Team

S. Shankar Sastry
Faculty Director

S. Shankar Sastry is Faculty Director of the Blum Center for Developing Economies, the Thomas Siebel Professor of Computer Science, and Co-Director of the C3.ai Digital Transformation Institute. He is also the Faculty Director of the FHL Vive Center for Enhanced Reality. He has faculty appointments in UC Berkeley’s Departments of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences, Bioengineering, and Mechanical Engineering. From 2007 to 2018, he was the Dean and Roy W. Carlson Professor of the College of Engineering. From 2004 to 2007, he was Director of CITRIS (Center for Information Technology in the Interests of Society), an interdisciplinary center spanning UC Berkeley, Davis, Merced, and Santa Cruz. From 2001 to 2o04, he served as Chair of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences. From 1999 to 2001, he was Director of the Information Technology Office at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). His areas of research are AI and machine learning, resilient cyber physical systems, mechanism design and incentive theory for the digital transformation system of complex societal systems networks, cybersecurity, autonomous robotic vehicles and robots, computer vision, nonlinear and adaptive control, and control of hybrid and embedded systems. From 2006 to 2017,  he led the 10-year NSF Science and Technology Center (with multi-university partners) TRUST (Team for Research in Ubiquitous Secure Technologies), and its successor center, FORCES (Foundations of Resilient Cyber Physical Systems).

(510) 642-5771 | sastry@coe.berkele

Alice M. Agogino
Associate Director of Education

Alice M. Agogino is Associate Director for Education of the Blum Center, Chair of the Graduate Group in Development Engineering, and the Roscoe and Elizabeth Hughes Professor of Mechanical Engineering. She is an Affiliated Faculty member of  the Haas School of Business, the Energy Resources Group, Women and Gender Studies, and Studies in Science, Engineering and Mathematics Education (SESAME). She has served in a number of administrative positions, including Chair of the UC Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate, Associate Dean of Engineering, and Director of the Instructional Technology Program. She also served as Director for the Synthesis Engineering Education Coalition and continues as PI for theDesignExchange educational portal. She is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and has served on a number of committees of the National Academies, including the Committee on Women in Science, Engineering and Medicine. With over 280 peer-reviewed publications, Agogino has supervised 157 MS projects/theses, 50 doctoral dissertations, and numerous undergraduate researchers. She has won numerous teaching, best paper, and research awards, including 2017 ASME Design Theory and Methodology Award, 2015 ASME Ruth and Joel Spira Outstanding Design Educator Award, 2013 AAAS Lifetime Mentoring Award, 2011 Pi Tau Sigma Professor of the Year, 2010 Chancellor’s Community Service Award, and the 2007 Faculty Award for Excellence in Graduate Student Mentoring.

(510) 642-6450 | agogino@berkeley.edu

Daniel Fletcher
Associate Director of Research

Daniel Fletcher is Associate Director for Research of the Blum Center,  Faculty Director of the Big Ideas Contest, Purnendu Chatterjee Chair in Engineering Biological Systems, and a Faculty Scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Between 2015 and 2019, he served as Chair of the Bioengineering Department. His research focuses on the biophysics of cell movements and the cytoskeleton and development of biomedical devices, specifically for developing regions. He received a DPhil from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar, and a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University. His research has received an NSF CAREER Award, a National Inventors Hall of Fame Collegiate Award, and was designated “Best of What’s New” by Popular Science magazine. In 2010, he won the Bioengineering Teaching Award for Outstanding Instructor in the Bioengineering Honor Society. He is currently serving as Chan Zuckerberg Biohub Investigator. 

Brad DeLong
Chief Economist

Bradford DeLong is Chief Economist of the Blum Center, a Professor of Economics at UC Berkeley, and as a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research. He served in the U.S. government as a Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy from 1993 to 1995. Before joining the Treasury Department, he was Danziger Associate Professor in the Department of Economics at Harvard University. He is a prolific writer of academic papers, books, and blogs on economic history, macroeconomics, economic growth, and finance. He earned his PhD in Economics from Harvard University.

Matthew D. Potts
Associate Director for Sustainable Development

Matthew D. Potts is Associate Director for Sustainable Development of the Blum Center, Vice Chair of the Graduate Group in Development Engineering, an Associate Professor in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, and S.J Hall Chair in Forest Economics. He has a broad, interdisciplinary background with formal training in mathematics, ecology, and economics, and more than two decades of experience in resources management issues in low- and middle-income countries. His interdisciplinary lab focuses on the co-production by human and natural systems of ecosystem services and natural pathways for carbon sequestration. In 2013, he was awarded the UC Berkeley College of Natural Resources’ Young Faculty/Cooperative Specialist Award, and most recently served as a coordinating lead author on the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Land Degradation and Restoration Assessment.

Maryanne McCormick
Executive Director

Maryanne McCormick is the Executive Director of the Blum Center and the Executive Director of the Big Ideas student innovation competition. In that capacity, she is responsible for the strategic vision and overall operation of these multidisciplinary, multi-campus research and education efforts. In addition, she is Special Advisor at the Development Impact Lab, a global consortium of research institutes, non-governmental organizations, and industry partners, headquartered at UC Berkeley, committed to advancing international development through science and technology innovations. She holds an academic appointment at Berkeley Law School. Prior to joining UC Berkeley, she spent a decade in Washington, DC, serving on the staff of Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, as advisor at the Federal Communications Commission, and as public policy manager for Corning Incorporated. McCormick has a JD from Catholic University, graduating first in the class, an MBA from George Washington University, and a BA from the College of the Holy Cross. She is a member of the California Bar.

(510) 847-6851 | mmccormick@berkeley.edu

Gladys Khoury
Director of Finance

Gladys Khoury directs all financial aspects of the Blum Center including accounting practices, budgeting, financial planning, financial analysis, and monitoring of financial performance. From 2006 through 2009, Khoury was a Senior Research Administrator and Program Manager for the TRUST Center in UC Berkeley’s College of Engineering. From 2001 through 2006, she was Senior Contracts and Grants Officer, at UC Berkeley’s Controller’s Office, and from 1989 through 2001 she was Controller and Office Manager for California Engineering in San Francisco. Gladys holds an MBA in Finance, with a BA in Accounting and Finance from the University of California, Berkeley. She is also an active member with the California Association of Realtors as a Real Estate Broker licensed by the state of California.

(510) 664-4880 | gkhoury@berkeley.edu

Chetan Chowdhry
Director of Student Programs

Chetan Chowdhry manages and serves as the Lead Academic Advisor for the Global Poverty & Practice Minor. Prior to joining the Blum Center team, Chetan served as a Graduate Coordinator with the University of Maryland Multicultural Involvement and Community Advocacy Office. He holds a Master’s degree in Counseling and Personnel Services from the University of Maryland, College Park, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and Environmental Analysis & Design from UC Irvine.

(510) 664-4423 | cchowdhry@berkeley.edu

Phillip Denny
Phillip Denny
Director, Big Ideas Contest

Phillip Denny serves as the Senior Program Director of the Blum Center for Developing Economies, a position he assumed shortly after the Center was established in March 2006. He manages the Big Ideas Contest–one of the oldest and most respected student innovation competitions in California. In this capacity, he has encouraged and supported approximately 2,500 interdisciplinary teams to develop creative solutions to today’s most pressing social challenges. Under Phillip’s direction, the Big Ideas Contest has helped secure millions of dollars in seed funding for student start-ups, expanded the contest to 18 campuses, and recruited over 1,500 industry, government and non-profit experts to judge ideas and mentor participants. He has also been integral in developing key partnerships across academia, private sector organizations, and entrepreneurship networks to strengthen social innovation initiatives on campus. As recognition for his leadership of Big Ideas, he received UC Berkeley’s Chancellor’s Outstanding Staff Award in 2015. Prior to joining the Center, Denny held leadership roles in multiple successful grass-roots and political campaigns, specializing in research and communications strategies for both candidates and organizations.

(510) 666-9120 | pdenny@berkeley.edu

Rachel Dzombak
Innovation Fellow

Dr. Rachel Dzombak is an Innovation Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. She researches methods for interdisciplinary collaboration in higher education and teaches classes and workshops on how to use design and systems thinking to address critical societal issues. Rachel holds a PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. Her dissertation work in conjunction with the Laboratory for Manufacturing and Sustainability focused on the roles of product design, remanufacturing, and reverse logistics in enabling sustainable supply chain decisions. Rachel also holds a BS from Penn State University in Bioengineering. While at Penn State, Rachel co-founded a company in Nyeri, Kenya that introduced preventative health services in rural communities. She also led the editing team for a book Solving Problems that Matter (and Getting Paid for It!) that helps students navigate impact-driven career paths.

dzombak@berkeley.edu

Yael Perez
Research Fellow
Yael Perez is a Research Fellow at the Blum Center and the InFEWS Program Coordinator. She holds a PhD in Architecture from the UC Berkeley. Her scholarship focuses on co-design methodologies and technologies to support and empower communities and design practitioners in fostering sustainable development. Currently, she leads the Blum Review on Development Impact, a repository of Development Engineering case studies. For over a decade, she has been collaboratively leading CARES—Community Assessment of Renewable Energy and Sustainability—a team of UC Berkeley faculty and students working with Native American Citizens in their pursuit of sustainable development. Before joining the Blum Center, she was a visiting scholar at IIT Mandi (India). pyael@berkeley.edu
Syreen Ponferrada
Program Support Manager

Syreen Ponferrada is a Program Support Manager for the Blum Center, the Big Ideas Contest, and the AMENA Center. She graduated from UC Berkeley in 2017 with a BS in Nutritional Sciences: Physiology and Metabolism. Previously, she worked as a Financial Analyst Assistant at the Institute for Business Innovation at the Haas School of Business and, following graduation, as the Institute’s Program Coordinator. At Cal, she was an active member of multiple Pilipinx-American organizations, helping to spread awareness of Filipino culture, and supported first-generation immigrant students like herself. Growing up in the Philippines and having attended college in the United States, she is a student of the differences between underdeveloped and developed countries and hopes to give back to her Philippine community through economic development. 

Students

Each semester, the Blum Center is fortunate to work with many talented students at UC Berkeley. Since the Center began in 2006, we’ve supported over 320 graduate students and 120 undergraduate students — who’ve worked with us as researchers, instructors, designers, writers, peer advisors, and office assistants. We are grateful to all the students who have chosen to work with us in Blum Hall.

Graduate Students

Victor Korir
Graduate Student, Web Developer/Designer

Born and raised in Kenya, Victor has grown to develop a strong sense of community. While his background has trained him to interact with people from different backgrounds, he has also developed a sense of independence and learned to hold strong opinions about his beliefs and passions. He enjoys using software to make positive impact and develop new products. For this reason, ever since he wrote his first line of code in his freshman year at Cal, he’s developed a strong passion for programming and software development that pushes him to expand his knowledge in these fields. He is a champion of software development, from front to back-end, database and API design, performance and optimization, AI and machine learning. Victor is also a passionate chess player who would prefer to spend long hours on Chess.com than watching movies.You could also find him running or bowling on the weekends.

Undergraduate Students

Emily Bui
Emily Bui
Web Content & Design Manager

Emily Bui is a junior pursuing a major in Cognitive Science and a Certificate in Design Innovation. She’s passionate about leveraging psychology and design to create more meaningful experiences for others. She’s experienced in delivering end-to-end UI/UX designs and is currently a Product Designer for Blockchain at Berkeley. If she isn’t designing, you can probably find her trying out new restaurants or dancing in the Berkeley Dance Community.

Diana Fan Headshot
Diana Fan
Design Associate, Big Ideas

Diana is a senior majoring in Cognitive Science, minoring in Computer Science and pursuing a Certificate in Design Innovation at UC Berkeley. As a designer and illustrator based in the Bay Area, she is passionate about design education and working on multidisciplinary solutions for socio-economic innovation. In her time at Berkeley, she’s enjoyed teaching student-run classes, including an Introduction to Illustrator and Photoshop Decal as well as the Web Design Decal. Outside of academics and extracurriculars, Diana enjoys taking care of her plants, cooking Korean food, drawing in her notebook, picnicking, and laying in patches of grass.

Spencer Hamilton
Web Designer, Big Ideas

Spencer joined the Blum Center to help redesign the Big Ideas website. Initially from Southern California, Spencer came to UC Berkeley to study Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences. He has a passion for the collaborative process involved in working on projects and believes technology is best used as a tool of empowerment. His interests beyond his major include reading, swimming, and rock climbing.

Rio Hayakawa
Rio Hayakawa
Design Associate

Rio is a junior studying Computer Science and Design Innovation at UC Berkeley. Growing up in the middle of nature within the Santa Monica Mountains, he hopes to help create a positive impact on the environment and sustain its beauty through technology and design. Outside of classes, Rio enjoys playing tennis and drawing with his trusty Pentel Fude Brush Pen.

Jason Liu
Research Associate

Jason is a sophomore majoring in Political Science and Economics at UC Berkeley and currently assists Dr. Yael Perez with developing case studies surrounding development engineering projects in rural India. He sees his time at the Blum Center as the perfect opportunity to learn more about how policies surrounding developmental aid need to be situated within the local socio-economic landscape. He hopes to use this knowledge in the future to direct policy around issues such as climate refugees, international governance, and economic development. Beyond the Blum Center, Jason is very active within the Model UN, tennis, and study abroad community.


Judah Marsden
Judah Marsden
Videographer
Judah Marsden is a junior at UC Berkeley in the College of Letters and Sciences. He grew up in Madrid, Spain and later Silicon Valley, where he completed an extensive array of video work with entities such as NASA TV UHD. Judah is interested in studying how artistic visual representation can be applied to the sciences to improve education and action about climate change.
 
Sahil Mehta
Program Coordinator

Sahil is a sophomore majoring in EECS and Business Administration at UC Berkeley. As a previous Big Ideas winner, he joined the Blum Center to contribute to outreach and advising for the Big Ideas Contest. Sahil is passionate about social entrepreneurship and product management, and is currently co-president of Entrepreneurs@Berkeley. In his free time, Sahil enjoys playing badminton and hiking.

Ally Mintzer
Administrative Associate

Ally is a current freshman and hopes to study economics & political science. She is passionate about economic and social equality, and hopes to pursue a career that addresses these disciplines. She previously interned for a judge, and would love to join various law and economic groups here on campus. In her free time, Ally loves to play beach volleyball, listen to economic & political podcasts, and go thrift shopping with friends.

Nathan Muldrow
Web Developer

Nathan is a senior completing a custom major in UC Berkeley’s Interdisciplinary Studies Field, focusing broadly on technology’s role in personalized healthcare. He grew up with nine siblings in Houston, Texas, and made the move to the Bay Area after acceptance to Cal. Outside of school he enjoys watching music production tutorials on YouTube, and finding cheap international flights.

Sara Siddiqui
Web Design & Content Manager, DevEng

Sara is a second-year studying Applied Mathematics and Computer Science. She is passionate about web development and has garnered technical experience through her involvement in several student organizations here at UC Berkeley. Currently, she assists Dr. Yael Perez in developing the InFEWS website and is excited to learn more about the phenomenal programs hosted by the Blum Center.  

© 2020 Blum Center for Developing Economies

Design by Joseph Kim