Harvey Mudd College Magazine, spring 2017

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Gene Weavers

No spiders were harmed creating this innovative silk | 20










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Robots Take a Dive

The Lab for Autonomous and Intelligent Robotics Roaming robots have a new lair at Harvey Mudd. The Parsons Engineering Building basement houses the Lab for Autonomous and Intelligent Robotics (LAIR), which provides students with valuable research and experiential learning opportunities. But unlike other labs on campus, at the heart of the LAIR sits a large water tank, used as robot training space. Directed by Professor of Engineering Christopher Clark, work at the LAIR focuses on multi-robot systems and their applications in the field. A $100,000 grant from the Hearst Foundation, combined with $26,000

from a previous National Science Foundation grant and about $10,000 in institutional funds, paid for the tank, a vision-based positioning system, associated computer technology, an observation platform and workspace. Projects at the LAIR have included developing motion-planning algorithms that enable multiple autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) to model and track shark aggregations as well as developing a sonar-equipped remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to explore and map ancient cisterns and to collect video footage and sonar range measurements. In

collaboration with faculty and students from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and the University of Malta, Clark and his students develop underwater robots for use in mapping coastal shipwrecks and new technology for marine archaeology. Cal Poly’s 2017 International Computer Engineering Experience (ICEX) team (including Clark, Jeff Rutledge ’19 and Jane Wu ’18) will be in Malta this summer, deploying AUV systems for intelligent search, mapping and visualization of historic shipwrecks in the Mediterranean Sea.


7 Eyassu Shimelis ’18 conducts a buoyancy check and test drive on a student-built robot.

1 The LAIR tank holds 5,400 gallons of filtered, chlorinated water. Built-in plumbing allows for draining and filling the tank if necessary, but the tank’s filtration system works well to keep the water clean and clear. Visible inside the tank is a robot obstacle course that students in the E80 Experimental Engineering class built for testing AUV navigation. Though the tank looks inviting, legal restrictions permit only swimming robots. 2 A UVs like this one are used for a variety of things, like tracking the migration patterns of leopard sharks and mapping underwater archaeological features. This AUV is equipped with a temperature sensor, Doppler velocity log (DVL) to measure speed with respect to the seafloor, pressure gauge, compass, GPS, acoustic modem and sonar. Powered by lithium ion batteries with a life of about 24 hours, the AUV uses the DVL and compass to determine where it is when it’s under water (and unable to receive GPS signals), an essential function when the vehicle has no human operator and is driving itself autonomously. 3 Jeff Rutledge ’19 spent the last two summers analyzing water quality data and programing basic numerical models for the United States Geological Service. More recently, he’s been working with other students to develop the AUV’s algorithms for detection of shipwrecks within sonar data. He’ll continue his research in Malta this summer. 4 Professor of Engineering Chris Clark runs the LAIR, which researches multi-robot applications including motion planning, localization, mapping, integration of social systems and control. Clark’s research projects include AUV shark tracking, cistern and

shipwreck mapping, lava tube exploration, ROV squid tracking, altruistic robotics and multi-robot motion planning in confined spaces. Clark holds a “Flex” Fulbright Scholarship, which allows him to perform research during multiple short-term residencies abroad over a period of two to three years. Flex grants particularly facilitate international collaboration and long-term partnerships. 5 V ai Viswanathan ’17 and Eyassu Shimelis ’18 log in to the AUV through a laptop, which displays data and allows them to test sonar and perform preliminary testing and sensor calibration. Viswanathan conducted research in Malta as part of the 2016 ICEX team, along with Jessica Lupanow ’18 and Zayra Lobo ’18. Shimelis is part of the AUV shark tracking group that deploys cooperative teams of AUVs at Catalina Island. 6 T his flat screen monitor is not a TV for the robots to watch while they lounge in the pool. It is used primarily during lab tours to show visiting groups of prospective students or elementary school kids examples of LAIR projects in the field. Part of Clark’s work as a Flex Fulbright Scholar is to engage with Harvey Mudd and the surrounding community by giving talks, acting as a mentor and participating in conferences and seminars. 7 S tudents in the E79 Introduction to Engineering class work in pairs to build sensor packages for ROVs, which they eventually test in the Bernard Field Station lake at the end of the semester. Students use this control box to send commands to ROVs through a tether. So far, 220 E79 students have built 110 ROVs.



arts college in America is quite an honor and a testament to Harvey Mudd College’s people and programs. The U.S. News ranking highlights colleges that are making improvements in terms of curriculum, faculty, students, campus life, technology or facilities. It spotlights our leadership in collaborative faculty-student research, teaching across disciplines, exploring and sharing new curriculum pedagogy, and return on investment. News outlets worldwide are taking notice: Both the Los Angeles Times (Jan. 4, front page) and the Washington, D.C., bureau of The China Global Television Network reported on the growing trend of women in computer science and Harvey Mudd’s outstanding programs. More than 50 percent of HMC computer science majors are women—a remarkable feat, considering that women make up just 16 percent of CS majors nationwide (View video interview at bit.ly/HMConCGTN.). Similarly, the College is recognized for its efforts regarding engineering (No. 2 undergrad program in the country, U.S. News; majority-female engineering graduates, 2014), physics (majority-female physics graduates, 2016), faculty leadership (six of seven department chairs are women), diversity (Building Bridges program featured in Insight Into Diversity) and career placement (No. 2, Princeton Review, 2016). The Economist (Dec. 12, 2016) called Harvey Mudd a “science and engineering powerhouse.” Harvey Mudd’s relative youth (we opened in 1957) has allowed it to be more innovative. New institutions not only create novel programs in their initial years; they also tend to focus on invention and assessment as they develop. And when young universities create a new, successful approach to some aspect of education and then disseminate that knowledge, they can have a lasting impact on higher

SPRING 2017 | VOLUME 15, NO. 2

education. Harvey Mudd’s general engineering program, based on design, experiential learning and professional practice, and the Clinic Program, in which teams of students work on current technical problems for industry clients, are two early examples of the College’s willingness to address educational challenges in new ways. Alumni have carried on this tradition of innovation and have become entrepreneurs; some are profiled in this issue. We’re proud of our Entrepreneurial Network, which economics Professor Gary Evans has led since its founding in 2001. Evans, the Ruth and Harvey Berry Professor of Entrepreneurial Leadership, has organized countless regional meetings and other activities for alumni and friends interested in entrepreneurship. I can’t think of a better audience with which to share ideas and receive encouragement and advice than a group of Mudders! To remain innovative, we must continue to invest in the people, programs and places that make Harvey Mudd such a remarkable place. The most ambitious fundraising campaign in the College’s history is continuing successfully with more than $142 million raised toward the $150 million goal (visit hmc.edu/campaign for details). Renovations to Galileo Hall are complete; the new spaces were open for Alumni Weekend. The seat-naming campaign is still open, by the way, and we welcome your participation (bit.ly/ChooseMuddSeat). After Commencement in May, we begin renovation of laboratories in Jacobs Science Center as part of the multi-year Jacobs-Keck Renovation Project. Phase 1 plans call for the General Chemistry Lab, Physical Chemistry Lab and Advanced Chemistry Lab (“Super Lab”) to be renovated as part of the College’s 10-year growth plan as well as to address issues identified in the Department of Chemistry’s external review. We’re proud to be called innovative, and we hope that, together, we can continue finding ways to sustain this tradition at Harvey Mudd.

The Harvey Mudd College Magazine is produced three times per year by the Office of Communications and Marketing. Director of Communications, Senior Editor Stephanie L. Graham Art Director Janice Gilson Graphic Designer Robert Vidaure Writer Sarah Barnes Contributing Writers Mary Alexandra Agner, Amy DerBedrosian, Lia King, Allison Marin, John Martin, Leslie Mertz, Elaine Regus Proofreaders Sarah Barnes, Kelly Lauer Contributing Photographers Shannon Cottrell, Felicia Douglas, Jessica Kemp, Jessica Nguyen, Cheryl Ogden, Kiel Rucker, David Scavone, Dennis Schroeder, Deborah Tracey Vice President for Advancement Dan Macaluso Chief Communications Officer Timothy L. Hussey, APR

The Harvey Mudd College Magazine (SSN 0276-0797) is published by Harvey Mudd College, Office of Communications and Marketing, 301 Platt Boulevard, Claremont, CA 91711. Nonprofit Organization Postage Paid at Claremont, CA 91711 Postmaster: Send address changes to Harvey Mudd College, Advancement Services, 301 Platt Boulevard, Claremont, CA 91711. Copyright © 2017—Harvey Mudd College. All rights reserved. Opinions expressed in the Harvey Mudd College Magazine are those of the individual authors and subjects and do not necessarily reflect the views of the College administration, faculty or students. No portion of this magazine may be reproduced without the express written consent of the editor. The Harvey Mudd College Magazine staff welcomes your input: communications@hmc.edu or Harvey Mudd College Magazine Harvey Mudd College, 301 Platt Boulevard, Claremont, CA 91711

Maria Klawe President, Harvey Mudd College

The Harvey Mudd College Facebook page has nearly 9,000 fans. Join the conversation.



Features 20

Departments Gene Weavers Bolt Threads researchers are creating new fabrics from spider silk.









Written by Leslie Mertz








Science and Synchrony Antonio Medrano ’02 learns to embrace opportunity and balance science with musical expression.



Written by John Martin

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


A Bright Light in Renewable Energy Adele Tamboli ’04 looks for new and better materials to help fight climate change. Written by Amy DerBedrosian


A Brain for Science, A Heart for Art A neuroscientist paves the way for emerging artists. Written by Allison Marin


Ideas Welcome A strong network, practical courses and a new incubator make now a good time to be a Harvey Mudd entrepreneur. Written by Stephanie L. Graham

Dear Editor, I was excited to read about Nitin Savant’s adventure in the last issue. A more recent graduate is on an amazing journey, charting her own path and blogging about it: http://nithyakm.wixsite. com/off-the-beaten-path. Krishnan Menon P16 Correction: In the fall/winter edition, there is an error in the Class of 2020 statistics in the Annual Report, page 39. The percentage of Black students on campus is 3 percent, not 4 percent.

HEARD ONLINE Facebook, March 9, 2017: Our post about the Harvey Mudd Bridge Club brought back memories for some readers. We shared the news that the club qualified for the American Contract Bridge League Collegiate Bridge Bowl in Toronto this July. “Oh, congrats! And good luck! My grandmother was a big bridge player, but I never really got into it. The first time my Mom ever played, she was dealt 13 spades. She's lucky like that!” —Krista Anderson Belling “Several Mudders of yesteryear are still playing actively, including overall finishes in open national events. Keep up the good work!” —Michael Hughes ’73

C O N V E R S AT IO N S O N H A RV E Y M U DD S O C IA L M E DIA Twitter, Feb. 17, 2017: A group of students from six colleges, including Harvey Mudd, comprised the OpenLoop team, which entered the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition. On display at a Massrobotics event, the OpenLoop prototype pod inspired a shout out from an alumni. “Happy surprise to see my alma mater @harveymudd as part of the Openloop #Hyperloop team displaying at the @MassRobotics opening today.” —Nathan Wiedenman ’93 Read more about the Hyperloop project on page 12.



Spreading Benefits of Undergrad Research NSF grant will allow dissemination of best practices


the involvement of undergraduate students in collaborative research with faculty is a proven and powerful pedagogy, undergraduate research opportunities are still often optional and highly selective, missing the very students who could benefit the most. A new project aims to provide all students with more equitable access to the benefits of undergraduate research by assisting STEM departments to create integrated and scaffolded curricula emphasizing discovery, inquiry and analysis. The team of academics seeking to promote highly effective undergraduate research environments consists of Kerry Karukstis, chair of the Harvey Mudd College Department of Chemistry, and colleagues Mitchell R. Malachowski, professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of San Diego, and Jeffrey M. Osborn, professor of biology and dean, School of Science, at the College of New Jersey. They are co-principal



investigators on a $1.7 million grant from the National Science Foundation titled “Integrating and Scaffolding Research into Undergraduate STEM Curricula: Probing Faculty, Student, Disciplinary, and Institutional Pathways to Transformational Change.” This is the third NSF grant they’ve received over the past 10 years that focuses on embedding undergraduate research into the culture and curricula of academic departments and institutions across the country. “We are continuing to partner with the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) and Elizabeth Ambos, executive officer of CUR, in this effort,” says Karukstis, 2012 CUR Fellow and past CUR president. “I am particularly excited that we have involved Jillian Kinzie, associate director of the Center for Postsecondary Research and the NSSE Institute at Indiana University, as an additional partner in this project to examine the effect of student characteristics and disciplinary cultures on student learning.” A novel aspect of this project will be the development of both standardized and experimental questions on the National Survey of Student Engagement and the Faculty Survey of Student Engagement. These surveys will allow for comparison of the institutions involved in this

project with national results. The theory-of-change model that develops from this project will allow a broad and diverse range of institutional types and departments/disciplines to assess their readiness for research-scaffolded curricula and provide key insights into the effects of such curricular transformation on student achievement and organizational and cultural change. Karukstis has held numerous leadership positions within CUR, and she was recognized as the CUR Volunteer of the Year in 2004 and again in 2010. She was the 2012 recipient of the CUR Fellows Award for leadership in undergraduate research. In 2003 she received the Henry T. Mudd Prize for Outstanding Service to Harvey Mudd College. Karukstis served from 2010 to 2013 as the chair of the faculty and is the Ray and Mary Ingwersen Professor of Chemistry. She researches classes of molecules that can self-assemble into complex three-dimensional structures when placed in water and other solvents. Since 2009, Harvey Mudd College has been an enhanced institutional member of the Council on Undergraduate Research, which supports faculty and student development for high-quality undergraduate student-faculty collaborative research, scholarship and creative activities.


Major News


“ The Clean Energy Transformation: Evolution or Revolution?”

“ T he science is exceedingly compelling as to where we are on climate change. It’s also

exceedingly compelling as to if we don’t achieve, roughly, this 80 percent or more decarbonization, the costs—social, economic, environmental—would be very high. There’s lots of room to debate the details, but it’s largely that. You are wasting your time debating small elements of a much bigger story.

aniel Kammen, founding director, Renewable and Appropriate Energy D Laboratory; science envoy for U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Kammen spoke March 1 as part of the Hixon Center Black, Gold & Green Speaker Series. Video: youtu.be/dBxhfY0FZhM

A joint major in Mathematics and Physics was approved during fall 2016. It is the only such major at The Claremont Colleges, and HMC is one of few American colleges that offers it. “The aim of this joint major program is to create a path for students whose interests naturally fall at the boundary but for whom the requirements of a full double major are not attractive,” says Theresa Lynn, chair of the Department of Physics. She and Lisette de Pillis, chair of the Department of Mathematics, headed the committee charged with establishing the new major and a course of study that highlights the intersections between physics and mathematics while preparing an individual with a solid foundation in both fields. Demand for students with backgrounds at the intersection of math and physics is increasing. “Strong backgrounds in these two subjects indicate a combination of quantitative and scientific skills that should be attractive to employers in a variety of areas,” Lynn says.

“ Transforming and Connecting California With High-Speed Rail”

“ T he state of California voted yes for this to be the future of our travel. We want a more

comfortable journey. We want to get to our destinations in a way which allows us to work, recreate and to not be stuck in traffic for hours at a time. As a hallmark of California and a reflection of our ethic of transparency and continuous improvement and sustainability, which is really part and parcel to who we are as Californians, the project is intended to deliver on some promises related to achieving our climate goals and expectations.

Meg Cederoth, sustainability manager, California High-Speed Rail Authority. She and Melissa DuMond, director of planning and integration, spoke March 8 as part of the Hixon Center Black, Gold & Green Speaker Series. Video: youtu.be/a7YPUMztZJ4

We’ve Crossed That Bridge “The Innocence Project: DNA and the Wrongly Convicted”

“ D NA has always been the gold standard. The reason I think the Innocence Project has been so successful is that we are evidence-based, science-based, and we were just lucky to be there when all this happened with DNA.

Barry Scheck, co-founder, Innocence Project and co-author of Actual Innocence: Five Days to Execution and Other Dispatches from the Wrongly Convicted. He spoke Feb. 9 as part of the Dr. Bruce J. Nelson ’74 Speaker Series, Now! Social Justice and STEM. Video: bit.ly/HixonScheck17

5-C cross-registration

For the first time in its history, Harvey Mudd has more students from the other Claremont colleges enrolling in its courses than HMC students registering for courses on the other campuses. This increase has impacted several academic departments, particularly Computer Science, which has responded by hiring faculty and adding more classes. President Maria Klawe says, “Harvey Mudd has always benefitted from cross-registration, and it is important for us to continue our support for the consortium and the benefits it affords our College.”





Standing Ovation

Galileo Hall renovation completed A SEA OF MULTI-HUED BLUE CHAIRS ALONG

with new carpet, paint, paneling and updated technology greeted participants attending Alumni Weekend in April. How fitting that alumni were among the first to enjoy the renovated Galileo auditoria and Hixon Court, under construction since May 2016. The auditoria, lobby and ancillary rooms were completely demolished and modernized, while retaining a similar function and feel of the beloved Galileo Hall. Those interested in being a part of this historic project may select and name one or more of the nearly 600 seats in the Edwards, McAlister or Pryne auditoriums. See bit.ly/ChooseMuddSeat.

Pride Points Among Best Colleges for Financial Aid “ Some private colleges offer so much financial aid to students that the cost of attending them becomes much more affordable—often close to public school tuition.” –Investopedia HMC Tuition, Room and Board

$71,939, 2017–2018

Average financial aid award, $36,774 About 75 percent of students receive financial aid

71 percent of incoming first-year students receive scholarship assistance directly from HMC Average debt upon graduation around $25,412, well below average private school student loan ($32,000)



Best Career Placement

Harvey Mudd College ranked No. 2 for “Best Career Placement” and No. 4 for “Top 50 Colleges That Pay You Back” in The Princeton Review’s 2017 edition of Colleges That Pay You Back: The 200 Schools That Give You the Best Bang for Your Tuition Buck. Harvey Mudd’s Office of Career Services assists students in every stage of career development, from selecting a major and searching for jobs and internships to exploring careers and researching graduate schools.

Climate Action

Harvey Mudd supports innovative climate solutions PRESIDENT MARIA KLAWE JOINED

more than 200 leaders in higher education and the nonprofit Second Nature in signing a letter to then President-elect Trump and the United States Congress regarding climate action. The letter recognizes the role and responsibility of higher education institutions in “developing and deploying innovative climate solutions that provide a prosperous future for all Americans,” and requests that President Trump and Congress support the science-based targets outlined in the Paris Climate Agreement, related research at higher education institutions and investment in a low-carbon economy. The Hixon Center for Sustainable Environmental Design stated, “By signing this letter, President Klawe reminds us of Harvey Mudd’s responsibility to address the consequences of climate change, both inside and outside the classroom.” Higher education institutions across the country and around the world recognize their academic and ethical responsibilities to take aggressive climate action by supporting and increasing interdisciplinary climate and environmental education, researching the earth’s climate system and by reducing carbon emissions.

Action ation Leaders on Climate Letter from Higher Educ Our Students” Needed for the Success of “A Clean Energy Future is n institutions

p of higher educatio y developed by a diverse grou This letter was collaborativel sed on Dec. 19, 2016. and Second Nature and relea

ted States Congress,

p and Members of the Uni

Dear President-elect Trum

ughout the United States, er education institutions thro high of ers lead d gne ersi We, the und t and future generations to ical responsibilities to curren eth and ic dem aca our e recogniz pollution, to support interto reduce our sector’s carbon on; acti ate clim ive ress take agg ands our understanding to continue research that exp and on, cati edu ate clim disciplinary developing and deploying tems. We are committed to of rapidly changing earth sys s future for all Americans. s that provide a prosperou ting innovative climate solution ent communities in suppor in the business and investm of our ny ma We join our colleagues , fact In . ent eem Agr outlined in the Paris Climate our the science-based targets bon reduction goals to lead car ive ress agg re mo n eve set rily nta volu e hav institutions others. onstrate what is possible for sector forward and to dem you support the following: Therefore, we ask that l carbon reduction and ent, with the resulting nationa eem Agr is Par the in tion 1. Participa munities and our future the health of our current com tect pro to ets, targ rgy ene clean generations. l agencies to ensure that our ic institutions and in federa 2. Research in our academ on leading scientific and security policies are based national climate, energy, and technical knowledge. t infrastructure to ensure the economy as part of a resilien bon car low the in s ent 3. Investm stments will also help grow climate hazards. These inve g ngin cha to pt ada can country ses. American jobs and busines

Complete letter and list of


signatories: bit.ly/HiEdLtrC





Researchers Seek Astronomical Answers to Quantum Questions Written by Sarah Barnes


major Calvin Leung ’17 and physics major Amy Brown ’17 built an inconspicuous-looking instrument that performs a rather remarkable task. The device, a black box that could be confused for a piece of camera equipment, generates random numbers using photons from astronomical sources. Successful tests of the device were an early step in research they are doing with Assistant Professor of Physics Jason Gallicchio, who devised an idea to use starlight to improve tests of quantum mechanics. Gallicchio and Leung are co-authors, along with their colleagues, on the paper “A Cosmic Bell Test with Measurement Settings from Astronomical Sources,” recently published by Physical Review Letters. Gallicchio studies experimental cosmology, the study of the origin and evolution of the universe. The paper aims to close a loophole in tests of physicist John Bell’s inequalities—which confirm the “spooky action at a distance” between quantum entangled particles—by using telescopes that look at widely separated stars to generate the random settings in experiments on quantum entanglement. “This particular project is interesting and different,” Gallicchio explains, “because it combines astrophysics and quantum mechanics; things on big, distant scales and things that we tend to think of as being on tiny scales. We’re using light that’s coming from far, far away as a tool to do tests of quantum mechanics.” Albert Einstein was famously uncomfortable with quantum mechanics because it didn’t fit with his physical realist attitude toward physics. Initially, beginning in the early 1930s, the discussion around the mysterious aspects of quantum mechanics seemed like a philosophical debate. Then, in 1964, Bell looked at it as an experimental question, stating that if straightforward implementations of Einstein’s theory of relativity held, tests would give results different than what quantum mechanics predicts. Since that time, all experiments have confirmed quantum mechanics, but they leave open loopholes that could, in principle, still allow an explanation that would satisfy Einstein's strong preference for local influences.



If you hope that there’s some locality-friendly thing happening under quantum mechanics, it’s much less plausible now.


The “free will” or “freedom-of-choice” loophole suggests that seemingly randomly selected measurement settings could have been affected by some unknown cause and therefore have influenced the results of tests on quantum entangled particles. It’s also a problem if results could be predicted, even if they couldn't have been influenced. By using 600-year-old starlight to determine the random measurement settings, Gallicchio and his colleagues are able to show that if there is an underlying influence at work, it has to have been working for at least that long to have affected any influence or prediction. Gallicchio’s idea to use light from stars as a tool to generate random measurements came to him when he was an undergrad, taking one class in the philosophy of physics and another in quantum mechanics. He developed his idea further,

writing the first draft of the paper during a year spent at the South Pole studying the cosmic microwave background. He returned to the U.S. and later flew to Vienna, Austria, to work on convincing his colleagues there, including leading physicists and cosmologists, to perform the experiments, which generated exciting results. “With starlight, it’s harder to say there’s something happening that can be explained locally,” Gallicchio says. “If you hope that there’s some locality-friendly thing happening under quantum mechanics, it’s much less plausible now.” Though the experiment was performed in Vienna, Gallicchio is currently working with other students to build an improved version of this experiment at Harvey Mudd, which would be an exciting development on any scale.


professors and students in meaningful collaboration. In addition to National Science Foundation grants, which are the largest share of external support for faculty research at Harvey Mudd, funding comes from other sources as well. All of it ends up performing the same function: creating meaningful, relevant and valuable research and experiential opportunities for our students and faculty.

driving, automated warehousing and personal robots—addresses fundamental limitations in how current planning systems handle real-world uncertainty. The grant will support summer research experiences for four students each year as well as the purchase of various equipment, including a new robot. It will also support the development of two new robotics courses at the College, and it helps establish Boerkoel as a national leader in undergraduate robotics and artificial intelligence research and education.

Diversity in Computing, where they can discuss their work on this project as well as network and be inspired by the community. “I’m excited,” she says. “For the last two years I was able to bring some students to this conference, but now I can bring more.”

Jim Boerkoel and Emilia Reed ’17 David Vosburg and Tiffany Fong ’18

“If I had to summarize my teaching philosophy using a single word, it would be ‘inspire,’” says Assistant Professor of Computer Science Jim Boerkoel. “A great teacher inspires a student to think big—to apply, extend and evaluate his or her ideas to address complex problems that he or she finds personally interesting or compelling—and in the process, develop his or her own unique passions.” This philosophy is prevalent among faculty at Harvey Mudd, as is an understanding that involvement of undergraduate students in collaborative research with faculty is a proven and powerful pedagogy. Boerkoel, who runs the popular human experience and agent teamwork laboratory (HEATlab) at Harvey Mudd, was recently awarded a prestigious National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) grant for his project “CAREER: Robust and Reliable Multiagent Scheduling Under Uncertainty.” This work—related to developing applications such as autonomous

Beth Trushkowsky

Professor of Computer Science Beth Trushkowsky received a $175,000 NSF grant in support of her project “CRII: III: RUI: Adaptive Query Processing for Crowd-Powered Database Systems.” The award will fund four students in a research experience across two summers and during the school year. Trushkowsky and her students hope to produce a query processing system that will empower users to ask more interesting questions about data than would be allowed by a traditional database system. The grant funding also allows Trushkowsky to take students to the Richard Tapia Celebration for

Associate Professor of Chemistry David Vosburg has been awarded an $8,000 research grant by Organic Syntheses Inc. that provides funding for him and a student co-worker to do research in the area of synthetic organic chemistry. Members of the Organic Syntheses Advisory Board awarded the grants to faculty from principally undergraduate institutions for research that includes the development of reliable methods for the synthesis of organic compounds. Vosburg was invited to apply for the grant, which is new this year, and was honored to be one of just four faculty selected to receive it. Students involved in the project will gain valuable research experience, not to mention the potential for publishing work based on the study.





Francis Su and students


first thing that comes to mind when considering the pursuit of happiness, but professors in the Harvey Mudd Department of Mathematics make a good case for it. Considering the ways that learning mathematics can improve thinking and help build confidence, Harvey Mudd mathematicians are working to make its study available to diverse audiences. Professor of Mathematics Francis Su, outgoing president of the Mathematical Association of America (MAA), challenged the mathematical community to be more inclusive as part of his farewell address at the Joint Mathematics Meetings of the MAA and the American Mathematical Society. Describing the ways in which a pursuit of mathematics can lead to human flourishing, Su also explained why this pursuit is not open to everyone who would want to achieve it. Afterward, Su was interviewed by Quanta Magazine. “If we really want to have a more diverse set of people in mathematical sciences,” he said, “we have to take into account the structural barriers that make it hard for people from



disadvantaged backgrounds to succeed in math.” Read Su’s interview at bit.ly/2kYD4Rz. Lisette de Pillis, professor and chair of the Department of Mathematics at Harvey Mudd College, will attend the 2017 Higher Education Resource Services (HERS) Institute at the University of Denver, June 18–July 1. De Pillis, who is passionate about using mathematics to look for solutions to real-world problems, was awarded a Clare Booth Luce (CBL) Scholarship that provides full tuition, accommodations, meals and travel for the HERS Luce Program for Women in STEM Leadership. One of six awarded a CBL Scholarship, de Pillis will join approximately 60 women leaders from across the United States at the Denver event. HERS is an educational non-profit providing leadership and management development for women in higher education. The HERS Institute provides opportunities for a diverse group of women leaders to share and learn under the guidance of women faculty from higher education, national organizations, government and foundations.

Lisette de Pillis

Promotions, Tenure and Appointments Effective July 1, 2017

In January, the Harvey Mudd College Board of Trustees voted to approve three professors for tenure. Vivien Hamilton, assistant

professor of history of science has been approved for promotion to associate professor with continuous tenure. Interested in understanding how individuals from different disciplinary cultures have collaborated on scientific and technical problems, Hamilton explores this question in her research, focusing recently on the collaboration of physicists and doctors in the first decades following the discovery of X-rays in 1895. Hamilton joined the Department of Humanities, Social Sciences, and the Arts in 2011 and teaches a wide range of courses in the history of science, technology and medicine. Fletcher Jones Professor of Engineering Design Gordon Krauss has been approved for continuous tenure. His industry experience includes serving as a staff scientist for Energizer, a technical specialist consultant for Ford Motor Company and as a research and development engineer for Tytronics Corporation. His research interests include the study of friction, wear and lubrication—in mechanical and biological systems—and design education. Krauss joined the Department of Engineering in 2013. Ben Wiedermann, assistant

professor of computer science, has been approved for promotion to associate professor with continuous tenure. Wiedermann researches the design and implementation of programming languages. He is particularly

interested in programming languages for communities that might not use existing languages (e.g., people who are not neurotypical or physiotypical) or for communities who should not have to use existing languages (e.g., artists, scientists, engineers, etc., who may not be programmers but who could nevertheless benefit from writing programs). He joined the HMC faculty as a visiting professor in 2011 and became a tenure-track professor in 2012.

Assistant Professors Brian Bryce (engineering), Sal Plascencia (creative

writing) and Matt Spencer (engineering) were approved by the board for first reappointment, and Assistant Professor Sharon Gerbode (physics) was approved for second reappointment.

Engineering the Future Harvey Mudd alumna and engineering Professor Elizabeth Orwin ’95 received the Orange County Engineering Council’s Distinguished Educator Award and President’s Award for being a longtime mentor to the next generation of women engineers. Orwin, who holds the James Howard Kindelberger Professorship in Engineering and is department chair, is also director of the Engman Fellowship Program in Bioengineering, which trains students in biomedical engineering research and device design. Her lab’s main research focus is in the area of tissue engineering, specifically applied to the study and development of an artificial corneal construct. In addition to teaching courses in engineering design and engineering systems, Orwin has developed courses and programming in biomedical engineering. She has served as advisor for the Harvey Mudd chapter of Society of Women Engineers and has drawn on her extensive background, as well as her experience as an engineering alumna, to mentor many women engineers.

Williams Named Associate Dean Associate Professor of Mathematics Talithia Williams will serve as associate dean for research and experiential learning. As associate dean, Williams will spearhead and support efforts to broaden the summer research and experiential learning program and work to provide opportunities for faculty to seek, obtain and administer grants from external agencies. She also will work with the Research Committee to help oversee internal college funding. She has made it her life’s work to excite people about the possibilities inherent in a STEM education; her popular TED Talk, “Own Your Body’s Data,” has over one million views. Her research focuses on building statistical models that study the spatial and temporal structure of data. Williams serves as a consultant for Tempdrop, a startup company founded in 2013 that seeks to solve women’s fertility issues.

GREat At the largest meeting of mathematicians in the world, an unexpected thing happened to Assistant Professor of Mathematics Mohamed Omar: he’d become something of a YouTube star. During the Joint Mathematics Meetings, students from across the country approached Omar throughout the conference because they recognized him from his video series on strategies for studying for the GRE Mathematics Subject Test. Some also mentioned reading “Tame the GRE Math Subject Test,” an article Omar wrote for Math Horizons. It’s no surprise that students have become fans of Omar’s test-preparation resources. The GRE (Graduate Record Examination) is a standardized test required for admission into graduate school in the United States. Though the math section of the exam tests high school-level concepts, its unique format and the lack of study resources available to test takers make preparation difficult (Omar describes the 66-question exam as a “mathapalooza … littered with mathematical trickery and obscurity”). When Omar hosted test prep sessions at Harvey Mudd, he began to think of ways that he could improve study resources available to the students. It looks like he’s on to something: there are 18 GRE-related videos on his YouTube channel (bit.ly/2nFgHB1).




Beyond Hype

Mudders join the Hyperloop revolution HARVEY MUDD STUDENTS WORKED WITH A GLOBAL,

multi-university team to build a fully functional, three-fourth scale Hyperloop pod model. The Hyperloop concept was first proposed by SpaceX and Tesla Motors co-founder Elon Musk in 2013. It incorporates reduced-pressure tubes in which pressurized capsules ride on an air cushion driven by linear induction motors. Passengers could travel from Los Angeles to San Francisco in under 30 minutes, radically transforming the speed and safety of passenger mass transit. SpaceX announced a Hyperloop pod design competition in June 2015 as a way “to accelerate development of a functional Hyperloop prototype.” Team OpenLoop—composed of students from Harvey Mudd, Cornell University, University of Michigan, Northeastern University, Memorial University of Newfoundland (Canada) and Princeton University—was one of 30 teams selected to test its design prototype at the world’s first Hyperloop Test Track adjacent to SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California. The knowledge gained from the competition will be open-sourced. Here are some highlights from the second year of the project.

March 2016 Construction of various components happened in different locations. The compressed air system was built in Newfoundland, while the air skates were constructed and tested at Northeastern University. Both of these components were transported to Michigan, where the shell and fuselage were constructed and where the three systems were combined. The sensing and controls system were tested and calibrated at Mudd. “Mudd was primarily responsible for controls, the equations and algorithms governing the behavior of the pod. Our goal is controlling the pod and keeping it safe, stable, efficient and comfortable,” said Patrick McKeen ’17, an engineering major who served as the HMC campus lead. More than 100 teams made presentations during the design competition at Texas A&M University. MIT placed first, Delft University of

A one-half scale Hyperloop pod designed by the OpenLoop team

Technology (Netherlands), second, and University of Wisconsin, third. Team OpenLoop was one of 30 teams approved for the next phase of competition after making adjustments to their design.

July 2016 During summer, team members from around the world worked to build the hardware in order to compete on SpaceX’s Hyperloop test track in January 2017. Mudders worked on circuitry design and testing, while students in Michigan, Newfoundland (Canada) and Boston worked on the central computing, sensor fusion and housings.

October 2016 The controls system was completed, and students at the other schools continued with other tasks. “We did the vast majority of the work in designing and developing the sensing and controls system, as well as contributing to the overall design and architecture,” said McKeen. Printed circuit boards that Harvey Mudd students designed for the pod’s sensors



What has most impressed me about the the Harvey Mudd OpenLoop team has been their initiative, hard work and dedication. They formed their own team, collaborated with other universities, set their deadlines and completed tasks on time. Since the students hadn’t yet learned the relevant material in formal classroom settings, the majority of their technical work was based on knowledge they learned independently. This type of learning can be difficult and time-consuming and signifies the high level of contribution made by these students.

April 2017 The OpenLoop team is featured in a documentary written and directed by Kip and Kern Konwiser and produced by Legendary Entertainment. The film, which debuted on campus April 11, is part of the Konwiser’s docu-series Make it Work about STEM students making a difference. Watch for its release during fall 2017.


January 2017 During Competition Weekend Jan. 27–29, team pods had to pass a structural and functional vacuum test before being allowed on the track. The majority of the pods used wheeled designs, magnetic levitation and air-bearing suspension to support the pod. The SpaceX tube—six feet tall, 4,150 feet long and an outer-diameter of 72 inches—is able to accommodate all three propulsion systems. While many teams completed evaluations, including OpenLoop, just three teams were able to test their pods during Sunday’s final: Delft University from the Netherlands, WARR from

Munich Technical University and MIT. The OpenLoop team was able to successfully validate the pod’s levitation and performance in vacuum, pass static mechanical and software checks and test the pod on an external sub-track. Teams that brought entries to the competition but were not allowed to test their designs in the SpaceX test track due to time constraints may return to try again. A final phase of the competition is set for this summer, and all 30 of the teams will be potentially able to compete.

Harvey Mudd members of the OpenLoop team: Jeewan Naik ’17, Hannah Zosman ’17, Christopher Kotcherha ’18, Adam Shaw ’18 and Jessica Lupanow ’18. Not shown: Patrick McKeen ’17, Teresa Despres ’18, Alex Goldstein ’18, Hamza Khan ’18 and In Sung Song ’17.

OpenLoop’s pod hardware sits in a SpaceX test chamber for vacuum testing at competition weekend in January.






Rolling on Sunshine International student maneuvers through Mudd Written by Lia King Photos by Deborah Tracey


life that are new to him—speaking English daily, the social customs of ever-smiling Americans, and waking up at the crack of dawn to watch his beloved Arsenal soccer team play matches on European time—the one that he relishes most is skateboarding. He taught himself, he says. “Surprisingly, it didn’t take me that long. Only one day.” Now, it’s his preferred mode of transport as he makes his way from class to class on the Harvey Mudd campus and over to Claremont McKenna College, where he plays volleyball to unwind from the rigors of his academic schedule. Habineza ’20 is from Rwanda, a mountainous country in East Africa. He grew up in the capital city of Kigali, where he attended Bridge2Rwanda, a college preparatory school intent on linking Rwandan students with higher education opportunities in the United States. His college counselor homed in on Harvey Mudd for its excellent mathematics, science and engineering programs, but what Habineza remembers most distinctly are the pictures she showed him of Mudders skateboarding in the sunshine. The images reminded him of a dream he’d had as a child and as a fan of the American superhero show, The Flash, to be able to run at superhuman speeds. Skateboarding, he figured, was the next best thing. He was surrounded by friends from Bridge2Rwanda when he found out that he’d been accepted to Harvey Mudd. The celebration, caught on video and posted to the College’s Facebook page, shows an ecstatic Habineza being lifted to the shoulders of his equally ecstatic classmates, who break out into chants of “Har-vey Mudd! Har-vey Mudd!” (See bit.ly/PascalAdm16.) Now 15,000 miles away from his family and childhood friends, Habineza stays busy with his classes, which include chemistry, mechanics, linear algebra, biology and chemistry lab. He finds his mathematics and science classes manageable. It’s his critical inquiry and writing classes, which



require him to construct arguments in a language that’s not his first or his second (those would be Kinyarwanda and French, respectively), that pose a greater challenge. But Habineza has an indefatigably optimistic attitude. “I would say that it is fortunate that I find writing more challenging because I get to dedicate more hours of practice to it.” He enjoys working with Mudd’s coordinator of English Language Learning, Suzanne Fontaine, when he needs extra help. He’s also enjoyed taking excursions with his host family to some of the iconic spots of the west: Las Vegas and the Hoover Dam. And though he’s marveled at these land-bound spectacles, his interest lies in outer space.

“ I don't know where life will

take me, but I know that I owe something to my country and that one day I will probably work indirectly on helping young Rwandan kids get the kind of good education I am getting, which I am very thankful for.


“I’m fascinated by speed, existence of extraterrestrial life and interstellar travel,” he says, adding that he’ll probably major in engineering, with a focus in guidance, navigation and control. After graduating from HMC, he plans to get a master’s degree in avionics. “From there, I don’t know where life will take me, but I know that I owe something to my country and that one day I will probably work indirectly on helping young Rwandan kids get the kind of good education I am getting, which I am very thankful for.” He sees Rwanda as a country more than worth his allegiance; it’s one that’s already made great strides toward rebuilding itself after the trauma of its 1994 genocide. “Rwanda is the safest and one of the fastest developing countries in Africa today,” he says. “To many peoples’ surprise, the healing process has been very quick despite the degree of unspeakable things which happened, maybe because the roots of the genocide were from the outside— colonization—as opposed to being from the inside.” Habineza will return to Kigali this summer to visit his mother and sisters. He says his friends sometimes ask him how he can stand being away from home for so long. “I just embrace what comes my way. It’s all about what you tell your brain.”

Welcoming the World This year marks the 55th anniversary of the admission of Harvey Mudd’s first international student, Paul Vitta ’67 (physics), who also happens to be from Africa (Tanzania). Vitta went on to teach physics and work in science and technology policy in Tanzania, Senegal, Canada and Kenya, and in 2005 he received HMC’s Outstanding Alumni Award. International students now make up 11 percent of the Harvey Mudd student body. The College has launched a new program, Project 196 (the number of countries in the world), that offers community-building opportunities, workshops, outings and mentoring for international students. The Office of Institutional Diversity, which runs Project 196, designed the program to “better understand our fantastically diverse international students and meet their evolving needs.”

Excellence and Diversity In a statement to the campus community in February, President Maria Klawe confirmed the College’s support for transgender and non-binary students. “Harvey Mudd has pledged to work toward diversity and inclusive excellence for all members of our community. As part of our commitment, we have taken many steps to support our students, including expanding the number of gender-inclusive restrooms available on campus as well as expanding support for the offices of Institutional Diversity and Wellness in the Division of Student Affairs. We continue to focus on our shared goal by constantly evaluating opportunities to expand offerings in these and other areas. As a community, we strongly reject discrimination in all its forms, and we pledge to work together so that we may better address the challenges facing society today,” Klawe stated. Find the full statement at bit.ly/HMCInclu17.





Competitions and Awards Supply Chain Champs

ACM Results

Outscoring both undergraduate and graduate-level competitors, a team of Harvey Mudd students received top honors at the APICS West Coast student case competition sponsored by the Inland Empire Chapter of APICS, the leading association for supply chain and operations professionals. First-time entrants in the APICS competition, the team of senior engineering majors Alexa Le, Joe Sinopoli, Shaan Gareeb and Katherine (Yoo Jeong) Shim won first place in the undergraduate division as well as the overall Grand Prize during the event, held Feb. 17–18 in San Diego. They will represent the APICS Southwest District at the organization’s international conference in October 2017 in San Antonio, Texas. Advised by Kash Gokli, professor of manufacturing practice, the students competed against 23 teams from 17 colleges and universities and three countries. They were given a supply chain problem to be solved using a computer simulation game then developed solutions and presented their rationale for the solutions. Teams were judged on presentation and return on investment from the case simulation. In the final round, all teams were grilled on their rationale and logic behind solving the given supply chain problem. “This competition is about leadership, decisionmaking, strategic thinking, creative problem-solving and communication. What a great experience for the students!” said Gokli.

Improving Pokémon game mapping and maximizing the cost-effectiveness of hotel rewards programs were two of the complex, real-world programming problems presented to teams at the 2016 ACM Southern California Regional International Collegiate Programming Contest. HMC teams again earned spots among the Top 20. INTERTEAM (Alex Ozdemir ’17, Daniel Johnson ’18 and Hamzah Khan ’18) placed eighth, Team 555 (Mek Jenrungrot ’19, Cha Suaysom ’18 and Josh Tawabutr ’17) placed ninth and Team Water (Jincheng Wang ’17, Anna Ma ’17 and Tony Zhang ’18) placed 11th. The contest challenges students writing

S eniors Alexa Le, Shaan Gareeb, Katherine (Yoo Jeong) Shim and Joe Sinopoli



software systems to solve various problems within a five-hour period. Winning teams solved the most problems in the fewest attempts in the least amount of cumulative time. Eighty-five of the 94 teams competing in the November 2016 IBM-sponsored event submitted at least one problem, and each of the three HMC teams solved seven problems. For some of the problems they submitted, the Mudd teams used the programming language Python, which was just added to the traditional languages Java, C and C++ on the event’s permissible list.

Winning Clinic Saves Change An Engineering Clinic team received kudos for their ingenious solution to a changeover problem for Niagara Bottling LLC. The HMC team received the E=mc² Innovation Award from the Manufacturers’ Council of the Inland Empire during a celebration of the most innovative businesses and leaders in the region. The Clinic project, which ran from September 2015 to May 2016, resulted in a projected 70 percent total savings for the changeover time, amounting to $1.3 million savings annually for Niagara Bottling, the largest private label bottled water supplier in the United States. Team members Spenser Anderson ’16, Tito Barina ’15, Aaron Rosen ’16, Faith LemireBaeten ’17, Alexa Le ’17, Shaan Gareeb ’17, Carmel Zhao ’17, Jose Orozco ’17 and Robert Cyprus ’17 worked alongside Niagara Bottling liaisons Craig Young, Kartik Gurav, Colin Cavanaugh, Daryl Anderson and Michael White, and Harvey Mudd Clinic advisor Kash Gokli (professor of manufacturing practice), to develop mechanical, electrical and operational solutions that reduced the changeover time for Niagara’s Krones packing machines. The team used an $8,800 budget to develop prototypes and operational changes covering four areas of the packer. Students performed time trials and operator interviews to gauge problem areas related to the

modification or recalibration needed on machines selected to produce new items (changeover). In addition to developing prototypes and tools, the student team suggested changes to operational procedures that involved single-minute exchange of dies and lean manufacturing tools and techniques, reducing overall changeover time. The team presented prototypes to Niagara’s vice president of manufacturing and Krones’ Engineering Design Team. Many of these improvements were handed off to Krones, which is working with Niagara to implement them on a large scale. The Harvey Mudd Clinic team’s operations report was distributed to all Niagara plants to standardize their changeover process. In addition to the significant time and cost savings on Niagara’s packer changeover process, both the machine and operational changes improve operator safety while maintaining machine changeover accuracy.

Awards for Computing Research The Computing Research Association (CRA) recognizes undergraduates at North American universities who demonstrate outstanding potential in an area of computing research. Harvey Mudd College is the only nonPhD-granting institution to have more than one student among CRA’s 2016 top selections.

Jane Wu ’18, computer science

Alex Ozdemir ’17, individual

and mathematics; 2017 Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Award (up to $1,500 to attend a research conference)

program of studies in computational, mathematical and physical theory; CRA Finalist

Research area: human-robot trust, applying game

theory to explore how people’s perception of interacting with robots, rather than with other people, influences trust and cooperation. She is a researcher on the HEATlab team, headed by Assistant Professor of Computer Science Jim Boerkoel. Using a variant of “prisoner’s dilemma” called the coin entrustment game, the team looks to measure trust and cooperation as separate phenomena between human and robot teammates.

Research area: Under the guidance of computer science Professor Ran Libeskind-Hadas, he has developed a new group of algorithms that would allow biologists to sort different phylogenetic reconciliations into clusters to more easily understand large sets of data. At Harvard University, he and his advisor, computer science Professor Stephen Chong, studied Rust, a new systems programming language, as well as program analysis. Putnam prodigy: In the 2015 William Lowell Putnam

Robot teaming: Wu and other Human Robot Trust

team members have presented research related to human-robot cooperation and decision-making at the 2016 Robotics: Science and Systems (RSS) Conference and the AAAI-16 Conference. Their work also has been published.

Mathematical Competition, considered one of the world’s most prestigious university-level mathematics competitions, he was one of 12 Harvey Mudd students who made the Putnam Top 500 list. Well-rounded: Ozdemir is an active campus leader,

Making a Difference, co-chair of her local chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery Committee on Women in Computing and a facilitator for engineering in the Academic Excellence program, where she assists peers with problem solving and collaborative learning strategies.

having served as a dorm treasurer and mentor, president of Hash House Harriers and Judicial Board chair. He has tutored for 18 different courses (computer science, math and physics) and recently taught a half-semester course of his own design that incorporated his research on Rust: His class of 11 students investigated how the programming language is able to systematically prevent violations of memory safety.

After Mudd: Graduate school to study robotics.

After Mudd: Graduate school then, perhaps, work in

Well-rounded: She’s an officer of the club Mudders

industry to improve how software is written.

Textbook Contributor Omar Velazquez ’18, a chemistry major, is author of four chapters and a poem in Black Lives Matter: Lifespan Perspectives. His interest in health care is reflected in his writing. “I have been interested in the shortcomings of health care that lead to many diseases disproportionately affecting underrepresented individuals. I have spent as much time as I can shadowing physicians and learning all I can about health care, and have seen a lot of problems firsthand,” says Velazquez, who first became interested in becoming a physician during middle school. “These experiences have solidified my interest in becoming a physician and changing the way health care is implemented in order to reduce health disparities.” His chapter topics cover the prevention of sudden infant death syndrome in the African-American community, childhood mental health in South Africa, mental illness among African-American adolescents and racial health disparities in the United States. “I am honored to have been given the opportunity to contribute to the book by writing about topics that interested me and that I felt were important,” he says. “I am also very happy to have been able to contribute chapters that draw much-needed attention to problems like those I hope to address when I become a physician.” Suitable as a primary text in psychology or Africana Studies, the book was produced by the Introduction to African American Psychology class—Matthew Simon ’18 also was a participant—taught during spring 2016 by Pitzer College Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Africana Studies Hal Fairchild, who served as editor. It has been adopted in an undergraduate psychology course at University of California, Irvine.





Come on Down! The HMC student-run Committee for Activities Planning coordinates and funds many off-campus excursions. In October, a group headed to Hollywood to attend a taping of The Price Is Right. Episode 7764 features Clark Elijah Whitsett ’19 (shown top left, blue shirt) being cheered on by ecstatic Mudders as he correctly prices his way onstage to play television’s longest-running game show. Among his prizes: a rotisserie oven, air purifier, beard trimmer and $250.

This is Why I’m Here Junior engineering major David Kwan is studying abroad at the American University of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, during the spring 2017 semester. In his blog, he writes, “I’m here to be a part of a society that is totally unfamiliar to me. I’m here to confront my ignorance of Islam and Arab cultures. I’m here to be in community with people I wouldn’t normally be in community with.” Here we share a few of his observations. Find more on his blog, https://lifeaskwan.wordpress.com/blog/.

“The little things” A History of Guessing Right 2011 – Crystal Leonard ’86 was a runner-up on Jeopardy! 2008 – Andrew Chung ’10 was a finalist and $25,000 winner in the Jeopardy! 2008 College Championship 2000 – Both Sarah Daniels ’02 and Ethan Bodnaruk ’04 appeared on separate episodes and won big on The Price is Right 1998 – In a nationally televised tournament over two weeks in May, Andrew “Rif” Hutchings ’98 won the College Jeopardy! tournament. In addition to knowing lots of random trivia, he was aided by his excellent betting strategies and a category entitled “All About Calculus,” in which he swept all five questions. Hutchings' win earned him $25,000, a new Volvo and the opportunity to appear on the Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions early in 1999. Volvo also donated $25,000 to the school on his behalf, which inspired a fundraising effort to establish an endowed college scholarship to attract talented math students to HMC.



•T ypical American names are uncommon here, so understanding correctly and learning Arab names is challenging. I’m trying though. I really do care about the people here, and I want to learn their names. •P eople shake hands when greeting each other. I once tried waving at someone, and they shook my hand. •T he work week is Sunday-Thursday. Weekends are Friday-Saturday. • All bathrooms include a bidet. I have yet to try one; I’m nervous. ndrew Chung ’10 with A Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek

•M y dorm has a private bathroom and small kitchen. • It’s normal to see prayer rooms available in public places, like malls. •T here are so many malls. The malls in California do not compare to these. • I’m getting used to hearing the call to prayer everywhere I go. • Souks are like the swap meet where you can negotiate prices. I bought a hat. I feel like I paid too much for it though. •P eople don’t wear backpacks here. I don’t get why? That’s so inconvenient.

In Memoriam: Willie Zuniga ’17 The Harvey Mudd community mourns the loss of Willie Zuniga ’17, a talented physics major, mentor, leader and friend to many. He passed away on Feb. 2. He was passionate about understanding the universe and was pursuing a career in astrophysics. Along with a humanities concentration in philosophy, he held a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship in physics and planned to pursue a PhD and then teach. During his time at Harvey Mudd, he worked on several major research projects in astrophysics. He conducted summer research at the University of Illinois on NaI crystals to be used in dark matter detectors in the South Pole and, with the Enriched Xenon Observatory, searched for the neutrino-less double beta decay of Xe-136. He worked with a team of students in the Harvey Mudd Astrophysics


lab of professors Greg Lyzenga ’75 and Michael Storrie-Lombardi P13 to develop a robotic arm that attached to a remote-controlled vehicle designed to search for signs of microbial life in extreme environments on Earth as well as other planets. Zuniga was a student leader and mentor, dedicated to helping others succeed. He was a proctor for Atwood residence hall where Erica Quinn ’19 is a mentor. “Willie was a very understated person,” says Quinn. “He would do wonderful things for people and make them sound small and easy. In one of our weekly Mentor-Proctor meetings, he casually mentioned that he’d spent one whole day of his weekend with somebody who was having a tough time, but he said it in such a way that I almost didn’t notice that that was something special. He was willing to give anything to help people. I never heard him say a negative thing about anybody, and there wasn’t a person he didn’t care about. …One of his strongest skills was being a good listener. Instead of trying to fix the situation, he validated my feelings, and he made me feel less alone.” Zuniga was a leader in Harvey Mudd’s Society of Professional Latinxs in STEMS (SPLS), Chicano

Latino Student Affairs and Claremont Caballeros. He was also a youth mentor for the Chinese Progressive Association in his home town of San Francisco, among other endeavors. He was a strong advocate for underrepresented groups. Zuniga wrote in 2015 about becoming a Mellon Mays Fellow: “It really helps motivate someone when they have a person in their life who went through what they’re going through and who can be there for them as a mentor and a friend. I hope to make the most of [this fellowship] and have a real impact in supporting underrepresented groups in higher education and academia.” In his free time, he loved listening to music and playing guitar. The son of Guillermo and Sara Zuniga of San Francisco, California, Willie is survived by his parents and two younger brothers, Andrew and Nicholas.

For remembrances of Willie Zuniga, go to bit.ly/17Zuniga.


Women’s Soccer

Men’s Cross Country

The Athenas won the SCIAC Postseason Tournament, made the NCAA Tournament and won its first-round NCAA Tournament game 1-0 over Pacific Lutheran. Key players included Kelly McConnell ’17 (starting goalie) and Jacey Coniff ’18 (starting defender; All-SCIAC First Team; NSCAA All-West Region Second Team; NSCAA Scholar All-West Region).

The Stags won the SCIAC Championships, NCAA Division III West Regionals and had the highest finish ever at the NCAA Division III Championships (fifth). HMC representatives at NCAA Championships: Joshua Sealand ’17 (All-SCIAC First Team; All-West Region; All-American), Kyle Lund ’17 (All-SCIAC Second Team; All-West Region; All-American), Jesse Joseph ’17 (All-SCIAC First Team; All-West Region) and Kevin Huang ’18.

Football The Stags went 7-2 overall and finished in second place in the SCIAC standings. The team captured its third winning season in a row and fourth-straight win in the Sixth Street rivalry game against Pomona-Pitzer. Paul Slaats ’17 (All-SCIAC First Team Defense) served prominently on defense as nose tackle.

Women’s Cross Country The Athenas won the SCIAC Championships, finished second at the NCAA Division III West Regionals and placed 15th at the NCAA Division III Championships. Rachel Mow ’17 (All-SCIAC Second Team; All-West Region) represented HMC at the NCAA Championships.





Gene Weavers Bolt Threads researchers are creating new fabrics from spider silk. Written by Leslie Mertz Photos by Jessica Nguyen



everyone will wear clothing made out of spider silk. If she and fellow Mudd alumnus Loren Perelman ’02 have their way, that day is coming soon. Wray is lead scientist and Perelman is director of quality and analytics at Bolt Threads, a company that is producing large amounts of spider silk for use in fabrics. The company is not actually farming spiders at its Emeryville, California, facility. “I don’t know how many people you would find to work at such a place,” says Perelman, laughing. Rather, the company has taken the spider’s silk-producing capability, transferred it into yeast and is harvesting the yeast-produced silk.

E ngineered Silk™ fibers

spinning on a roller.




hat we have done is inserted the gene for making silks into a variety of microbial platforms, including yeast. We then put the yeast into a fermenter, feed it sugar, nutrients and oxygen, and the yeast produces silk proteins,” says Perelman. Actually, the silk proteins are part of a fermentation soup, which he calls a “whole-cell broth.” The next step is a recovery process that extracts the proteins from the broth. The result is a fine powder of proteins. From there, Bolt Threads’ technology adapts some of the decades-old spinning techniques used for silkworm silk to turn the spider-silk powder into strands and then into fibers ready for weaving into cloth, says Wray. While some of the other technology was new to Wray when she joined Bolt Threads in 2014, she was quite familiar with spinning from her days as an undergraduate student researcher in Professor Elizabeth Orwin’s bioengineering lab at Harvey Mudd from 2005 to 2008. There, Wray was spinning collagen fibers for corneal tissue engineering. “When I came to this company and was spinning my first fiber, I couldn’t believe I was doing it again, but even now, every time I take powdered spider silk and spin it into a fiber, it’s a beautiful thing, especially from a materials science perspective,” she says. Another aspect of Bolt Threads’ approach is its ability to tweak the spider silk to incorporate different characteristics beyond its naturally amazing strength. “Spider silk is stronger than steel of the same dimensionality, so we start with that, but then we can also make it slightly stretchy, more stretchy, tighter, softer or basically anything we can imagine,” Perelman says. This potential to alter the silk was what initially attracted him to Bolt Threads in 2014. He recalls, “As a materials scientist, I was very interested in the idea that you could tune materials—manipulate them on a molecular scale— and make them do whatever you want. It was kind of a dream come true for me.” The company can add new properties to the silk because it has genetic-level control over it, Wray explains. “We make silk from the gene up, so we can go in and alter the genetic information or the DNA. By changing the DNA, we can dial in what kinds of amino acids we want (amino acids are the building blocks of proteins), and it’s the amino acids that have specific functionality, such as strong or sticky or stretchy,” she says.



Lindsay Wray ’08 and Loren Perelman ’02 examine spools of Boltspun silk fibers.

“ Every time I take powdered spider silk and spin it into a fiber, it’s a beautiful thing, especially from a materials science perspective.” – LINDSAY WRAY ’08

The same type of thing happens in nature, Perelman notes. Spiders are able to make silk with different characteristics, such as the strong silk in the draglines they use to drop from a web, and the adhesive silks that help them capture prey. At Bolt Threads, the goal is to combine synthetic biology, traditional chemical engineering, fermentation and its spinning technology to influence the final mechanical properties as well as the ultimate

appearance and feel of a textile or a garment. The company has already made hundreds of different silks with more in the works. This kind of multidisciplinary approach is a key part of Bolt Threads, according to Wray. “In order to meet my objectives as lead scientist, I find myself collaborating with molecular biologists, engineers and chemists all along our material pipeline, so I get to work with many different minds,” she says.

Engineered Silk™ fibers are extruded from a spinneret into a liquid bath.

“And actually, that’s one of the things I liked about Harvey Mudd. I did my own work, but I also got exposed to all the cool things that other people were doing.” Perelman agrees. “I would marry Mudd’s mission with what we do here at Bolt Threads. Each provides a really unique opportunity to be exposed to a very wide variety of sciences, and that’s where the world is moving when it comes to new technologies.” In addition, he says the College highlighted problem-solving, a skill that has served him well in his career. As an example, he pointed to a lab exercise in an analytical chemical class. “We worked in teams to develop an analytical method to study different aspects of a fish tank, such as nutrients or ions, and then we all rotated through each other’s methods. I thought that was so cool, because we didn’t learn by just reading a book, but instead we actually had to figure out how to do this thing.” He contends, “I’ve found that’s an awful lot like what day-to-day life is like in the lab: You want to know more about this certain thing, and then you have to go figure out how to know more about that thing.”

Wray adds, “Harvey Mudd instills a creativity component—they teach you to think outside the box, to question the status quo, and it really comes down to how to do good problem solving.” “I just feel that Harvey Mudd instilled in me great fundamentals that I have expanded throughout my graduate work and now—especially—here at Bolt Threads.” In fact, she says, she is seeing those same fundamentals in new hire Nicole Subler ’16, who joined the company almost immediately after graduating from Harvey Mudd. As the work continues at Bolt Threads, Wray and Perelman are looking forward to the release of spider-silk products, including textiles from the company as well as a line of spider-silk garments resulting from a newly announced partnership with Patagonia. “I can picture everyone wearing clothes made of spider silk,” says Wray. “This is a very real possibility, and I’m excited to be a part of it.”

irst spider silk garment: A tie F for Stan Lee, the comic book writer who co-created the Spider-Man character.

B olt Threads staff Kavya Siddartha and Juliette Laoyan monitor a fermenter in the silk fabrication lab.





Antonio Medrano ’02 learns to embrace opportunity and balance science with musical expression Written by John Martin Photos by Kiel Rucker



think of Santa Barbara County fire officials performing safety inspections, but that’s the way Antonio Medrano ’02 sees it. Drawing on his dual passions for music and science, the startup he cofounded, Arogi, solves location, routing and scheduling problems with AI-based path optimization algorithms that “conduct” many elements in “concert”—in this case, which inspections to allocate to which inspectors, and what routes they should take, to maximize the number of inspections they can complete in a day.




edrano got started on this path as a teenager, spending hours at the kitchen table analyzing paper maps to figure out the best bike routes in Davis, California. He got started in music even earlier, at age 4 in his native Guatemala, when his grandparents bought him a Fisher-Price Care Bears tape recorder, and he began recording himself singing. The paper maps led to a PhD in computational geography at the University of California Santa Barbara and to Arogi, which received “angel” funding from a National Science Foundation Small Business Innovation Research grant. The Care Bears recorder led to a lifetime of a cappella singing, most notably in his current group Airplay. Studies show a correlation between musical and mathematical ability, and the two disciplines share qualities like abstraction, rules, patterns and a capacity for experimentation and creativity. “The biggest lesson I have learned from music that extends to science is the concept of ‘active listening,’ which you learn in music class,” Medrano says. “Everything you do is in the context of other people—if you hit the right note but at the wrong time, you’re wrong. You have to focus on those around you, and coordinate what you do with others, to create the greater whole.” Active listening is the disciplined underpinning of collaboration, “and science, like everything, revolves around collaboration,” Medrano says. “Newton said, ‘If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.’ It’s much more than one individual working in a lab alone.” Collaboration is essential to a cappella, with its precision interplay between individual singers to create the unaccompanied harmony. Medrano formed Airplay with five of his favorite singers from



my fate and balance my science with musical expression. ” —ANTONIO MEDRANO ’02

groups he performed with at different times in his life. They perform throughout Southern California, have numerous videos on YouTube and sang with Medrano when he gave his TEDx SantaBarbara talk in 2016. Prior to Airplay, Medrano was a member of The House Jacks, a professional “rock band without instruments,” with which he performed all over the United States, Europe and Japan. Medrano’s voice is also featured on three Claremont Shades albums, created while attending Harvey Mudd. Along with collaboration, Medrano emphasizes its close cousin, diversity. “I think innovation comes from being surrounded by diverse experiences and stimuli. In music, the more diverse your group, the better music you can make. Your ability to create a palette of sounds and colors in music is based upon how varied your group is. This helps you stretch your boundaries.” Medrano loves to garden, especially cultivating the dragon fruit, or pitahaya, from his native Guatemala. The fruit’s large, white, fragrant flower blooms in the evening, but by morning it wilts and can’t be pollinated. Lacking natural pollinators in Santa Barbara, Medrano goes into his backyard garden at night wearing a headset flashlight and carrying a paintbrush and Tupperware container. He brushes the pollen into the container; then dips the brush in the container and hand-pollinates the flowers to get them to go to fruit. He’s not unlike the dragon fruit, coming from Guatemala and flourishing here. “Guatemala is a developing country; it’s not the safest place in the world, and you live your life behind walls for security,” he says. “My family moved to Davis [California] when I was five, and I joined Boy Scouts, sang in a choir and sang in a cappella groups in junior high and high school. I’m very appreciative for these opportunities.” He’s benefitted greatly from multicultural exposure. In addition to moving to a new country, he lived in France and Spain for a year when his father, a UC Davis professor, was on sabbatical. He has traveled around the world with singing groups or to speak at conferences and has been a visiting

professor at the Universitat Jaume 1 in Castellón, Spain. “These experiences have given me an appreciation of the diversity of humanity and culture,” he says. “Many places do things differently, and that’s okay. There’s more than one way to operate a society, and it works.” Uprooting is a recurring refrain in his life—both opportunities taken, as well as lost. In his TED talk, “The Clarity of Disruption,” he spoke about how he was offered a spot on the a cappella TV show The Sing-Off. It required moving to L.A. for rehearsals and filming. “Two months of devotion to music: to live, eat and breathe a cappella for one entire summer,” he says. “I was working on a PhD, and discussed it with my professor. He agreed we could

make it work; I think he liked the idea of seeing one of his nerdy graduate students on national TV. I accepted the offer, and was thrilled to be joining the show.” But soon after making the decision he had doubts and backed out. He watched the show when it aired. “I felt a deep sadness,” he says. “I could see how much work the performers had put into making the show, crafting every note, every dance step. I knew some of the singers, and it was clear that devoting themselves had elevated their music to a whole other level. And I had not.” He says it made him realize that in life, you regret the things you didn’t do more than those you did, and if you take risks, you have more control over the path you take. “When you accept the status quo you remain stationary, while the world continues to progress around you,” he says. “I’ve learned to embrace opportunity so I can control my fate and balance my science with musical expression. To take chances and strive for a life well-lived.”

Medrano sang with Airplay during the 2016 TEDx Santa Barbara event. youtu.be/JucSOCiez6M


“ I’ve learned to embrace opportunity so I can control



A BRIGHT LIGHT IN RENEWABLE ENERGY Adele Tamboli ’04 looks for new and better materials to help fight climate change Written by Amy DerBedrosian Photos by Dennis Schroeder



especially in California, and it can seem as if solar panels are popping up on nearly every rooftop. However, in reality photovoltaic (PV) cells that convert sunlight directly into power for residences, commercial properties and utility-scale solar fields generate just one percent of all electricity in the United States. And that’s after rapid year-to-year growth over the past decade, including a record number of PV solar installations in 2016. To reduce the use of fossil fuels and the impacts of climate change, says Adele Tamboli ’04, the technology will need to become far more prevalent.



Tamboli, a scientist at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and research assistant professor at the Colorado School of Mines, is working to make that expansion feasible. She’s focused on improving the efficiency of PV cells through materials science, the field in which she earned a PhD from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Lowering costs and boosting performance are essential to advancing PV technology. Tamboli explains, “Ninety percent of the market right now is in crystalline silicon, the same material used in computers. It’s not a good light absorber,

and making it at a high-enough quality requires expensive high-temperature processing and complicated equipment. For me, the big issue is that the silicon photovoltaic market has high capital expenditures. To address climate change, we have to come up with a technology that can be scaled more quickly.” In response to these needs, Tamboli is exploring how to get more power out of the existing silicon technology. Her effort to improve silicon’s performance involves layering two different solar cells—one high voltage, the other lower—to find better ways to efficiently capture light.

She is also looking for new semiconductor materials with the potential to replace silicon entirely. This research into inexpensive silicon alternatives with greater light absorbency is already proving fruitful: Tamboli has identified multiple new materials that show promise for solar applications and perhaps others as well, including lasers and optical computing. “The key question is whether we have found an under-explored set of semiconductors that is tunable in new ways that we haven’t traditionally used,” says Tamboli. “One really interesting thing is that two of these materials, zinc silicon phosphide (ZnSiP2) and zinc germanium phosphide (ZnGeP2), can be grown on silicon, so they potentially could be integrated with silicon PV in a multi-junction solar cell architecture. We could then control the degree of disorder to get exactly the properties we want.” This investigation into promising new materials has attracted attention well beyond her lab. In 2016, Tamboli became part of a select group of scientists to be awarded significant support from the Department of Energy’s Early Career Research Program. Her project is one of just 49 chosen from among 720 research proposals to receive five years of funding. It’s unsurprising that Tamboli is making her mark at a relatively early stage of her career. The Harvey Mudd physics graduate also came to the field of research early, starting at the Los Alamos National Laboratory the summer after her first year of college. “It’s somewhat unusual to get research experience so early in college, but I got lucky and was offered a job. I had some programming experience, and they liked that. I was debating about being a computer science major at that point—I had a hard time figuring out a major at Mudd because I liked everything—but I decided sitting in front of a computer all day wasn’t for me,” Tamboli recalls. “I enjoyed the days I could go into the lab and see my code being used. That’s what got me interested in experimental research.” Back on campus, Tamboli became an undergraduate researcher working on magnetic materials with physics professors James Eckert and Patricia Sparks. They encouraged her to attend research conferences and to interact with other scientists, and they stimulated her interest in materials science. “I always wanted to do science that has an impact on the world. That’s why getting into

Tamboli uses a combinatorial sputtering chamber in her search for new material compositions.

“ I always wanted to do science that has an impact on the world. That’s why getting into renewable energy was a good fit for me. I decided it was a problem that needed to be solved.” –ADELE TAMBOLI ’04

renewable energy was a good fit for me. I decided it was a problem that needed to be solved,” says Tamboli, who began directing her attention to renewable energy after graduate school. “I did a postdoc working on materials for artificial photosynthesis, which taught me a lot about the same materials I work on now.” As she tackles her current projects, Tamboli is buoyed by the potential she sees for renewable energy and for solar power in particular. “I think high-efficiency solar architectures will take over,” she says. “I also think we’ll see more distributed solar because the ability to have PV everywhere will give us more options other than individual,

residential rooftop applications. Another thing is the expansion of PV in the developing world. We don’t need new technology for that—we just need to put it out there. It’s starting to happen.” For now, Tamboli is focused on further breakthroughs and innovations in her ongoing projects, working with a research team that has included Mudd undergraduates and alumni. She says, “Science is uncertain and risky. But I try to choose things with the most impact and highest likelihood of success. And even if my particular project doesn’t succeed, the person sitting two doors down from me who’s working toward the same goal might.”



Y A Brain for Science; A Heart for Art A neuroscientist paves the way for emerging artists Written by Allison Marin


Portrait by David Scavone




artists are complete opposites. One is guided by facts and reason, the other by emotion. Theoretical physicist and abstract acrylic painter Paul So ’88 doesn’t see it that way. “To me, artists and scientists are actually very similar. Both are trying to understand how the world works,” So says. Scientists see the world in a logical way and use the scientific method to explain their surroundings, while artists focus on the aesthetic connections between things in their environment, he explains. Not wanting to choose between his two passions, So has made a career out of doing both science and art. He is a professor of physics at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, where he applies dynamical systems theory and statistical mechanics to understand how large networks of neurons in the brain communicate. He’s also the founder of Hamiltonian Artists, an innovative career incubator and professional development fellowship program for visual artists, modeled after his own post-doctoral training in science. Most recently, he’s developed ArtView, a sustainably designed building aimed at better integrating artists into the community by combining residential condos for art enthusiasts and live/ work spaces for working artists. So credits Harvey Mudd with fueling both passions. “My dual interest in science and art started at Mudd,” he says. The physics and math major finished his required classes early and wanted to try something completely different, so he began taking studio art classes at Scripps and Pomona colleges, eventually completing enough credits to fulfill the requirements for a studio arts degree. “I started painting from that point on and even participated in a few art shows,” So says, until his PhD research in physics at the University of Maryland began to occupy all his time. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the George Washington University School of Medicine and the Children’s Research Institute of the Children’s National Medical Center and then became an assistant professor of physics and astronomy at nearby George Mason University. “After I became a faculty member, I realized I wanted to become involved in the art community again, so I started thinking about how I could combine my dual passion for art and science,” So recalls. During a postdoctoral fellowship, scientists receive training in how

“ I decided to duplicate my experience as a scientist and create a kind of postdoc program for artists.” — PAUL SO ’88

to be a professor, learning how to write grants and how to present their work in a professional manner. “I realized there was nothing like that for artists. Unlike scientists coming out of a PhD program, when artists finish their MFA, they are expected to fend for themselves,” So says. “I decided to duplicate my experience as a scientist and create a kind of postdoc program for artists.” In collaboration with the Hamiltonian Gallery in Washington, D.C., So founded the non-profit Hamiltonian Artists, a career incubator for visual artists, while on sabbatical in 2007. The following year the first class of Hamiltonian Fellows began their training. “Hamiltonian Artists is very much like a postdoc,” So explains of his innovative approach. “Our two-year program provides emerging artists with a group of more established mentors as well as with other fellows so that they can interact and exchange ideas. It’s very similar to a laboratory environment.” The 10 fellows each year receive significant career development support in the form of critiques, studio visits and lectures. In addition, Hamiltonian Gallery provides fellows with the commercial representation and promotional aspects needed for their professional development. Katherine Mann, a fellow from 2009 to 2010, says the Hamiltonian program gave her the foundation to start and maintain her career as a practicing artist. “The community of fellows is a gift that keeps on giving,” says Mann, now an adjunct professor, professional artist and mother of two. “Gallery representation, two solo shows and two group shows, as well as a variety of art fairs, gave me my first understanding of what it means to be a practicing artist.”

This rendering by Jonathan Monaghan, a Hamiltonian program alumnus, shows the three-story ArtView building, which Paul So ’88 helped develop.

“ Neighborhood,” an acrylic and sumi ink on recycled papers, by Katherine Mann, a Hamiltonian Fellow.

Mann, whose paintings depict ever-changing fantasy worlds where blood cells, rain forests and coral reefs collide and intertwine, applied to the Hamiltonian fellowship before graduating from the graduate program in painting at the Maryland Institute College of Art. “I had never (and still have not) heard of a program quite like Hamiltonian; a program that provides exhibitions, representation, critique and fellowship through an open juried call. As a student, I was intimidated by the invisible mechanisms in the art world—representation by a commercial gallery, solo exhibitions and general exposure all seemed to only come from knowing the right people and going to the right parties. It was refreshing to find a program as egalitarian as Hamiltonian is.” A major focus of the fellowship is helping artists learn how to create a sustainable art practice, one where they can earn a living. “While a small minority of artists are able to earn enough money by selling their art alone, most also do other work

on the side, such as teach at an art school or work at a design firm,” So says. “We help our students learn to support their art practice without losing sight of their creative process and their ability to generate art.” So insists he is no art expert, but relies on a team of those of who are—a gallery director, a program manager and a board of established art professionals—to run Hamiltonian Artists. Although he remains involved in the project on a weekly basis, his day-to-day efforts are as a theoretical physicist/neuroscientist. “Science is still my main focus,” he says. So applies the physics concepts of dynamical systems and chaos theory to neuroscience, modeling how neurons in the brain interact and communicate. He has studied how single neurons communicate, but more recently focused on the synchronization of large groups of neurons, a process that is critical to many aspects of cognition and one that goes awry in brain disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy. So’s latest brainchild is back in the art world. In an effort to better integrate artists into the community, and in recognition of the fact that the D.C. metro area lacks sufficient studio space, So created ArtView, a newly opened mixed-use building that combines six condominiums, retail space, three live/work spaces for artists and a multi-purpose incubator space for emerging art organizations. So is also committed to environmental

sustainability. In addition to his scientific and artistic pursuits, he is the executive officer of the development firm Green Step, LLC, which developed both the building that houses the Hamiltonian Gallery and ArtView. The new building, which meets LEED Gold certification standards, includes several sustainable elements, such as solar panels to generate electricity and an integrated green roof and rainwater managing system. One ArtView studio is reserved for a Hamiltonian Fellow or alumni, while the other two are available to the larger D.C. art community. So designed the multi-purpose exhibition space, called H-Space, to support artistic endeavors and to allow artists from myriad disciplines to come together to create something beautiful. A painter, an installation artist and a dancer collaborated on the inaugural exhibition at H-Space, which premiered March 1. One of the artists-in-residence is Mann. “I’m still completely indebted to and intertwined with Hamiltonian,” she says. “I think of Paul as my guardian angel. He helped to jump-start my career eight years ago and is still supporting it now.” Much like So has intertwined art and science throughout his life, the new space weaves different art mediums and practices together. The results are destined to be unique, just like the rest of So’s endeavors.



A strong network, practical courses and a new incubator make now a good time to be a Harvey Mudd entrepreneur. Written by Stephanie L. Graham



get personal. That’s the viewpoint of Gary Evans, longtime professor of entrepreneurship at Harvey Mudd College. It’s been his mission for over 30 years to get like-minded people in the same room to talk. Employing a variety of strategies, Evans strategically connects and inspires innovative students and alumni.

Connecting Via the Network One of his longest-running tactics is the Entrepreneurial Network, begun in 2001 and supported by a loyal cadre of alumni and friends. Its first meetings were held in Berkeley, Santa Clara, La Jolla and San Francisco and included Joe Costello ’74, electronic design automation pioneer (his companies include think3 and Electronic Speech Systems) and Dan Meacham ’95, analog subsystem designer (founder of innoCOMM and Staccato Communications). In addition to social time and a meal, network meetings include presentations from those seeking startup advice. Since the introduction of these presentations within the last few years, attendance has increased. A recent Entrepreneurial Network meeting in Santa Monica—featuring venture fund investors, established alumni entrepreneurs (Xplicit Computing and Voodoo Manufacturing) and HMC students—was “the most successful meeting we’ve ever had,” says Evans, who holds the Ruth and Harvey Berry Professorship in Entrepreneurial Leadership. These gatherings are important for Harvey Mudd, which does not have a massive alumni base like Harvard or USC, says Evans. The relationships



that emerge from these meetings can provide encouragement, deliver a reality check and launch startups. “That’s the strength of the network,” he says. Shortly after graduating from Harvey Mudd, Vanessa Ronan ’15 (computer science), creator of the app, Decorator, met her co-founder, Stephen Yu ’07, at a Menlo Park meeting. She describes her experiences with the Entrepreneurial Network as “incredibly helpful.” “It was my first opportunity to pitch my idea and see how people responded to it,” Ronan says. “It made me put together a more comprehensive overview of the company and figure out how to actually articulate my vision for Decorator.” Ronan’s app is crowdsourcing for interior design, “like The Sims for real-life homes.” Those needing decorating advice add a picture of their room, and others redesign the room by changing wall colors, adding furniture and more. The free app is proving popular: Ronan says their interior design-loving audience is growing, and more people are asking for and giving advice in the app due to improvements that she and her three colleagues are deploying.

Innovation 101 Ronan credits Evans’ course, Enterprise and the Entrepreneur, with providing a foundation for understanding what it means to build a business, not just a product. “While the company does revolve around the product, just having the app itself isn’t

enough,” she says. “There are so many other things that have to be taken into consideration. Professor Evans taught me about all the other things that I have to be aware of. The class also gave me some practice pitching, coming up with a business plan and doing non-tech-related business activities.” Evans encourages all entrepreneurial-minded students—including those who aren’t able to get a spot in his oft over-subscribed class—to attend Entrepreneurial Network meetings, held four to five times a year throughout California, in Seattle and in Portland. “It opens their eyes. They see who is pitching, and they realize this isn’t quite as scary as they thought. A student can completely change their perspective on entrepreneurism in one hour if they attend a networking meeting. The meetings are just crazy buzzing with energy.” But Evans doesn’t want that buzz to go their heads. “Everyone wants to be an entrepreneur now it seems. A much higher percentage of the student body is earnestly thinking about this. They see it as exciting and fun. But my role is to dissuade that,” says Evans. “Most people are not suitable to be entrepreneurs. They do not understand the high level of commitment and the depth of responsibility. They are suitable to be employees in entrepreneurial firms, but there is a big gap between that and what it takes to run a company.” One of the handouts in Evans’ class, “Should you be an entrepreneur? Do you have what it takes?”, doesn’t mince words. In addition to outlining

important personal attributes, the handout also presents issues that affect startup enterprises. Addressing the realities, Evans points out, can improve an entrepreneur’s success. The failure rate for startups is as high as 70 to 80 percent. “It’s not a bullshit checklist,” Evans says. “I am serious about this. Entrepreneurship is about character and almost nothing else. Venture capitalists are looking at the person, always. They notice: Are you mature, a team player, committed? Do you get how hard it’s going to be?”

Launching Successfully Potential Mudd entrepreneurs will soon face scrutiny from a special group of venture capitalists, who will direct, filter and fund new ideas. They are part of a new incubator, HMC INQ, run by serial entrepreneur Josh Jones ’98. In 1997 while still undergrads, he and classmates Sage Weil ’00, Dallas Bethune Kashuba ’97 and Michael Rodriquez ’98 started DreamHost.com, a low-cost web-hosting provider. Jones says, “We probably could have done 100 times better if there had been an incubator environment. We could have learned about business and what you do, made contacts. We were four CS majors—none of us had any diversity of experience. None of us had had jobs or had done anything in the real world. I think it was just the luck of the internet.” Jones left DreamHost, now a leading web hosting company, in 2013. He’s since founded Bitcoin Builder, an alternative currency tool. He’s also an avid startup investor. Jones and Evans discussed starting a Harvey Mudd incubator, and Jones agreed to head it. Modeled after the successful and popular incubator Y Combinator, HMC INQ is open to anyone related to the College. “There is no limit on what your idea is, how far along your idea is or what year you graduated. After May 29, we’ll review proposals, meet with people, interview, make selections and fund projects.” The program starts Aug. 28 and runs through Nov. 6, when there will be a Demo Day. Admitted startups receive $120,000, guidance from partners (all successful entrepreneurs) and legal advice. Plus, entrepreneurs have the option of using their own office or one at HMC INQ’s trendy Santa Monica location. Each week, startup teams will meet, get feedback and hear entrepreneurial speakers. Jones believes HMC INQ addresses an important issue that relates to his personal story. “For Mudders, there’s a mystery about starting

your own business from scratch. Understanding market fit, what people will pay for and how you get a product to them over and over—that’s not taught too much. It’s just the school of hard knocks. The experience of actually doing it.” Ronan is also happy to see Harvey Mudd doing more to support entrepreneurs. “HMC INQ will encourage students to start companies,” she says. “I was fortunate to have funding from my parents to get my business off the ground, but others may not have that. This will be an opportunity for them to feel like they can take this risk and graduate and start a company right away. It’s really hard to do. You may be giving up a huge salary, but acceptance into HMC INQ would make it easier. You’d know that you could support yourself for at least six months while you’re building the company.”

Summertime Startups Another strategy that benefits budding innovators is the Computer Science Summer Entrepreneurship Research Project, a collaboration between the Entrepreneurial Network and the Computer Science Department. Begun last summer at HMC, the research project has funded two teams (seven students) who were challenged to launch a startup in 10 weeks, during which time they developed a business idea, startup pitch and working prototype. One of the projects, Bazaar, an app that facilitates college commerce, earned first place at a fast pitch event held by TechSparks, a Pasadena network of entrepreneurs. (Ronan received top honors for Decorator at the same event.) The Bazaar team, mentored by computer science professors Zach Dodds and Colleen Lewis, was inspired by the amount of buying and selling of goods and services that occurs via Facebook at the 5-Cs and other college campuses. Like Ronan, the Bazaar team also pitched its idea at an Entrepreneurial Network meeting. A prototype for Bazaar is underway, and team members will refine the software during the 2017 summer session of the Entrepreneurship Research Project. They’ll be joined by two more teams devising innovative projects of their own. Through the Summer Entrepreneurship Research Project, HMC INQ and the Entrepreneurial Network, Evans seeks to involve every academic department in his quest to identify innovative Mudders. “These things will help,” Jones says. “It’s hard to learn from a book. You’ve got to go through it.”

What it seems to take to be an entrepreneur • A clear understanding of risk and the willingness to undertake risk. • A willingness to be responsible for and accountable for the risk that has been undertaken by your investors. • An understanding of priorities and the need to pursue and execute them in their proper order. • The ability to concentrate (focus) on the tasks at hand and to execute those tasks in a controlled, resourceful and timely way. • A strong, enthusiastic and passionate belief in your Koz, whatever that happens to be. • The willingness to promote, pitch and sell nonstop. • The willingness to absorb huge amounts of stress. • Tenacity, relentless energy, a tolerance for long hours and hard work. • Control over your emotions. • A sense of strategy and planning. • Flexibility and a sense of tactics. • A true team player, possessing all of the skills necessary for working well with teams. • The ability to lead and the ability to accept leadership from others. – The ability to motivate and guide subordinates. – The ability to articulate and communicate visions, goals, ideals and objectives. – The need to be fair and honest to all parties. – The ability to delegate authority. – The ability to make clear decisions and to execute them or give orders for the execution of them. – The ability to be responsible rather than popular. – The ability to know when authority stops and when responsibility begins, especially to peers, investors and directors. • Strong social aptitudes and abilities; a good sense of social grace. • A healthy and strong respect for business principles and practices. • Strong character: Courage, accountability, responsibility, honesty and truthfulness. Excerpted from handout for the course Enterprise and the Entrepreneur by Professor Gary Evans.

Apply or recommend entrepreneurs for HMC INQ at hmcinq.com.




Family Weekend Students and their families were all smiles at Family Weekend, Feb. 17–18, as they partcipated in activities designed for families to learn about their students’ lives on campus. The fun included a bridge-building contest and a capella performance. Find more images online at hmc.edu/flickr and watch the video at bit.ly/HMC-FW17.

Save the Date: Family Weekend 2018 Feb. 9–10



Choose Your Seat in Galileo Alumni Weekend attendees, who were among the first to enjoy the refurbished space, noted dedication plaques on many seats in the Galileo auditoria. Purchased by members of the Mudd community, the plaques pay tribute to family and friends or contain interesting and/or humorous anecdotes. What will your plaque say? There are still many seats to choose from at hmc.edu/galileo.

Eclipse 2017 On August 21, 2017, a total solar eclipse will stretch across North America from the coast of northern Oregon to the coast of South Carolina. The Harvey Mudd College Alumni Association will host events in four locations along the path of totality, where all members of the HMC community can enjoy this rare and wonderful experience together. HMC will host viewing events in: • Madras, Oregon (sold out) • Casper, Wyoming • Columbia, Missouri • Charleston, South Carolina


Join the active LinkedIn group for the Harvey Mudd College Alumni Association. Expand your professional and personal network, hear about opportunities and contribute to the conversations. alumni.hmc.edu/linkedin_settings

Each event will be slightly different, so visit alumni.hmc.edu/eclipse2017 to find details for your location of interest. Make your plans now if you would like to attend!

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




1980 Rich Helling (engineering/

history) director of sustainable chemistry for The Dow Chemical Company, visited HMC in January as a speaker in the Hixon Center’s Black, Gold and Green Series. He discussed the development and use of tools and approaches for “life cycle thinking” at Dow. Rich leads the Sustainable Chemistry expert community at Dow, which supports Dow businesses on the use of life cycle assessment, the sustainable chemistry index and related tools to identify opportunities for innovation, differentiating products in the marketplace and creating sustainable value for Dow. He is a member of the State of Michigan’s Green Chemistry Roundtable and is active in working groups of The Sustainability Consortium. Rich joined Dow in 1987 and has held roles in process research, development and manufacturing. Rich holds a master’s degree in chemical engineering practice and a doctorate in chemical engineering, both from MIT. He was an assistant professor with the MIT Chemical Engineering Practice School prior to joining Dow. He is an author of 23 papers, holds two patents, is a registered Professional Engineer in Michigan, and is an LCA Certified Professional. Rich and his wife, Denise, have two adult sons. He is a dedicated musician at his church and is the board secretary of the Midland County Emergency Food Pantry Network. During the non-freezing half of the year in Michigan he enjoys commuting on his bicycle.

1982 | Reunion Year Steve Adachi (mathematics)

was recently appointed as a Lockheed Martin Fellow. A senior researcher, he was recognized for his research in applications of quantum computing (which included a 2013–2014 Physics/Computer Science Clinic project with professors Theresa Lynn and Jim Boerkoel and students Tessa Adair ’14, Taylor Brent ’14, Sean Campbell ’14 and Joel Ornstein ’14). In 2016, Steve was invited to speak at quantum computing workshops at the University of Bristol and the International Center for Theoretical Physics in



Trieste, Italy. His wife, Janice DeGray, is returning to work teaching chemistry at Diablo Valley College, after missing most of last semester due to knee replacement surgery. They are looking forward to their daughter Eleanor’s graduation this May from Smith College.

1992 | Reunion Year

as developed at Sony Pictures Imageworks and Solid Angle. Cliff and wife, Melissa Aczon ’93, returned to campus for Alumni Weekend when he accepted the Alumni Association’s Outstanding Alumni Award.

1995 Vicky Colf (engineering) is

chief technology officer for Warner Bros. Entertainment, overseeing the studio’s portfolio of technology services and solutions as head of the newly created Warner Bros. Technology business unit. She previously led the studio’s technology teams as executive VP and GM of technology solutions and technical operations. Vicky joined Warner Bros. Entertainment in 2004 as VP of corporate business development and strategy. Since then, she’s held various other management roles, including SVP and GM of advanced digital services and technical systems development and EVP of worldwide content servicing and digital solutions. She began her career as a consultant for Andersen Consulting in 1995.

1998 Live action movies like Edge of Tomorrow and animated features like The Smurfs all benefit from the dazzling, often mind-bending work of technical innovators like Harvey Mudd alumnus Clifford Stein (computer science). Since July 2005, Cliff has worked as a software engineer at Sony Pictures Imageworks (SPI), a “for-hire” visual effects studio for feature motion pictures. He is a developer on the Arnold Renderer, a software program which takes a 3-D scene (like a virtual movie set complete with 3-D models, a virtual camera, virtual lights, etc.) and generates the images viewers see on the screen. This software, based on Monte Carlo ray tracing and considered an industry standard, has earned accolades for its beauty and efficiency. During the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Scientific and Technical Awards presentation Feb. 11 at the Beverly Wilshire in Beverly Hills, the Arnold Renderer’s creator and several of its co-developers were among 34 recipients and five organizations honored. Cliff and several colleagues received the Scientific and Engineering Award for their geometry engine and novel ray-tracing algorithms

Double woo! Carrie (Wicklund) Wu (biology) and Eugene Wu (chemistry) were promoted to associate professors with tenure at the University of Richmond in 2016.

YOUR NEWS MATTERS Have you changed jobs? Retired? Celebrated a milestone? We want your news! We also compile information from a variety of public sources: campus event notices, newspaper and magazine articles, press releases and Google alerts. Please submit updates to alumni@hmc.edu.


The Mystery of the Missing Satellites Physicists are using computer code to better understand galaxy formation Written by Sarah Barnes Photo by Shannon Cottrell


physicists made their calculations by hand on giant chalkboards. As a joint postdoctoral fellow at Caltech and Carnegie Observatories in Pasadena, California, physicist Andrew Wetzel ’05 recently helped solve a decades-old mystery of astrophysics using computer simulations written mostly on his laptop. “We’re going to a different level of theoretical modeling to try to understand the very complex processes that govern how galaxies form,” Wetzel says. “We’re now taking a different approach of using large-scale computer simulations to model those processes.” The “missing satellites” problem developed when scientists were unable to reconcile their predictions of dwarf galaxies with the ones they could actually observe by looking around the Milky Way. “Previous models predicted there should be thousands of dwarf galaxies,” says Wetzel. “In reality, we currently only observe around 40.” That meant that either there was a problem with the modelling or there was something else going on related to dark matter that the researchers would have to figure out. “We ran the highest-resolution, most detailed numerical simulation of a galaxy like our own Milky Way,” says Wetzel. “Most excitingly, this simulation forms a population of low-mass dwarf galaxies that agrees with the satellite dwarf galaxies that are observed around the Milky Way. Our simulation is the clearest theoretical demonstration to date that we can understand the formation of these dwarf galaxies, and make predictions that agree well with a wide variety of observations, by properly modeling the physics of star formation and stellar feedback in such simulations.”

Using the basic laws of physics—what’s already known about gravity, matter, particle interaction and so on—Wetzel and his collaborators built a program that starts with the conditions of the universe just after the Big Bang and evolves it forward using these physics across 14 billion years. Once the code is written, the simulations are run on national supercomputers (supported by NASA and the NSF) in places like Texas or Silicon Valley. The supercomputers comprise thousands of individual computers connected to each other and running in unison to power the simulations. Even with that much computational power, the simulations can take anywhere from a month to a year to complete. Wetzel and his colleagues knew that something must have been overlooked in previous calculations, resulting in the prediction of too many dwarf galaxies. “We suspected that the effects of stellar evolution, especially explosive supernova events, might be important in regulating the number of luminous satellite dwarf galaxies,” he says. Supernovae, the explosion of dying stars within the dwarf galaxies, hadn’t been taken into account in earlier calculations. The new simulations show that when stars within the dwarf galaxies exploded, they gave off so much energy that the galaxies self-destructed. “Many that fell into and orbited the Milky Way orbit were torn apart,” Wetzel explains. “We worked on better theoretical models for these processes, including pushing our simulations to even higher resolution so we could resolve the relevant physical scales accordingly. When we then ran the simulations with these updated models, the number of dwarf galaxies that emerged was consistent with what observers measure around the Milky Way.” With a few months left before he leaves Pasadena to take on a new position as professor of physics at University of California, Davis, Wetzel continues to work on even more sophisticated and more detailed simulations, modeling the “stellar halo,” the diffuse cloud of stars visible around the Milky Way, to look at dwarf galaxies “so faint that we do not yet have a complete observational census of how many exist around the Milky Way” he says. “With this next simulation, we can start to predict how many there should be for observers to find.”

Seeing Stars Wetzel’s simulated Milky Way galaxy images look strikingly realistic compared to satellite photographs of the real thing. Loading one of his models on his laptop, Wetzel explains, “This simulation begins pretty soon after the birth of the universe, almost 14 billion years ago.” Unfolding on the screen is a mesmerizing cosmic dance: Against the dark background of space, pockets of matter are seen growing in size, merging with each other and pulling apart. At first the images splash together like drops of water colliding in midair. Slowly, the Milky Way galaxy begins to take shape, spinning clockwise and growing in size as more matter collides into it. The galaxy continues to spin and change—clusters of young stars glow an opalescent blue, clouds of dust appear rusty red—until the simulation arrives at the present day. youtu.be/OltYfc38bn0




2002 | Reunion Year Andrew McDonnell’s article “Is Your Mobile Enterprise

Subject to Law Enforcement Scrutiny?” appeared Sept. 10, 2016, on the website SecurityInfoWatch. com. Andrew (computer science) is vice president of security solutions for AsTech Consulting, independent cyber security experts specializing in software and IT infrastructure security. He has more than a decade of experience in developing and deploying information security and technology, having designed enterprise vulnerability management programs and embedded security processes into software development life cycles.

Harvey Mudd Alumni Recipients of National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships Alumni

Research Area of Study

Graduate School

Coline Devin ’15

Comp/IS/Eng - Robotics and Computer Vision

UC Berkeley

Kaitlyn Dwelle ’15

Chemistry - Chemical Theory, Models and Computational Methods


Helen Fitzmaurice ’10

Geosciences - Atmospheric Chemistry

UC Berkeley

Eun Bin Go ’15

Chemistry - Chemistry of Life Processes

Joan and Sanford I. Weill Medical College of Cornell University

Jennifer Rogers ’16

Comp/IS/Eng - Bioinformatics and other Informatics

University of Washington

Vivian Steyert ’15

Mechanical Engineering

Princeton University

Shannon Wetzler ’16

Chemistry - Chemical Measurement and Imaging

University of Michigan Ann Arbor

2004 Kevin Esvelt (chemistry and

biology) was featured in the January 2 New Yorker article “Rewriting the Code of Life.” Esvelt is assistant professor of media arts and sciences at MIT’s Media Lab, where he is helping to develop a framework for the ethical and responsible development of gene drives and other revolutionary technologies while still pushing the boundaries of what is possible in the lab.

2005 Orrick announced the admission of 18 lawyers to the firm’s partnership. Alyssa Caridis (engineering), a member of the firm’s Los Angeles IP Group, focuses her practice on complex patent infringement litigation, copyright litigation, open source licensing issues and IP counseling to technology companies. Alyssa has represented leading companies on a broad spectrum of technologies, ranging from CMOS image sensors and communication systems to software and peripheral computer components to projects in the aviation and automotive industries. She earned her J.D. from Loyola Law School.



Honorable Mentions Alumni

Research Area of Study

Graduate School

Cody Crosby ’15

Biomedical Engineering

University of Texas at Austin

Sherman Lam ’16

Mechanical Engineering

Carnegie-Mellon University

Dylan Stow ’13

Computer Engineering

University of California-Santa Barbara


People-Centric Security

Getting software, not its users, to work harder Written by Mary Alexandra Agner Photo by Jessica Kemp


tend to focus on RAM storage or the signal strength of our wireless networks, but phone calls bring us together. The Internet of Things triggers the thermostat to warm up our homes. However, like most human endeavors, technology remains remarkably susceptible to human error. As Matthew Wright ’99 puts it, “many security problems in practice are due to people.” An expert in cybersecurity, Wright has made pioneering contributions to the field precisely because he’s kept Harvey Mudd’s mission statement firmly in mind: to better understand the societal impact of the technology we create. Appointed in 2016 as director of the Center for Cybersecurity at Rochester Institute of Technology, Wright will have many opportunities to keep people at the center of his research. He describes cybersecurity as protecting computers and networks against attacks that would gain access to the information they contain. This information ranges from personal health records to military secrets. Wright says, “We are studying new password designs where the system generates random passwords and then provides tools based on lessons from cognitive psychology that help the user remember them.” However, there are other parts of society in this equation: those who attack computer networks. Thanks to Wright’s direction, the Center is focusing on both of these angles. Researchers are working on user-centered issues but also exploring the tools cyber attackers can use through a process that simulates attacks on networks to find and eliminate vulnerabilities. Wright’s work to thwart attackers involves contributing to and optimizing an online anonymity system. This system encrypts and fragments your private information and the information you send over the internet like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. It’s difficult for attackers to find all the pieces, decrypt them and get the whole picture. The anonymity system also breaks the puzzle into

right’s online anonymity system is considered groundW breaking. It has “laid the foundation for the next generation of secure and privacy-preserving systems.” differently interlocking pieces every 10 minutes. Prateek Mitall, Wright’s longtime colleague and an assistant professor and head of the Security and Privacy Lab at Princeton University, considers this effort “groundbreaking work [that] has laid the foundation for the next generation of secure and privacy-preserving systems.” As for the rest of us who are trying to remember those strong passwords to preserve our privacy, Wright explains the motivation for his humancentered research: “We’re asking users who are not security experts, who are not skilled in memorization techniques, for [a password] that is both secure and memorable.” Wright thinks that the software should work harder, not the user. He has upgraded memorization techniques for graphical passwords to incorporate visual, verbal and spatial cues to aid all types of learners. This novel approach opens up new avenues to solving complex problems, such as keyboard sniffing and shoulder-surfing.

But Wright is also very conscientious of the students he’s shoulder-to-shoulder with at the Center. His goals include “high-quality, hands-on education of the next generation.” And when he looks for examples of that type of teaching, he pulls from his experiences at Harvey Mudd. He’s grateful to many of his professors for their passion and their commitment to active learning, especially professors Ran Libeskind-Hadas (CS) and Arthur Benjamin (mathematics). He says, “My time at Mudd helped me to understand how to be successful without being the smartest person in the room and to recognize what others can bring to the table and how it can help the team. My goal in this leadership position is to help some similarly talented [people] be as successful as possible by mentoring them and helping them in any way that I can.”





2012 | Reunion Year

Susanne Ricco (mathematics) and Mac Mason

Hayden Hatch (chemistry/biology) is a medical

Nithya Menon (engineering) is

(computer science) began dating after graduating from Mudd, then went on to get their PhDs together from Duke University. Now they have a son, Julian, and both work at Google, Susanne in computer vision research and Mac in robotics research. The couple was recruited to discuss their work in robotics and vision and make the case for getting a PhD in computer science in a YouTube video produced by the Computing Research Association. Getting a PhD “has let me define the arc of my career in a way that I wouldn’t have been able to do without it,” says Mac. See more of their story: bit.ly/2k0eNJE.

student representative on a committee for the American Academy of Neurology.

traveling and blogging about it. She writes, “I set off to India to embark on roughly a year’s worth of adventures. I am excited to have the opportunity to expand my professional horizons, connect with family and cultural roots, and grow as an individual.” Read more at nithyakm.wixsite.com/off-the-beaten-path.


2013 On the occasion of her one-year anniversary working as a software engineer at Medallia, Kacyn Fujii (engineering) published her reflections about being a female engineer and recent graduate. Kacyn serves as secretary of the HMC Alumni Board of Governors. engineering.medallia. com/blog/reflections-on-my-first-year-at-medallia/

Jason Fennell (computer

science) and his wife, Lilly Creighton, welcomed a daughter, Celia, on Jan. 19. In February, Jason was promoted to head of engineering at Yelp, which he joined in 2008 as an engineer responsible for search and data mining. He progressed through increasingly senior roles and was most recently vice president of engineering for data mining, with more than 150 reports spanning Yelp’s algorithmically focused teams as well as partnerships, data infrastructure and parts of the business owner product. He has also successfully led engineering recruiting for several years. Jason is a member of the HMC Board of Trustees.

2010 An article in Haute Living (Feb. 9, 2017) featured a Mudder: “Entrepreneur Chris Strieter Successfully Mixes Friendship and Business.” The writer described Chris’ successful business ventures Senses Wines and Duchess restaurant in Oakland, both established with friends. “It was that passion for hard-work and my love for people that got me hooked on the business and ultimately in food and beverage,” says Chris (math/economics).



In Memoriam Jeffrey McGrath ’72 (engineering) passed away on Dec. 31, 2016. He worked for NOAA-Engineering Development and at David Taylor Research Center/ Naval Surface Weapons Center. His 30-plus-year career included significant experience within the Navy ship construction, modification and operation world. For most of his professional life, he was involved with the design, development and testing of Navy ship components and systems. Much of his work involved the marinization, ruggedization and sailor-proofing of tested systems, and the oversight and management of their transition from R & D prototype or engineering model to shipboard-survivable equipment. Among those surviving Jeffrey are his wife, Claudia, his son, Alexander Livingston McGrath and his sister, Jan McGrath Carter.


Harvey Mudd chemistry labs through the years: Professor Art Campbell and David Buss ’62; Isabell Lee ’16, Marie Kirkegaard ’15 and Professor Lelia Hawkins

In Your Element Investing in infrastructure improvement is a key component of the Campaign for Harvey Mudd College. Jacobs Hall of Science and Keck Laboratories complex (Jacobs-Keck) is the hub of year-round activities, including the College’s renowned summer research program. During Phase 1 of the renovation of Jacobs-Keck, three Chemistry instructional laboratories—the General Chemistry Laboratory, the Physical Chemistry Laboratory and Advanced Chemistry Laboratory (SuperLab)—will be updated to make space for the latest instruments and more students. Improvements also will include updates to hoods, HVAC systems and utilities. There are many naming opportunities available within Jacobs-Keck (hmc.edu/campaign/ Jacobs-Keck). One way to support these improvements is to purchase an element ($1,000 each) in your name or in the name of a loved one. This unique named periodic table will appear in a prominent area of Jacobs-Keck. Claim your element using the online form: hmc.edu/campaign/ClaimYourElement.

Learn more To learn more about supporting the Jacobs-Keck Renovation through a naming opportunity, contact Department of Chemistry Chair and the Ray and Mary Ingwersen Professor of Chemistry Kerry Karukstis at karukstis@g.hmc.edu or 909.607.3225 or Assistant Vice President for Development and Constituent Programs Matt Leroux at mleroux@hmc.edu or 909.607.0902.

is on a mission


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“Dunhuang 3” is a painting (acrylic and sumi ink on collaged papers) by Katherine Mann, who found support and guidance at Hamiltonian Artists, a career incubator for visual artists founded by Paul So ’88. See page 30.