Carnegie Mellon University Presents 2022 CMU Alumni Awards
Thirteen alumni will be honored at the October 28 ceremony
Carnegie Mellon University today proudly announced the honorees for its 2022 Alumni Awards. From deep space discovery to fighting food insecurity, the pioneering group of 13 alumni are breaking boundaries, advancing innovation and making a difference for people around the world. Among the esteemed honorees are entrepreneurs and business leaders; a multi-talented artist of stage and screen; a national education leader; an engineer and a computer scientist revolutionizing NASA frontiers; and university volunteers mentoring Tartans, raising philanthropic support for students and advancing CMU’s cherished tradition of Buggy.
“CMU alumni pursue big, world-changing goals — and they achieve them,” said Brit McCandless Farmer, CMU Alumni Association Board president and a Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences alumna. “Tartans carry a sense of service and a commitment to doing good throughout their lives and careers. The Alumni Awards celebrate that CMU spirit. I am thrilled to honor this accomplished group and to share their stories with the CMU community.”
On October 28, Carnegie Mellon will celebrate the professional achievements and personal contributions of the 2022 honorees during its 72nd annual CMU Alumni Awards ceremony as part of the university’s Homecoming Weekend celebrations.
2022 Founders Medal
Carnegie Mellon will award the Founders Medal for Outstanding Service and Exceptional Achievement to a distinguished alumni couple who have displayed outstanding dedication and service to the university and extraordinary accomplishments in their lives: Claire and John Bertucci.
“Claire and John Bertucci’s lifelong partnership with CMU is an inspiration to all of us,” said Farnam Jahanian, president of Carnegie Mellon. “Claire and John have demonstrated a deep commitment to access and affordability through their support for fellowships and scholarships and their philanthropy has also helped to create a state-of-the-art environment where students, faculty and researchers can advance cutting-edge technological breakthroughs. Our entire community is grateful for their enduring commitment to furthering Carnegie Mellon’s mission to transform society through research and education.”
Claire and John Bertucci have a passion for Carnegie Mellon University and for making the world a better place.
They met as CMU students in the 1960s. Claire graduated with a bachelor's degree in business while John completed a bachelor’s degree in metallurgical engineering and master’s degree in industrial administration. After graduation and career experience in semiconductor manufacturing and management consulting, John joined MKS Instruments, a small process control instrumentation company in 1970. After purchasing MKS in 1974, John guided the growth and international expansion of the company as CEO and chairman. MKS became a public company in 1999 (MKSI). John retired as chairman in 2020 and now serves as chairman emeritus.
That success fueled the couple’s passion for giving back. Unassuming philanthropists, they focus their efforts on areas where they can make the greatest impact, specifically education, health care and the arts. At CMU, they funded the Claire and John Bertucci Nanotechnology Laboratory, which performs more than $10 million a year in cutting-edge research. In the College of Engineering, they established the Claire and John Bertucci Fellowship in Engineering, which has supported 184 fellows since 2008, and the John and Claire Bertucci Distinguished Professorship in Engineering. They also started the Claire Ruge Bertucci and John R. Bertucci Endowed Presidential Scholarship, a four-year scholarship received by three students since 2017.
John is an emeritus trustee on the CMU Board of Trustees and is a long-time member of the College of Engineering’s Dean’s Advisory Council. Outside of Carnegie Mellon, Claire and John support many organizations in their Massachusetts community. John serves on the boards of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and the Lexington Historical Society while Claire is actively involved in the Lexington Historical Society, Lexington Field and Garden Club, Dartmouth Women's Club of Boston and several other organizations. Through their philanthropy, they named the Claire and John Bertucci Center for Genitourinary Cancers at Massachusetts General Hospital and an endowed chair in thyroid surgical oncology at Harvard Medical School and another in otolaryngology — head and neck surgery at Mass Eye and Ear.
2022 Alumni Awards Honorees
In addition to the Bertuccis, 11 alumni will be honored at the 72nd annual Alumni Awards.
Presented to alumni for exceptional accomplishment and leadership in their fields or vocations, the 2022 Alumni Achievement Award honorees are:
- Sebastian Ceria, a 1990 and 1993 graduate of the Tepper School of Business, is an accomplished academic, visionary entrepreneur and a proven business leader in the global fintech space. He is currently CEO of Qontigo, a provider of financial intelligence and software tools that is part of Deutsche Börse Group. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and received the National Science Foundation’s Career Award for Operations Research as well as the RAICES prize from Argentina’s Ministry of Science and Technology.
- Peyman Givi, a 1982 and 1984 graduate of the College of Engineering, is known as a “modern-day rocket scientist.” The Distinguished Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Petroleum Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh, his work is focused on investigating the potential of quantum computing for solving problems in aerospace science and engineering. He received the NASA Public Service Medal, was named ASME Engineer of the Year in Pittsburgh and achieved Fellow status in every prime professional society for his field.
- Leonard L. Haynes, III, a 1969 graduate of the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences, is a leader and advocate for higher education and a nationally recognized expert on historically Black colleges and universities. Over five decades, he has served as professor, acting president of Grambling State University and executive vice president of the Southern University System, and his government service has included many important roles, including being the first African-American appointed by a U.S. president to be assistant secretary of postsecondary education in 1989. He is widely recognized for his dedicated work to ensure an excellent and equitable education for future generations.
- Tamara Tunie, a 1981 graduate of the College of Fine Arts, is an actor, singer, writer, director and producer whose work can be seen everywhere from the small screen to Broadway. A Pittsburgh-native known for her work in films like “The Devil’s Advocate” and “Flight,” series like “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” and “Cowboy BeBop,” and theater productions like “American Son” and “The Tempest,” she also has earned recognition for writing, producing and directing projects like the feature film “See You in September” and musical “JAZZLAND.” She is chair emerita of the Figure Skating in Harlem board and a member of the CMU Board of Trustees.
The Outstanding Recent Alumni Award is given for exemplary professional or vocational success and/or service to the university in their first decade as a graduate. The 2022 honorees are:
- Siddha Ganju, a 2016 graduate of the School of Computer Science, is an AI researcher, deep-learning architect for autonomous vehicle development and validation at Nvidia, and a 2019 Forbes 30 Under 30 honoree. She has developed deep learning models for resource constraint electronic devices at Deep Vision and volunteered to mentor scientists and work on deep-learning tools at NASA’s AI accelerator, leading to groundbreaking advancements in automating the recognition, tracking and discovery of meteor showers. An advocate for diversity and inclusion in technology, she speaks to and mentors students of all ages and regularly appears at industry-level conferences.
- Susheel Khetarpal, a 2017 Mellon College of Science graduate, and Alex Pomerantz, a 2017 graduate of the Mellon College of Science and the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences, founded CMU’s Medical Student Alumni Mentorship Program (MSAMP) while first-year medical school students. Supported by the university's Health Professions Program, MSAMP pairs Carnegie Mellon students pursuing medical or health professions with CMU alumni mentors and a formal application curriculum and other career resources. Now in its fifth year, the program has more than 130 alumni and has been replicated by two other universities. Susheel is a pediatric physician in residency at Columbia University, and Alex is a pediatric physician in residency at the Boston Combined Residency program.
CMU will honor four alumni with Alumni Service Awards, recognizing them for their dedicated and impactful service to the university and its alumni. The 2022 honorees are:
- Bryon Krug, a 1998 graduate of the College of Engineering, is president and co-founder of CEG Solutions, and emerging leader in the energy services industry. A first-generation college student and scholarship recipient, he is passionate about giving back and has served as a president of the Andrew Carnegie Society and as an ex-officio member of the CMU Board of Trustees in addition to extensive volunteer work in his community.
- Leah Lizarondo, a 2003 graduate of Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy, is an advocate for merging technology and civic engagement to improve lives around the world. She is a Rockefeller Foundation/Acumen Fellow and served as entrepreneur in residence at CMU’s Block Center for Technology and Society, engaging with students as a mentor and teacher. Leah is the CEO and founder of the Food Rescue Hero platform and co-founder of 412 Food Rescue, which are aimed at redirecting good surplus food to those who need it. Since 2015, these organizations have facilitated the recovery of more than 100 million pounds of food.
- Benjamin Matzke, a 2011 graduate of the College of Engineering, helped solidify Buggy as one of CMU’s most enduring traditions through tireless work as an undergraduate, graduate student and alumnus. He served as president of the Buggy Alumni Association for six years and its Centennial Committee chair for three, and as co-chair of the Alumni Association Board’s Networks, Awards, and Alumni Engagement committees. He is a senior design and development engineer in the window systems department of Lutron, a lighting control manufacturer.
- Michael B. Thomas, a 1975 graduate of the College of Engineering, spent 13 years with U.S. Steel before joining engineering firm CH2M Hill, which gave him the opportunity to work on projects around the world before his retirement in 2014. A committed volunteer and leader, he has been a Hill House Association board member for 14 years, a member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity for 50 years, and a member of the Carnegie Mellon Black Alumni Association for 38 years, as well as a member of the Alumni Association Board, several reunion committees, the College of Engineering Advisory Board, and the Andrew Carnegie Society.
About the Alumni Awards
First presented in 1950, the Alumni Awards pay tribute to individuals distinguished by their service to the university and outstanding accomplishments in the arts, humanities, sciences, technology and business. To date, more than 900 alumni, faculty and students have been honored with these awards.
The 2022 CMU Alumni Awards ceremony will take place on Friday, October 28, at 6:30 p.m. in the Kresge Theatre, College of Fine Arts Building, on CMU’s campus. Advance registration is required; visit cmu.edu/alumniawards to register or for more information about the 2022 honorees, the event, and tribute ad and sponsorship opportunities.