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Six alumni, former dean honored with Achievement Awards

Six alumni from a variety of backgrounds will receive Achievement Awards from the School of Engineering & Applied Science April 7 at the Missouri History Museum. Former dean Ralph S. Quatrano, the Spencer T. Olin Professor, will receive the Dean's Award.

Anna Apanel

After Apanel earned a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from Washington University in 1980, her early interest in computer modeling led her to modeling oil flow through rock miles beneath the Earth's surface. She began her career with ExxonMobil in the production research department as a reservoir engineer, estimating quantities of oil in fields, planning drill-well locations and forecasting production rates.

Apanel's role expanded from modeling into oil-field evaluation, economics and leadership. Being selected as a technical field studies consultant, she advised ExxonMobil affiliates worldwide on projects and studies, traveling to far parts of the world.

While Apanel enjoyed the cultural and strategic aspects of influencing management of supergiant oil fields, she retired after 35 years with ExxonMobil. She stays active in her Houston community and recently served as an executive co-chair for Washington University's 35th class reunion.

Apanel and her husband, Mark, a fellow classmate at WashU, have endowed an engineering scholarship in memory of their daughter, Teresa. >> View Video

Alex Gray

Gray is senior vice president of the customer services and support organization at Juniper Networks, which he joined in 2008. In this role he is responsible for Juniper's technical assistance centers, its advanced and professional services portfolio, educational services and service supply chain, all of which contribute to a quarter of the company's annual revenue.

Gray's team provides the assistance that enables customers to maximize their networks with reliable and efficient operation. Under Gray's leadership, Juniper Networks was awarded the Technology Services Industry Association STAR Award for innovation in enabling customer success in automated support services in 2014.

After earning a bachelor's degree in 1979 and a master's degree in 1981, both in electrical engineering from Washington University, Gray worked for Hewlett-Packard to develop robotic electronics assembly systems for manufacturing facilities. He designed a robot system that used computer vision, tactile sensing and sophisticated software to assemble circuit boards faster, cheaper and with higher quality. In 1987, Steve Jobs recruited Gray to lead NeXT Computer's growing information technology operations.

Gray and his wife, Pat, support an annual scholarship for the Engineering Langsdorf Fellowship Program. >> View Video

Steven Kramer

As AECOM's vice president and tunneling business director, Kramer oversees the development and growth of the tunneling and trenchless practice in transportation, water and energy. Kramer has led the design, management and construction of more than 50 underground projects ranging in construction values up to $775 million for municipalities, utilities and transportation authorities in North America, Europe and Asia.

Following the attacks on the Pentagon of Sept. 11, Kramer led a team on a project to construct a tunnel delivering water to the Pentagon heating and cooling plant. In 2004, Kramer was selected as the Trenchless Technology Person of the Year for his leadership and contributions to the trenchless and underground industry. In addition to co-writing a book on trenchless technologies, Kramer has written more than 90 technical and management papers.

Kramer earned bachelor's degrees in both engineering and public policy and civil engineering at WashU in 1982 and a master's degree in management from Northwestern University. His wife, Jill, is an alumna of the university's College of Arts & Sciences. Their son Michael is a sophomore at WashU majoring in business. >> View Video

John Zook – Young Alumni Award

As vice president of engineering for Socrata, a startup developing cloud-based solutions for government agencies, Zook has a passion for finding unique insights as a data-focused engineering executive.

The Socrata team delivers data-driven innovation and cost savings for public sector leaders and millions of their constituents around the world. Hundreds of governments and governmental agencies use the Socrata platform, including The White House, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the State of Missouri.

Prior to starting Socrata, Zook worked for Amazon as a summer intern while a computer science student at WashU. That internship led to a permanent position with Amazon after earning his degree in 2004. He held various positions at Amazon, including leading the recovery-oriented computing group that delivered automated fault response for the company's service-oriented architecture.

In 2011, he and a few other coworkers left to create TrackSimple, a small media analytics company that was later acquired by BlueKai. He was vice president of engineering at BlueKai through its acquisition by Oracle in 2014.

Zook sponsors an annual engineering scholarship and is active in alumni events in Seattle. >> View Video

David Karandish and Chris Sims – Engineering Entrepreneurship Award

As undergraduates in computer science with minors in entrepreneurial studies, Karandish and Sims began working on Internet marketing with search engine optimization consulting. In 2003, Karandish and Sims launched Expo Group, an online resource in the consumer financial services industry. After selling the company, they developed a relationship with Yahoo to launch findstuff.com. Later, Karandish and Sims diverged into other categories through parent company Announce Media/AFCV Holdings, a portfolio company of growth equity investors that eventually acquired Answers.com in 2011.

As chief executive officer of Answers, Karandish leads Answers' corporate strategy and drives revenue partnerships. Sims leads traffic acquisition and team management as chief strategy officer. Answers.com provides consumers with trustworthy information and offers marketers one-stop solutions for integrated media.

In 2014, global private equity firm Apax Partners acquired Answers for about $950 million. Since its acquisition, Answers.com has expanded from a Q&A website to a multifaceted online platform. The company has headquarters in the Delmar Loop, a dozen offices globally and employs more than 500 people. Answers continues a close partnership with Washington University by hiring student interns and graduates from multiple disciplines each year.

Karandish and Sims serve as council members for the Skandalaris Center for Interdisciplinary Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

The Engineering Entrepreneurship Award, new in 2016, was established by the School of Engineering & Applied Science to recognize entrepreneurs who advance creativity and innovation. These accomplishments should achieve economic and social development objectives that are relevant to the economy now and in the future. >> View Video

Ralph Quatrano – Dean's Award

Ralph Quatrano came to WashU in 1998 as chair of the Department of Biology and the Spencer T. Olin Professor. He also was director of the Division of Biology & Biomedical Sciences from 2005-2007 and was named interim dean of the faculty of Arts & Sciences in 2008.

Internationally known for his research in plant science, Quatrano applied the tools of molecular biology toward understanding the genetic regulatory mechanisms in plants.

In 2010, Chancellor Mark Wrighton appointed Quatrano as dean of the School of Engineering & Applied Science, and Quatrano set out to implement the school's ambitious strategic plan. He led the hiring of a third of the present faculty, including two new department chairs, and was a passionate proponent of interdisciplinary programs while overseeing construction of two new engineering buildings. In 2015, Quatrano received the Leadership Award from the Academy of Science-St. Louis.

Quatrano and his wife, Lee Anne, support annual and endowed engineering scholarships. The university established the Dean Ralph S. and Mrs. Lee Anne Quatrano endowed scholarship in their honor.

Quatrano earned a bachelor of science degree in plant biology with honors from Colgate University in 1962, a master's degree in plant biology from Ohio University in 1964, and a doctorate in biology from Yale University in 1968. >> View Video


The School of Engineering & Applied Science at Washington University in St. Louis focuses intellectual efforts through a new convergence paradigm and builds on strengths, particularly as applied to medicine and health, energy and environment, entrepreneurship and security. With 88 tenured/tenure-track and 40 additional full-time faculty, 1,300 undergraduate students, more than 900 graduate students and more than 23,000 alumni, we are working to leverage our partnerships with academic and industry partners — across disciplines and across the world — to contribute to solving the greatest global challenges of the 21st century.