Greetings from Houston, home of the World Champion Houston Astros!

Melville “Mel” Davey III (B.S. & M.S., CompSci) wrote in with an update. Mel was one of the original founders/creators of Ion Torrent Systems Inc., DNA sequencing technology. He later ran the software and bioinformatics groups, developing novel sequencing technology and platforms that enabled targeted cancer gene panels and software for the identification of mutations, rearrangements, and gene fusions. Mel is now working with Jonathan Rothberg ’05 on a new startup and is always looking for top programming talent with deep learning skill sets and a passion to improve the world to join his team.

Suzanne Rosato (MBA) joined the operations group at G2, which provides telecommunications contract negotiations expertise to enterprise companies globally. Suzanne is widely regarded as an expert in the field of carrier pricing and telecom negotiations.

Richard Taylor (M.S., Ph.D. Chem), professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Notre Dame, has been named interim director of Notre Dame California, where he is responsible for further developing Notre Dame’s presence on the West Coast. Rich joined Notre Dame’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in 1995 following completion of a postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University. Rich helped found what is now the Warren Family Research Center for Drug Discovery and Development, serving as interim director. Rich maintains an active research program studying natural compounds for their therapeutic potential.

Willem Van Twembeke (M.E., NuclearEng), has been named CEO of Orazul Energy by its board of directors. Orazul, headquartered in Houston, Texas, is a privately owned, independent power producer serving markets in El Salvador, Guatemala, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, and Argentina. Willem joins Orazul following 25 years with Tractebel and various companies within the ENGIE Group.

Qamar Wan Noor (B.S., ChemE) was appointed the chief operating officer of the Malaysia Land Public Transport Commission, where she is responsible for transforming the passenger services and commercial goods transportation sectors, including infrastructure, within Malaysia. She joins the commission following a successful career with Shell where she served in the Middle East, Asia-Pacific, and Malaysia.

Al Gross (B.S., CompSci) wrote in from Miami to let us know that they made it through Hurricane Irma with about a week of power outages and quite a bit of cleanup, but otherwise came through relatively easily.

Here in Katy, Dianne and I were fortunate to have no impact from the torrential rains brought by Hurricane Harvey. Like many others across the area, we helped friends and colleagues clean up their flood-damaged homes. Lately, we have enjoyed trips to Amsterdam and Singapore, making it home in time to share in the joy of watching the Houston Astros claim their first World Series victory. If you find yourself in the Houston area, please be sure to let us know! —Rob Sherman ’90; robjsherman@hotmail.com


Laurence Burke is curator and Pucci Family Foundation Scholar, Aeronautics Department, at the National Air and Space Museum. As curator, he oversees the U.S. Naval Aviation collection of over 30 U.S. Navy and Marine Corps aircraft, covering all eras of naval aviation from a pre-WWI Curtiss N-9 trainer to the prototype for the Marine Corps’ Lockheed Martin X-35B. In December, he spoke about Pearl Harbor at the Freedom Museum in Manassas, Va. —Richard Vehlow ’91; rev1969@gmail.com


Col. Kimberly Colloton (BArch; B.S.) assumed command of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Transatlantic Afghanistan District (TAA), during a change of command ceremony last August at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. She previously served as the commander for both the USACE Albuquerque and Los Angeles Districts and is the TAA’s first female commander.

CHA Consulting Inc. hired Erin M. Crotty (M.S. Urban&Env), former commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, to serve as vice president, environmental market leader. She leads a team of environmental engineers and scientists providing solutions to complex environmental issues, including remediation and regulatory compliance.

Prescient appointed Magued Eldaief (MBA) to the position of CEO last May. Prescient provides design, engineering, manufacturing, and installation solutions for the construction industry.

The Tulane School of Professional Advancement announced the addition of Jerry Lenaz (B.S. EE) as professor of practice and program director, Business and Leadership Studies. He was previously the director of business services at the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program at Delgado Community College in New Orleans.

Melissa Wong (B.S. CSE), a systems engineer and cybersecurity expert at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md., has been awarded the 2017 Women of Color Award for her accomplishments in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)-related fields. —John Trammell ’92; johntrammell@gmail.com

COL. KIMBERLY COLLOTON ’92 assumed command of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Transatlantic Afghanistan District (TAA) during a change of command ceremony in August at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. She is the TAA’s first female commander.


25th Reunion: Sept. 27-30, 2018 Jason Kinslow joined the HKA Advisory Group as principal. He has more than 20 years of experience leading companies in performance improvement and strategic initiatives in the U.S., Canada, UK, Netherlands, South Africa, India, Australia, and New Zealand. He managed over 80 energy projects ranging from small engagements to large, multi-year global assignments. Prior to joining HKA, he led IBM’s North American Energy and Utilities AMI Group.

Col. Robert Lyman has been honored with the 2017 Military Leadership Award from the Association of Defense Communities for excellence in building and sustaining innovative community-military partnerships at Joint Base Charleston and for an active commitment to outreach with local and state stakeholders. He was the commander of the 628th Air Base Wing and Joint Base Charleston until this past July 6. Now he is director of communications for Joint Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, N.C. —Ileana Gonzalez ’93; igonzalez@alum.rpi.edu


Brian Williams was promoted to partner at Carl Marks Advisors, a corporate restructuring and investment banking firm. His primary focus is in the energy industry. Prior to joining Carl Marks Advisors, he was CFO and co-founder of Cretic Energy Services, a provider of completion services to oil and gas producers.

Kelly Palmer was named director of marketing and development for the Imaginarium Science Center and the Southwest Florida Museum of History. A former advancement officer at Rensselaer, she most recently was director of development at Boise State Public Radio in Boise, Idaho. —Bill Wheeler ’94; William_Wheeler@yahoo.com


Keep the updates coming...Victor Avelar wrote a white paper on cost benefits for Micro Data Center Deployments as the director and senior research analyst at Schneider Electric’s Data Center Science Center. Somesh Kasibhatla has joined First Tennessee Bank as senior vice president and director of treasury management products. —Michael Van Poots ’95; Michael@Vanpoots.com


It’s been a few issues of the Rensselaer magazine with light news turnout for the Class of ’96. Don’t delay; send in your updates today!

Congratulations to Rick Short who was named corporate associate vice president and senior director of marketing communications for Indium. In this role Rick is responsible for ensuring that all programs and initiatives align with Indium’s corporate branding and culture. Congratulations, Rick, on the promotion and new role. —Hank Carbone ’96; hcarbone@hotmail.com


Mary (Rooney) LaChance ’97 and George Norman ’87, each running as first-time candidates for the Glastonbury Town Council, were both elected on November 7. They look forward to working together to serve the great town of Glastonbury, Connecticut.

I hope everyone who was able to make it to Reunion had a lovely time—one of these years that weekend won’t compete with all the kids’ soccer games, and Brian and I will actually get to attend.

One of the Class of 1997 MBA grads was in the news, picked up by our ever-vigilant team at RPI: Mike Morrissey was appointed president and COO of Stewart EFI, one of the largest suppliers of small precision metal stampings in the world. Its capabilities include deep draw, progressive, slide-forming, wire forms, machining, and automated secondary assemblies, as well as metal plating and finishing. Congratulations, Matt! —Kristen Fitzpatrick ’97; kfitzpatrick@mba2003.hbs.edu


20th Reunion: Sept. 27-30, 2018 Pinky Weitzman has had an unusual career path for a computer science major. In October she was named chief digital officer at the American Civil Liberties Union. But she is also a rock violist who has performed with such artists as Belle and Sebastian, Moby, and the acclaimed indie band The Magnetic Fields. She spent much of the past year on tour with The Magnetic Fields, including a trip to Melbourne in October to make a guest appearance with Taylor Mac. She is also the former Iowa digital director for Bernie 2016. The campaign’s national digital director called her “one of the greatest digital minds on the campaign” and “easily the most beloved.”

Lt. Col. Joanna Rentes was appointed commander of the 325th Medical Support Squadron at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., where she oversees seven flights managed by highly trained airmen and Team Tyndall members. Through her career, she has had 10 assignments from Alabama to Alaska.

CDRDaniel Cochran, USN, following his service as commanding officer of the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76), reported to NATO’s Joint Air Power Competency Centre in Germany. During his career, he has accumulated over 3,200 flight hours in 32 aircraft and 760 carrier arrested landings.—Mike Johnson ’98; mjohnson@alum.rpi.edu

PINKY WEITZMAN ’98 has had an unusual career for a computer science major. In October she was named chief digital officer at the American Civil Liberties Union. But she is also a rock violist who has performed with such artists as the acclaimed indie band The Magnetic Fields.


Lt. Col. Mike Loftus took command of the 2nd Engineer Battalion, Fort Bliss, last June. He serves as commander of 580 employees providing engineering, network and communications, intelligence, and logistical support for an Armored Brigade Combat Team. He most recently served as professor of military science and led the ROTC program at the University of Rhode Island.—Erica Kulesza ’99, erica.kulesza@yahoo.com

Daniel Schultz ’99 Earns Fame in Floral Installation Design

Daniel Schultz ’99 and his wife, Natasha Lisitsa, are the creative force behind Waterlily Pond, a floral art and event design studio based in San Francisco, California, that has been recognized internationally for larger-than-life floral installations, original style, and innovative use of materials.

They recently won first prize (60,000 Euro) in the international flower festival, FLORA, held in Cordoba, Spain. Their creation, Duende, was inspired by the whirl of a flamenco dancer’s skirt, and crafted on-site over four days from 500 spirals of perforated aluminum, hand-tied together to create a self-supporting structure for flowers.

In 2016, they took Gold and Best in Show awards at the Singapore Garden Festival, for Stretching Time, a massive cantilevered structure of wooden dowels spanning 16 feet between walls and supporting a lush display of fresh flowers.

“We design modern sculptures which juxtapose industrial materials and vibrant fresh florals,” says Schultz. “My passion is for conceptual design and engineering of beautiful, dynamic structures. Natasha’s excellence in floral design and exciting color combinations make us a great team.”

Schultz is the son of the late William Weightman Walker Professor of Chemistry Arthur G. Schultz, and he grew up within the Rensselaer community. During his studies at the School of Architecture, he cultivated a love for fabrication in Sid Fleisher’s woodshop, which later developed into a career in furniture design. He attributes his design skills to a rigorous, critical program, his many inspiring professors, and opportunities to study abroad.

“During the recent competition in Spain, while I was constructing our piece in an ancient space in an ancient city, I was reminded not only of my semester in Rome, Italy, but also of my senior thesis, in which I used perforated metal as the primary material,” says Schultz.

Waterlily Pond has designed flowers and décor for over 1,000 weddings and events, performed numerous live demonstrations, and created large-scale works of floral art for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the de Young Museum, and other cultural institutions worldwide.