Alumni Updates '07-'08

  • Netta Cohen (B.S. ‘92 Applied Physics) completed her Ph.D. 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 (B.S. ‘02 Applied Mathematics) is a Ph.D. student, studying Applied Plasma Physics at MIT. She recently married Michael Hohensee in Nashua, N.H.

  • Andrea Garofalo (Ph.D. '97) 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 (Ph.D. ‘04 Applied Physics) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Washington State University.

  • Ralph Izzo (M.S. ‘79, Ph.D. Plasma Physics ‘81) 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 (Ph.D. ‘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 (M.S. ‘98, Ph.D. ‘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 2 1/2 year old son, Sebastian, and are expecting their second child.

  • Stephen L. Ostrow (M.S. ‘70, Eng.Sc.D. ’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 (Applied Physics, Ph.D. ‘98) 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 (Ph.D. ‘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 (Ph.D. ‘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 (B.S. ‘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.

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