Alumni notes

May 1, 2012
This article appeared in Berkeley Engineer magazine, Spring 2012


Nam Koo-hyun (M.S.’10 ME) is a professor at the Institute for the Early Universe at Ewha Woman’s University in Seoul. He had his work on crack formation featured on the May 2012 cover of Nature—making him, at age 33, the youngest Korean researcher to be featured on the cover of the prestigious science journal. Nam’s work began at Berkeley, where he pursued how to deliberately start and stop cracks on demand. Combined with nanoscale technology, his research has implications for the semiconductor and bioscience industries.

Jessica Mah (B.S.’10 EECS) graduated early and started her own business, inDinero, by age 20. Based in Mountain View, California, inDinero is a cloud-based software solution that helps small-business owners track their finances without any data entry; instead, it pulls the information from your business’s financial account. “We got rid of the complexity, so business owners can quickly see how they’re doing,” Mah told a blogger for the New York Times.


David MaysDavid Mays (Ph.D.’05 CEE) is an assistant professor of civil engineering at the University of Colorado Denver, where his focus is flow and transport in porous media. He is now conducting two related studies on the role of fractals and chaos in groundwater remediation. One study addresses clogging using a unique optical-quality flow column (right), while the other focuses on improving well hydraulics using chaotic advection.

(Photo by Michael Ensminger)

Jack Kang (B.S.’04 EECS), director of Marvell’s application processor business unit, had the plum assignment of developing Microsoft’s Kinect technology. Released in November 2010, Kinect uses Marvell’s specialized microprocessor to achieve a controller-less gaming experience for Microsoft’s Xbox360. Instead, users interact with games using voice commands and gestures. “It was a giant leap,” Kang says. The technology has other uses beyond gaming, including video conferencing, surveillance and a navigational aid for the blind.

Michael Le (B.S.’07 EECS, BioE) completed dental school at UCSF and is now pursuing a Ph.D. in oral and craniofacial sciences there.

Albert Mach (B.S.’08 BioE) was named to the Forbes “30 under 30” list of 2011. He was recognized for his centrifuge on a chip, which could provide a rapid way to detect cancer via blood testing. He is a Ph.D. student at UCLA, focusing on nonlinear microfluidics and circulating tumor cells in the laboratory of fellow alum Dino Di Carlo (B.S.’02, Ph.D.’06 BioE), assistant professor in UCLA’s bioengineering and biomedical engineering department.

Joel Villamil (B.S.’00 CEE) and Margaret Myers Villamil (B.S.’03 CEE) welcomed the birth of their son, Frederick Samuel Villamil, in September in Berkeley.

Three undergraduate EECS alums were included in a March 2012 Forbes blog post, “Female Founders to Watch from UC Berkeley”: Annie Chang ’02, co-founder of Lolapps, which entertains over 100 million users a month with gaming applications on Facebook and is one of the largest and most identifiable social media game developers; and Corinne Chan ’97 and Helen Zhu ’00, co-founders of the online fashion site Chictopia, an interactive site connecting users interested in fashion with retailers, fashion bloggers and designers.


Juan Carlos de la Llera (M.S.’90, Ph.D.’94 CEE) is president and co-founder of the engineering company Sirve, which designed the quake-resistant technology that helped save Santiago’s tallest skyscraper—the 52-story, $200 million Torre Titanium La Portada office building—during the 8.8-magnitude Chilean quake in February 2010.

Reginald DesRochesReginald DesRoches (B.S.’90 ME, M.S.’93 CEE, Ph.D.’88 CEE) was appointed chair of the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. “Without a doubt, Reggie is the very best person to lead civil and environmental engineering into the future,” said Gary S. May (M.S.’88, Ph.D.’91 EECS), dean of Georgia Tech’s College of Engineering. “He is an active researcher and highly regarded educator.” (Photo courtesy Georgia Institute of Technology)

Benjamin J. Klayman (B.S.’98 CEE) earned his Ph.D. in environmental engineering from Montana State University. He now lives with his wife, Coral, in Portland, Oregon, where he works for Black & Veatch Corporation as a drinking water process engineer. They live on 11 acres with two cows, two horses, three dogs and 30 chickens.

Audra Meng (Ph.D.’99 BioE) and her husband, Jack, co-founded Scootababy, a company that manufactures adjustable sling baby carriers designed to comfortably distribute weight between a parent’s shoulders and hips. On their product website,, they credit sons Ramsey and Kepler as research department staff.

Manish S. Modi (M.S.’91 ME) manages a global software development team focused on manufacturing and supply-chain business applications.

Mario Noble (B.S.’98 MSE/ME) was promoted to director of global manufacturing quality at Life Fitness, a fitness equipment manufacturer of the Brunswick Company. He lives in the Chicago suburb of Streamwood with his wife, Jennifer, daughter, Cassandra, and son, Marcus.

Reynaldo Banzon Vea (Ph.D.’91 Naval Architecture) has been appointed to the UNESCO National Commission of the Philippines and elected chairman of its science and technology subcommittee. Since 2000, Vea has been president of the Mapúa Institute of Technology, the Philippines’ largest engineering school. From 1997 to 2000, in a position appointed by former President Fidel V. Ramos, Vea led the privatization of Manila’s waterworks and sewerage system. Prior to that, he was dean of engineering at the University of the Philippines.

Ian Zook (M.S.’93 ME) is the manager of design engineering for structural, operator compartment and controls components for counterbalanced Hyster and Yale forklift trucks. He directed the launch of an all-new electric-lift truck in 2011. He lives in Portland, Oregon.


Dennis Cates (B.S.’81 Eng. Physics, M.S.’82 EECS), a high-school calculus teacher at Chandler Preparatory Academy in Chandler, Arizona, has published A Guide to Cauchy’s Calculus—A Translation and Analysis of Calcul Infinitesimal, an English translation and analysis of Augustin-Louis Cauchy’s historic 1823 French text. Cates’ book serves as a guide for teachers and students of calculus and adds historical perspective and contemporary commentary to Cauchy’s original text.

Anantha P. Chandrakasan (B.S.’89, M.S.’90, Ph.D.’94 EECS) now heads the electrical engineering and computer science department at M.I.T. In 2009, Chandrakasan was honored with the Semiconductor Industry Association’s University Researcher Award.

Abdulmohsin Y. Al Dulaijan (M.S.’86 MSE) received a Ph.D. in geophysics from the Colorado School of Mines. Following graduation, he joined Aramco in 1991. He has since retired and is establishing his own business.

Soumitra Dutta (M.S.’87, Ph.D.’90 EECS) was named dean of Cornell University’s Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management in January. Born in Chandigarh, India, Dutta will be the first dean at a top American business school from outside the U.S., and the school’s first Indian-origin dean when he takes over in July.

Oliver Günther (M.S.’85, Ph.D.’87 CS) of Berlin, Germany, became president of the University of Potsdam in January 2012. Previously, he was professor of information systems and dean of the business school at Humboldt University in Berlin.

Judith Hall (B.S.’85 ME, LL.M.’07) was promoted from senior vice president to chief legal officer and general counsel at Recurrent Energy last fall. Previously, Hall served as associate general counsel of Babcock & Brown.

Katherine (Hanke) Johnescu (B.S.’82 ME) and husband Paul Johnescu (M.S.’88 IEOR) report that their son joined his sister at Berkeley last fall: Joe is a freshman in the College of Engineering, and Laurel graduated with a B.S. in molecular environmental biology this spring. Katherine remains close by, working for the Department of Energy at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

David Lindow (M.S.’81 ME) and Mike Muntisov (M.Eng.’82 CE) didn’t know one another when they were engineering graduate students. Then, several months ago, they found themselves sharing a cab on the way to a business dinner in San Francisco. Muntisov, a board member of the Australian-based GHD, just moved to California to manage the integration of Winzler and Kelly, a company where Lindow works. The two engineering and environmental consulting firms were merging, a potentially awkward professional situation. But after a few minutes in the cab they realized that they were both Berkeley grads, had spent their careers managing water quality projects, have teenage children the same ages and were even wearing similar shoes. “I think that’s when the whole multimillion-dollar deal just shrunk down,” Lindow said. “Knowing that Mike got his degree at the same time I was at Etcheverry Hall was truly the icing on the cake.”

Daniel A. Louis (B.S.’83, M.S.’85 CEE) has a new position as vice president of the civil engineering division of Samsung C&T in Seoul, South Korea. His focus is worldwide tunneling and underground projects and globalization opportunities in the Americas, Australia and New Zealand. His wife, Tricia (B.S.’82 Latin American Studies), will remain in California with their three children.

Jon Pincus (B.S.’85 EECS) sold his company, Intrinsa Corporation, to Microsoft, and is now senior vice president of products at Accellion. Pincus also serves on the National Academy’s computer science and telecommunications board panel on dependable software.


Larry Asera (B.S.’70 CE) president of the Solano Cal Alumni Club, was re-elected to a fourth term on the Solano County Board of Education and continues to serve as president. Formerly a professor of engineering technology at CSU Maritime, Asera is currently the chairman and CEO of Asera Group, Inc., an energy and environmental engineering company specializing in the development of utility scale photovoltaic projects.

Enrique Felix Pasta

Enrique Félix Pasta (M.S.’78 CEE) was elected dean of Universidad Loyola del Pacífico in Acapulco, Mexico, last summer. He is one of the founders of the school, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. Pasta has also held a number of positions relating to information technology and finance for private industry, nonprofits and government. One of his latest positions was as a technical advisor during the construction of the largest solar panel project in Mexico. (Photo courtesy
Enrique Félix Pasta)

Keith Bisharat (B.A.’75 Architecture, M.S.’83 CEE), who served for 18 years as the head of the Sacramento State Construction Management Program, has resumed teaching and is developing the program’s theory, methods and practices library.

Ron Gronsky (M.S.’74, Ph.D.’77 MSE) was one of seven UC Berkeley professors recognized as the “300 Best Professors” by the Princeton Review. “We developed this project as a tribute to the extraordinary dedication of America’s undergraduate college professors and the vitally
important role they play in our culture, and our democracy,” said Robert Franek, senior vice president of content development and publishing at Princeton Review. Gronsky, chair of the materials science and engineering department, received UC Berkeley’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 2001.

John Kadvany (M.S.’79 IEOR), a Menlo Park-based risk and public policy consultant whose clients include the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy, has co-authored Risk: A Very Short Introduction, published by Oxford University Press in July 2011. An excerpt follows.

Risks involve threats to outcomes that we value. For some valued outcomes, there are widely accepted measures, such as annual mortality rate and gross national product. For other outcomes, such as well-being and sustainability, there is no such agreement. For yet other outcomes, such as threats to justice and nature, the very idea of measurement is controversial, with some people agreeing with legal scholar Laurence Tribe that measurement can “anaesthetize moral feeling” and others agreeing with physicist Michael Faraday that, “if you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it.”

David Moller (B.S.’74 CE) is the director of power generation at Pacific Gas and Electric in San Francisco. He was recently reelected president and CEO of the National Hydropower Association and also reelected to the board of directors.

Peter Henry Nielsen (B.S.’72 Eng. Sci., M.B.A.’77) is the co-founder, president and CEO of Bio-Path Holdings, a biotechnology company that is developing cancer drugs. The company has developed a proprietary liposomal delivery technology designed to distribute nucleic acid drugs throughout the human body with a simple intravenous transfusion. They are working in partnership with the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Pradip (M.S.’77, Ph.D.’81 MSE) was elected to the National Academy of Engineering this spring as a foreign associate for his contributions to the processing of minerals and waste minerals. Pradip is chief scientist and head of the process engineering lab for the Tata Research Development and Design Centre in Pune, India.


Carlie Bowmer (M.S.’68 CE) retired after 30 years with the Arizona Department of Transportation. He was the assistant state engineer for the traffic engineering program, with responsibilities including design, operations and safety. He is now enjoying “the retirement lifestyle” with family and friends.

Gary Giddings (B.S.’63, Ph.D.’69 EECS) of Orange County, California, belongs to a do-it-yourself community of users dedicated to improving the technology of the Nissan Leaf, one of several such groups that have sprung up around the country since the company introduced the electric car in 2010. A passionate supporter of electric vehicles, Giddings devised a better way to display remaining battery charge to improve a driver’s ability to gauge range. “At this point in my life, my goal is to spend whatever time I have trying to help E.V.s become successful,” Giddings told the New York Times in an October story about the groups.

Ulrich E. Hess (B.S.’67, M.S.’69 EE) retired from Hewlett-Packard after a long career in thin-film technology. He now researches violin acoustics.

Richard Hogg (M.S.’65, Ph.D.’70 MSE) was elected to the National Academy of Engineering this spring. Hogg is professor emeritus of mineral processing and geoenvironmental engineering at Pennsylvania State University, University Park. Hogg was elected to the academy for his contributions to the science and engineering of coagulation and flocculation in particulate systems.

V.K. Leary (B.S.’65 CE) worked for six years at the Sonoma County Water Agency and U.S. Corps of Engineers after receiving his master’s in regional planning from Cornell University. Leary is now a Buddhist priest and the director of the California Tendai Monastery in Cobb, California.

Howard D. Maccabee (M.S.’66, Ph.D.’66 NE) has published “Direct Health Effects of Climate Change” in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, which explores the relationship between climate change and decreasing death rates.

Roger J. McCandless (M.S.’69 NE) and his wife, Pat, live in Auburn, California. He retired in 2000 after 35 years with General Electric Nuclear Energy in San Jose, California.

Masuo Okada (M.S.’65, Ph.D.’78 MSE) retired from Tohoku University in Japan last March and is now president of Hachinohe National College of Technology.


Bernard J. Barden (B.S.’53 ME) retired after 32 years with IBM and is now a volunteer docent at the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park.

Leung-Ku Stephen Lau (B.S.’53, M.S.’55, Ph.D.’59 CE), a professor emeritus of civil engineering at the University of Hawai’i, published the book Hydrology of the Hawaiian Islands in 2006.

John Michael Leach (B.S.’59 CE) launched a successful career with two years in the U.S. Public Health Service, followed by 15 years with VTN Corporation, where he was ultimately named CEO. He later founded Leastar Corporation, where he managed development projects for home builders, developers and investors. Leach partially retired in 2001 and still enjoys an occasional consulting assignment.

Charles R. “Bob” Leitzell (B.S.’50 CE) retired in 1987 from his position as director of public works for Calaveras County. Bob has since worked as a self-employed traffic engineer in California’s Mother Lode region. In his spare time, he enjoys researching family history and traveling with his wife, Paula.


Donald Cone (B.S.’43, M.S.’51 EE) moved to Los Osos, California after retirement and is actively involved with his church, the Boy Scouts and Kiwanis Club. He recently celebrated his 90th birthday and 69 years of marriage.

Frank Kreith (B.S.’45 ME) presented a plenary on global sustainability at the 2011 ASME International Congress in Denver, Colorado. His new book, Principles of Sustainable Energy, was published by CRC Press in 2011.

John Redd Vidmar (B.S.’43 ME) is retired with 32 grandchildren and 32 great-grandchildren. His son Peter was the captain of the United States Olympic gymnastics team and won two gold medals and one silver medal in 1984.

Robert L. Wilson (B.S.’48 CE), who retired from Caltrans after 38 years and lives is Carmichael, California, is a docent at the Aerospace Museum in Sacramento. He and his wife, Margaret
Garland, have three children: Patricia, a mechanical engineer; John, an electrical engineer; and Nancy, a teacher.

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Topics: Alumni