Eng 311A

Choose Your Own Adventure


Winter Quarter 2012, Thursdays 4:15 - 5:05PM, Thornton 110

Tea and cookies served at 4:00 PM.

Dates with an asterisk indicate a light reception following the seminar.

For a list of questions of interest to Stanford students please click here.






Speaker and Topic


January 12 

Sheri Sheppard, Ph.D
Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Stanford University

Essential items for your adventure

Amy Herr, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Bioengineering, UC Berkeley

Professor Amy Herr, Department of Bioengineering, University of California, Berkley


Amy Herr received a BS degree in Engineering & Applied Science from the California Institute of Technology in 1997 and MS (1999) and PhD (2002) degrees from Stanford University in Mechanical Engineering. From 2002-2007, she was a staff member at Sandia National Labs (Livermore).  She is currently an Assistant Professor of Bioengineering at the University of California, Berkeley. She has served as Chair (2009) and Vice-chair (2007) of the Gordon Research Conference (GRC) on the Physics & Chemistry of Microfluidics, as well as served as a technical program committee  She is faculty advisor to the UC Berkeley chapter of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE).  Her awards include: 2011 NSF CAREER award, 2010 NIH New Innovator Award, 2010 Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship in Chemistry, 2010 New Investigator Award in Analytical Chemistry from Eli Lilly & Co., 2009 Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Young Faculty Award, 2009 Hellman Family Faculty Fund Award from UC Berkeley, 2008 Regents’ Junior Faculty Fellowship from the University of California, and 2007 Outstanding Mentor Award from Sandia National Laboratories. Her research interests include bioinstrumentation innovation needed to advance quantitation in life sciences and clinical problems, in particular the study and application of electrokinetic phenomena in multi-stage, heterogeneous bioanalytical microsystems.


January 19

"You can get there from here.  (For some definition of 'there' and 'here'.)"

Misty Davies, Ph.D.

Research Engineer, NASA

 Misty Davies is a Research Computer Engineer at NASA Ames Research Center.  She has a B.S. (2003) in Mechanical Engineering from Northern Arizona University.  Her M.S. (2004) is Aerospace and Astrospace Engineering and her Ph.D. (2008) is in Computational Mechanics; both degrees are from Stanford University.  Her research background is in computational modeling, with work in computational fluid dynamics, bio-inspired controls, and materials modeling for elastomers.  Her current research is in the intersection of modeling for engineering design with validation and verification for  next-generation flight-critical software systems.  She has a special interest in combining heuristic validation techniques with formal verification techniques as a way to achieve both scalability and safety assurance.  She serves on the AIAA Software Technical Committee.  Misty shares the care of two small children (ages: 3 years and 1 year), a dog, and a cat with her husband.


January 26

Lila Ibrahim
Partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

Lila Ibrahim joined Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers as a partner in 2010, working across the firm’s digital and greentech portfolios. She specifically works with John Doerr as both a KPCB partner and chief of staff.


Before joining KPCB, Lila had a diverse 18-year career with Intel Corp. Most recently, she led the startup business of Intel’s Emerging Markets Product Group. Based in China, she was responsible for the ethnographic research, definition, engineering development and marketing of technology solutions, including the Intel Learning Series solution for global education. Under Lila’s leadership, more than 50 countries deployed this solution, creating hundreds of local jobs and improving the lives and potential of millions of students. Lila joined Intel in 1990 as a design engineer for the Pentium® processor. During her tenure, she held a variety of technical, marketing and management positions, including assignments in Japan to enable DVD standards for the PC industry and in the Asia Pacific region to pioneer the global expansion of Intel’s premier developer program. Lila also served as chief of staff to Intel Chairman Craig Barrett, a position in which she facilitated the technical, program and public aspects of his role with Intel and the United Nations. During this time, Lila led the Digital Village Initiative to deliver technology projects that advanced entrepreneurship, health, education and e-governance from the Amazon to Africa.


Based on her business and community service leadership, Lila was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. She is also a Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute. Lila has received national recognition from the Anita Borg Institute (Women of Vision, 2010); VARBusiness (Top 50 Most Powerful Women in the Channel, 2008); and Purdue University (Outstanding Electrical and Computer Engineer, 2010). She was also featured on the cover of ForbesWoman for her role promoting women in technology (2009). Lila also sits on the Global Council of the Thunderbird School of Global Management. Over the past decade, Lila has established and sustained three computer labs at the orphanage in Lebanon where her father was raised. Lila earned her bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Purdue University, where she continues to guest lecture.


Link: http://www.kpcb.com/partner/lila-ibrahim


February 2

"Two Perspectives on Sharing Your Adventure"

Bianca and Gordon Keeler, Ph.D.
Sandia National Laboratories

Bianca and Gordon are staff members at Sandia National Laboratories, each with a Ph.D. in Applied Physics from Stanford University - where they met during graduate school. They now live in the foothills of Albuquerque, New Mexico, together with their two kids (ages 2 and 5) and an energetic dog.

Bianca Keeler received a B.S. in Physics and Astronomy from the University of Iowa in 1996 and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Applied Physics from Stanford University in 1998 and 2003, respectively. Her graduate research focused on optical interconnect systems and photonic devices. Bianca is presently a Principal Member of Technical Staff at Sandia National Laboratories. For the first two years at Sandia she researched optical MEMS devices, and in 2005 she joined the Remote Sensing group as an optical engineer. Her current work involves the development and realization of satellite optical payloads.

Gordon Keeler received the 
H.B.Sc. degree in Physics from Lakehead University in 1996, and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Applied Physics from Stanford University in 1998 and 2003, respectively. Gordon is a Principal Member of Technical Staff in the RF/Optoelectronics department of Sandia National Laboratories. His current research interests include optoelectronic device physics and engineering, as well as applications that are enabled by microsystem integration such as photonic communications, optical processing, and sensors. Gordon is the vice-chair of the Albuquerque IEEE Photonics Society.


February 9

“Making your own luck”

Allison Okamura, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Stanford

 Professor Allison Okamura, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Stanford University


Allison Okamura recently joined the department of Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University as an Associate Professor. She received a BS from UC Berkeley in 1994, and a PhD from Stanford in 2000. She was previously Professor and Vice Chair of Mechanical Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. Allison is an associate editor of the IEEE Transactions on Haptics, an editor of the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society Conference Editorial Board, and former co-chair of the Haptics Symposium. Her awards include the 2009 Technical Committee on Haptics Early Career Award, the 2005 IEEE Robotics and Automation Society Early Academic Career Award, and the 2004 NSF CAREER Award. She is an IEEE Fellow. Her academic interests include haptics, teleoperation, virtual environments and simulators, medical robotics, neuromechanics and rehabilitation, prosthetics, and engineering education. Allison enjoys spending time with her husband and two children, running, and playing ice hockey.






February 16

“The Winding Road”

Kristyn Rylander
Computer Science Chair, The Girls’ Middle School

Kristyn attended University of Texas at Austin, receiving a B.S. in mechanical engineering. She then attended Stanford University to receive her M.S. in mechanical engineering and began a PhD in mechanical engineering researching in engineering education.

While at Stanford, Kristyn volunteered in the engineering elective at GMS. She fell in love with the school and realized teaching at a middle school that engages girls in science, technology, and engineering is what she wanted to do.

Kristyn joined the staff of GMS in 2008. She teaches eighth grade Computer Science and is the Computer Science Department Chair.


February 23

"Women and Technology Leadership"

Telle Whitney, Ph.D.
President and CEO, Anita Borg Institute

Telle Whitney has served as President and CEO of ABI since 2002. Whitney has 20 years of experience in the semiconductor and telecommunications industries. She has held senior technical management positions with Malleable Technologies (now PMC-Sierra) and Actel Corporation, and is a co-founder of the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Conference.

Dr. Whitney served as the ACM Secretary/Treasurer in 2003-2004, and is currently co-chair of the ACM Distinguished member committee. She was a member of the National Science Foundation CEOSE and CISE advisory committees, and is a co-founder of the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT). She serves on the advisory boards of Caltech’s Information Science and Technology (IST), California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (CalIT2), and Illuminate Ventures.  

Telle has received numerous awards including the ACM Distinguished Service Award, the Marie Pistilli Women in EDA Achievement Award, the Women’s Venture Fund Highest Leaf Award, and the San Jose Business Journal Top100 Women of Influence.  

Dr. Whitney received her Ph.D. from Caltech, and her bachelor’s degree at the University of Utah both in Computer Science.  

Telle is a runner, and lives in the Santa Cruz mountains.  She makes jewelry in her not so spare time.  


March 1

Pamela Eibeck, Ph.D.
President of University of the Pacific

Pamela Eibeck became the 24th President of University of the Pacific on July 1, 2009. Under her leadership, Pacific is enhancing its academic enterprise, strengthening connections between its three cities, and serving its communities through partnerships at the local, national and global levels.


Eibeck's presidency follows a distinguished career as a researcher, teacher, educational reformer, and university administrator. She received her bachelor's through doctoral degrees in mechanical engineering from Stanford University. She taught at the University of California at Berkeley and at Northern Arizona University, where she later served as director of the honors program and vice provost for undergraduate studies. Prior to coming to Pacific, Eibeck served as dean of the Edward E. Whitacre Jr. College of Engineering at Texas Tech, one of the nation's largest engineering colleges.


March 8

“Left Turns Made Right “

Audrey Ellerbee, Ph.D.
Assitant Professor of Electrical Engineering, Stanford

Audrey Ellerbee holds a BSE in Electrical Engineering from Princeton University and a PhD in Biomedical Engineering from Duke University; she completed her postdoctoral training at Harvard University after a short stint in Washington, DC. Dr. Ellerbee is the recipient of numerous honors and fellowships, including the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, National Society of Black Engineers Graduate Student of the Year Award, the Arthur H. Guenther Congressional Fellowship and the Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship. Audrey officially joined Stanford University and the Ginzton Laboratory in September 2010, and is a member of the Optical Society of America and the SPIE. Her current research interests are in microscopy, optical coherence tomography, optofluidics, and the use of optics more generally, for low-cost diagnostics.


March 15

Carolyn Pura
Arms Control Advisor to the Department of Energy

Carolyn completed a BS and MS in Mechanical Engineering at University of California, Davis. While completing her fluids and heat transfer masters thesis, she began a career at Sandia National Laboratories.  At Sandia, she led a weapons test program, helped stand up the Department of Homeland Security’s nuclear countermeasures program and worked in Washington, D.C., supporting arms control and nonproliferation negotiations and treaty development. 

Since retiring in 2006, she has continued consulting for DOE’s Office of Nuclear Verification. She was sought out by the DOE to help negotiate the New START treaty and is now focusing on implementing the treaty as well as developing techniques to measure radiation on weapons stockpiles without divulging classified information for possible use in future monitoring regimes. 

Since retiring, Carolyn has also applied her engineering, management, writing, and diplomacy skills to new arenas. Carolyn completed a M.A. in Faith and Culture at Trinity International University. She also helped found Little Flock Children’s Homes, a nonprofit organization that opened an orphanage in Chennai, India, in 2006. She serves on the Board of Directors for The Center for Bioethics and Culture.



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