Program Notes: Graduate Alumni

Jun 16 2021

Applied Physics and Mathematics

Manju Prakash PhD'85 writes: “After completing my dissertation in plasma turbulence in fusion devices, I actively pursued a research and teaching career in investigating the nature of plasma processes in a variety of physical systems (e.g., astrophysical plasmas, space plasmas, many-particle systems, and most recently, cosmological plasma formed in the early universe after the Big Bang). My graduate research at Columbia shaped my academic career considerably. Currently, I am affiliated with the mathematics department at Stony Brook University in New York. During the spring 2020 semester, I was scheduled to present on Hubble Tension problems in cosmology during the April American Physical Society Meeting. However, the meeting was canceled due to COVID-19-related concerns. There were no opportunities to travel during the summer. Instead, I dedicated my efforts to advancing understanding of cosmological plasmas in an indoor setting. I attended a Zoom workshop called The Frontiers of Event Horizon Scale Accretion organized by the Kavli Institute of Theoretical Physics in Santa Barabara, California. I also attended many Zoom presentations hosted by the Aspen Center for Physics during the summer. Staying at home helped me to strengthen my bonds with loved ones.”

Srimant Routray MS'80 writes: “So far, I have set foot on all seven continents and cruised in four major oceans during various trips. My most memorable moment was standing on the steps of two famous towers situated in two continents separated by the dark-blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean: O’Brien’s Tower marks the highest point of the Cliffs of Moher, Ireland, and Cabot Tower is situated at the highest point of Signal Hill overlooking the Atlantic Ocean in St. John’s, Newfoundland in Canada. The distance between these two towers is approximately 2000+ nautical miles. It was truly a blessing.”

Jeremy Cohen MS'05 writes: “After many years living in New York and Chicago, I settled in Minneapolis with my wife and two kids. In 2016, I left my job at a large consulting firm and founded Solstice Strategy Group, a boutique strategy consulting firm serving companies across the life sciences sector. We work with companies of all sizes, but have a passion for supporting early-stage companies that are taking the long journey of bringing a product to market.”

Biomedical Engineering

Shikha Sharma MS'18 writes: “After receiving my master's, I started my PhD at Duke University in biomedical engineering. 2020 has definitely been a very interesting year for myself, and the onset of the pandemic made me put many things into perspective. I decided to focus on how I could use my skills and biomedical engineering training to help with the current crisis, specifically for frontline healthcare providers facing the challenges and dangers of caring for COVID-19-afflicted patients. This led me to design and develop COVIAGE with a team of engineers and physicians from Duke University. COVIAGE is a negative-pressure patient isolation system designed to provide critical protection to healthcare providers as they administer to COVID-19 patients in the hospital. The device has recently received FDA expedited-use authorization and is undergoing development as a business entity of which I would serve as co-founder, vice president, and director of research and quality assurance. COVIAGE will soon be implemented in Duke University Hospital, and we hope to distribute the device in hospital settings across the nation soon! If this year has taught me anything, it's to keep pushing forward through the unknown, stay positive, and do everything you can to help others.”

Gilly Yildirim MS'04 founded a healthcare company concentrating on software development with AI for orthopaedic surgery planning. The system is getting research utilization from HSS surgeons and will be commerically available in late 2021.

Shikha Sharma

Shikha Sharma

Chemical Engineering

John Cole MS'05 writes: “Since leaving Columbia, I've had a wild ride! I started a biodiesel company in Pennsylvania with fellow chemical engineering alumni Edgar Nanne MS’05, PhD’10 and Christian Aucoin MS’06, PhD’09. After, I worked on counterinsurgency for the US State Department in Iraq and Afghanistan. I've lived in Mexico, Iraq, Afghanistan, India, and Dubai. 2019 and 2020 have been some big years though! In 2019, I had a successful entrepreneurial exit with the second company I founded, Dexter Industries, which makes industrial and educational robots. We were acquired by a company in Boulder; a huge accomplishment! Then in early 2020, I joined a Washington DC venture firm, FedTech, as a partner.”

Ghanim Hableel MS'20 writes: “After completing my master's in chemical engineering, I joined the Bishop Lab in the same department to pursue a PhD in micro-robotics. The coursework that I took during my master's, particularly in data analysis, helps me tremendously in communicating my research. I am happy to be giving back to Columbia directly through my involvement with the department, School, and University communities: I joined the Engineering Graduate Student Council, mentored an MS student in research, and worked with the Alumni Representative Committee in conducting admissions interviews for prospective students.”

John Cole

John Cole

Ghanim Hableel

Ghanim Hableel

Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics

Laurence (Larry) Boorstein MS'74 writes: “I worked as a non-response follow-up enumerator with the US Census Bureau, conducting hundreds of interviews in English and Spanish and determining housing unit status for nonresponding addresses in Fairfax, Virginia and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania between July and November 2020. Previously, I worked as a financial services professional with New York Life and NYLIFE Securities in Vienna, Virginia; as a project manager engineer with Green Powered Technology LLC in Arlington, Virginia; and as Project Manager and Senior Systems Planner with AECOM Technical Services in New York and Arlington, Virginia.”

Allen Plotkin BS'63, MS'64 writes: “I received the AIAA San Diego Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019. I also received the Distinguished Faculty Award from San Diego State University in 2020. I am still teaching full-time at SDSU (and formerly taught aerospace engineering at the University of Maryland from 1968 to 1985) and have co-authored a graduate textbook, Low-Speed Aerodynamics (Cambridge University Press), which has become a classic, and in which I acknowledge the late Professor Richard Skalak.”

Gisele Ribeiro Passalacqua MS'15 writes: “2020 was very challenging, but I am proud of my accomplishments: I have passed the PE Civil Geotechnical Exam; have published two papers at Deep Foundations Institute and International Foundations Congress & Equipment Expo conferences; have been leading projects and an incredible team at AECOM, where I was recently promoted to Geotechnical Department Manager in New York; and have become a US citizen!”

Allen Plotkin

Allen Plotkin

Gisele Ribeiro Passalacqua

Gisele Ribeiro Passalacqua

Computer Science

Tony Butcher MS'20 writes: “Despite the challenges and disappointments surrounding COVID-19, 2020 has been great for me career-wise. I was recently recalled to active duty with the Navy Reserve and am on a year long overseas mission serving as the lead communications officer on my ship responsible for the internal network, satellite communications, and command and control. I was also promoted to the rank of commander in December.”

Donald Hagen MS'77 writes: “I'm settling into retirement with my wife of 46 years. We moved to Delaware and love it. Milder winters, less congestion. I'm reading my way through a collection of very old National Geographic magazines and walk several miles a day. My health tip is to eat oatmeal for breakfast: lowers cholesterol and blood pressure, is gluten-free, aids digestion, and helps prevent baldness. Also, wear a mask. There is no valid reason not to.”

Eric Johnson MS'19 writes: “I joined Google Research, where I work as a technical program manager on machine learning-inspired chip design. My team uses deep reinforcement learning to perform floorplanning on our state of the art next-generation Tensor Processing Unit inference chip.”

Guarav Pandey MS'10 writes: “After leaving Columbia, I went on to work in a couple of New York-based start-ups and thereby got the opportunity to build systems and analytical solutions end-to-end. I finally landed in Bank of America in September 2011, and over the years, have worked across several front office electronic trading groups, developed a keen understanding of the financial markets, continued to deliver robust analytical solutions, and simultaneously kept on advancing my knowledge of cutting-edge computational technologies and techniques. In 2017, I was awarded an innovation fellowship by Bank of America. At present, I'm working as a director in the data and innovation group, where I'm exploring the use of big data and machine learning in the realm of equity and fixed income investing. Bank of America has truly given me a rewarding career, but needless to say, it was Columbia that gave me the great start for a very enjoyable long-term career.”

Abhijit Roy MS'17 writes: “It's been a tough year for the world. I've been no exception. When COVID-19 arrived, my parents couldn't fly out of India, and my mom passed away due to cancer. I know this is the story of millions of families this year, so let this note be in loving memory of my mom and all the people we lost.”

Ainur Rysbekova MS'89 writes: “After graduating, I joined Nazarbayev University to pursue my career aspiration of becoming a part of the international academic community. I have extensive experience working as a teaching assistant in the Department of Computer Science at Nazarbayev University. Starting from September 2018, I was appointed as an instructor in the Department of Computer Science. Also, I am serving as a Columbia Alumni Representative Committee member to interview prospective applicants to undergraduate programs. As a recipient of the International Presidential Scholarship Bolashak, I am honored to work at Nazarbayev University.”

 

Tony Butcher

Tony Butcher

Aishwarya Srinivasan MS'19 writes: “There are not enough words for me to share what Columbia is to me. It is not just a place of education, it is a place where you build your personality, your brand, and your network, which are absolutely priceless. I started as a data scientist at IBM's elite data science and AI team after I graduated, and it feels like passion turned into a career. One major learning I had from Columbia was to not wait for opportunities, but create them for myself! With proactiveness, I have gotten the opportunity to work with clients all across the globe and have traveled internationally to London, Dubai, Istanbul, and Mumbai. I am an ambassador for the Women in Data Science community, originating from Stanford University, and actively advocate for women in tech along with mentoring budding data scientists. A key thing I learned from the personality development and leadership program at Columbia was networking, which I actively do on LinkedIn. My efforts have been charmingly rewarded as I was spotlighted as a LinkedIn Top Voice 2020 for data science and AI, which features the top 10 machine learning influencers across the world.”

Devashi Tandon MS'14 writes: “After returning to India from the US in 2016, I was in two minds on whether to take up a full-time role or to freelance. I decided to freelance for some time, which has eventually led to personal satisfaction. I started to work on projects I always wanted and never got a chance to do because of office work priorities. After working for about two years on those projects, I filed for a patent in late 2019. This year, the patent got approved. Having suffered depression and being under treatment, I decided to learn some skills to help others. I learnt about peer providing through a CUMC paper titled 'Treatment engagement of individuals experiencing mental illness: review and update,' which inspired me to take six months of training in 2019 at a rehabilitation center with a psychologist and cognitive therapy trainer. I used to directly interact with the patients and take cognitive sessions. I utilised my computer skills to teach patients how to use computers and how to improve typing. I was happy to see a patient suffering from paralysis enthusiastically learn typing, which led to improved motor skills and synchronisation of the hands. I took an online course in psychology offered by Yale University Professor Dr. Paul Bloom, and thereby gathered more insight into my illness and the subject of psychology. 2020 has been hard on everyone, and my parents ended up with COVID-19. It was a tough time, but they recovered well with home quarantine. Luckily, the virus has evaded me for now. Since I have been freelancing for sometime now, the pain of isolation and reduced social interaction faced by many people this year didn't get to me. I do hope that things will change in 2021, and that it will be a better year for humanity.”

Ajay Thawani MS'01 writes: “It has been an interesting year. Working from home was a bit challenging in the beginning, but I have become used to it and am enjoying it now. I have picked up some new physical activities, such as table tennis and biking. Hopefully there will be a hybrid work model going forward post-pandemic. I'm currently working as a senior engineer at Bloomberg LP. Feel free to reach out!”

Aishwarya Srinivasan

Aishwarya Srinivasan

Devashi Tandon

Devashi Tandon

Earth and Environmental Engineering

Anthony Armao MS'17 writes: “It only took three short years after graduating from this amazing department to achieve a highly regarded professional milestone in the field of environmental engineering. I have been working for WSP USA since January 2020 as a resident engineer in the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey's World Trade Center Flood Mitigation and Resiliency Improvements Program. This $150M federally funded project is an integral part of New York City’s response to Hurricane Sandy and will hopefully serve as a positive example of climate change adaptation for coastal cities. I'm thankful to have completed this program at Columbia University. It has truly provided me with every opportunity possible to make a living working and striving towards making a better future using the tools of human ingenuity learned at the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.”

Sharon Collins MS'99 presented at two national virtual conferences last year. The first was the Critical Issues in Mathematics Education Conference, where she presented 'Representation in the Math Classroom: Access, Advocacy, and Agency' with two fellow Math for America teachers. The second was the Education Writers Association Conference: Racial Reckonings Amid COVID-19, Recession, and Political Conflict, at which Sharon served as a panelist on 'Going Test Optional: A Pandemic Response, or a Pilot Program?.' Sharon was also the featured speaker at Math for America's prestigious Master Teachers on Teaching virtual event, presenting her TEDx-style talk '101 Days' in December.

Marc Perez MS'10, PhD'14 writes: “This year, I was re-elected to the Board of Directors of the American Solar Energy Society (founded in 1954 by scientists at Bell Labs and their colleagues) and appointed to the expert advisory boards of Joint Forces 4 Solar and the International Battery Energy Storage Alliance. I continue to be a senior researcher, manager, and consultant at Clean Power Research, where I lead activities in high penetration renewables and solar potential assessment around the world.”

Vasilis Stenos MS'12 writes: “I founded Solmeyea, a climate-positive, plant-based proteins start-up dealing with vertical micro-algae harvesting for applications in food, feed, pharmaceuticals, and bioplastics. Solmeyea was awarded the Seal of Excellence from the EU commission for working solemnly towards humanity's two biggest problems: climate change due to CO2 emissions, and food scarcity due to increasing protein demand.”

Marc Perez

Marc Perez

Electrical Engineering

Ron Alleyne BS'05, MS'07 relocated from Alphabet City, New York to the arboreal hills of Tuxedo Park, New York, where he and his wife Anna are finding great success in their most recent joint venture: raising their son, Silas. Ron has found his engineering education more applicable to another venture: his work with the analytics startup Chartbeat, where he develops and maintains real-time systems that align with the company vision to ensure meaningful stories thrive wherever they live. Beyond secular work, both Ron and Anna are deeply engaged in their volunteer work with the World Headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses. There, they assist with the management of the organization’s finances, which are generated through donations and channeled into a global infrastructure of free Bible education, including volunteer educators, the website jw.org, and literature in over 1,000 languages. Currently, the organization has intensified their international disaster-relief efforts as a response to COVID-19, and Ron is helping to support food distribution and spiritual well-being in Arabic speaking communities in the New York area. Because there is no rest for the weary, and new fathers don’t sleep anyway, Ron also participated in a campaign to distribute a special issue of The Watchtower entitled 'What Is God’s Kingdom' to government and judicial officials throughout the world. The magazine and feature jw.org article addressed the fundamental question of governance and its relationship to the spiritual health of citizens in every country.

Alex Eleftheriadis MS'92, PhD'95 writes: “It was 30 years ago in September of 1990 that I started my PhD in the Department of Electrical Engineering. Little did I know that I would begin a relationship that would continue for a very, very long time: as a graduate student, then as faculty; then, off to entrepreneurship (co-founder of Vidyo, an early pioneer of videoconferencing), and to this day involved with the Technology Ventures office as it is still licensing several of my video compression and communication patents. Up until a few years ago I still kept an apartment near the campus. Now on the investment side of things, as a partner at Big Pi Ventures (bigpi.vc), I truly cherish my experience at Columbia and the opportunity it gave me to develop both as a professional and as a person. While I now spend a lot of my time in Athens, Greece, I am very happy to say I am close to several fellow Columbians who live here. As soon as the COVID-19 lockdown eases off, my first trip will be to New York. It pains me to see how hard the city has been hit, especially its restaurants and live music venues. As a part-time musician myself, I am painfully aware of how hard the performing arts have been affected globally. Here’s to meeting in a late night set at Smoke’s, packed, with a huge line of people outside, desperate to squeeze in.”

Marina Fahim MS'15 writes: “Since graduating and giving the Class Day speech for the Class of 2015 with the theme ‘Don’t Forget Your Chargers...’ I have been working in technology risk and cybersecurity at both Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase. I became a vice president at JP Morgan Chase after managing the build out of the firm-wide risk analytics platform and am now a senior product manager for the core web/mobile apps in the digital space that our clients use everyday. I have had the opportunity to travel to London several times personally and professionally, just moved to Hudson Yards/West Chelsea recently, and continue to serve on the Columbia Engineering Young Alumni Board, which has been a fantastic connection to grow with my Columbia community and spread Dean Boyce’s message about Engineering for Humanity!”

Richard Gitlin MS'65, EngScD'69 recently retired from the University of San Francisco and is now Distinguished University Professor, Emeritus. He recently became a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and has relocated to La Jolla, California.

Lev Givon BS'00, MS'03, PhD'16 writes: “After several rewarding years at DuPont's Science and Innovation division, I joined Janssen Pharmaceuticals' rapidly expanding central data science team as a senior scientist in the summer of 2020. My experience doing doctoral research in computational neuroscience at Columbia's Bionet Lab, an early adopter of both parallel computing and teleconferencing technology, made joining a new job remotely in the middle of a pandemic a remarkably smooth transition. I was also pleasantly surprised to discover that a significant number of my new colleagues at Janssen have neuroscience backgrounds!”

Shikhar Kwatra MS'17 works as a data and AI architect at IBM with a primary focus on developing and operationalizing AI models. He has been recognized as the youngest Indian master inventor with over 300 filed patents and inventions in the areas of AI and machine learning, Internet of things, blockchain, drones, A/V, wireless, etc. He focuses his spare time on exploring AI and Internet of things technologies and leverages his technical background to work on new ideas with the aim to inspire every engineer to think from an inventive mindset.

Marko Mandic MS'20 started working as a data scientist for Launchpad.ai.

Neil Marmour BS'64, MS'67 writes: “Hope you are all in good health, though I know we have already lived more than the average alumnus. With that in mind, I am ever thankful for the genes and love my parents gave me, and for how fortunate I have been to leverage them into a life that has exceeded my youthful hopes by miles. I've had careers in engineering and financial services, owned my own small tech company in sunny San Diego, had a few arts management gigs (I personally still have no skills in the performing arts), and a variety of non-profit engagements working with kids and the homeless. Grateful to have all that, as well as the resources to travel, to see live plays and concerts (to be resumed when the pandemic is done with us), and to be blessed with some wonderful friends. Aside from my genetic good fortune, I credit my years at Columbia and a faculty committed to teaching for much of my success. It probably also helped that I put a lot of hours into whatever I did. (The hours spent commuting to and from Queens by subway? Maybe it built character and fortitude? Dunno. It certainly didn't help my lungs.) I hope to see updates from many of my 1960s classmates. It is, as Elvis sang, 'now or never.' And best wishes, as Spock intoned, to 'live long and prosper.'”

Michael Polonyi MS'83 writes: “PWRs (Pressurized Water nuclear Reactors used in power plants, have an intrinsic design failure which makes them unable to follow power demand curves. The reason being that the order of the time constants of the steam generator and of the nuclear reactor´s are reversed (in reverse order). For more information, “Power and Process Control Systems”, Michael J. G. Polonyi, Chapter 9, McGraw-Hill Book Co.

Moshe Shweiger MS'66 writes: “In my eighties, I decided to return to the most wonderful, intricate, and beautiful concepts in mathematics: geometry and the most famous equations in physics. I proved Ceva’s theorem and Euler’s formula and used a simple geometry theorem to solve a part of the Lorentz transformation that emphasizes the Einstein definition of simultaneity. I submitted this latter proof to Professor Leonard Susskind, and he was delighted with it. I derived e=mc^2 from simple classical physics and calculus. I developed an algorithm (could be implied as a proof) for a game that I used to play with my grandfather when I was a boy. The solution to this (relatively complex problem) bothered me for decades, but lately I solved it. This is the game we played: Arrange any number of raisins in a circle, and number them from 1 to n (n could be any integer); I then ate the raisin assigned number one, skipped number two, then ate number three, and so on, until the last raisin remained. Well, the hard question is that for any given number n of raisins (starting the game) following the rule of eating one and skipping one which raisin (its number in the circle) will be the remaining last one. I am currently planning the content of my future website which will include all the “goodies” that are mentioned here and many more like Einstein’s puzzle, the Paul Dirac equation, and elegant solutions to dozens of intricate puzzles.”

Gordon Silverman BS'56, MS'57 writes: “These difficult times have kept me close to home. However, I remain engaged with a number of projects: I'm co-author of Cognitive Science: An Introduction to Study of Mind; a member of the Columbia Alumni Representative Committee (Columbia applicants are AMAZING); on the board of a biomedical company using technology I developed years ago; a high school STEM advisor; a member of the City Tech Advisory Committee; and a member of a book club (latest reading: Thunderstruck by Erik Larson).”

Brian Kenneth Swain BS'85, MS'87 has recently released the audio version of his latest book, Hegel and Hobbes Have an Adventure. This latest title is Swain's ninth book, but his first children's book, illustrated by Sarah Drake and narrated by David Lundgren.

 

Ron Alleyne

Ron Alleyne

Alex Eleftheriadis

Alex Eleftheriadis

Marina Fahim

Marina Fahim

Shikhar Kwatra MS'17 works as a data and AI architect at IBM with a primary focus on developing and operationalizing AI models. He has been recognized as the youngest Indian master inventor with over 300 filed patents and inventions in the areas of AI and machine learning, Internet of things, blockchain, drones, A/V, wireless, etc. He focuses his spare time on exploring AI and Internet of things technologies and leverages his technical background to work on new ideas with the aim to inspire every engineer to think from an inventive mindset.

Marko Mandic MS'20 started working as a data scientist for Launchpad.ai.

Neil Marmour BS'64, MS'67 writes: “Hope you are all in good health, though I know we have already lived more than the average alumnus. With that in mind, I am ever thankful for the genes and love my parents gave me, and for how fortunate I have been to leverage them into a life that has exceeded my youthful hopes by miles. I've had careers in engineering and financial services, owned my own small tech company in sunny San Diego, had a few arts management gigs (I personally still have no skills in the performing arts), and a variety of non-profit engagements working with kids and the homeless. Grateful to have all that, as well as the resources to travel, to see live plays and concerts (to be resumed when the pandemic is done with us), and to be blessed with some wonderful friends. Aside from my genetic good fortune, I credit my years at Columbia and a faculty committed to teaching for much of my success. It probably also helped that I put a lot of hours into whatever I did. (The hours spent commuting to and from Queens by subway? Maybe it built character and fortitude? Dunno. It certainly didn't help my lungs.) I hope to see updates from many of my 1960s classmates. It is, as Elvis sang, 'now or never.' And best wishes, as Spock intoned, to 'live long and prosper.'”

Michael Polonyi MS'83 writes: “PWRs (Pressurized Water nuclear Reactors used in power plants, have an intrinsic design failure which makes them unable to follow power demand curves. The reason being that the order of the time constants of the steam generator and of the nuclear reactor´s are reversed (in reverse order). For more information, “Power and Process Control Systems”, Michael J. G. Polonyi, Chapter 9, McGraw-Hill Book Co.

Moshe Shweiger MS'66 writes: “In my eighties, I decided to return to the most wonderful, intricate, and beautiful concepts in mathematics: geometry and the most famous equations in physics. I proved Ceva’s theorem and Euler’s formula and used a simple geometry theorem to solve a part of the Lorentz transformation that emphasizes the Einstein definition of simultaneity. I submitted this latter proof to Professor Leonard Susskind, and he was delighted with it. I derived e=mc^2 from simple classical physics and calculus. I developed an algorithm (could be implied as a proof) for a game that I used to play with my grandfather when I was a boy. The solution to this (relatively complex problem) bothered me for decades, but lately I solved it. This is the game we played: Arrange any number of raisins in a circle, and number them from 1 to n (n could be any integer); I then ate the raisin assigned number one, skipped number two, then ate number three, and so on, until the last raisin remained. Well, the hard question is that for any given number n of raisins (starting the game) following the rule of eating one and skipping one which raisin (its number in the circle) will be the remaining last one. I am currently planning the content of my future website which will include all the “goodies” that are mentioned here and many more like Einstein’s puzzle, the Paul Dirac equation, and elegant solutions to dozens of intricate puzzles.”

Gordon Silverman BS'56, MS'57 writes: “These difficult times have kept me close to home. However, I remain engaged with a number of projects: I'm co-author of Cognitive Science: An Introduction to Study of Mind; a member of the Columbia Alumni Representative Committee (Columbia applicants are AMAZING); on the board of a biomedical company using technology I developed years ago; a high school STEM advisor; a member of the City Tech Advisory Committee; and a member of a book club (latest reading: Thunderstruck by Erik Larson).”

Brian Kenneth Swain BS'85, MS'87 has recently released the audio version of his latest book, Hegel and Hobbes Have an Adventure. This latest title is Swain's ninth book, but his first children's book, illustrated by Sarah Drake and narrated by David Lundgren.

Shikhar Kwatra

Shikhar Kwatra

Moshe Shweiger

Moshe Shweiger

Industrial Engineering and Operations Research

Frank Bevacqua BS'80, MS'81 is a principal systems engineer at Ericsson Digital Services in Piscataway, New Jersey, working on operations support systems applications for telecom network traffic engineering and capacity monitoring. Frank recently celebrated his 40th service anniversary with Ericsson, having also worked at predecessor organizations including the former Bell Laboratories, Bellcore, and Telcordia. He lives in Red Bank, New Jersey with his wife, Jeanne, and sons CJ and Daniel.

Simon Cheb MS'86 writes: “Very excited to have relocated to my birth city of Shanghai and rejoined FactSet to drive their strategy and product initiatives serving this second largest capital market in the world. Counting my blessings that I could not have picked a better time to be living in China during this eventful 2020, while missing and sending best wishes to all friends globally. Hope we can all travel and meet up with loved ones soon!”

Joseph Coogan BS'59, MS'60 writes: “How to meet four presidents: My first meeting was with ex-president Harry Truman who had just given a presentation at Columbia in 1954. He was crossing Broadway at 116th Street when I accidentally bumped into him rushing to my chemistry class in Havemyer Hall. He fell down in traffic! My second meeting was with president John F. Kennedy at the Key West Naval Air Station when as officer of the day I cleared his exit with Prime Minister McMillan for a meeting in town. My meeting with Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg was about grain terminals, and my meeting with Mikhail Gorbechev in Long Island was after a lecture he had given there at a university.”

William D. Hooper BS'71, MS'73 writes: “My wife Cathy and I started 2020 on a global trip. We made it as far as Melbourne, Australia, but had to return home due to the pandemic. Instead, we pivoted and enjoyed 'adult summer camp' on the North Carolina Outer Banks. Cathy continued her work as a fabric artist, and I on a long term photographic project. We also took up kayaking. We look forward to renewed adventures in 2021, and wish all reading this note a great year.”

Lawrence Kuznetz BS'64, MS'65 writes: “Reflecting on my NASA career has shed light on strategies to fight the pandemic that may be of interest. The most significant is the Q suit, a COVID-19-fighting PPE derived from a spacesuit for Mars. It can be seen at: https://www.dropbox.com/s/516910220jn5zwa/Planetary%20ProTech%20Q-Suit%20Introduction%20%28Rev%206%29.mp4?dl=0”

Emma Lyu MS'20 writes: “I absolutely love professor Daniel Guetta's lectures! For my last semester at Columbia, I took three classes from him: business analytics II, demand analytics, and analytics in action. He walked us through every important detail to make sure we really understood machine learning models. I have to admit that master’s classes at Engineering are not easy, but professor Daniel really made the materials interesting, digestible and hands-on for everyone. I highly recommend his lectures!”

Reginald Maton BS'67, MS'70 writes: “The Columbia 3-2 program has provide me with a wonderful education and college experience. It has led to a career working in executive positions at AT&T, CBS, Tiffany & Company, Olympus America, Standard Microsystems, Symbol Technologies, and Scholastic, Inc. I retired from the corporate world in 2008 and started my own IT research, advisory, and consulting firm. I also founded a charter school for alternative education focused on helping failing students earn their high school degrees. I am also involved in turning around a failing K-8 Charter with the goal of giving back to my local community. I live in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida and continue working as Principal Partner of Think Strategic Technology Partners.”

Simon Cheb

Simon Cheb

William D. Hooper

William D. Hooper

Reginald Maton

Reginald Maton

 

Krystle Ang Palmer MS'05 was elected City Treasurer of Burbank, California in the November 3rd elections. She received 56.49% of total votes, defeating two other candidates. Krystle is the first Asian-American elected official in the city’s recorded history. She lives in Burbank with her husband, Sean, and their three children, three-year-old twins Elliot and Grant and four-month-old Madeline.

Hetal Panchal MS'18 writes: “2020 has been quite a year! Moving countries, leading a project globally, mentoring, and growing personally were among a few things that made this year huge for me. Since graduating from Columbia, I have been working as a supply chain analyst at Pearson Education in New York and last year moved to Toronto all by myself amid the pandemic. The move came with its own set of new learnings, nervousness, and excitement. Professionally, I got the opportunity to represent my US team of 10 individuals globally in a software implementation project and was honored to be recognized on the company’s annual wall of fame. I cannot thank Columbia enough, for it gave me the experiences that helped me through this journey. As a way of giving back, I was fortunate to mentor two very smart Columbia students, which only made me happy! Finally, 2020 made me value my life, relations, and work more than ever. Reading a few personal development books kept me motivated and positive. I also managed to make some paintings and picked up pottery as a new skill along the way!”

Edouard Teboul MS'12 writes: “After graduating in 2012, I joined Lazard working in sovereign advisory. There, I had the unique opportunity to advise more than 25 governments in Latin America, Africa, Europe, and Central Asia. My main achievement was to work on debt restructuring in Ukraine in 2015-2016. I felt the need to go after a new challenge and have recently moved to Uber, where I am heading the business development practice for France. Moving from finance to tech requires a vast skillset, and Columbia is undoubtedly the best place on earth to acquire diverse competences.”

Rui Wang MS’16 writes: “Greetings, Lions! I graduated from Columbia University in 2016 as an MS student with a concentration on robotics and am now in the process of my PhD career at Rutgers University. Columbia is where my dream started. I am very glad and grateful to continue my passion and apply my knowledge gained from Columbia to my PhD career. I'm not only committed to performing highly impactful research, but also to cultivating my teaching potential. During the last two summers, I acted as an instructor for an advanced course called Introduction to Artificial Intelligence. After the class, I wrote some recommendation letters for students for their graduate applications. Having a chance to help others shape and chase their dreams makes me so motivated. I hope I can make more contributions as a Columbia alum!”

Xiaoling Wang MS'00 writes: “Since graduating, I've been working in the financial industry specializing in equity investment. We recently moved to California. During the pandemic, I have picked up Chinese classic dance and participated in several virtual performances to stay upbeat.”

Francis Wong BS'66, MS'68writes: “Aloha from Hawaii! After graduating from Columbia, I was able to avoid the draft, and worked in San Francisco for four years before moving back home to Honolulu, Hawaii. I then spent the bulk of my career (35 years) with the Department of Defense (Air Force, Marines, Navy, and Army) in Honolulu, and my work entailed travel to military bases in Asia. My family includes a former wife, two adult children, and two grandchildren. I keep in close touch with a few other SEAS alums, Mike Chun BS’66 and Michael Zarifis BS’66, MS’68. I try to visit New York City and Columbia annually as I have many fond memories there, including living at International House. I welcome any SEAS alum who visits Honolulu to contact me.”

Lingxiao Xu MS'13writes: “Our IEOR programs will make student positioned to compete for some of the most lucrative and competitive jobs on the market. A master’s in organizational research and financial engineering are perfect for students who wish to build and deepen their foundation of financial knowledge and develop the highest level of skills in modeling, investment analysis, programming, and the communication of complex financial information. I personally benefited from the very academically rigorous and industry forefront classes, and I am very grateful for the professors, faculty, and time with everyone in IEOR at Columbia.”

Ziao Yan MS'20writes: “After I graduated, I launched the start-up WonderPeers with four of my best friends from Columbia. We received a lot of help from seniors and Columbia alumni in our job application process. We have built a strong community with dozens of thousands of members, offering all kinds of virtual events during the pandemic. I believe it to be a priceless treasure not only for the community members, but for ourselves. I have recently started my first full-time job as a strategy analyst at Accenture. I hope I can make the best use of what I learned at Columbia in the future.”

Krystle Ang Palmer

Krystle Ang Palmer

Hetal Panchal

Hetal Panchal

Rui Wang

Rui Wang

Xiaoling Wang

Xiaoling Wang

Francis Wong

Francis Wong

Lingxiao Xu

Lingxiao Xu

Ziao Yan

Ziao Yan

Mechanical Engineering

Zhengyang Du MS'20writes: “Being educated at Columbia Engineering and a member of the Columbia community has made a tremendous impact on my life. As a graduate student, I was given the opportunities to conduct some interesting and profound research in the field of robotics and to be inspired by great professors and brilliant classmates through the courses that I had taken. After graduation, I became an AI researcher for autonomous driving and have been striving to make an impact. Most importantly, I have always kept in mind the core value of Columbia Engineering: Engineering for Humanity while I go forward in life.”

Yong Gan PhD'05 joined Cooper Union as Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering, teaching materials science, heat transfer, microsystem design, and nanotechnology. In 2007, he moved to Toledo, Ohio, and worked for the Department of Mechanical, Industrial, and Manufacturing Engineering at the University of Toledo as an assistant professor. In 2012, he joined California State Polytechnic University Pomona as Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering. In 2016, he was promoted to Professor in the Mechanical Engineering. His major research and teaching interests include mechanical design, mechanical property of materials, engineering materials, statics, dynamics, energy conversions, and nanotechnology. He served as principal investigator on several projects sponsored by the National Science Foundation, NASA, the US Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Homeland Security. He is a co-investigator on projects supported by Libbey Inc., the Department of Education, and the National Science Foundation. Since graduating from Columbia, he has published more than one hundred research papers in materials, mechanics, and system design. Two books of his were published in 2011 and 2018, respectively: one is on advanced materials, the other is on thermoelectric energy conversion. He has served on the editorial board of international journals and has been a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineering since 2006. He registered as a professional engineer in the State of Alabama in 2007. In 1991, Yong married Feng Hong Wang, a graduate from City College of New York in 2005 with an MS degree in computer science. They have four children: Bo, Ryan, Jeremy, and Kevin.

Taghi J. Mirsepassi MS'49, PhD'55 turned 100 in May 2020.

Yong Gan

Yong Gan