BEST Lab Alumni Bios

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BEST  Lab – Berkeley [Emergent Space Tensegrities | Energy & Sustainable Technologies | Expert Systems Technologies]

Kenneth Armijo is a staff scientist and R&D engineer at Sandia National Laboratories and with the U.S. Department of Energy. His current research is in Concentrating Solar Thermal Energy Technologies, Photovoltaics (PV) and Distributed Energy Technologies. His research and professional interests are in alternative energy technologies and sustainability, as they pertain to innovation, business, social justice and policy. He has also had three startup companies in wireless infant/elderly health monitoring systems, solar water heating technologies and in organic sustainable agriculture.

Additionally, Kenneth is actively involved in programs which provide technology development assistance through the New Mexico Small Business Assistance (NMSBA) program and is an active participant in Lab-to-Venture initiatives to help small businesses innovate to become successful. He currently also mentors small renewable energy, desalination and sustainable agriculture companies, both locally in New Mexico and nationally, as they progress through the business development process. He has also proven innovation success in reducing irrigation water consumption for his family’s New Mexico chile pepper farm. He also currently holds multiple board positions on several city and state educational, economic and civic organizations.

Jonathan Cagan is the George Tallman and Florence Barrett Ladd Professor in Engineering, Department of Mechanical Engineering, at Carnegie Mellon University, with an appointment in the School of Design.  Jon serves as Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship for the Engineering College.  He co-founded and co-directs the Integrated Innovation Institute and Master of Integrated Innovation for Products and Services , and serves as the Head for the MS in Software Management program.  Jon’s expertise lies in product development and innovation methods for early stage product development. His research focuses on design cognition, computation and practice. Both his design methods and computer-based design research have been applied in a variety of industries. He is the co-author of Creating Breakthrough Products, Built to Love and The Design of Things to Come. Jon has published over 200 peer-reviewed research publications, including 8 best and 2 distinguished paper awards, and is a Fellow of ASME.

Carolyn Capps. After working for Alice and her Synthesis motley crew, I was a research administrator in the School of Public Health, then an award administrator for UCOP’s defunct UC-SMART program and finally, for the last 14 years, and three Chancellors, I have been serving as the Chief of Staff for the Vice Provost for the Faculty.

Julien Caubel is a third-year PhD student in Mechanical Engineering at UC Berkeley. His research focuses on the design of high-efficiency, low-emissions biomass cookstoves for the developing world and low-cost instrumentation for monitoring atmospheric biomass emissions in these regions.

Corie Cobb is a contributor to PARC’s Cleantech Innovation Program.  With a broad background that encompasses product design, mechanics of materials, MEMS, optimization and computational modeling, Corie is currently applying her knowledge to novel printing, extrusion, and thin film patterning technologies.

Prior to joining PARC, Corie worked at Applied Materials as a mechanical engineer designing hardware for plasma etch applications. Corie has also worked in the areas of ink jet printing, optical Micro-electro-mechanical Systems (MEMS), imaging, and industrial design for portable electronics through internships at Hewlett-Packard, Bell Labs, Google, and Toshiba (Japan), respectively.

Corie holds a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from UC Berkeley where her research focused on both engineering education and developing design synthesis and optimization tools for MEMS design.  She received her M.S. in Mechanical Engineering and her B.S. in Product Design from Stanford University.

Andy Dong In 2003, I moved to Sydney, Australia to take up an academic position as a Lecturer (~ Assistant Professor) at the University of Sydney. The “department” I was in was then led by Professor John Gero. Several research grants later, and then a research fellowship (kind of like an uber CAREER grant that buys out 4 years of teaching + research funds) and then a named chair, I returned to engineering to take up the Warren Centre Chair of Engineering Innovation. Formally, I am in the School of Civil Engineering, but I have kind of a cross-Faculty position. I still get back and forth to SF a lot since my family lives in SF.

Jay Evans worked in design automation of airplane wing and fuselage structures at Boeing in Seattle for 7 years before becoming a full-time stay at home Dad. Jay has since obtained his PE and continues to be active in cooperative education programs with his children.

Jeremy Faludi. Co-authored Autodesk Sustainability Workshop; Designed alpha of for Biomimicry Institute; Taught at Stanford University; Bicycle in Cooper-Hewitt exhibit.

Mark Fuge is an Assistant Professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of Maryland, College Park. His research lies at the intersection of Mechanical Engineering, Machine Learning, and Design; an area he refers to as “Design Informatics.” He received his Ph.D. at the University of California at Berkeley, where he was a member of the Berkeley Expert System Technologies Lab and the Berkeley Institute of Design, and he holds a B.S. and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University. He has conducted research in applied machine learning, optimization, network analysis, 3D sketching interfaces, augmented reality, design metaphors, and creativity support tools.

Nick Galano is Product Validation Engineer for SpaceX.  Currently working to validate new designs of propulsion assemblies (valves, rocket engines, etc.) to ensure that they are manufacturable and effective.

Kai Goebel works at NASA Ames Research Center where he is the Area Lead for Discovery and Systems Health.  He received the degree of Diplom-Ingenieur from Technische Universitaet Muenchen in 1990 and the Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley in 1996. Kai worked at General Electric’s Corporate Research Center in upstate New York where he was also an adjunct professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He has been on the dissertation committee of seven Ph.D. students at RPI, Syracuse University, University of Cincinnati, Vanderbilt University, Georgia Institute of Technology and Stanford University. He is currently guest professor at University of Cincinnati. He holds eighteen patents and he has published more than 300 technical papers. Kai is co-founder of a professional society, the Prognostics and Health Management Society. He is on the board of Directors of several non-profit organizations.

Pierce Gordon. As a dual NSF and Chancellor’s Fellow in the Energy and Resources Group (ERG), Pierce has broadened his perspective towards many different nodes in interdisciplinary research. His interests include critical analysis and evaluation of social innovation, particularly design thinking interventions developed for the abject poor. He also served as the president of the Black Graduate Engineers and Science Students, as a flagship member of the Development Impact Lab’s Idea Team, and on the Diversity and Social Media Committee of the Energy and Resources Group. He has served also as an instructor for the Graduate Regents Exam and the Standardized Aptitude Test for Sherwood Test Prep, has conducted community service with the Bay Area Morehouse Alumni Association and Bay Area Scientists in Schools. To see more about Pierce, see his website at

Jessica Granderson is a Research Scientist and the Deputy of Research Programs for the Building Technology and Urban Systems Division at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. She is a member of the Commercial Buildings research group. Dr. Granderson holds a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from UC Berkeley, and an AB in Mechanical Engineering from Harvard University. Her research focuses on building energy performance monitoring and diagnostics, and intelligent lighting controls.

R.V.Guha is Fellow at Google. After the ‘Expert Systems Lab’ (as it used to be called in 1986), he moved to the dark side (aka Stanford) to do a Phd in computer science. He has been working in Artificial Intelligence and its applications, especially to the web over the last 20 years. He has spent time at Apple, Netscape and IBM, where he created a number of widely used web formats (such as RSS) and services (such as Google Custom Search). In between, he has also done a few startups (Epinions, Alpiri). Over the years he has taught at Stanford, UT Austin, written a book and some 50 odd papers.

Sherry Hsi was an undergraduate student in bioengineering when she worked in the BEST Lab when it was located on the 5th floor of Etcheverry Hall. After completing an MS in ME, she left to work in Japan doing AI related work and then returned for a PhD in the SESAME program at Berkeley with Alice as her thesis co-advisor. She worked as a New Media Research Director at the Exploratorium for 8 years designing and studying mobile learning before joining the Lawrence Hall of Science. She leads the TechHive Teen Program and makerspace at the Lawrence Hall of Science. She is also a Research Director creating STEM products funded by NSF and NIH to improve science and engineering education including paper robotics, tangible exhibits, Apps, and digital libraries. She is married to Per Peterson, a Professor in nuclear engineering, and together are raising three boys.

Pramod Jain is founder and president of Innovative Wind Energy, Inc. (IWE).  IWE provides wind and other renewable energy (RE) implementation support and consulting services worldwide.  He consults with Asian Development Bank, US Agency for International Development (USAID) Indonesia Clean Energy Development project, US Department of Energy, United Nations Development Programme and private developers on large wind farm projects and hybrid projects in microgrids.  He has consulted in Caribbean, Lebanon, Mexico, Mongolia, Indonesia, Philippines, Sri Lanka and US.  In 2010, he wrote a book Wind Energy Engineering, which was published by McGraw-Hill, New York; it was translated to Chinese in 2013.  Pramod has a Ph.D. in Mechanical engineering from University of California, Berkeley and B.Tech. from Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay.  He was Alice’s first PhD student.

Youhao Jing. Experienced entrepreneur in TMT sector with a passion of collecting handmade antique and vintage items with inspiring designs.

Euiyoung Kim is a Ph.D. Candidate in the department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, majoring New Product Development and Design Theory and Methods. He is a member of the BEST Lab and BiD (Berkeley Institute of Design). He was granted a Master’s degree from EDI (Engineering Design Innovation) program at Northwestern University in 2011. Prior to moving to the United States, he worked as a product planning manager in Strategic Marketing Team for IT Solutions Business, Samsung Electronics from 2006 to 2010. His research interest involves Human Centric Research and Multi-disciplinary Study that bring different academic fields together such as product management, design and engineering by applying design thinking and innovation processes. His current thesis topic is on Design Roadmapping and the Internet of Things. He is a recipient of reviewers’ Favorite Paper Awards at ICED (International Conference on Engineering Design) in the year of 2013 and 2015.

Sohyeong Kim graduated from SESAME program at UC Berkeley with the research guidance by Prof Alice Agogino in 2013. Her dissertation title was “Open Innovation Ecosystem: Chez Panisse Case”.  She studied how Chez Panisse restaurant thrived the open innovation ecosystem utilizing its alumni networks, food journalists, food educators, purveyors, other chef community, and its customers.  Her work was featured at California Management Review, Harvard Business case, and so on. She is currently conducting the comparison case studies between the New Nordic Cuisine, the Molecular Gastronomy and California Cuisine.

Young-jin Kim. After earning my degree from Berkeley, I have joined Kyung Hee University in Korea as a faculty since 1994.  Kung Hee University has more than 1,500 faculties and 35,000 students and more than 65 years of history. During these 20 years as a professor, I spent 2/3 for teaching and researching and 1/3 for administrative job.  My research interests are similar to those of my days in Berkeley, where I spent mostly on sensors and data.  These days, I focus on Big data not only in engineering field but in the society.

On the adminstrative side, I have worked as a director in the center for BI (Business Incubation), TLO (Technology Licensing) and SMB (Small and Medium size business).  Later on I searved as a director for Office of Research and Uniersity-Industry Cooperation for 4 years. I also served as the president of national assembly of Research and Uniersity-Industry Cooperation of more than 200 universities in Korea.  Now I am relieved from these titles and enjoy my professor life in teaching and research.

Miho Kitagawa. I’m a second-year graduate student, doing research about Human-Centered Design for Development with Alice. I’m also a founder of SoHub, a Japanese organization where we empower communities and individual through design process workshops and projects. I graduate from MIT with B.S. in Mechanical Engineering / Design. I love designing, drawing, working on team projects, photography and travelling!

Tony Love. Tony is a maintenance engineer at Dow Chemical in Pittsburg, California learning the ropes of manufacturing. He is currently the maintenance project representative on a 40 million dollar replacement of a plant on site.

Jennifer Mangold has a Ph.D. and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from University of California, Berkeley and B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She has conducted research in the sustainable manufacturing field for almost 10 yrs, experience with life cycle assessment, sustainable metrics development, alternative energy and energy efficient technologies, and impact assessment of electronic products. Worked as a manufacturing process engineer in the automotive industry, developed skills in quality control, production line management, and monitoring supplier quality systems. Experience in conducting user research including ethnography studies, usability research, and assessing user needs. Has minor in engineering communication and performance and experience mentoring and leading multi-disciplinary project teams. Her current focus is developing tools to aid designers in making products and processes more sustainable. When she is not looking for ways to live more sustainably, she can be found testing out new recipes, backpacking and mountain biking across California, or honing her DIY skills.

Deaho Moon. I am a recent Berkeley graduate with Nuclear and Mechanical engineering major and a researcher working on Tensegrity Robotics Research in BEST Lab.

Cassandra Rogers is Disaster Risk Management Lead Specialist at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), where she coordinates the design and implementation of the IDB’s investment programs and technical assistance in disaster risk management and coastal zone management in the Caribbean. Her current work focuses on innovative solutions for improving disaster and climate resilience in vulnerable coastal areas, including ecosystem-based coastal protection. She led the preparation of the IDB’s disaster risk management policy guidelines, disaster risk screening tools for environmental safeguards and training programs in disaster risk management. Prior to joining the IDB, she served as Project Manager of the Disaster Mitigation Facility at the Caribbean Development Bank, where she coordinated the signature work on mainstreaming disaster risk reduction in the project cycle. She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Geology with Special Honours from the University of the West Indies, a Master of Science Degree in Engineering Geology from the University of Windsor, Canada and a Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering Science – Civil Engineering with specialization in Geotechnical Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley.

Celeste Roschuni. Celeste is a freelance design and user researcher in the DC Metro Area. She is founder of, an online platform dedicated to supporting the advancement of human-centered design as a practice, where experts can explore and share methods and experiences. She also teaches the occasional design course.

Drew Sabelhaus is NSF Graduate Research Fellow and NASA Space Technology Research Fellow working on control and design of spine-like tensegrity robots in the BEST Lab and at NASA Ames Research Center.

Jaspal S. Sandhu is a partner and co-founder of the Gobee Group. Current Gobee initiatives are: creating a digital platform to improve the cost-effectiveness of HIV drug purchasing by African governments, identifying opportunities for transforming health information systems in West Africa, and building innovation capacity in the health care safety net across California. For the past five years, Jaspal has taught a globally unique innovations course at the School of Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley. His writing on innovation has been featured in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, MIT Innovations, PopTech Editions, Fast Company’s Co.Exist, and the American Journal of Public Health. Prior to Gobee, he worked with the Mongolian Ministry of Health on innovation in rural health systems as a Fulbright scholar in rural Mongolia, and for the Intel Corporation and the Nokia Research Center. He received his Ph.D. in design from the BEST Lab at the University of California, Berkeley, and his master’s and bachelor’s degrees in engineering from MIT. He speaks Punjabi, Spanish, Mongolian, and English.

Jennifer Wang is the Computer Science Education Outreach Program Manager on Google’s K-12 Education Outreach team.  She is a graduate of the SESAME program from UC Berkeley, and obtained her B.S. in EECS and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering. She did her dissertation work on design education at the Lawrence Hall of Science.

Ya Wen graduated from BEST lab in 1998, then worked as a network engineer in Silicon Valley for 5 years, designing and implementing TCP/IP networks for startups and large corporations. Those were the crazy but fun times: Elon Musk just started up ZIP2 (I got an offer but did not go), and Google was just a tiny web site nobody knew about. In 2003, I decided to do something different, so I moved to Chicago and got my MBA from Kellogg School of Management in 2005. Since then, I officially left the engineering field and moved into business management world. I started as a management consultant at Accenture, then worked in Microsoft Seattle office for 3 years, before moving back to Beijing in March 2011. My past four years working in China has been fascinating. I got the chance to experience the enormous energy, the local innovation, the super fast economic growth and also the horrible air pollution, all at the same time. Back in May 2014, I relocated back to Seattle and I am now developing Amazon’s global cross-border selling strategy and investment plans. What’s next? I don’t know. The world is such a flat place, I am always excited to go somewhere and try something new.

David Yu. After one and a half years of fun and adventures at the BEST lab, I started my career in the SF Bay area in 1996 as a web developer for Autodesk, CNET and Scient Corp. In 2001 I moved to New York City and headed up product development for Major League Baseball’s online division. After a series of product management positions at Manilla and the Gilt Groupe, I moved back to the Bay Area in 2013. Now I head up Product Management for the online home furnishing company One Kings Lane.

Ying Zhang is an Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Georgia Tech. Her research interests include: power management for sustainable operation of energy harvesting systems; wireless sensor networks; intelligent monitoring and diagnostic systems; information retrieval and data mining; artificial intelligence; and MEMS design automation and synthesis. Dr. Zhang received a B.S. degree in Materials Science and Engineering from Tongji University (1995), a M.S. degree in Materials Engineering from the University of Illinois at Chicago (2001), a M.S. in EE from the University of Massachusetts Lowell (2002), and a Ph.D. degree in Systems Engineering from the UC Berkeley (2006).  She is a Licensed Professional Electrical Engineer, and an IEEE senior member. She received National Science Foundation CAREER Award in 2013, and Lockheed Martin Dean’s Excellence in Teaching Award at Georgia Tech in 2012.

Ningning Zhou was a Ph.D student in the BEST Lab from 1996-2002, conducting research on MEMS (Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems) design and simulation under Alice and Kris Pister. After graduation, she has worked for 12 years as a MEMS design engineer in several Silicon Valley companies including Systron Donner, Silicon Microstructures and Qualcomm MEMS. She is currently an independent consultant designing sensors and actuators.

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