People You Know, April to Oct. 2002


Dr. Mary Ann (Blymn) Seagraves (61, BS, math) is now affiliated with Theresa L. Seagraves & Associates, a management consulting firm specializing in workplace productivity analyses and return-on-investment (ROI) studies for training and development. This Parker, Colo.-based company has submitted a patent application for an innovative method for planning, tracking, and driving to an ROI goal for training courses or programs. This process can be used for a wide variety of training. TLSA also shows training and human resource managers how to communicate their value in financial and "Chief Executive Officer" terms.

Dr. Leonard Gray (64, BS, chemistry) has been awarded the Glenn T. Seaborg Actinide Separations Award for his outstanding accomplishments and meritorious achievement in actinide element separations science. Gray is a chemist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. During Gray's 33-year career, working at the Savannah River Plant, Savannah River Laboratory, and Livermore National Lab, he has developed processes for the recovery and purification of uranium, neptunium, plutonium, americium, and curium from special reactor targets and fuels that had been designated by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) as "non-processable and hard-to- recover scrap and residues."

When Gray was presented with the award, he used the occasion to propose from the podium, on bended knee, to his high school sweetheart, Sandra Purdom Byrd, widow of Jack Byrd of Perry, Florida. Ms. Byrd immediately accepted. They were married on August 10, 2002, in Perry, Fla.

Gray holds master's degree in chemistry from Texas Technological College and a doctorate in inorganic chemistry from the University of South Carolina.

Gray has two children, a son, Leonard LeVerne Gray of Livermore, Calif. and a daughter, Andrea Gray Kidd of Temecula, Calif. His daughter has three children, a daughter, Brittney, 10, a son, Dylan, 5, and a daughter, Sydney, born May 1, 2002. Gray's wife of 38.5 years, the former Jeanette Joyce of Jacksonville, Fla., died last year.


Alberto Aguirre (70, BS, metallurgical engr.) dropped by the Alumni Office on Aug. 1, 2002 and reminisced with us. He put himself through college by working for the Socorro Fire Department, which paid him $1.50 an hour for fighting fires and allowed him to live in the firehouse. He remembered the kindness of many people in Socorro, especially fire chiefs John Casey, Ernest Trumillo, and Phil Baca, and at Tech, Pres. Stirling Colgate, Prof. Geoffrey Purcell, and Prof. Gerardo Gross.

Aguirre has worked for Boeing, McDonnell-Douglas, General Dynamics, and most recently, for Lockheed-Martin. He and his wife live in Littleton, Colo., where he expects to retire soon.

Randall J. Johnson (72, BS, biology) writes, "After Tech, I spent a brief time managing medical claims offices in Albuquerque and Santa Fe. I've now been with the Westinghouse Electric Company for about 26 years. I currently live in Columbia, S.C., with my wife of 20 years, Maribeth, and son Evan, 17. We were lucky enough to have adopted Evan from Thailand 11 years ago.

"Westinghouse has kept me on the move (Colorado, Texas, New York, Pennsylvania, California and now South Carolina). With all this moving around, I'm astounded to have been able to keep my sanity and family together. From the start, I have always been in the nuclear industry, from mining uranium in the most remote locations imaginable to servicing commercial nuclear power plants to manufacturing nuclear fuel. As a senior business analyst, I now manage activities related to the expansion of the company's enterprise business software. Maribeth, with a BA in drama, is self-employed and a part time teacher specializing in English as a Second Language."

Joseph J. Kmeck (72, BS, geology) writes, "I now have my own business as a consultant in oil and gas exploration." Kmeck lives in Houston.

Dr. Donald Wenner (74, BS, chemistry) was included in the "Guide to America's Top Surgeons" in the forthcoming 2002-2003 edition of Strathmore's Who's Who. Wenner, a surgeon in Roswell, was recognized in large part for his invention of a multiple instrument guide to allow a single operation for removal of the gall bladder and bile duct stones. Common bile duct exploration and stone extraction is typically a complex procedure and often involves open surgery, according to Wenner. The new instrument allows surgeons to remove the gall bladder and the bile duct stones in one minimally invasive laparoscopic procedure with less chance for complications.

Don is married to Laurie Putzig Wenner (77, BS, biology). They have four children: Andrea, 22, Donnie, 19, Nathan, 18, and Teddy, 15. Andrea graduated from Texas Christian University in 2001. Both Donnie and Nathan are current New Mexico Tech students majoring in chemistry. Teddy is a sophomore at Goddard High School. Laurie works in Dr. Wenner's office, for lapsurgical and does volunteer work for the Roswell Public Schools, the Symphony Guild and Lend-A-Hand of Roswell.

Claudio Gonzales (76, BS, metallurgical engr.) writes "I've been recycled, returning to an employer -- Molycorp Inc in Questa -- after 21 years. I call myself the 100% Recycled Metallurgist. Recently, May 2002, my daughter, Teresita, graduated from College of Santa Fe with a bachelor of arts in a self-designed major."

Dr. James I. "Boston" Kirkland (77, BS, geology) brought us up-to-date on his interesting activities. He writes, "I am the state paleontologist for Utah with the Utah Geological Survey, a rewarding job that keeps me on my toes. In addition, to keeping tabs on Utah's paleontological resources, I have a fair amount of time to devote to research.

"Research on dinosaurs in Utah is leading to refinements in our understanding of syndepositional tectonics on the Colorado Plateau. Many of the new dinosaurs I have described over the past decade have helped clarify the paleogeographic reorganization of North America during the Early Cretaceous. We record changes from European land connections in the early Early Cretaceous with polacanthid ankylosaurs and iguanodonts to isolation of North America as an island continent in the late Early Cretaceous with endemic dinosaurs. At the end of the Early Cretaceous, with the origins of Alaska and the draining of the Dawson Straights, we document the first Asian land connections leading to the development of NA's Late Cretaceous Dinosaur Fauna dominated by horned and duck-billed dinosaurs and tyrannosaurids.".

"I have taken research trips to China and Mongolia to help solidify some of this work. In addition to my own ongoing work in Early Cretaceous, we are doing a multiyear project to evaluate the fossil resources in the late Cretaceous Wahweap Formation on the south end of Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monument. Already, we have a couple of new, undescribed dinosaurs that are keeping the folks in my lab busy.

"Although Utah keeps me busy, I have been dabbling in New Mexico paleontology by co-discovering with Doug Wolfe (of the Mesa Southwest Museum in Mesa, Ariz.) the Moreno Hill Fauna as part of Doug's Zuni Basin Project. This is the first Turonian (early Late Cretaceous) terrestrial skeletal fauna from anywhere in the world.

"These new New Mexico beasties were featured on the Discovery Channel's recent "When Dinosaurs Roamed North America," as were our own smiling faces. I have been working with the Discovery Channel for a number of years and am gratified to say that they are even funding for four years my Crystal Geyser Dinosaur Quarry. I cannot say much right now, but watch for it.

"My wife Sooz and daughters, Kelsey, 12 and Darcy 8 are getting used to life here west of the red rock-curtain and help keep my feet on the ground and focused on the most important things in life.

Dr. Scott Sandford (78, BS, math; 78, BS, physics) writes, "The AstroBiology Explorer (AABE) MIDEX Mission, on which I am the principal investigator, has been selected by NASA as one of four missions for a Phase A Concept Study. The mission has been awarded $450 K to improve the level of detail in the mission and spacecraft design. Based on the Concept Reports of the four missions, NASA is expected to select two of the missions for flight. Selection will be made in early 2003 and the missions would fly in the 2007-2008 time frame. The AstroBiology Explorer is a cryogenically cooled telescope that will measure the infrared spectra of objects throughout space in order to detect and identify organic material in the universe."

Richard Leturno (79, BS, petroleum engr.) has a new position as British Petroleum's global well services manager. He relocated from Jakarta to Houston in Jan. 2002.


Jeremy Epstein (80, BS, CS) is director of product security at webMethods, a company that makes business integration software. He recently moved into a custom-built house in northern Virginia, his first move in 16 years! Jeremy's leisure activities include 18th century re-enactment, where he plays the role of a 1771 tenant farmer raising tobacco. His wife is vice president of education at their synagogue, and they have three children: Sarah, Daniel, and Naomi. Jeremy drives a Volvo with a the Virginia license plate NMTECH.

Catherine French-Sidoti (82, BS, mining engr.) has received her Master of Science degree in Quality Assurance from California State University -- Dominguez Hills. Catherine is a ASQ Certified Quality Engineer, working for Johnson Controls, a contractor for Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Ralph Durkee (83, BS, computer science) writes "I've been an independent consultant in the Rochester, N.Y., area since 1996 providing, network security, training and software development consulting services. I mentored a SANS GIAC security seminar in September 2002.

"My wife and I have two children. Our son Daniel, born while we were at New Mexico Tech in 1981, is now 20 and in the Marines. Wow, hard to believe it's been that long! Our daughter is 18 and recently signed up for the Air Force. Sure had a lot of great memories from the 'Mustard Seed Coffee House' days at NMT. I'm still active in my local church. Thanking God for the days I have."

Kathy (Sturey) Fontaine (84, BS, physics) writes, "I just graduated from The George Washington University's Elliott School for International Affairs with an MA. My program was in the Center for Science, Technology, and Public Policy's Space Policy Institute, headed by Dr. John Logsdon. My concentration was Space Policy, with a heavy dose of management and public administration. My current assignment at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center's Global Change Data Center is working on a formulation project to design strategies for developing future Earth Science data systems."

Chris Lasley (86, BS, metallurgical engr.) writes, "My wife Kelly, and our three boys Adam, 7, Ben, 3, and Sam, 2, recently moved to Flagstaff, Arizona. I am now working with W.L Gore conducting research on shape memory alloys for medical applications."

Carmen Silva (87, BS, technical communication) writes, "I recently completed a master of science degree in Space Systems Operations Management, School of Business and Technology, Webster University, Colorado Springs Metropolitan Campus, Colorado. For the past five years as a system engineer, I have been supporting North American Aerospace Defense Command, United States Space Command and Air Force Space Command in air, space and missile major weapon system training planning.

"I am a single parent of one incredible 12-year old daughter, Jillian, and we enjoy many activities that Colorado has to offer such as skiing, hiking, biking, swimming, dancing (jazz and modern) and traveling around the state and New Mexico when we often visit family and friends in Albuquerque, Grants, Santa Fe, Los Alamos and Taos. We also enjoy traveling to other parts of the country and recently acquired our passports to travel overseas.

Kumie Wise (87, BS, math) and her husband David Summers (88, BS, physics) welcomed Verity Mika Summers on May 11, 2002. She was 7 lbs., 5 oz. and 19 and 3/8 inches. She's a raven-haired and steel-gray eyed version of her big sister, Myranda, age 6. The family lives in Las Cruces, where Kumie is an independent, contract book keeper with a number of clients in Las Cruces. Dave is a self-employed consultant whose clients include the New Mexico State University Astronomy Department and the El Paso Community College English Department.


Felicia (Gallegos) Aguilar (90, BS, enve. engr.) was named program manager for the Environmental Restoration (ER) Program for Los Alamos Technical Associates (LATA). She was also promoted to section manager for ER and Waste Management Projects at LATA. Her husband Julio Aguilar-Chang (87, BS, geophysics; 90, MS, geophysics) has been an Oracle database administrator for the geophysics group at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) for the past five years. He is also the knowledge-base coordinator for the DOE National Nuclear Security Administration Ground-Based Nuclear Explosion Monitoring Research and Engineering program at LANL.

Tyra Chavez (90, BS, materials engr.) was one of three women working in the aerospace industry who were profiled in New Mexico Woman in Nov. 2001. Chavez is plant fulfillment manager at GE's Aircraft Engines in Albuquerque's South Valley. She heads a team that is in charge of raw materials ordering, planning, delivery, inventory, shipping, and receiving. She also enjoys making presentations for high school and elementary students, serving as a role model for both Hispanic and women engineers.

David Oakes (90, BS, math; 90, BS, biology; 93, MS, math) and Amy Stoklas-Oakes (91, BS, physics; 91, BS, engr.; 92, MS, engr. 92) want to announce their entrance into the "My Three Sons" club with the birth of their third child, Keefe Benjamin Oakes. Keefe gained one of the coveted numeric birthdays for the year by entering the world on 2/22/2002, five weeks early. He joins big brothers Cam Alexander, 4, and Tevel Aaron, 2.5. David is teaching math at Mesa Community College in Mesa Ariz., and Amy is a project manager for the Tech Group a global manufacturing company in Tempe.

Kelly J. Avila (91, BS, psychology; 91, BS, biology) has graduated from Colorado State University with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree.

Dennis Reda (91, BS, math; 94, MS, math) writes, "In 2001, I relocated to Las Vegas, Nev. I'm currently on sabbatical from my job with the Navy, and I'm pursuing a second bachelor's degree at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, in computer science."

Carl F. Benson (94, BS, hydrology) married Anna-Marie Barber on July 4, 1998. Their daughter, Sophia Grace, was born in Fairbanks on Dec. 31, 2001. Carl works for Oasis Environmental in Fairbanks.

Eric Campbell (94, BS, electrical engr.) and his wife Elaine welcomed Eric Aidan Campbell on Aug. 19, 2002. Their other son, Richard Declan, is 3 years old. Eric writes, "My wife is currently doing a fellowship in pediatric cardiology at the University of Indiana Riley Children's Hospital. I have taken a position with Rockwell Automation as a senior engineer in their Global Manufacturing Solutions group. I work as an embedded engineer at Eli Lilly Company here in Indianapolis. I am working on their automated pharmaceutical process and packaging systems."

Roxanne "Gypsy" Baer-Price (96, BS, technical communication) and Shawn Price (96, BGS) are the proud parents of Peter Lee Price, born on June 20, 2002, in Socorro. Shawn was recently added to the faculty of Cottonwood Valley Charter School in Socorro, and Roxanne is working on freelance article/grant writing.

Toby Click (96, BS, physics) has become manager of the Mark Smith Planetarium, at the Museum of Arts and Sciences in Macon, Ga. In addition to the planetarium, the Museum also has an observatory open to the public on clear Friday nights.

Russell A. Higgins (96, BS, biology) married Christine D. Criscuolo on April 27, 2002, in Albuquerque. They are both medical students at the University of New Mexico, and received their M.D. degrees in May 2002. Christine's specialty is family medicine and Russell's is pathology.

Sammy Sallam (96, MS, petroleum engr.) writes, "Shortly after graduation from Tech, I worked for Halliburton Energy Services as a reservoir engineer/geoscientist in Houston, Texas. I was part of a team responsible for engineering 3D models for a revolutionary technique for visualizing the subsurface in three dimensions. We also integrated the different elements to visualize the reservoir and predict future performance. I was more specifically involved in the 3D simulation aspects of the reservoir. My work as part of a team can be found in the November 1998 Oil and Gas Journal for a Halliburton ad issued by the Reservoir Description Group.

"Currently, I am working for Hunt Oil Company in Yemen {YHOC}, based in Dallas, Texas. We are producing from the Marib PSA, and are partners with Exxon."

Ricardo A. Chona (97, BS, petr. engr.) writes that he is a senior reservoir engineer with Saudi Arabian Texaco (SAT), working in the Partitioned Neutral Zone in Kuwait. He is in charge of Ratawi's peripheral waterflood. His wife, Martha, and children Daniela, 11, Nicolas, 10, and Emilio, 1, are all enjoying living in Kuwait.
Ricardo adds, "Always have good memories of Socorro and NM Tech."

Teresa Espindola (97, BS, biology) writes, "I am a co-author on my second publication. It is titled "Cigarette Smoke-induced Airway Hyperresponsiveness Is Not Dependent on Elevated Immunoglobulin and Eosinophilic Inflammation in a Mouse Model of Allergic Airway Disease." It was published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine." Teresa is a researcher technologist with Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute in Albuquerque.

Sofia Galanis Hohnholt (97, BS, environmental engr.) and her husband Gregory announce the birth of their identical twin boys, Thomas John and Stephen Andrew, on May 14, 2002, in Boston, Mass.

Dr. Alison Peck (97, MS, physics; 99, Ph.D., physics) writes, "After 2 years in Germany, I have just started a new postdoctoral fellowship at the Sub-Millimeter Array telescope being built by the Smithsonian Institution on Mauna Kea in Hawaii."

Karl K. Thomas (97, BS, materials engr.) and Angie (Partain) Thomas (97, BS, environmental engr.) moved back to New Mexico in the summer of 2000 after 2 1/2 years in upstate New York. Angie works for Adelante Consulting Inc., supporting the Cerro Grande Rehabilitation Project, mainly in the construction of the new EOC (Emergency Operations Center). Karl has started a new job with P.A. Smith Concepts and Designs, also in Los Alamos. He is currently working on the Isotope Production Facility, which will eventually supply medical isotopes to hospitals. Karl and Angie add, "We have a house in White Rock and two dogs, no kids. The dogs are enough."

Bernadette Hernandez (99, BS, chemistry) was one of 27 outstanding graduate students chosen to attend the 52nd convention of Nobel Laureates in Lindau, Germany, on July 1 - 5, 2002. The U. S. Department of Energy provided sponsorship for outstanding researchers at DOE-funded universities, national laboratories, or other federal facilities to travel to Lindau, where Nobel laureates convene annually to hold open and informal meetings with more than 400 students and young researchers from around the world. Bernadette is a graduate student at Colorado State University and has been a student intern at Sandia National Laboratories.

Erin Page (99, BS, math) and Lt. Robert Paul Rose (00, BS, electrical engr.) were married on June 29, 2002, at Eglin Air Force Base, Ft. Walton Beach, Fla., in a military wedding complete with an honor guard and a saber arch. Robert is stationed at Eglin Air Force Base and is working in the 796th Civil Engineering Squadron. Erin is an Americorps member serving her community as a reading tutor for elementary children.


Sandeep Agnihotri (01, MS, environmental engr.) earned first place in a student poster presentation competition at the 95th Annual Air & Waste Management Association (A&WMA) Conference, in June 2002. A research paper on the same subject, which Agnihotri submitted to a student paper competition sponsored by the Lake Michigan chapter of A&WMA prior to the organization's national conference, also recently garnered him a first-place award. Agnihotri's award-winning poster presentation focused on the destruction of hazardous air. Sandeep is pursuing his doctorate at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he is now working on a novel concept of using carbon nanotechnology for energy and environmental applications.