People You Know, Sept. to Dec. 2009

Sept. 2009 to present

Stavros S. Papadopulos (62, MS, hydrology) was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in February 2009. He writes, “ On October 4 and 5, 2009 my wife Annie and I attended the annual meeting of the NAE and participated in the induction of new members to the Academy. At a black-tie dinner, we had the good fortune to sit with Carole Brierley, the Chair of the Earth Resources Engineering Section of the NAE, and her husband Jim, also a member the Earth Resources Section. You can’t imagine our surprise and great pleasure when we discovered that we all had memories to share from our days at Tech and Socorro. My wife memorialized the occasion by taking the attached picture of Carole and Jim with me.

Dr. Laurel Wilkening, daughter of the late Prof. Marvin Wilkening and his wife Ruby, recently received the U. C. Irvine Medal, the university’s highest award. Laurel Wilkening was third chancellor of UCI, serving from 1993 to 1998. A renowned planetary scientist and expert on comets and meteorites, she served on several NASA committees and boards during the 1990s.

During her five-year tenure, the campus received its first two Nobel Prizes, contributed more than $1 billion per year to the local economy, completed 250,000 square feet of construction, and increased private, state and federal funding. Thanks to her leadership, UCI was invited to join the prestigious Association of American Universities. Wilkening was instrumental in the creation of University Research Park – now a national model for collaboration between the private sector and university researchers.

In addition, the Center for Educational Partnerships was established during her tenure to enhance campus outreach to K-12 schools and community colleges. Since retiring in 1998, Wilkening has remained active as a board member for the Planetary Society, the University of Arizona’s Commission on the Status of Women and various environmental groups.

Dr. Bruce Blevins (1972, B.S., math; 1975, M.S., physics) writes, “I retired from PSL at NMSU, and I am now happily building spacecraft antennas at my own company, AntDevCo, in Las Cruces. Lots of flight units in orbit on such satellites as Genesis, Stardust, HETE, Hessi, Themis, ST-5, and many others.”

James M. Kentopp (73, BS, geology) writes, “I have lived in Altus, Okla., for the past ten years, working for American Gypsum. I’m responsible for mine engineering and geology, permitting, and environmental compliance.”

David C. Hobbs (76, BS, petroleum engr.) writes “After working international assignments in Oman and Venezuela since 1995, I have moved back to the U.S. In 2005, I joined Noble Energy in Denver, Colo., as drilling manager for the midcontinent and Rockies.” He and his wife, Jill, reside in Littleton, Colo.

Dr. Michael Zolensky (77, BS, geology) was the subject of an interview in Smithsonian magazine, Dec. 2009, on NASA’s Stardust Project, which captured and returned cometary material to Earth.  One surprising discovery was that the interior of the comet contained particles which formed under extremely high temperatures, close to the sun. Since comets are thought to form far from the sun, this result was unexpected. Diane M. Visser (81, BS, petroleum engr.) is operations manager for the Rocky Mt. Division of Samson Resources Co. She lives in Jenks, Okla., and works in Tulsa and Denver.

Phyllis Reiche (84, BA, history; 87, BS, technical communication) writes that she and her husband John retired to the beautiful Gila country and found themselves 35 miles from a library. “So we became involved in starting our own. I’m now director, and Gila Valley Library is one of the more popular places in town, with more than a thousand items being checked out per month. That, of course, means we’re desperate for more space. We’re hoping to obtain a couple of acres of land from Freeport McMoRan on which to build this much needed facility.”

Ronald Finkbine (94, Ph.D., computer science) is now an associate professor of computer science at Indiana University Southeast.

Valerie Kimble (01, BS, technical communication) is expecting her first grandchild in late April or early May. She would like to hear from the “Schoolies” she hung out with in the early Seventies. vkimble@gmail.com.

Crystal Krabbenhoft Romney (03 BS Psychology) married Jason Romney September 18, 2009 in Albuquerque, NM. Crystal is a certified prevention specialist currently working for UNM Prevention Research Center. She is also pursuing her Master's degree in Community Health Education.

David Ladner (03, BS, Environmental Engineering) finished his Ph.D. at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in August 2009. He’s now a post-doctoral research associate in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment at Arizona State University. More information at http://davidladner.org

Richard Smrt (03, BS, psychology) married Shianne Wimberly on Sept. 13, 2009, in Las Vegas, Nev. Richard is a Ph.D. student in bio-medical research studies, specializing in neurology, at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine. Shianne, a graduate of UNM, is a pre-school teacher at U.N.M. Children's Academy in Albuquerque.

Eric Plum (06, BS, physics) a third year Ph.D. student from the Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC), University of Southampton, received the Marconi Society Young Scholar Award on October 9, 2009, at the annual Marconi Awards dinner in Bologna, Italy.

Plum, a member of the nanophotonics and metamaterials research group at the ORC, has worked on a variety of projects and published a number of papers including “Metamaterial with Negative Index due to Chirality” which was highlighted in the Editor’s suggestions of the journal Physical Review B.

Plum grew up in Bad Münstereifel, Germany, studied Physics at RWTH Aachen, Germany and spent his third year as a visiting student at the University of Southampton in the School of Physics and Astronomy. He spent his fourth year as a Fulbright scholar at New Mexico Tech, USA, where he received highest honours for his B.Sc. in Physics with Astrophysics and was awarded the Albert Petschek Award for excellence in theoretical physics. He joined the ORC in 2006.

Plum is married to Dr. Nadia Fisher-Plum, and is the son of Walther Plum and Helga Trump-Plum, both secondary school language teachers in Germany.

Keenan Dotson (07, BS, materials engr.) is attending the University of Maryland in an M.S. program for fire protection engineering.