Distinguished Alumni Award
Visionary leaders in their field, recipients of this honor have reached exceptional levels of professional and personal achievement. This award recognizes distinguished leadership, service, teaching, innovation, and other exemplary accomplishments that positively impact society and the engineering profession.
- Carl Christenson ’82, ’84 MS, Mechanical and Industrial Engineering
- Gillian Gregory ’82 MS, ’86 PhD, Civil and Environmental Engineering
- Thomas Martin ’94, Civil and Environmental Engineering
- Antonis Papadourakis ’85 PhD, Chemical Engineering
- Karen St. Germain ’93 PhD, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Outstanding Young Alumni Award
Emerging leaders in the early stages of their careers, recipients of this honor are no more than ten years out from receiving their UMass Engineering PhD or no more than fifteen years out from receiving their UMass Engineering undergraduate degree. This award recognizes outstanding professional and personal achievements, and highlights the recipient’s ambitions and potential to positively impact UMass, the Commonwealth, the nation and the world.
- Monique Farrell ’14, Chemical Engineering
- David Hurwitz ’04, ’06 MS, ’09 PhD, Civil and Environmental Engineering
- Julie E. Matthew ’04, Chemical Engineering
- Dragana Perkovic-Martin ’08 PhD, Electrical and Computer Engineering
- Thomas Sebastian ’12 PhD, Mechanical and Industrial Engineering
Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients
Carl Christenson ’82, ’84 MS
Mechanical and Industrial Engineering
Carl R. Christenson is the CEO and chairman of the board of Altra Industrial Motion. Altra designs and manufactures motion control and power transmission components such as motors and controls, linear motion systems, gearing, clutches, brakes, and flexible couplings for a wide variety of industrial equipment, including robotics, automation systems, medical equipment, wind turbines, mining equipment, metals production, and aerospace and defense systems.
Christenson earned both his BS and MS degrees in mechanical engineering with a concentration in fluid mechanics from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. After graduating, he joined defense contractor Kollmorgen Corporation where he worked as an engineer designing motion control systems for periscopes and gun directors and even participated on the team that developed one of the world’s first night vision systems.
Christenson then went to work as a research engineer at Ingersoll Rand, designing automated measurement and manufacturing equipment for high precision complex industrial manufacturing applications. During his time at IR, he also earned his MBA from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York.
In 1991 he joined motor control and mechanical component manufacturer TB Wood’s Corporation in Pennsylvania as vice president of engineering. The company was owned by private equity investors, and Christenson was instrumental in building the company and helping take it public in 1996.
In 2001, Christenson was recruited to be the President of Kaydon Bearings, which manufactured highly precise custom bearings for military and defense applications, semiconductor manufacturing equipment, and wind turbines.
As he continued to build upon his experience in the motion control and power transmission sector, in 2005, Christenson and a couple of longtime friends joined with private equity firm Genstar Capital to purchase and combine two businesses to create Altra Industrial Motion. At the start, the company had less than $350 million in revenue, and today the team has grown the business to approximately $2 billion. He has been instrumental in building and reshaping the organization, making 12 acquisitions, and taking Altra public in 2006 (NASDAQ: AIMC). Christenson became Altra’s CEO in 2009 and chairman of the board in 2014.
Christenson also serves on the board of trustees of the Manufacturing Alliance for Productivity and Innovation (MAPI) and also on the board of directors for IDEX Corporation, a publicly traded global company engaged in the development, design, and manufacture of fluidics systems and specialty engineered products.
Gillian Gregory ’82 MS, ’86 PhD
Civil and Environmental Engineering
Gillian M. Gregory, P.E. is a geotechnical engineer specializing in dam safety. Gregory is currently a vice president and senior project manager at GEI Consultants, Inc. Headquartered in Woburn, Massachusetts, GEI services clients across the country from 44 offices across the US and Canada in practices ranging from geotechnical, environmental, civil, and structural engineering to water resources planning, ecological services, and permitting. GEI is a privately-owned company with over 900 staff.
Now mostly retired, as a senior project manager at GEI, Gregory performed dam inspections and ran projects to analyze and design remediation for dams. Many of her clients were utilities with hydropower dams.
Gregory was a member of GEI’s Board of Directors for six years, serving as chairperson of the board for two years. She was a member of GEI’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee and received a “2017 Women Worth Watching in STEM” Award from Profiles in Diversity Journal. She is also a member of the United States Society on Dams and the Association of State Dam Safety Officials.
Gregory has worked at GEI her entire career. In the early days, she worked on a variety of projects, including building foundation projects, bridges, and dams. In the early 1990s, she worked on the “Big Dig,” preparing geotechnical engineering reports for the underground tunnels and one of the bridges. She spent two and a half years in California working on the San Diego County’s Emergency and Carryover Storage Project, which was designed to provide a 6-month supply of drinking water to the county in the event that the aqueducts that bring water in from the Colorado River are damaged in an earthquake. The project included new dams and pipelines. This project received the 2017 American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement (OCEA) Award. More recently, she has focused on dam safety and performed studies and safety inspections for clients such as the Tennessee Valley Authority, Pacific Gas & Electric, and Southern California Edison.
Gregory is a native of England and earned her bachelor’s degree in civil engineering at the University of Birmingham, England, in 1980. She earned a master’s degree in civil engineering in 1982 and a PhD specializing in geotechnical engineering in 1986, both from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, studying under the late Ernest T. Selig. She is a registered professional engineer in eight states. In 2017 she was a recipient of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department’s Academy of Distinguished Alumni Award.
Gregory has been married to her husband, Richard, for 37 years. The two met at UMass, where Richard received a PhD in cellular and molecular biology. She has two adult sons and a daughter-in-law and enjoys outdoor pursuits such as biking, skiing, hiking, and golf. She currently resides in Lincoln, Mass, and is looking forward to traveling the country with her husband in their new RV.
Thomas Martin ‘94
Civil and Environmental Engineering
[Awarding Department: Biomedical Engineering]
Thomas Martin is currently the vice president of commercial operations and analytics for Spero Therapeutics in Cambridge, MA where he is responsible for development of the commercial go-to-market strategy, forecasting, market research, data strategy and analytics. Martin has 25 years of cross-industry experience helping companies to develop and implement commercial strategies, with the last 15 years exclusively focused within the life sciences industry.
After graduating from the College of Engineering in 1994, Martin enrolled as an Americorps VISTA volunteer working with an after-school program for disadvantaged youth in Los Angeles. After completing his service in VISTA, Martin spent 10 years as a consultant first at Accenture and then as the director of the New England practice at Innoveer Solutions. Martin worked with commercial leadership teams at organizations such as Genzyme, Iron Mountain and Monster.com to align organizational focus towards customer outcomes and drive organizational and operational changes needed to achieve them.
Martin joined Genzyme in 2006 where he served in a variety of commercial roles within the biosurgery division including head of commercial operations, chief of staff to the president of the biosurgery BU, and US brand lead for Synvisc, a market leading therapy for treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee. After leaving Genzyme in 2015, Martin took on commercial leadership roles at Alkermes Inc and then AMAG Pharmaceuticals spanning marketing, program management, alliance management and commercial operations. He also was the commercial lead for a phase 2b development program investigating a candidate therapy for the treatment of preclampsia. After the sale of AMAG Pharma in 2020, Martin joined Spero in his current role.
Martin also stays active in the community, serving as a member of a committee responsible for furthering support for The Fatherhood Initiative of the Children’s Trust. The Fatherhood Initiative works to advance activities and trainings for fathers with the goal of supporting the Children’s Trust’s mission to eliminate child abuse in Massachusetts. Tom also serves on the human rights commission for Beaverbrook STEP, an organization focused on empowering individuals with disabilities to make their own personal choices and decisions about their lives in order to achieve full community inclusion.
Antonis Papadourakis ’85 PhD
Antonis Papadourakis was born in Athens, Greece in 1957. He earned a degree from the University of Thessaloniki in 1981 and a PhD from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 1985, both in chemical engineering. After a year with the Greek Armed Forces, he joined Rohm and Haas in Bristol, PA, where he spent the first 11 years of his career in the Engineering Division, dealing with process modeling and simulation, process control, and process economics. He subsequently spent eight years in London, England, and Paris, France, working in various procurement, logistics, commercial, and business management roles.
He repatriated to the US in 2005 and joined Engelhard Corporation (now BASF), and shortly after, he moved to Arkema where he held various regional and global executive roles. In 2015, he joined LANXESS Corporation as its president and CEO, a position he holds today, along with the position of President of the Americas for the LANXESS Group.
Papadourakis is a member of the board of directors of the American Chemistry Council, the National Association of Manufacturers, the Allegheny Conference for Community Development, the German American Chamber of Commerce – Pittsburgh Section, the American Coatings Association, and the Society for the Chemical Industry. He also serves as a member of the executive committee of the latter two organizations.
Karen St. Germain ’93 PhD
Electrical and Computer Engineering
Karen M. St. Germain is the division director of the Earth Science Division in the Science Mission Directorate at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). She provides executive leadership, strategic direction, and overall management for the agency’s Earth Science portfolio, including a fleet of 24 satellites that are currently viewing our home planet from space. Her program also includes technology development, development of the next generation of Earth-observing satellites, and a robust research and applications program to understand how land, ocean, atmosphere, and cryosphere systems work and interact.
St. Germain came to NASA from the NOAA Satellite and Information Service, where she served as the deputy assistant administrator, systems (DAAS), with responsibility for leading the development of the nation’s operational weather satellite systems. From 2011 to 2016, St. Germain served in the Space, Strategic and Intelligence Systems (SSI) Office, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (OUSD AT&L), where she managed a broad portfolio of defense and intelligence satellite programs.
St. Germain is a leader in enterprise-level planning and multi-organizational space programs of national significance. She is also an expert in major satellite systems development, with particular proficiency in transitioning new technology into operational systems.
St. Germain had a successful research career at the University of Massachusetts, the University of Nebraska, and the Naval Research Laboratory. She has performed research aboard ice-breakers in the Arctic and Antarctic, flown through hurricanes and tropical storms on NOAA’s P-3 airplanes, and measured glacial ice on a snowmobile traverse of the Greenland ice sheet.
St.Germain holds a BS in electrical engineering from Union College (1987) and a PhD in electrical engineering from the University of Massachusetts (1993). She is also a Distinguished Graduate of the National War College, National Defense University, where she earned an MS in national security strategy in 2013.
Outstanding Young Alumni Award Recipients
Monique Farrell ’14
Monique Farrell is an IT operations/transformation manager, currently immersed in a technical leadership program at Northrop Grumman, an aerospace and defense company. In her present role, she drives digital transformation at an enterprise level, with a focus on enabling integrated digital technologies to rapidly conceptualize, design, build, and sustain value-driven solutions.
Before entering the workforce, Farrell began her collegiate STEM career at UMass in the fall of 2010 as part of the chemical engineering program. During this time, Farrell held several research positions ranging from oral health and pharmaceutics to materials engineering. She also served on engineering society boards, including chapter president of the international society of pharmaceutical engineers. Similarly, she served as the historian and chapter senator for the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and National Society of Black Engineers chapters, respectively. Having a fostering spirit, Farrell mentored over 100 incoming first-year engineers in her role as a resident academic peer mentor.
After obtaining her BS in chemical engineering, Farrell completed her PhD in materials science and engineering at Norfolk State University. Post university, Farrell continues to upskill with project management and a lean Six Sigma Black Belt certificate, while sitting on the certification board at her company.
In her spare time, Farrell enjoys learning about real estate and building her portfolio of financial investments. She is also a proud Caribbean American who enjoys her large family of seven siblings, two of whom also graduated from UMass engineering programs.
David Hurwitz ’04, ’06 MS, ’09 PhD
Civil and Environmental Engineering
David Hurwitz is a professor of transportation engineering, director of the Kiewit Center for Infrastructure and Transportation, and founding director of the Driving and Bicycling Research Laboratory in the School of Civil and Construction Engineering at Oregon State University (OSU). Hurwitz also serves as the associate director at OSU for the Pacific Northwest Transportation Consortium (PacTrans), the U.S. DOT Region 10 University Transportation Center. Hurwitz has 18 years of professional experience in transportation engineering, including appointments in industry and academia. David holds a BS, MS, and PhD in civil engineering from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and is a Fellow of the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE).
Hurwitz conducts research in the areas of transportation safety and transportation human factors with an emphasis on bicycles and pedestrians, commercial motor vehicles, and connected and automated vehicles. In particular, Hurwitz is interested in the consideration of user behavior in the design and innovation of surface transportation systems.
Hurwitz is a passionate educator delivering courses on transportation operations and design related to both roadway and intersection infrastructure. The topics of transportation safety and transportation human factors are central to the courses he teaches. His teaching has been recognized with eight awards at the college, university, regional, and national level, including the Wilber S. Smith Distinguished Transportation Educator Award from ITE, the highest recognition of academic performance made by ITE.
Hurwitz is active in professional engineering societies. Currently, he serves as the advisor for the award-winning OSU ITE Student Chapter, chair of the ITE Education Council, immediate past-chair of the Pacific Northwest Section of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), and the secretary of the Transportation Research Board’s Standing Committee on Road User Measurement and Evaluation (ACH50), and Traffic Control Devices (ACP55). Hurwitz is also an associate editor of the Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board.
Julie E. Matthew ’04
[Awarding Department: Biomedical Engineering]
Julie Matthew is a manufacturing senior manager at Amgen in West Greenwich, Rhode Island, where her team is responsible for mammalian cell culture operations generating therapeutic proteins in one of the region’s largest and most productive commercial stainless steel facilities. Since 2009, Matthew has held a variety of roles at Amgen, spanning process development, quality, and manufacturing in California, Puerto Rico, and at home in New England. This diverse set of experiences has helped Matthew cultivate her passion for operations leadership, building and empowering teams to deliver on our critical commitments to patients.
Matthew holds a BS in chemical engineering from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, an MS in chemical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management. Matthew enjoys mentoring aspiring scientists and engineers in K-12 as well as university settings and looks forward to speaking with UMass Amherst students at career fairs each year.
Outside of work, Matthew adores spending time with her husband David, and two sons, William (4) and Christopher (2). In March 2022, they will be cheering Matthew on when she competes as a “star” in Mentor Rhode Island’s “Dancing with the Stars of Mentoring” event in support of the organization’s mission to ensure youth have the motivational and supportive relationships they need to grow into confident, successful adults.
Dragana Perkovic-Martin ’08 PhD,
Electrical and Computer Engineering
Dragana Perkovic-Martin is the instrument manager for the Venus Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (VISAR) on the VERITAS mission and is a technical group supervisor for System and Instrument Engineering group within JPL’s Radar Science and Engineering Section.
Since joining JPL in 2008, Perkovic-Martin has been active in the development of scatterometer and interferometer radars for Earth observations and exploration of other planets. She was the radar system engineer for ISS-RapidScat, and the lead systems engineer for the Terminal Descent Sensor (TDS, the landing radar) for the Mars 2020 mission, which has successfully delivered the Perseverance rover and Ingenuity helicopter to the surface of Mars in 2021. Perkovic-Martin is the principal investigator and manager for the DopplerScatt instrument, which is the key participant in the Earth Ventures Suborbital Mission Sub-Mesoscale Ocean Dynamic Experiment (S-MODE).
Over the years, Perkovic-Martin has been involved in various radar mission concept studies and a number of Earth and planetary radar proposals. She has led the radar team participating in the VERITAS proposal through a rigorous two-year NASA Discovery mission competition process, culminating in the mission selection for implementation and launch in the late 2020s.
She has been a co-investigator and task manager for numerous technology development tasks and is the recipient of the Early Career NASA Achievement Medal and JPL People Leadership Award.
Thomas Sebastian ’12 PhD
Mechanical and Industrial Engineering
Thomas (Tommy) Sebastian is a senior technical staff member of the Structural and Thermal-Fluids Engineering Group at MIT Lincoln Laboratory (MIT/LL), where he leads technical initiatives and early-stage development of novel technologies and concepts ranging from particle concentration and assay to high-energy laser system optics thermal management to re-entry/hypersonic phenomenology. Since joining the Laboratory in 2012, Sebastian has served as unit engineer and fluid mechanics subject matter expert (SME) on multiple complex prototyping efforts and has led the design and development of multiple novel drones for a variety of government sponsors as chief engineer and aerodynamicist.
Sebastian has invented technologies at MIT/LL related to biological sensing and advanced propulsion, resulting in four awarded patents to date. As MIT Electric Aircraft Initiative co-director, he also organized and co-led the MIT/LL-Campus team responsible for demonstrating the world’s first flight of an ion-propelled fixed-wing aircraft. Sebastian was awarded the MIT/LL 2017 Best Invention Award for a low-acoustic signature propeller design and the MIT/LL Early Career Technical Achievement Award in 2018.
From early 2019 to late 2021, Sebastian served as an on-site scientific advisor to the US Army Reagan Test Site (RTS) on Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), supporting Test and Evaluation and Space Ops missions conducted at Range radar/optical assets and advising RTS and sponsors on various topics. Sebastian was also a key technology development contributor for the Marshallese-led Kwajalein Atoll Sustainability Laboratory (KASL), centered on developing a testbed in the Republic of the Marshall Islands for mitigation and adaptation approaches to climate change. Sebastian also led the formation of a coral reef rehabilitation effort on the Atoll and supported related diving efforts as a PADI-certified Divemaster. He also served as Technical Lead for MIT/LL-RMI Information Technology training and internship program.
Sebastian has been heavily involved in outreach efforts throughout his career, with a focus on aerodynamics, prototyping, and general STEM topics. Sebastian has led courses and activities for K-12 students and educators on 3D printing, aerodynamics, climate change, space travel, machine learning, self-driving cars, and autonomous drone racing.
Sebastian received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in aerospace engineering from North Carolina State University and his doctorate in mechanical engineering from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Sebastian’s career prior to joining MIT/LL includes SpaceWorks Engineering, JPL, NASA Langley Research Center, and the UMass Renewable Energy Research Laboratory.