MIT Alumni Mentors

Alumni Mentors

Terrascope Mentors are MIT Alumni who lend their experience and expertise.

Our MIT Alumni Mentors:

Alex Borschow

MIT 2006 Course 2 & 2014 MBA

Alex Borschow is co-founder and Managing Partner of Semillero Partners, a Puerto Rico-based early and growth stage VC fund focused on food & beverage and food tech. A native of the island, he returned after 14 years between working in investment banking at BNP Paribas and as Director of Finance at Eataly USA, the largest Italian food marketplace in the world. Since 2012 he has been investing directly in innovative startups like Imperfect Foods, Jane Technologies, and Spyce. Alex is a Mentor for Parallel18 as well as the Rabobank-MIT Food and Agribusiness Innovation Prize. He serves as Director on the Boards of Seal the Seasons, Gfree Foods, and Foundation for Puerto Rico.  Alex holds a BS in Chemical/Biological Engineering and an MBA from MIT, where he also completed a Certificate in Sustainability with a focus on Food Systems.

Alexandra (Alex) Jordan

MIT 2011 Courses 12 & 17

Alexandra (Alex) Jordan (she/her) is a civil rights attorney with the Southern Poverty Law Center. Her work focuses on challenging systemic racial and wealth discrimination in the Deep South in partnership with affected communities through litigation, policy advocacy, direct action, and media strategy. She is currently working to end money bail, remove for-profit companies from the criminal justice system, and protect financial assistance to minority farmers from attack by white nationalists.

 

Alex graduated from MIT in 2011 with degrees from Courses 12 and 17. As a freshman, she was a member of Mission 2011: Saving the Oceans (where she made some of her closest friends). She later served as a UTF for Mission 2012: Clean Water and Mission 2014: Feeding the World. Alex also was TA for 12.001 Introduction to Geology, taught by Professors Taylor Perron and Oliver Jagoutz.

 

After MIT, Alex attended Harvard Law School (J.D., 2016) and clerked for the Honorable Catherine F. Easterly on the D.C. Court of Appeals. She now lives (and works remotely from) in Watertown, Massachusetts, with her partner and their dog, Bama.

Allison Patton

MIT 2009 Course 1E

I joined Terrascope as a freshman for Mission 2009: Tsunami Threat in the Pacific, and served as a UTF in Mission 2011: Saving the Oceans and Mission 2012: Clean Water. I have been a member of the Terrascope alumni mentorship team since Mission 2020: Future of Cities, and I am excited to continue in this role with conversations and advice on researching the project, picking a major, life after MIT, or anything related to my work.

 

After leaving MIT, I completed a Ph.D. in environmental engineering at Tufts University and postdoctoral training in exposure science at the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute of Rutgers University. My research interests have included air pollution exposures and health effects related to ultrafine particles in neighborhoods near highways, in commuting vehicles and residential green buildings, and near ports. I am currently a scientist at the Health Effects Institute in Boston, where I am involved in research oversight and review of studies investigating exposure to traffic-related air pollution and assessing whether air pollution regulations have had the anticipated impacts.

Andrew Wickert

MIT 2008 Course 12

Andy Wickert (SB 2008, Course 12; PhD 2014, Geology, University of Colorado Boulder) investigates how rivers, glaciers, and landscapes change, both over Earth’s past and into the future. He is a McKnight Land-Grant assistant professor at the University of Minnesota, where he runs a lab dedicated to developing and building open-source instrumentation for environmental and water-resources research. He and his group develop theory to predict how rivers will respond to climate and land-use change and test it in the upper Mississippi and along the Andes, quantify lake and groundwater storage and their impacts on climate and sea level, and monitor environmental conditions around the world.

Anna Fung

MIT 2011 Course 15

At MIT, I was course 15, and I took part in Terrascope’s “Saving the Oceans” mission. Nowadays, I’m based out of the Washington DC area as an assistant professor at American University, in the Kogod School of Business. I’m happy to chat with students who want to bounce university, career, or other ideas off a sounding board. No question is too trivial! Just mention Terrascope in your subject heading.

Aron Walker

MIT 2007 Courses 10 & 12

Terrascope inspired me to spend most of my professional time thinking about teaching and learning, in particular designing experiences that change how people see the world around them and their own sense of agency. I have been a UTF, a Peace Corps Volunteer, an instructor for MIT’s D-Lab, and a high school teacher and administrator. I am currently a graduate student in urban planning and public health at UCLA.

Danbee “Tauntaun” Kim

MIT 2009 Course 9

Danbee “Tauntaun” Kim is a Korean-American neuroscientist and teacher developing frameworks for precisely observing nervous systems in increasingly natural environments and contexts, aka “field neuroscience”. This includes studying cuttlefish, building interactive exhibits, and using comics and dance as a tool for education and research.

 

Danbee earned their BSc in Brain and Cognitive Sciences from MIT, where she also spent 10 years acting, directing, choreographing, costume designing, and writing original content for the MIT Musical Theater Guild. Danbee recently earned their PhD in Neuroscience from the Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown, and translated her dissertation into a graphic novel called The First VIRS (Vigilante Intergalactic Roustabout Scholar).

 

Danbee has taught for the Appalachian Institute for Creative Learning since 2010. As a member of NeuroGEARS, they also help organize and teach Neuronautas, a field neuroscience summer intensive course for teenagers.

 

To learn more, please visit http://www.danbeekim.org/

David Stein

MIT 2011 & 2020 Course 6

Stein (SB 2011, M.Eng 2020, Course 6) dropped out of a course 6 M.Eng. to join the then-startup Dropbox. He’s worked as a manager and investor in the software industry for the past decade. Last year he re-enrolled at MIT to complete an M.Eng. and is currently enrolled at NYU Law. Happy to talk about MIT or career advice or tech or data questions related to the Terrascope project.

Dirk Stahlecker

MIT 2016 Course 6-3

Dirk was involved in Terrascope in almost every way during his time at MIT as a student in Mission 2016 and continuing on to take both spring classes as well. He loved the experience so much that he spent the next five semesters working as a UTF for all three classes. Much of Dirk’s Mission was spent thinking through the challenges of coordinating so many people and trying to craft a single cohesive solution. He encourages students to reach out to him to discuss aspects of the teamwork, coordination, planning, and leadership that is necessary for a successful Mission in addition to technical questions about the website or project. 

 

Dirk currently works as a software developer at Ab Initio. Outside work he can usually be found playing ice hockey or racing his racecar (and fixing it after the inevitable crash). He lives in Cambridge and hasn’t really gotten away from the MIT student sleep cycle and therefore is often available to answer late night questions. He can’t wait to see what this year’s class is able to come up with!

Emily Moberg

MIT 2011 & 2016 Courses 1E & 7

Emily Moberg is a research scientist at the World Wildlife Fund and a leader in climate change communication. She was a member of Mission 2011 in the fall and participated in the then-museum exhibit design & radio classes in the spring; she continued as an undergraduate and alumni mentor thereafter. She majored in Environmental Engineering, and then pursued her doctorate in Biological Oceanography in the MIT-Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Joint Program. She currently works at the World Wildlife Fund in DC on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture and food supply chains. She is the director of partnerships for the National Network for Ocean and Climate Change Interpretation, which trains zoo and aquarium educators how to effectively communicate about the climate. Her areas of interest are climate change mitigation, mathematical ecology, bio-economic modelling, biological oceanography, and climate science communication, but will happily talk your ear off on topics including ballet costume making, furniture construction, travel, and scientific publishing norms. Feel free to reach out for technical, career, or teamwork advice / conversation!

Eric Plosky

MIT 1999 Course 11

I’m the Chief of the Transportation Planning Division at the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, right in Kendall Square. As a transportation planner and program manager, I lead a team of 40, working closely with DOT components and other federal agencies on many different types of transportation-planning efforts, at the project, program, and policy levels. With both DOT and the Millennium Challenge Corporation, my team has been active on a number of international-development projects. I’m also a disaster-recovery coordinator; I was stationed in Louisiana for five months following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, and I helped to write the National Disaster Recovery Framework.

Francesca Majluf

MIT 2017 Course 10-ENG

Francesca is a Mission 2017 alum (yay water!), and was a UTF and freshman advisor with Terrascope for most of her years at MIT (may or may not have gotten some terrafrosh lost in Boston a couple of times). She graduated in 2017 with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering with a concentration in environmental engineering (10-ENG). She’s done a lot of research in different fields, from using electrochemistry to capture carbon dioxide and break down pollutants in water, to analysing the role of corrosion inhibitors in gas-thermopumps, to building and testing low-cost sulfur dioxide sensors. Yet for the last few years she’s been working as a scientist at Aerodyne Research Inc., developing and deploying sophisticated mass spectrometers that measure gas-phase air pollutants (yay air!). Her research focus has been on the fine chemistry of wildfire plumes in the western USA, but her projects have included urban air pollution, oil refineries emissions, chemical aging chamber experiments, and more. She loves traveling (proud MISTI Portugal and Germany alum), ballroom dancing (still a MITBDT member!), yoga, hiking, playing board games, and cooking/baking. She can’t wait to share the tales of learning how to be an adult with future terrafrosh! (when she figures it out)

Hal Gustin

MIT 1973 Course 2

I’ve been an Alumni Mentor for about 17 years. I have MIT degrees (SB, SM) in Mechanical Engineering, and spent most of my career working supporting nuclear power plants in the US and internationally.  My main technical areas include power plant systems, materials, failure and fracture mechanics, and regulatory issues. I am a licensed Professional Engineer in several states. I retired in 2018.

 

My second career is volunteering. I am an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), and recently have been working on COVID testing and assessment activities. I also volunteer at a domestic violence crisis center and a seasonal homeless shelter.

James (Jim) Mason

MIT 1983

After leaving MIT (course 17 class of 1982) I joined a start-up consulting firm in the Washington D.C. area. I did studies, analysis, testing and training in the national security arena.  After 17 years of that (and some significant changes in the world), I decided to make a change and joined a Swedish software company that served heavy industry. I managed projects all of over the word for them with a particular focus in South East Asia.  After working for them for 8 years, I left and formed my own company which provides support to large manufacturing, transportation, and logistics companies in using software in their business. I am still doing that today.

Jessica Kleiss

MIT 2000 Courses 12 & 18

Since Terrascope wasn’t around in 1996-2000, I participated in the ESG program as a freshman and as an upperclassman instructor.  The ESG experience solidified my passion for learning and education. I finished a PhD in Physical Oceanography on ocean wave breaking and turbulence from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and did some postdoctoral work at U. Washington on ocean-atmosphere interactions. I’ve now obtained my dream job as a professor at a small liberal arts college. I didn’t really care what I was teaching, but I landed in an Environmental Studies program. One interesting thing about dream jobs, by the way, is that reality includes some trade-offs that we couldn’t have anticipated while simply dreaming.

 

In Fall 2021 I’m experimenting with teaching a freshman seminar that is modeled after the Terrascope experience. I would be thrilled for you to contact me and talk through your work, your process, your challenges, and your experience. I may be able to ask you some helpful questions, and I will certainly learn a lot alongside you!

Joey Noszek

MIT 2020 Course 1

Joey did Terrascope as part of the Class of 2020. He is now a grad student in Transportation and works in the Megacity Logistics Lab, focusing on last-mile logistics.

John Hixson

MIT 1974 Course 11

I grew up in The City, Greenwich Village, NY, NY, walking to Public School 41 as early as second grade on my own.  We moved to the suburbs and I was able to get into MIT, and into the undergrad Urban Studies & Planning program when it was created during my second year.  I interned with the Cambridge Planning Department in transportation, working with citizens and helping extend the Red Line from Harvard to Alewife after graduation in 1974.  In 1981 I began work in affordable housing development and continued that until retiring in 2016.  My wife and I own our solar-heated house in North Cambridge, and MIT is a key part of my life.

Jonathan Reinharth

MIT 2006 Course 9

Hi new Terrascope members! I was a member of Mission/Terrascope 2006 (Course 9 with minors in Music and Lit), and was grateful for the opportunity to try to use my knowledge to make a positive difference to address the complex issues our world faces. As some of you may end up doing, I have gone on to a career different from most at MIT. I am now a Clinical Psychologist, leading a team that helps young people who have had psychotic experiences to build meaningful lives. I also play the violin, and enjoy theater. I was very active in the theater community and with ESP while at MIT. I live in mostly liberal Brooklyn with my wife and son, but work in largely conservative Staten Island. My grounding in science through Terrascope and MIT has been invaluable to me as a psychologist, to be able to cut through pseudoscience to provide services that are compassionate, empowering particularly for the disenfranchised, and which work.

 

Our lives have all been upended in many different ways this year, and Terrascope is a natural place for bringing different perspectives and experiences together to make our lives sustainable. I hope I can contribute!

Johnny Yang

MIT 2004 Course 15

Johnny was one of the first guinea pigs to participate in 12.000: Solving Complex Problems as student in Mission 2004 (Mars).  Because he loved 12.000 so much, he joined the staff for the class, serving as an Undergraduate Teaching Fellow (UTF) for several Missions and has been an alumni mentor from Mission 2007 to the present.

 

Though he grew up an Alabama boy, Johnny has resided in New England ever since coming to MIT. Still in the process of figuring out what he wants to be when he “grows up,” he has worked in a variety of industries, ranging from aerospace to finance to supply chain to early-stage software companies.

 

Johnny is a crusader against incomprehensible PowerPoint slides and dabbles as a part-time Comma Inquisitor.  His current interests include short trips to faraway places, penguins, microfinance, and competitive squirrel tossing.  He lives in Cambridge, MA and will do his best to attend classes throughout the semester.

 

Pronouns: he/him/y’all/y’alls

Kate Buggs

MIT 2016 Course 14

Kate is from Pewaukee, WI, and she graduated from MIT in 2016. She majored in Economics (Course 14), with a minor in Spanish, lived in Next House, and is an Alpha Chi Omega. She worked in economic consulting for four years at a firm in Boston, and she is now in her second year at the University of Michigan Law School. She spends most of her time with her rescue dog-slash-roommate-slash-best friend, Rosie, while listening to Cubs games on the radio or chipping away at her ever-increasing GoodReads book list.

Katie Adler

MIT 2016 Course 1E

I participated in Mission 2016, which worked on solutions for future strategic mineral scarcities around the world. At MIT, I majored in course 1E and was on the open weight crew team. Now, I’m still studying Environmental Engineering as a PhD candidate in Environmental Fluid Mechanics and Hydrology at Cornell University. My past work experience includes internships with Geosyntec Consultants and the EPA, as well as a couple of UROPs. I enjoy getting involved in outreach programs to engage the local community, especially girls, with STEM topics. Also, I’m legally blind and would like to promote accessibility in academia and STEM fields in general.

 

I have also been a coop house manager concerned about ordering sustainable supplies, like solid water-soluble cleaning products. I’m curious to know what impact those dehydrated products have on the sustainability of shipping. This year’s project sounds like it could have a big impact on equity and the environment.

Laura Matloff

MIT 2013 Course 2

I started my Terrascope journey as part of Mission 2013: Carbon Sequestration, continued to UTF for  Mission 2014: Feeding the world and Mission 2015: Biodiversity, and am still glad to be part of the Terrascope family!

 

After graduating MIT with a degree in Course 2, I worked as a product designer in Silicon Valley before returning back to school to complete my PhD at Stanford where I studied birds and designed aerial bioinspired bird robots. I love interdisciplinary problems, designing solutions that pull from many different fields, and Terrascope definitely played a role in shaping that. I’m currently working in tech at the intersection of biology, neuroscience, and mechanical design doing research on novel input and computer interactions.

Laurel Regibeau-Rockett

MIT 2018 Course 8

Laurel is a 2018 alum, and majored in physics, with a focus on its overlap with EAPS. She is from Wivenhoe, England, and is currently completing her fourth year of graduate school in atmospheric sciences at Stanford University. Her areas of expertise are in hurricane research, and in atmospheric general circulation. She also loves to teach. As a Terrascope student, her research focused on wind turbines. For fun, she likes to sail, glassblow, and take care of her plants. She welcomes you to the Terrascope community and is happy to answer any questions relating to Terrascope, life at MIT, or anything else!

Lauren Kuntz

MIT 2013 Course 2 & 8

Back in the day, Terrascope sparked Lauren’s passion for environmental issues. After MIT, she moved up the road to Harvard to complete a PhD in climate science, researching both physical oceanography as well as continuing her passion for understanding the barriers to decarbonizing energy systems. Most recently she left academia to start her own company, Gaiascope, focused on increasing the investability of renewables in the electric grid. 

 

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Lauren TenCate

MIT 2018 Course 2-OE

Lauren TenCate, class of 2018 (graduated 2019), 2-OE: currently a mechanical engineer working on flow technologies, but spent the previous few years working as a software engineer on autonomous boats. I lived in EC my first couple of years, then took some time off & moved to pika when I came back. Ask me about: boats! hiking & outdoorsy things in the area! EWB! Marine Robotics Team! ILGs! wait actually everything is really hard and I’m really really struggling; LGBTQA discomfort; help I’m no-recording all my classes despite trying really hard; I can’t decide what to major in at all; and related to that, working in areas you didn’t major in. I still live in Boston, and would also be happy to meet up in person (after normal work hours)

Patricia Crumley

MIT '03 & '04 Course 1

Patricia Crumley lives in Puerto Rico, and experienced first-hand the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria in September 2017.  She graduated with a B.S in Civil Engineering in 2003. In 2004, she completed her MEng in Civil and Environmental Engineering with a concentration in Information Technology. She went on to work for a while in IT but later returned to the “true profession” as her MIT advisor, Professor Einstein, refers to engineering, as the Resident Geotechnical Engineer at the Rio Blanco Off-stream Dam in Naguabo, Puerto Rico.

 

Later on, Patricia held various high-level positions in government, including serving as Director of Planning and Environmental Protection at the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) in 2011 and Deputy Chief of Staff to Governor Luis Fortuño in 2012. In 2013 she returned to the private sector becoming the owner of GeoConsult, which expanded its offerings to not only include geotechnical engineering solutions, but also environmental work and project management, and general infrastructure advising. After Hurricane Maria devastated the island in September 2017, GeoConsult has also been involved in the evaluation of damages and handling of FEMA claims of multimillion-dollar losses for large infrastructure agencies in Puerto Rico. Last year was her first year as a Terrascope mentor.

Pei-Lan Hsu

MIT 2007 Courses 8-B & 6-1; 2008 M.Eng. Course 8

I might be a weirdo even by MIT standards. I spent my MIT years (and then many years after) doing what scared me. Physics scared me, so I decided to be Course 8. Circuit design scared me, so that was my first job out of college. Fast forward 15 years and I’m still doing what scares me: late 2019 I quit my job and am now eyeballs deep in my own research. I love complex systems and I love understanding them via non-traditional means. My motto is “what hurts isn’t where the problem is.”

Richard Colwell

MIT 2021 Course 3

I graduated from MIT Materials Science and Engineering (Course 3) in June 2021 and am currently working as a research associate at Boston Meats, creating plant-based meat alternatives. I was involved in Mission 2021, where I worked with classmates to investigated strategies for climate change adaptation in coastal Bangladesh and the greater Boston area. My freshman spring I was part of a 2.00C team exploring rainwater collection systems from locally sourced materials for applications in rural Colombia. I continued to be involved in the Terrascope community throughout my time at MIT as a UTF for Mission 2022, Mission 2023, and Mission 2024. I also was a UTF for Mission 2022’s 2.00C class. When I’m not creating very realistic alternative meat samples, I love listening to and playing music (piano, guitar, and vocals all mediocrely), learning new languages (presently working on Portuguese, Russian, and Arabic), bouldering at Brooklyn Boulders in Somerville, and cooking and baking new foods. I can’t wait to meet all of you, discuss your ideas for this year’s mission, and generally chat about life, the universe, and everything with y’all!

Robert Gurnitz

MIT 1960, '61, & '66 Course 10

This will be Bob’s twentieth year as an Alumni Mentor. Bob is President of the MIT Club of Southwest Florida. Additionally he is on the Board of Directors of Habitat for Humanity of Collier County (Florida) and is on the Board of Directors of the Everglades Astronomical Society.

 

He is a Chemical Engineer by education (S.B., S.M., Ph.D., MIT). Bob briefly taught at MIT prior to going into the Aerospace Industry. He then spent a year in the President’s Executive Interchange Program in Washington working at the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. Upon returning to Rockwell International, he subsequently held various positions leading to becoming President of their Passenger Car Components Business. Upon leaving Rockwell, he became President of Bethlehem Steel’s Structural Components Business. His subsequent positions included President of Webcraft Technologies, Chairman and CEO of Northwestern Steel and Wire, and Chairman of Envirosource.

 

Bob has spent most of his career in solving complex problems and looks forward to working with the Terrafrosh 2025 team. Feel free to contact him anytime (rgurnitz@alum.mit.edu).

Sabrina Mazer

MIT 2019 Course 2

I graduated from MIT in 2019 with a degree in Course 2 and a music minor. I have been involved in the Terrascope community since Mission 2019, during which my classmates and I studied global food security and explored New Mexico and the Navajo Nation. I stayed involved throughout my time at MIT as an associate advisor and UTF and am excited to be back for my third year as an alumni mentor! I currently live in Somerville and work as a mechanical engineer at GE Aviation where I design structural components for helicopter engines. I am also working on my master’s degree through Georgia Tech’s distance learning program. Outside of work my interests include woodworking, home projects, and spending time with my cat Henry and husband Billy. I am excited to chat with you about solving complex problems, settling into MIT, choosing and changing majors, or anything else you might find valuable!

Sheldon Buck

MIT 1959 Course 16

Worked at the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory 1957 to 1973, followed by The Charles Stark Draper Laboratory 1973 to 2000 when I retired.  I was assigned to the Earth and Planetary Science Department, now called EAPS, for 5 years (1968 to 1973) working with Prof. Frank Press and Prof. Nafi Toksoz.  I was Technical Director for the Lunar Traverse Gravimeter Experiment, which flew on Apollo 17 and was a member of the lunar surface EVA team at  Mission Control during the flight.

 

Designed stable platforms for inertial guidance systems.

Designed seismic monitoring systems for earthquakes and underground explosions.

Designed gravimeters for lunar exploration.

Designed special purpose instrumentation for submarines and oceanography.

 

Recent retirement activities include being an Alumni Mentor for this course 12.000 Solving Complex Problems for 22 years and attendance at the Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVentue held in Oshkosh, WI for the last 15 years.  At Carleton- Willard Village I am chairman of the CWV Computer Committee and a member to the Thesbians (theater group).

 

Of possible interest to this years subject, I have spent considerable time in the following major cities: New York, London, Bay Area-San Francisco, Houston and visited the following: , Tokyo, Kyoto, Honolulu, Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Oslo, Stockholm, Helsinki, Saint Petersburg, Moscow, Prague, Amman, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Athens, Naples, Rome, Florence, Milan, Cairo, Cape Town.

Tchelet Segev

MIT 2018 Course 1

Tchelet graduated from MIT in 2018 with a Master’s in Environmental Engineering and Bachelor’s in Civil and Environmental Engineering. For her thesis, she launched a citizen science project analyzing drinking water quality with a Native American tribe in Maine. Prior to that, she interned at the World Bank working on environmental safeguards for projects in Nepal, and has worked on projects including wastewater management in India, smallholder agriculture in Kenya, and rainwater harvesting in Mexico City. She then spent the summer in South Africa running an incubator for environmental startups and launched a water quality testing project in Puerto Rico for community run water systems. She is now working for the U.S. Forest Service with the federal government. She started on the Angeles National Forest in the Los Angeles area managing some post-fire restoration efforts. She was on rotation for the Forest Service in the Bay Area and Washington DC managing regional partnerships and developing a national corporate social sustainability strategy. She has also done a rotation as a Deputy District Ranger in Tucson, Arizona. She currently works as a Project Engineer on the Chugach National Forest in Anchorage, Alaska managing recreation infrastructure construction projects (read: trails and trailheads!) and restoring a stream. Some fun facts: Tchelet grew up in Taiwan, South Korea, Israel, and the US and her favorite genre of music is Disney music.

Tessa Weiss

MIT 2020 Course 2A

Tessa is a Class of 2020 grad having majored in Mechanical Engineering with a concentration in Energy. She currently works for RMI, a global clean energy think tank, on their Breakthrough Technologies team, where she actively identifies opportunities and strategies to scale a variety of clean energy technologies necessary for global decarbonization. In particular, she focuses on techno-economic analysis for green hydrogen, a critical technology for decarbonization of several sectors including marine shipping and heavy duty trucking. While at MIT, Tessa lived in Baker, participated on the cross country/ track and rugby teams, helped start and lead MIT Divest, a fossil fuel divestment effort, and was a part of AXO.

Todd Harland-White

MIT 1976 &'77 Course 13

My career after MIT (XIII-C, ’76) involved designing and building manned and unmanned systems operating in the deep sea for Northrop Grumman Undersea Systems, where I was Chief Architect until retiring in June 2018. Responsible for high level system architecture and novel technology concepts for a wide variety of underseas programs with a full complement of system elements: sensors, vehicles, communications, processing, host platforms, and operator interaction. Mission modeling and assessment for system feasibility and optimization; Identification, assessment, and mitigation of technical, cost, and schedule risks; Invention and innovation champion investigating new technologies for underseas systems. All of these efforts have been highly inter-disciplinary not only in the breadth of technical issues but also in the politics and budgeting required to initiate and complete the projects – as is typical of most real problems.  

 

This is my fifteenth tour of duty as a 12.000 mentor. I also serve as an MIT Educational Counselor. And being retired now, I am devoting more time to making music, voicing and editing audiobooks, and learning to row. 

Yolanda Lau

MIT 2002 Courses 7A & 10C

Yolanda Lau is an entrepreneurship and small business consultant, Forbes contributor, and a serial entrepreneur. She began her career at MIT’s Technology Licensing Office, where her work with startups piqued her interest in entrepreneurship. She then co-founded a real estate investment company, acted as its COO, and has also started several other ventures over the years. She is a co-founder of a consulting firm, Lau Labs, which provides services to startups and small businesses, specializing in growth. She is also part of 79 Studios, a Los Angeles based startup studio rethinking venture capital with a women-first, product, and community point-of-view. And in 2015, she founded a company called FlexTeam with two other MIT alumnae. FlexTeam is simplifying the way smart work gets done and is an on-demand, executive-level team for CEOs, founders, small business owners, and other decision makers. On the consultant side, FlexTeam matches talented mid-career women with meaningful, challenging, temporally flexible, remote project-based work opportunities. In 2019, FlexTeam spun out its proprietary software as a separate venture-backed startup that went through the Techstars LA accelerator program: Liquid (‪www.poweredbyliquid.com) helps companies plug into the future of work by managing their on-demand remote workforce.

 

Yolanda’s experiences working with businesses in a wide range of industries combined with her operational expertise allows her to provide insights on many different kinds of problems. She is passionate about empowering and mentoring women, children, and minorities and serves on several non-profit boards that align with these interests. Yolanda writes and speaks about the future of work, work-life fit, emotional intelligence, and women’s issues. She enjoys creative problem solving and has served as a 12.000 mentor since 2006 (Mission 2010), as she has long been interested in helping to solve the world’s environmental and sustainability problems. She has been supporting and mentoring students and adults for the last 20+ years. Some of her other MIT alumni activities include leadership in her class, fund raising for the Institute, and serving on the board for the MITAA.

 

She is deeply interested in the specific task of Terrascope 2024, as her home state of Hawaii is deeply concerned with biodiversity and mitigating the effects of ecosystem changes.

 

As she lives in Honolulu, communication will have to be via email, phone, Skype, or Zoom. Normally, she travels to Cambridge frequently and visits Terrascope on occasion. However, given the current global crisis, she will likely not travel to Cambridge this fall.

Valentina Chamorro

MIT 2016 Course 2

I graduated from MIT in 2016 with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and now work in Boston as an Electrical Engineer designing 3D sensors that allow industrial human-robot collaboration. I was not involved with Terrascope while at MIT, but I did become a member and DJ at WMBR my freshmen year and have been part of that community ever since. My involvement with Terrascope started when I hosted and aired the Terrascope Radio final project on my show in 2018. I had the honor of hosting the students again this year and jumped at the chance to get more involved as an alumni mentor.  Aside from a love for radio, I love making art, being outside, and eating. 

Vrajesh Modi

MIT 2011 & '15 Courses 2 & 15

Vrajesh Modi is currently a startup founder and a member of the MIT Corporation.  Previously, he was a Project Leader at The Boston Consulting Group, where he where he focused on technology, industrial goods, and operations.  As a graduate student, Vrajesh was part of the MIT Leaders for Global Operations program.  As an undergraduate, Vrajesh served as the President of the Undergraduate Association, chaired the UA Committee on Sustainability, and was part of Mission 2011.  Over the years, Vrajesh has also done internships at Amazon, McKinsey, and General Electric.

Previous MIT Alumni Mentors:

Alfredo Kniazzeh

MIT 1959 Course 2

After MIT Alfredo joined NASA and the US Army to work on power systems for deep space (at the time when man first walked on the moon). Then he worked thirty-five years at Polaroid Corp, receiving thirteen patents while developing instant photographic and imaging systems, batteries using zinc and lithium, and thin-film photovoltaic sources.

 

Since retirement in 2005, his interest in singing has expanded to include traveling with “Sharing A New Song” to sing in Bulgaria, Romania, Estonia, Turkey, Nicaragua, South Africa, New Orleans, Russia, Cuba, Colombia, Uruguay, Argentina, and Brazil. To celebrate his fiftieth MIT reunion he danced with the MIT Ballroom Dance Team at the class gala.

 

Mentoring for 12.000 since 2006 has been a great pleasure. The resulting awareness of environmental issues has helped simplify living.

Ali Trueworthy

MIT 2017 Course 2OE

Ali was a member of Mission 2017 and a UTF for Mission 2018, she also took 1.016 in the Spring of 2014. Her degree from MIT was in Mechanical and Ocean Engineering (2OE). After MIT, Ali worked in underwater passive acoustic sensing at OASIS Inc. in Lexington, MA before leaving in April of 2018 for a thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail. Directly after the trail, Ali began her PhD work in Mechanical Engineering at Oregon State University. There, she does research in ocean wave energy through the Pacific Marine Energy Center. Her research is specifically focused on design and assessment methodologies for marine energy systems and wave energy powered desalination. She is currently working on a project developing a small-scale, easily-deployable seawater desalination system for remote communities and disaster areas. Along with her engineering work, Ali recently joined the Environmental Arts and Humanities program at Oregon State through which she will earn her Master’s of Art and do research in communication, rhetoric, and renewable energy. Ali makes an effort to make marine energy research accessible and exciting to people outside her specific research field by writing a column for the Pacific Marine Energy Center website and social media and participating in outreach events around the University. She has a fair bit of experience leading teams and her research in design engineering can provide insight to effective methodologies for creating solutions to major problems such as those presented in Terrascope. Ali is happy to share her professional and personal experiences with Terrascope, at MIT, and beyond and would love to hear from students this year’s students! 

Allison Houghton

MIT 2008 Courses 1A & 12

I’m fascinated by the world of bugs and soil, and have worn many hats over the years as gardener, farmer, writer, naturalist, soil analyst and mother. I’m fascinated by regenerative agriculture and using plants to dramatically increase resilience and biodiversity above and below ground. I recently started a backyard plant nursery and consulting business to strategically support key beneficial insects and ecosystem resilience in our communities, build carbon-sequestering soils, and support communities in growing nutrient dense food. I recently wrote The Carbon Sequestering Garden: Gardening for the Planet While Growing Some of the Best Food Possible with the Massachusetts Chapter of the Northeast Organic Farming Association. I love exploring the natural world with my 2-year-old son Peter, creating edible engineering marvels, and anything to do with plants. I currently live in Cambridge, MA with my family and a driveway full of plants!

Anupong “Mee” Tangpeerachaikul

MIT 2012 Courses 5 & 7

Born and raised in Thailand, I went to high school in Norway before coming to MIT in 2008. I did Mission 2012 (same year with Elise), finished MIT with a double major in courses 5 & 7, and then went on to obtain a Ph.D. in Chemistry & Chemical Biology from Harvard in 2018. I am now a senior scientist at a biotechnology start-up where I help to discover novel cancer therapeutics. I am passionate about sustainable development–that’s what brought me to Terrascope in the first place. I may be helpful in areas such as literature review, writing reports, and preparing presentations. I can also give general MIT or career advice, especially for students with an international background or aspiring chemists/biologists. Terrascope was one of my best memories about MIT, and I hope to help make it a lifelong experience for you all too.

Bhupendra Khetani

MIT 1960 Course 10

This is Bhupendra’s twelfth year of participation in the Mentor Program. Bhupendra’s educational background is all in chemical Engineering at MIT, where he received S.B (1960), S.M (1962) and Chemical Engineer (1963) degrees. His work experience in actual technical developments was during the early years after MIT in the field of plastic packaging products at the Monsanto Company.

 

He soon gravitated to manufacturing and finance, which were always his primary work interests. At his next employer, Owens-Illinois, at the time the world’s largest packaging company, he was focused on managing technical developments in plastic packaging products leading to full scale manufacturing operations and green field factory start ups. He has extensive experience in the field of technology licensing and was responsible for development of a vast network of licensees and strategic affiliations at Owens. In the last 15 years or so of his career, he worked nearly exclusively in merger and acquisitions activities for his company, ending as the director of Corporate Planning. He believes that among other possible contributions, he could mentor and work with the student teams in understanding the financial implications and operational trade-offs that are nearly always necessary in successful commercial implementations of technology solutions.

Brandon Wang

MIT 2019 Course 6

My experience with Terrascope started my first year, with Mission 2019: Food Security. Since then, I’ve been a UTF for Missions 2020 and 2022, and most importantly, played for the Terrascope IM hockey team. While at MIT, I majored in 6-3 and was a part of the Educational Studies Program (ESP) student group. In the past I’ve worked at various software companies (all of stripes), NASA, and in a computational urban science lab. I’m planning on returning for my MEng this year, and am actively figuring out what’s next! Feel free to reach out if you want to talk about Terrascope, MIT, thinking about career choices, or anything else!

Catherine “Rin” Yunis

MIT 2016 Course 2A

I am a PhD student at USC studying Biomedical Engineering in my third year. I work with rehabilitation robotics due to a combined interested in hands on engineering and neuroscience. I love to make, cook, read and dance. Terrascope was one of my favorite classes at MIT.

Emma Bassein

MIT 2006 Course 12

Emma has spent her career in cleantech, including 10+ years in energy efficiency/solar, and the past 1.5 years in precision agriculture. She has experience in getting start-ups off the ground, scaling them, and integrating them in big companies. She currently leads the Data and Machine Learning Platform team at Blue River Technology; the team consists of software engineers and data scientists building cutting edge infrastructure to support computer vision machine learning projects. In her spare time, Emma likes to be outdoors as much as possible, including backpacking, kite boarding, and rock climbing.

Esther Han Beol Jang

MIT 2014 & 2016 Course 6

I’m a 5th year Computer Science PhD student at the University of Washington, who graduated from MIT (Course 6-2) in 2014 and did an MEng. I’m doing research in the field of Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICTD), which is like what MIT’s D-Lab does but more focused on computational and digital technologies; it’s at the intersection of information science, development economics, and computer science/engineering. I’ve also done research in computer science education, making and digital fabrication, and human-computer interaction in general. I spend a lot of time thinking about the relationship between technology and poverty.

 

My specific expertise is in community networks — community-owned and operated communications infrastructure for small rural or remote villages, often using open-source and DIY technologies. I’m also working on starting a non-profit community network for underserved urban communities in South Seattle and Tacoma, and developing open-source cellular (LTE) technologies to lower the cost and knowledge barriers to doing so. I’ve worked with communities in Tanzania (where my interest in networking started in 2012, with a MIT Public Service Center project), the Philippines, Mexico, Peru, and now Tacoma, Washington.

Jillian James

MIT 2010 & 2016 Course 16

Jillian James is an MIT course 16 alumni (SB ’10, SM ’16).  She currently works at NetScout Systems on network service assurance and cyber security solutions.  Prior to that she worked at an MIT-Harvard startup and at MIT Lincoln Laboratory as an engineer in the Space Systems Analysis and Test Group.  As a systems engineer, she is passionate about solving complex problems that impact people and the environment.  She enjoys helping students break down large problems into pieces while still addressing the interconnections.  She lives in Cambridge, but can often be found enjoying nature and wildlife on hikes, skiing down mountains, or sailing the river.

Jorge Phillips

MIT 1972 Course 6

This will be my fourteenth year mentoring 12.000, Through all these years, I have throughly enjoyed interacting with our students and guiding their process in the course and for their final presentation. Each year I am amazed at the solutions that students come up to the ever-changing problems we set out to tackle. As for myself, I am deeply interested in technology in all its manifestations, and in finding ways to apply it to solve the most pressing questions faced by humanity in all settings, be they problems related to food, education, health, development related, or even concerning the use of the advanced technologies involved in the exponential digital transformation of the planet. I am an entrepreneur at heart and have founded, built out and grown startups in Silicon Valley, the East Coast and overseas to successful exits. But I also have had substantial experience as a top-level executive in global multinational companies, and as a cabinet-level member of government and in diplomatic positions in Europe.  I studied computer science at MIT where I learned to deal with complexity and do advanced research and have a doctorate in artificial intelligence and two other advanced degrees from Stanford University in computer science and in electrical engineering. In spite of all this, or maybe because of all this, I love education and have been involved in university-level education at the undergraduate and graduate levels in universities in the US, South America and Europe during my career. I currently live in the Research Triangle area in North Carolina, where I am involved in artificial intelligence and machine learning, blockchain, banking and fintech, and several entrepreneurial efforts, and enjoy the outdoors and playing jazz with my sax and guitar.

Marcela Rodriguez

MIT 2013 Course 1E

Marcela investigated the feasibility of geo-engineering solutions to climate change in her freshman year, and visited the UAE’s green city Masdar that spring. After graduating from 1E in ’13, she took an unconventional path into programming when learning how to create games, with a goal of helping others better understand climate change. Now working as a software engineer at a consulting firm, she has been looking for ways to get more involved in environmental issues. 

Milani Chatterji-Len

MIT 2019 Course 1

I am a 2019 grad who majored in Civil and Environmental Engineering and minored in International Development. Currently, I work as a water resources engineer at AECOM, a civil engineering firm. In my current position I perform flood studies for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to help them determine flood insurance rates and create hazard mitigation plans for communities in the United States. As an undergrad at MIT, in addition to participating in Terrascope I was an active member of Engineers Without Borders and the Women’s Ultimate Frisbee Team. Happy to provide any assistance I can to the incoming Terrascope class!

Missy Showers

MIT 2013 Course 2A

Hi everyone! My name is Missy Showers. I was a 2013 Course 2A, with a focus in Energy & Sustainability. I dual minored in Energy Studies and Applied International Studies. While at MIT, I researched renewable energy, energy efficiency and the electric grid. I was part of Terrascope 2013 – Carbon Sequestration. After graduating, I worked for a year at a consulting firm that focused on the electricity sector, monitoring the energy market and regulatory policies and researching emerging technologies/policies. I got my PhD in Energy Science and Engineering, with a focus in nuclear fusion, from the University of Tennessee – Knoxville. I did my research at Oak Ridge National Lab on the Prototype Material Plasma Exposure eXperiment (Proto-MPEX), a linear plasma device working towards plasma-material interaction studies for future fusion devices. I moved out to California to work for Lockheed Martin on the Compact Fusion Reactor. I’m really excited to get more involved with Terrascope again!

 

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Quint Hester

MIT 2019 Course 16

I graduated from MIT AeroAstro in 2019 and am currently a second-year masters student in the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University  where I research trajectory optimization and aerodynamic model learning using graph neural networks. As part of Mission 2019 and Terrascope Radio, I investigated problems with global food aid policy and explored desert agriculture in New Mexico and the Navajo Nation (plus befriended a lot of puppies along the way). I stayed involved in the Terrascope community throughout my time at MIT – playing on the Terrascope IM hockey team for 3 years and returning to the Navajo Nation as a UTF for Mission 2022. Outside of research, my interests include country music, Southern cooking, disaster response and emergency management, causes of and solutions to poverty (particularly in rural areas), and pretty much anything involving the outdoors. Growing up in North Carolina, I always loved learning about marine biology and coastal ecology, so I’m really excited to see what solutions this year’s students come up with! Feel free to reach out if you want to chat about navigating teamwork and organization in a large group of people, navigating college in general, or navigating spacecraft to the moon and back.

Siamrut ``Sam`` Patanavanich

MIT 2009 & 2011 Course 3

I am originally from Thailand and grew up in Northern Virginia right outside of DC. I studied Materials Science and Engineering for my undergraduate and master’s. My interest in business led me into management consulting helping companies answer complex questions and then to product management helping build and customize software platforms for companies. Realizing my love for medicine and directly helping care for others, I have decided to pursue a career as a physician and am applying for medical school this year. Life is a wonderful journey. Enjoy the ride!

Tamara Litwin

MIT 2009 Course 5

Tamara Litwin’s academic wanderings include an S.B. in chemistry from MIT, a Ph.D. in biophysics from the University of Cambridge through the NIH-Oxford-Cambridge Scholars Program, and an M.P.H. with a concentration in epidemiology and biostatistics from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. In her doctoral research, Tamara used biophysical methods to investigate how DNA topology affects DNA interactions with topoisomerases and other DNA binding proteins. After earning her M.P.H., she joined the National Cancer Institute’s Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics to study improved screening and early detection of ovarian and cervical cancers through biomarker discovery, validation, and translation. Tamara just started a new role at the NIH helping manage the scientific agenda of the million-person All of Us cohort study. In her free time, Dr. Litwin enjoys hiking, rock climbing, and hanging out with her two beautiful children.

Tracy Burnett

MIT 2012 Courses 11

Tracy is a PhD Candidate at UC Berkeley researching nomads’ relationships with yaks in order to better understand endemic Tibetan theories of ecology. She would be happy to converse with Terrascope students by phone about her MIT experience, her current research, or the US-based non-profit she created as a follow-up to her studies.