ALUMNI PROFILES — Summer 2010
   

 
(Courtesy Photo)

Duffy Creates Google’s First Super Bowl Ad
Aaron Duffy, BFA ’06, directed “Parisian Love Story,” a popular YouTube video that eventually aired as Google’s first Super Bowl ad in February 2010. The film tells the story of a love-struck man in Paris to showcase Google’s search-engine capabilities. The ad focuses on the “search” field on the Google home page. As questions are input, the viewer sees a narrative play out, from picking a school abroad, to impressing a French girl, to finding a wedding chapel.

Duffy is a director at New York City production company 1stAveMachine and a co-founder of SpecialGuest, its sister studio. He creates television and Web commercials, as well as music videos and short films. One of his recent projects involved a series of short Web films promoting features on Google’s Chrome Web browser.

“I try to find new and innovative ways to augment reality and bring something unexpected to the viewer,” Duffy says.

As a visual communications major at the university, Duffy studied under Pier Marton, senior lecturer in Film and Media Studies, for four semesters. “Professor Marton continues to be an important mentor in my professional career,” he says.

To view “Parisian Love Story” and other work by Duffy, visit www.1stavemachine.com.


Over the course of her career at Frito-Lay, Christine (Galofre) Allen, BSBA ’98 developed healthy snacks and spearheaded the company’s first cause-related marketing program. (Courtesy Photo)

Brand Manager Chips in to Improve Health, Lives
Christine Allen enjoys driving positive change. Through her role as a brand manager at Frito-Lay in Dallas, she works to improve the “shopper experience” for consumers by imagining what they want and trying to bring it to life. Through her volunteer activities, she strives to help people in need all over the world.

In Allen’s current position, she aims to “give people tools to help them plan their shopping trip, provide a positive experience for them in the store, and ensure that consumers feel good about Frito-Lay’s products once they bring them home to their families,” she says.

During her six years at Frito-Lay, Allen, BSBA ’98, also developed healthier snacks for women that incorporated more fiber, protein, calcium, fruits and vegetables. Some of these snacks include Flat Earth and True North nut snacks. “I wanted to create great-tasting, nutritious items that women would love,” she says.

In 2009, she helped launch two new items: Smartfood popcorn and Tostitos Dipping Strips. Smartfood popcorn contains fiber and calcium. “It is a delicious and nutritious snack that Weight Watchers fanatics love,” Allen says. Shape magazine named it the “Snack of the Year.” Tostitos Dipping Strips recently launched in conjunction with the Fiesta Bowl.

“It is rewarding to know that whatever I do will be seen, tasted or experienced by millions of people,” she says. “I am a bit of a ‘foodie,’ so I love working with world-renowned chefs to create new innovative food experiences.”

Allen credits Washington University’s Olin Business School for giving her “a solid business foundation, which helped pave the way for my career.”

One of her career milestones occurred when Allen developed Frito-Lay’s first cause-related marketing program, which launched SunChips as a core brand.

“I spearheaded the formation of a partnership between SunChips and the Susan G. Komen Foundation and created the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure Volunteer Recognition Program,” Allen says.

Race for the Cure volunteers served as brand ambassadors for SunChips, a healthier snack made with whole grains. The program won a prestigious Halo Award, the highest honor in the field of cause marketing.

“We strove to build a stronger emotional connection with consumers and also to do something good for our communities,” Allen says. “Developing the partnership was the most fun I have ever had at work!”

Since then other Frito-Lay partnerships have been formed with the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Habitat for Humanity. Now known for her cause-related marketing experience, Allen advises other PepsiCo brands interested in implementing this type of program.

With her passion for helping others, Allen also volunteers in her spare time. She recently took a three-month sabbatical and spent time in India helping needy women and children. While living in Bangalore, she volunteered with Oasis India, a nonprofit that fights human trafficking and works to empower the poor in urban slum communities.

“My heart breaks for those in need, particularly those in developing countries because they have so little,” Allen says. “To fully understand the complexity of poverty, I felt I needed to live in the midst of it, doing hands-on service.”

During her stay, she visited two brothels in Mumbai. “This eye-opening experience will likely haunt me for life,” she says. “It seemed similar to watching the movie Schindler’s List — horribly depressing but I am glad that I am more aware of what is going on in the world after seeing it.”

Today, Allen focuses on learning more about homelessness in Dallas. For her next volunteer trip, she hopes to head to Haiti to help with earthquake disaster relief.

In the future, she wants to join the board of a nonprofit and “continue to drive positive change wherever I can,” she says. “My husband, Dana [also a brand manager at Frito-Lay], shares my passion for doing what we can to help others.”

To read more about Allen’s adventures in India, visit her blog: christinedanasblog.blogspot.com.

—Blaire Leible Garwitz


In his Louisville, Ky., facility, Kristopher Kelley, AB ’08 turns leftover cooking oil into biofuel, an energy source derived from renewable resources. (Courtesy Photo)

Environmentalist Turns Cooking Oil into Biofuel
At the refinery he built in Louisville, Ky., Kristopher Kelley converts leftover grease (vegetable oil) from Washington University students’ French fries and mozzarella sticks into fuel, which returns to power a campus truck.

Kelley, AB ’08, is living his dream of improving the environment through his company, Kelley Green Biofuel. Growing up on a grain farm in Western Kentucky, his interest in a sustainable lifestyle originated from his father’s advocacy work for biofuels long before they entered the national consciousness. Biofuels refer to energy sources derived from renewable resources.

Now, Kelley collects used cooking oil from several sources in Louisville and St. Louis to create a sustainable alternative to diesel. “Converting the grease is a difficult process, but it’s worth it,” he says in his slight Southern accent. “In my opinion, leftover grease is a resource that has to be utilized because of its energy potential.”

At Washington University, Kelley majored in aesthetics and society, a major he created in the vein of art history. He also studied entrepreneurship and first conceived of his company during one of his Olin Business School classes. Kelley honed the idea during a semester of independent study with Professor Barton Hamilton, though he did not formally establish his company until the summer after he graduated from the university. A Danforth Scholar, Kelley says that “going to a great school like Washington University really helps you learn to think and do research.”

Sharon Stahl, associate vice chancellor for students and dean of the First Year Center, and James McLeod, vice chancellor for students and dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, helped Kelley make contacts. While still an undergraduate, Kelley approached the university’s food services management company, Bon Appétit, about using their cooking oil. He now collects some 150 gallons of their waste oil per week.

It works like this: The used grease travels through tubes from campus kitchens directly into Kelley’s containers. He collects the oil and lets it sit in storage, allowing the sediment and suspended water to sink to the bottom. He then transports the usable oil to his Louisville refinery and puts it through a transesterification process. This removes glycerin from the vegetable oil and transforms it into a new compound. “The final product is much less viscous than the waste grease and is lighter in color,” Kelley notes.

He combines the freshly created biodiesel with traditional petroleum diesel and returns the mixture to Bon Appétit, which uses it to power one of their trucks. Kelley also provides biodiesel for his aunt and uncle’s environmentally conscious farm, which incidentally supplies buffalo meat to their critically acclaimed restaurant Proof on Main in Louisville, Ky.

According to Kelley, waste-grease-based biodiesel is better for the environment than regular diesel, and is even superior to other biofuels like ethanol, which requires energy-intensive harvesting and production. The EPA estimates that using a gallon of biodiesel produced from waste grease reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent, compared to using a gallon of petroleum-based diesel. This is a result of using a recycled feedstock to make the fuel and the clean burning nature of biodiesel.

Still, his business is not easy. It is messy, laborious and logistically complicated. Getting his company off the ground took much research and networking, not to mention a six-figure financial investment. (His aunt and uncle helped him out, and he invested a great deal of his own money.)

Kelley’s current business arrangement, meanwhile, contains flaws. Transporting the grease from St. Louis to Kentucky is not ideal. He, therefore, plans to build a refinery in St. Louis, and he hopes to expand into other cities as well. “I want to collect and distribute everything locally,” he says.

Many people across the country eat fried foods, and much of the oil used to fry is getting dumped down the drain. (This is very bad for city sewage systems, Kelley notes.) Turning used oil into fuel is the obvious remedy. “It’s a movement that makes sense both environmentally and economically,” he concludes.

—Ben Westhoff, AB ’99


Barbara Langsam Shuman, AB ’74 wrote, co-produced and co-directed The Stem Cell Divide, a documentary that explores the stem cell issue in Missouri. (Photo: Joe Angeles)

Filmmaker Explores Missouri’s Stem Cell Issue
The Stem Cell Divide, a Triumph Documentaries film written, co-produced and co-directed by Barbara Langsam Shuman, AB ’74, shows how Missouri became an unexpected battleground in the embryonic stem cell research issue. Covering a period beginning in January 2005 — when Missouri state Sen. Matt Bartle proposed a law banning human cloning — and lasting until the November 2006 U.S. Senate election, the documentary includes interviews with legislators, scientists, patient advocates and others embroiled in the controversy. The film premiered at the St. Louis International Film Festival in 2008 and received the Best Heartland Feature Award at the 2009 Kansas City Film Fest.

Shuman’s background in journalism, public relations and public television helped her immensely when writing The Stem Cell Divide. As a journalist, Shuman wrote op-eds and features for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and other publications. “I love telling stories,” she says. “I love to interview people; I am fascinated by issues and the stories behind them.”

The idea for Triumph Documentaries developed in 2000 when she and a longtime neighbor and friend, Jill Mirowitz Mogil, discussed pursuing their creative passions. When Mogil, an optometrist, said she had always dreamed of producing documentaries, Shuman liked the idea. After Sharon Harris Pollack, a friend with a background in science writing, expressed her interest, the three women established Triumph Documentaries.

Soon the trio began networking with people in the documentary and filmmaking worlds. After Shuman took courses in video production, Triumph Documentaries went in search of a topic for their first film. Looking for a compelling story to follow, the group struck gold in their own backyard.

By the end of 2004, a growing controversy over embryonic stem cell research in Missouri began to brew, and in January 2005, Shuman and company traveled to Jefferson City to interview legislators.

In scenes filmed during state senate committee hearings, legislators grapple with the biology of cloning, as scientists on both sides of the issue present their case. William B. Neaves, president of the Stowers Institute for Medical Research and a Washington University trustee, says that human cloning conjures up images of creating an exact copy of another human. “That is clearly not what those of us who are here to testify against Senate Bill 160 mean when we talk about somatic cell nuclear transfer,” he says.

Steven L. Teitelbaum, the Messing Professor of Pathology and Immunology at the Washington University School of Medicine, also appears as a proponent of the research, explaining that somatic cell nuclear transfer produces undifferentiated embryonic stem cells. “They are not a heart; they are not lung; they are not brain; they are not kidney,” he says, adding that they are cells that can potentially help the donor recipient.

Sen. Bartle, the bill’s sponsor, says that since the embryos being used could be implanted in the uterus and fully develop, they should be protected and not used for therapeutic purposes.

Adina Talve-Goodman, AB ’09, a heart transplant recipient, also appears, advocating in favor of embryonic stem cell research to those who otherwise have little hope.

Twenty-two-year-old Chelsea Zimmerman, who was paralyzed in a car accident, knows she could potentially benefit from embryonic stem cell research but feels it is morally wrong; even if the research provided her a potential cure, she would not take advantage of it.

The documentary also includes footage of Chancellor Emeritus William H. Danforth and his brother, former U.S. Sen. John C. Danforth, both staunch proponents of embryonic stem cell research.

“We did our best to show both sides fairly and equally,” says Shuman, who refrained from disclosing her personal stance to those who asked during filming.

The Stem Cell Divide recently appeared at the 2010 Los Angeles Women’s International Film Festival. Shuman and her fellow producers plan to continue screening the film. They found a distributor to package the documentary for sale to libraries, schools and colleges.

—Sheila Callahan