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Alumni Reports '23-'24

Alumnus Establishes New Scholarship for Undergraduates in Tech, Entrepreneurship Bahram Jalali (PhD '89, Applied Physics) aims to encourage the next generation of innovators. 

A lifelong, devoted academic, Bahram Jalali (‘86, ‘87, ‘89) has always understood the importance and impact of higher education. Fueled by his own experiences as a lifelong student, a professor, and an entrepreneur, Jalali was inspired to establish a new scholarship at Columbia Engineering: the Jalali Ruminate Scholarship. This scholarship is intended to fund financial aid efforts to support undergraduate students studying industrial engineering and operations research (IEOR), computer science, and applied physics and applied mathematics. 


Shi Named Top Under 30 Chinese-American Elite

Dr. Changmin Shi, (M.S. 2019, Materials Science & Engineering) was named in the 2024 ‘Top Under 30 Chinese-American Youth Elite List’ (AACYF Top U30) in recognition of his contributions to innovation, entrepreneurship, and professional growth. This recognition is considered the highest honor for young Chinese professionals in America and he has been featured in the Los Angeles Post, People’s Daily, Chinanews, and China Daily.

Dr. Shi is currently a Postdoctoral fellow at Brown University and his research focuses on developing safe high-energy density batteries and novel thermal management materials. He has published 16 papers in top journals of the Nature series and in materials and metallurgy fields, applied for two US patents, and received honors and awards 16 times.


In Memoriam: Cory Cates (PhD '06, Applied Physics - Plasma Physics): The APAM Department is very sad to announce that Dr. Cory Cates (PhD 2006, Plasma Physics) passed away on May 6, 2024.

Following his PhD at Columbia, Cory worked at Credit Suisse for eight years and then became the Chief Information Officer of Longevity Holdings in 2013, where he was responsible for technology and analytics. He is survived by his wife of 28 years, Kari Jo Harris Cates, and their children Nathan, Henry, Caroline, and Betsy.

Cory's advisor, Prof. Michael Mauel stated, "He was my PhD student and was the first to demonstrate active feedback control of “resistive wall modes” in a tokamak. It was very important work, and Cory was a clear-thinking scientist who was devoted to his loving family". 

The family will be hosting a memorial on Saturday, June 1st, in New York City and, in lieu of flowers, please consider a gift to City Seminary of New York. For more information, please see: https://everloved.com/life-of/cory-cates/


In Memoriam: Bennett Miller (PhD '65, Applied Physics): Miller graduated from Columbia College in 1959 and, during his undergraduate years, he was class president, Phi Beta Kappa, and a member of the wrestling team. He continued his graduate studies at Columbia University and was Professor Robert Gross' first Plasma Physics PhD student, graduating in 1965.


Madeline Feltus BS’77, MS’80, PhD’90 was awarded the Milton Levenson Distinguished Service Award at the American Nuclear Society Annual Meeting June 18th, “In recognition of her dedicated education of students, mentoring young professionals and involvement in ANS at both the national and local section levels.” The ANS Distinguished Service Award recognizes ANS members who have contributed in an outstanding manner to the vigor of the Society or who have made outstanding non-technical contributions to the nuclear field. Such contributions might include development and understanding or extension of the goals and policies of the Society, outstanding leadership in and for the Society, or for outstanding non-technical contributions to the Society’s aims in any area. The award consists of an engraved plaque which may be presented by the ANS President at the President’s Special Session during either ANS Annual or Winter Conference.

Alumni Updates from Faculty

Siu-Wai Chan writes: “In the number of years that I have spent teaching materials science and engineering at Columbia Engineering, I have belonged to different departments, including the Department of Mining, Minerals and Metallurgy (now Earth and Environmental Science), where I have a joint appointment, the Department of Chemical Engineering, and finally the Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics. Last summer, I met up with five former students and a Massachusetts Institute of Technology classmate in Sunnyvale, California.” She also connected with alumni on a recent trip to Boston. Prof. Chan writes "Suraj Cheem (BS' 12 Materials Science) is now an assistant professor (tenure track) at MIT and Michael Wong, my former high school intern, is now also working at MIT." (Photo, left-right: Suraj Cheem, Siu-Wai Chan, and Michael Wong)

Prof. Adam Sobel writes, "Some of my most recent PhDs are both doing interesting climate science jobs in the private sector. Melanie Bieli is a Natural Catastrophe Specialist at Swiss Re (Armonk, NY office) and Zane Martin is a Climate Scientist at PwC.  John Dwyer works at Gro Intelligence (an interesting startup doing climate as well as agriculture data), along with two former LDEO researchers, Rick Russotto and Chiara Lepore."


The following alumni updates were origainlly published in Columbia Engineering Magazine, Fall 2023, Class Notes

Mike Farmer ‘82 writes: “I am now at Kettering University as Department Head of Computer Science. It’s a unique co-op school where the students alternate work and academic terms. My wife and I are entering our 20th year of marriage, and I am so happy. I’m still finding time on the boat in the summer and time for my winter passions of skiing and snowboarding. I am also playing bass in a learning band with some other adults and having a blast performing at some local bars.”

Madeline Feltus BS’77, MS’80, PhD’90 writes: “Nuclear engineering is an exciting career. After working in the industry for 14 years, then teaching nuclear design and fuel management at Penn State for eight years, I now enjoy working in the office of nuclear energy at the Department of Energy on innovative fuel designs and TRISO fuel development. No retirement planned in the near future since I am still having fun and learning so much!”

Nicholas Fuller PhD’02 writes: “Greetings to all Columbians and, in particular, the graduate Class of 2002! In July 2021, I was appointed Vice President, Distributed Cloud IBM, Research. In this role, I am responsible for providing data/AI and Kubernetes–based platform innovations to accelerate enterprise transformation in edge computing and distributed cloud management domains. A year into this role, our work in this space has been featured in Forbes magazine (https://www.forbes.com/sites/moorinsights/2022/08/08/ibm-research-rolls-...). Many thanks to the IBM research, product, development, and consulting team  members who are leading this effort! Best wishes.” 

Kallee Gallant '22 writes: “After graduation in May, I drove a moving truck from New York City to the Bay Area and have been living here since the beginning of July! I love my job and feel very fortunate for my brilliant coworkers and that I was able to start part-time during senior spring. I’m planning on applying to graduate programs for entrance in Fall 2023 and will be taking a machine learning class at Stanford in the meantime. Very excited for my first year out of college!”

Katharina Gallmeier '22 writes: “I joined the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA) as a data science fellow in the information, technology, and systems division of IDA’s systems and analyses center. IDA is a nonprofit corporation that operates three federally funded research and development centers in the public interest. IDA answers the most challenging US security and science policy questions with objective analysis leveraging extraordinary scientific, technical, and analytic expertise.”

Joseph Ganser MS’11 is working as a data scientist/data engineer.

Carl Gurtman ‘64 writes: “When I was at Columbia, I was in the Department of Nuclear Engineering and later worked as a health physics assistant, which in many ways was a foretaste for my career. Upon graduating, I worked as a nuclear engineer at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, eventually heading, in turn, many divisions. One interesting assignment was as head of the radiological emergency planning division. I retired after 37 years as the assistant nuclear engineering and planning manager. After retiring, I was a so-called consultant in Tennessee and New Mexico. No actual consulting: These are at will, no benefit, highly paid positions. I still ride my bike, but engage in fewer and fewer activities as I get older. My wife Linda and I enjoy our three adult children and our four grandsons.”

Theodore Moustakas PhD’74 writes: “I carried out my PhD studies at Columbia University from 1969 to 1974 in solid state science and engineering, what was then an interdepartmental program between materials science, electrical engineering, and physics. After completing the required coursework in these three departments as a Campbell Fellow, I was offered an IBM scholarship to carry out my thesis work at IBM Research Laboratories in Yorktown Heights. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work in this laboratory, one of the premier laboratories worldwide for the study of semiconductors. My only regret is that by not living close to the University, I lost communication with the rest of my classmates. I was going to the University once a month to discuss my progress with my academic advisor, professor Art Nowick. Upon graduation, I carried out three years of postdoctoral work in the applied physics and engineering division at Harvard University and 10 years at Exxon Research Laboratories in Clinton, New Jersey. My work in these institutions was related to fundamental studies of amorphous silicon and its application to solar cells. In 1987, I was appointed professor in the electrical and computer engineering department at Boston University with a joint appointment in physics. Here, I focused my research on wide bandgap semiconductors (diamond-thin films and nitride semiconductors). Intellectual property that resulted from my work nitride semiconductors and their applications to optoelectronic devices (blue and ultraviolet LEDs and lasers) was licensed by Boston University to more than 40 companies (Cree, Nichia, Philips, OSRAM, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Motorola, Samsung, LG, Sony, Panasonic, Sharp, NEC, Blackberry, Nokia etc). In the course of this work, I mentored more than 30 PhD students and as many MS students, as well as a number of postdoctoral scholars. I retired from Boston University in 2015. In my personal life, I married Elena Palumbo, another Columbia alumna, and we have two children and four grandchildren.”

Barin Moghimi MS'14 writes: “I have been accepted to Georgia Tech for aerospace engineering. I am studying in the fields of intelligent control and robotics. I interned this past summer at Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Labs with Space Systems Test and Analysis Group.”

Bill Quirk ‘67 writes: “I have finally retired. I worked as a computational physicist from 1970 until 2005. I was a member of the Hayward City Council from 2004 to 2012 and was an assembly member of the California Legislature from 2012 to 2022. I now live in a retirement community, Acacia Creek, in Union City, California. I have been married to Laurel Burkinshaw Quirk for 52 years. Laurel is a Barnard and Columbia Library School graduate. I have two married children and three grandchildren, aged one, two, and five.

Anthony Ruda ‘13 edited the monograph Destructive Emotions: Jain Perspectives (forthcoming via Motilal Banarsidass Publishing House)

Jose Alberto Sainz MS'97 is working at a hedge fund in London as a prop trader.

Aaron Wininger ‘94 writes: “I have recently been appointed chair of the American Intellectual Property Law Association’s Committee for IP Practice in China. As chair of the Committee, I keep our members updated about new Chinese intellectual property laws, guidelines, guiding cases, and government-issued opinions. I also coordinate the Association’s response to the Chinese government’s request for comments on draft amendments to intellectual property laws and guidelines.”


Sicen Du (MS '17, Materials Science & Engineering) writes: Greetings from Beijing! I hope this message finds every member of the Columbia APAM family in high spirits. It's astonishing how swiftly time has flown since my days on campus, and I'm keen to share some exciting updates from my journey post-Columbia. After completing my Master's degree in Materials Science and Engineering at Columbia University, the rigorous education at Columbia kindled my passion for materials physics and computational materials. However, as time progressed, I found myself increasingly drawn to the transformative potential of data science and artificial intelligence. Today, I stand at the forefront of the AI arena. I'm elated to announce that I've joined MiningLamp Technology in Beijing as an NLP Algorithm Engineer, with a primary focus on Large Language Models (LLMs). Here, I am harnessing my expertise in LLMs to drive innovations in the realm of natural language processing. This role has afforded me the privilege of collaborating with some of the brightest minds, delving into the capabilities and applications of advanced language models. While I've ventured into new challenges and perspectives, my time at Columbia laid a robust foundation for my present trajectory. I'm deeply grateful to Professor Yuan Yang for his invaluable mentorship during my time at the university. Additionally, I'd like to extend special thanks to Professor Katayun Barmak for her unwavering support and guidance. I also owe immense gratitude to Professor James Im and Professor William Bailey for their insights and contributions to my academic journey at Columbia. As I continue to delve deeper into AI, I remain enthusiastic about collaborating and exchanging insights with peers. Should any APAM member or student harbor interests in Large Language Models, NLP, or any facet of AI, I'd be delighted to connect. I genuinely believe that through collaboration and knowledge sharing, we can shape the future of these fields. Wishing all current APAM students and faculty continued success, I look forward to the possibility of our paths intersecting again in the near future. Columbia and the APAM community will always occupy a special place in my heart.

Alumni Reports '22-'23

Dr. Xiaochuan Tian (PhD  2017, Applied Mathematics) was named a 2023 Sloan Fellow. In addition, Dr. Tian also recently received an NSF Career Award.


Zeppetello '16 Presents Talk at LDEO

Lucas Vargas Zeppetello (BS 2016, Applied Physics) presented a talk on "Why is Soil Moisture Not Decreasing," for the Ocean and Climate Physics (OCP) lecture series at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO) on January 20, 2023.

Lucas received his BS in Applied Physics from Columbia University in 2016. Following a brief stint at Los Alamos National Laboratory studying computational physics, he transitioned from research in Columbia's plasma physics laboratory to studying Earth's climate at Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory. This turn led him to the University of Washington, where he obtained his PhD in atmospheric science in 2021. His thesis research focused on developing a theory for summertime temperature variability across the land surface that has contributed to understanding the origin of heat waves, the relationship between soil moisture and temperature, and how the summertime climate will be impacted by global warming. He also worked with a group of public health experts to quantify the impacts of tropical deforestation on occupational safety.

Lucas is currently an Environmental Fellow at Harvard University's Center for the Environment where he works with Professor Peter Huybers in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. Through collaboration with Professors Kaighin McColl and Missy Holbrook, he is working to understand novel soil moisture observations and how they relate to ecosystem dynamics and land surface climate variability.


Alumni Participate in APAM Career Events

Several APAM alumni participated in Columbia career events and information sessions in Fall 2022. Paticipants included Xuefei “Rebecca” Yuan (PhD ‘10, Applied Mathematics), Mike Purewal (PhD ‘08, Applied Physics), Harish Ramesh (MS ‘19, Materials Science), Mushan Zhang (MS ‘21, Applied Mathematics), Peter Aiden (MS ‘21, Medical Physics), Will Martin (MS ‘19, Medical Physics), Lyu Huang (MS ‘20, Medical Physics), Kevin Liu (MS ‘20, Medical Physics), and Aimee Moses (MS ‘20, Applied Mathematics).

Alumni Return to Speak at Plasma Colloquium

Two Plasma Physics alumni, Brian Grierson and Matthew Lanctot, returned to Columbia to present talks at the Plasma Physics Colloquium this past fall semester.

Brian Grierson (PhD ’09, Applied Physics) presented a talk on “General Atomics’ Plans for an Advanced Tokamak Fusion Pilot Plant”. Following his PhD at Columbia, he spent more than ten years with the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, becoming Principal Research Physicist and Division Head for the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory’s DIII-D Collaboration and head of the Edge & Boundary Physics Group at the DIII-D National Fusion Facility. He is now the Director of the Fusion Pilot Plant Design Hub at General Atomics in San Diego, CA. His research specialities include tokamak transport, confinement, diagnostics, heating and current drive.

Matthew Lanctot (PhD ‘10, Applied Physics) presented a talk on the “Impact of Stakeholder Input on the Fusion Energy Sciences Program”. He is currently a program manager working in the Fusion Energy Sciences (FES) Research Division within the Office of Science at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). He manages three FES program areas: the DIII-D National User Facility, Long Pulse Tokamak, and Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. Before joining FES in 2016, he was a staff scientist in the Magnetic Fusion Energy Division at General Atomics where he led a major study of the impact of magnetic fields from a mock ITER Test Blanket Module on ITER-relevant scenarios in DIII-D and a joint experiment on error field penetration thresholds in tokamaks within the International Tokamak Physics Activity (ITPA). While working as a postdoctoral researcher with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, he contributed to studies of high-performance advanced tokamak scenarios by operating and analyzing data from the DIII-D motional Stark effect diagnostic.


Mandal ‘19 Named Assistant Professor at Princeton University

Jyotirmoy Mandal (PhD ‘19, Applied Physics) will be joining Princeton University as a new Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and an associated faculty member at the Princeton Institute of Materials in January 2023. His research involves understanding, controlling and modelling nano-to-macro scale radiative heat flows in both natural environments and artificial surfaces, with characterizing and mitigating ambient heat in a warming world as a guiding theme.

On the scientific front, Dr. Mandal’s work lies at the intersection of optics and materials science, and involves the creation of photonic and plasmonic metamaterials and designs with novel optical properties. On the Civil and Environmental Engineering front, he designs scalable materials that radiatively thermoregulate and make human environments more sustainable and climate resilient, and model their interactions with the environment and impact on buildings and cities.
Dr. Mandal’s other research interests include optical component design for infrared heat detection and characterization, water harvesting using passive cooling technologies, modelling large-scale impact of radiative cooling designs for geoengineering, and optical/radiative phenomena in the natural world. He is also passionate about designing novel but inexpensive technologies to address critical needs in developing countries.

Dr. Mandal received his B.A. in Physics and Mathematics, with a minor in Materials Science, from Vanderbilt University in 2014. He received his Ph.D. in Applied Physics from the Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics (APAM) at Columbia University in 2019. During his time there, he was advised by Prof. Yuan Yang and collaborated with Prof. Nanfang Yu’s group at Columbia Engineering. He received the Robert Simon Memorial Prize for the most outstanding dissertation in the APAM Department at Columbia Engineering in 2020 and was also named a Schmidt Science Fellow in 2020 for his postdoctoral research at the University of California, Los Angeles. Dr. Mandal will join the faculty at Princeton University in Spring 2023 and is currently recruiting potential postdocs and graduate students.


Lee ‘21 & Murthy ‘22 Win NSF Fellowships

Joseph Lee (BS ‘21, Applied Physics) and Anushka Murthy (BS ‘22, Applied Mathematics) have received NSF graduate research fellowships! “The Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF-GRFP) represents one of the nation’s most prestigious honors for young engineers, scientists, and social scientists, and this year’s group represents one of the largest cohorts from Columbia.”


In memoriam: Neil S. Patel

We are very sad to report that Neil S. Patel, BS '98 Applied Mathematics and MS '20 Applied Physics/Medical Physics, passed away in January 2022. Following his time at Columbia, he earned a medical degree at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, completed his residency in ophthalmology at the New York Ear and Eye Infirmary of Mount Sinai, and completed his fellowship in vitreoretinal diseases and surgery at University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine. Neil then returned to New York City and served as the president and founder of New York Ophthalmology, focusing on underserved communities. More details about his life and work can be found here.

Alumni Reports '21-'22

Alumni Reports

Alumni Featured in Fall 2021 Career Services Events: The Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics continued our alumni chat series during the Fall 2021 semester.

Thomas Altshuler MS’56 writes: “I worked for General Electric in atmospheric physics for four years. Then, I went to Oxford University to obtain my Doctor of Philosophy in physical metallurgy. After that, I did a one-year post-doctorate at the University of Pennsylvania and served as an associate professor at Dartmouth College. Later, I worked at GCA Corporation and then at NASA Cambridge until they closed down. Left to my own devices, I started my own company called Advanced Materials Laboratory, Inc. There, I invented a blood clotting time instrument with my brother, a hematologist. The instrument won an IR-100 award in 1973. I also was a consulting engineer at Digital Equipment Corporation, a visiting professor at Northeastern University, and a leader at the Creative Problem Solving Institute.”

Sean Ballenger BS '16 is graduating with his doctorate in plasma physics from MIT. His dissertation is titled "Modeling of Boundary Transport and Divertor Target Heat Flux - Implications for Advanced Divertor Concepts”. Sean was a Columbia Egleston Scholar and won a “best poster award” from the American Physical Society in 2014.

Steven Belenko BS ‘68 writes: “After receiving my PhD from Columbia in experimental psychology, I spent my career doing research on different aspects of substance abuse, crime, and the criminal justice system. Since 2006, I have been a professor at Temple University, and am currently principal investigator for two research grants aimed at increasing access to treatment for people in the criminal justice system with opioid use disorders.”

Michelle Bettelheim APAM '07 writes: “My new last name is Boyle. I got married back in 2010 and have identical twin girls starting kindergarten. I live in a suburb of Albany, NY.”

Siu-Wai Chan BS ’80 writes: “I was so looking forward to celebrating my reunion this past June and had planned a number of ideas for making connections and engagements. Because of COVID-19, the reunion had to go virtual. I did ‘meet up’ with a number of classmates, but missed many others terribly. Catching up and exchanging the latest news was really wonderful among those that showed up online. I have been teaching at SEAS for the last 30 years and was the first woman of color to become a SEAS professor. In my Presidential Faculty Fellow-winning essay to the National Science Foundation years ago, I wrote that I wished to be an MVP (Most Valuable Professor) on campus. I am still working towards that goal. You are welcome to make suggestions on how I can echieve this status.”

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.”

Mike Farmer BS ‘82 writes: “I moved from the University of Michigan-Flint to Kettering University, where I am the department head of computer science. Kettering has the same small classes that I remember at Columbia. It’s a co-op school, so the students get lots of hands-on experience, both in their work and in our classes, where many labs are tied to the lectures. This is my sixteenth year in academia after 20 years in the aerospace and, later, automotive industries.”

Madeline Feltus (PhD '90, Nuclear Engineering) received the Mary Jane Oestmann Professional Women’s Achievement Award from the American Nuclear Society (ANS) on December 1, 2021. The award was presented during the organization’s annual winter meeting today in Washington D.C. and recognizes outstanding achievements by women in the fields of nuclear science, engineering, research, or education. She was recognized for “her outstanding personal dedication, leadership, and technical achievements in the fields of nuclear science, engineering, research, and education.”

Andrea Garofalo (PhD '97, Applied Physics) is one of the 2021 Winners of the Award for International Scientific Cooperation of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Spencer Greenberg APAM '05 writes: “After graduating from Columbia, I completed my math PhD at New York University specializing in machine learning. Now, I work at the intersection of social science/psychology and software with the company I founded, Spark Wave. We are a startup studio that creates new tech companies from scratch based on our own ideas.”

Medlina Han Williams PhD '10 was named one of Ad Age’s 2021 "40 Under 40" honorees. Dr. Han is Chief Data Scientist at Dstillery.

Charles Henager APAM '67 retired from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in December 2019 after 40 years as a materials scientist. Chuck started working at PNNL in 1976 and had gone on to obtain his PhD in metallurgical engineering from the University of Washington in 1983. He had a career working in a variety of materials science areas concentrating on radiation effects, mechanical properties and strengths of materials, and computational materials science. He was also an adjunct professor in the Department of Materials Sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle, WA until his retirement. He and his spouse, Pam Lommers Henager, traveled to South Africa in early March 2020 and went on a three-day safari near Kruger National Park. They returned from that just in time to quarantine for COVID-19. They will retire for now at their home in Kennewick, WA.

Bahram Jalali (PhD '89, Applied Physics) a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering "for contributions to silicon photonics, high time-resolution scientific instruments, and biomedical imaging.” Professor Jalali received his PhD in applied physics from Columbia University in 1989 and currently serves on the Board of Visitors of Columbia University School of Engineering and Applied Science.

Michael Jiang APAM '14 writes: “I completed medical school at the University of California, San Diego, as well as an internal medicine residency at Northwestern University McGaw Medical Center in downtown Chicago. I currently serve as a chief medical resident for my internal medicine program and am now applying for cardiology fellowships. My experiences at Columbia prepared me well, and I reflect fondly on my time there.”

Marvin Kohn APAM '54 writes: “I retired from FMC Corporation in 1999 and have been doing volunteer work since then. I am currently an instructor in AARP’s driver safety program and a counselor in their tax aide programs.”

Ben Levitt PhD '04 reflected on the path that led him through the world of physics into fusion technology development on the Titans of Nuclear Podcast. He is Director of Research and Development, Zap Energy. Dr. Levitt graduated from Columbia University with his PhD in applied physics in 2004 after completing new investigations of centrifugal and curvature driven instabilities in a laboratory magnetosphere. After graduation, he was a research scientist and fellow at Harvard and located at CERN where he studied trapping of anti-matter. From 2008 to 2020, Dr. Levitt was a Senior Research Scientist at Schlumberger where he worked on the development of industrial accelerator technology and sensor technologies. Now, as Director of R&D at Zap Energy, Levitt is managing a talented team of engineers and physicists to commercialize fusion energy technologies based upon the shear-flow stabilized Z-pinch.

Ta Li BS‘69 was selected for the 2021 American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers (AIME) Presidential Citation Award, which recognizes extraordinary and dedicated service in furtherance of the goals, purposes, and traditions of AIME. His citation will read: ‘For his unswerving and sustained dedication to AIME in building its prosperity and in support of its Member Societies.’

David Maurer '00, professor in the Department of Physics at Auburn University, has been named the Stewart W. Schneller Endowed Chair. “Being selected as the Schneller Endowed Chair is truly a great honor and makes me reflect upon my contributions to Auburn and my broader research community, and motivates me to continue to make a difference through my future research, teaching, and service,” Maurer said. (Auburn University News)

Hamid Mohtadi MS’75 writes: “I went back to school and received my PhD in economics from the University of Michigan. Since then, I have been a professor of economics at the University of Wisconsin with a few visiting stints at MIT and elsewhere. Although I have published widely in many areas of economics, I have spent much of my time the past several years on two areas: statistics of extremes and climate change. In a recent article that used about 1 billion observations around the earth over the past 40 years, we showed the dramatic adverse effects of extreme heat waves on agricultural productivity by the end of the century. In other research, still ongoing, we’ve examined how heat waves and dry spells interact. Over the year, I have also worked as a Columbia Alumni Representative Committee member conducting admissions interviews for prospective students. I truly enjoyed my years at Columbia, and both my daughters went to school there as well.”

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.”

Bill Quirk APAM '67 writes: “My second grandchild arrived on April 17, 2021. I am still working full-time as an assembly member in my ninth year in the California State Legislature.”

MP Prakash PhD’85 writes: “I was already familiar with the concept of magnetic reconnection in plasmas, but only recently was I inspired to apply that concept to the magnetic field topology around a blackhole. I hope to present my findings at the American Physical Society meeting next April. This past year, I participated in an online workshop called ‘A Rainbow of Dark Sectors’ hosted by the Aspen Center for Physics in Aspen, CO; I participated in the online US Particle Accelerator Summer School organized by Fermi National Laboratory; and I earned an online teaching certificate from Stony Brook University.”

Robyn Ridley APAM '15 writes: “I started graduate school at the University of California, San Diego. I completed my masters in 2017 and my PhD in July 2020. I am now back on the East Coast and in my second year as Assistant Professor of the Practice at Wesleyan University.”

Douglas Rigdon BS '70 retired in 2001 from the National Nuclear Security Agency as Director of Laboratory Programs for Sandia National Laboratories and Los Alamos National Laboratory. He joined the Georgia Tech Research Institute providing support in computer simulation of high energy lasers to the Air Force Research Laboratory. He retired again in 2017 and lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area studying mitigation techniques for global warming effects.”

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.”

Anthony Ruda APAM '13 presented at the International Symposium on Jainism and Mathematics in December 2020 and was subsequently awarded the Bhagwan Mahavira Fellowship to study Prakrit in India through 2022.

Changmin Shi MS’19 writes: “I am a PhD student at the University of Maryland, where we are revolutionizing Li-S batteries to achieve high energy density and stable performances. I am grateful to the professors at Columbia who educated me on the fundamental knowledge that I needed to make fruitful progress. I’ll never forget the time spent discussing lecture notes with my classmates until two in the morning in the Engineering Library. And am I glad that work paid off!”

Robert Siegfried MS’78 writes: “Like so many other people, I spent half of the Spring 2020 term teaching online and continued that through the 2020-2021 academic year. My wife, Kathy, was also working online; I was upstairs in my attic office and she was downstairs in the den. The pandemic also stalled the job search for our son, Jason. I’m going back to teaching live and in person, and I am looking forward to it, even if it means a face mask (or preferably a face shield).”

Jack Tsai PhD ‘00 writes: “I graduated from Columbia class 2000. It has been 22 years since I left Columbia. I felt very fortunate to have done my degree in Materials Science. Since 2000, my job has taken me to many places. I have spent my first 15 years in hard disk drive industry where I worked on developing hard disk drives (10 GB back in 2000 to 1TB  by the time I left in 2016). Since 2016, I have transitioned my work to sensors in particular LiDAR for self-driving car or Autonomous Vehicle. In most recent time, I am with Solar Energy Industry working on making the hardware for renewable energy and doing relatability testing in order to make them more reliable and more robust.”

Shelly Weinig MS’53 writes: “I tried academia and served as an assistant professor for two years before founding Materials Research Corporation. Thirty years later, the corporation was acquired by SONY, and I remained with them for five years as vice chairman of US manufacturing and engineering. I then spent 25 years teaching pro bono at Columbia Engineering. I also wrote a book entitled Rule Breaker about my entrepreneurial experiences. I was inducted into the National Academy of Engineering for my development of electronic materials. I now mentor students, read, and day trade.”

Allen Wu MS’19 is now working as a manufacturing engineer on F-35 fighter jets at Northrop Grumman.

Photo: Siu-Wai Chan ‘80 with Jack Tsai ‘00 &
members of Prof. Chan’s research group
- Jay Piyush Shah, Hong Jun Kim, & Haolan Sun


Alumni Reports '20-'21

Alumni Reports

Numerous APAM Alumni participated in APAM Career Service Events in Fall 2020 and in Spring 2021.

Congratulations to APAM alum, Dr. Ethan Coon (PhD '06, Applied Mathematics)! Ethan, who is a computational hydrologist in the Climate Change Science Institute at ORNL, is part of the Amanzi–ATS team that was named one of the R&D 100 Award winners in the Mechanical/Materials category.

Samantha John (BS '09, Applied Mathematics) who is the Cofounder/CEO of Hopscotch made a $550,000 deal on ABC's SharkTank! She recently shared her experience on Buzzfeed.

Jingjing Ling (MS '14, Materials Science and Engineering), a former student of Prof. I.C. Noyan who worked in his X-ray Diffraction Group for 3 years, is currently a machine learning scientist in Apple, Cupertino, CA, working on AI automation.

Endri Mani (MS ‘15, Materials Science & Engineering) stopped by the virtual APAM Commencement Ceremony to offer words of inspiration and encouragements to the Class of 2021. Endri is an Associate Director and Head of the Data Science Platform at RBC Capital Markets.

Clara Orbe (PhD '13 , Applied Mathematics) a Research Physical Scientist at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies has also been appointed an Adjunct Associate Professor in the APAM Department.

Jia Wan (B.S. Applied Mathematics '18, Columbia College; M.S. Computer Science '20, SEAS) has been named a Rhodes China Scholar.

Two APAM alumni presented talks at the Department’s virtual Applied Mathematics Colloquium this year. Braxton Osting (PhD ‘11, Applied Mathematics) is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mathematics at the University of Utah. Alexander Watson (PhD ‘17, Applied Mathematics) is a Postdoc in the School of Mathematics at the University of Minnesota.

The following Alumni Reports were originally published in Columbia Engineering Magazine

Sri Aradhya (PhD ’13, Applied Physics) writes: “After graduating with a PhD from the Venkataraman Lab in 2013, I moved upstate to Cornell as a postdoc. I now work as a technologist at Western Digital Corp., where I work on pushing the boundaries of process technologies to make the next generation of enterprise storage products. Our family has now relocated to the Bay Area with two boys added to our family that are keeping everyone busy.”

Sean Blanton (BS ‘91, Applied Physics) is applying his Columbia degree and University of Chicago PhD in physics at a new job this year at Citadel, LLC, in Chicago. He continues to visit his wife’s native Turkey each summer for Aegean seaside family visits and vacation. He also travels for youth soccer and is active in raising money for girls’ education in rural Turkey.

Jack B. Freeman (BS ‘55, Materials Science) writes: “I’m still working as a material scientist. Accumet is the fourth successful start-up company I’ve formed. We provide several specialized products, including metal single crystals other than silicon. After many years of study, crystals of gold, aluminum, and tungsten are being used commercially.”

Dan Gant (BS ‘07, Applied Mathematics) married Stephanie Hao in June of 2019. In January, they’ll be celebrating five years since their first date. Dan is working as an engineer at Facebook AI Research on reinforcement learning and natural language processing.”

Jinko Gotoh (BS ‘80, Applied Mathematics): “2019 was a very busy year. I produced The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part and Klaus, the first original animated feature for Netflix. I’m also living in NYC and working on my next animated feature.”

Charles Henager (BS ‘76) writes: “I will be retiring from my materials scientist position at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in Richland, WA after 40 years. Although I had many activities at PNNL over the years, my major research was in the field of nuclear materials and computational materials science, where I explored both metals and ceramics for nuclear applications, including SiC/SiC composites and tungsten for fusion energy applications. I helped develop solid-state displacement reactions to produce novel radiation-resistant joints for SiC-based materials that are still being tested in-reactor. I am a member of the Advisory Editorial Board for the Journal of Nuclear Materials and a past recipient of the Roland B. Snow Award from the American Ceramics Society. My most recent activity was as the technical co-chair for the 19th International Conference on Fusion Reactor Materials (ICFRM-19) held in La Jolla, CA in 2019. I will return as Emeritus Scientist at PNNL with some traveling and volunteer work.”

Shawn Kolitch (BS ‘89, Applied Mathematics) writes: “On October 1, 2019, I celebrated the one-year anniversary of my new intellectual property law firm, Kolitch Romano LLP, based in Portland, OR. My partner TJ Romano and I launched the firm after spending many years as partners with another Portland firm. We work with small and large companies around the world to obtain and enforce their IP rights and have a reputation for providing extremely high-quality service while educating our clients about complex issues in a clear and approachable way. Shortly after the firm’s anniversary, I spent 10 days in China, where I was invited to give presentations about US intellectual property law to the Hangzhou IP Bureau, the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, and an audience of in-house attorneys at Alibaba headquarters. Although it’s been a long time, studying Chinese as a Columbia undergraduate was extremely helpful!”

June Lau (MS’02, PhD’06 Materials Science) writes: “Our invention, the laser-free GHz stroboscopic TEM, won the R&D 100 award in 2019.” The full announcement is available at https://bit.ly/33XzJu0

Anna Liveris (BS ‘07, Materials Science) writes: “2019 was a special year. I married my long-time partner, Georgios Mol ‘07 (IEOR), and we welcomed our first child in September, a beautiful baby girl, Stavroula. Professionally, I have taken a position as a trauma surgeon and intensivist in the Bronx, NY.”

Stefano Migliuolo (BS ‘73) writes: “On July 6th, 2019, I completed my Atlantic-to-Pacific journey on a bicycle. Traveling at roughly 10 miles per hour across eleven states gave me an unparalleled opportunity to enjoy this magnificent country, from the lilacs of Massachusetts to the wild sage and oregano of the Western states! Miraculously, I pedaled 3,320 miles in 60 days without a single puncture, ending on the Oregon coast. Every person I met had his/her story, and every conversation gave me a lift. My night camps in Wyoming and Idaho allowed me to see the glory of the Milky Way, unspoiled by city lights. As I enter the waning years of my professional career (which I still enjoy immensely), I appear to have stumbled on a new path to adventures: bicycle touring. Next summer, it will probably be the Black Hills and Badlands of South Dakota.”

Bruce Terris (BS ‘79, Applied Physics) was named an IEEE fellow for “contributions to high density magnetic recording and spintronic materials.” He had previously been named a fellow of the American Physical Society and is currently director of non-volatile memory materials research at Western Digital in San Jose, CA.

Shelly Weinig (MS’53, EngScD’55, Metallurgy) writes: “I taught for two years as an assistant professor, but decided that the bureaucracy of academia was not for me and became an entrepreneur and started Materials Research Corp. (The story of that entrepreneurial adventure is in my book Rule Breaker.) 30 years later, the company went public and global and we were acquired by Sony Corporation. I spent five years with them as vice-chair of engineering and manufacturing and accepted adjunct professorships from Columbia University and SUNY Stonybrook. I taught for 25 years pro bono at both universities until the summer of 2019, when I resigned both professorships at the age of 91 so that I could write another book called Breakfast with Shelly. My contributions to electronic materials resulted in my induction into the National Academy of Engineering in 1984, and the French government awarded me in 1988 the rank of Chevalier of the Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur.”

Aaron Wininger (BS ‘94, Applied Physics) writes: “After 13 years in China, I’ve returned to the US, where I am now the director of the China intellectual property law practice at Schwegman, Lundberg and Woessner PA in their San Jose office. I help US companies protect their intellectual property (mainly patents and trademarks) in the US and China by drafting and prosecuting their US and China patent applications and coordinating their worldwide trademark strategies.

Alumni Reports '19-'20

Photo: Dr. Thomas Caulfield (PhD '86, Materials Science and Engineering) is the CEO of Globalfoundries. Prior to being named CEO, he was the Senior Vice President and General Manager of the company’s leading-edge 300 mm semiconductor wafer manufacturing facility (Fab 8), located in Saratoga County, NY. Caulfield, who joined the company in May 2014, led the operations, expansion and ramp of semiconductor manufacturing production at Fab 8. He recently connected with Prof. Siu-Wai Chan when she visited to present a talk at Globalfoundries.

Sean Blanton (BS '91, Applied Physics) is moving to Citadel, LLC, after four years at proprietary trading startup Radix Trading, LLC. Both firms are in Chicago. Originally published by Columbia Engineering Magazine

Xinpei Geng (MS '19, Materials Science & Engineering) writes: "After graduating from Columbia, I joined Huawei as a chip engineer—it’s a critical time because the company’s facing a lot of pressure from the US government. I’m now working on the development of a CPU chip for servers, and traveling is a part of my life. I do believe what I learned from Columbia can help me go through all these difficulties." Originally published by Columbia Engineering Magazine

Ed Gerstenhaber (BS '68, Nuclear Engineering) writes: "I recently finished my first season working as an AARP volunteer doing tax returns for seniors and low income people. I am in my ninth year as a ‘standardized patient’ (definition on Google if you’re curious) for the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. And then there’s biking!" Originally published by Columbia Engineering Magazine

Anthony Gong (BS '15, Applied Mathematics) is enrolled in a master of science program. Originally published by Columbia Engineering Magazine

Siyang Liu (MS '19, Materials Science & Engineering) wrote: "After graduation, I joined Huawei Corporation as a Product Manager and now I'm working on marketing and solution selling of telecom product in North Africa. Our mission is to provide African people with a better connected world and bring customers business success. Life in Columbia and APAM offered me global vision as well as sense of mission, which fully correspond to the slogan of Huawei: To build a fully connected intelligent world."

Manju Prakash (PhD '85, Applied Physics) writes: "I was invited to participate in the 2019 summer research program on turbulent life of cosmic baryons at the Aspen Center for Physics in Aspen, Colorado. This provided me an opportunity to investigate the history of the early universe using primordial gravitational wave signals generated by the hydro-magnetic turbulence excited in the early universe, potentially carrying imprints of the processes that took place microseconds or less after the universe was born. The meetings took place in the scenic mountains where participants focused on exploring new ideas and forging collaborations for future research in plasma turbulence." Originally published by Columbia Engineering Magazine

William Quirk (BS '67, Applied Physics) was elected in 2018 to his fourth two-year term in the California State Assembly. He represents Southern Alameda County in the East San Francisco Bay Areas. He is running again in 2020. Originally published by Columbia Engineering Magazine

Andrew Salthouse (BS '69, Nuclear Engineering) retired in 2016 after 40 years as a lab assistant and junior analyst. Originally published by Columbia Engineering Magazine

Changmin Shi (MS '19, Materials Science & Engineering) writes: "Since graduating from Columbia, I have been a PhD student at the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Maryland, College Park. Columbia Engineering indeed cultivated in me the critical thinking and problem solving skills that I need to pursue my PhD and future career goals. I would like to take this opportunity to give thanks to materials science and engineering professors at Columbia for giving me such excellent skills and igniting my passion for my research in the future." Originally published by Columbia Engineering Magazine

Robert Siegfried (MS '78, Metallurgy) writes: "I’m still a full professor at Adelphi teaching computer science. My son, Jason, is graduating from Adelphi in computer science (of course) this January. My wife, Kathy, Jason, and I continue to live in Oceanside on the south shore of Long Island after weathering Superstorm Sandy." Originally published by Columbia Engineering Magazine

Jingyi Zhuang (MS '19, Materials Science & Engineering) entered the Columbia Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. Originally published by Columbia Engineering Magazine

Photo: Prof. Siu-Wai Chan visited with alumni Geng-Wei (Jason) Lin (MS '09, Materials Science & Engineering) and En-Yu Pan (MS '07, Chemical Engineering) at the National Palace Museum in Taipei, on Jan 11, 2020 - Taiwan's election day.

Geng-Wei and En-Yu, who were both advised by Prof. Chan during their graduate studies at Columbia Engineering, have been working in Taiwan for 10 years. En-Yu currently works at Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI), a government research lab, and Geng-Wei works at Enerage, Inc., a graphene manufacturing company, in Yilan, Taiwan.

Alumni Reports '18-'19

Yurij Baransky (PhD '87, Applied Physics, concentration in Applied Mathematics) donated hundreds of physics and mathematics books from his personal collection to the APAM graduate student library. The APAM Department warmly thanks Dr. Baransky for his generously contribution which will inspire and instruct generations of APAM students.

Justin Calamari (BS '18, Applied Physics) who was a member of Prof. Simon Billinge's Group, was selected to be part of the prestigious and selective Google Summer of Code program. The program funds students to work on open source software projects over the summer.

Xin Chen (MS’17, Materials Science & Engineering) writes: “After graduating, I went back to my country and started my career as a research analyst in the finance field. Though in finance field, my work is still related to engineering research.”*

Seth Davidovits (BS '10, Applied Physics), a 2017 graduate of the Program in Plasma Physics in the Princeton University Department of Astrophysical Sciences, has won the 2018 Marshall N. Rosenbluth Outstanding Doctoral Thesis Award presented by the American Physical Society (APS). The award recognizes “exceptional young scientists who have performed original thesis work of outstanding scientific quality and achievement in the area of plasma physics.” Davidovits is now a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Astrophysical Sciences at Princeton, where he holds a DOE Fusion Energy Sciences postdoctoral fellowship. He is a member of the American Physical Society and was chosen as a 2018 Howes Scholar. Dr. Davidovits continues to pursue the compression of turbulent plasma, with applications in inertial-confinement-fusion experiments, Z-pinch experiments, and astrophysical plasmas.

Xuan Gao (PhD '03, Applied Physics), a former student of Prof. Aron Pinczuk and Prof. Andrew Millis, is now a full professor in the Physics Department at Case Western Reserve University. Prof. Gao's research centers on nanostructures or materials (quantum wells, nanoplates, nanowires etc) in which the quantum nature of particles (electrons, phonons etc) plays a fundamental role in their electrical, thermal, optical and magnetic properties. He seeks to understand and exploit the quantum physics in these nanostructures for novel device applications.

Rosario A. Gerhardt (MS ’79, EngScD ’83, Materials Science & Engineering / Earth & Environmental Science) attended the recent alumni reunion and enjoyed being on the Columbia campus after so many years. She especially enjoyed Professor Helfand’s lecture, walking around the campus, and seeing all of the changes that have taken place in the interim years. She has been a faculty member at the School of Materials Science and Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology since 1991, received tenure in 1997 and got promoted to full professor in 2001. Gerhardt recently received the 2017 ACerS Friedberg Award and lecture at the MS&T conference held in Pittsburgh in October 2017. She was named Goizueta Foundation Faculty Chair at Georgia Tech in 2015. In addition to conducting research in the materials field, she is also committed to helping younger generations become solid researchers to emulate her former thesis advisor, Professor A.S. Nowick.*

Sarah Goler (BS '07, Applied Physics) was one of five featured panelists at the Columbia Engineering Alumni Association (CEAA) dinner on April 17, 2019 on "How to get hired from a multi-disciplinary, multifunctional perspective." She earned her PhD in Condensed Matter Physics at Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa, Italy, in 2014, and currently owns a restaurant and natural wine bar, Tannat Wine & Cheese LLC, with her husband.

Yuan He (PhD ‘10, Applied Mathematics) joins the APAM Department as an Adjunct Associate Professor and will be teaching APMA E2101 Introduction to Applied Mathematics in Spring 2019. Previously, she was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences (ICES) and a Postdoctoral Instructor in Mathematics at the University of Texas, Austin; was a Research Fellow at the Institute for Pure and Applied Matematics at UCLA; and returned to UT-Austin as a Lecturer in Mathematics.

Julio Herrera Estrada (BS ‘12, Applied Mathematics) writes: “I graduated from Princeton University with a PhD in civil and environmental engineering. My thesis was about how droughts develop in North America, how they may be affected by climate change, and how they impact the electricity sector (e.g. through hydropower). I am now a Postdoctoral Scholar at Stanford University in the Department of Earth System Science, continuing my work on the impact of weather and climate extremes on the electricity sector. I am looking forward to connecting with other alumni in the Bay Area!”*

Monika Kopacz (BS '03, Applied Mathematics) stopped by to visit the APAM Department during the SEAS Alumni Reunion weekend in May 2018. Kopacz, who earned her PhD in applied mathematics and atmospheric chemistry at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, currently works as program manager in NOAA’s Atmospheric Chemistry, Carbon Cycle, and Climate (AC4) Competitive Research Program. For more information, please see: "Program manager in NOAA’s Climate Office helps research projects take flight"

Larry Lagin (BS '73, Applied Physics) retired four years ago as deputy program manager in charge of the engineering team for the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). Since graduating Columbia, Larry spent over a 40-year career as a scientist and engineer, more than 32 years of which devoted towards fusion energy research at Princeton University and Livermore. While an undergraduate applied physics major at Columbia, he also took many courses liberal arts courses including painting and sculpting. Since retiring, Larry continued his art studies at UC Berkeley Extension, and has recently completed a graduate certificate program in visual arts specializing in painting there. He now is a resident artist and has a small art studio at the Bothwell Arts Center in Livermore, and has begun selling his art at local art fairs.*

Hening Liu (MS '18, Materials Science & Engineering) writes: “After graduation, I mainly worked under Professor Chan's research group. I just got a job offer from the company ASML in San Jose, California. I am excited!”*

Hande Özturk (PhD '15, Materials Science and Engineering), a former student of Prof. I.C. Noyan,  is now a tenure-track assistant professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department at Özyeğin University in Istanbul, Turkey.

Manju Prakash (PhD ’85, Plasma Physics) writes: “My graduate studies at Columbia University prepared me for a career in academia both as an innovative researcher and an innovative educator. Currently, I am teaching physics courses at Hofstra University, New York and involved in outreach activities in nanoscience at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL). As a researcher, I am investigating the nonlinear dynamics and turbulence effects in gravitational- wave forms within the framework of Einstein’s General Relativity. These gravitational waves were observed by LIGO and led to the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics. I am also associated with Fermi National laboratory in the g-2 experiment designed to resolve the experimental and theoretical discrepancy between the values of the anomalous magnetic moment of a muon.”*

Edl Schamiloglu (BS ’79, MS’81, Applied Physics) Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, has been selected as associate dean for research and innovation at the University of New Mexico School of Engineering where he has been a faculty since 1988. He has also been appointed Special Assistant to the Provost for Laboratory Relations.*

Akihisa "Aki" Sekiguchi (PhD '91, Applied Physics - Plasma Physics) recently visited the APAM Department to see Prof. Michael Mauel and the Plasma Lab. Aki is the Deputy Division General Manager of the Corporate Innovation Division at Tokyo Electron Limited (TEL). He is also the Corporate Marketing GM in charge of device technology at TEL. Prior to joining TEL 11 years ago, he worked at IBM Semiconductor Research and Development Center (IBM SRDC) in East Fishkill, New York, for 17 years. At IBM, he worked on process technology development (DRAM, logic) mostly on unit process and module process development (FEOL to BEOL including lithography). During his last three years at IBM, he was the Process Technology Transfer Manager for the "Cell" project (Sony, IBM, Play Station 3) working on all aspects of semiconductor process technology from substrate to final shipped product quality control. He earned BS and MEng in Applied & Engineering Physics from Cornell University, MS and PhD in Applied Physics from Columbia University, and an MBA in Finance from the Stern School of Business, New York University. His past notable speeches include key notes at SPIE, EUVL Symposium and SEMICON CHINA among others. He is also a member of SEMI Board of Industry Leaders as well as the SEMI CTO Forum representing Tokyo Electron.

Francesca Terenzi (PhD '09, Applied Mathematics) stopped by the APAM Department this fall to visit with faculty. She is currently a Senior Principal Catastrophe Risk Modeler at Risk Management Solutions, Inc. in London.

Yutian Wu (PhD '12, Applied Mathematics) is an atmospheric scientist and Lamont Associate Research Professor at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, who studies the general circulation of the atmosphere, including jet streams, storm tracks, and monsoon circulation, using observations and numerical model simulations. She was featured in the article, "Yutian Wu: Assessing the Impact of Declining Arctic Sea Ice on Extreme Weather" by the Center for Climate and Life.

John Wright, (BS '91, Applied Physics) is a recipient of a 2018 Landau-Spitzer Award from the American Physical Society (APS) "for experimental verification, through collaborative experiments, of a novel and highly efficient ion cyclotron resonance heating scenario for plasma heating and generation of energetic ions in magnetic fusion devices." "Dr. Wright is a principal scientist at MIT Plasma Science and Fusion Center. He received his BS in applied physics from Columbia University in 1991 and his PhD in astrophysical sciences from Princeton University in 1998. His research is in developing and applying new capabilities in radio frequency simulations that contribute to improved understanding of the theory and experiments in wave-particle interactions in plasmas. These physics advances have been accompanied by contributions in computer science, including advanced parallel linear algebra algorithms, integrated multi-physics simulation frameworks, and a Web-based approach to workflow, data, and provenance tracking. He is active in several international and multi-institutional domestic collaborations focused on improving the understanding of radio frequency actuators in tokamaks and stellarators." (APS)

Mutian Zhang (MS '03 and PhD '08, Medical Physics - Dissertation with Distinction), is a Chief Medical Physicist of Radiation Therapy at the Summa Health Cancer Institute in Akron, OH, where he leads a medical physics and radiation dosimetry team. He has worked in the fields of radiation oncology, nuclear medicine, and health physics for more than twenty years and gained invaluable research experience at the Institute of High Energy Physics, Columbia University, and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Before joining the Summa Health Cancer Institute, Dr. Zhang was an Associate Professor with the Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Nebraska Medical Center, as well as the director of Radiation Oncology Residency Program. Dr. Zhang is certified by the American Board of Radiology in therapeutic medical physics and was elected the 2020 President of the American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM) Penn-Ohio Chapter.

Yuxiang Zhu (MS '18, Materials Science & Engineering) is purusing a PhD in Materials Science at the University of Houston.*

* Originally published by Columbia Engineering Magazine

Alumni Reports '17-'18

Prof. Siu Wai Chan ran into Eliot Dresselhaus (PhD '91, Applied Physics) and his family in Boston. Eliot, who is the son of the late Mildred Dresselhaus (the first female Institute Professor and professor emerita of physics and electrical engineering at MIT), fondly remembers chatting about course choices with Prof. Irving Herman. Eliot is currently President of Cavetocellar.com based in San Francisco.

Sicen Du (MS '17, Materials Science & Engineering) writes: “I will join the University of Michigan to pursue my PhD in their Materials Science and Engineering Department. I’ve decided that my future career will be in the field of energy storage and conversion, developing new energy-saving technologies to ameliorate and restore polluted land.”*

David Gates (PhD '94, Plasma Physics), a principal research physicist & Division Head at PPPL, has been named editor-in-chief of Plasma, a new online open access journal. (PPPL News)

Brian Grierson (PhD '09, Plasma Physics), a Staff Research Physicist at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), received the Kaul Foundation Prize for Excellence in Plasma Physics Research and Technology Development for his groundbreaking measurements of the flow of the main atomic nuclei, or ions, in the DIII-D tokamak.  (PPPL News)

Phil Efthimion (PhD '77, Plasma Physics) was one of "three scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) to win an Edison Patent Award from the Research and Development Council of New Jersey for their invention of an imaging apparatus that could be used to produce the next generation of integrated circuits. " For more details, see: PPPL physicists win Edison Award for X-ray imaging invention (PPPL News)*

Masha Kamenetska (PhD '11, Solid State Physics & APAM Simon Prize Winner) is now an Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Physics at Boston University. The Kamenetska research group develops and uses novel single molecule nano-manipulation, detection and spectroscopy techniques to understand and control how the structure of the intermolecular interface affects function in biological and man-made devices.

Victoria Chibuogu Nneji (BS '14, Applied Mathematics), earned a Master of Engineering Management in 2015 at Duke University and continued on into Duke's Robotics PhD program. In 2017, she became the first PhD candidate to model distributed human supervisory control of autonomous vehicle networks in rail, air, and surface transportation systems. Victoria hopes to make a positive difference in mobility and logistics design by considering human factors when artificial intelligence is embedded in operations.

Jay Shah (MS '09, Medical Physics) has founded Dynamic Medical Physics Inc., a medical physics consulting company. While planning the company’s future endeavors, he continues to practice clinically in Therapeutic Medical Physics, where his chief interest lies in stereotactic radiosurgery, a form of brain surgery for cancer treatment. Instead of using sharp instruments to cut into the brain, this procedure employs highly focused radiation beams to destroy tumors. Jay collaborates with a radiation oncologist and a neurosurgeon to create a custom treatment plan for patients that deposits radiation within a wellconstrained volume. Recently, Hollywood has come calling for his consultant services, looking for assistance in helping to create more realistic story lines in television and film. He has collaborated with writers from CBS’s Madam Secretary as well as Phantom Four Films (responsible for the Batman and Superman franchises).*

Xiaochuan Tian (PhD '17, Applied Mathematics) was selected as a winner of the AWM Dissertation Prize awarded by the Association for Woman in Mathematics. She will be presented with the prize at the 2018 Joint Mathematics Meeting in San Diego, the largest annual meeting of mathematicians in the world hosted by the American Mathematical Society (AMS) and the Mathematical Association of America (MAA). Dr. Tian also received the Outstanding Students Abroad award from the Chinese government. This highly competitive award,  given annually by the China Scholarship Council (CSC), honors overseas Chinese students with outstanding academic accomplishments.

Ramon Verastegui (PhD '06, Applied Physics) presented a talk about the applications of machine learning and artificial intelligence applications to finance: options and volatility strategies at the CBOE Risk Management Conference. Ramon Verastegui is a managing director at Societe Generale.

* Originally published by Columbia Engineering Magazine

Alumni Reports '16-'17

Dylan Brennan (MS '97, Applied Physics), physicist with the U.S. DOE and Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), is the co-lead principal investigator on a project, called “Simulation Center for Runaway Electron Avoidance and Mitigation.” The project will "combine simulations and data from worldwide experiments to explore the causes and solutions for runaway electrons" (Newswise, Article ID: 659503)

Michael Jenkinson (PhD '15, Applied Mathematics, Weinstein Group) presented a talk at the Applied Mathematics Colloquium on "High-Order Finite-Difference Time-Domain Simulation of Electromagnetic Waves at Complex Interfaces Between Dispersive Media". Dr. Jenkinson is currently an RTG Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI).

Reina Maruyama (BS '95, Applied Physics) presented a talk on "The Search for WIMP Dark Matter" at a colloquium hosted by the Columbia Physics Department on March 27, 2017. She is currently an Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Yale University and explores new physics in nuclear and particle astrophysics, in particular, in dark matter and neutrinos. Her group carries out direct detection of dark matter experiments in terrestrial-based detectors and searches for neutrinoless double beta decay. Current experiments include COSINE-100, located at the Yangyang Underground Laboratory in South Korea; DM-Ice and IceCube, located at the South Pole; and CUORE, located at Gran Sasso, Italy.

Seth Olsen (BS '16, Applied Physics) "received a highly prized graduate research fellowship from the National Science Foundation. From some 13,000 applicants, the NSF made awards to just 2,000 young researchers across the country emerging as leaders in enhancing the nation’s infrastructure, security, and prosperity." (Columbia Engineering News)

David D. Ordinario (BS '11, Materials Science) has received a postdoctoral fellowship from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. This highly competitive fellowship selected only 120 researchers from a pool of 1,265 applicants. In an article written by Anna Lynn Spitzer, from the University of California, Irvine, Ordinario "will work for two years at the University of Tokyo with Takao Someya, a world-renowned expert on flexible electronics. Ordinario seeks to develop a new type of electronic skin – a material that can mimic the functionality of human skin for use in healthcare, robotics and prosthetics – that can communicate directly with biological systems. Currently, this is not possible because available e-skins use electrons to carry charges, while living systems rely on ions and protons, necessitating a complex system of indirect detection and communication." "This ionic e-skin can facilitate direct communication between ionic/protonic conduction-based biological systems and traditional electronics," Ordinario says. "The material also will be sensitive to both physical and chemical stimuli, and more biocompatible with living tissue and organs."

Francois Monard (PhD '12, Applied Mathematics) is now an Assistant Professor at the University of California Santa Cruz.

Veronica Reynolds (BS '14, Materials Science) "received a highly prized graduate research fellowship from the National Science Foundation. From some 13,000 applicants, the NSF made awards to just 2,000 young researchers across the country emerging as leaders in enhancing the nation’s infrastructure, security, and prosperity." (Columbia Engineering News)

Jonathan E. Spanier (PhD '01, Applied Physics, Herman Group) has been elected Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS) by the APS Council of Representatives at its September 2016 meeting upon the recommendation of the Division of Materials Physics. Dr. Spanier is currently a professors in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Drexel University.

Matt Steiner (BS '08, Applied Physics) started as a tenure-track Assistant Professor in Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Cincinnati in 2017.  He received his PhD in Engineering Physics at the University of Virginia in 2014.

Alumni Reports '15-'16

Hubert Hugh Burke (PhD '95, Applied Physics) has a limited term appointment (August 1 2015 to April 30 2016) to the faculty in the Department of Physics & Astronomy at Trent University (Peterborough Campus) at the rank of Assistant Professor. He continues to look for a permanent appoint to the faculty at a Canadian University and to seek financing for 'A Very Canadian Film' a story told in six independent feature length films by Hubert Hugh Burke.

Ruth Griswold Abrams (BS '05, Applied Mathematics) and John Klinger (BS '70, Applied Physics) attended the Alumni Department Luncheon during the SEAS Reunion Weekend in May 2015.

Gabriel Ganot (PhD '12, Materials Science and Engineering), a consultant at Exponent Engineering and Scientific Consulting, appears in the official NFL Deflategate report mentioned in The New York Times article, "Tom Brady Probably Knew Footballs Were Doctored, N.F.L. Finds." "Exponent analyzed pressure data collected at halftime on the day of the AFC Championship Game, and conducted a series of experiments designed to evaluate the impact of environmental and other conditions on the air pressure levels of footballs to determine whether the reduction in air pressure levels recorded during the AFC Championship Game was more likely the result of environmental and natural factors as opposed to human intervention." Please see page 35 of the official report for more references to Exponent and Dr. Ganot.

Ralph Izzo (PhD '81, Plasma Physics) received the Samuel Johnson Medal for "distinguished achievement in a field other than engineering" at the 2016 Columbia Engineering Alumni Awards dinner on June 3 in Low Library.  Dr. Izzo is chairman, president, and CEO of Public Service Enterprise Group, Inc. (PSEG).

Paul Koch writes, "I finished my degree in plasma physics fifty years ago, and am long retired. However my scientific curiosity is unabated." Please see "Cortical Activity Waves are the Physical Carriers of Memory and Thought," which he presented at the IEEE conference on neural engineering in Montpelier France in Spring 2015. "I believe this work opens many possibilities for future research in a field that will be increasingly funded, and is quite suitable for APAM students," says Koch.

Shantikumar Nair (MS '78, PhD '83 Materials Science and Earth & Environmental Engineering) writes, “I am now the dean of research at Amrita University, the highest-ranked private university in India by Times Higher Education. I moved to Amrita University in 2006, before which I was an associate professor at University of Massachusetts at Amherst, MA. I am also director of the Centre for Nanosciences and Molecular Medicine at the University’s Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences. Recently I was invited to give a talk at the UNAI-START (United Nations Academic Impact–Science and Technology Accelerating Rapid Transformation) conference, on the role of nanotechnology in developing new solutions for energy, water, and health care—problems reaching crisis proportion in our world and requiring urgent action across all levels. I was also recently awarded the prestigious Professor C. N. R. Rao Award for outstanding contributions in the field of nanotechnology.”

Richard Robinson (PhD '04, Applied Physics, under Prof. Irving Herman) has been promoted to Associate Professor with indefinite tenure, effective July 1, 2015, in the Materials Science Department at Cornell University. Richard’s lab works on nanomaterials synthesis and device integration. His group is researching the fundamental science of how to program and process nanoscale building blocks into functional architectures, and the structure-property relationships of the resulting nanostructured materials.

Steve Sabbagh's (PhD '90, Plasma Physics) and Jack Berkery's paper, “Benchmarking kinetic calculations of resistive wall mode stability,” Phys. Plasmas 21, 052505, 2014, appeared on the top 20 list of most cited Physics of Plasmas papers in 2014. The paper summarizes a multi-year benchmarking effort of leading kinetic resistive wall mode computational analyses, and includes calculations for the ITER tokamak.

Alumni Reports '13-'14

Ryan Bonaparte (MS '10, Materials Science & Engineering) released his first book, Crazy Enough to Try, in hopes of helping young people find what they are passionate about pursuing in life. (Fall 2013 Engineering News)

Lisa Chen (BS '08, Materials Science) presented a special MSE Colloquium this spring in the APAM Department. She is currently a PhD student in the Department of Materials Science at the University of Pennsylvania.

John Doorish, (MS '85, Applied Physics) president and founder of Doorish Ophthalmic Technologies, has recently opened the Doorish Research in Science and Technology Institute and the Annunciata Doorish Foundation for Animal Welfare. Doorish Ophthalmic Technologies uses the Artificial Retinal epiProsthesis to restore sight to blind humans and animals. The Research Institute aims to investigate different applications of this technology, both in medical and nonmedical fields. The Annunciata Foundation is being established as a private, nonprofit animal welfare organization dedicated to the health and well-being of all animals, especially the millions of homeless pets that have been lost or abandoned. The foundation seeks to provide rescue, adoption, medical care, and population control services, as well as stand as a leader and supporter for other organizations developing similar animal rescue programs. In the long term, Annunciata would like to create education programs that will help people take better care of the animals in their lives.

Teresa Fazio (PhD '12, Materials Science & Engineering) was featured in the Engineering News article, "Las Vegas’ International CES Will Feature SEAS Startups."

Brian Grierson (PhD '09, Plasma Physics) of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) has won a highly competitive Early Career Research Program award sponsored by the DOE’s Office of Science.

Michael Hahn (PhD '09, Plasma Physics) was featured in the Columbia News article, "Astrophysicists Tackle the Sun and One of Physics’ Biggest Unsolved Problems."

Ky Harlin (BS '08, Applied Mathematics), BuzzFeed’s director of data science, was profiled in American Journalism Review.

Ralph Izzo (PhD '81, Plasma Physics) was awarded an honorary degree from Rutgers University. (Fall 2013 Engineering News)

Katerina Kaouri (MS '99, Applied Physics) writes, “After leaving Columbia, I pursued a DPhil in applied mathematics at the University of Oxford, UK (graduated in 2005). Three years ago I returned to Cyprus, my home country, and I have been working as an academic there, teaching mathematics to students from various disciplines while continuing to do my own research in applied math. During my PhD years, I discovered a passion for communicating science to the public, and since then I have been giving public lectures about the role mathematics plays in our lives. In March 2013 I delivered a talk at TEDxNicosia on rethinking mathematics. I talked about how math is everywhere around us. We find it in unexpected places, from the destruction caused by meteorites and the way we make decisions, to how we fall in love and what we find beautiful! It was received very well. (Columbia Engineering News)

Suzanne Keilson (MS '87, PhD ‘91, Applied Physics) writes, “It is hard to believe how the years have flown. Three children are almost grown and 10 years in administration at Loyola University Maryland as well. I am in the Engineering Department and enjoy STEM outreach, teaching in a program for first-year students. Some of my areas of interest continue to be materials science and education, biomedical signal processing, the auditory system and sound, speech, and music processing, as well as design education and universal design or design for persons with disabilities. Baltimore has become home for us, though I guess my heart will always be in New York. I am very involved with the American Society for Engineering Education and am on the national board for the next two years. I am also chair of the board at my synagogue and had the wonderful opportunity last year to go on an Ignatian Pilgrimage to learn about St. Ignatius Loyola, who founded the Jesuits, who run Loyola University and 27 other Jesuit colleges and universities in the U.S. Would love to hear from other alums at [email protected]."

Feryal Ozel (BS '96, Applied Physics) received the 2013 Maria Goeppert Mayer Award “for contributions to neutron star astrophysics, including the theoretical interpretation of X-ray emission from magnetars and determination of accurate masses and radii that yield constraints on the equation of state; and for her outstanding contributions to the public understanding of science.”

Steve Sabbagh's (PhD '90, Plasma Physics) paper, “Overview of physics results from the conclusive operation of the National Spherical Torus Experiment,"  by S.A. Sabbagh, J.-W. Ahn, J. Allain, et al., Nuclear Fusion 53 (2013) 104007 was recently featured among papers of other top authors in the 2013 Nuclear Fusion Highlights collection.

William T. Sha’s (EngScD ‘64, Nuclear Engineering) book, Novel Porous Media Formulation for Multiphase Flow Conservation Equations, was published by Cambridge University Press in September 2011 and a paper on “Recent Improvements of Novel Porous Media Formulation of Multiphase Flow Conservation Equations” was recently submitted for publication. “My intention is that after the paper is published, I will merge my book and the paper to issue a new edition of my book. As far as I know, there is no multiphase flow conservation equations that for both laminar and turbulent flows have been derived based on the first principle.“

Gideon Simpson (PhD '08, Applied Mathematics and Simon Prize Winner) is a tenure-track professor at Drexel University in the Mathematics Department.

Emily Slutsky (MS '09, Medical Physics) recently graduated from University College Cork School of Medicine in Ireland. (Fall 2013 Engineering News)

Yutian Wu (PhD '12, Applied Mathematics) presented a talk at the SEAS Colloquium in Climate Science this past spring. She is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences at Purdue University.

Alumni Reports '12-'13

Gabriel Ganot (PhD '12, Materials Science & Engineering) recieved the SEAS 2013 Student Life Award. The APAM Department nominated Dr. Ganot for his overall academic achievement, but most importantly, for his commitment and dedication to the SEAS community. He greatly contributed to the development of student life, recruitment, and departmental activities. The award will be presented during the SEAS Class Day Ceremony on Monday, May 20th, at 5:00 PM, on the South Lawn, Morningside Campus. Dr. Ganot is currently an Associate in Exponent’s Materials and Corrosion Engineering practice Menlo Park, CA. His areas of expertise include failure analysis, materials science, and semiconductor processing with an emphasis on thin film technologies, particularly laser crystallization and defect formation in thin films.

Isaac Greenbaum (BS '06, Applied Mathematics) was featured in the article, "Data-Driven Alumni: The Faces behind Data Sciences," by Nicole Dyer, originally published in the Spring 2013 Columbia Engineering Newsletter.

Numerous Plasma Physics alumni, researchers, faculty and friends attended the Plasma Physics Lab 50th Anniversary Celebration on April 26, 2012.

Xuan Gao (PhD '03, Materials Science and Engineering and ‘04 Simon Prize Winner) is currently an assistant professor of Physics at Case Western Reserve University. He writes, “At the beginning of this year, I received a CAREER Award from NSF. I was also awarded the Outstanding Young Researcher Award from the International Organization of Chinese Physicists and Astronomers, a prestigious recognition given to a young physicist/astronomer of Chinese ethnicity working in North America, Europe, or any other region outside Asia.”

Michael Hahn (PhD '09, Plasma Physics) was selected as one of the postdoctoral winners of the New York Academy of Sciences’s 2012 Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists Competition. He received the award for his work using spectroscopy to constrain the mechanisms by which energy is carried into the solar corona, heating it to over a million degrees and driving the solar wind. Michael is currently an associate research scientist in the Columbia’s Astrophysics Laboratory. (Fall 2012 Columbia Engineering Newsletter)

Tracy Hammond (BS '97, Applied Mathematics) received tenure last May and is now an associate professor at Texas A&M University. She was also recently awarded the 2011-2012 College of Engineering Faculty Fellow Award; specifically, she is the Charles H. Barclay, Jr. ‘45 Faculty Fellow. (Fall 2012 Columbia Engineering Newsletter)

In 2010, Irina Kalish (MS/CVN '07, Materials Science and Engineering) and her family moved from Michigan to Washington, DC, following her husband’s enrollment at Georgetown’s law school. She left General Motors and is now a patent examiner with the US Patent and Trademark office, where she reviews patent applications in the area of single crystal growth. (Fall 2012 Columbia Engineering Newsletter)

Steve Sabbagh (PhD '90, Plasma Physics) received Princeton University's 2013 Kaul Foundation Prize for Excellence in Plasma Physics Research and Technology Development. In the same academic year, he ran the KSTAR tokamak experiment MP2013-05-03-003 for two sessions at the National Fusion Research Institute (NFRI) in Daejeon, South Korea, and presented the NSTX Physics Overview talk at the 2012 International Atomic Energy Agency Fusion Energy Conference.

In 1988, Edl Schamiloglu (MS '81, Plasma Physics) received his PhD from Cornell University. This year, he is celebrating his 25th year anniversary as a professor of electrical engineering at the University of New Mexico. He was just awarded his third MURI grant and his sixth DURIP (Defense University Research Infrastructure Program) grant. Edl’s daughter, Selin is currently a sophomore at Columbia College. (Fall 2012 Columbia Engineering Newsletter)

After graduating, Di-Shi (Darren) Su (MS '00, Materials Science and Engineering) joined TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company) as the process integration engineering in wafer process development. He successfully qualified the first copper line in 0.13um poly/gate process. Since 2006, Darren has been a manager of foundry execution at LSI Corporation. He now has more than 12 years of experience in the semiconductor field and water fabrication with an emphasis in wafer process/yield improvement, reliability and SPICE evaluations, product-based performance optimization, and customer quality solutions. He was married in 2006 and currently lives in HsinChu with his wife, Kris Chen, and their 2 children. (Fall 2012 Columbia Engineering Newsletter)

Michael Stamatelatos (EngScD '70, Nuclear Engineering), a student of Prof. Leon Lidofsky, has been the director of the Safety and Assurance Requirements Division in the Office of Safety and Mission Assurance at NASA Headquarters since October 2003. Michael is a recognized expert in risk and reliability assessment. He joined NASA in 2000 as manager of risk assessment in the Office of Safety and Mission Assurance. In that position, he was responsible for the development and application of probabilistic risk assessment (PRA) policy as well as for coordinating, overseeing, and integrating PRA programs and activities across the agency. He has developed, organized, and taught courses on quantitative risk assessment and risk-informed decision for managers and practitioners. He has lectured throughout NASA and to universities and government and industrial organizations. Michael is author or coauthor of more than 100 technical papers and reports. He is coauthor of “NASA Procedures Guide for Probabilistic Risk Assessment,” “NASA Fault Tree Handbook,” “NASA Risk Management Handbook,” and “NASA Accident Precursor Analysis Handbook.” He is also coauthor of two book chapters on probabilistic risk assessment. (Spring 2013 Columbia Engineering Newsletter)

While completing his MS degree, Kyle Teamey (MS/CVN '12, Materials Science & Engineering) was also running a start-up, Liquid Light. His company is developing a technology for converting carbon dioxide to industrial chemicals. (Fall 2012 Columbia Engineering Newsletter)

Alfredo Tognoni (MS/CVN ‘10 Materials Science & Engineering) lives in Zurich and is a senior consultant/manager at Holcim, a world’s leading supplier of cement, concrete, and aggregates. (Fall 2012 Columbia Engineering Newsletter)


In Memoriam: Stephen F. Paul (1953-2012)
Stephen F. Paul, a PPPL Physicist for 30 Years, Dies at Age 58
By Jeanne Jackson DeVoe

Stephen F. Paul, a principal research physicist at PPPL who worked on many projects over a 30-year career, from the Poloidal Divertor Experiment (PDX) in the early 1980s to, most recently, the National Spherical Torus Experiment (NSTX), died on Saturday, Sept. 15, of pancreatic cancer. He was 58.

Philip Efthimion, Head, Plasma Science and Technology Department, said Paul would be remembered for bringing “enormous energy and enthusiasm to whatever he did.” He noted that Paul was collaborating with Columbia University while he was getting chemotherapy treatments. “The illness couldn’t diminish his spirit or his passion for his research and work,” Efthimion said.

Paul grew up in Cranford, N.J. and lived in Princeton for 20 years before moving to West Orange about a decade ago.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in applied physics from Cornell University, he went on to earn his PhD in plasma physics (under the supervision of Prof. Bob Gross) from Columbia University in 1981, the year that he joined PPPL. He worked on the S1 Spheromak and later worked on the PDX, the PBXM (the Princeton Beta Experiment Modification) and the TFTR (Tokamak Test Fusion Reactor). He worked on a diagnostic to measure the velocity of the plasma on the NSTX and was working on plasma spectroscopy and radiated power measurements before NSTX shut down for an upgrade in November of 2011.

“He was fully involved in fusion and very passionate about what we do here,” said Brent Stratton, head, Diagnostic Development Division, who worked with Paul since the late 1980s.

Paul’s specialty was plasma spectroscopy, which involved looking at the radiation emitted by ions in the plasma to find impurities that could interfere with the plasma’s performance in fusion experiments.

“He was one of the brightest, best informed and thoughtful persons about a vast area of knowledge in the Lab,” said Lewis Meixler, head, Technology Transfer and Applications Research.

While working at PPPL, Paul spent his time off developing an alternative motor fuel made from organic material found in municipal and agricultural waste, such as food waste, paper, leaves and grass clippings. He named it P-Fuel to accentuate his link with Princeton University. The material was patented in 1997 by Princeton University. Paul established a company, The Trenton Fuel Works, based in an abandoned municipal waste processing plant in Trenton, N.J., to produce the fuel. The company is still in operation and is being run by Paul’s partner.

Despite being ill for the past two years, Paul managed to collaborate with Columbia University’s High-beta Tokamak program on optical diagnostics as part of PPPL’s Off- Site University Research Program.“Steve was an outstanding scientist and very much loved by everyone in the plasma lab,” said Michael Mauel, Professor of Applied Physics at Columbia University, and co-head Columbia’s tokamak program. “Steve patiently guided our graduate students and helped several design and install a new plasma diagnostics.”

"Steve was a close personal friend for over 15 years," said Michael Weinstein, Professor of Applied Mathematics at Columbia University. "I feel lucky to have known him. He was a kind, generous, warm and caring individual. In addition to being a superb scientist, he had a vast and deep knowledge of diverse fields. Steve so enjoyed engaging in discussion over important issues and I've never met anyone more intellectually honest."

Paul was also very active in his synagogue, B’Nai Shalom, in West Orange. He was devoted to his family and is survived by his wife Gilda, of West Orange, who works in Princeton University’s Office of the Dean of the Faculty, and three grown children: Jordana Paul, Aaron Paul and Rachel Paul Yogev, along with her husband, Dean.

Alumni Reports '11-'12

Jie Gao (PhD '12, Applied Physics) is an Assistant Professor in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department at the Missouri University of Science and Technology.

Stacey Hirsch (BS '06, Applied Physics) is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Sydney, Australia. She was awarded the Ken Doolan Memorial Prize ($1,000) by the Australian Institute of Physics (AIP). Stacey received the prize for her research demonstrating the use of a novel, linker-free covalent immobilization method for the controlled immobilization of protein mixtures. Adsorption from protein mixtures is difficult to control because competitive protein exchange results in undesired layer instabilities both in the structure and composition of the surface adsorbed protein layer. Overcoming this problem, she demonstrated that rapid linker-free covalent binding provided with surface activation from plasma treatment enables the control of the attached protein composition through a combination of parameters, including the manipulation of the protein flux to surface and the covalent binding time. The proteins are also attached in their native conformation, which preserves their function when immobilized on the surface. She also showed industrial applications of controlled protein mixture immobilization, including bioreactors for ethanol fuel production from cellulose waste resources (cardboard and agricultural waste) and medical devices with improved biocompatibility. This work has been published in Langmuir and the Journal of Materials Chemistry.

Timothy M. Merlis (BS '06, Applied Mathematics) presented a talk at the SEAS Colloquium in Climate Science on January 26 on the “Response of Tropical Climate to Greenhouse Gas Changes and Orbital Forcing”. He completed his PhD in Environmental Science and Engineering at the California Institute of Technology and is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Princeton Center for Theoretical Science and Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory.

William T. Sha’s (EngScD '64, Nuclear Engineering) book, Novel Porous Media Formulation for Multiphase Flow Conservation Equations, was published by Cambridge University Press in September 2011. Dr. Sha was a senior scientist at the Argonne National Laboratory and the former Director of the Analytic Thermal Hydraulic Research Program and the Multiphase Flow Research Institute. He has published over 290 papers, primarily in the field of thermal hydraulics. He is the recipient of many awards, including the 2005 Technical Achievement Award from the Thermal Hydraulic Division (THD) of the American Nuclear Society (ANS), the 2006 Glenn T. Seaborg Medal, the 2007 Samuel Untermyer II Medal and the 2008 Reactor Technology Award, all from the ANS.

Gideon Simpon (PhD '09, Applied Mathematics) presented a talk at the Applied Mathematics Colloquium on February 21 on the “Analysis of Parallel Replica Dynamics”. He was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Mathematics at the University of Toronto and is currently a PIRE/DOE Postdoctoral Fellow at the School of Mathematics in the College of Science and Engineering at the University of Minnesota.

Ramon Verastegui (PhD '06, Applied Mathematics) spoke about his experience as a student and alumnus at a special reception for doctoral degree students, alumni, and postsdocs on October 3, hosted by Columbia Engineering as part of the “Graduate Engineers Connect” initiatives.

Alumni Reports '10-'11

Tulika Bose (PhD '06, Applied Physics) is an Assistant Professor in the Physics Department at Boston University.

SEAS Alumni from all class years visited the Columbia campus for the Alumni Reunion and Dean’s Days Weekend from June 3-4, 2011. As part of the festivities, the Dean sponsored departmental luncheons. APAM alumni in attendance included: Yuri Baransky (PhD 1987 Applied Mathematics), Nora Dolatabadi (BS 2006 Applied Mathematics), Danielle Scott (BS 2001 Applied Mathematics), and Jiatao Wang (BS 2006 Applied Mathematics).

Nicholas C. M. Fuller (PhD '02, Solid State Physics) recently received the Black Engineer of the Year Award (BEYA) for Outstanding Contribution in Industry from the Career Communications Group at the Annual Awards Convention held in Baltimore, MD, in February 2010. Dr. Fuller, who is a research staff member and manager at IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center, received this award for his technical contributions in the field of plasma science technology entailing: (i) enablement of 90 nm and beyond CMOS (complementary metal-oxide semiconductor) chip technologies; (ii) determination of plasma interactions with low dielectric constant, patterning, and other technologically relevant materials; (iii) 24 patents; and (iv) more than 50 publications. (Spring 2011 Columbia Engineering Magazine)

David Gates (PhD '94, Plasma Physics) was featured in the article “From tokamaks to stellarators” in R&D Magazine. Gates, the Stellarator Physics Leader at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), was offered a visiting professorship last summer at the National Institute for Fusion Science (NIFS) in Japan, where he spent three months working on the Large Helical Device (LHD).

Jeremy Goren (BS '07, Applied Physics) “I have lived in Shanghai, China since September 2007. In January 2009, I finished the courses at Shanghai Jiaotong University and reached fluency in Mandarin Chinese. Since then I have tutored students in Math, Physics, and Mandarin Chinese. I was the Head Consultant of Undergraduate Studies at The Princeton Review Shanghai from August 2009-July 2010. I recently founded a company called Elite College Link (ECL), aimed at assisting Chinese high school students in applying to universities in the United States. Recently, I formed a partnership with ONLY Education group, with 57 locations in Shanghai, over 10,000 students, 800+ employees, and 16 years of experience to assist Chinese students with their college applications. We expect to make a minimum of 200,000 USD profit in the 2011 calendar year, with minimum 100% growth year on year for 3 years. I am currently applying to business schools, and my top choices are MIT, Stanford, Wharton, Harvard, Chicago and Columbia. Ideally I would like to defer admission until September 2012 so I can help my new partnership achieve a moderate success. Upon completing my MBA, I intend on returning to China to help grow the ONLY-ECL partnership into a multi-million dollar a year venture. After a couple years, I intend to hire a manager to run my end of the partnership while I maintain a small role share some of the profits, while focused on other ventures. I currently have a couple internet startups in mind that I would like to start within the next couple of years.”

David Graff (MS '06, Medical Physics) completed a postdoctoral fellowship in medical imaging physics at Johns Hopkins, performing research in small animal SPECT camera design, artifacts associated with truncated tomography, and the clinical effectiveness of cone-beam CT in interventional radiological procedures. He now works as a research scientist at Quantason LLC in Philadelphia, developing novel types of ultrasound to screen for breast cancer. He lives in Reading, PA, with his wife, Vicky, and their three kids. Their third child, Abraham Spinoza Graff, was born on January 6. (Spring 2011 Columbia Engineering Magazine)

Brian Grierson (PhD '09, Plasma Physics) took a position as an associate research physicist at Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. His research is performed in San Diego, CA, at General Atomics on the DIII-Tokamak. (Spring 2011 Columbia Engineering Magazine)

Ralph Izzo (PhD '81, Plasma Physics) was the keynote speaker for Columbia Engineering’s Class Day Ceremony on Monday, May 16, 2011. Izzo is currently Chairman, President, and CEO of Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG) in New Jersey. Dr. Izzo, who earned his BS and MS in mechanical engineering and his PhD in applied physics from Columbia Engineering, has held the top post at PSEG, an energy and energy services company, since April 2007. Prior to that, he served as president and chief operating officer of PSEG from October 2006, when he was also elected to the Board of Directors. He joined PSEG in 1992. He is a well-known leader within the utility industry, as well as the public policy arena. His public policy experience includes service as an American Physical Society Congressional Science Fellow in the office of U.S. Senator Bill Bradley. He also served four years as a senior policy advisor in the Office of New Jersey Governor Thomas H. Kean, specializing in energy, science, and technology. “Ralph Izzo is a national leader in the fields of energy, nuclear policy, and climate change, all areas that greatly impact the world today,” said Dean Peña-Mora. “He exemplifies how engineers are making a difference across the globe, helping to solve complex problems that we all are facing and making the world a better place in which to live. I know his message will inspire the class of 2011 to go out and be socially responsible leaders in engineering and applied science.” In addition to his degrees from Columbia Engineering, Dr. Izzo also earned an MBA from Rutgers University Graduate School of Management. He began his career as a research scientist at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, performing numerical simulations of fusion energy experiments. He has published or presented more than 35 papers on magnetohydrodynamic modeling. Dr. Izzo was elected chair of Rutgers University Board of Governors in June 2010. In 2009, he was inducted into Rutgers Hall of Distinguished Alumni. He is also a member of the board of directors for the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, the New Jersey Utilities Association, the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) and the Center for Energy Workforce Development. (Originally published on the Columbia Engineering web site).

Bahram Jalali-Farahani (PhD '89, Applied Physics) was elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS) and has also been appointed the Northrop Grumman Endowed Chair in Optoelectronics at UCLA.

Matthew Lanctot (PhD '10, Plasma Physics) was invited to lecture on his research results conducted on the DIII-D tokamak at the 52nd Annual Meeting of the APS Division of Plasma Physics.

Chrysanthe Spyropoulos Munn (PhD '99, Applied Mathematics) is married to Tobin Munn and has two children, Gabriella and Axel. As a geophysicist, she works for British Petroleum in Houston as executive assistant to Ian Cavanagh, the senior vice president in technology. (Spring 2011 Columbia Engineering Magazine)

Steve Sabbagh (PhD '90, Plasma Physics) was named Fellow of the American Physical Society. Professor Sabbagh's award was presented at the 52nd Annual Meeting of the APS Division of Plasma Physics for leadership in advancing the understanding of magnetohydrodynamics equilibrium, stability, rotation damping, and active feedback control of high-beta tokamak and low-aspect ratio tokamak plasmas.

Andrew J. Salthouse (BS '69, Applied Physics) “I’ve been married 29 years; one daughter is married, the other is getting married very soon. I am an analyst at Sprint Nextel company.

APAM alumni presented their latest results at the 23rd International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Fusion Energy Conference in Daejeon, Korea from October 11-16, 2010. Steve Sabbagh (PhD '90, Plasma Physics), presented a talk entitled “Resistive Wall Mode Stabilization and Plasma Rotation Damping Considerations for Maintaining High Beta Plasma Discharges in NSTX”. Chris Hegna (PhD. '89, Plasma Physics), now at the University of Wisconsin, reported on “High-beta physics of magnetic islands in 3-D equilibria”, and MS Chu (PhD '71, Plasma Physics), now at General Atomics, presented a report entitled, “Response of a Resistive and Rotating Tokamak to External Magnetic Perturbations Below the Alfvénic Frequency”.

Alumni Reports '09-'10

Michael Bykhovsky (BA '83, Applied Physics) and Bahram Jalali (PhD ‘89 Solid State Physics) visited APAM on April 14 as representatives of the Dean’s Board of Visitors. Board members meet yearly with current students and faculty in order to advise and assist the Trustees, the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, and the Dean in the development of the School. Michael is the President and CEO of Applied Financial Technology and Bahram is a Professor of Electrical Engineering at UCLA.

Ming S. Chu (PhD '71, Plasma Physics) was featured as a co-author with APAM Adjunct Professor, Steve Sabbagh (PhD '90 Plasma Physics), in a recent Nuclear Fusion news item on a paper first-authored by K. C. Shain “Broken toroidal symmetry in tokamaks enhances particle, energy and momentum transport”. Dr. Chu is a theorist in the Theory and Computational Sciences division at General Atomics, San Diego California. His main interest is the development and application of ideal and resistive MHD theories to fusion devices. Phenomena studied include the kink ballooning mode, the tearing mode and the resistive wall mode at high plasma beta. His recent interest is on the dependence of the plasma response to external perturbations on various plasma models. He has authored or co-authored more than 150 papers on plasma equilibrium and stability. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society. (Spring 2010 Columbia Engineering Magazine)

Bob Gottschall (EngScD '75, Materials Science & Engineering) “After earning my EngScD, I accepted a 2-year postdoctoral appointment at the Materials Research Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, where one of my activities was electron microscopy studies of dislocation structures in tungsten carbide. I then accepted a position in program management in the Materials Sciences Program office under the Office of Basic Energy Sciences at the newly formed U.S. Department of Energy in 1977. I remained with that organization in various capacities through the rest of my career. My program management responsibilities were for the coordination, funding, management, and oversight of fundamental research in materials science that was carried out almost entirely under contracted Department of Energy national laboratories and university research grants. I was actively engaged in an originating and leadership role for 21 workshops that identified and publicized research needs and opportunities for fundamental research in materials science, for which the proceedings were published in archival scientific journals. I was a co-organizer for 4 major scientific symposia under professional societies, a member of advisory and organization committees for numerous domestic and international scientific symposia, and co-editor of the published proceedings for 2 major international research symposia. During the course of my career I was elected to the rank of Fellow by both the American Ceramic Society and ASM International (formerly known as the American Society of Metals) and awarded the 2004 Burgess Memorial Award by ASM International for leadership in fundamental research in materials science and advancements of electron beam microcharacterization facilities in the U.S. My career at the Department of Energy progressed into several management positions from 1986 until my retirement in 2005. Since retirement, my wife, Yukiko Tani, and I have trekked, climbed, and done photography in Patagonia, the European Alps, and the Himalaya. We also engage ourselves in local hiking and photography, and via attendance at operatic, symphonic, and classical ballet programs.” (Spring 2010 Columbia Engineering Magazine)

Sam Gralnick (PhD '72, Plasma Physics) is currently VP and senior applications architect for the Global Risk Management organization of JP Morgan Chase & Co. and is a member of the recruiting team for the Risk Organization, which seeks to attract talented graduates seeking careers in financial services risk management. Columbia students and graduates at all levels should feel free to contact him to discuss these opportunities at [email protected]. (Spring 2010 Columbia Engineering Magazine)

Isaac Greenbaum (BS '06, Applied Mathematics) and Adrian Haimovich (BS '10, Applied Mathematics) were featured in the article “Math Professor Works to Keep Students Off ‘The Street’” in The Record.

Adrian Haimovich (BS '10, Applied Mathematics) was featured in the article "Predicting Diseases" in the Spring 2010 Leaders Making an Impact Issue of Columbia Engineering News.

Jay Kesner (PhD '70, Plasma Physics), M.I.T.’s physics research group leader for the Levitated Dipole Experiment, and Stewart Prager (PhD '75, Plasma Physics ), director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, were featured in the Columbia News article: "Levitating Magnet May Yield New Approach to Clean Energy."

The International Atomic Energy Agency awarded the 2009 Nuclear Fusion Award to Adjunct Professor and Research Scientist, Steve Sabbagh (PhD '90, Plasma Physics) , et al. for their landmark paper "Resistive wall stabilized operation in rotating high beta NSTX plasmas."

Wendy Siman (MS '10, Medical Physics) was offered a two-year imaging physics residency at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

Plasma Physics alumni attened the 2009 Plasma Physics Reunion Dinner during the 51st Annual Meeting of the Division of Plasma Physics (DPP) at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta from November 2-6, 2009. Alumni in attendance were Dennis Boyle (BS '08), Dylan Brennan (MS '97), Jennifer Ellsworth (BS '02),  Andrea Garofalo (PhD '97), David Gates (PhD '94), Brian Grierson (PhD '09), Jeremy Hanson (PhD '09), Chris Hegna (PhD '89), Ilon Joseph (PhD '05), Elliot Kaplan (BS '06), Oksana Katsuro-Hopkins (PhD '07), Mark Kendall (BS '05), Jay Kesner (PhD '70), David Maurer (PhD '00), Ron Schmitt (PhD '08), Katherine Velas (BS '05), Jeff Waksman (BS '06), and John Wright (BS '91).

Sarah Angelini (BS '05, Applied Physics) earned her MS in Nuclear Science & Engineering at M.I.T. and was employed at Schlumberger. She returned to APAM this fall to start her PhD in Applied Physics.

Ruth Griswold (BS '05, Applied Mathematics) is currently working on a PhD at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

Rui He (PhD '06, Solid State Physics) is a postdoc working in the Columbia Center for Integrated Science and Engineering (CISE).

John Klinger (BS '70, Applied Physics) earned his PhD in Physics from Cornell University in 1978. He is currently a Staff Engineer working on software for unmanned air vehicles at Proxy Aviation Systems in Germantown, MD.

William Lupatkin, MD (PhD '70, Plasma Physics) is currently a pediatrician in Morristown, NJ.


Photo: APAM Alumni attended a special luncheon in the APAM Department with the Dean, APAM professors, and current students. The luncheon was part of the 2010 SEAS Reunion and Dean's Days which took place June 4-5, 2010. Other events included the Saturday Dean's Day luncheon, Magill Lecture and afternoon receptions. APAM alumni in attendance included:

Alumni Reports '08-'09

Hubert Burke (PhD '95, Solid State Physics) is embarking upon on a second career. He is working on his first movie that he is writing, composing the sound track for, acting in, and directing.

Alex Casti (PhD '99, Applied Mathematics) is an Assistant Research Professor in the Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience at Rutgers and an APAM Adjunct Associate Professor.

James Coromilas (BS '69, Applied Physics) is an Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine in the Cardiology Department at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Robert Hartman (BS '59, Applied Physics) and his wife attended the departmental luncheon during the SEAS Alumni Reunion and Dean’s Days Weekend from Wednesday, June 3, through Sunday, June 7, 2009. He is currently the Vice President of Device Development at CyOptics Inc. in Pennsylvania.

Bahram Jalali (PhD '89, Applied Physics) was a featured speaker at the Columbia Symposium on Pure and Applied Science: Honoring Richard M. Osgood Jr.

Steffen Kaldor (PhD '02, Materials Science & Engineering) works at IBM’s advanced 300mm semiconductor fabricator in East Fishkill, NY, as the manager of manufacturing process integration and yield improvement. He and his wife LuAnn, have two sons, Sebastian and Alexander.

Irina Kalish (MS/CVN '07, Materials Science & Engineering) welcomed daughter, Abigal Lydia Kalish, born on April 15, 2009.

Kenneth Kin (MS, DES. '75, Nuclear Engineering) has been elected to the Board of Directors of SMSC, subject to reelection at the 2009 Annual Meeting of stockholders. Dr. Kin recently retired from his role as Senior Vice President, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, Ltd. (TSMC), where he had responsibility for global sales, services and marketing. He was formerly Vice President, Worldside Sales and Services at IBM Microlectronics, Vice President and Director of Operations for the Computer Group at Motorla Inc. and served in various sales and marketing roles for several other Asia Pacific companies in the computing and telecommunications markets. Dr. Kin received a BS degree from National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan and worked with Prof. Herbert Goldstein to earned his MS and DES in Nuclear Engineering at Columbia.

Quinn Marksteiner (PhD '08, Plasma Physics) was an invited speaker at the American Physical Society’s 50th Annual Meeting of the Division of Plasma Physics from November 17–21, 2008 in Dallas, Texas.

Timothy Merlis (BS '06, Applied Mathematics) attended the Plumbfest Symposium at Columbia University. He is currently a graduate student in Environmental Science and Engineering at the California Institute of Technology.

Theodore Moustakas (PhD '74, Solid State Physics) presented a talk at an Optics Seminar this fall at Columbia. He has been a Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering since '87, a Professor of Physics since '91, and a Faculty Member of the Center for Photonics Research since '94 at Boston University. He is currently the director of the Wide Bandgap Semiconductor Lab. He held research and visiting faculty positions at Harvard, Princeton, MIT, Aristotle University, IBM Watson Research Lab, and Exxon Corporate Research Lab. His research contributions cover a broad spectrum of topics in opto-electronic materials and devices, including nitride semiconductors, amorphous semiconductors and diamond thin films. He is the co-editor of 8 books and the author of more than 300 publications. He has been granted 25 U.S. patents and several are pending. Intellectual property that resulted from his work has been licensed to a number of companies, including major manufactures of blue LEDs and lasers (Cree and Philips LumiLeds in the U.S. and Nichia in Japan). He was elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society in '94 and of the Electrochemical Society in '97. He was awarded an honorary doctoral degree from Aristotle University in '03 and the MBE Innovator Award in '10.

Manju Prakash (PhD '85, Plasma Physics) writes "My PhD in theoretical plasma physics provided me an opportunity to make an impact on unexplored territories of science, both as a scientist and an educator. At SUNY Stony Brook, I produced scholarly research papers in quark-gluon plasmas based on the observational data available at Brookhaven National Lab. I also explored the role of plasma processes in the realms of accreting matter in binary stars. I advanced my career in nano-devices and nanofluids while at Cornell. After gaining some experience in technology/ nanotechnology at Intel, I decided to teach advanced placement physics courses at the Maine School of Science and Math and the Wilbraham & Monson Academy. Currently, I am a physics faculty member at Linden Hall in PA."

Aaron Wininger (BS '94, Applied Physics) writes "2009 marks my third year in Shanghai. I have a beautiful 3-year old daughter who is now fluent in bolth children’s English and Mandarin. She has recently started attending Dulwich, a British school out here, and is developing a British accent. I have recently joined the law firm Nixon Peabody LLP as partner, where I do intellectual property and corporate finance law including private investments in public equity (PIPEs) for Chinese companies listeing overseas. In my spare time, I love to go to KTV (karaoke) with my friends here."

Matthew Witten (PhD '04, Medical Physics) has been appointed as an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the APAM Department. He will be overseeing a graduate student this year. Witten was featured in the December 2008 New York Times article "Geography Has Role in Medicare Cancer Coverage." Witten currently runs the CyberKnife program at the Winthrop University Hospital in Mineola and is an advocate for the new radiation treatment for prostate cancer.

Plasma Physics alumni made presentations at the biannual IAEA Meeting on Controlled Fusion Energy in Geneva from October 13-18, 2008. Dave Maurer (PhD '00), Adjunct Assistant Professor and Associate Research Scientist, representing the HBT-EP tokamak research project, spoke on "Control of Kink Modes Near the Ideal Wall Limit Using Kalman Filtering and Optimal Control Techniques." David Gates, (PhD '94), presented "Overview of Results from the National Spherical Torus Experiment". Steve Sabbagh (PhD '90), Adjunct Professor and Senior Research Scientist, spoke on "Advances in Global MHD Stabilization Research on NSTX".

Alumni Updates '07-'08

Netta Cohen (BS '92, Applied Physics) completed her PhD in biophysics at Technion (Israel Institute of Technology) and now heads the BioSystems group at the School of Computing at the Univ. of Leeds in England. She is married to Sam Braunstein and they have a daughter, Yael.

Jennifer Ellsworth (BS '02, Applied Mathematics) is a PhD student, studying Applied Plasma Physics at MIT. She recently married Michael Hohensee in Nashua, N.H.

Andrea Garofalo (PhD '97, Applied Physics) shared the 2007 APS Dawson Award for Excellence in Plasma Physics with Prof. Gerald Navratil of Columbia University, Dr. Edward J. Strait of General Atomics and Dr. Michio Okabayashi of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory.

Yi Gu (PhD '04, Applied Physics) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Washington State University.

Ralph Izzo (MS '79, PhD '81, Plasma Physics) has been chairman, president and CEO of Public Service Enterprise Group Incorporated (PSEG) since April, 2007. He had served as president and chief operating officer of PSEG since October, 2006 when he was also elected to the Board of Directors. Earlier, he was president and chief operating officer of Public Service Electric and Gas Company. Since joining PSE&G in 1992, Izzo was elected to several executive positions within PSEG’s family of companies, including PSE&G senior vice president (utility operations), PSE&G vice president (appliance service), PSEG vice president (corporate planning), Energis Incorporated senior vice president (finance and information services), and PSE&G vice president (electric ventures). In these capacities, he broadened his experience in the areas of general management, strategic planning and finance. Izzo is a well-known leader within the utility industry, as well as the public policy arena. His public policy experience includes service as an American Physical Society Congressional Science Fellow, in the office of U.S. Senator Bill Bradley. He also served 4 years as a senior policy advisor in the Office of New Jersey Governor Thomas H. Kean, specializing in energy, science and technology. His career began as a research scientist at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, performing numerical simulations of fusion energy experiments. He has published or presented over 35 papers on magnetohydrodynamic modeling. He received his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in mechanical engineering and his Doctor of Philosophy degree in applied physics (plasma physics) from Columbia. He also completed the requirements for a Master of Business Administration degree, with a concentration in finance from the Rutgers Graduate School of Management. He is listed in numerous editions of Who’s Who and  has been the recipient of national fellowships and awards.  Izzo serves on the board of directors for the Electric Power Research Institute, the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, the American Gas Association, the New Jersey Utilities Association, the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), and the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI). He is chairman of New Jersey After 3 Inc., the Drumthwacket Foundation, and the Capital Campaign for the PSE&G Children’s Specialized Hospital.  Izzo also serves as electric utility sector chairman of the Infrastructure Advisory Committee in the Attorney General’s Office of Counter-terrorism, and is on the board of trustees for the New Jersey Network Foundation and Rutgers Business School.

Bahram Jalali (PhD '89, Applied Physics) is a Professor of Electrical Engineering at UCLA. He is a Fellow of the IEEE and the Optical Society of America, and the Chair of the Los Angeles Chapter of the IEEE Lasers and Electro Optics Society (LEOS). His research interests include silicon photonics and techniques for ultra fast data generation and capture. He has published over 200 scientific papers and holds 6 US patents. He is the recipient of the 2007 R.W. Wood Prize from the Optical Society of America. In 2005, he was chosen by the Scientific American Magazine as one of the 50 Leaders Shaping the Future of Technology. His work in demonstration of the first silicon laser was cited by the MIT Technology Review magazine as one of the top 10 technology trends in 2005. While on leave from UCLA from '99-'01, he founded Cognet Microsystems, a Los Angeles based fiber optic component company. He served as the company’s CEO, President and Chairman, from its inception through acquisition by Intel Corporation in '01. From '01-'04, he was a consultant for Intel Corporation. Dr. Jalali serves on the Board of Trustees of the California Science Center. He has received the BridgeGate 20 Award for his contributions to the southern California economy.

Steffen Kaldor (MS '98, PhD '02, Materials Science & Engineering) is currently a process engineering manager at IBM’s 300mm semiconductor development and manufacturing facility in East Fishkill, NY. He and his wife, Lu Ann, have a two and a half year old son, Sebastian, and are expecting their second child.

Stephen L. Ostrow (MS '70, EngScD '78, Nuclear Engineering) received his doctorate in Applied Physics & Nuclear Engineering and an MBA from Columbia and joined the nuclear industry performing radiation analyses for nuclear reactors and other facilities in an architect-engineering firm where he was Manager of Applied Physics and Chief Engineer of Nuclear Engineering. He later became Manager of Advanced Technology, specializing in energy and superconductivity projects.  The past few years he  has been working for SC&A, Inc., a Vienna, VA, engineering consulting firm, where he (working out of New York) is Senior Vice President of Advanced Technology. His primary focus is developing technologies for homeland security and defense to detect explosives and toxic chemicals from a distance. He is also an Adjunct Professor in APAM where he is teaching APPH E4010: Nuclear Physics, the same course he took in the same department many years ago. He is married to Arlette, who graduated from the Sorbonne and Teachers College and teaches French in a local private school. They live on the upper east side of Manhattan and have 3 children.

Artem Ponomarev (PhD '98, Applied Physics) is currently a Senior Research Scientist at the NASA Johnson Space Center. He specializes in radiation protection for astronauts and is working on developing biophysical models of DNA damage from space radiation. He is a consultant for the spacecraft design for the new Lunar and Mars Mission Projects. Additionally, he works with astronaut-physicist Franklin Chang-Diaz’s Plasma Rocket group on radiation issues and astronaut-physicist Jeffrey Hoffman's group on the magnetic shielding of a spacecraft.

In Memoriam: Elizabeth Selcow-Stein (PhD '84, Plasma Physics) died September 19, 2007 in Los Alamos, NM, after a long illness. She received her bachelor, master of science, master of philosophy, and doctor of philosophy degrees in nuclear engineering from Columbia SEAS. While at SEAS, her advisors were Dean Robert Gross and Prof. Leon Lidofsky. Dr. Selcow began her career as an engineer with the Grumman Corporation, where she was responsible for nuclear analysis for space propulsion, plasma physics and fusion compact ignition Tokamak designs. In 1989, she joined Brookhaven National Laboratory, where she performed Monte Carlo analyses for boron neutron capture therapy (BNCT), space propulsion systems and spallation target testing for the BNL synchrotron. She served as a visiting research scientist at M.I.T., working on BNCT treatment planning. In 1998, she joined Westinghouse Savannah River Co., where she collaborated with Los Alamos National Laboratory as part of the Accelerator Production of Tritium Spallation Physics design team. In 1999, she joined Los Alamos National Laboratory to work with the Monte Carlo code development team, providing user support, teaching MCNP classes at LANL, and international training conferences with NEA OECD. She also worked with the LANL Shavano Project, part of the Advanced Scientific Computing Initiative (ASCI) program, intended to address the need for high-fidelity weapons computer codes in the absence of nuclear testing. She was the author of numerous published technical reports, journal articles, and conference papers on MCNP transport methods for weapons testing simulations, neutron and particle transport, medical physics and BNCT applications.

Jonathan Spanier (PhD '01, Solid State Physics) was among 58 researchers from across the nation who received a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). The PECASE is the nation’s highest honor for professionals at the outset of their independent research careers.

According to John H. Marburger III, director of the Office of Science & Technology Policy, "Selection for this award is based on the combination of innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology and community service demonstrated through scientific leadership and community outreach." Nominated by the Department of Defense, Spanier is cited for "innovative research in materials science and engineering to improve synthesis strategies to produce novel and advanced hybrid nanostructures with specific properties and multifunctional capabilities," Spanier is also cited “for his exceptional teaching of graduate and undergraduate students from diverse backgrounds." Nine federal departments and agencies annually nominate beginning scientists and engineers whose work shows exceptional promise for leadership at the frontiers of scientific knowledge. PECASE awardees receive funding for up to 5 years to further their research in support of critical government missions.

Spanier is an assistant professor of materials science and engineering (MSE) at Drexel University. In addition to his faculty appointment, he serves as the associate department head of MSE, and is an affiliated faculty member in Drexel’s department of electrical and computer engineering. He is the first assistant professor at Drexel to be selected for this recognition since the inception of the program in 1996.

Bonnie Wilensky (BS '97, Applied Mathematics) attended the 10-year Columbia reunion with her husband, David Silvera (Law and Business School, 1996). They have a 9-month old daughter, Bianca.

Alumni Reports '06-'07

Lili Cheng (PhD '05, Materials Science & Engineering) is working at Los Alamos National Lab in New Mexico.

James Cho (PhD '96, Applied Mathematics) was recently appointed as a Lecturer in Astrophysics and Planetary Science at Queen Mary College (University of London). He is currently working on understanding the flow and temperature structure of atmospheres on extrasolar planets, via computer simulations and analytical calculations. He also studied turbulence, vortex, and mixing issues, arising from giant impacts and dynamics in protoplanetary disks related to planet formation.

Jae Beom Choi (PhD '06, Materials Science & Engineering) is working in Korea at Samsung Electronics

Chieh (Joseph) Chu (MS '04, Materials Science & Engineering) is working in Taiwan at DuPont.

Irene Dujovne (PhD '05, Solid State Physics & 2005 Simon Prize Winner): After graduating from Columbia two years ago, she took a postodoctoral position in the Molecular biophysics group, headed by Cees Dekker at TU Delft. She is focusing on developing a new optical set-up designed to probe sub-nanometer scale processes with fast temporal resolution. This will enable her group to explore in great accuracy fundamental molecular processes, such as protein-DNA interactions and movement of motor proteins along filaments. She is currently looking for faculty position, and hopes to continue this line of biologically-inspired research in the future.

Pearl Flath (BS '05, Applied Mathematics) is currently in the Computational and Applied Mathematics PhD program at the University of Texas at Austin and works with Omar Ghattas. She is the founder and current president of their SIAM Chapter and recently helped to organize Texas Applied Mathematics Meeting for Students (TAMMS), which met this past February. The conference provided students the opportunity to present research and build synergy among participants from universities throughout the region.

Eli Furhang (PhD '96, Medical Physics): After thesis research and subsequent employment at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Dr. Furhang accepted the position of Director of Radiation Oncology Physics at the Beth Israel Hospital Center in NYC. He is responsible for the oversight of Departments of Radiation Oncology at Beth Israel and St. Luke’s/Roosevelt Hospitals. Graduates of the MS Program in Medical Physics working for Dr. Furhang include James Dolan (MS '05), Robert Masino (MS '05), and Manuel Orlanzino (MS '06).

Tracy Hammond (BS '97, Applied Mathematics) received her PhD in Computer Science from M.I.T. and is now an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science at Texas A&M University. Her research focuses on sketch recognition, artificial intelligence, concept learning, and human-computer interaction.

Ajay Kapur (MS '94, Medical Physics) has been appointed Assistant Professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology. In 1999, he earned his PhD in Biophysics from Stanford University. Before returning to Columbia, he worked for six years as a physicist at the GE Global Imaging Technology Center. His research at Columbia focuses on Monte Carlo radiation transport simulation, digital imaging systems, and image guided radiation therapy. Prof. Kapur co-teaches Diagnostic Radiological Physics, a course required for the
MS in Medical Physics.

Feryal Ozel (BS '96, Applied Physics & Applied Mathematics) is an Assistant Professor in both Physics and Astronomy at the University of Arizona. Her research interests include the physics of compact objects, high energy astrophysics, neutron stars, magnetars, black holes and accretion disks and gravitational lensing.