Harvey Mudd College Magazine, fall/winter 2017

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Advanced Chemistry Laboratory Harvey Mudd College’s Alumni Laboratory for Advanced Chemistry, previously known as the SuperLab, just got a lot more super. At the start of the 2017–2018 academic year, students, faculty and staff became the beneficiaries of renovated instructional laboratories in the Jacobs-Keck Science Center complex. All chemistry labs were made safer, more functional and modern, with new workspaces and see-through fume hoods. The labs also showcase the many equipment and instrumentation upgrades that have been made in the past few years.

The chemistry labs in the Keck wing were the “oldest academic portion of the College that hadn’t been renovated,” says Kerry Karukstis, Ray and Mary Ingwersen Professor of Chemistry and Department of Chemistry chair. Asked about her favorite aspect of the renovations, Karukstis says, “The spaciousness, the lightness and improved sightlines to ensure safety.” The lab is used for instruction in upper-level courses in the various branches of chemistry—organic, inorganic and analytical.



1 The more spacious layout improves access to instrumentation and allows for small-group lecture and lab write-up areas. With the open, modular design, a lot of experimentation can happen at once. The glossy white walls are dry-erase friendly and magnetic, allowing students and professors to write notes and post information. A ceiling-mounted projector is used for presentations of student work. 2 T he gas chromatograph mass spectrometer (GCMS) pulls apart very complex samples and analyzes them. This instrument is similar to one used for things like urine analysis in Olympic drug testing. At HMC, students run a drug test of their own, investigating the widespread claim that traces of cocaine can be found on a large percentage of U.S. currency in circulation at any given time. The GCMS is so accurate, students are able to tell the difference between a bill that’s been used to snort cocaine and a bill that has been contaminated indirectly, perhaps picking up traces of the drug from other bills in the same cash register or by following a contaminated bill through an ATM. The GCMS, equipped with a 40,000-compound library of molecules, can also reverse engineer various products to figure out what’s in them. 3 The Department of Chemistry has some impressive instrumentation, including a fleet of 14 ultraviolet visible, single-beam spectrophotometers, which measure the intensity of light passing through a sample and compare it to the intensity of light before it passes through the sample. 4 One use of the microwave digester and the atomic absorbent spectrometer (behind instrument #2) is determining whether bones came from a carnivore or a herbivore. Bones are burned to ash in a furnace (located in a different lab on campus) and then digested and analyzed.

use the high-performance liquid chromatograph to analyze the 5 Students makeup of complex mixtures, finding the caffeine content in sports drinks or the capsaicin level of hot sauce, for example. 6 O ne of the most popular updates to the space is the addition of the fume hoods. Previously, hoods were located in the center of the lab, and it wasn’t possible to see through them. The new, transparent hoods are placed on either side of the lab, increasing visibility and safety. 7 S tudents from multiple classes can often can be found in the advanced lab synthesizing compounds, making and analyzing molecules and testing and measuring solutions. Someone also has to feed the fish. The 100-gallon saltwater aquarium, a longtime feature in the lab, is home to nine fish, four crabs and several snails. More than just a home for aquatic pets, the tank is a practical part of the Chemical Analysis Lab, which consists of a series of student-designed analyses for the monitoring and maintenance of a tropical marine ecosystem. Collectively, the class monitors 11 chemical species in real-time throughout the semester. “This is an instructional lab that really looks a lot like a real-world experience,” says Hal Van Ryswyk, John Stauffer Professor of Chemistry, shown feeding the fish with Daphne Guo ’19. “Students tell us that this is one of the labs that they enjoy the most.” 8 B ill Daub, Seeley W. Mudd Professor of Chemistry, appreciates the new space and says it’s a welcoming and friendly space in which to work. His favorite aspect of the lab, he says, is “the engaged, interesting and fun students.” Working in Daub’s Organic Chemistry Lab are Camille Goldman ’19, Daub, Chris Ye ’19, Liya Zhu ’19 and Chris Doering ’19. Goldman and Ye are making an organic compound that contains bromine, chlorine and iodine.


FALL/WINTER 2017 | VOLUME 16, NO. 1 The Harvey Mudd College Magazine is produced three times per year by the Office of Communications and Marketing.


group of first-year students as Harvey Mudd welcomed 225 members of the Class of 2021. It was wonderful to get to know our new students and to see the College community come together to help them settle in to campus. Our faculty continued the work that was begun last summer toward evaluating the Core Curriculum. As you know, the Core forms the first three semesters of coursework for all students at HMC and includes courses from each of our seven academic departments. It is rigorous and can be overwhelming for some students (In this regard, you may find the story on page 8 about the ITR experience of interest.). During student protests last year, students emphasized that a review of the Core was overdue. As it happens, a thoroughgoing review of the Core, including a visit by an external review team, had long been planned for the 2017–2018 academic year. This yearlong effort to assess the Core Curriculum has been a significant one for the community, involving not only the work of our outstanding faculty but also input from alumni, students and staff. Alumni completed a survey last summer so we could get a sense of their experiences participating in the Core (see page 33 for details). They also were asked to rank the importance of several aspirational qualities for the Core Curriculum, and their responses were compared to those of students, faculty and staff. This approach allowed members of the Core Review Planning Team (CRPT) to identify commonalities among the various groups. Only somewhat surprisingly, each group agreed on three key goals for the Core. You can read more about the work of the CRPT and our community on page 5. During the Dec. 7 faculty meeting, the faculty voted

to approve a new statement of goals for the Core Curriculum: “The Core Curriculum at Harvey Mudd College seeks to nurture students’ intellectual curiosity and joy of learning, provide them with foundational knowledge and skills needed for further study in STEM disciplines, and begin a critical engagement with the humanities, social sciences, and the arts. In keeping with HMC’s liberal-arts approach to STEM education, the Core engages students in thinking critically about consequential problems and complex issues, making connections across disciplinary boundaries, communicating and collaborating effectively and understanding how their personal and professional actions impact the world around them.” This new statement will serve as the foundation for upcoming work, which begins Jan. 20 with a Core design workshop session facilitated by consultants from Caltech. At the workshop, the faculty plans to build on efforts from the fall semester and bring greater clarity to the constraints and guidelines for the Core that were disseminated in November (See hmc.edu/ crpt for details). Also, we will begin the work of moving from the aspirational goals of the Core Curriculum to a better understanding of how these goals might be achieved within a curriculum that is subject to a particular set of constraints and guidelines. To all alumni who have participated in this process, whether through completing the survey, participating in a discussion group on campus or providing feedback in other ways, thank you for your involvement. The faculty have worked incredibly hard to ensure a transparent and community-wide discussion around these critical issues, and I applaud them for their outstanding work so far. I look forward to continuing this important work over the spring semester.

Maria Klawe President, Harvey Mudd College

Director of Communications, Senior Editor Stephanie L. Graham Art Director Janice Gilson Senior Graphic Designer Robert Vidaure Writer Sarah Barnes Contributing Writers Mary Alexandra Agner, Becky Ham, Lia King, Alicia Lutz, Elaine Regus, Mara Watkins Proofreaders Sarah Barnes, Kelly Lauer Contributing Photographers Seth Affoumado, Chris Carpenter, Rossa Cole, Shannon Cottrell, Elisa Ferrari, Jeanine Hill, Cheryl Ogden, Deborah Tracey Vice President for Advancement Dan Macaluso Chief Communications Officer Timothy L. Hussey, APR

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

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Features 08

Departments Life After ITR Some perspective on the ineligible to reregister (ITR) experience from students who have been through it. Written by Stephanie L. Graham


Moon Shadow Alumni gather for eclipse events across the U.S.















Written by Mary Alexandra Agner


Delej’s Denouement

Facebook, Dec. 15, 2017: Teacher, mentor and researcher Professor Chih-Yung Chen is retiring after 27 years in the Harvey Mudd Department of Physics. (See story on page 13.)

Inspired by his mother’s story of love and loss, Robert Berkowitz ’81 brings the longlost music of Lajos Delej to life. Written by Alicia Lutz


Software as an Instrument for Discovery Broad knowledge of the STEM disciplines and a desire to help people drives computer scientist Jessica Zeckel ’04. Written by Becky Ham


Linked to Learning A wearable toy helps kids recognize their potential as programmers.


“I remember chatting in her office one day a few years ago (even though I was never her student), and she was grading physics labs by inputting students’ data into Igor herself to see if students did their error calculations and data fitting correctly. A true testament to the dedication to teaching, one that I carry with me to this day. Congratulations, Prof. Chen!” –Mo Zhao ’16 “Many thanks to Professor Chen for getting me through frosh physics all those years ago!” –Rachel Konda-Sundheim ’95

Facebook, Oct. 30, 2017: Harvey Mudd again made the Daily Meal list of Best Colleges for Food. “I remember Sunday steak night! Yum! But I'm glad you are doing nutrition. I had to go off the meal plan when I became sensitive to gluten. Back then (1975) gluten free was unheard of and lactose free was just becoming known.”

Written by Sarah Barnes

–Sue Huffman ’78 The Harvey Mudd College Facebook page has nearly 10,000 fans. Join the conversation.




external support for faculty research at Harvey Mudd College. NSF aims to foster integration of research and education through the programs, projects and activities it supports. The funding allows HMC to provide abundant research opportunities to faculty and students. Like the College itself, NSF is committed to the principle of diversity, understanding that it is essential to the health and vitality of science and engineering and deems it central to the projects it supports. Here are recently funded projects.

Biology Dan Stoebel | $112,226 “RUI: The transcriptional response to quantitative variation in RpoS concentration in E. coli.” This proposal expands opportunities for students in many ways, including funding summer research, providing supplies and equipment and supporting costs associated with genome sequencing. The grant will also provide support for Stoebel’s research students to attend national scientific meetings, exposing them to cutting-edge work and giving them the chance to network with potential graduate advisors.

Chemistry Adam Johnson | $1.11 million “Collaborative research: Improving inorganic chemistry education through a community-developed, student-centered curriculum” This project is improving teaching and learning in inorganic chemistry by leveraging an established community of practice to develop a modular framework for teaching inorganic chemistry grounded in active learning practices. Funding will also support the development and dissemination of new curricular materials for undergraduates based on the latest advances in inorganic chemistry research.



David Vosburg, Adam Johnson and Katherine Van Heuvelen | $331,285

Computer Science


Geoff Kuenning | $161,186

Dagan Karp and Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) | $49,991

Acquisition of a new high-field nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectrometer To take full advantage of its innovative chemistry curriculum and maintain the position as one of the country’s leading undergraduate chemistry programs, the Department of Chemistry has undertaken a successful, comprehensive instrumentation replacement and acquisition plan for the last three years. A critical component of that replacement plan involved the acquisition of a new high-field NMR spectrometer, which will allow for expanded research capability and improved student experience.

“Collaborative Research: CI-SUSTAIN: National File System Trace Repository,” The project will help alleviate a longstanding problem in the study of computer systems: the difficulty of providing workloads to drive the system being studied. The Storage Networking Industry Association’s I/O Tools, Traces and Analysis (IOTTA), a vital national repository for file system traces, was co-developed by Kuenning, and he will continue to operate it. Storage-system research helps improve the quality of computer systems of all sizes, types and applications.

Gerald Van Hecke ’61, Jim Eckert (physics) and Lelia Hawkins | $84,362


“MRI: Acquisition of a differential scanning calorimeter for undergraduate research and training” The Department of Chemistry received funding for the acquisition of a Thermal Analysis Model DSC 250 Differential Scanning Calorimeter, an important instrument that provides critical data for research in many disciplines: polymers, liquid crystals, environmental analyses, purity of materials, thermal energy storage, thermal properties of solids and liquids and thermal properties of new materials, for example.

Patrick Little | $291,678 “EAGER: Using Human-Centered Design to Conceptualize and Prototype Ways to Increase Graduate Student Engagement with Transformative Research” The question Little hopes to answer is whether the engineering community is attracting and admitting students who are committed to undertaking transformative research to solve these large problems, and if not, why not? Little and his colleagues will spend the first year doing research and gathering data and the second on data analysis.

“Enhancing the Mathematical Sciences Component of the 2017 SACNAS National Conference” Karp and SACNAS will continue their work to diversify science leadership in the U.S. by enhancing the mathematical component of the SACNAS National Conference. Among other things, the project will fund the travel, conference registration and accommodations for students and postdoctoral fellows to attend the 2017 SACNAS National Conference.

Physics Vatche Sahakian | $120,000 “RUI: Emergent Spacetime in Matrix Theory” Recent developments in physics seem to point to a foundational rethinking of our understanding of physics principles and the notion of spacetime. Sahakian has begun research aimed at the ultimate resolution of these puzzles. Because the project is at the junction of many different branches of physics, Sahakian and his students will have to learn new things as well as imagine things that aren’t yet known.

Fall Update on the Core Review

The Core Review Planning Team (CRPT) has been working to arrive at a collective understanding of the goals of the College’s Core Curriculum. Sept. 14–15 During CRPT-led meetings, survey

Oct. 26 The CRPT led the faculty meeting and

Dec. 7 The faculty voted to approve a statement

results (from alumni, students and staff) were presented. All College constituencies converged on three priorities for the Core: 1. Inspiring in students a sense of curiosity and excitement about what is possible in a discipline 2. Building interdisciplinary facility (e.g., equipping students to engage across disciplinary boundaries) 3. Providing a “technical toolkit” that acts as a foundation for advanced study in STEM

presented data on student workload in the Core.

of Goals for the Core Curriculum (See President Klawe’s column, page 2.).

Nov. 4 At the Saddle Rock meeting with trustees,

faculty, students and alumni, the theme was “Developing an Equitable Curriculum.” There was a review of data that had been shared with members of the campus community and on the CRPT website, and then small groups brainstormed ideas around specific questions based on this data. Nov. 6 The self study that the CRPT sent to external

Oct. 19 and Oct. 20: CRPT-led meetings, “Workload &

Performance in the Core” The faculty and the larger community shared feedback resulting from earlier meetings. At the Oct. 19 faculty meeting, data were presented that described challenges students face in the Core curriculum, and at the community meeting on Oct. 20, the CRPT presented the same data as well as data on student workload in the Core. One discussion topic, students becoming ineligible to re-register (ITR), is the subject of a feature in this issue (see page 8).

reviewers is available. The document synthesizes the data, conversations and feedback so the external team can provide the most useful feedback. Nov. 13–15 The team carrying out the external review

of the Core Curriculum visits campus. Find their report on the CRPT website. Nov. 30 Faculty refine draft proposals for a statement

January 19–20, 2018 A team of external facilitators

from Caltech helped design, organize and run a strategic planning session for all College constituencies. The Core Review Planning Team

Tom Donnelly, Core Curriculum Director Erika Dyson, Department of Humanities, Social Sciences, and the Arts Nancy Lape, Department of Engineering Ran Libeskind-Hadas, Computer Science Department Marissa Lee ’18, ASHMC Julia Wang ’20, ASHMC Laura Palucki Blake, Director of Institutional Research and Effectiveness David Sonner ’80, P18, President of AABOG

of goals of the Core Curriculum. For ongoing updates, see hmc.edu/crpt







hen citizen scientists are involved, the time from when they collect data to until “ W

Dining Deliciousness Hoch-Shanahan Dining staff typically feed over 1,000 students during the annual Thanksgiving meal. Nancy Culbertson, assistant manager for dining services, shares details about what the staff prepared this fall.

something happens (like eliminating single-use plastics) is really fast, and it’s at local scales…. If you want to have a comprehensive strategy for managing natural resources and conservation then you need to cover all temporal and spatial scales, and so you need to include citizen science.

aren B. Cooper, assistant director of the biodiversity research C lab at North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. Her talk on Oct. 3, “Citizen Science: How Ordinary People Are Changing the Face of Discovery,” was part of the 2017 Dr. Bruce J. Nelson ’74 Distinguished Speaker Series.

6 whole turkeys

64 pounds of whole ham

40 gallons of hot apple cider

120 pounds of stuffing

8 gallons of gravy

Vegan/vegetarian station and salad cart

150 pounds of asparagus

400 pounds of sweet potatoes

300 pounds of mashed potatoes

80 loaves of bread

110 pounds of cheese

including: Parisian, Asiago, ciabatta, seven-grain and French rolls

including Fontina, Gouda, Pepper Jack, Swiss, Cheddar, Colby, plain and dill Havarti

(28 pounds each), plus 48 turkey breast roasts

View all of the Nelson talks at bit.ly/NelsonVideos17

“ T he more you play with things that you can study, the more fun it’s going to

be and, actually, the more intuition you gain and the more likely that you will actually be able to prove some cool things about the mathematical objects. I hope you will join me in playing.

llison Henrich, associate professor at Seattle University, shared A her interest in studying knots from a mathematical perspective during the talk “It’s All Fun and Games Until Someone Becomes a Mathematician” at the Sept. 21 Michael E. Moody Lecture. Veiw video at bit.ly/HMCMoodyTalk17


New to the board Mike Curtis vice president of engineering, Airbnb Hector de Jesus Ruiz founder and chair, Advanced Nanotechnology Solutions; former CEO, Advanced Micro Devices Inc.



In Memoriam Earl Washington, a trustee from 1995 to 2003 who helped lead campus diversity efforts as head of the Diversity Action Plan Team in the early 2000s, died in September 2017.

45 pies including pumpkin, sweet potato, apple, pecan, peach and strawberry

Dissecting the Magazine Readership survey results


in the Harvey Mudd community, and so it is within the editorial staff of the Harvey Mudd College Magazine. This past summer, we participated in the CASE Member Magazine Readership Survey for magazine editors at colleges, universities and K-12 institutions that are members of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). Our second such survey (our first was in 2011), it helps us evaluate how readers view this magazine and allows us to compare the results to those of other institutions. We sent the survey to a random sampling of 2,000 readers for whom we have email addresses and received 227 responses back (an 11 percent response rate; +/- 2 percent margin of error). The responses provide valuable information on how we can best address readers’ preferences. We’re happy to report that the magazine is well-read. Respondents read nearly every issue; they spend at least 30 minutes reading some to all of it; and they keep their issues a month or more. They overwhelmingly prefer the print version, with both print and mobile versions being

the second preference. (Remember, you can access current and past issues online at magazine.hmc.edu, and if you’d prefer to receive an electronic version only, just let us know: communications@hmc.edu.) Respondents rate the overall quality of the magazine highly. This includes content, cover, ease of reading, layout and design, photography and writing. Most agreed that the magazine “strengthens my personal connection” to Harvey Mudd. Mainly, it reminds them of their experience at HMC and helps them “feel more in touch with their graduating class,” and it also encourages them to support the institution financially. There is a strong interest in stories about students, alumni (“more class notes!”) and first-person stories written by HMC alumni. There is also interest in stories that discuss problems, controversial topics and opportunities (With this in mind, we developed the story on the ITR experience. See page 8.) Respondents’ magazine article suggestions include energy-water nexus, robots and AI, quirky/funny stories and HMC history.

Here are some topics that respondents are “Very interested” or “Interested” in reading about Academics and Intellectual Life 1. Curriculum 2. Student research/academic experiences 3. Faculty research Campus Life 1. Student achievements 2. Campus controversies 3. Student issues and opinions Alumni Life and Activities 1. Alumni in their professions 2. Class notes 3. Alumni chapter activities/regional programming and obituaries e welcome your story ideas, class notes and letters anytime W at communications@hmc.edu. Find the full survey report at bit.ly/CASEmagSurvey17.

10.5 in. x 11 in.

8.5 in. x 11 in.

Square Biz Something that came up several times in the survey comments was the size of the magazine, which measures 10.5 inches x 11 inches. We’d like to hear from more of you before we change anything (or not). Please send an email to sgraham@hmc.edu with the subject “Magazine size” and let us know what you think.





Life After ITR

Some perspective on the ineligible to re-register (ITR) experience from students who have been through it Written by Stephanie L. Graham LIKE ALL HARVEY MUDD STUDENTS, ERRICK JACKSON

excelled at math and science in high school. Going to a top-tier STEM school was part of his vision for his future, he thought. He left his hometown in Arkansas and arrived at Harvey Mudd, but the academic pace wore on him, and his grades faltered. “It’s so much packed into those couple of years,” he says. “If you can push through that couple of years of just getting up to speed, things will kind of even out. But for me, it was just … I didn’t want to do that.” Jackson told his story about becoming ineligible to re-register (ITR) to Welcome to Muddcasts, a podcast series produced by Angelica Virrueta ’18 and Lily Yang SCR ’18 about the college and academic experiences of several Harvey Mudd students. The project was sponsored by the Rick and Susan Sontag Center for Collaborative Creativity (the Hive) and advised by professors Pat Little and Fred Leichter. Virrueta and Lang took a human-centered design approach to reimagine the Core curriculum and its impact on students with a goal to understand the student experience through interviews and share them with the HMC community. Discussions about the College’s Core curriculum and its impact on students often include comments and questions about ITR status. Jackson went on to share that he thought he would just take a semester off, then return to Mudd. “The staff, the students, they were incredibly supportive,” he says. “Coming from Arkansas to Southern California, that was the dream already. But also being within Claremont, being around the Consortium was awesome. … So, I loved living there, and I loved the people that were living around me, but the circumstances for being there were kind of just not good.” But Jackson wondered if he could get through it. He says he thought about how “the last 15 years have been working up to getting into a place like this, and meeting people like this, and this was where I was supposed to be. So that was easily



the hardest part of my experience: leaving and eventually deciding not to come back.”

Retention at HMC Retention and graduation rates are often cited as evidence of the quality of an undergraduate education, and Harvey Mudd is fortunate to have very high graduation rates. In 2016, the most recent year for which there is national data (National Student Clearinghouse’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System), HMC has a 93 percent six-year graduation rate, meaning 93 percent of students who started at HMC in the fall of 2010 had graduated by 2016. This is much higher than the national average of 59 percent and in line with, or better than, many of the College’s peer institutions. Regardless of its success, the College does continue to monitor retention and graduation rates with the

understanding that they are influenced by a number of factors. For example, students with ITR status may have failed to maintain a cumulative GPA in the major of 2.000 or failed to make substantial academic progress. In order to better understand the nature of ITRs while also protecting student confidentiality, HMC examines its ITR data in five-year cohorts. Within the past five years, there have been 46 ITRs. Of those, 65 percent were male, and 35 percent were female. While the number of students at HMC experiencing ITR is small as a percentage of the HMC student body, faculty and administrators find any ITR case a cause for concern. “Unquestionably, every Mudder has a breadth and depth of strengths and talents, so it can be quite destabilizing to find oneself declared ITR,” says Jon Jacobsen, vice president for student affairs. “HMC’s educational approach is unusual and not necessarily

“ I used to procrastinate out of fear a lot because I was afraid

of not being able to do a problem …. By the time I would start it and I didn’t know how to do it, it was too late, because everyone was sleeping, right? Like you can’t go ask your professors for help at two in the morning.


the best fit for all students in terms of their own educational goals. It is important for students to understand the cause of the ITR and decide if HMC is the right place to continue their journey. Taking the time away to examine and reflect on this— though difficult—can be the right step.”

Cause and Effect Geneva Miller admits that her poor study habits and a non-supportive peer group contributed to her academic challenges. She completed her first year but returned for her sophomore year feeling “pretty burned out.” “I still felt a lot of anxiety, hadn’t improved my study habits and felt very little motivation to focus on my studies,” she says. “Although I was enjoying— and doing well in—physical chemistry, the first course outside of Core I had taken in my major, the rest of my classes tanked, and I ITR’d due to low grades.” Miller says that though she still considered herself a smart and capable person, she felt like a failure. “It seemed like it was a consequence of my own actions,” she says. “I struggled to respond to the reality of my situation.” Chris Smith (not their real name) also encountered challenges as a result of certain life choices. Smith entered Harvey Mudd with the intention of majoring in engineering, so declared it as a sophomore. Smith’s grades were poor, even in the major, and they couldn’t understand why, since everyone—even they—thought they were destined to be an engineer. Smith liked the material, but when problems arose, didn’t ask for help and didn’t work with other engineering majors to try

and figure it out. “I used to procrastinate out of fear a lot because I was afraid of not being able to do a problem, so then I would just put it off and put it off. By the time I would start it and I didn’t know how to do it, it was too late, because everyone was sleeping, right? Like you can’t go ask your professors for help at two in the morning.” After three years of struggling, exacerbated by substance abuse, Smith became ITR. Smith, Miller, Jackson and other students who experience academic difficulty are on the radar of the Scholarly Standing Committee (SSC), a rotating faculty group that handles academic regulations, student academic records and academic grievances, among other duties. If not making satisfactory progress toward a degree, students are notified and a change of academic status is made. The notification sent to the student includes the reasons for the action and the prerequisites for return to regular status. Criteria for determining “satisfactory academic progress” include satisfactory progress in the Core, the grade point average in courses required for the major, the overall grade point average and grades for the latest semester’s work. Students may be placed “on warning” (they remain in good academic standing but improved performance is expected) or Probation (a formal change of academic status appears on official transcripts; substantial improvement is required). Probation is the last step before ITR.

After ITR What comes after the ITR notice is an individual decision. Some students, like Miller and Smith take time off then return to Harvey Mudd (Miller

returned after three semesters; Smith after two and a half years). Some, like Jackson and James White, follow other paths. White came to Harvey Mudd in 2009 from a small charter school in Arizona. He completed the first year, took Summer Math and returned his sophomore year ready to take on a computer science and mathematics joint major. That fall didn’t begin well: He struggled in Electromagnetism and Optics, and this affected other classes. He was ITR the first semester of sophomore year but petitioned to return for spring 2011, blaming recurring migraines and believing that if he applied himself better at the start, he would do fine. “In truth, I just wasn’t a good fit for HMC,” says White, who adds that he followed the advice of professors and deans, though it didn’t help much. “I was smart, but I couldn’t keep up with the pace.” He failed a non-major course and received poor grades in his major-based courses. It was toughest sharing the news with his mother: spring 2011 would be his last semester, he was ITR again. “I made a wise decision and didn’t contest it,” he says. Both White and Jackson decided to move on and not return to Harvey Mudd, though it was not an easy decision, especially for Jackson, who says he is still processing what happened. “It’s not like failing a test. It’s like failing 15 years,” Jackson says, referring to the preparation leading to Harvey Mudd. “It’s going to take time, and I’m OK with that.” Jackson says his time at Mudd did for him what any college experience should do: Help students find their passions. Plus, the ITR experience came with a valuable lesson. “I think the biggest thing that I learned about myself is that I need to not be afraid of failing like that because it just happens .… I’m not the only one who’s ever gone through something like that before.” Jackson, who says happiness for him is “a camera on a mountain,” now works at Nikon and showcases his photography on the website ejacson.com and on Instagram. When White returned home after being ITR, he took classes part-time for a year, built up his GPA and was accepted to Arizona State University. “I graduated in Spring 2015 with a 3.92 GPA in informatics, a concentration in game design (where I also met my lovely wife) and an acceptance to a business analytics graduate program with ASU, which I completed with a 3.93 GPA. A few months






2012–2013 to 2016–2017

Number of ITRs

% of ITR

% of Undergraduates Enrolled

Minoritized Students



3% of minoritized students

All Other



2% of all other students

Minoritized Students Underrepresented in STEM



5% of minoritized students underrepresented in STEM

All Other



2% of all other students

Because ethnic and racial groups that have historically comprised a minority of the U.S. population remain underrepresented in STEM fields, we examine data on race/ethnicity for minoritized students as well as for minoritized students in STEM.

later, I landed a position at CVS Health as a research analyst for Medicare issues, and I’m on track for a promotion.” Smith and Miller are also back on track: Both intend to graduate from Harvey Mudd in May 2018. They are among the 19 percent of students who ITR’d between 2011 and 2015 who have returned to attain an HMC degree. Another 14 percent from this cohort are currently enrolled.

De-stigmatizing the ITR Miller, a joint chemistry and biology major, says, “The main things that helped me turn the situation around were support from my professors and from my significant other.” Her physical chemistry professor, Bob Cave, expressed confidence in her and offered a research spot in his lab. “This made a world of difference to me and really helped to clear away some of the self-doubt.” Before returning to HMC, she worked at two part-time jobs and took online and community college classes (The SSC did not accept her online courses but did accept the community college courses that Cave helped her select.). The time away made a difference; she was ready to return by fall 2015. “My sleep schedule improved significantly as a result of regular work hours, and my time



management improved as I became increasingly busy. Taking online classes was helpful because it reminded me that I did really enjoy learning. Community college classes just about drove me crazy because they felt too easy. That really drove it home for me that I wanted the challenge of Mudd once I had the skills in place to face it,” Miller says. “Now that I’m back, it’s been a totally different experience for me. I work hard but in a way that is sustainable (or as sustainable as possible for Mudd, anyway). I enjoy my classes. My transcripts are beautiful. I really wish it hadn’t taken the full journey of ITRing and coming back to school to get to that point, though.” After a year and a half of ups and downs in New York, Smith got sober, got a job and began taking classes related to computer science, the major they decided to declare. After approval from the SSC, Smith returned in January 2016. The students who had been first-years when Smith arrived at Harvey Mudd the first time were now seniors, so that was an adjustment. Smith has purposefully kept the workload manageable and has done well, which has been a great confidence boost, Smith says. Smith is also very intentional about seeking advice and, especially, asking for help. “That’s the thing that took me until I was 23 to figure out, so asking for help is not an easy thing to do, but it’s important,”

says Smith, who will work for a software company in Seattle after graduation. “My ITR was really tough on me but I think it is important to de-stigmatize the issue and help others who might be in similar situations,” says Miller, who plans to take off a couple years before applying to graduate school. “You may benefit from taking some time off of Mudd to take care of other influences that may be making it harder for you to focus on what you want from your education. It certainly does not mean you’re a failure or not bright or anything like that.” A point that rang true for each of these Mudders who have experienced ITR is that leaving Harvey Mudd, whether temporarily or permanently, is not the final chapter. “You may continue to experience failure, or you may not,” says White. “If you persevere and succeed, you’ll have gone through a crucible that most of your classmates will never be able to understand, and you’ll be stronger for it. If you do fail, it’s not the end. You’re still a talented individual who just wasn’t cut out for the educational methods of one elite STEM school in California.” And besides, White says, “ITR or not, you’re still awesome.”

Well, Well, Well

New health and wellness dean THIS FALL, HARVEY MUDD COLLEGE WELCOMED

Rae Chresfield as associate dean of health and wellness. Chresfield brings a wealth of education and experience to the position, having spent 10 years in college and university counseling centers focusing on students’ academic, emotional and vocational well-being and providing training to faculty, staff and students on anxiety, suicide prevention and depression. She’s also worked extensively with first-generation students and those with chronic health issues, including traumatic brain injuries. Chresfield holds a bachelor’s degree in behavioral science from the University of Maryland, a master’s degree in mental health and wellness from NYU and a doctorate in counselor education from the University at Buffalo (SUNY). At Harvey Mudd, she assists students as they develop and implement wellness in their lives. Using the Eight Dimensions of Wellness model, Chresfield works with Harvey Mudd community members to help them determine how to balance wellness with their experiences as students (or as faculty or staff) and as unique human beings. Chresfield shares her thoughts on some of the areas she addresses most frequently. The Eight Dimensions of Wellness are Intellectual, Occupational, Environmental, Physical, Multicultural, Social, Emotional and Spiritual. Trying to achieve success in all eight dimensions of wellness is a process. It is not something that most can accomplish in a single afternoon. Rather, it is a series of choices that people make each day. Sometimes we can focus on social wellness by spending time with friends. Other times, physical exercise is necessary. The focus on each dimension can change, and as each one is addressed and in time, a person can begin to live more deliberately and with an increasing sense of health and well-being. Pay attention to your body. Notice if you’re tired and rest when you need to. Notice if your shoulders or back are tense and if so, breathe deeply to release that tension. Listen to what your body is telling you and give it what it needs. Also, pay attention to emotions. If you feel lonely, connect with friends. Address your needs as quickly as you can.

Rae Chresfield

Getting out of a rut begins with recognizing you’re in one. If you feel stuck, examine your thoughts and feelings about being stuck. Sometimes we have internal dialogue with ourselves that reinforces the rut. We tell ourselves that we can’t do something or that things will never change. If you find yourself in a rut, take a step back and examine the situation. Question whether or not the internal dialogue is correct. Emotions typically scare us into believing that we are stuck, and then we do less to help ourselves. A lot of us are challenged by balancing our desire to be informed and active in social justice issues while also staying well. People are often drained from social justice work because it never seems to end. Sharing the work with a community of like-minded people can help us remain healthy and well overall. Sometimes you have to remember to find joy in your life despite the weight of the work. It is also important to realize that sometimes winning and losing battles is a part of ultimately winning the larger battle.





Work To Do

Lisa Sullivan begins her tenure as dean of the faculty VETERAN FACULTY MEMBER LISA SULLIVAN SAYS

her July 1 appointment to the role of dean of the faculty seems like a natural extension of the work she’s done during her career. Now in her 28th year at Harvey Mudd, Sullivan has become increasingly interested in opportunities to bring her research interests in work satisfaction into practice (a labor historian, her specialty is the history of the concept of work). The work she’s done administering a Mellon grant directed toward faculty career satisfaction, chairing the Department of Humanities, Social Sciences, and the Arts (2006–2009; 2016–2017), and chairing the faculty (2013–2016) have all pointed toward her current role as dean of the faculty. She’s also served as Associate Dean of Academic Affairs (1999–2003) and is the Willard W. Keith Jr. Fellow in the Humanities. “I enjoy the opportunity to help individuals and organizations find their way to better situations and more meaningful work, and I like problem solving,” she says. Sullivan will be putting her talents to use as she oversees the academic program, supports the faculty in their teaching and research, and explores new teaching and learning initiatives. Harvey Mudd College Magazine spoke with Sullivan about her approach to her new job and her thoughts on the Core Curriculum review process. With institutional transparency being a high priority, how do you plan to communicate the work of your office to various constituencies? It’s early still, but I’ve had the opportunity to meet with groups of students already, and I have an open door policy, as Jeff [Groves] did. I am partnering with some key groups who are working with and through the dean’s office, including the Core Review Planning Team, and helping to make sure that they have the resources to be very transparent in sharing the data they’ve collected. The CRPT has been a model in this regard. As the College supports an increasingly diverse student body, what does this mean for the faculty? The increasing diversity of our community along many axes—among students, faculty and staff—is incredibly gratifying. For faculty, this presents the amazing opportunity and responsibility of teaching classes that look increasingly like the world



around us. Making our disciplines compelling to this audience and helping our students bring their talents to fruition insures that Harvey Mudd is attentive to the impact of its work on society. I think it’s a huge boon for us as a community to be more diverse. We’re not where we need to be yet, but we’re at a very different place than we were when I was hired. For the faculty, I think we increasingly walk into classrooms and see something that’s getting closer to the world around us. And the more of the world we have in our classrooms, the more we’re going to be able to do the things that the mission obliges us to do as an institution: to raise up these students to go out into their communities and the world to solve problems. I think that that’s just hugely gratifying to the faculty. The challenge is figuring out how to do it well. You are the first woman in the history of the College to hold the dean of the faculty position. What does this mean for you? I was probably the fourth or fifth woman on the faculty. When I see how the campus has changed— the number of women we have in our student body, in our faculty, in our leadership positions—every place you turn there are women now. I think this testifies to core values of the College, and that means a lot to me. What are your hopes for the HMC Core Curriculum review process? I think we as a community are more open to the idea of a profound transformation of the Core than at any time in my almost 30 years at the College. I think that has to do with the events of last spring, which I think in good ways, made us think anew about being accountable to our students. I hope that the review gives us an opportunity to think globally and carefully about the overall

role that we want the Core to play in the academic program. I think we’re poised to do that, and I would not want to pre-judge the outcomes. We have an amazing team in our planning committee, and I think our previous commitment to external reviewers, to bring people in from the outside and take a look, is fortuitous. It’s not just those of us who live inside trying to imagine what could be better, but we acknowledge that outside eyes are important. All of these things make me really optimistic that we will come to a limited set of really vibrant goals for the Core. Higher education is always changing. We’re always in a moment where we have to decide what of the things that are very valuable to us must we absolutely have in the future and which things we had in the past that we can we give up and still preserve what’s most important.

More on Dean Sullivan First job: Obituary and society page writer for a small newspaper

What I’m reading: Emily Wilson’s new translation of The Odyssey

Glad I did it but wouldn’t do it again: White water rafting

App I can’t do without: Funnel

Favorite food: Home-made brown bread and butter

Best advice I’ve received: “Own your mistakes.”

One way I stay organized: Post-it notes, still, always

Viewpoint Diversity Written by Lia King

“What Can a Liberal Arts Education Offer in the Age of Trump?” That was the question posed to a panel of scholars during a discussion hosted in the fall by the Department of Humanities, Social Sciences, and the Arts. Six professors offered interdisciplinary perspectives and encouraged access to information, open discussion, respect for varying viewpoints and civic engagement. Political science professor Paul Steinberg opened the panel by noting that during historical moments of upheaval, individuals and organizations like Harvey Mudd can give in to individual and collective depression or engage in a reassertion and rejuvenation of our “best instincts: questioning and research and dialogue and collaboration and an open and respectful exchange of ideas.” Steinberg added, “Historically, institutions like Harvey Mudd and The Claremont Colleges have been the lifeblood of democracy and social justice, especially during uncertain times.” So, Steinberg asked, how might we tap into this richness? By reading, suggested literature professor Ambereen Dadabhoy. She offered a defense of the complex and enigmatic nature of literature and its unwillingness to tell readers what to think. “It makes us better analysts, better thinkers, better readers. It doesn’t supply answers. By practicing the critical thinking skills that literature teaches us, we become better navigators of our social and political culture,” she said. When information is taken away, history of science professor Vivien Hamilton argued, the results can be dangerous. She defined ignorance as more than simply not knowing. It can be the result of deceit and deliberate action, or knowledge hidden behind structures of secrecy, or knowledge lost because it’s not valued as highly. “Understanding what we’re seeing unfolding before us is the first step toward

effective resistance,” Hamilton said, adding that it was important to reject narratives that belittle women, demonize immigrants and criminalize people of color. “This kind of ignorance is harder to see. We’re left with a gaping hole, a shadow of knowledge that could have been but isn’t.” Psychology professor Debra Mashek referenced conversations that could have been but were not because of political homogeneity on college campuses. When students and professors attempt to learn and to teach in an ideological monoculture, she said, “we miss the opportunity for our viewpoint to challenge and be challenged. Viewpoint diversity enables us to realize the ideals of a liberal arts education in these politically uncertain times.” Creative writing professor Salvador Plascencia brought viewpoint diversity to the forefront of his remarks, weaving Trump’s tweets about Mexican immigrants into his own descriptions of crossing the border “documented, undocumented, in the morning, at night, on foot, in a bus, as a resident alien, as a naturalized citizen. It’s an impossible psychic line,” said Plascencia. Cultural geography professor David Seitz invited the community to think about the geographical scales at which people experience citizenship and belonging and how place is differentiated hierarchically. “The idea of whether a space is safe isn’t just a metaphor,” he said. Finally, Steinberg suggested to community members that if they want to change the world, they have to change the rules. He said the question of who gets to make the rules is itself governed by rules, and he urged students to participate in rule-making at the college level.

Video of fall 2017 HSA panel presentation: bit.ly/HSAPanelF17

A Quantum Career In a remote area of China with primitive roads and no running water, Chih-Yung Chen taught students who were the first in their families to attend high school. She recalls how hard they worked on their lessons, despite having to walk two hours to and from school then return home to help their families. This difficult and rewarding 10-year assignment inspired Chen to make teaching her life’s work. Chen left China to join her family in England, where she taught herself English and attended the University of Manchester, earning an MSc in physics then a PhD. Her research area is solid state physics, specifically high critical temperature superconductivity, an area with potential applications for high-density data storage. Chen’s work gave colleagues in the field some novel insights into the mechanisms by which superconductors work at unexpectedly high critical temperatures. As a physics professor at Harvey Mudd College, a position she held for 27 years, Chen taught Special Relativity, Mechanics and Wave Motion, Solid State Physics, and Quantum Physics as well as laboratory courses. She has mentored research students, leading to senior thesis awards, conference publications and presentations. “I’ve learned so much being at Harvey Mudd,” says Chen. “It’s made me more complete. I wouldn’t say I’m better, but I’m definitely more complete now.” Chen spent a year as a visiting scientist at NEC Research Institute and has been a visiting professor at Shanghai University and at Nanjing University, the latter being where she has taught Quantum Physics since 2012. The book she uses in the course, Quantum Physics: A Fundamental Approach to Modern Physics, was written by HMC physics colleague John Townsend and translated into Chinese by Chen. In retirement, Chen says she will continue teaching in China and do more traveling and gardening. She also plans to tutor students in physics and math. Chen says, “Nothing can compare with the joy of being a teacher.”





Published Papers

Faculty Examine Science and Religion in New Books Chemistry professor David Vosburg and cultural geography professor David Seitz have each published books related to science and religion. Vosburg and his spouse, Kate Vosburg, co-authored Jesus, Beginnings, and Science: A Guide for Group Conversation, which they hope will increase dialogue and understanding between scientific and religious communities. The book presents scriptural passages and suggested questions for further discussion, as well as reflections from scientists, and a wide variety of theological positions that Christians have taken on the nature of creation and human origins. The book A House of Prayer for All People: Contesting Citizenship in a Queer Church is based on Seitz’s study of the congregation at the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) in Toronto, Canada, and focuses on debates about race and gender in religious leadership, activism around police-minority relations, outreach to LGBTQ Christians and advocacy for asylum seekers. A small Protestant denomination with global reach, the MCC has a predominantly LGBTQ membership, making it fertile ground for Seitz to examine questions of difference, desire and citizenship and how people form (or don’t form) community through space.



A paper by Department of Engineering professors Nancy Lape, Lori Bassman, Christopher Clark, Albert Dato, Angela Lee, Matthew Spencer and Erik Spjut and Director of Institutional Research and Effectiveness Laura Palucki Blake garnered attention from the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE). “Integrating Theory and Hands-On Practice Using Underwater Robotics in a Multidisciplinary Introductory Engineering Course” won second place in the First-Year Programs Division and first place for presentation in the same division at the 2017 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition. The paper describes the team’s process of redesigning the Engineering Systems course from the lecture model to a model that includes active learning, (flipped classroom) tutorials and hands-on practicums. George Montañez, a computer science faculty member, won the IEEE SMC Award for best student paper at the 2017 IEEE Systems, Man, and Cybernetics Society Conference. Montañez, who submitted the paper while still a PhD student at Carnegie Mellon University, presented “The Famine of Forte: Few Search Problems Greatly Favor Your Algorithm” to conference attendees in Banff, Canada.

Instructor of Aeronautics Emerita Iris Critchell was honored for her achievements in aviation with a row of airplane hangars dedicated in her name at the Torrance Airport-Zamperini Field in Torrance, California. City and airport officials named each of the airport’s 24 hangar rows in honor of the top people, airplane models and aviation companies related to the Torrance airport’s history.

Mathematics professor Arthur Benjamin collaborated with Joseph Kisenwether ’93 and Ben Weiss ’94 to write The Bingo Paradox, published in the September 2017 issue of Math Horizons. The Bingo Paradox states that when playing with a large number of Bingo cards, horizontal bingos are about three times more likely than vertical bingos. Read the article at http://bit.ly/2AmVS3x.


College were also the early days of computer networking. Joining the College faculty in 1981, he contributed to the development of the Computer Science Department and has since built a career working extensively in network security and management as well as K–12 computer science education. Now, two years from retirement, Erlinger is thinking about a different type of networking, that is, connecting opportunities from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to a new pool of computer science educators. In 2014, Erlinger began a two-year stint as a program director for the NSF’s division of undergraduate education in Washington, D.C. During that time, he noticed that many computer science educators were not taking advantage of NSF funding opportunities. “Not only was I getting proposals from the same 100 people,” he says, “but they were distributing their output to the same small number of institutions.” He sought ways to expand NSF’s footprint across the community and help change education. So he connected educators with NSF funding opportunities through a series of presentations at regional computer science conferences. Along with Harvey Mudd computer science professor Zach Dodds and Paul Tymann (Rochester Institute of Technology), Erlinger submitted the “NSF CCSC Computer Science Education Showcase” project, recently funded by the NSF. The two-year grant totals $103,726. The Consortium for Computing Sciences in Colleges (CCSC) is a national organization developed to promote communication between local, regional


and national constituencies interested in computer science education. “A significant number of institutions do not have the funding for faculty to travel to conferences and meetings,” Erlinger says. So, the CCSC developed a program to offer local conferences for educators across the nation. Because of its program, CCSC has a strong national presence among most computer science educators. The NSF, however, does not. “We decided we’d go to some of these regional conferences and talk about NSF,” Erlinger recalls, laughing. “It was almost like meeting someone and describing water to them for the first time. They had no idea how to be involved with NSF. They’re aware that NSF funding is there, but they don’t know how to write proposals. From their viewpoint, involvement with NSF is something other faculty do.” The overarching goal of Erlinger’s project is to expand the NSF’s reach to the computer science education community. Another aim is to more widely publicize the results of NSF projects so that more educators can see what’s being done in their field. Erlinger also hopes to recruit faculty from more colleges and universities to review proposals for the NSF. “I want all faculty to come to NSF and to take advantage of NSF’s support,” Erlinger says. Early results are promising: After Erlinger and his colleagues presented NSF showcases at a few of the regional CCSC conferences around the country, the NSF received approximately 50 computer science proposals from “new” institutions. As they seek to implement the project during the next two years, Erlinger, Dodds and Tyman plan to involve research students to help with management and organization.


HMC Computer Science Turns 25 It’s hard to imagine Harvey Mudd College without a Computer Science Department, and thanks to some forward thinking 25 years ago, we don’t have to. In 1981, the College hired Mike Erlinger to investigate whether the discipline of computer science should develop in an existing department or as a new administrative entity. Ten years, many meetings and a lot of research and discussion later, the College hired Robert Keller as the senior person in computer science and, by 1992, Harvey Mudd graduated its first two computer science majors, Andrew Gray and Clifford Stein. In 1994, Jill E. Flansburg became the first woman to graduate from the College with a degree in computer science. Since 1992, computer science has become a ubiquitous part of daily life, especially at Harvey Mudd, where students use it as a tool in every discipline. Over 25 years, the department has grown to its current size of 15 tenure-track faculty, several visiting faculty and four staff members. In addition to the computer science major, the department supports joint computer science/mathematics and computer science/computational biology majors—the three majors represent about 80 students per class. The department also works closely with sister departments at Pomona and Claremont McKenna Colleges, and so popular is the subject that Harvey Mudd courses draw students from all five of The Claremont Colleges and Claremont Graduate University. One wonders which burgeoning disciplines we’ll be celebrating 25 years from now. Department of Artificial Intelligence, anyone?




Summer in the City

A smart city program attracts young, creative talent. Written by Lia King COMPUTER SCIENCE AND MATHEMATICS STUDENT

Herrick Fang ’19 couldn’t have known it then, but the Mahjong games that his parents played with Derick Lee’s parents in their hometown of San Leandro, California, would set the stage for a long, fruitful friendship and a pioneering smart city incubator program. Derick Lee is the founder of PilotCity, an organization seeking to create smart cities of the future from within communities. Under the PilotCity University Incubator, in partnership with city of San Leandro and resident tech company OSIsoft, Lee’s goal is to bring back creative San Leandro talent enrolled at top colleges and universities, people emotionally invested in the future of the city. The first person he thought to assist with this endeavor was Fang, whom he’s known since childhood. “We started the conversation about the incubator in December 2016, when Herrick was on winter break and we were hanging out again, and the recruitment for students happened immediately,” says Lee. “It only took two months for things to start gaining traction. Herrick is the glue of the Harvey Mudd group.” It was up to Fang to recruit his fellow students. “My view was just to branch out to people I knew in my classes,” Fang says. “I chose some people I had worked with before on projects and asked them for other recommendations.” The team he assembled, all rising juniors when they arrived in San Leandro in May 2017, includes engineering majors Priscilla Chu, Darien Joso, Sati Smyth and Kayla Yamada as well as computer science and mathematics major Elijah Whitsett. The students lived with homestay families in San Leandro and were provided space for the incubator at PilotCity. Their goal: to design smart trashcans, able to identify fill levels and inform employees maintaining the downtown area when they need emptying through a map display and text messaging. Their client, the San Leandro Improvement Association (SLIA), aims to debut 40 smart trashcans in downtown San Leandro in partnership with the San Leandro Public Works



At PilotCity offices in San Leandro, the Harvey Mudd team did research, development and prototyping.

Department and Alameda County Industries. The team divided the project into three parts: hardware, embedded software and server software. When they returned to HMC in August 2017, the prototype was running. There are a few kinks that need to be worked out, including an issue involving an antenna connecting with the infrastructure in San Leandro, but Fang is optimistic the team will solve any dilemmas. “I'd say that we completed 50 to 60 percent of the work necessary to have a fully working demo,” he says. “We can upload our software to the board now. During the school year, we're going to see if we can make headway and create the basic set-up for another team or some industry engineers to continue the project with SLIA.” “The team learned so much about the real world, especially about business timelines,” says Fang. “To be able to create a concept from scratch—from the idea to a deployable prototype and product—is extremely ambitious.” Such a project was new for all the team members. “I, like many other students, have not had experience with an end-to-end solution that will be implemented in a real-world scenario,” says Elijah

“ This project has the potential

to bring more people in the San Leandro community into tech and to create an example that could lead to other growth and innovation in the city.


Harvey Mudd students who are members of the PilotCity University Incubator pose with representatives from the city of San Leandro, OSIsoft, San Leandro Improvement Association, Paradox Engineering, NMB, Seeed Studio and Climatec.

Whitsett ’19, who managed the server software. The server accepts the raw trash bin data, stores it and processes it into useful information. It’s also how the trash fill levels are transmitted to the city, through a map display and text messaging. While the software portion of the project was fairly straightforward, according to Whitsett, he and his teammates learned a valuable lesson. “Once businesses, government and regulations get involved, things are more complicated,” he says. “It takes nearly 10 days to have a printed circuit board returned. We have to worry about the security of the applications and intellectual properties of everything. There are meetings .… These aspects of the project took a lot of time and thought.” Kayla Yamada ’19 also worked on the software and designed the sensor circuit to take fill-level measurements. She found that many San Leandro residents, those with and without technical backgrounds, were interested about what was happening in their city. There is palpable enthusiasm for the project within the community and among the stakeholders the students met. Darien Joso ’19, who helped design and assemble circuits, write hardware code

and document the API, found it a morale booster. “Every single person we met during our time working on the smart trashcans was genuinely excited to see how far this project would go,” he says. Mechanical housing and PCB designer Sati Smyth ’19 sees “the potential of this project to bring more people in the San Leandro community into tech and to create an example that could lead to other growth and innovation in the city.” If all goes well, the new smart trash cans will debut in San Leandro in January 2018, in partnership with San Leandro’s Public Works Department and stakeholders, such as OSIsoft, Paradox Engineering and NMB Technologies. According to Lee, Harvey Mudd students may provide training to the deployment partner, such as Public Works employees, to ensure a smooth transition. Priscilla Chu ’19, who worked on the manufacturing process, is enthusiastic about the impact of the project. “Smart city programs, especially ones involving younger people, are the future! I am a fan of getting people from the community involved in the well-being of their home.”




The Writer’s Way

A CS student rediscovers her love for writing while learning about her heritage. Written by Sarah Barnes AT AGE 12, GISELLE SERATE ’20 SELF-PUBLISHED

a book, and by the time she entered junior high school, she had become a frequent contributor of online book reviews. She was sure she’d make her career as a writer, that is, until she tried writing code. “Then I discovered CS and was like, wow, this is really cool. So that’s what I’m doing now.” Serate is very much a California girl, having spent most of her childhood in Rancho Palos Verdes, near Los Angeles. She wears her long hair loose and straight, has an affinity for band T-shirts, jeans and Converse sneakers, and she sometimes punctuates her conversation with “fer sure,” that linguistic trademark of SoCal speech. She glides across the Harvey Mudd campus on her scooter and plays guitar and sings in an all-Mudder band. She’s learning to play Ultimate Frisbee. She is also a passionate computer scientist—she practically beams while describing a summer project in which she learned about partner programming. At Harvey Mudd, she’s been happy to find ways that computer science crosses over into her other classes, like biology and engineering. However, while working on a paper for a humanities class, Serate rediscovered her interest in writing as well as a new interest: researching her cultural history. Serate wrote “The invisible Asians: Filipinos in America” for a course she was taking with Professor Hal Barron called I Love L.A. “I saw ‘Filipino Americans in Los Angeles’ on the topics list and thought it would be cool to learn about my heritage while also getting my homework done,” says Serate, who is Filipina American. “I hadn’t really thought



about that part of me very much before coming to Mudd.” As it turned out, the paper won the 2017 First-year Writing Prize in the Humanities, Social Sciences, and the Arts, and the experience of writing it did, in fact, lead Serate to find another side of her already multifaceted self. Though both sets of grandparents were born in the Philippines, for Serate, that cultural identification was “very far removed,” she says. As with a lot of immigrant populations, Serate suspects that her grandparents wanted to raise their children as Americans, so they had fully embraced their new culture. “You’re coming to America, and you want to assimilate because that’s what you’re there for,” she says. Still, she was surprised to learn things about Filipino Americans that she’d never known before. “I had no idea that Filipinos were so prevalent, not just in L.A., but in the country. We’re the first most populous group in California and second in the U.S. How did I go 19 years without knowing this?” she wonders. One reason might be that those first 19 years were really busy ones for the Serate family. Serate began taking courses at L.A. Harbor College at age 10, and a couple of years later, Serate’s parents, both mechanical engineers, decided to move the family to Reno, Nevada, where Serate and her younger brother (also a pre-teen college student) enrolled in the Davidson Academy, a public school for profoundly gifted middle and high school students. The rigorous academic schedule was part of the family lifestyle. Now that she’s at Harvey Mudd, Serate has found a cultural community as well as an academic one. She joined the

Asian Pacific Islander Sponsor Program at Mudd (API-SPAM) when she arrived at the College and began to think about her Asian identity as a whole. This gave the experience of writing her paper even more significance. “Getting in touch with that side of me was interesting because I had never really thought about that before,” she says. Even though Serate writes less now than she did during her prolific early days, she admits she’s still drawn to it. She’s done some blogging for her parents’ information security company, and she and her Mudd bandmates have begun writing some original songs. In any case, the experience of writing her paper has reminded the multitalented FilipinaAmerican computer scientist that, among all the other things she is, she’s a writer, too.

Material Man The balance between real-world applicability and long-term research goals is not always easy to achieve. But, that doesn’t deter Charles Dawson ’19, winner of the 2017–2018 Astronaut Scholarship. An engineering major, he is the 24th Harvey Mudd student to be named an Astronaut Scholar by the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, which provides scholarships of up to $10,000 each for college students pursuing careers in science, engineering and mathematics. The scholarship rewards students who exhibit initiative, creativity and excellence in their chosen field. Dawson spent the summer of 2016 at Georgetown University working on computational physics research in the field of active colloidal materials, which can be used to model bacterial films and certain classes of nano-particles. Last year, he worked with HMC physics professor Jim Eckert in the Magnetism Lab studying the electrical and magnetic properties of metallic novel materials. After graduation, he plans to attend graduate school to explore the intersection of physics and engineering with an eye toward applying new advances in physical understanding to engineering applications. “I see myself as driven not just to learn about one specific field, but to explore connected fields in the sciences and beyond. For example, my reason for majoring in engineering is that Mudd’s general

engineering program allows me to at least get a taste for a wide range of scientific and engineering disciplines, from industrial chemistry to materials science. Applying this broad knowledge base to my research helps me see connections and seek out applications that I might otherwise have missed, which I believe greatly improves the quality of my research. An example of a time when I have applied this knowledge base to my research was when I adapted my experiments on simulated colloidal suspensions to model the healing process in bio-films.” “Materials research occupies a peculiar niche in the sciences. It does not produce the groundshaking results of experimental particle physics or the immediately applicable, life-saving advances of biomedical research, but at the same time materials quite literally provide the building blocks for advances in other fields. Besides the allure of its intensely interdisciplinary nature (drawing on physics, chemistry, and engineering), I have chosen to pursue research in materials because I want my work to have the greatest possible net impact, and advances in civilization's ability to fabricate advanced materials with customtailored properties are able to propagate rapidly into other fields. “In my career, I hope to find this balance by

Charles Dawson ’19

being mindful of the bigger picture of how to bring technological developments in the real world while pursing research at the frontiers of my field. Fundamental research has the capacity to address many of the problems facing humanity today, from energy sustainability to space exploration, but only if the scientists and engineers who conduct that research keep those problems in mind.”

Just Reward A desire to increase her volunteer hours motivated Nupur Banerjee ’19 to apply for the VMware Achieve Scholarship, developed to inspire and support women pursuing a degree in computer science or computer engineering. Internships and work were making it difficult for Banerjee to spend as much time as she wished working on the community engagement activities she’s passionate about. Now that she’s received the one-time $10,000 tuition award— VMware’s first Achieve Scholarship—she’ll be able to work less and volunteer more. “Helping the community surrounding Harvey Mudd is something I find rewarding,” says Banerjee. “With the activities I undertake, I hope to be a role model to girls so that a professional life in technology seems more within reach for them.” Banerjee says that some of her most rewarding

experiences have come from community collaboration activities with Science Bus (an HMC club) and the Society of Women Engineers club. She’s a mentor and role model on campus as well, serving as a tour guide, dorm mentor and grutor in the Computer Science Department, where she is studying machine learning. She’s done research with engineering professor Timothy Tsai in the Music Information Retrieval Lab and was an intern at Facebook. She’s also interned at Google and Innovaspire. “I’ve really enjoyed applying machine learning to different types of problems and seeing how we’re able to achieve accurate results even at a large scale. I’m excited to see how the field develops further and how we will be able to use machine learning to solve problems in many disciplines,” Banerjee says.

Nupur Banerjee ’19





Leung Wins Apker Calvin Leung ’17 (mathematics and physics) is the fourth Mudder to win the LeRoy Apker Award from the American Physical Society for outstanding achievement in physics by an undergraduate. He joins Stephanie Moyerman ’06, Nathaniel Stern ’03 and Gwen (Bell) Porter ’98. The Apker Award is presented to only two undergraduates nationwide each year—one from an institution that grants PhDs and one from an institution that does not. Leung was awarded $5,000, and the College’s physics department received $5,000 to support undergraduate research in physics. He received the award for his thesis “Quantum Foundations with Astronomical Photons,” supervised by Jason Gallicchio, assistant professor of physics. The Apker Selection Committee recognized Leung “for development and experimental implementation of astronomical random number generators for loophole-free tests of Bell’s inequality and other applications in quantum fundamentals, astrophysics, and tests of general relativity.” In this research, Leung played a major role in developing and characterizing an astronomical instrument which uses photons from quasars to generate random bits. The work, motivated by the goal of closing a potential loophole in Earth-based tests of quantum mechanics, has led to a publication in Physical Review Letters, a poster at the 2016 Sigma Pi Sigma Quadrennial Physics Conference (which won the Optical Society of America’s Best Poster Award), and two additional publications. “I was impressed most by Calvin’s creativity and independence,” says Gallicchio, Leung’s thesis supervisor. “He would have an idea, find published papers that pointed to a gap in knowledge that could be filled by his idea and present me with a calculation or plot that showed how we could use the tools we developed to fill this gap. From his theoretical understanding of quantum mechanics and relativity to his optical designs and Python analyses, Calvin took what he learned in classes at Mudd and applied it to address decades-old problems.” Leung says that he realized the astronomical instrument was capable of performing precise astrophysical tests of general relativity, an idea whose preliminary results were well-received by the Apker Selection Committee and which has blossomed into a research focus for the group at Harvey Mudd. Leung is continuing his research in collaboration with colleagues at IQOQI-Vienna while pursuing other investigations in quantum optics. In fall 2018, he will begin his PhD in physics at MIT with a National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship.




From Puzzle to Purpose Mazda Moayeri ’20 received an Exceptional Summer Student Award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for outstanding research conducted at the NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorder and Stroke (NINDS). Moayeri, a joint major in computer science and mathematics, is being recognized for the high quality of his summer internship work in non-invasive detection and monitoring of multiple sclerosis disease progression and for his presentation during NIH Poster Day. As a resident computer scientist at NINDS’ Translational Neuroradiology Section (TNS) lab, Moayeri developed code that helped accelerate data-processing steps in experiments tied to spinal cord research and worked side by side with leading scientists conducting basic and clinical biomedical research. He also worked in the clinical center, which left him with a strong sense of validation that his contributions could make a difference. “Often, patients who come to the NIH come out of necessity, as the already established clinical protocols are not sufficient to help these patients,” says Moayeri. “Seeing how many people would come from all over the country to the NIH really led me to believe in what I was working on and gave me a new sense of purpose.” Moayeri’s work in the TNS lab focused on measuring and capturing data of MS disease evolution taken from magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Examining MRI scans of spinal cord lesions, Moayeri isolated quantitative data. Typically, this data-collection process is conducted manually, a time-consuming method resulting in inconsistent data capture. Moayeri developed a segmentation method to automate the process. He utilized MATLAB coding software for both an atlas-based approach (comparing multiple spines) and an inductive extraction approach (focusing on just the spine to be segmented).

“I had very limited MATLAB or image processing experience, so I had to pick up a lot of things on the way, but that just made the work more exciting,” he says. “It was really cool to break down a big problem into smaller puzzle pieces for me to navigate each day, especially since I was given the chance to do almost all of it on my own.” Moayeri appreciated the freedom of independent research that the internship offered in addition to experience working on a team. “It felt great to have the confidence to ask questions about other people’s work and learn a lot more from the people around me than if I were to have been forced to work mostly in isolation,” he adds. This was Moayeri’s second tour at NIH; he scored his first internship for the NINDS during his junior year of high school. At the time, he was drawn to learning more about the intersection of computational techniques and the medical sciences and learned a great deal from being exposed to a variety of researchers (physicists, doctors, biologists and statisticians) and their specialties. As Moayeri continues to consider postcollege plans, he aims to gain as much hands-on experience in the areas that interest him the most. “I hope to get an internship in the tech industry this summer or pursue math research opportunities,” he says. “I still don’t know if I’d prefer to focus more on computer science or math going forward, so hopefully this summer can help me make some progress on that front.”



Women’s Volleyball

Women’s Soccer

A hardworking, cohesive team that includes Mudders Jennifer Smith ’18 (circled blue) and Megan Dymerski ’21 (yellow) ended the regular season with a 23-5 record. After winning the first five rounds of the 2017 NCAA Tournament by scores of 3-1, the Athenas completed a 3-0 (25-18, 25-19, 25-22) sweep of the Wittenberg Tigers to win their first National Championship. “Megan and I are super excited to represent Harvey Mudd and are some of the first [HMC] players the team has had in a long time,” says Smith. “Overall, volleyball has been a wonderful experience and has helped me apply the same focus and dedication required at Mudd to other pursuits. Really excited to end my volleyball career at the highest level possible.”

Jacey Coniff ’18 was named First Team All-SCIAC and was the SCIAC Award of Distinction winner for 2017. She started all 18 games during the season and, over her career, has been a mainstay on the backline for the Athenas.

Men’s Swimming and Diving During a meet with the Redlands Bulldogs, the Stags dominated by winning 10 of the 13 men’s events. Henry Limm ’20 broke his own pool record in the 400 IM with a time of 4:05.88 and won the 200 breaststroke, out touching the second-place finisher by more than five seconds. The all-HMC team of Dave Makhervaks ’20, Grant Murray ’18, Marco Conati ’21 and Andreas Roeseler ’21 won the 400 medley relay. Roeseler also won the 200 freestyle, and John Jeang ’19 was the winner of the 200 backstroke.

Women’s Swimming Ivy Chen ’20 helped the 400 medley relay team to victory and racked up several individual victories (400 IM, 4:44.88). Natalia Orbach-Mandel ’21 did her part in the 400 free relay to help her team claim the title.

Cross Country

CMS Womens Volleyball, NCAA 2017 Division III Champions

The Athenas earned a 12th-place finish in the NCAA Div. III Championship, marking the seventh-straight season that they have finished in the top 15 in the country. At the national championship, the Stags finished 29th. Kevin Huang ’18 finished in the top 100. During the regular season, the Stags claimed three first-place titles. In the postseason, CMS earned third-place finishes in both the SCIAC Championships and the NCAA West Regional.

Textbook Initiative In an effort to make the campus more inclusive, an effort led by the Associated Students of Harvey Mudd College, faculty and alumni has resulted in the creation of the Textbook Initiative. Now, all students at Mudd have 24/7-access to the Core textbooks of the HMC curriculum for free in Platt Campus Center. Spearheading the project were Andrew Bishop ’18, Andrew Marino ’17 and Ronak Bhatia ’19, ASHMC diversity director.



Written by Mary Alexandra Agner


occurred. Over 80 Harvey Mudd alumni, family and friends expressed their frustration as the eclipsed sun disappeared behind a bank of clouds. The weather prediction for Charleston, South Carolina, on the day of the 2017 total solar eclipse had been upgraded to “partially cloudy” from “light rain.” As the group gathered atop the Stars Rooftop and Grill Room, the sky was a brilliant blue threaded with puffy white clouds. During the early phases of the eclipse, the occasional cloud cover added both beauty and excitement to the event. Would the clouds fill the sky at totality? Or remain only partially obscuring the sun? Everyone was speculating. As the moon began to pass between the sun and Earth, a delicate swirled filigree of clouds was visible on the uncovered portion of the sun’s surface. When not staring at the sky with eclipse glasses pressed tightly to their faces, the attendees mingled and enjoyed sliders, crudites and numerous hors d’oeuvres. Their motivations for attending were as varied as the Charleston weather predictions. Many



came just for the eclipse. But one group— alumni who graduated in the mid-1960s and their spouses, all of whom have known each other since their college days—came because they live on different coasts and don’t get to hang out enough with each other. John Tiller ’69 and his wife, Denise, stopped by on their way from Florida to Virginia, where they planned to do some genealogical research about their families. As 2:46 p.m. EDT neared, most of the group stood, holding their eclipse glasses over their eyes, necks craned to look up toward the southwest. The precise dark curve of the moon’s edge nearly cut off the entire sun. The remaining crescent had turned from yellow to bright white. The air temperature dropped abruptly. The wind picked up. And just as the sun’s crescent thinned to nothing, the clouds blocked the view. Fred Hollinger ’65 remarked it was “one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen, and it took me until my mid-70s to see it.” Hollinger felt that even reading up on the event didn’t prepare him for what he experienced.






Lowell Reade ’12, Brent Nakamoto and Chris Reade


Karen Walters, Mike Walters, Victoria Long, Anita Smith, Allison Pemberton, John Mason ’76 and Gail Hobson

Bruce Worster ’64 had a response which other attendees echoed: “I thought it was great—except for the clouds.” Both he and Dan Nelson ’64 were disappointed not to see either the corona or stars. Denis Moskowitz ’95 was sorry to miss totality. “But seeing a crescent sun was really a unique experience.” Priya Donti ’15 said, “It was really cool to have the 360 sunset and also lightning on one side.” Natasha Parikh ’14 agreed. Both alumni admitted to taking small peeks without their glasses just before totality when the sun was an amazing copper-colored crescent hemmed in by clouds on all sides and a bright contrast to the dark sky looming over the rooftop. As the event came to its end, it was clear that the attendees weren’t letting the weather get the best of their experience. The group was unanimously thankful to the College for organizing the get-together. Caitlin Furjanic ’08, one of a group of a dozen alumni and friends who came down from Washington D.C., spoke about how wonderful it was to have plans made in January, to the envy of her coworkers. Patrick Allen ’77 appreciated the alumni

association’s attention to detail, especially having the ISO-approved glasses. Blane Howell ’97, a Charleston resident who attended with five of his family members, summed up the afternoon’s experience, “It was an amazing event. What was true when we were in school is still true: Mudders throw the best parties.”

Physics professor Nicholas Breznay ’02 and Jakim Johnson ’19 watch the eclipse from Claremont.




Inspired by his mother’s story of love and loss, Robert Berkowitz ’81 brings the long-lost music of Lajos Delej to life. Written by Alicia Lutz | Illustration by James McClung



halts before picking back up again, years later, on an entirely different continent. It begins in the Hungarian streets of 1941 and ends on the San Diego oceanfront in 2016, with stops at Auschwitz and Buchenwald and in California, New York, D.C. and Boston in between. There’s a lot to this story: the rising celebrity musician, the epic romance, the tragic death, the questions of “what if?” It was a story that Robert Berkowitz ’81 had been hearing his whole life. And, for him, the takeaway was ultimately the music. That’s where he connected. By the time he arrived at Harvey Mudd, Berkowitz had already developed an appreciation for classical piano, having begun at age 9 to play for his mother, who spoke adoringly of Lajos Delej, the talented celebrity pianist-composer whom she’d loved and lost during the Holocaust before marrying Berkowitz’ father and moving to Los Angeles in 1954.

“ What’s so surprising about this music is that it lacks titles. It lacks tempo markings, it lacks dynamic markings. The pianist must interpret it with his own sense of what is trying to be expressed. And who better than me?” – ROBERT BERKOWITZ ’81

“She made Delej into this person to look up to, to model after, so I started to play the piano, too,” says Berkowitz, whose father went into a nursing home when Berkowitz was only 8. “Looking back, it was like I was being groomed to be like Delej, to be in a position close to his world, so that I could understand his works when the time came.” But we’re getting ahead by a few decades. Back at Harvey Mudd, Berkowitz’ musical interests extended beyond the Scripps piano benches—where he played under Alice Shapiro through the Joint Music Program—to the Claremont Four College Choir and the Pomona College Symphony. And his academic interests extended even further—to mathematics and medicine. Music, medicine and mathematics: The three Ms that led mathematics professor Courtney Coleman to label Berkowitz “the 3M Man.” “You’ve got to pick one,” philosophy professor Ted Waldman eventually insisted. Berkowitz chose mathematics, but soon came to understand that he didn’t really have to choose: It was all connected. “The education I got at Mudd made all of these connections possible. It really was a perfect, encouraging environment for me to pursue humanities and my science interests. It’s where I learned how to learn,” says the self-proclaimed “math nerd,” who managed to turn his Scripps piano recital into his senior humanities seminar project. “I’m very proud of that. It spoke to the Consortium’s way of making interdisciplinary connections so students go on to have more complete and satisfying lives and careers.” It was after Berkowitz earned his M.S. in mathematics from UC Santa Cruz that he decided to satisfy that third M—medicine—at UC Davis. That, eventually, led him to psychiatry. “The questions psychiatry asks are the most interesting to me. To do insight-oriented

psychotherapy well requires the capacity to think abstractly, which is also fundamental to doing mathematics,” says Berkowitz, who has been in private practice in Natick, Massachusetts, since 1991. “Math and music share something deep, and it is likely not a coincidence that so many mathematicians are also skilled musicians. Both impose formal structures on their respective worlds—the worlds of thought and feeling. Music and psychiatry also require a capacity for empathy. Listening to a patient and a piece of music both require a special ear in order to pull out what the music, or the patient, is really saying.” And that’s exactly what Berkowitz has done with the music of one composer in particular: Lajos Delej. His connection with his mother’s near-fiancé was reinforced in 2015, when—through a long and nuanced series of near misses and unlikely happenstances—Delej’s American relatives bestowed Berkowitz three of Delej’s compositions. “What’s so surprising about this music is that it lacks titles. It lacks tempo markings; it lacks dynamic markings. The pianist must interpret it with his own sense of what is trying to be expressed. And who better than me?” says Berkowitz, who approached the task with the same careful ear that he does his patients, taking time to read beyond the sheet music, to hear what’s really being said, to interpret each composition’s true meaning. “I can’t help but believe Delej has personally tasked me with this.” And it was a true honor. “It’s not very often that you get to play something for the first time—without having heard it played by another musician,” says Berkowitz. What’s more: “We amateurs aren’t given the opportunity to premier pieces. But Delej gave me that.” Indeed, in March 2016, Berkowitz premiered the pieces, which hadn’t been heard or played in more than 75 years, at the New England Conservatory,

R obert Berkowitz's mother, Pauline Herzek, with composer Lajos Delej in Hungary.

where he is continuing his musical education. And then he played them again—this time in the San Diego International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs, where he beat out his very prestigious competitors and took home first place. “I mean, what better ending is there? I just have to think Delej is out there somewhere orchestrating this whole thing,” says Berkowitz, adding that—for his 94-year-old mother sitting in the audience, that first place prize was secondary to hearing the music of her long-lost love being played through the hands of her son. “It was a beautiful connection. The perfect denouement.”

Watch Berkowitz perform Delej’s music during the final round of the competition: youtu.be/ qhKVwa1MXbI



Software as an Instrument for Discovery Broad knowledge of the STEM disciplines and a desire to help people drives computer scientist Jessica Zeckel ’04. Written by Becky Ham | Photograph by Chris Carpenter


a robotic workstation, used to prep liquid biological samples for genetic sequencing, cell analysis and drug discovery. The device, introduced in February 2017, is an intricate mix of chemistry, physics, mechanical engineering, software design and customer communication—all of which helps to explain why Jessica (Fisher) Zeckel ’04 has found her niche. Zeckel, a staff software development engineer at the biomedical instrumentation company Beckman Coulter, is the software project manager for the Biomek i-Series. Although software is her primary focus at the company, she says, “It’s a universe of disciplines that come together to make instruments like this, and you kind of need to know a little bit about all of it in order to be really successful.” Her first exposure to software and computer science came in middle school. “I spent a lot of time on the computer, on the fledging internet, and I spent a lot of time chatting with friends and making dorky 12-year-old websites,” Zeckel says. An advanced placement computer science class in high school cemented her interest, and at Harvey



Mudd College she received Computer Science Department honors her senior year. “I came to Mudd as a CS major, but I was always interested in all different kinds of science,” Zeckel explains. “That was one of the things I liked about Mudd: getting to take classes in all the different disciplines, and I think that’s something that’s been really valuable to me here in this job.” For her computer science Clinic project, Zeckel worked on software for Medtronic MiniMed insulin pumps. “That was an eye opener, to realize that this was even a job that existed,” she says. One of her favorite Mudd classes was a robotics course taught by Zach Dodds, Leonhard-Johnson-Rae Professor of Computer Science, which inspired her to pursue a graduate degree in robotics at Brown University. But the idea of working in the medical industry still beckoned, and Zeckel went to work for Beckman Coulter after receiving her master’s degree at Brown. “I always wanted to do something that I thought was meaningful and that helped people. But a lot of times in computer science you hear more about video games and Google and


Cell Sample

SSC Nozzle


PMT Dichroic mirror



FL-1 FL-3

PMT Laser

Obstruction bar





Analysis workstation

Flow sheath

This schematic diagram of a flow cytometer,

Flow cytometers operate by hydrodynamically focusing

scattered light is detected by photomultipliers. By

shows the focusing of the fluid sheath, laser, optics

suspended cells so that they separate from each other

using optical filters, particular fluorophores on or within

(photomultiplier tubes [PMTs]), analogue-to-digital

within a fluid stream. The stream is interrogated by

the cells can be quantified by peaks in their emission

converter and analysis workstation.

one or more lasers and the resulting fluorescent and


Microsoft and all these companies, and there’s not as much talk about all the other industries that need computer science people.” At Beckman Coulter, where she has worked for 11 years, she’s able to utilize her broad education and her fundamental knowledge of all the sciences and mathematics. Her first project was to develop software for a flow cytometer, a device used to count, sort and analyze different properties of cells by suspending them in liquid and passing them through an electronic detector. In clinical and research settings, flow cytometers are used to diagnose blood cancers, among other applications. The device introduced Zeckel to the broad challenges of such work, she says. In the case of the flow cytometer, she had to learn more about human immunology, the chemistry of fluorescent markers attached to antibodies in the blood and the physics of the lasers inside the device that excite the fluorescent markers. Zeckel also had to consult with the researchers who would be using the device to

find out how software could help them visualize the cytometer’s readout. The researchers asked for things like color coding of data plots, and Zeckel and her team were able to drill down to understand precisely what they needed to identify unique subpopulations. “By providing new, multidimensional visualizations, we enabled them to more easily identify those populations of cells,” she says. Such customer interaction is a passion of hers. “I want to find out the thing that they need that they don’t know how to ask for.” When she began work on the Biomek liquid handlers, Zeckel and her team of about 30 software engineers and software test engineers consulted often with the mechanical and electrical engineers developing the hardware. “It can be challenging to work with hardware that’s still under development,” she notes. “Any changes that we make could have a ripple effect through the whole system.” These consultations are key to helping Zeckel develop the interface that her customers will

use—the screens, the buttons, the commands, the output options, the customization and automation, and the data synthesis. Her understanding of what the instrument will be used for and how it operates, she says, helps her make the device intuitive and appropriate for the customers: colleges and universities, government and commercial research labs, agricultural labs and testing facilities, pharmaceutical companies and hospitals. With a larger deck to hold more samples and a largevolume multichannel pipette head, the new Biomek i-Series liquid handler is a valuable tool for cancer researchers and other scientists, says Zeckel. The science, the collaboration, the testing, the development and the deployment merge to make the work tremendously satisfying for Zeckel. She says, “Helping people and knowing that the software that I wrote is being used by cancer researchers looking for a cure, that’s important to me.”



A wearable toy helps kids recognize their potential as programmers. Written by Sarah Barnes Photos by Elisa Ferrari and Rossa Cole


a validation engineer at Intel. He found working on a supercomputer core with 300 other people to be interesting and instructive. But when a unique opportunity arose for a side project he’d been working on, Macrae decided to quit his day job and become a toy designer, co-founding Linkitz, a company that develops wearable, programmable tech toys for children. The idea for Linkitz came from Macrae’s co-founder, Lyssa Neel, years earlier when her three daughters were children. “I bought my daughters tech toys, but the toys didn’t captivate them,” says Neel, who has a background in software design. Frustrated by the lack of interesting toys and realizing that the toys that were available were mostly marketed to boys, Neel started imagining a solution. “To serve a more diverse audience, I wanted to make a toy that allowed for a social play experience, unlike the solitary play offered by robot kits,” she says. “I wanted to create a social game that incorporated technology. The idea evolved into Linkitz.”

Aysha Hurley and Megan Distaso play with Linkitz' programmable hubs, fitted with plug-in light, sound and game attachments.





y the time Neel approached Macrae about helping her design her toy, her daughters had grown up, and she was busy with her career, which had included everything from founding startups and incubators to managing teams as a CEO. But the market for tech toys for girls was still wide open, so she seized the opportunity. Macrae, who studied engineering at Mudd, was interested in the idea. He agreed to help Neel in his free time, and they began work on their product, a wrist-mounted, programmable hub with interchangeable add-on pieces that perform various functions. Macrae and Neel began fundraising for the project and caught their biggest break when they successfully pitched a proposal to SOS Ventures, earning entry into the HAX hardware accelerator program, which included living and working in Shenzhen, China, for four months. “It was scary and exciting,” Macrae says of the decision to leave Intel and commit to Linkitz full time. But he was confident that Linkitz could be successful, thanks in part to a class he had taken at Harvey Mudd with Gary Evans, Ruth and Harvey Berry Professor of Entrepreneurial Leadership and professor of economics. “Prof. Evans taught me how to think about which questions will tell you that you have something good on your hands,” he says, adding that Evans also prepared him to understand what he’d need to do for subsequent product versions to satisfy Linkitz customers.

“ P art of teaching very



Neel and Andrew Macrae '11 Left: Users can program the toy to


young children about programming is showing them that the computers around them were designed by people and that the kids can do that, too. – ANDREW MACRAE ’11

Above: Linkitz founders Lyssa


do things like send secret-coded messages or make sound effects. Opposite page: Mick Gorman, Megan Distaso, Jaelyn Richardson and Aysha Hurley


imagine the possibilities of the Linkitz. “I can think of a lot of things I want to program this to do,” says Hurley.


Macrae’s engineering background is apparent in his approach to toy design, to which he brings the same pragmatism he brought to his decision to change careers. “We learn a lot from the toys we play with,” he says. “Most electronic toys teach you that the things you buy should work one way and do it well, but they don’t let you get into trouble or do anything else. That’s not how engineers think about the tools around us.” The first Linkitz product is a brightly colored wearable cuff. Building around a main hub, children can experiment by adding different components that will allow the toy to perform a variety of new functions. Users can program their units to do things like send secret-coded messages, make sound

effects for games and alerts and communicate with the microphone and speaker. Macrae and Neel are almost ready to send their product out to their first customers, the community of people who contributed to a Linkitz crowd-sourcing campaign that raised $100,000 to finance the product’s development. For Macrae, that users can learn basic computer programming through playing with Linkitz wearables is a core component of the product’s viability. Linkitz’s target demographic is children ages 4–9 who don’t yet have phones of their own but might still be able to program using the family computer. “Part of teaching very young children about programming is showing them that the

computers around them were designed by people and that the kids can do that, too,” Macrae says. However, the main idea is to get young children, especially girls, to engage with the toy so that they might recognize their own potential to thrive in STEM fields. “Kids don’t have to program it,” Macrae says. “It’s still fun to play with, regardless. But if they want to, they can look into it to see how it works. The best thing I can do for them is to have them be in that [high school or college computer science] class and never think ‘Why is this relevant to me?’” Neel agrees. “I think it is critical to have a diversity of voices designing the technology that is going to be omnipresent.”




Alumni and the Core Compiled by David Sonner ’80, P18, AABOG President THE JULY 2017 CORE SURVEY, A COLLABORATIVE

effort of the Alumni Association Board of Governors, Faculty Executive Committee, President’s Cabinet and Core Review Planning Team (CRPT), was sent to all e-mailable alumni. Many respondents replied to the essay questions with long, passionate and thoughtful responses. In total, alumni wrote more than 200,000 words. Quotes from these responses have been featured in presentations at faculty, community, trustee and AABOG meetings during the fall semester. It’s impossible to do justice to these alumni responses in the space available here. Nevertheless, we wanted to share a few quotes. A slightly longer version with more responses is available in the online version of this magazine. Thank you to all alumni who shared their opinions.

“Mudd has, in effect, been that personal trainer that demands that we do one more set, lift one more weight, do one more sprint. It has traditionally pushed students beyond our comfort zone, and in that quest to meet high expectations we have discovered just how much we are capable of. It is through being constantly uncomfortable that Mudders become exceptional.” –1983 “My years at Harvey Mudd were life-changing and defining. I made lifelong connections, and learned a lot, not least of which was my limits, and how to handle failure, defeat and frustration, and how to work individually and collaboratively.” –1977 “I think what I disliked most about Core was the sense that if you ever fell behind, you were almost

“ People should go to Mudd not because it will be easy, but because it

will be hard. You will have to work the hardest you ever have. And as a result, you will get the best STEM education possible.



“The HMC technical core was the single most crucial aspect of my development at Mudd, and after 20 years in a variety of academic and research environments, my breadth across technical disciplines is easily the most distinguishing feature of what I bring to the table versus peers from other institutions.” – 1995 graduate

doomed in some sense because it was impossible to catch back up … And because Core was always going at this break-neck pace, with so much content crammed in, I felt like I never really deeply understood or retained a lot of the concepts. I was putting everything I had into just scraping by.” –2016

“The point of the Core is to learn a little bit about everything, so when you reach difficult problems in your chosen field you have a larger toolkit to tackle them.” –2014

“[The Core] set me up well for industry where I often face basically impossible deadlines but manage to finish enough content, well enough and on time, that I still succeed.” –2013

“The Core makes you an asset to your research team or your Company because you will be able to creatively solve problems by borrowing tools and concepts from other fields.” –2006

“While at HMC, I was simply unwilling to give up other parts of my life—being a part of the queer community, playing sports and music—and focus singularly on academics. But I wasn’t able to do


well while doing this … The curriculum at HMC essentially says to students ‘if you have other cares, I will punish you.’ … The overall workload is too much.” –2007 “I got exactly what I wanted out of Mudd’s Core. I was pushed to my limit. I was struggling to keep up in some classes. I hardly did anything but work. It was exhausting. I wouldn’t change it. I would much rather have the things I learned during Core than any extracurricular activity.” –2013 “People should go to Mudd not because it will be easy, but because it will be hard. You will have to work the hardest you ever have. And as a result, you will get the best STEM education possible. You will learn more than you had imagined you could.” –2005 “I know for many of my classmates the workload exacerbated a variety of mental health issues, and I think finding ways to address that is important.” –2007 “[Mudd is] like Navy SEAL boot camp—I’ve never worked harder than I did at Mudd (including graduate school, getting tenure, etc). I was miserable (at times) while at Mudd, but I also learned a lot about myself in the process … Mudd was hard, extremely challenging, and stressful, but if I had to do it again, I definitely would.” –1994 “[The Core] gives you the shared foundation that all Mudders have—it’s like the forge you go through that both makes you stronger and binds you together.” –1999

Visit the magazine website for more alumni responses and the CRPT website at hmc.edu/crpt/ to find the available quantitative results from the alumni survey.

Responses From the 2017 Core Survey to Alumni Please indicate the extent to which the items in this list were part of your technical development in the Core




























Register online at hmc.edu/alumni-weekend

Building Community 34




1961 Joseph Knowles (architecture, Stanford) traveled

to Las Vegas in September to attend a reunion of members of the Army 14th Combat Engineer Battalion, the unit he was in in Vietnam (1967–1968). It was his first such reunion. He and Don Gross (chemistry) enjoyed watching George Wickes, professor of English (1957–1971), on the first episode of Ken Burns’ The Viet Nam War on PBS. Joe says, “What a thrill to see my favorite and probably most influential teacher of six years and four colleges looking great and making a fascinating contribution to the show!”


Current students and alumni—all of whom have worked or are now working at the Los Alamos National Laboratory—gathered last July to compare notes. Bob MacFarlane (physics), a member of the College’s second graduating class, shared his 1962 yearbook, which the younger alumni found quite amusing. Mudders in attendance represented classes from each decade except the 1970s. Back row (alumni): Eric Flynn ’05, MacFarlane, Brenda Dingus ’82, Mike Hundley ’83, Christopher Brislawn ’82, Vivien Zapf ’97. Front row (current students): Adam Shaw ’18, Colin Adams ’19, Sophie Graf ’18, Elena Romero ’20, Nick Koskelo ’20.

1966 “No one in the Class of ’66 can ever forget Paul Vitta’s infectious smile. He’s still got it!” says Ed Wood (chemistry). Ed visited Paul (physics) and his wife, Necta, in their comfortable retirement home in Arusha, Tanzania, on the way to enjoy a photo safari of Tanzanian parks. The reunion visit after

51 years was even more special than the photo safari, which itself was memorable. Paul is deep in his second career of writing, after retirement from his United Nations economic development work in Nairobi, Kenya. Hours of wide-ranging chats gave Ed a wonderful view of East African life and politics through the eyes of a keen observer. Paul’s latest novel, Confessions by President Kikumba, was a captivating read on Ed’s return flight to North America.

1968 | Reunion year Dave Wilbur (engineering) and his wife, Linda,

started their nonprofit, the LinDave Institute, to provide educational and mentoring services to under-served communities in Southern California. These services include literacy projects, tutoring and mentoring programs, art and science workshops, job training activities and programs for children and young adults with special needs. A few of their programs include a partnership with Homeboy Industry to serve youth, an after-school program at an East L.A. church and a literacy program for mothers and their babies.

1970 Bruce I. Cohen (physics) retired from full-time

employment at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory after 40 years as a theoretical plasma physicist doing research on magnetic and inertial fusion. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society in the Division of Plasma Physics. He was associate program leader for the Theory and Computations Fusion Energy Program and Lawrence Livermore Laboratory from 2007 to 2016. Bruce is the author or co-author of more than 160 peer-reviewed publications. Jack Cuzick (math) has received the Cancer Research

UK Lifetime Achievement Award for his work on cancer prevention and detection. This prestigious prize is awarded annually to an outstanding researcher who has demonstrated a lifetime commitment to the fight against cancer and has made exceptional advances in the field. Jack is professor of epidemiology at the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine at Queen Mary University of London and heads the institute’s Centre for Cancer Prevention. In addition to being named an HMC Outstanding Alumnus (2010), he is also a Fellow of

the Royal Society and a Commander of the British Empire, in recognition for his work in helping to prevent breast, cervical, colorectal and prostate cancers. Cary J. Reich (chemistry)

retired in March 2017 from Allergan, which acquired ForSight VISION5 in September 2016. He joined ForSight VISION5 in November 2015 as chief technology officer after having served as CTO of ForSight Labs (an ophthalmic incubator) beginning in 2006. During his tenure at ForSight Labs, five companies were spun out: Transcend (acquired by Alcon), which developed a shunt for the treatment of glaucoma; ForSight VISION2 (acquired by QLT), which developed a drug delivery punctal plug for treating ocular diseases; Nexis Vision (refractive licensing deal); ForSight VISION4 (acquired by Roche), which developed a device for sustained release of drugs to treat the back of the eye; and ForSight VISION5 (acquired by Allergan), which developed an ocular onlay for treating glaucoma and diseases of the front of the eye. Cary has a wealth of ophthalmic knowledge and over 35 years of experience in the development and commercialization of medical devices and pharmaceuticals, including expertise in compound development, materials, regulatory strategies and technology collaborations. He held senior management positions at Allergan, ForSight Labs, Inamed Corporation, Calhoun Vision, Baxter Healthcare, Fusion Medical and Chiron Vision. He earned a PhD in physical organic chemistry from Stanford University (1976). He is an inventor on over 80 U.S. patents covering ocular devices, biomaterials, surface coatings and surgical sealants. Cary lives in Santa Barbara with his wife, Martha SCR ’71.

1972 Longtime winemaker and owner of The Brander Vineyard in Los Olivos, California, Fred Brander (chemistry) will be honored as Vintner of the Year at the Santa Barbara Wine Auction Feb. 17. He is being feted for his vision and




Mike Brossart (mathematics) retired from the Inland

Valley Daily Bulletin after 42 years. Mike, deputy opinion editor, joined the paper (formerly called the Pomona Progress-Bulletin) after he had finished college, hitchhiked across the United States and spent six weeks in a Volkswagen van with friends touring the western United States and Canada. Mike started as a stringer and has worked in sports, news and features. He edited the paper from 1998 to 1999 and, for the past 13 years, has contributed to the opinions section. Read the Sept. 26, 2017 Daily Bulletin article about him, bit.ly/Brossart17.

1974 Near Earth Objects (NEOs)—asteroids or comets whose orbits bring them close to Earth’s orbit— pose a potential Earth-impact hazard capable of causing widespread destruction. A survey for NEO’s being carried out with DECam on the 4-m Blanco telescope at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory has estimated the number of objects in near-Earth orbit that are similar in size to the meteoroid that exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia, in 2013. The study, to be published in the Astronomical Journal, is the first to derive, from a single observational data set with no external model assumptions, the size distribution of NEOs from 1 kilometer down to 10 meters. Estimating the study’s detection efficiency was critical to the result. Frank Valdes (physics), a National Optical Astronomy Observatory scientist who developed the data reduction and analysis pipeline for the project, pointed out that “The best way to measure detection efficiency is by implanting synthetic NEOs into the data stream and then detecting the fake ones in the same way real NEOs are detected.” Find a pre-print of the paper here arxiv.org/pdf/1707.04066.pdf.



1980 Last July, Scott Pace (physics) became the executive secretary of the National Space Council. In December, President Trump signed the Space Policy Directive-1 directing NASA to work with international and commercial partners to return humans to the Moon. Scott says, “We want U.S. industry to be leading, and we want to do it with our international partners, who have been such great partners on Space Station.” Scott was formerly the director of the Space Policy Institute and professor of the practice of international affairs at George Washington University. He also serves as the vice-chair of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Advisory Committee on Commercial Remote Sensing. During his career, Scott has received numerous rewards and recognitions including the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal (2008). President Trump signed an executive order reestablishing the National Space Council, which existed previously from 1989 to 1993, (a version of it also existed as the National Aeronautics and Space Council from 1958 to 1973). This group advises the president, comprises the leaders of government agencies with a stake in space and is chaired by Vice President Mike Pence. The Council helps ensure that all aspects of the nation’s space power—national security, commerce, international relations, exploration and science—are coordinated to best serve the American people.

1981 Jennifer Holmgren (chemistry) was inducted into the

National Academy of Engineering in October. She is CEO of LanzaTech, a manufacturer of low-carbon fuels made from industrial waste, and is author of more than 50 U.S. patents.

1983 | Reunion year Amanda Simpson (physics) is featured in the

MSN.com video Obama Appointee Amanda Simpson is A Transgender Pioneer (bit.ly/ASimpson17). Amanda served under President Barack Obama as deputy assistant secretary of defense and is America’s first openly transgender presidential appointee. She

also served as the executive director of the U.S. Army Office of Energy Initiatives, where she was tasked with overseeing the Army’s various efforts to implement cost-effective, large-scale renewable energy projects.

1985 Mark Wiprud ’85/86 (engineering) is chief hardware

engineer and co-founder at Opter (opterlife.com), which has created Pose, a stylish, wearable device “to help us with the modern health challenges that hurt us every day.” Pose, which can be worn on a chain or clipped to clothing, monitors posture, UV rays, activity, sleep and electronics usage. Mark has worked as a hardware engineer for over 30 years. He is a founding partner of Coryell & Wiprud, a company that has provided key technologies to companies ranging from first-stage startups to aerospace giants like Boeing and Northrop-Grumman. Their technologies enable the success of critical missions that are run by some of the world's most demanding users.

1995 Olivier Chaine (engineering) PRNEWSFOTO/TARGETX

dedication in identifying, developing and promoting Santa Barbara County as a leading wine region. During his 40 years in the wine industry, Fred has promoted the benefits of Santa Barbara County as a wine-growing region. He was the driving force behind the push to identify the Los Olivos district appellation—Santa Barbara County’s newest American viticultural area—as a distinct home to both Rhone and Bordeaux grape varietals.

has joined TargetX, a provider of student lifecycle solutions for higher education, as vice president of technology. He will direct product strategy and technology development. Olivier has over 15 years of experience as an innovator and strategic leader in the new media and technology space. He joins TargetX from The Search Agency, a leading international independent search marketing firm leveraging Big Data and automation. He has served in various roles as an executive and advisor, including as an ongoing advisor to ProProfs, a platform for online training and assessments; as partner at ToughNano, which develops polymers and epoxies for 3-D printing; and CEO and founder of magnify360, a landing page optimization and behavioral profiling platform. Olivier speaks regularly at technology-focused events, such as OMS, AdTech and INSEAD, as well as at private forums.


What do you ThINQ?

Presenting the first class of HMC INQ, the Harvey Mudd startup incubator HMC INQ IS THE SANTA

Monica, California-based incubator for Harvey Mudd startups led by Josh Jones ’98 (the tall one, above) and Gary Evans, Ruth and Harvey Berry Professor of Entrepreneurial Leadership. The first class of entrepreneurs received $120,000 in seed money, office space, mentorship, legal and cloud services credit, and peer support. Five companies participated in the 10-week program, which began during late summer 2017. Participants lived together at a home in Santa Monica, while they developed their companies. In early November, the startup founders presented their projects during three Demo Days, one held on campus.

Weasel Labs/ZephVR: Paige Pruitt ’11 and Sean Spielberg zephvr.co

ZephVR automatically adds wind to any virtual reality (VR) game, using machine learning to recognize events in games’ audio tracks, activating fans at the correct moment. The software used by ZephVR is adaptable to all games, creating a platform that adds haptic feedback to any VR experience automatically. “Wind is just our Trojan horse. We are making software for every haptic device out there.”

BumbleBeast Hao Cao ’17 and Michael Muzio ’17 bumblebeast.co

The BumbleBeast is an all-in-one desktop machine for professional-level manufacturing. “The solution for rapid prototyping—a desktop 3-D printer with CNC milling, laser engraving and injection molding—BumbleBeast will expand the capability of printers while maintaining the ease of use.

BumbleBeast was born of frustration at using the tools in the Harvey Mudd College machine shop—we just wanted one machine that could make functional parts with minimal hassle.”

Ark Servers.IO Sergey Tsalkov ’09 arkservers.io

A game server host that manages multiplayer games from one central server, featuring custom control panels for specific games. “I hosted a multiplayer game server for my friends and me on my computer, and they got annoyed because they couldn't log in while I was asleep. I rented some data-center space, but that was expensive, so I thought I’d spread the cost out by hosting servers for other people.”

Zenith Robotics Cherie Ho ’17, Vai Viswanathan ’17 and Chris Clark, professor of engineering and associate department chair

Solving the next step of the robotics revolution: coordinating multiple robots by building the platform to route multi-robot systems. “With our software, robots can communicate, split up tasks and avoid getting in each other’s way.”

Down to Earth Gardens Garrett Menghini ’13 dte-gardens.com

Installation and maintenance of backyard vegetable gardens. Gardens are designed for optimal labor efficiency as well as optimal growing and production using automation, software and custom hardware. “You keep staring at the patch of dirt in your yard, and that patch of dirt keeps staring back at you. Down to Earth Gardens puts that patch of dirt to work for you. We grow more produce in a month than a customer can buy for the same amount of money at the supermarket.”






2002 Daniel Pennington (biology), M.D., PhD, completed

Rachel ArceJaeger (computer

his radiation oncology residency at UCLA, where he served as chief resident, and joined Radiation Oncology Associates of Richmond, Virginia. He and his wife, Elizabeth, have two daughters: June, 5, and Lucy, 1.

science) married David Evans at Lake Tahoe in May 2017. Rachel is a software developer in Silicon Valley, and David is a full-time chaplain with the Army.

Eric Toberer (chemistry),

associate professor of physics, is one of two recipients of the inaugural Ben L. Fryrear Endowed Chairs for Innovation and Excellence, endowed by Colorado School of Mines alumnus Ben Fryrear to recognize and support highly accomplished faculty members driving institutional change at the college. Eric will receive $25,000 in discretionary funds for three years, in exchange for developing and implementing additional pathways for undergraduate students to participate in cutting-edge research. He joined Mines in 2011 and received a National Science Foundation CAREER Award in 2016. He earned his PhD in materials in 2006 from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Eric says, “Over the next three years, I intend to use the resources provided by the Fryrear Chair to catalyze a distinctive program for undergraduate research on campus. Undergraduate research is presently distributed and ad hoc—we have the opportunity to turn such research into a key activity at Mines. Regardless of a student’s ultimate career track, multi-year experiences beyond the classroom that encourage creativity and hands-on skills will yield students more prepared for success.”


Denver-area alumni met at Brik on York in October for an HMC Alumni Association happy hour event hosted by Mary Moore-Simmons (engineering).

University in North Carolina. Jenni spent a year at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Boulder, Colorado, conducting research for her dissertation. She’s now a postdoc at DTU Wind Energy, where she hopes to become a researcher. Her other interests are traveling and competitive mountain unicycling. She’s also helping arrange the 2018 Unicycling World Championships in South Korea. Read her interview at http://bit.ly/ JRinkerDTU.

2012 Fahmi Quadir (mathematical

Chris Strieter (mathematical economics and physics),

cofounder of Senses Wines, is one of the driving forces behind Rebuild Wine Country, an effort led by a group of wine professionals to fundraise for a local chapter of Habitat for Humanity. Deadly wildfires destroyed nearly 7,000 structures, including at least 3,500 homes, in northern California. Chris said the group hopes to raise upward of $5 million on behalf of Habitat for Humanity that will go toward a mix of repairing and rebuilding.

2011 In an interview for the Denmark Technical University Wind Energy department, Jenni Rinker (engineering) described her academic journey (including research on tuned-mass dampers while at HMC) and her interest in wind energy. She earned a master’s degree in civil and environmental engineering and a PhD in mechanical engineering and material science from Duke

biology) is No. 2 on Business Insider’s list of Wall Street standouts under 35. She is launching a short-sellingfocused hedge fund, Safkhet Capital, which is targeting a $200 million soft close for 2018 and will focus on betting against fraudulent companies. Fahmi previously worked at Krensavage Asset Management and Deallus Consulting, where she did investigative work for pharmaceutical clients.

2013 | Reunion year HMC and Caltech alumni gathered for several events during fall. Ashley Kretsch (chemistry) hosted a mixer at YesterYears in Carrboro, near the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill campus. Eddy Chavarria ’07 (engineering) was the host for the event at Barleycorn in New York. Event participants enjoyed networking, drinks, games and food.

Robert Eckert (computer science) married Hope

Whitney-Monical SCR ’11 on Sept. 9, 2016, in a small family ceremony in Saratoga, California, nine years after exchanging information in the rose garden at Scripps College.

In Memoriam Robert Russell ’80 (engineering) passed away on Nov. 5,

2017. He retired from Honeywell International, where he was a systems engineer and did research on hightemperature refractory metals. In a 2009 HMC alumni survey, he shared that he invented “micro miniature transmission line tooling and process.”



Annual Report

Academic Year

Harvey Mudd is on a mission … TO INVEST in people, programs and places that will advance the College’s strategic vision


TO ACHIEVE excellence in education

No. 1 Most Innovative School — U.S. NEWS AND WORLD REPORT No. 1 Best Undergraduate Engineering Program

TO MAINTAIN a community of diverse students of extraordinary ability

No. 2 Return on Investment No. 2 Best Career Placement





















TO EMBRACE sustainability


TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE on and off campus



Class of 2021


TO EDUCATE a new generation of scientists, engineers and mathematicians Prestigious National Fellowships and Scholarships 1 ASTRONAUT SCHOLARSHIP


TO STRENGTHEN the educational experience for all students










each year—drawing increased media attention, attracting larger numbers of outstanding students, recruiting first-rate faculty who are committed to teaching and producing cutting-edge, collaborative research and Clinic projects—we know the people who make up this remarkable community bolster our reputation. Everything this College does so successfully stems from the creative and intelligent individuals who embrace the value of working collaboratively and unselfishly—as a community. In order for philanthropy to have the greatest impact on our amazing College, donors—both current and prospective—must see the intrinsic value of investing in Harvey Mudd. We are incredibly fortunate to meet with and help facilitate gifts from a wide range of constituents and to learn about the values that inform these gifts. For example, a prominent foundation board’s deep appreciation for the importance of chemistry education led to a gift to help renovate our chemistry labs; a national corporation’s commitment to diversity motivated its support of our President’s Scholars Program; an alumna's desire to honor a classmate's legacy rallied broad support for a memorial scholarship supporting female Mudders; a faculty member’s passion for communicating math to diverse audiences triggered a change in his will that will endow a student prize fund; a parent’s commitment to serving society created opportunities for faculty to integrate community outreach into their curriculum; and our students’ deep support for each other resulted in nearly 54 percent of them supporting student mental health through their philanthropy campaign efforts. Your donation to Harvey Mudd is an investment in our shared community. Since the launch of The Campaign for Harvey Mudd College in 2011, the College has received $146.97 million in gifts and pledges, accounting for 97.98 percent of our $150 million goal, with a year left to go. The campaign has supported continued strengthening of our outstanding academic and student support programs. Private gifts have created new faculty positions; increased the number of financial aid and merit scholarships; added both a teaching and learning center and a new dormitory; created beautiful, safe and highly functional renovated Clinic spaces, chemistry instructional labs and the auditoria in Galileo Hall; increased the number of summer research opportunities; enhanced student health and wellness



support; and bolstered the opportunities for students to engage in external community education, engagement and activities. When looking at annual gifts received (counting pledge payments but not including new pledges) over the past fiscal year (July 2016–June 2017), Harvey Mudd College received $11.22 million in gifts. Nearly $3 million was designated to create or add to permanently endowed funds, such as scholarships, summer research endowments and faculty support. The remaining three quarters of these funds went toward current campus programs, including facility renovations, with more than $3.88 million supporting Mudd’s annual operating budget through the Annual Mudd Fundd. We are grateful for each and every gift, and are particularly encouraged by our donors who gave to the Annual Mudd Fundd at a Leadership level ($1,000+), which made up 92 percent of these dollars. In recognition of these donors, the College has re-instituted its donor roll, which can be found at hmc.edu/leadership-giving. As our campaign approaches its initial goal ahead of schedule, we recognize that this generous support not only created even more opportunities for the College and its students to make an impact on society, but also better positioned us to do even more. As we look to the future, we will continue to focus on raising funds to support the priorities of the campaign while also looking beyond these initial priorities. We’re seeking funds for a new academic building to house the Computer Science Department as well as a state-of-the-art, collaborative maker space. We see additional opportunities related to curricular innovation and revision of the Core and more permanent funding for summer research as well as opportunities for formalizing and growing entrepreneurship efforts, building a more diverse and inclusive community, increasing innovation across each of our departments, bolstering co-curricular opportunities and student support services, and so much more. We are exceptionally grateful for the collective generosity that has enabled Mudd’s continued tradition of excellence and its significant enhancement. From this position of strength, we are excited to continue partnering with more and more of you to bring even greater energy and focus to all that we do—together— to fulfill the bold and meaningful mission of Harvey Mudd College.

Campaign Snapshot

$146,965,372 CAMPAIGN TOTAL FROM JULY 1, 2011, TO JUNE 30, 2017




All Gifts Received for FY 2016–2017









$11,215,809 TOTAL

*Gifts From Individuals









$7,878,013 TOTAL

Philanthropic Giving by Fiscal Year 2016–2017
































Annual Mudd Fundd Designated/Restricted

Realized Bequests Total Philanthropic Giving





Financial Position

Endowment Investments


Harvey Mudd College ended the fiscal year with assets of approximately $473 million. This total is composed primarily of investments of $332 million and of land, buildings and equipment of $123 million. Liabilities of $59 million consist primarily of long-term notes and bonds payable, accounts payable and accrued liabilities. During the 2016–2017 fiscal year, total net assets increased by $27 million. This increase in net assets resulted primarily from gains in the investment pool. As of June 30, 2017, net assets totaled $414 million in three net asset categories: 1) unrestricted (those over which the College has discretion) of $152 million, 2) temporarily restricted (those given to the College for a specific purpose) of $112 million, and 3) permanently restricted (those given to the College to be held in perpetuity) of $150 million.

The endowment market value increased to $299 million at year-end, representing an equivalent of $360,505 per student. Endowment payout supported 22 percent of the College’s operating budget during the fiscal year. The College’s investment pool was well positioned to capture gains in the broad market. The performance return was 13.3 percent for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2017, primarily due to gains in global equity investments. The performance of the College’s investment pool this past year generates additional resources to support donor-specified areas, including scholarships, research, faculty support and more.

We are proud of the financial strength of the College and our ability to support the educational mission for years to come. With the completion of renovations to the Department of Chemistry laboratories, the Libra Complex and the Galileo Auditoria, the College continues with the revitalization of the campus, improving the utility of the facilities while maintaining the campus’ character. We hope that you have an opportunity to visit campus and see these improvements.


Endowment Market Value


Financial Operations Total revenues for fiscal year 2016–2017 were $71 million, which includes continued strong support of the College through gifts and grants. Total expenses for 2016–2017 were approximately $65 million. For the year ending June 30, 2017, the College experienced an operating budget surplus after transfers to high priority areas, as approved by the Budget and Financial Planning Committee of the board of trustees. The key factors influencing the positive operating surplus included net student revenues, endowment spending from new endowment gifts and savings from several operating budget areas.




$288,996 $272,636








JUNE 30, 2013

JUNE 30, 2014

JUNE 30, 2015

JUNE 30, 2016

The College’s audited financial statements are located online at: hmc.edu/bao/financial-affairs.



JUNE 30, 2017







Tuition, fees, room and board Less financial aid Net student revenue









Federal grants



Private gifts and grants





Private contracts Endowment payout



Other revenue



Total Revenue




















$ 3,279




Academic support



Student services



Institutional support



Auxiliary enterprises













Public service

Total Expenses Excess revenue/expenses Pooled investment gains/(losses), net of endowment payout Other changes in net assets

Change in Net Assets

















Excellence and Innovation in Education As a community of problem solvers, we’re used to challenges. One skill I honed during my HMC engineering education was persistence, and I’ve used it throughout my career, especially when facing adversity. I believe our responses to the difficulties we’ve faced as a community over the last year have been appropriate, and through persistence, we’ll become better and stronger. As we continue to work together, the trustees hope that everyone will participate in these critical efforts so we can ensure the College maintains the outstanding level of innovative academic excellence our students and faculty have always experienced. One need not look further than the preceding report to see evidence of our progress and success. The Campaign for Harvey Mudd College, which supports our infrastructure and our commitment to providing excellence and community building, continues to grow. As of the printing of this report, the campaign total stands at $149,691,578. We thank all who have shown their support. I’m particularly excited about the renovation of the 58-year-old Jacobs Science Center, which was completed in time for fall 2017. As you know, achieving and sustaining excellence and innovation in education and research requires modern facilities, technical staff, equipment and information technology infrastructure, and I believe the new labs are a perfect example of our commitment to that ideal. The renovation is the kind of investment that ensures the College’s programs—like chemistry, which is consistently ranked as one of the top undergraduate chemistry programs in the nation—remain capable of providing our students the best possible experience. Speaking of rankings, Harvey Mudd placed at or near the top of several annual college rankings, including being ranked No. 2 in the nation for return on investment in PayScale’s 2017 College ROI Report, moving up from third place in 2016. Prior to 2016, Harvey



The College recognizes that a diverse community strengthens the education and experience for all students. Mudd held the No. 1 spot for college ROI for four years straight, from 2012 to 2015. The College also ranked No. 2 among liberal arts colleges in Washington Monthly’s 2016 College Rankings, a survey of U.S. institutions that aims to measure contribution to the public good. Harvey Mudd rates highly in these and many other survey factors with its emphasis on community engagement, integration of community service into the curriculum, support of student service organizations, outreach programs in local schools and mission to educate socially responsible leaders in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Mudders not only reach out to the wider community in positive ways but also create opportunities for each other well after graduation. An exciting example of this is the HMC INQ venture, a 10-week startup program developed in 2016 by Josh Jones ’98 and Professor Gary Evans, that connects

alumni and outside experts to help recent Harvey Mudd students and graduates develop their own startups. Read more about these entrepreneurs on page 37. The College has received positive media attention for its efforts to develop more inclusive pedagogical practices, and we are seeing good results across the academic departments. The College recognizes that a diverse community strengthens the educational experience for all students. The diversity of the Class of 2021 is a reflection of the College’s ongoing commitment to that goal. Women make up 52 percent of the Class of 2021, for example, one of the highest gender ratios of any science- and engineering-focused institution. It was my pleasure to attend the Class of 2017 commencement ceremony in May. It’s rewarding to see Harvey Mudd students graduate and continue to foster the HMC tradition of excellence into their careers.


Leadership Annual Giving at Harvey Mudd College Each year, gifts to the Annual Mudd Fundd (AMF) are immediately put to work—accounting for six percent of the operating budget— providing critical support towards financial aid, scholarships, academic department operating budgets and the greatest needs of the College. During the six years since the launch of The Campaign for Harvey Mudd College, more than $25,902,184.36 has been contributed toward the AMF. We appreciate each and every gift and have been particularly encouraged to see a continued increase of gifts occurring at the leadership level—contributions of $1,000 or more. This subset of donors has increased by 68 percent and now accounts for over 90 percent of all AMF dollars received. While all gifts are important to the College, we are pleased to celebrate and recognize lead AMF donors as members of the Annual Giving Leadership Society at the following levels:

I received an amazing education that was made possible thanks to donors in the mid 1990s, so it is my turn to pay that forward and help the current and next generations of Mudd students.

President’s Circle: $20,000+ Gold Level: $10,000 – $19,999 Silver Level: $5,000 – $9,999 Copper Level: $1,000 – $4,999 Young Alumni Copper: $500 (5–9 years), $250 (0–4 years)

– Kathy French ’97 We’ve found great comfort that Ryan’s been able to use the resources that the school provides for academic help and career services (e.g., resume writing, setting up a LinkedIn account, etc.). We are very grateful that Harvey Mudd places an importance on these and many other student services.

In addition to ongoing recognition of those who invest in the Annual Mudd Fundd at the leadership level, in the near future we look forward to strengthening recognition programs for our legacy donors and loyal donors, who support all areas of the College. Find the honor roll for the Annual Giving Leadership Society here: hmc.edu/leadership-giving

– Rod and Cathy Kusch P19 As an alumnus who is also a donor to the College, I feel proud that I have contributed to the success of these new graduates and that I have helped provide current students the opportunities to discover their passions and learn more about the sciences, engineering and mathematics. It makes me happy to be able to continue this circle of philanthropy, since I once benefited from such donations when I was a student at Harvey Mudd.





– Sheldon Logan ’06




The self-confidence and technical, social and communication skills with which our children graduate are of immeasurable value to them—and to their families, friends, employers and graduate institutions. My wife, Kahne, and I remain committed to seeing that the benefits of a Harvey Mudd education are available to current and future students. – Ira Lichtman P14



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

For one of its largest alumni activities ever, Harvey Mudd College arranged solar eclipse events in four sites across the U.S.: Madras, Oregon; Casper, Wyoming; Columbia, Missouri; and Charleston, South Carolina. More than 380 alumni and parents, their family members and friends attended these events and viewed the spectacular total solar eclipse. Read more on page 22.

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