Mudd Magazine, spring 2021

Page 1

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

SPRING 2021

Eyes on Mars


SPACE STUDY

Contemplation and Collaboration when john harrell was an engineering student at Harvey Mudd College in the late 1960s, he would often roam the nearby California Botanic Garden to clear his head. Today, students don’t have to leave campus to find a quiet place to read, think and reflect, thanks in part to Harrell and other members of the Class of 1969. For their 50th reunion gift, the class has joined forces on a fundraising drive to create and maintain a new garden area and to establish an endowed fund to support students and faculty engaged with HMC summer research projects. The Contemplation Garden is located south of East Dorm in a shaded, quiet corner of campus, far from the flurry of the main thoroughfare. It features a fountain, three Italian-made wooden benches, lighting and a commemorative plaque mounted on a large boulder that reads: “Let your time in this garden awaken a gentle peace, a commitment to truth and empathy for others. May it inspire profound insight and innovation.” The Class of ’69 Summer Research Fund will further enhance the development of “insight and innovation” by supporting faculty and students in their research endeavors. Class members are rallying behind the endowed fund because they believe that supporting research is crucial to developing a national reputation among faculty members and the College while providing experiential learning for students. During 2020, gifts toward the Class of ’69 Summer Research Fund supported Christopher Paniagua ’21, who worked with engineering professor and fluid mechanics expert Leah Mendelson to study the waterexit strategy of the archer fish and the engineering applications of this behavior. The fund will support one or more students each summer as it grows into perpetuity.

Members of the Reunion Committee who spearheaded the fundraising drive, with collaboration from College staff, generated gifts and pledges of nearly $250,000: $75,000 for the garden and $175,000 for the summer research fund. Committee members discovered that both elements—an endowed fund for a specific purpose (summer research) and the tangibility of a garden—inspired significant interest. Boosting this effort was a participation challenge—committee members agreed to double their pledges if 60 percent of class members gave toward either effort—that helped the Class of ’69 achieve beyond expectations and create momentum for building the endowment. With staff members in advancement and facilities and maintenance providing support and encouragement throughout the initiative, fundraising to establish the garden and research fund was a positive and rewarding endeavor that the Class of ’69 hopes other reunion classes will emulate.

1 . Th e screens provide a little privacy in the garden without imposing isolation. Their organic branches-and-leaves pattern is a reminder that we are in a garden, after all. 2.W ater bubbles gently up from the earth and runs down the sides of the rock fountains, creating quiet noises for the ear, tiny movements for the eye and a pleasant and peaceful background for contemplation. 3 . Th e benches are almost like slabs of rock, but the warmth of the wood fits with the garden’s surrounding shrubs and trees. They encourage reflection, not slumber.

1

3


2


2

CONTENTS Departments 4

College News

30 Mudderings 32 Class Notes

16

26

Humans of Mudd

The Future of Phosphorus

A student journalist sparks conversations to help bring the HMC community closer.

Chemist Louis Kuo ’84 explores ways to create more usable phosphorus before it’s gone.

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

Dear Editor, We particularly enjoyed the fall/winter 2020 issue and the article, “Health Heroes.” It is refreshing to read about people who have changed direction in their careers. Thanks, Geoff and Diane Silcox P18

20

33

Eyes on Mars

Lights! Camera! Navier-Stokes Equation!

Job or hobby? Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover engineer Christopher Pong ’08 says his work is both.

Films rely on technology that Darin Grant ’96 helps create.

Dear Editor, Another great issue, and possibly the first typographical error I’ve seen in several years of reading and greatly enjoying the publication. On page 37, in Daphne Guo’s message regarding the Gratitude Challenge, I believe the word Tucson was misspelled. That said, we so appreciate the College and look forward to seeing campus again. Your magazine helps us all endure this very strange year. All the best, John (Jay) Steinberg P22

24

35

How to Cultivate a Career

Computing with Nature

Geophysicist Betty Johnson ’78 overcame a steep learning curve to become a leader in the field.

HARVEY MUDD COLLEGE MAGAZINE

Megan Wheeler ’13 takes a quantitative approach to solving urban ecological problems.

Read Mudd Magazine Website: magazine.hmc.edu Go paperless: If you wish to stop receiving the printed magazine, write to us at communications@hmc.edu. We’ll send you an email when new editions are posted. On the cover A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover onboard launches from Space Launch Complex 41, July 30, 2020, at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. NASA/Joel Kowsky

Follow HMC Twitter– @harveymudd Facebook– @harveymuddcollege Instagram– @harvey_mudd LinkedIn- linkedin.com/school/ harvey-mudd-college/


3

PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE The Next Phase as we move into the summer months and welcome student researchers back to campus for some in-person activities in labs and shops, we are thrilled with the progress we are seeing on many fronts. We’re busy planning for a return to campus this fall, and work is underway to move our computer science faculty into their new offices and classrooms in the Scott A. McGregor Computer Science Center. Our student stewards are busy working with Professor Jeff Groves to get the new makerspace ready for our community to enjoy this fall. At the May meeting of the Harvey Mudd College Board of Trustees, we celebrated the many accomplishments of the Class of 2021. While the class decided to postpone an in-person Commencement ceremony until spring 2022, pending approval from the L.A. County Department of Public Health, we were happy to celebrate with them and wish them well as they begin the next phase of their lives as alumni of the College. Also, during the board meetings in May, I officially informed the board of my decision not to seek an extension of my current contract as president of the College. This means that I will leave the presidency at the end of June 2023 when my current term ends. I want you all to know that serving as president of Harvey Mudd College is now—and has been—the greatest honor of my academic career, and I am incredibly proud and grateful for everything we have accomplished together. While we have all grown pretty weary of them, we’re getting very good at online events, as our community members can attest. Nearly 300 parents and guests attended some portion of our Family February programming. More than 300 alumni met over the airwaves during Alumni April to celebrate their reunions in an incredible show of unity and solidarity (see page 30). I’m so proud of our alumni. They are problem solvers making incredible contributions to our nation and the world, including on earth (sustainability efforts, pages 24, 26 and 35; technology, page 33) and beyond (Mars, page 20). Our faculty moved so adeptly to online teaching, and many have managed to do research and earn prestigious grants and

awards (page 8). They and our staff pivoted gracefully to ensure students remained supported. Our students have persevered and have found creative ways to collaborate, including our first-year class who managed to form a community despite never having been together on campus. We know that our incoming students, chosen from a record number of applications, will bring their own talents and energy to campus. This class will be the College’s most diverse with 22.6% Hispanic/Latinx students, 8.1% Black students and 13.7% multiracial students. It’s been a difficult year and a half with so much struggle and change. I’m so thankful for all community members who’ve demonstrated their ongoing commitment to Harvey Mudd College and for everyone’s extraordinary work in providing a safe work and learning environment. Thank you all for your friendship, advice, hard work and dedication over the last 15 years. Harvey Mudd is a truly unique place, with a tremendously supportive community. I plan to continue serving as president for the next two academic years with all of the focus and energy that I brought with me in 2006. In the coming months, community members will have many opportunities to have important conversations about who should lead the College in the next phase of its development so as to best position the next president of Harvey Mudd College.

Spring 2021 | Volume 20, No. 2 Mudd Magazine is produced three times per year by the Office of Communications and Marketing. Director of Communications, Senior Editor Stephanie L. Graham, APR Art Director Robert Vidaure Senior Graphic Designer Joshua Buller Assistant Director Sarah Barnes Writer Leah Gilchrist Contributing Writers Carol Brzozowski, Andrew Faught, Sarah B. Fisher, Kristin Rattini, Elaine Regus Contributing Photographers Keenan Gilson, Jeanine Hill, Cheryl Ogden, Robert Reynolds, Deborah Tracey Proofreaders Sarah Barnes, Kelly Lauer Vice President for Advancement Hieu Nguyen Chief Communications Officer Timothy L. Hussey, APR Mudd Magazine (SSN 0276-0797) is published by Harvey Mudd College, Office of Communications and Marketing, 301 Platt Boulevard Claremont, CA 91711. Nonprofit Organization Postage Paid at Claremont, CA 91711 Postmaster: Send address changes to Harvey Mudd College, Advancement Services, 301 Platt Boulevard, Claremont, CA 91711. Copyright © 2021—Harvey Mudd College. All rights reserved. Opinions expressed in the Mudd Magazine are those of the individual authors and subjects and do not necessarily reflect the views of the College administration, faculty or students. No portion of this magazine may be reproduced without the express written consent of the editor. Mudd Magazine staff welcomes your input: communications@hmc.edu or Harvey Mudd College Magazine, Harvey Mudd College, 301 Platt Boulevard, Claremont, CA 91711

Maria Klawe President, Harvey Mudd College

magazine.hmc.edu

SPRING 2021


4

COLLEGE NEWS McGregor From the Ground Up HMC Trustee Laurie J. Girand and her husband, Scott A. McGregor, provided a $5 million gift from their family foundation that boosted the building’s fundraising effort. The McGregor Computer Science Center, completed this spring, allows the Department of Computer Science room to expand and, beginning in late August, the makerspace will be an exciting place to develop maker culture and to host programming for students.

Class of 2021

Trustee Update

May Graduates by Major Major

Female

Male

Biology

100%

0%

Chemistry

100%

0%

CS

39%

61%

Engineering

58%

42%

IPS

100%

0%

OCM

38%

63%

Chem-Bio

33%

67%

CS-Math

54%

46%

Math-Physics

50%

50%

MathCompBio

80%

20%

Math

54%

46%

Physics

50%

50%

175 graduates; 53% women, 47% men; 9 double majors IPS- Individual Program of Studies OCM- Off-campus major HARVEY MUDD COLLEGE MAGAZINE

New to the Board Justin Christian P25, CEO, BCforward Corporation Albert J. Lee, founding partner and expert economist, Summit Consulting Justin Peterson ’85, CTO, Tradeweb Autumn Preskill ’09 (former recent graduate trustee), staff engineering manager, Flatiron Health Sunil Rajasekar, president and CTO, Mindbody Vice Chair Laura Larson P20 Advisory Trustees Wayne Drinkward ’73 John Benediktsson ’01 Term Re-elections Michael Blasgen ’63, Mike Curtis, Bruce DePriester ’74, Sergio Monsalve P25, Jessica Parisi

Recent Graduate Trustee Terence Wong ’09 AABOG Representative Dee West ’65, P92/93 Emeritus Trustee Kevin Schofield P13, P13 In Memoriam Anthony W. “Tony” LaFetra, a trustee from 1998 to 2008, died Jan. 29. He was president and CEO of Rain Bird Corporation, which sponsored many Engineering Clinic projects. He funded the Anthony W. LaFetra Family Endowed Chair of Engineering and several scholarships, including the Anthony W. LaFetra Endowed Scholarship. Carlota Webster, co-founder with her father of Busch Gardens in Florida, Virginia and California, passed away on Jan. 15. She served as an HMC trustee from 1971 to 1982 and was named trustee emerita in 2012.


COLLEGE NEWS

5

Sustainable Steps The College continues to reduce its carbon footprint Solar carport

Three solar arrays were completed in April and are now tied in to The Claremont Colleges system. Two of the arrays are located near the southern half of the Drinkward Residence Hall parking lot and the third is sited near the eastern edge of Linde Field. Approved by the board in September 2019, the arrays will supply roughly 8% to 10% of the College’s power needs. “It’s a typical power purchase agreement partnership with First American Education

E.V. Charging stations

Finance,” says Rick Vanzini, HMC’s senior director of capital projects. “There’s no upfront cost to Harvey Mudd for the 25-year agreement. The system produces energy, they own it and we pay a fee to First American Energy which pays all the upfront costs.” With the College’s first solar project in place, students are providing input for the location of another carport or rooftop structure.

Gifts from Tom Bleakney ’69 and Marcus Witte P18 P21 have allowed the College to add two new dual-port charging stations in the Parsons Building parking lot. Along with another dual-port station installed in 2015—also funded by Bleakney—there are now six charging spots available to the HMC community. Bleakney and Witte have provided a 1:1 match to raise $30,000—toward a goal of approximately $60,000—to cover recent installation costs and to fund additional ChargePoint stations at the solar carports. To join the effort, contact development@hmc.edu.

SPRING 2021


6

COLLEGE NEWS

Magazine CASE Study You may have noticed the magazine has shrunk a little. Comments from magazine readership surveys about the size of the magazine (it was previously 10.5 x 11 inches) led us to resize it to a more standard format beginning with the fall/winter 2020 issue. During summer 2020, the College participated in its third readership survey administered by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). These surveys help us evaluate how readers view this magazine and allow us to compare results to those of other higher ed institutions. Thanks to those who participated for providing valuable information on reader preferences. Results show the magazine continues to be well-read with respondents spending at least 30 minutes reading some to all of it (85%). The print version is still overwhelmingly preferred (62%), though having both print and online is desired by 24%. Respondents’ article suggestions include student-driven content and culture, books by alumni, diversity and inclusion at Mudd, side-gig workers, student research, social responsibility and activism, HMC curriculum and more class notes.

The ways in which Harvey Mudd College Magazine strengthens your connection to the institution. Check all that apply. RESPONSE

COUNT *

PERCENT

Helps me to feel more in touch with my graduating class

56

63%

Provides useful career and networking information

19

22%

Encourages me to support the institution financially

35

40%

Encourages me to volunteer my time to the institution

11

13%

Reminds me of my experience at the institution

66

75%

Serves as a source of continuing education

28

32%

Open for Summer With an official nod from the county department of public health, about 124 students are able to return for on-campus summer research that requires lab, shop or studio space. Students conducting approved in-person research are also able to live on campus. For its third Summer Session—and second summer being fully online—the College is offering 25 three- and six-week courses for Harvey Mudd students, other college students, ambitious high school rising juniors and seniors, and lifelong learners May 24–July 23.

HARVEY MUDD COLLEGE MAGAZINE

*88 respondents


COLLEGE NEWS

Promotion and Tenure

7

IN MEMORIAM

Jim Monson Engineering professor

Promotion to full professor

Dagan Karp, a mathematics faculty member since 2008, focuses his research on algebraic geometry and Gromov-Witten theory, an interdisciplinary subject, intersecting algebraic geometry, theoretical physics and string theory. Gordon Krauss, Fletcher Jones Professor of Engineering Design since 2013, studies friction, wear and lubrication (in mechanical and biological systems), and design education. In 2019, he was selected for the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program at the Management Center of Innsbruck. Tenure and promotion to associate professor

Ambereen Dadabhoy (humanities, social sciences, and the arts) researches the representation of race and religion in early modern English drama, including Shakespeare.

Jason Gallicchio (physics) specializes in experimental cosmology—the study of the origin and evolution of the universe.

Professor Emeritus of Engineering Jim Monson died Jan. 1, 2021 surrounded by his three children and Julie, his wife of 65 years. He led a full life of teaching, research, caring for his family and volunteering in his community. He worked at Bell Telephone Labs and Hewlett Packard then began his academic career at Harvey Mudd College in 1961. Because the College had begun enrolling students only a few years earlier, Monson and his few colleagues created an innovative curriculum in engineering, with components of the humanities. He also helped establish and develop Engineering Clinic and began working with colleagues in industry on the challenges of the evolving technology in magnetic recording. He and his student researchers collaborated with engineers from around the world. He published over 30 articles and book chapters and is co-author, with A.S. Hoagland, of Digital Magnetic Recording (second edition). Monson was chair of the engineering department from 1979 to 1983 and faculty chair (the College’s second) from 1976 to 1979. As chair of the Computer Science Group from 1973 to 1975, he helped recruit CS faculty and directed the planning of the CS curriculum. He also served as director of the College’s Freshman Division. He remained at Harvey Mudd for 35 years and loved it. The HMC Alumni Association named Monson an Honorary Alumnus in 1997 and, the same year, he was named a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Members of the Class of 1963 have established the James Monson Endowed Scholarship and have secured $50,000 in matching gift funds. The scholarship will provide aid to HMC students with financial need while also honoring Monson’s legacy. For information, contact Hieu Nguyen, VP for advancement, at htnguyen@hmc.edu.

F. Sheldon Wettack

Chemistry professor and dean emeritus Matthew Spencer (engineering) researches circuit design, with an emphasis on microelectromechanical (MEM) switches and ultrasound transducers.

Yi-Chieh (Jessica) Wu (computer science) develops and applies computational and mathematical models to study evolutionary biology. She also serves as a CS Clinic advisor.

Professor of Chemistry and Dean Emeritus F. Sheldon Wettack died Feb. 25 after a brief illness. He was 82. Wettack joined HMC in 1993. As VP for academic affairs and dean of the faculty, he provided vision and leadership to the College’s academic program and was a champion of interdisciplinary learning and a researchsupportive curriculum. He presided over the faculty when joint majors were established in Chemistry and Biology, Computer Science and Mathematics, and Biology and Mathematics. He helped revise the curriculum to gain flexibility for students and a forward-looking multi-disciplinarity. He established the Office of the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs in response to student needs and recruited and hired many gifted faculty. He was also instrumental in securing external funding for scholarly purposes. Wettack retired from HMC in 2004, the year he was awarded the Henry T. Mudd Prize. SPRING 2021


8

COLLEGE NEWS

Faculty Updates Research, Awards, Activities Biology

Computer Science

Danae Schulz studies a parasite that causes fatal disease in humans and animals. With student researchers and faculty collaborators, she has published research about ways to inhibit the growth of the parasite Trypanosoma brucei. A five-year, $629,999 NSF CAREER grant received in March will allow Schulz and her student researchers to expand their work to examine the mechanisms that govern gene regulation in the early branching African trypanosome. Understanding more about the parasite lifecycle could provide new avenues for therapeutic treatment.

A CIVIC Innovation Challenge grant from the National Science Foundation aims to expand HMC’s community-engaged projects. Professor and grant co-principal investigator Julie Medero is collaborating with co-PI Tobias Hecht and Devon Hartman (both of CHERP Locally Grown Power) and independent study students, to prepare a proposal to address the lack of resilience hubs and cooling centers in an economically disadvantaged community and to learn why its residents have not benefited from advances in renewable energy. Researchers intend to prepare a proposal to address both challenges and, if approved, use future funding to install solar power and help low-income households move to renewable power sources.

The paper “From foraging trails to transport networks: how the quality-distance trade-off shapes network structure” was published open access in Proceedings of the Royal Society by Matina Donaldson-Matasci and collaborators: lead author Valentin Lecheval, a postdoc at the University of York, senior author Elva Robinson and second author Hannah Larson ’20 (MCB), who worked on the project at York during summer 2019 funded by the team’s collaborative 2018 NSF grant. Co-PIs Donaldson-Matasci, Robinson and Scott Powell (George Washington University) are interested in learning how ants build their highly efficient and flexible transportation systems. Chemistry

Organic Syntheses Inc. awarded an $8,000 grant to David Vosburg for summer research materials, supplies and a student salary. Students in the Vosburg lab plan and perform reactions, monitor reaction progress and isolate and purify products. They also perform spectroscopic characterization of new compounds using a variety of instrumental techniques and are testing the antibacterial properties of new compounds in collaboration with Professor Hendrik Szurmant at Western University of Health Sciences.

HARVEY MUDD COLLEGE MAGAZINE

place at the 2021 Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers Western Regional Conference for the technical paper they wrote about supply chain optimization (see page 15). “The Riggs Fellowship team was fortunate to have an opportunity during the COVID pandemic to optimize the supply chain for this aerospace company remotely,” says Gokli. “The team developed a model that the company can use to adjust the fluctuating supply chain needs.”

George Montañez, Daniel Bashir ’20 and Julius Lauw ’20 wrote the chapter “Trading Bias for Expressivity in Artificial Learning” in ICAART 2020: Agents and Artificial Intelligence. This marks Bashir’s third and Lauw’s fifth publication with Montañez’s AMISTAD Lab. The HMC researchers’ chapter about how bias relates to algorithm flexibility (expressivity) was an expanded version of the award-winning 2020 ICAART paper “The Bias-Expressivity Trade-off” co-authored by Montañez, Lauw, Dominique Macias ’19, Akshay Trikha ’21 and Julia Vendemiatti ’21.

Engineering professor and hiking enthusiast David Harris updated the popular Trails of the Angeles: 100 Hikes in the San Gabriel Mountains, published by Wilderness Press. Author and co-author of seven hiking guidebooks, Harris spent three years hiking the San Gabriel Mountains so he could update the John W. Robinson book.

Engineering

Mathematics

For the popular Mudd Talks series, Albert Dato shared “How Transformative Scientific Research Happens at Mudd.” He describes the cutting-edge research that students in the Energy & Nanomaterials Lab conducted on graphene-based nanocomposites that resulted in his $500,000 Faculty Early Career Development Award from the National Science Foundation. His talk touches on the collaboration among faculty, staff and trustees that enables transformative scientific research at Mudd. Find Dato’s talk on the HMC YouTube channel under Mudd Talks.

Two math faculty members have received NSF grants. Darryl Yong ’96 is co-PI with Ilana Horn (Vanderbilt) on the project “Teaching Amidst Uncertainty: Developing Mathematics Teachers’ Groupwork Monitoring Practices.” They received a $2.6 million four-year award funded from the NSF Division of Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings. The project, which builds upon previous work by the group and involves postdocs, graduate students and undergraduate students, is focused on trying to ascertain best practices for in-class group work monitoring in K–12 education.

A student team advised by Kash Gokli, Oliver C. Field Professor of Manufacturing Practice and Engineering Economics, received second

Heather Zinn Brooks’ project, “Advances in bounded-confidence models on networks,”


COLLEGE NEWS

could “democratize” quantum computation and have other neat applications,” says Breznay. The work was a collaborative effort across UC San Diego, UC Berkeley, MIT, University of Minnesota and Argonne National Lab.

has been funded with an NSF Research in Undergraduate Institutions award. This three-year project, grounded in real data, relates to her research on mathematical models for how ideas/opinions/information spread online (on networks). The project will provide research opportunities for two students each summer for the next three years in addition to her other research students.

Art Benjamin won the inaugural 2020 American Backgammon Tour Online with the best overall performance in a series of 17 national tournaments. He also won several events organized by the U.S. Backgammon Federation (USBGF), including the 2020 Tournament of Champions. Last year, Benjamin was part of a six-player team that represented the United States in the World Internet Team Championship. With 31 countries competing, the USA took first place, with Benjamin winning seven of his 10 matches. A member of the USBGF board of directors since 2011, Benjamin is a supporter of the foundation’s backgammon educational activities, including stimulating interest in the game and educating young people and adults. Haydee Lindo was elected to the National Association of Mathematicians Board as editor-in-chief and chair of the Publications and Publicity Committee.

9

The Mathematical Association of America (MAA) awarded the 2021 Euler Book Prize to Francis Su and contributor Christopher Jackson for Mathematics for Human Flourishing. The two collaborators and friends shared the $2,000 prize. The book describes how mathematics meets basic human desires—such as play, beauty, freedom, justice and love— and cultivates virtues essential for human flourishing. Su’s personal narrative, scholarly perspectives and mathematical problems are enhanced by the writings of Jackson, whose own journey led him to discover the transformative power of mathematics from behind prison walls. Although mistakes as a teen landed Jackson in federal prison 14 years ago, the study of mathematics, politics and philosophy, among other subjects, have helped him transform his life and those of others; he’s helped over 50 inmates learn math to get their GEDs. Physics

Nicholas Breznay ’02 and Isaac Zinda ’20 are co-authors of “Magnon-spinon dichotomy in the Kitaev hyperhoneycomb β-Li2IrO3” published in Physical Review B, the journal of record for condensed matter physics. The article is an “Editor’s Suggestion” and is featured on the PRB webpage. This is Breznay’s 14th paper in PRB. Breznay and Zinda used cutting-edge x-ray techniques to find evidence for never-observed “particles” called magnons and spinons in an exotic magnetic compound (lithium iridate). “Materials of this sort are candidates to realize new states of matter that

Modern Classical Mechanics, a textbook co-authored by Vatche Sahakian and Thomas Helliwell, was published by Cambridge University Press in January. The forward-looking physics text shows the deep connections between classical (Lagrangian) mechanics and modern research in theoretical physics. Helliwell and Sahakian present classical mechanics as a thriving and contemporary field with strong connections to cutting-edge research topics in physics. The textbook, published in digital format in November 2020, was used in Brian Shuve’s fall 2020 Theoretical Mechanics course. The Research Corporation for Science Advancement named Brian Shuve as a 2021 Cottrell Scholar, an award for outstanding teacher-scholars in chemistry, physics and astronomy. Cottrell Scholars are educators and researchers focused on innovative teaching in the sciences. Shuve will use the $100,000 grant to support two projects: “Matter-Antimatter Asymmetry from Dark Matter Freeze-In,” which seeks to address the nature of “dark matter” and “matter-antimatter” within a common framework, and a physics education project inspired by his four years teaching theoretical physics. The latter project will result in interactive applets that Shuve will use to help students integrate the abstraction of the material into their knowledge base.

SPRING 2021


10

COLLEGE NEWS

patterns—a beautiful example of a complex system. Complex systems are applicable to many real-world applications, like cells, human brains, voting, disease spread, climate and social networks (my interest). What was the impetus for the AMS course?

RESEARCH

A Simple Lesson on Complex Social Systems communicating mathematics in a way that is exciting, relevant and inclusive is a goal of Heather Zinn Brooks, assistant professor of mathematics. As an applied mathematician working in complex and nonlinear systems, she studies a variety of social and biological systems with mathematical models. In January, she co-organized the online, well-attended international 2021 AMS Short Course Mathematical and Computational Methods for Complex Social Systems, a gathering for those seeking to gain a better understanding of how interacting parts in a system—like Twitter accounts, pedestrians or voters—respond to each other and to their environment and how this impacts society.

I co-organized the workshop with three friends and collaborators: Alexandria Volkening, a postdoc at Northwestern University, Mason Porter, a professor at UCLA, and Michelle Feng, a postdoc at Caltech. It came out of a 2018 conference session, “The Dynamics of Democracy,” that Alexandria and I organized during which speakers discussed gerrymandering, election forecasting and opinion dynamics. We realized there was this real hunger among math people to learn more about how to use math to study social systems and what work was out there to study social systems with math. So, we hatched a plan to keep building up this community within mathematics. How does your specialty fit into this community?

I do math modeling of complex systems. I’ve recently been really interested in mathematical models of opinion dynamics. I bring together tools from dynamical systems—basically studying systems that change in time—with ideas from networks. The network piece is really interesting when you’re thinking about mathematical modeling of opinion dynamics because networks give us a way to think about connections between people or social entities. The focus of my talk for the short course was a whirlwind tour of the mathematical techniques that mathematicians who study networks use and to highlight what’s special about social networks. When we think about networks, we think about these agents or particles in a system being connected in a very specific way; we actually model the connections. You can study a lot of the features of the structures of networks, whether they’re networks that are from a social system or not. For example?

How do you define complex social systems?

Technically, a complex system is one that consists of many interacting particles or agents, for example, a flock of birds. Each individual bird has its own behavior, its own set of rules that it’s following, but if you zoom out, then the flock moves together and creates HARVEY MUDD COLLEGE MAGAZINE

I think Twitter is a wonderful example to talk about the notion of degree of the network. Degree is a way to measure the importance of nodes (the individuals in our network). On Twitter, that’s accounts. We could use something like degree to try to quantify the importance of an account on Twitter; perhaps

importance is somehow proportional or relative to how many followers you have. For example, Dionne Warwick’s Twitter account has many Twitter followers. You could then compare that to something like the Twitter account of Harvey Mudd College, which has many followers but orders of magnitude less than Dionne, and then compare that to my Twitter account, which is orders of magnitude less than that. Something that is special about social networks is that it’s very common to have a lot of nodes (accounts) that have very few followers. The distribution would show a steep drop off, but then a really long “tail,” with just a very few accounts that have a huge number of followers in networks. We call this a heavytailed distribution, one signature feature of social networks. In your Harvey Mudd classes, how are you linking course content with real-world applications and current research?

I’m excited to do this in the fall when I teach a class called Mathematics of Democracy. We’ll explore how mathematics illuminates, informs and impacts the democratic system in the U.S. It will include reading and discussion of state-of-the-art mathematical research on topics surrounding the democratic system: apportionment, voting theory, election forecasting, judicial system, social movements. I’m hoping to get some great guest speakers. This topic is such an exciting area of applied math research and the cool thing is students can see what’s happening right now. In mathematics, a lot of what we do in the undergrad curriculum is very old; 100 years old feels new in mathematics. This is an area of mathematics where students can read and engage with the what’s coming out this year. Any other real-world lessons you like to share with your students?

I have had a longstanding interest in politics, but it took a long time before I realized that I could combine politics with mathematics. You can learn so much from talking to people outside your area and sometimes you find really surprising connections. This is part of the reason it’s great to be at The Claremont Colleges. We have this whole community that’s really passionate about a wide range of things; it’s the perfect place to get out of your bubble and follow what’s interesting to you.


COLLEGE NEWS

11

Earth’s Friend: EcoBud

Projects Support Black Communities Written by Mariana Duran

hosted through zoom and a discord server, Hack for Black Lives tasked 7C participants with developing projects to support Black communities and the Black Lives Matter movement, coded or otherwise. What arose was an array of work: apps, legislation, data mapping, event planning. The hackathon, hosted the weekend of Feb. 19, was created and organized by a group of Harvey Mudd students and alumni inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement. Natasha Crepeau ’21, Kira Favakeh ’20, Ben Hinthorne ’21 and Camille Simon ’21 hoped to encourage students to contribute their individual, technical skill sets to the movement, whatever they may be. The group spent fall semester 2020 meeting with potential Hack for Black Lives sponsors, creating a website, planning the event and promoting it across the 7Cs. HMC supported the event as did the Office of Black Student Affairs and the Hive, which provided workshops and mentors for the participants. From rising first-years to PhD candidates, about 170 students and alumni signed up for the hackathon. Many had never tried coding, much less participated in a hackathon before. The project’s programming and categories— legislation and political action, Black history and education, community organizing, algorithmic bias reduction, and promotion of Black artists and voices—were crafted to inspire projects that not only aligned with the mission of the Black Lives Matter movement but also worked holistically toward anti-racism. On Friday evening, Justin P. Christian P25, founder and CEO of BCforward, inaugurated

Hack for Black Lives with a keynote speech that encouraged students to continue fighting for racial equity. Later that night, participants attended workshops to provide them with skills related to community impact, design and social innovation. The 48-hour hackathon wasn’t enough time to complete most projects, but that was OK. Hinthorne said, “The point of a hackathon isn’t to create something polished—it’s to try something out and build something, and however far you get, you’ll be celebrated.” Organizers hope that Hack for Black Lives inspires similar hackathons elsewhere and that it will become an annual event at the 7Cs. “I hope that there’s enough interest from the people who participated in it for something like this to happen again,” Savanna Beans ’22 said. “I think that people can benefit from thinking about problems that may not necessarily affect them.”

The third annual DSA Carnival, co-sponsored by the ASHMC Sustainability Committee, featured the debut of EcoBud, an app created as part of the CS Summer Start-up program. The progressive web app aims to construct a more efficient and community-based approach toward developing sustainable practices. Participants in the residence hall-based contest competed for prizes by logging their sustainable actions, like turning off unnecessary lights, washing clothes with cold water, composting food scraps and being vegetarian for the day. Top finishers were Case, West and Drinkward. Creators hope to use the app for future campus sustainability initiatives, helping more people become environmentally conscious “in a new and fun way.”

Selected projects

• Beans is seeking solutions for Black students needing supplemented academic assistance. • Yuki Wang ’22, Gabby Teodoro ’21 and Tom Fu ’22 presented their organization, BIPOC Labs, an online network of biology labs inspired to bring accessible biology education to the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) communities An expanded version of this article ran in The Student Life Feb. 24, 2021.

SPRING 2021


12

COLLEGE NEWS

Student Awards

NSF Graduate Research Fellowships

The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program helps ensure the vitality and diversity of the nation’s base of science and engineering candidates. For 2021, Harvey Mudd ranks first among all U.S. colleges and universities regarding the number of NSF GRFs awarded on a per-student basis.

Aria Beaupre ’21 (mathematics) plans to attend Cornell University and conduct research in algebra, number theory and combinatorics.

John Lentfer ’21 (mathematics) will pursue a PhD in mathematics (combinatorics, number theory and algebra) at UC Berkeley.

Zoe Bell ’21 (mathematics) will attend UC Berkeley and study the theoretical foundations of computer science as part of her PhD program in computer science with an emphasis in science and technology studies.

Hunter Whaples ’21 (engineering) plans to study chemical engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Thomas J. Watson Fellowship

Abel Sapirstein ’21, a mathematical and computational biology major, will study alternate perspectives in healthcare equity while traveling to Bhutan, Chile and Japan. Fellows receive a $36,000 stipend for 12 months of travel and college loan assistance. He plans to defer his Watson Fellowship for one year to enter a PhD program at Georgia Tech, where he will study operations research.

“ I will be shadowing community physicians and interviewing community members to gain insight into how different nations have generated novel solutions to healthcare inequity. I believe access to healthcare is a prerequisite for a just society. I wonder how we can say that we live in a society predicated upon equality if I can expect to have a life that is 20% longer than my neighbor simply because of my ability to access healthcare.” –ABEL SAPIRSTEIN ’21

HARVEY MUDD COLLEGE MAGAZINE


COLLEGE NEWS

13

Barry Goldwater Scholarship

CRA Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher

The 2021 recipients of the most prestigious national award for undergraduate STEM researchers describe what they’re working on.

Joint computer science and mathematics major Lindsay Popowski ’21 received the Computing Research Association’s 2021 Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Award. She’s worked on several research projects with professors at HMC and at Carnegie Mellon University since her first year, studying CS education, developing new dynamic scheduling algorithms and creating vector representations of app screens. She looks forward to earning a PhD in human-computer interaction. The CRA also recognized a number of finalists, including joint computer science and mathematics major Abtin Molavi ’21, who plans to pursue a PhD in computer science.

Tonatiuh Gonzalez ’22, a math and computational biology major, is doing research with Eliot Bush, who studies microbial genome evolution. “Our research is about reconstructing the evolutionary history of bacteria and identifying events that may have given bacteria environmental or antibacterial resistance or increased virulence.” Jacob Kelber ’23, a chemistry major, worked during summer 2020 with Katherine Van Heuvelen to develop new, environmentally friendly catalysts for important reactions. “The goal of my research was to computationally screen a catalyst for the detoxification of potentially carcinogenic industrial pollutants perchloroethylene and trichloroethylene,” says Kelber, who also worked with chemistry professors Hal Van Ryswyk (HMC) and Nathan C. Gianneschi (Northwestern). “I was able to successfully find an iron-based catalyst and model its reaction with PCE and TCE.” Hanna Porter ’22, a chemistry major, is working in both Hal Van Ryswyk’s chemistry lab and Tom Donelly’s physics research group. “I have been involved in research involving quantum dot size determination via pulsed-field gradient NMR in Professor Van Ryswyk’s lab and developing an RF-plasma reactor for gas-phase graphene synthesis in Professor Donnelly’s lab.”

Churchill Scholarship

Shion Andrew ’21 is one of the exceptional American students selected to pursue graduate studies at Churchill College at the University of Cambridge in England. A physics major, she plans to conduct astrophysical research at Cambridge during the 2021–2022 academic year. Andrew will research fundamental questions about the evolution of the universe through mathematical modeling and computer science. She is interested in the versatility of the information extracted from large datasets and plans to explore this research interest further by collaborating with astrophysicists who explore the parameter space of these surveys.

Anna Soper ’22, physics and math major and a member of Lori Bassman’s research team, is studying metal alloys and working on computationally simulating their compositions and structures. “My current research is in the field of computational materials science, where I am investigating the chemical and structural mechanisms by which the brittle sigma phase in a novel stainless steel substitute is destabilized by the addition of aluminum, producing a useful, ductile alloy.”

SPRING 2021


14

COLLEGE NEWS

MY MUDD LIFE

All Together Ooky artist and mathematician fletcher nickerson ’22 was part of the 40-member 5C team that transitioned the live theater production of The Addams Family Musical to a socially distanced, 2.5-hour movie. CMC News describes their effort: “The actors set up 9-by-13-foot green screens, lighting and cameras in their homes, and the director and choreographers could simultaneously see what the camera was recording via Zoom. With editing software, and many re-shoots, they brought actors together in their scenes with large-scale, hand-drawn backgrounds (commissioned from Fletcher Nickerson at Harvey Mudd College) and animation.” We asked Nickerson to tell us more.

“House exterior, gate open”

How did you become involved with the play?

I originally joined the project as a set designer last spring semester, when we were anticipating doing an in-person production. I was expecting to design and help construct the set. As we shifted to working on a virtual production, I stayed on as a set designer, but had to adapt what form that design was going to take. How many backgrounds did you do?

By my count I’ve completed about 32 backgrounds, though there were a number of others that stayed as drafts or that we ended up not needing.

“ I was expecting to design and help construct the set. As we shifted to working on a virtual production, I stayed on as a set designer, but had to adapt what form that design was going to take. ” FLETCHER NICKERSON ’22

How long have you been doing art, and what are some other works you’ve created?

I started learning about set design and construction in high school and have taken a couple of theatrical design/ installation art/ theater-adjacent courses at Pomona. Before the pandemic, I did set and makeup design for Madeleine Kerr’s production of Isaac’s Eye at Mudd and makeup design for Macbeth at Pomona. I’ve also done a bunch of digital art, including some sketches based on Seifert Surfaces (knot theory) and a couple comics inspired by the ant lab I’m in. Any other art projects planned?

Not at the moment. I just learned to animate, so I might do some experimenting at that. I’m also doing bee research this summer (Prof. Matina Donaldson-Matasci), so I’ll probably end up drawing some comics about the unexpected things our colonies do. What is your STEM interest?

I really like both knot theory and social insect behavior; hoping to find some surprising way to connect the two.

HARVEY MUDD COLLEGE MAGAZINE

“Gomez dreamscape”


COLLEGE NEWS

15

Supply Chain Optimized Harvey Mudd College engineering students won second place at the 2021 Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers (IISE) Western Regional Conference for the technical paper they wrote about supply chain optimization. The paper submitted for the IISE competition resulted from work the team completed during 2020 Summer Research. Advised by Kash Gokli, Oliver C. Field Professor of Manufacturing Practice and Engineering Economics, they worked with a Southern California aerospace

company to eliminate waste, in the form of excess inventory and inefficient processes, from its supply chain. Members of the team—Halie Kim ’22, Caitlin Huang ’22, Nick Zemtzov ’23 and Melody Chang SCR ’22—are supported by the Henry E. and Gayle Riggs Fellowship in Engineering Management, which helps students gain exposure to state of-the-art techniques and equipment as well as experience in technical writing and professional presentations.

Mudd Sub Update The MuddSub team is fine-tuning their autonomous underwater robot named Alfie. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, MuddSub’s approximately 40 members have continued to learn, collaborate and grow as engineers. The hardware team has remotely designed, prototyped and tested several new subsystems, including a torpedo launcher and a gripper. The software team has explored cutting-edge approaches to reinforcement learning, SLAM and computer vision. This summer, they are preparing for the international RoboSub competition in August. Those wishing to offer technical or financial support to the Mudd Sub student club may contact development@hmc.edu.

A RoboSub proctor monitors Alfie, the MuddSub team's autonomous underwater vehicle.

SPRING 2021


16

HUMANS OF MUDD Interviews by Michelle Lum

Like its distant photoblog cousin in New York, Humans of Mudd is about getting to know people in your community. The Mudd version was started in early 2020 by Michelle Lum ’23, a journalist (The Student Life, Muddraker); computer science major; baking-climbing-tennis-book-carbs enthusiast; and collector of blue things. She’s conducted numerous interviews with a goal of sparking conversations and helping bring the HMC community closer. “I feel like coronavirus is forcing us to think of ourselves more as a society and think of others more,” Lum said in a May 2020 interview with TSL. “Hopefully Humans of Mudd will continue to be something nice for our community as well.”

HARVEY MUDD COLLEGE MAGAZINE


17

Rin Ha ’24

Rin Ha ’24 I was very lucky to have found friends. They’re really what made the fall semester bearable and actually somewhat fun, despite the circumstances. In the beginning of the school year, someone created a frosh study groups sheet that had different tabs for different classes. You could put a Zoom link and say, ‘Hey, we’re going to be working on this homework problem at this time. If you want to join, just put your name there, and hop in.’ For the first Spec Rel homework, eight or nine of us joined, and we took forever on the very first problem. We all even hopped into Saeta’s office hours. He gave us a hint, and we were like, ‘Oh we got it,’ and then we went back and we were like, ‘Wait, we actually don’t get it.’ So, because we couldn’t solve that first problem, we made a Discord chat to figure it out. After more struggling, we were able to finally figure it out. And since we had a group chat, people kept talking, and we decided to continue doing physics together. So, on the day the Spec Rel homework came out, we would all meet on a Zoom and pull through the homework together. It was really fun collaborating, even over Zoom. I can’t imagine how much better it is in person. I don’t feel like part of the whole Mudd community as much as I would have if we were on campus. But I feel like I have a small

community in my group of friends. We just enjoy spending time together. And, I mean, there’s no better way to bond than over struggling to do Spec Rel homework. We have a Zoom link we usually go to. We play Among Us or Jackbox or Skribbl.io. Every Friday—because there’s the Great British Bake Off going on right now—we watch it together through Netflix Party. When it’s someone’s birthday, we all go on Zoom and have some crazy virtual background on to make fun of them. We awkwardly sing ‘Happy Birthday’— totally not in sync—and we usually coordinate to get them a gift. My friend’s birthday was a couple days ago, and we got him a yodeling pickle. My friends make me feel like I am still in the Mudd community, but I don’t feel like that’s the complete Mudd community. We’re kind of in a frosh bubble. So, I definitely can’t wait for when I actually get to fully experience the Mudd community. In terms of returning to campus, I’m just excited to meet everyone at Mudd. I’m excited to talk to upperclassmen and to hear what their experiences were like. I think it’ll just be fun to meet new people, because from what I’ve seen so far, even in breakout rooms, everyone’s been really nice and helpful, and I think it’d be really great to get to know a lot more people once I’m at Mudd.”

SPRING 2021


18

COLLEGE NEWS

Kayleah Tsai ’24 and Lilly Lee ’24 Kayleah Tsai ’24

Tsai: My dad is a Mudd alum, and I always looked at his yearbooks when I was younger. So, I always thought that going to Mudd would mean getting a yearbook. I was a little disappointed when I found out that Mudd recently stopped having yearbooks. But I heard that someone was restarting the club. So, I sent an email out to Spectrum and was like, ‘Hi, I wanted to join the yearbook club,’ not thinking that I was going to be given the entire club. I just thought I was going to join as a frosh, but they gave me the club. So, that was a little scary. I’m thankful for Lilly because I could not have done that by myself.” Lee: “I met Kayleah at one of the Mudd

Lilly Lee ’24

meetups in Claremont. Basically, I was like, ‘Hey, I don’t have a ride. Is anyone available?’ And Kayleah said, ‘If no one else volunteers, I can pick you up.’ Then, she became my Uber driver, unofficially. I decided to join the yearbook club because I saw Kayleah’s email, and I thought, ‘This person is cool, and I’m interested in yearbook as well, so I’ll sign up.’ The club president thing came afterward.” Tsai: “Lilly was so helpful the first meeting.

1996 HMC yearbook: “Speak no physics, see no physics, hear no physics.”

HARVEY MUDD COLLEGE MAGAZINE

She was like, ‘I can do this for you, I can do this for you, I’ll send out this email,’ and I said, ’Lilly, you need to be promoted. You need to be a co-president.’ That’s how we became co-presidents. Our club is mostly frosh. There are a few sophomores that are pretty active.

I think it’s probably because frosh are interested in giving back to the community they just recently joined. But we’re also friends. That makes it better; we can chat about other things, not just the yearbook.” Lee: “I really like the spread I made—the

fashion spread—because I was able to make little side comments in it that I felt like regular yearbooks would say were too casual. But because Mudd is so unique and wild, I don’t feel pressure about putting it in there.” Tsai: “Anything that has Lilly’s writing

is going to be precious because she has the best humor, and she’s so snarky. So, definitely look out for those paragraphs. I think you can tell which ones she wrote. Something I’m looking forward to is Liza’s map showing where everybody is in the world this year. It’ll be cool to see how spread out we are. The theme of the yearbook—Mudders Around the World—is that we’re still a community even though we’re around the world.” Lee: “With student submissions this year,

we get to see another side of students that we wouldn’t normally be able to see. It’s nice to see students submitting what’s personal to them, what’s important to them.” Tsai: “I think it’s also a community effort.

Everyone helps contribute to the yearbook, so everyone gets to have a part in it, and hopefully, that’s a reason to buy it.”


COLLEGE NEWS

19

Travis Paddock I’m the custodial services and mailroom manager. I’ve been at Mudd for six years now. I started at the night shift, working custodial, and worked my way up to lead, and then to night supervisor. Now I’m supervising during the day. I’ve had the pleasure, within the past two and a half years, of managing the mailroom. With coronavirus, it’s a whole new world. We’ve got a lot more guidelines to follow: CDC guidelines, L.A. County guidelines. We’re sanitizing, disinfecting areas multiple times a day. We’re cleaning each restroom three times a day. We’ve re-strategized to make sure that we’re providing the safest environment for folks on campus. We’ve added signs to direct the flow of traffic, placing arrows that keep you going a certain way to prevent folks from crossing paths. There are sanitizing stations and wipe stations as far as the eye can see. We’ve got

signs posted clearly at each entry, saying if you’ve got any kind of symptoms, please don’t enter. Each day, we have a safety check-in process, where we acknowledge the fact that we don’t have any symptoms, that we will maintain our CDC protocols of keeping distance throughout the day. When the students come back, we will need to maintain this level of quality. Right now, things are very quiet. However, when everybody’s back, we’re going to try to continue to do this on a large scale—which I have confidence that we will have no problem with. However, it will be a different beast, that’s for sure. It is strange to be on campus without all the students. It’s lonely. We miss everybody. We have enough to do here so we are not bored by any means, but we miss the traffic. We miss the activity; we miss hearing everybody around. It feels good to see all the

faces you’re trying to care for. But we stay diligent. We miss everyone, we look forward to having them back, we know that we’re on the edge of having at least some kind of normalcy —whatever normal is defined as now. We’re looking forward to it. And we’ve just been here practicing the same skills that we’re going to utilize when folks get back. I love it here. When I first started here, I was just totally inspired. I started on the night shift, which is also a different aspect of the College—the things you see at night, the kids that are up studying all night, the professors you run into—it was great. It was inspiring to come here and see all that the kids were accomplishing—stuff written on these walls and boards that I couldn’t figure out if I had a mathematician right next to me. I fell in love right away, and I’ve been here ever since, just enjoying each year. We’re looking forward to having you all back. Can’t wait to see you.”

SPRING 2021


20

EYES ON MARS Part hobby, part job, Christopher Pong ’s work on the Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover mission has been an emotional journey Written by Janie Fisher Photos provided by NASA

HARVEY MUDD COLLEGE MAGAZINE


21

SPRING 2021


22

rowing up in Hawaii, Christopher Pong ’08 built robots and rockets for fun and watched meteor showers with his mom and dad. They talked of ancient Hawaiians navigating by the stars. And they imagined other worlds. Now a cruise attitude control engineer on the Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover mission, Pong ’08 finds himself working on spacecraft designed to explore them. Pong joined JPL in 2014 and has been working on Perseverance for the past four and a half years delivering flight software and parameters, performing requirements verification and validation and, among other things, operating the spacecraft during the cruise phase, performing turns and trajectory correction maneuvers. “The spacecraft acts like a gyroscope, so its spin axis will remain pointed in the same direction. But we need to periodically turn the spacecraft to keep the solar arrays pointed to the Sun and the antennas pointed close enough to Earth.” Pong loves his work and clearly hasn’t lost his enthusiasm for space exploration. Or his sense of fun. “There are times when I don’t feel like it’s a job. It’s just a really cool hobby to have.” Among his other hobbies, Pong reads a lot of science fiction. On landing day, he wore a red mask with a small wolf on it—an "Easter egg” for fellow sci-fi fans—from Pierce Brown’s Red Rising series of books, set on Mars hundreds of years in the future. Red Rising fans who watched the landing took notice, looked for him on the JPL website and posted about it on social media, prompting team members to text Pong that “people were looking for him.” It was a light moment during an extremely intense day. The final entry, descent and landing phase of the journey—known as the “Seven Minutes of Terror”—unfolded like a science fiction story, where anything could happen and everything had to go right. It was the last seven minutes of a seven-month journey and it was nerve-racking, to say the least. “I was pretty tired. I didn’t get much sleep the night before. That was balanced with

HARVEY MUDD COLLEGE MAGAZINE

Chris Pong ’08, right, fist bumps a colleague after the successful landing of NASA's Peseverance Rover on Mars.

adrenaline. We really couldn’t do anything to change the outcome of the landing. We could lose the entire mission right then and there. But when I heard ’Touchdown confirmed’ it was just an overwhelming sense of relief and joy.” How did Pong get lucky enough to land a job he loves at JPL? Luck had little to do with it. His years at Harvey Mudd launched him on a path toward NASA. “What probably shaped my trajectory the most was the Clinic Program at Harvey Mudd, where I worked on a project for The Aerospace

Corporation. My mentor was Professor John Molinder, and the project was about finding these small satellites in space that are hard to locate after launch. Because of that, I got an internship at The Aerospace Corporation.” After Mudd, Pong moved on to MIT where he earned a master’s and a doctorate in aeronautics and astronautics. While there, he won a NASA Space Technology Research Fellowship. “It paid for part of my tuition and forced me to do internships at different NASA centers. I spent a few months at Goddard Space


23

The final entry, descent and landing phase of the journey—known as the “Seven Minutes of Terror”— unfolded like a science fiction story, where anything could happen and everything had to go right. CHRIS PONG ’08

Flight Center and a summer at JPL. That’s how I got to know a lot of the people that I work with today. And it’s how I got a job at JPL.” For his doctoral thesis, Pong worked on a project called ExoplanetSat, later renamed ASTERIA, a small satellite designed to look for new planets around other stars. “We were looking for a partner that would take the project to space, and JPL took it on. ASTERIA moved to JPL at the same time I did, so I was able to keep working on it.” Since then, he’s been on the Perseverance mission whose goals include collecting samples

of rock and soil from Mars to be brought back to Earth for detailed study. “My next project is the proposed Sample Retrieval Lander, which will pick up the samples and shoot them off into orbit around Mars. And it’s a whole international collaboration with the European Space Agency that has its own Earth Return Orbiter, which will pick up the samples and bring them back to Earth.” The samples will help determine if microbial life once existed on Mars. “There’s a scientific reason for just exploring,

following human curiosity,” says Pong. “There are so many scientific questions that could be answered: Was there life? Is there life? And what happened on Mars that made it so different from Earth? And, of course, if you sort of buy into the existential crises that humans might face in the future, then getting humans on multiple planets, or even in multiple solar systems eventually, is important for the survival of the human race.” Spoken like a true science-fiction fan!

SPRING 2021


24

How to Cultivate a Career

Geophysicist Betty Johnson ’78 overcame a steep learning curve to become a leader in the field. Written by Kristin Baird Rattini Photo by Jeanine Hill

HARVEY MUDD COLLEGE MAGAZINE


25

t was spring of betty johnson’s junior year at Harvey Mudd. Interviews with several oil companies hadn’t led to an internship, so the physics major with a geophysics emphasis resigned herself to the idea of once again working retail over the summer. Then, at the last minute, Unocal offered her an internship in the geophysics department working on a statistical project. She accepted despite one major challenge. “At that time, I hadn’t taken any statistics classes,” says Johnson ’78, laughing. “It was a steep learning curve, but I had a fantastic boss who mentored me. I learned about everything the geophysicists were doing. I knew at that moment it was definitely what I wanted to do.’” Johnson’s subsequent 43-year career in the petroleum industry as a geophysicist with Unocal (acquired by Chevron in 2005) has been a testament to the rewards of seizing and creating opportunities that stretch one’s skill set in new and unexpected directions. At every turn, Johnson has leveraged her technical and managerial skills and Harvey Mudd education into innovative and prominent positions in a male-dominated field while staying at the forefront of dramatic changes in how terrain and talent are cultivated. “In my career, I’ve seen an evolution of companies, technology, geophysics and women in the workplace,” she says. Her first position at Unocal, geophysical technician, wasn’t exactly what she had in mind, but it got her foot in the door at corporate headquarters in the Los Angeles area. The workplace “was still a lot like Mad Men,” she says. “Women had to wear dresses and skirts and pantyhose. Most of the women were secretaries. I definitely felt out of place as a female scientist.” While at Harvey Mudd, Johnson had valued the support and collegiality of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). She recreated that nurturing environment by serving as one of the “founding mothers” of the Association for Women Geoscientists (AWG). “It was instrumental for me because at the time there were few leadership opportunities for women within work,” she says. “I found amazing colleagues through AWG and learned a lot about leadership.” Johnson’s career advanced in tandem with computing technology and the development of geographic information systems.

She distinguished herself by mastering new software as platforms evolved from mainframe to workstations to PCs. “I quickly became an expert, which is a testament to the strength of the Harvey Mudd education,” she says. “I had only a bachelor’s degree, which was unusual in my field. But Harvey Mudd taught me how to learn and solve challenging problems.” Early in her career, Johnson also was tapped for a task force that defined a technical career path within the company. “It was an incredible project, a peek behind the curtain of how people were managed,” she says. That one assignment served as a springboard for several subsequent higher-level management positions. She took on leadership of the Gravity, Electrical and Magnetic Services team, an area that was not her strength in college but provided an exciting learning opportunity in offshore exploration. She oversaw talent management, from recruitment through leadership development, for the 475-member Earth Science Department. Until recently, she managed the dozen or so technically diverse members of the newly created basin framework analysis team, which analyzed potential exploration sites around the world. “I felt like I was in The Big Bang Theory every day,” she says. “It was a joy to learn about each team member’s deep expertise and find ways for these very different disciplines to work together.” These are very different times for the petroleum industry from when Johnson first

started. As science and public sentiment have shifted away from fossil fuels, Chevron has stated its dedication to a lower-carbon future. “As earth scientists, we have a role to play at all points along that spectrum,” Johnson says, “from producing oil and gas in a clean and safe way to looking for alternative sources of energy.” As she contemplates retiring in the next couple years, Johnson has been focusing her attention on the next generation of scientists. While serving on Harvey Mudd’s Alumni Association Board of Governors, she helped lead fundraising efforts for the curricular innovation fund, which has exceeded its $100,000 goal. In her new role at Chevron as subsurface talent manager, she’s engaging employees at all levels in championing new ways of working together in a digitally connected world—lessons learned during the pandemic. “In the span of 40 years, we’ve learned a lot about leading people, how teams work together and how innovation actually happens,” she says. “One of the things we’ve learned this past year is that we have to empathize with what’s going on in people’s lives and how that affects their thinking, their availability and other factors. There’s a shift to a more caring style of leadership. That’s what I saw in SWE and AWG, and it’s exciting to now see this actually be the core of how companies like Chevron foster our own workforce.”

SPRING 2021


What’s the Future of Phosphorus? Chemist Louis Kuo ’84 explores ways to create more usable phosphorus before it’s gone. Interview by Stephanie L. Graham Photo by Rob Reynolds


27

ouis kuo ’84, a professor of chemistry at Lewis & Clark College since 1992, was drawn to his research area—phosphorus— because of food. Its presence in food preservatives, animal feed and especially fertilizers, impacts our food supply in profound ways. If not for agricultural herbicides and pesticides, we wouldn’t have such robust crop production, but the carcinogens they contain can damage our brains and nervous systems. With grants from the National Science Foundation, Kuo investigates ways to break down pesticides to make them safer and is developing methods of recycling phosphate toxins, work that few other scientists have undertaken. In his quest for solutions, he’s collaborated and mentored undergraduates (earning faculty awards in 2014 and 2020), worked with Nobel-prize-winning scientists (Robert Grubbs at Caltech and Thomas Cech at University of Colorado Boulder), earned three patents related to his research and won the 2019 Outstanding Oregon Scientist Award from the Oregon Academy of Science. The recipe for his success is a mix of talent, dedication and collaboration with the next generation of scientists. Why should we be concerned about the supply of phosphorus?

In 2015, the NSF published the report “Closing the Human Phosphorus Cycle” on the need for phosphorus recovery as a national priority. However, the USGS report (January 2021) about the National Minerals Information Center (Phosphate rock statistics and information) indicates a very large supply (67,000 million tons) of crude phosphates in reserve. In the same report, it shows we globally mine 210 million tons of phosphate annually, and this yields a ~300 year supply. But, when you break that number down by nation, the U.S. has only 1,000 million tons in reserve (in mainly Idaho, Florida, North Carolina and Utah), and we mine domestically 24 million tons/year. This yields only a 40-year domestic supply. Most of the mineable phosphate is in hardto-reach areas like the Western Sahara. This got me interested in targeting a greater challenge: it’s not enough to break down phosphate toxins; you have to convert it toward a usable form of phosphorus—it’s about sustainability of phosphorus. We know so well about sustainability when it comes to recycling and

stewarding limited natural resources. This is about recovering an essential element in short supply domestically before it’s too late. This was new territory for me, because it did not entail organometallics (my grad school focus), and the emphasis is directed toward recovery of phosphates not breaking it down. You’ve been working since 2015 on this problem. What have you found?

We’ve shown that small plastic beads coated with molybdenum metal could break down the phosphate pesticides. Moreover, we found one of the products of this breakdown is actually a commodity phosphorus compound used in flame retardants and in plastics. Never in my wildest dreams did I suspect this useful outcome for these polymeric beads. In addition, these same beads broke down the well-known herbicide Roundup (glyphosate) into useable phosphate in water. This is our most recent result, and we were delighted when, last year, we were awarded a patent for this work. My goal is to understand the why, the mechanism. We want to identify the many intermediate steps, then we want to understand the big question: why A (phosphate toxin) goes to D (good phosphate). Why does Roundup in the presence of these beads generate carbon dioxide and nitrogenous compounds? Can we find other types of metal salts that precipitate out the phosphate into, say, fertilizer? So it’s not enough to say, I found a way to go from bad A to good D, we have to understand the intermediate steps. That is one of the underpinnings in my work, and it shows up in almost all my publications. It’s a bit like solving a puzzle when you try to understand the mechanism of a reaction, and this approach towards chemistry stemmed from both my undergraduate and graduate education.

Most of the mineable phosphate is in hardto-reach areas like the Western Sahara. This got me interested in targeting a greater challenge: it’s not enough to break down phosphate toxins; you have to convert it toward a usable form of phosphorus—it’s about sustainability of phosphorus. LOUIS KUO ’84

Kuo has shown that molybdenum polymer (beads) could break down phosphate pesticides to volatile organics and watersoluble phosphate.

How so?

My undergraduate research with Mits Kubota (HMC professor of chemistry, 1959–2000) impressed on me the importance of metals in chemistry. It directed me to look at graduate programs and research with an emphasis on studying the chemistry of metal complexes. At the same time, I was intrigued with the hybrid of organic and inorganic chemistry. Mits often let me “wander” around his lab looking for reactions that would be interesting to study, and that freedom was what got me interested in chemistry.

SPRING 2021


28

World Phosphate Rock Reserves 65,000 MILLION TONNES

Morocco/ Western Sahara 50,000

There’s a domestic shortfall of mineable phosphates, an essential element in agriculture (i.e., fertilizer).

China

3,700

Algeria 2,200 Syria

1,800

Jordan 1,500

Russia 1,300

Australia

82

Brazil 340

Togo

60

Israel

180

Canada 5

Senegal

180

Other 620

South Africa

1,500

Egypt 100

USA

1,400

Tunisia 100

Source: World Resources Forum

HARVEY MUDD COLLEGE MAGAZINE


29

What was your grad school focus?

I was trained at Northwestern University as a classic organometallic chemist by one of the best in the field, Tobin Marks. I got the chance (and a teaching/research stipend) to look at one specific organometallic complex. But to really broaden the scope of the work and to find novel applications of organometallics, I had to find “out of the box” hypotheses in organometallic chemistry. I focused on how a class of organometallic compounds, metallocenes, bind to DNA. The molybdenum metallocene was structurally related to another non-organometallic compound called cisplatin, which was one of the leading anticancer drugs at that time. The hypothesis was that the two “cousins” worked in the same manner by binding to DNA. This was unique, because it was one of the few cases where an organometallic compound was investigated for its biological activity in water. In my research group (Tobin Marks at Northwestern), everyone else looked at water-sensitive organometallics that usually decomposed from the moisture and oxygen in air. So, I was definitely the “odd one” where everything I did was in water, and the particular compound (molybdenum metallocene) was stable in water. Around the ’90s, there was a lot of interest in breaking apart phosphates which form the backbone of DNA, and many chemists were looking at how metals could accomplish this transformation. While at Caltech, where I did my postdoc, Jik Chin (McGill University) and I pondered how water-stable organometallics could break down phosphates in water. I had just spent four years looking at how waterstable metallocenes bind to the phosphate backbone of DNA, so it was literally adding two plus two. My first project (and first publication) at Lewis & Clark was applying that guess. In a paper published in Inorganic Chemistry, I wrote that the work was really the first example of an organometallic compound that broke down (“hydrolyzed”) phosphates. You’ve introduced high school and undergraduates to this research. How have they contributed?

To really broaden the scope of organometallics, I had to find other types of phosphates to break down. I wondered, could these organometallic

metallocenes be applied toward breaking down neurotoxic phosphates? With undergraduates at Lewis & Clark, I replicated the synthesis of an analog of the VX nerve agent, one that is extremely safe to use. We put out a half dozen publications showing that the molybdenum metallocene readily degraded this nerve agent analog in a safe manner and, in 2007, were awarded a patent on this work. A subsequent 2015 patent had one undergraduate as a co-inventor; they’ve taken an active role in this endeavor. In 2012, I was pleased to read that my work was reviewed in a Chemical Review article on the destruction and detection of chemical warfare agents. High school students, including my daughter, are working on the use of the plastic beads coated with the metal molybdenum to degrade phosphates. We break it down to volatile organics and water-soluble phosphate. The three carbons of Roundup form carbon dioxide and methyl amine. So you don’t have to separate the byproducts because they bubble off. When we add another metal, we precipitate the phosphate to a white powder (aluminum phosphate). The high school students looked at the acidity and temperature conditions that form this white powder, which is used as a paint additive. We’ve taken a bad neurotoxin and converted it to paint/corrosion inhibitors, thus precipitating out dissolved phosphate into a usable form. For the next goal, we are looking to precipitate it out as fertilizer.

I think of my work as another form of sustainability or green chemistry. We’re taking a toxin—pesticides and herbicides—and we’re recovering it as a valuable commodity chemical.

As global sustainability efforts gain momentum, how does your research on phosphates fit in?

I think of my work as another form of sustainability or green chemistry. We’re taking a toxin— pesticides and herbicides—and we’re recovering it as a valuable commodity chemical. About 15 years ago, this research was couched in terms of national security; the phosphates I was researching were the phosphate neurotoxins in nerve agents, stockpiles of which have since been destroyed. There’s still phosphorus out there, but it’s now in the form of pesticides and herbicides, and so it’s an issue of sustainability. It’s not enough just to degrade the phosphorus, we have to degrade it in a form that’s usable, and more importantly, we have to understand the fundamental chemistry that drives this transformation.

SPRING 2021


30

MUDDERINGS

Alumni Awards Selected by the Alumni Association Board of Governors, alumni are honored and celebrated for their achievements to society and to the College community. Outstanding Alumni

Family (Feline?) February Nearly 300 parents and guests attended some portion of our Family February programming, composed of 15 virtual events throughout the month, including information sessions on academic resources, student engagement, a tour of the new Makerspace, a Duck! improv show and a parent-to-parent panel discussion led by members of the Parent Leadership Council. A fun, interactive event, the Bridge Building Competition, encouraged participants “to build a bridge with the materials and people around you.” Kathy Fries P24, Xander Fries ’24 and Luna Loki submitted the entry “Nine Lives.”

“Our goal was to use the material we had accumulated the most of during the pandemic, which was grocery bags. The cats were very interested in the bags the whole time. We weren’t sure whether our bridge was quite in line with OSHA regulations, so only the lightest feline test pilot, Luna, dared the crossing. This challenge was harder than we thought; it took multiple iterations, by the end of which our cats had totally lost trust in our engineering skills.” –Nine Lives team

Alumni April 2021 In collaboration with alumni representatives, staff members in the Office of Alumni and Parent Relations orchestrated a wide-ranging Alumni April with almost two dozen virtual events for alumni across the U.S. and around the world. Events included Mudd Talks, a Department of Chemistry Zoom social, an Inside Mudd for Alumni, online versions of the traditional [Delta] Δt Panel and 50+ Celebration, a tour of the new McGregor Computer Science Center and makerspace, an ’80s decade happy hour and gatherings for many of the classes celebrating reunions this year.

HARVEY MUDD COLLEGE MAGAZINE

An entrepreneur and founder of multiple nonprofits, Sherman Chan ’76 (engineering) is recognized for his community service— including work with the autistic community—and for his professional work on power system modeling and analysis tools for protective relaying. He created Advanced Systems for Power Engineering (ASPEN) Inc. to provide software to electric utilities that ensures their generation and transmission assets are protected from short circuits. Among the nonprofits he’s established are an art school, Wings Learning Center for students with autism and Rident Park, an independent living community in Sonoma County for autistic adults. Bob Charrow ’66 (physics), general counsel of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services where he leads an office of more than 600 lawyers, is recognized for advancing health care and for science advocacy. Charrow previously served as deputy general counsel and principal deputy general counsel under President Reagan (second term) and President H.W. Bush, and as an associate professor of law at University of Cincinnati. He helped write an influential brief relied upon by the U.S. Supreme Court in the landmark 1993 decision, Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, which set standards for the admissibility of scientific evidence at federal trial. He is author of the text Law in the Laboratory.


31

Honorary Alumni

Considered one of the world’s experts on synchrotron radiation x-ray source technology, Bob Hettel ’71 (physics) has made many contributions to science and technology. At Argonne National Laboratory since 2017, Hettel oversees the planning, construction and implementation of the Advanced Photon Source Upgrade, an $815 million project that will create a world-leading, three-dimensional, hard x-ray microscope using advanced electron storage ring technology that will enable researchers to view and manipulate matter at the atomic level to solve complex science problems across multiple disciplines. Greg Lyzenga ’75 (physics), Burton Bettingen Professor of Physics, is celebrating 50 years since first becoming a part of the HMC community, when he was admitted to the Class of 1975. He has taught physics to generations of Harvey Mudd students and worked with them on numerous research and extracurricular projects (see inside back cover). In 2012, he and his Jet Propulsion Lab collaborators received the NASA Software of the Year Award for QuakeSim, a comprehensive software tool for simulating and understanding earthquake fault processes and improving earthquake forecasting. Catherine “Caty” Anderson Pilachowski ’71 (physics) has made distinguished contributions to stellar astrophysics and to the astronomical community. She spent 22 years as an astronomer with the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) before joining Indiana University in 2001 as professor and the inaugural Daniel Kirkwood Chair in the Department of Astronomy. Pilachowski was the first to recognize the importance of comparing the chemical compositions among

large numbers of clusters and large numbers of stars within individual clusters. She also was instrumental to the realization of the Wisconsin-Indiana-Yale-NOAO 3.5-m telescope and contributed to the international Gemini Observatory project. Warren Rogers ’81 (physics), professor and Blanchard Endowed Chair of Physics at Indiana Wesleyan University, has contributed substantially to the professional development of undergraduate students, and his research in an undergraduate setting has achieved wide recognition and contributed significantly to physics. Rogers is an expert in the exploration of atomic nuclei beyond the neutron drip line and is highly praised for his conception and continued leadership of the Conference Experience for Undergraduates program. Darryl Yong ’96 (mathematics and music), professor of mathematics, is making significant contributions to society through his mathematics instruction and his work to improve the quality of math education. His primary research area is in mathematics education, specifically in the recruitment, training and professional development of highly skilled secondary school mathematics teachers through the Math for America Los Angeles program, which he co-founded. An accomplished author (six books) and mathematician, his other research interests include asymptotic analysis, numerical analysis and applied mathematics. Yong served as the College’s associate dean for diversity and was the inaugural interim director of The Claremont Colleges’ Center for Teaching and Learning.

The following individuals were selected for being a longstanding friend of the College, its students and alumni and for having contributed significantly to their betterment. Anthony Bright joined the Department of Engineering in 1986. He was department chair, twice served as director of the Engineering Clinic and founded Global Clinic in 2005. He was involved in teaching and developing the interdisciplinary systems engineering stem of courses offered by the engineering department. His many contributions include serving as an advisor to the Society of Women Engineers and advisor to the Etc. Players drama group. Kevin Schofield P13 P13, parent of twin Mudder daughters (one of whom is now an HMC computer science faculty member), is vice chair of the HMC Board of Trustees (through June 30, 2021). He is also a freelance writer and journalist, and the founder of Seattle City Council Insight, a website providing independent news and analysis of the Seattle City Council.

AABOG granted posthumous Honorary Alumni awards for two longtime faculty members Robert J. Cave (chemistry) and Robert Keller (computer science) who died in 2020.

SPRING 2021


32

CLASS NOTES

1962

1967

have hung it up! Starting in 1967 at HP Labs, I spent 13 years in various positions at HP and left in 1980 with four others and started Harris Microwave Semiconductor. I ran that company for 13 years and sold to Samsung and stayed on for three years. Left and started Ubiquity Communication and sold to Western Multiplex. Joined Whisper Communication but had to close it down when third-round funding collapsed. ‘Retired’ by going back to technical work and consulted for Loral Space Systems up until last year. I have been a manager, VP general manager, president, COO and CEO and independent consultant, but I now raise sawdust at my ranch in Northern California and also have a home at The Sea Ranch on the coast. You can’t take the engineer out of my existence, so I enjoy designing and building even though I am now pushing 80 years old.”

Wilson Hoffman writes, “I saw the story of the

Joseph S. Barrera (engineering) writes, “I

1966

Pat Barrett (engineering) writes, “Since being

repatriated by the U.S. State Department from a tour in Morocco when the world shut down in March, we have been operating from home like pretty much everyone else. We stay busy with church, which has all been on Zoom. It has actually made it possible for friends in other parts of the U.S., as well as other countries, to join us for services and meetings. Zoom has been a benefit to other types of meetings as well (although I’d be happy to get back to in-person meetings) because there is no travel time involved, so more meetings are possible! Some of our community activities also continue on Zoom or in somewhat artificial socially distanced physical arrangements. We get regular exercise walking the city because that is one of the outside activities that has continued to be allowed. Life is certainly not boring.”

HARVEY MUDD COLLEGE MAGAZINE

Mahesh Kotecha (engineering & physics),

wrote the January 2021 article “Africa: Biden Should Implement a ‘Yellen Bond’ Plan for African Debt” for the All Africa website. He writes, “A solution for Africa’s liquidity problems is to stretch out maturities of public and private sector debts coming due to levels that the countries can afford to pay.”

RV 7 built by engineering students last year. Here is the RV 9A that I finished in 2009. It now has 670 hours on it. I was assisted by my spouse, Patricia Hoffman SCR ’67.” Bob Kelley (physics) reports, “Like many of

us, I’m limited mostly to telecommuting from home here in Klosterneuburg, Austria. We spend a lot of time on home improvement, like a new railing in our Japanese garden. I write articles for Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, where I have a fellowship. I’m also a contributing author for Jane’s Intelligence Review, where you can find articles this summer on “Uranium Enrichment in India,” “Highly Enriched Uranium Usage in DPRK Thermonuclear Weapons” and “Nuclear Power in the Middle East.” Retirement is great and lockdown has its advantages!”

1970

Andy Bernat (physics) went on to obtain a

PhD in astronomy, then spent six years as an astronomer before jumping to computer science. “Professor, department head, fight with university administration, rotator position at NSF, now executive director of the Computing Research Association. HMC did me well. I’ve stayed in touch with Maria and the CS faculty. Son, Drew (short for Andrew but not a junior), graduated from HMC and married a Scripps girl as well. We bought a seat in the new classroom building with a blank line for the next one to attend!”

Cary J. Reich (chemistry) writes, “On March

20, 2021, I, Martha (Hatch) Reich SCR ’71, Jerry Andrews and Ursula (Holle) Andrews ’71 (chemistry) met for lunch and reminiscing. Plenty to talk about after 55 years.”

1972

Brian Baxley (physics) is enjoying retirement

after 35 years at Hughes Aircraft/Boeing. He recently moved to Escondido “where we’re hiding from the virus in our garden. There is a silver lining—the pandemic has prompted reconnection with lots of classmates via Zoom.”

1974

Timothy O’Donnell (physics) gave a talk about

his career, titled “0 to 100 Billion,” at the last reunion of his class. He went to work with a startup called ARM. The company designed a microprocessor chip. This chip has been used in almost all portable equipment. At the time of the talk, there had been more than 100 billion processors shipped (now more than 160 billion). Tim was president of ARM Inc. from 1991 to 2002, when he retired.


CLASS NOTES

33

ALUMNI PROFILE

Lights! Camera! Navier-Stokes Equation! Interview by Andrew Faught

as chief technology officer for Animal Logic, one of the world’s leading digital animation studios, Darin Grant ’96 helps make movie magic. His credits at Animal Logic include The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part and Peter Rabbit 2. At Digital Domain and DreamWorks Animation, he worked on Fight Club and How to Train Your Dragon. What is your role as a technologist?

Ultimately, I’m helping to create art. Every single pixel and all the data behind it that goes into an animated feature film relies on technology. Every character, every environment, every piece of clothing, every explosion all have a significant amount of technology involved in their creation. And while the technology is complex and amazing, ultimately my role is a support role. If there was no technology, then we couldn’t make the films that we do today, but we don’t build technology for technology’s sake. How has technology changed in the last 20 years?

When you think back to the early days of film, whether it was live-action movies or 2D animated films, there was a lot of manual labor that went on in creating effects. But nowadays, much of that work is done completely on the computer. Scenes of crashing waves or gigantic explosions are now computer simulations using the Navier-Stokes equations that you might have learned in upper-level physics classes at Harvey Mudd. It’s easier and safer to have actors running away from a digital floods or explosions than to actually have a real flood and put their lives in potential danger. What does the future hold?

Technology always gets better, faster and cheaper. As a result, we are able to create imagery that is more complex than anything

we could imagine when I graduated. But even now, there’s a lot of sitting and waiting for results to be generated. New technology and machine learning will allow us to make changes instantly, changing not just the speed at which we work but how we work. How did your career aspirations come about?

When I was growing up in Cupertino, I was surrounded by computers, and I wanted to be a Disney animator and Alex P. Keaton from Family Ties—technology, animation and business. But I can’t draw worth a damn so I focused on computer science and economics. When I was a junior, Jill Sakata Melosh ’96 orchestrated a tour of a company called Digital Domain that was working on Apollo 13. On

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part from Warner Bros. Pictures and Warner Animation Group, in association with LEGO System A/S, a Warner Bros. Pictures release

that tour, I saw that I could use computer science to help others create art, or even create that art myself. That was kind of the light-bulb moment. Where do you find inspiration?

I find inspiration from my teams. Ultimately, this is a management job, and I’m responsible for the welfare of over 100 people who support a much larger organization. Professor Gary Evans was a massive influence in this. I had a class with him early on, and he said, “All of you are smart, but you’re going to be stuck following instead of leading if you don’t know how to communicate.” It was a scared straight moment for me, and significant in terms of knowing that success was about more than building technology, it was building teams.

Peter Rabbit and all associated characters™ & © Frederick Warne & Co Limited. Peter Rabbit™ 2, the Movie © 2021 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All Rights Reserved

SPRING 2021


34

CLASS NOTES

1975

Andrew Lees (chemistry) was featured in

the winter 2021 issue of Hopkins Medicine magazine. The article “Wizard of Preventive Health” mentions Andrew’s time as a graduate student at Johns Hopkins, when he worked as a magician, and described his journey to become an esteemed research scientist and world-recognized leader in vaccine development. He founded Fina BioSolutions, a company committed to eliminating vaccinepreventable deaths of infants and children in emerging-market countries. With major partners in China and India, he is helping to create locally produced, affordable vaccines worldwide. Andrew received distinguished alumnus awards from Harvey Mudd College (2015) and Johns Hopkins University (2019).

1976

Susan Lewallen (physics) stepped back from

a life in public health ophthalmology training and research in Africa. She’s living in sunny San Diego and studying creative writing because she’s always loved to read fiction. She says, “Writing turns out to be a lot harder than it looked!” Her first book, Crossing Paths, was published in September 2019, and she’s working on her second. Energy management software company Power Costs Inc., where Khai Le (engineering) is senior vice president, has partnered with large investor-owned utility Alliant Energy, which is using PCI’s energy trading and risk management platform for power, coal and gas trading. Khai says, “This go-live represents a great new collaboration between our teams and will set a benchmark for similar implementations with other companies."

1977

Marquis Who’s Who presented Deborah Ann Konkowski (physics) with the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award. Deborah is an educator and researcher with the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, where she began working in 1987 as an assistant professor. She progressed to associate professor after four years and then to a full professor in 1997. She has taught courses in mathematical physics, special relativity and HARVEY MUDD COLLEGE MAGAZINE

general relativity, including Introduction to Mathematical General Relativity. Her research has included general relativistic spacetimes, black holes and cosmic strings.

1979

Greg Hassold (physics) is teaching physics

remotely at Kettering University and plans to retire at the end of this academic year. “My wife and I plan to relocate to Albuquerque in a few years.”

1980

Bob Kossler (engineering) retired from

Hewlett Packard Enterprise after 36 years and now works full time as an Episcopal priest serving a congregation in San Mateo, California. “I use the skills I acquired at Mudd and honed at HPE to help the members of my church. We are in the midst of creating a regathering plan, allowing members to return to church. Applying science and pragmatism is job No. 1. Their health and safety are my primary concern. We are also in the middle of a building project. I oversee concrete foundation work, electrical and plumbing installation, along with framing/finish work. Not the same as managing the design of high-end, mainframe database systems but challenging in other ways.”

1983

Roger Cliff (physics),

professor of Indo-Pacific studies at U.S. Army War College, spoke about Hong Kong national security and Taiwan-China relations as part of the Army War College Great Decisions speaking series in March. He discussed recent political developments in Hong Kong and Taiwan and their implications for conflict over Taiwan. Roger has worked for the Center for Naval Analyses, Atlantic Council, Project 2049 Institute, RAND Corporation, and Office of the Secretary of Defense. He holds a PhD in international relations from Princeton University and an M.A. in Chinese studies from the University of California, San Diego. He is fluent in spoken and written Mandarin Chinese. Henry Kapteyn (physics) and Margaret

Murnane have been named fellows of the National Academy of Inventors. The couple,

pioneers of technologies for generating coherent x-rays, which helped propel research in dynamic processes in atoms, molecules and materials, were previously honored for their work with lasers and have commercialized some of their research through startup KM Labs. They are physics professors at the University of Colorado Boulder and direct a laboratory in JILA, a joint institute of CU Boulder and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Henry is a 2013 HMC Outstanding Alumnus.

1986 Rafael Alvarez

(engineering) received the San Diego County Engineering Council’s 2021 Outstanding Engineering Educator Award. Rafael is the founder and director of the San Diego City College Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) Program, an academic support program for students transferring to four-year universities in STEM majors, founded in 2000. He says, “City College is an Hispanic Serving Institution, and the majority of our MESA Program students, aka Creators, are first-generation in college, economically disadvantaged and underrepresented in STEM fields. I am very proud to represent HMC and the San Diego City College community, and I view the award as a celebration of the many achievements by our MESA creators. It is always very rewarding to see our City College students rise to their potential and beyond. The Outstanding Engineering Educator Award inspires me to continue the work of engaging, educating and empowering the next generation of mathematicians, engineers and scientists. Their success is my reward. Their achievements prove that MESA works!" After five years as a faculty member at UC Davis, Scott Hazelwood ’85/86 (engineering) is entering his 14th year on faculty in the Biomedical Engineering Department at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He, his wife, Rachael, and their two boys enjoy living on the California central coast.


CLASS NOTES

35

ALUMNI PROFILE

Computing with Nature Megan Wheeler ’13 takes a quantitative approach to solving urban ecological problems. Written by Carol Brzozowski

as an environmental scientist with the San Francisco Estuary Institute’s Resilient Landscapes program, Megan Wheeler ’13 focuses on urban ecology as she experiments with social science and field ecology methods. “It’s thinking about what cities, developers or designers might be able to do to have a positive ecological impact in urban environments,” says Wheeler. “It’s working to improve biodiversity, human health, urban heat, stormwater quality and quantity of runoff.” Wheeler notes that “urban management and design have so much potential to do better to improve the quality of the urban environment for both people and for nature. We tend to overlook the urban environment as a place where nature can be and do well. But there’s a lot of potential for greening and to incorporate nature into the city.” Research shows people have better physical and mental health when they spend time in nature, she says. “They’re more satisfied with their lives. We also know from research that when people have a more personal connection to nature, that can lead them to support conservation more broadly.” While Wheeler was drawn to environmental science and ecology at HMC, she majored in mathematical and computational biology. “It gave me a unique perspective as far as having a strong quantitative and computational background, which is less common in ecology,” she says. “I’m a fairly quantitative person, which is part of what led me to Mudd.” Wheeler credits HMC faculty, like life sciences professor Catherine McFadden and Bernard Field Station director Marty Meyer, for helping her make connections between quantitative skills and ecological questions. Biology professor Steve Adolph introduced

Wheeler to a program at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Massachusetts, where she did a deep dive into ecosystem ecology and environmental sciences. She worked there for a few years before pursuing her doctorate in environmental life sciences at Arizona State University. Two years into the program, Wheeler says she was struggling with academic research. “I kept asking what the problem we were trying to solve was instead of what the interesting research question was.” Seeing the contrasts between the HMC hands-on engineering approach and a more theory-based academic approach led her to understand where she most wanted to make an impact. “I realized I was more excited about trying to solve some of our urgent ecological problems rather than focusing only on creating new knowledge. My current position at the San Francisco Estuary Institute allows me to do some of both.” She’s pursued these goals in many projects since, including a collaborative effort with

the International Union for Conservation of Nature and the International Olympic Commission to study how sports can have a positive impact on nature in cities. Wheeler interviewed people involved in sports federations across the world about how they approach biodiversity and what they thought the opportunities could be for sport to provide leadership in creating spaces for both people and nature. With her team at SFEI, she applied urban ecological research to identify impactful interventions that could increase the ecological value of urban sporting venues. The organizations’ published guide explains how investing in urban biodiversity provides an opportunity for sports federations, venue owners and operators, local organizing committees as well as city planners and investors to build a long-lasting and a socially positive legacy in cities. “People are thinking about sustainability and climate change, but maybe not quite biodiversity yet,” she says. “It’s a frontier.” SPRING 2021


36

CLASS NOTES

1988

at Hewlett-Packard and is now the disaster preparedness coordinator for the city of Sunnyvale, California. He’s responsible for the city’s emergency response volunteer programs and disaster preparedness education.

ticket group and was excited for them to win the World Series in the first year in a long time he didn’t attend any games. “I have participated in a number of Zoom calls with Mudders including a group of North Dormers and a some friends from the Class of ’89. I serve on the Pasadena Planning Commission and have rejoined the Arroyos and Foothills Conservancy Board with a mission to preserve wildlife corridors.”

1989

1990

Jeffrey Edison (physics) is still living in Belgium

and now works for Oracle in Financial Services. Steve Roth (physics) retired after 30 years

After working in the Bay Area and Kodiak for two years, Roger Carlson (physics) left the rocket company Astra, started his own consulting company and works for Virgin Orbit from his home in Redondo Beach. The National Academy of Inventors named Keith Chugg (engineering), co-founder and chief scientist at TrellisWare, an NAI Fellow. Election to NAI Fellow status is the highest professional distinction accorded solely to academic inventors. In addition to his role at TrellisWare, Chugg is a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, where he has been a faculty member since 1996. His focus is digital communication and coding theory, signal processing, deep learning and hardware architectures for the resulting algorithms. Much of his academic research has transitioned to TrellisWare and, together with his work with its engineers and researchers, forms some of the core technologies there.

Marty Berliner (physics) writes, “Last year was

my 20th year at Pfizer (wow). After 15 years as a process chemist, for the past several years I have been a member of a global informatics team that works to ensure that the software that we use fulfills the needs of our scientists. I am the system owner of the electronic lab notebook used in our development group, do lots of strategic planning in addition to UI and analytics work, know far more about Windows servers than I ever expected, and am on my fourth or fifth programming language after having forgotten almost everything CS after HMC. In these very challenging pandemic times, I’m humbled that the systems that I support are used daily by thousands of scientists, many of whom are working to rapidly progress COVID antivirals and vaccine components in clinical studies. Outside of work we are all thankfully well (Linda; Sonia, 15; Erika, 11) and are surviving these strange times with baking and a Doctor Who obsession.” Jeff Gray (engineering) retired in 2018 after a

25-year career as a silicon design engineer at Intel. He and his wife, Holly Leer SCR ’91, live in Portland, Oregon, where they “thoroughly enjoy the absence of work-related obligations.”

Adam Shane ’88/89 (engineering) works as a

security consultant to LAX airport. He says, “Even during COVID work-from-home orders, the work has continued at 100%. Our company is expanding the L.A. office and doing work in San Diego and elsewhere. Kathy and I celebrated our 25-year wedding anniversary recently. We have one child at Bowdoin College in Maine and another in high school in L.A. (a baseball player).” Tim Wendler (engineering) works as a senior

client service leader for CDM Smith’s Industrial Unit, focused on growing services in the areas of facilities, water, and environmental design and build. He chairs a Dodgers season HARVEY MUDD COLLEGE MAGAZINE

1992

Tish Berge (engineering)

joined the San Diego County Water Authority as assistant general manager, bringing experience from every aspect of water utility management. She was formerly general manager of the Sweetwater Authority, one of the water authority’s 24 member agencies. She also held management positions at the Escondido-based Rincon del Diablo Municipal Water District and San Elijo Joint Powers Authority in Cardiff. At San Diego County Water Authority, Tish will serve 3.3 million people and help sustain a $245 billion economy. Bryan Reed (physics) is CTO of Integrated

Dynamic Electron Solutions, now a subsidiary of JEOL. He says, “Now we can focus on the fun stuff, namely building cool toys and working with amazing scientists from around the world. The only problem is that whole ‘around the world’ thing in the middle of a pandemic, but we’re figuring out how to deal with that. So, it turns out you can have a lot more academic freedom in industry than in academia these days! Who knew?”

1994

Scott Hampton (engineering) writes, “We’ve

been keeping the manufacturing running despite the pandemic and panic buying and all the crazy with global supply chains. Back when I went to grad school to do (unglamorous) manufacturing, there were a lot of classes on ‘Just In Time’ which—thank you Mudd for skeptical thinking—seemed a bit sketch. It’s good to have inventory.”

Ashley Stroupe (physics) works at NASA’s Jet

Propulsion Laboratory and has specialized in Mars Rover Operations since 2004. “I have worked with Spirit, Opportunity and Curiosity doing various roles including telemetry analysis, planning drives and arm use, strategic planning, science activity planning and managing the planning process. I still do get to put my physics to use when interfacing with the science team and understanding how the various science instruments work and what they can tell us.”

Peter (Jarrell) Russo (biology) writes, “Kat and

I have been enjoying Oregon for several years with our son, who recently turned 6. I’ve been with Genentech for 15 years. It was a great pleasure to come back to campus at the last *in person* Alumni Weekend and see how the bio department has progressed.” Carmen Lee (engineering) wrote the article

“How Expectations Serve and Limit Us” for the Society of Women Engineers. She describes how her work style has changed over the years to understand the difference between management and leadership. “Creating an open


CLASS NOTES

and safe space for constructive collaboration and communication became a higher priority than checking off the list of to-dos,” she writes. Lee is a certified Happy For No Reason Trainer, a clinical Ayurvedic practitioner and health educator, and Divine Mother Healing Practitioner. She participated as a speaker for Mudd Talks in September 2020, and you can find a recording of her session, “Being Resilient in a Volatile and Uncertain World,” on the HMC YouTube channel.

2001

1999

Austin Brown (physics) has been named as an

LaunchDarkly, co-founded by Edith Harbaugh (engineering) and John Kodumal ’00 (CS), held its first user conference in April. LaunchDarkly is a feature management platform serving over 1,500 customers worldwide that helps software teams build better software.

Jill Sohm (biology) was promoted to associate

professor (teaching) of environmental studies at the University of Southern California and is currently director of the Environmental Studies Program. Adi Drost (engineering) was promoted to staff engineer at Northrup Grumman. They recently celebrated their 13th wedding anniversary and share two wild children, Simon (8) and Graham (4).

2002

electric concrete power cutters and landscaping tools to heavy-duty electric trucks. He now leads the high-voltage electrical design at the heart of Freightliner’s future, highperformance, long-range battery electric truck. “Really excited to replace more fuel tanks with batteries.”

appointee to President Biden’s White House Council on Environmental Quality. Austin is the executive director of the UC Davis Policy Institute for Energy, Environment, and the Economy, where he works to connect scientific research and analysis with policy-makers to advance environmental and equity priorities. An expert in technology and clean energy and transportation policy, his previous public service includes work at the Department of Energy, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy during the Obama-Biden Administration. He holds a PhD from Stanford University.

2000

Noah Levin (biology) has been teaching

Jacob Herbold (physics) changed jobs from

philosophy at Golden West College (a California community college) for 10 years and lives in Cypress, California, with his wife, Jenny, and their three children, Talia, Ronen and Ziva, who are all in elementary school.

2004

Dave Gaebler (physics) was granted tenure

and promoted to associate professor of mathematics at Hillsdale College. He lives in Hillsdale, Michigan, with his wife, Leslie, and their four children.

2005 Joey Kimdon (formerly Kimball; engineering

and math) won first place in the 2019 International CrossFit Games in her age division. She had previously placed second in 2017 and third in 2018. The 2020 age group competition was not held due to COVID-19. CrossFit combines weight lifting, bodyweight strength and cardiovascular exercises into a training methodology and competitive sport.

New Eagle promoted Kevin Alley (engineering) to VP, Strategy, to represent his role driving the company’s growth initiatives in the autonomous and electric vehicle markets. New Eagle offers control systems with integrated hardware and software, which give a wide range of companies the ability to control their IP and bring their vehicles to production fast.

37

2006 Donya Frank-Gilchrist

(engineering) is a research oceanographer contractor at U.S. Geological Survey St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center, Florida. She works with the Coastal Change Hazards team to develop and apply large-scale coastal numerical models to assess the impacts of coastal hazards on the shoreline and coastal communities. She also investigates the ability of waves and tides to mobilize and transport sediment and other objects on the seafloor. “Our work incorporates the impacts of climate change on our coasts. We also assess the effectiveness of various mitigation measures to increase coastal resiliency with the aim of reducing loss of life and property due to coastal hazards.” Donya is also an educational services representative with Usborne Books & More, a children’s book publisher. “As a scientist, I especially love their nonfiction academic support books, such as the maths dictionary, Lift-the-Flap series for space, human body, etc., science dictionary and more.” With her mother, she recently wrote “5 Tips to Help Children Develop an Appreciation for the Sciences” for the New Orleans Mom blog. Sheldon Logan (engineering) was part

of UC Santa Cruz’s The Diverse Voices speaker series, which aimed to promote diversity in engineering and tech and inspire more individuals from underrepresented backgrounds to pursue STEM education and careers. A UCSC computer engineering PhD graduate and senior software engineer at Google, Sheldon spoke on “My Journey from Jamaica to Google: From Majority to Minority.”

2007

Last June, Badier Velji (engineering) moved to Madison, Wisconsin, to reunite with his wife, Kai, who is doing her PhD in rhetoric at UW-Madison. He also changed careers from technical project management and is now a strategy consultant with Ernst & Young’s Parthenon group.

SPRING 2021


38

CLASS NOTES

2008

2012

physics at UC San Diego in August 2020 and is now a postdoc with the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument survey collaboration.

MD/PhD student at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine planning to defend his PhD thesis in summer 2021. Under the mentorship of Dr. Julie Secombe, he investigates the KDM5 family of chromatin modifiers, mutations of which are associated with heritable forms of intellectual disability. His thesis work aims to understand how KDM5 family proteins regulate neurodevelopment and cognitive function using Drosophila as a model organism. Hayden is also an active member of the undergraduate education subcommittee at the American Academy of Neurology, where he helps develop policies and activities related to medical student neurology education. After graduation, he plans to pursue a residency in neurology and translational neuroscience research.

Angela Berti (physics) finished her PhD in

Natt Supab (biology) writes, “After a long,

meandering path trying jobs in several vastly different fields, including a yearlong stint as a divemaster in Thailand, I finally returned to my scientific roots, so to speak. I’ve been working at City of Hope, a comprehensive cancer research hospital going on six years. In my current role as a disease registry systems specialist, I mostly perform data abstraction for City of Hope’s cancer registries. On the side hustle front, I launched my one-woman ceramics business, Knick Natts in 2015 and have enjoyed making and selling pottery at the semi-annual Brewery Artwalk in downtown Los Angeles. I fill my remaining free time with rock climbing and crocheting—oh, and I was a (less-than-successful) contestant on Jeopardy! on Oct. 13, 2020, so I got to meet Alex Trebek.

2010 Mary Moore-Simmons

hosted a Virtual Happy Hour as part of HMC’s Alumni Virtual Hangout series. Alumni connected over their beverage of choice in the comfort of their own space. Mary is director of engineering at GitHub and lives in Denver.

2011

Russell Melick (CS) and Andrea Levy (math)

were married in September 2020. The small ceremony, in their apartment in Burlingame, California, was solemnized by their quarantine buddies, officiant Malous Kossarian ’12 (chemistry) and witness Ryan Brewster ’12 (IPS). HARVEY MUDD COLLEGE MAGAZINE

Hayden A. M. Hatch (biology) is a sixth-year

position at the boundaries and intersection of different identities affected her perspective through various stages of life—studying as an international student, living in California as an Asian but not Asian American, working as a woman in STEM, navigating the U.S. as a “nonimmigrant” visa holder and becoming a foreigner at home in Korea and abroad in both Singapore and the U.S. Ji Su is a solutions engineer at Coursera, an online learning platform for massive open online courses as well as for university degrees. Previously, she worked as a structural risk analyst in the earthquake engineering industry. After graduating Mudd, she earned an M.S. in structural engineering from Stanford University. She is pursuing her second M.S. (applied data science) through a fully online program at the University of Michigan. Devon Stork (biology) has been in a

Simeon Koh (biology) is a physician finishing

up his third year of residency in internal medicine at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. Afterward, he hopes to do a one-year fellowship in palliative care and hospice medicine.

2014

Luke Mastalli-Kelly (physics) works on firmware

and experimental software for modular quantum computers at Quantum Circuits Inc. in New Haven, Connecticut, where he recently bought a house.

2015

Cody Crosby (engineering) writes, “After

defending my PhD dissertation at the end of July 2020, I have started as an assistant professor of applied physics at Southwestern University, a small liberal arts college in Texas! I will teach engineering and physics courses while founding a new research laboratory focused on the applications of 3D bioprinting.” For HMC’s Alumni Identity Intersections Series in March, Ji Su Lee (engineering) shared “A Nonimmigrant, Non-American Adventure.” She described how her experiences growing up in three different countries created a unique identity that transcended the on-paper categories of nationality and ethnicity. Her

biochemistry PhD program since her graduation, and in September 2020, she defended it. “Now I’m planning to jump into the Boston biotech startup scene as soon as I can wrap up some publications.”

2016

Lennart Rudolph (physics) works on data

streaming infrastructure at Yelp. Samuel Woodman (biology) writes, “In summer

2020, I started work as a biologist/data manager for the Antarctic Ecosystems Research Group (AERD) at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association Southwest Fisheries Science Center. For the data manager side, I am coming up to speed on the databases used within AERD, as well as helping clean the data and develop tools to make it easily accessible to folks within the division. I am also working to establish a cloud storage system and data processing pipelines for our larger data, such as oceanographic data from underwater gliders and moorings and imagery and video data from cameras deployed on the gliders or penguins. On the biologist side, I will be going to the field most years to help collect data on Antarctic penguins and pinnipeds.”

2017

Dylan Baker (IPS) a Google software engineer,

was quoted in a January 2021 news release announcing the creation of the Alphabet Workers Union with support from the Communications Workers of America—the


CLASS NOTES

first of its kind in the Google’s history. It will be the first union open to all employees and contractors at any Alphabet company. “This is historic—the first union at a major tech company by and for all tech workers,” she said. “We will elect representatives, we will make decisions democratically, we will pay dues, and we will hire skilled organizers to ensure all workers at Google know they can work with us if they actually want to see their company reflect their values.” Emily (Beese) Jerger (engineering) spent

summer 2020 baking, making pottery, playing Animal Crossing and camping around Chicago with her husband Paul Jerger ’15 (physics). “Up until recently, I led R&D projects at MxD, a company that runs government-funded collaborations with manufacturers, universities, and startups to enable the adoption of digital technology by manufacturers. I just transitioned to a new role of senior project manager at Fivestars.” Jonas Kaufman (physics) is a Department

of Energy Computational Science Graduate Fellowship (DOE CSGF) recipient. At UC Santa Barbara, he studies how subtle atomic-level changes affect large-scale properties. While at HMC, he worked with engineering professor Lori Bassman and density functional theory expert Aurora Pribram-Jones ’09, now a professor at the University of California, Merced. She and Jonas were among authors on a 2017 paper in Physical Review B. Jonas serves as an ad hoc alumni advisor on DFT and other techniques. Since leaving Harvey Mudd, after a year at the University of Vienna, Calvin Leung (physics) has been working on his PhD at MIT, studying fast radio bursts with the CHIME/FRB collaboration. Fast radio bursts are impulsive radio flashes, occurring all over the sky, originating from cosmological distances. Since they only last for milliseconds, very little is conclusively known about these transients, but it is thought that they can be used as cosmological tools to make precise measurements of the universe’s expansion history. Fernando Salud (engineering) was one of the

speakers at the EnviroLab Asia Alumni Forum in March. A member of the inaugural class of EnviroLab Asia fellows (2015–2016), he shared

how his program experiences have informed his post-graduation plans and current work. Fernando works as a sustainability consultant in the Philippines, where he uses data analytics to help private companies merge sustainability thinking with business strategy and support government in passing data-driven environmental legislation. He is working on Zero Waste to Nature by 2030, a multistakeholder commitment to end the leakage of plastic packaging waste to the ocean by 2030. EnviroLab Asia is a five-college initiative at the Claremont Colleges anchored at Claremont McKenna College. Sakshi Shah (physics) has joined the

biotechnology startup Cytovale as a biomedical engineer. “At Cytovale, we squeezed cells inside a microfluidic flow cell and performed high-speed image analysis to diagnose a disease called sepsis. Research in our field shows that the deformability of a patient’s white blood cells predicts their likelihood of developing sepsis, and Cytovale is currently working to commercialize this diagnostic device and improve patient outcomes. This summer, I left my position at Cytovale to start my PhD at the joint bioengineering graduate program at UC Berkeley and UCSF. I’m excited to use my PhD education to design technologies that improve access to or build equity in healthcare. At Harvey Mudd, I was a president of the Women in Physics society, and I remain deeply passionate about creating inclusive communities in STEM, both at my prior industry job and in my new community at UC Berkeley and UCSF.”

39

Marissa Lee (engineering) reached PhD

candidacy and continues to work in Stanford’s Neuromuscular Biomechanics Lab studying human pathological gait with motion capture data and wearable sensors. She writes that she enjoys working with student organizations at Mudd, including KSEA and SWE, as a member of the Alumni Association Board of Governors. “Spending the rest of free time hiking, cooking, working as an analyst for an angel investing group in healthcare technology and playing board games.” Bailey Meyer (engineering) writes, “Since

graduation, I have been working at Fenwick & West as a patent agent. I have really enjoyed working in patent law, so I am currently applying to law school. In my free time, I often play tennis or pickleball with Marissa Lee and Ramita Kondepudi or spend time exploring the Bay Area with visiting Mudders (pre-COVID).”

2020

Madeleine Kerr (physics)

was selected as one of 32 Department of Energy Computational Science Graduate Fellows. She was also an Honorable Mention recipient of the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. She is pursuing a PhD in geophysics at UCSD’s Scripps Institute of Oceanography.

2018

Connor Colombe (physics) got a master’s

degree in computer science and started a PhD program in operations research at the University of Texas at Austin. When he’s not studying or working on research, he’s at the local rock-climbing gym or at the park playing frisbee. Pip DiGiacomo (physics) is an electrical

engineer at semiconductor equipment company Applied Materials, where he designs, builds and tests electrical assemblies that control plasma composition, temperature and motion. “Electronics Lab knowledge from Mudd is certainly useful in my job. Two Mudders (engineering ’20) were hired to my group recently.”

Have you changed jobs? Retired? Celebrated a milestone? In addition to updates you submit, we compile information from a variety of sources: campus event notices, newspaper and magazine articles, press releases and Google alerts. Please submit updates to alumni@hmc.edu.

SPRING 2021


40

CLASS NOTES

IN MEMORIAM

Ronald D. Reading ’67

George Ralph Clary ’72/73

Ronald D. Reading ’67 of Ridgewood, New Jersey, died unexpectedly on Feb. 5 of complications from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis; he was 75. He leaves his wife, Carole, his son, David, his stepson, Theodore Price, and Ted’s wife, Lauren, as well as his brother, Howard. After Harvey Mudd College, Ronald received his MBA from the Stanford Business School, where he graduated fourth in his class. After moving to New York City in 1969, he launched a career in finance, first at Inmont Corporation, then with The Chase Manhattan Bank, rising to senior vice president, head of global funding and, subsequently, head of trading and securities chief executive at Chase’s London office. In 1988, he joined First Manhattan Consulting Group where he was co-head of FMCG’s Financial Risk Management Practice until his retirement in 2008. After 39 years in the financial arena, Ron applied his always discerning intellect to his personal studies, including history, current events and politics, human evolutionary biology, physics, current events and politics. He took special pleasure in planning, designing and building a spectacular garden at his home, a continuation of his abiding love for the English garden developed during his time in London. Read Ron’s full obituary at vanemburgh.com/obituary/ ronald-reading.

George Ralph Clary ’72/73 (engineering) passed away unexpectedly at the age of 70 in February 2021. He was preceded in death by his mother and father. He is survived by his brother, Paul Clary, his sister, Nancy Clary, and two nephews, Nathan and Brian Trenholme and their families. After graduating from J.F. Kennedy High School in Denver, he attended Harvey Mudd and participated in the Bates Aeronautics program. His first solo flight was in 1969. George began his career by working on air-cushioned, high-speed watercraft vessels at Rohr Industries. He became an expert in navigation systems for those crafts, which would shape his career. After six years, he changed course to flight instruction and research and development at NASA. He joined a small group of engineers and staff at Sierra Nevada Corporation in Reno, Nevada. His engineering projects led him all over the world and moved from navigation and landing systems to launching multiple satellites with a single rocket. After retiring, he consulted before starting his own company, GC Aviation, which included flight instruction and aviation mechanics with an emphasis on avionics. Although aerospace was his career, general aviation was his true passion. He owned a variety of fixed-wing airplanes, became a nationally known expert on the Cessna SkyMaster and a certified aviation mechanic. His other passions included hiking in the Sierra Nevada and Rocky Mountains, tennis and bicycling. He enjoyed singing old-time favorites in a song circle group, too. Those interested in making a gift to HMC in memory of George Clary may designate it to the Iris and Howard Critchell Aeronautical Endowed Scholarship, hmc.edu/give.

HARVEY MUDD COLLEGE MAGAZINE

Jeff Brewer ’91 Jeff Brewer ’91 (engineering) died in February. He was vice president and chief architect of the Small Business and Self-Employed Group at Intuit. Jeff began his career at Intuit after graduating from HMC. After Intuit, he helped found an engineering department at a small visual design company to build C++ class libraries for highly customized user interfaces. During the late 1990s he was a founding engineer at an online recruiting startup and helped create a two-way job seeker to employer matching algorithm and job invitation system. In 2003, he joined PayCycle, which was acquired by Intuit in 2009. He served as lead architect for the online payroll platform and oversaw many huge transformations like creating an API for payroll and the first version IOP Mobile. He played a key role in successfully merging the Intuit payroll engineering organization with the PayCycle organization.


A Seismic Shift Longtime faculty member, earthquake researcher, astronomy expert and alumnus Greg Lyzenga ’75 is retiring after more than a half century on campus it’s been 50 years since Greg Lyzenga ’75 (physics), first became part of the HMC community, when he was admitted to the Class of 1975. He has taught physics to generations of Harvey Mudd students and worked with them on numerous research projects and extracurricular activities, including astronomy and rocketry clubs and competitions. As Lyzenga enters retirement, the HMC Alumni Association celebrated his many accomplishments with a 2021 Outstanding Alumni Award, which recognizes impact on Harvey Mudd College as well as service to society. The Burton Bettingen Professor of Physics, Lyzenga conducts both theoretical and observational studies of the physical processes that lead to earthquakes and tectonic deformation. He uses the Global Positioning System to measure the movement of land along fault lines to determine the amount of strain on these faults before earthquakes and the alteration of the earth afterward. He has published extensively in the area of modeling tectonic plate movement. Before becoming a faculty member at Harvey Mudd in 1990, Lyzenga worked at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory on the development and interpretation of space-based geodetic techniques. In 2012, he and fellow collaborators received the NASA Software of the Year Award for QuakeSim, a comprehensive software tool for simulating and understanding earthquake fault processes and improving earthquake forecasting. The tool is accessible to a broad range of scientists and end users, including emergency responders, commercial disaster companies, the insurance industry and civil engineers. Recently, he and JPL colleagues have been doing earthquake research, making measurements of the San Andreas fault in the area of the Salton Sea and also in the area of central California near the Ridgecrest earthquake. He’ll continue that work in retirement. Though much of his research is about examining the causes of earthquakes, he’s an inveterate stargazer and science fiction fan. He bought his first telescope at age 8 for $29.95—the insurance money his parents received after his bicycle was stolen. The telescope began Lyzenga’s lifelong activity in amateur astronomy and professional pursuit of understanding planets large and small. In response to our request, Lyzenga is sharing one of his astro calendars, a popular feature in past magazines.

ASTRO CALENDAR 2021 12–13 JULY Venus and Mars less than a half degree apart after sunset over western horizon.

2 AUGUST Saturn at opposition. Rises at sunset and is at its closest to Earth.

13–14 AUGUST Perseid Meteor Shower. Waxing crescent moon will not interfere with viewing, which is best after midnight.

19 AUGUST Jupiter at opposition.

4 SEPTEMBER Venus and Spica (Alpha Virginis) close together after sunset low in the WSW.

22 SEPTEMBER Northern Hemisphere Autumnal Equinox

9 OCTOBER Astronomy Day (check local astronomy clubs for events in your area)

16 OCTOBER International Observe the Moon Night is.gd/observemoon


301 Platt Boulevard Claremont, CA 91711 hmc.edu/magazine

As part of the effort to reduce the College’s carbon footprint, solar arrays have been added near Drinkward Residence Hall and Linde Field. The arrays will supply roughly 8% to 10% of the College’s power needs. Read more on page 5.

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