Harvey Mudd College Honors Outstanding Alumni

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Flash software inventor and AIDS researcher among Harvey Mudd alumni awarded for contributions to science, technology and society.

Ken Livak (left) receives an Outstanding Alumni Award from chemistry professor and fellow alumnus Gerald Van Hecke

The inventor of Flash software and the chemist who published the first nucleotide sequence of the AIDS virus were among eight Harvey Mudd College alumni awarded May 3, 2014, for work that advances science while benefiting humanity.

The Harvey Mudd Alumni Association presented seven Outstanding Alumni Awards and one Lifetime Achievement Award at a ceremony honoring awardees for their significant contributions to science, technology and society.

“You truly personify the goal of Harvey Mudd College to produce engineers, scientists and mathematicians who make significant contributions to society, and, as such, bring great pride to the College and its alumni,” Professor of Chemistry Gerald Van Hecke, class of 1961, told the award recipients.

Henry Brady, class of 1969, was honored for research that examines the interaction between the general public and elites in both democratic and transitional societies. Brady is dean of the Goldman School of Public Policy and Class of 1941 Monroe Deutsch Professor of Political Science and Public Policy at UC Berkeley. Among Brady’s books are "Letting the People Decide: Dynamics of a Canadian Election" (1992), which won the Harold Innis Award for the best social science book published in Canada, and "Rethinking Social Inquiry" (2004), which won the Sartori Award for best book on qualitative methods. His most recent book is "The Unheavenly Chorus: Unequal Political Voice and the Broken Promise of American Democracy" (2012).

Joseph Costello, class of 1974, was honored for his leadership in the digital technology. Costello founded Electronic Speech Systems, and then joined Solomon Design Automation, where he became president and grew the company and its subsidiaries from $10 million to more than $1 billion. He was CEO of think3, a product lifecycle management software and consulting company, and then moved on to become CEO of Orb Networks. Costello has been named one of the top executives leading the digital revolution.

Jonathan Gay, class of 1989, founded FutureWave Software, paving the way to eventually create the original Adobe Flash program. He is a cofounder of Greenbox Technology, a clean tech startup that helps consumers understand their energy consumption and conservation possibilities. Gay’s technical contributions have resulted in a range of patents that today enable information sharing across networks and computer platforms.

Ken Livak, class of 1974, was a key contributor on the first commercial system to perform real-time polymerase chain reaction and was among the first to publish the complete nucleotide sequence of the AIDS virus, HTLV-III, a critical step in developing methods to treat AIDS. Livak has pioneered research that has played a critical role in fighting and treating diseases. As a senior scientific fellow at Fluidigm Corporation, he pioneered novel assays on microfluidic platforms, and he is alliance manager at the Broad Institute, where he researches single-cell genomics.

Tyrel McQueen, class of 2004, is assistant professor in chemistry and physics and astronomy at Johns Hopkins University where his laboratory is focused on the design, discovery and synthesis of materials with exotic electronic states that have applications ranging from energy to fundamental science. McQueen and his team explore how emergent phenomena, such as superconductivity, arise from local interactions of charge, orbital and spin degrees of freedom.

Russell Merris, class of 1964, was honored for his leadership in strengthening K-12 math education. As a professor at California State University, East Bay, Merris instituted the Challenge—a key test used throughout the CSU system to assess 11th graders’ math readiness. For his contributions in the classroom and beyond, the university twice named him an outstanding professor and, in 2005, he received the Mathematical Association of America’s Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics.

George Zimmerman, class of 1969, was honored for his substantial contributions to national security. During his career at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Zimmerman developed methods to analyze and model high-energy processes and atomic particle interactions. His research led to the development of the LASNEX inertial confinement fusion computer program, used to design laser fusion targets and to analyze experiments. He is a recipient of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award for contributions to national security and the American Nuclear Society’s Edward Teller Award for pioneering research and leadership in the use of lasers and ion particle beams to produce unique high-energy-density matter for scientific research and controlled thermonuclear fission.

Fred Pickel, class of 1974, was honored with a Lifetime Recognition Award. Pickel has more than 30 years’ experience in the gas and electric utility industries, as well as with government, in the United States and abroad. He was confirmed as the first ratepayer advocate and executive director of the Office of Public Accountability for the City of Los Angeles in February 2012. He has negotiated and managed some of the first independent power contracts, designed programs for incentive regulation and testified as an expert on contract defaults in international arbitrations.

“Don’t forget the fundamentals that are taught here at Harvey Mudd,” said alumnus Jerome Jackson, class of 1976, while presenting one of the awards. “It really equips our graduates to be competitive and effective in many fields, and you never know where the future is going to take you.”

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