Hiep “Bob” Thieu Nguyen

photo by Rose Lincoln

1988 Hiep “Bob” Thieu Nguyen

Hometown: Fresno, Calif.; now Boston

B.S. in biochemistry
M.D., UC San Francisco, 1992

Bob cares for an area of the human body where some of the oldest taboos have governed and explores the frontiers of technology to improve that care. He holds a chair in innovative urological technology at Boston Children’s Hospital, co-directs the hospital’s Center for Robotic and Minimally Invasive Reconstructive Surgery and teaches surgery at Harvard Medical School … looks to adapt technologies from other fields to medicine … he’s now piloting a program that sends 5-foot-six-inch robots home with children to monitor — through audio- and video-conferencing — their recovery after surgery … also building robotic organs for transplants … helps lead a volunteer organization that provides medical and surgical education in urology and treats people around the world … recently worked in Kenya, Mongolia, Rwanda and Tanzania uses telemedicine to extend training and care around the world … “To be able to take care of kids and affect the life of somebody so young, it is meaningful.” … he and his family fled Saigon as political refugees during the Vietnam War about his undergraduate days: “I love UC Davis. It provides an outstanding broad education but has that small-town feeling.” … thanks Professor Emeritus Carl Schmid for encouraging him to understand rather than just know.

1989 Rudolf von Buenau

Hometown: Bavaria, Germany; now Jena, Germany

B.S. in physics
Ph.D. in applied physics, Stanford University, 1995
M.B.A., Institute for Management Development (Lausanne, Switzerland), 2002

Rudolf brings to the world products that help preserve and restore vision. He is vice president of marketing for the retina and glaucoma area of German optical engineering company Carl Zeiss. … he also has served as project manager in research and development of the semiconductor division and most recently for two years as vice president of innovation for Carl Zeiss Meditec in Dublin, Calif.: “It is especially rewarding to be able to work on products that have a direct and positive impact on people’s lives and to see these products in practical use around the world.” … his work takes him to Munich; Dublin, Calif.; Bangalore, India; and Shanghai … married Lisa Murai, ’89,: “My wife and I got into hiking, tent camping and cycling during our years at UC Davis and have kept this up.” … visited the campus with their two sons for the first time on the way from the Bay Area to Yellowstone National Park in summer 2011.

1987 Charley C. Della Santina

Hometown: Oakland, Calif.; now Baltimore, Md.

B.S. in electrical engineering
Ph.D. in bioengineering, UC Berkeley, 1994
M.D., UC San Francisco, 1997

Charley strives to bring relief to individuals disabled by a loss of inner ear function. The John Hopkins University ear surgeon and scientist says damage or disruption of the vestibular system — which ordinarily keeps a body in balance and helps the eyes track with its movement — leaves tens of thousands of people with chronic dizziness and difficulty seeing when they move: “These people are often desperate for help, because currently they have no good therapeutic options.” … the professor of otolaryngology–head and neck surgery and biomedical engineering leads a lab developing a solution: a prosthesis that uses gyroscopes to measure movement in three dimensions and then transmits those measurements to inner ear nerves … founder and CEO of startup Labyrinth Devices L.L.C. … fondly recalls a physics class with lecturer Rodney Cole, an “exceptionally good teacher”: “He really inspired my love of that material and taught me to use what I learn to solve real-world problems.” … “Coming into university, I really had a limited knowledge of all the things you can do in your life. I encourage students to think more broadly and talk to many people about different career options.” … married with two children.

1986 Janice C. Eberly

Hometown: Fallbrook, Calif.; now Evanston, Ill., and Bethesda, Md.

B.S. in agricultural and managerial economics
Ph.D. in economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1991

Eberly brings cool data and analysis to hot-button issues at the center of U.S. policymaking — she serves as assistant secretary for economic policy and chief economist in the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Since fall 2011, she has advised Secretary Timothy Geithner on economic issues and has led an approximately 30-member team that analyzes developments in the U.S. and global economies and financial markets ... she’s also served on the staff of the White House Council of Economic Advisers and advisory panels for the Bureau of Economic Analysis and Congressional Budget Office … she has taught at Northwestern University since 1998 and continues as John L. and Helen Kellogg Distinguished Professor of Finance … publishes on macroeconomics and finance, including capital investment and household decisions … at UC Davis, economic historian Peter Lindert encouraged and challenged her: “I was inspired to push further in understanding the macroeconomy and global economy.” … once saw then-Chancellor James Meyer and his wife holding hands as they biked on campus: “It was a lovely metaphor for the culture of the place and the sense of community and connectedness.” … married with two children.

1985 Gregory R. Spencer

now Southern California

B.S. in zoology
M.D., UCLA, 1989

Gregory practices ophthalmology in Oxnard, Calif.

1984 Jennifer Lee Swan

Hometown:  Fresno, Calif.; now Lakeside, Mont.

B.S. in biological sciences
Ph.D. in entomology, UC Davis, 1990

For Jennifer and her family, Christian missionary work is a labor of love — and an adventure: “We’ve been evacuated because of militant death threats, puzzled medical professionals with parasites acquired on a teaching trip and toured zoos on three continents.” … she was profoundly affected by studying abroad in France and making friends with students from Africa: “My faith life grew and I gained a bigger view of how I might be useful to the poorest of the poor. I came back with the idea I wanted to be one who goes overseas and tries to make a difference.” … She and her husband, who met at UC Davis, now train Christian workers in holistic community development and environmental sustainability for the developing world, including Asia, Africa and Central America … the couple often take their students to another location or country to gain practical experience in different cultural settings: “When I hear how they’ve been able to go on to use some of their learning to help others, I feel like I have one of the best jobs in the world.” … has two children.

1983 Deanna Giannini Mangin

B.S. in civil engineering
M.S. in civil engineering, UC Berkeley, 1984

1982 Nancy Marie Paulikas

Hometown: Palos Verdes Estates, Calif.; now Manhattan Beach, Calif.

B.S in computer science and mathematics, 1982
M.S. in computer science, UCLA, 1985

Nancy grew up in an era when girls weren’t supposed to like math: “I liked math, damn it. I’m not afraid to admit it.” She followed her university education in computer science and math with a fast-paced career as a software engineering manager. After about 10 years with TRW Corp., she spent eight years with Investment Technology Group. There, she rose to become senior vice president and director of software development with responsibility for a staff of 150 in Los Angeles, Boston, New York City and Tel Aviv … helped develop technology used in stock trading … she and her husband quit their jobs in 2001… now she is a volunteer poll worker and a member of C.E.R.T., an organization that prepares teams to respond to emergencies in their communities … at UC Davis, worked as a grader for Professor Ken Joy: “He was a really good influence on the direction I took.” … among the first generation of students to have a beer at the Last Resort Pub and Restaurant on campus after the 1979 rescinding of a law prohibiting the sale of alcoholic beverages within three miles of the university.

1981 Sheryl Lamb Sun

Hometown: Sunnyvale, Calif.; now Sunnyvale, Calif.

B.S. in biochemistry
M.D., UC San Francisco, 1985

Working in a UC Davis lab analyzing trace minerals in human milk, Sheryl realized she didn’t want to do bench research. But working the midnight to 4 a.m. shift on Saturdays as a volunteer in the busy emergency room at the UC Davis Medical Center had another result: “Being able to do that really made me sure that medicine was what I wanted to do. It was the desire to help people.” … Sheryl has been an internist for 25 years and chief of internal medicine at Kaiser Permanente’s Santa Clara Medical Center for 13 years. She oversees 120 physicians and 300 staff, sees patients and works with residents … she’s proud of the quality care her team provides for patients and the “visible fairness” in the department’s administration … she says the hard work and focus on her studies at UC Davis prepared her well: “If you’re going to do medicine, you have to love it, because it’s going to take over your life.” … married with two children.

1980 Daniel Goddard Knierim

Hometown: Sacramento, Calif.; now Beaverton, Ore.

B.S. in electrical and computer engineering
M.S. in electrical engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1982

Dan is an engineer’s engineer. He is the chief engineer and technology fellow of the integrated circuit design group for Tektronix Inc., which supplies test, measurement and monitoring equipment to engineering firms worldwide. He has worked for the Beaverton-based firm for 30 years and holds 27 patents in test and measurement technology. And as a fellow, he helps other Tektronix engineers solve problems that have them stuck … His relationship with Tektronix goes back to his days as a college student: “It’s amazing how many of the skills I learned there those three summers that I’m still applying today.” … Dan’s time at UC Davis did more than put him on the right foot for an engineering career — he developed the talent with which he wooed his bride‑to-be: square dancing … he took it up with a campus club on Monday nights and carpooled to wherever the Ghost Riders Square Dance Band was playing: “I had a blast.” … was ready, willing and able to do-si-do with a square dancer he met in Beaverton, where they raised three children.