2015 Convocation Speaker Bios

National Academy of Engineering
American Association of Engineering Societies
2015 Convocation of Professional Engineering Societies


Participant Biographies


C. D. Mote, Jr.(Introductory Remarks) is President of the National Academy of Engineering and is the Regents Professor, on leave from the University of Maryland, College Park.  His science policy work includes serving on the committee that authored the National Academies’ “Rising above the Gathering Storm” report and chairing the committee on Global Science and Technology Strategies and Their Effect on the U.S. National Security that published the report “S&T Strategies of Six Countries” among others. He is internationally recognized for his research on the dynamics of gyroscopic systems and the biomechanics of snow skiing.  He has produced more than 300 publications and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Academy of Mechanics, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Acoustical Society of America, and an Honorary Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.  He is the 2005 recipient of the Founders Award from the National Academy of Engineering and the 2011 recipient of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers ASME Medal in recognition of his comprehensive body of work on the dynamics of moving flexible structures and his leadership in academia.  He served as President of the University of Maryland for 12 years and on the University of California, Berkeley faculty for 31 years where he held an endowed chair in Mechanical Systems, was Chair of Mechanical Engineering, and served as Vice Chancellor.


James L. Melsa (Introductory Remarks), is the Dean Emeritus of the College of Engineering at Iowa State University.  A distinguished scholar, an award-winning educator, and a visionary corporate leader, he served as dean of the Iowa State University College of Engineering from 1995 to 2004.  Previously, he spent 11 years at Tellabs Inc., Lisle, Illinois, a telecommunications equipment manufacturer, including appointments as vice president of strategic planning and advanced technology, vice president of research and development, and vice president of strategic quality and process management.

During his years as an academic, he conducted significant research on control and estimation theory, speech encoding, and digital signal processing; directed 20 masters theses and 16 Ph.D. dissertations; earned recognition as one of the nation's outstanding electrical engineering professors; and authored or co-authored 125 publications and 12 books.

He is a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) and received that group's Third Millennium Medal in 2000.  He has previously served as President of the IEEE Control Systems Society and President of Eta Kappa Nu, the national electrical and computer engineering honorary.  He is a fellow of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) and was the 2007-2008 President of ASEE.  He has an extensive record of service to national and international groups, including the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library Association, the Iowa Business Council, and the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.  He received his B.S. degree in electrical engineering from Iowa State and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Arizona, Tucson.

Alton (Al) D. Romig, Jr is the Executive Officer of the National Academy of Engineering.  Under Congressional charter, the Academy provides advice to the federal government, when requested, on matters of engineering and technology.  As Executive Officer, Dr. Romig is the Chief Operating Officer responsible for the program, financial and membership operations of the Academy, reporting to the President.  Prior to joining the Academy, he served as Vice President and General Manager of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company Advanced Development Programs, better known as the Skunk Works ®. Dr. Romig spent the majority of his career at Sandia National Laboratories, operated by the Lockheed Martin Corporation.  He joined Sandia as a Member of the Technical Staff in 1979 and moved through a succession of R&D management positions leading to appointment as Executive Vice President in 2005.  He served as the Deputy Laboratories Director and Chief Operating Officer until 2010 when he transferred to the Skunk Works.

Dr. Romig graduated summa cum laude from Lehigh University in 1975 with a B.S. in materials science and engineering.  He received his M.S. and Ph.D. in materials science and engineering from Lehigh University in 1977 and 1979, respectively.  Dr. Romig is a Fellow of ASM International, TMS, IEEE, AIAA and AAAS.  Dr. Romig was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2003 and the Council of Foreign Relations in 2008.  He was awarded the ASM Silver Medal for Materials Research in 1988.


Steve E. Koonin was appointed as the founding Director of NYU’s Center for Urban Science and Progress in April 2012.  That consortium of academic, corporate, and government partners will pursue research and education activities to develop and demonstrate informatics technologies for urban problems in the “living laboratory” of New York City.  Prior to his NYU appointment, Dr. Koonin served as the second Under Secretary for Science at the U.S. Department of Energy from May 2009 through November 2011.  In that capacity, he oversaw technical activities across the Department’s science, energy, and security activities and led the Department’s first Quadrennial Technology Review for energy. Before joining the government, Dr. Koonin spent five years as Chief Scientist for BP plc, where he played a central role in establishing the Energy Biosciences Institute.  Dr. Koonin was a professor of theoretical physics at California Institute of Technology (Caltech) from 1975-2006 and was the Institute’s Provost for almost a decade.  He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the JASON advisory group.  Dr. Koonin holds a B.S. in physics from Caltech and a Ph.D. in theoretical physics from MIT (1975) and is an adjunct staff member at the Institute for Defense Analyses.


Marta C. Gonzalez is an Associate Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  She works in the area of urban computing, with a focus on the intersections of people with the built environment and their social networks.  Her ultimate goal is to design urban mobility solutions and to enable the sustainable development of smart cities. Professor González has injected new tools into transportation research and is a leader in the emergent field of urban computing.  She received a licentiate in physics from Universidad Simon Bolivar.  She holds a Magister Scientiarum in physics from the Central University of Venezuela in 2001 and a Ph.D. in physics (Dr. rer. nat) from Stuttgart Univarsität.


Tanzeem Choudhury is an Associate Professor in Computing and Information Sciences at Cornell University.  She directs the People-Aware Computing group, which works on inventing the future of technology-assisted wellbeing.  Tanzeem received her Ph.D. from the Media Laboratory at MIT and her B.S. in electrical engineering from University of Rochester.  Tanzeem was awarded the MIT Technology Review TR35 award, NSF CAREER award and a TED Fellowship.  For more information visit: http://pac.cs.cornell.edu and follow the group's work on twitter @pac_cornell.


Michael Pennock is an Assistant Professor in the School of Systems and Enterprises at the Stevens Institute of Technology and Associate Director of the Center for Complex Systems and Enterprises. Michael’s research interests involve issues associated with the modeling of enterprise systems and systems of systems.  In particular, his work investigates the complications that arise when one attempts to draw inferences from the simultaneous consideration of multiple system models at different levels of abstraction.  Michael has also worked as a senior systems engineer in various lead technical roles for the Northrop Grumman Corporation.  He holds a Ph.D. in industrial engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology and Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in systems engineering from the University of Virginia.


Suveen N. Mathaudhu is an Assistant Professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department and Materials Science and Engineering Program at the University of California, Riverside.  He studies the underpinning mechanisms that will make metallic materials and composites lighter and stronger.  He received his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Texas A&M University in 2006.  There, he studied “top-down” processing methods, such as severe plastic deformation, and “bottom-up” processing methods, such as powder consolidation to produce bulk nanoscrystalline and metastable metals for structural and defense applications.  He subsequently served as an ORISE post-doctoral Fellow and then a Staff Scientist at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory from 2006-2010.  From 2010 - 2014, he was the Program Manager for the Synthesis and Processing of Materials at the U.S. Army Research Office, and also, an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Materials Science and Engineering Department at North Carolina State University.  He is active in several technical societies, including the Minerals, Metals and Materials Society, the Materials Research Society and ASM International.  He is also an expert on the science of superheroes as depicted in comic books and their associated movies, and frequently speaks and consults on this subject.  


Patrick J. Natale is currently the Vice President of Business Strategies for Hatch Mott MacDonald, a full service consulting engineering firm with over 75 offices in the U.S. and Canada.  As of 2014, Hatch Mott MacDonald is ranked #31 in Engineering News-Record’s list of Top 500 Design Firms in the United States.  

From November 2002 through December 2014, Mr. Natale served as the Executive Director of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). Established in 1852, ASCE is the oldest national professional engineering society.  With a membership of over 145,000 and an annual operating budget of over $50 million, the Society is dedicated to advancing the art, science and profession of engineering for the betterment of humanity.  In January of 1999, Mr. Natale was appointed the Executive Director of the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE), a national organization representing licensed engineers from all technical disciplines.  Prior to joining NSPE, he held numerous top-level management positions with the Public Service Electric and Gas Company (PSE&G) of New Jersey.  Mr. Natale serves on the Board of the United Engineering Foundation (UEF); the ASCE Foundation; the Board of Visitors of the Newark College of Engineering of the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT); the Department of Commerce Industry Advisory Committee for Trade; and is a member of the United States Chamber of Commerce Committee of 100.  Mr. Natale is also the Past-President of the Council of Engineering and Scientific Society Executives (CESSE); former member of the Board of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE); and Past-Chair of the Board of Directors of Goodwill in New Jersey.

Mr. Natale is a recipient of AAES’ Kenneth Andrew Roe Award.  He is a Fellow of ASCE, ASAE, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and NSPE.  He is also the recipient of the NJIT Distinguished Alumni Award 2013.

Mr. Natale holds a B.S. in civil engineering from Newark College of Engineering, and a M.S. in engineering management from NJIT.  He has completed the Executive Management Program at Yale University, and is a licensed Professional Engineer in New Jersey.  He is also a Certified Association Executive (CAE).


Jayne B. Morrow serves as the Executive Director of the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.  A primary objective of the NSTC is the establishment of clear national goals for federal science and technology investments spanning virtually all the mission areas of the executive branch, and the preparation of research and development strategies that are coordinated across federal agencies to form investment packages aimed at accomplishing multiple national goals.

Chaired by President Obama, the NSTC coordinates science and technology policy across the federal research and development enterprise.  Its members include the Vice President, the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, cabinet secretaries and Agency heads with significant science and technology responsibilities, and other White House officials.  The NSTC’s work is organized under five committees: Environment, Natural Resources and Sustainability; Homeland and National Security; Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Education; Science; and Technology.  Each committee oversees subcommittees and working groups.

Prior to serving at OSTP, Jayne was an environmental engineer at the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST), where her research program was directed at characterizing microbial systems in complex environments and developing standard methods to: rapidly detect, operationally respond to and assess the extent of microbial pathogen contamination, and decontamination efficacy.  Morrow's 20 years of pioneering research on the properties of microbial systems, characterization of bacteria-surface interactions and the fate and transport of microbial pathogens in environmental matrices, and her commitment to preparing the next generation of young scientists through a summer undergraduate internship program was honored with the 2011 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers.


David T. Hayhurst is the Dean of the College of Science and Technology at the University of Southern Mississippi.  He has more than 35 years in higher education, which includes extensive administrative and engineering credentials.  His career as dean at Southern Miss began in August 2014.  Hayhurst previously served as dean of the College of Engineering at both San Diego State University (2002-2013) and the University of South Alabama (1992-2002).  A Massachusetts native, Hayhurst served as chair of the Department of Chemical Engineering at Cleveland State University (1985-1991). He earned his undergraduate degree in chemical engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute; his master’s degree in chemical engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his doctorate in chemical engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute.  Hayhurst has been a strong advocate for veterans entering STEM program; a program developed at San Diego State University and funded by NSF and industry partners has become a national model.


Zenaida Otero Gephardt, is Immediate Past Chair of the AIChE Societal Impact Operating Council.  She is Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering at Rowan University where she has served as Director and Assistant Dean of Engineering.  Dr. Gephardt is a Fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) and is a Past President and current Board Member of the AIChE-Delaware Valley Section.  She is Immediate Past Vice President for Accreditation of the Latin American and Caribbean Consortium of Engineering Institutions (LACCEI).  Dr. Gephardt teaches fluid mechanics, unit operations and process dynamics and control.  Her major interests are in experimental design, data analysis and multi-phase systems.  Dr. Gephardt holds Ph.D. and M.S. degrees in chemical engineering from the University of Delaware and a B.S. in chemical engineering from Northwestern University.  She is a registered professional engineer in the State of Delaware and conducts workshops and consults in the areas of experimental design and data analysis for the chemical and pharmaceutical industries.


Colonel Nicholas L. Desport, RA, LEED AP BD+C, F.SAME, USAF (Ret.), is the Deputy Executive Director and Director of Programs at the Society of American Military Engineers (SAME).  He joined the SAME HQ staff in December 2012 and is responsible for all professional education that SAME offers at conferences, seminars, webinars, etc and he serves the society and executive director in other areas as needed.  Before joining SAME, he served over 30 years with the U.S. Air Force. Most recently from 2009–2012 he was Command Civil Engineer of Air Force Reserve Command.  He was responsible for installation support of 12 primary and 46 tenant units nationwide, a $350 million annual budget, and organizing, training and equipping a 5,900-person engineering force.  Additional senior assignments include Deputy Director of Installations & Mission Support, HQ Air Mobility Command, Scott AFB, Ill.; Commander, Mission Support Group, 437th Air Mobility Wing, Charleston AFB, S.C.; and Chief, Program Development Branch and Programs and Analysis Branch, HQ U.S. Air Force.  Earlier in his career, he served as Civil Engineer Commander three times and spent three years as a White House Social Aide.  Among his career achievements, he deployed to a classified location immediately after Sept. 11, 2001, leading a team from 51 different locations to provide engineering and base support to build up an expeditionary base supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.  Col. Desport graduated from Kent State University with a Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor of Architecture and Environmental Design. He also holds a Master of Civil Engineering, Construction Engineering Management degree from the University of Maryland.  He is a registered architect in the state of Virginia and a LEED accredited professional.


Jennifer P. Howland is the executive of IBM’s Pathways Program for experienced technical women, a worldwide program to develop and implement bold actions to increase the representation of women in IBM’s technical executive positions by attracting, recruiting, developing and progressing experienced mid-career technical women into these leadership roles.  Her 30 years in IBM as an engineer, manager and executive has spanned engineering, strategy, product and services development, business and process transformation and service delivery.  Through her numerous management and executive level roles in male-dominated environments she has always been passionate about helping women advance in their careers.  

She is a graduate of Clarkson University where she received a bachelor of science in electrical and computer engineering.  She received her master’s degree in manufacturing systems engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.  She is an active leader with DiscoverE and is the campus liaison executive for women in technology at Clarkson.  She is on Clarkson’s new Honor’s Program Advisory Council.  She has two grown daughters. 


Bill Kemtz is the Chief Security Officer at CH2MHILL, a global consulting, design, design-build, operations, and program management firm.  He received his B.A. degree in political science from St. Vincent College.  He has been active in the areas of investigations, security, executive protection, emergency preparedness, and business continuity for over 40 years.  His experience includes consultant for BDA Global; Director of Emergency Preparedness for Fannie Mae; Director of Security and Emergency Preparedness for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation; Deputy Director, Contractor Oversight and Surveillance, Resolution Trust Corporation; Special Agent, Department of Defense Office of the Inspector General; Special Agent, Air Force Office of Special Investigations.