2019 STEM Networking Night Participants

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

Zach Hoyer ’11

Manager Software Engineer, Raytheon

Zach graduated with a bachelor’s degree in physics. He began his engineering career shortly after 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.

Zach is continuing his UCLA educational career by currently pursuing a master’s degree in systems engineering from the UCLA Samueli – Master of Science Online Program. He enjoys visiting new breweries with his wife Anna, roasting coffee, eating homemade bacon and sipping home-brewed beer.

Anna Losorelli Hoyer ’11

Senior Principal Systems Engineer , Northrop Grumman

Anna graduated with her bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. She is currently a senior principal systems engineer in the survivability group and has worked at Northrop Grumman since interning with this group during the summer of 2010. Anna performs design and analysis, leads range tests and is currently managing a project to redesign one of the fixtures used during testing. These skills allow her to be involved in the start to finish process of conception, fabrication and testing of the designs her group creates.

Anna stays involved in the UCLA engineering community by participating as an alumni mentor in the WATT program, as well as attending other various STEM and alumni outreach opportunities. In her free time she enjoys running, traveling and consuming the beer and food her husband brews and cooks.

Raffi Simonian ’85

Innovate@UCLA Senior Program Manager, UCLA Office of Information Technology

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’s degree in math/computer science from UCLA and an executive MBA from Pepperdine University.

Raffi is passionate about helping students. In his current role as Innovate@UCLA senior program manager, he was instrumental in working with undergraduate S.T.E.M. students to organize Young Tech Professionals Tech bootcamps, events that teach current students business skills in tech, transforming ideas to solutions using technology, blockchain and more.

Brett Beekley ’12, M.S. ’15

Software Engineer, Google

Brett is a current software engineer, esports fan, D&D game master and homebrewer. He studied materials science and engineering at UCLA, where he took pictures of atoms with huge microscopes. After UCLA, Brett built software for a machinery manufacturer in Germany (Kroenert), an enterprise software firm engineer (Laserfiche) and a medical tech startup (Science 37). He now helps keep Google running as a site reliability engineer.

Arianna Nolta ’17

Senior Sales Analyst, NBC Universal

Arianna graduated with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics/economics and a minor in film, television and digital media. Her passion for film and talent for analytics drove her to pursue a career on the STEM side of entertainment. Arianna is currently a senior sales analyst who works with the retail strategy and analysis team at Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. Her data driven analysis of consumer trends influences 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.

Jeffrey Deeter ’97

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

Jeffrey has held previous administrative positions with both nonprofit and academic medical centers. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in public health from UCLA and a master of public administration degree with an emphasis in health services administration from the University of Southern California.

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

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.

Outside of his profession, Jeffrey has been an active mentor to students looking at a variety of healthcare careers. He is also on several departmental advisory committees at some prestigious local academic institutions. He has also held multiple terms of office with several antique car and pure breed dog clubs.

Chanel Halimi ’10

Psychotherapist, Private Practice

Chanel is a licensed psychotherapist (MFT) with a practice in Los Angeles. While she holds a bachelor’s degree 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.

Nick Mansur ’77

Vice President Engineering, AeroVironment

He had the fortune to work on the mini-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, 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, in upgrading/enhancing the avionics and flight controls systems on the C-17 Globemaster III. Most recently, as vice president of engineering at AeroVironment, developing small unmanned aircraft systems and electric vehicle charging equipment.

Nick holds a bachelor’s degree in physics and mathematics from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, and a master’s degree in applied mathematics from UCLA. He also taught mathematics part-time at Cal Poly in the early years of his career. Nick lives in Azusa with his wife, Rosa, and consults part-time. His hobbies include physical fitness and playing guitar.

Annie Flippo

Director of Data Science, inMarket

Annie works as a director of data science and analytics at inMarket, a mobile advertising platform. 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.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in math/economics and a master’s degree in economics and has over 25 years of experience in technology. Annie started her career as a financial software engineer and product manager. She now works extensively in the field of big data, data analytics and data science.

Her focus is to build the capabilities of the data analytics team and lead the development of new innovative data products and to make data science accessible and intuitive. Annie is a teacher, mentor and team leader in product development, statistical thinking and a lifelong learner who loves to make learning technology fun for all.

Erik Akutagawa, BSME '94

Senior Program Manager, Ticketmaster

Erik has been a leader in the entertainment and media industry for more than two decades. Most recently Senior Program Manager at Ticketmaster, Fox, and NFL, managing teams and initiatives for mobile, web, and OTT. Prior to NFL, was the Digital Image Resources Manager at Rhythm & Hues Studios, leading Academy Award winning teams on projects such as feature film "Life of Pi" (2013 Academy Award for VFX) and internal SAAS "Eve" (2016 Sci-Tech Academy Award).

Some clients: Ticketmaster, NFL, Disney, Fox, Sony, WB, Honda, Kia…
Some verticals: Mobile, Web, OTT, Film, TV, Video Games, Theme Park Rides…
Some results:

  • Hundreds of high profile, consumer facing products, projects, and features for web, mobile, OTT delivered successfully
  • Over 75 VFX projects successfully completed; credit list available at https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0015608/
  • Two Academy Awards (2013, 2008), and three Scientific and Technical Academy Awards (2016, 2011, 2008)

TL;DR - Servant leader, blocker remover, cat wrangler for award winning media/entertainment teams for over two decades

Mia S. Tepper ’90, M.B.A. ’11

COO, Inter Science Institute, Inc.

Mia is a double Bruin who earned a bachelor’s degree in history with the Business Certificate from UCLA and came back to the UCLA Anderson School of Management, graduating with an MBA focusing on international management in 2011.

Mia is the COO of a medical lab specializing in esoteric assays in endocrinology and gastroenterology, such as rare blood and urine tests for neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) - think Steve Jobs, Aretha Franklin - and other tests for diabetes, obesity, autism and hypertension. Her favorite part of the job is speaking at conferences to physicians and patient support groups around the country, teaching them how Inter Science’s tests can help diagnose, monitor and treat NETS patients.

In her free time she loves volunteering at UCLA with the Bruin Belles and the Student Alumni Association, mentoring Anderson business students and serving as president of the alumni affinity group called Anderson Women. Her other volunteer efforts are serving as VP on the Board of TACSC (The Association of Catholic Student Councils), focusing on teaching leadership to middle school students.

Chris St. Jacques ’12

Director of Product, ShopYourLikes

Chris graduated with a bachelor’s degree in computer science. He went on to be a software engineer for three years at e-commerce company Shopzilla. Shopzilla eventually rebranded to Connexity, Inc., and his career path has shifted over the last four years from engineering to product management. Chris is now director of product overseeing ShopYourLikes.com, which is a social influencer platform that he developed. Chris came up with the idea while he was an engineer, pitched it and now leads and shapes the site along with a few other product areas. He often returns to UCLA to help recruit new talent for the company and attends whatever sporting events are happening.

Chris Powelson ’18

Project Engineer, Helix Electric

Chris graduated with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, and is now working as a Project Engineer for electrical contractor, Helix Electric. He is currently working on all electrical work on a new international terminal at LAX. It is a fast-paced megaproject, no two days are the same and making quick decisions is a must. A large part of his job is being able to accurately and quickly interpret drawings, and diagrams, all of which UCLA helped prep him for.

Mary Watkins, MBA ’10

Lead UX Designer, UCLA IT Services

Mary received an MBA from UCLA Anderson School of Management and a bachelor’s degree in eastern religion from Grinnell College. She worked at UCLA for over 20 years, in the fields of publications, marketing and web design. She also consults with outside companies looking to improve their UX. She enjoys creating web applications that flow, have points of delight and simplify the mundane and confusing. She is looking forward to connecting with any artsy types who are thinking of working in IT.

Christian Tejeda ’17

Medical Student, David Geffen School of Medicine

Christian is a first-year medical student at the David Geffen School of Medicine (DGSOM) at UCLA. In 2017, he graduated from UCLA with a bachelor’s degree in psychobiology and minors in global health and music history. Christian is interested in community-partnered public health research, addressing health disparities, health policy and advocacy and homeless health issues. During his two gap years, Christian worked as a Staff Research Associate at DGSOM coordinating a phase 1 clinical trial for a pharmaceutical drug being tested to treat methamphetamine use disorder. Additionally, he interned for the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, performing public health HIV/AIDS research while promoting and advocating for improved preventive STI testing methods at Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital. During undergrad, he volunteered with the Mobile Clinic Project at UCLA, a student-run, street-side clinic delivering medical care and addressing the social needs of the local homeless populations in Hollywood and Santa Monica. Currently at DGSOM, Christian is an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Student Representative, an active member of DGSOM's American Medical Association (AMA) chapter and a medical student volunteer for the UCLA Mobile Clinic Project. He is very excited to be returning for STEM Networking Night.

Dylan Ler ’16

Data Scientist, IB

Dylan is currently working in the field of data science. As a UCLA student, he majored in electrical engineering but pivoted to data science as a career. Ask him anything from technology, data science, STEM career options, startups and internships.

Eddie Lu ’16

Healthcare Consulting Associate, Huron Consulting Group

Eddie graduated from UCLA with a bachelor’s degree in biology. He entered UCLA with intentions of going to medical school, but ended up switching career paths. Since graduating in 2016, Eddie has worked with Huron Consulting Group as a healthcare management consultant. As a healthcare consultant, he works with hospitals and healthcare systems across the nation to implement cost savings and revenue generating strategies to improve their overall performance. His role entails data analytics, strategy implementation and project management in order to improve the healthcare experience.

Meri Birhane ’09, M.B.A. ’13

Account Executive, Logically

Meri Birhane is a Gates Millennium Scholar, holds two master’s degrees and has a wealth of experience working in technology sales.

Meri is a rising star in her field and has received recognition for her leadership in sales and has been awarded "Player of the Month" and consecutive "Quota Buster" in her past roles as a sales professional. Moreover, Meri is frequently requested to coach and mentor sales teams on “social selling.”

Prior to joining Logically as an account executive, Meri Birhane received a full academic scholarship to attend UCLA. While there, she received her bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s in public health. Meri later went on to receive her MBA from San Diego State University, where her love for entrepreneurship led her to co-found My5Valet, an on-demand valet parking service for college campuses. As vice president of sales for the startup, she won second place at the 2015 Zahn Business Competition. Moreover, Meri was instrumental in raising capital for the tech startup venture and capturing the attention of the third largest valet parking company in the country.

Meri currently lives in San Diego and, when she is not selling, she enjoys spending time with her family, salsa dancing and participating in arcade basketball matches.

Ram Sripracha ’10

Sr. Security Engineer, Amazon AWS

UCLA alumni (2010) and employee. Co-founded successful startup that exited (sold to Netskope). Currently Sr Security Engineer at Amazon AWS.

Dr. Sanam Abrishami ’16


Perry Zuckerman MD ’80

Psychiatrist, Independent

Marcus Hoskins ’14

Bakery Packaging and Optimization Manager, Frito Lay

Raj Mistry ’98, ’07

Solution Architect, Google

Matt Abrams ’14

Therapy Development Specialist, Medtronic

Bianca Casciari ’13

Maintenance and Engineering Director, Frito-Lay

Bianca Casciari graduated 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 shifts (24/7). 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. She then moved on to be the processing department manager with a team of two managers and around 50 operators. They were in charge of making the chips while ensuring quality, throughput, and efficiency. Finally, Bianca is now the Technology Director at the Kern plant. She is in charge of all technical items at the site, with a team of 8 manager & 70 mechanics. The scope can be anything from buildings & grounds to the cogeneration plant, waste water treatment, production equipment, or the warehouse.

Bianca loves her job and is so happy to get to use her degree while being a manager and working with others.

Amy Tzu-Yu Chen ’16

Data Scientist, System 1

Marie Elise Gonzalez ’11

Supplier Quality Management, Takeda

Shalom Sunny ’11

Regional Director, Operations, Azzur Group

Megan Wesseln ’14, ’19

Registered Nurse, UCLA Health

Roger Fachini ’91

Scientist, Amgen

Roger Fachini earned a B.S. in Biology from Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan ('89) and an M.S. in Biochemistry from UCLA ('91). He worked for 3 years at a small Caltech startup called Exogene and for 25 years at Amgen. He has expertise in a broad range of biologics pharmaceutical development, including cloning, expression, and antibody affinity maturation.

Deborah La Torre

Associate Research Scientist, CRESST UCLA

Deborah La Torre is an associate research scientist at CRESST UCLA. For more than 10 years she has served as a project coordinator and/or lead researcher on studies of K-12 education. She has specialties in after school education as well as STEM learning and assessment. She is also a PhD candidate studying advanced quantitative methods in the Graduate School of Education and Information Sciences at UCLA. Her dissertation work focuses on the development of a new statistical method to guide the development and analysis of high-stakes math assessments.

Deborah also holds a master’s 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.

Francis Nickels ’86

Director of Operations, Riot Games

Dennis Wang ’97

COO, Pure Blue Group

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