Team

The Institute and the Collaborative leverage the expertise of a diverse team of faculty representing disciplines in the humanities, engineering, sciences, and business. These faculty have extensive experience with all facets of project work—from classroom implementation and coordination of student project work around the globe to leading curricular change, spearheading faculty development, and supporting project-based learning across the curriculum. Each team will be mentored by one or more of these faculty whose expertise aligns with the team’s needs.
 

MARJA BAKERMANS-WPI

Marja Bakermans is an Associate Teaching Professor at Worcester Polytechnic Institute where she is an instructor in both the first-year Great Problems Seminar Program and the Biology & Biotechnology Department. Read more
Marja possesses a strong commitment to student education and research, and a goal of hers is to stimulate students’ critical thinking and problem solving abilities while addressing ecological and conservation problems. Marja has presented work related to her teaching at multiple conferences and workshops including Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities (SENCER), Ecological Society of America (ESA), and WPI’s Institute on Project-based Learning. Marja has a well-grounded research background, which informs her teaching of interdisciplinary topics. With >25 peer-reviewed and extension publications, Marja works to incorporate current research into classroom discussion. Her current research uses the latest GPS technology to identify and characterize habitat used by migrating and wintering Eastern Whip-poor-will populations to effectively identify priority habitats.

J. ELIZABETH CLARK-LAGUARDIA COMMUNITY COLLEGE

  Elizabeth Clark's headshotJ. Elizabeth Clark, Professor of English at LaGuardia Community College/City University of New York, teaches composition, children’s literature, and the capstone course in the Liberal Arts. Read more
Her scholarly interests include children’s literature, teaching with technology,  ePortfolios and digital rhetoric. She is a graduate of Lycoming College (B.A.) and Binghamton University (M.A. and Ph.D.). She has been part of LaGuardia’s dynamic ePortfolio team since 2002 and has served in a variety of leadership roles at the college. Her critical work on teaching writing, technology, reflection, and ePortfolios has appeared in journals such as: Computers and Composition, Peer Review, and The Journal of Basic Writing. She regularly presents on integrative learning, reflection, teaching with technology and ePortfolios.

CHRYSANTHE DEMETRY – WPI

Chrysanthe (Chrys) Demetry is Professor of Mechanical Engineering at WPI. She earned a BS in Mechanical Engineering from WPI and a PhD in Ceramics (Materials Science and Engineering) from MIT. She returned to WPI as a faculty member in 1993. She has received the WPI Trustees’ Awards for Outstanding Teaching, Advising, and Service, along with the CASE U.S. Professor of the Year Award for the state of Massachusetts. Read more
Since 2006 Chrys has served as Director of WPI’s Center for Educational Development and Assessment, which was renamed the Morgan Teaching and Learning Center in 2010. In that role, she serves as a key partner in efforts to sustain and strengthen WPI’s commitment to high quality, innovative, project-based teaching and learning through instructional development programs and resources, oversight of new faculty programs and TA/PLA training, support for the scholarship of teaching and learning, and strategic initiatives related to faculty development. As co-PI on WPI’s ADVANCE Adaptation grant from the National Science Foundation (2018-2022), she is on a team leading efforts to address gender inequities among mid-career tenured and non-tenure track faculty with promotion reform and broader notions of scholarship.

LORRAINE HIGGINS – WPI

Lorraine Higgins earned her Ph.D. in Rhetoric at Carnegie Mellon University in 1992, where she was also an affiliated researcher at the Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy, CMU/Berkley, publishing numerous articles on writing, argumentation and literacy. Read more
As former director of  The Community Literacy Center  in Pittsburgh, PA, a nationally acclaimed  community-university collaborative, Higgins founded the ARGUE project,  engaging  inner-city youth and community organizations in writing for change. Higgins was an Assistant Professor of Rhetoric at the University of Pittsburgh until she joined the faculty of WPI in 2003, where she directed the Communication Across the Curriculum Program and taught writing and rhetoric in the Humanities and Arts Department. She  is currently a Teaching Professor and Professional Development Coordinator working with the Department of Integrative Studies at WPI. Higgins  has served as a faculty advisor for students in 10 project centers around the globe, and since 2016 has co-directed WPI’s  Melbourne, Australia Project Centre with Steve McCauley.

KIMBERLY LECHASSUER – WPI

As a Research & Evaluation Associate with the Center for Project-Based Learning, Kimberly LeChasseur focuses on what we know about the value of project-based learning, both here at WPI and at other colleges and universities where the Center is facilitating professional learning. Read more
She helps those at the Center and others invested in project-based learning at the college level to clarify, document, communicate, and use what they know about their work to improve the quality of project-based learning strategies in action. Kimberly facilitates professional learning about how to research and evaluate project-based learning and is available to co-design and draft evaluation plans, inform the selection or creation of assessments, and analyze data about the value and areas in need of improvement for research and evaluation of project-based learning. Kimberly has a joint appointment with the Morgan Center for Teaching and Learning where she focuses on supporting faculty in crafting strong scholarship on teaching and learning.

AARTI S. MADAN – WPI

Aarti S. Madan is an Associate Professor in WPI’s Department of Humanities & Arts (HUA). In addition to directing the HUA Buenos Aires Project Center, she has advised two cohorts of junior-year capstone students in Puerto Rico and Costa Rica and number of Minor and Major Capstone projects in Spanish and International Studies. Read more
She holds undergraduate degrees in Spanish and English from Birmingham-Southern College, where she experienced her first forays into PBL and became convinced of its value as a high-impact learning experience. With a PhD in Latin American Literary & Cultural Studies from the University of Pittsburgh, Aarti centers her teaching and scholarship on the ways spatial practices inform the production and consumption of literature, film, and art in Latin America. In 2013 she was awarded the Moruzzi Prize for Innovation in Undergraduate Education and has continued to experiment with new pedagogies, most recently unessays and ungrading. She’s the author of Lines of Geography in Latin American Narrative: National Territory, National Literature (Palgrave, 2017), essays in journals like MLN, Romance Notes, and Dissidences, and book chapters on geo- and ecocritical practices in Latin America & India.

JILLIAN MCLEOD – UNITED STATES COAST GUARD ACADEMY

Jillian McLeod is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mathematics at the United States Coast Guard Academy.  She is also a 2021-2022 American Council on Education (ACE) Fellow.  She has supervised numerous capstone projects and collaborations between CGA cadets and CG units in the fleet.    Read more
Prior to working at the CGA, she co-directed multiple NSF sponsored REUs in mathematics and independent studies in areas such as cryptography, linear algebra, and topological algebra.  Most recently she has been seeking to bring inquiry related to epistemic inclusivity to her pedagogy and classroom practices.  She posits that PBL, if not coupled with principles of CRT (culturally relevant teaching), is at risk of reproducing racial/educational inequity.  The promised high impact potential of PBL is in fact constrained by cultural dominance and racial inequity if unexamined in culturally responsive ways.

RODICA NEAMTU – WPI

Rodica Neamtu is an Associate Professor (TRT) in the Computer Science Department at WPI. She is also the co-founder and co-director of the Bucharest Project Center. She is affiliated with the Data Science and Neuroscience Programs. Read more
Rodica conducts research that investigates how to develop and leverage ground-breaking techniques to explore time series datasets at the confluence of theoretical computer science and application domains like medicine, neuroscience, economics, and complex decision making. Her interdisciplinary research collaborations range from her newly co-founded Data-Driven Materials Science Research Group, to Brain Wave Analytics, Data Series Management, and using Machine learning to create mobile applications for Augmentative Alternative Communication for people with disabilities. Rodica works each year with more than 35 students engaged in projects that aim to offer practical solutions to global problems. Co-directing a project center allows her to contribute to building a strong connection between the two cultures that she is deeply anchored in. Rodica is committed to help students explore other cultures, understand the issues that they are facing, and become part of impactful initiatives to mitigate them. Advising project teams is one of the most engaging and rewarding aspects of her work. With more than fifteen years of teaching experience in various academic institutions, Rodica is committed to use her love and talent for teaching and research to empower others through education to make a difference in the world.

GEOFFREY PFEIFER – WPI

Geoff Pfeifer is Associate Professor of Philosophy and International and Global Studies (TRT) at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts. He teaches philosophy courses, global studies courses, and for WPI’s distinctive project-based Great Problems Seminars Program for first-year students. Read more
His research and teaching interests center around social and political philosophy, global and social justice, critical theory, and critical pedagogies. His work with Lisa Stoddard in this last area of interest has focused on helping students and faculty understand the impact of institutionalized forms of racism, sexism, stereotyping, and bias in their classrooms and pedagogical methods. Together they have developed and piloted a number of modules that help students and faculty understand and address the ways that such biases impact student learning, student teams, and campus communities. This work is ongoing with an eye toward making it responsive to multiple contexts. In addition to a number of book chapters, Geoff’s work can be found in Philosophy and Social Criticism, Globalizations, Human Studies, The European Legacy, Crisis and Critique, Continental Thought and Theory, Contemporary Perspectives in Social Theory, and The Journal of Global Ethics. He is also the co-editor (with West Gurley) of Phenomenology and the Political (Roman and Littlefield International, 2016) and author of The New Materialism: Althusser, Badiou, and Žižek (Routledge, 2015).
 

ZOE REIDINGER – WPI

Zoe Reidinger is associate teaching professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. Reidinger teaches a range of introductory and high-level courses and is an associate director of the Morgan Teaching and Learning Center. Read more
Reidinger has served as co-principal investigator on grants funded by the National Science Foundation to improve engineering education and research opportunities for WPI students, as well as students from around the country, from underrepresented groups. In addition to improving engineering education, Reidinger’s interests include engineering design for marginalized populations, biomaterials, and advocacy for LGBTQ+ students. Reidinger earned a BS from Virginia Commonwealth University and a PhD from WPI.

DERREN ROSBACH – WPI

Derren Rosbach is an Associate Professor of Environmental Studies (TRT) at WPI in the Department of Integrative and Global Studies. Read more
He teaches courses and advises student research that focuses on a number of areas of sustainability including energy, water, food, ecology, and planning in the Great Problems Seminars, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Social Sciences and Policy Studies, and the Global Projects Program. His research and scholarship include work on transdisciplinary collaboration and project-based learning pedagogy for first year and sustainability courses. Derren’s academic and professional experience includes work in sustainable forestry, wildlife biology, microbial ecology, environmental and urban planning, graphic design, and craft brewing. He has been delivering workshops and coaching faculty through WPI’s Center for Project-Based learning since its inception in 2016.

AHMET CAN SABUNCU – WPI

Ahmet Can Sabuncu teaches Mechanical Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. His teaching interest is on mechanical engineering design and thermal and fluid engineering. Read more
The projects he advises originates from collaborations with industry, start-up companies or from an idea that involves a painpoint of a stakeholder. His research and professional interests are on engineering education research on laboratory oriented and experimental studies, renewable energy, and development of biomedical devices from idea to market. Dr. Sabuncu is eager to discover next generation workforce skills and to educate next generation of engineers who will carry industry 4.0 forward considering the needs of the global world.
 

SARAH STANLICK – WPI

Sarah Stanlick, Ph.D., is a faculty member in Interdisciplinary and Global Studies Division at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. She was the founding director of Lehigh University’s Center for Community Engagement and faculty member in Sociology and Anthropology. Read more
She previously taught at Centenary College of New Jersey and was a researcher at Harvard’s Kennedy School, assisting the US Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power. She belongs to organizations like the Society for the Study of Social Problems (SSSP) and the International Association for Research on Service Learning and Community Engagement (IARSLCE), as well as co-chairing the Imagining America Assessing the Practices of Public Scholarship (APPS) research team. She has published in journals such as The Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, The Social Studies, and the Journal of Global Citizenship and Equity Education. Her research interests include health and human rights, global citizenship & civic identity development, and how technology can empower, connect, and support vulnerable populations.

YUNUS TELLIEL – WPI

Yunus Doğan Telliel is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Rhetoric. He co-leads WPI’s Public Interest Technology Initiative and NSF Research Traineeship Program on Robots in the Future of Work. His teaching is animated by an intellectual curiosity about how ideas travel across time and space, and generate diverse practices of acting, seeing, and being in the world. Read more
He is especially intrigued by situations in which people come to ask new questions about themselves and others, in ways that require reconsideration of past experiences and imagining of future possibilities. Such situations, he believes, capture an important aspect of human condition—the intertwining trajectories of power and authority, on the one hand, and creativity and innovation, on the other.  He is currently finishing a monograph that focuses on a similar situation by analyzing how young urban Muslims navigate religious texts and traditional interpretations within the framework of secularism and modern science. His recent research project focuses on ethical imagination and design in engineering. He teaches a range of courses on rhetoric and culture, science and engineering communication, and technology ethics. Inspired by WPI’s ethos of project-based learning, his classes are structured around team projects that help students see themselves and their classmates as active participants in the process of knowledge production and dissemination.

RICHARD VAZ

Richard F. Vaz is Professor of Integrative and Global Studies at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI). He earned the BS, MS, and PhD degrees in Electrical Engineering from WPI, and has served on the WPI faculty since 1987. Read more
From 2006 to 2016 Rick served as Dean of Interdisciplinary and Global Studies, overseeing the Interactive Qualifying Project, an interdisciplinary research project requirement, and the Global Projects Program, a worldwide network of 50 centers where more than 1000 students and faculty per year address problems for local agencies and organizations. In 2016, he established WPI’s Center for Project-Based Learning, which has provided support to over 160 colleges and universities looking to enhance student learning with project experiences. He currently supports the Center as a Senior Fellow. Rick’s interests include experiential and global learning, faculty development, curricular reform, and institutional change. He has authored over 70 peer-reviewed or invited publications and directed student research projects in 15 locations worldwide, including Australia, Greece, Hong Kong, Italy, Ireland, Namibia, Puerto Rico, and Thailand. From 2004 to 2010 he was a Senior Science Fellow of the Association of American Colleges and Universities. In 2016 he was awarded the National Academy of Engineering’s Bernard M. Gordon Prize for Innovation in Engineering and Technology Education.

RANDY BASS – GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY

Randy Bass is Vice Provost for Education and Professor of English at Georgetown University, where he leads the Designing the Future(s) initiative and the Red House incubator for curricular transformation. Read more
For 13 years he was the Founding Executive Director of Georgetown’s Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship (CNDLS). He has been working at the intersections of new media technologies and the scholarship of teaching and learning for nearly thirty years, including serving as Director and Principal Investigator of the Visible Knowledge Project, a five-year scholarship of teaching and learning project involving 70 faculty on 21 university and college campuses. From 2003-2009 he was a Consulting Scholar for the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, where he served, in 1998-99, as a Pew Scholar and Carnegie Fellow. In 1999, he won the EDUCAUSE Medal for Outstanding Achievement in Technology and Undergraduate Education. He is the author or editor of numerous books, articles and digital projects, including recently, “Disrupting Ourselves: the Problem of Learning in Higher Education,” (EDUCAUSE Review March/April 2012); with Bret Eynon, Open and Integrative: Designing Liberal Education for the New Digital Ecosystem (American Association of Colleges and Universities, 2016); and with Jessie L. Moore, Understanding Writing Transfer: Implications for Transformative Student Learning (Stylus, 2017).

AMY CURRAN – WPI

Amy Curran is the Director of the Office of Accessibility Services at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.  She has worked in the field of Accessibility Services in a higher education setting for 10+ years. Read more
She enjoys supporting students in reaching their academic goals as well as collaborating with campus partners to help facilitate open and supportive communication.

COREY DEHNER – WPI

Corey Denenberg Dehner is an Associate Teaching Professor in the Department of Integrative and Global Studies. She worked for over five years as Director of the Worcester Community Project Center, growing applicants to the Center by 300% in her time as Director.  Read more She is founder and Co-Director of the Massachusetts Water Resource Outreach Center. In her time at WPI, she has advised more than 50 projects both domestically and abroad. She has worked with numerous governmental and not-for-profit organizations on development of stormwater, drinking water, environmental justice and dam removal policies within the state. Corey received the 2013 Journal Award of Special Recognition from the New England Water Works Association for her research on the impact of public drinking water management structures on quality and affordability of water. She received her BA in Biology from the University of Colorado, Boulder, her Juris Doctor from Boston College Law School and her PhD in Law, Policy and Society from Northeastern University.

JENNIFER DEWINTER – WPI

Jennifer deWinter is a Professor of Rhetoric and Director of Art and Design at WPI. She works in cross-disciplinary teams in a variety of domains: With computer scientists, artists, and writers to create games for education; with roboticists and ethicists to develop novel interfaces for greater wheelchair accessibility; with environmental engineers and systems engineers to analyze and model environmental policy; with mechanical engineers and Japan studies faculty for integrated international education. Read more
She directs a lot of things that focus on PBL: In Japan, she directs three different centers, one on humanities projects, one of social science and urban sustainability projects, and one senior capstone center for students in CS and game development. On campus, she directs the Intentional Design Studio, which trains and gives students paid studio work in media development, regardless of major. And in the community, she works with local businesses and non-profits to bring projects into course curricula.

CAITLIN KELLER – WPI

Caitlin Keller is an Instructional Designer at WPI, primarily supporting faculty in developing courses for online, blended, and active learning environments.  Read more
Caitlin has worked with the Center for Project-Based Learning on the design and facilitation of multiple workshops and as a consultant for course design initiatives at partner institutions. Caitlin holds a Master’s degree from Drexel University in Learning Technologies and Instructional Design and a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Lebanon Valley College. Prior to joining WPI, Caitlin was a high school chemistry teacher focused on inclusive inquiry-based pedagogy.

COURTNEY KURLANSKA – WPI

Dr. Kurlanska is an economic anthropologist who conducts both interdisciplinary and applied research. Her work in livelihood studies, alternative economies, and development takes a mixed-methods approach to understand and promote holistic and sustainable strategies for addressing global problems at the local level.  Read more
Her interest lies in exploring how local context shapes policy and program implementation. She has over a decade of teaching experience at a variety of institutions, including the University of New Hampshire, Appalachian State University, and Rochester Institute of Technology. Her innovative and civic-minded teaching has been recognized by the Center for a Public Anthropology, and she strives to create a learning environment that promotes critical thought rooted in the lived experience of those both inside and outside the classroom.

RYAN MADAN – WPI

Ryan Smith Madan is an Associate Teaching Professor of Writing & Rhetoric at WPI, where he also directs the university Writing Center. He earned his PhD in English: Composition, Literacy, Pedagogy, & Rhetoric from the University of Pittsburgh. In his 10 years at WPI he has incorporated project-based learning into many of his writing & rhetoric courses; he has also been faculty advisor for junior-level capstone projects abroad (in Costa Rica and Australia) and senior thesis projects of Professional Writing majors. Read more
His research interests focus on the roles of writing instruction within institutions and the faculty development strategies that can help instructors (and students) foreground competing purposes for writing at the university—purposes that have consequences for assignment design, assignment sequencing, and instructor feedback. His scholarship has been published in Writing on the Edge, Reader, and Harlot: A Revealing Look at the Arts of Persuasion.

ANNE OGILVIE – WPI

Anne Ogilvie is the director for team learning at WPI and founder of WPI’s SWEET (Supporting WPI through Effective and Equitable Teamwork) Center, a campus resource that supports individual students, student teams, and faculty as they undertake the collaborative projects that are at the heart of WPI’s project-based curriculum.

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Previously, Anne served as the executive director of WPI’s Global Projects Program for eight years, where she led the team supporting operations and student experience for >1000 WPI students each year at over 50 WPI project centers in 25 countries.

Anne has a BS in Zoology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and an MS in Adult and Organizational Learning from Suffolk University.


TAYLOR ROHENA – WPI

Taylor Rohena is the Assistant Director of the Office of Accessibility Services at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.  She is passionate about supporting student self-advocacy, cultivating student growth in projects, and promoting accessibility in our community.

GBETONMASSE SOMASSE – WPI

Gbeton Somasse is an Associate Professor of Teaching at WPI in the Department of Social Science and Policy Studies. He also directs WPI’s Cape Town Project Center in South Africa and regularly advises student projects in the Global Projects Program. Read more
An economist and applied econometrician, Somasse’s research focuses on economic development, public policy, and impact evaluation, with an interest in education, technology, environment, social justice, and a geographical focus on Africa. As an educator, he uses project-based learning in his economics courses and is interested in student motivation for and resistance to active learning. His other interests include experiential learning in the classroom and the use of critical reflection and e-portfolios to promote more intentional learning by students. Somasse has presented his work on teaching at conferences and workshops including AEA’s Conference on Teaching and Research in Economic Education (CTREE), Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities (SENCER), and IEEE’s Integrated STEM Education Conference (ISEC).

ELISABETH (LISA) STODDARD – WPI

Elisabeth (Lisa) Stoddard is an Associate Teaching Professor at WPI in the Environmental and Sustainability Studies Program, and teaches in the Great Problem Seminar Program through the Global School Stoddard is also the director of the Farm Stay Project Center. Read more
Stoddard’s teaching and research focuses on different areas of social justice, including environmental, food, and health justice, as well as social justice in STEM education and critical pedagogies. Stoddard, Geoff Pfeifer, and their colleagues have received multiple grants to examine issues of bias and stereotyping on undergraduate student project teams, and the impact this has on student learning and experience. Some of this work and associated resources can be found in Stoddard, Elisabeth; G Pfeifer. 2018. Working Toward More Equitable Team Dynamics: Mapping Student Assets to Minimize Stereotyping and Task Assignment Bias. ASEE Paper ID 22206. This work can also be found in a book chapter by Pfeifer and Stoddard in Stoddard’s 2019 co-edited volume Project-Based Learning in the First Year: Beyond All Expectations, from Stylus Publishers.

DAWN WHITEHEAD – AAC&U

Dr. Dawn Michele Whitehead is the Vice President of the Office of Global Citizenship for Campus, Community, and Careers at the Association of American College and Universities (AAC&U). Read more
Her work focuses on advancing practices and strategies to integrate global and experiential learning across curricular and co-curricular initiatives. Whitehead has written and presented nationally and internationally on global learning, community-based learning, and curricular change. Prior to joining AAC&U, she served as the Director of Curriculum Internationalization at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) and was the faculty director for global service-learning programs. Dr. Whitehead is a current Board member of The Forum on Education Abroad, and she was recently named to the Institute for International Education’s National Academy for International Education.

KRISTIN WOBBE – WPI

Kristin Wobbe is co-director of WPI’s Center for Project-Based Learning and the director of the Great Problems Seminar program, WPI’s first year projects program. Read more
Her teaching awards include the Moruzzi Prize for Innovation in Undergraduate Education, and she a corecipient of the 2016 Bernard M. Gordon Prize for Innovation in Engineering and Technology Education awarded by the National Academy of Engineering. She received her BA in chemistry from St. Olaf College and her PhD in biochemistry and molecular biology from Harvard University. She is the co-editor of Project-Based Learning in the First Year:  Beyond all Expectations (Stylus, 2019).  Other recent publications appear in Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning and Diversity and Democracy.