Alumni notes

2010+

Saurabh Amin (Ph.D.’11 CEE), an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at MIT since 2011, researches the design and implementation of resilient network control algorithms for infrastructure systems, along with the effect of security attacks and random faults on the survivability of these systems, to design mechanisms to reduce network risks.

Grace KangSomin E. Lee (Ph.D.’10 BioE), assistant professor in electrical engineering and computer sciences and biomedical engineering at the University of Michigan, received a National Science Foundation CAREER award for her research in engineering plasmonic nanoantenna architectures for efficient nuclear delivery. Lee aims to improve gene therapy by delivering corrected genes directly to the cell nucleus of damaged genes, more efficiently and with greater control than is currently possible. (Photo courtesy University of Michigan)

Cynthia Cruz (B.S.’12, M.S.’13 ME) is a clinical specialist for the medical device company Second Sight. She travels the country coordinating trainings and managing the programming of the company’s retinal prosthesis. The device restores basic visual perception to those who have lost sight because of a degenerative condition called retinitis pigmentosa. The impact of Second Sight’s technology was demonstrated in a video that showed a prosthetic user who sees his wife for the first time in 33 years; the moving clip was widely shared online this past winter.

Johanna L. Mathieu (M.S.’08, Ph.D.’12 ME) is an assistant professor of EECS at the University of Michigan. After graduating from Berkeley, she was a postdoctoral researcher at ETH Zürich, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology.

Gregory McLaskey (Ph.D.’11 CEE) has received the American Geophysical Union’s 2014 Keeiti Aki Young Scientist Award, offered to one scientist in the field of seismology each year. Upon graduating, McLaskey won the USGS Mendenhall Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, and then joined the faculty of Cornell University as an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering in fall 2014.

Sunny J. Mistry (Ph.D.’14 ME) works at Apple on the product design team for iPhones and the Apple Watch, supporting the design engineering team to make designs more robust by simulating operations on computers.

Jack Reilly (M.S.’13, Ph.D.’14 CEE) received the Council of Universities Transportation Center’s Milton Pikarsky Memorial Award for his dissertation, which describes new methods for coordinated, predictive and decentralized freeway traffic control to help create connected corridors and increased traffic flow.  

2000+

Kshama Agrawal Mehra (B.S.’06 BioE) married her Cal sweetheart, Ravi Mehra (B.S.’04 Business), in May 2010. Their son was born in July 2014, and “he is looking forward to going to Cal in 18 years,” according to his parents. Mehra is also involved with XX in Health, a women-in-health-tech group in Los Angeles.

Christopher Cherry (Ph.D.’07 CEE), an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville since 2007, received a National Science Foundation CAREER Award for his research in motorization and sustainability in China. He specializes in transportation planning, economics and sustainability.

Grace Kang

Alums make pop, pop

Hooktheory founders Dave Carlton (B.S.’06, Ph.D.’12 EECS), Chris Anderson (Ph.D.’09 AS&T), and Ryan Miyakawa (B.S.’05, Ph.D.’11 Eng. Phys.), pictured left to right, first met on campus in 2005. Beyond engineering, they found they also shared a love of music.

In 2009, the trio considered creating a platform to simplify music education; from that evolved a unique form of music notation devoid of measures and staffs. They envisioned an intuitive platform with colorful bar graphics, like those in the Guitar Hero video games.

They developed a suite of products to bring their ideas to a broader audience. An online platform called Theorytab allows users to easily learn about and play back chord progressions and melodies from popular music. A free, web-based software program called Hookpad helps songwriters choose chords and write melodies for their own music.

“Our approach is great for people who don’t have a lot of exposure to music theory, but at the same time, it can be applied to very complicated songs,” Miyakawa says. “I was always worried that we were oversimplifying the music-theory side. But the music-theory geeks are the people that are really, really into this.” (Story by Nate Seltenrich; photo by Bruce Cook)

Richard Din (B.S.’08 EECS and Economics) and Andy Zhang (B.S.’14 EECS) are co-founders of Caviar, a food delivery service that originated in San Francisco and has since expanded to Washington D.C., Chicago, New York and Seattle. In 2014, the company was acquired by the credit card and mobile payment company Square. “We started in a small room in our fraternity house, thinking about ideas and trying to build things, and we’ve been able to grow it into a very large and successful company,” says Zhang.

Shanin Farshchi (B.S.’02 EECS) went on to earn his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from UCLA, and he has held technical positions at General Motors and several Silicon Valley technology startups. He is now a partner at Lux Capital, specializing in investing in hardware and robotics companies.

Kenneth Kuhn (M.S.’02, Ph.D.’06 CEE), an associate operations researcher at the RAND Corporation and a professor at the Pardee RAND graduate school in Santa Monica, California, specializes in transportation system operations, infrastructure management, the impacts of weather and extreme events and logistics. Prior to RAND, he was an assistant professor at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand and an aviation systems researcher at NASA.

Cornelius Nuworsoo (Ph.D.’04 CEE), who earned a master’s degree in city planning from Berkeley before completing his doctorate in engineering, joined the faculty of the College of Architecture and Environmental Design at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in 2005 and is now an associate professor. He has 22 years of experience in both urban and regional planning and in transportation engineering, and he is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners.

Elizabeth Vargis (B.S.’04 BioE) joined the Utah State University faculty as an assistant professor of biological engineering in 2013, after earning her master’s degree and Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from Vanderbilt University. She completed her postdoctoral training in Knoxville, Tennessee at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. 

1990+

Steve Wozniak and Yoky Matsuoka

“California, We’re For You”

The Cal Alumni Association (CAA) has selected Steve Wozniak (B.S.’86 EECS) as the 2015 Alumnus of the Year and has honored Yoky Matsuoka (B.S.’93 EECS) with the Excellence in Achievement Award. Both recipients are credited with important technological innovations; a Silicon Valley icon and philanthropist, Wozniak co-founded Apple Computer Inc. with Steve Jobs in 1976, introducing the Apple I personal computer, while Matsuoka is recognized as having created the modern robotic hand.

Wozniak has demonstrated a strong commitment to education and has focused on computer capabilities in schools, hands-on learning and encouraging student creativity in various business and philanthropic ventures. Wozniak’s many awards include the ACM Grace Murray Hopper Award (1979), the National Medal of Technology from President Ronald Reagan (1985) and multiple honorary doctor of engineering degrees.

Matsuoka arrived in the U.S. at age 16 not knowing a word of English, yet a passion for engineering and technology led her to get a B.S. from Berkeley in EECS and advanced degrees from MIT. In 2009, she became Google’s head of innovation before joining Nest as the smart thermostat company’s vice president of technology, and she recently accepted the position of  vice president of technology and analytics at Twitter. In 2007, she was named a MacArthur Fellow, and prior to that she won a Presidential Early Career Award and an IEEE early career award for her work on robotics. (Story by Miranda King; Wozniak photo by Michael Bulbenko; Matsuoko photo courtesy Yoky Matsuoko)

Pablo Durango-Cohen (M.S.’97, Ph.D.’02 IEOR) is now an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Northwestern University. He joined the faculty in 2001, and in 2006 he received a CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation for his work in transportation infrastructure systems.

Charles Manese (B.S.’90 EECS), an infrastructure engineer at Facebook, is part of the team responsible for data center, storage and networking technologies. Earlier, he was at Dell as an architect in the data center solutions group, designing and delivering hyperscale computer products.  

1980+

Kevin Dong (M.S.’87, M.Eng.’88 CE) worked with the engineering firm Arup, initially in London and then in their San Francisco office, where he became an associate in 1990. In 2001, he started teaching at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, where he is now a professor in the architectural engineering department and associate dean of administration for the College of Architecture and Environmental Design.

Lorraine Fleming (Ph.D.’85 CEE) and Gary May (M.S.’87, Ph.D.’91 EECS), along with Sheila Humphreys, EECS director emerita of diversity, received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM). The award is recognition for playing a crucial role in helping science and engineering students develop personally and professionally. “These educators are helping to cultivate America’s future scientists, engineers and mathematicians,” President Obama said of the awardees. “They open new worlds to their students, and give them the encouragement they need to learn, discover and innovate. That’s transforming those students’ futures, and our nation’s future, too.” Fleming is a professor at the College of Engineering, Architecture and Computer Sciences at Howard University, where she has held numerous leadership positions, including department chair and interim dean. Gary May is the dean of the College of Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Thomas Holsen (B.A.’83 Env. Sci., M.S.’85, Ph.D.’88 CE) has been named the Jean S. Newell Distinguished Professor of Engineering at Clarkson University in New York. He is also associate director of Clarkson’s air resources engineering and science center, and has served on EPA science advisory board committees and on the board of the International Association of Great Lakes Researchers. With more than 140 journal publications, his research focuses primarily on environmental systems.

Ronald Kaneshiro (M.S.’79, Ph.D.’83 EECS) has been named vice president of engineering at Kaiam Corporation, a leader in hybrid photonic integrated circuit technology. Earlier, he was senior director at Avago Technologies and vice president and chief operating officer of systems and integration at Glo, a venture-backed company that develops advanced LED products using nanotechnology.

1970+

Reza Abbaschian (Ph.D.’71 MSE), dean of the Bourns College of Engineering at UC Riverside for more than 10 years, started his academic career at the University of Florida, where he rose from a materials science professor to department chair, a post he held for 16 years. He has published more than 250 scientific articles, holds five patents and eight disclosure patents and has authored eight books. His research focuses on the role of interfaces on the processing and properties of material. He is a past president of the American Society for Metals International, and has won several awards, including the Minerals, Metals and Materials Society’s Educator and Leadership awards and the Davis Productivity Award of the State of Florida.

George T. Hahn (M.S.’78 ME) has published the second novel in his planned sci-fi trilogy, Tau Ceti: The New Colonists, which takes readers through space travel and the building of a new world.

Glen Langstaff (B.S.’77 ME/NE) is general manager at ECS Refining, a leading recycler of electronics in the country, located in Stockton, California. He is working toward ECS’s vision of 100 percent recycling of all electronics in the U.S. (that figure is currently around 25 percent). Previously, he was vice president and chief operating officer at a robotics and contracting firm.

Young P. Oliver (M.S.’70 NE) is a pediatric neurologist in Omaha, Nebraska. His son is following in his father’s footsteps, now studying nuclear engineering at Texas A&M University.

1950+

Amiram M. Eisenstein (B.S.’51 EE), born on a chicken ranch in Petaluma, California in 1928, parlayed his youthful interest in tinkering with clocks, radios and cars to a degree in engineering. Eisenstein began his career in the U.S. Navy Bureau of Aeronautics, testing air-to-air guided missiles — “the best and most enjoyable job I ever had,” he says. In 1958, he joined Thompson Ramo Wooldridge Inc. (now Northrop Grumman), designing interconnecting cabling for the lunar excursion module. He later taught algebra and trigonometry at Cerritos High School, then worked at Litton Data Systems Group. In 1973, he moved to Culver City, where he worked on sensor and spacecraft programs for Hughes Aircraft Company until his retirement in 1989. He and his wife Becky returned to Sonoma County, where he has resumed repairing and restoring old radios — now for collectors and antique stores. He also enjoys making toys for his six-year-old grandson.

Jack Kubota (B.S.’52 CE) has had an engineering career in wastewater and sewage treatment management spanning nearly seven decades — an achievement recently recognized by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). His daughter Charleen Kubota,
a UC Berkeley librarian, says, “The ASCE honor is a fitting tribute to my dad, whose work is exemplified by best engineering practices, exemplary professional conduct and generous mentoring of young engineers.” Kubota joined the U.S. Navy straight out of high school in 1946, and he pursued his education with the help of the G.I. Bill. Kubota began his career in the public sector, then the private; in 1972, he opened his own business. Kubota remains a member of the Independent Rates and Oversight Committee, a citizen’s advisory committee in San Diego.

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