Carnegie Mellon University
Alumni in Action

Alumni in Action

photo of Njema Frazier and Gina Grosso

From left: Njema Frazier and Gina Grosso

Alumnae Take the Lead

Njema Frazier Honored at Ebony Power 100 Event

Alumna Njema Frazier walked the red carpet last December at the Ebony Power 100 event in Los Angeles alongside such celebrities as Viola Davis and Drake. But Frazier isn’t an actress or a rapper—she’s a theoretical nuclear physicist. She was named one of Ebony’s Power 100, specifically one of “the 2015 mavericks in medicine and science who literally keep hope alive.” Frazier, a 1992 Physics graduate, works for the U.S. Department of Energy in the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Office of Defense Programs, leading scientific and technical efforts to ensure that the United States maintains a credible nuclear deterrent without nuclear explosive testing. She was recently named Acting Director of NNSA’s Office of Inertial Confinement Fusion and High Yield.

In addition to her professional responsibilities, she is committed to promoting STEM education—mentoring students, disseminating information about opportunities in STEM, and starting K-12 programs and initiatives. She is the founder and chief executive officer of Diversity Science, LLC, an expert-based network of scientists and engineers dedicated to broadening participation in STEM fields, and the Co-founder and Chair of the Algebra by 7th Grade (Ab7G) Initiative for students in grades 3 through 7.

General Gina Grosso Appointed to New Role in U.S. Air Force

Three-star general and alumna Gina Grosso is the first woman to hold the post of the U.S. Air Force’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Manpower, Personnel, and Services—a position created nearly 50 years ago. In this role, to which she was promoted in October 2015, she’s basically the human resources director for the entire Air Force, serving more than 680,000 military and civilian Airmen, not to mention their families. She is responsible for comprehensive plans and policies covering all life cycles of military and civilian personnel management, which includes military and civilian end strength management, education and training, compensation, resource allocation and the worldwide U.S. Air Force services program. General Grosso, who graduated with her B.S. in applied mathematics and industrial management in 1986, is one of only a few dozen female generals in the Air Force.

Navel Gazing

An entire microbial world is living in our belly buttons—and alumna Joana Ricou has been making their portraits. “The Bellybutton Portrait Series is an installation and participatory performance that invites viewers to consider their other selves, the parts of their body which are not human,” explains Ricou, a 2004 graduate of the Bachelor of Science and Arts program. Ricou developed the series of portraits as a semi-permanent exhibit for “Invisible You—The Human Microbiome” at the Eden Project in the United Kingdom. Ricou’s source material came from volunteers who twirled a sterile swab in their belly buttons during a Strange Science event. The swabs were then swiped across a petri dish, and Ricou waited to see what grew. The result? Microbial portraits that were unique to each person—as unique as a fingerprint.

photo of petri dishes

From left:Celine in Cornwall (EP003), UK 2015; Eleri in Cornwall (EP005), UK 2015; Mark in Cornwall (EP018), UK 2015. Joana Ricou,

photo of Art Benjamin and his book cover

Demystifying Math for the Masses

MCS alumnus and world famous “mathemagician” Art Benjamin reveals mystery and adventure in mathematics with his new book, “The Magic of Math: Solving for X and Figuring Out Why.” In the book, Benjamin shows how the math we learned in school—from basic counting and arithmetic to algebra, geometry, calculus and beyond—can be easy, intuitive and fun. Kirkus Review called the book “An enthusiastic celebration of the beauty of mathematics,” and Bill Nye praises Benjamin for showing readers “how to make nature’s numbers dance.” A 1983 graduate of the Department of Mathematical Sciences, Benjamin is a mathematics professor at Harvey Mudd College. He has performed his “mathemagics” shows— mixing math and magic to make the subject fun and easy to understand—at thousands of schools, universities, conferences and public venues around the world.

Photo Courtesy Harvey Mudd College