S. Shankar Sastry
Faculty Director

S. Shankar Sastry is the NEC Distinguished Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences. He also holds faculty appointments in the Departments of Bioengineering and Mechanical Engineering. He was formerly the Director of CITRIS (Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society) and the Banatao Institute @ CITRIS Berkeley. In 2000, he served as Director of the Information Technology Office at DARPA. From 1996-1999, he was the Director of the Electronics Research Laboratory at Berkeley, an organized research unit on the Berkeley campus conducting research in computer sciences and all aspects of electrical engineering. Prior to joining the EECS faculty in 1983 he was a professor at MIT.

(510) 642-5771 |

Alice M. Agogino
Education Director

Alice M. Agogino is the Roscoe and Elizabeth Hughes Professor of Mechanical Engineering and serves as the Chair of the Graduate Group in Development Engineering and Education Director of the Blum Center for Developing Regions.  Agogino has served in a number of other 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 (NAE) 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 “, AAAS Lifetime Mentoring Award, 2013; Pi Tau Sigma Professor of the Year, 2011; Chancellor’s Community Service Award, 2010; Faculty Award for Excellence in Graduate Student Mentoring, 2007.

(510) 642-6450 |

Maryanne McCormick
Executive Director

Maryanne McCormick is the Executive Director of the Blum Center and the Executive Director of the Big Ideas@Berkeley initiative. 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 |

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 |

Sophi Martin
Innovation Director

Dr. Sophi Martin is the Innovation Director at UC Berkeley’s Blum Center for Developing Economies, where she mentors and teaches students, faculty, social startups, and entrepreneurs the skills needed to grow their impact. An expert in technology scaling strategies, Dr. Martin designs and leads innovation bootcamps with academic institutions, mission-oriented enterprises, and government agencies. She is the staff lead for UC Berkeley’s new Development Engineering program, an interdisciplinary research-based training program that transforms development projects with new technologies and approaches. She has a PhD & MS in Materials Science and Engineering as well as a BS in Engineering Physics, both from UC Berkeley.

Tamara Straus
Communications Director

Tamara Straus is Communications Director at the Blum Center. She has over a decade of experience covering development and innovation, having previously served as senior editor of the Stanford Social Innovation Review and a consultant for The Bridgespan Group, D-Rev, and other nonprofits. Tamara’s first career was in newspaper and literary editing at the San Francisco Chronicle, Zoetrope: All-Story, and Farrar, Straus & Giroux. She has written for Quartz, Mother Jones, the New Republic, The Nation and California Magazine, and holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in international studies and literature from Columbia University.

Claudia Cohan
Director of Project Development

Claudia Cohan directs project development at the Blum Center, serving to build resources for the Global Poverty and Practice Minor, Big Ideas@Berkeley, Development Impact Lab, and Social Impact initiatives. Previously she spent ten years in the Haas School of Business, where she helped strengthen fundraising capacity for the school through a variety of new programs. Her specializations in nonprofit management and fundraising were developed during her many years working in environmental organizations including as executive director of Lindsay Wildlife Museum and development directors of Sustainable Conservation and The Nature Conservancy. She holds a MBA from the Haas School of Business and a degree in plant science from UC Davis.

(510) 642-6267 |

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 |

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 1,400 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 1,000 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 |

Adrienne Chuck
Program Manager, Big Ideas Contest

Adrienne Chuck joined the Blum Center in 2014 and currently serves as the Program Manager for the Big Ideas Contest. She recently received an MPP from UC Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy, where she focused on international development, program evaluation, and agricultural development. Prior to joining the Blum Center, she worked on food security, governance, and US-Africa foreign policy-focused programs at Land O’Lakes International Development, Innovations for Poverty Action, the World Bank, and the Atlantic Council.

Dani Bicknell
Program Manager, Big Ideas Contest

Dani Bicknell joined Big Ideas in 2018, and currently serves as a program manager for the Big Ideas Contest. Overall, she has a decade of work experience in the private, public and nonprofit sectors. She obtained her Masters in International Development and Education from the University of Pennsylvania, where she focused on international development, social entrepreneurship, and gender mainstreaming. Prior to her current capacity at the Blum Center, Dani started her own consultancy, advising startups and organizations locally and internationally; in operations, project management, and informal education. In addition, she was a programme specialist in the Division for Gender Equality, at UNESCO, and prior to that she was a founding member of LendUp, where she created and scaled the financial education and social impact departments. Dani has consulted and collaborated in many different countries but has worked primarily in the U.S., Canada, Latin America and Europe. 

Francis Gonzales
Network Manager, Big Ideas Contest

Francis Gonzales is the Network Manager for the Big Ideas Contest at the Blum Center and is primarily responsible for building the network of judges and mentors. He graduated with Honors from Brown University’s International Development Studies program where he focused on global health. Prior to working at the Blum Center, Francis worked at the intersection of global health, mobile technology, and social impact at the United Nations Foundation, Vital Wave Consulting, and Population Services International.

Rachel Dzombak
Innovation Fellow

Dr. Rachel Dzombak is an Innovation Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies and a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Haas School of Business. 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 titled, ‘Solving Problems that Matter (and Getting Paid for It!)’ that helps students navigate impact-driven career paths.

Chloe Gregori
Innovation Program Coordinator

Chloe serves as the Innovation Program Coordinator where she supports The Blum Center’s  innovation support ecosystem through designing and implementing both new and existing student and faculty facing programs. She also serves as an advisor for the Global Poverty & Practice Minor. Chloe graduated from UC Berkeley in 2016 with a degree in Peace & Conflict Studies and minor in Global Poverty and Practice. During her undergrad, she focused on anti-trafficking advocacy and served as the Minh Dang Fellow for Human Rights at the UC Public Service Center. 

Lisa Bauer
Program Outreach and Development Manager

Lisa Bauer joined the Blum Center in 2018 and serves as Program ManagerShe recently received her MA in International Development Studies from The Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University, where she focused on gender and program management. Lisa has conducted extensive international development work, with field experience in Myanmar, Vietnam, Nepal, India, Nicaragua and Mexico. Prior to joining the Blum Center, Lisa was a consultant at Winrock International for a USAID/Burma project, where she analyzed the efficacy of multiple rural agricultural extension models. Lisa has also conducted extensive research on food security, social inclusion and governance at The Center for Strategic and International Studies and the World Resources Institute.  Additionally, Lisa served in Peace Corps/Nepal as a food security volunteer under the Feed the Future initiative. Following her undergraduate studies at UC Berkeley, she spent 27 months working on rural agricultural development and health in the foothills of the Himalayas.


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 250 graduate students and 90 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

Nicole Rangel
Graduate Student Researcher

Nicole Rangel is an educator and Ph.D. candidate in Social and Cultural Studies of Education at UC Berkeley and is conducting research on project-based learning at the Blum Center. Nicole is an interdisciplinary scholar whose past research brought together theories of decolonization and play in order to generate more holistic approaches to education.  She holds a master’s in sociology from San Diego State University and is currently a David P. Gardner Fellow at UC Berkeley’s Center for Studies of Higher Education. Nicole’s dissertation explores how academic freedom is valued and practiced at two U.S. “public-ivy” schools. Using a comparative case study approach, her work draws on various data sources including in-depth interviews with public intellectuals and critical discourse analysis, and aims to elucidate ways of reinforcing the academy’s connection to, and responsibility for the public that it is tasked to serve.

Undergraduate Students

Joseph Kim
Web Developer/Designer

Joseph joined the Blum Center as a student Web Developer and Designer in May 2017 as a sophomore. Joseph was initially brought onto the team to maintain and regularly update the current Blum Center website, but has since completed a full site overhaul and redesign, and is currently centralizing the Blum Center’s satellite websites. Joseph is an Interdisciplinary Studies Field major with interests in ethical leadership, politics, and communications. Joseph is also currently working as a Teaching Assistant for UGBA 155: Leadership. He loves his church fellowship Passion Livingwater, playing guitar, and the Lord of the Rings: Extended Edition trilogy.

Tina Ye
Web Developer/Designer

Tina is currently a sophomore at UC Berkeley and assists the Blum Center as a Web Developer/Designer. She enjoys coding, designing things, and taking photos. Tina has always been captivated by the strength and capabilities of computer technology and its impact on our society. She is also fascinated with how design, especially web design, can communicate ideas with beauty and efficiency, and she has done web design for various clubs and organizations. Tina is passionate about helping others and has dedicated hundreds of hours to serving her community, including teaching & tutoring her peers and children of different ages, volunteering at community events, visiting convalescent homes, and serving at homeless shelters in downtown San Diego. She also enjoys traveling around the world to learn new things and experience different cultures. In her free time, she likes gathering aesthetic things on Pinterest, tending to her succulent babies, playing piano, and pampering her dog.

Veena Narashiman
Program Assistant

Veena Narashiman is a junior Mechanical Engineering student also minoring in the GPP program. Once discouraged by the lack of humanities classes in her technical curriculum, writing articles for the Blum Center has allowed her to apply her technical knowledge to several development projects, as well as to learn more about the ingenuity of Blum projects. Serving as the current President of the Engineering Student Council, she is extremely passionate about engineering’s scope to better lives, and the inter-disciplinary teams required to do so. In her free time, you can find her watching The Office or enjoying a bowl of gelato.  

Margaux Payton
Program Assistant, Global Poverty and Practice Minor

Margaux serves as a GPP Minor Program Assistant and Advisor. Margaux has been a Peer Advisor for the Global Poverty and Practice Minor for two years, and received an Excellence in Advising Award for her efforts. She graduated from UC Berkeley in 2018 with a degree in Political Economy and minor in Global Poverty and Practice. Traveling to India during summer breaks, she engaged with the non-profit and corporate responsibility sectors in India, with a particular focus on gender empowerment, public health and education. During her time as a student, she engaged in undergraduate research, led an international service club, was active in the Berkeley Student Cooperative community, and led a campaign that resulted in Berkeley achieving the Fair Trade University designation.

Annie Zheng
Design Assistant

Annie Zheng is currently a sophomore studying Civil Engineering. Her passion for architecture and structural design was what inspired her to study this subject. She initially took up graphic design as a hobby and has been trying to broaden her experience. Since then, she has designed for the Berkeley Advertising Agency and has worked on design projects for other organizations and research labs. During her free time she enjoys exploring big cities, doing photography, and drinking coffee in aesthetic cafes.

© 2017 Blum Center for Developing Economies

Design by Joseph Kim