Harvey Mudd College Magazine, spring 2018

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Chau for Change Derrick Chau ’97 is intent on getting to the root of issues impacting Los Angeles schools. | 30








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Heart of Campus

Platt Campus Center Living Room The Platt Campus Center is one of Harvey Mudd’s most lived-in spaces. Dedicated in 1964, it was the College’s dining hall until 2005, when the Hoch-Shanahan Dining Commons opened. 1 The addition of modular tables, chairs and wallboards makes the Living Room a hospitable place for doing team projects, like producing a school newspaper. Jonah Cartwright ’20, Michael Streinz ’20, Max Maleno ’20 and William Teav ’19 take a break from their studies to review their assignments for an upcoming edition of the Muddraker.

2 The Harvey Mudd College Seal, created in 1960 by Thomas Jamieson, represents the various ideals of the College. The sun represents energy; the elliptical Mobius strip represents structure; the dividers represent measurement; the inner and outer ellipses can be interpreted as orbital paths, suggesting concern with space; and the globe denotes the humanities and civilization. The dividers are placed in the design to bridge the gap between the sun and the globe, symbolizing the measure of energy and matter as well as the measure of humans and civilization.


3 A brand new, high-end AV system—including a 15.6’ retractable screen, 4K laser projector and surround-sound system adaptable to a variety of events from movies to presentations, and even small concerts—has enhanced the use of the Living Room to include additional recreational events, while also creating a more robust space. These upgrades, made possible by the Witte family in remembrance of Tristan Witte ’18, have created what Tristan’s classmates have affectionately named the Shibby Theater (For Tristan and his friends, “shibby,” which essentially means “chill,” was a favorite moniker, adjective, verb and general expression.).

6 The most noticeable element of the refurbishment is the 24 new couches, which replaced the old, broken-in couches with their deep cushions and brass rivets. Students have resolved to overcome the new couches’ too-springy cushions: “We just need to dedicate ourselves to breaking in these new couches in. Have a DSA event where we just punch the couches,” says one student. The original couches, rivets and all, are still available for lounging on in various areas around campus, including in Linde Residence Hall and the Office of Institutional Diversity, housed adjacent the Living Room, on the north side of the Platt Campus Center. 7 The Office of Institutional Diversity serves as a social justice education hub for the Harvey Mudd community. It’s also a nice place to meet new friends as there are always people gathered there. OID’s regular educational programming aimed at increasing awareness, allyship and action takes many forms, from lectures on race, gender and feminism to street dancing workshops.

4 The mural adorning the north wall of Platt Campus Center was painted by former Claremont resident and master watercolorist Milford Zornes (1908–2008). After soaking a 44- x 33-foot piece of watercolor paper in his bathtub, Zornes rolled it onto an aluminum backing and painted—in three days—a landscape depicting the coast from Northern California down to the Mexico border. A Pasadena physician purchased the work for $35,000 but instead of hanging it in his medical clinic, he donated it to Harvey Mudd during the 1980s. Read more about Zornes, who visited Harvey Mudd in 2005 and was interviewed by Harvey Mudd College Magazine (hmc.edu/zornes).

8 Students seeking work-life balance and resources to thrive head to this office (Assistant Dean Michelle Harrison’s) or to one nearby (Associate Dean Rae Chresfield’s). In addition to psycho-educational programming—like a Disneythemed wellness party, Fresh Check days and stress ball crafting—they provide crisis management, referrals, support and advocacy.

5 What’s a living room without a disco ball? Boring. Lucky for HMC students, that’s not the case in Platt. The mirrored ball is inconspicuous in daylight, but when turned on after hours its sparkling reflections are a welcome flourish to Wednesday Nighters (billed by DSA Muchachos as “a showcase for student talents or lack thereof”) and other events.

9 The former servery area was located in the space the mailroom now occupies. Diners were served cafeteria style, with separate stations for salad bar, drinks and dessert. During 1983, when this photo was taken, 30 fulltime employees served 1,000 meals each day. Today, 52 fulltime employees serve about 2,000 meals daily in the Hoch-Shanahan Dining Commons. And, of course, dining options have expanded quite a bit.


Understanding the Impact of Your Work This past February, I was invited to present the Yohsin Public Lecture at Habib University, Pakistan’s first liberal arts and sciences university. By all accounts, Habib University is thriving—it will celebrate its first class of graduates this year. Just over eight years ago, when it was established, the founders mapped out their core curriculum by drawing inspiration from a number of higher education institutions, including Harvey Mudd College. During my visit, I was struck by just how many similarities there are between Harvey Mudd and this new educational institution more than 8,300 miles away. The theme of my talk was “Understanding the Impact of Your Work on Society: the Importance of a Broad Education.” Habib University bases its core around seven distinct “Forms of Thought” that provide a philosophical center for learning: Historical and Social Thought; Philosophical Thought; Language and Expression; Creative Practice; Formal Reasoning; Quantitative Reasoning; and Natural Scientific Method and Analysis. The university strives to provide students with a broad education so that they are prepared with the knowledge and learning necessary to “generate concepts to tackle new realities.” In many ways, their founding reminds me of Harvey Mudd College’s own history. Joseph Platt, our founding president, was one of the first physicists who refused to work on nuclear projects. He believed they were bad for the world, and that only through infusing the science, engineering and mathematics curriculum with humanities, social sciences and the arts could we educate future leaders who could truly understand the impact of their work on society. Sixty years ago, this philosophy in higher education was unheard of. Today, being able to understand how what you are learning can be seen from different perspectives, from different disciplines and from the

different cultures within those different disciplines is incredibly important. Teamwork and collaboration are vital skills. Being able to generate creative new ideas—sometimes beautiful and sometimes ugly—is critical. The world is full of complicated problems— from war to natural disasters, from business ethics to educating our youth (read about faculty, students and alumni addressing some of these challenges in this issue). If we really want to be able to address these problems as part of a global society, we need for all people to think about the impact of their work on society. At Harvey Mudd, we are committed to undergraduate teaching and learning. We believe that being able to explain ideas—whether giving a talk or writing a paper to share them—is incredibly important. That’s why we are committed to ensuring not only that our students have the kinds of experiential learning opportunities that make these new discoveries possible but also that they are equipped with the core communication and writing skills to share this new knowledge with the world. Places like Harvey Mudd that really care about teaching people will have to figure out how to make this new knowledge accessible to absolutely everybody. Every person will have to become knowledgeable—on some level—about machine learning and the “internet of things.” For us to get through this phase shift so that people can still have jobs, still make a living, still have families and prosper—we are going to have to figure out how to do that. Institutions like Harvey Mudd that really care about curriculum and pedagogy have to take the lead. Our founders believed that “technology divorced from humanity is worse than no technology at all.” More than 60 years later, we at Harvey Mudd College continue to take their words to heart. We must always challenge ourselves by asking: What will our impact be and how will it matter?

SPRING 2018 | VOLUME 16, NO. 2 The Harvey Mudd College Magazine is produced three times per year by the Office of Communications and Marketing. Director of Communications, Senior Editor Stephanie L. Graham Art Director Janice Gilson Senior Graphic Designer Robert Vidaure Writer Sarah Barnes Contributing Writers Melanie A. Farmer, Ashley Festa, Lia King, Chris Quirk, Elaine Regus, Sophia Stuart Proofreaders Sarah Barnes, Kelly Lauer Contributing Photographers Seth Affoumado, Webb Chappell, Margarita Corporan, Shannon Cottrell, Elisa Ferrari, Jeanine Hill, Cheryl Ogden, Deborah Tracey Vice President for Advancement Dan Macaluso Chief Communications Officer Timothy L. Hussey, APR

MAGAZINE.HMC.EDU The Harvey Mudd College Magazine (SSN 0276-0797) is published by Harvey Mudd College, Office of Communications and Marketing, 301 Platt Boulevard, Claremont, CA 91711. Nonprofit Organization Postage Paid at Claremont, CA 91711 Postmaster: Send address changes to Harvey Mudd College, Advancement Services, 301 Platt Boulevard, Claremont, CA 91711. Copyright © 2018—Harvey Mudd College. All rights reserved. Opinions expressed in the Harvey Mudd College Magazine are those of the individual authors and subjects and do not necessarily reflect the views of the College administration, faculty or students. No portion of this magazine may be reproduced without the express written consent of the editor. The Harvey Mudd College Magazine staff welcomes your input: communications@hmc.edu or Harvey Mudd College Magazine Harvey Mudd College, 301 Platt Boulevard, Claremont, CA 91711

Follow Us! Maria Klawe President, Harvey Mudd College




An Explosive Innovation


With help from J. Kim Vandiver ’68, explosive ordnance disposal workers now have a safer way to practice disabling landmines and bombs. Written by Melanie A. Farmer

Ready to Get Politically Active? Take a Closer Look


Malous Kossarian ’12 uses emerging technology to boost her generation’s political clout. Written by Sophia Stuart

In the fall/winter issue, we asked about the magazine’s size, and some of you shared your thoughts about keeping the current size or making the magazine a more traditional 8.5 x 11-inch format. We’re continuing to look at our options as we collect your feedback. Here are some of your responses. I vote for the 8.5 x 11 size. It’s easier to handle, stacks better with other mags that I’m going to read and will fit into a tote or other bag better when traveling. –Anita B Williams, P99 I really like the square size. Please don't change it to regular letter. –Mira De Avila-Shin ’12 I enjoy and look forward to receiving the magazine and would welcome a reduction to standard magazine dimensions. Continued success. –Yvonne Guerra Keep it! It’s great and unique and the space is used well. Great issue. Thanks! –Dan ’06 Opinions about the content of Harvey Mudd College Magazine are welcome. Letters for publication must be signed and may be edited for clarity and brevity.

Rooting for Education


Educator turned administrator Derrick Chau ’97 seeks solutions with the broadest impact.



Written by Chris Quirk

Twitter, March 8, 2018 Christy Spackman @christyspackman

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@harveymudd student @celinepark_ once again takes an academic conversation about #fermentation and #microbes and turns it into a sketch. #studentdoodles #sts


Celine Park ’20



Goal Surpassed

Strong vision and commitment results in record-breaking campaign Surpassing its $150 million goal, The Campaign for Harvey Mudd College is the largest and most successful comprehensive campaign in the College’s history. Generous donors have brought the total for the campaign that began in July 2011 to more than $151 million. Launched publicly in February 2014 and the College’s first campaign in 20 years, The Campaign for Harvey Mudd College is scheduled to conclude in December 2018. “We have had a strong and unified vision, a committed board of trustees and a growing engagement among our alumni and parents that gave us confidence that we could achieve our $150 million goal,” says President Maria Klawe, the College’s fifth president appointed in 2006. “The response from our supporters has been amazing.” “While this is a huge milestone in the campaign, our work isn’t done,” says Klawe. “During this final year of The Campaign for Harvey Mudd College, we will continue to focus on raising funds to support the priorities of the campaign while also looking at the opportunities created by recent gifts.”



Campaign gifts from alumni, parents, friends and organizations support a range of priorities focused on continued strengthening of the academic and student support programs as well as expanding and improving academic and residential facilities at Harvey Mudd College.

Areas where continued support is being sought • New academic building to house the Computer Science Department and a state-of-the-art, collaborative makerspace • Curricular innovation and revision of the Core Curriculum • Permanent funding for summer research

11 endowed faculty positions

• Formalization and growth of entrepreneurship efforts • I ncreased collaboration around data science research and education

27 annual scholarships

• Building a more diverse and inclusive community • Increasing innovation across academic departments

150 endowed scholarships 2

new facilities: R. Michael Shanahan Center for Teaching and Learning; Wayne ’73 and Julie Drinkward Residence Hall


renovated spaces: Clinic Program space; chemistry instructional labs; Galileo auditoria

• Bolstering co-curricular opportunities and student support services

23 new summer research and experiential learning funds Millions added to existing endowments, bolstering opportunities for students to engage in external educational, research and community engagement activities

“ T he Harvey Mudd community is committed

to maintaining the College’s role as an educational innovator and to supporting our intimate, inclusive and rigorous learning

community and our dedication to excellence. —PRESIDENT MARIA KLAWE






The Harvey Mudd College Board of Trustees added two new members, bringing board membership to 40. Jeff Drazan, managing partner of Bertram Capital Josh Jones ’98, HMC INQ co-founder, and founder and past CEO of DreamHost Web Hosting Jocelyn Goldfein, managing director of Zetta Venture Partners in San Francisco, was elected vice chair of the board.


Strategic and Long-term Recommendations

from St. Olaf College, Dominican University of California, MIT and Worcester Polytechnic Institute) made a three-day campus visit so they could review Harvey Mudd’s current Core Curriculum and help evaluate its goals. In their report, they presented some options for reducing the intensity of the Core while preserving its value as both an educational and “cultural” experience for Mudders. “We do hope that our observations and recommendations serve to initiate fruitful conversations that result in actionable steps toward improvement.”

1. Rethink the Core from the ground up 2. Establish a faculty “Core working group” to shepherd all on-going aspects of the Core Curriculum 3. Spread the Core over the whole four years 4. Establish an experimental Core-studies group or incubator for curricular experimentation

Incremental and Short-term Recommendations 1. Define the role of advising in the Core Curriculum 2. Restore a fourth term of math to the Core (but see #2 under Strategic and Long-term Recommendations) 3. Offer some Core courses both terms 4. Make efforts to step back on demands without reducing the content of Core courses 5. Extend the use of online pre-first-year tutorials

Read reports and recent updates at hmc.edu/crpt



Recommendations for Student Flourishing: The Commitment to Students’ Well-being as Part of the Core Curriculum 1. Develop a baseline understanding of students’ social and emotional health 2. Reconceptualize student well-being as an intentional part of the Core 3. Create better alignment of professional and peer support 4. Make the commitment to well-being explicit

Based on recent faculty discussions, proposals for revising the Core will proceed in two stages, Stage 1 comprising of short proposals solicited until Sept. 30, 2018. After a review/vetting process, a subset of proposals will be identified and developed into substantial Stage 2 proposals.

In Memoriam Sharon Blasgen SCR ’64, wife of longtime trustee Michael Blasgen ’64, passed away on Feb. 10 after a long battle with cancer. President Maria Klawe says, “She will be remembered for her warm smile, her engaging and perceptive conversation and her strong support of Michael’s involvement with Harvey Mudd College.” The couple established several scholarships at Harvey Mudd and supported both Harvey Mudd and Scripps, where Sharon was a trustee from 2004 to 2010. In lieu of flowers, Michael asks that those who knew Sharon consider a gift to Scripps College (email david.carpenter@scrippscollege.edu).

Girls Who Code at HMC Local girls can experience Girls Who Code’s award-winning curriculum on the HMC campus this summer during an accelerated 10-day summer course that will help girls get an edge for college, connect with other girls with similar interests and build confidence. The new program, called Campus, is being offered by HMC in partnership with Girls Who Code for middle and high school girls. Harvey Mudd will offer two-week intensive courses on iPhone App Development and Wearable Tech & Fashion Design from June 18 to June 29 and from July 9 to July 20, respectively. To learn more about the programs and fees or to register, visit girlswhocode.com/campus.

How High?

Here’s how Harvey Mudd College fared in the annual rankings. “Best Career Placement”

“Top 50 Colleges That Pay You Back”

“Top 25 Colleges That Pay You Back for Students With No Demonstrated Need”

Bucks Abroad Fanrui Sha ’19 poses in front of Trout Inn, a country pub near Port Meadow by the Thames after a 50-minute hike from the University of Oxford, where she is studying this spring. “It’s amazing to be so close to a great English countryside just walking distance from the city center, and this little pub also has a beautiful pet peacock!” Sha is one of the first recipients of the Decode Abroad Scholarship, a stipend for first-generation and/or low-income students studying abroad established by the Office of Study Abroad and the Office of Institutional Diversity. The scholarship, ranging from $300 to $500, may be used however the student

chooses, with the idea that having extra spending money can enhance the study abroad experience. “This scholarship will really encourage me to participate more in college and university clubs, societies and various events,” says Sha. “Studying abroad is more expensive than I previously thought because we need to be more independent than at Mudd and have to take care of more things (such as food). And unlike Mudd (or most U.S. universities), almost every club and society costs money to join. This scholarship will really help some of my financial concerns and encourage me to be more engaged.”

“Top 25 Best Schools for Internships”

— The Princeton Review, Colleges That Pay You Back: The 200 Schools That Give You the Best Bang for Your Tuition Buck (2018)

Undergraduate engineering program (Tied with Rose-Hulman)

— U.S. News & World Report’s, Best Colleges 2018





Home Sweet Dorm Milestone anniversaries for West and South


building of its own—a residence hall (Mildred E. Mudd Hall, aka East). This year, West (60 years) and South (50) celebrate their milestone anniversaries. To mark the occasions, we thought we’d check in with current leaders of each dorm to learn a bit about today’s dorm culture.

Blake Larkin ’19, West Dorm co-president What’s new? “As presidents, we are constantly working to make West a more inclusive and friendly place in any way we can. We also have a currently thriving lemon tree that we hope will only keep growing! And, a few years ago, we redid our lounge, and, sadly, in the process, the top of the giant Barmaggedon was destroyed by rain. “The big news around West this year is the return of fire to the dorm. For the last few years, all HMC dorms were barred (due to drought and other factors) from having fires, which had been a part of West culture. Since the end of last year, however, West has again been able to have fires as events. Most weekends we send someone down to the local fire department to get a permit and then have a bonfire into the night! For many, it’s a great way to relax and hang out with the rest of the dorm family.”

What traditions remain? “While many traditions have been changed for one reason or another, we follow what we can! These traditions include the wet-season countdown, broomball, lemon run and TQ day.”


West Dorm under construction; dorm residents in 1973; West Dorm today.

Legacy suites

Typical music selection?

“I believe our legacy suites are mostly all longtimers, and we have done whatever we can to hold on to them. They include: Heaven, Hell, Valhalla, Purgatory, Atomic and Subatomic. People also continue to name new suites in hopes that they continue on after them as a legacy suite: Dudeism (next to Atomic) being the newest contender that I know of.”

“As a member of Subatomic, we like to think our music selection is constantly shifting to a more positive selection. The variety of music we play has, we believe, grown to be more diverse and less biased than previous years (here’s looking at you Animal Collective). Currently, we mainly play rap, hip-hop and various electronic music. For more statistics on our music selection check out our last.fm.”


Morgan Mastrovich ’16

Samantha Andow ’18, South Dorm co-president What’s new? “The South kitchen got remodeled this past summer! We're very excited that it gives us more counter space, new appliances and French doors between the kitchen and the lounge. Additionally, we used ASHMC’s long-term funds to get a stand mixer so people can cook and bake a wider variety of goodies. We are in the process of remaking the set of chess pieces that live in the courtyard.”

What traditions remain? “We aren't certain how old most of our traditions are, but we still have/do • a tire swing • jump off of the second floor (into a pile of mattresses) once a year • Slinky Dresses and Petting Zoo Party • watch The Core once a year • hike Potato Mountain on the Sunday morning of graduation”

Legacy Suites “Baja (27 years old) and Blitz/Anti-Proctor (3 years old; across the courtyard from proctor suite).”

Typical music selection “We only have one speakers suite, so whatever he wants. Typically, it's quiet, chill music.”

Top: South Dorm today; Inset, a South Dorm prank, circa 1969. Before and after photos of the South Dorm kitchen.







“ Successful people want to be with other interesting

successful people … So the best thing you can do for yourself is be interesting and be interested, meaning learn a skill, have a hobby, do something unique … something that enriches your life. ” Endre Holen P16, senior partner, McKinsey & Company,

“ [California] already is the nation’s leader, the world

leader, on energy efficiency. ... We have the world’s best building codes and appliance standards, but we have a whole lot of existing buildings where frankly once it’s built, you can do just about anything you want in it so long as you buy legal appliances. So, addressing this is a huge effort.”

addressing students at the Annenberg Leadership & Hixon Center Black, Gold and Green Speaker Series presenter,

Management Speaker event

Dian Grueneich, senior research scholar, Precourt Institute for Energy, Stanford University, from the talk “California’s Clean

View talk at youtu.be/QK-NNo6nSxs

Energy Transformation: Progress Made and Challenges Ahead.” View talk at youtu.be/J7pjWpvWYUM

The Entrepreneurial Mindset Industrial engineer turned venture capitalist Sergio Monsalve, has worked for the majority of his career as an entrepreneur and technology startup operator. A native of Mexico—he spoke no English before middle school—he’s served in a wide variety of functions, including founder, product manager, marketer and investor. As a venture capital investor at Norwest, he focuses on creating and growing early stage software and mobile application startups that serve education and “the future of work.” His investments include Udemy, Adaptive Insights and Kahoot!, and he was part of the team responsible for investments in companies like Spotify, Uber, Jet.com and Casper, among others.

I’ve tried a lot of things Some things worked. Some things didn’t. Actually, when I look back, that’s what led me to Norwest. Venture capital



is investing in companies that—most of them—are not going to make it, and that’s okay. [My career experiences] really led me to galvanize and create something that I call the entrepreneurial mindset.

Entrepreneurial mindset You should live your life taking adventurous paths, taking risks, doing things that make you uncomfortable. I think this is what has allowed me to fail, succeed, be okay. Obviously, I have a lot of scars, but that’s okay. They heal.

The Secret Sauce When I look at an entrepreneurial mindset I think of five criteria: • Be a courageous explorer or risk taker. It’s okay to fail. It’s okay to try again. Resilience is the name of the game. It means that you’re trying things that are hard. • Be incredibly curious. It’s not okay to just ask one “why.” You should ask five ways and get to the depth of it. • Be creative, experimental, be a hacker and a tinkerer … just try things. Get your hands dirty. Be in the lab of life.

• Be passionate with contagious energy around your vision or mission • Be empathetic to human needs

It’s urgent We have an amazing revolution coming. It’s already here, but it’s only going to get more accelerated. We have things that you guys coming out of college will benefit from: driverless cars, artificial intelligence, robotics. These are all things that you’ll see in your life that will actually change industries—they’re already changing industries. It will be life-changing for all of us.

Train for the unknown There’s a massive skills gap, but at the end of the day, there will be a lot of jobs. The future of work means that we’re going to demand two types of skills: hard skills, which is the ability to be technology–aware (the technology natives), and soft skills: curiosity, creativity, collaboration, character and, most important, courage. Courage means risk taking, being okay to fail, being okay to venture outside your comfort zone, getting a little hurt, but, hopefully, not lethally. Just try things.

Comfort zone. Leave it. Work internationally, work with other people, work in other cultures, other languages. Go back to your high schools and talk about K-12 STEM education, especially to people that are underrepresented.

Anatomy of a successful entrepreneur What I look for in entrepreneurs is the ability for the founder and the founding team to actually know how to deal with that ditch in the water and how to cross that hurdle. That just goes back to grit, resilience, the ability to sustain and be adaptable to change, adaptable to threats that come your way, which will be inevitable in your career.

View talk at youtu.be/lXydzZD-Hcs

More Than Words

Inclusive language works when talk gives way to action. Written by Sarah Barnes


new definitions for old words is almost a teenage rite of passage—take groovy, rad, cool, sweet, tight, even bad (not bad meaning bad, but bad meaning good), which have all become common ways to ascribe positivity or goodness to something. As of this writing, good is also “lit,” but that could change in three, two … Along these same lines, the growing trend toward inclusive language is almost old news in some circles of society, especially in spoken language. In academic environments, it’s not unusual for people to introduce themselves by their names followed by their preferred pronouns (“my name is …, my pronouns are …”). But a few moments spent outside of academia remind us that the rest of the world may not be on the same page. The Associated Press (AP) Stylebook and Chicago Manual of Style state that “they” can be used as a singular, gender-neutral pronoun in cases where a subject’s gender is unknown or where the subject prefers to be addressed that way. Individual reactions to this news (both manuals made the change recently) no doubt span a range as diverse as the gender spectrum itself, especially in non-academic circles. But inside the “Mudd bubble,” the reaction is more sanguine. For Carrie, a Harvey Mudd student who uses they/them pronouns, the style manual change is not significant enough. “While it is helpful to have sources that society views as legitimate when someone is arguing that your pronouns are grammatically incorrect, I think the AP’s guidelines are too cautious to even be helpful in this way,” Carrie says, noting the explicit direction by the AP to write around the issue whenever possible. Harvey Mudd Assistant Professor of Literature Ambereen Dadahboy sees the change as a welcome entrance into a conversation about inclusivity in language, but is dubious about a potential wider effect. “There are so many ways that the world around us, which is often created by language or discourse, doesn’t reflect our identities,” Dadahboy says. “So this is a way that we can signal, but we have to do more than just signal. Part of the

problem that we’re experiencing is that we’ve done all the signaling for inclusion, but there has been no actual action that has made our world more inclusive.” Steering discourse into action will take more than style manual changes, as the cultural shift necessary to handle the nuance of gender identity is only just beginning, though we already have ways to talk (and now write) about it. But there are signs of a shift. Students applying to Harvey Mudd College will find that they can identify their gender in any way they choose on the application. “We used to provide a list of options from which they could choose, but the terms change so quickly it seemed safer to let the students identify themselves as they wish,” says Thyra Briggs, vice president for admission and financial aid at Harvey Mudd, noting that the College does still require students to identify as either male or female for sex. On campus, inclusive action has taken shape in the form of the THEY/THEM club (Trans Home for Everyone [and You!] That Helps Every Mudder). Chartered in 2017, the club helps provide space for community building, connect students to resources and advocate on behalf of all Mudders without cis privilege. (Cisgender, or cis, is a term for people whose gender identity matches the sex they were assigned at birth.) “A couple of my friends got the meetings started,” says Carrie, who is co-president of the club. “They recognized that ‘gendery’ people at Mudd needed community and connections to information and resources that we weren’t getting.” Carrie uses the term gendery as an umbrella term for trans/ non-binary/gender questioning/etc.

“ T here are so many ways that the world around us, which is often created by language or discourse, doesn’t reflect our identities.


Open to all students regardless of gender identity, THEY/THEM membership currently stands at about 40 people. Carrie says, “We’re still getting new people showing up to meetings, and I’m excited about that.” As a relatively new organization, THEY/THEM is still taking shape, its members figuring out what activities best serve its community. “We have weekly meetings where we talk about events the club is planning, events happening on other campuses that might be interesting and just generally how our lives are going,” Carrie says. Fundamentally, Carrie says, THEY/THEM is a community of students at Harvey Mudd, supporting each other through friendship. “We are in such a privileged environment,” says Dadahboy. “When I’m interacting with ‘regular’ folks outside of this environment or outside of the environment I’ve curated on social media, I realize that we are in the minority. That doesn’t mean we’re wrong, we’re just working on these things here.”





Data Driven

Talithia Williams uses her statistics expertise to inspire Written by Amy DerBedrosian


a doctor, who is concerned that the woman may be overdue and wants to induce labor. But the data the couple had been gathering before and during the pregnancy told a different story, and when the woman asked the doctor to “show me the data,” his response convinced the couple that she did not need to be induced. Three children later, this woman, Talithia Williams, continues to believe in the power of data and has become an outspoken advocate for collecting and understanding personal health information in order to become an expert on oneself. Her TEDx Talk on this topic, which includes discussions about tracking blood pressure, temperature and weight, has been viewed online nearly 1.5 million times and has made Williams a sought-after speaker. It also attracted the attention of PBS television producers, who invited Williams to cohost NOVA Wonders, a six-part documentary series that premiered this spring. Williams, associate professor of mathematics and associate dean for research and experiential learning, is more than a media phenomenon, however. Her presentations


“ I feel a responsibility to be an example to the generation of girls and women coming behind me. ” — TALITHIA WILLIAMS, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF MATHEMATICS

are backed by substance derived from developing statistical models that emphasize the spatial and temporal structure of data. She has modeled rainfall to better predict flooding in Houston and cataract incidence to forecast cataract surgical rates in African countries. Williams also gained research experience at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA’s Johnson Space Center and the National Security Agency. But as her TEDx Talk demonstrates, she makes complex concepts—and herself—relatable to a wide audience. Williams explains, “I presented a fairly complicated topic in a way that was fun and allowed people to learn something in the process. I put humor in it along with some sadness. It hit people’s emotions and allowed them to feel a connection to the data.” Williams realizes this success is atypical. She began her education and career knowing the number of women in mathematics was low and that ever fewer of them were African American. But Williams was motivated and had mentors—male and female, African American and otherwise—who encouraged her persistence. “I learned as a junior at Spelman College that there were fewer than 100 African-American women PhDs in mathematics—ever. And at the rate that we were getting PhDs, I could easily be in the top 100. Spelman had four or five African-American women on the math faculty at the time, so I had great role models,” she says. Williams went on to graduate study in mathematics at Howard University. But then, she says, a biostatistics class showed her the power of drawing information from data. She transferred to Rice University, where she could earn a PhD in statistics. By 2008, she had a doctorate and a faculty position at Harvey Mudd. Williams says, “I wanted

to be in a place where students were inquisitive and excited about learning. I liked that every student had to take a statistics course, and I loved how much teaching excellence is valued.” Williams has since become the first AfricanAmerican woman to become a tenured professor at Harvey Mudd. Also aware that African-American women remain scarce in mathematics, she has committed to being a role model and mentor to students. “When I grew up, I didn’t know women who looked like me did math. I spent three summers at NASA and didn’t even know about the women of Hidden Figures until the movie came out,” says Williams, whose book Power in Numbers: The Rebel Women of Mathematics, debuted in May. She hopes it will help students—and everyone else—be better informed about influential in her field. For her efforts, Williams recently received The Claremont Colleges Faculty Diversity Award for Mentoring. She says, “I feel a responsibility to be an example to the generation of girls and women coming behind me. I know how much I needed an example of what I could become, of someone I could emulate. It’s a privilege for me to live a life that can inspire people to become more than they ever imagined possible.”

Williams with Sacred Sistahs participants.

Faculty Appointments/ Tenure Effective July 1

In January, the Harvey Mudd College Board of Trustees voted to reappoint and approve three associate professors for continuous tenure: Colleen Lewis (computer science), Mohamed Omar (mathematics) and Katherine Van Heuvelen (chemistry). Three assistant professors—Danae Schulz (biology), Timothy Tsai (engineering) and Werner Zorman (engineering)—were approved for a second reappointment. Ben Wiedermann will serve as Core Curriculum director and Talithia Williams will take on dual responsibilities as associate dean of research and faculty development.

Undergradvocate Professor Ran Libeskind-Hadas has been elected to serve on the Computing Research Association (CRA) board, marking the first time a faculty member from a primarily undergraduate institution (PUI) has held the position. “CRA supports undergraduate research in a number of ways (e.g., through the CRA Undergraduate Research Award program as well as through their CRA-Education committee),” says Libeskind-Hadas. “However, in broader policy discussions, four-year colleges have been unrepresented. I hope to be able to call attention to the need to continue encouraging and supporting undergraduate research to maintain a healthy pipeline of students going on to do graduate work in computing and to provide information and resources for graduate students who are interested in pursuing careers at PUIs.” Libeskind-Hadas, R. Michael Shanahan Professor of Computer Science, will

attend CRA committee meetings twice a year to discuss ways to continue promoting the health of computing research in North America.

NSF Funding A diverse cross section of Harvey Mudd students and faculty stand to benefit from two recently-awarded National Science Foundation (NSF) grants. Computer science professor Yi-Chieh (Jessica) Wu has received an NSF Faculty Early Career Development grant for her project “CAREER: Algorithms for Gene Family Evolution with Gene Duplication, Loss, and Coalescence.” This work will develop models and algorithms in the field of phylogenetic reconciliation, which compares the evolutionary history of genes and species to infer the events that link them. “Reconciliations under duplication-loss-coalescence models remain poorly studied,” says Wu. “In particular, methods still suffer from a number of limitations, stemming from algorithmic challenges of scaling to large datasets, statistical challenges of distinguishing biological signal from noise, and modeling challenges of generalizing across genomes.” With this project, Wu seeks to address these shortcomings, thereby enabling inference of complex gene family evolution across a broad range of species and data sets. During the five-year program, Wu will recruit four Harvey Mudd students to assist with the project for 10 weeks each summer.

Professors Lisette de Pillis (Norman F. Sprague Jr. Professor of Life Sciences, professor of mathematics and department chair) and Tanja Srebotnjak (director of the Hixon Center for Sustainable Environmental Design) received funding for their project, “Research Experience for Undergraduate (REU) Site: Data Science in the Life Sciences, Environmental Science and Engineering.” The three-year project combines an intensive training and research program in data science with domain-specific knowledge in areas such as cell biology, atmospheric chemistry, environmental health and sports analytics. Each summer the project will engage nine students in 10 weeks of rigorous and engaging research targeting real-world problems. Research will be categorized along three tracks: Biological and Life Sciences, Environmental Science and Engineering, and Industrial Applications. In addition to de Pillis and Srebotnjak, mathematics professors Rachel Levy, Susan Martonosi and Talithia Williams will participate as research mentors. NSF grants are the largest share of external support for faculty research at HMC.

Lisette de Pillis

Tanja Srebotnjak

Yi-Chieh (Jessica) Wu






HMC Scholars/Authors Physics e-book

Matter and Magnets

General audiences will enjoy the new e-book Physics on the Edge by physics professor Vatche Sahakian. It leverages the latest technologies to present a modern and mature qualitative exposition of physics. “I’ve always enjoyed the challenge to distill modern research ideas in physics down to their essence, disentangled from their mathematical scaffoldings, “so that I myself understand them better” says Sahakian. “I’ve learned that one way of achieving this is to try to explain a sophisticated topic to someone with little background in advanced mathematics and physics.” Sahakian chose the e-book format because it provides the agility necessary to explain the subject. “I needed a way to visually portray advanced concepts in lieu of using mathematical equations,” he explains. He started programming web-based “applets,” small apps that run interactively within the e-book and make sophisticated ideas accessible. “Over the past few years, e-book technology advanced enough that one is now able to embed full-blown interactive physics simulations within an electronic book,” he says. “Interactive applets are closely integrated with the flow of the text in such a way that either component cannot stand on its own, but together I think they offer a solid exposition of advanced concepts in physics to a general audience.” The book is available on iTunes https://apple.co/2txe2Be.

Physics professor Nicholas Breznay ’02 has published four papers on his research in condensed matter physics, quantum materials and superconductors. “Particle-hole symmetry reveals failed superconductivity in the metallic phase of two-dimensional superconducting films” published in Science Advances and “Superconductor to weak-insulator transitions in disordered tantalum nitride films” published in Physical Review B build on careful fabrication and study of the electrical properties of tantalum nitride and indium oxide and related thin-film materials, finding evidence for a two-dimensional metal. “At the boundary between the superconducting and insulating ground states, we discovered that there is a phase of matter that shows saturation of the conductivity—metallic behavior—as the temperature is cooled to zero,” Breznay says. “Quasiparticles and charge transfer at the two surfaces of the honeycomb iridate Na2IrO3,” published in Physical Review B, centers on exotic magnetic materials made from iridium oxide building blocks arranged in a graphene-like honeycomb structure that Breznay and collaborators investigated using X-ray techniques. “These honeycomb materials, from their structure, we predict not to magnetically order,” Breznay says. “Even though they have magnetic moments, the prediction is that they would form a quantum spin liquid, which is a very exotic state of matter. The signatures of how that would show up are tricky to think through.” “Correlated states in β-Li2IrO3 driven by applied magnetic fields,” published in Nature Communications, describes experiments subjecting related materials to magnetic fields as part of their hunt for signatures of a spin liquid. Researchers discovered that the application of a relatively small magnetic field drives the three-dimensional magnet

Harrison Biography Music professor Bill Alves has co-authored the book, Lou Harrison: American Musical Maverick (Indiana University Press, bit.ly/2txmjoH), which traces the composer’s life and career. While in graduate school at University of Southern California in the mid-1980s, Alves’ interest in just intonation and gamelan led him to discover Harrison’s music. Alves arranged a residency for Harrison at USC and their friendship began. Known for his exploration of new tonalities, Harrison is considered by some to be the godfather of the so-called “world music” phenomenon, which introduced global sounds to Western music.



β-Li2IrO3 from its incommensurate magnetic ground state into a zig-zag arrangement of magnetic moments, while much higher fields show evidence for a quantum correlated paramagnet. “In this work, we were asking if there’s a field that overwhelms the interactions between magnetic moments,” Breznay says. “We found that we don’t see that, which suggests their interactions are robust and survive across a wide range of magnetic fields. We still don’t know what the nature of the high-field state is, but it seems to be tough, not allowing the spins to relax in the influence of the applied field.” Breznay continues the research on iridates with Rachel Cohen '20 and Isaac Zinda ’20 and his thin film transport studies with Adam Shaw ’18 and Miguel Velez ’21.

Gene History A software program, xenoGI, developed by biology professor Eliot Bush, helps researchers reconstruct the history of genomic island insertions in clades of closely related microbes. It could lead to a better understanding of the adaptive path that has produced specific living species. “Every gene in that group has one of two origins,” says Bush. “Either it was present in the common ancestor of those species, or it entered the group in a horizontal transfer event. The goal of the software is to distinguish these two things, for all the genes in each strain.” The ability to identify the history of genomic island insertions in a clade of bacteria makes xenoGI novel compared to previous software programs.

Kavli Connection

Impactful Investments Providing equitable access to computing careers, especially for women of color, is vital to social justice, computer science professor Colleen Lewis believes. She’s determined that equity can be achieved and is taking steps to make it happen. With a $10,000 private grant from the Kapor Center for Social Impact, she’s begun a qualitative study of the Summer Math and Science Honors Academy (SMASH), which provides a three-year program of rigorous five-week, summer STEM enrichment residencies for students of color. The program, which serves students in California and in Georgia, gives students access to mentors, role models and support networks in addition to STEM education. SMASH computer science coursework is designed specifically to address the social and psychological needs of the participants. “I can look at ways in which we should support women of color (or all students of color) when they get the opportunity to

learn CS,” Lewis says. “I believe that other people are working on expanding access, and I’m working on preparing advice for those institutions and teachers so that they can provide the instructional context that is as good as possible.” Lewis has hired two computer science students to assist her in her research. The team will interview SMASH participants to further explore SMASH participants’ perceptions of computer science, computer scientists and the SMASH computer science classroom experience. “This is really the perfect context to understand the experiences of these students learning computer science,” says Lewis, “because SMASH already addresses the lack of access, poor pedagogy and curriculum problems. Like many people, I want to do my part to make the world a better place. I’m uniquely positioned to help try to understand and address inequity and injustice in CS education.”

Compared to many scientific disciplines that require specific instrumentation or a laboratory in which to conduct experiments, physics professor Brian Shuve’s research is rather unadorned. As a theorist, he says, “I need my mind, paper and pencil and a computer, but I also need a way of staying connected to the community.” Recently named a 2018 Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics (KITP) Scholar, Shuve will be able to strengthen this connection and advance his research. The Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara is a scientific research facility where physicists from around the world work together. The scholarship is geared toward supporting faculty at undergraduate institutions by funding six weeks at the institute, usually spent in two-week increments over three years. Spending time at the institute is helpful, Shuve says, because “it forces you to have time to focus on your research, and it energizes you, then you come back with new ideas to share.”

Shuve develops and studies new theories to explain mysteries of the universe, such as the nature of dark matter and why there exists more matter than antimatter. He also devises and implements new experimental tests to learn more about the fundamental constituents and forces of matter. For example, Shuve researches how the discovery of new particles at highenergy colliders such as CERN’s Large Hadron Collider, could shed light on the physical processes taking place in the early universe that shape the world as we see it today. He says that both the “creative and imaginative phase” of his work, as well the rigorous testing of his theories from many angles, benefit from interacting with colleagues in overlapping fields. That’s why the connection with the wider world of physics is so important. “[The KITP scholarship] is a privilege,” Shuve says. “It allows the possibility for new ideas or for collaboration.”





APS Scrapbook Before spring break, physics Professor Nicholas Breznay ’02 presented his solid-state physics class with a challenge. Or, 27 challenges, to be exact, in the form of a to-do list meant to steer his solid-state physics class through a day at the American Physical Society March Meeting, a conference focusing on biological and condensed matter physics. Tasks included stepping up to the mike to ask a question at an invited talk and inquiring about a technical item being sold. Because the conference venue was so close to campus (Los Angeles), Breznay decided to make a Harvey Mudd event out of it, including alumni and current and retired faculty, who met the students for lunch. Visit bit.ly/2IdXAZ1 for more highlights.

Fellow physics professors Breznay and Jason Gallicchio used some of their time at the conference to talk with vendors and look at instrumentation.



Junior Colin Adams expanded his wardrobe with free physics swag.


Room for Improvement

ASHMC leadership and computer science students update the room draw process Written by Lia King


biting and multi-pronged process for requesting and receiving dorm room assignments for the next academic year, is getting streamlined, thanks to members of the Associated Students of Harvey Mudd College (ASHMC). The changes, led and coordinated by ASHMC residential affairs liaisons Andrew Bishop ’18 and Renata Paramastri ’18, aim to make the process much more transparent. Working in conjunction with computer science students, they’ve developed a website to run a mock draw allowing students to put their names on online floor plans of each dorm. The idea is to make room preferences accessible to and adjustable by everyone via an online map that’s constantly updated over the course of six days in March when students make their choices and then see what their chances of scoring those rooms are. Using the website, students can make their room selection in any order, no matter what priority number they pick. If someone with a lower priority number has already chosen a room, they can be bumped by someone with a higher priority number, and the status of the room will be shown on the website. Armed with real-time information, students can adjust and change their plans before the first day of real draw. According to Bishop, the website takes the visuals traditionally used during mock draw— whiteboards set up in Hoch-Shanahan Dining Commons where students wrote in their names, priority numbers and room choices on dorm diagrams—and moves the process online so that students can better predict the outcome. “We ran mock draw last year in a Google spreadsheet,” he says. “It was 75 percent accurate. The website should provide more information to people. Renata and I have been working with a CS121 class to automate more parts of the system. We’re trying to make sure the user experience is easy enough that we’ll get more people engaged and participating, voluntarily updating the system when their plans change. That way, the predictions will be more accurate.”

How To Pull a Room

Bishop notes that the CS121 students built the database and user interface for the website, and some of those students continue to work on the project in a programming practicum, improving the user interface and fixing bugs. “The website has the potential to remove a lot of administrative overhead; for example, checking if someone has written their name twice,” Paramastri says. Bishop and Paramastri were concerned about whether the website would be able to support all the traffic on the first day of mock draw. It started out a little rocky, but Bishop says that bugs were soon resolved. The site stayed active just shy of a week, and then real draw began with rising seniors. “Each dorm has a unique identity that informs the kind of people who want to live there,” Bishop says. “Some are louder, some quieter. We all work hard. The difference is what we do in our free time.” Seniors usually request and receive singles, and then can “pull,” or request, other friends. Using data Bishop collected last year, ASHMC changed a few

rules governing room draw, including eliminating senior round 2—during which seniors pulled other seniors—because it wasn’t used very frequently and it prevented seniors from pulling non-senior friends. ASHMC also eliminated super senior class status, which gave seniors in their fifth year less preferential numbers. The website also allows preplaced students to remain anonymous. Bishop hopes that the CS121 students working on the website will document the code used to write it, so that future classes will be able to keep it up and running. “That’s probably a higher priority than fixing every little bug, I’d say, but I don’t think we’ll go back to the spreadsheet.” His goal is that room draw get simpler and easier to use. “Room draw’s always been fine for me, but I’ve seen some friends unpleasantly surprised by plans changing at the last minute,” he says. “We hope to minimize that.” Any unpleasantness, he adds, should be softened this year by DSA Muchachos serving ice cream from the ice cream bike on the final day of room draw.






Testing the Boundaries

Student researchers discover optical blasting SCIENCE AND SERENDIPITY ARE OLD PALS, MEETING

throughout history when people intending to do one thing realize they’ve accidentally discovered another. This was the case for Harvey Mudd physics researchers, resulting in the discovery of “optical blasting,” which allows people to internally sculpt colloidal crystals and could lead to new ways of modifying material properties. Physics professor Sharon Gerbode and her students, Caitlin Cash ’18, Jeremy Wang ’17, Maya Martirossyan ’17, Kemper Ludlow ’18, Alejandro Baptista ’18, Nina Brown ’19, Eli Weissler ’19 and Jatin Abacousnac ’19, share their findings in “Local melting attracts grain boundaries in colloidal polycrystals” published recently by Physical Review Letters. The first discovery happened two years ago, when Wang and Martirossyan were using an existing method of creating disorder inside a colloidal crystal, intending to recreate results Gerbode had produced before to use in a new experiment. Had everything gone as planned, the students would have created a colloid, a mixture of fluids and particles, which they would have been able to manipulate with a laser beam, grabbing the particles and moving them around inside the colloid. “When they were creating the colloid, mixing together the fluids and the particles, they accidentally made the wrong mixture of fluids, so that instead of light bending to the left when it enters the particles, it bends to the right,” Gerbode explains. “So instead of trapping the particle and pulling it in to the focus of the laser beam, the light repels particles and pushes them away from the laser region.” Optical blasting was born. “It took me a day or so to realize that this is way more useful than what we were trying to do,” Gerbode says. “This can be extremely useful, and it was accidentally invented by Harvey Mudd students.” The second discovery, realizing optical blasting’s ability to sculpt grain boundaries within a colloid, was also an accident. Wang had gone into the lab late one summer night to work on an unrelated project. He got tired and decided to take a break by



Physics professor Sharon Gerbode, left, says the research on optical blasting is getting a lot of attention because it works well and there are exciting applications.

playing with optical blasting for fun. That’s when he discovered that optical blasting attracted grain boundaries, which are the interfaces between the colloid particle beads. He started drawing smiley faces within the colloid. When Wang’s labmates checked the online Gerbode Lab log Aug. 8, 2016, they found this entry from the early morning hours: “The Hubris of Man: MUAHAHAHAHAHA! AFTER HOURS OF EXPERIMENTATION I HAVE DONE IT. WITH THESE TWO HANDS OF MINE AND AN 800 MILLIWATT LASER, I HAVE CREATED LIFE. I HAVE CREATED ART. I HAVE CREATED . . . lots of grain boundaries.” An image of the work followed the entry; colloid particle beads shaped into two circle “eyes” and a wide “smile” by neatly drawn grain boundaries. “Seeing that this wasn’t just a small way to create tiny bumps in grain boundaries but rather a way to sculpt new crystallites and create them in whatever shape you want was a very exciting discovery,” Gerbode says.

During the following year, Gerbode and her students, with Cash taking the lead, worked diligently to study the physics of why this sculpting phenomena worked and how to quantify it. The paper, which is receiving a lot of attention from the physics community, explains the research, outlining why optical blasting attracts grain boundaries. “The reason it’s getting attention now is partly because of the physics of why it works, but mostly because it works so well, and there are such exciting implications for what can be done with it,” Gerbode says. “A lot of people make a living creating materials made of colloidal crystals. The presence of grain boundaries in these materials can be desirable or problematic. As far as we know, this is the first publication demonstrating a way to actually get in there and change the boundaries.” Gerbode goes on to explain that the ability to write grain boundaries allows physicists to “tune” the boundaries however they want, affecting the way light propagates in a material and the way a


— G ERBODE LAB LOG, AUG. 8, 2016

material structure acts. “What’s so cool about our technology,” she says, “is that the physics behind it is quite universal. Now that we have this tool to draw grains, it opens up a whole new direction for experiments in colloidal physics. For example, something no one’s ever been able to do before is create two grains within another crystal and watch how they interact. Do they coalesce? What are the dynamics? Can you pull grains apart? There are theories that no one’s ever been able to test experimentally.” Gerbode’s excitement about the project is understandable, as is her effusive pride in her students, who, with the publication of their paper, are experiencing as undergraduates something many postdocs hope to achieve. “I respect these students so, so much,” Gerbode says. “They put in a tremendous amount of work. HMC undergrads are

exceptional. We all worked our butts off and had so much fun doing it.” Wang and Martirossyan graduated in 2017, but the remaining students will now have optical blasting as another tool in the Gerbode Lab. Ludlow and Cash are both pursuing thesis projects related to the physics discovered during this process. Everyone is eager to see what comes of new experiments, and, of course, they’re open to serendipitous interventions. “So much of experimental research is serendipity,” Gerbode says. “One of the hardest parts is recognizing when you’ve found something important. That’s what becoming a scientist has meant for me in my lifetime. It’s not being brilliant and planning everything perfectly. It’s keeping your eyes open and being open-minded.”

More student research In a computer science/mathematics collaboration, Amy Huang ’18 and Liam Lloyd ’18 use geometry to seek ways to embed time management and efficiency into artificial intelligence technologies, aiming to produce a set schedule that’s flexible enough to accommodate unexpected events. Their project is described in the paper, “New Perspectives on Flexibility in Simple Temporal Planning,” which was accepted for publication and presentation at the International Conference on Automated Planning and Scheduling this summer in Delft, Netherlands.

A paper describing the project, “xenoGI: Reconstructing the history of genomic island insertions in clades of closely related bacteria” was published by BMC Bioinformatics Feb. 5. The team—biology professors Eliot Bush and Daniel Stoebel, Anne Clark ’13, Carissa DeRanek ’19, Alexander Eng ’13, Juliet Forman ’18, Kevin Heath ’16, Alexander Lee ’14, Zunyan Wang ’18, Matthew Wilber ’16 and Helen Wu ’12—has made the code available on Github so that others can use it and help work out any bugs. Read more on page 14.





Student Awards Jordan Haack ’19, who uses algorithms to solve computational biology problems, received the Best Student Paper award at the 2018 Asia-Pacific Bioinformatics Conference in Yokohama, Japan, for the paper “Computing the Diameter of the Space of Maximum Parsimony Reconciliations in the Duplication-Transfer-Loss Model” on which he was the first author. Along with Harvey Mudd computer science professors Yi-Chieh (Jessica) Wu and Ran Libeskind-Hadas and fellow research students Eli Zupke (Cal Poly Pomona) and Andrew Ramirez (Caltech), Haack demonstrated a fast, polynomial-time algorithm that helps to measure differences between two evolutionary trees and compute them efficiently. In the William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition team competition, veteran Putnam competitors Adam Busis ’19, Jordan Haack ’19 and Shyan Akmal ’19 placed an impressive ninth out of 575 institutions, and Harvey Mudd was the top scoring undergraduate institution. In the individual category, Busis ranked 28th in the nation, Evan Liang ’20 ranked 39th and Mengyi Shan ’21 ranked 93.5; each received honorable mentions. Two other Harvey Mudd students, Akmal and ZiYang Zhang ’19, scored in the top 200. A Harvey Mudd College team named “555” moved up from last year’s eighth place finish to be the College’s highest scoring team in the 2017 ACM Southern California Regional International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC). Team 555 (Natchanon Suaysom ’18, Mek Jenrungrot ’19 and Santi Santichaivekin ’21) placed fifth, Team “list incomprehension” (Cole Kurashige ’20, Princewill Okoroafor ’20 and Kye Shi ’21) placed 11th and Team “TBD” (Evan Johnson ’20, Matthew Calligaro ’20, Jacky Lee ’20) placed 19th. “With only one senior (Suaysom) across all nine participants, we’re ready for next year,” says ACM team advisor and computer science professor Zach Dodds.



A Huggable Hack

Interdisciplinary skillsets result in creative solution

Mazda Moayeri ’20 received an Exceptional Summer Student Award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for outstanding research conducted at the NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorder and Stroke. Moayeri, a joint major in computer science and mathematics, is being recognized for the high quality of his summer internship work in non-invasive detection and monitoring of multiple sclerosis disease progression and for his presentation during NIH Poster Day. Manufacturing students, led by Kash Gokli, professor of manufacturing practice, fared well in recent competitions. For the second straight year, HMC students won the West Coast Student Case Competition this year sponsored by APICS and Deloitte Consulting. Team members, Bohan Gao ’19, Ramita Kondepudi ’18, Anji Malpani ’18 and Peter Leang (PZ ’19), all members of Gokli’s E183: Management of Technical Enterprise class, head to Chicago for the international competition. Juniors Gao, Ankoor Apte, Giulia Castleberg and Rachel Perley, and advisor Gokli, won the Manufacturer’s Council of the Inland Empire Innovation Award for their work with Purosil. The award was presented in February at the MCIE’s 2018 Manufacturers’ Summit. The team helped Purosil employees implement a new way of manufacturing that increased efficiency and boosted annual revenue by $3.1 million.

Four Harvey Mudd College students and one stuffed animal competed in the second annual Mount Sinai Health Hackathon in October. The teddy bear was the team’s answer to the cancer-themed challenge to create a novel technology solution for a problem in health care. The students, accompanied by biology and chemistry professor Karl Haushalter, the team’s faculty advisor, were among a handful of undergrads among a mix of physicians, scientists (PhDs and postdocs), engineers, IT professionals and business people participating in the 48-hour multidisciplinary competition. When Ronak Bhatia ’19, Dominque Mena ’19, Theo Hansel ’19 and Michelle Lanterman ’18 arrived in New York to compete in the Health Hackathon, they knew the theme of the challenge was cancer, but that was all the information they had. The event began with short talks by clinicians, scientists and innovators, and then the projects were conceived and executed during the hackathon. By the end of the competition, the HMC team had developed the idea and a prototype for the TeddyTracker, a stuffed animal for pediatric cancer patients that is wired with sensors to detect stress, like when the child is squeezing hard or rocking forcefully. Because the team was made up of engineering majors (Bhatia, Mena and Lanterman) and a chemistry major (Hansel), the students designed a project that fit their skillset. “Our team didn’t want a project that involved too much coding if any at all,” says Bhatia. “Eventually, after consulting with the group, we all found something to do for the TeddyTracker.” The team didn’t end up as a finalist in the competition, but they were one of the few teams to have a working prototype. “Even though the students did not win the cash prize, the faculty members at Mount Sinai were incredibly impressed with their project,” says Haushalter. “By far, their project was the most advanced in terms of implementation and technical savvy.”

Dominque Mena ’19, Theo Hansel ’19, Michelle Lanterman ’18, Professor Karl Haushalter and Ronak Bhatia ’19

Caring for Puerto Rico Senior Viviana Bermúdez rallies support for one of island’s hardest-hit regions Written by Lia King


for senior Viviana Bermúdez. Hurricane Maria, a dangerous Category 4 storm, had slammed into Puerto Rico the day before with 145-mph winds, and she was sitting in her dorm room worrying, not knowing how her family—grandparents, cousins and aunts—had fared. Her father’s family is from the small island of Vieques, which is located off the eastern coast of Puerto Rico, the side of the island that got hit first. “It’s significantly less developed technologically,” Bermúdez says, “and is the sort of place nobody thinks about because nobody knows about it. My heart has always been there.” Bermúdez, an engineering major with a concentration in Latin American studies, was born in Puerto Rico and lived there until she was 4, when she moved with her parents to California. She was raised with a strong connection to the culture of Puerto Rico, whose salient quality she describes as an indefatigably positive attitude, even in hardship. “No matter how much adversity you experience, you’re still optimistic,” she says. “Even after the hurricane, people still managed to hang out and be in community and lift each other up—that’s very Puerto Rican.” As Bermúdez sat in her room, wanting to do something, she scrolled through several hurricane

relief websites before she landed on a Puerto Rican nonprofit, ConPRmetidos, which has a proven record of providing aid on the ground. In partnership with graduate intern Luis Jacobo in the HMC Office of Institutional Diversity, Bermúdez set up a website to track the Mudd community’s donations to the group. She and other students got the word out concerning monetary donations and distributed boxes from the mailroom around campus for students, faculty and staff who wanted to donate goods, including nonperishable food, baby items, clothing and hygiene supplies. “Anything helped,” she says. Finally, after four excruciating days, she received a call from a friend using a military phone, the first she’d heard from anyone in Puerto Rico. It took five months for her grandmother’s landline on the main island to be reconnected. Bermúdez and other Mudders have so far raised $450 and shipped 10 boxes of supplies, some to the main island and some to Vieques. The fundraising is ongoing. Two of the most pressing issues Puerto Rico faces are problems with the power grid and water supply, and Bermúdez notes that engineering professor Patrick Little has offered to help design a Clinic project in Puerto Rico, provided there is interest from the University of Puerto Rico. Bermúdez says one of her goals in fundraising was to help offset the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s weak response. “Puerto Ricans both on the island and in the diaspora are not lazy like President Trump said,” she says. “We take care of our own. This issue doesn’t just touch Puerto Ricans. People who aren’t Puerto Rican also care.”

Viviana Bermúdez ’18

In addition to the physical donations (clothing, non-perishable food, portable batteries, etc.) being collected in boxes across campus, Bermúdez set up a YouCaring page for the HMC Puerto Rico Hurricane Relief Project: youcaring.com/ peopleofpuertoricolagentedepuertorico-965285.

ASHMC Student Philanthropy Campaign HMC students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents and students from the other Claremont Colleges raised nearly $7,000 ($3,000 from an anonymous Mudd donor challenge, unlocked due to high participation) for a new, on-campus wellness vending machine with a Claremont Card reader. Each year, ASHMC and the Office of Advancement partner for this all-student fundraising drive to show the power of collective effort and to educate the student body about the value of re-investing in Harvey Mudd. 50% participation goal surpassed – 53.3% student participation

Dorm participation rates Linde 96.2% East 80.9% West 66.3%

students know what matters.

Highest percent participation, Class of 2021 (62.2%)



An Explosive Innovation

With help from J. Kim Vandiver ’68, explosive ordnance disposal workers now have a safer way to practice disabling landmines and bombs. Written by Melanie A. Farmer | Photography by Webb Chappell



Kim Vandiver ’68 completed a master’s degree at MIT. It was the summer of 1969, and the U.S. was deeply engaged in the Vietnam War. Kim had the choice of being drafted or accepting a direct commission as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the latter of which he did in January 1970. He reported for active duty at Engineering Officer Basic Training at Ft. Belvoir, Virginia, where he learned about demolitions and handling landmines. Little did he know his training and 13 months on active duty in Nha Trang, Vietnam, would prove helpful in a research project more than 40 years later.






hile participating in a collaboration between MIT and the Singapore University for Technology and Design (SUTD), Vandiver traveled to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, to visit with the staff of the Golden West Humanitarian Foundation, who train people to dispose of the explosive remnants of war. There is a clear need to disarm and destroy land mines, bombs and artillery shells buried for decades but still dangerous. An estimated 15,000 to 20,000 people are killed or maimed by landmines every year, according to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. In 2014, a landmine monitoring agency reported an average of 10 casualties per day, globally, from mines or cluster munitions (explosives that release several smaller sub-bombs). Golden West and similar organizations are working to decrease the number of active bombs and landmines scattered in some 65 countries, including heavily impacted locations like Cambodia, Bosnia and Afghanistan. Vandiver was looking for meaningful internship opportunities for SUTD undergraduate students. He learned that there was a need for training aids that could be used to train local Cambodians in explosive ordnance disposal (EOD). It was common practice at the time to disarm live devices and use them to train new EOD staff. In discussions with Allen Tan, who directs Golden West in Cambodia, Vandiver discovered that there was a need for an EOD training kit that was not dangerous to make and could be taken on the road. “Allen and his people were already conducting hands-on training,” explains Vandiver. “It’s just that they were using the objects which were created from real bombs and mines, which is both dangerous and not very scalable. Plus, you can’t travel with real bomb components on a commercial airplane.” Vandiver suggested to Allen Tan that they try 3-D printing the training aids in plastic. Allen liked the idea, and Vandiver returned to the labs at SUTD in Singapore and, within two weeks, produced the first training aid, a 3-D printed model of an antipersonnel land mine. The 3-D model project was met with great enthusiasm. The U.S. State Department funded the manufacturing of the Advance Ordnance Training Materials kit, a set of 10 different devices that are used to teach how to identify and assess the condition of a wide variety of artillery shells, mortar rounds and bombs. Each 3-D model incorporates



Three–D printed models help explosive ordnance technicians learn how unexploded shells and land mines work.

the color coding system widely accepted in the field—blue for inert components, red for the firing pin and yellow for the explosive material. After creating the first 3-D printed prototype from a CAD model prepared by Golden West staff, Vandiver then worked with staff and faculty at SUTD to set up an internship program, which would send SUTD undergraduates to Cambodia for four months each year to prepare the CAD models and the 3-D printing processes needed for the first complete set of 10 training objects. The first set was completed in 2014 and shown to the EOD professional community around the world. The United Nations soon acquired several of the $7,000 training sets for use in Africa. Since then the sets have been adopted in training programs around the world. The U.S. State Department has funded the development of two more training sets on cluster bombs and land mines. SUTD interns are eager to work on these projects, which have real outcomes and improve the lives of many people. “These 3-D models are not intended to be exact. We want them to be used to teach a person the concepts of how the devices work, but not give blueprints for making them,” explains Vandiver.

A 3-D-printed device compared to the actual explosive device

“ As an engineer, you just go looking for interesting and meaningful problems.



“When they encounter them in the field, they’ll know how to identify the device and know what to look for to determine if the device has been armed and if it is safe to move.” A longtime teacher, Vandiver is a strong proponent of the learn-by-doing philosophy, having first experienced it at Harvey Mudd. “That predisposition to experiential learning has been ingrained in everything I’ve done professionally since.” Following his Vietnam tour, Vandiver completed his PhD in oceanographic engineering from a joint program between MIT and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. In fact, he was inspired to explore ocean engineering dynamics research after taking a vibration and dynamics course taught by the late Harvey Mudd Professor Jack Alford. Vandiver’s work is in the dynamics of offshore structures and flow-induced vibration, and he is an active consultant in structural dynamics with the offshore-engineering industry. An MIT faculty member since 1975, Vandiver wears many hats at the institution, including dean for undergraduate research and founder/director of the Edgerton Center, one of MIT’s original makerspaces, a haven for experiential learning. He worked with Tan on incorporating this approach into Golden West’s training workshops. “I was able to share with Allen insights about active learning teaching methods that work a lot better than having somebody standing up in a room talking,” says Vandiver. He and Tan continue to collaborate on the 3-D printed EOD models and are exploring ways to add virtual reality technology into the training. Vandiver’s work on a project that educates and protects people around the world is a testament to his lifelong learning philosophy and quest to design practical, useful items. “As an engineer,” he says, “you just go looking for interesting and meaningful problems.”





Malous Kossarian ’12 is using emerging technology to boost her generation’s political clout. Written by Sophia Stuart | Photography by Seth Affoumado




citizen, take meaningful action and start influencing the country you live in? Malous Kossarian ’12 would like to help. In November 2016, while en route to her job at A.I. platform IBM Watson, she scrolled through her social feeds and saw how many people in her network wanted to get politically engaged. It gave her an idea for an app. Within a few months of the presidential election, Kossarian had quit her job, recruited two co-founders, raised seed funding from friends and family and launched Magnify Progress [magnifyprogress.com], an app that uses machine intelligence, high-level programming languages and data science to help its users become educated and active in the democratic process. “I want people to know they’re not powerless,” says Kossarian. “Magnify Progress is about taking action and starting as soon as possible.” After downloading the app, users sign in with Facebook (to give access to their social sphere of influence), input their zip code, then browse tags to add issues of interest, like climate change, healthcare and hurricane relief. Magnify Progress takes note of the interests and starts to build out the feed, automatically populating a user’s profile with all their representatives’ details and providing a one-click option to add their phone numbers to a user’s mobile contacts. “At any moment, if you decide you’re really angry about something and want to call your representative, you can. The number is right there,” Kossarian says. The app provides many ways to become more politically active. It’s full of useful, smart features, such as learning about your representatives’ voting patterns, unpacking the language behind complicated legislation and breaking it down into issue-based tags. It also shows which Facebook friends have already taken action on an issue. Users can post, comment and react; follow any representative, bill, cause or user. The app also encourages users to invite their friends. Through gamification users are rewarded with badges as friends take action. The initial inspiration for Magnify Progress came from Kossarian’s time at Harvey Mudd College, where she earned a B.S. (chemistry), with distinction.



“At Harvey Mudd I felt that I’d found my people, especially because of the way everyone cared so much about what they were working on and how the school provided really good opportunities for outreach,” she says. “But, when I left for graduate school at Northwestern, I found it got a lot harder to locate volunteer efforts, especially those which didn’t require a long commitment or a specific time when I knew I’d be working. So that’s when I built my first app.” Kossarian scoured websites to gather available data for local volunteer opportunities and began coding: her idea blossomed into a place where people could find issues they cared about, select an organization and time slot and get involved. Sadly she never got a chance to name or publish that app, but it was an invaluable experience which set the scene for the one she runs now. The Magnify Progress team consists of Kossarian and two others, all of whom have solid developer and product lead experience. They use the

latest technology: GraphQL (query language for application programming interfaces), Elasticsearch (Java-based search engine), Python (high-level programming language) and React, because they didn’t want to build native apps for each mobile platform from scratch. “We want people to start where they are, to suggest actions that they can do right now,” she says. “For example, if they’re really concerned about climate change, Magnify Progress will suggest they start by planting a tree, stop using water bottles and cut meat out of their diet for one day a week.” The Open Government movement requires most federal agencies and states to open up their massive databases but few are on the same platform, or even apply similar rules for understanding that data. To address this, the Magnify Progress team created scripts (to normalize data) and pledges to provide the best data at the correct time, to the right user. “For example,” explains Kossarian, “Some of the machine intelligence we’ve brought in

includes making the connections between your representative, your interests (such as climate change) and the bills they’ve sponsored (which might hurt the climate), and then we surface that information higher in your feed so you can take action.” Spending two and a half years at IBM Watson gave Kossarian not just solid technical experience, but valuable business skills as well. “I joined IBM when they acquired a startup I was working at. My role as the product and technical lead was to figure out how the web crawler technology we’d created could be integrated into the larger IBM Watson platform,” she says. “The A.I. platform had just won Jeopardy by ingesting the whole of Wikipedia, so, using our technology, how smart could it become by reading the whole internet? We’ve applied this to Magnify Progress. Our platform reads everything out there in the political domain and brings that right back to the user, allowing them to take action.”

Kossarian wants to embed Magnify Progress as a go-to for influential political activists, by building an admin panel that will allow them to populate Magnify Progress with actions they know will appeal to their audiences. She sees this as a way to grow the service exponentially. For now, Kossarian is enjoying life as an (albeit bootstrapped) entrepreneur. She recently spoke at the New Founders Conference in Chicago, was on a panel about millennial engagement in politics and attended Founders University, which is backed by Jason Calacanis, the angel investor behind Uber, Tumblr and the robotic caffeine purveyor Cafe X. “Starting from zero and ramping up within this activism domain has been very intellectually stimulating,” she says. “I’m now mixing with a very impressive set of people without the usual competitiveness because we’re all working toward this common goal of making the world a better place. It gives me such hope. Our goal is to activate a new generation of activists.”

he app allows users to become educated, T take meaningful action and connect with others and encourage them to do the same.



A diverse background in K-12 education helps Derrick Chau ’97 get to the root of issues impacting Los Angeles schools. Written by Chris Quirk | Photography be Jeanine Hill


enrolled at the College and began studying chemistry with an eye to becoming a doctor. He’d return home during academic breaks to Fresno, California, where he worked in a hospital emergency room. After many grueling shifts, Chau came to a realization. “We were fixing people up and sending them on their way,” he recalls. “The root causes for why a lot of people ended up in the emergency room had to do with poverty, homelessness and related problems. It went beyond medicine.”





e eventually left the premed track, his sense of social justice tipping the balance in favor of a career in education, where he felt he could better address the root causes of the problems he’d seen manifested in the medical field. Inspired in part by his teachers in high school and at Harvey Mudd, Chau sought to make a positive difference in people’s lives. Right after Mudd, he taught chemistry and physical science for almost two years at David Starr Jordan High School while a member of Teach for America, a national internship program that puts aspiring teachers into schools in low-income communities. Chau was captivated by the writings of Jonathan Kozol, whose seminal book on education, Savage Inequalities, examined various school systems, revealing gross disparities in resources and outcomes between urban students and those in wealthy suburban school districts. “I had a lot of questions about why things were the way they were,” says Chau. “My mentors at Harvey Mudd and later at Loyola Marymount, where I studied for my teaching credential, encouraged me to look at education policy work.” Chau attended the University of Southern California to earn his doctorate in education policy and then did a postdoctoral fellowship from 2002 to 2004 at the RAND Corporation, where he co-authored the “California State Charter School Evaluation,” at the request of the Legislative Analyst’s Office, the state’s nonpartisan fiscal and policy advisor. It was the early days for charter schools, the first one in California having opened in 1993, and Chau’s report found that the charters were broadly cost-efficient and viable, but that the schools needed improvement in the areas of financing and accountability. After his time at RAND and the more abstract work he was involved with there, Chau yearned to return to the classroom. He was hired by Alliance, a charter school management nonprofit, to teach high school science. Recognizing his talent, Alliance soon tapped Chau to be the founding principal for their Marc and Eva Stern Math and Science School. The significance of his vacillation between teaching, policy and administrative work is not lost on Chau. “My career journey has afforded me the chance to see a lot of different approaches to education, and I have learned a lot about balancing spheres of influence,” he says. “As a teacher, I felt like I was sort of in the trenches and could identify the problems readily, but I did not have a lot of



The Los Angeles Unified School District is the second largest in the United States. Chau’s work supports the 700+ schools across the district.

L.A. Unified Schools and Centers Primary School Centers Elementary Schools

Student Characteristics 19 448

Middle Schools


Senior High Schools


Option Schools


Magnet Schools


Multi-level Schools


Special Education Schools




K-12 Magnet Centers (on regular campuses)


Charter Schools


Other Schools and Centers


Grand Total


Individual schools vary widely in enrollment size. Elementary schools range from less than 200 to more than 1,100 pupils. Middle schools run up to 1,800 students and high schools to more than 2,500 students.

control over the solutions. As a principal, all the ideas coalesced in a way that I felt like I could work the policy solutions, work the politics and implement changes in the classroom.” In his continuing search to have the broadest impact possible, Chau moved into teacher development, first as vice president of instruction at Alliance, and then in the Los Angeles Unified School District, where he is now the senior executive director of instruction. “It was a logical progression,” says Chau. “It has given me the chance to develop other leaders and to provide support to principals and teachers so they can be more successful in their schools.” He recently served on the 17-member Negotiated Rulemaking Committee, which was tasked by the U.S. Department of Education to help navigate the nation’s transition from No Child Left Behind to the next iteration of national education policy, the Every Student Succeeds Act. In March, he joined Chiefs for Change, a coalition of leaders who share ideas and support each other as they seek excellence and equity for all

In all, 94 languages other than English are spoken in L.A. Unified schools. The district has 157,619 students who are learning to speak English proficiently. Their primary languages are Spanish (92.5% of English learners), Armenian (1.1%), Korean (1%) Tagalog, Cantonese, Arabic, Vietnamese and Russian, each accounting for less than 1% of total. The district also has more than 7,000 foster care students. Information courtesy of L.A.Unified Office of Communications

students. Chau says this opportunity will allow him to learn from sitting superintendents as he prepares for future leadership in large urban districts. “I’m particularly attracted to the equity focus of the Chiefs for Change, the recognition that education is a primary driver for improving the pathways for students and families,” he says. “I also deeply appreciate the need to diversify the leadership pipeline in education as the demographics of our schools have changed over time.” One of the biggest debates in education is about the role of charter schools within public school systems. “If there were a silver bullet, someone would have packaged it and made a lot of money by now,” says Chau. The friction over charter schools usually is not related to student issues, he asserts. “Control over the schools and budgets are an adult problem. So often in the past, school districts have required students to attend public schools that have been underperforming.” Charter schools offer another option for those students and their parents. Chau points out that low-income families can’t just

pick up and move to another district or send their child to a private school. In their favor, charter schools are primarily nonprofit, and they serve as laboratories for new ideas in education. On the other hand, Chau maintains that with the greater autonomy granted to the charter schools, they must be subject to greater accountability as well. “What is needed is the ability to view all sides of the issue,” Chau says. “Right now, there is a lot of partisanship without a lot of understanding, and that’s not helping.” Having seen the debate from many sides—as teacher and administrator, researcher and practitioner, and within both public and charter schools—Chau is using his role at LAUSD to help all involved get to the root of issues. “I feel fortunate to be an educator at this level who’s been able to have all the experiences I’ve had,” says Chau. “It won’t be easy, but we’ve got to find the best solution for our students.”




Family Weekend Family Weekend continues to grow. In February, over 400 parents and family members of Harvey Mudd students visited campus, met faculty and staff, checked in with their students and made some pretty incredible boats. Find more images online at hmc.edu/flickr and the video at bit.ly/HMC-FW18.

Save the Date: Family Weekend 2019 Feb. 8–9



HMC INQ is Recruiting HMC INQ, the startup incubator founded by Josh Jones ’98 and Gary Evans, Ruth and Harvey Berry Professor of Entrepreneurial Leadership, is accepting applications for the next class of startups. The deadline is May 28. HMC INQ accepts four to six companies per class, with decisions made by July 13. All companies that apply must have at least one HMC graduate as a co-founder (with at least 20 percent equity). hmcinq.com

Choir Reunion, Sept. 29 What: A singing reunion of alumni of the choirs of the Joint Music Program of Claremont McKenna, Harvey Mudd, Pitzer and Scripps colleges, including the Concert Choir and the Chamber Choir. Emeritus professors John Lilley and Michael Lamkin, as well as past director Anna DeMichelle and present director Charles Kamm will lead a day of rehearsals culminating in an evening performance with the current choirs of the Joint Music Program. When: Saturday, Sept. 29, 8 a.m.–9:30 p.m. Where: Scripps College Performing Arts Center Information and registration: jointmusicprogram.org/choirs/choir-reunion-2018 The latest choir news: facebook.com/jointmusicprogram/


The LinkedIn Group for the Harvey Mudd College Alumni Association is growing. Join the more than 2,700 alumni who are helping each other expand professional and personal networks. If you’re already a group member, stay up to date by getting a digest of your alumni network activity. Learn more and find a link to the group at alumni. hmc.edu/networking.

GET INVOLVED! Are you interested in strengthening the HMC alumni network? Do you live in an area where you’d like to see more alumni activity? Would you like to promote Harvey Mudd to high school students? The Harvey Mudd College Alumni Association is seeking volunteers around the country to do these things and more. Visit alumni.hmc.edu/volunteer and let us know how you’d like to get involved.




1963 Pat Hildebrand, an avid photographer and longtime

Phillies fan, has a photography exhibit on campus in Shanahan 2481. The current exhibit features former major league pitcher Roy Halladay, pitcher Carlos (Chooch) Ruiz, pitcher Cole Hamels and Chase Utley.

1967 Richard Hartman (physics)

recently edited and published a 45-year-old deathbed memoir written by his mother, Jane Hartman, covering her young family’s 1948 move from the U.S. heartland to Alaska. The book, Alaskan Odyssey: Reflections on Life, Politics, and Finding God in the Far North, details personal adversity and a 10,000-mile, solo vagabond journey, among other stories. Richard, Jane’s eldest son, describes himself as “a physicist, lifelong science addict and exercise junkie.” His professional career has included marine engineering software development and the dynamical analysis of floating offshore structures.

1969 Hal Bohner (engineering) says, “I have multiple

careers: I'm a lawyer specializing in environmental and intellectual property law and an artist painting mainly landscapes. You can see some of my work at halbohner.weebly.com.” Elizabeth Medley (chemistry), writes: “My husband,

Jay Medley, died at home on Feb. 25, 2017, from non-Hodgkin's Diffuse Large High-grade B-cell lymphoma. Our daughter, Emily Medley, became engaged to be married on Sept. 21, 2017, to Adam Smith, PhD of Tacoma, Washington. The wedding is planned for July in Oregon City, Oregon.”

1973 | Reunion Year Gene Nelson (IPS) writes that his latest project is

saving nuclear power generation in California. “I live about 10 miles from PG&E’s Diablo Canyon Power



Plant. I’ve been working with a team of volunteers including three other PhDs that are taking on ‘big fossil’ embedded in the California government and in the private sector. We’re ably assisted by some top-notch environmental attorneys, including three-term California Assemblyman Mike Gatto. Californians for Green Nuclear Power Inc. (CGNP), founded in 2013, is the lone adverse party in the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) Application A.16-08-006 among about 50 other intervenors. CGNP filed more than 1,300 pages of testimony and workpapers and vigorously participated in all of the oral phases of this proceeding. We focus on the scientific, engineering and economic rationales for keeping Diablo Canyon running past 2025, in contrast to the appeals to fear of plant opponents. CGNP has already changed the contours of PG&E's controversial application. CGNP recently filed an application for rehearing that is a necessary step to change the venue from the CPUC to the California State Appeals Court system. I’ve done considerable ‘legwork’ on this huge project, donating thousands of hours of my time since PG&E’s surprise announcement on June 21, 2016.”

Technologies. In 2011, he began serving as the director of the UC San Diego Center for Memory and Recording Research, one of the world’s leading institutions for research on storage and memory technologies including magnetic recording. Eric’s research impacts are broad and include efforts to develop cutting-edge nanotechnologies to build hard disk drives and non-volatile memories that can store data at unprecedented levels. The HMC Entrepreneurial Network’s March 2 event was held at the home of Mudd alumnus Eric Johnson (engineering) in Medina, Washington. Harry Cooke ’17 (computer science/economics), from the HMC INQ inaugural class, made a presentation about his startup Thea Health, a telemedicine platform that connects primary care practices to specialists. It enables doctors at smaller and more rural practices to offer more services to their patients while increasing their revenue.

1993 | Reunion Year

1980 Rich Helling (engineering/history) returned to

campus to speak to students about careers in chemical engineering and life cycle assessment (LCA). Rich is director of sustainable chemistry for The Dow Chemical Company in Michigan, where he leads the Sustainable Chemistry expert community that supports Dow businesses on the use of LCA, the sustainable chemistry index and related tools. He was an assistant professor with the MIT Chemical Engineering Practice School prior to joining Dow in 1987. Rich is an author of 23 papers, holds two patents, is a registered professional engineer in Michigan and is an LCA Certified Professional.

1984 Eric Fullerton (physics) was recognized by the

National Academy of Engineering “for invention and development of multilayer, high-density magnetic recording media.” Eric is a professor of electrical and computer engineering and nanoengineering at UC San Diego. He joined its Jacobs School of Engineering faculty in 2007 after years of working in industry at both IBM and Hitachi Global Storage

In January, HMC Trustee Glen Hastings (chemistry) hosted fellow alumni, parents and friends at a reception and dinner in London. Members of the Mudd community in Europe got an update on campus activities and learned more about the amazing work of faculty, students and alumni. Guests included Harvey Mudd II (center), grandson of the College’s namesake.

1998 | Reunion Year Brooks Davis (computer science) writes that her

daughter, Gwendolyn Davis, was born eight weeks early on Dec. 3, 2017, and is happy to report that she is home and thriving.


Logan’s Journey Written by Ashley Festa | Photo by Charles Barry


Harvey Mudd, his head to software engineering and his gut to Google. Now, as a mentor, he’s sharing his journey with a growing and appreciative following. Originally from Jamaica, Logan was accepted to several colleges in the U.S., but the California weather won his heart. “I’m from a tropical country and can’t handle those East Coast winters,” he says. Besides, his sister, Renee ’04, was already at Harvey Mudd, and he was really hoping she would do some of his laundry. (That didn’t happen.) His plan was to become a chemist, but he learned in his first year of labs he didn’t like chemistry. Logan eventually settled on engineering, then studied software engineering during his doctoral studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Just as he was finishing his degree, Logan had two tech companies vying for his attention: Synopsys, based in Mountain View, California, and Google. Initially he accepted the Synopsys offer because the position was more aligned with his graduate research, but his gut (and his sister, now an engineer at Apple) persuaded him to go with Google. Now he works in the tech giant’s infrastructure section as a senior software engineer, monitoring hard drive performance, health and security. He appreciates the work-life balance (he gets to meet celebrities from time to time, and once scrimmaged with—and scored on—basketball hall-of-famer Dikembe Mutombo) and says he enjoys being able to advance his career at his own pace. “I’m not about the fast life,” says Logan, who considers himself a go-with-the-flow-and-seewhere-it-leads kind of person. “Software engineering has a short lifespan, so I’m thinking of life beyond Google. You never know where technology is going to be in 10 years. Short-term plans can be concrete, but I’ve had a more long-term vision.” Logan says that vision could include teaching, and he’s already getting a little taste of that potential as a mentor. Each summer, Google encourages employees to take interns under their wing. Logan has participated each of the past three summers, and in 2016, he had the pleasure of mentoring a current Harvey Mudd student, junior David Olumese.

“It’s been good to see the road that Sheldon took,” said Olumese, who’s considering working with hardware after graduation. “I’m seeing the decisions he made to get where he is, to see what’s possible and see an example of how one gets there. He’s someone I can talk to if I need help making decisions.” Besides introducing Olumese to other engineers to expand his network, Logan also built a personal relationship and still keeps in touch. They share a love of basketball, good meals and good laughs, but perhaps the strongest tie for Logan was their international background. Logan had little exposure to other cultures while growing up in Jamaica. At Harvey Mudd, he got his first taste of an international environment, meeting people coming from a variety of different experiences, customs and values. Still, there were few black students at Mudd when he graduated. He says he feels a special connection with Olumese, a native of Nigeria who grew up in Switzerland, because of their shared ethnicity. “I choose to be a mentor specifically to help those who come after me,” Logan says. “Being a black person from a different country, I didn’t know what it meant to be black in the States,” says Logan, who recalls that many of his international friends were also in the same position. In 2004, when students burned an art project shaped like a cross on campus, student demonstrations and community discussions ensued. This incident, in particular, raised Logan’s awareness of the depth of racial tensions in the U.S. “For me, it was a learning experience.”

But the event didn’t taint his perspective of the U.S. and certainly not his view of Harvey Mudd. In fact, he says his four years in Claremont were probably the best of his life. “I knew, when I got my degree, that was the finality of it,” says Logan. “I actually cried at graduation, and everyone was shocked. That’s how great it was.”

Sheldon Logan ’06 and David Olumese ’19, mentor and mentee




1999 Ian Prowell (engineering), a structural engineer

in wind energy, has worked professionally in multiple engineering disciplines. He has worked in onshore and offshore wind, solar and other novel structures. In his current role at DNV GL, an international accredited registrar and classification society headquartered near Oslo, Norway, he heads the North American structural group for civil engineering for large wind projects. He is active in owner engineering, independent engineering, construction oversight, litigation, measurement, development and maintenance of national and international wind standards documents, among other aspects of projects in all stages from planning to repowering. Ian shared his expertise with HMC students during a talk on campus in February sponsored by the Hixon Center for Sustainable Environmental Design.

2001 Trustee John Benediktsson

(engineering) and chair of the Department of Engineering Elizabeth Orwin ’95 (engineering) joined other alumni and their guests at the sixth annual HMC Weekend at Squaw Valley, March 9–10. Participants, including Brett Mills ’14, Neil Pearson ’14 and Taylor Brent ’14 (shown), enjoyed meals at Rocker@ Squaw and Six Peaks Grill amid all the skiing, snowboarding and socializing. In March, Josh Switkes (engineering), CEO of Peloton Technology, spoke on the panel “Tech and Trucking: Regulations, Ridesharing, and Robots” at the South by Southwest Conference and Festival. The discussion included how technology is changing the way trucking companies move loads using autonomous technology and truck platooning, a specialty of Peloton. The company’s flagship driver-assistive platooning system links the active safety systems of pairs of trucks, enhances driver teamwork and connects trucks to a cloud-based Network Operations Center which limits platooning



to appropriate roads and conditions. Peloton solutions also improve the safety of individual trucks by requiring best-in-class collision avoidance systems and other safety features that are active both in and out of platoon. Josh has been working on systems to make driving safer and more efficient for the last 15 years. After his work at Stanford University on vehicle dynamics and control, he developed production control systems for Volkswagen, Audi and Tula Technology. A recording of the panel discussion can be found at fr8star.com/ info/sxsw-panel-2018/.

2002 Antonio Medrano

(mathematics) accepted an assistant professor of geographic information science position at Texas A&M University Corpus Christi in the Department of Computing Sciences. He starts in August.

2004 Kristina Orosz (chemistry) was

inducted into the ClaremontMudd-Scripps (CMS) Alumni Athletic Hall of Fame, Class of 2017 last November. The best overall thrower the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) has ever had, male or female, Kristina is the only thrower in conference history to place in all four throwing events (the shot put, discus, javelin and hammer) each of her four years as an Athena. During her track and field career, Kristina was honored as both the Harvey Mudd Alumni Association Outstanding Athlete of the Year and voted by her teammates as the MVP while a junior and senior. Within the SCIAC, she earned 16 All-Conference performances and four SCIAC championships, and scored the second highest number of points in Athena history in dual meets. As an NCAA competitor, she qualified for the NCAA Championships for three years (as a sophomore, junior and senior) and topped off her senior year with an All-American placement in the hammer. After graduating from Harvey Mudd, Kristina went into the analytical chemistry graduate program at the University of Arizona and received

her PhD in 2011. She’s now a senior scientist at Ventana Medical Systems Inc. in Tucson, Arizona.

2007 Tracy Fox Bartholomew (engineering) hosted a

well-attended HMC alumni happy hour in Portland, Oregon in February.

2008 | Reunion Year Meredith Rawls (chemistry)

and Mike Bigelow '06 (engineering) welcomed their first child, Skyler Rawls Bigelow, on Sept. 27, 2017. The family previously moved to Seattle so Meredith could join the Department of Astronomy at the University of Washington as a postdoctoral researcher and software developer for the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope Data Management team. Mike works as a senior program manager at McKinstry. Both are thrilled to be raising Skyler in the Pacific Northwest near family.

2009 San Francisco-area alumni and friends enjoyed a few rounds at Urban Putt with host Janet Komatsu in January.

2010 The February 2018 Inc. article “This Startup is Disrupting Public Transit (With Ford and Samsung Along for the Ride)” describes how Swiftly is using big data and predictive algorithms to “transform how public transportation systems operate.” Jonathan Simkin (engineering), Swiftly CEO, said, "We built Swiftly to improve the way people move in cities. Today, we are working with over 40 cities improving public transit for two million riders per day.” bit.ly/Simkin18

2012 Mira De Avila-Shin (engineering) is now an architect,

having earned a master of architecture in 2016 at Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. She writes, “I’ve been working at Stillwater Dwellings, a pre-fab


Doing Business the Right Way Every Day Compliance officers shepherd ethical business practices Written by Melanie A. Farmer Photo by Deborah Tracey


issues, one Harvey Mudd alumna is making a difference in how large multinationals conduct business globally. Tiffany (Leneis) Scurry ’97 is vice president of legal and chief compliance officer at technology giant Western Digital. There, she leads a team that monitors and enforces compliance at all levels, underscoring the company’s code of conduct for a wide range of matters, including information privacy, employee relations, fair treatment of third parties and global trade regulations. “What we do in our company sets an example for other companies throughout the world,” says Scurry, who is part of a network of highly collaborative ethics and compliance professionals. “Our individual contributions are small, but together we are changing the tide and proving that business conducted ethically is more successful and benefits everyone.” Western Digital, a designer and manufacturer of storage devices, home entertainment products and networking equipment, has pledged to maintain the highest business and ethical standards, and it is up to Scurry and her team to make sure this happens. Not an easy feat when a company spans multiple countries and employs about 70,000 people. Scurry’s team helps ensure that employees understand and comply with the laws relevant to them. The team also helps Western Digital’s business leaders solve complex legal problems throughout the world while promoting efficiency. To this end, Scurry and her team have devised a comprehensive due diligence program that taps into enterprise procurement and finance systems and allows them to identify and address risks at a pace that matches the business cycle. Before closing a deal with a business partner, Scurry and her team can review diligence databases, perform a customized algorithm to assess risk and provide recommendations. “Business moves fast, and it cannot afford to wait for lawyers to scrutinize and

clear every deal,” she says. “Our legal and business resources are reserved for and focused on situations where they are most needed.” Sounds very much like an engineer’s approach to problem solving. In fact, it was engineering that led Scurry to law. HMC’s general engineering degree, she says, seemed like ideal preparation for patent law, with the “broad exposure patent attorneys have to inventors and technologies of all stripes.” Senior year, she began contemplating law school, but the timing wasn’t quite right. When Scurry graduated, she entered a world galvanized by the ever-expanding World Wide Web. The job market for graduating engineers was ripe with opportunities. “Continuing on the engineering path seemed more sensible than enrolling in law school on a whim.” She joined TRW Space and Electronics, where she worked in a test engineering group that had sponsored her senior year Clinic project. She conducted modal analysis of spacecraft structures; for example, the solar shade door for the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, NASA’s flagship mission for X-ray astronomy. Three years into her TRW job, she witnessed colleagues being lured by startups. At the same time, law firms were losing their patent talent to dot-coms that quickly recognized the need for attorneys to help bolster their IP portfolios in order to attract venture funding. These events helped jumpstart Scurry’s career in law.

“A law firm in Century City had an idea to recruit a few engineers and train them to be patent agents. One of the partners at this firm [Oppenheimer Wolff & Donnelly] was another HMC alum,” she says, attesting to the strength of the alumni network. “It was a great solution. I could test the law practice waters without making a significant investment in law school.” While there, Scurry found that she enjoyed the work and earned her J.D. from Loyola Law School in 2003. Scurry became an attorney at McDermott Will & Emery before becoming IP counsel in 2010 at Western Digital. She served as senior director of technology transactions and senior director of ethics and compliance prior to her current position. “Our work creates an ethical environment where employees are not pressured to cut corners or make risky decisions,” says Scurry, the mother of pre-teen twins. “They can go home to their families each day feeling good about their work.”

Watch Scurry’s March 20 Annenberg Leadership and Management Speaker Series talk, “Integrity and Ethical Practices: Essentials for Success,” bit.ly/AnnenbergTS320.

“ O ur work creates an ethical

environment where employees are not pressured to cut corners or make risky decisions.




residential firm in Seattle since July 2016, and my firm was just mentioned in the New York Times [March 5] for our rebuild efforts after the fires in Northern California.”

In Memoriam


Sarah Ferraro Stein

(engineering), a senior software engineer who’s been with the PowerPoint team (and Microsoft) since 2012, was featured in the story “Hacking the Deck for Success” (bit.ly/SFS218). The article describes how the PowerPoint team holds regular hackathons to help evolve the product. Sarah has participated in all of them. “Sometimes I just do simple things like improve a tool that I work with every day,” she said. “Most recently I did one that was more feature oriented where we added a feature to PowerPoint Online which we call Share a Slide.”

2014 David Lingenbrink (mathematics) was recognized

at the INFORMS conference in October 2017 for his paper “Optimal Signaling Mechanisms in Unobservable Queues.” David attends Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, where he is in his fourth year of an operations research PhD program.

2015 Demetri Monovoukas (engineering) and other local

alumni gathered for a Red Sox game at Fenway Park on Sunday, April 8.



Ken Pope ’61 Founding Class member Ken Pope (engineering) is remembered by friends and family as always positive, always smiling and caring. He passed away March 1. Ken was actively engaged with Harvey Mudd College since he graduated through both his philanthropic giving and his activities with the Class of 1961, including volunteering and attending every reunion, from the 10th to the 55th. In the Founding Class’ 50th reunion memory book, Ken wrote, “My four years at HMC certainly prepared me well for all that has come along since.” After Harvey Mudd, Ken attended MIT and began working at The RAND Corporation’s Summer Graduate Student Program. He went on to work for RAND as a liaison to the Air Force headquarters at the Pentagon, and he moved to Bethesda, Maryland, in 1965. His career included management positions at Science Applications Inc. (which became SAIC) and at Planning Research Corporation, where he was a division manager and the initial project manager of a project with the Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He led the program management office at SAI until 1990, then became a member of SAIC’s Corporate Business Development team.

Ken traveled extensively with family and friends, including trips to Spain, Italy, France, Croatia, Greece, South Africa, Zambia, Namibia, Botswana and China, the latter with fellow Founding Class members Jim Barden and John Murray and their wives. Fellow Founding Class member Jerry Van Hecke ’61 says, “Ken was a great friend to us all and could keep us entertained with wonderful stories of his travels.” Ken’s Harvey Mudd roommate and longtime friend, David Howell ’61, agrees and adds, “He was a master at telling interesting tidbits about international politics and economics.” Family members surviving Ken include his wife, Amal; children David P19, P21, Karen and Tanya; grandchildren Georgia ’21, Nathan ’19, Alexandra and Austin Larese; and Donna Pope, mother of David and Karen and grandparent to Georgia and Nathan. Ken’s family requests any donations in his honor be made to the Gerald R. Van Hecke ’61 Endowment for the Advancement of Chemistry and/or to the Class of ’61 Endowed Scholarship. Send to the Office of Advancement, 301 Platt Blvd., Claremont, CA 91711, or via hmc.edu/give.

Gift & Estate Planning

Your Generosity, Multiplied “I wish I had understood the power of the tax benefit of appreciated stock earlier. I could have sent more money!” says Mike Angiulo ’93, engineering graduate, Harvey Mudd trustee and former corporate vice president of Azure Ecosystem at Microsoft. He’s one of a growing number of donors who annually augment their support to Harvey Mudd College through appreciated securities. He’s discovered the benefits of giving in this manner and wants everyone to know about it. Securities and mutual funds that have increased in value and have been held for more than one year are highly beneficial assets to consider when planning your gift to Harvey Mudd College. By donating appreciated stocks, Angiulo is able to avoid paying capital gains taxes on the assets gifted, and he is entitled to a possible federal income tax charitable deduction based on the fair market value of the appreciated securities at the time of the transfer. Angiulo receives the same income tax savings as if he wrote the College a check, but with the added benefit of eliminating capital gains taxes, which can be as high as 20 percent. It’s an advantage that makes giving to Harvey Mudd College all the more satisfying. “I’ve supported the College’s general needs because running an institution like this is complex, and supporting it is best served

by providing both financial contribution as well as flexibility to the College leadership in how to best allocate it,” Angiulo says. “In addition, I established the Angiulo Family Summer Research Endowment to provide stipends for students participating in Summer Research because traditional financial aid can leave gaps in terms of learning opportunity, especially when school is not in session.” Through his giving, Angiulo not only used the power of appreciated securities, but also leveraged the matching gift program offered by his employer, Microsoft, which matches gifts dollar for dollar up to $50,000 per year. In fact, 30 Microsoft Mudders took advantage of this beneficial program last year, each one doubling the impact of their gift to the College. (Shout out to Sarah Ferraro Stein ’12, HMC’s volunteer corporate giving representative at Microsoft!) “I support HMC because it provides the best background for the next generation of leaders who will change the world,” says Angiulo. “The combination of competitive STEM capability with the context of the liberal arts and associated sciences is a unique combination that develops the right blend of capability and background. Having ways to maximize and leverage my donations is just a win-win all around.”

“ I wish I had understood

the power of the tax benefit of appreciated stock earlier. I could have sent more money! —MIKE ANGIULO ’93

For more information about multiplying your generosity, contact Matt Leroux, assistant vice president, or Dan Macaluso, vice president for advancement, at 844.GIVE.HMC (844.448.3462) or plannedgiving@hmc.edu.

is on a mission





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

#SelfieWithMudder Of the many activities both spontaneous and planned during Family Weekend, “Capturing a selfie with my Mudder” was surely one of the favorites. Here, Louis Rossi ’88, P20 with daughter, Cassandra Rossi ’20, show us how it’s done. For more about this year’s event, see page 34.

Nonprofit Org. U.S. Postage PAID Claremont, CA Permit No. 35

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