and faculty members shared the vision of the new Hixon Center for Climate and the Environment, the campus home for all efforts related to teaching climate change.

Alumni, parents and friends in New York and Washington, D.C., heard from President Klawe as well as Vice President for Academic Affairs and R. Michael Shanahan Dean of the Faculty Tom Donnelly and Director of the Hixon Center Lelia Hawkins about the initiatives that will build a climate curriculum that centers on the science of climate change, the paths to climate resilience, the role of technical disciplines in each, as well as the intersection of all these with the humanities, social sciences and the arts, in keeping with the mission of the College. Here are some highlights from the presentation.

Hawkins, who is also associate professor of chemistry and Hixon Professor of Climate Studies, is the first faculty member of the center. Her focus is atmospheric chemistry, air pollution and its impact on climate, and during fall 2022, she co-taught Climate Science and Human Behavior with a psychology professor. Searches for two more Hixon Center-based professors are in the works, one at the intersection of mathematics and climate, the other at the intersection of computer science and climate. The plan is to add five more faculty so there are jointly appointed faculty members within each of the seven academic departments.

Notes & Quotes Talks on Campus

With each new faculty member comes new courses and new research opportunities for students. Also, existing faculty members will be provided time and space to launch a new research program, design a new course or other activity. When they return to their regular teaching load, they’ll bring their new knowledge into courses that students are already taking.

A central program the Hixon center is launching is its solutions-focused climate change program. Hawkins says, “We hope that students will learn basic earth system science but, importantly, the program is solutions-focused. We want students to understand the basic physical principles of what’s changing in our climate system and to be empowered to work on these problems toward a solution.

“Every student can study climate because of the joint major program. They’ll partner with an existing major which will really give them depth in whatever they choose. They will have depth in their discipline (physics, CS, math, etc.) and breadth in both climate science and climate solutions. HMC’s program is unique because of the close student-faculty interactions as well as the number of courses (10) in the HSA fields, combined with the strong technical background.”

Funding from Fletcher Jones Foundation endows a climate Clinic. This allows the College to partner with organizations that might not otherwise be able to afford the Clinic fee. Clinics about the climate and environment are in great demand from HMC students. Now the College can offer at least one per year.

2023 Nelson Talks

Feb. 6 | Katharine Hayhoe Climate scientist, climate activist and teacher

March 20 | Amitav Ghosh

Award-winning writer of historical fiction, including Nutmeg’s Curse

April 17 | Naomi Oreskes

World-renowned geologist, historian and public speaker

“How do you tell stories [about climate change] in a way that people can actually hear them?
… There’s no right or wrong answer. We need many storytellers telling stories in many different ways so that everyone has a version that they can hear and understand.”
Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, from her Nov.2 talk “What If We Get It Right?” She is co-founder of Urban Ocean Lab, co-editor of All We Can Save and co-creator of How to Save a Planet podcast. The Dr. Bruce J. Nelson ’74 Distinguished Speaker Series is hosted by the Hixon Center and the Hixon Riggs Program for Responsive Science and Engineering.

Annual Report

A Review of 2021–2022

before i begin my review of the 2021–2022 academic year, I want to share my excitement about the recent announcement of Harriet B. Nembhard as the sixth president of Harvey Mudd College. Selected from one of the strongest pools in the country, Nembhard comes to Harvey Mudd from University of Iowa, where she is dean of the College of Engineering and holds the Roy J. Carver Professorship in Engineering. Her leadership overseeing academic programs, research initiatives and administrative infrastructure while educating students to positively impact society is a perfect match for the HMC community. We look forward to welcoming her July 1.

The board as well as the College community shares their thanks and appreciation for President Maria Klawe who has been an extraordinary leader and innovator. Her accomplishments and impact during the past 16 years have been truly transformative, allowing Nembhard to take the helm at a high point in the College’s history.

Now, to present highlights of another productive and impressive fiscal year.

As the College transitioned from quarantine to being back on campus, one of our most important tasks has been to ensure the success of our students. An essential aspect of academic and community life at the College is that its members act with honesty and integrity— something that I and fellow alumni deeply value about our Harvey Mudd experience. Recognizing the impact the pandemic has had on our students, the College began re-engaging the community in conversations around the Honor Code. Programs and events have promoted and reintroduced the Honor Code and educated students about its importance to the Harvey Mudd community. During the current academic year, students have had conversations about the Honor Code, and it was a featured

topic during New Student Orientation, Convocation, dorm meetings and discussions with alumni.

We’ve welcomed several new scholars who pledge to continue the College’s valued traditions while engaging students in experiential learning and challenging them to develop an informed world view. Tenure track faculty members were hired in chemistry, engineering and physics. Searches continue during the current academic year for nearly a dozen positions as we add new experts to our stellar faculty.

During the 2021–2022 fiscal year, we began spreading the word about the new Hixon Center and its mission of serving as a hub for students, faculty, staff and alumni to engage in collaborative discourse and actions to solve environmental problems. The efforts of Vice President for Academic Affairs and R. Michael Shanahan Dean of the Faculty Tom Donnelly, Director of the Hixon Center and Hixon Professor of Climate Studies Lelia Hawkins, and President Maria Klawe have resulted in enthusiastic support for the Hixon Center that is coming to fruition during the current fiscal year: Over span of nine months, the College has successfully relaunched the Hixon Center and secured significant private funding to support our efforts. Conversations are ongoing about this important area for the College, and as momentum continues to build, we anticipate this will be a key area for support in the next comprehensive fundraising campaign for Harvey Mudd. Just as we have with the Clinic Program and with our academic programs, we fully expect to have an outsized impact in the area of climate change.

Entrepreneurship is gaining momentum at HMC. Students are enthusiastic for the new Entrepreneurship course, are launching startups and are participating in a new summer fellowship program where they work with a variety of startups. Led by engineering professor Kash Gokli, the Entrepreneurship Center seeks to encourage an “entrepreneurial mindset” for all Mudders.

The College continues to make its mark and perform well in annual national rankings, including Washington Monthly, Princeton

Review and PayScale, the latter touting our high return on investment, excellent career placement and our graduates’ outstanding mid-career salaries. The Summer Institute program was named an inspiring STEM program by INSIGHT Into Diversity. The College’s successful effort to raise the percentage of women majoring in computer science is now a featured case study in the Harvard Kennedy School Case Program, the world’s largest repository of case studies for educators in government and public policy—yet another way that HMC is sharing its expertise with the world.

The College’s newest building, the Scott A. McGregor Center, was recognized with multiple design awards for its functionality and beauty. The HMC community is enjoying all aspects of this building, including the makerspace. Through the Physical Plant and Campus Planning Committee, we also are ensuring that the rest of our campus is well-maintained and modernized. Work in the residence halls, Platt Campus Center and Kingston Hall has included updating systems and renovating spaces. We began preparations during 2021–2022 to prepare for installation of a backup generator to safeguard important research and lab work in the academic complex. Installation should be completed by summer 2023.

I invite you to read in more detail about the accomplishments we’ve made together this past academic year, and I thank President Klawe and so many others in this remarkable community for their continued dedication to and support of Harvey Mudd College.

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


New Faculty Members

Department of Chemistry

Spencer Brucks studies the intersection of organic chemistry, polymer science and chemical biology. He received an A.B. in chemistry and biology from Cornell University and went on to earn a PhD in chemistry from Columbia University. Prior to arriving at HMC, he was a postdoctoral associate in Laura Kiessling’s group at MIT. There he designed biomimetic glycopolymers and investigated the role of multivalency in influencing microbial behavior. He looks forward to building a research team that investigates how polymer structure influences function and promotes diversity, equity and inclusion in the community.

Alicia Hernandez-Castillo is a physical chemist with experience in microwave electronics, laser systems, fast electronics and state-of-the-art techniques to perform spectroscopic measurements. She and her researchers are taking a physical chemistry approach to understanding the mechanism through which anesthetics work. HernandezCastillo was a postdoctoral research fellow for two years at the Fritz-Haber-Institute of the Max Planck Society in Germany. She earned a PhD in chemistry from Purdue University where she was a teaching assistant for General Chemistry. She has a B.A. in piano from Conservatorio Nacional de Música as well as a B.S. in chemistry and a master’s in musical composition from Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.

Bilin Zhuang is a computational chemist. She earned a PhD in chemistry from California Institute of Technology and has a B.A. in physics and chemistry from Wellesley College. She joins us from Yale-NUS

College, Singapore where she holds an assistant professor position and a joint appointment at IHPC. Her research focuses on understanding the complex structural and dynamic properties of soft matter systems, through both analytical theories and numerical simulations. Zhuang was the recipient of the AME Young Individual Research Grant in 2020. (Start date: July 2023)

Department of Engineering

Whitney Fowler designs and synthesizes bio-inspired materials to detect contaminants in water. She received her B.E. in chemical and biomolecular engineering from Vanderbilt University. She then worked for a nonprofit organization where she mentored undergraduate students before beginning work on her PhD at University of Chicago, Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering. Under the co-advisement of professors Matthew Tirrell and Juan de Pablo, she designed materials to selectively isolate and recycle phosphate from aqueous solutions. She says she loves engineering and mentorship because of the potential to “bring about good in students’ lives and through them to the world around us,” so she looks forward to “holistically training up the next generation of diverse engineers to tackle pressing and complex global issues.”

Dre Helmns does research in the area of energy storage and conversion. A postdoctoral researcher at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, they are working to develop decarbonized space conditioning and water heating systems that incorporate heat pumps, thermal energy storage, evaporative cooling and waste heat recovery components. Specifically, they use physics-based modeling of thermal equipment to enable innovative design and optimal operation of integrated energy systems for buildings and districts. As a queer and trans scholar and educator,

Helmns aspires to transform the culture of engineering by cultivating inclusive learning environments and making space for new leaders, while contributing to sustainable solutions for our climate crisis. Their degrees in mechanical engineering are from University of California, Berkeley (PhD and M.S.) and Loyola Marymount University (B.S.).

Department of Physics

Daniel Tamayo is a computational astrophysicist and planetary scientist, using machine learning techniques to study exoplanets and the evolution of planetary systems over time. A former NASA Hubble Fellowship Program Sagan Fellow in astrophysical sciences at Princeton, he is especially interested in the unresolved question about whether typical planetary systems’ orbital configurations remain essentially fixed or whether they evolve and rearrange over time. Tamayo earned his PhD in astronomy and space science from Cornell University and his undergraduate degree from University of Michigan.

Claremont Faculty Leadership Program

Three faculty members from each of the 7Cs were selected as fellows for this biennial program, which is designed to cultivate skills for effective leadership on campus, in the consortium and in higher education.

Karl Haushalter

Seeley W. Mudd Department Chair and Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Yi-Chieh (Jessica) Wu

Associate Professor of Computer Science

Julie Medero

Associate Professor of Computer Science


Summer in the City of Photochemistry

ah, summertime in paris—known for late sunsets and warm weather, walks along the Seine and leisurely meals at sidewalk cafés. This season in the City of Light is also known—to atmospheric chemists, at least—for something else: very active photochemistry. That’s what brought Lelia Hawkins, Hixon Center director and Hixon Professor of Climate Studies, and two of her students to France for research in June 2022.

Hawkins, Drew Pronovost ’23 and Syd Riley ’24 participated in the ACROSS campaign, a large field study designed to examine, with as much detail as possible, how an urban plume of pollution might influence the chemistry of the forest air and vice versa.

“The components of each system interact with each other, and the chemistry is non-linear and not well modeled,” says Hawkins. “This is important because many forested sites are close enough to cities to have some influence of the pollution from cities in the forest, and because heavily forested areas also emit compounds to the atmosphere that can play a role in making hazardous compounds, like ozone, when other humangenerated pollutants are present, like nitrogen oxides.”

The field study, which included researchers from France, the U.S. and other nations, took place over three sites: a city site in Paris, a forest site in Rambouillet (about 25 miles southwest of Paris) and an aerial site, for which instruments were mounted to an airplane that flew above the city center. “In the city site, we had six different filter samplers, cloud radar and about 15 instruments inside a small structure, with a hole and tubing to sample through. We had gas phase analyzers (ozone and nitrogen oxides), we had a few mass spectrometers to look in chemical detail, and we had ways to count and size the particles, too,” Hawkins says.

Most days, Pronovost and Riley walked to work from their apartment on the right bank of the Seine to the field site across the river.

“We got a shot of espresso and a fresh pastry for breakfast on the way,” says Riley. “We also used the metro system extensively, including for evening commutes to complete sunset filter changes.”

Having multiple sites managed by multiple research groups is what makes this study one of the larger efforts to measure the complexity of the atmosphere. “The impact is large, too,” Hawkins says, “because you can start to answer questions you couldn’t answer before since you have a more complete picture of the chemistry.”

Pronovost (a chemistry major) and Riley (engineering), two of just a few undergraduates among the researchers, focused on data collection at the city site. “There was a lot of trust placed in us in terms of collecting data and working with instrumentation on our own,” says Riley. “It was my first time working with research-grade instrumentation outside of a supervised academic lab course. Once I was trained, my daily responsibility was to collect and plot the data, then post it so other scientists on the campaign could see it.”

Both students found the challenges of fieldwork surprising. “I knew it would be an intense experience,” Pronovost says, “but I still wasn’t entirely prepared for the true intensity of dealing with a suddenly overheating instrument or a part shortage. Work was very improvisational and collaborative.”

“More than anything, it was important to be ready to jump in and help when a problem popped up,” says Riley. “Fieldwork involved a considerable amount of flexibility, and it was nice to be solving problems in a real work environment after trying to practice those skills at Mudd.”

Hawkins concurs. “The data processing can be tedious, and there is manual labor like filter changes (twice a day, every day), and if you miss an hour or a half a day of data, you can’t get it back,” she says.

But it’s worth it. “The most enjoyable part was getting to direct my research,” Pronovost says. “My dream is to lead my research and

teach as a professor, and this experience gave me a taste of independent research and what it’s like to be in a field campaign.”

“Being a part of the ACROSS campaign opened my eyes to the complexity and importance of atmospheric chemistry and its implications,” says Riley. “Talking to experienced scientists from different places, focused on all different kinds of atmospheric research, who came together to collaborate and help each other get the measurements for the campaign was exciting. I feel like I learned and understood the science and its importance more deeply than you can in a classroom setting. It was exciting to see the chemical reactions I learned about in theory actually correlate to the changes in gas concentrations that the instrument was capturing.”

Hawkins enjoyed working with scientists from France “to do something bigger than any of us could do alone and to do atmospheric chemistry with Drew and Sydney, so they could see what it really feels like to do this work. It’s hard to explain to someone how challenging and also how fun it can be to collect high-quality data. You have to be creative, attentive and cooperative. I love this kind of work. I also love seeing how quickly the students learn.”

Lelia Hawkins, Syd Riley ’24 and Drew Pronovost ’23 joined other researchers in Paris to study the complexity of the atmosphere.

A Century of Service

Kerry Karukstis (chemistry)

In 2020, Kerry Karukstis, Ray and Mary Ingwersen Professor of Chemistry, received the American Chemical Society Award for Research at an Undergraduate Institution. The award recognizes Karukstis’ participation as an undergraduate research mentor and proponent of the teacher-scholar model at Harvey Mudd since 1984 and her active engagement in the undergraduate research enterprise at the national level through her involvement with the Council on Undergraduate Research since 1993. She has conducted student-faculty collaborative research with external funding provided by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund, Research Corporation, the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation and the Jonsson Foundation.

Through her National Science Foundation work with CUR and fellow PIs, she assisted over 200 institutions across the country in the process of institutionalizing undergraduate research, scaffolding the elements of undergraduate research throughout the curriculum and understanding the factors necessary for transformative organizational and cultural change. She said, “I have found undergraduate research to be a compelling way to meld the interests of faculty to engage in scholarly work with the needs of students for challenging experiences that lead to substantial impacts on their professional development.”

She credits undergraduates with propelling her research program forward. “Their enthusiasm, creativity, technical expertise and eagerness to try new and challenging approaches have been key to our success. ”

Karukstis, whose years of service have included chemistry department chair, chair of the faculty, and faculty representative to the board of trustees, has mentored more than 130 undergraduate research students (64% female), including 52 senior thesis students (62% female); 65% (of 121) have earned a PhD in chemistry and 90% have earned advanced degrees. She received the Henry T. Mudd Prize for extraordinary service to the College in 2003.

Nicholas Pippenger (mathematics)

In recognition of extraordinary contribution to the information technology industry, the IT History Society acknowledged emeritus professor of mathematics Nicholas Pippenger in 2014. He is an Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award recipient and a fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery. He has produced a number of fundamental results, many of which are being widely used in the fields of theoretical computer science, database processing and compiler optimization. He is co-inventor of extendible hashing, a database access technique which has a dynamic structure that grows and shrinks gracefully as the database grows and shrinks. He began this work while at IBM Research with colleagues Ronald Fagin, H. Raymond Strong and Jürg Nievergelt (ETH, Zurich, Switzerland). The complexity class—problems quickly solvable on a parallel computer—was named Nick’s Class by Stephen Cook for Pippenger’s research on circuits with polylogarithmic depth and polynomial size.

In 2012, Pippenger was selected as part of the inaugural class of American Mathematical Society AMS Fellows. He is the author of Theories of Computability, published by Cambridge University Press (1997). Along with teaching and mentoring students in the areas of discrete mathematics and probability, communication theory and theoretical computer science, he was a Putnam Seminar co-coach.

Gerald Van Hecke ’61 (chemistry)

After earning his bachelor’s in chemistry (with distinction) at Harvey Mudd and a master’s and PhD in physical chemistry from Princeton University, Van Hecke worked briefly as a chemist for Shell Development, then returned to teach at HMC. The Eagle Scout, HMC Founding Class member and former department chair celebrated 50 years teaching at Harvey Mudd in 2020. He has taught nearly every course in the chemistry curriculum. His research focus is on thermodynamics and statistical thermodynamics of liquids—particularly liquid crystals.

He’s been an active member of the faculty and alumni communities, and he’s worked with the Admission Office as a faculty interviewer of President’s Scholars candidates. In 2000, Van Hecke was awarded the Henry T. Mudd Prize for his extraordinary service to the College. Among numerous professional distinctions and associations, Van Hecke has been a Camille and Henry Dreyfus Scholar, was appointed a fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, is an Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award recipient and NASA Science Faculty Fellow.

In 2015, the College established the Gerald R. Van Hecke ’61 Endowment for the Advancement of Chemistry to honor Van Hecke’s legacy of teaching, research, mentorship, administration and service. Funds are used for summer research, lab equipment and attendance at scientific meetings, or in support of chemistry in general. A recipient of the Outstanding Alumni Award (2001), Van Hecke has also supported the College’s alumni for more than five decades, serving in virtually every capacity for AABOG since 1965—work that he has called “a passion and a source of great satisfaction.” He received the award named for him—the Van Hecke Prize—in 2015.

Speakers at the retirement celebration for professors Nicholas Pippenger, Gerald Van Hecke ’61 and Kerry Karukstis expressed gratitude for the trio’s dedication and service, a combined total of 106 years.

Research, Awards, Activities Faculty Updates


In her ongoing work to illuminate and understand the diversity and taxonomy of octocorals, Catherine McFadden has constructed a fully resolved phylogeny for 185 octocoral taxa representing 55 of 63 currently recognized families. The research elevates the anthozoan sub-classes octocorallia and hexacorallia to the rank of Class. The revised classification of octocorallia comprises 79 families, including 18 that are newly described and three that have been reinstated or elevated in rank. In addition, two new genera are described and another three reinstated. The work was published in the Bulletin of the Society of Systematic Biologists


In recognition of his work advancing civically engaged STEM learning and research, Karl Haushalter was named an Ambassador for SENCER. The international STEM reform network offers professional development, research and assessment tools for interdisciplinary curricular innovation advancing undergraduate science. Haushalter is active in community efforts to combat the stigma associated with HIV-AIDS and support those living with HIV-AIDS through education and empowerment. His HIV-AIDS: Science, Society, and Service class addresses both the science of HIV and the ways that the HIV epidemic has impacted communities.

David Vosburg and Dr. Gregory Beutner, a process chemist at Bristol Myers Squibb, formed an industrial-academic partnership to translate Beutner’s rapid and mild method of amide bond formation from a large-scale, industrial experiment to a new organic chemistry teaching lab for undergraduates. A paper about the experiment was published online in the Journal

of Chemical Education, following research poster presentations at the American Chemical Society national meeting in March and the National Organic Symposium in June.

Computer Science

The Undergraduate Consortium, conducted at the AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, aims to broaden participation in the AI research community by recruiting students, particularly those from historically marginalized groups, supporting them with mentorship, advising and networking as an accelerator toward graduate school, AI research and their scientific identity. A research paper by Jim Boerkoel describes the program’s design—inspired by a rich set of evidence-based practices—and provides a preliminary evaluation of the program’s first years, which indicate the likelihood of a successful outcome. The paper was accepted for publication by The Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education, organized by the ACM Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education.


Joshua Brake received a grant from the Research Corporation for Science Advancement to develop a modular, inexpensive, open-source and multi-modal in vivo imaging system to democratize access to bioimaging. The project has the potential to significantly broaden access to imaging systems which might otherwise be out of reach for researchers at smaller institutions like HMC.

Leah Mendelson was invited to participate in the NSF-Sponsored “Ideas Lab: Engineering Technologies to Advance Underwater Sciences.” An Ideas Lab is an intensive meeting that brings together experts from diverse scientific and engineering backgrounds to develop innovative engineering technologies and solutions that will enable real-time and reliable sensing, communications,

localization, navigation, and mapping of aquatic environments for scientific research and economic development in a sustainable and environmentally responsible manner. Mendelson studies biological and bioinspired fluid dynamics and imaging techniques for fluid flow measurement; her dissertation focused on how archer fish propel themselves out of the water to feed.

Matthew Spencer presented his research on competency-based learning at the American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and earned the Electrical and Computer Engineering Division’s best paper award. “Prior literature, largely from medical education, shows a strong consensus that this technique enhances learning, but engineering education literature has only reported on this practice in earnest in the past decade,” he says. The paper describes an implementation of competency-based learning in an analog lab class and provides a template for adapting competency-based learning to a common course in electrical engineering.

Humanities, Social Sciences, and the Arts

Kathleen Burns is the new Hixon-Riggs Fellow in Science, Technology, and Society. Her research promotes the idea of making plants central to the history of science, arguing that what we know (or don’t know) about plants has shaped


the boundaries we draw between human and not-human, as well as hierarchies of race and gender. During fall 2022, she taught a new course, “Environmental Crisis in Science and Literature,” focusing on narratives of environmental disaster and apocalypse in science, literature and history. Students explored the role of storytelling in science and considered how art and literature can help us to imagine more just futures.


With biotech innovation company Adixt, Lisette de Pillis, professor of life sciences and mathematics, developed and published a mathematical model for predicting the durability and rate of decay of neutralizing antibodies to SARS-CoV-2. De Pillis and Adixt, which develops and commercializes technologies with a focus on monitoring and modulating the immune system, had their peer-reviewed research paper—“A mathematical model of the within-host kinetics of SARSCoV-2 neutralizing antibodies following COVID-19 vaccination”—published in the Journal of Theoretical Biology. NAb inhibit viral binding to the human cell receptor thereby reducing its ability to infect the cell. Evaluating NAb levels and their durability over time is important in understanding unique immune responses and the likelihood of an individual having protective immunity against infection, the researchers state.

Susan Martonosi was elected the treasurer of INFORMS, the largest association for decision and data sciences. A faculty member since 2005, her area of expertise is the application of operations research and analytics methodology to problems in the public sector, including pediatric vaccine pricing, propagation of fake news and homeland security. In 2020, she received the INFORMS Prize for the Teaching of OR/MS Practice.

Tenure-track Faculty Searches

Talithia Williams is host of the NOVA l PBS documentary “From Zero to Infinity.” Viewers learn how these key concepts have been invented and re-invented by different cultures across thousands of years. Williams, who began hosting NOVA Wonders documentaries in 2018, is a groundbreaking professor, popular TED speaker, inspiring author and passionate STEM/ STEAM advocate. Watch the trailer and view on your local PBS station,


A leader in the field of dark matter physics, Brian Shuve has been proposing new ideas to look for viable theories of dark matter in collider experiments and analyzing data from lowerenergy particle collision experiments that could offer new insight into dark matter. Physical Review Letters and Journal of High Energy Physics published research papers on the topic by Shuve and his students. The Shuve Group took the approach of sifting through existing datasets to look for signals of dark particles. “We did searches for two types of dark forces that are common in dark matter models,” Shuve says. “I’ve been motivated by the fact that these one or two baseline scenarios are probably overly simplistic and, while they serve as good benchmarks, there is a lot more that these experiments can do that can be missed with current approaches.”

The College is preparing to hire scholars with broad intellectual interests who can excel at teaching outstanding undergraduates and who can establish an active research program involving undergraduates. Stay tuned for announcements about these positions.

• Assistant Professor of Physics

• Assistant Professor of Economics

• Assistant/Associate Professors of Engineering

Multiple tenure-track faculty positions in General Engineering program.

• Assistant Professor of Computer Science

Multiple openings in all areas of computer science.

• Assistant Professor of Mathematics

• Assistant Professor of Climate and Mathematics; Assistant Professor of Climate and Computer Science

Jointly held positions through Hixon Center for Climate and the Environment and Department of Mathematics or Department of Computer Science


Midnight Pie

based on the number of hungry students they observed seeking after-midnight fare, Isaac Hershenson ’24 (CS & math) and Kevin Box ’24 (engineering) realized that there is a need for a late-night pizza stand at the College. They came up with a special pizza recipe and started their Friday-night pizza business, described here by Hershenson.

What inspired you to launch a company?

The entrepreneurship seminar with Professor Kash Gokli (Oliver C. Field Professor of Manufacturing Practice and Engineering Economics and director of entrepreneurship initiatives), a little inspiration from my mom, Mar Hershenson, and our interest in bringing the HMC community together in a fun way.

How did the Entrepreneurship course help you with this endeavor?

It gave us the platform to pitch and actually think out the idea, Slice of North, and it was actually the catalyst for us buying the pizza oven last spring after we gave our pitch. We decided to go for it and use the summer to plan out our business model before starting pizzas in the fall.

How does your business work?

We create a new pizza each week and sell it by the slice, half pie or full pie. We take pre-orders through a Google form, and all payments are made on Venmo. We have sourced our fresh ingredients from an Italian market in Upland (Claro’s), but Kevin is the mastermind behind the special toppings we put on each week.

Any challenges?

Tons! Keeping the pizza oven hot, keeping track of orders, making sure the dough is proofed enough, etc. Every week, we debrief what went right and wrong and are always looking to improve the business, and our pizza making skills.

Goals for the business?

We have increased our profit each week, and our end goal is to break even on the down payment for the pizza oven.

Favorite pizza?

Bacon and pear

PHOTOS BY JORDAN STONE ’24 AND DEVON OVERBEY ’24 Isaac Hershenson ’24 and Kevin Box ’24 created Slice of North to prepare freshly made pizza for fellow students.

Astronaut Scholars

Amani Maina-Kilaas ’23

Major: computer science and mathematics

Area of interest: computer science

Research: A member of the AMISTAD Lab led by HMC computer science professor George Montañez. Lab members investigated how the ability to perceive intention can advantage virtual agents and demonstrated survival benefits in adversarial situations through statistical analysis of various simulations. The work with AMISTAD resulted in three publications—two with Maina-Kilaas as lead author; one as co-lead author—and led to him being nominated for the Goldwater Scholarship and being named one of four Outstanding Undergraduate Researchers by the Computing Research Association in early 2022. During summer 2022, with University of Southern California computer science professor Muhao Chen, he researched natural language understanding (specifically, machine common sense) in the Language Understanding and Knowledge Acquisition Lab at the Information Sciences Institute.

Other activities: Interned as a software engineer at Stripe; tutors peers in programming languages and introductory computer science; teaches fellow students to freeskate

Post-graduate plans: Pursuing a PhD in computer science

Presentations and Prizes

The AMISTAD lab sent two students, Nico Espinosa Dice ’22 and Ramya Ramalingam’21, to present their research on informationtheoretic generalization bounds for supervised learning at the 2022 International Joint Conference on Neural Networks, in Padua, Italy at the University of Padua. The students presented their paper, “Bounding Generalization Error Through Bias and Capacity” (co-authored with Megan Kaye ’22 and CS professor George Montañez) to an international audience of university students and professors. This work is the first to introduce generalization bounds within the Algorithmic Search Framework, a formal system for understanding machine learning and AI as a type of feedback-informed search process.

Alec Vercruysse ’23

Major: engineering

Area of interest: electrical and computer


Research: With Joshua Brake’s Biophotonics Research Lab, investigated and prototyped a 3D printed microscope for low cost Fourier ptychographic microscopy. With Matthew Spencer’s Analog Circuit Engineering lab, worked on an underwater acoustic phased array meant for fish tracking with passive tags.

Other activities: Member of Claremont-Mudd-Scripps swimming team (specializing in breaststroke); digital design internship for a wireless communication company; grutor for Music Stems and Music Stems II (Professor TJ Tsai); Eagle Scout with Troop 64

Post-graduate plans: Graduate school to pursue cutting-edge industry research

In August, William Yik ’24 and Rui-Jie Yew SCR ’21 presented research to almost 200 international researchers at the AAAI/ACM Conference on Artificial Intelligence, Ethics, and Society held at Oxford University, Keble College. Yik’s paper was focused on the issue of bias in training data and developing ways to spot it. His work was done as part of summer research during 2021, along with student coauthors Limnanthes Serafini ’24 and Timothy Lindsey of Biola University and Prof. George Montañez.

A team of Harvey Mudd College students placed fourth in Citadel’s TERMINAL global championship, winning a $5,000 prize and beating teams of experienced players and PhDs from top universities around the world.

Two Mudders were selected for their exemplary academic performance, ingenuity and unique aptitude for research.
Nico Espinosa Dice ’22 and Ramya Ramalingam ’21 in Padua, Italy

Forget Starving Scholar. Think Empowered Academic.

hile figuring out how to make ends meet as a graduate student, Emily Roberts ’07 created a blog about her finances. This exercise resulted in two meaningful conclusions about life in graduate school: It’s time to retire the notion of the starving student, and university offers should be robustly examined and negotiated.

Roberts took a winding path to her profession as a financial educator—she conducts online and in-person seminars and hosts a podcast through her business, Personal Finance for PhDs. She graduated from Mudd as a physics major in 2007, then in 2014 earned her PhD in biomedical engineering from Duke University.

“The liberal arts education provided by Harvey Mudd gave me such a breadth of skills, both in the sciences and engineering but also with writing, communication and learning across disciplines,” Roberts shares via Zoom from her San Diego home, where she lives with her husband, Kyle Roberts ’07, who also holds a PhD from Duke University, and their two children.

Her life in graduate school was marked by typical stressors, like learning to successfully manage her time and research projects and live on the stipend provided by the university.

“I came through that period with a desire to learn, study and teach in an even different field, which is personal finance,” she says. “I think the experience at Mudd and switching fields in undergrad and graduate school gave me confidence in my own abilities to apply my skills and knowledge in different areas.”

With about a dozen years of higher education behind her, including a post-baccalaureate fellowship at the National Institutes of Health, as well as more than 150 podcasts on her website, Roberts has fine-tuned a guiding principle championed by award-winning science communicator Katie Wedemeyer-Strombel: “Grad school should be challenging but it shouldn’t crush you.”

So, how can a grad student learn to thrive financially? Roberts shares five pieces of advice for prospective grad students.

Emily Roberts ’07 advises prospective grad students so they can thrive.
Photo by Lauren Radack


Don’t resign yourself to being a starving scholar.

Students tend to focus on spending fundamentals—groceries, clothing, entertainment—while ignoring larger financial goals, like repaying student loans, investing or establishing an emergency fund. “The starving scholar does not have to be true for you,” Roberts emphasizes. The mindset shift must happen first. “If you never even conceive that you could have a goal, then that’s what must change first,” she advises.

Read the benefits package twice.

The most important time in which to consider your financial situation is during your grad school application year, Roberts says. “You should carefully consider what they’re going to be paying you in the context of the local cost of living.” Roberts admits she didn’t factor in cost of living as a prospective student but got lucky when she chose a school that paid a relatively good stipend for the local cost of living. “I was not intentional about that,” she admits. “It’s common that stipends will be less than the local living wage for one adult. But I would say that is a red flag.” When looking across offer letters, compare those that are above the cost of living and those that are below. The difference could mean whether or not you have to get a part-time job or take out student loans to attend a certain university.

Do the math.

Roberts suggests looking at local papers or online databases to find out what rental costs are in the city you are considering. She recommends a database from MIT, which has calculated the living wage for every county and metro area in the U.S. “It’s obviously a conglomerate number, so it’s just a starting point, but I like to point prospective graduate students to this exercise,” she says. Take a closer look at the offer letter and, using a formula, estimate your level of financial capability in each city. “Take the stipend in your offer letter then subtract out the fees—maybe there’s an activity fee or a portion of your health insurance premium or even tuition sometimes. Take that number and divide it by the local living wage for one adult. You then have a number that can be compared across the various offers you get.”

Don’t be afraid to negotiate.

“This is not something that is very widely discussed within academia,” she notes. “It’s obviously standard practice in the private sector when you receive a job offer to negotiate, but it’s not something that’s done much at the graduate student level. There is no guarantee of success, but it’s important to note how the person you’re negotiating with takes it. They should be respectful.” Further, Roberts strongly believes that universities should be candid when explaining how funding operates. “Whether they say ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ they should give you the reason why,” she says. Students who have their own outside fellowship are in a strong position for negotiation, she argues, because they are bringing money to whatever program they choose.

Know your worth.

Graduate students play a vital role in the labor—in the product—of the university, according to Roberts. “Whether that’s teaching or research, they deserve to be valued financially as well as in other ways for their contribution. It’s also the humane thing to do; to pay people reasonably.” Adopting the label of “student” as a core aspect of your identity will only make matters worse, she says. “I think it’s a little bit infantilizing. You’re a full-fledged adult, and you’re doing important research for the university. Grad students need to hear a little bit of empowerment. That’s a good message.”

4. 5. Listen to Emily’s podcast at

2. 3.

Spread Joy, Feed People

couple of years into his first post-harvey Mudd college job, tyler Smallwood ’17 started to feel restless. Though he enjoyed the work—research and design engineering at an aerospace startup in Seattle—he was getting tired of sitting at a desk. He’d saved some money and had a desire to travel, so he quit the job and set off to find adventure. He was in Chile in March 2020 when he had to return home quickly as the COVID pandemic began. Choosing to stay with an aunt and uncle in California, his travels were on hold, but his adventure had just begun.

Safe, insulated from the worst of pandemic and with plenty of time to kill, Smallwood was feeling increasingly like he should be doing something to help people more directly affected by the crisis. “I felt like my life was just so cushy living with my aunt and uncle in California,” he says. “We were sitting around at home and not able to do much, but you aren’t really feeling repercussions of like the world flipping upside down.”

To stay busy, exercise his engineering muscles and earn some money during the pandemic, Smallwood and a friend began browsing Craigslist for vehicles that they could convert into other things for resale. When Smallwood found a 40-year-old German firetruck, the idea to convert it into a food truck was born.

“We came across this fire truck and determined that buying it could be a little risky, but I always kind of wanted to run a food truck,” he says. After many conversations with the truck’s owner, Smallwood bought the truck and moved to Bend, Oregon, where his parents owned some property. “I hunkered down and built myself a little house and converted the fire truck into a food truck which was quite the endeavor.

“I’ve always loved building and designing things, and that’s sort of where engineering came about when I went to Mudd,” he says. “I definitely get a little distracted when I’m sitting on a computer all day, so it was pretty fun to just kind of pour myself into these hands-on projects that definitely dealt with engineering but weren’t like building spaceships or anything.”

Once the food truck, christened Tetrafunk, was ready, Smallwood hit the road, joined by his friend Eva, who had recently quit her job as a barista in Seattle and was eager to help. “We started in Oregon, in Bend, and drove over the Cascades to a bunch of the towns that had been hit by the wildfires in summer 2020. We basically lived out of the truck and her car and just drove around serving food to people.

“It was just kind of amazing how easy it was to find opportunities,” he says. “For example, we were in a parking lot of a food outlet in Eugene, Oregon, and some random person came along who was interested in the fire truck. We got to talking, and we ended up serving food with him in one of the fire relief centers. We had zero plans. Pretty much we’d just show up in a new city and find areas where unhoused people were staying, or we’d find someone who could tell us where there was a need, or we’d show up at a homeless shelter and serve a bunch of food. It was a really cool experience. Totally unlike anything I’ve ever done before that. It was a wildly different way to travel, but super rewarding.”

Menu planning was also spontaneous. “Usually, we’d go to a local store and see what

How a pandemic, imagination, compassion, curiosity and engineering converged for an unplanned adventure

was available, look up a recipe and multiply it. Whatever we thought would be fun. We tried to do mostly vegetarian, which was interesting. Some of the crowds we served were not as into that. And it also depended on what we served. Everyone likes black bean enchiladas, but we served black bean burgers one day and some people liked it but others not so much.”

In addition to learning what food was popular, the pair also had to learn how to cook a lot of it in the small space, managing time and available electricity and storage. “Mostly it was a challenge trying to figure out how to serve that many people,” he says. Tetrafunk is equipped with a large griddle, a large oven and a two-burner stove to make rice or pasta. Solar panels on top of the truck provide power. “Sometimes Eva would be cooking in the back of the truck while I was driving to the next destination,” Smallwood says.

At the end of 2020, Smallwood moved back to Bend, and Eva moved back to Seattle. Smallwood estimates they served more than 1,000 meals using donations from family and friends to fund the operation.

Upon his return to Bend, Smallwood connected with a local

West African Peanut Stew Tetrafunk Edition (Serves 50)

• 1/3 cup olive oil

• 2 heads garlic

• 1/2 cup grated fresh ginger

• 10 onions

• 10 lbs sweet potatoes

• 3 tbsp cumin

• 48 oz tomato paste

• 4 cups peanut butter

• 3 gallons water

• 2 jars Better than Bouillon

group called Rogue Knights which organizes food services to meet the needs of local people. “They funded me once a week to serve as much food as I could in Bend, where there’s a pretty significant unhoused population. If I go out, I can usually find about 80 people who want a meal,” he says.

Smallwood isn’t sure what he’ll do next. “I’m still figuring it out,” he says. He recently earned his substitute teaching license. “I have been teaching quite a bit,” he says. “The Harvey Mudd education has been quite useful in its breadth. I still feel like I have a good grasp of chem, bio, math, physics, etc.”

As for the food truck, Smallwood and his partner, Nikki Holzman, have begun to use Tetrafunk as a catering service for events to help raise money for the nonprofit (free meal) arm. “Each catered meal will also donate a meal to someone in need,” he says.

Whatever’s next for Smallwood, it will likely include travel (he recently completed a biking trip in Baja California) and more hands-on adventure. For now, perhaps the Tetrafunk motto sums it up best: Spread joy, feed people.

• 5 cups red quinoa

• 5 cups chopped kale

• 2 bunches cilantro

• 3 cups chopped peanuts

1. Peel and grate the ginger, mince the garlic, and dice the onion. Sauté the onion, ginger and garlic in a gigantic pot with the olive oil until it smells delicious.

2. Dice the sweet potato into 1/2-inch cubes. Add the sweet potato cubes, cumin and red pepper to the pot and continue to sauté until sweet potato has softened a little.

3. Add the tomato paste, peanut butter, water and bouillon to pot. Stir until the peanut butter and tomato paste have mostly dissolved into the broth. Place a lid on the pot and turn the heat up to high. Allow the stew to come up to a boil. Add dry quinoa.

4. Once it reaches a boil, turn the heat down to medium-low and allow it to simmer for 30 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are very soft and the quinoa is cooked.

5. Turn off the heat and add the kale. Add salt and pepper as desired. Garnish with cilantro and chopped peanuts. Enjoy!

Tyler Smallwood ’17 and his partner served free meals to more than 1,000 people from his converted fire truck.

Members of an award-winning student organization consider ways to maximize their beneficial impact on society through STEM and advocacy.


Hall’s second floor and are required to enroll annually in a course with a social justice component. The LLC allows for flexibility in the definition of social justice. Coursework has focused on subjects such as race and ethnicity in Brazil as well as the history of medicine. Classes often consider subject matter through the lenses of science and technology.

Members have friendly, low-stress weekly meetings with ice breakers, personal updates and food and discussions about campus events, or debates about a documentary or news story. LLC members also make presentations to the campus community. Last year, students presented topics as varied as the pitfalls of educational disparities and the legacy of former Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. This year, they’ll cover accessibility at Mudd and Guam’s current status as a U.S. colony.

One of the LLC’s most popular events is the Queer Prof Panel, which drew 70 students when it debuted in fall 2020. LGBTQ faculty members answered questions and described their paths through life and academia. In another

well-attended event, Lelia Hawkins, director of the Hixon Center and Hixon Professor of Climate Studies, spoke on scientific work by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

On Nov. 8, the midterm election, the LLC sponsored a “watch party,” in conjunction with the Office of Community and Civic Engagement. It’s just one of many partnerships developed with the Division of Student Affairs, affinity groups and student government to widen opportunities for students to become involved in social justice and advocacy. Attendees ate

snacks and watched news coverage. Painting supplies were available to provide a “de-stressing activity.” “We really wanted to encourage students—whether they wanted to think about the election or not—to come be in a supportive environment,” Morgan says.

When Becca Blyn joined the LLC in fall 2019, she did so with 10 fellow sophomores, all of whom had attended LLC events as first years. She and co-presidents Yoo-Jin Hwang ’22 and William La ’22 opened LLC membership to first-year students and incorporated mentoring,

Back: Shivani Manivasagan, Malia Morgan, Ryan Nguyen, Gregory Wickham, Charlie Schofield, Kristofer Chang, Paolo Kainu. Front: Oswaldo Cardenas, Hannah Betts, Callie Dawson, Chadinthon (Minnie) Kittivorawong, Celeste Magdaleno.

which allowed them to get to know the incoming students and provide an extra level of support.

The organization is guided by a mission statement that calls on LLC members “to maintain a respectful environment” and “to foster open, passionate and intelligent discussions about social justice issues.” The mission also encourages students to become leaders in challenging these issues, while also supporting individuals on campus who may feel marginalized.

LLC advertises its efforts to students via email, with promises of “good snacks” if they show for events.

“We’ve tried to integrate the LLC into the lives of Mudd students so that it isn’t just another organization on campus but instead serves as a resource and opportunity for students to become involved in whatever social justice issues they find most exciting,” says Blyn, who is pursuing a career in science policy. “Personally, the LLC has allowed me to think beyond the basic science of biology and consider how my STEM knowledge and understanding could allow me to have a larger societal impact.”

For her social justice course requirement, Blyn enrolled in a class called International Political Feature Writing. “It allowed me to write several political journal articles centered around any number of advocacy or social justice topics,” she says. Other students took courses that focused on climate change. “The requirement really allows LLC members to think outside the box when creating their course schedules, and it pushes them to go outside of their major and concentration when choosing electives.”

For first-year members of the LLC, the social justice class requirement is waived. Nonetheless, sophomore Kris Chang enrolled last year in Social Justice and Equity: STEM and Beyond taught by Darryl Yong ’96, professor of mathematics. This year, he’s taking a newly required sophomore “impact” course on climate change. Impact is the operative word.

“I do think that the students who come to our events leave learning something important or having been impacted in some way,” Chang says. “We have a lot of options for people to learn about the world outside the STEM-focused environment that we have here at Mudd.”

LLC member Minnie Kittivorawong ’24 has considered social justice beyond the United States. The Thailand native introduced classmates to the Milk Tea Alliance, an online democracy and human rights movement whose members include internet users from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand and Myanmar. Kittivorawong says, “Being in the LLC makes me view myself as more than just a student, but as someone with a voice who can introduce social justice issues to the whole student body.”

“ We’ve tried to integrate the LLC into the lives of Mudd students so that it isn’t just another organization on campus, but instead serves as a resource and opportunity for students to become involved in whatever social justice issues they find most exciting. ”


GOLDen Moments

The GOLD (Graduates of the Last Decade) Society maintains connections among the most-recent graduates. They receive exclusive invitations to GOLD-only programs and events like professional development opportunities, social events and community service initiatives. Alumni across the U.S. and abroad have volunteered as hosts in their hometowns. Here are some highlights.

BBQ Picnic Potluck in Altadena, California, with Art Reyes ’18 Candlepin Bowling and Pizza in Boston with Lin Yang ’16 Sushi Making Class in Torrance, California, with Lucy Wong ’22 and Michael Jang ’22 Afternoon Tea in Pasadena, California, with Carling Sugarman ’14 and Izzy Lee ’16

AABOG Spotlight Recognition Award

For leading data scientists and engineers of the Virtual Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles

Melissa Aczon ’93 leads data scientists and engineers of the Virtual Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA). Working closely with intensivists from CHLA’s Cardiothoracic and Pediatric Intensive Care Units and clinicians from other CHLA departments, her team tackles clinical problems that range from detection of patient-ventilator dyssynchrony to early identification of critically ill children who may require unusually high doses of heparin.

She uses her math background to diagnose and address shortcomings of algorithms (from decision trees to Fourier techniques to recurrent neural networks) on messy, multi-modal data that her team captures from electronic medical records. But to her, properly formulating a problem that leads to clinically relevant information can be the most challenging aspect of her work because it requires understanding clinical workflow and data context. This makes collaborations with clinicians

essential and why she feels fortunate to be at CHLA and working with leaders in pediatric critical care. She loves the two-way street of learning with clinicians: her VPICU team conducts a lecture and workshop series on data science and machine learning for clinicians; in turn, the team gets educated on clinical concepts.

Prior to joining CHLA, Aczon was a principal scientist at Arete Associates, where she worked on remote sensing problems, with data coming from different types of sensors, including radar and optical systems.

She credits her math professors at HMC, especially Art Benjamin, Stavros Busenberg and David Bosley, for introducing her to math as both a beautiful subject in its own right and as a powerful tool to solve problems. Along with Gene Golub (of Stanford University, where she earned her PhD in scientific computing and computational mathematics), they inspired her and instilled in her math perspectives that allow her to see connections between seemingly disparate problems.

For the last 15 years, Melissa and her husband, Clifford Stein ’92, have been volunteer math and science tutors at Neighborhood Youth Association, a nonprofit that provides educational programs for students from underserved families.

For work celebrating the outdoors

At first glance, Steve Hinch’s biography would hardly seem to paint the picture of an outdoor adventurer.

After earning B.S. and master of engineering degrees, he entered the high-tech industry as an engineer. His career includes executive management positions at Hewlett-Packard, Agilent Technologies and TeamLogic IT. Hinch ’73 holds three patents in telecommunications technologies and is the author of the groundbreaking professional reference book, Handbook of Surface Mount Technology. In 1988, the international trade association Institute for Interconnecting and Packaging Electronic Circuits (now IPC) presented him with their President’s Award for his contributions to the advancement of the electronics industry.

But there is another side to Steve’s background.

Growing up in Southern California, his outdoor-loving parents would often take the family camping in remote desert locations. These trips inspired a love of the outdoors that remains an indelible part of his life today. Since a career in the high-tech industry didn’t naturally lend itself to wilderness exploration, writing books was his excuse to

get outdoors. His 1998 book, Hiking and Adventure Guide to the Sonoma Coast and Russian River, now in its second edition, was a reason to hike all the state parks near his home in Northern California. His next book, Outdoor Navigation with GPS, now in its third edition, showed hikers and backpackers how to navigate in the wilderness.

His latest excuse to get outdoors is The Slickrock Desert, published in March 2022. It uses stories of his personal explorations throughout the American Southwest to introduce the reader to the history, natural history, geology, paleontology and the Native cultures of this remarkable landscape. He worked with such notable environmental organizations as Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and Grand Staircase-Escalante Partners to assure his stories were accurate. Hinch weaves HMC into the book with a brief discussion of Harvey and Victoria Mudd (grandchildren of the College’s namesake) and their work in support of the Navajo. He also recruited three members of the Class of 1973—Charlie Horton, Larry Yujiri and Wilson Hom—to read drafts of the entire manuscript and provide feedback.

Although mostly retired, Hinch still serves as an executive consultant for several technology companies, and he’s planning the manuscript for his next excuse to get out into the wilderness.

The HMC Alumni Association selects inspirational alumni whose contributions embody the College’s visionary themes of innovation, leadership and impact through global influence and contributions to society.



Peter A. Loeb (math) says he’s continuing work with H.J. Keisler on an edition of his calculus text replacing infinitesimal errors with standard error functions.


Bob Kelley (physics) was a juror for the third year for the Austrian Young Physicists Tournament. “Some really bright kids (about 18 years old) put together very complex experimental solutions to challenge problems and then provided detailed physical models and compare the results—stuff we were doing at HMC junior year. The team from Georgia came in first this year, Austria second and a German team third. Austria needs to keep improving. Nice to be with young people this bright. Also working in the department of physics at Uppsala University on physics solutions in support of nuclear disarmament. But they are 100% pro-nuclear power!”


Bruce I. Cohen (physics) retired from full-time employment as a physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in January 2017 after 40+ years working mostly on magnetic and laser fusion research. He has published a book of lecture notes on theoretical plasma physics (A.N. Kaufman and B.I. Cohen) and has been working part-time on a sub-contract at LLNL dealing with two different technical projects. He says, “My wife of 47 years and I keep busy with long walks, gardening, reading, hobbies, house projects and socializing with friends and with our daughter and husband while respecting COVID precautions. We have become pretty regular users of Zoom.”

Jack Cuzick (math) says his focus is on “identifying women at high risk of breast cancer and offering them prophylactic treatment. Also very keen to promote self-sampling for cervical screening.”


Don Albrecht ’71/72 (engineering) is retired and lives in Huntington Beach.


Gene Nelson (IPS) received a presidential citation from the American Nuclear Society of which he is a lifetime emeritus member. Since late 2015, he has served as the legal assistant of a nonprofit he helped found: Californians for Green Nuclear Power, Inc. ( He says, “I’ve spent about 20,000 hours so far on the project to keep Diablo Canyon Power Plant (DCPP)—near where my wife and I live—running beyond 2025. There are significant environmental, ratepayer and public safety benefits associated with continued safe operations of DCPP, which has a typical annual power production equal to five Hoover Dams of emission-free power. My advocacy has been at the local, state and federal level, involving considerable travel, including a May, 2022 trip to Washington, DC. This advocacy in conjunction with other groups appears to be bearing fruit with recent supportive actions for DCPP by the Biden administration and California Governor Gavin Newsom. I’ve been able to apply my HMC biophysics degree and my PhD in radiation biophysics from the University of Buffalo to inform my advocacy. In addition, my physical endurance which was enhanced by becoming a long-distance runner when I entered HMC in September 1969, has proved invaluable. In order to meet deadlines, I’ve had many nights with little or no sleep, just like when I was at HMC.”

Michael Hughes (chemistry) has retired from his law practice. He and his wife, Lisa, have moved to Medford, Oregon, and are enjoying life.


Brian Rohrback (chemistry) says that in the world of changing employment, he finds himself in the same position he took on 36 years ago: running a scientific software company specializing in the field called chemometrics. Brian is very happily married to his Claremont girlfriend, Lisa (Scripps/CGS), and says it is hard to believe they met 50 years ago!


Yiannis Fotopoulos (engineering) shared two important milestones for the Fotopoulos’ family: “Our daughter, Nefeli, got married, and I went into retirement after 43 years of work.”


Deborah Konkowski (physics) is retired and became professor emerita of mathematics at the U.S. Naval Academy. She says she’s still working on general relativity and gravitation with physics Professor Emeritus Tom Helliwell.


Geoffrey Hueter (physics) spoke in October at a League of Women Voters event in San Diego about rising housing costs and affordability. He is a data science executive who is a leader in artificial intelligence, machine learning and program management. He is one of the founders of Neighbors for a Better San Diego, a grassroots organization that was started to protect neighborhoods from the development of apartment buildings in the backyards of single-family homes. He has a PhD in physics from UCSD.


Greg Hassold (physics) retired last summer as professor of physics at Kettering University after 32 years. He also stepped down as organist in his parish prior to a move to New Mexico in fall 2022.


Mark Pitchford (engineering) was recently elected executive vice president and chief marketing officer of California Casualty, leading marketing, sales and customer service. As a result, Mark and his wife moved back to the Bay Area from Hawaii, where they had lived the last five years while she completed her PhD.


Rafael Alvarez (engineering) was selected as a 2022 Top 50 Latino Leader of Influence by the San Diego Business Journal, in association with

The Lure of the Deep Sea

Outstanding alumnus

he first noticed the air bubbles as a teenager while exploring undersea caves on the beach where he grew up. He later learned the bubbles were being used by limpets, small sea snails with a mighty grip and a clever mechanism for breathing underwater. Steven Haddock ’87 (independent studies/public policy and science) would write about the limpets for a college marine biology class, but eventually this turned into his first publication in a scientific journal.

During a talk at Alumni Weekend in recognition of his recent Outstanding Alumni award, Haddock described the road from Harvey Mudd College to a PhD in marine biology (University of California, Santa Barbara) to the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, where he is a senior scientist, and the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, where he is vice chair of the Research Activity Panel. Among those influential in his journey were HMC professors William Allen, former professor of government, and the late Bill Purves, founding member and former chair of the Department of Biology, the latter of whom Haddock says set him on his way toward a graduate career and guided him toward publishing opportunities. Haddock is now paying it forward through his work advancing knowledge in the field of marine science.

Studying the deep

“The Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute gives us access to the deep sea from the shore. We can take our ships out and be in over a mile of water, about 1,600 meters deep, and be back by four o’clock, with live animals that we collected. I work on a lot gelatinous organisms: snails and worms and jellyfish. In particular, I work on radiolarians and ctenophores. To

study these animals, you can’t just drag a net through the water—they are too fragile. For shallow things, we use blue-water scuba diving to collect them. To go deeper, we use remotely operated vehicles (ROVs). “Which are essentially our eyes and arms down there. We can put different instruments on them to help us study the organisms. We also have some autonomous vehicles. Our torpedo-like vehicle is kind of like a Mars rover underwater, and it will autonomously run a triangular route, stay out for about 10 days at a time, check in every once in a while and receive new commands or send back data.”

Favorite organisms

“Some of my favorite organisms out there are comb jellies, one of the things that I specialize in. They have sticky tentacles instead stinging tentacles like ‘normal jellyfish.’ They use little ciliary paddles to move through the water. We studied a really deep species that is found about 3,000 meters down. When we bring it up onto the ship, it pretty much melts away, probably a combination of temperature and pressure. A student, Jacob Winnikoff, created a high-pressure, temperature-controllable cuvette chamber. We programmed it to sweep through temperature, cool down and also increase pressure up to 5,000 meters equivalent. We can take extracts from these actual organisms and characterize how the lipids in that animal respond to regimes of pressure and temperature. We want to know how the deep organisms still have functional pliable membranes when they’re operating under 500 atmospheres of pressure at less than two degrees Celsius.”

Fluorescence and bioluminescence

“[One] thing that a lot of these animals have in common are interesting biooptical properties: either fluorescence or bioluminescence. Some things look kind of drab in normal white light, but when you shine blue light on them, you suddenly see these fluorescent pigments that are in the tissues of these animals. And so we put a blue light on our ROV so that we can fly around and have fluorescent vision in the ocean. And what’s pretty amazing is that you can take the genes that are responsible for making those fluorescent proteins, and you can put them into bacteria or any other organism and they’ll start pumping out fluorescent proteins in a functional state. Because you can take that genetic sequence and put it in another organism, it turns out to be incredibly useful as a biological

highlighter. You can create fluorescent patterns in another organism so you can see what’s happening inside of it without sacrificing it. The development of fluorescent proteins actually got the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, and it’s one of the things that we’re able to study in a lot of these deep-sea organisms.

“With my postdoc Séverine Martini, looking at things that we can see from our remotely operated vehicle, three quarters of organisms were able to produce bioluminescence all the way from the surface to 4,000 meters, so it’s incredibly widespread.”

Citizen science

“We have to try to share this research widely. One of my pictures was on a U.S. postage stamp, and I got an email from somebody who lived across the street from my grandpa’s farm who ran a dairy farm in central California, and he had seen this and made the connection. So just reaching people who are not necessarily beachgoers or ocean aficionados is a really strong priority for me. We’ve tried to do this through videos. My favorites on YouTube are ‘There’s no such thing as a jellyfish,’ ‘The allure of fluorescence in the ocean’ and ‘The secret life of Velella.’

“We also try to reach out through citizen science through And this is actually a two-way exchange because you can’t study jellies very well globally—there’s just not an instrument that will tell you there’s, say, 50 jellyfish per cubic meter in [a certain] body of water. So we rely on the fact that people are experiencing the ocean all over the world every day, and they submit images to us, and we can help them identify things that they find on the beach.”

Steven Haddock ’87 wants marine science to be less of a mystery.
For more on bioluminescence, see the website developed by Haddock, Genome sequencing of the ctenophore (comb jelly), common off the California coast, has helped provide insights into the early origins of animals as well as the origins of bioluminescence.

the San Diego County Imperial Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. He is the Mathematics. Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) program director at San Diego City College, The academic support program is for students transferring to four-year universities in STEM majors. Rafael focuses on a “learning culture” revolution in higher education to transform student lives, especially the lives of underrepresented students of color. He earned the 2021 Outstanding Engineering Educator Award by the San Diego County Engineering Council, a recognition that inspired him to capture the school’s learning culture praxis model in “Turning on the Lights: Using Learning Culture to Increase Student Success,” ( Alvarez founded the SDCC MESA Program in 2000 for the school, which is a Hispanic Serving Institution, and he began transforming the MESA model in 2009 by using learning culture to increase student success. Rafael is featured in the summer 2021 Mudd Magazine


Jeffrey Hong (IPS) joined the Honolulu Liquor Commission in October replacing former chair Narsi Ganaban. Jeffrey is a business entrepreneur in Hawaii’s technology community. He founded Microsoft’s Hawaii office and is chief technology officer and founder of Techmana LLC, a software development and cybersecurity firm. He also has a military background, having served with the Hawaii Army National Guard as a military intelligence major. Jeffrey is active at the local and national levels with the civil rights movement— including the pursuit of marriage equality—as a lay leader of the American Civil Liberties Union and is a member of the National Board Executive Committee. He is a board member of a Hawaii Island-based medical cannabis dispensary and has direct experience with the challenges of highly regulated industries.

Calvin S. Miles (engineering) writes that the GPS world has been very active lately. “The FAA signed an MOU with Air Force Research Lab to work with them on Navigation Test Satellite #3 (NTS-3) which is exploring future technologies for GPS. There are several good articles on NTS-3 on the internet. I’ve also been spending a great deal of my time fixing a problem where if more than one satellite has a ranging error caused by the control segment, the algorithm in the receiver (receiver autonomous integrity

monitoring is blind to the failure. We’re working on several fixes to the problem. As always, we continue to look for people that are interested in contributing to the future of GPS.”


Mark Wilkins (physics) has lived in Iceland for eight years. He’s worked as a staff lighting artist at Rhythm and Hues Studios, “which managed to go bankrupt a week before winning the visual effects Academy Award for Life of Pi,” and for RGH Entertainment, an animation studio in the San Fernando Valley. Between the two jobs, he began playing Eve Online by CCP, where a friend worked. “When a position opened up at CCP’s Reykjavík office that was well-suited to my background, she suggested I apply,” he says. After a six-month application process for an Icelandic work and residence permit, he moved there in fall 2014. Just as he accepted the position, he became reacquainted with Nancy Linford ’94 (biology). They married the following year, and she joined him in Iceland in mid-2015. They have a three-year-old daughter, Emma, born in Iceland. “Emma and I have pending applications for citizenship, and Nancy will be eligible to apply later in the year, so I’d say that the move to Iceland has been a success.”


Ellen Heian (engineering) is participating in the Climatebase Fellowship, an eight-week jumpstart into Climate Tech.


Peter Jarrell (biology) shares that he and Kat have been in Portland about eight years with their son enjoying the Pacific Northwest. “Coming up on 18 years with Genentech.”


Gregg Snodgrass (CS) is in his 26th year at IBM working on enterprise data warehouses. He’s also spending time with his wife tending

their backyard. Their son is entering year two at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.


After a brief stint in HIV research at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Chris Alef (biology) transitioned to high tech in 2000. He writes, “By 2001, I started at Amazon where I joined an eclectic group of people that built an online bookstore into the behemoth that it is today. I had a couple of short breaks along the way to try out other things but kept going back to Amazon. In March 2020, I started my current sabbatical just as the COVID-19 pandemic picked up. Outside of work, I have been running our local public school district bond and levy campaigns for eight years, and I serve as a city planning commissioner. I live in the Seattle suburb of Snoqualmie with my wife and two kids.”

Grace Credo (chemistry) has been working at Intel HQ in Santa Clara since 2005. In 2018, she moved from a Si-based chemical sensor group in Intel Labs into wet process technology development and pathfinding in the 3D NAND memory group. She has 13 issued Intel patents. She is enjoying working with other alumni on the HMC Alumni Association board, serving as secretary and current treasurer and is one of the admins for the alumni LinkedIn and Facebook groups. She helped plan a virtual Wine and Chocolate Tasting event and gift of a makerspace loom for her class’s 25th reunion last year. Grace met her husband of 16 years at UCSB (chem grad school back in 1997), and they have a daughter, age 8.


The 2023 Levi L. Conant Prize was awarded to Joshua Greene (math) of Boston College for his article “Heegaard Floer homology,” published in the Notices of the American Mathematical Society (68 [2021], No. 1, pp. 19-33). The award recognizes the best expository paper published in either the Notices of the AMS or the Bulletin of the AMS in the preceding five years. In 2002, Greene was the first student from an undergraduate-only institution to receive the Frank and Brennie Morgan Prize for Outstanding Research in Mathematics by an Undergraduate Student. That prize was based on his paper “A new


short proof of Kneser’s conjecture,” which appeared in the Monthly and his senior thesis with Francis Su on Kneser’s conjecture and its generalizations.

Eric Heitzman (CS) shares, “I became an ethical hacker and penetration tester for a while (Foundstone, Mandiant), then started working with security software vendors (Ounce Labs, IBM, Qualys, Security Compass). My career started as intensely manual, hands-on security testing and progressed toward automation and scalability. Today, I work with threat modeling software. I also invest in several startups, including one founded by Mudder Tim Morgan’01 (”

Drew Levin (CS) writes, “I received my CS PhD from the University of New Mexico in 2016 with a focus on complex systems modeling and analysis, and I have been working as a research scientist at Sandia National Labs ever since. During the early days of COVID, I led Sandia’s Data Science COVID Modeling team. I currently lead a diverse set of projects including applying deep learning medical data to improve health risk prediction and using deep reinforcement learning to help regulate the electric grid. I live in Albuquerque with my wife, Meg, my daughter, Norah (9), and my son, Drake (6), and spend my free time playing board games with my family and ultimate frisbee with my friends.”

Timothy Prescott (math) has two daughters, ages 12 and 8, and is an associate professor of math at the University of North Dakota, managing the data for its math emporium. He’s also helped adapt its three-semester, opensource, APEX calculus textbook, now available as a PDF, website and e-book.


Nicole (Carlson) Moore (physics) received tenure (2021) at Gonzaga University and had a sabbatical application approved for 2022–2023. She completed her term as the faculty fellow for early career support in the Center for Teaching and Advising as well as a term as the president of the Junior League of Spokane. “My kiddos and house/garden projects have filled up the rest of my ‘free’ time, but I’m hoping to have a bit of actual free time this coming year.”


Dan Halperin (math) is running engineering at Intentionet, a startup aiming to keep

computer networks secure and reliable. He says, “The exciting mathy part is the automated theorem provers and symbolic analysis tools we use to prove that networks do what their operators want, but I spend most of my time on ‘leadership.’ In more-important-but-not-math news, my wife, Sammy, and I are delighted with our four-month-old daughter, Ursula, if she lets us sleep.”


Jeff Manassero (engineering) is a member of the Ted Ducey CMS Hall of Fame Class of 2023. Jeff played football and was recognized as All-SCIAC for four seasons, earning first-team three times and second-team once. A four-year starter on the offensive line starting every game, he played at least one game in every offensive line position except center. Manassero was known for his speed and technique as a blocker, which enabled him to make the critical “reach block” countless times for the Stags of the era, whose favorite play was outside zone. As a result, Jeff was named as Stag Most Valuable Offensive Player, was team captain for two seasons and earned CMS Wall of Fame honors for his academic and athletics success.


Alumna Trustee Karen Morrison (chemistry) has been appointed chief deputy director and science advisor at the California Department of Pesticide Regulation, where she has been acting chief deputy director since 2021. Morrison served as assistant director and chief science advisor at the California Department of Pesticide Regulation from 2019 to 2021 and was environmental program manager and science and policy advisor there from 2018 to 2019. She was senior environmental scientist at the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery from 2014 to 2018 and an environmental and utilities commissioner for the city of West Sacramento from 2015 to 2016. She was a science and technology policy fellow through the California Council on Science and Technology placed with the California Senate Environmental Quality Committee from 2013 to 2014. Karen earned a PhD in chemistry from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


Trevor Ashley (engineering) was recently promoted to the role of assistant group leader in the Control and Autonomous Systems Group at MIT Lincoln Laboratory. He says he helps lead an amazingly brilliant and creative group focused on solving our nation’s toughest problems.

Richard Mehlinger (CS/ history) was elected to a seat on the Sunnyvale (California) City Council. As a representative for District 5, he is charged with addressing affordable housing, climate change, transportation and traffic congestion. In a Twitter post he wrote, “I ran this campaign on a platform of safer streets, abundant housing, climate resilience, supporting our small businesses, improving collaboration with the school districts, working with our neighborhoods and maintaining Sunnyvale’s tradition of good governance.” His experience in city government and local activism, includes chairing the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission, chairing Livable Sunnyvale and serving as vice president of the Sunnyvale Democratic Club.


Rob Best (engineering) was named to Consulting Specifying Engineer’s 40 Under 40 Awards for 2022. He was recognized for his work as a dedicated leader on the energy and sustainability team in Arup’s San Francisco office and his passion for understanding the complex urban systems at the core of humanity’s resource consumption. At Arup, he combines analytical understanding of urban energy systems modeling with the ability to effectively communicate complex technical topics to clients, guiding them on a journey to greater energy, water and carbon savings.

Joshua Swanson (CS) earned a PhD in mathematics from University of Washington in Seattle in 2018; postdoc at UCSD 2018–2021, postdoc at USC in L.A. 2021 to present. He recently enjoyed a trip to Iceland.



Beginning in February 2022, Andrea Levy (math) took a civic leave of absence from Alation to work in the government for a year. She was selected into the 2022 cohort of White House Presidential Innovation Fellows. The program matches private-sector technologists with government agencies tackling hard problems for a yearlong fellowship. She’s working with FEMA Region IX, helping them build out their data management and analytics capabilities. Andrea is still based in the Bay Area; the FEMA Region IX offices are in Oakland. “I’ll have occasion to travel to DC, so let me know if you’re there and would like to meet up.”


Miranda Parker (CS) just wrapped up a postdoctorate at the University of California, Irvine and accepted an assistant professor position at San Diego State University that began in fall 2022. She says, “I’m excited to channel everything I learned from my CS profs at HMC as I start teaching CS undergrads!”


Paul Jerger (physics) graduated from the University of Chicago in December 2021 with a PhD in the university’s newest degree program, quantum science and engineering. Since graduation, he and his wife, Emily, have moved back to Los Angeles, where he took a job with his former Clinic sponsor, HRL Laboratories. At HRL, Paul is part of the experimental team developing a silicon-based quantum computing platform and working alongside several of his Clinic team’s liaisons.


Kathryn Jones (engineering) is working as a PhD researcher at the University of California Irvine in the civil and environmental engineering track. Her focus is on sustainable concrete additive manufacturing, and one of her ongoing projects is developing a concrete 3-D printed ultra-tall wind turbine tower.

Philip Woods (biology) is working on a PhD in geobiology at Caltech. He’s in the Orphan Lab studying the evolution of anaerobic methaneconsuming archaea that live on the sea floor. He says, “Hopefully I’ll have a paper about it

submitted soon. Outside of academics, I’ve been participating in several small choral groups.”


Ziyang Zhang (math) is enrolled in Brown University’s physics master’s program, working on supersymmetry research.


Aubrey Egerter (engineering) spent this past summer doing materials engineering research at the University of Kiel, Germany. Her work focused on creating thin films of thermoresponsive polymers using a novel method called initiated chemical vapor deposition. These materials are especially promising for drug delivery systems and biosensors. She says, “This opportunity was perfect for diving deeper into chemistry, polymerization principles and common analysis techniques. Most of the equipment in the lab was designed, machined and constructed by the lab engineer and graduate students which was inspiring to an HMC machine shop proctor alum. It was difficult to get me out of the lab when I got sucked into debugging the reactor! Beyond academics, I hiked and biked my way around Northern Germany with my university friends. I even got to travel around Scotland and scramble up some peaks for my last month.”

Have you changed jobs? Retired? Celebrated a milestone?

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In Memoriam

Patrick J. Barrett ’66 (engineering) passed away peacefully and pain free in July. After HMC, Pat majored in aerospace studies at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and graduated with a law degree from Stanford University. He was a loyal supporter of Harvey Mudd College, giving to family scholarships, class scholarships and other initiatives that were meaningful to him, most recently through the Ayco Charitable Foundation – Patrick & Penelope Barrett Fund. As a former member of the HMC Board of Trustees and AABOG, Pat kept very busy attending alumni events and hosting receptions with his wife, Penny ’67 (engineering).

James S. Caid ’72 (engineering) passed away on Sept. 30 at age 72. He had been battling cancer for one and a half years. He fought hard and enjoyed life until the last couple of days. He was a very kind and loving man, smart, honest, sensitive and giving, enjoyed his many dogs, hiking, friends and nature. He leaves many friends and family and his wife, Jill Caid.

Robert L. Coffman ’80 (math) died Dec. 19, 2020. He attended graduate school at the University of Minnesota and earned a PhD in mathematics (1990). He and his wife Victoria "Vicki" Phelps were married 31 years and raised two daughters, Dena and Alice. He taught for 34 years at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls in the Mathematics Department, serving as department chair for nine years. Throughout his life, Robert enjoyed camping, hiking and biking with his family and friends and took special pleasure in stargazing. His family and many friends will remember him for his limitless patience and calm, his sense of humor and his ability to listen deeply.

Alexander K. Kendrick ’15 (physics with distinction) passed away on Sept. 4. He earned a PhD in geophysics at Stanford University. He was awarded a competitive ARCS (Achievement Rewards for College Scientists) Foundation scholarship during his graduate studies at


Stanford. In addition to his many scholastic projects and achievements, Alexander worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics Solar REU. Recently, Alexander created the “Weather Almanac” on to “measure the weather and stay aware of climate change.” He was a soccer afficionado and enjoyed making tea, pancakes and cheese scones during the halftimes of early morning matches.

Dr. James Alan Ross ’68 (physics), a wellrespected and loved husband, physician, father, brother, friend, boat builder and grandfather died Oct. 16, 2019 peacefully and surrounded by love. A native of Bellingham, Jim lived a full life that encompassed many fields, including studying physics and serving as a naval officer before completing medical school at University of Washington and working as a physician in the Bellingham community. He graduated from MIT (physics) and the University of Washington for medical school. He started practicing medicine with Dr. Dave Lynch in Bellingham in 1978. James continued his practice in the Bellingham community for 35 years as a family physician.

Brian Lynn Szemenyei ’83 (physics) passed away Dec. 9, 2021 near his home in Fort Collins, Colorado. He was known as a chef, master pun teller, husband, brother, grandpa and friend. He earned his master’s degree in physics at UCLA and later taught the sciences to high school students for 23 years.

Jerry Tunnell ’72 passed away in rural Texas April1 after being struck by a truck while riding his bicycle. At the time, Jerry was participating in a transcontinental bicycle trip from St Augustine, Florida to Claremont, California. Jerry and his fellow riders were all HMC alumni and were bicycling to Claremont to attend their 50th class reunion. It was a trip that Jerry had dreamed of making for many years.

Jerry was best known as a mathematician, specializing in number theory. After graduating with honors from Harvey Mudd, he continued his studies at Harvard University where he received a doctoral degree in 1977. He then taught at Princeton University before joining

its Institute for Advanced Study. In 1983, he joined the faculty of Rutgers University and was an active member of its Number Theory group until his untimely death. While at Rutgers, Jerry advised seven PhD students and shaped the careers of many more in his brilliant courses on algebraic number theory and algebraic geometry. Jerry’s deep understanding of the latter led to particularly insightful courses on algebraic geometry, with a familiarity and unique approach which is sadly now lost to humanity.

Many of Jerry’s research works will be studied by mathematicians for years to come. His most famous accomplishment, the Langlands-Tunnell Theorem, is one of the foundations on which the proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem was built. Perhaps even more striking was his work on the congruent number problem, a paper dense with repeated brilliant insights into the relation between an ancient problem about triangles and several cutting-edge aspects about L-functions, modular forms and elliptic curves. Jerry’s work on supercuspidal representations was also pioneering.

Jerry’s depth of understanding and knowledge served as an amazing resource for Rutger’s number theory community. His colleagues and students will surely miss his friendliness and approachability.

Jerry was as avid about the outdoors and bicycling as he was about mathematics. He loved the American southwest, especially his native New Mexico, its food and its culture. He collected Native American textiles and pottery. He leaves his wife, Marlene Fahey, and their son, Matthew Tunnell, and his wife, Jaclyn.

John Vickery ’90/91 (engineering) passed away during November 2021 in Bel Air. He grew up in Southern California and always had a keen interest in the sciences, mostly in applied physics and engineering. John also had a very deep love for photography and a real talent for applied research in areas like lasers and digital image processing. He attended Harvey Mudd first as a physics major then as an engineering fifth-year program student. John’s instincts driving him toward the more “hands-on” aspects of HMC Engineering Clinic, even as

a physics major, were a natural extension of his comfort in working with technology and applying technology to create solutions to real life problems. As a fifth-year master’s student, John’s skills in team leadership, lasers, imaging and showmanship won him and the Walter Reed Hospital Clinic team the Clinic Presentation of the Year in 1991. The team developed a fluorescing imaging system designed to observe cell degradation in the absence of gravity. This was the prototype of an experiment to study the effect of space travel on cell structure which eventually flew on one of the last Space Shuttle missions in 2011.

After graduating from HMC, John’s meteoric career arc led him to become a senior executive with over 20 years’ experience working with global market makers in the media and entertainment industry, including leading brands, such as Fox, Sony Pictures, Paramount, Blockbuster, Disney, MGM and Geffen Records. After helping launch Sony’s Media Cloud Services business, John focused on finding and launching new startups, always targeting opportunities that could benefit from the project- and results-oriented skill set he had developed at Mudd then honed throughout his professional career. Medi-Scene was the latest project he developed, working with his local contacts for digital content and simulation specifically targeted for the medical industry and adapted to real-time virtual reality training use by Medtronic’s Cardiac Surgery Division in Europe.

John’s passion for the HMC Clinic Program and firm belief that it taught you not only how to think, but how to apply what you learned naturally led him to remain involved with HMC as a trustee and as a donor to create the Global Clinic Program. He often expressed his wish that the HMC Clinic Program and its learning outcomes could be brought to other like-minded individuals outside the United States. One of John’s favorite metaphors was the idea of a launching pad leading others to similar confidence-building successes. The HMC Global Clinic Program is the perfect example of such a launching pad, enabling the practical and theoretical skills that the Engineering Clinic Program has to offer to real global engineering problems.


Alumni Weekend 2022

1977 Karen Hartman, Steve Hayes, Chris Marble, Tom Taylor, Mike Osborne 1962 Hal Harris, Bill Hartman 1997 Wendy Panero, Antony Selim, Chase Tsang, Todd Clements, Noel D’Angelo, Wendy Hein 2012 Paul Hobbs, Kevin Riley, Jenny Iglesias, Renee Gittins, Michael Nevarez 2017 Back: Michael Chaffee, Jeffrey Milling, Maxwell Howard, Kathryn Jones, Jonathan Wang, Paige Rinnert, Rosh Lam, Calvin Leung, Kathleen Kohl, Hao Cao. Front: Sam Miller, Marisa Kager, Hu Lin, Jessica De La Fuente, Weiyun Ma, Kangni Wang 1987 Eric Danielson, Calvin Miles, Andrew Firth 1970 Wendell Goring, Ed Fey, Jon Johnson 2002 Daniel Pennington, Charlie Boehm, Noah Levin, Antonio Medrano, Colin Little, Brian Yoxall, Nicholas Breznay, Carman Ng, Shamik Maitra, Claire Launay 1992 David Williamson, Bryan Reed, Mike Dederian, Greg Levin, Eric Stokien 1972 Back: Lance Lissner, Don Rodriguez, Tom Brentnall, Dick Jones, John Mallinckrodt ’73, Carol Holder. Midde: Floyd Spencer, Steve Wolfe, Murray Thompson, Wayne Wakeland, Greg Hamm, Gary Larson, Bill Frost ’73. Front: Brian Baxley, John Sawka, Duane Knize, Brian Flynn, Dave Stewart, Karl Rudnick, Doug Zody 2007 Jason Santiago, Katie Mouzakis, Nate Chenette, Heather Chenette, Kyle Roberts, Emily Roberts

The Power of One

905 100 70 50 8 One

HMC is home to 905 students pursuing their dreams.

It is our policy to meet 100% of every student’s demonstrated need.

At Harvey Mudd College, 70% of all students receive financial aid.

The College is proud to support a student body made up of 50% men and 50% women.

The student-to-faculty ratio is 8:1 which provides a unique opportunity for mentorship and support.

You have the power to create countless opportunities for our extraordinary students through giving. It only takes one gift to make a difference.

The Power of Giving

During this holiday season, we invite you to make a gift in support of HMC students. Your one gift works together with other gifts from alumni, parents and friends to create countless opportunities for our extraordinary students and noteworthy faculty.

The Power to Change Lives

Your gift has the power to change lives. Unrestricted funds help meet the College’s greatest needs such as scholarships, diversity and inclusion efforts, community engagement programs like the Homework Hotline and more.

Ways to Give

To make a gift, scan the QR Code or mail a check to HMC Advancement, P.O. Box 840600 Los Angeles, CA 90084-0600. Questions? Email or call 909.621.2560.

“Your gift means a lot to me and the rest of HMC because it helps keep the community supportive and inclusive.”
–Shreya Balaji ’25
Nonprofit Org. U.S. Postage PAID Claremont, CA Permit No. 35 301 Platt Boulevard Claremont, CA 91711
Participation in an HMC entrepreneurship course inspired Isaac Hershenson ’24 and Kevin Box ’24 to launch a company that meets a vital need: feeding hungry Mudders. Hershenson dishes the details on page 15