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PHOTO BY SHANNON COTTRELL
We were inspired by biology professor Dan Stoebel, who asked his Twitter followers to post their “quietest picture.” During this uncustomary quiet time, we thought we’d do the same. We look forward to the days when HMC community members once again fill the halls, classrooms and outdoor spaces.
Fall/Winter 2020 | Volume 20, No. 1
Letters to the Editor Opinions about the content of
Going Where Life Leads
Harvey Mudd College Magazine are welcome. Letters for publication
Cathy Chang ’21 sought a college where she could grow and learn, and Harvey Mudd has delivered.
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Lay Your Cards on the Table
Airplane Mode An ambitious project by engineering professor David Harris and his HMC Aero Lab students takes flight.
Can a card game help change the tone of political discourse? Claire O’Hanlon ’09 thinks so.
“We Want to Pay it Back” For Hal ’62 and Mary Harris, two retired chemistry teachers, life is an adventure.
To commemorate the International Year of the Nurse, we interviewed three health professionals, who describe their career journeys and what it’s like for them during the age of COVID-19.
Director of Communications, Senior Editor Stephanie L. Graham, APR Art Director Robert Vidaure
for clarity and brevity.
The Harvey Mudd College Magazine is produced three times per year by the Office of Communications and Marketing.
Dear Editor, Just wanted to say the gift guide [Summer 2020] is great and has some cool stuff. Already ordered Robot Turtles for my nephew. Giving feels extra good knowing I am supporting a fellow Mudder. Keep it up, Tim Lin ’95
Dear Editor, The gift guide is really awesome! So many interesting products. Thanks for including me. Scott Gibson ’80 www.gibsonoutdoorphoto.com
Assistant Director Sarah Barnes Writer Leah Gilchrist Contributing Writers Lori Ferguson, Daniel F. Le Ray, Leslie Mertz Contributing Photographers Seth Affoumado, Dave Baiocchi, Shannon Cottrell, Keenan Gilson, Jeanine Hill, Cheryl Ogden, Deborah Tracey Proofreaders Sarah Barnes, Kelly Lauer Vice President for Advancement Hieu Nguyen Chief Communications Officer Timothy L. Hussey, APR
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On the cover An illustrative take on nursing to commemorate the International Year of the Nurse by illustrator Brian Stauffer.
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HARVEY MUDD COLLEGE MAGAZINE
PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE Still, We Celebrate with the 2020 fall semester now concluded, I want to congratulate our students for persevering and take a moment to reflect on this very challenging year that brought successes and also sadness to our community. First, I’m thankful to each community member for helping provide a collaborative educational experience, one that is a testament to our commitment to excellence, our mission and our students. Your efforts are incredible, especially due to what many may be facing this year: from health crises to economic instability to caregiving responsibilities. Yet, our faculty and staff have gone above and beyond repeatedly to navigate the year’s challenges. We can be proud of what we’ve achieved individually and collectively. A year marred by a global pandemic, racial discord and political upheaval was made even more emotionally difficult by the deaths of esteemed members of our community. We celebrate these individuals, who—each in their own way—have left an indelible mark on the College and all of us. Mike Shanahan – It’s hard to imagine that a single person could have such huge impact on Harvey Mudd College, yet that is the case for Mike, a wonderful, quiet, thoughtful person who transformed the world around him, including our college. In addition to three new buildings and beautifully renovated academic spaces significantly funded by his gifts, the Shanahan Fund supports many student-led projects, and he’s supported endowed faculty chairs. Read more about Mike and his legacy on page 8. Bob Cave – A respected chemist, distinguished teacher and widely recognized scholar, Bob was known for his hearty laugh and his welcoming and congenial manner. He arrived at Harvey Mudd in 1988 and, with his research students, used quantum mechanics to understand the structure and reactivity of atoms and molecules. Bob once stated “the best part of it all is the extraordinary students at HMC.”
He also served as associate dean for academic affairs and was vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty. The faculty lauded Bob for his “effective leadership, enormous capacity for consensus building and desire to provide a supportive environment for the faculty.” (page 14) Ed Landry – Ed became associated with the College in the 1960s and was a trustee from 1982 to 2012 and an emeritus trustee since 2012. He served on several board committees, introduced the College to many prominent foundations and was a longtime supporter of HMC scholarships. (page 9) Bob Keller – Bob was an internationally recognized computer scientist with corporate and academic experience as a technical leader, researcher, educator and administrator. He is known for his work on formal models, verification, functional languages and distributed graph reduction architectures. In addition to being a talented jazz musician and organizing student performances as part of his Jazz Improvisation class, he developed the music notation software program “Impro-Visor.” (page 15)
and scientific education. He was senior author of seven editions of the college textbook Life: The Science of Biology. Bill received a 1994 HMC Honorary Alumni Award and the 1995 Henry T. Mudd Prize. (bit.ly/33ZCnzx) We also mourn the loss of alums, most recently Richard “Dick” Chrystie ’61 (a Founding Class member), nuclear engineer James “Andy” Wehrenberg ’72 and communications engineer Kitty Ressler ’75 (page 44). The Harvey Mudd community is made up of many visionary, supportive and resilient people. We will need all of these qualities and more as we begin the new year and tackle the challenges ahead. We’ll continue to follow the guiding principles that have focused our planning efforts from the beginning: to protect the health and safety of all members of the HMC community and to provide the educational experience we treasure. If this pandemic and the trials and losses we’ve endured teach us anything, it is that we must take time to appreciate each other and celebrate life as often as we can. I so look forward to the time when we can all be together again.
Dick Olson ’62 – A physicist, historian and alumnus, Dick served as a chair of the faculty and was chair of the Department of Humanities, Social Sciences, and the Arts. A prolific writer with more than 60 published works in the history of science, he served on the faculty for 35 years before his retirement in 2011. In 2005, Dick received the Henry T. Mudd Prize for his faculty recruitment efforts, supportive leadership and commitment to diversity, community engagement and students. He is a 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award recipient. (hmc.edu/in-memoriam/ richard-g-olson/) William K. Purves – The founding member and former chair of the Department of Biology, Bill was the Stuart Mudd Professor of Biology from 1977 to 1995 and served as chair of the computer science and biology departments. After teaching introductory biology for 34 consecutive years, he retired in 1995 in order to concentrate on research directed at learning
Maria Klawe President, Harvey Mudd College
HMC Community Responds to Those in Need throughout fall semester, numbers of positive COVID-19 cases fluctuated and continued to be higher than acceptable to allow in-person, residential higher education. Faculty and staff transitioned to an online format while continuing to support students and one another. In addition to the ongoing commitment of the faculty and staff to offer the highest quality education possible, including transitioning curricular and co-curricular activities for students, the HMC community pulled together to support the Employee Emergency Relief Fund that was established to provide tax-free, emergency assistance to furloughed employees. Within two weeks, contributions reached 85% of the $100,000 initial goal. As a result of the positive response from the HMC community, and given the need to extend furloughs into the spring semester, the fundraising goal was increased to $200,000 to expand the relief provided to furloughed employees to include health insurance subsidy and other emergency relief.
“M y family wholeheartedly thanks you for your financial support, and many thanks to all those who contributed to this great cause. ” HMC STAFF MEMBER AND EERF RECIPIENT
HARVEY MUDD COLLEGE MAGAZINE
in commitments from 115 donors through Aug. 2021. Approximately $150,000 available through late Jan. 2021.
of health insurance subsidies (Sept. 2020– Jan. 2021)
awarded to 30 furloughed staff as of mid-January 2021
$14,000 in loans to eligible furloughed F&M and Dining Services team members
“ This conversation we’re having on epidemiology about whether or not race is a cause is actually … just moving the responsibility of creating change to the next generation. If we believe that racism is a cause, we need to be able to act on it now … We need to develop new tools, new methodologies, new mathematical theories that will help us move the information that we have to impact people’s health and to improve their lives.” NADIA ABUELEZAM ’09, EPIDEMIOLOGIST AND ASSISTANT PROFESSOR AT THE BOSTON COLLEGE CONNELL SCHOOL OF NURSING, SPEAKING OCT. 21 AT THE FALL 2020 MICHAEL E. MOODY LECTURE. ON “LESSONS AT THE INTERSECTION OF MATHEMATICS, EPIDEMIOLOGY AND RACISM.”
Excitement Looms as Makerspace Nears Completion the possibilities for hmc’s new makerspace in the Scott A. McGregor Computer Science Center are generating excitement within the HMC community as everyone looks forward to a new space that will be inclusive, creative, playful and sustainable and will build upon the College’s liberal arts environment. Planning included lectures and workshops that took place during the 2019 Dr. Bruce J. Nelson ’74 Distinguished Speaker Series and helped inspire the HMC community to create a culture for its new makerspace. Preparation continues to be an interdisciplinary process involving faculty, staff and students from across the College. HMC representatives visited other college makerspaces to gather ideas and information. An inaugural director, Jeff Groves, was named in July 2020. Groves, professor of literature and former dean of the faculty, helped launch the makerspace initiative during his tenure as dean. He will oversee the final development and furnishing of the new space and associated
media studio and will facilitate planning for the use of these resources. Well-known among students for his workshop in hand press printing, Groves brings his diverse experiences as a maker, teacher and administrator to his new role. The makerspace will be a ground-floor centerpiece, an all-campus, cross-departmental and interdisciplinary space that, by its very layout, will be welcoming and easy to access for students of all skill levels. In a recent interview with President Maria Klawe for her November 2020 Forbes blog, Groves describes the makerspace as, largely, a student-run space. “Students will be key in shaping what the place is, in shaping its policies, its programming, and really keeping us evolving over time in new and exciting ways,” he says. “For professors, a makerspace can help us understand how we can have a bigger toolkit for our courses—new and different ways of getting students to encounter the things that we want them to encounter.”
“The space isn’t the key point, beautiful as it will be, and the equipment and machinery and tools we have aren’t the key point,” says Groves. “The key point is the commitment of students to the space. If a few years from now we have a place where there’s a steady stream of students coming into the space, some of them working on projects from classes, some of them just doing things that they want based on their own interest, some just watching and some doing their homework because they like the space, some students just hanging out—if we’ve got that, then we will have succeeded, and it will be a space that will continue into the future in an exciting way.”
For information about the makerspace in the Scott A. McGregor Computer Science Center, including giving opportunities, contact Jessica Berger, assistant vice president for development, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Accepted and Respected Thyra Briggs is 2020 Mudd Prize Awardee meet thyra briggs, vice president for admission and financial aid and the recipient of the 2020 Henry T. Mudd Prize, an award that recognizes extraordinary service. Awardees receive $6,000, $3,000 of which is designated for use within the College at the discretion of the recipient. Briggs, a staff member since 2007, donated her prize to the Employee Emergency Relief Fund (see page 4). Her award citation acknowledges her service “with integrity, collegiality, kindness and good humor” and “her direct involvement in the life of every Mudder for the past 13 years.” What do you remember about your own college admission experience? Unfortunately, I don’t remember being nearly as together as the Harvey Mudd applicants I meet now. I remember applying to many of the same colleges my friends were and choosing one that was only a couple of hours from home. Granted, it ended up being the perfect place for me, but I so admire these students who are, in some cases, willing to fly across the country or the world to try a new experience. I remember being nervous for my interviews despite the fact that I’ve always been a talkative person, so I try to keep that in mind when I interview students who are more nervous. Why did you want to work in the college admission field? During my senior year of college, I was a senior interviewer for my college’s admission office, and I loved getting these little snapshot views of the students’ world. When you get emails (or back then, letters) thanking you for the role you played in someone’s college decision, it’s really an honor. I also realized that I was going to be able to spend my life seeing students at their absolute best and being trusted to make decisions that would help take the next step in their education, and I can’t imagine anything better. During the COVID-19 pandemic, what have been the biggest changes to the way you recruit prospective students? We’ve all realized that the pandemic has further exacerbated the inequities in society, and so one of our primary challenges has HARVEY MUDD COLLEGE MAGAZINE
been meeting students wherever they are in regard to their access to stable Wi-Fi. We have appreciated the opportunity to reach students in areas where we haven’t been able to travel in the past, but figuring out the best way to connect with and support the many students who are struggling to meet the demands of their school while also helping their families has been a challenge. College admission work requires a lot of traveling. Do you have a memorable moment from one of your recruitment trips? I’ve been incredibly fortunate to travel for HMC for the past 13 years. Two of my most memorable trips have involved my international travel. The first was finally seeing the Taj Mahal after visiting India for five or six years, and the other was eating fondue in a little hut in the parking lot of a Crowne Plaza in Geneva with my fellow Claremont admission colleagues. Apparently the smell of the cheese led them to move the fondue outside the hotel. You’ve been recognized for being an incredible leader. What leadership principles have led to your success? First, it’s humbling to hear that and greatly appreciated. I think I’ve learned from many colleagues and staff members over the years about the importance of leading by example but also of leading in such a way that ultimately your staff wants to do your job. I’m proud of all of the staff with whom I have worked, and I’m honored that so many of my staff members have stayed in the field and gone on to lead their own offices.
Your Mudd Prize citation also mentioned how you like to share “delicious desserts.” What are a few of your favorite recipes? Cooking is therapy to me, and it’s been hard to not be able to share my cooking now with our office. While I think I’m known for my carrot cake, my favorite baking was making the state dessert of all 50 states with my friend who is the VP for enrollment at Scripps. Someday we’ll publish the blog we wrote while baking!
Teachable Moment Course: Digital Design and Computer Architecture (ENGR85) Faculty
Developed by HMC engineering professors David Harris and Josh Brake, and Sarah Harris, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, UNLV. Description
Introduction to elements of digital design (including Boolean algebra; combinational logic; finite state machines; SystemVerilog; computer arithmetic; building blocks) and computer architecture (C and assembly-language programming, embedded system design with RISC-V microcontroller, and microarchitecture, in which students design their own microprocessor). Format
The Department of Engineering will offer ENGR85 as a MOOC through EdX, and Brake will teach the course to HMC students during spring 2021. Course lectures contain five- to 10-minute videos interspersed with simple practice problems to reinforce concepts. Weekly lab and weekly problem set.
All’s Fair in Talent Search During fall 2020, the Office of Career Services collaborated to present three career fairs: a Grad and Fellowships Fair sponsored by Bloomberg and two Virtual Career Fairs in partnership with Caltech.
Take-home lab kit has a breadboard, a RED-V Thing Plus RISC-V single board computer, LEDs, switches and an accelerometer. Labs involve design and simulation of digital logic using ModelSim. Auto-graded practice problems, problem sets and labs provide instant feedback and multiple chances to succeed. Class also includes a set of reflective statements related to “impact on society.” Target groups
Open to all; accessible to high school students interested in engineering and to students in the developing world with less access to experiential learning.
Sept. 2, Grad and Fellowships Fair Organizations................................................................................................... 14 HMC attendees............................................................................................... 59 Other 5C members.......................................................................................... 7 Oct. 1, Software & Data Science Career Fair Employers.......................................................................................................... 61 Representatives........................................................................................... 276 Total chats completed with employers........................................2,893 Attendees: HMC............................................................................................................ 218 Caltech....................................................................................................... 343 Other 7C members................................................................................. 92
Digital Design and Computer Architecture by David Harris and Sarah Harris Desired outcome
“We hope that the MOOC will be able to make the beauty and joy of digital systems accessible to unconventional audiences.” —David Harris
Oct. 8, STEM Fair Employers.......................................................................................................... 60 Representatives........................................................................................... 232 Total chats completed with employers........................................1,958 Attendees: HMC............................................................................................................ 209 Caltech....................................................................................................... 332 Other 7C members................................................................................. 29
Celebrating R. Michael Shanahan r. michael “mike” shanahan, a profoundly influential person in the life of Harvey Mudd College for over 25 years, passed away July 29 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. A native of Altadena, California, Mike was a graduate of Stanford University and a U.S. Navy veteran. Upon completing his studies, he joined Capital Group, a Los Angeles-based asset management firm, as an investment analyst and built a 47-year career there. Shanahan is viewed as one of the principal architects of Capital, an organization that is among the world’s leading financial services providers. In 1968, he became the firm’s youngest-ever director of research and went on to hold several prominent leadership roles. He was also a formidable investor, serving as a portfolio
“ He just really fell in love with the attention that the College paid to undergraduate education and the quality of the undergraduate education there.” JIM BEAN ’77, CHAIR, BOARD OF TRUSTEES
manager for The Investment Company of America and AMCAP mutual funds during periods of unparalleled growth. He retired from Capital in December 2012. In addition to his leadership at Capital, Shanahan made a huge impact at Harvey Mudd College. As a trustee, he was influential in building important relationships for the College throughout his tenure. He served as the fifth chair of the HMC Board of Trustees and chair of the Investment Committee, and provided vital contributions to the Compensation and Personnel Policy Committee as well as the Board Affairs, Advancement, Student Affairs and Educational Planning committees. In 2008, Mike and Mary Shanahan pledged $25 million to HMC, the College’s largest single gift at the time. In a letter to the campus upon his death, HARVEY MUDD COLLEGE MAGAZINE
President Maria Klawe wrote, “I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to know Mike and to benefit from his wisdom, warmth and generosity. His passing is a huge loss.” “He just really fell in love with the attention that the College paid to undergraduate education and the quality of the undergraduate education there,” said Jim Bean ’77, current chair of the board of trustees. “His gifts touched every aspect of the College—faculty, students, staff, buildings—everything.” Shanahan was awarded Harvey Mudd’s honorary Doctor of Engineering, Science and Humane Letters degree in 2012 for his distinguished contributions to the advancement of science and engineering education, a Lifetime Recognition Award in 2009, and the Order of the Wart from the Harvey Mudd College Alumni Association in
2004. He also received the College’s Sprague Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service in 2006. Predeceased by his wife, Mary, Mike is survived by his three children, Kathleen Shanahan Fisher, Robert M. Shanahan Jr. and Keven Shanahan, six grandchildren, brother Tom Shanahan, as well as Cathy Shanahan, his first wife and the mother of his three children. Individuals wishing to honor Shanahan may make donations to The Alzheimer’s Association.
Emeritus Trustee Edward Landry
Landmark campus facilities made possible by the Shanahan family • Hoch-Shanahan Dining Commons • R. Michael Shanahan Center for Teaching and Learning • McGregor Computer Science Center The Shanahans’ significant endowments and programs that support faculty and students • R. Michael Shanahan Dean of the Faculty Chair • Shanahan Professorship • Shanahan Student-Directed Project Fund • Shanahan Strategic Projects Fund • Shanahan Family Scholarship • 2012 matching gift program to encourage significant, increased contributions to The Campaign for Harvey Mudd College
edward a. landry passed away on Aug. 31. Upon graduation from law school, he joined the law firm of Musick Peeler & Garrett in Los Angeles, where he practiced for 55 years, handling the estates of many prominent Californians, including that of J. Paul Getty. Landry was an active member of numerous civic/charitable organizations. He became associated with Harvey Mudd College in the 1960s, was a trustee from 1982–2012 and an emeritus trustee since 2012. As an active trustee, Landry will be remembered for his quiet, gentle and insightful presence. He served on many of the board’s standing committees, introduced the College to prominent foundations and was a longtime supporter of HMC scholarships. Among his passions was architecture; the Landry home was the cover story of the spring 2005 HMC Bulletin (bit.ly/landryhmcmagspr05). Landry is survived by his wife of 58 years, Madeleine Landry; two daughters Monique Jenson, and Lucette Landry, three grandchildren and siblings.
Trustee Update New to the board
Senior vice president for engineering, Slack
Tyler Mingst P22
Co-founder and chair, Intriva Capital
Julie St. John
President of investment operations and information technology; chief information officer, The Capital Group Companies
Annual Report A Review of 2019–2020 By Jim Bean ’77, chair, HMC Board of Trustees
these atypical times have required us all to adapt and respond to the demands of a global pandemic. In true Harvey Mudd form, we continue to solve problems and celebrate the resilience and talent embedded in our culture. Our tradition of shared governance and responsibility, and our community’s dedication and passion, keep the College strong. It is this shared governance that attracted me to the position of board chair. My predecessor and fellow alumnus Wayne Drinkward ’73 was a great inspiration to me. He concluded a brilliant eight-year run as board chair, having overseen The Campaign for Harvey Mudd College, the most successful comprehensive campaign in the College’s history. His dedication and wise counsel helped facilitate the planning and construction of the R. Michael Shanahan Center for Teaching and Learning, the Wayne ’73 and Julie Drinkward Residence Hall, and the Scott A. McGregor Computer Science Center, the latter of which is on track to be completed within budget and on schedule (spring 2021). His dedication, and that of so many others, has allowed the College to continue educating and supporting our students, even during this pandemic. Their successful efforts have resulted in many achievements during the 2019–2020 academic year. In fall 2019, the College welcomed 210 exceptional students into the incoming Class of 2024. First-generation students make up 11% of the class, and women comprise 47%, one of the highest gender ratios of any science- and engineering-focused institution. Upper-level students continued to garner prestigious national awards, including the Astronaut Scholar award (Emily Shimizu ’20), a Watson Fellowship (Victoria Marino ’20) and a Goldwater Scholarship (Aria Beaupre ’21). NSF Graduate Research Fellowships were awarded to Savana Ammons ’20 and Emily Hwang ’20. Harvey Mudd held the No. 2 spot for the HARVEY MUDD COLLEGE MAGAZINE
second consecutive year among the nation’s top undergraduate engineering programs (U.S. News & World Report) and is among the top three institutions on the The Princeton Review’s “Top 75 Best Value Colleges” list. HMC also was named a top-producing, bachelor’s-granting institution for U.S. Fulbright scholars. The College saw repeat acknowledgements this year, too, for highest mid-career salaries and for our undergraduates’ contributions to the public good, by Payscale and Washington Monthly, respectively.
work is supported by several NSF grants, is leading an international research group in the quest for novel metal alloys. Faculty members have been hard at work on several important initiatives as well. At the November 2019 Saddle Rock retreat, I was pleased to learn about the progress of the Climate Change Working Group, which is building capacity to address climate change through research, teaching and more sustainable institutional practices. Through its Core Curriculum Committee, the faculty
“ In true Harvey Mudd form, we continue to solve problems and celebrate the resilience and talent embedded in our culture. Our tradition of shared governance and responsibility, and our comm– unity’s dedication and passion, have kept the College strong.”
Our outstanding faculty members continue to win support from the National Science Foundation, from which the College receives its largest share of external support for faculty research. During 2019-2020, a number of prestigious grants were awarded. Biology professor Catherine McFadden received $839,060 for her renowned work on soft corals, and the NSF supported computer science professor Ran Libeskind-Hadas and his continued research on phylogenetic tree reconciliations. Computer scientist Geoff Kuenning shared a grant for work to understand large parameter spaces in storage systems, and an interdisciplinary grant was awarded to HMC chemistry professor Hal Van Ryswyk and colleagues for the acquisition of a standardized integrated toolset for photovoltaics fabrication and characterization. Engineering professor Lori Bassman, whose
completed a three-year Core review process, which culminated in spring 2020 upon passage of a new Core curriculum proposal, “Four Courses Plus Electivity.” The Implementation Committee is working toward a 2021–2022 roll-out.
For more detail about the past academic year, including financial and fundraising reports from the Business Affairs Office and the Office of College Advancement, I invite you to review the online annual report at hmc.edu/annual-report.
Babintseva Studies Minds and Computers for 2020–2022, the College welcomes a new junior postdoctoral scholar as the Hixon-Riggs Early Career Fellow in Science and Technology Studies. Fellows come from varied disciplinary backgrounds and work on projects that examine the social dimensions of science and technology. Ekaterina Babintseva, a historian of science and technology, is interested in learning how the developments in cybernetics and artificial intelligence prompt new approaches to understanding the human mind and its creative abilities. She also studies how ideas about minds and computers traveled across political, economic and ideological contexts in the 20th century. Babintseva strives to help her students develop a critical perspective on the role of contemporary digital technology in society. Using historical, sociological and anthropological perspectives, she encourages students to ask questions about racial, gender and class ramifications of computing, AI and data technologies. She believes that answering questions about who benefits from contemporary data collection—whose data has historically been most targeted? What are the social and ethical consequences of introducing AI into contemporary governance?—can help students become responsible developers and consumers of digital technology. In addition to completing her PhD at the University of Pennsylvania, moving across the country during the coronavirus pandemic and teaching her first class at Harvey Mudd this fall, Babintseva has been writing a book (the working title is Learning with Machines in the Cold War United States and the Soviet Union), which argues that during the 1960s and 1970s, despite ideological and political differences, the United States and the Soviet Union came to view the human mind as an important resource for their economies—that despite political, ideological and economic differences in the 1960s and the 1970s, the two super powers articulated a shared vision of the human mind.
Now that she’s had some time to settle in, Babintseva provides some information not found on her CV. You speak Russian, English and French. Where did you grow up? I grew up in Ekaterinburg, a Russian industrial city near the Urals mountains, which serve as a geographical divide between Europe and Asia. What was the last book you recommended to a friend? The last book I recommended to a friend was Labyrinths, a collection of short stories by an Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges. Writing in the mid-twentieth century in Labyrinths, Borges offered an artistic reflection on what it means to live in the world that is becoming increasingly codified, calculated and calculating. As a historian, I am well familiar with that era. It was the time when research projects in information theory, computing and semiotics were mushrooming, and the general public thought that everything in this world would soon be codified and controlled by
computer programs. I admire how insightfully Borges captured those trends of his time. Labyrinths is like a mid-20th century Black Mirror except for less doom and gloom. What would you be doing if not in your current profession? I’d probably be an investigative journalist. Essentially, I would be doing the same things I am doing now as a researcher: gathering and analyzing information, establishing the causal effects of certain events, explaining people’s standpoint and telling a story. What do you like most about teaching at Harvey Mudd? I’m excited to find myself in a community where liberal arts and STEM complete rather than exclude each other. I know for a fact that teaching the history of science and technology is especially fun when you have students with diverse interdisciplinary interests in your classroom. I enjoy working with students to build a collaborative intellectual space to think about the role of data in our society. FALL/WINTER 2020
“El Paraíso” A story about “rural Mexican towns, soccer in the San Gabriel Valley and the sadness of the diaspora.” Written by Salvador Plascencia Excerpted with permission from McSweeney’s 61
by virtue of my birth, i, too, was from a small Mexican rancho. A place called Los Sapos. Its river flowed year-round. Quelites, mushrooms, tender nopal paddles, and red prickly pears sprouted wildly from the ground. Beds of purslane flanked the arroyo at its banks. Purple leafstalks announced their camotillo roots. Rabbits and dinner doves flashed through the foliage. Men wearing Zapata sombreros, exaggerated brims with tricolor bands, carefully removed rocks they had placed over the wild agave. The weight of the river stones was used to fold the leaves onto themselves. At the center of the maguey, where the heart of the plant had been gouged at, sap pooled and fermented. They set their hats on the ground and kneeled to slurp, their faces sticky with pulque. Stubbles of gnats gathered at their chins. Even men like these, my grandfather said, drunkards who spent their days licking cacti and plucking toadstools, could forage a plate of greens and potatoes and roast game meat from their thin snares of twine. Mesquites drooped their sweet pods, and panelita plants bloomed custard buds. And yet my father had abandoned Los Sapos for El Norte, to work as a peon greasing hinges and serrated cogs. To eat leathery thaws of meat and stale bread from plastic bags and drink water thinned by bleach and tanged by rusted plumbing. In Los Sapos, barely lift a finger and the land gave you plenty. But if you did want to work the furrows, each cornstalk yielded not one but two ears, beans burst their hulls, the hillside flared yellow with squash flowers. As was the curse, the men outlived the women in my family. But when my grandmother was still alive, she would dump the ash from her fogón at the edge of the maize field. Inside the kitchen, she removed the covering from the freshly cut maize. The husks were flattened and stacked for wrapping gorditas and tamales. The corn silk, little blond HARVEY MUDD COLLEGE MAGAZINE
nests, she shoved into the mouth of a glass bottle to steep into a tincture. She would hold an ear of corn in one hand and point at the puny but somehow bloated kernels sprouting from the nose. “When you plant your crop,” she said, “unless you want a harvest of sickly maize ears that taste like moldered cow hooves, do not put these in the soil.” When school let out in June, instead of to camps and summer classes, my parents sent me away to Los Sapos. On afternoons when my grandfather was not away pulling barbed wire taut in some field, he parked his Massey Ferguson just outside the house and ran the TV cord through the window’s grille. Instead of ending in a pronged plug, the wire split into clamps that clasped onto the tractor’s battery posts. Mexico had been knocked out on penalties, so we watched Argentina’s Maradona, the pudgiest and shortest player in the Cup, run past the back lines of Europe. Slashing past England, Belgium, and, finally, West Germany’s towering fullbacks. During halftimes, to keep the battery from draining, my grandfather turned on the tractor. As the engine ran and commercials for Fabuloso and Honda mopeds cycled across the screen, my grandfather would bring up my father. My father could have been a rich man on his own land. What kind of foolishness was it to abandon a place like Los Sapos to go live in an apartment with shoddy walls, where you could hear the people next door spitting phlegm, and their turds sluicing down the pipes? my grandfather would say. It is true, American partitions are a hollow gypsum, but in California, we lived in a stand-alone house. And our neighbors, a Chinese couple who owned the only pizzeria in town, practiced a diligent silence. They drove off to work before dawn and returned only to sleep. I did not correct my grandfather. If they had ever made a noise, I would have remembered.
“El Paraíso” is creative writing professor Salvador Plascencia’s fourth story to be published in the award-winning quarterly McSweeney’s. An assistant professor in the Department of Humanities, Social Sciences, and the Arts, his other stories in McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern are: “The Enduring Nature of the Bromidic” (#32), “Returned” (#22) and “The People of Paper” (#12). The latter story, published in book form by McSweeney’s in 2005, received widespread praise. FALL/WINTER 2020
Robert J. Cave Chemistry professor the harvey mudd college community mourns the loss of respected chemist, distinguished teacher and widely recognized scholar Robert J. Cave who died Dec. 18. Known for his hearty laugh and his welcoming and congenial manner, Cave served on the Harvey Mudd faculty for 32 years. Robert J. Cave was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., and was raised on the east coast, “traveling west” (to his way of thinking at the time) when he attended Michigan State University. He received a B.Sc. in chemical physics from Michigan State and then really moved west, attending Caltech on a National Science Foundation Fellowship in chemistry, receiving his PhD in 1986. After graduation, he spent two and a half years in Indiana as a postdoctoral fellow working with Ernest R. Davidson on electronic structure theory. He arrived at Harvey Mudd in 1988 to continue studying the excited states of molecules using theoretical methods. With his research students, Cave used advanced techniques to describe the electronic wave functions of atoms and molecules to predict properties such as geometries, vibrational frequencies and charge distributions. One area of particular interest in the group has been the electronic coupling element for electron transfer. Recent focus has been on the development of approximate, fast, high-accuracy methods to calculate the electronic coupling based on coupled cluster wavefunctions. The group also has been investigating applications of density functional theory to study organic and organo-metallic reaction mechanisms and working on general methods to calculate quasi-diabatic coupling elements for highaccuracy spectroscopic studies. Cave once stated “the best part of it all is the extraordinary students at HMC. Almost none of the work … would have been done without them, and they made it all a lot more fun.” One of the joys of teaching at HMC, he said, was the range of courses he was able to teach, among them General Chemistry (lab HARVEY MUDD COLLEGE MAGAZINE
and lecture), Thermodynamics and Kinetics, Statistical Mechanics, Science and Religion, and Electron Transfer Processes. In addition to his work in the lab and classroom, Cave held several administrative roles at HMC. He was associate dean for academic affairs (2003–2007, 2015–2016) and was vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty (2007–2012). At the end of his tenure as VP and dean, the faculty presented Cave with a certificate of appreciation for his “effective leadership, enormous capacity for consensus building and desire to provide a supportive environment for the faculty [which] enabled faculty members to experience
an unparalleled time of productivity and collegiality.” Cave was a visiting researcher at Brookhaven National Laboratory, Rutgers University and University of Texas at Austin. From 2016 to 2018, he was visiting program director in chemistry at the National Science Foundation. Cave is survived by his wife, Susie, his son, Ian, and daughter-in-law, Shaina Davis. He is predeceased by his son, Adam. The family requests that memorial contributions in his honor be directed to the UN World Food Programme, Equal Justice Initiative, HMC COVID Relief (EERF) or the UN Refugee Program.
Robert Keller Computer science professor the harvey mudd college community mourns the loss of Robert (Bob) Keller, who died Sept. 13. Bob was an internationally recognized computer scientist with corporate and academic experience as a technical leader, researcher, educator and administrator. Keller joined the College’s computer science faculty and became chair of the newly formed department in 1991, following Bill Purves and Mike Erlinger, who chaired the combined biology and CS departments prior to his arrival. The new CS department graduated its first CS majors in 1992. As a professor of computer science, he specialized in intelligent music software, programming languages, neural networks and genetic programming and is known for his work on formal models, verification, functional languages and distributed graph reduction architectures. A talented jazz musician who played trumpet and piano, Keller organized student performances for many years as part of his Jazz Improvisation class. He developed a music notation software program—dubbed the Improvisation Advisor, or “Impro-Visor”—that helps jazz musicians learn how to improvise jazz music, allowing them to generate new improvisations based on previous works of many famous jazz artists. The free, open-source software was released in 2006, and Keller’s research teams continue to develop it. Impro-Visor has a growing user community of more than 7,500 around the world. To read more about Keller’s work and life, or to contribute a memory (like those below), see hmc.edu/in-memoriam/bob-keller.
“Bob was a quiet and dedicated advocate for computer science, his students and his love of music. He was the type of individual who led by doing and not by talking. A gentle soul, Bob will be greatly missed by all of us at Harvey Mudd.” and interim chair, Department of
“He was a mentor musically and professionally. He was the kind of guy that just wanted to play music with as many people as he could, and you learned so much from him even though it never felt like he was teaching—he just wanted someone to jam with. Every day, I wish I had more people like that in my life.”
Stephen Jones ’07
Bill Daub, professor of chemistry
“I remember Bob as a research mentor who encouraged me to explore off-the-beaten-track ideas far beyond what we learned in his machine learning class. Bob helped me understand the transformative potential of thinking about research that I still pursue today.”
I took Prof Keller’s CS 42 class my freshman year. He was the first teacher I had who was able to communicate the complexity and beauty of the field, and the class convinced me to continue studying CS.” Tanis Nielsen ’23
Adrian Sampson ’09
Faculty Updates Research, Awards, Activities Biology and CS
In pursuit of developing models and algorithms for reconstructing gene histories across multiple species, HMC researchers have completed a paper that was accepted to the 11th Association for Computing Machinery Conference on Bioinformatics, Computational Biology and Health Informatics. Computer science professor Yi-Chieh (Jessica) Wu and seven students presented “An Integer Linear Programming Solution for the Most Parsimonious Reconciliation Problem Under the Duplication-Loss-Coalescence Model,” the culmination of a project that started in summer 2017. The project builds on a model of gene evolution in eukaryotic species. Ran Libeskind-Hadas (computer science), Susan Martonosi (mathematics) and Eliot Bush (biology) are project collaborators.
Chemistry and HSA
The Claremont Colleges Center for Teaching and Learning provides a host of resources, speakers and events to support 7C teaching. HMC faculty members Kathy Van Heuvelen (chemistry) and Ambereen Dadabhoy (HSA) presented separate workshops. Dadabhoy discussed “Can We Have an Anti-Racist Shakespeare?” as part of the Anti-Racist Pedagogy Workshops, and Van Heuvelen spoke about “Collaborative Group Work Across Time Zones During Remote Learning.” Computer Science
Lucas Bang, assistant professor of computer science, has teamed with Tevfik Bultan, professor and chair of computer science at University of California, Santa Barbara, as HARVEY MUDD COLLEGE MAGAZINE
co-principal investigator on the NSF-sponsored project “Automated Quantitative Assessment of Testing Difﬁculty.” “There is no existing technique that can predict how challenging it will be to automatically test a piece of software,” says Bang, whose research area is quantitative program analysis. “This project will address this open problem by providing an automated, scalable and quantitative approach for assessing software testing difficulty.” “Limits of Transfer Learning,” a paper by the Harvey Mudd College Walter Bradley Center Clinic team, was accepted to the Sixth International Conference on Machine Learning, Optimization and Data Science. The Computer Science Clinic team—advisor and computer science professor George Montañez, Jake Williams ’20, Tyler Sam ’20, Abel Tadesse CMC ’20 and Huey Sun POM ’20—explores transfer learning, a current frontier of machine learning in which insight gained from solving one problem is applied to solve a separate but related problem. Engineering
Department chair Liz Orwin ’95 joined engineering students attending the virtual Society of Women Engineers Conference in November to discuss developments in the engineering department, meet current students and get to know members of the HMC community.
In collaboration with biology students from Cal State University Long Beach and the University of Costa Rica, a team of HMC engineering/computer science students will develop new robot tracking technology that can be applied to other applications (coast guard surveillance, for example) and develop new data that will increase the understanding of how sharks and sea turtles migrate along the coast. The NSF-funded project “Monitoring of Marine Life Coastal Habitats via Autonomous Robot Systems” builds from “previous shark-tracking projects as well as our crosscultural International Computer Engineering eXperience (ICEX) program,” says engineering professor Chris Clark. Researchers are seeking to extend the development of AUV technology and apply it to a marine life monitoring study, which tracks nurse sharks and sea turtles within their habitat in Bahia Santa Elena, Costa Rica.
Members of the 2019–2020 Harvey Mudd College Sandia National Laboratories Clinic team celebrated publication of their research by Cambridge University Press. The project concerns barium titanate (BTO), a ferroelectric material used in capacitors because of its high dielectric constant, which may be even higher in nanoparticle form. A team of juniors and seniors were tasked with helping Sandia investigate the dielectric constant of BTO nanoparticles as a function of particle diameter by manufacturing composites of BTO embedded in low-density polyethylene. Team
advisor and engineering professor Albert Dato says, “The Clinic Program provided the team with the ability to remotely access COMSOL software on the Clinic computers, which enabled them to work as a team and generate results. The team’s publication is a result of the data generated from the hands-on work before COVID-19 and the computational simulations that were done remotely after campus was shut down.”
On Oct. 23, the Universidad Nacional de Colombia, in collaboration with the Colombian Mathematical Society and the Colombian Academy of Science, hosted an Online Conference in Honor of Alfonso Castro, McAlister Professor of Mathematics to celebrate his birthday, gather mathematical friends and colleagues from around the world and honor his many contributions to mathematics and the profession. Participants included many of Castro’s collaborators, PhD students, friends and family. There were lectures and presentations from all over the world, including Colombia, Italy, Spain, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, the UK and the U.S.
Lisette de Pillis, Norman F. Sprague Jr. Professor of Life Sciences and professor of mathematics received the Intercollegiate Biomathematics Alliance 2020 Distinguished Senior Fellowship Award for established scholars “who have made outstanding scientific achievements, demonstrated a record of exceptional scientific contributions and active leadership in mathematical biology both as researchers and educators.” Recipients “exemplify not only an outstanding level of scientific endeavor but also of mentoring and leadership which helped create scientific opportunities for the future scholars of the field.” She received the award jointly with Ami Radunskaya, professor of mathematics at Pomona College and a longtime collaborator in the area of modeling cancer growth and treatment. Susan Martonosi, professor of mathematics, received the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS) Prize for the Teaching of Operations Research and Management Science Practice. The prize is awarded annually to a university or college teacher for their excellence in teaching the practice of operations research and the management sciences. The INFORMS committee cited Martonosi’s outstanding breadth, innovations and hands-on approach to teaching/mentoring students and transforming them into passionate and competent users of OR/MS and analytics in their careers. Physics
The NSF awarded a Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) grant to physics professor Jason Gallicchio, an expert in experimental cosmology, the study of the origin and evolution of the universe. The grant from the NSF Office of Multidisciplinary Activities and Quantum Information Science programs will fund the project “Using Astronomy to Improve Tests of Quantum Mechanics,” which seeks to record the time of arrival of individual photons from quasars and pulsars.
Faculty Diversity In July, Harvey Mudd College joined hundreds of U.S. colleges and universities in becoming a member of the National Center for Faculty Development & Diversity, a national organization dedicated to supporting faculty and their professional development in academia. FALL/WINTER 2020
MY MUDD LIFE
come from group projects. I lived in a rowdy, fun dorm with a truly an endearing vibe. I also did research with physics professor Theresa Lynn on quantum information and studied abroad in Spain. As I entered my sophomore year, I was introduced to rock climbing by my friends and fell in love with it. Through climbing, I met and bonded with people I could have never imagined meeting. I’m taking a gap year for 2020–2021, and I’m in Taiwan for the entire academic year doing research in marine biology with a professor at National Taiwan University. This alone is astounding, something I never would have thought a possibility. What I’m doing is far from my declared major and even farther from where I live—America!
Going Where Life Leads Interview by Stephanie L. Graham
cathy chang ’21 was born in taiwan, and when she was 11, her parents moved the family to America in pursuit of a Western education for their two daughters. Chang sought a college where she could grow and learn, and Harvey Mudd has delivered. From challenging physics and humanities classes to dorm life, rock climbing and a study abroad opportunity, the College has grown on her. She’s even gotten to know the donors of the scholarship that is helping make her dreams come true. For the first few years of my life in Taiwan, I lived in the rural south. Never-ending farmlands, clear rivers filled with tadpoles, seasonal crops and chattering animals were integral parts of my surroundings. My bicycle was my best friend; she and I had multiple awesome adventures together. When I turned 7, we moved north to a more urban area in Taiwan. I was introduced to a more fast-paced, modernized environment. I bid goodbye to my close relationship with my bike; it was too dangerous to ride it in urban Taiwan. Four years later, my family and I moved to America and settled in a suburban and relatively Asian neighborhood. During this time, novels and audiobooks became my best friends. So far, every stage of my life—the simple and complicated, isolated and bustling, Mandarin and English—has contributed something essential to my growth. STEM became an interest when I was around 6 years old. Around that time, my parents bought an old television, and I became addicted to the flat screen that took me to another world that I never knew existed. My parents quickly regretted the decision (it is the epitome of unproductiveness in their eyes), so, they cut off the satellite cable for the television. Upset and suffering from television withdrawal, I decided to “fix” the television myself. On the balcony, I saw the colorful ribbons that contain my favorite shows. I became entranced. The television showed a 2D HARVEY MUDD COLLEGE MAGAZINE
image, but the cable was a line. What? How? Tiny me stood confused in front of the cut cables, wishing that I could repair them, but not knowing where to start. Through STEM, I searched for answers and deepened my understanding of the world around me. I put a lot of thought into what I wanted out of my college career. I wanted to attend a college where I get to grow and learn from people; I wanted to be surrounded by professors who care and students who help each other thrive. I saw all of this when I visited Mudd. I remember walking through Platt and hearing students casually discuss things they learned in classes and their own personal ponderings, from literature to the most recent scientific advances. I remember seeing a student casually walk into a professor’s office and talk about their day. Mudd is undeniably a hard school. When I was on campus, most of my weekdays and weekends during the school year were often spent at the physics lounge or Shan, hogging a small, peaceful space to concentrate on homework or working on group projects. But, I would not have chosen my major or take the classes I do if I didn’t enjoy it. I especially love humanities classes, where I learn to think outside a scientific context. Many of my most cherished college friends and funny moments
This is my third year receiving the Harvey Mudd scholarship, and every year, I wrote to my donors, Hal and Mary Harris, sincerely thanking them for making this dream come true for me. I chatted with the Harrises over Zoom this past May. We spoke about lots of things, from all the unexpected yet beautiful turns that Hal took in life to Mary’s philanthropic endeavors to the reason why they donate to Harvey Mudd. I am truly blessed that Harvey Mudd has matched me with them. When I told them about my gap year decision and how they’ve inspired me to follow my heart, they sent me a letter full of positive encouragement, which I framed. Never have I had this kind of connection with another human being. They believe in me—in me! They want to see me thrive and grow, in my own way. After graduation, I’m considering continuing my education and applying for a PhD, or perhaps working in a lab. If there’s one thing I learned during 2020, it’s that life takes you to the most unexpected places.
“ [ Cathy] seems to have—like most Mudd students—a really good idea what she wants to do with her life.” HAL ’62 & MARY HARRIS (SEE LAST PAGE.)
Leadership Training for All the college recognizes that all hmc students are potential leaders. So, a new program that allows more students to fit leadership training into their schedules has been developed and is now in its second year. Administered by the Division of Student Affairs, Impact Leadership is a cohort-based, skill-building leadership development program focused on values—individual, group and societal—while emphasizing identity development, equity and inclusion. Students have access to 24 skill-building workshops and can participate as their schedules allow. Those who complete eight sessions in one of the three modules receive extra benefits, like coaching and access to leadership events. Impact Leadership participants past and present describe their experiences in this program, which is based on a portion of HMC’s mission statement (“… assume leadership in their fields with a clear understanding of the impact of their work on society.”). Why did you join the Impact Leadership program? “One of the reasons I chose to go to Mudd was their strong emphasis on societal impact. I’m a firm believer that equally as important as what you do is why you do it. When I learned about the program, I thought it was a great way to focus on this aspect of my education.” – Sidhant Rastogi ’21, 2019 cohort How has Impact Leadership complimented your Mudd education? “Being part of the program has allowed me to take a step back to see the bigger picture. While we often discuss real-world applications and issues in our classes, these discussions often feel very broad and far-off, so this program was helpful in serving as a bridge between our STEM education and the real world. One of the first sessions I attended about values and purpose helped me think about how I can use my skills
and knowledge, both within and outside of STEM, to contribute to issues I value most and align my actions with my values. This is so important to think about as a leader because it builds the foundation behind my ’why’ and forms my guiding principles as a leader.” – Ingrid Tsang ’22, 2019 cohort
ideas and values. Additionally, leaders have the duty to make their workplaces more diverse and welcoming to everyone. Diverse science is strong science. Impact Leadership gave me the skills and training to stand up for myself and others, to have confidence in my own internal values and to pursue my vision of leadership.” – Skylar Gering ’22, 2019 cohort
How has Impact Leadership helped you learn about yourself and your leadership style? “The program has helped me explore my own strengths and weaknesses, which helps me better understand my role as a leader.” – Tanvi Krishnan ’24, current cohort
Impact Leadership has an emphasis on identity development, equity and inclusion. How do you think this will help you as a future leader in STEM? “Being a leader in STEM doesn’t only mean being great at science, it also means that you have to be excellent at communicating your ideas. Impact leadership helped me identify how to communicate with people with different
What great leader do you admire and why? “Recently, I read about the story of Ugur Sahin and Özlem Türeci, the couple who founded BioNTech. They helped lead the effort to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. I think they are great leaders because they are adaptable and self-aware. When COVID-19 broke out, Dr. Sahin quickly realized that their previous work on mRNA could help develop a COVID-19 vaccine. Under their leadership, they efficiently reoriented their teams towards their new goals, demonstrating their strong abilities to motivate and inspire their team members. Also, they were aware of each other’s strengths and complimented each other very well. Dr. Sahin is an innovative scientist and Dr. Türeci is a better business leader. I admire them because they played to each other’s strengths and successfully led their teams.” – Eric Chen ’24, current cohort
For full interviews and more about the Impact Leadership program, see magazine.hmc.edu.
Emblematic Endeavor like students around the world last spring, Arianna Meinking’24 was finishing high school remotely after campuses closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Like teachers around the world, Meinking’s physics instructor, Enrique Arce-Larreta, was finding creative ways to keep students engaged and excited about online learning. That may be what prompted him to challenge his students with an unusual task: Enter a competition to design a new flag for their hometown, Salt Lake City, Utah. Excited about the project, Meinking became one of the 600 students who entered the competition. The 600 were narrowed to eight entries, including Meinking’s, that best demonstrated the key principles of good flag design: keep it simple, use meaningful symbolism, use two to three basic colors, no lettering or seals, and be distinctive or be related. The public rated the finalists and narrowed the field to two top designs: those of Meinking and Ella Kennedy-Yoon, both from Salt Lake’s West High School. It was decided that the blue and white backdrop (from Kennedy-Yoon’s design)— which could symbolize snow, the sky, the Great Salt Lake and salt—would pair best with the sego lily (from Meinking’s design), a flower indigenous to the area, and which symbolizes resilience. Meinking is now a first-year student at Harvey Mudd. We asked her about the flag competition, growing up in Salt Lake and her love of art and physics.
What was it like growing up in Salt Lake City, Utah? Salt Lake is a fantastic place to grow up. I’ve always taken advantage of the mountains, skiing, and national parks in Southern Utah. Salt Lake also has a great culture for a kid— lots of the arts mixed with the right number of comic cons. I’ve attended the Utah Shakespeare Festival ever since I was a kid, and there are many more opportunities to enjoy plays throughout the city. I’ve also always loved the Great Salt Lake. It’s a fascinating unique and extreme environment that many residents take for granted. Describe your journey as an artist. I find that sketching frees my mind, so I’ve always treated my drawings as a stress relief rather than as a dedicated pursuit. Still, I’ve taken a few art classes, and, as I’ve grown older, my drawings have morphed to digital art, which is how I’m learning to doodle now. What was your creative process for this flag design? Because so much of my childhood and what I love about Salt Lake City hinges on nature, I knew I’d want to incorporate a natural symbol into my design, and I quickly settled on the sego lily as a symbol. My fourth-grade teacher, Sheri Sohm, taught us about the importance of the sego lily bulbs to both the pioneers and the Native Americans, so the sego lily also naturally
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Final design for Salt Lake City flag
brought together different key groups of Salt Lake’s history, representing all of us. What were your thoughts when you found out you were one of the eight finalists? I was really honored to be considered, and I was genuinely astounded that my physics assignment took me this far. My physics teacher has been cheering me on every step of the way. What was the reaction of family and friends to your design being part of the new Salt Lake City flag? My family is very proud of me. A lot of them were really proud that I’d finally done something they could brag about to their friends that doesn’t have to do with debate or particle physics. Why Harvey Mudd? I chose Harvey Mudd because of the emphasis on exploration of passion: I have a lot of different interests, and I wanted to go somewhere
where I could try choir, political science, art and still have depth in the STEM subjects. I’m considering majoring in physics—my current passion is particle physics/cosmology—and how we do physics with AI. I plan to continue drawing in my free time, but I don’t know what I want my HSA concentration to be quite yet. So far, how has college been? I’ve been surprised by how much I enjoy online college. I’m a bit of an introvert, so now I can choose when I want to be with friends and when I want to binge Netflix without pressure. All of my professors have been fantastic, and all of my classes are engaging and interesting. Specifically, the transition to online with all of my classes has been smooth. It’s clear my professors really care (Prof. Dodds knows all of my cats’ names, and he’s never even met them), and homework doesn’t feel like work since it’s all so interesting. After a semester online, I’m super proud to be a Mudder. I’m even more excited to actually see campus.
Care Package from Home
Sibling Students Publish Shell Programming Research a paper co-authored by harvey mudd College student Ishaan Gandhi ’21 and his sister, Anshula Gandhi (MIT), was accepted to PLATEAU2020, the 11th annual workshop on the intersection of human computer interaction and programming languages. Terminal emulators, or simply terminals, are used ubiquitously by developers. While many have proposed alternatives, their paper “Lightening the Cognitive Load of Shell Programming” examines the fundamental reasons why shell programming, especially when using a terminal as a programming environment, can be difficult, as understood through the cognitive dimensions framework. “The paper is about shell programming, a way of instructing computers, and terminal, an application used to write shell programs,” says Ishaan, a joint computer science and mathematics major. “We discussed what parts of terminal make the experience of writing shell programs easier and less cognitively
demanding and what parts make it harder and more cognitively demanding.” He continues, “A lot of developers and researchers proposed alternatives to shell programming with terminal, but we wanted to take a step back and ask what shortcomings of shell programming with terminal any alternative might hope to address.”
Anshula Gandhi and Ishaan Gandhi ’21
remote learning has changed the college experience in myriad ways, causing faculty students and staff to reimagine long-held norms and traditions. In the fall, the Office of the President, Division of Student Affairs, Office of Alumni and Parent Relations and ASHMC embraced the challenge of preserving one time-honored tradition: care packages for students away at college. Since students were away from campus, the College sent wellness boxes to them, across the country and abroad. Almost 450 students opted in to receive the boxes, which contained HMC-branded necessities (face mask, fidget toy, exercise band, etc.). In an email to students, Leslie Hughes, assistant vice president for student affairs, wrote, “This is our way to let you know that we see the hard work and effort you are putting in this semester, and to remind you that you can do this … and you are an important part of the Mudd Community!” FALL/WINTER 2020
AIRPLANE MODE An ambitious project by engineering professor David Harris and his HMC Aero Lab students takes flight Written by Sarah Barnes
After buying the plane from the College and registering it as N47HM, Harris began the 40 hours of testing required to earn an experimental airworthiness certificate. “For the first flight on March 15, 2020, and for the remainder of the testing and tuning, I was supported by my 14-year-old son, Abraham, who became ground crew, photographer and mechanic,” says Harris.
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n march 2017, engineering professor David Harris assembled a team of students in the Harvey Mudd College Aero Lab for an exciting project: the construction of an airplane. Over the next three years, more than 50 Mudders, 13 high school students and several mentors would squeeze thousands of rivets and spend a collective 6,100 hours to complete the Vans RV-7A. “The purpose of this project was to give students hands-on experience with aviation, manufacturing, instrumentation and problemsolving by building a kit airplane,” says Harris, Harvey S. Mudd Professor of Engineering Design. “It was an opportunity for small groups of students to work alongside a faculty member on a nontrivial project.” Harris and his Aero Lab team set up shop in the Parsons Engineering Building basement, and from mid-2017 through the fall of 2018, they built the airplane’s tail section (empennage). Supported by the Jay Wolkin ’99 and Clay Family Foundation Fellowship as well as alumni donations, Reem Alkhamis ’21, Roger Hooper ’19, Jonathan Schallert ’20 and Curtis Shinn ’19 spent summer 2018 working full-time on the airplane, with help from part-time volunteer high school students, to complete the wings and fuselage. “I am always looking for opportunities to learn more and gain more experience in aerospace, so I was naturally drawn to Professor Harris’ airplane project,” Hooper says. “How could I pass up the opportunity to take part in building an airplane with my own hands?” Not only was the work exciting and motivational for those involved in the project, but it also became something of an attraction
In Summer 2019, grade school students Abraham Harris, Jaden Clark and Matthew Chen and Yuki Wang ’22, Sabrina Shen ’21 and Joseph Anderson ’21 powered up the panel for the first time.
on campus. Members of the faculty and staff brought their children to the Parsons basement hallway, where, through the lab’s floor-toceiling windows, they could watch the students shape and drill the raw aluminum stock into recognizable pieces of the plane. After a few weeks, the Office of Admission and Financial Aid began including the lab on tours of the campus. “The plane was a great attraction,” says Thyra Briggs, vice president for Admission and Financial Aid. “The summer the plane first appeared on our tours, we certainly heard a lot about it, and this carried into the fall as we were visiting high schools around the country. Visitors loved to see not only the scope of what students were working on but also that they were working alongside a faculty member. Visitors and applicants always comment on the accessibility of our faculty, and the plane project was another example of that.” That fall, the Aero Lab team test-mounted HARVEY MUDD COLLEGE MAGAZINE
the wings and empennage to the fuselage. After that, they began to install the various systems (electrical, plumbing), selected the avionics and interior, and designed custom sensors and an augmented reality system. “The most rewarding part of the project was getting to see the entire plane come together,” Hooper says. “There was enough there to make it look like an actual plane was sitting in that room, and it made me feel really good knowing that my hands took part in building it.” Harris says, “The best part is seeing the students grow in their confidence. These students are already very strong, so they started off well, but after working on the project for several weeks, they became true craftspeople.” Ground crew
The broad scope of the project meant that it was accessible to a variety of students, regardless of their previous coursework or
“ The most rewarding part of the project was getting to see the entire plane come together. There was enough there to make it look like an actual plane was sitting in that room, and it made me feel really good knowing that my hands took part in building it.” ROGER HOOPER ’19
“I never thought I’d work on an airplane in college, but I certainly didn’t turn it down when I saw the email to work on it,” says Laura Gordon ’21, whose decision to become an engineering major was reinforced by the project. Here, she is making the “big cut,” separating the canopy from the windshield.
expertise. Those with more experience and knowledge were able to focus on trickier elements, like the fuel tanks, which have to be simultaneously assembled and sealed. First-year students and high school students with no specialized coursework had the opportunity to learn skills and then put them to use on tasks like riveting and wiring. Several aspects of the build required specialized tools, which the Aero Lab team fabricated with the help of HMC machine shop managers Drew Price and his predecessor, Paul Stovall. “Most of the time I spent involved with the project was bringing over different assortments of special tools or making custom fittings or fixtures to make it easier to put something together or to make adjustments,” Price says. “There were lots of requests for a custom tool to make some particular task a little easier, and I loved coordinating with the team to identify those problems.” Price notes that, at every step of the FALL/WINTER 2020
Instructor of Aeronautics Emerita Iris Critchell speaks with students about the College’s long history of integrating aviation and education.
process, students gained practical skills in the shop as well as learning teamwork and problem solving. “Everyone who worked on the project had a special set of talents and interests,” he says, “and everyone had to learn new things along the way. Airplanes are complicated, but they are contained and are a wonderful analog for continuous learning to achieve a highperforming result.” During spring break in 2019, Harris, Alkhamis, Schallert and Max Tepermeister ’20 traveled to Texas to build the plane’s engine at Superior Aircraft under the supervision of factory mechanic Darrell Ingle. The students placed the crankshaft and rods on a stand. They coated the two halves of the case with an adhesive. A silk thread was laid between the halves to fill any tiny gaps remaining before the case was bolted together. They assembled the cylinders and accessories. “We finished in time to watch the first engine test run, with a blast of flame coming out the exhaust,” Harris says. That summer, Joseph Anderson ’21, Laura Gordon ’21, Sabrina Shen ’21, Yuki Wang ’22 and four high school student volunteers completed the sliding canopy, firewall-forward (engine and cowling) and avionics. One of Gordon’s tasks was to trim the expensive and fragile plexiglass canopy bubble, then cut it into separate parts to form the HARVEY MUDD COLLEGE MAGAZINE
sliding canopy and windshield. “The first challenge was not cracking the plexiglass, since this would have required buying an entire new bubble,” Gordon says. “I practiced cutting the plexi several times, even breaking a cutting tool due to overheating. Once it had been cut to size for the canopy and windshield overall, the biggest challenge was the ’big cut,’ cutting to separate what would be the canopy from the windshield. After taking pains to ensure that it was in the correct position, the cut was made, despite my terror. Gluing it was another trial, but it felt great that it was complete and I wouldn’t have to worry about it breaking. Also, I was proud that this important part was done without major error.” Shen says she found building the canopy to be an especially impactful experience. “The canopy itself was fairly geometrically complex and allowed me to build a lot of mechanical intuition while working on it since I had to shape all of the metal components by hand, often with the help of multiple clamps and ratchet straps,” she says. An added challenge arose when the team decided to change the method of attaching the canopy from machine screws, as instructed by the schematic, to using Sikaflex, a polyurethane sealant. “Because of this change,” Shen says, “I had to make adjustments to a lot
of the components as well as create completely new assembly instructions. With the added pressure of working with components that amounted to thousands of dollars, I definitely felt a great sense of responsibility for the work I was doing, and I am very satisfied with how it turned out.” Wang mounted and wired avionics and did fiberglass work on the fairings, and Anderson drilled the firewall and began mounting systems and assembled the wheels and landing gear. Five weeks into summer 2019, the plane was ready to be assembled, so the team transferred the operation to a much larger space in a hangar at Cable Airport. Ready for takeoff
From their new workspace at Cable, which had a view of aircraft taking off and landing, the team set the fuselage on the landing gear and mounted the engine. They mounted the sliding canopy and built the skirts, installed the instrument panel, ran the avionics wiring and antennas, plumbed the engine and built the baffles and cowling. By the end of the fall 2019 semester, the plane was almost complete. “Seeing the engine running for the first time definitely brought me an overwhelming sense of accomplishment,” says Shen. “My teammates and I had put a lot
After purchasing the plane from the College, Harris had it painted and detailed. He’s already thinking about the next AeroLab build.
of work into the build, often driving to the hangar whenever we had free time or even staying and working past midnight just to try and make a little extra progress.” Spring 2020 brought new hurdles, namely, campus closure due to the pandemic, but the team worked diligently and, in early March, the plane received its final inspection and was issued an experimental airworthiness certificate. “When we heard that Harvey Mudd was transitioning to remote learning in the spring, we all knew that we wanted to see the plane running before we had to leave,” Shen says. “During those last three days, the team and Prof. Harris worked non-stop to the very last moment (one of our teammates started his journey home directly from the hangar) in order to get the plane to a semi-complete state. I think that during that period of chaos and anxiety as the effects of the pandemic reached campus, this was one of the few highlights.” On the Horizon
RV12iS light sport aircraft. “The directions are far more complete and include the engine and avionics, so all the phases of construction will be more accessible than the RV-7A was to beginning students,” Harris says. “It comes with holes predrilled to final size and is mostly assembled with pop rivets, saving hundreds of hours of match drilling and dimpling.” Students who helped build the RV-7A are unanimous in recommending the experience to other Mudders. “I think that the Aero Lab is a fantastic opportunity for anyone interested in getting some real hands-on experiences,” says Shen. “Prof. Harris is super welcoming and supportive of anyone who wants to take part and is always eager to take in and mentor underclassmen. Even if someone is not looking to work in specifically mechanical engineering or aerospace related fields, I still think that it is a great experience to build professional problem-solving and communication skills as well as simply a good chance to be a part of a fun and fulfilling project.”
Project Propellers In addition to learning from HMC faculty and staff and from each other, students received mentorship from an impressive group of engineering and aviation experts. Alex Mouschovias, a Clinic liaison, expert mechanical engineer and commercial pilot, assisted the team regularly. Tim Cook, a retired Boeing chief engineer with experience on the Space Shuttle, satellite systems and classified projects, taught the team fiberglass technique, painting, the finer points of sheet metal construction and fasteners and also gave students career mentorship. Fred LaForge, the EAA technical counselor at Cable Airport, guided the team through firewall-forward steps. Along with several other experimental aircraft builders at Cable Airport, “LaForge visited our hangar nearly daily in July and taught us many things,” Harris says. “We have had terrific tours of many unique aircraft at Cable, including home-builts and warbirds.” Instructor of Aeronautics Emerita Iris Critchell, who turned 100 in December, spoke with the students about Harvey Mudd College’s long history of integrating aviation and education. Barbara Filkins ’75 (physics) organized two fly-ins at Cable, sharing a Twin Velocity that she and her husband, Dale, had built.
After purchasing the plane, Harris began thinking about the next AeroLab build: an FALL/WINTER 2020
HARVEY MUDD COLLEGE MAGAZINE
HEALTH HEROES The World Health Assembly designated 2020 the
International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife to commemorate the vital role these individuals play in meeting our health needs. In their State of the World Nursing Report 2020, WHO notes the need to strengthen the workforce and increase the number of nurses and midwives to nine million to achieve universal health coverage by 2030. HMC alumni are doing their part. We interviewed three health professionals who describe their career journeys and what it’s like for them during the age of COVID-19.
Illustration by Brian Stauffer
Modem Medicine Biology researcher turned nurse Heather Whalen is an advocate for telemedicine. Written by Lori Ferguson Photo by Seth Affoumado
eather whalen ’04 has long harbored a keen interest in biology but wasn’t always clear on where that fascination would lead. Today, she is a nurse practitioner at Planned Parenthood Mar Monte in Merced, California, and while Whalen concedes that her path was somewhat circuitous, she maintains that she is right where she’s supposed to be. Early in her career, Whalen thought that academia was where she belonged. After earning her biology degree, she did a one-year stint as a research assistant in a Stanford University biology laboratory, then entered graduate school at the University of California, Merced, with the intention of completing her PhD and doing breast cancer research. Three years in, however, she changed course. “I realized that pursuing a PhD wasn’t for me,” she says. So, with her master’s in hand, Whalen began teaching biology at Merced Community College. Two years later, she decided she wanted to leverage her knowledge in a new way and entered the nursing program at California State University, Los Angeles, to obtain her MSN as a family medicine nurse practitioner (NP). Whalen first completed her RN and then worked on the medical-surgical-telemetry floor at Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena, California, as she continued her education. Upon graduating, she was hired as an NP at Planned Parenthood and a week later was offered a position as NP at the local hospital emergency room. “One of the greatest parts of being a nurse is the wide variety of HARVEY MUDD COLLEGE MAGAZINE
career opportunities. NPs work as part of the medical team in pretty much every facet of the healthcare system,” she explains. “The scheduling flexibility offered by most NP positions makes it possible to try out different career avenues depending on where your interests lie.” In January, Whalen left her job in the ER to work solely at Planned Parenthood. “I have two young children now—a preschooler and a first-grader—I wanted to work less and spend more time with my family.” Whalen left her ER position shortly before the pandemic erupted, but is happy to continue serving the medical needs of her community through her work at Planned Parenthood. “Planned Parenthood’s services have been vital to so many during the pandemic, and our ability to continue providing care to our patients is very important to us,” Whalen says. “With the loss of jobs and homes brought about by the pandemic, people are facing greater challenges in procuring healthcare. And given the highly contagious nature of COVID, many patients are nervous about visiting their doctor, whether for routine healthcare or emergent issues.” Fortunately, says Whalen, Planned Parenthood has been able to remain steadfast in its delivery of healthcare through a mix of telemedicine and in-person visits. “Although we had not offered telehealth visits before the pandemic, it has worked out really well. Our facility has remained open when many other practices suspended services.” Utilizing telemedicine has allowed Planned Parenthood to protect both patients and staff from unnecessary exposure while maintaining continuity of care, Whalen notes. “I really think
“One of the greatest parts of being a nurse is the wide variety of career opportunities. Nurse practitioners work as part of the medical team in pretty much every facet of the healthcare system.”
this is where medicine is going. Telemedicine has been around for some time, but up to now it has been underutilized. The pandemic has accelerated adoption and, honestly, I think it offers a nice option for patients and providers alike. Under the right circumstances, it makes providing care easier for everyone.” Given the challenges of the past year, Whalen says she is doubly grateful for the education she received at Harvey Mudd. She cites supportive faculty and a strong grounding in the sciences as keys to her subsequent success. “My advisor, biology professor Catherine McFadden, was incredibly supportive,” she recalls. “She was approachable and always so positive.” Senior Clinic advisor Elizabeth Orwin ’95, James Howard Kindelberger Professor of Engineering, was also a great source of encouragement. “As a biology major, I was
one of the few non-engineering students who participated in Clinic, and Professor Orwin was wonderful. She assisted me in getting an amazing internship with a biotech start-up in Hawaii and helped me land a job as a research assistant in a Stanford University lab right out of school,” Whalen recalls. “It was wonderful to have these women as mentors. When I was a student at Mudd, the female representation on campus was not great. I really appreciate seeing how this has changed over the years.” While Whalen admits that many of the topics she studied as an undergraduate are not directly relatable to her career as a nurse practitioner, she says that the foundational skills she obtained remain relevant. They have provided a tremendous base for her current career in healthcare, she notes, and are evidence that a strong background in science can open many doors. “Honestly,
when I was a student at Harvey Mudd, I never even considered a career in nursing. It wasn’t until after I was in grad school that I realized I wanted to become an NP. I want students at Mudd to know that nursing is a challenging and rewarding career option they should consider. I suspect many Mudders feel that pursuing an M.D. is the obvious or only option for those with an interest in healthcare, but it’s simply not true,” she insists. “I find my work as a nurse practitioner extremely rewarding. I really love my job!” Whatever path students choose, Whalen is confident that the education they receive at Harvey Mudd will serve them well. “During my four years at the College, I learned to be a critical thinker and a collaborative problem solver,” she observes. “As a result, I go into every situation confident that I can meet whatever challenges come my way.” FALL/WINTER 2020
Michael Shimogawa’s career shift is changing more lives than his own. Written by Daniel F. Le Ray Photo by Jeanine Hill
cy, arctic noctilucent clouds shine bright blue and white, reflecting sunlight high in the mesosphere for just three months. As part of his physics PhD program at University of Washington, physics alumnus Michael Shimogawa ’03 built an electric field probe for a NASA-funded rocket used to study these clouds as well as polar mesospheric summer echoes. After completing the NASA project and his dissertation, Shimogawa earned his doctorate and moved to California, seeking work in aeronautical engineering. But after searching unsuccessfully for a full-time position, his hopes for working in the field began to fade like the seasonal clouds he had studied. Being a pragmatist, Shimogawa knew that his technical skills and Harvey Mudd’s liberal arts education—“learning a little bit of everything”—had given him the broad perspective that could transfer to another field. But which one? A dinner conversation with family provided the perspective he needed. “My cousin (a former social worker) and her husband (a former bus driver) had both switched to nursing,” says Shimogawa. “After talking to them about transition, I thought, that makes sense. And maybe I can do it.” In 2014, he began volunteering at UCLA Health and enrolled in nursing school at the University of California, Los Angeles. He worked with the elderly, learning the necessary, down-to-earth skill of building rapport with patients, in particular, those with dementia. “Having somebody there to keep an eye on HARVEY MUDD COLLEGE MAGAZINE
them and talk to them can help the patients a lot. It also helps the team, so that they don’t have to keep coming in to redirect the patient.” Shimogawa completed his master of science in nursing in 2016, went through a rigorous orientation and began his first assignment as an advanced practice registered nurse in UCLA Health’s medical-surgical (med-surg) geriatrics unit. This period, he says, was “terrifying” as he learned to handle situations ranging from routine to life-threatening at a breakneck pace. During this stressful time, the support of Shimogawa’s colleagues was crucial. “One coworker in the cohort ahead of me would ask how I was doing and reassure me as I worked overtime to finish my charting,” he recalls. “It was nice to hear some friendly words.” He also employed an important skill he used frequently at Harvey Mudd: asking for help. “When you’re new,” he says, “you have to ask a lot of questions, because it’s better to ask a question and annoy another nurse than it is to make a mistake.” During the three years he spent at UCLA Health, he gradually became acclimated to the fast-paced schedule and demanding situations. His patients were often over age 80, with many admissions linked to worsening chronic conditions, such as heart failure. “Typically, it would be that they fell at home, and they’d have a hip surgery or something similar and then come to our floor,” he says. While the hospital’s doctors prescribe and direct care, nurses play a vital role as facilitator and provide 24-hour care. “You’re the person who keeps track of everything and
makes sure that everything is happening the way that it’s supposed to. You run the day for the patient in a lot of ways, making sure everyone’s communicating and managing their time.” The key, he says, is that “each patient feels like they are our only patient whenever we are with them. There’s an art to that, which takes a while to learn.” Connecting with those under his care has become even more important during the COVID-19 pandemic. This September, Shimogawa joined Centinela Hospital Medical Center in Inglewood, California, and is based in two units: med-surg and acute rehabilitation. Due to the pandemic, the hospital does not allow visitors, which can be problematic for older patients who may be suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia. He and other nurses provide the stability and companionship needed when a patient’s family members cannot be there. Shimogawa says it’s heartwarming when patients share how much they miss him when he is off shift, and he is often humbled when family members show their appreciation with gifts when discharging their loved ones from his care. He says his new profession may still require a pivot or two as he explores nursing roles that suit his personality and skills, but he is settling in to his new career—for the longterm. “Nursing is a really great career,” says Shimogawa. “No matter what’s going on in the world, there will always be a need for us.”
Shimogawa and other nurses provide the stability and companionship needed when a patient’s family members cannot be there.
Moved to Help Cultural ties and a desire to help COVID patients leads Kaesa Footracer ’92 to an Indian reservation. Written by Leslie Mertz Photo by Jeanine Hill
atherine “kaesa” Footracer ’92 has moved around a bit, changing majors, colleges and careers, but through it all, one thing has remained constant: her desire to use her talents to help the community. “If you look around, there is so much need in the world and so many problems, so whenever I can step up and do something, I try to,” Footracer says. Last spring, that passion for helping others led her to volunteer on an Indian reservation where she helped care for patients infected with SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19). Underlying direction
While enrolled at Harvey Mudd, Footracer made the first of many choices on her path toward leading a fulfilling life. She had planned to pursue a math/physics degree, but soon noticed something different about the other students in her math courses and also in a dance class she was taking as her physical education requirement. “Being around people at Mudd who loved and were excited about their fields, I realized that although I was good at math and I liked it, I didn’t love it,” she recalls. “I decided I didn’t want to spend my life on something I didn’t love.” That realization led her to transfer after her sophomore year to Scripps College, where she earned majors in dance and psychology. After graduation, Footracer spent seven years managing not-for-profit arts organizations, before she realized she wanted more direct contact with people and became a massage therapist. “It’s hard to get more direct and hands-on than that!” she says with a HARVEY MUDD COLLEGE MAGAZINE
laugh. After repeatedly hearing from massage clients that they had health complaints but felt uncomfortable discussing them with their doctors, she felt a calling to bridge that gap and returned to graduate school to become a physician’s assistant (PA). She earned her M.S. and national certification, and has been serving as a PA-C for the past 12 years, mostly at an office in Los Angeles, where she now provides primary care. Throughout her education and career changes, she has consistently volunteered. At Mudd and Scripps, she participated on a first-aid squad, taught for the Red Cross and helped at a battered-women shelter, and since has served in other capacities, including docent naturalist for a nature center, special events assistant for a chamber orchestra and board member for the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assisants. In May 2020, she also became a COVID-19 clinic volunteer on the sparsely populated Navajo reservation 600 miles from her home near Los Angeles. Helping in a crisis
As COVID-19 began marching across the United States in early spring, Footracer closely followed statistical reports and health websites detailing its spread and became increasingly alarmed about its impact on American Indian populations. “At the end of April, it was tearing through the Navajo reservation, and I just felt like I had to do something,” she says. Her personal connection to the Navajo Nation amplified the urgency: Although she was raised in the suburbs of southern California and outside Indian culture, her father is Navajo and grew up on the Navajo reservation.
“If you look around, there is so much need in the world and so many problems, so whenever I can step up and do something, I try to.”
With the full support of her husband, who is also a healthcare professional, Footracer contacted Navajo Area Indian Health Service in Arizona, communicated her qualifications and asked how she could help. Before she knew it, she had arranged two weeks of vacation time, packed a car, and began the long drive east to the Kayenta Health Center in the northeastern Arizona desert. On arrival, she dropped her bags in the provided on-site staff housing and got to work in the Influenza-Like-Illness Clinic, the section of the Emergency Department where most patients suspected of having COVID-19 were triaged. There, she did everything from stabilizing and evaluating patients to interpreting test results to prescribing medications and arranging for follow-up care and, when necessary, transfer to a hospital. “It was such a different world there,” she says, describing the reservation as about the size of West Virginia but with a population of only around 160,000. Cell, internet or homedelivered mail services are sparse; grocery stores, pharmacies and healthcare facilities
are few and far between; and about a third of residents have no electricity or running water, Footracer says. Multi-generational living is common, with a dozen or more family members, including the elderly, sharing one residence, which increases the potential for transmission of COVID-19. In addition, the reservation has a higher-than-normal incidence of both diabetes and obesity, which heightens the risk of severe illness from the virus. “These factors are all part of why the pandemic took off so ferociously on the reservation,” she says, noting that all of her patients there had friends or family with COVID-19, and most knew someone who had died from it. Of the experience, Footracer says, “I am very grateful and glad to have had the opportunity to volunteer. In some ways, it was a very small thing that I did—I helped out in a clinic for two weeks and then returned to my life—but at the time, it made a difference for the patients who I saw and the colleagues with whom I worked.”
Her volunteer service in Arizona left Footracer with not only an appreciation for the willingness of residents to protect one another by wearing masks and following public health guidelines, but also affirmed her value of public service. “I think it’s so important especially for people who went to the Claremonts to give back. We have such a wealth of resources in terms of knowledge and ability and connections, and I feel we should all be volunteering,” she says. “It doesn’t have to be in your field of work—in fact, this is the first medical volunteering I’ve really done since becoming a PA-C—but I think it’s so critical, and I wish more people were doing it. The HMC community is full of creative problem solvers with access to resources beyond what one person has. I hope that in learning about the disparities facing Indigenous populations, some Mudders will be moved to help address some of the underlying infrastructure problems.”
Alumni Maintain Virtual Connections the pivot to exclusively virtual engagement has proven to be a challenging but valuable opportunity to explore a previously untapped form of programming for HMC. The first webinar in the Mudd Talks series drew nearly 400 viewers, and attendance continues to be strong. Another compelling endorsement of digital engagement comes from volunteer statistics. There’s been an increase of nearly 150 percent in the total number of alumni volunteers since last year, in particular among the Millennial and GenZ age groups. Alumni have answered the call to participate across the College. In July, alumni participated in a Summer Research MicroWorkshop about biomedical device design in July. Annie Jensen ’12, director of technology and strategic planning at Cytovale discussed “A New Approach to Early Sepsis Detection,” and Alice Zhang ’14 (engineering), senior mechanical design engineer (R&D) at Medtronic Diabetes, spoke about “Patient-Centered Design in Comprehensive Diabetes Care.” Four alumni working at Berkeley Lights described their work related to high-throughput single-cell digital biology on its optofluidic platforms. Caro de Freitas ’10 (engineering) is a member of the marketing team, helping define and deliver new hardware and software products; Jonathan Cloud Dragon Hubbard ’10 (engineering) is a senior hardware engineer; Jose Orozco ’17 (engineering) is an MEMS Process Engineer; and Vincent Pai ’12 is a program manager leading new product development for the Antibody Discovery applications. In the MicroWorkshop on atmospheric and climate sciences, Shelly Miller ’86 (math) discussed recent scientific information that supports that COVID-19 transmission occurs via the airborne exposure route and what HARVEY MUDD COLLEGE MAGAZINE
Carmen Lee ’94
Suzie Gruber ’87 Arran McNabb ’06, staff Jonathan Schwartz ’13
Raul D. Martinez ’97
Vanessa Chiu, staff
can be done in buildings during pandemics to minimize airborne transmission risk. She is professor of mechanical engineering and a faculty member in the Environmental Engineering Program at University of Colorado Boulder. For MuddTalks, alumni have shared their expertise about resiliency during the pandemic (Carmen Lee ’94 and Suzie Gruber ’87), advancements in mechanical ventilation for ICU patients (Andy Hoffer ’70), intellectual property (Raul D. Martinez ’97), building wealth (Beverly J. Orth ’74 and Bruce Barton ’86), cybersecurity (Keri [Ostrofsky] Pearlson ’79 and Porter Adams ’18), selfpublishing (Kyle Roesler ’89), clean-energy investing (Tom Konrad ’91), teaching during the pandemic (Zach Rogstad ’08), winemaking (Diana Hawkins ’08) and 3D printing during the pandemic (Jonathan Schwartz ’13 and Max Friefeld ’13). These talks and others are
available on the HMC YouTube channel, and more events are planned. In addition to virtual programs, the Office of Alumni and Parent Relations partnered with the Office of Career Services and AABOG to launch the new MuddCompass online networking platform to alumni on Sept. 24 and to students on Nov. 12. So far, nearly 700 alumni and 150 students have registered on MuddCompass. “We are optimistic about the trajectory of growth we’ve achieved during this time and plan to continue offering these and other virtual opportunities even after the return to in-person programming,” says Jennifer Green, senior director of alumni and parent relations.
If interested in hosting a virtual event or sharing your ideas, please fill out a survey at bit.ly/muddvoluntr.
This new platform provides direct access to a trusted network of diverse peers who can serve as mentors and supporters. Whether joining as an information provider or information seeker (or both), engaging on MuddCompass allows you to connect directly with Mudders in-person and online, locally and globally. JOIN AT MUDDCOMPASS.HMC.EDU
T AT I U
The Office of Alumni and Parent Relations provided a creative opportunity to celebrate the HMC community and the positive contributions being made every day. During November and December, they received a variety of submissions describing how our community expresses a spirit of gratitude. Check out more responses on HMC social media (Twitter, Facebook and Instagram).
“For the Gratitude Challenge, I will continue to make blood and platelet donations, based on recommended donation schedules. My Mudder and I have also been making donation runs to donate food, winter clothes and toys to charity organizations.” —Harry Huang P24
“For the Gratitude Challenge, I will be participating by: walking and running with dogs along a sandy wash in Tuscon, AZ, posting workout selfies for my friends and teammates on our winter break workout competition Slack channel, going on gorgeous hikes into the Sonoran desert with my family and cooking and backing delicious meals together.”
“Over the past few weeks I’ve had a lot of fun hanging out with my family. We’ve gone on walks to watch the sunset, explored pretty nature trails, decorated the house, and watched a bunch of holiday movies. We’ve also gotten to spend a lot more time with our two dogs, who enjoy lots of play time. We’re going to no doubt continue to do lots of fun stuff together and make the most of the holiday season.” –Jaime Pacheco ’24
—Daphne Guo ’19
Valle Verde retirement community Science Discussion Group on 3D sound and its implications for hearing aids, binaural sound and a design for sound in model railroads. He also gave a talk in August on nuclear power. He and his wife, Kay, ride tricycles for an hour every day, and he’s built two all-wood clocks, model airplanes (HMC Wing Bender alumni) and wood toys that he donates to charity.
Simon Fraser University teaching, research and service activities remotely. He says, “We were lucky to complete data collection from 119 of 120 intended participants in a golf putting biomechanics study before campus was shut down in March and are now preparing papers for publication. I have given several presentations on the Lungpacer system to liberate intensive care patients from dependency on mechanical ventilation by strengthening their diaphragm using a temporary transvenous nerve stimulation catheter. In April, the approach was allowed emergency use by the FDA and has since successfully returned independent breathing to COVID-19 survivors who couldn’t wean from the ventilator.”
Walter Naumann (physics) gave a talk to the
Robert Charrow (physics) is the general
counsel of the Department of Health and Human Services (CMS, NIH, CDC, FDA, IHS, HRSA plus 21 other divisions). He writes, “The department is responsible, with private partners, for research and development, manufacturing and distribution of new therapeutics and vaccines, ensuring that vaccine candidates are cost-free to most, if not all, Americans and paying hospitals and physicians relief funds for the many months of lost revenues, to name only a few things on our plate. On a happier note, our younger daughter gave birth to twins; she will now have three kids under three years old. Our son-in-law is in the Earth and Planetary Sciences Department at Harvard teaching courses virtually. Our older daughter is an artist on Madison Avenue. Veda retired from NIH 12 years ago and has been oil painting for about 10 years. She does great portraits.”
Andy Hoffer (physics) has been doing all of his
Steve Quilci (physics) retired from an active
role in aerospace and defense communications (40+ years) after earning a PhD from Stanford in applied physics. He’s active with local government management (city planning commission; elected to the local Sanitary District board of directors and formerly on the advisory board for an L.A. County high-tech incubator) and supports technical education through L.A. County-based 501(c)3 and 501(c)6 charitable organizations, providing scholarships to civilian and military students. HARVEY MUDD COLLEGE MAGAZINE
Peter Brumbaugh (chemistry) and Ludd Trozpek (physics) met up for a few days in
September in far-Northeastern Oregon. Peter and his wife, Patty, traveled from their home in Oklahoma City, and Ludd and Robin SCR ’71 came from their home in Claremont.
John Sell (engineering) has led the hardware
architecture of the Microsoft Xbox for more than 14 years, including the new Xbox One
Series X and S. He was recently recruited to be the chief security architect for Intel’s Security Architecture and Engineering group.
After a career with a scientific instruments company, Doug Burum (physics) transitioned about 14 years ago into the field of patent law. He earned a patent agent license and has been working for a boutique patent law firm in Nashua, New Hampshire, called Maine, Cernota and Rardin. He says, “Thanks to my solid grounding in physics from HMC and Caltech, I am able to draft and prosecute patents for inventions in nearly all technology fields. I am married with three children and one grandchild. In my spare time, I sing in a barbershop quartet, and I enjoy refurbishing antique radios and TVs.”
Scott E. Fraser (physics)
kept busy last year teaching and doing research while staying safe. He writes, “The graduate students and postdocs in the lab have been amazing in developing new tools and using them to make new insights. One of the most exciting is a collaboration with the Don Arnold and Carl Kesselman labs, watching individual connections in the brain as an animal learns. The results show that in one brain subregion, synaptic connections were formed anew, and in another, connections were eliminated. Kesselman, the informatics specialist, created a data ecosystem so that each figure in the paper gives the reader a direct path to the primary data, protocols and experimental details: the dawning of a new era in making complex imaging data accessible for meta-analyses. We have been active in translation from the research lab into new products and tests. Several of our patents have been licensed in the last year, leading to new microscopes, new medical tests, and new, accurate DNA synthesis.”
In fall 2020, Anne Hofmeister (physics) received the Professional Excellence Award (Academic/ Research Category) from the Association of Women Geoscientists.
Deborah Konkowski (physics) was on
sabbatical from the math department at the U.S. Naval Academy during 2019 and worked on singularities in relativistic space times. She collaborated with HMC professor emeritus Tom Helliwell. She’s learning how to teach differential equations remotely. In between teaching and research, she serves on the academy’s promotion and tenure committee—“a very time-intensive activity.” Amy Wall (chemistry) writes: “I spent most
of my working career at Hughes Aircraft Company in Tucson. These days, though, I’m doing something entirely different. I’m an enrolled agent, licensed by the Internal Revenue Service, with a private tax practice. One of my niche specialties is the taxation of cryptocurrency; I teach classes in that subject for the National Association of Tax Professionals and have been published in several journals. Fun!”
As part of a lifetime committed to science and society and following 20 years of leading the Strategic Energy Analysis division at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado, Douglas Arent (engineering) has a new job as the executive director for Strategic Public Private Partnerships building partnerships to transform energy economies at speed and scale across the globe. He says he welcomes connecting with HMC alumni to advance clean energy solutions.
At the beginning of 2019, Wendy Streitz (physics) retired from her position as executive director for research policy analysis and coordination at the University of California system and relocated to Washington, D.C., to become president of the Council on Governmental Relations. Three months later, Fred Streitz (physics) P13, P13 accepted a request to help forge an Artificial Intelligence and Technology Office inside the Department of Energy. The office was formally created in September 2019, and he was slated to continue on as the chief science advisor. However, SARSCoV-2 changed all of that; in March 2020 he was tapped to be DOE liaison to the nation’s COVID-19 Task Force.
Louis Rossi (math)
is partnering with L’Oreal and Total to the world’s first sustainable packaging made from captured and recycled carbon emissions. Jennifer, LanzaTech CEO, said, “Together, we can reduce the carbon footprint of packaging by converting carbon emissions into useful products, making single-use carbon a thing of the past.”
numerical methods and analysis of a variety of problems arising from the world around us, such as fluid flows, insect swarms, wired and wireless networks, and robotics. bit.ly/Rossi-dean
Life science innovator Paragon Biosciences announced the appointment of Jon T. DeVries (engineering) as the new chief executive officer of Qlarity Imaging, a leading artificial intelligence diagnostics company. A proven leader with in-depth expertise in developing and commercializing medical imaging and AI solutions, Jon will execute Qlarity Imaging’s mission to advance breast cancer diagnosis through AI-driven technology. Jon has more than 20 years of experience spearheading the creation and release of innovative cloud-based healthcare initiatives that bring advanced services and technologies to providers and researchers, with the ultimate goal of improving patient care. At Massachusetts General Hospital, he launched a Tele3D service; While at IBM, he developed technologies that deliver medical images anywhere at any time and developed the first AI offering at IBM Watson Health Imaging. He’s earned eight patents in the areas of superconducting electronics, medical imaging and AI.
After 27 years working, building everything from LNG plants, nuclear storage facilities in Russia, new nuke plants in Georgia and water pumping stations in Chile, G. Douglas Green (engineering) decided to take a year off. During the pandemic, he left Houston for the family house in Mexico. He writes, “We will see what is next.”
Jennifer Holmgren’s company, LanzaTech,
P20, previously chair of the Department of Mathematical Sciences, now serves as the new dean of the Graduate College and vice provost for graduate and professional education at the University of Delaware. Louis joined UD’s Department of Mathematical Sciences in 2001 and has chaired the department since 2015. Since 2012, he has also held a joint appointment as professor in the Department of Computer and Information Sciences. His research interests focus on
Twenty years ago, Bryan Marten P24 (physics) switched from drug discovery research— computer-assisted drug design—in New Jersey big pharma to living in the San Francisco East Bay teaching public high school AP chemistry and physics in San Francisco where his wife’s family is from. He writes, “My work in drug discovery did not earn the Nobel Prize, but I was happy to see the project I worked on— Hep C protease inhibitor—was made possible by the topic of 2020’s Nobel in Medicine for discovering the Hep C virus. High school is 100% online teaching since March and probably for the rest of the academic year, but we’ll see. I enjoy regularly helping to facilitate a summer cosmology/particle physics workshop at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab for high school students and teachers featuring lab personnel. Re-lived the college application process last year with my oldest daughter, who is now a first-year at Mudd!”
Kenji Hashimoto (physics), who spent nearly
22 years at American Airlines, is Amazon’s vice president of North American sort centers and planning. Sort centers are smaller facilities than fulfillment centers where orders are sorted by final destination and consolidated onto trucks for faster delivery. Kenji previously was senior vice president of finance and corporate development at American. He held a series of executive positions at the world’s largest airline, including a stint as president of cargo.
David Williams (engineering) lives in Southern
California and is moving into his 25th year as a game (systems) designer. He writes, “Last year was the biggest release yet with The Outer Worlds getting terrific response, including several Game of The Year awards.”
Gautam Patel (engineering) is a member of
the board of directors of Spectrum Brands Holdings Inc. Gautam is managing director of Tarsadia Investments, a private investment firm based in Newport Beach, California, which he joined in 2012. There he manages principal control equity investments across sectors, including life sciences, financial services and technology. Prior to Tarsadia, he was managing director at Lazard and an analyst at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette. He is a board member of Amneal Pharmaceuticals, several private companies and the Casita Maria Center for Arts and Education, a New York based non-profit organization which aims to empower children through arts-based education. Jason Rhodes (physics) is a senior research
scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He develops and implements space telescopes to study dark matter, dark energy and exoplanets. He’s the U.S. science lead for the European Space Agency’s Euclid mission (launch 2022) and the JPL Project Scientist for NASA’s Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope.
Bandwidth, a leading enterprise cloud communications company, appointed John Bell (engineering) as chief product officer. He has served in a number of leadership roles within the product organization for HARVEY MUDD COLLEGE MAGAZINE
the past nine years, driving strategy, design and development. In his new role, he’ll lead Bandwidth’s entire product organization, focused on bringing world-class products to market. He held senior-level positions at Accenture, where he spent eight years working on projects for Microsoft, AT&T Wireless, and T-Mobile, as well as Infospace Mobile/ Motricity, where he managed a global portfolio of mobile data products.
HMC trustee Rachel Beda (biology) participated in a virtual dialogue on mental health for the HMC community. Rachel is a practicing physician with particular interests in providing gender-affirming care for transgender and non-binary individuals, mental health and medical weight loss. In January 2020, Beth Leonard (Coleman) (CS and engineering) was elected senior warden of St. Jude’s Episcopal church in Cupertino, during a time when the church was without a full-time priest. This position is the lay person legally responsible for the church. She successfully steered the church through the pandemic transition to online-only worship and the selection of a new rector. Only her junior year of Mudd prepared her for this amount of work and responsibility. In her personal life, she is still happily married to Jon Leonard ’93 (math) and has two children, Peter (high school sophomore) and Amber (eighth grade). She is an assistant scoutmaster for Female Boy Scout Troop 582, a committee member for Boy Scout Troop 479, and the leader of Cadette Girl Scout troop 61292.
LaunchDarkly, the feature management software company founded by Edith Harbaugh (engineering) and John Kodumal ’00 (engineering), made the Forbes Cloud 100 list. The list recognizes computing companies that are leading the way in cloud technology innovation.
Over the last two years, Robin Willingham-Hsueh (engineering) says she has been learning about neurodiversity, emotional regulation and social thinking.
Lay Your Cards on the Table Can a card game help change the tone of political discourse? Claire O’Hanlon ’09 thinks so. Written by Stephanie L. Graham Photo by Dave Baiocchi
in this friendly card game, the red cards you’re holding say “alternative facts,” “coastal elites,” “electioneering,” “hopes and prayers,” “pharmaceutical companies,” “same-sex marriage” and “the gig economy.” A Selector places a blue card on the table for players to consider: “Government should never infringe on this.” You can play one red card as a response. Which one do you choose, and are you ready to defend your selection? If you’re intrigued and interested in discussing some of the most important issues of our time, then ControVersus, a card game created by Claire O’Hanlon ’09, may be one you add to your game night rotation. On her website, O’Hanlon describes ControVersus as “a card submission game for wonky friend groups, aspiring deep state operatives and anyone who wants to sabotage Thanksgiving dinner.” It’s also for people who just love politics and for educators who want their students to have productive conversations about political issues. O’Hanlon hopes it can help change the tone of political discourse. “This game tries to make it so you can talk about this stuff without necessarily talking about what you believe,” says O’Hanlon, an engineering alumna who, besides being a game creator, is also a health services, economics and policy researcher in
Los Angeles. “You can discuss issues in a more abstract way. The game is an opportunity to talk about politics and gives you an opportunity to say what you think and try to convince others of your views, though that’s not the point of it. The discussion is.” O’Hanlon began work on ControVersus in 2017 while at the Pardee RAND Graduate School, where she was part of a Tech Lab Pilot to design and create technology-based projects to improve civil discourse. O’Hanlon believes that everything, in some way, is a political decision whether it’s the research questions that we choose to pursue or the company we work for. “Trying to divorce life from politics, to pretend to be objective, I think, is a disservice to us all,” she says. “We are really uncomfortable disagreeing with each other anymore. With this game, you don’t all need to agree in the end.” In her own family, uncomfortable discussions were part of growing up. O’Hanlon describes her household as being politically and religiously divided. “My mom is a Catholic Democrat, and my dad is an atheist
Republican. We talked about politics a lot. But we were also very respectful of each other.” She notes studies that show that families have become increasingly divided over politics— another reason her card game is so important right now. In ControVersus, blue “idea” cards cover about 400 topics that O’Hanlon selected by cruising political sites like MSNBC and Breitbart, reading political books and interviewing those in her own social network. The value cards used to respond to the red cards provoke players to defend their choices, which may sometimes not align with their own beliefs. Players who think they have a better defense than the one offered may chime in to potentially earn points. Through the user testing that she’s done, O’Hanlon has seen productive interactions among diverse groups: the politically homogeneous and those on opposite ends of the political spectrum. “I’ve observed that ControVersus is a safe way for people to talk about their values, a way for them to express thoughts that might not come up otherwise
or that they might not feel like they can talk about. The game helps people talk about politics without creating an emotionally charged environment, to talk current events in a way that is divorced from trying to convince someone of a point of view.” She’s working with a board game industry consultant to promote the game. “I would love for this to be something that’s played in educational settings or in a setting where you want to have an activity to create dialogue,” she says. “I think that there is potential for it, especially during a time when we’re trying to improve campus climate and encourage viewpoint diversity.” With all that’s been happening in politics lately, O’Hanlon sees lots of opportunity to expand the game and its reach. She’s contacted academic institutions about playtesting, has added ControVersus to the online gaming platforms TableTopia and itch.io, and she is actively recruiting Mudders and others to play it.
stop the virus and, thus, treat the disease. The work is supported by a $55,000 grant from the Research Corporation for Science Advancement. She says, “I think we’re going to end up with some pretty awesome vaccines, and I think that is going to be the key to [restoring] normalcy … My personal, optimistic viewpoint is that by next summer, we will be back to semi-normalcy. But I don’t think the coronavirus is going away.”
Zealand. In the September 2020 VinePair article, “How Microagressions in a Sonoma Winery Made a Black Winemaker Question Her Profession,” Diana provides a personal take on the wine industry. bit.ly/Hawkins-VinePair Gordon Hoople (engineering) released his
book Drones for Good. He and his co-author, sociologist Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick, worked together to show the power of bringing sociotechnical thinking into the engineering classroom.
Annie Kao (engineering) is listed on the
Girl Geek X List of Top 60 Women Leading Engineering Teams. Annie is vice president of engineering for Simpson Strong-Tie. She is responsible for engineering strategy, management and innovation across the company’s product lines. She is a former director for the Structural Engineers Association of Southern California (SEAOSC), is a founding member of the SEAOSC Women in Structural Engineering Committee and is a former HMC trustee. Annie is also actively involved in the fields of resilient construction and seismic retrofitting and in 2019 received the Barc Simpson Community Hero Award recognizing outstanding volunteer contributions by Simpson Strong-Tie employees in their communities.
Caitlin Vierra (engineering) was a candidate
for board of trustees of the Paso Robles Joint Unified School District. She works in Paso Robles as a manufacturing quality manager, and she and her husband have an elementary-aged distance learner and two toddlers.
During a MuddTalks webinar in November, Diana Hawkins
James Perry (physics) lives in Irvine,
California, doing software engineering at Google along with quite a few other Mudders. He says, “With all the COVID-19 closures, my hobbies have become working from home, teaching a 6-year-old, marveling at how fast a 6-year-old learns to use technology during school shutdowns and trying to stop a 6-year-old from using technology all day.”
Los Angeles-area newspaper The Argonaut featured Katie Mouzakis (chemistry and biology) in the article “Hope from a Local Scientist.” An assistant professor of biochemistry at Loyola Marymount University, she’s leading a team to research SARSCoV-2, (the virus that causes COVID-19), with the hope of developing a drug to HARVEY MUDD COLLEGE MAGAZINE
(engineering) discussed her unusual path from engineering to winemaking, the current challenges facing the wine industry, the need for innovative solutions and the role of STEM in the industry. Shortly after her graduation from HMC, Diana decided to pursue a career as a sommelier in Chicago. She’s developed beverage programs for the James Beard-award winning Lula Cafe and has graced the floors of Alinea, a three Michelin star restaurant in Chicago. In 2019, she graduated with a master’s degree in wine science from the University of Auckland in New Zealand; her thesis was about the microbial contribution to regional wine character. She works as a winemaking consultant and is developing her own wine brand in New
Tyler Ochiai (physics) works in adtech and
e-commerce as a software engineer. He’s mostly worked on data pipelines and APIs that service web and mobile applications. He also married Yu-Shan and says he spends “much of my time taking pictures of my cat.”
Jaron Kent-Dobias (physics) graduated with a
PhD from Cornell in August 2020 and started a postdoc at Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris studying the dynamics and complex landscapes of glasses.
Yantao Wu (physics) is applying for postdocs in
condensed matter theory.
Marisol Beck (physics) quit her full-time
quantum physics job to pursue art. She writes, “I discovered my love of embroidery in the last year and have been using it as my main source of income. I’ve also been heavily involved in the Portland BLM protests and have been tear gassed and beaten by Portland police and federal agents more times than I can count.” Marc Finzi (physics) is working toward a PhD
in CS at NYU (transferred from Cornell). He has been working on projects that are either physics inspired, such as LieConv where he develops neural networks with symmetries to Lie groups or projects that are at the intersection of physics and ML, where he devises networks with better inductive biases (from classical physics) to learn from physical systems, such as the dynamics of a jointed robot. During summer, he worked with ex-theoretical physicists Roberto Bondesan and Max Welling on probabilistic numeric convolutional networks using tools from the physics toolbox like Greens functions and GPS to model discretization errors in CNNs probabilistically. He’s also been working on a project to use neural networks to express solutions in numerical relativity to simplify some challenges with adaptive mesh refinement.
2019 Oladeji Andrew
(engineering), a manufacturing technology project engineer at Niagara Bottling in Diamond Bar, California, was listed on Control Engineering’s 2020 Engineering Leader Under 40 list. He is recognized for his work on a Sandia National Laboratories Clinic Project. CE notes, “Oladeji’s work with plastic materials fabrication has continued into his career at Niagara Bottling, where he specializes in line management systems (LMS) integration, testing and implementation. As a lead project engineer, he is responsible for an LMS-commissioning project at a four-line plant in Houston as well as supporting many of the company’s 35 plants across the country.”
Holly Frank (physics) is on the board of advisors
at Voteology, an online platform that helps educate college-age voters about the impact of their vote and ways to combat gerrymandering. The site helps college students understand the registration and voting process, encourages them to vote and determines if they are eligible to vote in two or more districts and in which district their vote will matter more. Holly helps increase Voteology usage and, ultimately, voter registration. In late November, she was working to register students in Georgia— including those turning 18 before Jan. 5—for the upcoming senate runoff. “Georgia has hundreds of thousands of college students who are eligible to vote in the runoff even if they voted in their home state in the November election … every vote is vital,” she said. “I think the extremely close nature of [the presidential] election really proves how much every single vote matters. I think it also highlights why college students are in such a unique position to maximize the impact of their vote. Most of the races in the California 27th congressional district had large margins, whereas in states like Wisconsin, Georgia and Arizona, some races were within 1%. Harvey Mudd students should think about the issues that matter to them and choose to register where they can have the most impact on the outcome.”
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Richard “Dick” Chrystie ’61 Richard “Dick” Chrystie ’61, a beloved member of the Founding Class, died Oct. 18. Dick attended Harvey Mudd College then transferred and ultimately graduated in 1962 with a bachelor’s in physics and chemistry from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. While working as an engineer for General Dynamics in Pomona, he also owned a sailboat that he raced regularly. He was West Coast High Point in Finn for 1965 and made it through eliminations to the North American Single-hand Finals (O-day Finals) in Seattle that same year. He went on to work for Ford Aeronutronics (where he met his wife, Sandi), then for Hughes Aircraft (29 years), where he was head of the Secure Projects Section of the Mechanical Design Department and was a member of the senior staff. After retiring from Hughes, Dick and Sandi moved to their cabin in Big Bear where he became general manager at Ollila Industries. They moved to Hesperia when Sandi became ill with emphysema; she passed away in 2005. Dick was an avid builder of models and model airplanes and was a member and treasurer of his local Radio Control flying club. He taught model flying, was a private pilot, enjoyed fishing on his boat and traveling in his RV. Dick is survived by his daughter, Brenda Chrystie.
HARVEY MUDD COLLEGE MAGAZINE
Kitty Ressler ’75 Kitty Ressler ’75 (math) passed away on July 9, after a courageous battle with early onset dementia while being supported by her family and many friends. After Harvey Mudd, she accepted an engineering position in Washington, D.C. with the Naval Electronics Systems Command, where she helped set up and manage Navy communications stations around the world. She returned to California in the early ’80s, joining GTE Government Systems, Mountain View, as a project engineer, ultimately rising to become the director of Intelligence Warfare Systems. She departed GTE in 1997 and joined the startup company Snap Track Inc. developing the E-911 mobile cellular handset GPS location system used by most cellular companies worldwide. Snap Track was purchased by Qualcomm in 2000. At her retirement from Qualcomm in 2007, Kitty was concurrently the CEO of the independent Snap Track division and a Qualcomm vice president. In retirement, she followed her lifetime love of animals by joining the board of directors of the North County Humane Society as the organization treasurer and continued in that capacity until NCHS merged with Woods Humane Society in 2017.
James “Andy” Wehrenberg ’72 James Andrew “Andy” Wehrenberg ’72 died on Oct. 13. After receiving a bachelor’s in physics from HMC, he did his graduate work in nuclear engineering at the University of Washington. He worked in the design of the initial construction of nuclear power plants in Madrid, Spain and Augusta, Georgia, for Bechtel Corp. He also worked for Southern Company Services as a consulting engineer. In retirement, he enjoyed playing bridge, working on home projects, reading all genres, listening to classic rock, spending time with family and friends, traveling, keeping the Cahaba River clean and “discussing” politics. He volunteered to help seniors do their taxes through AARP. Memorial contributions can be made to the Flick and Jack Wehrenberg Scholarship, an endowed scholarship that Andy established at HMC in honor of his parents to support a deserving student who has demonstrated financial need each year.
“We Want to Pay It Back” Hal ’62 and Mary Harris for these two retired chemistry teachers, life is an adventure. From 1970 to 2015, Harold (Hal) Harris ’62 was a member of the chemistry faculty at University of Missouri-St. Louis (UMSL), where he published research in physical chemistry and pioneered the use of computer symbolic/numerical mathematical processors in teaching physical chemistry. Mary Harris retired from teaching high school chemistry in 2010. Together, they established the Harold H. Harris ’62 Endowed Scholarship with a stock gift that was matched by the Shanahan Matching Challenge in 2014. They have continued to donate to the scholarship, which benefits students majoring in chemistry or physics. Here they discuss what motivated them to start a scholarship, the impact it’s having and their latest adventure: volunteering to participate in COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials. What was your career journey like and what are you doing now? Hal: My “adventurous” career started with my application to a promising but unaccredited science and engineering school back in 1957 (HMC), and continued with a postdoctoral fellowship at the brand-new campus of UC Irvine. My academic career at UMSL was also during its very early years. Intellectually, I made several changes in direction, from mass spectrometry to trajectory calculations to ion-molecule spectroscopy to flame chemistry and, finally, to chemical education. The St. Louis Academy of Science named me “Science Educator of the Year” in 2010. Mary: I taught high school chemistry and middle school physical science for 34 years at John Burroughs School and was awarded the Presidential Award for Excellence in Secondary Science Teaching from Missouri. I spent many years promoting polymer science for K–12 teachers and students. During retirement, I have enjoyed volunteer opportunities, including tutoring nurses at UMSL, working at a food pantry and helping at organizations that promote the reuse of donated items. The proceeds of these charities have helped
fund no-interest college loans, backpacks of school supplies for children and funds for other charities in the St. Louis area. I also crochet chemo hats for cancer patients, grow vegetables in my garden and create fiber-art pictures using men’s silk ties. I seem to be almost as active now as I was teaching and raising our children. Hal: The St. Louis Post Dispatch just published my article about my experience as a guinea pig for the Pfizer vaccine. After two injections, my arm was really sore, so I’m pretty sure I got the vaccine and not the placebo. I volunteered early because I wanted to make a contribution to the development of a vaccine. It was also an opportunity to explain why mRNA vaccines differ from previous ones. It’s a breakthrough technology that has come to market with amazing speed. Mary volunteered for the same reason I did: we both want to make things better for the world. Why did you both decide to fund a student scholarship at HMC? Hal: I would not have been able to attend HMC had it not been for a scholarship from the Lockheed Leadership Fund. I wanted to “give back” for what I had received, and we began the scholarship in commemoration of my 50th year since graduation because of an opportunity to have our initial gift matched, making it large enough to be considered “endowed.” We hoped to inspire other alumni to also endow scholarships. We are also very pleased to have been able to endow a scholarship for chemistry students at UMSL. Mary and I both loved to work with students during our teaching careers, and the connection with our scholarship awardees allows us to enjoy the energy, intellect and enthusiasm of the current students. Cathy Chang ’21 is a great example of the kind of students we have met through the scholarship. We were both impressed with what she’s done. She seems to have—like most Mudd students—a really good idea what she wants to do with her life.
Because the Harrises make their scholarship a priority each year, it has grown to nearly $200,000. Over time and with continued growth, their scholarship can support multiple scholars each year.
Mary: I’m just totally impressed with all three of the women we’ve supported over the years. That’s why we want to increase the scholarship fund over time, because these students are incredible. They’re going to go places and change the world.
“ [The Harrises] believe in me—in me! They want to see me thrive and grow, in my own way.” CATHY CHANG ’21, HAROLD H. HARRIS ’62 ENDOWED SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENT (SEE PAGE 18.)
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In-flight Reading Over three years, David Harris, Harvey S. Mudd Professor of Engineering Design, and his students built an airplane. Feel free to recline your seat, relax and enjoy the story of their adventure, beginning on page 22.
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In celebration of the WHO's International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, we feature alumni health professionals who describe their caree...
Published on Feb 18, 2021
In celebration of the WHO's International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, we feature alumni health professionals who describe their caree...