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Where Are They Now: Bryan Pezeshki

Co-founder of Swipe Out Hunger and proud Bruin Bryan Pezeshki ’12, MBA ’16 has a passion for service. He recently obtained his M.D. from Duke University and aspires to direct his passion toward creating systematic change in health care.

Pezeshki works as an emergency medical resident at the Brookdale University Hospital & Medical Center, one of the main level 1 trauma centers in Brooklyn, NY. A self-described social entrepreneur, he ultimately plans to take the knowledge he gathered from treating individual patients to create large-scale changes that affect a greater number of stakeholders. He regularly draws on his UCLA experiences and connections in his current role.

Pezeshki’s work at Swipe Out Hunger proved to be one of the most rewarding experiences of his undergraduate years at UCLA.

“We saw the inefficiency of wasted meal swipes and recognized the prevalence of student hunger on campus,” he said.

He said that one of his best memories was going to Washington D.C., where President Obama recognized Swipe Out Hunger as a White House Champion of Change.

Pezeshki also completed cancer research at UCLA Health’s oncology department and went on to co-author an article titled “Patients’ Willingness to Participate in a Breast Cancer Biobank at Screening Mammogram” in the Breast Cancer Research and Treatment Journal published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information.

After completing his B.S. in neuroscience, Pezeshki knew that although he wanted to pursue a career in medicine, he wanted to make a bigger impact. He was able to enter into a dual program that allowed him to pursue an M.D. at Duke University while simultaneously acquiring an M.B.A. at the UCLA Anderson School of Management.

“I wanted to gain experience and expertise in the business side of healthcare administration that is rarely taught in medical school,” he says, “I am honored to have the opportunity to do what I love– to help people in need.”­­­­­­­­­

Pezeshki received a plethora of scholarships including the UCLA Rishwain Social Justice Entrepreneurship Award and the UCLA Anderson School of Management Merit Fellowship. “The awards were immensely helpful, especially with rising costs,” he said, “Looking back, those were crucial in helping to decrease the burden and allowing me to pursue my passions.”

Pezeshki said that one of his favorite aspects of working in the medical field is creating individual patient relationships. He would love to give back to UCLA and is considering returning as a clinician after completing his residency.

His advice to current students? “Focus on your studies and career, but most importantly, have fun and do what you love.”

$5 million gift from Meyer Luskin establishes research center for history and policy at UCLA

Thanks to a $5 million gift from longtime supporter Meyer Luskin, UCLA will establish the Luskin Center for History and Policy, the first academic research center on the West Coast devoted to using history to publish knowledge that promotes solutions to present-day issues.

Meyer Luskin

The new center will foster teaching, research and collaborations across campus and beyond the university that will direct historical insights to shaping policies and solving problems.

“I believe we can use history to better our lives,” said Luskin, the chairman, president and CEO of Scope Industries. “The best way to choose the path to the future is to know the roads that brought us to the present.”

The Luskin Center for History and Policy will be a pioneer in translating historical research into tangible and accessible sources of knowledge. The center will support policy-oriented projects developed by UCLA history faculty and their colleagues across campus, host visiting scholars and postdoctoral fellows and provide funding for graduate students. It will also sponsor new courses that will train students to analyze historical events and apply their knowledge to current issues.

“Meyer Luskin has given UCLA the means to build a new pathway to using historical knowledge for the greater good,” said Scott Waugh, UCLA’s executive vice chancellor and provost. “Situated in a global university with a public mission, the new center is well placed to have a decisive impact, from the local level all the way to the international level.”

The history department can already cite at least one recent example of the influence of historical research on public action. In 2015, Zev Yaroslavsky, a former Los Angeles County supervisor and now a senior fellow in history at UCLA, led a project examining the city’s bidding process for the 1984 Olympics. The resulting position paper was distilled into an op-ed published in the Los Angeles Times and contributed to the decision by the Los Angeles City Council to delay a vote on the Olympic bid until all its provisions could be properly debated.

Stephen Aron, the Robert N. Burr Department Chair of the history department, said the center would be a hub for collaborative projects engaging researchers from the social sciences and the humanities as well as campus units including the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health and the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs.

“My goal is to make history matter more to more people, and I can’t think of a better way to do that than through this center,” Aron said. “We are indebted to Meyer for his generous and visionary action.”

Initially, the center will be under the direction of history professor and former department chair David Myers, working closely with Aron.

“There is a new urgency to understand and apply our historical knowledge to today’s world,” said Myers, holder of the Sady and Ludwig Kahn Chair in Jewish History. “The new Luskin Center will be a national trend-setter in bringing many different angles of historical perspective to bear on key issues in the country — and world — today.”

Myers said the center would help develop new forms of teaching to equip students with the historical tools to make sense of the world around them and thrive in any number of careers.

Luskin, who graduated in 1949, and his wife, Renee, who graduated in 1953, are among UCLA’s most generous supporters. In 2011, they donated $100 million — the second-largest gift ever to the campus — to support academic programs and capital improvements. The gift was equally divided between the UCLA School of Public Affairs, which was renamed in their honor, and the UCLA Meyer and Renee Luskin Conference Center, which opened in 2016. Luskin co-chairs the UCLA Centennial Campaign Cabinet, serves on the campaign executive committee, and is a member of the UCLA Foundation board of directors.

Addressing graduates at the 2014 history department commencement, Luskin said, “The study of history creates important knowledge — but equally important is how you assemble and use that knowledge.”

Where Are They Now: Jonathan Dotan

Jonathan Dotan appeared in the inaugural edition of the College Report magazine in 2004 in an article highlighting his internship in war-torn Bosnia. The College recently caught up with Dotan to find out about his post-graduation endeavors and career. jd_sv2

Jonathan Dotan ’03 has three great passions: technology, film and international affairs. By connecting the dots between the three fields, Dotan has found a way to build an exciting career.

Dotan is currently a co-producer and lead technical advisor for HBO’s “Silicon Valley,” which wrapped its third season in June. His work helps to ensure that the show, whose storyline revolves around modern compression technology and computer science, is accurate in its dialogue and representation of the tech industry.

“I’m drawing from my own experience working in tech and film to make sure that the show, which is really dependent on accuracy, remains authentic,” Dotan said.

Dotan credits UCLA with laying the foundation for his future career. He created his own major, Information Policy, through the UCLA honors program, integrating coursework from the College, UCLA Law School, Theatre, Film & Television, Graduate School of Education & Information Studies and UCLA Anderson School of Management. He said having the freedom to take a wide spectrum of courses across disciplines allowed him to graduate with a degree that prepared him perfectly for the future.

However, Dotan said even more vital than the classes he took at UCLA were the people he met there and the valuable friendships that emerged. He teamed up with classmate Robert Davari to enter the Anderson WWW Challenge in 2000, a campus-wide competition challenging students to create solutions to real consulting and technology problems. The two won first place and took their partnership into the real world. Today, Dotan serves as a consultant for Davari’s live event ticket app, Tixr.

He has particularly fond memories of his close mentor Jennifer Wilson, former assistant vice provost for honors in the UCLA College. He said her wisdom and approach to learning have stayed with him.

“She taught me to go the more unconventional path, which is an interdisciplinary path,” Dotan said. “The honors program prides itself on working across departments and disciplines, and I can tell you that my career is almost entirely related to the intersection between the arts and sciences.”

Another piece of advice she gave him, he said, was to pursue work that would bring about social change.

During their fourth year, Dotan and another student traveled to Bosnia as interns on a year-long war crimes project through the United Nations, thanks to funding from the honors program and UCLA’s Burkle International Institute. There, he drafted indictment recommendations to the State Court to charge three Bosnian government officials, ultimately achieving a 100% conviction rate.

“It was the largest corruption case in the Balkans and we helped crack it while we were just students at UCLA,” Dotan said. “It was some of the most meaningful work I’ve ever done.”

After graduating with a master’s in International Relations from Oxford University, Dotan travelled to 30 countries as an envoy for the Motion Picture Association of America. He worked on behalf of the major U.S. studios to engage with foreign film industries and governments to develop local markets and ensure fair market access. On a trip to India, he formed a relationship with India’s maverick retail mogul, Kishore Biyani, who ended up appointing Dotan to run his investments in film and technology.

Transplanted to India for the next five years, Dotan worked on dozens of ventures and notably one of the most-watched TV shows in the country’s history, “Satyamev Jayate” (Truth Alone Prevails), which reached an audience of more than 500 million people. Starring one of India’s most popular actors, Aamir Khan, the talk show brought to light Indian social issues such as inter-caste marriage and domestic violence. Dotan developed a social media platform to allow viewers to submit their own stories to the show.

“In two hours every Sunday morning, we brought people together to put a face on the most taboo issues in India society,” Dotan said. “We explained through stories of hope how people can overcome social ills.”

According to Dotan, the show, combined with the digital platform’s 15 million user stories and 1 billion impressions, became a powerful means to lobby Indian government, and 12 new laws—including the first child abuse law in the country—were enacted.

When he returned to the U.S. in 2013, he was invited to work with producers Mike Judge (“King of the Hill”) and Alec Berg (“Seinfeld”).

“When we sat down to talk about ‘Silicon Valley,’ I realized this was a really special opportunity to develop a show in a different way,” Dotan said. “While it’s primarily a half-hour comedy, the show is also a unique platform to use satire to discuss contemporary issues tech startups face in this golden age.”

Dotan enlists the brainpower of over 200 tech specialists to advise every episode of the show. His TV think-tank includes a team of Stanford researchers who specialize in compression technology and even an intrepid team of UCLA law students who build out pivotal legal plot lines.

Now at work on season four, Dotan said he never could have imagined working on a hit TV show – domestically or internationally – while he was a student more than a decade ago. But what he did discover at UCLA, he said, was the importance of being curious and willing to collaborate.

“The key is simply to ask good questions. People in the world are passionate about solving problems, and if you can bring innovation and dedication to your career, that type of talent will take you farther than you could ever dream,” he said.

Confirming Einstein: Q&A with LIGO Scientist and EE Alum Richard Savage

Earlier this month, researchers at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) announced they had detected gravitational waves, confirming a prediction by Albert Einstein in his theory of general relativity. Massive objects accelerating at extremely high speeds, such as two colliding black holes, can radiate enough energy during their collision as to ripple the very fabric of space-time, causing the force of gravity itself to oscillate.