Program Notes: Graduate Alumni

Sep 07 2015

Yitao Chen MS’15 writes, “I will soon be a PhD student at Johns Hopkins University, majoring in mechanical engineering in the Whiting School of Engineering. My future academic and research adviser is an energetic young assistant professor. I am sure that he is an excellent researcher, and I feel very glad to have the chance to work with him. Looking back to my PhD application, it was unforgettable. I can be contacted via e-mail at [email protected].”

Bahram Jalali MS’86, MPhil’87, PhD’89 received the Achievement Medal from the Institution of Engineering and Technology in the UK for his “Pioneering Contributions to Silicon Photonics and High Throughput Instrumentation and Their Application to Cancer Detection.” Bahram is the Northrop-Grumman Endowed Chair in Optoelectronics and Professor of Electrical Engineering at UCLA, with joint appointments in the Biomedical Engineering Department and in the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, and a member of Columbia Engineering’s Board of Visitors. He is a Fellow of IEEE, the Optical Society of America (OSA), the American Physical Society (APS), and SPIE. He is the recipient of the R. W. Wood Prize from the Optical Society of America for the invention and demonstration of the first silicon laser, the Aron Kressel Award from the IEEE Photonics Society, and the Distinguished Engineering Achievement Award from the Engineers Council.

Yue Kuo MS’78, EngScD’80 has received the prestigious Gordon E. Moore Medal for Outstanding Achievement in Solid State Science and Technology from the Electrochemical Society (ECS) for his groundbreaking interdisciplinary research in nano and microelectronics, particularly in the complicated relationship among device performance, material properties, and fabrication processes. The Gordon E. Moore Medal was named after the Intel cofounder who is famous for developing “Moore’s Law,” the discovery that the number of transistors on a silicon chip would double every 18 months. Yue currently holds the Dow Professorship at Texas A&M University School of Chemical Engineering. He has established the Thin Film Nano & Microelectronics Research Laboratory dedicated to solid-state research and education. Among his many honors, Yue has also been awarded ECS’s Electronics and Photonics Division Award and the ECS Fellowship Award. He has authored many papers and edited many journals, including the Journal of the Electrochemical Society from 2003 to 2012.

Alumni [1] Bahram Jalali MS’86, MPhil’87, PhD’89. [2] Yue Kuo MS’78, EngScD’80. [3] Amy Moselhi MS’06. [4] Darshana Umakanth MS ’14; [5] Marie Wieck MS’83; [6] Howard Zhu MS’02. [7] Shahnoza Boboeva MS’15. [8] Jian Chen MS’11recently married Shruti Bhutada ’10TC; [9] Daniel Clark MS’14; [10] William M. Klages MS’48; [11] Thomas Joseph Re MS’95. [12] Yan Zhang MS’08; [13] Hanxiao Zheng MS’15. [14] Anurag Mathur MS’07, MPhil’11, PhD’12 is part of a team of UC Berkeley bioengineers who developed the first human “heart-on-a-chip.” The system could one day replace animal models for drug safety screening. [15] Ryan Cooper MS’10, MPhil’12, PhD’14

Amy Moselhi MS’06 writes, “Since graduating, I have worked on heavy civil construction projects in New York City. At Tully Construction, I managed a portfolio in excess of $100 million as the project manager of the East Side River Parks Project and many more. After eight years at Tully I moved to United Structure Solution Inc. as their chief executive officer in March, a very exciting opportunity to lead a minority MWBE/DBE firm that specializes in high-end architectural and ornamental iron work. In June, we became members of PWC (Professional Women in Construction). We are a full-service Union Contractor with a 13,000-square-foot fabrication shop in East Williamsburg, and our Labor force has been widely recognized on many public projects for exceptional workmanship and attention to detail. We are thrilled to have been involved in the Transportation HUB, Croton Water Treatment Plant, 63rd street subway, 7 line, and much more. We take great pride in our work and are committed to helping young, tenacious engineers prosper. Recently we hired a wonderful new 2015 Columbia University grad. Over the years, I have taught individual lectures about construction management and engineering and spoken about women and minorities in construction at campus events. I am always eager to motivate young minds at Columbia and remain open to helping any of those who contact me through LinkedIn. Many students have visited our ongoing projects, too, to get a better handle on what a contractor’s role is. I look forward to bidding on work on campus and using my professional achievement and association with United Structure Solution to help with construction on campus, too! Please visit, where I proudly have Columbia Alumni Association listed in our affiliations!

Matthew Scanlon MS’13 writes, “I’m pleased to report that I passed the Civil Engineering PE exam this spring to become a licensed civil/structural engineer. Having already obtained architectural licensure several years ago, I am now one of a very few nationally that can legally practice both architecture and engineering. I credit the excellent instruction in the Civil Engineering Department, particularly Professor Meyer, as well as Professors Smyth, Ratay, Tirolo, and others who provided the academic foundation for my exam success. With licensure in hand, I am now enjoying additional promotion opportunities here with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Norfolk, VA.”

Dragomir Radev MS’96, MPhil’97, PhD’99, a visiting professor at Columbia and a University of Michigan computer science professor, serves as program chair for the North American Computational Linguistics Olympiad (NACLO), an annual competition to identify high school and middle school students with linguistic talent while acquainting them with the field of computational linguistics. NACLO is filled with puzzles and concepts seemingly unrelated to language or computational linguistics. The whole point is to expose the fun, challenging aspects of language to students before they graduate high school and encourage them to pursue computational linguistics at the university level. Radev is one of the cofounders of NACLO and head coach for the U.S. national teams. He is a recipient of the Linguistics, Language and the Public Award from the Linguistic Society of America.

Darshana Umakanth MS ’14 writes, “I’ve been working at Hulu in Santa Monica, CA, for over a year now as a software developer. I work on the Content Platform team, which is primarily responsible for ingesting and transcoding all the content that needs to go on the site. I work with really cool cutting-edge, front-end technologies like React.js by Facebook and back-end tech such as Python. Santa Monica has been great so far; I’m soaking up the sun and learning to love the L.A. lifestyle! Fun fact: I work with a fellow Lion (Hang Qian) who graduated with me from Columbia last year with the same degree (MS in CS). However, we didn’t know each other until we started working together!”

Seamus Carroll BS’82 writes, “My wife, Marie Wieck MS’83, was recently inducted into the Women in Technology Hall of Fame for her more than 30 years in a variety of technical and executive roles in IBM’s hardware, software, and services divisions. In January she was named general manager of Middleware, overseeing digital platform software for today’s emerging enterprise workloads.”

Fengwei Zhang MS’10 has joined Wayne State University as a tenure-track assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science this fall. More information about Fengwei can be found on his home page,

Howard Zhu MS’02 is now an executive director at MSCI’s Hong Kong office, where his responsibilities include expanding MSCI’s Analytics business across Asia and the Pacific region.

Shahnoza Boboeva MS’15 writes, “I am from Tajikistan, Central Asia, and concentrated in sustainable energy. During my studies, I did my masters thesis on the “Current State of Waste Management in Tajikistan and Potential for a Waste-to-Energy Plant in Khujand City.” Through my research I have analyzed existing energy sources and current state of waste management in Khujand and the potential of the plant for energy and material recovery from solid wastes using background research on renewable energy and waste-to-energy theory. Also, I produced a step-by-step research plan for a yearlong thesis research project on energy sources in Tajikistan. I would like to thank my adviser Professor Nickolas J. Themelis for his guidance, advice, and his support throughout my life in Columbia University and during the research process of this thesis. I feel honored to have been able to know him and to work closely with him. I really enjoyed my program, and it was a great experience for me. I met many friends and amazing professors during my studies, learned new technologies and skills in energy, and graduated my program successfully. My parents are very proud of me. I am very glad for the amazing opportunity to pursue my MS degree at an amazing Ivy League University. Currently, I am exploring opportunities in the environmental and energy areas.”

Vikas V. Gupta MS’94EngScD’97 writes, “I head the hedge fund/equities arm of a leading asset management firm from India. We were ranked as the top-performing hedge fund (out of more than 11,000 hedge funds worldwide) in long-bias equities across the world for 2014 by Preqin, the top rating agency for hedge fund intelligence.”

Alan Shapiro MS’14 writes, “Since graduating, I moved to Vancouver, Canada, and accepted a job with PGL Environmental Consultants. In the past year, I have been involved in conducting environmental impact assessments for proposed pipeline and mining projects as well as contaminated site investigations across western Canada. I continue my involvement in science communication and water policy research.”

John Arroyo MS’06 writes, “My software company, Arroyo Labs (, turns three this summer. We are moving into a new office space and getting more recognition in the enterprise, eCommerce, and startup communities.”

Neraj Bobra MS’15 relocated to San Francisco to work as an algorithm engineer at a wearable device startup called Misfit Wearables, where he works on algorithm and firmware development.

Jian Chen MS’11 is currently pursuing a PhD in engineering at Jesus College, University of Cambridge, UK. He recently married Shruti Bhutada, a 2010 graduate of Columbia Teachers College. The couple wed in Cambridge.

Daniel Clark MS’14 writes, “Since graduating in February of 2014, I have been living and working in New York City. I am a research engineer at the Child Mind Institute and have been primarily developing software to process and analyze neuroimaging datasets. I’ve also been researching techniques in signal processing, machine learning, cloud computing, statistical analysis, and algorithm optimization to enhance our understanding of the functional connectivity of the human brain.”

William M. Klages MS’48 will be inducted into the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Alumni Hall of Fame on November 2, 2015. He is an award-winning lighting designer who has been associated with some of the most honored productions in television history. His career started in theatrical lighting with NBC, and ultimately he lighted landmark shows of early TV starring legendary actors Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, and Perry Como. He lighted many acclaimed entertainment specials for such entertainers as Barbra Streisand, Bob Hope, and Liza Minnelli, and awards shows including the Emmy Awards and the Grammy Awards. With more than 300 lighting credits to his name, he has won seven Primetime Emmy Awards and received 23 Emmy nods. In 2012, he was the first lighting designer and only the third designer overall to be inducted into the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame.

Thomas Joseph Re MS’95 completed his radiology residency at the University of Milan in July 2014 and is now finishing a research fellowship in pediatric neuroradiology at Boston Children’s Hospital of Harvard Medical School. His interests include technology applications in medicine.

Ritvik Singh MS’04 writes, “After working in finance as a derivatives trader for the last 10 years, I recently started PsyInnovations, a digital mental health startup based in New York. My cofounders are also Columbia alums: Navya Singh (MA’08, Teachers College) and Stan Miroshnikov MS’04 (Computer Science). PsyInnovations is bringing evidence-based therapy to anyone with a smart phone, overcoming the barriers of stigma, access, and cost. We are currently in beta version for our first app, wayForward, which helps users overcome anxiety.”

Yan Zhang MS’08 writes, “I moved back to Sydney, Australia, after graduation in May 2008 and am currently working as a derivatives analyst in Perennial Investment Partners. Our fund, Perennial Value Wealth Defender Australian Share Trust, recently won the 2015 retirement product innovation award by Money Management, and also has recently been listed on the Australian Stock Exchange (ticker: WDE).”

Hanxiao Zheng MS’15 writes, “As a Columbia Engineering student, I am obsessed with everything here in the Mudd building and every moment in the past one and a half years. With passion and contribution, I finally made it through the academic path and end with my dream diploma. Now I am an Accenture senior analyst and ready to start my career. I would love to bring my value back to the school and help more students like me.”

Ryan Cooper MS’10, MPhil’12, PhD’14 writes, “After I got my PhD I moved to East Tennessee to work as a postdoctoral research assistant in the Material Science and Technology Division at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). The laboratory is a federally owned facility managed by UT-Batelle. Originally, the lab was built as part of the Manhattan Project. The material science program has since grown into a multitude of projects that build on the Department of Energy initiatives for energy, environmental, and security issues. My research involves funding from the Department of Energy and collaborations with Cummins Inc., Fiat Chrysler Automotive, Nemak, and GE. I have been combining experimental and numerical work investigating ceramics and metals to reduce emissions and increase efficiency of automobiles and coal power plants. I am also the Professional Development Chair of the Oak Ridge Postdoc Association. This position has involved preparing postdocs and other young professionals for scientific careers with workshops and seminars, and I organized the first ORNL postdoc career fair in over five years. We hosted other national laboratories, industries, and universities with over 160 job seekers. It has been a fantastic experience to work with a number of talented scientists across national laboratories and industries creating lasting impacts in energy use and emission reduction.”

Anurag Mathur MS’07, MPhil’11, PhD’12, currently working as a California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) Fellow in the Department of Bioengineering at UC Berkeley, has developed the first human “heart-on-a-chip,” which can be used for drug screening and disease modeling applications. Anurag was supervised by SEAS Professors James Hone and Michael Sheetz as a PhD student, and the “heart-on-a-chip” breakthrough was published in March in the journal Scientific Reports.

Wilbur Shapiro MS’59 writes, “After an engineering career spanning some 54 years, I retired in 2005 at the age of 75. Since then, I have written several fiction books. My latest book is called Oil-Free. The book details an engineer’s struggle to develop an oil-free piston engine. The book should be of interest to engineering students, and it is available on Amazon. Columbia has a distinguished history in the field of tribology (friction and wear, bearings and seals) with eminent Professors Harold Elrod, Vittorio Castelli, and Dudley Fuller. I would love to see Columbia return to that technology.”

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