STEM

Do you love math or science? Did you know that you can apply that passion and knowledge to a career in research, industry, or both? By participating in our STEM roundtables, you will be able to network with alumni of the College who have experience in many fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math; including, but not limited to: epidemiology, information technology, biotechnology, physics, chemistry, and consulting. You will be able to learn how these alumni successfully navigated their ways into intriguing careers, starting from where you are now.

Roundtable Participants

Eric Althoff, SB'99, Ph.D.'04 (Columbia)

CBO, Co-founder, Arzeda

Mr. Althoff graduated with an S.M. and S.B. in Chemistry ('99) and Columbia Ph.D. He co-founded Arzeda and serves as its Chief Business Officer. After an extensive chemistry background, he subsequently discovered the utility of enzyme catalysis and the power of biological solutions and has been hooked on the pursuit of engineering of biological systems. Eric leads Arzeda's business development and technology outreach to identify partners and opportunities to which to apply Arzeda's technology. His experience with applying computational design to design beyond the solutions available in Nature have helped to build a world leading technology platform at Arzeda. With Arzeda's technology, materials with improved properties can be enabled to improve upon existing petrochemical processes. He met Elizabeth on move-in day outside Hitchcock but didn't have the nerve to ask her out for two more years. They married and are now raising two Seattle-based Maroons of the Future!

Neelam Balasubramanian, AB'12

Junior Biostatistician/Research Assistant, Loyola University Chicago

Ms. Balasubramanian graduated from UChicago in 2012 with a degree in biological sciences and specialization in endocrinology. While at UChicago she was on the Raas team and volunteered with MedLife. She was also interested in bioethics. After graduating she worked at Epic and as a pediatric medical assistant before joining the Clinical Research Office at Loyola University Chicago in 2014. Her current work focuses on analyzing clinical research data from studies at the hospital.

Elizabeth Baldo

Research Support Assistant , University of Chicago

Ms. Baldo attended the College from 2005 to 2009 with an interest in psychology. While in the College she participated in cross country, track, gymnastics and breakdancing. She currently works full time at UChicago in the department of Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology, where she enjoys doing a wide range of experiments on plants and jellyfish. She remains active in gymnastics club where she helps to coach and continues to participate in the college dance crew Phenix.

Jeffrey Berryhill, PhD'00, BA'93 (Berkeley)

Senior Scientist, Fermilab

Mr. Berryhill graduated from the University of Chicago in 2000 with a PhD in physics. While at the College, he performed particle physics research at Fermilab which helped lead to the discovery of the top quark in 1995. After graduation, he pursued research at Stanford University, studying fundamental differences between matter and anti-matter. In 2006, he joined Fermilab as a member of the Compact Muon Solenoid experiment at the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland. The LHC experiments led to the discovery of the Higgs boson in 2012. In 2016, he continues to work on the LHC, including the design and operation of custom supercomputing solutions for handling the vast amounts of data produced.

Esther Bowen, AB'08, SM'11

Data Management Specialist, Argonne National Laboratory

Ms. Bowen received her A.B. in environmental studies from the College in 2008; she wrote her B.A. thesis on energy and emissions impact of local versus organic food production. She graduated with an S.M. in geophysical sciences from the University in 2011, modeling changes in hydrology and riverine nutrient loading in the Upper Illinois watershed from alternative land use policies. While preparing her master's thesis, she also interned at the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning in Water Resources, contributing to environmental planning projects in three regional watersheds through geospatial analysis and water quality modeling. She is now a Data Management Specialist for the Environmental Science Division at Argonne National Laboratory with responsibility for managing soil and groundwater contamination data generated during environmental site investigations of agricultural sites.

Samantha Chan, SB'87, MA'91

Senior Manager, Operations Licensing and Business , AbbVie

Ms. Chan graduated from the College in 1987 with a degree in chemistry. After graduating from the University of Illinois in 1991 with a master's degree in chemistry, she began her career at Pfizer in Process Research. She held a variety of chemistry related positions at Pfizer, Searle, Pharmacia and Abbott. Ms. Chan is currently at AbbVie in Operations Licensing and Business Development. Her work focuses on the evaluation of external opportunities.

Chris Comerford, AB'99, MBA'08

Vice President, Chief Information Officer, Adler Planetarium

Mr. Comerford is the Vice President, Chief Information Officer at the Adler Planetarium. With almost two decades of experience in leadership, strategy, and technology, he has successfully led a series of initiatives to enable organizational priorities through technology in both the academic and private sectors. Mr. Comerford has focused most of his career in higher education, with a combined thirteen years at Northwestern University and UChicago. Mr. Comerford earned his bachelor's degree in economics from the College in 1999 and his MBA in strategy and management from the Booth School of Business in 2008.

Alexander Donovan, SB'08

PhD Student in Chemical Engineering, University of Illinois at Chicago

Mr. Donovan graduated from the College with degrees in chemistry and biological chemistry in 2008. After graduation, he worked for a small management consulting firm specializing in international product licensing and technology transfer. He also conducted biomedical research at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine in the Pharmacology Department for two years. He is currently a fifth year doctoral student in Chemical Engineering at the University of Illinois at Chicago, devising novel targeted nanotherapies for treatment of a constellation of catastrophic bleeding phenomena including internal hemorrhage. In addition to research, he is also passionate about technology commercialization. He participated in the UChicago Booth New Venture Challenge (NVC) in 2016 as the technology lead in a biopharmaceutical startup concept called Firmitas Biotechnology. A life-long Chicago resident, he currently resides along the North Shore.

Lizette Durand, SB'01, PhD'07, VMD'12 (UPenn)

Veterinary Medical Epidemiologist , US Public Health Service - CDC

Dr. Durand graduated from the College in 2001 with a degree in biochemistry and chemistry and went on to get her PhD in microbiology from the University of Chicago BSD in 2007. While in the College, she was a member of the swimming and track teams. She was also involved in OLAS. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary School, she joined the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2012. She currently serves as a medical epidemiologist in the Division of Global HIV/TB, where she oversees HIV surveillance programs in multiple countries. She continues to be an active member of the University community by serving on her class reunion committee.

Francis Hannon, SB'84, PhD'90 (Harvard)

Director of Technical Affairs, Alva-Amco Pharmacal Companies

Mr. Hannon graduated from the College in 1984 with a degree in chemistry. While at the College, he was an avid inter-mural sportsman for Michaelson House (The Shoreland), and a member of the Symphonic Wind Ensemble. He completed a PhD in organic chemistry at Harvard University with E. J. Corey, the 1990 Nobel laureate in chemistry. Since completing his academic studies, he has held research and management positions in the pharmaceutical, and food industries at Amoco Corporation, Griffith International, Cedarburg Pharmaceuticals, and Alva-Amco Pharmacal Corporation, where he is currently director of technical affairs. He is married, with three children, and lives in Palatine, Illinois.

Dorthea Juul, AB'72, PhD'89, MEd'75 (U Illnois)

Vice President, Research and Development, American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology

Ms. Juul graduated from the College in 1972 with a major in geography, and in 1989 she received her PhD in education. While in the College she was involved with Contemporary European Films. Ms. Juul worked at the University of Illinois College of Medicine (UICOM), and she is now the Vice President for Research and Development at the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. Her work has focused on the assessment of physician competence. She teaches in the UICOM's master's degree program in health professions education and did international consulting for Bahrain's Ministry of Health and Pakistan's College of Physicians and Surgeons. She has been involved in her class reunions (the 40th was held in June 2012) and the Chicago alumni group.

John Ketterson, PhD'62, SM'59, SB'57

Fayerweather Professor, Northwestern University

Mr. Ketterson has been a professor at Northwestern University since 1974. Earlier he was on the staff of Argonne National Laboratory. He works in the general area of condensed matter physics and is the author or editor of eight books and several hundred research publications. In his spare time he attempts to improve his guitar playing.

Karyl Kopaskie, AB'07, PhD'14

Women's Health Lead, Sg2

Karyl Kopaskie graduated from the College in 2007 with a degree in physics, and earned a doctorate degree in microbiology in 2014 studying the virulence determinant of Yersinia species. After graduation, she transitioned to the health care space by taking a job at Sg2. As the women's health leader on Sg2's Intelligence team, Ms. Kopaskie develops future-focused healthcare strategy for hospitals and healthcare organizations across the country. Either by generating original content, such as webinars and publications, on important industry trends or by presenting market-specific strategic opportunities to individual clients, she challenges Sg2's clients to develop evidence-based and data-driven plans for women's health and pediatric programs.

Nathan Krapf, AB'05, SB'05, SM'06, PhD'12

Senior Software Engineer, Narrative Science

Mr. Krapf graduated from the College in 2005 with degrees in physics and mathematics with a specialization in computer science. While in the College, he played in the Wind Ensemble and Jazz X-tet, and was involved in the Society for Physics Students. He stayed at the University to work on his PhD in physics, which he finished in 2012. After discovering that he liked the programming parts of his thesis more than the physics parts, he decided to look for jobs outside of academia and joined the Chicago-based startup Narrative Science. He is currently the lead software engineer on the natural language generation team, and spends his days teaching computers how to write prose. He is married to a UChicago alumna and continues to enjoy ultimate frisbee, which he began playing as a grad student on the University's team.

Lewis Larsen, AB'68, MBA'70

President & CEO, Lattice Energy, LLC

Mr. Larsen graduated from the College in 1968 with a degree in biology and from the Booth School of Business with an MBA in 1970. He now works as a practicing theoretical physicist and businessman who serves as President and CEO of Lattice Energy LLC (Chicago, IL). For the past 15 years, he has conducting research and publishing in many-body collective quantum effects in condensed matter systems and direct acceleration of charged particles in certain magnetically confined plasmas. Along with co-authors Allan Widom and Yogendra Srivastava, he was instrumental in developing what is now called the Widom-Larsen theory of ultralow energy neutron reactions (LENRs). Well-supported by experimental data, this theory shows that star-like nucleosynthesis can be triggered in tabletop apparatus that does not need shielding or containment because the 'green' nuclear process does not emit energetic neutron or gamma radiation, nor does it produce appreciable long-lived, hazardous radioactive isotopic wastes.

David Lawlor, SB'05, AB'05, Ph.D. 2012 (Michigan State, Applied Math)

Senior Research Engineer, HERE

Mr. Lawlor graduated from the College in 2005 with degrees in mathematics and physics. While in the College, he worked with the Neighborhood Schools Program and the Lab School and volunteered with the Major Activities Board and the Maroon. After graduation he worked for the University at CERN on the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider. After obtaining his Ph.D. in applied mathematics at Michigan State University, he held postdoctoral positions at Duke University and SAMSI, an NSF-funded research institute. Mr. Lawlor joined HERE in 2015 as a Senior Research Engineer. His work focuses on developing real-time algorithms to localize autonomous vehicles. He is married and lives in Chicago and continues to be an active member of the University community by volunteering with the Alumni Schools Committee.

Ruth Martin, AB'85, BS' 87 (UofI); PhD'93 (Northwestern)

Senior Scientist III, AbbVie

Ms. Martin graduated from the College with a degree in chemistry and then continued her education with a BS in biology from UIC and a PhD in pharmacology from Northwestern University with research focused on the electrical activity of the heart. While doing post-doctoral work at the University, she taught at the graduate level at Northwestern and at the medical school at the University of Illinois in Rockford. In 2000, she joined Abbott Laboratories. There, she is responsible for determining cardiovascular risk of potential drug candidates by conducting and interpreting pre-clinical safety assays. In 2000, Abbott split into two companies and she now works for AbbVie, the proprietary biopharmaceutical company. She lives in Lake Forest with her husband, Ron (a University of Chicago alumnus and AbbVie employee) and their two sons.

Sigrid Nachtergaele, SB'09, Dphil'14 (Stanford)

HHMI Fellow of the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation, University of Chicago

Ms. Nachtergaele graduated from the College in 2009 with a degree in biochemistry and chemistry. While at UChicago, she did laboratory research in the Chemistry department and was a member of the women's soccer team. She then moved on to graduate school at Stanford University, completing her PhD in biochemistry in 2014. Her thesis described new roles for cholesterol metabolites in cell-cell communication. She is now back at UChicago, doing postdoctoral research in the Institute for Biophysical Dynamics as a Fellow of the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation. Her current work aims to uncover new ways in which the expression of our genes is regulated on a molecular level, focusing both on understanding fundamental biology and identifying potential biomedical applications. In the future, she aims to run her own academic lab. She met her husband while at the College, and currently lives in Chicago.

Janna Nugent, AB'88, SM'16

Senior Bioinformatics Specialist, Northwestern University

A graduate of the college in 1988 in History, Ms. Nugent studied churches in Chicago neighborhoods with changing demographics for her bachelor paper while working in computer science as a programming tutor. Upon graduation, her computer expertise, interest in biology and ability to communicate brought her to work at UChicago's BSD, including running a molecular modeling lab with visualization workstations and helping to create a haptic virtual reality surgical simulator. She had twins in 2000 and took time off to raise her daughters, returning to UChicago in 2012 to get her Master's degree in computer science. She now works with researchers using high performance computing to study DNA at Northwestern. She continues to feel passionate about bridging the distance between the highly technical realm of computer science and experts in biology who need to use computer science to forward their research.

Bridget Pals, AB'14

Project Associate, Urban Energy and Environment Lab

Ms. Pals graduated from the College in 2014 with degrees in physics and economics. After graduating, she spent a year working at Urban Partnership Bank - a community development bank that serves Chicago's south and west sides. Currently, she is a Project Associate at the University of Chicago Energy and Environment Lab, where she works to increase household water conservation in California and improve federal regulatory compliance via enhanced inspection targeting. In her spare time, she sings with the UChicago Women's Ensemble.

Oliver Pergams, AB'81, MS'98 (UIC), PhD'02 (UIC)

Professor, Olive-Harvey College, City Colleges of Chicago

Dr. Oliver Pergams is a biologist and professor at Olive-Harvey College (OHC), one of the City Colleges of Chicago (CCC). He also holds research appointments at University of Illinois at Chicago and Field Museum. He has over 30 papers in journals such as Nature, PNAS, & PLoS One. Dr. Pergams has testified as an expert witness before Congress. His awards include a US EPA STAR Fellowship, a Smith Conservation Research Fellowship, and a US Dept. of State Fulbright Senior Lecturing/Research Award. In 2013 Dr. Pergams was awarded the International Conference on College Teaching and Learning Award and was the 2014 Phi Theta Kappa Distinguished Faculty. Dr. Pergams is a Master Natural Areas Restoration Steward, and is leading restoration of the CCC Wetland. He designed the CCC Environmental Biology Associate of Science concentration, is Facilitator of the OHC mentoring program, and is the CCC District Biology Liaison.

Robert "Matt" Pipke, AB'90, JD'95 (Loyola)

Chief Technology Officer and Founder, PhysIQ Inc.

Mr. Pipke earned a degree in physics from the College in 1990, and spent a year in China. He earned a JD from Loyola Law School in Chicago and went on to work in private practice in Chicago as a patent lawyer in the electrical and software arts. Endeavoring to join the innovative activity on the other side of the patent transactions he was tasked with reducing to dry legalese, he left the golden handcuffs of law behind in 1997 to join the armies of IT consultants then traveling the land as part of the IT boom of the 90s, and completed his odyssey by joining a tech start-up in 1999 which was sold to GE. He is currently on his second tech start-up, in next-generation mobile medical devices, as Chief Technology Officer and founder at www.physiq.com.

Sarah Powers, AB'04, PhD'11

Assistant Professor , Lewis University

Ms. Powers graduated from the College in 2004 with a degree in biology. During her time as an undergraduate, she worked in the lab of Jerry Coyne, PhD of the Department of Ecology and Evolution. She then continued her education in the Biological Sciences Division as part of the Committee on Immunology, mentored by Marcus R. Clark, MD, and earned her PhD in 2011. After a brief post-doctoral appointment in the Department of Medicine, she began her faculty appointment at Lewis University (Romeoville, IL) in the fall of 2012. In addition to teaching a variety of courses for undergraduate and master's degree students, she mentors undergraduate students performing lab-based research and is also involved in an NSF-funded project to re-evaluate the way calculus is taught to students pursing a degree in biology.

Sarah Jane Quillin, SB'09, DPhil, MPH (Northwestern) expected 2019

PhD Candidate, Northwestern University

Ms. Quillin graduated from the College in 2009 with a Bachelors of Science in biochemistry, a Bachelors in chemistry, and a minor in HIPS (History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Science and Medicine). As an undergraduate, she did biochemistry research under mentor Dr. Marvin Makinen and developmental biology research under Dr. Ivan Moskowitz. After graduation, she worked as a research technician at the College until 2012, studying bacteriology under Dr. Jess Leber and pathology under Dr. Alexander Chervonsky. She is currently a PhD, MPH Candidate studying host-pathogen interactions in the lab of Dr. Hank Seifert at Northwestern University, and recently presented work at the International Pathogenic Neisseria Conference in Manchester, UK. Her research has been published in Molecular Microbiology, Infection and Immunity, and PNAS.

Charlie Semenchuk, AB'01

Sr Manager, R&D Information Research - DevOps, AbbVie

Mr. Semenchuk graduated from the College in 2001 with a degree in psychology. While in the College, he was a member of the varsity football and track and field teams as well as a member of Phi Gama Delta. Mr. Semenchuk has spent his entire career involved in Drug Development research with varying roles from the clinical field to technology solutions. Currently Mr. Semenchuk's focus is on leading the technology solutions for Pharmaceutical Development at a major Biopharmaceutical company in North Chicago. He is married with three children and currently resides in the far North Suburbs. Mr. Semenchuk is still actively involved with the Graduate Board of Phi Gama Delta at UChicago.

Tiwalade Sobayo, SB'07, PhD'15 (IIT)

PhD

Mr. Sobayo graduated from the College in 2007 with a degree in mathematics. While in the College, he was involved with Alpha Phi Omega and the Chess Club. After graduating from the College, he obtained a Master's degree in chemical engineering and a PhD in biomedical engineering from Illinois Institute of Technology. His research focuses on understanding the evolution of network dynamics in the brain during seizures in epilepsy.

Michael Spertus, AB'84, SM'84

Fellow at Symantec, Adjunct Professor (UChicago), Symantec, University of Chicago

Mr. Spertus graduated from the College in 1984 with both a bachelor's and master's degree in Mathematics. He is a Fellow with Symantec and an Adjunct Professor at UChicago.

Mary Upton, AB'99, PhD'05 (UIUC)

Physicist, Argonne National Laboratory

Ms. Upton graduated from the College in 1999 with a degree in physics. While in the College she played rugby and was active in the Society of Physics Students. After receiving a PhD in physics from UIUC in 2005 she did a post-doc at Brookhaven National Laboratory. She subsequently moved to the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory where she is a beamline scientist. In her role as a beamlime scientist she performs condensed matter research, maintains a beamline, and assists outside users with their experiments.

Douglas Yau, AB'00, Ph.D'06 (University of Illinois at Chicago), MBA'16 (Depaul University)

Medical Sciences Liaison, Sanofi Genzyme

Mr. Yau graduated from the College in 2000 with a degree in biology with a specialization in neuroscience. While at the College, he conducted part-time research in the Department of Neurology and was part of Summer Links Internship Program's inaugural class. After graduation, he went on to pursue his PhD in Pharmacology at University of Illinois at Chicago and completed a postdoctoral fellowship back at the University of Chicago in 2010. Following this, he joined the pharmaceutical company Sanofi Genzyme, where he is now a senior medical science liaison in Oncology. His work focuses on partnering with oncologists on clinical trials for the generation of data, providing medical education and collecting scientific intelligence. Recently he finished an MBA from DePaul University, and assumed additional strategic roles as the US Medical Lead for Elitek and the Lead for field medical training.