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2018 STEM Networking Night Participants

Meet with alumni at the forefront of careers in science, technology, engineering and math.


Brett Beekley ’12, MS ’15

Software Engineer, Science 37

Brett Beekley is a San Francisco Bay area native, 10-year Los Angeles transplant, lifelong gamer and experimental 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 medical device maker NDC/Confluent, built software for a machinery manufacturer Kroenert in Germany and was an engineer in enterprise software services provider Laserfiche. He recently joined medical tech startup Science 37 as a software engineer.

Monique Bryher ’77, ’87

Chief Executive Officer, Eurisko Corporation

Alex Capecelatro ’10

Chief Executive Officer, Josh.ai

Alex Capecelatro is the founder and chief executive officer of Josh.ai, a voice-controlled home automation system focused on artificial intelligence for high-end homes. Josh.ai utilizes a proprietary natural language understanding (NLU) engine with state-of-the-art home control integrations for a powerful smart home experience. Alex started his career as a research scientist for NASA, the Naval Research Lab and later Sandia National Laboratory. He then ventured into consumer technology first with electric car manufacturer Fisker Automotive, then through founding two social software products “At The Pool” and “Yeti” with members in more than 120 countries. Alex focuses on the intersection of cutting edge software and hardware to offer transformational experiences.

Bianca Casciari ’13

Maintenance and Engineering Manager, Frito-Lay

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 past year-and-a-half, she has managed all production maintenance at the site with a team of four managers and 50 mechanics who report to her directly. She is in charge of making sure everything runs well, executing new projects, resolving issues and much more. Bianca loves her job and is so happy to get to use her degree while being a manager and working with others.

Wei Chen

Project Manager, Rabbit Air

Wei Chen has seven years of experience in online marketing and conversion optimization, product development, and product quality assurance. Wei manages e-commerce platforms, online marketing and product development, and leads the BioGS 2.0 development project and the wi-fi enhanced air purifier project. Wei’s background is in mechanical engineering.

Edwin Cheung ’94

Chief Executive Officer/Vice President, Business Development, Rabbit Air

Edwin Cheung has 13 years of experience in branding, e-commerce, building company core values and developing air purification products. Edwin leads business development, marketing and product development and co-founded Rabbit Air, which has evolved into a multimillion-dollar business. He previously held business development and engineering positions at Honeywell, Johnson Controls and Sempra Energy Solutions.

Vanessa Czarnecki ’13

Manager, Office Engineering and Training, FM Global

Vanessa Czarnecki joined FM Global as field engineer after graduating from UCLA with a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering. As a field engineer, Vanessa provided risk assessment to her clients. She was also accountable for developing and briefing resolution plans to improve the clients’ risks. Vanessa served as a specialist in flood protection and data center/telecom facilities. Vanessa has also played an active role in employee development by serving as a field mentor, where she has helped grow the skills of FM Global’s pipeline of engineering talent. In her newest role, manager of office engineering and training, Vanessa is responsible of providing excellent and consistent work product in the customer service, plan review and report review functions. She also coordinates and implements operations and client education. In her free time, Vanessa enjoys adventures big and small traveling to new destinations and exploring the outdoors. Some of her favorite activities include camping, hiking, cooking, and spending time with her husband and dog.

Anthony DeBenedetti ’14

Senior Associate, DeciBio Consulting

DeciBio is a strategy consulting and market intelligence agency focused on the life science research tools, clinical diagnostics and health technology industries. The firm advises companies on their marketing, product and business development strategies to help innovative technologies shape the future of research and healthcare. Anthony made the transition to the business side of science after realizing that he didn’t see himself as a practicing physician or working in a lab but wanted to keep science in his career. He graduated from UCLA with a bachelor of science degree in biochemistry and a minor in accounting. While at UCLA, he was a member of Spring Sing Company, Marching Band, Chamber Singers and the UBS Consulting Workshop.

Jeffrey Deeter ’77

Vice President (Retired), Clinical Support Services, Cedars-Sinai

Jeffrey Deeter was vice president, clinical support services at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center from 2001 to 2018. He oversaw the departments of food and nutrition, pathology and laboratory medicine, supply chain, support services, environmental health and safety, pathology group operations and plant operations and engineering. These departments employ over 2,100 employees on the 5 million square foot campus with an expense budget of over $450 million.

Before coming to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Jeff 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 tool that was the standard for the firm’s health care practice.

Jeff has held previous administrative positions in both nonprofit and academic medical centers. He graduated summa cum laude with a masters of public administration with emphasis in health services administration from the University of Southern California. His bachelor of science degree in public health is from UCLA.

Outside of his profession, Jeff has been an active mentor to students looking at a variety of healthcare careers. He has held multiple terms of office with a number of antique car and pure breed dog clubs.

Yue Due ’10

Manufacturing Systems Manager, Shire

Originally from St. Louis, MO, Yue Du moved to Los Angeles in 2006 to study at UCLA. He graduated with a degree in chemical engineering (biomedical option). He was a member of the chemical engineering society AIChE and proceeded to become the mentorship chair of AIChE during his senior year.

Post-graduation, Yue joined the pharmaceutical field as a process controls engineer with the company Baxter Bioscience. In his time there, he worked on process automation systems (DeltaV) for the plasma fractionation process in the Glendale plant.

In 2012, Yue took the opportunity to become a consultant for the new manufacturing facility Baxter was starting. He joined the company Hylasoft as a senior manufacturing execution system (MES) consultant responsible for implementation of the MES, guiding the buffer preparation process in both plasma purification lines.

After three years with Hylasoft, Yue returned to Shire (formerly Baxalta/Baxter Bioscience) as the MES lead for the buffer preparation and Hemofil-M processes. Currently, he is a manager of information technology operations responsible for manufacturing systems at the Los Angeles facility. In addition, he is a member of the operations leadership team and a university recruiting partner.

Outside of work, Yue is involved with UCLA as a member of the Engineering Alumni Association board and regularly attends university events and activities.

Kari Graham ’11

Systems Engineer, Raytheon

Kari Graham is an aerospace engineer, currently working at Raytheon. She graduated from UCLA with a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering and a bachelor of art in Japanese. Her 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, 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 F/A 18 airborne radars. In addition, she is currently 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 her family.

Anna Hoyer ’11

Systems Engineer, Northrop Grumman

Anna Losorelli Hoyer 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 and fellow Bruin Zachary Hoyer ’11. Anna currently is 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.

Zachary Hoyer ’11

Software Engineer, Raytheon

Zach graduated with a B.S. in physics from UCLA. Since graduating, he has worked as a software engineer at Raytheon developing software for airborne radars. He utilizes his strong math and physics background to act as a bridge between analysts and software developers within his organization. He frequently participates as an interviewer for his department and has a wealth of advice for those beginning the interview process. He is also heavily involved with mentoring and career development of junior engineers within his department.

Zhuping Hu’12

Lead iOS Developer, PlayFull

Frank Hwang ’13

Site Performance Manager, PepsiCo

Frank Hwang is the site performance manager at Rancho Cucamonga Operations for PepsiCo. He graduated from UCLA, with a bachelor of science degree in chemical engineering. After graduating, he started at PepsiCo as a production supply chain leader and has an extensive knowledge of the consumer packaged goods industry as well as supply chain finance. He currently resides in Pasadena, CA. Go Bruins!

Rachel Jonas, Ph.D. ’17

Scientist, Exponent

Rachel Jonas graduated with her PhD in Neuroscience. She is now a scientist at Exponent, a science and engineering consulting firm. Specifically, she works in the human factors practice, where she is able to use her neuroscience and psychology expertise to investigate the role of human behavior in accidents, product design and hazard mitigation. In this position, she is able to combine both her technical science skills with her newfound business acumen to help clients answer questions related to the limits and capabilities of human behavior. As a recent graduate from UCLA, she has recently been through the job application process and is a useful resource to discuss the transition from academia to industry.

Bryan Kitchener ’14

Software Engineer, Heal

Dexter Krishnan ’11

Senior Product Manager, Betagig

Dexter Krishnan graduated from UCLA with a degree in applied mathematics. A self-taught programmer, he now consults for tech startups and businesses in product management and full stack software engineering.

Patrick Lam ’00, M.S. ’02, M.B.A. ’16

CEG, ENGEO Incorporated

Patrick Lam is an experienced geoscientist and geochemist practicing in the architecture, engineering and construction space. He addresses challenges related to natural and unnatural hazards and was an early adopter of geospatial, geostatistical and change measurement technology. Patrick understands challenges in the wild, having coordinated and led field teams in difficult and remote areas throughout the western United States, Mexico and the Middle East. His current interests include monitoring advancements in land, internet of things, biotech, neural networks and construction tech while serving as an in-house innovation advisor.

Deborah La Torre ’18

Research Associate, CRESST/UCLA

Deborah is currently a UCLA staff-student. She works in STEM education as a career researcher and is also in the last year of her Ph.D. in social research methodology in education. Her dissertation work focuses on math learning and assessment.

Dylan Ler ’16

Data Scientist, Internet Brands

Dr. Mostafa Majidpour ’16

Senior Data Scientist, Time Inc.

Nick Mansur ’77

Vice President (Retired), AeroVironment

Nick Mansur has been involved in a wide variety of technologies and applications throughout his career in engineering. He had the fortune to work at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory when Viking landed on Mars and Voyager launched to Jupiter, to have pioneered real-time distributed process control concepts used in Naval Combat Systems at Honeywell, and to have designed and implement the ride control system for the Disneyland Matterhorn. Nick has spent most of his 40-year career in engineering management. As vice president of scientific systems at Walt Disney Imagineering, he was responsible for a division of more than 100 engineers and support personnel tasked to design and sustain the software that controls and monitors Disney Theme Park attractions worldwide. 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, he led a group of 250 engineers and support personnel in developing small unmanned aircraft systems and electric vehicle charging equipment.

Nick holds bachelor of science degrees in physics and a mathematics from Cal Poly Pomona and a masters degree in applied mathematics from UCLA. Nick also taught mathematics at Cal Poly in the early years of his career. At this point in his career, Nick is utilizing his experience in developing engineered products to help companies, groups and individuals realize their engineering vision. His hobbies include physical fitness and playing guitar.

Jose Peralta ’03

Systems Engineer, Raytheon

Prianka Sameer ’16

Business & Revenue Analyst, UnitedHealth Group

Raffi Simonian ’85

IS Associates Program Manager, UCLA

Raffi Simonian 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).

He has taught software programming courses at CSUN and UCLA since 1987. He has also done software consulting and training at Northrop Grumman, UCLA, Paramount Pictures and numerous startups. Raffi has a bachelor of science degree in math/computer science from UCLA and an executive M.B.A. from Pepperdine University.

Raffi is currently teaching “IT Management” and “Business Cases for IT Projects” courses at UCLA Extension. His passion is to educate, mentor and train non-IT professionals about the benefits of this lucrative field. If you like problem solving, being challenged and critical thinking, then IT is for you!

Chris St. Jacques ’12

Technical Product Manager, Connexity

Chris St. Jacques graduated with a degree in computer science. Chris went on to be a software engineer for three years at e-commerce company Shopzilla. Shopzilla eventually rebranded to Connexity, Inc., and Chris has since shifted his career path from engineering to product management. He is now a senior product manager responsible for the newest product ShopYourLikes.com. It is a social influencer platform for which he was the original developer. While he was an engineer, he came up with the idea and pitched it, and he now leads and shapes the site as the product manager. Chris often returns to UCLA to help recruit new talent for the company and/or attend whatever sporting events are going on.

Shalom Sunny ’11

Associate Director, Azzur Consulting

Ariana Thacker ’13

Founder/Consultant, bootup

Ariana Thacker is a technical and business savvy founder, engineer, product developer, and consultant with multi-industry experience, including energy storage, oil and gas, consumer electronics, consumer goods, and e-commerce.

Arian’s current projects are the design and build of a novel thermal energy storage pilot plant, product development advisory for a disruptive cosmetics tech start-up, and the design and manufacture of a debut product in the retail space. Ariana is also t co-founder of bootup, an online platform to advance and mentor women in engineering. She is an entrepreneur, lifelong student, yogi, podcast enthusiast, avid reader and world traveler.

Ezekiel Victor

Chief Technology Officer, Textpert

Zeke Victor is co-founder and CTO of Textpert and an expert in full-stack A.I. systems architecture.

A precocious child, Zeke started programming in C at age 12. In high school, he completed over 60 freelance projects on the LAMP stack and later, at age 20, created and led an in-house development team for Sonic Electronix, eventually growing the business to $60 million in revenue.

Afterwards, Zeke joined young A.I. company Gravity, where he served as senior LAMP and Scala/Hbase architect and helped guide the company to a $92 million acquisition by AOL.

Zeke attended the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science for academic year 2007–2008.

Barbara Whitman ’77, ’85

Care Manager, Healthcare Partners

Barbara Whitman 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.

Zaidong (Chris) Yang ’15

Systems Analyst, Cedars-Sinai

Chris Yang has been in various information technology roles in different industries over two-and-a-half years. Chris is currently working with ServiceNow and improving IT process deliveries. His motto for life is “We should all try to be the best version of ourselves, even at the expense of luxury and comfort.”

Chris loves meeting motivated people because motivation is contagious and loves to give back to the UCLA community to produce more highly intelligent and motivated young Bruins. Chris is currently working within the healthcare industry and can provide insights in identifying strength and gaps currently present in the industry.

Dr. Alan Young ’01

Regional Director, Sagacious Consultants/Accenture

Dr. Alan Young is a physician leader with a strong clinical and business consulting background. After completing a dual M.D./M.B.A. degree program at Keck School of Medicine of USC and USC Marshall School of Business, he obtained his medical license during his orthopaedic surgery residency. Combining his passion for business and medicine, he served as a subject matter expert and specialist as a national healthcare senior consultant with Deloitte Consulting while providing surgical physician services at Southern California Kaiser Permanente. At USC Care Medical Group Inc., 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 the regional director of client relations with Sagacious Consultants and as a senior manager with Accenture. He currently practices medicine in the greater Los Angeles area and also volunteers as the Southern California Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society Chief Medical Informatics Officer Committee Chair.