How To Thrive in the Sciences at UCLA and Beyond
On September 27, 2017, alumni with degrees from the Physical Sciences were welcomed back to campus to share advice and personal experiences with freshmen and first-year transfer students interested in a Physical Sciences major. The discussion was followed by a lively reception giving students the opportunity to network with the alumni panelists along with faculty and current students. Watch a video of the event below.
Alumni panelists included:
B.S., M.S., and Ph.D., Mathematics, 1967 / 1969 / 1973
President, Daabco Industries, Inc. / Visiting Associate Professor, UCLA
Three-time UCLA alumnus Demetri Brizolis is president of Daabco Industries Inc., a privately held investment company that he and his wife Ann founded in 1989. Prior to forming Daabco, Brizolis was senior vice president of Imperial Coproration of America, a multibillion dollar financial services company based in San Diego, where he headed the commercial real estate lending division. Before joining Imperial, Brizolis was a tenured associate professor of mathematics at Cal Poly Pomona and a visiting assistant professor of mathematics at USC. During his career in academia, he conducted research and published papers in the area of algebraic number theory. Brizolis earned his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in mathematics at UCLA, where he has served as a part-time visiting associate professor since 2013. He and his wife live in Rancho Santa Fe. Their son, Alex, is also a graduate of UCLA. Students may email Demetri at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Serina Tran Dai
B.S., Chemistry & Biochemistry, 2001
Director of R&D, Award Products
Serina Tran Dai is the Senior Director of R&D for Aware Products, a contract manufacturer of personal care goods. Throughout her career, she has launched and developed innovative formulations for brands such as Bath & Body Works, Strivectin, Pureology, Alterna, Dermologica, Rodan and Fields, Calvin Klein, Josie Maran, and many others. She received her B.S. in biochemistry from UCLA in 2001 and an M.S. in biochemistry from the University of St. Joseph in 2013. As an undergrad, she was very active in community service events such as feeding the homeless and volunteering for Habitat for Humanity. She used to be a bit of an adrenaline junkie and likes to go sky diving, bungee jumping, snowboarding, canyoneering, and mountain biking. She also loves to travel, having been to over 40 countries. Serena currently resides in Temple City with her husband and three-year-old daughter. Students may email Serena at email@example.com.
B.S., Geology, 1976 / DDS, 1980
Dentist in private practice
Dr. Stevan Dumas has practiced dentistry in Culver City for over 30 years. He attended UCLA for both his undergraduate and dental degrees. He received his B.S. in Geology in 1976 and his D.D.S in 1980. While a student at UCLA, he assisted in the Rock Physics Lab in the Geology Building. The research principals and writing skills learned there helped tremendously in his career and business development of his practice. He also participated in many Intramural Sport Activities and is a diehard Bruin Fan. In 1993, he received his fellowship in the Academy of General Dentistry. He has also served as an examiner for the Dental Board of California and has been a member of the California Dental Association for over 35 years. Dr. Dumas has held various positions within the organization and is presently a member of its Council on Peer Review. In his free time, he goes backpacking with his two sons. They have done numerous 50-mile expeditions that included Mount Whitney, Forrester Pass, Kearsarge Pass, Half Dome in Yosemite, and the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. He also adores his wife of 20+ years and spends as much time as possible with his family. Students may email Stevan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
B.S., Statistics, 2012
Business Analysis Manager at Education Management Systems
Elizabeth Frank graduated from UCLA in 2012 with her B.S. in statistics. While at UCLA she enjoyed participating in DataFest, mentoring kids in Echo Park through the Casa Heiwa and Angelina Mentorship Program, and attending sporting events. UCLA has remained a big part of her life, even after graduation. She volunteers at DataFest each year, mentors students through the Alumni Mentor Program, and is the President for the San Fernando Valley Regional Alumni Network. The preparation the statistics department gave her, as well as the connections and networking opportunities the department provided, have been invaluable to her career. Through studying statistics at UCLA, she gained analytics skills and real-world experience with data that have set her up to be successful in the workplace. She has previously worked as an associate economist doing labor and employment law analytics and held an internship at the Los Angeles Times Data Desk. Elizabeth is currently the Business Analysis Manager at Education Management Systems, a Charter Management Organization. Students may email Elizabeth at email@example.com.
M.S., Mathematics, 2003
Senior Data Scientist at Netflix
David Hubbard has been a Senior Data Scientist at Netflix since 2010 in the Science and Algorithms group. He has worked on a range of algorithmic tasks, from estimating the value of shows Netflix may want to acquire, to recommending new shows to subscribers, to predicting the lifetime of subscribers. David got his master’s in applied math from UCLA in 2003. During that time, he was also a mathematics and computer science teaching assistant. This education provided a solid foundation for a career in machine learning and data science by helping build the intuition and base necessary to understand, build, and analyze algorithms as well as to convey how they work to the layman. In his time off, David enjoys taking his family on various adventures around the world (hiking, mountain biking, skiing), making wine, and wood working. Students may email David at firstname.lastname@example.org.
B.S., Physics & Astronomy, 2010
Electrical Engineer, ME Engineers
Laura Marchand graduated from UCLA with a B.S. in Physics in June of 2010. Since graduation, she has worked for ME Engineers, an MEP consulting engineering firm located in Culver City. During her time with ME, Laura has been involved in the power and lighting design for many construction projects throughout the LA area and beyond, including the Forum, Banc of California MLS stadium in Exposition Park, and BMO Field in Toronto, as well as many projects on the UCLA campus: Franz Hall, CHS, Campbell Hall, Macgowan Hall, and the School of Dentistry. Laura is a LEED Accredited Professional and is pursuing licensure as a Professional Engineer in the fall of 2017. She enjoys working as a consulting engineer because it allows her to help develop the built environment in Los Angeles and be involved in the design of buildings people will enjoy for years to come. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, hiking, and traveling. Students may email Laura at Laura.Marchand@me-engineers.com.
B.S., Physics & Astronomy, 2016
Ph.D. student, University of California, Santa Cruz
Brittany Miles is a Eugene Cota-Robles and NSF Graduate Research Fellow in the Astronomy and Astrophysics department at University of California, Santa Cruz. Brittany uses large telescopes such as Keck and Gemini North to study the atmospheres of brown dwarfs and planetary mass objects. She graduated from UCLA in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in physics and a minor in geophysics and planetary physics. Participating in a wide range of research opportunities over her undergraduate career helped in choosing her major and developing her scientific interests. Having a solid group of mentors and friends inspired her to improve as a student and solidify her decision to pursue a Ph.D. in Astronomy. The Undergraduate Research Center, Academic Advancement Program (AAP), and the Afrikan Student Union are excellent resources and positive spaces that assisted Brittany on her journey through UCLA and onto graduate school. Brittany is originally from the beautiful city of Gardena and attended King/Drew High. In her free time, she enjoys playing video games, looking at plants, laughing at memes, and occasionally going to the gym. Students may email Brittany at email@example.com.
B.S., Chemistry & Biochemistry, 2011
Co-Owner, Progress Brewing
Kevin Ogilby is the co-owner and brewer of Progress Brewing, a microbrewery located in South El Monte in the San Gabriel Valley. After graduating from UCLA in 2011 with a B.S. in chemistry, Kevin briefly worked at a biotech start-up before founding Progress Brewing with a co-worker. While at UCLA, Kevin was an undergraduate researcher in the lab of Prof. Diaconescu, studying the reactivity of early transition metals and lanthanides. This rewarding background in research fostered a creative approach to problem solving and resilience to minor setbacks. Progress Brewing was founded with fellow chemist and Caltech alumnus Diego Benitez. Building the brewery on a shoestring budget with no outside investment, Diego and Kevin did the majority of the construction themselves, including the fabrication of the brewing vessels. Four years later the business has flourished and the interest in Progress Brewing’s beer has necessitated several expansions to keep up with demand. Students may email Kevin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
B.S., Physics & Astronomy, 2007 / Ph.D., Molecular Biology, 2012
Assistant professor, Chemistry & Biochemstry, UCLA
José received both his B.S. in Biophysics at UCLA and his Ph.D. in molecular biology at UCLA. He has been a member of the UCLA community since 2003 and continues his work on campus connecting with undergraduate and graduate students as an assistant professor and Howard Reiss Development Chair in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry. Throughout his ~15 years on campus, José has been an active member of the University Research Center for the Sciences, participating both as a student member, through which he received fellowships and guidance, and later as a graduate tutor and faculty advisor. José has also taught undergraduate and graduate courses in fields ranging from crystallography to biophysics. Through his science, José is a practicing microscopist. Microscopy allows him to see cells and molecules. He has a passion for photography in and out of the laboratory, and particularly enjoys stunning views of nature at all scales. Students may email José at email@example.com.
B.S., Chemistry & Biochemistry, 1980
Deputy District Attorney, Los Angeles County
Don M. Tamura attended UCLA from 1976 through 1980. During his time at UCLA, Don interned in legislative offices in Washington, D.C. and Sacramento. He received his bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and psychology from UCLA in 1980, and received his law degree from Hastings College of the Law in 1983. Don has been a prosecutor with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office for over 32 years, specializing in white-collar and financial crimes. He has been recognized as an expert in criminal law and has lectured throughout the state on prosecuting financial crimes. In 1991, he worked as a Special Assistant United States Attorney prosecuting cases in the Central District of California. In 1992, he was a member of the Los Angeles Police Commission’s inquiry into the Los Angeles riots. Don has also served on the governing board of the UCLA Asian-American Alumni Association, as well as the Executive Board of the Criminal Justice Section for the Los Angeles County Bar Association.
B.S., Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences, 1992
Ashwin Vasavada is a planetary scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Currently, he is the Project Scientist for NASA’s Curiosity rover that began development in 2003 and successfully reached Mars in August 2012. He now leads the international team of scientists as they explore Gale Crater on the Martian surface. Ashwin holds a B.S. in geophysics and space physics from UCLA and a Ph.D. in planetary science from Caltech. At UCLA, he did his best to pass physics and chemistry while cheering on the Bruins as a member of the UCLA Solid Gold Sound marching band. Discovering planetary science through UCLA classes and later as an undergraduate researcher changed the course of his life and started him on the career he’s on today. In addition to music and the outdoors, Ashwin is passionate about exploring the solar system and making science and scientific thinking a part of everyone’s personal experience. Students may email Ashwin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
B.S., M.S., and Ph.D., Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences, 2004 / 2007 /2011
Data analytics staff, California State University, Northridge
Clare is a data scientist at California State University, Northridge. She supports decision making at the university by building predictive models of student enrollment and student success, as well as by designing data visualization tools. She enjoys her job because she loves data and likes helping students. Clare grew up in Macau and moved to the United States when she was 17. She arrived at UCLA in 2003 as a transfer student, and ultimately received both her B.S. and Ph.D. in atmospheric sciences. As a grad student, Clare was highly involved in the UCLA chapter of the Chi Epsilon Pi National Meteorological Honor Society as the vice president and student-faculty representative. She was a successful teaching assistant, receiving a teaching award from her department in 2007. These activities gave her confidence and leadership skills that have helped her throughout her career. She enjoyed the yoga classes at the Wooden Center, and found them helpful to cope with her busy school life. After graduation, Clare received a NASA fellowship. She worked as a postdoc and later as a scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and Caltech. In 2014, Clare received an outstanding postdoctoral research award at JPL. Students may email Clare at email@example.com.