Carnegie Mellon University

Alumni Association

Notable Alumni

The truest measure of Carnegie Mellon's success as an institution is the success of our graduates. Carnegie Mellon alumni are accomplishing great things all over the globe.

From Tony Award winners to Nobel Prize winners, from CEOs to entrepreneurs, from Carnegie Mellon professors to artists, our alumni are reaching great heights in their areas of expertise.

Carnegie Mellon attracts students from all 50 US states and 93 nations, and is affiliated with 15 Nobel Laureates, 10 Turing Award recipients, 41 Emmy Award recipients, four Academy Award recipients and 12 Tony Award recipients.

Download a complete list of our Notable Alumni (.pdf). Not seeing someone? Nominate a notable alumnus/a (.pdf) today.

Paul Allaire (IA'66)

Paul joined the Xerox Corporation as a financial analyst. He was named senior vice president and chief staff officer of Xerox in July 1983, was elected president and a member of the board in August 1986, became chief executive in August 1990, and chairman in May 1991. Paul stepped down as chief executive officer of the corporation in April 1999 and returned to the position May 2000. Paul is a former director of the Council on Foreign Relations, vice chairman at the Concord Coalition and listed among the members and attendees of the Bilderberg Group and the Trilateral Commission.

He serves on the board of directors of the New York City Ballet, Catalyst, and the National Planning Association and has served on the Advisory Council of the Private Sector Council. In June 2000, Paul became Chairman of the Board of the Ford Foundation and had been a Trustee since 1997.
He serves as a member of the board of directors of the Sara Lee Corporation, the New York Stock Exchange, Lucent Technologies, priceline.com, and GlaxoSmithKline. He is also a member of the Business Council and the Business Roundtable.

René Auberjonois (A'62)

René is a Tony Award-winning American actor, known for portraying Father Mulcahy in the movie version of "M*A*S*H" and for creating a number of characters in long-running television series, including Clayton Endicott III on "Benson," Odo on "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine," and, attorney Paul Lewiston on "Boston Legal." He also has had a long and successful stage-acting career. He is also a vocal supporter of various charitable organizations, such as Doctors Without Borders. He is the recipient of a Tony Award and a Prism Award.

Stephen Bochco (A'69)

Stephen is an American television producer and writer. He has been involved in a number of popular hits including "Hill Street Blues," "L.A. Law," and "NYPD Blue." His impact on the nature of American prime-time network television drama is considerable: prior to Hill Street Blues it was rare for American straight drama shows to have story arcs, i.e. several stories running over many episodes (with the exception of primetime soaps such as Dallas). It was also rare to have a large regular cast. The structure of the modern 'ensemble' television drama comes from Stephen who many regard as having changed the 'language' of television drama. Though his major was writing, his most valuable class was acting. He explains, "I never learned to act, yet they were the most valuable classes I ever took because they addressed the internals of behavior."

Gaius Charles (A'05)

Gaius is an actor who plays Brian "Smash" Williams on NBC's "Friday Night Lights" and guest-stared in "The Book of Daniel." During his years at Carnegie Mellon, he was recognized for his work in "Spunk," "Candide" and "The Wild Party." Post graduation, he appeared in the Princeton Shakespeare Festival productions of "Romeo and Juliet" as Mercutio and "A Comedy of Errors," as well as "The Clink" with the National Institute of Dramatic Arts (NIDA) in Sydney, Australia. He also has been in the one-man-show "Meet me in Iraq," which he wrote and produced.

Ted Danson (A'72)

Ted is an American Emmy Award- and Golden Globe-winning actor noted for his television work, and specifically, for his role as central character Sam Malone in the classic sitcom "Cheers," and his role as Dr. John Becker on the series "Becker." He was a regular on Larry David's HBO sitcom, "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and starred alongside Glenn Close in legal drama "Damages." During the 12-year run of "Cheers," he was nominated nine times for an Emmy Award as Best Actor in a Comedy Series and won twice. The role also earned him a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Comedy Series. He also received a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor for his performance in the television movie "Something About Amelia." Ted and his wife, actress Mary Steenburgen, starred in and were executive producers of the CBS comedy series "Ink." He made his debut as a television producer with "When the Bough Breaks," in which he also starred. Some of his film credits include, "Three Men and a Baby," "Made in America," "Dad," and "Saving Private Ryan."

Charles Geschke (S'73)

Charles is best known as the co-founder with John Warnock of Adobe Systems Inc., the graphics and publishing software company, in 1982. Prior to co-founding Adobe, he and John Warnock worked at Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center (PARC). Charles had started there in the early 1970s, where he headed PARC's Imaging Sciences Laboratory. Unable to convince Xerox management of the commercial value of Warnock's InterPress graphics language for controlling printing, the two left to start Adobe. He retired as president of Adobe in 2000, shortly before his partner Warnock left as CEO. Charles, along with co-founder John Warnock, received the AeA Annual Medal of Achievement Award. They are the first software executives to receive this award. He was inducted as a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery.

Holly Hunter (A'80)

Stage, film, and television actress Holly Hunter became the first Carnegie Mellon graduate to win a Best Actress Academy Award when she received the prize in 1994 for her best performance in the drama, "The Piano." She is more recently starring in and producing "Saving Grace," a crime series on TNT. Holly is the recipient of two Emmy Awards and has been awarded a place on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Elaine Konigsburg (MM'52)

Elaine made a remarkable debut in children's books by winning the Newbery Award for her second book, "From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler" while her first book, "Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth," took Newbery Honors in the same year, 1968. She is the only author to win the Newbery Medal and a Newbery Honor in the same year. She also won a Lewis Carroll Shelf Award and the William Allen White Children's Book Award for "From the Mixed-up Files." Nearly thirty years later, she received a second Newbery Medal for "The View from Saturday." Her essays on children's literature, collected in TalkTalk, reflect her interests in art and science. More recently, Elaine has been writing and illustrating picture books featuring her own grandchildren in "Samuel Todd's Book of Great Colors," "Samuel Todd's Book of Great Inventions," and "Amy Elizabeth Explores Bloomingdale's." She is the recipient of the Carnegie Mellon Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award.

Judith Light (A'70)

Judith is perhaps best known for her role as Angela Bower on the sitcom "Who's the Boss?" She most recently starred as Claire Meade on "Ugly Betty," ands her other television credits include: "One Life to Live," "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," and "The Ryan White Story." Judith's stage credits include Laura Wade's "Colder Than Here," Steven Sondheim's "Company" and Athol Fugard's "Sorrows and Rejoicings" and the Henrik Ibsen classic "Hedda Gabler." Judith is a board member and advocate for many organizations and charities representing AIDS-related and Human Rights issues including: Broadway Cares: Equity Fights AIDS, Faith in America, Project Angel Food, The Matthew Shepard Foundation, The National Aids Memorial Grove, The Point Foundation, The Rome Chamber Music Festival, and The Trevor Project. Judith is the recipient of two Emmys.

Nancy Marchand (A'49)

Nancy (1928-2000) entered the television industry with a 1950 production of "Little Women." During the 1950s, she fluctuated between stage and television. She made her movie debut in Chayefsky's "The Bachelor Party." Among her stage performances, include "The Taming of the Shrew," "The Balcony," "The Merchant of Venice," "Love's Labour's Lost," "Much Ado About Nothing," "Forty Carats," "And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little," "The Plough and the Stars," "The Glass Menagerie," "Morning's at Seven," "Awake and Sing!," "The Octette Bridge Club," "Love Letters," "Man and Superman," "The Importance of Being Earnest," "The School for Scandal," and "Black Comedy/White Lies." Her television credits include "Lou Grant," where she won four Emmys, one for each year of the series' existence. She is also well-known for her role as Livia Soprano in "The Sopranos." Nancy's film appearances include "The Naked Gun," Ladybug Ladybug, Me, Natalie, Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon, The Hospital, The Bostonians, Jefferson in Paris, Reckless, Sabrina, and Dear God.” She is the recipient of the Drama Desk Award, four Emmys and a Golden Globe.

James Meindl (E'55, '56, '58)

James is director of the Joseph M. Pettit Microelectronics Research Center, director of the Nanotechnology Research Center, and Pettit Chair Professor of Microelectronics at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, Georgia. He is a co-founder of Telesensory Systems, Inc., a manufacturer of electronic reading aids for the blind. James also serves on the board of directors of SanDisk Corporation, Zoran Corporation and Stratex Networks. Prior, he was the founding Director of the Integrated Electronics Division at the Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, U.S. Army Electronics Laboratories. He was then appointed John M. Fluke Professor of Electrical Engineering at Stanford University. He went on to serve as Associate Dean for Research in the School of Engineering; Director of the Center for Integrated Systems; and was the founding Director of the Integrated Circuits Laboratory. He was later appointed Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. James won the IEEE Medal of Honor.

Ming-Na (A'86)

In the third grade, Ming-Na played a bunny rabbit in a school play, and she was fascinated with the theater from that moment on. When she was cast as Lien Hughes on "As the World Turns," it made her the first Asian-American to appear as a regular on a daytime drama. Several years later, she was cast in "The Joy Luck Club," Wayne Wang's popular screen adaptation of the best-selling novel by Amy Tan. A short time later, she became part of the ensemble cast of the popular and award-winning television series "E.R.," playing Dr. Deb Chen. Her stage credits include "Golden Child" and her television credits include "The Single Guy." Her film credits include "One Night Stand" and "Mulan." She is the recipient of an Annie Award.

Gela Nash-Taylor (A'78)

Gela is the co-creator and co-founder of Juicy Couture, a contemporary line of casual and somewhat dressy apparel now owned by the Liz Claiborne fashion company. The line is known for terrycloth and velour tracksuits as well as perfume and leather, velour, and terrycloth handbags. The line is sold in upscale department stores (Lord & Taylor, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale's, Nordstrom's, and Saks Fifth Avenue) and specialty stores. Juicy Couture (originally called Travis Jeans) started out as a relatively unknown brand of expensive T-shirts and jeans, created because a pregnant Gela couldn't find maternity clothes she liked. She bought loads of plain vintage jeans and - with her design sense and a lot of hard work - transformed the jeans into a successful line of maternity wear.

George Pake (S'45, '45, H'66)

George (1924-2004) was a physicist and research executive primarily known for helping found Xerox PARC. Prior to his time at Xerox, he was a physics professor at Washington University in St. Louis, where, after only four years, he became the head of the physics department (at age 28). He later went on to become provost of the university from 1962 to 1970 before leaving to serve as founding director of Xerox PARC. During his years running Xerox PARC, the research center invented the laser printer and pioneered the use of a computer "desktop" which functioned by clicking on "icons." This has since become the computer industry standard. He was a recipient of the National Medal of Science.

Randy Pausch (S'88)

Randy (1960-2008), a Carnegie Mellon professor and alumnus, inspired countless students in the classroom. He co-founded the Entertainment Technology Center and led researchers who created Alice, a revolutionary way to teach computer programming. Randy's best known for delivering his highly acclaimed "Last Lecture," teaching others how to fulfill their childhood dreams. Viewed by millions on the web, the lecture also became a best-selling book - co-authored with fellow alumnus Jeff Zaslow. In May 2008, Randy was listed by Time Magazine as one of the worlds Top 100 Most Influential People.

Zachary Quinto (A'99)

Zachary is an actor known for his roles as Adam Kaufman on "24," Sasan on "So NoTORIous," and Sylar on "Heroes." He has been described as an up-and-coming small-screen actor who is nothing if not versatile. Zachary first appeared on stage in Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera productions, but it wasn’t until age 16 that he decided to pursue acting as his true vocation. His other television credits include: "The Others," "CSI," "Touched By An Angel," "Charmed," "Six Feet Under," "Lizzie McGuire," "Haunted," "The Agency," "Off Centre," "Dragnet," "Joan of Arcadia," "Twins," "Crossing Jordan," and "Blind Justice." In his film debut, he will appear as young Spock in the 2009 film "Star Trek." Zachary won a Gene Kelly Award for his performance as the General in his high school's production of "The Pirates of Penzance." He is the recipient of the Future Classic Award. Zachary, along with Aaron Staton, was an emcee at Carnegie Mellon's Campaign Kick-off event on October 24, 2008.

Aron Ralston (E'97)

Aron Lee Ralston is a mountain climber who, trapped by a boulder in May 2003, was forced to amputate his lower right arm in order to free himself. Having left his job to study mechanical engineering and French at Carnegie Mellon University, and to climb all of Colorado's ‘fourteeners’ (peaks over 14,000 ft high), as Aron negotiated a narrow slot while solo-canyoneering in Blue John Canyon (Canyonlands National Park, Utah), a 800-1,000-lb boulder fell and pinned his right forearm, crushing it. Aron’s hand "died" from lack of circulation and, after 5 days’ trying to lift and break the boulder, dehydrated and facing certain death, Aron chose a final option that made him an international sensation - to free himself, he had to amputate his lower right arm. Now a public speaker, Aron and still climbs mountains prolifically - in 2005 becoming the first person to climb all of Colorado's ‘fourteeners’ solo in winter. Documenting his ordeal in the book "Between a Rock and a Hard Place", Aron philosophises, "A hand and forearm are not a life." 127 Hours, a movie telling the story of Aron Ralston starring James Franco as Ralston opens in theatres in November, 2010.

Judith Resnik (E'70)

Judith (1949-1986) was an American engineer and a NASA astronaut who died in the destruction of the Space Shuttle Challenger during the launch of mission. She was the second American woman in space. She was selected for the astronaut program in January of 1978, serving as a mission specialist on the maiden voyage of Discovery, from August to September of 1984. Prior to her selection by NASA in 1978, she worked for the Xerox Corporation and the National Institute of Health, where she was a biomedical engineer and staff fellow in the laboratory of neurophysiology. After she was selected as an astronaut candidate, she completed her one-year training evaluation period and was assigned to work on a number of projects in support of the Orbiter development, including experiment software, the Remote Manipulator System, and training techniques. On January 28, 1986, millions saw Judith on television as she strutted aboard the Challenger with a smile, waving her hand, minutes before the spacecraft exploded. The Society of Women Engineers named an award in her honor.

George Romero (A'61)

George is an American director, writer, editor and actor. He is perhaps best known for his "Dead" Series ("Day of the Dead," "Dawn of the Dead," "Night of the Living Dead," etc.) of five horror movies featuring a zombie apocalypse theme and commentary on modern society. "Night of the Living Dead," perhaps one of the most celebrated American horror movies, became a cult classic by the early 1970s and was inducted into the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress of the United States in 1999. Almost all of his films were shot in, or around, Romero's favorite city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In addition to his "Dead" movies, George filmed "There's Always Vanilla," "The Crazies," "Hungry Wives," "Martin," "Knightriders," and "Creepshow," a work by famed horror novelist Stephen King.

John Shaffner (A'76) and Joe Stewart (A'77)

The team of John Shaffner and Joe Stewart are among the most productive and recognized designers in Hollywood. Their work includes: comedy series, special events, award shows, game shows, talk shows, telethons, music/variety series/specials, and live theatrical productions. They have been awarded four Emmys and 23 Primetime and Daytime Emmy nominations, as well as nominations for the Cable Ace and Art Directors Guild Award. They are also recipients of the Carnegie Mellon Alumni Merit Awards. John and Joe own Production Design by Shaffner/Stewart, and John also serves as chair and CEO of the Academy of the Television Arts and Sciences, which makes him ex-officio trustee of the American Film Institute. They have designed specials for numerous people and organizations, including: David Copperfield, the American Music Awards, the Jerry Lewis Telethon, Willie Nelson, Michael Jackson, and Perry Como. They have designed the sets for "George Lopez," "What I Like About You," "Two and a Half Men," "Friends," "The Drew Carey Show," "Dharma and Greg," and "Veronica’s Closet." They have also designed theatrical productions, including sets for the New York Shakespeare Festival. Please read more about their story in the October 2008 edition of Carnegie Mellon Today.

Aaron Staton (A'04)

Aaron, a stage, television and film actor, made his Broadway debut in Mamma Mia before landing the title role in The American Pilot. Aaron later made his television debut with Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, followed by 7th Heaven and, most recently, Mad Men. He also has several films to his credit, including Descent, The Nanny Diaries, August Rush, One Night, and Guerilla. In 2008, Aaron was nominated for a Screen Actor’s Guild (SAG) Award, along with his Mad Men costars, for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series. During his time at Carnegie Mellon, Aaron worked in the Office of Alumni Relations as a work-study student, where he often used his talents as artist (including singing) to entertain his co-workers and supervisors. He is slated to emcee Carnegie Mellon's Campaign Kick-Off event on Friday, October 24, 2008.

Ivan Sutherland (E'59)

Ivan is considered by many to be the creator of Computer Graphics. Starting with his Ph.D. thesis, Sketchpad, he has contributed numerous ideas to the study of computer graphics and computer interaction. Ivan introduced concepts such as 3-D computer modeling, visual simulations, computer aided design (CAD) and virtual reality. His first computer experience was in high school with SIMON, a relay-based computer with six words of two bit memory. His first computer program was to make SIMON divide, which was a great accomplishment. He is one of the few high school students to have ever written a computer program in that era. He was the co-founder of Evans and Sutherland; the founder of Sutherland, Sproull and Associates (purchased by Sun Microsystems to form Sun Labs); and the vice president and fellow of Sun Microsystems. Ivan has written over 49 publications and holds 12 Patents. He is the recipient of the Computerworld Smithsonian Award, the AM Turing Award, and the first Zworykin Award.

Blair Underwood (A'88)

Blair got his first "big break" by winning a part on the "The Cosby Show." He later made his film debut in "Krush Groove," followed two years later by "L.A. Law." Blair's theater credits include "Measure for Measure" with Kevin Kline at the 1993 New York Shakespeare Festival, as well as "El Negro en Peru," "The Game of Love and Chance," and "Love Letters." His television credits include "Murder in Mississippi," "Heat Wave," and "Mama Flora's Family." His film credits include "Gattaca," "Deep Impact," "The Wishing Tree," and "Full Frontal." Blair also has five music videos to his directing credit. Additionally, he published a non-fiction book called "Before I Got Here," a collection of stories and anecdotes from parents that speak to the existence of a child's soul prior to birth. He is involved in numerous charitable organizations, including the Muscular Dystrophy Association, YouthAIDS and Artists for a New South Africa, which he co-founded. For more information, please visit: http://www.blairunderwood.com.

Andy Warhol (A'49)

Andrew Warhola (1928-1987), better known as Andy Warhol, was an American artist and a central figure in the movement known as pop art. After a successful career as a commercial illustrator, Warhol became famous worldwide for his work as a painter, an avant-garde filmmaker, a record producer, an author, and a public figure known for his membership in wildly diverse social circles that included bohemian street people, distinguished intellectuals, Hollywood celebrities and wealthy aristocrats. A controversial figure during his lifetime, Andy has been the subject of numerous retrospective exhibitions, books, feature, and documentary films since his death in 1987. He coined the phrase "15 minutes of fame." No other artist is as much identified with Pop Art as he. The media called him the Prince of Pop.

John Wells (A'79)

John is a theater and television producer and writer. He is perhaps best known for his role of producer of the television series "ER," "Third Watch," "The West Wing," "China Beach," and "The Evidence." He also worked in film, including "Doom" and "White Oleander." His company, John Wells Productions, is based at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, California. He is former president of the West section of the Writers Guild of America. John previously worked in marketing and advertising for Paramount Pictures on such productions as "Reds", "Raiders of the Lost Ark", "S.O.B." and "Ragtime" and "One from the Heart." He also kept active in the theater, producing a number of acclaimed stage productions, including "Tanzi," "Battery," "Balm in Gilead," and "Steaming." John set up a production company, John Wells & Friends, which co-produced with Warners TV, "Angel Street." He is the recipient of six Emmys, the Peabody Award, the Producer’s Guild of America Award, the People’s Choice Award, the Writers Guild of America Award, and the Humanitas Award.

Daniel Wilson (CS'03, '04, 05)

Daniel is an American writer, television host and robotics engineer. He is currently shooting a series that he will be hosting for the History Channel titled "The Works," which is scheduled to debut in the summer of 2008. Earlier he worked as a research intern at Microsoft Research, the Xerox PARC, Northrop Grumman, and Intel Research Seattle. Additionally, he is a contributing editor to Popular Mechanics magazine, called the "Resident Roboticist." His first book, "How to Survive a Robot Uprising" won a Rave Award from Wired magazine. He wrote two other books as well: "Where's my Jetpack?" and "How to Build a Robot Army." Daniel is working on two children's books for Bloomsbury Publishing: "Bro-Jitsu: The Martial Art of Sibling Rivalry" and "The Robonomicon."

Jeff Zaslow (HS'80)

Jeff (1958-2012) was a senior writer and columnist for the Wall Street Journal. His column, "Moving On," appears in the new Personal Journal section, and focuses on life transitions: from losing a loved one to changing jobs, getting married to moving into retirement, as well as handling success or failure. In 2003, his column was named best general interest column among newspapers with more than 100,000-circulation in a contest sponsored by the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. He won the Will Rogers Humanitarian Award, which is given to a newspaper columnist who exemplifies the ideals and public service work of the noted humorist and columnist. He was honored for using his column to run programs that benefited 47,000 disadvantaged Chicago children, and for raising millions of dollars for Chicago charities. His annual singles party for charity, "Zazz Bash," drew 7,000 readers a year and resulted in 78 marriages. He previously worked for USA Weekend and the Chicago Sun-Times as the replacement advice columnist for Ann Landers, winning the job over 12,000 other applicants. His family columns have appeared in TIME magazine, and his many TV appearances have included "The Tonight Show," "The Oprah Winfrey Show," "Larry King Live" and "The Today Show." He co-authored "The Last Lecture" with Randy Pausch.
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