Alumni notes


Rachel Gerver (Ph.D.’14 BioE), one of the first students in Berkeley’s development engineering program, is now a Biodesign Innovation Fellow at Stanford University. In 2014, she traveled to Kenya with a Development Impact Explore grant to test technology for HIV monitoring and infant diagnosis.

Han Jin (M.Eng.’12 IEOR), founder and CEO of Lucid VR, developed the first stereoscopic camera that records high-definition footage from 180 degrees. LucidCam received the 2015 Technology Lumiere Award from the Advanced Imaging Society, the Ascend Award for best new startup at the Sierra Ventures CXO Summit and the 2015 Innovation for the Future Award from Beijing University and Hanhai Investment.

Connor Landgraf (B.S.’13, M.Eng.’14 BioE), founder and CEO of Eko Devices — known for the smart stethoscope Landgraf began developing as an undergraduate in bioengineering professor Amy Herr’s capstone course — received the 2016 Mark Bingham Award for Excellence in Achievement, one of Berkeley’s highest honors for alumni.

Anthony Sutardja (B.S.’14, M.Eng.’15 EECS) is the co-founder and CTO of Dray Technologies, Inc., a startup launched last May that allows freight carriers to access a consolidated system for booking loads and managing bill of lading forms and fund transfers from a mobile application. Dray Technologies, now operating out of Berkeley’s SkyDeck accelerator, won the eBay Award at the 2015 Kairos Global Summit.


Johann Aakre (M.S.’04 CEE) was named outstanding young engineer of 2015 by the Structural Engineering Association of Illinois, awarded to those age 35 or younger. Aakre, a senior structural engineer at Howard, Needles, Tammen & Bergendoff Corporation, has worked for more than 10 years on projects such as Chicago’s Navy Pier Pedestrian Bridge and the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge in St. Louis.

Elena Proakis Ellis (M.S.’01 CEE) was appointed as the city engineer for the administration and engineering divisions of public works in Melrose, Massachusetts. She is responsible for the overall management of the division, operations and capital project budgeting, support to the planning and zoning boards and more. Previously, Ellis served as an engineer for the water and sewer division of Concord for eight years, until she returned to consulting with CDM Smith, the company she worked for post-graduation.

David Fanfan (M.S.’01 CEE) earned an M.B.A. at Hult International Business School and traveled to Asia (among other adventures), before settling in New York. A former International House resident, he credits I-House as “a motivator for me to become a better global citizen.”

Charles Shank and President ObamaIn October, Charles Shank (B.S.’65, M.S.’66, Ph.D.’69 EECS) received the Enrico Fermi Award from President Barack Obama at the White House. Sharing the award with UCLA physicist Claudio Pellegrini, Shank was lauded for contributions to ultrafast science and energy research. Shank worked at AT&T Bell Laboratories for 20 years before returning to Berkeley in 1989 to become the fifth director of Berkeley Lab, a post he held until 2004. He continued to teach science courses until 2011.

(Official White House photo by Pete Souza)

Arlo Faria (B.S.’04 EECS, Ph.D.’14 CS) is a co-founder of ReMeeting, a mobile application and cloud service that enables users to record and search through spoken conversations. As a graduate student, Faria researched algorithms and systems for speech and audio signal processing and pattern recognition at the International Computer Science Institute.

David Kang (M.S.’04 CEE) was named vice chancellor for infrastructure and safety at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Previously, as the White House director of project management, he developed the vision for more strategic and sustainable facilities at the White House.

Tal Lavian (Ph.D.’06 CS) won Best Presentation Award for the paper “R&D Models for Advanced Development and Corporate Research” at the IEEE/ICE International Technology Management Conference in Belfast, Ireland in June, along with professor Ikhlaq Sidhu and associate instructor Victoria Howell.

Alexandra Meliou (M.S.’05, Ph.D.’09 CS) received the National Science Foundation’s CAREER award for her work on improving data quality and data-driven processes through reverse data management. “Data is critical in almost every aspect of society, including healthcare, education, economy and science,” she says. “However, it is often misused because its validity and origin are unclear, and mistakes easily propagate.”

Ryan Panchadsaram (B.S.’07 IEOR) is the deputy chief technology officer at the White House, promoting more effective use of technology by the federal government. After graduating from Berkeley, he worked for Microsoft and co-founded Pipette, a healthcare startup that was later acquired by Named a Presidential Innovation Fellow, he gave a TEDMED talk in 2013 about information access for patients.

Anthony Papavasiliou (M.S.’07, Ph.D.’11 IEOR) won the 2015 Best Publication Award from INFORMS (a professional society for operations research, management science and analytics), for the article, “Multi-Area Stochastic Unit Commitment for High Wind Penetration in a Transmission Constrained Network,” along with IEOR professor Shmuel Oren.

Gordon Rios (M.S.’02 IEOR) earned an M.B.A. at Haas in 1992 and was named Pandora’s first official data scientist in 2011. Rios is now the principal scientist on the playlist team at Pandora Media, working on machine learning-based music recommendation systems. He is also the CTO of, recently acquired by StubHub/eBay.

Fang Yu (M.S.’02, Ph.D.’06 CS) is co-founder and CTO of DataVisor, a company specializing in data science, security, analytics and infrastructure. The company has applied for a patent on their security analytics engine, designed to protect online communities from potential third-party threats hidden in the sites. Yu works with fellow Berkeley alumni Julian Wong (B.S.’02 EECS) and Ling Huang (Ph.D.’07 CS).


Eve Andersson (M.S.’98 ME) manages the accessibility engineering group at Google, with a passion to help people with disabilities to “be able to work at whatever they want, study what they like, travel wherever they wish, feel free and empowered,” she told Fox News. Andersson founded ArsDigita Corporation and was a senior vice president at Neumont University in Utah and a visiting professor of computer science at Universidad Galileo in Guatemala.

Dipanjan “DJ” Deb (B.S.’91 EECS) is the co-founder and CEO of Francisco Partners, an international private equity firm that provides capital to technology companies. Previously, he served as a principal with the Texas Pacific Group and was the director of semiconductor banking at Robertson, Stephens and Company.

Marie DesJardins (Ph.D.’92 CS) was named associate dean of academic affairs in the College of Engineering and Information Technology at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). She joined the faculty in 2001. In 2015, she was named an American Council on Education Fellow, one of 31 faculty and administrators in the United States. DesJardins was named UMBC’s Presidential Teaching Professor (2014–17) and distinguished member of the Association for Computing Machinery. She recently received a National Science Foundation grant to improve computer science education in Maryland.

Ioannis Emiris (M.S.’91, Ph.D.’94 CS) is a professor in the informatics and telecommunications department of the University of Athens. He moved to Greece in 2002, after eight years at the research institute at Inria Sophia-Antipolis, France. He is coordinating a European training and research network on the algorithmic and mathematical foundations of computer-aided design at ARCADES, a European Union-funded research and innovation program.

Dan Garcia (M.S.’95, Ph.D.’00 CS), Berkeley computer science lecturer, was honored by the Level Playing Field Institute as “Tech Diversity Champion” for bringing greater diversity to computer science. His course, CS10, The Beauty and Joy of Computing — which made campus history in 2013 for enrolling more women than men — was profiled in January in the NPR story, “Adding ‘Beauty and Joy’ to Obama’s Push for Computer Science Teaching.”

Nirmal Govind (M.S.’99 IEOR), director of streaming science and algorithms at Netflix, works on optimizing streaming quality with machine-learning models and algorithms. Prior to Netflix, Govind was CTO of Lightning Bolt Solutions and senior operations research engineer and project manager at Intel.

Susan Hubbard (Ph.D.’98 CEE) was promoted from deputy director of science to associate laboratory director for earth and environmental services at Berkeley Lab. She oversees such projects as the microbes-to-biomes initiative. Hubbard was named to the Berkeley CEE Academy of Distinguished Alumni in 2015.

Young Kwak (M.S.’92, Ph.D.’97 CE), associate professor of decision sciences at the George Washington University School of Business, was named editor-in-chief of the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Journal of Management in Engineering in 2015. Kwak also serves on the editorial boards of IEEE’s Transactions on Engineering Management and the International Journal of Project Management.

Theodore Piepenbrock (M.Eng.’93 CE) is a senior fellow of the International Institute for Strategic Leadership. He has taught at several leading business schools, most notably the London School of Economics, where he was awarded a teaching prize. Piepenbrock met his wife of 19 years, Belgium native Sophie Marnette (Ph.D.’96 French), at I-House; they have an 11-year-old son, Garry.

Tara Weidner (M.Eng.’95 CE), an integrated transportation analysis engineer at the Oregon Department of Transportation, received the Federal Highway Administration’s 2015 environmental excellence award in air quality improvement for her work with the Corvallis Area Metropolitan Planning Organization using GreenSTEP, data analysis software that estimates greenhouse gas emissions based on various transportation and lifestyle scenarios. She serves as the agency’s lead on greenhouse gas modeling and analysis to meet legislated statewide and urban greenhouse gas reduction targets.  

Tzi-Kei Wong (B.S.’97 IEOR) is senior director of product management, developing the marketing analytics and platform strategy, for BrightEdge, a content performance marketing company founded by CEO Jim Yu and CTO Lemuel Park (B.S.’00 EECS).


Gregory L. Fenves (M.S.’80, Ph.D.’84 CE) was named the 29th president of the University of Texas at Austin last spring. Fenves started his career as an assistant professor in the Cockrell School of Engineering at UT Austin from 1984–87, then returned to Berkeley, where he remained on the faculty for more than 20 years and served as CEE chair from 2002–07. In 2008, Fenves returned to Cockrell as dean, and in 2013, he was appointed executive vice president and provost of UT Austin. Fenves is a member of the National Academy of Engineering.

Diane Greene (M.S.’88 EECS) has been named head of enterprise for Google Cloud Platform. Before joining Google, Greene co-founded VMware in 1998 with husband and Stanford professor Mendel Rosenblum (M.S.’90, Ph.D.’92 CS), where she served as its first CEO until 2008. She serves on the Google board as the senior vice president for Google’s enterprise business. Business Insider named Greene first in a list of “most influential women engineers” in 2016. Fellow alum Tara Bunch (B.S.’85 ME), vice president of AppleCare, Apple’s technical-service and support organization, was named third.

Oliver Günther (M.S.’85, Ph.D.’87 CS) has served as the president of the University of Potsdam in Germany since 2012. Earlier, he was the president of the German Informatics Society, Gesellschaft für Informatik, Germany’s leading association of computer scientists, and also as dean of Humboldt’s School of Business and Economics in Berlin. His research involves enterprise information systems, IT security and privacy, digital asset management, collaborative software and geographic and environmental information systems.

Grace Kang (B.S.’81, M.Eng.’87 CE), communications director at the Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center (PEER), was elected to the College of Fellows of the Structural Engineers Association of California.

Michael Luby (Ph.D.’83 CS), vice president of technology at Qualcomm, was named a 2015 Association for Computing Machinery Fellow for his contributions to coding theory, cryptography, parallel algorithms and de-randomization. Luby co-founded Digital Fountain and led the team that invented Tornado and Luby Transform codes.

Richard Morales (M.S.’86 CE) is the director of the Georgia Institute of Technology’s 16th annual Exploring Engineering Academy, a summer camp for high school students. For 15 years, Morales has served as committee chairman, expanding the academy from 10 students to a record high of 75. With the support of Gary May (M.S.’88, Ph.D.’91 EECS), Georgia Tech’s dean of engineering, the academy aims to expand to serve 100 engineering-bound students.


Donald L. Birx (B.S.’74 Eng. Physics) was named the 15th president of Plymouth State University. Prior to his appointment, he served as vice chancellor and president of research for the University of Houston System, and more recently as chancellor and professor at the Behrend College in Pennsylvania. “I’m excited about what can be accomplished when we bring education and business together in innovative ways,” he says. “The synergy is incredibly powerful and the opportunities created are transformative — for ourselves, our students and our community.”

Joseph Decuir (B.S.’72, M.S.’73 ME) has chaired the IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference since September 2010. He became an IEEE fellow for his contributions to video gaming at Atari and Amiga. He has also contributed to such familiar engineering standards as V-series modems, USB and Bluetooth. Decuir returned to campus last April to address engineering students about career management.

Ronald Ketchum (B.S.’75 EECS) is the founder of Ketchum Consulting Services, a company that develops and delivers training in hydro-electric generator equipment. Earlier, Ketchum worked as an electrical engineer for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and then spent a decade as chief operations engineer at Hoover Dam before starting his own firm. Looking back on his long career, he advises today’s students that perseverance is its own reward: “Faltering is not failing; be forgiving to yourself, but don’t forsake your goal.” 


Nicholas George (B.S.’49 Eng. Physics) was honored for his lifetime dedication to the Institute of Optics at the University of Rochester with the creation of the Nicholas George Endowed Professorship in Optics. This professorship was established by a gift from Milton Chang, one of George’s former students at CalTech, with a commitment from Joseph Goodman, professor emeritus at Stanford University. In the university’s announcement of the professorship, Provost Robert Clark said of George, “He pioneered basic research in holography and was the first to develop a theory for the space and wavelength dependence of speckle — a theory applied to remote sensing of satellites and space debris.”

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