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
Bows and Wows
At Last CLASS OF
Alumni returned to campus April 2 to participate in long-awaited ceremonies with family and friends.
Doug Raigosa, Holly Frank, Eleanor Rackoff, Celeste Cerna, Neeta Rao
Djassi Julien and Jane Cho Watts
President Maria Klawe and Fei-Fei Li
Felice Foundos P20, Maxwell Denning and Mitchell Denning P20
Nisha Bhatia, Tiffany Madruga and Priyanka Agarwal
Engineering professors Leah Mendelson, Albert Dato, Qimin Yang and TJ Tsai
Hannah Davalos and Camille Simon
Mary Celestin, Kahiwa Hoe, and Sarah Embry
Safiya Umoja Noble
Download free images from HMC Flickr, bit.ly/gradimages20 | bit.ly/gradimages2021
Spring 2022 | Volume 22, No. 2
12 Research 26 Mudderings 27 Class Notes
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
This Kind of Fun An award-winning CS researcher balances academics and freelines.
Editorial Assistant Leah Gilchrist Contributing Writers Andrew Faught, Kelley Freund, Elaine Regus, George Spencer On the cover Thelma (Toty) Georgina Calvo Polanco ’20 poses with her tiny dog Otis Calvo Polanco after the Class of 2020 Commencement ceremony April 2.
Goodbye Plastic. Hello PDK.
A new type of plastic resin could replace traditional plastics, and Brett Helms ’00 heads the lab that is leading the change.
Andrea Zavala ’21 prioritized developing herself as a global citizen before joining the workforce.
Contributing Photographers Shannon Cottrell, Jeanine Hill, Michelle Lum ’23, Marilyn Sargent, Jordan Stone ’23, Thor Swift, Deborah Tracey, Nikki Wolf Proofreaders Sarah Barnes, Kelly Lauer Vice President for Advancement Hieu Nguyen
Read Mudd Magazine Website: magazine.hmc.edu Go paperless: If you wish to stop receiving the printed magazine, write to us at email@example.com. We’ll send you an email when new editions are posted.
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
Follow HMC Twitter – @harveymudd Facebook – @harveymuddcollege Instagram – @harvey_mudd LinkedIn – harvey-mudd-college
STEM for Everyone
A passion for astronomy and science communication converge for Kevin Hainline ’06, a member of the James Webb Space Telescope team.
Aurora Burd ’05 teaches earth science to incarcerated people seeking college degrees.
HARVEY MUDD COLLEGE MAGAZINE
Postmaster: Send address changes to Harvey Mudd College, Advancement Services, 301 Platt Boulevard, Claremont, CA 91711. Copyright © 2022—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: firstname.lastname@example.org or Mudd Magazine, Harvey Mudd College, 301 Platt Boulevard, Claremont, CA 91711
PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE Celebration of a New Beginning as i write this, the covid-19 burden on the county’s health care system has reached a low level. Therefore, the L.A. County Department of Public Health, with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, announced that establishments, businesses and other venues may eliminate indoor masking for both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals, except in cases of “mega events.” This is welcome news and, with the onset of spring, feels like a new beginning. To ensure continued safety of our campus community, we will continue the College’s requirement for masks when indoors or when taking class in an outdoor classroom for the time being. We believe this cautious approach will allow us to continue the in-person activities we began this fall—instruction and work in labs and shops— as well as some of our upcoming events. While we could not hold Family Weekend on campus this year and have had to delay Alumni Weekend, we did manage to make good on our plans for two other events. We were thrilled to celebrate on campus with the classes of 2020 and 2021, whose in-person ceremonies were postponed until April 2. And, we got back on track with the Class of 2022 commencement in May. Three commencement ceremonies in one year is something we hope we’ll never have to repeat! We continue to be optimistic about other areas, especially those that directly impact the quality of the outstanding STEM education we provide to our students. Searches for faculty positions in Humanities, Social Sciences, and the Arts along with Chemistry, Engineering and Physics, began last fall and, so far, have resulted in the hiring of three chemists, two
of whom will join the faculty this fall. Searches in Computer Science, Engineering and other disciplines will continue then as well. I’m excited about the College’s renewed focus on sustainability. Since 2016, the College’s Green Fund has covered the expense of projects that improve the College’s sustainability while returning proceeds to the endowment. Director and inaugural Hixon Professor of Climate Studies Lelia Hawkins is working with the College community to expand the climate studies curriculum and explore the exciting possibility of future joint majors developed in collaboration with our existing academic departments. Despite limited in-person school visits, campus tours and college fairs, demand for an HMC education remains high. After last year’s 39% increase in applications, this year we saw a 7% decrease, resulting in 4,424 applications, the second largest pool in the history of the College. We received a record 502 Early Decision applications toward our first-year target of 228 enrolling students. By now, you may have received a communication from the Presidential Search Committee or SpencerStuart, our search firm, about the search for HMC’s next president. They are gathering input from constituents about the qualities they believe are important in the College’s next leader as well as about their aspirations for Harvey Mudd College. Everyone can learn more about the process and get updates by visiting the College’s website at hmc.edu/presidential_search. I look forward to what the future brings for me, and I hope you will remain invested in Harvey Mudd College and celebrate as the College begins a new chapter in its history.
Maria Klawe President, Harvey Mudd College
WASC Reaccreditation in february 2022, harvey mudd’s accreditation by wasc senior college and University Commission was reaffirmed for a 10-year period, the maximum term possible. The commission’s decision was informed by HMC’s Institutional Report submitted to WSCUC in August 2021 and by the report of the review team that conducted the accreditation visit with HMC Oct. 12-15, 2021. The Commission commends Harvey Mudd College for:
Broadly held and exceptional commitment to student learning and success and mission-driven ethos.
Caring, collaborative and supportive community and especially the ethos that students support each other in their endeavors and success.
Genuine commitment to issues of diversity, equity and inclusion, as well as the significant diversification of the student body, recognizing there is still progress to be made.
Candid and deeply data-informed examination of the critical issues confronting the College.
Thoughtfully staged, faculty-driven and inclusive process by which the Core Curriculum is being revised, and associated attention to ensuring its sustainability.
Expansion of the Division of Student Affairs to support student life, and its work to connect co-curricular programming to the overall College mission.
Clear and impactful actions to address student workload and stress through revisions to the curriculum and student services.
HARVEY MUDD COLLEGE MAGAZINE
Wind Event Every 40 years or so it seems, Claremont experiences a severe wind event. The latest happened in late January when several trees were felled on campus, a few tables and umbrellas were damaged, and numerous trees toppled throughout the city. There were no damages to buildings on campus nor, fortunately, any injuries.
Harvey Mudd College’s work to increase representation of students from diverse groups was praised in the annual survey of first-year Black enrollment at top liberal arts colleges conducted by the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. Harvey Mudd is listed as the second-place institution for Black enrollment in fall 2021.
Homework Hotline Funded harvey mudd college’s homework Hotline, a free, over-the-phone tutoring service for K-12 students, has become a permanent program of the College, assuring that local and regional students will have access to free, quality math and science tutoring for years to come. For 13 years, the College provided Homework Hotline’s service to the community thanks to private donations. Now, recognizing the invaluable resource the hotline provides to the community and region, the College has made the program a permanent part of its overall operating budget. Harvey Mudd’s Homework Hotline was
conceived in 2010 by Harvey Mudd president Maria Klawe, after she visited the successful Homework Hotline created at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. RHIT shared its system with Harvey Mudd, provided technical advice for its implementation and continues to be a valued collaborator. “The service means so much to the surrounding schools,” said Homework Hotline Director Gabriela Gamiz. “Funding the program permanently is the College’s way of demonstrating its importance. We want to keep on sharing the amazing passion and talent that Harvey Mudd students have for math and science with the wider community."
The board of trustees established a presidential search committee and engaged SpencerStuart to solicit perspectives from the College community regarding aspirations for Harvey Mudd College during the next 10 years and, consequently, the strengths important for the next president. Community stakeholders have shared their perspectives with members of the SpencerStuart team, discussing such items as priorities for the next president and challenges and opportunities facing HMC. To provide input to the search committee, write to HMCPresident@ spencerstuart.com. Learn more about the search, by visiting hmc.edu/ presidential_search.
Trustee Update Kathleen Fisher was named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
New to the board Curtis A. Mewbourne II P25
Retired partner, managing director and portfolio manager, PIMCO
Engaging Projects During February, students shared and celebrated the ways the College is collaborating with community partners and engaging in critical justice issues to make a positive impact. Here are several projects. Phousawanh Peaungvongpakdy ’22 Organization: Napier Initiative Project: “Using Math Modeling for Social Justice”
Peaungvongpakdy plans to work with students at Upward Bound to help them learn how to use mathematical modeling to understand the housing crisis in Claremont and in their community and its potential to impact social justice issues. He hopes this project helps begin a conversation and a push for housing solutions in these communities by having students participate in local nonprofit housing crisis organizations or local politics.
Richard Chang ’24 Organization: HMC Biomakerspace Project: Biomakerspace Software Engineer Internship
“This summer, I worked on generating an adapter that will allow for variable-sized labware objects to be attached onto the deck of an OT-2 Opentron machine. Labs that own an OT-2 Opentron machine may find it expensive to use since it can only operate on labware objects with the exact dimensions of its deck. By generating an adapter, labs can save a lot of money and utilize the labware objects they already own. I also worked on creating a website for a biofoundry that the biomakerspace is trying to start up. The biofoundry aims to produce custom plasmids for labs around The Claremont Colleges in order to facilitate their research.”
HARVEY MUDD COLLEGE MAGAZINE
Mudders Making A Difference MMAD is a student organization that works with the Office of Community Engagement to provide Harvey Mudd students an opportunity to volunteer and participate in socially conscious activities. The organization provides an exchange of ideas and experiences with the local community that are a crucial to HMC’s mission. In fall 2021, HMC students gathered to walk dogs from the nearby Priceless Pets dog shelter.
Junyu Jiang ’24 Organization: Lucy Parsons Lab Project: Surveillance and Privacy
During summer 2021, Jiang interned with Lucy Parsons Labs, a non-profit organization in Chicago, where she did research on the relationships between the Chicago Police Department, mayor’s office and crime lab (founded by University of Chicago). Throughout the research, Jiang collected information from county jails, the metadata of emails from the mayor’s office and more.
Notes & Quotes Recent speakers “The Intersection of Health, Medicine and Incarceration”
“ Some of our clients get out [of incarceration] at 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning [when] the outpatient checkout desk isn’t open, so they’re just let out on the street ... We need to take a human-centered approach ... If we don’t, how can they rehabilitate? Robin Barkins is founder and CEO of To Restore Unite Support and Transform (TRUST), a nonprofit, community-based organization that serves individuals impacted by the justice system. Barkins spoke during HMC’s Justice Education Series on Oct. 7.
“The Pedagogy of Technoscience”
“ It is so important to make sure that we are creating counter actions [to discriminatorily-designed systems] to allow for teaching our students ways that technology can be used for the good of humanity, to lift up humanity and guarantee its existence.” Yvonne Thevenot, founder of STEM Kids NYC, developer of Culturally Responsive STEM Curriculum. She spoke on Sept. 22 as part of OID’s Anti-Racist Series.
“Perseverance: A Trait That Takes You to New Heights”
“ Each time I got rejected [11 times], I would [ask] myself, ‘What is the worst that could happen if you never got selected (to be an astronaut)? Your wanting to be an astronaut motivated you to go to college, to go to graduate school, to become a pilot and scuba diver, learn a third language [Russian], work at a premier research facility (Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory), and earn a good living.’ So, I was happy where I was at and with what I was doing. If it didn’t happen, not the end of the world ... Have a Plan B, and enjoy the journey.” Astronaut Jose Hernandez visited campus March 9 to describe his journey from migrant farmworker to astronaut.
Faculty Updates Research, Awards, Activities Biology
Students in biology professor Matina Donaldson-Matasci’s Experimental Ecology Lab are exploring the Bernard Field Station and keeping natural history notebooks. In a series of Bee Lab posts on hmcbee.blogspot.com, students share their observations, including sketches and details about bees, birds, flowers, fruit, cactus and more.
Ben Wiedermann is advisor for the project,
Hal Van Ryswyk co-authored the paper
which aims to get youth involved and excited to learn more about their urban forests. The Clinic team is helping the sponsors leave behind more than budding trees and enhanced urban forests in communities across California.
“Following Molecular Mobility During Chemical Reactions: No Evidence for Active Propulsion.” Reported changes in self-diffusion of small molecules during reactions have been attributed to “boosted mobility.” However, this research, published by the American Chemistry Society, demonstrates the critical role of changing concentrations of paramagnetic ions on nuclear magnetic resonance signal intensities, which has led to erroneous measurements of diffusion coefficients. The use of shuffled gradient amplitudes allows accurate diffusion NMR measurements, even with timedependent relaxation rates caused by changing concentrations of paramagnetic ions.
Danae Schulz earned
tenure and promotion to associate professor. In 2021, she was awarded a Faculty Early Career Development grant from the National Science Foundation for her research on the African trypanosome, a protozoan parasite that causes sleeping sickness in humans and nagana in cattle. Trypanosomes are transmitted to the bloodstream of a mammal through the bite of a tsetse fly, eventually leading to coma and death. Schulz seeks to understand what allows trypanosomes to reprogram themselves to adapt as they move between the differing environments of the fly midgut and the mammalian bloodstream, with an eye toward trying to manipulate these adaptations to generate new therapies. Also joining Schulz in earning tenure and promotion to associate professor were Salvador Plascencia (HSA/creative writing) and TJ Tsai (engineering).
HARVEY MUDD COLLEGE MAGAZINE
The changes in conductivity of specific types of microelectromechanical switch contacts are the subject of a paper co-authored by Matthew Spencer and his students Ethan Falicov ’21 and Jessica Marvin ’23. The paper “Breakdown and Healing of Tungsten-Oxide Films on Microelectromechanical Relay Contacts” was published in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ Journal of Microelectromechanical Systems. “This work examined a type of MEM switch with tungsten contacts, which were used in this application to improve the endurance of MEM switch contacts,” says Spencer. “We observed that the resistance of tungsten contacts increases quickly in atmosphere, and we studied how to restore low resistance with electrical stress. This let us trace the source of these resistance changes, which occur because of the behavior of charge traps in tungsten oxides that form on the switch surfaces.”
David Vosburg and his son Diego were among
the people watching the Super Bowl in-person at SoFI Stadium in Inglewood, California. Vosburg’s wife, Kate, won two tickets from a Life Stream Blood Bank contest she entered when donating blood. The prize included a four-night hotel stay, admission to a pre-game reception and the Players’ Tailgate Party. Vosburg says they were thrilled with the Rams’ win. “Diego had a blast, and he came home with a souvenir Super Bowl football.”
The Britton Fund Inc. and West Coast Arborists Inc. are sponsors of “Amplifying the Urban Forest,” a Clinic project that involves developing the educational app My Tree & Me.
Josh Brake and his Microprocessor-based
Systems students hosted a demo day to showcase their projects from fall 2021. A braille calculator, LED keyboard art, a musical hat, an ocean forecast visualizer and a pick-up line vending machine were some of the projects on display. View video at bit.ly/e155demo22.
Werner Zorman, an associate professor and
holder of the Walter and Leonore Annenberg Chair in Leadership, earned tenure. In addition to teaching classes on leadership, communication and team building skills, he conducts research on leadership education and facilitates leadership development among students, faculty and staff.
Humanities, Social Sciences, and the Arts Ken Fandell exhibited artwork at Traywick
Contemporary in Berkeley earlier this year. Titled “Black and Blue,” the exhibition featured recent photo-based works on paper and was Fandell’s sixth solo show with the gallery. “This series deconstructs basic concepts of art making and, in the process, blurs the lines between the conceptual and the physical,” he says. “Images are made of shapes that are precariously balanced and teetering, on the brink of settling or collapse. Many of the compositions appear as suspended animations that defy gravity or architectural possibilities.” Fandell is a professor of art and the Michael G. and C. Jane Wilson Chair in the Arts and Humanities. Cultural geography professor David Seitz wrote the paper “‘You’re stuffed, bear!’: Geography’s colonial legacies in the ‘Paddington Empire,’” published in the journal Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers. The research seeks to answer questions about how popular culture might inform professional geographers about perceptions of cultural geography, its history of complicity with imperialism and its practices of knowledge production. The paper offers some partial answers by turning to an English popular cultural metaseries that is remarkably explicit and dynamic in its depiction of geography: Michael Bond’s Paddington Bear franchise. Seitz argues that Paddington iteratively reprises colonial
encounters, at times in troubling ways, but also offers insightful critiques of extractive forms of geographical knowledge production. Anup Gampa,assistant
and Research” at the virtual Joint Mathematics Meeting in April. Speakers led an interactive session on how to begin and sustain interdisciplinary collaboration with academics outside mathematics and industrial colleagues.
professor of psychology, was approved for a second two-year appointment. He studies critical social psychology and the relationships between individuals’ psychologies and structures—such as capitalism, racism or social movements—of which they are a part..
Mathematics Darryl Yong ’96 presented “The Value
of Reconnecting with our Pedagogical Commitments” as part of Math for America’s Wednesday Webinar Series. “Each of us has a set of moral and ethical values about teaching that help shape what we do in the classroom,” says Yong. “These pedagogical commitments, particularly those about justice and equity and what it means to be a teacher, have been shaken after a year like no other.” During his talk, Yong helped teachers develop a continuing practice of self-reflection to cultivate greater alignment between what they value and what they do in their professional lives. A paper by Jamie Haddock was accepted to the 2022 IEEE International Conference on Acoustics, Speech and Signal Processing. “A Generalized Hierarchical Nonnegative Tensor Decomposition” proposes a hierarchical tensor decomposition model that generalizes a natural model for matrices, a property which many hierarchical tensor decomposition models lack. This model naturally illuminates the hierarchy of latent topics in tensor-structured data. Haddock helped organize the session “Establishing Interdisciplinary Collaborations in Teaching
Heather Zinn Brooks, who was recently
approved for a second two-year appointment, joined Jamie Haddock and colleagues from other colleges and universities to organize the Southern California Applied Mathematics Symposium at Harvey Mudd May 21. The one-day conference brings together researchers from universities throughout Southern California, working in all areas of applied mathematics, for an exchange of ideas in an informal and collaborative atmosphere.
“The curious electrical resistance that gives strange metals their name has been seen in a failed superconductor, in which disorder interferes with the material’s ability to achieve zero resistance below a critical temperature,” writes Nicholas Breznay ’02 in “A strange metal from a failed superconductor.” The article was published in the January issue of Nature.
Disorientation, Adaptation, Empathy and Grace Written by David Vosburg Reprinted from the Journal for Research & Practice in College Teaching (Vol. 6 No. 2, 2021) by permission
like many college instructors, I found the sudden shift to remote instruction in March 2020 to be a profoundly disorienting experience—physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I was no longer biking to my office on campus but sitting in a makeshift home office. Instead of sending my kids off to school, they were clustered around the dining room table for much of the day, often with one or two neighbors from their school pod joining them. I had to abandon my research laboratory and cancel offers to research students for the summer. Familiar and comforting daily routines were laid aside in a frantic scramble to find a new “normal.” What could I keep from the ways I taught my courses face-to-face and what would I change?
HARVEY MUDD COLLEGE MAGAZINE
I commonly employed active-learning group exercises in my organic chemistry and general chemistry courses, either with assigned or randomly determined partners. Normally, I could easily walk around the room and subtly monitor the progress of each group while listening in on bits of their conversation and looking for evidence of good problem-solving approaches. I was very unsure how I was going to adapt this system to remote instruction using Zoom. Sure, I could create random breakout rooms for each class, but I felt that dropping in on several groups during a relatively short class session would be disruptive to their process (unless they invited me to join them by requesting help) and likely counterproductive. I wanted a less-invasive way to check in on them and monitor their progress. Since our college has ready access to many Google apps, my colleagues and I settled on
using a Google Slides link for each course section (updated for each day’s activities) as a kind of worksheet for group activities. Each group would have a few slides to complete that would clearly indicate their progress through— and responses to—the questions posed. Not only could I comment on individual slides while they worked, I could also switch to a grid view to see the entire class’s slides at once to rapidly determine each group’s progress (a major advantage over using a shared Google Doc). My colleagues and I were thrilled with this setup, and my students (both in lecture and laboratory courses) voiced appreciation for the sense of community that this synchronous mode of instruction fostered. I embraced a few other teaching innovations for remote instruction. I delivered lectures with the Explain EDU iPad app, importing PowerPoint slides and annotating them whiteboard-style with an Apple pencil.
I created keys for worksheets and exams in Notability on the iPad and graded exams and lab assignments (and student graders graded homework sets) with Gradescope. While I don’t expect to use Explain EDU when I return to face-to-face teaching this fall, I will keep using Notability and Gradescope. Annotating PDFs and taking notes on the iPad with Notability (that I can readily organize by topic and export as PDF files) is something I definitely plan to continue, even with the extra weight of an iPad on my daily bicycle commute. Gradescope is especially helpful for large classes or multiple graders, and I have been impressed by the increased transparency, efficiency and equity in grading that it affords. Regarding transparency, students can see exactly why they gained or lost points, and there is an integrated system for requesting regrades with the student’s original submission still readily accessible. Regarding efficiency, physical exams or worksheets do not need to be transferred among different graders, and I can give the same feedback to several students without having to retype it. Simple and identical answers can be grouped and graded together, and scores can be readily transferred to our course management system. Students can either annotate PDF files directly or upload assignments to Gradescope that they printed, completed and scanned. Regarding equity, I grade just one item for all the students at a time. I generally do not know whose submission I am grading, removing some potential bias. Overall, feedback to students has become timelier and grading has become less burdensome, while student learning and success have remained consistent. I’m not sure if I’ll ever print out student exams again! This whole process of adapting to remote instruction has grown my sense of empathy for my students’ experiences. While teaching face-to-face had become somewhat intuitive to me, I realized that I needed to regularly reorient myself to what was going on in the online versions of courses that I had been teaching for years. As I struggled to remember what day of the week it was and when major course milestones were occurring, I realized that my students—who were navigating a course that was much less familiar to them than it was to me—were certainly much more disoriented than I was. I, at least, had a solid grasp of the course material, if not the new
“ This whole process of adapting to remote instruction has grown my sense of empathy for my students’ experiences. While teaching face-to-face had become somewhat intuitive to me, I realized that I needed to regularly reorient myself to what was going on in the online versions of courses that I had been teaching for years.” –DAVID VOSBURG, PROFESSOR OF CHEMISTRY
course structure. My students did not have that luxury, and they were simultaneously navigating the demands of four to six other courses and laboratories that semester. They were disconnected from their peers since they couldn’t live on campus, and even advice from more senior students—when available—was less helpful for newly transformed courses. I had recently audited three semesters of college Spanish courses in preparation for a sabbatical year in Mexico, so I thought I had some appreciation for students’ perspectives in a new course. But even that experience, though relevant to a degree, did not accurately reflect the disorientation my students were feeling in the transition to remote instruction. I was also aware that my students came from a wide range of family and living situations, and that those differences and inequities were likely magnified without the (pseudo-)equalizing effect of a residential campus environment. I responded by being more flexible in the modes of engagement I offered students. For example, they could have their video on or off, they could ask questions audibly or post them in the chat (publicly or privately), they could annotate our shared Google Slides, and they could engage the course asynchronously if/ when they needed to. While this gentler and more intentional approach was not a panacea, it clearly communicated my care for and to my students. I will continue to seek ways to offer students options for how they engage with each other and with me. For example, I may
give explicit permission for pairs of students to divide the duties of writing their answers on the board and explaining them to the class rather than always insisting that both group members participate in the verbal explanation. I will also invite my students to propose alternative modes of engaging course material, listen generously to their responses, and be more attentive to their situational needs. Looking back, this transition to remote instruction has made me even more aware of my need to extend grace to my students and to myself. They are at least as disoriented as I am, even if they don’t show it. They are having to adapt to college and to all their courses. I have a growing sense of empathy for their struggles and am ready to respond. I will keep working to educate myself about systemic injustices that my students (and colleagues) face and act against them as I am able. While I have always aimed to treat my students as whole people and not to measure their worth by their performance in my courses, I am continually reminded that I am not superhuman and am as much in need of grace as they are.
David Vosburg is professor of chemistry at Harvey Mudd College and author of Jesus, Beginnings, and Science (2017). His research focuses on synthetic organic chemistry, molecular selfassembly, green chemistry, chemistry education and communicating the compatibility of science and Christianity.
FLIP: Spaceship at Sea
as part of the southern californiawide Pacific Standard Time exhibition on art and science, planned by the Getty Foundation for 2024, I’ve been tapped to produce a video installation for the Birch Aquarium in San Diego about a unique technological wonder in the history of oceanography. The world-famous FLIP is a nautical marvel that flips 90 degrees to become a live-in buoy for marine study. Recently decommissioned, the FLoating Instrument Platform (FLIP) is a co-production of the U.S. Navy and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, which operated from 1962 through 2020. Its architecture invites curiosity and re-orientation. To accommodate travelers in the horizontal or vertical position, the interior is a space M.C. Escher might have imagined: extra doors and ladders are at perpendicular angles; toilets and sinks are mounted on tracks along which they may be slid sideways onto the walls. The kitchen stove swivels to upright on rotation. Yet FLIP was remarkably stable in high waves and crucially quiet. Attaching hydrophones down the water column along the 350-foot hull, scientists analyzed sound propagation at different depths. In the 1960s, FLIP supported sonar-guided submarine-missile launching but later became a workhorse for gathering ocean data. In the 1990s, public outcry against military acoustics’ impact on whales flipped FLIP’s use from military defense to marine conservation.
HARVEY MUDD COLLEGE MAGAZINE
SCRIPPS INSTITUTION OF OCEANOGRAPHY, UC SAN DIEGO
Although her background is in visual arts (University of California, San Diego) and media studies (Brown), Rachel Mayeri, professor of media studies, has had a lifelong curiosity about science. Biological imagery and ideas are fundamental to understanding human identity and life on Earth; for many people they also inspire art and political discussion. Her course offerings reflect these interests in art, science and filmmaking: Animal Media Studies, Digital Cinema: Experimental Animation, and Art and Biology. She also teaches Introduction to Video Art as part of the Intercollegiate Media Studies core program and Critical Inquiry as part of HMC’s Core curriculum. Here, she describes one of several projects she’s working on.
FLoating Instrument Platform (FLIP)
Clearly, it would be feasible to imagine an art-science installation devoted to FLIP’s engineering alone. However, along with my collaborator, cognitive scientist Deborah Forster, I want to examine many aspects of the past and future lives of the FLIP through its scientific and military history, documentary film and interviews, LiDAR and photogrammetry, and speculative fictions. The end result, “R/P FLIP: Spaceship at Sea,” will be a spectacular video installation tracking this story for the Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. It is one of several projects in the group Oceanographic Art and Science: Navigating the Pacific, curated by Lisa Cartwright (Institute of Arts and Humanities) and Nan Renner (Birch Aquarium at Scripps) for the University of California, San Diego. Work has already begun, including a FLIP “book,” thanks to support from the Hixon-Riggs Fund for scholarship and art at Harvey Mudd College, University of California, San Diego and the Getty Foundation.
Some questions we are using to frame our research are: • What does the radical design of the FLIP show us about creativity and the interplay between science, art and literature? • What is the social, cultural and historical significance of FLIP beyond its radical design? • How does the FLIP get caught up in the changing cultural meaning of the Pacific Coast and its human and nonhuman inhabitants? • How did FLIP, as a technology researchers can live on, uniquely shape scientific understanding of the ocean? • What is lost and gained as the FLIP obsolesces and is replaced by autonomous and passive monitoring systems? The project will trace oceanographic research through the diverse perspectives and lived experiences of the people who worked on FLIP, from the scientists to the skipper. FLIP’s stories take us through the cultural transformation of California’s coastal Pacific Ocean waters from a territory to be defended to an ecosystem to be conserved.
MY MUDD LIFE
This Kind of Fun
An award-winning CS researcher balances academics and freelines Written by Kelley Freund Photo by Michelle Lum ’23
during high school, amani maina-kilaas ’23 won an award for helping his peers. Creating those partnerships with fellow students was something he wanted to continue in college, and a campus visit showed him Mudd was the perfect place to do just that. Today, the computer science and math major helps his classmates by grutoring (grading and tutoring) in a couple of his favorite classes, teaching students how to free skate and collaborating on research projects in Professor George Montañez’s AMISTAD lab. (AMISTAD stands for Artificial Machine Intelligence = Search Targets Awaiting Discovery, but it also translates to “friendship” in Spanish, which proves the lab is a perfect fit for Maina-Kilaas.) In January, he won the Computing Research Association’s 2022 Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Award for the work he completed in the lab as a rising sophomore. “When I came here, I knew I wanted to experience everything, from internships to research,” says Maina-Kilaas. “At other schools, you might need to be in your senior year to do those things. But opportunities at Mudd are far more accessible.” What drew you to math and computer science?
I fell in love with math in high school. I liked the problem-solving aspect, and I would get caught up in trying to figure out all the extra credit problems on my homework assignments. When I came to a solution, I had a sense of satisfaction. Because my dad is into computers, I’d been exposed to CS a little bit, and I found that same satisfaction. I thought, “This kind of fun is what I want to have in a job.”
Amani Maina-Kilaas ’23
Describe your work in the AMISTAD lab that led to the CRA award.
We investigated how the ability to perceive intention can advantage virtual agents. We created simulations to study intention perception directly through a multi-agent, prey-predator encounter and a two-player, game-theoretic adversarial situation and also indirectly through having agents analyze artifacts left behind by another. That summer resulted in three publications, two for which I was lead author and one for which I was co-lead author. What does the Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Award mean to you?
The first thing I did was tell Prof. George that he must have written a great recommendation letter. Then I looked up the other people who won the award and thought, “Wow, they’re impressive. Are we sure I should have won?” But now that the excitement has worn off, this award is a sort of validation. I guess I am a researcher, and maybe the work I’ve done is kind of cool. It’s nice to have that recognized outside of the small group I work with. Tell us about running Mudd’s Skate Society.
My freshman year, the previous president got very busy. And then COVID happened.
There were very few freeskaters on campus when we came back this year, and we want a lot of freeskaters—it’s sort of our brand. The previous club president told me I should take it up, so, together with a few friends, we restarted the club. The first few weeks of the fall semester, I was teaching 10-20 people a day how to ride, and we placed a bulk order for almost 40 skates. In October, I broke my leg freeskating. I wasn’t doing any fancy tricks or anything, but there’s this one area on campus that’s known for wiping people out. I was one of those people. On the bright side, I am now freeskating again. Do you have plans for after graduation?
I’m very indecisive, and I’ve been struggling with the post-grad question for a long time. Everything appeals to me: I like the idea of going into the industry, but I also like the idea of pursuing a PhD and then either becoming a professor or doing research. But I’ve recently decided my desire to learn more outweighs the potential opportunity cost, and I think earning a PhD would be really fun and valuable no matter what I do afterwards. So I’m planning to apply for programs. I’m still trying to figure out what area of CS I’d want to pursue, and I’m hoping this semester and this summer will help me narrow that down.
Citadel West Coast Data Open defeating teams of graduate students, two groups of Harvey Mudd College first years placed first and third in Citadel’s West Coast Data Open. Members of the first place team—Milo Knell ’25 (CS and math), Alan Wu ’25 (CS and math), David Chen ’25 (CS) and Forrest Bicker ’25 (CS and math)—received a $10,000 cash prize and interview offers at Citadel, a leading alternative investment manager. As winners of the West Coast regional, they qualified for the Datathon Global Championship and the opportunity to compete against other top regional teams for a $100,000 cash prize. The third place finishers were Sahil Rane ’25, Baltazar Zuniga-Ruiz ’25, Karina Walker ’25 and Shahnawaz Mogal ’25 (University of Arizona). Participants work in teams on large and complex dataset challenges impacting the global markets then present their findings to a panel of judges. Both teams were given a dataset from the research archive of Upworthy, a digital media platform often credited for the rise of overly dramatic clickbait headlines, due in large part to a series of A/B tests they conducted from 2013 to 2015. The teams analyzed and reported on findings of a dataset of Upworthy’s A/B tests consisting of 150,817 different article packages and the respective number of clicks each received. “Given Upworthy’s interesting reputation for clickbait, we wanted to build a machine learning model to measure whether an article
HARVEY MUDD COLLEGE MAGAZINE
is clickbait and see what it said about Upworthy’s headlines,” said Bicker, a member of the first place team. “To do this, we theorized that fake news tends to look very similar to clickbait because both aim to pull in viewers, so we trained an AI classifier on an external dataset of fake news. “Applying the classifier on Upworthy’s dataset of headlines, we found that fake news predicted clickbait more accurately than click rate alone,” he said. “We found that predicted fake news is a good proxy to examine clickbait that avoids the influence of confounding variables like overall business performance and external factors that are not accounted for in the Upworthy data. Using a variety of natural language processing techniques, we also found that clickbait tends to use more extreme emotional language (very positive or negative) that is potentially harmful to the public’s mental health and emotional wellbeing.” Bicker said the team took a learning-focused approach to the competition, using it as an opportunity to explore new analytical techniques. “We wanted to push ourselves to think of novel, creative solutions to the problem, so we experimented with a number of distinct approaches. It was also our priority to bring a high standard of rigor to our work, making sure not to cut corners on our analysis and budget time appropriately for quality checks,” he said.
Physics Gold Sophomores Kevin Kim and Lucien Tsai competed with international teams in the 12th annual University Physics Competition and were named Gold Medal Winners for their paper describing the potential damage of an asteroid on a coastal city. Among the six teams winning top honors, the Harvey Mudd team was the smallest (others had three members) and the only team from the United States (Polish and Chinese teams also won gold). Over a weekend in November, students work in teams of up to three at their home colleges and universities, analyzing a real-world scenario using the principles of physics. They then write and submit a paper describing their work. Of the 324 papers submitted in this year’s competition, six teams (1.9%) were ranked as Gold Medal Winners, 60 teams (19%) were ranked as Silver Medal Winners, 85 teams (26%) were ranked as Bronze Medal Winners and 173 teams (53%) were ranked as Accomplished Competitors. Kim and Tsai, who were sponsored by physics professor Theresa Lynn, selected the “Asteroid Ocean Impact” problem: “Consider the impact of an asteroid in the ocean, 1,000 km from a coastal city. What is the minimum mass the asteroid would require in order to cause substantial damage to this city?” Tsai says, “We chose problem B because it seemed to be more challenging in the sense that the physics is more involved with different physical principles employed from the asteroid entering the atmosphere to the resulting oceanic waves that reach the coastal city.”
Cost Savings for Company, First Place for Students With the help of engineering students, a Southern California contract packaging company is becoming more competitive, efficient and profitable. A detailed, comprehensive workplan, developed by the students with guidance from their professor Kash Gokli, Oliver C. Field Professor of Manufacturing Practice and Engineering Economics, won first place ($300) in the technical paper competition at the recent West Coast Industrial and Systems Engineering Conference. Supported by the Department of Engineering’s Riggs Fellowship, Liam Chalk ’23, Sam Marquez ’22, Sidney Taylor ’23 and Nick Zemtzov ’23 worked during summer 2021 for WePackItAll, located in Southern California. The company performs primary and secondary packaging for a wide variety of customers and products. In their winning paper, the Harvey Mudd team described how they examined the company’s processes and employed lean manufacturing methodologies to increase the processes’ throughput and reduce the frequency and severity of quality defects. They designed and implemented a new packout line, developed new operating procedures and designated production roles using insight from a value stream map, takt time calculations and the concepts of single-piece flow. The team’s work resulted in a 28% improvement in carton production per shift per person. A new layout across three packout lines and two shifts amounted to $1.26 million saved annually. The Harvey Mudd team saved an order of magnitude more money for WePackItAll than their closest competitor. Taylor says she believes their project also stood out because “instead of just talking about the process engineering techniques we used, we really emphasized how we transformed the culture. The project would not have been as successful without the buy-in of the people at WePackItAll, an aspect of process engineering which can be overlooked.” As the first place winner, the Harvey Mudd team will represent the region in the Undergraduate Technical Paper Competition Global Finals at the IISE Annual Conference & Expo in Seattle.
Making the Most of Spring
MICHELLE LUM ’23
JORDAN STONE ’24
Harvey Mudd student photographers helped chronicle longawaited and much-appreciated life on campus this spring.
Associate Dean of Students and Director of Campus Life Chris Sundberg and the
work on their E4 project in the makerspace.
Muchachos regularly host a painting tutorial. Students paint along and enjoy the snacks.
JORDAN STONE ’24
DEVON OVERBEY ’24
John Terwilliger PO ’25 and Elena Williams ’25
West Dorm residents found a free boat on Craigslist, rented transportation and brought it to campus. They used it at their Hugo So ’22, Gabriel Zwillinger ’24, Nilay Pangrekar ’24 and James Clinton ’24 play spikeball outside the LAC.
HARVEY MUDD COLLEGE MAGAZINE
“Boat Bar” party before moving it to the Linde parking lot.
Studies of Women Waverly Wang ’23, a computer science and media studies double major, displayed her artwork in a solo show this spring in Sprague Gallery. Her diverse work included portraiture representing herself, people from her life and social media, historical figures, performing artists and fictional characters, both from popular culture and of her own creation. Wang points out fanfic as a primary source where she finds truly complex women: “Female characters I see in films are too overpowered. Writers seem to make female characters strong in the way a man is strong like physically ... Writers can sometimes feel too afraid to give flaws to female characters. That’s why I really like fanfiction. The majority of fanfiction is female-written work. And there seems to be more examination of areas like motherhood ... [as well as] intelligence, arrogance and beauty.”
Thomas J. Watson Fellowship Kaitlyn Paulsen, an engineering/humancentered design major, Honor Board representative and Academic Excellence facilitator, will study healthcare in Australia, France, Japan, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. She’ll receive a $36,000 stipend for 12 months of travel and college loan assistance. Her project: “Caring over Curing: Endurance through Challenging Health Experiences”
“Distorted Self-Portrait” (2018) “Reverie” (2018)
“Rhapsody in Blue” (2018)
“Oh, Good Heavens” (2017)
“In healthcare, emotions are often not as well treated as the disease or condition itself. However, emotional support can become the primary form of care for untreatable prognoses. What are the cultural expectations around emotional support in healthcare and what factors shape those expectations? What resources exist to promote caregiver well-being and where is the cultural line drawn between professionalism and compassion?”
Goodbye Plastic. Hello PDK. A new type of plastic resin could replace traditional plastics, and Brett Helms ’00 heads the lab that is leading the change.
Graduate student researcher Miranda Baran and Brett Helms ’00 are co-inventors of novel polymer technology used in this AquaPIM flow battery membrane. HARVEY MUDD COLLEGE MAGAZINE
MARIYN L SARGENT
Interview by Andrew Faught
How is PDK different from traditional plastics?
PDKs are interesting because they exhibit the characteristics of the non-recyclable condensation polymers—commodities plastics such as clear plastic water bottles and textiles—but they break down into their original monomers if you add a strong acid. PDKs are a new type of plastic resin; they exhibit characteristics that are similar to nylon and polyurethane. They’re relatively easy to recycle. You can put them in a paint shaker and dissolve them in solution, and you don’t have to add a bunch of extra stuff in order for it to happen. What differences will consumers notice with PDK plastic products?
The consumer should see no difference. When someone buys a plastic product, the people who make it have to be certified for all of the polymer properties that must be exhibited, like a tensile test and a peel test. If I’m developing an automotive product or a foam, for example, I’m going to have a spec sheet the material needs to satisfy before anybody is putting a product out there on the market. That presumably means that the polymer has passed the test.
PDK plastic, shown in these samples, is a unique new material that can be recycled indefinitely, a vast improvement over the current rate of recycling of traditional plastics.
hen plastic, then known as Bakelite, was first introduced to the world in 1907, it transformed the planet. It was a durable and inexpensive alternative to pottery and glass. But plastic also has transformed the planet in unsavory ways: less than 10 percent of it can be recycled, and plastic debris is choking waterways and killing animals that ingest it, among other hazards. Brett Helms ’00 is leading a plastics revolution. As principal investigator and co-founder of the Helms Group, a division of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Helms is the creator of polydiketoenamine, or PDK, which can easily be recycled. Also, PDK manufacturing uses less energy than traditional plastics, while giving off less CO2 emissions. While a PDK recycling infrastructure still needs to be built out, Helms projects it won’t be long before PDK water bottles and car parts become a fact of life.
But there is a caveat. If you’re making a new type of plastic (and PDK is a new type of plastic), the chemistry is totally different than the polymers that we use today. So, does that mean that there is the potential to provide any sort of performance advantage? And, if so, on what basis should that be realized? What collaborations are involved in making PDK a viable plastic alternative?
PDKs were developed in my laboratory, and I’ve continued to build out scientific programs that further their development. We have worked very closely with professor Jay Keasing’s UC Berkeley lab to use the tools of synthetic biology to produce monomers that lead to PDKs, in hopes that consumers will pay attention. We’ve also worked with one of my colleagues here at Berkeley Lab, Corrine Scown, who is an expert in systems analysis. She’s helping us to identify the best way to manufacture PDKs—in order to bring them to market at low cost—and be able to process them using the existing recycling infrastructure, also at low cost. What challenges and/or surprises emerged from your work?
One of the surprises we had actually was tied to whether PDKs could be recycled at all. The types of materials that we were making had this kind of sticky character at certain stages.
It’s common in organic chemistry labs to clean the surface of glasses with either an acid or base, and a solid plastic part will pop off in the same shape. But the polymer had dispersed into this kind of powdery solid. We did a little bit of chemical analysis and confirmed our suspicion that it was the original monomer, which emphasized the circularity—or recycling—implications of what we had just observed. How did HMC help pave the way for your career in the sciences?
I was working in Professor Shenda Baker’s chemistry lab as a sophomore, and Shenda had a program where we were studying polymers at interfaces. At some point, I realized that if I wanted to study cool polymers, I might need to learn to make them myself. Shenda invited a person by the name of Craig Hawker, a research scientist at IBM Almaden, to give a talk at Mudd my junior year. I ended up getting along with Craig, and I worked with him as an undergraduate researcher the following summer. Craig’s postdoc advisor was a faculty member at UC Berkeley, and ultimately it was with him that I conducted my PhD research. The professors at Mudd are well-connected individuals, who can point you to opportunities outside of Mudd that then set you off on your career. I’ve always been very appreciative of those early interactions.
Pre-launch ProjeKt Andrea Zavala ’21 prioritized developing herself as a global citizen before joining the workforce. Written by Kelley Freund
HARVEY MUDD COLLEGE MAGAZINE
last year at primary schools across east Africa, students engaged in projects alongside a special group of instructors. The students learned about static electricity, practiced their binary numbers through card games and built circuits using lemons. As the instructors left from their first visit to one school, a young boy called out, using a new term his teacher had introduced: “Good-bye, STEM!” In this case, “STEM” was actually ProjeKt Inspire, an outreach organization based in Tanzania that is working to improve science, technology, engineering and mathematics education by introducing project-based learning. Last year, Andrea Zavala ’21, whom one student described as “the teacher with the beautiful voice and very white skin,” was the organization’s first international volunteer. Zavala did not express an interest in STEM until the middle of high school, when a yearlong NASA online course related to the aerospace industry piqued her interest. “I loved the collaborative environment, the science and technology and creativity needed for those projects,” says Zavala. “I fell in love with the idea of working in aerospace, and engineering was going to be my means to accomplishing that.” She thought that the curriculum at Mudd would not only prepare her to work in the industry but would also provide a unique experience with the school’s emphasis on the humanities. The number of activities Mudd offered was also a big selling point. As a student, Zavala joined the Society of Women Engineers and the Society of Professional Latinx in STEM. She also had several jobs on campus, including working as a social media intern in the Office of Admission and as a peer consultant in Career Services, where she helped fellow students with their resumes and interview preparation. Following her sophomore year, Zavala accepted an internship with Northrop Grumman, an aerospace and defense technology firm. She continued her work with them the following summer, focusing on visualization tools and GPS-related projects. The firm offered her a job starting in summer 2021, but Zavala turned them down. “I wanted more out-of-classroom/office experiences that would shape me into a global citizen,” she says. “I liked working for Northrop Grumman, and I wanted to return, but I also
wanted to take time to travel and volunteer before launching my career.” Zavala went looking online for STEM outreach organizations she could work with following graduation. (Meanwhile, Northrup Grumman liked her so much, they moved her start date to February 2022.) She found ProjeKt Inspire on a random Wikipedia page, and then spent four months in Tanzania, bringing her STEM knowledge to classrooms across East Africa. At first, she found the cultural differences overwhelming. “But when I started working on creating content for STEM classes, it was such a relief,” she says. “No matter where you are, STEM is the same. During such an overwhelming time, it was nice to have something I could exchange with people who are so different from me.” Zavala began her time in Tanzania by teaching STEM classes to students ages 4 to 14. Later, she had the opportunity to work at the country’s new science center, the first built in East Africa. On weekends, Zavala participated in other outreach events, traveling by bus to faraway schools. While traveling throughout East Africa, she learned much about the education systems in place. “STEM subjects are often taught without practical applications or demonstrations,” says Zavala. “Teachers are underpaid, overworked and don’t have the resources to change the way they teach. Students tend to be overloaded with theory and these subjects are regarded as too challenging. Many will fall behind in those areas, and it affects entire communities.”
“ My career is engineering, but one of my passions is working in outreach and with underprivileged communities. I still want that to be a part of my life, and right now I’m trying to navigate how I can make them both a priority.” During her travels, Zavala discovered that most families don’t keep track of the profits they make when selling crops or the money they spend to grow those crops. A key mission of ProjeKt Inspire has been to make STEM projects hands-on and engaging to build necessary life skills. “STEM education is extremely important for youth because it helps them learn basic competencies, critical thinking skills, creativity and confidence that are really helpful in any profession,” Zavala says. Before she left Tanzania, Zavala spent a week climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. She said it was a challenge to train for the climb (Zavala is a runner; however it was not recommended that she run outside in Africa), but she made use of every staircase she could find. She dedicated her climb to her two late grandfathers. “It was the hardest physical thing I have ever done and one of the most beautiful experiences I’ve ever had,” she says. “It deepened my respect for the people and the beauty of the country, and left me feeling a
sense of closure and accomplishment about my time there.” In February, Zavala returned to Northrup Grumman, her previous work during her summer internships informing her current placement in modeling and simulation. She says she’s enjoying being in one place and building new friendships. This not only includes her colleagues, but other young professionals she recently met outside the office through a local chapter of Together Women Rise, a group dedicated to achieving global gender equality. Zavala first heard of the group back in Tanzania, while writing a grant proposal. As she’s settling into a new life after her experiences at Mudd and in Africa, Zavala hopes service to others will continue to play a role. “My career is engineering, but one of my passions is working in outreach and with underprivileged communities,” Zavala says. “I still want that to be a part of my life, and right now I’m trying to navigate how I can make them both a priority.”
A longing for “out-of-classroom/office experiences” that would shape her into a global citizen led Andrea Zavala ’21 to Tanzania, where she found adventure—including climbing Mount Kilimanjaro—and connection.
HARVEY MUDD COLLEGE MAGAZINE
A passion for astronomy and science communication converge for Kevin Hainline ’06, a member of the James Webb Space Telescope team Written by George Spencer Portrait by Nikki Wolff
astronomer kevin hainline ’06 is excited— really, really excited. A self-described “black hole hunter,” he is having the time of his life. In ordinary times, Hainline, an assistant research professor in the University of Arizonas’ astronomy department, would merely be pioneering new ways to find and catalog quasars, the gravity-sucking, deep-space vortexes at the centers of supermassive galaxies. Instead, these days he pulls all-nighters as a member of the Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam) team on the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). The instrument, two decades in the making, orbits a million miles from Earth behind the Moon. It is the most powerful telescope ever built and will soon begin peering back to nearly the beginning of time—13.5 billion years ago—further back than humans have seen. In February, Hainline and his Tucson, Arizona, colleagues were in the “commissioning” phase for the telescope, a process that involves going through every instrument and mode on the JWST to make sure it works as it was designed. One of the tasks is aligning the 18 hexagonal gold-plated honeycomb arrayed mirrors—a one-month process. But Hainline, 38, has a parallel
passion—communicating the heaven’s wonders to children and adults. With hundreds of planetarium lectures under his belt and nearly 30 YouTube offerings, he spent years making a madcap, eye-popping video to explain JWST’s purpose. (Hainline got his high-wire public speaking start—and introduction to comedy—in the Harvey Mudd improv group Without a Box.). In This Is A Film About The James Webb Space Telescope, Hainline explains complicated science in lay terms. Of the mirrors, he exclaims as he floats beside the telescope, “They’re 21.3 feet across. That’s three Shaquille O’Neals! That’s almost four refrigerators! That’s an adult giraffe! That’s six R2D2s stacked on top of each other! That’s the size of George Washington’s nose on Mt. Rushmore!” To add to the fun, his singer-songwriter wife, Lara Ruggles, appears in the video. She strums power chords in a sequined country-western outfit, and astral music pioneer Laraaji, clad in an orange jumpsuit, poses the question: “What sort of space light is JWST going to observe?” “I’m glad you asked!” answers Hainline, who goes on to explain.
View Hainline’s super-fun JWST video.
Reflecting the Past Once the mirrors are set, NIRCam will see infrared light from the remotest, earliest galaxies. Because they are hurtling away so fast from Earth, the wavelengths of their light have elongated into the infrared spectrum, which is invisible to human eyes. Less powerful telescopes like the Hubble, which uses ultraviolet, visible and near-infrared light, have been unable to detect them. Using NIRCam, Hainline will do something he has never done before—find these new galaxies as a part of one of the telescope’s first missions—the JWST Advanced Deep Extragalactic Survey (JADES). “I’m giddy!” he says. “Now we’ll see things no one’s ever seen before. It’s the greatest privilege of my life. We are going to trace how the universe built us atom-by-atom in a way we’ve never been able to do. “We’ll take the galaxies and line them up by their distances away from us stretching back into the past. That’s a real miracle, a moment
of just sheer, jaw-dropping wonder, seeing the blueprints of the complexity of the modern universe in the nascent baby universe!”
STEM Triple Threat Exclamation points pepper Hainline’s speech. “His enthusiasm is irrepressible,” says his mentor and occasional research collaborator Jenny Greene, a Princeton professor of astrophysical sciences. “Many people are good at science communication,” she adds. “But what I find really impressive about Kevin is that not many people conduct cutting-edge research, make JWST happen and do substantial outreach at the same time.” While working on his PhD at UCLA, he gave hundreds of free shows at its planetarium and co-founded UCLA Astronomy Live, which sends speakers to schools. Later, as a postdoctoral researcher at Dartmouth, he volunteered at a nearby science museum and went “up and down” Vermont and New
Hampshire visiting classrooms. "By definition Kevin is an astronomer, but he’s also a person looking for ways to experience life," says Marcia Rieke, the University of Arizona astronomy professor who has spearheaded the NIRCam project the past 20 years. “I’ve always really, really cared a lot about sharing astronomy with people, because it’s something that doesn’t only belong to academics. It’s something at everyone’s core,” says Hainline. He means that literally. “I’m composed of seven billion, billion, billion atoms, a big number, and these atoms are carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. It’s kind of trite—that we’re made of stardust, right, this Carl Sagan thing,” he says. One of his childhood idols is the very down-to-earth Mr. Rogers. His other childhood hero was Data, the android on Star Trek: The Next Generation, who Hainline says was the most human of all of that show’s characters.
Team Effort In addition to Hainline, a number of other HMC graduates have worked on the James Webb Space Telescope during their careers. Here are a few physics graduates who describe the role they played in the telescope’s development. Allison Barto ’98 Barto is a director at Ball Aerospace, specializing in developing complex space systems from vision to orbit. She spent 17 years in both technical and leadership roles for the JWST, where she led the team responsible for design and delivery of the optics and electronics for the 22-foot-wide telescope as well as for the overall optical design, verification and on-orbit optical phasing and commissioning of the observatory. Barto began working on the program in early 2002 prior to formal program award and began her time on Webb conducting early design trades on segmentation and actuation architectures. In 2014, she was honored with the Women In Aerospace Achievement Award for her technical contributions to the Webb Telescope optical verification and test approach. In 2017, Barto and her team were honored with the Aviation Week Program Excellence Award for work on Webb’s cryogenic electronics system. Barto managed the program at Ball Aerospace through hardware delivery, telescope-level integration and final optical testing at Johnson Space Center. In 2019, after the Ball-built hardware had completed
HARVEY MUDD COLLEGE MAGAZINE
performance testing, she moved on to other endeavors, but remained involved with planning for future large, space-based observatories. Barto was part of NASA’s recent in-Space Assembled Telescope Study conceptualizing in-space robotic assembly of telescopes up to 20 meters in diameter and is part of the follow-on SMART Think Tank on in-space servicing, manufacturing and assembly. Cassandra Basgall ’95 A systems engineer at Northrop Grumman, Basgall supported the JWST program as a risk manager, responsible for working across the NG team to document potential risks to meeting cost, schedule or technical requirements, and then developing mitigation plans to reduce the risk level. She says, “While my role wasn't as glamorous as designing, building or testing the actual space vehicle, I am thrilled to have been a small part in the very large program. While everything is going so well, I will be biting my nails until we see it fully operational.”
Humanity’s final look at the James Webb Space Telescope as it heads into deep space to answer our biggest questions. This image was captured by the cameras on board the rocket’s upper stage as the telescope separated from it.
Mission and Meaning Among the JWST’s many missions over its estimated 20-year lifespan, it will examine the atmospheres of bodies orbiting distant stars to see if they resemble Earth’s. “If we find an exoplanet atmosphere with oxygen, nitrogen, water and so on, we’re going to be highly suspicious,” says Rieke. When Hainline is not singing the praises of the stars, he’s a tenor in the choir of his Presbyterian church. On a recent Sunday, he read to the congregation Psalm 8, which contains one of his favorite passages: “When
I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?” He says his faith is “heavily informed” by science, and he often reflects on the miracle
Roger Carlson ’89 Carlson was the telescope integration and test lead, working for Northrop from 2002 to 2008. He did a lot of early planning of facilities to be used and transport methods. His team worked on assembling the major sections of telescope structure, adding the individual mirrors, installing the integrated science instrument module and testing the entire telescope on the ground, and then handing the completed telescope off for observatory-level integration with the sunshield and spacecraft. He says, “The early days of the program involved a lot of exciting engineering trades and major program decisions. Among the first was deciding between 36 smaller mirrors or 18 larger mirrors, and glass or beryllium mirrors. Manufacturing, polishing and coating glass was very proven, but making glass stable at low temperatures was not; beryllium won. The work to polish beryllium was estimated to be more straightforward engineering than making glass stable at very low temperatures, though beryllium optics at low temperatures were hardly common. Subscale tests were performed, the chamber at Marshall Space Flight Center that had been built for Chandra testing was upgraded with helium cooling shrouds for JWST testing.” Other decisions to be made were, how to cool the mid-infrared instrument (MIRI), which Carlson considers the most exciting part
of being human and the duty that he believes it imposes on us. “The meaning of life is so simple,” says Hainline. “The meaning of life is just to love one another. That’s such an obvious thing.”
of JWST. “The primary instrument, the NIRCam, is built to image the first light of the universe, as is the telescope itself, but the MIRI will be looking in wavelengths that are practically unstudied. JWST will be able to focus itself on orbit, but thermal or structural instability could lead it to have to focus too often, putting heat into the telescope from mechanisms, driving further instability and eliminating the possibility of achieving the mission. “JWST has certainly been expensive, but it leaves in its wake world class facilities that have been upgraded for use by other programs and commercial space, as well as many other spinoffs. Navigating the program through those challenges and replans was a master class in program management,” Carlson says. Stan Love ’87 During 1997–1998, Love worked as a staff engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, just down the road from HMC. One of his assignments was to develop and improve optical ray-tracing models for instruments on future spacecraft, including the Webb telescope. “Twenty-five years later, it’s actually flying! Although my role in it was very preliminary and very small, I’m proud to have helped with this amazing project,” he says.
“Star Trek represented a place where people cared about each other. I thought of them as my space friends. Look at me now,” he says. “I work with NASA, and it all comes from being a kid and having an outlet like Star Trek that taught me it’s okay to like these things and that you will find people in your life who will support you when you are excited about science.”
MUDDERINGS Spotlight Award The HMC Alumni Association has selected these inspirational alumni, whose contributions embody the HMC visionary themes of innovation, leadership and impact through global influence and contributions to society.
Rachel Sherman ’15
(mathematical and computational biology) has recognized a significant gap in science's understanding of the human genome. Going into her PhD, she joined a lab specifically to study the ways in which human genomic data analysis could be improved. While most of her lab was focused on algorithms to improve the speed and accuracy at which genomic data is analyzed, she also worked on analyzing a new data set—deep whole genome sequencing—of 910 African ancestry individuals from across the Americas, Caribbean and Africa, severely understudied populations. She realized that within these individuals was additional DNA, not present in the human reference genome, totaling nearly 300 megabases, or about 10% of a human genome. She says, “While we currently don’t know what most of the sequences do, many of them are shared among a large portion of the African ancestry individuals in the study. Including these sequences in the baseline for future studies will be critically important to determining if these sequences have function, impact traits shared in these populations and numerous other scientific questions.” Sherman completed her PhD and now works for Illumina as a senior bioinformatics support scientist, where she does technical troubleshooting and training to help customers who are performing genomic analyses.
Palmer Mebane ’12 (math)
is a puzzle expert whose dedication and perseverance has led to significant success and has inspired others. He’s been a puzzle addict his whole life. “The first time I found puzzles in the style of World Puzzle Championships (WPCs) was in a book I received as a gift at age 16, and I enjoyed them more than any puzzles I had seen before. Trying to find more of them eventually led me to discover the U.S. Puzzle Championship and the world championships.” He spent years perfecting his craft and, in 2009, started a blog where he posted his puzzles. He first qualified for the WPC in 2010, then in 2011 took first place. Since then, he’s been in the Top 5, “which I am more proud of than the lone title win.”
HARVEY MUDD COLLEGE MAGAZINE
Michael Beug ’66 (chemistry)
is a well-known mycologist who shares his knowledge so that others may safely investigate and enjoy mushrooms. After he joined the faculty of The Evergreen State (Washington), he became the photographer for a group engaged in writing taxonomic keys for mushroom identification and joined the North American Mycological Association. During his teaching career, he served as senior academic dean and as the Environmental Studies chair, and he researched the environmental effects of pollutants, including work that led to the banning of DDT and the recovery of raptors and pelicans. Along with mycology and chemistry, the underpinning of all his activities, he also studied sustainable agriculture. He retired to a vineyard in Oak Hill, where he found five unique Cortinarius species. He’s also found and often published new species in over 10 other genera. He is the first of three authors on Ascomycete Fungi of North America, nominated for a Prose Award (Best Single Volume Science Book of 2014). His new book Mushrooms of Cascadia: An illustrated Key contains nearly 950 species and more than 1,050 photographs, mostly his.
Daryl Maeda ’89 (math) is an
energetic leader making an impact as a professor and administrator at the University of Colorado at Boulder. After working as a software developer, Maeda pursued his interest in issues of race, equality and U.S. history and culture by earning a master’s degree in ethnic studies and a PhD in American culture. As a professor at the University of Colorado Boulder, he researches, publishes and teaches Asian American studies, focusing on how people of color mobilize to seek justice. He moved into academic leadership to help the university realize its mission to support students in finding ways to build a more positive society, serving as chair of the Department of Ethnic Studies, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and, now, as dean and vice provost of undergraduate education. His latest book is Like Water: A Cultural History of Bruce Lee.
CLASS NOTES 1961
Walter Naumann (physics) is enjoying life and
staying active with his wife, Kay, in Santa Barbara, California’s Valle Verde retirement community where “it is like a stationary cruise ship with fine food and activities.” He is an officer of the Resident Council, resident representative of the assisted living and memory care residents, chair of the Building and Grounds Committee, secretary of the foundation and a presenter for the Science Discussion Group and the Nonfiction Book Club. In the community, he’s secretary of the Santa Barbara Radio Control Modelers and PSA representative and past president of the Channel Cities Camera Club. He’s built and flown models of two Tiger Moth models and a ducted fan home design and a 10-foot span home design airplane. A drive to Death Valley, California, was their first vacation in years.
Bob Luke (chemistry) and Barbara, his wife
of 55 years, play online bridge and enjoy bodysurfing in the warming but still frigid Atlantic Ocean (wetsuits are for weenies), but they must endure poorer snow conditions while downhill skiing (tangible climate change during their 45 years in Maine). COVID means no traveling, and they miss convening with alumni and HMC students who are the future of chemistry. Their daughter, Christina SCR ’95, and her husband are archeologists living in Istanbul, Turkey. Derek (Colby ’98) brews beer commercially and his wife writes children’s books in Newport, Rhode Island. Their three grandchildren span kindergarten to pre-college. During 15 years of retirement from pathology, Bob found a “use for thermo” as original chemistry chair Arthur Campbell predicted and merged a novel macromolecular model with a unique anatomically relevant glomerular model only to find that peer review means protecting data and established theory rather than publishing a credible innovative new theory.
After graduation, Betty Dean (chemistry) became a social worker, which included two years in adoptions. After her marriage, she
began a life on the sea with her husband. She’s now retired from their company, Bold American Enterprises, after 35-plus years delivering boats (sail and power) and small commercial vessels worldwide. There were many adventures: California to Spain, Spain to South Africa, many trips through the Caribbean, Great Lakes, Eastern Seaboard and Gulf Coast, and even a paddle wheeler from Florida to Iowa. She’s enjoying gardening for wildlife, especially pollinators and birds, and her property is certified as a backyard wildlife habitat.
Bud Simrin (math) says, “I’m long retired, so
I just do math for fun. I developed a pretty extensive user-oriented Clifford Algebra (aka geometric algebra) package in Mathematica. It is on my GitHub website for download (https:// github.com/matrixbud?tab=repositories) in case anyone has an interest in such a thing. All the source code plus a tutorial with numerous examples is provided.”
Jay Labinger (chemistry)
writes, “2021 was an eventful year for us. In April, my wife, Andrea, and I moved to Mount San Antonio Gardens, a retirement community in Claremont, where another chem alum (Ken Brown ’67) as well as a number of retired HMC faculty and staff also reside. However, I haven’t yet retired from my position as administrator of the Beckman Institute at Caltech, although thanks (??) to COVID, I’ve been doing much of my work from home and struggling with the traffic on the 210 (one aspect of life that has returned to pre-pandemic status) only once or twice a week. My book Connecting Literature and Science was published as part of the Routledge series Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Literature. It takes both a personal and scholarly approach to the study of what unites, rather than divides, the sciences and the humanities, a long-running interest of mine
that was considerably stimulated by my days at HMC. I would greatly appreciate hearing any comments and reactions (email@example.com).
Bryan Cashion (chemistry) worked for the
National Park Service for five years, then went to graduate school for an M.S. and PhD in environmental engineering. “Those from my era will laugh at the irony of me switching to engineering! Worked for Exxon for about 30 years, mostly with the chemicals subsidiary, living in New Jersey, Louisiana, Houston (that was 50 years all by itself!) and Belgium. Retired to western Colorado, where I ‘converted’ my focus to astronomy.” Bryan is the president of the Black Canyon Astronomical Society. In 2017, he joined other Mudders in Madras, Oregon, for the “Great American Eclipse.”
1973 Steve Hinch ’73/74
(engineering) is the author of the book, The Slickrock Desert: Journeys of Discovery in an Endangered American Wilderness, a popular account of the American Southwest’s canyon country. It includes a brief discussion of Harvey Mudd (grandson of Harvey Mudd, the College’s namesake) and Victoria Mudd (sister/granddaughter) and their work in support of the Navajo. Steve has traveled the American Southwest for over 30 years and is a recognized expert on the use of GPS in the outdoors. His book, Outdoor Navigation with GPS, is a bestselling guide to the subject. He has taught courses on GPS navigation to police and fire personnel, search-and-rescue teams, hunters, hikers and backpackers, and he is also the author of Hiking and Adventure Guide to the Sonoma Coast and Russian River, plus technical books for the electronics industry. Steve has over 35 years of experience in high tech, including senior management positions in R&D, marketing and business general management at HewlettPackard and Agilent Technologies. He also served as president and CEO of TeamLogic IT in Santa Rosa, California. SPRING 2022
Andrew Lees (chemistry) writes, “Neither
my family nor employees got COVID. Our son, Adam, completed a second B.S. degree in biology and will be going to graduate school. Our daughter, Lizzy, and her husband purchased a house and can work remotely. My wife Julie’s piano teaching by Zoom has been challenging. My company, Fina Biosolutions, celebrated its 15th year in August 2021. Conjugation chemistry—the linking together of molecules of biological interest—remains a central focus for my work. A vaccine for Streptococcus pneumonia, Pneumosil® from the Serum Institute of India, uses chemistry I developed and was given WHO approval last year. In December 2021, I published an update to the conjugation chemistry I developed in 1993. FinaBio was issued several patents for a unique bacterial strain, so our molecular biology group is providing another growth area. I still ride my bike to work several times a week and have no plans to retire.” Barbara Filkins (physics) took a year and
completed the certificate course at Penn State for weather forecasting, returned to her Bates “roots” and got more active in flight instruction as well as teaching aviation courses—the academic track, not the flight track—for both undergrad and master’s students at California Aeronautical University. “I think of this school as a kind of ’baby’ Emery-Riddle in that they offer a degree program that is also a track to professional employment in the aviation industry. And, if that wasn’t enough, I decided to go after my doctorate, combining aviation with my cyber background.”
Mid-pandemic, James Bean (math) and his wife retired from positions in Boston and moved back to Portland, Oregon. Their two children (Meghan and James) and two granddaughters (Lillian and Rosie) had settled there. They recently welcomed a third granddaughter (Zoe). He is a senior advisor to the president at Northeastern University and chairs the Harvey Mudd College Board of Trustees.
Paul Kenney (chemistry) is in the DNA
sequencing business, using synthetic organic chemistry to help invent and develop new DNA
HARVEY MUDD COLLEGE MAGAZINE
sequencing technologies. He also does a lot of tie dye. Look up “Kenney Style” on Instagram or google “Kenney Style tie dye.”
T. Mark McCleskey (chemistry) is one of
three Los Alamos National Lab scientists named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Election to AAAS fellowship is an honor bestowed upon AAAS members by their peers for their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications. Mark was recognized for the development of polymer assisted deposition of thin film coatings, for the elucidation of a new paradigm in beryllium binding and for enlightened chemistry leadership at a national laboratory. He is the leader of the Chemistry Division at Los Alamos National Lab. He received a doctorate from Caltech in inorganic chemistry and joined LANL in 1994 as a director’s postdoctoral fellow. His research has involved a wide range of inorganic chemistry and spectroscopy spanning from beryllium to plutonium. His work with beryllium led to a new paradigm for understanding beryllium binding and resulted in a rapid beryllium test that was further developed and sold commercially. His efforts in polymer assisted deposition of thin films yielded high-quality single crystal films of a wide range of materials, including plutonium oxide.
Peter Temesvary (engineering) is safety
manager of the Budapest International Airport, where he’s responsible for keeping employees, passengers and airplanes safe and for ensuring compliance with EASA (European equivalent of FAA) regulations. “Lots of coordination with airlines, ground handlers, air traffic control, regulators, etc. The best part is getting to hang out at the airport all day and watch planes like all of us Batesers did when we were kids.”
Chris Raczkowski ’92/93 (engineering)
started in corporate America and expanded into global entrepreneurial activities across North America, Europe and Asia. He says, “I consistently leveraged my excellent HMC science and engineering education to facilitate my growth opportunities.”
Tom Hsieh and Josh Jones ’98 completed a
$33 million seed funding round for their travel rewards company FlyCoin. Tom is the president of FlyCoin and also president of North Pacific Airlines and Ravn Alaska (an Alaska regional airline). Josh is board chair of the preceding companies and will oversee FlyCoin’s technology development.
Scott Hampton (engineering): “Yowza. 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. That’s been my life for eight months. So sorry I can’t talk about cool new packaging and filling systems, or nifty ERP that links to user apps, etc.” Russell Hamilton (engineering) and Mark Mathison (engineering) gave a webinar in
December about the pros and cons of attending either business or law school after Mudd. The video is on Mudd’s YouTube page. Another MBA, Greg Harr, was in the audience. Russell is liking the flexibility of being an independent consultant after leaving the Innovation Group at Wells Fargo Bank. Mark is now a partner at a major IP law firm, Kilpatrick Townsend.
Jacob “Jake” Garcia (chemistry) went
to medical school at UCSD and then the University of Washington for pediatric residency and an oncology fellowship. After several years in clinical practice in the Bay Area, he made the transition to pharmaceuticals and eventually immuno-oncology biotech. Jake has lived up and down the West Coast and now lives in Seattle. He’s continued singing since Mudd, and music remains an essential part of life. He’s stayed in touch with others from his class, especially his former Case roommate, best friend and current faculty member Darryl Yong. He says, “My time at Mudd has benefited me tremendously through the years. Thanks to all the faculty and my friends who got me through it!”
STEM for Everyone Aurora Burd ’05 teaches earth science to incarcerated people seeking college degrees. in 2019, aurora burd ’05, a geoscience faculty member at Antelope Valley College, was invited to teach Introduction to Earth Science with lab at the California State Prison Los Angeles County in Lancaster, California. CSP-LAC has worked with California State University, Los Angeles, since 2016 to offer incarcerated people the opportunity to pursue a B.A. in communication through classes held inside the maximum-security men’s prison, but this was the first time a lab science would be taught there. Burd, who received the Alumni Association Board of Governors’ Spotlight Award in 2021, says her experience teaching there reminded her of Harvey Mudd College. “The CSP-LAC students were very willing to collaborate with each other and went to great lengths to make sure that everyone was successful in class.” Here, Burd recounts her experience. The first cohort of students were close to
earning their degrees, but the CSU graduation requirement of a lab science was a stumbling block, as the classroom facility is not a science lab space, and lab courses are not typically taught as correspondence courses (which is how incarcerated students can take courses not offered on-site). Antelope Valley College (AVC) also offers classes inside the prison and the ability to earn an AA-T in communication studies. The students typically obtain their AA-T through the AVC program, then transfer to the CSULA program. I was excited to try something new, and I
also feel strongly that education can be transformational. I had been told by other instructors that the students at the prison were “hungry for knowledge.” I wasn’t sure what they meant by this, but it seemed like a new challenge to teach in a different
environment and a way to work with students who were really excited to learn. My class had 22 students, roughly half of whom were part of the first CSU cohort, while the rest were AVC students. Several are now out of prison, but many of the students were “lifers” and are thus unlikely to leave prison any time soon. The summer 2019 course was the first time a lab
science had been taught inside this facility and might have been the first time a lab science (for transferable credit) was taught inside any California State Prison. This course (fully transferable to both the University of California and CSU system) is a full-semester course covering an overview of geology, astronomy, meteorology and oceanography, and the course outline of record specifies that “students will examine minerals, rocks, [etc. and that] laboratory exercises will expose students to a variety of hands-on activities exploring the earth sciences.” Offering the class required significant organizational effort, as a list of all desired lab materials had to be approved by the prison, then these same materials transported from the main AVC campus to the prison, where they were processed and inventoried prior to being stored in the educational facility. Some materials (such as glass plates for Mohs hardness tests) typically used in an introductory earth science course could not be approved due to safety concerns, so alternatives had to be approved. The students exhibited much greater engagement
during class and more curiosity regarding the material than my typical students do. For instance, the students who grasped the
material more easily used their “yard time” to meet with students from other cell blocks to tutor them, and when students had to miss class due to court dates, not only would their classmates prepare notes for them, but often the students’ cell mates would bring their assignments or speak to me from the yard to let me know why my student would be absent (the yard was separated from the classroom facility by a chain link fence). I also finally found out what “hungry for knowledge” meant. I’ve never taught a class (especially for non-majors) where students had already read large portions of the text on the first day, and where students had identified specific parts of the text that interested them and that they were hoping I would expand upon during class. There was one other thing that occurred in the
course that was seen as important by many of the prison staff and that speaks to the transformational power of education for the inmates. Many of the students voluntarily worked with students of other races during class activities. This is apparently quite unusual within the prison environment. I don’t think it was my class that caused this collaboration (and students selected for the AVC and CSULA programs tended to be well-behaved prisoners who saw access to education as a tremendous privilege, so these inmates were unlikely to be engaging in race-based violence while in prison), but I was happy to see the collaboration continue in my class. Overall, the course was extremely successful, with most students earning an A, a few earning Bs, and no Cs. This was roughly one letter grade higher than the typical students.
Tiffany (Leneis) Scurry (engineering) lives
in Orange County, California, and works for Western Digital, a global data storage company. As SVP and chief compliance officer, she oversees ethics and compliance issues for 70,000 employees worldwide. She says her engineering training has served her well throughout her career, including the past 12 years at Western Digital. Tiffany has traveled around the world and helped navigate and solve cutting-edge technician-legal challenges. “HMC opened the door to more adventure than I could have predicted.”
Mats Cooper (engineering) does research into
green technologies and tries to imagine what a post-carbon world looks like. He’s affiliated with a VC firm that gives his research leverage to make real change in the world. Benjamin Ver Steeg (engineering) has
been promoted to SVP of sensing product development at Rockley Photonics Holdings Limited. Ben was the co-founder and CEO of TruTouch Technologies, which developed the first commercial predicate to Rockley’s wearable sensor technology and was acquired by the company. He was also the founder and CTO of MoreLight. He is the author of multiple patents and publications in optical biosensing. He brings over 20 years of experience in the invention and commercialization of non-invasive optical sensors to Rockley, a global leader in photonics-based health monitoring and communications solutions.
Serial entrepreneur Nicholas Seet (economics/ engineering) has a new project: Undesert Corporation. “Our patented solar thermal desalination tech turns salty water into clean water with zero liquid discharge. We use this potable water to plant trees in deserts. Our small planting of a nano SmartFore.stTM in Alamogordo, New Mexico, has demonstrated that we can grow pine trees in semi-arid desert regions just with adequate hydration of those trees. In the same way that California fruit farmers changed the San Joaquin Valley into the most productive agricultural region in the state, we are using water desalination to convert raw desert to productive carbon farms. Afforesting just 2% of the world’s
HARVEY MUDD COLLEGE MAGAZINE
deserts would reverse climate change. Unlike a traditional forest, our well-watered and managed forest enables us to plant at higher densities, achieving almost 100% canopy coverage and deep-rooted trees, much like existing commercial production forests do. Our SmartFore.sts meet the definition of USDA Code 383 Firebreak and are thus resistant to fires and insects. We intend our desert forestry to become a source of housing and work for a new generation of forest curators and urban expats.”
Bryan Tysinger (math) is a research assistant
professor at the Price School of Public Policy at USC. He directs the Health Policy Microsimulation team at the Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics. Bryan’s work focuses on life-course modeling for health and health-related economic outcomes. He and Jillian Wallis live in Los Angeles, where they are bossed around by their cat, and he still spends as much time as he can making music.
Since 2011, Donald Lawton (CS) is an independent app developer, specializing in apps that sync contacts across accounts such as iCloud and Google. He previously spent eight years working on the Medal of Honor video game franchise, where he was the lead gameplay engineer, specializing in AI and animation systems.
Her dissertation analyzed engineers in the mid-20th century U.S. through a model of white masculinities. She is also wrapping up her four-year term on the board of the International Network for Engineering Studies.
Thomas W. Barr (engineering, music) was
promoted to scientific fellow at Irell & Manella LLP in January. Thomas specializes in technical advising on patent litigation and has been an integral member of numerous Irell teams. He runs Irell’s in-house Technical Analysis Laboratory, through which he conducts and oversees product teardowns, scientific analysis and massive simulations. Prior to joining Irell in 2013, he was a research assistant at Rice University. Thomas earned his PhD in computer science and his M.S. in electrical and computer engineering from Rice University.
Tony Evans married Masha
Kleshcheva on July 24, 2021, in Veneta, Oregon. Andy Wong, Eric Peterson and Sam Gordon served as groomsmen. Claire O’Hanlon officiated. Other Mudders in attendance included Adrian Sampson, Scott Smith, Ginna Kim, Catherine Bradshaw, Shannon McKenna and Ryan Quarfoth. Pictured: Shannon, Ryan, Scott, Tony, Adrian, Claire, Eric, Ginna and Andy.
Kaitlyn Gray (chemistry) recently relocated
Heather Justice (CS) works at NASA’s Jet
to Groton, Connecticut, to join Pfizer as a principal research scientist in process chemistry. Since starting, she has had the opportunity to support the COVID vaccine and work on a new COVID treatment.
Propulsion Laboratory as a member of the robotic operations team for the newest Mars rover Perseverance, which landed on Mars in February 2021.
For the last four years, Nathaniel Schlossberg (engineering) has served as VP of engineering at Feedonomics, a leading data feed management and ecommerce middleware platform recently acquired by BigCommerce. He lives in San Diego with his wife, Kerry, and two daughters Aviva (5) and Galia (2). Alice Clifton-Morekis (engineering) completed
her PhD in the history and sociology of technology and science at Georgia Tech.
As part of an HMC career services event in February 2022, alumni panelists discussed their experiences navigating the industry as working professional women. During the webinar “Unspoken Rules from Mudders to Mudders: Women in the Workplace,” Janet Komatsu, Faith Lemire-Baeten ’17 and Shailee Samar ’18 offered workplace etiquette tips and shared how they infuse their personal values into their industry, navigate professional relationships and create opportunities for growth.
at Shelter Haven Capital Management. Previously, she was a sell-side senior associate at Jefferies covering infrastructure software, a sell-side associate at William Blair & Company covering infrastructure software, storage and networking and an electrical engineer at Raytheon. She earned an M.S. in electrical and computer engineering from Cornell University.
at CU Boulder and moved to the Bay Area to start a postdoc in scientific machine learning at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
Julia Karl (engineering) is an associate analyst
Aaron Gable (CS) returned home to the Pacific
Northwest, where he works at Let’s Encrypt (part of the nonprofit Internet Security Research Group), working to make the internet safer by offering free (as in beer and speech) SSL certificates to everyone.
Alec Dunton (math) defended his PhD thesis
Emily Jerger (engineering) spent the summer
baking, making pottery, playing Animal Crossing and camping around Chicago with her husband, Paul Jerger ’15. Until recently, she 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. She’s now senior project manager at Fivestars. Paige Rinnert (engineering) works at SpaceX
Renee Gittins (CS) left her role as executive
director of the International Game Developer Association on Feb. 1 to become the general manager of developer at Phoenix Labs. She remains a member of IGDA’s board.
in Hawthorne, California, analyzing loads for the Dragon capsule that brings astronauts and cargo to the International Space Station. When she’s not working, she enjoys volunteering with the organization Indivisible, reading books and watching TV (mostly sci-fi/fantasy).
Johnson Qu (engineering) says, “I’ve come full
circle back to aviation but in a niche world. I started flying Paramotors after graduating just for fun, but nowadays I’m often sitting in meetings discussing fitting avionics and pitot tubes on our wild west ultralight aircraft. Every time we quickly take a look at Power Spectral Densities of data that was taken while I was the test pilot, I smile and think about how lucky I am to have all these worlds come together.”
Since graduating from Mudd, Kira Wyld (math) earned a master’s in library science and was hired at the University of Washington to be the libraries liaison to the Mathematics, Applied Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science departments. She also adopted a dog named Uhura, a black lab/shepherd mix, now about 10 years old and “a very good girl.”
Lupe Carlos (engineering) joined a Network
After graduating with a PhD in civil engineering from Clemson University in 2016, Diana Chen (engineering) was hired as a founding faculty member at the University of San Diego to start a new general engineering program (Integrated Engineering). Her tenure application is due in spring 2022 after a year of serving as interim department chair for the program during COVID. She and her husband, Nick Hill ’12, happily live in San Diego with their pandemic puppy, Misty.
SoC computer hardware design startup right after Mudd. Shortly after, it was acquired by Intel, and he worked there until recently when he started a GEM fellowship at Synopsys before pursuing a master’s in ECE at Carnegie Mellon University. After graduating, Hamzah Khan (engineering) worked at Anki Robotics on behavioral AI in a robotic children’s toy then joined Uber ATG (the self-driving car division) to work on prediction and motion planning. Outside of work, he volunteered his time to develop an application that applies modern machine learning techniques to help Muslims learn and understand the Quran. “I’ve gotten a lot done at work, but I’ve also been enjoying my time outside of work. I did some traveling,
have enjoyed spending more time reading and have developed new hobbies. I plan to start a PhD program at University of Texas Austin to explore further research in robotics.” David Kwan (engineering) worked for Georg
Fischer Signet (his Clinic sponsor) as a firmware engineer and then as a project manager. Since then, he moved to the Bay Area and now works as an engineering program manager at Apple. He’s excited to be around many of his Mudd friends in the Bay Area. Bailey Meyer (engineering)
works 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). In the picture, Bella Lee and I are in front of the Golden Gate Bridge on a sunny afternoon in March.”
Charles Dawson (engineering) finished his
master’s in aeronautics and astronautics at MIT (working on robot motion planning). Now on to the PhD to work on safety for autonomous systems. Outside of grad school, he’s been doing a lot of climbing, baking and gardening.
Danielle Michaud (engineering) says, “This
year has given me time to learn about myself in a way that I couldn’t have at Mudd. I’ve found many new things that I enjoy doing and am surprisingly good at! Cutting hair, woodworking , painting, cooking and bothering my cats, just to name a few. Now that work ends at 5 and there’s no problem sets, I have many creative personal projects to devote my time to. I also have thought about what kind of impact I want to have in my work and how to accomplish it. It took some digging to find a career path that I could apply my skill set from Mudd to, and I’ve decided to go into science writing and communication, starting with a life science writing internship now and moving to a patent writing position in the spring.
In Memoriam W. Joseph “Joe” Byrne ’69
David J. Graser ’87 (math) passed away in
(physics) passed away on Dec. 8, 2021.
June 2020 after a four-year battle with cancer. Dave studied optical science at the University Alabama Tuscaloosa and the University of Arizona. He was a math professor for five years at Eastern Arizona College (Safford) and for 23 years at Yavapai College, Prescott Campus. A statement from Yavapai reads, “(Dave) was tireless in his pursuit of improving the teaching of math. He had a passion for teaching and mentoring, and would go above and beyond for his students.” Dave was a lifelong outdoorsman who loved hiking and mountain biking, passions that he shared with friends, family and his students.
Merton Canady ’67
(engineering) of Snohomish, Washington, passed away on Jan. 2.
Timothy B. Hemming ’63 George Douglas Green ’88
(engineering) passed away on Sept. 4, 2021, in Queretaro, Mexico. Doug studied and taught at UC Santa Barbara and was a licensed professional engineer in Virginia, in Queensland, Australia, and Texas. Doug had a successful 26-year career at Bechtel Corporation, where he was a control systems engineer group supervisor. Doug had a bright and energetic personality and was known for his ability to sense when people needed his help. He touched many lives with his generosity, passion for life and desire to help people to find the right training and career path. Besides spending time with his family and friends, Doug had a passion for traveling, gourmet and international food, learning foreign languages and learning about the culture and traditions of the countries that he had visited. Doug also enjoyed going to concerts by the Houston Symphony, where the family requests donations be made in his honor. Doug and his wife, Patricia, supported the Mr. and Mrs. Green Annual Scholarship at Harvey Mudd College.
HARVEY MUDD COLLEGE MAGAZINE
(chemistry) died on Dec. 21, 2021, in Seal Beach, California. Tim worked at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power as a chemist for over 35 years, retiring at the age of 59. He spent retirement reading and working with students, studying science and acting as a judge for science contests. Tim supported many HMC chemistry department efforts, including the Stauffer Fund, Analytical and Lab equipment and the Jacobs-Keck renovation. He is survived by his widow, Gail Hemming. Robert L. “Bob” Powell ’77 (math) passed
away peacefully in his home on Dec. 13, 2021, in the company of friends. Bob was blessed with a powerful, extraordinarily clear intellect. A political science professor at UC Berkeley, Bob taught an undergraduate course on game theory in the social sciences and wrote two books: In The Shadow of Power: States and Strategies in International Politics and Nuclear Deterrence
Theory: The Search for Credibility. A message from the UC Berkeley community stated: “He shared this gift with the world through many pioneering contributions to international relations, political economy and game theory. His work on international relations theory, on commitment problems and the onset of war, and on deterrence theory remains foundational today. He was an equally skilled teacher. In undergraduate lectures, graduate seminars and PhD mentoring, he reminded us that rigor and compassion are not contradictory. For generations of students, he personified game theory training at Berkeley. Bob was a generous colleague. He unfailingly provided incisive, constructive feedback on colleagues’ research. He built institutions to bring colleagues together, through his stalwart presence in the Political Economy seminar and his prior service as chair of the UC Berkeley Academic Senate. He is remembered as a brilliant scholar, dedicated colleague and loyal friend. Friends whose lives Bob touched are welcome to leave a note of tribute or remembrance here https:// padlet.com/embed/bndw57ns0aolqsf0. Brian L. Szemenyei ’83
(physics) passed away due to a heart attack on Dec. 9, 2021, in Fort Collins, Colorado. Brian was known as a chef, master pun teller, husband, brother, grandpa and friend. After HMC, he went on to earn his master’s degree in physics at UCLA and later taught the sciences to high school children for 23 years. He is survived by his wife, Cindy, brother Dewey Szemenyei, sister Kathryn Whitlock, and many other family and friends. In accordance with Brian’s wishes, donations can be made to your local food bank or homeless shelter; more than 700 pounds of food have been donated in his honor.
Highly conductive Connect easily Malleable Precious Build value Durable Grow stronger together Lasting: Mudders for life Forge a stronger bond today.
301 Platt Boulevard Claremont, CA 91711 hmc.edu/magazine
“We are going to trace how the universe built us atom-by-atom in a way we’ve never been able to do,” says Kevin Hainline ’06, a member of the Near Infrared Camera team for the James Webb Space Telescope. Orbiting roughly a million miles from Earth, the most powerful telescope ever built will soon begin peering back to nearly the beginning of time—13.5 billion years ago. Read about it on page 22.
Nonprofit Org. U.S. Postage PAID Claremont, CA Permit No. 35