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Universe in Sight Allison Barto ’98 helps design the world’s most powerful telescope | 26










Mudders on Ice Thirty travelers, most of them alumni, can now check off Antarctica from their bucket lists. A trip during February likely satisfied several wishes, including “fraternizing with penguins,” “taking a polar plunge” and “traveling with fellow Mudders.” The latter was a main appeal, says Bill Hartman ’62, a key trip organizer, who celebrated his 75th birthday while traveling and fulfilled his dream of visiting all seven continents. “This was probably the most diverse of any Harvey Mudd trip I’ve attended,” says Hartman, who’s been on Harvey Mudd alumni trips to the Mojave Desert, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Australia and Copper Canyon (Mexico). Alumni in classes ranging from 1961 to 2012 made the journey to Antarctica. “Almost none of us had ever met before, but we just instantly bonded and had things to talk about. We all have the commonality of the Mudd education in our backgrounds, and there’s a lot of nerdism involved.”

Many participants read the suggested book, Joan Boothe’s The Storied Ice, to prepare them for an Antarctic adventure that took them first to Argentina then through the turbulent Drake Passage to the South Shetland Islands, where they greeted some of the locals: blue-eyed shags; kelp gulls; Cape petrels; snowy sheathbills and Adélie penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae), shown. Photographer Bill Hewitt ’06 says, “There were a few large groups of

penguins waddling about on the shore and icebergs of Hope Bay, but this particular pair, tucked beneath an overhang alone, like lovers shaded by a tree in a bustling park, stuck out to me most.” Planning for an April 2017 trip to Machu Picchu and the Galapagos Islands is in the works. Mudd Travel Program details will be available later this summer.




Life in the Balance



FORMER VICE CHAIR and COO of Coca-Cola Brian Dyson once compared

the struggle of achieving work-life balance to juggling five balls: work, family, health, friends and spirit. Dyson said work is a rubber ball. The other four are made of glass, which, if dropped, would never be the same. “You must understand that and strive for balance in your life,” Dyson said. The meaning of work-life balance today is a topic of lively discussion among members of the Harvey Mudd community. Following the fall board of trustees retreat at Saddle Rock, where student attendees raised the issue of balancing coursework, personal interests and health, we began having conversations on campus to create greater awareness of the issue. Harvey Mudd College has a reputation for providing an incredibly challenging education. (According to a Princeton Review survey, HMC is No. 1 for “Students Who Study the Most.”) While in many ways this can be positive, at other times, it can present our students, in particular, with difficult challenges. Our students push themselves to complete assignments and sometimes take on greater course loads because they view hard work as an intrinsic part of the Harvey Mudd experience. Some feel they must sacrifice other interests, such as athletics, music, art, community service or clubs and organizations. They worry that admitting the workload at Mudd is sometimes too challenging may imply they don’t belong here. While the challenges of work-life integration can be difficult, I’ve seen our students strive to find balance in music, art, theater and athletics, among other things. You’ll find several of them featured in this issue, including two of our accomplished athletes/scholars (page 17). Helping to ease the transition for all students is the goal of the Office of Dean of Students, which provides significant resources to help students maintain healthy lifestyles. I’m also proud of the Associated Students of Harvey Mudd College, who are supplementing these efforts with a Work-Life Balance Working Group that will help generate more ideas and collect student opinions. Each of the alumni featured in this issue has successfully navigated through Harvey Mudd and beyond to a rewarding and impactful career. In particular, you’ll find the story of Jake Kimball ’00, engineer and flying trapeze artist (page 30), to be a great example of how one alumnus has nurtured both work and personal interests. As long as there are only 24 hours in a day, we will continue to grapple with integrating our work and our lives. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to finding balance—it is a uniquely personal issue each of us must consider. As Professor Francis Su reminds us (page 14), “Your accomplishments are not what make you a worthy human being.” Wise words indeed. With helpful insight and support from one another, we can develop tools to help address work-life issues as we seek to develop our best selves.

















Heard Online Conversations on Harvey Mudd social media Twitter, February 2015 Feb. 24 Hell, *I’m* proud of @harveymudd and I don’t even go there. #gogogo #womeninCS . –Raksha Muthukumar I like the new @harveymudd shirt: “The most amazing college you’ve never heard of” with never crossed out and ever written in. –Miranda Parker ’14 Feb. 23 I had a great time talking with @HarveyMudd students. Yes, relationships still matter in science and engineering! –Sue Desmond-Hellmann, CEO, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (2015 Annenberg Speaker) Feb. 20 @sammikes if you’ve not been following the completely transformative things they’ve done with CS, you should catch up asap. –Andromeda Yelton ’99

Join the online conversation. harveymuddcollege

Maria Klawe President, Harvey Mudd College



SPRING 2015 VOLUME 13, NO. 2



The Harvey Mudd College Magazine is produced three times per year by the Office of Communications and Marketing. Director of Communications, Senior Editor Stephanie L. Graham Art Director Janice Gilson Graphic Designer Robert Vidaure

Virtually Viral

Epidemiologists add simulation models, like the one created by Nadia Abuelezam ’09, to their arsenal in the fight to slow the spread of HIV.

Seeing Stars

Big-picture thinking helps map a path toward a better view of the early universe.










Flight School

Inside the highly technical— and highly intimidating—art of trapeze with Jake Kimball ’00.

Decoding Bad















Proofreaders Eric Feezell, Kelly Lauer Contributing Photographers Seth Affoumado, Ball Aerospace, Scott Butner, Ken Fandell, Keenan Gilson, Bill Hewitt ’06, Jeanine Hill, Rachel Howden ’08, Kim Indresano, Cheryl Ogden, Bruce Silcox, Deborah Tracey Vice President for Advancement Dan Macaluso



Contributing Writers Amy DerBedrosian, Eric Feezell, Ashley Festa, Lia King, Douglas McInnis, Chris Quirk, Elaine Regus, Mara Watkins

Frank Greitzer ’68 employs cyber and behavioral monitoring to help identify threatening behavior.



Assistant Vice President of Communications and Marketing Timothy L. Hussey, APR The Harvey Mudd College Magazine (SSN 0276-0797) is published by Harvey Mudd College, Office of Communications and Marketing, 301 Platt Boulevard, Claremont, CA 91711. Nonprofit Organization Postage Paid at Claremont, CA 91711 Postmaster: Send address changes to Harvey Mudd College, Advancement Services, 301 Platt Boulevard, Claremont, CA 91711. Copyright © 2015—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. Find the magazine online at

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

The Harvey Mudd College Magazine staff welcomes your input: or Harvey Mudd College Magazine Harvey Mudd College 301 Platt Boulevard, Claremont, CA 91711



Chemistry students, including Allison Lim ’16, Srinidhi Srinivasan ’18 and Prat


Kapur ’18 (shown with Professor David Vosburg), now have additional summer

New Chemistry Research Fellowships A NEW ENDOWED RESEARCH FELLOWSHIP FUND in the

Department of Chemistry will provide income each year to support an undergraduate research fellowship. The fund will be named, in alternating years, in honor of emeriti professors of chemistry Mitsuru Kubota and Philip C. Myhre in recognition of their dedicated service and significant contributions to the College. The Harris Family Research Fellowship Fund will support opportunities for chemistry and joint chemistry and biology majors to conduct undergraduate research on campus with a faculty research advisor in chemistry. Kubota and Myhre Fellows will take part in a 10-week research project that will begin in the summer following their sophomore year, continue through their junior academic year and conclude at the end of the following summer. Each fellowship provides summer stipends, academic year wages, research expenses, conference fees and travel funds. Made possible by a gift from Daniel Harris, scientist, professor and author of the best-selling textbook



Quantitative Chemical Analysis, and his wife, Sally Harris, this fellowship fund represents significant permanent support toward experiential learning, one of the key funding priorities of the $150 million Campaign for Harvey Mudd College. “It is our privilege to be able to support undergraduate research opportunities in the chemistry department and to enable an extended relationship between a student and professor,” says Daniel Harris, whose son, David Money Harris, is the Harvey S. Mudd Professor of Engineering Design at the College. “The period of activity should be long enough for the student to develop a sense of what science is all about and to become proficient enough for the student and faculty mentor to delve into a subject. It is our hope that the student will have an opportunity to participate in a professional conference to present research results and be initiated into the community of scientists.”

research opportunities thanks to a new fellowship fund.

Center, Elly Schofield ’13


leader in hands-on education, Harvey Mudd faculty and students designed massive open online courses (MOOCs) aimed at strengthening computer science and physics education in the nation’s schools. Courses in computer programming (Scratch) and physics attracted 23,000 and 3,000 registered students, respectively. The two Harvey Mudd MOOCs opened for registration on Nov. 18 and began on Feb. 2, 2015. The courses are offered free of charge via, the nonprofit online learning destination founded by MIT and Harvard. Programming in Scratch is the first MOOC focused solely on teaching Scratch, a user-friendly programming language designed for students as young as elementary school. The course was developed by computer science Professor Colleen Lewis and aims to help teachers, students and their parents learn computer science concepts through fun and engaging videos and exercises. How Stuff Moves is a physics course in mechanics designed to support high school or college students in their first course in calculus-based physics. Many U.S. high schools do not offer advanced physics courses such as mechanics. Professor Peter Saeta

originally wanted to create an online version of his first-year Physics 24: Mechanics course in order to give students in his class who had less high school preparation in physics extra resources to help them master the material. Translating the course to a MOOC platform allows this resource to be shared broadly with both high school and college students seeking to increase their understanding of physics. Another MOOC, The Middle Years Computer Science (MyCS) course, is an introduction to computer science course aimed at middle and high school teachers. Launched in late April 2015, MyCS provides curricular resources to help teachers offer computer science courses not currently available at their schools or to improve existing courses. Course content was adapted for middle and high school students with the help of a grant from the National Science Foundation. In the course videos, Harvey Mudd students actively demonstrate lesson plans filled with experiential learning activities and demonstrations geared for middle and high school students. According to Elly Schofield ’13, MOOC program coordinator, “We’re also underway designing CS for All, a MOOC based on CS5 (Introduction to Computer Science), for launch in early June.”

Leading the Charge FOR THE LAST 15 YEARS, PHYSICS ALUMNUS Thomas Bleakney ’69 has studied and lectured on the risks of global warming, including in 2006 at the Harvey Mudd Physics Colloquium series. Now, by bringing a new electric vehicle (EV) charging station to the College, he’s putting his money where his mouth is. Located in the north Parsons Building parking lot, the station is capable of charging two EVs simultaneously. A smart phone app lets users search station availability as well as check the status of their vehicles. “Mitigating the effects of climate change will require some combination of major investments, higher costs and moderate inconvenience,” he says. EV accessibility is a great step forward in decreasing carbon emissions, especially in California, where an ever-increasing share of grid power is coming from solar, wind and other sustainable technologies. “It’s perfect for me,” says Associate Professor of Media Studies and EV owner Rachel Mayeri. “The faculty rate is quite reasonable. I’ve been commuting for years and it makes me feel so much better not putting the carbon in the atmosphere.”





Friends We’ll Miss Vivian C. Baker of Ithaca, New

York, wife of Harvey Mudd College’s second president David Kenneth Baker (1976–1988), passed away on Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014, at age 90. Vivian served alongside Kenneth for more than a decade, supporting the activities of the College. In a letter detailing the time the couple spent on the Harvey Mudd campus, Kenneth wrote, “Vivian and I spent 12 happy and productive years as tenants in … the President’s House … [where] we lived and entertained guests of the College. Vivian often shared the kitchen with students who used it to prepare cookies and cakes for dorm parties. We found that their presence added much to the life and joy in the house. We also invited students to use the piano and, much to our enjoyment, some very talented students accepted the invitation. Students reciprocated each Christmas season with an annual mini-concert of Christmas carols enthusiastically offered at our front door. … After the opening of the first semester, we enjoyed inviting members of the faculty and administrative staff to the annual Back to School Party. … It was a very pleasant tradition. “Undoubtedly, the most notable student escapade during our time in the house was the sudden appearance immediately beyond our garden wall of the Caltech cannon in 1986.” Vivian was preceded in death by her husband of 64 years, David Kenneth Baker, in 2012. Howard “Critch” Critchell,

longtime friend, supporter and honorary alumnus of Harvey Mudd College, passed away peacefully Jan. 17, 2015. He was 95. Critch helped create and nurture Harvey Mudd’s aeronautics program, which provided flight instruction to hundreds of students for 28 years. In 1962, Critch and his wife, Iris Cummings Critchell, aeronautics instructor emerita, began directing the Bates Foundation Aeronautics Program, established at Harvey Mudd by pilot and philanthropist Isabel Bates. Critch retired from the Bates Aeronautics Program in 1979, and Iris continued as instructor until the program’s end in 1990. Graduates of



the Bates Program include distinguished NASA scientists, aerospace engineers and two astronauts. Interest in aeronautics continues at the College through the Barnstormers student club and Bates Foundation alumni events. The Aviation Room in Hoch-Shanahan celebrates the Bates Program and its graduates, as does the College’s Aeronautical Library Special Collections, curated by Iris. A Harvey Mudd College Honorary Alumnus (1990), Critch received the College’s Lifetime Recognition award (along with Iris) in 2007. With Iris, he was a member of the Galileo and Harvey Mudd College Legacy societies. The Iris and Howard Critchell Annual Aeronautical Scholarship was established by devoted alumni. Later, another group of Bates alumni established the Endowed Iris and Howard Critchell Assistant Professorship, which honors a junior professor. The professorship, currently held by Sharon Gerbode, assistant professor of physics, honors the couple’s long service to the College. In addition to Iris, Critch is survived by two children, three grandchildren and seven great grandchildren. The family requests that any remembrance gifts go to the fund for the curator of the Harvey Mudd Aero Library or to the Iris and Howard Critchell Annual Aeronautical Scholarship. Violet “Vi” Jabara Jacobs, a

longtime supporter of Harvey Mudd College, died Jan. 12, 2015. She was 99. Vi began her association with Harvey Mudd in 1973 when her husband, Joseph J. Jacobs, the founder of Jacobs Engineering, was appointed to the College’s board. Violet and Joseph generously supported Harvey Mudd for four decades, and their most visible legacy is the Jacobs Science Center. The original building (the Science Building) was completed in 1959, but went through extensive renovations during the 1970s, after which it was renamed in recognition of the couple's support. Their gifts provided students and faculty with better laboratories and offices, and supported the endowment, student scholarships and matching funds for gifts received from alumni, faculty and staff.

For her dedication and support, the Alumni Association Board of Governors selected Vi to receive a 2015 Lifetime Recognition Award. Family members will accept the award on her behalf during Alumni Weekend in May. Engineering Professor Emeritus Sedat Serdengecti died Nov. 30, 2014, following a heart attack. He was 87. Serdengecti joined Harvey Mudd in 1961 as an assistant professor of physics then moved to the Department of Engineering in 1963 as one of its first faculty members. Serdengecti provided crucial academic support to the Department of Physics during the early 1960s as the College’s student body began to grow. He was instrumental in guiding the College’s evolving computer science program. During the late 1960s, with faculty colleagues James Monson (engineering) and Alden Pixley (mathematics), he developed a set of three courses to give students a basic comprehension of computing theory and practice. Under President Joseph Platt (1956–1976), Serdengecti chaired the College’s computer science group to help evaluate emerging technology needs. He was a major contributor to the success of the Mathematics and Engineering Clinics. Serdengecti served on the faculty until his retirement in 1998, and after that time, he remained a regular presence at the College as an emeritus faculty member. Serdengecti was a graduate of Kütahya Lyceum in Turkey; Syracuse University, New York; and Caltech. He came to Harvey Mudd with industrial experience from Chevron Oil Research Co. His research areas included control and stability of systems; communication and information theory; computer science; and numerical methods of computation. His work was published in many journals and reports. Serdengecti was a consulting engineer at several companies, including General Motors and Bell & Howell Co. In recognition of Professor Serdengecti and all he did for so many, Jude ’65 and Eileen Laspa will match, dollar for dollar, all contributions to the Sedat Serdengecti Engineering Award up to $10,000.

New Dorm By the Numbers 131 student beds • 10 suites, with a total of 48 beds • 23 doubles • 35 singles • 2 proctor suites

3 floors • 1 apartment for Dean of Students staff • 4 interconnected buildings • 2 student study rooms • 4 laundry rooms • 2 elevators

Lounges • 1 main lounge with kitchen • 3 medium-sized lounges • Several informal gathering spaces

A rendering by Pfeiffer Partners Architects Inc. shows the layout of a suite.

• 1 bocce ball court • Over 1,000 warts

Below: Construction progress during April.


9' 8"

Warts will be fabricated into concrete panels along the exterior.





Notes & Quotes Talks on campus

“[The study participants] have learned a couple of interesting things. One, your genome determines your potential but not your destiny; you actually can control many deficiencies in your genome—not all, but many. And the second thing, which has really been striking, is that individuals realized that in the future they need to take responsibility for their own health.”

Dr. Sue Desmond-Hellmann, chief executive officer of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, speaking Feb. 17 about “Leadership, Innovation and Impact.”

Dr. Leroy Hood, president and co-founder of the Institute for Systems Biology, speaking Feb. 3 on “Systems Medicine and a Longitudinal, Digital-Age Study of 100,000 Well Individuals: Revolutionizing Health Care.”

“A leader has to be able to tolerate the individual authenticity of his or her people. Everyone has to be able to tolerate a certain level of failure and lack of comfort and be open to the constructive conflict that seeks truth. If you are not able to have this kind of toleration, you are not ready to be innovative or to have a real impact in the world.”

Both talks were part of the Annenberg Leadership and Management Speaker Series, which included Stephen Luczo, Seagate Technology CEO. View these and other talks in their entirety on Harvey Mudd’s YouTube channel,



Diversifying College Faculty Thanks to a generous grant, Harvey Mudd will join forces with the other undergraduate Claremont Colleges to help create a more diverse faculty for America’s colleges and universities. The $1 million grant was awarded as part of the five colleges’ acceptance as members of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program (MMUF), an initiative of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation aimed at increasing faculty diversity by supporting underrepresented students to pursue careers as professors. The Claremont Colleges MMUF program began with an inaugural cohort of 10 students in spring 2015 and will grow to around 20 students from across the colleges each year. Students will receive academic and co-curricular support through events, faculty mentors, stipends for research and repayment of undergraduate loans up to $10,000. The MMUF program also supports fellows during their graduate and postdoctoral careers.



Rewriting the Rules Written by Lia King


books on popular science while he was writing the book Who Rules The Earth? How Social Rules Shape Our Planet and Our Lives. The book, his third, is his most unconventional. “It’s much more publicoriented than most academic books aspire to, and more research-based than most commercial nonfiction projects,” he says, so he was searching for the right way to speak to a broader audience about an issue that’s been his focus for the last six years: how environmental destruction is deeply engrained in the fabric of society. “It’s more a grand tour than a focused spotlight. I’m trying to take a vast literature and make it accessible and fun to read, and so I had to be present in some of the stories the book tells.” For example, Steinberg, the Malcolm Lewis Professor of Sustainability and Society and professor of political science and environmental policy, recounts an experience that he had when he was a young Peace Corps volunteer in Liberia in 1989, when Charles Taylor was beginning his campaign to foment civil war. A taxi that Steinberg and his wife were riding in was commandeered by rebel soldiers, and though the soldiers eventually exited the taxi without explanation, and Steinberg and his wife were evacuated from Liberia along with other Peace Corps volunteers, Steinberg was left convinced of the fragility of national governance in West Africa and many other parts of the world and the dire implications that had for managing the earth’s resources sustainably. “It made me realize we need institutions capable of governing over long time horizons,” he says. Who Rules The Earth?, published in March 2015 by Oxford University Press, focuses on how those institutions, or social rules—which include laws, policies, city codes, cultural norms, contracts, design standards and constitutions—shape everything around us, from the type of light bulb that illuminates the room to the toxicity of our water to our access to food. “Civilizations all work through rules. The central argument of the book is that if we want to achieve sustainability, we need to change the rules. Plant a tree: awesome. Take public transit: fantastic. But we need to get involved in political and institutional change,” Steinberg says. “Institutions are ideas with anchors attached

“ P lant a tree: awesome.

Take public transit: fantastic. But we need to get involved in political and institutional change. – PAUL STEINBERG

to them. We don’t want clean water for a week. It’s about putting in place new patterns of social interaction.” He notes that the biggest challenge he’s faced with bringing the book into the world has been scaling the walls of the ivory tower to find ways to share it with a broad reading audience. “I’d like to engage people who care about the environment, about sustainability, but aren’t quite sure what it’ll take to achieve it.” To that end, Steinberg worked closely with his Harvey Mudd students, and students from five other universities, on the development of a unique companion project to Who Rules The Earth?: a set of multimedia educational tools on sustainability— including an animated film, a video game, a social media website, interactive “institutional landscapes” and a Facebook discussion group—called The Social Rules Project, that, ideally, will give the book legs. A significant part of its audience will look a lot like his students: young people who care about sustainability, who recycle, who go to organic farmers’ markets, but who are still curious as to what it would take to enact lasting change. “There’s a strange moment when you recycle a can, and you walk those, say, 20 extra steps to the recycling container, and there’s a nagging sense of—does this matter at all? People intuit that small personal actions are not going to be enough. I hope that both projects will inspire people to complement their small everyday activities with engagement in social and political change,” Steinberg says. “Small actions are great—I’m not saying they’re unimportant, but meanwhile ocean levels are rising due to climate change.” Steinberg credits Harvey Mudd’s Department

of Humanities, Social Sciences, and the Arts for creating an atmosphere conducive to writing Who Rules The Earth? “My department allows its members so much creative latitude in the kinds of questions we ask that it facilitates risk taking and a long simmering of difficult ideas. I was allowed to take my time with it. The department has been incredibly supportive from the very beginning.” His students served as guinea pigs for many of the chapters of Who Rules The Earth? as they were in development. “They’ve had a chance to help me vet many of these ideas from the start.” He’s already at work on his next project, a book that focuses on issues of how to bring about change in local government, but he wants to stop and bask for a moment in the publication of Who Rules The Earth? “I’ve spent my whole professional life studying social change, why some societies move toward sustainability while others are in a headlong rush in the other direction, and this book is the culmination of that investigation,” he says.





Srebotnjak Appointed to First “All-College” Faculty Position Goals include expanding student and faculty experiences in sustainability and promoting cutting-edge environmental science and design within the Claremont University Consortium.


interest in protecting the natural environment and in improving people’s health and well-being, has been appointed as the first Hixon Professor of Sustainable Environmental Design. She will help the College expand student and faculty experiences in sustainability and will promote cutting-edge environmental science and design within the Claremont University Consortium. Harvey Mudd’s first “all-college” faculty position, the Hixon Professorship initially will be affiliated with the Department of Engineering. Srebotnjak will work with the Harvey Mudd community and with external organizations on initiatives related to course development, student



and faculty research, and experiential learning. In addition to teaching and research, Srebotnjak will build momentum around sustainable environmental design through campus-wide support initiatives. “I’m looking to build on existing sustainability initiatives and use the new college-wide position to better connect people and create new opportunities for innovative projects and research that reflect Harvey Mudd's unique reputation in combining rigorous STEM and liberal arts education,” says Srebotnjak. A program manager will join her office this fall to help with the many tasks on her plate, which include a website, blog, sustainability conference and new internship offerings in the environmental and sustainability domains. Srebotnjak is also developing the Hixon Center for Sustainable Environmental Design (SED), which will expand student and faculty opportunities and will invite external interest in education, research and problem-solving. “The College seeks to create sustainable design initiatives with lasting impact,” says Jeff Groves, vice president for academic affairs and R. Michael Shanahan Dean of the Faculty. “As a forerunner in the field, Tanja brings a unique opportunity to educate and invigorate the Harvey Mudd student body on the importance of sustainable design. We believe that she can increase the College’s presence

in this area and enable broad collaborations that differentiate the College.” Srebotnjak, hired at the associate level in recognition of her extensive experience, worked previously as a public health research fellow at the Natural Resources Defense Council in San Francisco and as a senior fellow at the Ecologic Institute in San Mateo, California, and Berlin, Germany. She also worked for the United Nations and the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy. Trained as both an environmental statistician and a biostatistician, she uses her statistical and analytical skills to address a broad range of environmental and public health policy questions. Her research interests focus on the development and application of statistical methods for assessing environmental performance, benchmarking environmental and public health objectives, and more recently the health risks of unconventional energy development. A native speaker of German, Srebotnjak is fluent in English and has the United Nations certificate of proficiency in Russian. She earned degrees in environmental statistics and policy (PhD, Yale) and statistics (MSc and Diploma, University of Auckland, New Zealand, and Dortmund Technical University, Germany).

Research, Awards, Activities Tenure and Appointments Two Harvey Mudd College faculty members were approved for tenure at the spring meeting of the board of trustees, and two others were appointed to positions in the Office of the Dean of the Faculty. Chris Clark was promoted to professor with continuous tenure. He joined the Department of Engineering in fall 2012 as an associate professor after having spent a year as a visiting faculty member at Princeton University. Clark studies autonomous systems, including underwater robots and multi-robot systems. He runs the Lab for Autonomous and Intelligent Robotics (LAIR). Erika Dyson was promoted to associate professor with continuous tenure. She specializes in 19th-century American religious movements, church/state relations, and science and religion. She has served as chair of the Watson Fellowship Committee and as a member of the Teaching and Learning Committee and represents Harvey Mudd on the 5-C Intercollegiate Religious Studies Consortium. Professor of Physics Tom Donnelly begins a three-year term as the Core Curriculum director (CCD). He oversees Core scheduling, staffing and assessment, facilitates development of electives for first-year students and serves as a member of the Department Chairs and Academic Affairs committees, among others. Associate Professor of Mathematics Rachel Levy begins a three-year term as associate dean for faculty development. She co-coordinates the 5-C New Faculty Workshop for incoming

tenure-track faculty, hosts new faculty orientation and weekly professional development lunches and addresses professional development needs of posttenure faculty.

Green Reactions “My students and I want to do chemistry that is good and beautiful, green and clever,” says chemistry Professor David Vosburg, who received the 2015 Award for Incorporating Sustainability into Chemistry Education, sponsored by the American Chemical Society’s Committee on Environmental Improvement. Vosburg uses green chemistry principles to shape curriculum in organic courses and laboratories and in his own research, taking a systematic approach to sustainability. “For each synthetic route we study in my advanced organic synthesis course, students consider the step count, chemical yield, atom economy, scalability, solvents, use of catalysts and the origin of materials (i.e., are they renewable or scarce?),” says Vosburg. He encourages his students to analyze sustainability topics through in-class presentations and creative writing assignments, such as chemical industry employee memoranda or a jovial exchange between rival chemists. “Mudders care deeply about the impact of their work on society, and they enjoy the challenge of developing with me new and better ways of thinking about chemistry in the classroom and doing chemistry in the laboratory.”

Williams a Top Teacher Colleagues use phrases like “boundless energy” and “infectious enthusiasm” to describe her extraordinary teaching ability, so it’s no surprise that Associate Professor of Mathematics Talithia Williams has been awarded the Mathematical Association of America’s Henry L. Alder Award for Distinguished Teaching by a Beginning Faculty Member. The award honors faculty members

whose teaching is effective and extraordinary and extends its influence beyond the classroom. Williams has spoken widely about the value of statistics in quantifying personal health information. Her TED talk, “Own Your Body’s Data,” has garnered nearly one million views. She also has had substantial impact encouraging students from traditionally underrepresented groups to pursue education in STEM. She coordinates the annual Sacred Sistahs conference that invites young girls from minority communities to learn about the benefits of studying STEM. Nationally, she serves as treasurer for SACNAS (Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science), serves the MAA as governor-at-large for minority interests and was recently named a Fellow for 2015–2016 by the American Council on Education.

Puzzling Problems, Elegant Proofs Travelers take note if you’re looking for the shortest route to visit a number of cities in one trip. Such problems are covered in the new book The Fascinating World of Graph Theory, co-authored by mathematics Professor Arthur Benjamin and Western Michigan University mathematics professors Gary Chartrand and Ping Zhang. Graph theory is the mathematics often used to express relationships between objects in fields like transportation science, data structures and social media. Benjamin says, “Graph theory is full of unintuitive results with simple (and sometimes not-so-simple) explanations.” The book offers hands-on exercises and covers an assortment of questions, all understandable by those with a high school algebra background. Benjamin is no stranger to writing fun, accessible math texts. He’s the author of Secrets of Mental Math—a guide to performing his trademark Mathemagics—and Proofs That Really Count, which explores mathematical patterns.






Sight Lines The Orwin Lab is taking an innovative engineering-inspired approach to studying cells in order to design a better tissue-engineered cornea. “The shortcomings of corneal transplantation include significant immune rejection rates, the possibility of infections and donor shortages,” says Elizabeth Orwin ’95, professor of engineering and department chair. “A tissue-engineered corneal replacement could provide significant benefits as an alternative to donated corneas.” Orwin was recently awarded a grant from the National Institutes of Health for her ongoing research project, “Controlling Cell Phenotype in a Tissue-Engineered Corneal Model.” She and her student researchers are looking at the cell as a system and analyzing its response to individual signals and signal combinations in order to more effectively design a tissue-engineered cornea. An artificially created transparent cornea would provide a model in which to study the effects of new ophthalmic drugs and laser treatments for vision correction. “The overall goal of this project is to understand and control the relationship between corneal cell behavior and transparency in a tissue-engineered corneal construct,” says Orwin. “In order to move toward our ultimate goal of creating a threedimensional model, we need to understand the most important factors or combinations of factors that contribute to a transparent cell phenotype.”



So Random

Take a Hike

Intrigued by the problem of flawed random number generators (RNGs), computer science Professor Melissa O’Neill developed a family of RNGs, under the acronym PCG (permuted congruential generator), that has set a new performance standard. RNGs are crucial to many important algorithms in computer science, hard at work assisting in computer simulation, robotics, games and more. Yet many of the most widely used RNGs are actually flawed, says O’Neill. “Prior to the PCG family, there was a tradeoff,” she says. “You could pick a fast RNG, or a hard-to-predict one, or one with good statistical performance, but you couldn’t find one with all the desirable features.” O’Neill’s PCG scheme changes that, providing a broader array of features than found on any prior RNG, combining speed, ease of use and low predictability, all contained within a small amount of code and minimal memory usage. O’Neill became interested in RNGs by chance. “I saw a talk where the speaker was critical of a low-quality RNG and said it should never be used,” she says. She became curious about how to turn a low-quality RNG into a good one. With the development of PCG, she succeeded, creating “a new randomized algorithm for randomness,” allowing an RNG to apply its own randomness to itself. She has written an academic paper on the PCG family (under review) and recently presented her work at Stanford.

From ambles for beginners to difficult all-day treks that take you from the heights of the Santa Ana Mountains to the breaking waves of the Laguna Coast cliffs, a new guidebook by Professor of Engineering David Money Harris covers it. In Afoot and Afield: Orange County: A Comprehensive Hiking Guide (Wilderness Press), Harris features more than 100 Southern California-based day hikes. An accompanying app, eTrails, lets users find points of interest. Harris fondly recalls his childhood, riding along in a pack on his father’s back surrounded by dense forest, foaming waterways and staggering peaks. Years later, he shares his love for the wilderness with his own three children—and teaches them to help conserve it. “We only protect these special places when a larger body of the public knows about them,” says Harris. By bringing attention to lesser-known wilderness areas, he believes he’s helping to build a constituency for conservation.

Savvy Scholar Strictly Beeswax

Professor Colleen Lewis (center) with Maxwell Howard ’17 and Anne Christy ’16


for their achievements in mentoring and curricular engagement by the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), a nonprofit working to increase women’s participation in computing and technology.

Mentoring Colleen Lewis, assistant professor of computer science, undertook her first mentorship experience as a graduate student, hiring and working side by side with undergraduate researchers on a project funded by the National Science Foundation. Now in her third year as assistant professor at Harvey Mudd, she has mentored a total of 47 undergraduates, including 32 women. Nineteen of her research students have co-authored published papers with her. An additional 10 have presented conference posters. “I mentor undergraduate researchers as a way of increasing the participation of, and integrating the perspectives of, underrepresented groups in computer science research,” says Lewis, who received the NCWIT 2015 Undergraduate Research Mentoring Award. “To accomplish these goals, I work to build relationships with my students and motivate them through early engagement with the research process.” Lewis stresses the importance of fostering these relationships to find out about their interests, career goals,

strengths and weaknesses so that she can customize mentoring. Harvey Mudd College will receive $5,000, sponsored by AT&T, to hire an additional research student this summer, says Lewis.

In the Harvey Mudd Bee Lab, Assistant Professor of Biology Matina Donaldson-Matasci uses mathematical models and computer simulation to explore how communication shapes collective behavior among bees and other social animals. “Bees don’t want to sting you,” she says. “Generally bees attack only when they feel the hive is threatened. In fact, most stings occur when bees are stepped on or caught in hair or clothing. Avoid using machinery that causes vibrations near a hive. If a bee flies near you, do not react suddenly or try to swat it. Move slowly and try to brush away the bee gently. If bees feel threatened, they will often warn you first.” The apiary expert shares some useful tips for general bee safety.

Retreat immediately if: Engagement Several Harvey Mudd professors received the 2015 NCWIT Engagement Excellence Award, sponsored by Google. The award recognizes faculty whose curricular materials not only demonstrate excellence in computer science content and pedagogy, but also use research-based engagement practices to make computer science relevant and meaningful for students. Former Harvey Mudd computer science professor Christine Alvarado (UC San Diego) and current CS professors Zachary Dodds, Geoff Kuenning and Ran Libeskind-Hadas each received the award for materials developed for the Introduction to Computer Science (CS5) course. Materials include an interactive online textbook and other course materials that are available to all. The course and materials have been adopted by a number of other schools, including Bucknell University, Northwestern University and the Stevens Institute of Technology. Harvey Mudd is also creating a free massive open online course (MOOC) based on the CS5 course. The MOOC is called CS For All and will launch on the edX platform in early June.

• A bee buzzes loudly near your face. • A bee flies directly into you and bounces off. • A bee stings you—this will also leave a pheromone on you that attracts other bees to come and sting you as well. If more than one bee attacks you, run. Although bees can fly fast, a healthy human can usually outrun them. Do not go underwater—they will wait for you to come up for air. Just get as far away from the hive as you can, as quickly as possible, and seek shelter if possible. Their goal is to chase you away.

If stung: • Do not flail your arms or crush the bee. This may attract more bees. • Remove the stinger as soon as possible by scraping (not squeezing), because while it is attached it can continue to pump venom inside of you. If you have been stung more than 15 times, or if you know you are allergic to bees, seek emergency medical help immediately. Otherwise, inform someone that you have been stung, and then watch for signs of an allergic reaction such as rash, nausea or shock.





The Lesson of Grace in Teaching By Francis Su, Benediktsson-Karwa Professor of Mathematics

This essay was selected by Princeton University Press for their anthology The Best Writing on Mathematics 2014. It is a transcript of a speech Su gave after winning the Mathematical Association of America’s Franklin Tepper Haimo Award for Distinguished Teaching.

“We know truth, not only by reason, but also by the heart.” —Blaise Pascal I’m honored but I’m also really humbled to be giving this talk to a room full of great teachers, because I know that each of you have a rich and unique perspective on teaching. I had to ask myself: could I really tell YOU anything significant about teaching? So I decided instead to talk about something else, that at first may appear to have nothing to do with teaching, and yet it has everything to do with teaching. I want to talk about the biggest life lesson that I have learned, and that I continue to learn over and over again. It is deep and profound. It has changed the way I relate with people. It has reshaped my academic life. And it continually renovates the way I approach my students. And perhaps it will help you frame your own thoughts about teaching. The beginning of that lesson is this: Your accomplishments are NOT what make you a worthy human being. It sounds easy for me to say, especially after having some measure of academic “success” and winning this teaching award. But 20 years ago, I was a struggling grad student, seeking validation for my mathematical talent but flailing in my research, seeking my identity in my work but discouraged enough to quit. My advisor had even said to me: “You don’t have what it takes to be a successful mathematician.” It was my lowest point. Weak and weary, with my identity and my pride stripped away and my PhD nearly out of reach, I realized then that my identity and self-worth could not rest on whether I succeeded or failed to get my PhD. So IF I were to continue in mathematics, I could not do it for any acclaim that I might receive or for the trappings of what the academic world would call success. I should only do it because math is beautiful, and I feel drawn to it. In my quiet moments, with no one watching, I still found math fun to think about. So I was convinced it was my calling, despite the hurtful thing my advisor had said.



So did I quit? No. I just changed advisors. This time, I chose differently. Persi Diaconis was an inspiring teacher. More than that, he had shown me a great kindness a couple of years before. The semester I took a class from him, my mother died, and I needed an extension on my work. I’ll never forget his response: “I’m really sorry about your mother. Let me take you to coffee.” I remember thinking: “I’m just some random student and he’s taking me to coffee?” But I really needed that talk. We pondered life and its burdens, and he shared some of his own journey. For me, in a challenging academic environment, with enormous family struggles, to connect with my professor on a deeper level was a great comfort. Yes, Persi was an inspiring teacher, but this simple act of kindness—of authentic humanness— gave me a greater capacity and motivation to learn from him, because we had entered into authentic community with each other, as teacher and student, who were real people to each other. So when the time came to change advisors, I decided to work with Persi, even though it meant completely starting over in a new area. Only in hindsight did I realize why I had gravitated to him. It’s because he showed me grace. GRACE: good things you didn’t earn or deserve, but you’re getting them anyway. By taking me to coffee, he had shown me he valued me as a human being, independent of my academic record. And having my worthiness separated from my performance gave me great freedom! I could truly enjoy learning again. Whether I succeeded or failed would not affect my worthiness as a human being. Because even if I failed, I knew: I am still worth having coffee with! Knowing my new advisor had grace for me meant that he could give me honest feedback on my dissertation work, even if it was hard to do, without completely destroying my identity. Because, as I was learning, my worthiness does not come from my accomplishments. I call this The Lesson of GRACE: • Your accomplishments are NOT what make you a worthy human being. • You learn this lesson when someone shows you GRACE: good things you didn’t earn or deserve, but you’re getting them anyway. I have to learn this lesson over and over again.

Francis Su

You can have worthiness apart from your performance. You can have dignity independent of achievements. Your identity does not have to be rooted in accomplishments. You can be loved for who you are, not for what you’ve done—somebody just has to show you grace. You are worth having coffee with! Now the academic world does not make it easy to learn this lesson. Especially when so much of academic success depends on achievement. Grades, PhD, publishing papers, getting tenure. And we are applauded for those achievements. We crave that applause! So it’s tempting to be drawn into this trap of needing my achievements to justify me. So even now, as I receive this award, I must hold fast to this lesson. I must not cling to this award too tightly. It does not give me dignity... because if someone showed me grace, I’d realize I already HAD dignity. Don’t get me wrong … I’m not saying that achievement shouldn’t be rewarded. There is a place for credentials in academia. We would not want to hear a talk by someone without credentials. We would not want to graduate students who didn’t have skills. But achievement, in its rightful place, is not where we should derive our ultimate sense of identity and self-worth, and we need to have a healthy separation between achievement and worthiness. If I could really believe this then it gives me great freedom! I can do math SIMPLY because I enjoy it, not because I have to perform. I don’t have to be “the best.” I can stop being so hard on myself. I can have a healthy ambition without competition: striving towards goals, without having to compare myself to other people. I can be happy for another person’s success. I can be appropriately open and authentic—I don’t have to fear showing weakness. Because my worthiness isn’t earned, there’s no need and no room for pretense. I can stop worrying about what others will think of me, if I believe the lesson of grace.

good things you didn’t earn or deserve, but you’re getting them anyway. Grace gives people dignity they don’t have to earn. Grace seems simple but it is such a deep concept. Once you recognize it, you begin to see it everywhere. Some might recognize grace as a part of many of the world’s great religions. That makes sense, because at its core it’s a theological concept, making a claim about who we are as human beings, and why. In my own religious view, I see Jesus as the ultimate giver and source of grace, endowing all human beings with worth and dignity that they don’t have to earn. But whether you are religious or not, everyone can give, receive and be drawn to grace, graceful actions and its lessons. Because grace gives people dignity they don’t have to earn. What does this life lesson have to do with teaching? Well, if life is one gigantic learning experience, then you’d expect any life lesson we learn would shape our teaching. But the lesson of grace has remarkable implications. Here are four ways that I see grace can shape our teaching. These go from easiest to hardest: giving grace to students, understanding grace in our teaching, communicating grace in the struggle and sharing grace in our weakness. Giving GRACE to our STUDENTS What does it mean to give grace to our students? The first example is something we already all do. What do you do when you want to be nice to your students and you want to wake them up at 8 a.m. in the morning? Yes, you give them donuts! They didn’t have to earn that. That’s grace! (Except on evaluation day, then it’s a bribe.) Here’s another way we show grace to our students: learning their names. By naming people, you give them DIGNITY.  Imagine the other possibility: suppose you only learn the names of the people who are getting A’s or coming to office hours. That’s not grace, because it dignifies only the people who EARN it. Spend time with students outside class. That’s grace: It’s a good thing they didn’t have to earn. As long as it’s not just the best students you hang out with, then it’s grace. I have often given fun exam questions: Students can earn some easy points just by sharing the most interesting thing learned in the class, or a question they’d like to pursue further.  Or, “Write a poem about a concept in this course.” Or, “Imagine you are writing a column for the newspaper ‘great ideas in math.’ What would you put in it?” These are graceful questions. They really didn’t

have to earn those points, and they’re having fun while doing it. And of course, sharing the joy of mathematics is grace. And going off on tangents in class. Many of you know that I have a collection of “math fun facts.” I have often started off calculus lectures with five-minute “math fun facts” that have nothing to do with calculus, just to get students excited about mathematics. This is a graceful action. Because going off-topic communicates something to students: that they can learn math just because it’s cool, not because they have to “get through some material” that they’ll be tested on. There’s a website where you can find my collection ( ), and if you prefer a mobile version, there’s an app for that! Understanding GRACE in our TEACHING If we fully understand the lesson of grace, then we’ll understand: Since my performance doesn’t define me, I don’t have to be the center of attention in my classroom. I can do experimental things, and fail. I can get out of the way of my students … I can open up the classroom for things like inquiry-based learning. I don’t have to be in control of everything. I don’t have to worry about what people will think of me. A couple of years ago, a former student came to me with an idea. He was creating an online learning platform, and wanted to pair up videos of my Real Analysis course with scrolling notes and social learning features, and I said: That’s interesting … what would it involve? He said, “We would just have to record your class and put it on YouTube!” And I hesitated. Then he said, “It would be cool if my class could try out the software and he could run some experiments ...”  and what he was suggesting sounded to me like a radical overhaul of the way I would teach my class. And it made me nervous. This is getting to be a bit much, I thought. But upon reflection, I realized the only reason I hesitated is because I was fearful of losing control, fearful of crazy Internet comments and what others would think of me. And I could extend him a great grace by helping him pursue his passion. So I agreed to have the class taped. What’s interesting is the unexpected grace that occurred as a result of the YouTube experiment. The students were excited about it. They loved the fact they could watch the videos later. They didn’t stop coming to class, as I had worried about. And to my surprise, I began to get grateful email from people

around the world. Many of them didn’t have access to a university, were facing particular economic hardships or learned best when they could pause and rewind lectures. For them, the videos were a grace they didn’t have to earn. At the beginning of the semester, I had thought I would just take down the videos at the end, because I was so worried. But I never did, because I realized they are serving a needed function for the least fortunate in our global community and for people who learn differently. Communicating GRACE in the STRUGGLE I want to demonstrate to my students that their worthiness does NOT depend on the grades they earn in my class. Of course, I want to give my C students the same attention that my A students get. But if I am really honest with myself, I have to admit I like talking to A students, because they “get it” … they already speak the same language. But what credit is it to me as a teacher if I only affirm the students who already “get it”? It’s easy to affirm the student who asks great questions in class, but I must be thoughtful about how can I affirm the questions from a struggling student. Or the one who comes from a different cultural background. Or the one whose educational system didn’t provide them with the tools they need. How can I affirm these students? I like to tell them the struggle is the more interesting place to be: because a healthy confusion is where the real learning begins. Just like in life, the most meaningful lessons are learned when our afflictions and struggles are greatest. But I want to be clear: I am not saying extending grace is a recipe for helping my students feel good about themselves. I am saying it will help them have a right understanding about themselves. So if my students know in their bones that I have given them a dignity that is independent of their performance, then I can have honest conversations with them about their performance.  I can judge their work justly AND graciously. In fact, failing a student CAN be done with grace, so that the student understands their dignity has not been tarnished even though their work has been justly assessed—just as a parent can discipline her child if the child knows her love is unconditional. Grace is precisely what makes hard conversations possible, and productive, between people. But you have to extend the grace first. CONTINUED ON PAGE 44




The Theorem of Everything Written by Elaine Regus


College two years ago by the opportunity to work with young, energetic undergrads who are interested in doing cutting-edge mathematics. “One of the things I love about Harvey Mudd students is that they are intrinsically motivated to learn mathematics and genuinely excited about it,” says Omar, assistant professor of mathematics. “When you have students who are inquisitive about a subject area, it naturally leads to a gratifying research experience for them and for me.” Omar earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in pure mathematics, combinatorics and optimization at the University of Waterloo in Canada and his PhD in mathematics from the

dealing with objects that can assume only distinct, separated values. Discrete mathematics is the mathematical language of computer science, and thus it is now more important than ever. Maxfield Comstock, a junior majoring in mathematics and computer science, worked with Omar last spring as an independent study student and then applied for Omar’s summer research program. Comstock enjoyed the freedom that Omar gave the students to focus on aspects of the projects they were particularly interested in and to work at their own pace. When they had questions, Omar

the things I love about Harvey  ne ofstudents “ OMudd is that they are intrinsically

motivated to learn mathematics and genuinely excited about it. – MOHAMED OMAR

University of California, Davis. Before joining the Harvey Mudd faculty, Omar completed a two-year postdoctoral fellowship in the mathematics department at the California Institute of Technology. Omar has loved mathematics since he was a child. When he was in 11th grade, one of his teachers recognized his keen interest in math and sent him a notice about a summer research program at the University of Toronto. “Those three weeks shifted me from someone who had an intrinsic interest in mathematics to someone who actually wanted to pursue it as a career,” Omar said. Last summer, Omar worked with six different students on five separate research projects all related to the applications of algebraic geometry to discrete mathematics, the branch of mathematics



encouraged the students to work out the solutions among themselves. “He really wanted us to pursue the problems on our own and to follow our own interests instead of trying to push us to be interested in something just because he is,” Comstock says. Benjamin Lowenstein, another junior majoring in mathematics and computer science, explored algebraic refutations of graph 3-colorability. Based on their research, Omar is preparing submissions to several publications. “It was great just to be working on a project with Professor Omar; to have something actually come out of it is even better,” Lowenstein says. Lucy Lu, a senior majoring in mathematics and computer science, starts her PhD this fall. She worked closely with Omar last summer

Professor Mohamed Omar and Benjamin Lowenstein ’16 collaborated this past summer on a problem that has been submitted for publication.

exploring one of his novel ideas on the problem of nonnegative polynomials and sums of squares. “It was an interesting and exciting experience for me to explore something that no one really knows about. It was even nicer that Prof. Omar shared my excitement throughout the research process,” says Lu. She appreciated that Omar had all of his research students keep a daily research journal, because it helped her document and organize her research ideas. “Besides the journal, I spent quite a lot of time formally writing up proofs, examples and the final tech report,” Lu says. “I think it was definitely worth the time because in academia, your research is nothing if you can’t clearly express your ideas.” Omar says collaborating with students allows him to engage the students in pedagogy that extends well beyond mathematics. “They learn about writing, expressing themselves through presentations, communicating their ideas effectively through various media, and I think the opportunity to lead them in that light is also something I appreciate and enjoy a lot,” Omar says. The experience also has helped move his research program forward. Omar says the students are extremely diligent and experienced when it comes to computation, which is a big help in formulating and testing conjectures. Beyond that, they have very insightful ideas and follow through on his directions and insights even when they are not clearly stated. “They are definitely partners in my work, and I appreciate them tremendously for that,” Omar says.


Mudd, Sweat and Cheers PRECISION, SKILL, BALANCE: three traits that provide an edge to successful Harvey Mudd scholars who just happen to be athletes. Mudders who choose to participate in sports through Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, intramural or club activities are continuing longtime pursuits or, sometimes, trying something new. Balancing it all requires a strategy, and each student has a different one. Meet two outstanding CMS athletes who seek both mental and physical prowess. Kyla Scott ’18

Kyla Scott ’18, undecided (maybe computer science or physics) | Irvine, California Tennis: No. 5 singles and No. 2 doubles Recent results: Team 8-0; Scott 12-1 in singles matches; 13-2, doubles Other activities: Playing tennis with her family (dad was the No. 2-ranked junior player in Jamaica, mom played in high school, and older sister, Kyra, a junior chemical engineering major at Marshall College, UC San Diego, is ranked No. 22 nationally and plays for UCSD); playing pool, eating, watching movies with friends

I chose Harvey Mudd because I’m a pretty goal-oriented person, and I felt like Mudd would make me work hard. The small school aspect was interesting to me and was very different from other colleges. I’ve been playing tennis since I was 4. Tennis is a family thing. I played all four years for University High School in Irvine, which has a really good tennis program. We made it to CIF finals three years in a row and did pretty well. In CIF individuals, I made it to semifinals my senior year. It was a lot of fun. I wanted to keep doing team tennis after high school. It’s pretty hard since there aren’t a lot of Mudders on the team. But I’ve had a lot of practice playing tennis and doing well in school. My parents emphasized that school always comes first. I’ve had to learn to prioritize and get my work done. In the locker room, I have a set of speakers, and I’m always in charge

of the play list so I blast music in the locker room and while warming up to pump us up. I really like having that job because I like playing the girls’ favorite songs—including “Lose Yourself” by Eminem, “Uptown Funk” by Bruno Mars, “Remember the Name” by Fort Minor—and keeping things upbeat and inspirational. In doubles, I never feel quite as stressed or get quite as down because I know I have to stay positive for my partner or at least look like I’m confident to keep her calm as well. In singles, it’s a little harder because you’re there by yourself. You have to focus on little things to keep you in the moment and calm and not think about past points. I’m still working on that; sometimes I get overwhelmed, but it’s getting better. I just really like the atmosphere at Harvey Mudd. I’m always really excited when there’s pre-frosh here. I’ve hosted quite a few and hopefully some end up coming here.

Alex Rich ’16

Alex Rich ’16, engineering | Fremont, California Track and field: shot put, hammer, discus Recent results: Dual Meet (Occidental/Redlands) March 7, 1st place hammer throw (50.83m [166-9]); 19th Annual Rossi Relays, Feb. 28, 1st place hammer throw (49.32m [161-10]); 2014 SCIAC runner-up (hammer), 3rd place (discus) Other activities: Dos Muchachos, DUCK! improv member, Muddraker co-editor, Homework Hotline Mentor Tutor, shop proctor, Admission tour guide, Awesome Things Competition organizer; Intro to CS grutor, Case Dorm president, and proctor for 2015–2016

I liked the idea of joining the track team in high school but don’t have the same build as my older brother, who is a really good runner. So it was natural for me to join the throwing team. A good friend and I wanted to get really good so we trained all year and during off-season to prepare ourselves for the next season. I went to state finals in discus my senior year. Throwing is a really mental sport, and you can easily let small things get into your head and that’ll send you into a nosedive. But I think I’m good at keeping things in my head that I want there and getting things out that I don’t. I think throwing is as much mental as it is a physical sport.

discussions with my teammates because they come from different backgrounds and, spending so much time together, you get to know each other. CMS is like a family—a really tight community. Even though I’m an engineering major, I enjoy computer science. This summer, I’ll be doing a software internship at Salesforce in Silicon Valley. I’m also building a customizable bingo app on my own. If I get busier, I get more efficient. I have interest and enthusiasm for the activities I do; I think it’s all really fun. The thing about Mudd is, I just can’t say no.

CMS is one of the best parts of being in sports. On the team, you get to meet different people, and it breaks down the stereotypes that you have of the other colleges. I have really interesting





DJ Thundermama YOU MIGHT KNOW HIM as the DJ at Foam Party who you danced next to before Camp Sec kicked you off the stage. Others know him as half of Dive Deep, the electronic music duo composed of Chris and his best friend Ct Robinson that was featured on the single “Stay” by Daktyl, which was released in December by Mad Decent. However, most know Chris Apple ’15 as an ordinary Mudder who uses his laptop not only for his engineering homework but also to create some pretty extraordinary original tracks. Q: Where are you from? A: Erie, Colorado. Q: Did you DJ in high school? A: I didn’t really do that much music stuff in

high school. And then came here—I actually came to Claremont to swim initially. I ended up not swimming my sophomore year because the pressures at Mudd were little bit too intense, and I just wanted to pick up a hobby, then ended up DJing. Chris Apple ’15 (DJ Thundermama)

Q: So what was your first DJing experience? A: A DJ canceled to play at a party, so I got to.

That was during the end of my sophomore year. I barely knew how to DJ, but it started off something awesome. Q: Do you primarily make your own tracks? A: I have very recently; at the beginning I definitely

didn’t. I was just a pure DJ, but then I got booked more and more. Recently, me and a friend from high school started Dive Deep, which is a more artistic project. It’s more of playing what I want to hear, rather than college DJing where people still want to hear what’s popular at the time and you can’t get too experimental and weird. So back in May 2014 we started Dive Deep, and we won a competition called the Wavo DJ Invitational and got the chance to play at Paradiso, up in Washington, which was awesome, and we made a few tracks, one of which is coming out on Mad Decent, which is huge and awesome. Q: How did that happen? A: After Paradiso, we got contacted by Wavo again

to do another mix for their upcoming artist series



called Launchpad, so we were actually the first mix on their Launchpad series. And in doing that, we found a song by a pretty popular artist named Daktyl that we really wanted in our mix. He’s from Britain, and we messaged him on Soundcloud saying can we use this track, and, as an afterthought, we attached this song that we were working on called “Stay.” We sent it to him, and he said, “Sure, I’ll email over this track, and I also like the sound of your song, can we work on this together?” So we decided that we were going to collaborate on it. And Mad Decent decided that they liked it, and they were going to put it on their EP, which is coming out soon.

together in high school, so we thought something water-related would be good.

Q: You’re known at the 5-Cs as “DJ Thundermama.”

Reprinted with permission from Spotlite, The Claremont Colleges’ Source for Art & Culture,

How did that name come about? A: It was a random name generator online. I thought, “Nothing says skinny white dude like Thundermama.” It was before my first show, and I thought half the fun is in picking a name. “Dive Deep” came from that fact that Ct and I swam

Q: Who are some artists you look up to? A: Definitely people like Wave Racer, Cosmo’s

Midnight and stuff like that. A lot of people in Australia are doing really cool things with music. I went through my hardcore rave-y phase which was a lot of dubstep, a lot of electro-house, stuff like that, but now I appreciate the subtleties more, people like Leto who do a lot with silence and others who have a really good sense of how to create a vibe—getting people jumping up and down, putting their hands in the air.

Writing on the Wall ON THE GROUND FLOOR in the northwest corridor

of Harvey Mudd College’s Parsons Building is an interesting, if not puzzling, piece of art titled Wall Drawing 305. Filling a 9-by-28-foot area, intersecting pencil-drawn lines, shapes, focal points and cryptic notes create “instruction-based art,” a technique employed by conceptual artists that invites participants to interpret and execute works based on sets of commands. With Associate Professor of Art Ken Fandell, Harvey Mudd students undertook installation of the piece by well-known conceptual and minimalist artist Sol LeWitt. The work consists of “one hundred random specific points,” the locations of which “are determined by the drafters.” It is an example of students using both rational thought and intuition to produce an artwork.

“I’ve always enjoyed process art,” says Alejandro Frias ’14, a computer science alumnus who spent many hours on the piece. “The final product isn’t why I do art. It’s for what I get out of the process. This piece is all process—even the thought process of the artists—and has the added draw of being very puzzle/game like. I think Mudders will enjoy the puzzle of retracing the processes involved to create this rendition.” LeWitt’s works are usually sold to museums and private collectors and installed with the help of representatives of the artist’s estate, but the LeWitt Foundation agreed to loan this work to the College for the students to install. —Eric Feezell

Students Kirklann Lau ’16, Najla Bulous ’15, Stephanie Zellner ’15 and Alejandro Frias ’14 work on Wall Drawing 305.





The Muddraker Marches On IT’S BEEN A ROCKY ROAD for The Muddraker. Even

current editor Tamara Savage ’15 admits that it hasn’t been easy keeping the 35-year-old student publication going. “It’s been a challenge finding Mudders to write for it and support it,” says Savage, who, with a staff of about eight, produces three to four issues each academic year for a circulation of about 700, of which 80 are paid subscribers. She’s worked on The Muddraker since her sophomore year and served as editor for the last two. “We face the same constraints as the early editors, especially finding the time in our schedules to produce the paper. Even though staff members are paid a small stipend, it can still be difficult to find willing participants. Those that join the staff, though, are very committed to producing a great paper.” Harvey Mudd had several student newspapers during the early years, but members from the Class of 1983 started the paper that was to endure. The Muddraker was born Feb. 14, 1980 in North Dorm


The Muddraker student newspaper continues to be published after 35 years.



215 and featured a lead story about a chemistry professor’s smog research. That first issue, four pages on letter-sized paper, also included a large feature about the fourth floor of the Sprague Library, a picture of an anti-draft rally on campus and a full-page calendar titled “5 College Crud.” Stories were entertaining and amusing at first and became more serious as the years passed, covering such campus controversies as whirling, tuition increases and noisy hours (now noisy minutes). Today, editors go for a mix of news and entertainment. One of the staff’s recent favorites was a piece on West Dorm’s changing culture. You’ll also find a regular collection of puns. Alex Rich ’16 and Maggie Liu ’16, co-editors next academic year, say they look forward to the challenge of keeping the ink flowing. To read the article about West Dorm or to subscribe to The Muddraker ($10 per year), visit


Members of the Original Staff of The Muddraker (all Class of 1983 members) Sterling Chow Emily Greene Andy Katayama Rex McCarthy Grace Nakayama

Charles Polk John Ryan Glenn Sasagawa Alan Teruya Ramon Valencia

Research Efforts Rewarded PRIYA DONTI ’15 AND ROWAN ZELLERS ’16 were

selected as finalists for the Computing Research Association’s Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Awards for 2015. The prestigious program recognizes undergraduates at North American universities who demonstrate outstanding potential in an area of computing research.

Priya Donti The CRA recognized Donti for artificial intelligence research conducted under Harvey Mudd Assistant Professor of Computer Science James Boerkoel. She led research on the Productivity and Wellness Pal (PaWPal), a smartphone-based assistant that actively elicits an individual’s constraints, preferences and goals in order to nudge them to behave more constructively. The team surveyed volunteer Harvey Mudd students about their current experiences randomly throughout the day, giving researchers an accurate picture of participants’ moment-to-moment productivity and wellness. They found that student effectiveness at particular activities correlated with any number of contextual features—such as time of day and location—leading to the hypothesis that PaWPal might offer meaningful guidance on when, where and how students most fruitfully spend their time. “Between coursework and extracurricular activities, students struggle to balance their productivity with personal wellness,” says Donti. “My research attempts to address this problem by using AI to learn about students’ behavior and inform them as to how they might best use their time. I hope that through further research, we can make PaWPal an intelligent and friendly tool that meaningfully improves students’ health and happiness.” The research abstract for the project—co-authored with seniors Jacob Rosenbloom and Alex Gruver—was accepted to the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence Student Abstract and Poster Program. A Harvey Mudd President’s Scholar, Donti is a staff member in the Harvey Mudd Writing Center, a grutor for the Computer Science Department and a leadership board member. Donti plans to pursue a career that involves both environmental sustainability and community engagement.

Rowan Zellers The CRA recognized Zellers for two research projects. Most recently, Zellers conducted research on multimodal machine learning at USC’s Institute for Creative Technologies under Assistant Research Professor Louis-Phillipe Morency. The project involved multimodal sentiment analysis: the automatic classification of an opinion as positive or negative. Viewing YouTube videos of people reviewing movies, the team used vision, audio and speech recognition software to track responses, then split the videos into utterances and trained support vector machine models on them to provide sentiment annotations. Zellers designed a pipeline for expanding the YouTube dataset and worked on moving toward support vector regression, which would allow predicting a value for sentiment polarity, rather than just as positive or negative. With the expanded dataset, the team hopes to accrue sufficient data to rerun the trials and compare the results. “This kind of sentiment analysis with regression has not yet been done on a multimodal scale,” says Zellers, “so my research provides a step forward for the use of machine learning to understand multimodal communication. In doing so, this technology can be applied everywhere in creating better human-computer interfaces.” Additionally, the CRA recognized Zellers’ summer 2013 research, conducted under the advisement of professors Jacqueline Dresch and Robert Drewell. Zellers applied machine learning to a computational biology problem in order to see how transcription factors bind to DNA in fruit flies, with the hopes of better understanding embryonic cell development in fruit flies and, eventually, humans. A 2014 Goldwater Scholarship runner-up, Zellers is a joint major in computer science and mathematics with an interest in machine learning— the study of how computers digest the patterns that underlie massive data sets. Zellers plans to earn a PhD in a mathematics or computer science field related to machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Priya Donti ’15

Rowan Zellers ’16










Maker Space

Clinic Workrooms, Parsons Building The Parsons Building basement isn’t what it used to be, but Mudders aren’t complaining. The vibrant work area encompasses roughly 7,900 square feet of dedicated Clinic space and features two wet labs, 14 private “pod” workrooms, two common assembly workrooms and a dedicated conference room. The renovation included improvements to infrastructure, including new elevators, upgrades to HVAC controls and a new fire alarm system. The fabulous and functional area, made possible by funds from engineering endowment and Mike and Mary Shanahan, was designed by RBB Architects and is part of a long-term project to renovate the Libra Complex. “The new space is exciting because it’s so open,” says Jessica Szejer ’16 (not pictured), a member of the Proteus Digital Health Clinic team. “You really get to see what everyone else is working on. It’s cool getting to view and experience the awesome devices and prototypes that you would otherwise only hear about.”





In a common workroom, Peter Orme ’15, Ryland Miller ’15 and Sherman Lam ’16 assemble a test rig for drogue parachute deployment on a spacecraft. The Blue Origin Clinic team is attempting to build a deployment mechanism for drogue chutes that will be less hazardous than the explosive charges typically used. Drogue parachutes are deployed when a spacecraft is preparing to land, helping stabilize and slow down the craft. The team’s prototype uses a solenoid valve to release high-pressure helium gas into a mortar tube, which expels the chute without an explosion. “The large Clinic space has made it very convenient for us to assemble all the components of this large rig,” says Lam, whose team works under the advisement of engineering Professor Mary Cardenas. “We typically place the rig on one table so all five team members can work around it with various wrenches, Allen keys, Teflon tape, bolts and nuts spread out across all the other tables.” The light wood-top tables are easy to maneuver so teams can customize their workstations. The City of Hope (COH) Tracking Team is building a wearable device to monitor signals related to fatigue and to stream real-time video of an operation from a surgeon’s point of view. Here, COH team member Nicole Kowtko ’16 (right) and friend Risa Egerter ’15 don prototypes, while teammates Cindy Angpraseuth ’15 and Ben Teng ’16 examine design components. By monitoring surgeons in the operating room, data could be used to educate and improve safety.





The central doors in the private pod rooms serve as whiteboards where teams can crunch numbers and jot notes. Several portable whiteboards are also placed throughout the common area for important information—and the occasional joke or inspirational message. To prevent tripping on cords and to ensure easy accessibility, electrical outlets line the ceilings, giving teams the ability to plug in all necessary electric tools. The Honeywell Clinic members occupy one of the team-dedicated Clinic pods, in which components can be safely secured. Honeywell team members—including juniors Christie Zeeb (seated) and Nicole Kyle—are working on improving a self-contained breathing apparatus, using computer simulation and experimental testing to reduce facemask pressure noise and drift caused by the second-stage regulator. The Proteus Digital Health Clinic team is adding functionality to an existing wearable device by using optical detection techniques to measure biological signals from the torso. Here, Demetri Monovoukas ’15 (standing) and Matias Farfan ’16 analyze data collected from a blood pressure-measuring device that employs an LED-based optical method. The team has constructed algorithms for these data to provide useful information for patients and caregivers. “One of my favorite parts about the new Clinic space is that it encourages collaboration,” says Monovoukas. “The fact that you can walk over and ask a classmate for help or advice on your project is very valuable.”



VIRTUALLY VIRAL Epidemiologists add simulation models to their arsenal in the fight to slow the spread of HIV in South Africa. Written by Chris Quirk Photo by Kim Indresano



about how epidemics spread among large populations has inspired epidemiologists to construct a world of their own—virtual populations of fictional citizens calibrated to mimic the traits of real people in a selected area. Nadia Abuelezam ’09 is at work on the HIV Calibrated Dynamic Model (HIV-CDM), a simulation tool that uses sophisticated statistical methods to recreate, with startling accuracy, the dynamics of a pathogen on the move. A joint mathematics and biology major, Abuelezam went on to study epidemiology at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, where she earned her doctorate and is now a postdoctoral research fellow. “At Harvey Mudd, I got this rigorous quantitative education, and the math faculty members were spectacular. I was drawn into public health because I could apply the math and influence people’s lives.” The HIV-CDM simulates reality in South Africa. “Each person in the simulation model has various characteristics: gender, sexual tendencies and health profiles. They interact with others in this simulated world. We have set up rules for behavior—for instance, someone with high-risk behavior would have multiple partners and likely one with HIV. When we run the model, it allows us to see the



spread of HIV in the network, and we can also follow the health progression of individuals once they have HIV. We do everything from simulating initial transmission to simulating treatment and prevention on the far end.” The broader benefits of models like the HIV-CDM become clear as one considers their operating scale and flexibility. “What’s unique about simulation models in an epidemiologic context is that they take data from other epidemiological studies and provide a framework for prediction and simulation that other methods don’t. We can test the impact of prevention methods or ask hypothetical questions. This is something that is difficult to do with observational data.” The model is protean in its complexity and beholden to the accuracy of the input data and the modeler’s assumptions. “This is something we struggle with,” Abuelezam acknowledges. “All the values for our parameters come from published reports on South Africa, and there are also assumptions we make. Some are stronger than others.” Certain fundamental data points for the HIV-CDM relate to stigmatized human activities and conditions or other personal or social characteristics that are difficult to ascertain from traditional epidemiologic methods. Other times,

information is simply not fully understood. A calibration technique known as Bayesian melding allows the model to bypass these apparent roadblocks. In simple terms, Bayesian statistical analysis computes and takes into account comprehensively all the possibilities that could play a factor in a particular outcome to determine how likely that particular outcome is. Bayesian melding goes one step further. In the face of incomplete information and the added possibility of unforeseen events taking place within the system, the technique narrows the output range of a model and casts aside outliers. Where data are less than robust, researchers assign credible ranges for given parameters, whether it be the potential number of sexual partners or the prevalence of HIV at a particular point in time. “These ranges form the upper and lower bounds for that parameter. We then examine the parameter space defined by those ranges to fit the model’s outcomes to existing data,” Abuelezam explains. To complicate matters, the HIV-CDM is dealing with a dozen or more such parameters simultaneously. Think of each parameter as a slider on a sound-mixing console, for example. Using complex calculations and running the model thousands of times to determine the most prevalent results, you can adjust each slider until the final outputs of the model are in tune with the observed state of affairs of the population you are recreating. You then have an operational engine. To game out different containment strategies for a disease, try different inputs. “That’s the next step,” Abuelezam says. “It’s great that we can simulate a population, but what can we say about the future? What will it take to eliminate HIV in South Africa? What combination of treatment and prevention programs is most effective? When we answer these questions, we can make policy recommendations to try to ensure people live long, healthy, uncomplicated lives.” With epidemics so much in the news, Abuelezam is used to fielding questions about them. “Of course, Ebola comes up frequently, and we have multiple teams here working on it. Simulation modeling is universal to epidemic disease, so Ebola is prime for such treatment, but it’s a different beast than HIV. It’s easier to acquire, for obvious reasons. We don’t have the same amount of historical data that we have for HIV, but what we do have is intense information about Ebola’s geospatial spread. People

“ Epidemiology is two

things. One is the analysis of a disease or social problem. The second part is taking what you have learned and trying to influence people’s behavior to improve health.


get treatment quickly, and so you can pinpoint with GPS places where people have it and subsequent cases that come up.” The mention of the current resurgence of measles, a disease for which there is a safe and readily available vaccine, elicits polite exasperation from Abuelezam. “Epidemiology is two things. One is the analysis of a disease or social problem. The second part is taking what you have learned and trying to influence people’s behavior to improve health.” A new project that Abuelezam is working on involves wading into social networks. “We want to learn more about hidden and at-risk populations in the Middle East and North Africa, where HIV transmission is on the rise. We plan to use existing social networking platforms to infer information about the sexual network in locations where traditional epidemiologic studies are impossible to conduct. It’s a very touchy project, and scary for a lot of people, because there is hostile legislation toward these groups in the region. Obviously, we don’t want to do anything that would put people in harm’s way. We do want to understand whether they

are at risk and if they have access to prevention and treatment.” Abuelezam has worked in Africa before and has been fascinated by it since she was a child. “The continent, the geography, but also the people in need.” She took a class on HIV at Harvey Mudd with Karl Haushalter, associate professor of chemistry and biology. Subsequently, through the class, she was able to arrange work in Uganda with The AIDS Support Organization. The trip was transformative. “It was my first trip abroad. I had to learn to get myself where I needed to be, how to handle myself and communicate. It pushed me past a lot of my comfort points,” Abuelezam says. The trip had profound professional ramifications as well. “There is no way I would be able to put what I am working on fully into context had I not gone. When you talk about age-disparate relations, rural areas with little access to health care, I saw all that firsthand. When I think about different aspects of the model, there is always a flashback in my mind: You were there, you saw this happening. It’s improved my ability to model those situations more accurately.”

The Facts on HIV/AIDS

11.7 MILLION At the end of 2013, 11.7 million people had access to antiretroviral therapy in low- and middle-income countries.

35 MILLION At the end of 2013, 35 million people were living with HIV.

28 MILLION Over 28 million people are eligible for antiretroviral therapy under WHO 2013 consolidated antiretroviral guidelines. Source:





SEEING STARS Big-picture thinking helps map a path toward a better view of the early universe. WRITTEN BY AMY DERBEDROSIAN PHOTOS BY BALL AEROSPACE





telescope a million miles from Earth. Billions of dollars. Years of hard work. A dedicated team of scientists and engineers. Attention to many, many details. The task only becomes more complex when it involves the most powerful space telescope ever built. Just ask Allison Barto ’98, who has been working toward the 2018 launch of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) since 2002. For the first 10 years, the physics alumna and JWST program manager at Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corp. was a systems engineer for the international collaboration led by NASA. Barto helped design the optical systems for the space-based observatory that will study the formation of galaxies, stars and planets in the early universe. Now, as her company fulfills its role as primary provider of the mirrors, positioning actuators and controls needed to focus on distant objects, Barto is instrumental to ensuring that JWST’s optical systems will perform as required. She heads the team delivering the telescope’s optical assemblies to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center as part of Northrop Grumman’s Prime Contractor team and has been responsible for seeing the mirror manufacturing and testing process through a 14-stop, 11-state journey. “I love the complexity of the project—its scale, how much new technology we had to develop. The more complicated something is, the more fun it is for me,” Barto says. “My work allows me to combine my passion for solving hard problems and my background in astrophysics to a program that is going to expand our knowledge of the universe in ways we can’t predict today.” The launch of the Hubble Space Telescope 25 years ago demonstrates why getting the optics right is essential. Once in orbit, Hubble first provided images that were blurry. NASA discovered that a slight flaw in the telescope’s primary mirror was distorting the view—a problem that took nearly four years to fix and required repairs never undertaken in space before. As Hubble’s successor, JWST will feature a much larger primary mirror—it will span more than 21 feet—and will offer both a wider field of view and higher-resolution images. Infrared technology and a larger light-collecting area will allow the telescope to take a closer look at the early universe, the formation of the first galaxies and the dust clouds







Barto helped design the optical systems for the space-based observatory that will study the formation of galaxies, stars and planets in the early universe.


– ALLISON BARTO ’98 shown with a model of the James Webb Space Telescope.

where stars and planetary systems continue to form. Its optical systems must be not only precise but also able to withstand the harsh conditions of space. That calls for the 18 hexagonal segments of JWST’s primary mirror to function together properly at -370 degrees Fahrenheit. The last requirement presents a major challenge because the mirror segments will be folded up, fitted onto a rocket for launch and then reassembled in space. She explains, “We can test each mirror segment very well, but we can’t test the full aperture of the integrated telescope during ground testing. NASA has a philosophy of ‘test as you fly.’ You need to have an exact configuration to be certain it meets the requirements in space. In this case, it was impossible to test the exact way it’s going to fly. But it’s got to work in flight since there is no way to fix an error when the telescope is in orbit at L-2 nearly one million miles away. So how do we give ourselves that confidence? I pulled together a roadmap to show how we can utilize testing at various levels of integration to build and validate a model of the system with the accuracy necessary to show we will meet science requirements after on-orbit commissioning. Through a series of detailed component tests and key system-level cross check tests we were able to show the community that the performance uncertainty at launch will be sufficiently low.” Barto considers that testing and verification

roadmap her greatest contribution to the project. The work also earned her the Women in Aerospace Achievement Award in 2014. “A lot of people make amazing contributions to the industry, and I was honored to be mentioned among them,” says Barto. “While the stimulating work provides all the gratification I need, I do think it’s important to have opportunities to highlight women in the field to help women and young girls have a window into success and a counterpoint to all the male examples.” When Barto was a young girl, she imagined a different career for herself. She recalls being a 9year-old on a family trip to Mount Rainier, listening to a park ranger talk about the formation of stars. Barto says, “I decided then that I should get a PhD in astrophysics. That became my singular goal, and it’s why I went to Mudd.” Barto’s plans shifted during her senior year after a professor helped her land a summer position at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab. She says, “That opened my eyes to what else could be out there. My original plan was to be on the science side of astrophysics, and I’m glad I got an undergraduate physics degree. It teaches you how to think and solve problems you may not have approached before. But I realized engineering was a better fit for me. I really value working as part of a large, diverse team with experts in a wide variety of disciplines. Working in aerospace

was a good way to marry my passion for space with work in an environment I like. We’re always building a ‘first of a kind,’ so I’m always learning something new. In fact, most of the systems engineers we have on JWST are big-picture thinkers with a physics background. It was my passion for getting my arms around the whole system that eventually led me from systems engineering to management.” These days, Barto’s work hours are filled with preparations for telescope-level optical testing and completing the final hardware. By the end of 2015, the mirrors will be installed and integrated into the backplane that gives them a stable spine and that also carries additional optics and instruments for the telescope. Afterward, Barto and her colleagues at Ball, Northrop Grumman and NASA will test the mirrors in a huge thermal vacuum chamber, simulate their in-orbit alignment and analyze their range of performance. Barto takes satisfaction in seeing a long-term project from initial concept through final product, but she admits the wait for JWST’s launch has been long. When it finally happens, she expects to experience a mix of excitement and pride. “I’ll be proud that we’ve launched and gotten through all the challenges,” says Barto. Even though she finds the most satisfaction in the day-to-day problem solving, she admits, “I’ll be excited when we finish on-orbit optical alignment and see the first images.”



Written by Eric Feezell Photos by Bruce Silcox



pedestal, anxiously gripping the bar. “Listo!” he shouts, indicating he’s ready to take off. With a “Ready, hep!” in reply, the inverted catcher swings to and fro, timing the arc, calculating the contact. The flyer takes a deep breath and leaps uncertainly from the pedestal for a first adrenaline-fueled swing. One swing, two swings, then the flyer’s moment of truth: letting go. Catcher and flyer connect in mid air, the flyer releasing not only the bar but that fear, now conquered. This aerial dance plays out ad infinitum at Twin Cities Trapeze Center in St. Paul (TC2 for short), where on nights and weekends Jake (Walker) Kimball ’00 lives out one of his life’s passions: teaching high-flying trapeze. Kimball, a manufacturing engineer by day, co-owns and operates one of just two dozen schools in the United States devoted to the mesmerizing performance art. A traditional flying trapeze class is run with three instructors. The most prominent is the catcher—Kimball’s primary duty—who grabs the approaching flyer in mid air. If flyers are the artsy right brains of flying trapeze, then catchers, Kimball says, are the left—a great personal fit. “I think I picked up a lot of things like height and timing by way of intuition and technical mindset,” says the



Inside the highly technical—and highly intimidating—art of trapeze. engineering alumnus. “I can look at what a flyer is doing and assemble their maneuver or trick into components, and each component may add or subtract the amount of time it takes them to get to the catch point, or may add or take away height.” A lot of the catchers Kimball knows are highly technical people—engineers, software developers— and motorcycle enthusiasts, like him. A second instructor on the ground, called a linesman, operates safety lines connected to the flyer’s harness—much like a belay in rock climbing—controlling speed and height. The third instructor accompanies students up to the pedestal, checking safety belts and lines, handing over the trapeze bar and installing and removing risers to adjust for student height. “That’s called ‘working the board,’” says Kimball. “It’s probably the most psychological of the three positions.” That person holds students by their safety belts right before they jump off the platform. “So they’re the one that literally talks them off the edge.” Sound scary? It’s more popular than you might think. Since opening TC2 in 2012 with business

partner Katie Kimball, Kimball has instructed hundreds of flyers, from adrenaline junkies and adventurous children to aspiring circus professionals and regular folks in need of a reset. He’s caught more than 1,000 since 2004. And for first-time flyers, he says, there’s one special commonality: presence. The trapeze summons physical acuity and mental focus that many beginners are surprised to find they possess, he says. “On their first jump on a flying trapeze, nobody’s thinking about their phone. “They have to be present in a way that no other activity has made them be,” says Kimball. “Trapeze brings out deep things from people.” For many, it’s visceral, like conquering a fear or demon. The joke in trapeze instruction—though there’s truth to it, he says—is that instructors should earn honorary degrees in practical psychology. “We talk with people when they’re very afraid,” says Kimball. “People have told me, ‘I knew I had trust issues, but not this bad,’ or, ‘I thought I had dealt with this issue, but clearly I haven’t.’” To control that fear, Kimball and the other instructors employ constant communication:

Jake Kimball ’00 and son, Barlow

“I’ve had people say, ‘I can’t do that,’ during ground training, on the ladder climb, even while they’re swinging (“especially while they’re swinging,” says Kimball). It’s about letting students know it’s OK to trust the catcher, that what they’re about to do is physically possible, instructing new flyers on timing and technique and helping them turn their fear and anxiety into an artful, fulfilling experience. “Most get farther than they expected,” he says. For some, it’s nothing short of a transformation. “Countless people say, ‘I don’t know if I’ll be able to do that.’ They might be referring to climbing the ladder or making a catch. I’ve had people say, ‘I can’t do that,’ while swinging back and forth, and three seconds later do exactly what they thought they couldn’t. It’s incredible.” Given his predilection for trapeze and motorcycles, Kimball says he is often mistaken for a daredevil. But he views himself as “cautious, calculated and risk-averse.” In fact, he admits he took his first class at Oakland’s Trapeze Arts in 2003 only to appease his then-fiancée. He didn’t expect to become hooked. Months later, he wasn’t just flying—though that will always be his first love— but also catching, working the board and developing a mastery of the overall mechanics of the rig. Kimball devoted years to teaching in the Bay Area

… and three seconds later do exactly what they thought they couldn’t. It’s incredible.” – JAKE KIMBALL ’00

before finally moving to Minnesota and opening TC2 in a portion of the old Hamm’s Brewery. Professionally, Kimball has worked in manufacturing and new product introduction engineering for much of the past 15 years, engineering concepts from design to final product, testing protocols and helping to develop highly technical instructions for product assembly. It’s work that proved useful in starting TC2, since the giant indoor rig had to be constructed with utmost care and understood piece by piece. With the guidance and assistance of longtime friend and Oakland Trapeze Arts owner Stephan Gaudreau, Kimball designed and engineered the TC2 rig from the ground up. “Stephan taught me how he maintains his own rig, what things he looks at, what things he replaces,” says Kimball.

Safety is paramount. In a niche industry with no governing body, camaraderie with other trapeze school owners is crucial, and he’s thankful for the information sharing that enabled TC2 to launch safely and efficiently. “Everything that affects one of us affects all of us, whether it’s an injury or equipment failure or insurance issue.” With his partner, Katie, handling the business side of TC2, and Kimball handling rigging and equipment, both are afforded ample time on the rig. At one point, had he devoted himself fully to flying trapeze, Kimball believes that he may have been able to reach the level of a professional catcher. But it’s never been his singular passion or pursuit. Father to a 3-year-old son, a successful engineer and an avid motorcyclist, Kimball is all about balance these days. This includes the trapeze, as long as he can swing it.



Written by Douglas McInnis Photo by Scott Butner

Frank Greitzer ’68 employs cyber and behavioral monitoring to help identify threatening behavior. 1111100011111001110010001





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is about to sell state secrets, the worker who plans to loot his company or the employee plotting to harm his co-workers? One answer may be cyber surveillance, widely used by corporations and the federal government. Such efforts monitor vast quantities of cyber data, looking for evidence of crime. But Frank Greitzer, who did research on decision making and intelligence/counterintelligence analysis at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, doubts that cyber surveillance by itself will work. “If you focused on cyber data alone, you soon would be overloaded with information,” says Greitzer ’68, a mathematics alumnus whose undergraduate preparation included a fair dose of courses in psychology. His passion for the topic led him to combine the mathematical and physical sciences with the behavioral through the mathematical psychology program at UCLA, where he received his PhD. His applied research on human behavior, information processing and decision making spans more than 40 years. Among his peer-reviewed papers, Greitzer has published about 20 papers in scientific journals and books and over 64 papers for technical conferences. “Using traditional cyber monitoring methods, by the time you find evidence of an insider threat, the attack would most likely already have occurred,” Greitzer says. He favors a more comprehensive approach that would also identify unusual patterns of employee behavior that might indicate wrongdoing is in the works. Greitzer has long been interested in the interplay between psychology and online behavior. In 2010, while researching behavioral factors in insider threat, he came across a series of papers by researchers in the fields of personality and social psychology. These papers examined the intersection of language, personality and behavior. The researchers studied samples of informal writing in social media and found that subtle but meaningful differences in the use of common words provide clues to an individual’s psychological state. “This research suggested to me that a statistical analysis

of certain word categories—such as negative, angry or profane words—may reveal attitudes or personality traits that might indicate a higher risk of committing insider crimes,” Greitzer says. He has theorized that companies or government agencies might be able to spot potential troublemakers by analyzing word use in employee emails. Importantly, such scans wouldn’t examine the content of the emails, but rather only word frequencies. The appeal of including this “psycholinguistic approach” to threat detection is that it is less intrusive because it maintains privacy of semantic content. Also, it has a stronger legal standing because organizations own employee emails generated through corporate email systems, says Greitzer.

through his consulting firm, PsyberAnalytix. His most recent consulting work supported government-funded research on insider threat and cybersecurity job performance. He also has consulted informally with financial institutions that expressed interest in his work. Efforts to head off catastrophic crimes took a quantum leap forward as a result of the attacks of 9/11. Some officials said there had been a failure to connect the dots that could have spotted the terrorists before they crashed airliners into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and into a field in Pennsylvania. For instance, several of the terrorists took flight-simulation lessons but never showed any interest in learning how to land an airliner. After the attacks, it became obvious why.

attacks, terrorism or espionage,  ehindiscyber “ Bthere a human being. I try to characterize that behavior so that we have a chance of identifying suspicious activity before something happens. – FRANK GREITZER ’68

Nevertheless, he warns that there may be innocent explanations for seemingly odd behavior. “If someone starts working odd hours, begins accessing parts of the network he or she doesn’t normally access and exhibits concerning behaviors or possible personality issues, this doesn’t tell you that he or she is doing something wrong,” he says. “It might turn out that an employee is working odd hours to meet a deadline.” And behavioral or personality issues might be explained by things going on outside the job—serious health problems, for example. But these risk indicators do suggest that there are things to be concerned about that ought to be looked at more closely. He has outlined his ideas in a series of scientific journal articles. Anticipating questions about privacy issues surrounding this form of monitoring, Greitzer was among the first to address ethical and privacy concerns as part of a comprehensive approach that included both cyber and behavioral monitoring. Greitzer, who spent most of his career doing research for the federal government, continues to perform human factors research in cyber security

Greitzer believes the job of spotting terrorists or cyber criminals before they act is a far more complex matter than just “connecting the dots.” He says that this task is more like reassembling several jigsaw puzzles that have been randomly thrown together with pieces shredded. Moreover, the puzzle boxes have been thrown away, so there aren’t any guiding pictures. “You literally don’t know what you’re looking for,” he says. “You’re reconstructing the puzzle, looking for some kind of pattern that’s indicative of something wrong.” For that reason, a variety of tools are needed to solve the puzzle. “Behind cyber attacks, terrorism or espionage, there is a human being,” he says. “I try to characterize that behavior so that we have a chance of identifying suspicious activity before something happens.” But, he says, he would never propose using his tools in isolation, as a stand-alone method of spotting potential perpetrators. Criminals aren’t the only focus of his work. It’s long been known that employees who are stressed, pre-occupied or sick can make mistakes— potentially disastrous ones if they work in critical

functions, such as an operator at a nuclear power plant. Greitzer argues that these behavioral analytic methods could be used to spot at-risk employees and get them help before they make a costly mistake. Greitzer emphasizes that his ideas need formal testing before they can be implemented. And any combination of cyber and behavioral monitoring should be accompanied by appropriate privacy safeguards, he says, lest we take a step toward the nightmarish society portrayed in 1984, George Orwell’s novel of a totalitarian surveillance state. “You don’t want somebody committing an attack,” he says. “But you don’t want to live in Orwell’s world either.”

Insider Threat: Multiple Patterns and Mitigation Approaches Patterns include information technology sabotage against an organization or an individual; theft of industrial or national security intellectual property; and fraud or unauthorized modification, destruction or use of data for personal gain such as identity theft. Insider threat “profiles” include a disgruntled current or former employee who seeks revenge or personal gain; a trusted individual who commits corporate or national security espionage or violates security policies for political or philosophical reasons; an unintentional insider threat who inadvertently or unknowingly harms company data or information systems. Strategies for combating insider threats include awareness training, technical safeguards to secure access paths, monitoring of cyber activities, identification and handling of behavioral precursors and improved company policies and management practices. Sources: CERT Insider Threat Center (Software Engineering Institute, Carnegie Mellon University); Frank Greitzer




Easy, Breezy Family Weekend Over 350 parents and family members visited campus Feb. 6-7. They caught up with their students and enjoyed informative and fun activities, including a balloon-powered car competition. View more images online at Spencer Michaels ’18, Anson Snyder, Hallie Michaels P18, David Diffley P16, Dorothy Michaels GP18, Lisa Diffley P16

The Gonzales Family: Eddie P16, Eddie ’16 and Ana P16

Save the date for Family Weekend 2016

Feb. 19-20, and watch the website for details.



The Laugharns: Marc ’17, Marie P17 and Peter P17

New Parent Leadership Council An enthusiastic group of parents is collaborating with the Office of College Advancement to boost parent engagement. The Parent Leadership Council serves as ambassadors to fellow HMC parents by encouraging participation in regional and on-campus events and by inspiring leadership-level support through thoughtful outreach and stewardship. There are many ways to get involved, including attending events and hosting regional events.

Contact Angie Pfeiffer | | 909.621.8334 Jessica Berger | | 909.607.0877 Front: Sharon Stanfill P15, Ellen Tabor P16, Sarah Dietrich P17, Heidi Friedlander P17, Cindy Stansbury P16, Lisa Diffley P16, Meredeth Stucky P15. Back: Terry Bennett P16, David Diffley P16, Paul Stucky P15, Ira Lichtman P14.

Alumni, Are you LinkedIn? There is an active LinkedIn Group for the Harvey Mudd College Alumni Association. If you aren’t one of the 2,400+ alumni who have already joined, you’re missing a great opportunity to expand your professional and personal network, hear about opportunities in your alumni community and join in the conversations. Already a member? Be sure to use the handy digest feature. Learn more at


15–17 JUNE




Onward! Email Forwarding The Harvey Mudd College Alumni Association has switched providers for its alumni email forwarding service. (These are email addresses ending in that forward email to an existing account.) If you have such an address and have not updated it since Jan. 1, 2015, please log in to the Alumni Online Community and reactivate it. You may also create a new account. Find instructions at


Commencement Weekend

Whale Watching in Monterey Bay

Alumni Association Board of Governors Meeting in San Francisco


Harvey Mudd Community Picnic in Chicago


Summer Send-Off Parties (for incoming students and families) See for dates and locations

See more upcoming events at




Fostering Fellowship for 50 Years HARVEY MUDD COLLEGE HAS A VIBRANT alumni network that spans all 50 states and more than 40 countries. Acting as a liaison between the alumni and the College is the HMC Alumni Association, founded April 24, 1965. The HMCAA, which represents more than 6,800 living alumni, is guided by an Alumni Association Board of Governors (AABOG) that works closely with the Office of Alumni and Parent Relations to foster

member Jerry Van Hecke ’61 has been involved with the Association since its inception, serving as president in 1968, then several times thereafter; he has returned to the presidency for 2014–2015. Today, the AABOG is finding new ways—thanks to input from fellow alumni—to fulfill the Association’s mission approved 50 years ago.

1965 HMCAA Constitutional Convention,

1983 Alumni trustee position becomes

2000 Alumni survey conducted by

2010 HMCAA promotes LinkedIn

April 24, 1965. Association goals established.

three-year appointment. Candidates for

Strategic Planning Committee; Outstanding

group. (As of 2015, it has over 2,400 alumni

Twenty-one alumni are elected to the board.

trusteeship are recommended by board’s

Alumnus/a Award initiated and presented to


Selections Committee. Alumni annual giving

first recipient, Susan Lewallen ’76.

1970 Outstanding Athlete Award established and awarded to first recipient, Steve Endemano ’71.

1971 Homecomings at football games

surpasses the $100,000 mark for the first time.

1985 Alumni design and analyze alumni survey; awarding of “warts” begins; Alumni

2011 First 50-year class reunion

2001 Young Alumni trustee position

celebrated. By this time, Alumni Day has

created, and Selections Committee

become Alumni Weekend with attendance

recommends candidates.

ranging from 500 to 700. New bylaws for the

have, by now, morphed into Spring Alumni

Fund becomes Alumni Fundd; electronic

2003 AABOG adopts new and more

Days. College celebrates first 10-year

bulletin board created.

comprehensive mission statement,

board are adopted and new committees, Networking and Outreach, created.

establishes goals and objectives; Admission

2012 Alumni travel: Annular eclipse,

Committee revived to help staff high school

Redding, California; Transit of Venus (HMC)

landing, Cape Canaveral, Florida (alumnus

college fairs and host admitted student

and Australia Eclipse Trip.


George “Pinky” Nelson ’72 aboard).

receptions; Alumni travel: Death Valley trip.

1975 Jean and Joe Platt Scholarship

1992 First Alumni College (topic:

2004 Alumni travel: Lassen trip.

endowed; college size discussion revived

chaos); two additional Alumni Colleges

after new president Ken Baker arrives (1976).

held subsequently. Alumni email network

2005 Alumni around the globe toast the


50-year anniversary of the acceptance of

2014 Alumni annual giving surpasses

HMC’s charter by the California Secretary of

the $5 million mark, with gifts totaling about

State on Dec. 14, 1955.

$6,175,000. Alumni travel: Highway 395,

reunion, Class of 1961. BOG meetings include discussion of “college size.” First

1988 Alumni travel: STS-26 shuttle

alumni trustee, Malcolm Lewis ’67, appointed

1980 Alumni giving participation is 58 percent, the highest ever. (Since 1980,

1994 First HMCAA Leadership

alumni participation has ranged from 29 to

Conference; 100th AABOG meeting.

57 percent; during 2013–2014, it was 30.1 percent).

1981 Alumni travel: STS-1 first shuttle

1995 Teleconferencing first used for

2006 Alumni around the world participate

2013 Outreach Committee establishes Alumni-Student Career Forum. Alumni travel: California’s Highway 395, part 1.

part 2.

in College’s 50th Anniversary Gala. The

2015 Revival and implementation of

AABOG meetings; Harvey Mudd website

Lifetime Recognition Award is created and

class agent program underway; archiving

launched; Student Services Committee

presented to the first recipients, including

of board records is being modernized, and

landing, Edwards AFB, attended by 300+

becomes Alumni-Student Relations

founding trustees and Jean and Joe Platt.

teleconferencing is being improved; Alumni

HMC students, faculty, staff and alumni.

Committee; Continuing Education Committee

1982 Honorary Alumni criteria established


alumni-College ties, encourage alumni financial support and increase the number and quality of students applying to and attending Harvey Mudd. The Association’s original officers were President Robert Hall ’62, Vice President David Goodsell ’62, Secretary Janet Cook ’60 and Treasurer Dennis Diestler ’64. Since 1965, more than 220 alumni have served as AABOG officers, some 24 of whom subsequently served as trustees. Founding class


2008 HMC Alumni Facebook group created; in 2015, it has almost 600 members.

and first awards go to mostly founding

1999 Alumni annual giving surpasses

faculty, including Joseph Platt; board seeks

the $1 million mark for the first time; annual

2009 Alumni travel: Copper Canyon,

alumni attendance and participation at

giving totals remain above this amount going

Mexico, and China Eclipse trip.

Saddle Rock trustee meetings.



travel: Antarctica. Over the last 50 years, alumni have supported the College with gifts in excess of $50 million. Roughly 40 percent of these funds have supported the Annual Mudd Fundd.

Outstanding Alumni THE HARVEY MUDD COLLEGE ALUMNI Association

Board of Governors selected three alumni to receive the Harvey Mudd College 2015 Outstanding Alumni Award. Given from alumni to alumni, the award recognizes individuals who have made a sustained and effective commitment to improving society and whose lives best exemplify the mission of Harvey Mudd College.

Civil Rights and Performing Arts Advocate Gregory Rae ’00 embodies the College’s commitment to training great scientists and engineers also well versed in the humanities. After graduating from Harvey Mudd with a degree in computer science and mathematics, Rae joined Google’s Log Analysis Group in 2000, helping to develop the Zeitgeist tool, which uses proprietary algorithms to garner critical information about top-trending global news. Rae’s work contributed directly to the global good and to Google’s early success. Since leaving Google in 2006, Rae has been at the forefront of social movements critical to protecting the rights of the LGBT community. He was a national leader for the Living Liberally movement and worked on several state and national campaigns dedicated to marriage equality, including as technical lead on California’s “No on Proposition 8” and treasurer for “Fight Back New York.” He is a member of the National Leadership Council of Lambda Legal in support of LGBT civil rights. Rae has been a committed supporter of the performing arts. He is a Tony Award-winning producer of major Broadway productions, including The Normal Heart (2011 Best Play Revival), Kinky Boots (2013 Best Musical) and Clybourne Park (2012 Best Play), and is currently involved in several film projects. He is a partner at theatrical production company Martian Entertainment LLC and an associate member of The Broadway League. In 2014, Rae collaborated with Brian W. Johnson ’98 and William Leonhard Jr. (representing his parents’ estate) to endow the Leonhard-RaeJohnson Chair in support of a distinguished computer science faculty member. Currently, the chair is held by Zachary Dodds.

Vaccine Developer An esteemed research scientist and world-recognized leader in vaccine development, Andrew Lees ’75 founded Fina BioSolutions, a company committed to eliminating vaccine-preventable deaths of infants and children in emerging-market

countries. With major partners in China and India, Lees is helping to create locally produced, affordable vaccines worldwide. Lees is responsible for chemical improvements to protein-polysaccharide conjugate vaccines, some of the most complex vaccines to manufacture but also known for producing stronger and longerlasting results than those composed of polysaccharides alone. His techniques have resulted in a better method for synthesizing conjugate vaccines for fatal childhood diseases such as Haemophilus influenza type-b, meningococcal disease and streptococcal pneumoniae. Lees is also an associate professor of medicine at the University of Maryland’s School of Medicine in the Center for Vaccine Development. In addition, he is an associate professor in the Department of Medicine at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences and an affiliate at the University of Maryland Bioprocessing Scale-Up Facility. He received his chemistry degree from Harvey Mudd College and PhD in biophysics from Johns Hopkins University.

Gregory Rae ’00

Spacecraft Expert An internationally recognized expert in the field of space operations and program management, Jim Erickson ’75 is the project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). Over his 40-year career at JPL, he has helped oversee the Mars Exploration Rovers (Spirit and Opportunity), NASA’s Galileo mission to Jupiter, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter project and the Mars Science Laboratory Rover Curiosity. He also assisted with and led development efforts on the Viking missions to Mars, the Voyager missions to outer planets and the Mars Observer mission. Erickson began his tenure with JPL in 1974 during a summer internship while studying physics at Harvey Mudd. He earned his master’s degree in business administration and project management from West Coast University before embarking on an exemplary career in planetary space mission development. He’s known for technical expertise in handling spacecraft anomalies—identifying and repairing complex robots from millions of miles away—as well as in ground system development, building flight software, running operations teams in flight and overall program management. Erickson is the recipient of several notable industry awards, including the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal, the NASA Exceptional Service Medal and two NASA Outstanding Leadership Medals.

Andrew Lees ’75

Jim Erickson ’75





Feast of Thrones Written by Ashley Festa


went shopping for snake meat. “I was surprised at how expensive it was,” she says, recalling her experience inside a specialty meat shop in Boston. “An entire rattlesnake was almost $300.” So, sensibly, she bought only small chunks of snake to serve to her Sunday evening dinner guests. No one was startled at the meal. In fact, they expected nothing less. Howden, an engineering alumna, always added a bit of drama to her weekly Game of Thrones-inspired feasts. She started the tradition during the show’s fourth season, shortly after she finished her PhD at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her boyfriend knew she enjoyed the Game of Thrones stories and that she loved trying new recipes in the kitchen, so when her birthday rolled around, A Feast of Ice and Fire: The Official Game of Thrones Companion Cookbook seemed like the perfect gift—and it was. She spent all day on Sundays cooking as many as four main courses, five side dishes and two desserts. Friends brought the wine, beer or mead to pair with the feast each week. Howden baked, fried, roasted and broiled her way through more than half the book’s recipes



during the last season of GoT, including the snake (“fun to have on the table because it looked cool”), a black chicken (“it still had the head and legs attached”) and rabbit stew (“it was strange learning how to butcher a whole rabbit”). The amateur photographer also plays with angles and lighting before snapping shots of her handiwork to post on her food blog ( game-of-thrones-feast/) . In her professional life, Howden uses her engineering degree at a California startup company called Ubiquitous Energy, which is developing the technology for transparent solar cells trademarked as ClearView Power. The technology may one day be used as an auxiliary power source for personal electronics and on windows for additional energy. She knew the company’s founder at MIT, so when Ubiquitous Energy took root in the Bay Area, Howden packed her bags and moved back to the West Coast. She’s one of only five employees and spends much of her time in the lab fabricating devices and conducting experiments to optimize machinery based on the equipment’s parameters. It’s also her job to keep the lab up and running, so she must understand the customized systems in order to deal with any complications that arise. The job sometimes involves 12-hour days or longer. “That’s the nature of a startup,” she says.

“Things are less scheduled. I’m never sure if I’ll even have weekends off. So when I do have free time, I’m ready with an idea of something I want to do.” That includes sewing, hiking, crafting, reading and, of course, hosting Game of Thrones parties. Even more fun for her, though, is international travel. She’s visited approximately 40 countries during graduate school and conferences, and she strategically plans vacation days to coincide with business trips. So far, she’s traveled in Asia, South America and Europe. “I loved Croatia, where they did some filming for Game of Thrones,” Howden says. “It’s a gorgeous place to go, right on the ocean.” During her travels, she often collects beautiful or unusual serving pieces, which she puts to good use during the GoT feasts, presenting the meals with flair. Of all the dishes she’s cooked, the beef and bacon pie, complete with a woven bacon lattice top, was her favorite because of its taste and visual appeal. As for season five of GoT, she hasn’t decided whether she’ll host the feasts again because she’s still settling into the Bay Area. For the premier, though, she’ll be visiting her sister in Arizona who “demanded we have a feast,” Howden says. “So I’m required to make at least one.”


Founding Class members Dave Howell (engineering), Don Gross (chemistry) and Jerry Van Hecke (chemistry) gathered in the Drinkward Recital Hall for a mini reunion after a concert by the Los Angeles Clarinet Choir, of which Don is a member. Don writes, “Thanks to Professor Bill Alves in the HSA department, we were included in the College’s 2014–2015 concert series. The ‘clarinet’ in the picture is my contrabass clarinet pitched two octaves below the Benny Goodman model. The lowest note sounds about 30 HZ and is the king of the ‘bottom feeder’ clarinets.”

He came to CapMAC in 1989 from Kidder, Peabody, where he was director of the market analysis and product development group in the Asset Finance Department. He led Kidder into the UK mortgage backed securities markets, structured the first public CBO and advised International Finance Corporation and Turkey on capital markets issues. He also worked at Standard & Poor’s, at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and at United Nations Development Program.

Signal Interference Remover, or CSIR. This technology, already available in a number of advanced products marketed by the company, is said to be a leap ahead in the ability to remove interference from communications. Located in Silicon Valley, California, the company develops high-end satellite communications and interference mitigation equipment and services.


David Abe (engineering) has been named an IEEE Fellow in recognition of his extraordinary accomplishments. He is known for his leadership and contributions to the development of high-power microwave and millimeter wave vacuum electronic devices. In 1996, David joined the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, where he is the acting head of the Vacuum Electronics Branch. He directs the development of vacuum electronic devices for the generation of coherent electromagnetic radiation as well as experimental and theoretical research in electron beam physics. Prior to NRL, David worked on interdisciplinary projects in pulsed power, high power microwave generation and electromagnetic effects at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Berkeley Research Associates and the U.S. Army Research Laboratory.

Peter Hoyt (mathematics)


won two age group gold medals for Team USA last August at the International Triathlon Union World Championships in Edmonton, Canada. The age groups are contested in five-year intervals, so the competition is comparable to winning a world collegiate championship. Peter won the Aquathon (swim and run) and the Sprint Triathlon (swim, bike and run).

Michael Wilson (engineering) was featured in


the March 6 online article “Michael Wilson: photography is alchemy,” in the UK’s The Telegraph. In addition to producing the James Bond films, Michael is a renowned photography collector, specifically of 19th century works. According to The Telegraph article (, “The 11,000 images in his collection include work by some of the most celebrated names in the field—his William Eggleston prints, for example, outshine those owned by many of the world’s leading museums.” The rare photographs in the show Salt and Silver, which opened at Tate Britain in March, all come from Michael’s collection.

1970 | Reunion Year Mahesh Kotecha (physics and engineering), Harvey Mudd trustee and president of Structured Credit International Corp. (SCIC), spoke on campus Sept. 29 on “The Role and Use of Ratings.” He described issues related to ratings agencies—including how they are paid—and shared a new compensation model that he and his colleagues presented to the SEC. Prior to forming SCIC in 1999, Mahesh was managing director for MBIA Insurance Corporation, CapMAC Asia and CapMAC, and an alternate director for ASIA Ltd.

Bob Peak (chemistry) has been a speaker at every WineMaker Magazine Conference since the first in 2008. At the 2015 conference May 28–30 in Portland, Oregon, Bob will again lead the hands-on one-day boot camp “Making Wine from Grapes,” which takes participants through all the steps, including crushing and fermenting all the way to bottling. He will also lead the seminars “Advanced Home Lab Techniques” and “Bottling Your Baby” and will be part of the “General Troubleshooting: Ask the Experts” panel. He’s a partner in The Beverage People, a home winemaking retailer in Santa Rosa, California. Before joining The Beverage People in 2003, he was general manager at Vinquiry, a wine testing laboratory in Windsor, California. Bob has a one-third-acre hobby vineyard where he grows Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and writes the “Techniques” column for WineMaker magazine. See

1977 Jeffrey Chu (engineering) is CEO of Glowlink Communications Technology, which was awarded a third patent for the trademarked interference removal technology known as Communications


1983 Amanda Simpson (physics),

executive director of the U.S. Army Office of Energy Initiatives, was named a Woman of Distinction by the American Association of University Women and will receive the award May 28 at the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders. Previously, Amanda was the special assistant to the Army acquisition executive. Before joining the government, she was employed by Raytheon and the Hughes Aircraft Company, managing projects in target and night vision technologies, traveling wave tube production, advanced missiles and unmanned aircraft. In 1999, her team received the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Award for Significant Technical Achievement, one of the highest awards in the industry. Amanda also earned the Raytheon Woman on the Move Award in 2001 and the Raytheon Missile Systems Team Excellence Award in 2006. In addition to her career achievements, she has been a champion of LGBT rights. She earned a 2004 Tucson YWCA Women on the Move Award and the 2005 Arizona Human Rights Fund Individual Award. In




2010, she became the first transgender woman U.S. presidential appointee when she took the position of senior technical advisor to the Bureau of Industry and Security, an agency under the U.S. Department of Commerce.

1986 “Does engineering management matter?” asked Nabeel Gareeb ’86/87, P17 (engineering), ex-CEO and current angel investor, during an Oct. 29 Department of Engineering Seminar. Nabeel discussed lessons about engineering management learned during his career and shared his many insights with students. He worked at Andersen Consulting before moving on to International Rectifier, a semiconductor manufacturer based in El Segundo, California, where he worked for 10 years and helped quintuple the revenues of the company to $1 billion annually. After serving as the CEO of IR, Nabeel became CEO and led the redirection of MEMC Electronic Materials Inc., an international manufacturer of wafers for the semiconductor industry. During his seven-year tenure, the company quadrupled revenues to $2 billion annually—with a disproportionate increase in profits, returns and market value—by improving its semiconductor focus and growing a solar wafer business in parallel. Nabeel retired at the end of 2008 and moved back to Southern California in the summer of 2009. Since then, he has focused on funding and advising startup companies (four) and engaging in philanthropic projects. A video of Nabeel’s engineering seminar talk is available at

1988 In February, Ray Grainger’s company Mavenlink announced a $19 million round of funding led by Carrick Capital Partners and Silicon Valley Bank. Mavenlink delivers enterprise-class software as a service (SaaS) that enables organizations to successfully manage and scale their people, projects, revenue and profitability. Ray (engineering), an HMC trustee, is co-founder and CEO. According to its news release, “this round of funding allows Mavenlink to continue to disrupt a fragmented technology landscape, further strengthening the company’s technology advantage and leadership for professional services companies.”





In an Oct. 23, 2014, LinkedIn Pulse article, Marc Marasco describes what he believes are some of the common cultural trends shared by Harvey Mudd and Facebook. “As I traverse the corporate life, I believe that these cultural attributes serve to cultivate the most creativity and growth out of high-potential people.” Find the full article at http://

1997 Dan Shapiro, engineering graduate and serial

entrepreneur (Ontela sold to Photobucket; Sparkbuy sold to Google; Robot Turtles), has partnered with two Seattle-area startup veterans to raise money for a new company called Glowforge, an integrated hardware and software upstart that seeks to “make it easier to make things.” In November 2014, he told GeekWire, “We’re not ready to share exactly what we’re working on quite yet as we’re still doing customer research and making sure we really understand our market opportunity … but stay tuned.”

1998 Matthew Dharm (computer science) successfully

sold his business, JumpGen Systems, to Parpro Inc. in October 2014. He remains with the new organization (now known as Parpro Systems) as chief technology officer.

1999 Edith Harbaugh (engineering) is a first-time chief executive and a cofounder, with John Kodumal ’00 (computer science), of LaunchDarkly, which enables software as a service and eCommerce companies to take control of feature launches. She has worked at three startups: TripIt, which Concur acquired for $120 million; EasyBloom, a “Fitbit for plants” startup, where she was the full-time product manager; and Epicentric, an enterprise portal management company. Edith discusses the merits of the lean startup methodology in a Jan. 22 article for VentureBeat News (

Christopher Hanusa (mathematics) earned tenure and was promoted to associate professor of mathematics at Queens College, City University of New York. He continues his research in enumerative and algebraic combinatorics. As part of his educational outreach, he publishes animations and videos online. “A brief introduction to reflection groups” is available at In the photo, Chris (right) shares his Zometool models with students Juan Lanfranco and Jailene Ruiz. Elizabeth Johansen

(engineering) experienced several exciting transitions late last year. She moved to a historic home next to her in-laws in Hanover, Massachusetts. After five years as director of product development at DtM (and five years as a volunteer before that), she left the company to join Diagnostics For All (DFA) as director of product design and implementation. While at DtM, she helped launch Firefly Phototherapy, now treating newborns with jaundice in 10 developing countries. Regarding her new position, Elizabeth says, “Like DtM, DFA is also a nonprofit whose mission is to bring technology to the poor in developing countries. DFA’s focus is saving lives through creating affordable, point-of-care diagnostics. … I am helping to launch a rapid test to help smallholder dairy farmers in East Africa and (coming soon) helping to launch the world’s first disposable rapid diagnostic for Ebola.” Elizabeth is starting up a team to create a demonstration model for the Ebola diagnostic and welcomes inquiries from fellow alumni. Find her on Twitter @elizjohansen.

get turned  oungsters “ Yoff from science around

middle school. So it’s very important that we do everything we can to show them that science is fun, important and that anybody can do it.



Organic Reactions

Written by Stephanie L. Graham


colored luminescent solutions on a ring stand form a “chemis-tree,” the creative work of Steven Murov ’62, chemistry alumnus and professor emeritus of chemistry at Modesto Junior College (MJC) in California. The “nuked cukes,” featured in a 1994 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education (vol. 71), are a big hit with chemists. But Murov has a broader vision. The Fickle Pickle experiment is one Murov has used over the years to help ignite youngsters’ passion for science. He began performing chemistry shows early in his teaching career while at Sangamon State University (now University of Illinois at Springfield), initially as a community service project. He enjoyed the shows so much that an alter ego—Dr. Al Chemist—was created (thanks to his wife), and he has been performing demonstrations for community groups ever since. Five teaching positions, two lab textbooks (in their sixth and seventh editions), an online lab book and more than 1,000 chemistry shows later, Murov is retired but continues to work with the science division at MJC. He still performs shows and is active as a committee member of the Modesto Area Partners in Science (MAPS), a group that he helped found in 1990 out of a concern for students who enter college unprepared for science. At the time, he and a colleague wrote a proposal and received federal funding for science education training for local teachers, a monthly Friday night science series and programs for fifth graders. This age group, says Murov, is particularly important. “Youngsters get turned off from science around middle school. So it’s very important that we do

everything we can to show them that science is fun, important and that anybody can do it.” Although he doesn’t consider himself an extrovert, Murov lives for the audience reactions to his action-packed, interactive performances filled with teachable moments. When he asks his young audience if he should put his hands into liquid nitrogen, he’ll get a resounding “yes!” The possibility that frozen hands might shatter upon hitting a tabletop elicits quite the excitement, says Murov with a chuckle, but the kids often still want him to do it. After explaining that his hand really could be severely damaged, he instead dribbles a little liquid nitrogen on the back of his hand—a safe demonstration. Kid-approved demos also include “elephant toothpaste” (a combination of 30 percent hydrogen peroxide, dishwashing liquid, food coloring and a 2M potassium iodide catalyst) and a large water vapor cloud made by a liquid nitrogen fountain. Murov’s performances are often part of a three-part show that includes other scientists—both male and female—from different disciplines. Diversity is important, says Murov, because it helps students envision themselves as scientists. The Friday evening MAPS science shows, open to all ages, still attract capacity crowds and have featured diverse experts, including paleontologist Jack Horner, consultant for Jurassic Park, and Harvey Mudd’s resident Mathemagician Art Benjamin. Programs focus on the science that everybody should know, says Murov, from health issues to water issues to climate change. One on vaccines might be a good idea right now, he says. “For reasons I do not understand, some people do

not accept scientific evidence, and as a result, we are now in trouble. It’s a challenge speaking to the people who don’t accept the evidence.” But Murov—Dr. Al Chemist, if you prefer— intends to keep entertaining and educating community members, especially those fifth graders. “The biggest thrill of all is just watching their expressions as you’re doing the demos, because they really love it. You can just see it in their faces.” He hopes that light goes on and stays on.

Comments from Murov’s young audience members

“I liked the jar where you make a whirlpool. I wish I had one of them. My dad would mix martinis with it.” (refers to a magnetic stirrer)

“And maybe instead of being a football star, I’ll be a science professor.”




2003 Ben FrantzDale (computer science) and Matt Keeter ’11 (engineering) work

at Formlabs, a startup that designs and manufactures digital fabrication tools for designers, engineers and artists. Last year, the company announced the Form 1+ (pictured), an extensive overhaul of their flagship desktop stereolithographic 3-D printer. They also released a software update that changes the way parts are supported during the printing process, added a new resin (black) and expanded their European presence. Ben says the company is hiring and would welcome more Mudders. Robert Strickland (computer science) and his wife,

Lauren, welcomed a new baby boy, Joseph, to their family. Karen Studarus (engineering) was featured in an

August 2014 article by (http://bit. ly/HMCM-studarus). A graduate of the University of Washington with a PhD in power systems analysis, Karen studied the operational flexibility in the federal Columbia River power system. Her work seeks to bridge the gap between academic hydro scheduling formulations and the practical realities of balancing a power system in real time in the face of uncertainty.

2006 San Francisco-based Whistle, where Kevin Lloyd (engineering) is co-founder and CTO, has acquired San Diego-based Tagg in order to integrate Tagg’s GPS technology and better battery life into Whistle’s future dog trackers. According to a Jan. 29, 2015, Wall Street Journal article, “With the acquisition of Tagg’s customers, Whistle now accounts for 100,000 of the fitness trackers on dogs in the U.S.”

2007 Kyle Roberts (computer science) and Emily (Hogan) Roberts (physics) have created a resource for current



and prospective grad students. Their database, PhD Stipends (, displays what grad students are being paid in a variety of disciplines around the country. If you are or were a grad student, please take a moment to enter your pay information from any source (fellowship, TA/ RA pay, stipend, training grant, internship, etc.) into the database. If you support the project and want to see the database expand, please share it with your peers.

2010 | Reunion Year David Miller (physics) has published research in

Frontiers in Psychology showing that the bachelor’s-to-PhD pipeline in science and engineering leaked more women than men among college graduates in the 1970s and 1980s, but not recently. In a recent Inside Higher Ed op ed ( HMCM-miller), David writes, “By some accounts, I’m a leak myself. I earned my bachelor’s degree in the ‘hard’ science of physics before moving into psychology. Even though I’m male, I still encountered stigma when peers told me psychology was a ‘soft’ science or not even science at all. I can only imagine the stigma that women might face when making similar transitions.” Christopher Strieter (economics/physics), cofounder

of Senses Wines, a small-batch producer of West Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and sales manager at Uproot Wines, was featured in the February Deloitte HR Times’ HR Blog article, “How do you find passion?” According to the article, “Rather than following a well-trod route into banking, Christopher took a series of jobs in the wine industry— from wine making to business development—to immerse himself in the industry. ‘I don’t work a day in my life,’ Christopher said. ‘I’m always learning.’” Find the full article at

2011 Armed with a grant from the Department of Energy’s Office of Science Graduate Student Research Program, Pratt School of Engineering graduate student Jenni Rinker (engineering) will spend an entire year working on her dissertation at the National Wind Technology Center in Boulder, Colorado, part of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. “If the wind you’re using in computer simulations of wind turbines doesn’t look like real wind, then your results are going to be terrible,”

said Rinker, a PhD student in the mechanical engineering and materials science department, who completed her M.S. in the civil and environmental engineering department. “So I am trying to develop new statistics and data validation to improve our simulation methods.”

2013 MakerBot acquired Layer By Layer, the software startup company created by Jonathan Schwartz, Max Friefeld and Oliver Ortlieb ’12. Layer By Layer, originally based in California, joined MakerBot to help create user-friendly platforms that are fully assimilated into the MakerBot 3D Ecosystem and has been working with MakerBot on developing systems that help make 3-D printing technology easier and more accessible through innovations in design combined with computer science. Max, Oliver and Jonathan have joined MakerBot full-time and work out of the company’s Brooklyn office directly with MakerBot’s Digital Products, Software and Business Development groups.

2014 Lisa Gai (mathematical and computational biology) and Xanda Schofield ’13 (computer science and

mathematics), computer science graduate students at UCLA and Cornell University, respectively, have been named Microsoft Research Graduate Women Scholars for 2015–2016. The scholarship supports women in the second year of their doctoral studies in a computer science, electrical engineering, mathematics or bioinformatics/information science program. The scholarship includes an award of $15,000 toward graduate tuition and a $2,000 stipend for travel to conferences. Lisa’s advisor is Eleazar Eskin, associate professor of computer science and human genetics. His ZarLab focuses on solving computational problems associated with the study of the genetic causes of disease. Though only in her first-year of graduate study, Gai already is involved in several research projects on analysis of human genetic datasets. Xanda, whose research area is artificial intelligence and natural language processing, aims to synthesize natural language processing and unsupervised machine learning technologies to create accessible tools for those outside computer science. She writes, “My hope is that these will allow digital humanities researchers and curious individuals alike to investigate language corpora. I specifically wish to focus on better inference models for ‘poorly behaved’ language, such as old English text or modern dialogue on social media. Thanks to

this scholarship, I can work to obtain more comprehensive human evaluation information for the design of new metrics to evaluate language models. I can also work on large-scale parallelization of difficult language inference tasks. Finally, I hope this scholarship will help connect me to the immensely talented NLP researchers at Microsoft Research.” Olivia Warren (chemistry) was one of two winners of the TEDxClaremontColleges Student Speaker Competition. She spoke at the March 7 TEDx event about her life with synesthesia and shared her thoughts about how people who naturally interpret our world differently can sometimes possess valuable and unique abilities. When she was 11 years old, Olivia discovered that she had the condition, a neurological phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway. Olivia recently started a job as a business analyst at Deloitte’s San Francisco offices.

Your News Matters Have you changed jobs? Retired? Celebrated a milestone? We want your news! We also compile information from a variety of public sources: campus event notices, newspaper and magazine articles, press releases and Google alerts. Please submit updates online at

In Memoriam Michael Yates ’63, 72, died on Aug. 12, 2014, of tongue cancer and ALS. A physics graduate, Michael got his PhD in geophysics from Princeton and then worked at Bellcomm Inc. as an overseer of some of NASA’s Apollo projects. He was the only person to have a successful experiment on Apollo 13. He suggested a possible scientific advance for the mission that would take advantage of the seismometers placed on the lunar surface on the Apollo 11 and 12 missions: use the S-IVB stage that boosted the spacecraft from earth orbit to trans-lunar injection as a seismic source. The stage on other missions had been sent to the sun, but he thought that it should be redirected to produce a moonquake, the first to be recorded. Michael taught at the University of Toronto, worked for Chevron and went overseas to work for ARAMCO. He also was an instructor at the Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle and created popular science courses for artists: Sound and Space; Light and Color; Cosmology, The History of Everything; and the History of Numbers. He is survived by his wife of 31 years, Susan Irving Yates, and his 28-year-old son, Newton. The Yates family welcomes correspondence from alumni:

Robert “Bob” Arthur Alexander Jr. ’64, 72, of Chattanooga, Tennessee, died on Jan. 29. After earning his mathematics degree from Harvey Mudd, he went on to work at Transamerica Occidental Life Insurance Company where he studied to become an actuary. A job transfer brought him to Chattanooga, where he worked for Provident Life and eventually retired from Cigna in 2000. Bob was an active member of Tyner United Methodist Church, serving as treasurer and a delegate to the Holston Annual Conference. He was active in the Chickamauga Region of the Antique Automobile Club of America, enjoying driving his 1950 Pontiac and going on outings with the club. He also was a longtime volunteer for AARP’s Tax-Aide program, overseeing tax preparation in a five-county area. He is survived by his wife of 49 years, Carolyn, his daughter, Karen, and his brother, Bill.

Patrick Hopper ’05, 32, was killed in a car accident near Durango, Mexico, in October 2014. He is survived by his parents, Marti and Bob, his brother, Chris, and many friends. As brilliant a physicist as Patrick was, nothing could match the brilliance of his heart. His laugh was infectious, his kindness and generosity obvious. His friends would describe him as the best skier ever to pass through Claremont. During the summers, Patrick worked at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and also at the Earthquake Lab at the University of Colorado. He spent a semester abroad in New Zealand, pursuing Southern Hemisphere skiing along with his coursework. He worked as a power systems engineer for several years with the Areva Corporation and most recently with Alstom, both in the Seattle area. Robert Jacobson ’64 (chemistry) died of a stroke Oct. 30, 2014.

Daniel Strenge ’06 (physics) died Dec. 17, 2014, after a courageous battle with chronic fatigue syndrome. Dan was born in Fridley, Minnesota, to Larry and Elizabeth (Torkelson) Strenge. Dan was very active in high school, participating in football, wrestling and baseball and was voted “most respected” and “most likely to succeed” by his classmates. He was a member of Celebration Lutheran Church in Sartell where he attended several mission trips. He graduated with honors from Harvey Mudd then worked at Charles River Associates in Pasadena as a research analyst, and more recently at Cargill Inc. in Minneapolis as a commodities trader. Dan liked a good competition, especially through strategy games and enjoyed traveling with family and friends. He was empathetic, a great listener and a generous, wise and loyal friend.




I want the failing student to understand clearly that grades are just an assessment, not a sentence. I try to meet with every failing student in person, and I will carefully articulate the distinction between their grade and their worthiness. I will often give them this explicit word of encouragement: that while grades attempt to measure what you have learned, they do not measure your dignity as an individual.

Sharing GRACE in our WEAKNESS I don’t mind telling students that I almost didn’t make it in graduate school. Because I understand that my worthiness is not in my accomplishments, I don’t fear that people will think less of me. I know what it means to enter a program with a weaker background than my peers, to feel woefully underprepared, to feel misunderstood, to have family pressures that somehow became paramount. To wonder if I was really cut out for this profession. So I know that weakness can be powerful when a former student shares: “He gave me the single most important piece of advice I got before heading to graduate school, which greatly shaped how my mathematical career developed.  It occurred when I asked him about his graduate school days, which surprising as it may be, did not go very smoothly for him! He confessed to me that at one point he considered dropping out of Harvard! The lesson he learned was to pick an advisor you can ... thrive with, even to the sacrifice of a particular subject or project.  I took this advice to heart ... and as a result, I thrived in graduate school which has directly resulted in my early career success as well.” This is from a student who was not the top of his class at Harvey Mudd, but he chose a graduate school where he could thrive, and it led to an NSF postdoc, and he’s just finishing that now. I don’t mind talking with students who are having serious family issues about losing both of my parents to terminal illnesses and telling them it’s okay to let academic work suffer. Because as human beings, they aren’t defined by their academic work. I don’t mind telling students with emotional issues that it’s OK to see a counselor, because I’ve seen a counselor. So with a struggling student, showing my weakness is extending and sharing grace. I am validating their worthiness in our shared struggles. They don’t have to perform well to earn my favor. And … sometimes, showing weakness enables us to receive grace from our students. One of the nicest things a student ever said to me came when my father was



dying of cancer, and I was flying back and forth to Texas multiple times to tend to his care. There was a point in the semester when my class had had more lectures from other people than from me. It was surely disruptive for them to see a different professor every day. So I confessed to my class that I had two roles—as a son and as a teacher—and I felt I was doing neither of those roles well. One of my students said to me, so gently: “Should I be terminally ill later in life, I would want my son to act as you have.” Ah, grace! From my student, who reminded me: I didn’t need to be so hard on myself. I didn’t need to perform well to earn his favor. So this is the Lesson of GRACE: • Your accomplishments are NOT what make you a worthy human being. • You learn this lesson by receiving GRACE: good things you didn’t earn or deserve, but you’re getting them anyway. And this is my HOPE: that you could receive and give GRACE. We are so trained by our accomplishment-driven culture to believe that our deeds are what make us worthy of honor or respect. To fight this, you have to surround yourself with grace-givers, people who are good at it. All the best teachers in my life have been gracegivers. Think of that teacher whom you knew was busy, but still made you feel like you were the most important person in the world. Think of those people whom you can be authentic with—those who, even if they know all the rotten things about you, would love you anyway. The ones around whom you feel you have no shame. Sure, good instructional techniques are necessary for good teaching. But they are not sufficient. They are NOT the foundation. Grace-filled relationships with your students are the foundation for good teaching, because it gives you freedom to explore, freedom to fail. Freedom to let students take control of their own learning, freedom to affirm the struggling student by your own weakness. Grace amplifies the teacher-student relationship to one of greater trust in which a student can thrive. “To teach is to create a space in which the community of truth is practiced.” —Parker Palmer That community and space that Palmer talks about does not form without grace. I’d like to think that I’m a good teacher because I communicate well and I choose the best examples, and that when my former students think of my teaching, they think of these things. But that is accomplish-

ment-driven thinking isn’t it? Instead what students remember most often are those moments of grace. Last year, at a Harvey Mudd graduation event, math major Simeon Koh ’14 was invited to give a speech to parents about his college experience. I'd like to close my talk by sharing part of it, with his permission: “The one class that best embodies the essence of Harvey Mudd College was a class called Real Analysis. In Real Analysis I learned to question the very definition of real numbers and everything I knew about mathematics. What do you mean I have to prove how to add two real numbers? Proof by common sense and elementary education were strictly prohibited. Real Analysis was perhaps the hardest class I’ve taken, and my first experience of struggling in math. I wasn’t getting the concepts as quickly as some of my peers, and I couldn’t help feeling incompetent in math, a subject I had always felt confident in. ... the “gateway” to mathematics never felt so narrow and without space for an incompetent student like me ... “Fortunately, there’s more to the story. During that semester I was doing a book study with Professor Su outside of class, and I was uncomfortable. Sitting before me was a super smart incredible professor, and I felt really unworthy to be hanging out with him because I wasn’t doing so well in his class, and I thought I might disappoint him once he got to know me personally. But at our last meeting, we were talking and he said, ‘I want students to understand that professors don’t value students based on their academic performance’...  to hear from my own professor, whom I really love and admire, at a time when I felt ashamed of my intelligence and thus unworthy of his friendship, that I wasn’t just a student in a seat, not just a letter grade or a number on my transcript, but a valuable person who he wants to know on a personal level, was perhaps the most incredible moment of my college career. And that’s the kind of place that Harvey Mudd was.” Yes, Simeon, you get it! You understand the transformative power of grace! My hope for all of us is that we would understand grace in all its forms and how it can transform our teaching. And not only will grace inspire our students, it will inspire us. Just like my students, the moments I remember best from my own teaching are the grace-filled moments I have shared with my students and colleagues and former teachers, many of whom are here today. I want to thank them, because I didn’t deserve those blessed moments. But they gave them to me anyway. “We know truth, not only by reason, but also by the heart.”—Blaise Pascal

A Community That Gives Back Sherman Chan ’76 remembers his years at Harvey Mudd as being full of a sense of community. Now that his son, Aaron, who has autism, is 21, and Sherman and his wife are reckoning with Aaron’s adulthood, his dearest wish is that his son will have a community of his own. Sherman’s wife, Irma Velasquez, echoes that sentiment. “I want my son to live in a community that will make him happy, with people who love him, people he can love in return,” she says. To that end, Chan, an immigrant from mainland China who graduated with a degree in engineering, and Velasquez, an artist and a native of El Salvador, have started their fourth nonprofit (they have an art school and a school for children with autism, among other ventures, under their belt): an independent living community for people with developmental disabilities, called Rident Park, in Northern California’s Sonoma County. The community will offer independent living for 16 adults on grounds with six separate homes, a pool and a commons building. Each resident will have access, if needed, to 24-hour-a-day direct care. There also will be job training and educational programs for the residents to participate in off-site, in order to encourage interaction with the local community. “We all want to be part of something. People with disabilities have a very hard time creating that community for themselves,” Velasquez says. According to Chan, the project, which is in the beginning stages of a major capital campaign, is slated to be up and running in 2017. “Irma and I are serial nonprofiteers,” he says, though he downplays his involvement in the nitty-gritty of the development of Rident Park. Velasquez corrects this. “Sherman’s been a successful entrepreneur for almost 30 years in terms of starting a company from nothing,” she says. (The company is ASPEN—Advanced Systems for Power Engineering Inc.—which provides software to electric utilities to ensure that their generation and transmission assets are protected in the event of short circuits.) “That knowledge transfers to the creation of these nonprofits. He’s been involved in

strategy, planning—he’s an engineer, after all. He likes to make things.” “I’m a pain for the architects,” Chan adds. He hopes to start a conversation about the need for housing for adults with developmental disabilities such as autism. “I feel that I’m not alone in the Harvey Mudd community with this need—I’m quite sure that others are grappling with this. I’d like to shed light on it and see if we can help each other.” Chan also says he wouldn’t be where he is today if not for Harvey Mudd, so he felt it was important to set up a trust to contribute to Harvey Mudd’s planned giving program. “Both Irma and I are immigrants from other countries. My parents were so poor that we had to borrow the money for the airfare to come here. I got a full scholarship from Harvey Mudd—without that I couldn’t have gone to school, and I’ve done really well as a result from being there. So I was very thankful and wanted to give back.”

is on a mission


— Lia King

To learn how you can include Harvey Mudd College in your estate plans, contact Debbie Bills at 909.607.3162 or email

The world needs Harvey Mudd. And Harvey Mudd needs you.

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Welcome to My World


Alumni and their traveling companions got up close and personal with chinstrap penguins (Pygoscelis Antarcticus) and other captivating wildlife during a winter trip to Antarctica. Read more about their adventure and what’s next for the Mudd Travel Program, inside front cover.

Harvey Mudd College Magazine spring 2015  

Alumni profiles: Epidemiologists use simulation models to slow HIV spread; a trapeze artist (not his day job); a cyber detective; a physics...

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