Meet with alumni at the forefront of careers in science, technology, engineering and math.
Brett is a current software engineer, Bay Area native, gaming enthusiast and homebrewer. He studied materials science and engineering at UCLA, where he took pictures of atoms with huge microscopes. After UCLA, Brett was a process engineer for a medical device maker (NDC/Confluent), built software for a machinery manufacturer in Germany (Kroenert) and was an engineer in enterprise software services (Laserfiche). He now writes backend software for medical tech startup (Science 37).
Bianca Casciari graduated from UCLA with a degree in chemical engineering. She was a student-athlete and swam the 200 butterfly for the UCLA swim team.
Bianca went to work for Frito-Lay right after graduation and has been in Bakersfield with the company ever since. She started on third shift (nights) working as a packaging manager role, in charge of one eight-hour shift. Next she moved to potato chip maintenance for two years and managed mechanics over all three night shifts. For the next year and a half, she managed all production maintenance at the site with a team of four managers and 50 mechanics who reported to her directly. Now she is the processing department manager with a team of two managers and around 50 operators. They are in charge of making the chips while ensuring quality, throughput, and efficiency. Bianca loves her job and is so happy to get to use her degree while being a manager and working with others.
Jessica is a clinical research specialist who works with cancer institutes to facilitate cancer clinical trials. She believes in the importance of cancer research and hopes to see a cure discovered in our lifetime.
Jessica has supported cancer research for the last eight years. Her most recent experience comes from Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong’s Chan Soon-Shiong Institute for Medicine, as well as the Samuel Oschin Cancer Center at Cedars Sinai. She is a certified clinical research professional (CCRP) with the Society of Clinical Research Associates (SOCRA), and has been on the team driving the FDA approval for several cancer treatments now on the market.
Jessica holds a bachelor of science in psychobiology from UCLA.
Jeffrey is a progressive executive with extensive experience in all types of healthcare environments. His expertise in hospital operations, business development, facilities/capital planning and customer/patient/employee satisfaction initiatives has been readily demonstrated through his career.
Jeffrey was Vice President of Clinical Support Services at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center for more than 16 years. He oversaw the departments of Food & Nutrition, Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, Supply Chain, Hospitality Services, Environmental Health & Safety, Plant Operations & Engineering, and Imaging. These departments employed more than 210 employees on the five-million square foot campus with an expense budget of over $450 million.
Before coming to Cedars, Jeffrey was a principal with Ernst & Young’s Healthcare Consulting Division. He was responsible for performance improvement and merger and acquisition projects in the western United States. These projects were with many of the premier healthcare organizations. At the same time, he coordinated the development of a comprehensive benchmarking database that became the standard for the firm’s healthcare practice.
Jeffrey has held previous administrative positions with both nonprofit and academic medical centers. He graduated with a bachelor of science degree in public health from UCLA master of public administration with emphasis in health services administration from the University of Southern California.
Outside of his profession, Jeffrey has been an active mentor to students looking at a variety of healthcare careers. He has also held multiple terms of office with several antique car and pure breed dog clubs.
Shawn is a solutions-driven facilitator with experience in business strategy and community development. He has been the product owner for business checking and savings in the Union Bank retail footprint since joining MUFG in 2016. Prior to joining the enterprise, Shawn spent a number of years employed at Bank of America and at UCLA in planning, design, and program execution capacities. In addition to his specific roles, Shawn has had the privilege of being a part of several leadership programs and enterprise affinity leadership teams at MUFG, Bank of America, and UCLA.
In his other career, he was a basketball coach and sports committee leader for the Westside Family LA YMCA and is currently the Board of Director President for Child Development Consortium of Los Angeles. Shawn earned his MBA from the University of Notre Dame and is a devout sports fan who has visited all 30 major league ballparks. He also enjoys exploring and traveling with the most recent trip to Nepal to trek Annapurna Base Camp in the Himalayas.
Annie works as the head of data science and analytics at Thinknear by Telenav, a GPS navigation software, connected car and mobile advertising company. She is a data science expert focusing on the application of machine learning techniques to extract insights in the areas of marketing, media and consumer behavior. Her focus is to build the capabilities of the data analytics team and lead the development of Location Intelligence products.
Marie currently is a senior quality assurance specialist under supplier quality management at Shire, the leading global biotech specializing in rare diseases. In this role, she manages Shire’s suppliers and assesses supplier notifications of change, new supplier requests, and supplier corrective action requests for Shire’s west coast sites. She has been with the same company for over six years, beginning as Baxter, which split as Baxalta in 2015, and has been Shire since 2016. She has had several different roles in quality assurance and continuous improvement, as well as manufacturing operations. She enjoys the outdoors and volunteering for organizations like Make-a-Wish and Girls on the Run.
Kari graduated from UCLA with a B.S. in mechanical engineering and a B.A. in Japanese. Kari first job out of school was as a product support engineer for C&D Zodiac. Working mostly with the Brazilian airplane manufacturer Embraer, she helped resolve problems with aircraft overhead bins, seats, lavatories and galleys. In 2013, she moved to the Boeing Company, where she spent four years as an integration manager in satellite integration, test and launch. Most of her time at Boeing was spent on the Wideband Global Satcom Program (WGS), working to build and launch four of their military communication satellites. She is now a system engineering integration and test lead at Raytheon, where she leads a team of system and software engineers to improve and add capabilities to our F-15 and F/A 18 airborne radars. In addition, she is the UCLA campus manager and facilitates Raytheon recruiting events at UCLA. In her spare time, she enjoys going to the beach and playing board games with family.
Chanel is a licensed psychotherapist (M.F.T.) with a practice in Century City. While she holds a B.A. in political science, Chanel went on to pursue a master’s degree in clinical psychology. She specializes in working with teens, 20s, 30s and families facing a broad range of issues and challenges including stress, anxiety, depression, relationship issues, career passion and purpose, trauma, grief, suicide, and more. For more, please visit her website at www.chanelhalimi.com.
Zach graduated with a B.S. in physics. He began his engineering career shortly after graduation when he was hired by Raytheon as a software engineer. In this role, he has focused primarily on built-in test and calibration software for tactical airborne radar systems. He is also heavily involved with interviewing and recruiting for his software engineering organization at Raytheon. He is currently pursuing a M.S. in engineering at UCLA. He enjoys visiting new breweries with his wife Anna, roasting coffee, eating homemade bacon and sipping home-brewed beer.
Frank Hwang graduated from UCLA with a B.S. in chemical engineering. Frank is currently the site performance manager for Frito Lay/PepsiCo Inc. at the Rancho Cucamonga Site. He has been with the company for over five years, starting out as a production supply chain leader and moving into the performance manager role. He is responsible for the site’s annual productivity targets as well as managing the site’s finances on a day to day basis. With the analytical mindset Frank learned from college combined with his diverse management experience, he applies his expertise to improve performance at the site. He currently resides in Pasadena, CA.
James is a native Californian. He attended UCLA as an undergraduate, receiving his degree in biology. He completed his doctorate in veterinary medicine at University of California, Davis in 1981. James opened his first veterinary practice, Encino Veterinary Clinic, in 1983 and his second hospital, Calabasas Veterinary Center, in 2000. He works full time at the Encino location.
James enjoys travel, music, theater, scuba diving, fishing, martial arts, surfing, and kayaking. He is married with five children. His outside academic interests are astronomy and paleontology.
Deborah is an associate research scientist at CRESST. For more than 15 years she has served as a project coordinator and/or lead researcher on evaluations and studies within K-12 education. She has specialties in afterschool education as well as S.T.E.M. learning and assessment. She is also currently finishing her Ph.D. in education with an emphasis on social research methodology at UCLA. Her dissertation work focuses on problem solving and mathematics assessment with an emphasis on improving the construct validity and usability validity of assessment items within an item response theory framework.
Deborah also holds a masters degree in educational technology, taught general education and computer programming at the elementary school level, and taught instructional design and coding in the College of Education at San Diego State University.
As an undergraduate, Toni double majored in biochemistry and anthropology while participating in the Departmental Scholars masters program. After graduating from UCLA, she earned her Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics at The California Institute of Technology in 2013. During her time at Caltech, she served as the Chair of the Graduate Student Council while working on a computational enzyme engineering project for applications to biofuels. Following graduate school, she served as a science and technology policy fellow with the California Council on Science and Technology in the offices of Senator Fran Pavley and the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee. In 2014, she returned to Southern California to work at 2018 Nobel Laureate Frances Arnold’s agricultural pest control startup company, Provivi, Inc. Provivi produces low cost insect pheromones to control major pests of row crops with the objective of reducing pesticide use and improving yield. As a Principal Scientist at the company, Toni collaborates with researchers at UCLA on a project that aims to inexpensively produce pheromones difficult to obtain through conventional synthetic chemistry.
Anna graduated from UCLA with her B.S. in electrical engineering. She is now a systems engineer at Northrop Grumman in the survivability group. She has worked at Northrop since a summer internship in 2010, where she met her husband, fellow UCLA alum Zachary Hoyer ’11. Anna is currently lead on a series of range tests, which allows her to be involved in the start to finish process of conception, fabrication and testing of the designs her group creates. She often travels for work, making her a good resource on advice how to maintain a work-life balance. In her free time she enjoys running, cycling, craft beer and cooking.
Nick has been involved in a wide variety of technologies and applications throughout his career in engineering. He had the fortune to work on the min-computers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory that controlled and monitored unmanned spacecraft when Viking landed on Mars and Voyager launched to Jupiter, to pioneer real-time distributed process control concepts used in Naval Combat Systems at Honeywell, to design and implement the ride control system for the Disneyland Matterhorn, and to lead the engineering team that developed Formation Flying capability for a fleet of Boeing C-17s.
Nick has spent most of his 43 year career in engineering management. As vice president of scientific systems at Walt Disney Imagineering, Nick was responsible for a division of over 100 engineers and support personnel tasked to design and sustain the software that controls and monitors Disney Theme Park attractions, world-wide. As director of avionics and flight controls at Boeing, Nick led a group of 300 systems, hardware and software engineers in upgrading/enhancing the avionics and flight controls systems on the C-17 Globemaster III. Most recently, as vice president of engineering at AeroVironment, Nick led a group of 250 engineers and support personnel in developing small unmanned aircraft systems and electric vehicle charging equipment.
Nick holds a B.S. in physics and a B.S. in mathematics from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, and an M.A. in applied mathematics from UCLA. He also taught mathematics part-time at Cal Poly in the early years of his career.
Arianna graduated with a B.S. in mathematics/economics and a minor in film. Her passion for film and talent for analytics drove her to pursue a career on the S.T.E.M. side of entertainment. Arianna is currently a sales analyst who works with the retail strategy and analysis team at Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. Her data driven analysis of consumer trends influence the business strategies and practices of a global entertainment company. Arianna was a member of Delta Kappa Alpha Professional Cinema Fraternity, UCLA Club Sport Ski Team and UCLA ICARUS Dance Company.
Aqil has a B.S. in chemical engineering. Upon completion of a technical chemical engineering internship after his junior year, he made the decision to pursue a role that was focused on integrating both business and technology, leading to his starting a career in biotechnology at Amgen soon after graduation. He has now worked at Amgen for just over two years and has worn multiple hats managing technology investments and leading various analytics initiatives across operations and commercial.
Adam is an advanced placement and International Baccalaureate physics teacher at John W. North High School, where he also advises the school’s robotics team. As a Teaching Fellow at the Knowles Teacher Initiative, he is passionate about transformative S.T.E.M. education — particularly in underserved communities. He graduated with a degree in astrophysics and chose to pursue a career in S.T.E.M. education after discovering his enthusiasm for it at UCLA. Currently, he is also a part-time graduate student conducting physics education research at California State University, Fullerton. Adam is eager to discuss the myriad opportunities available to graduates in the rapidly-changing world of S.T.E.M. education.
Prianka graduated with a B.S. in biology. She initially came into UCLA in fall, 2012 with intent to complete a neuroscience degree and pursue a career in medicine. However, through partaking in student media as an editor and holding leadership positions through her years at UCLA, she had an epiphany that she wanted to go into the business side of healthcare. There she can work to extend and provide care to patients rather than treating patients as a physician. Upon graduation, she began her career at Quest Diagnostics as a revenue analyst, transitioning into a business analyst at Optum, UnitedHealth Group. She worked heavily with laboratories, finance, medical coding/billing standards and even legal teams to ensure laboratory services were accurately being provided to vast networks and reimbursed accurately. She has now transitioned to the pharmacy side at OptumRx in UnitedHealth Group, where she is working with health insurances and pharmaceutical companies to optimize formularies to expand prescription drugs available to consumers. She transitioned to the pharmacy side with the motivation to extend exceptional care to patients and opportunity for treatment, now that there is much development in curing and treating serious illnesses.
Aniketa Shinde received her bachelor of science degree in physics from UCLA and her master’s degree and Ph.D. in chemical and material physics in 2009 from UC Irvine. She focused on nanotechnology and materials science for her Ph.D. research and, after finishing her degree, received a Fulbright Scholar Award to teach and conduct research at the University of Costa Rica for six months. In order to explore a career in science education and outreach, she worked at West Virginia University from 2011 to 2013 as education coordinator for a bio-nanotechnology National Science Foundation grant. She has been working as a materials instrumentation engineer at the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis at Caltech since 2013.
Raffi has been involved in the IT field for the past 30 years. He started his career at Bechtel Corporation as a software engineer and has led large and small groups of software developers at such companies as SQRiBE Technologies (later acquired by Oracle), The Walt Disney Company, Candle Corporation (later acquired by IBM), DeskTalk (later acquired by HP), SeeBeyond (later acquired by Sun Microsystems) and Xdrive (later acquired by AOL).
Raffi has taught software programming courses at California State University, Northridge and UCLA since 1987. He has also done software consulting and training at Northrop Grumman, UCLA, Paramount Pictures and numerous startups. Raffi holds a bachelor of science degree in math/computer science from UCLA and an executive MBA from Pepperdine University.
Raffi is passionate about helping students. At his current role as UCLA IS Associates Program Manager, he was instrumental in working with undergraduate S.T.E.M. students to organize Young Tech Professionals Tech bootcamps teaching current students business skills in tech, transforming ideas to solutions using technology, blockchain and more.
Linda is a director of product management, data science at System1. She enjoys working with the business to identify opportunities and create a competitive edge through optimization. In her prior life, Linda worked for Goldman Sachs and Charles Schwab, where her passion for data was applied in finance. She is currently a CFA Level III Candidate. Her unique background in statistics, finance, strategy and management makes her an action-driven and results-driven manager. Linda earned her master’s degree in business analytics at USC and her bachelor’s degree in mathematics/economics at UCLA. When Linda is not answering the world’s questions through data, she is traveling the world like a true jetsetter.
Christian is a staff research associate working on a substance abuse clinical trial for the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA at the UCLA Santa Monica Hospital. His responsibilities include recruitment and retention of study participants, administration of study measures, scheduling and data e n t r y . H i s p r e v i o u s h e a l t h – r e l a t e d e x p e r i e n c e s i n c l u d e p r o v i d i n g m e d i c a l a n d s o c i a l s e r v i c e s f o r t h e l o c a l h o m e l e s s p o p u l a t i o n w i t h t h e M o b i l e C l i n i c P r o j e c t a t U C L A , c o n d u c t i n g c l i n i c a l r e s e a r c h f o r A I D S H e a l t h c a r e F o u n d a t i o n
Sylvia is a data scientist and data science educator. In her role at Gracenote, she helps analyze video, movie and television metadata in order to identify machine learning opportunities to optimize customer and internal processes. As an educator, she enjoys helping students transition into the world of programming (in Python) and data and is chasing podcasts and finding white papers to learn about new techniques on class Machine learning algorithms.
Although Sylvia’s an alleged coffee snob, she’ll never turn down a cup of joe when in need of caffeine. When she’s not geeking out with her fellow data science friends, she’s geeking out alone over a literary book or a technical book. Her favorite weekend activity is taking her 50 lbs. pup to the dog park and spending time outdoors.
Sylvia is also the organizer for the Los Angeles chapter of PyLadies (an international 501(c)3 that promotes the mentorship and education of women to learn Python programming).
Megan earned her bachelor of arts degree in history. During her undergraduate career, she balanced her class schedule to complete most of the pre-requisite classes she needed for eligibility for graduate nursing programs. After graduating, Wesseln worked for three years as a barista and volunteered at White Memorial Medical Center to gain clinical experience while completing prerequisite courses. Megan is currently in her second year in the MECN program at UCLA and will be graduating in June and taking the National Council Licensure Examination in August. Megan is a proud double Bruin and is an avid UCLA sports fan, you will find her at the Rose Bowl for every home game!
Barbara is a nurse, previously a nephrology clinical nurse specialist at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. She worked there for 11 years, after which she also worked at Friendly Hills Regional Medical center for six years. While Barbara’s kids were young, she took some time off work. She is currently working as a part time case manager for Healthcare Partners.
Barbara loves being a nurse, especially the patient education aspect. She enjoys bicycling and bicycled in Massachusetts a lot while attending nursing school there and has cycled across the country, from Oregon to Vermont. She also loves to travel, having traveled to Japan, China, Australia, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Costa Rica, Mexico and the Galapagos Islands and all over Europe.
Kathryn graduated with a B.S. in nursing. During her time at UCLA, she was part of a research team in the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine Department of Pulmonary and Critical Care looking into the management of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and volunteered at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center as a nursing volunteer. After graduating and earning her R.N. license, Kathryn began working at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, the founding hospital of the Versant RN Residency program, which combines didactics and clinical practice into a 22-week program. She is currently part of the September 2018 cohort in the Heart Institute, which cross-trains its new graduate nurses to the CTICU and CV Acute unit. Kathryn is the third Bruin in her family and looks forward to meeting future nurses interested in intensive care or pediatrics!
Alan is a physician leader with strong clinical and business consulting accomplishments. He graduated from UCLA with a bachelor of science degree in microbiology & molecular genetics. After completing a dual M.D./MBA degree program at USC’s Keck School of Medicine and Marshall School of Business, he obtained his medical license during his orthopedic surgery residency. Combining his passion for business and medicine, he served as a national healthcare subject matter expert specialist senior consultant with Deloitte Consulting LLP while providing surgical physician services at Southern California Kaiser Permanente. At USC Care Medical Group, he was the director of operations strategy and special projects, leading ambulatory quality improvement initiatives and electronic health record optimization efforts to improve both patient and physician engagement. He served as regional director of client relations with Sagacious Consultants and as a senior manager with Accenture to drive business development. Currently, he is the client service leader for Slalom Consulting in Los Angeles and practices medicine part-time in Los Angeles. He also volunteers as the Health Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Southern California Chapter committee chair, the chapter leader for the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs (SoPE) Greater Los Angeles Chapter, an AIMed Ambassador and a member of the ScaleLA Healthcare Steering Committee.