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Student Bios

Nabeel Ansari | Applied Mathematics & Music

My major is the ultimate manifestation of the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) curricular approach. I combine music theory, performance, and technology with applied mathematics, physics, and computer science in order to create the perfect duality of artistry and engineering.  My first, most important career goal is to cultivate my musicianship and love of storytelling to become an award-winning composer, writing compelling, cathartic soundtracks for narrative works in all mediums. The second is to develop my skills in STEM fields into expertise in order to advance technology in the music industry. As of June 2015, I am writing music for two commercial games and developing innovative developer tools for virtual instrument technology at Impact Soundworks. In the past, I developed the digital signal processing system for Philadelphia Game Lab's "Sonic" project, and my music has been featured on several video game arrangement collaborations, such as the official Capcom USA Mega Man 25th Anniversary album and the Community Efforts Orlando 2015 fighting game tournament album.

AJ Beckner | Software Design and Entrepreneurship

Technology is the best friend of creative destruction. Technical co-founders sit at the crux of business, technology, and design. It is critical to be proficient in very different areas to start a successful technology company. My major does this by removing the breadth from three different fields and keeping only the certain areas of depth critical to starting a technology company. All of the classes in these areas prepare me to find a product and market, design a compelling software solution, and orchestrate its implementation.

Brannon Blunk | Entrepreneurial Filmmaking

My objective is to harness the power of storytelling and the principles of business, so I can not only write and direct film, but also produce and distribute it in a way that seeks to positively impact the world in both practical and entertaining terms. An entrepreneurial skillset and approach is vital because I will found and operate my own studio, a task that will demand high expertise in both filmmaking, and in the leadership and efficiency unique to business.

Hannah Boettger | Cultural Studies

Lev Boonin | Public Policy

Courtney Boyd | International Nutritional Politics

The main focus of my studies is to look internationally at nutritional problems and also the politics that are involved with solving or lessening these nutritional problems around the world. I would like to focus on women's health in rural Asian and African societies. My major is a combination of Anthropology, Public Health, Political Science, Nutrition, and International Area Studies.

Tucker James Collins | Neurochemistry

I am interested in exploring the field of Neurochemistry, which examines how neural systems are affected by chemicals. I seek to close the gap between understanding these systems at the biomolecular level and understanding how this forms the mechanism by which which organisms learn and adapt to their environments. We are defined at every stage of life by the experiences that we have, from the chemical levels of sensory input through every resultant biomolecular response that comprises our perception of it. Understanding these mechanisms that define our experience of the world is for me fundamental to understanding not just who I am as an individual, but how, despite our differences, we are all the same.

Madeline Demas | Digital Storytelling

In the age of technology, there are now countless ways to tell a single story. Because of this, I’m building a major that encompasses the traditional idea and method of storytelling, in both the business and creative worlds, and how these stories can come into fruition by utilizing new and upcoming media and technology. To do this, I’m studying different aspects of the humanities and design theory, and balancing that out with various studies in digital media and web development. My mission is simple: I want to tell stories, and I want to help others tell their stories in a fun and interactive way that is appropriate for this new technology based generation.

LeeAnn Ellison | Entrepreneurial Arts 

Emma Fowler | Paleontology and Digital Reconstruction

Paleontology and Digital Reconstruction is the study of extinct life and use of 3D digital space to enhance the methods of paleontological research. Paleontology builds on two main disciplines: geology, to interpret the context of fossils in Earth’s history; and biology, to understand the anatomy of extinct organisms and how they lived and functioned. Digital reconstruction involves 3D scanning fossilized bones and using various methods drawing from biomechanical engineering to reach conclusions about the mechanical functionality of extinct organisms.

Laura Hill | Sustainable Design and Built Systems

My major is an overall study, starting with preliminary design and leading to final execution, of sustainable buildings and their corresponding systems. Through engineering studies, I can understand underlying building systems, and therefore how to reduce waste and energy consumption. I’m combining this with Architecture to gain proper drawing techniques and learn about the structure of buildings, and Interior Design to create healthy interior spaces. Tying it all together, I’m studying Sustainability in the Build Environment and Environmental studies to gain an in depth understanding of Sustainable designed buildings and their systems.

Kevin Jablonowski | Cryptography and Steganography

Cryptography and steganography are two sides of the same coin. Cryptography is concerned with protecting information by making it impossible to read without the correct password, while steganography is concerned with protecting information by making it invisible to eavesdroppers. Both fields draw upon advances in mathematics, computer science, and digital media to effectively secure and conceal private data from prying eyes. Together, cryptography and steganography are central to many important rapidly developing applications including secure banking and e-commerce, cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, digital signatures, and digital rights management. Through this course of study, I hope to push the boundaries of data security and make security more accessible to the general public.

Maura Jarvis | Sustainable Product Development

There is not a single product that we consume in today's world whose supply chain does not impact the environment. In too many cases, this impact is negative and we do not understand, or even see, what implications our consumption habits have on the world around us. In my major, Sustainable Product Development, I am learning how to take social and environmental considerations in our supply chains and bring meaning to the term 'transparency' in product sourcing and manufacturing. In the future, I'd like to assess supply chains and ensure that companies are using ethical and sustainable practices in a consulting or compliance role.

Alyssa Klein | Biological Design

My major incorporates product design, digital medias, biomedical engineering, and 3-D modeling as a way to bridge the existing barriers between science and artistic design.  In this so–called Biological Design, my approach is to combine these fields to extend beyond what the fields are capable of on their own.  Art and science are complementary in such a way that their consilience is not the same as an artist and scientist working together – I define the collaboration.

One day I would like to start my own business that concentrates on science-based artistic design, sustainability and 3-D printing.  My goal is to become a versatile designer that can work in many different fields.  Being great at science means incorporating imaginative leaps, as would an artist, just as being a great artist requires reason to give structure to the madness (Day-Lewis, 1957).

Amanda Kraft | Neuroscience

Before I began applying to colleges, I was told repeatedly that it was a terrible idea to specify in neuroscience as an undergraduate. Although I heeded the warnings, I knew my passions revolved around the brain, so I formed a new plan: I would take two opposing perspectives relating to the brain, study both, and connect them back to the brain independently from my classes. Thus, I came to Drexel University to double major in Chemistry and Psychology–Chemistry would provide an internally-based and scientific explanation of brain functioning, while psychology would provide an externally influenced and individualized basis for brain functioning.  I quickly realized, however, that it was implausible to graduate on time with that particular dual major when also completing the pre-medical requirements. Fortunately, I discovered and became a part of the Custom-Designed Major Program which allows more room for gaining perspectives in the field of neuroscience. Hopefully my choice of curriculum, along with Neuroscience Association of Drexel University – a student organization beginning the process of recognition in July 2013 – will provide a foundation for Drexel to establish an Undergraduate Program in Neuroscience.

Lily Lauben | Deliberate and Compassionate Game Design

With a vibrant combination of Game Art and Design, Computer Science, Psychology, Sociology, Entrepreneurship, and Management, my goal is to be the heart of a creative team of game designers working to tackle some of the world's most relevant and deepest-rooted problems: questions of war, poverty, identity, innovation and tradition to be investigated from skin to core one video game at a time.

Priyanka Nair | Neurotechnology

From my first day at Drexel, my goal was to follow the pre-med track and continue on to medical school to ultimately practice as a physician. I knew early on that I didn’t want to take the generic biology major route and with careful thinking I came up with Neurotechnology. My custom-designed major incorporates the fields that I believe function together to make me the most socially prevalent doctor, with a neuroscience focus. The disciplines include: biology, psychology, biomedical engineering and some influence from nursing. Biology and psychology work together to create neuroscience and provide the basics on the human body and human behavior. Biomedical engineering exposes me to the technological advances arising in the medical field. Finally, nursing helps me better understand patient interaction practices without losing sight of the individual as a human before addressing the illness they may present with.

Maryam Nasir | Illness, Health, and Society

Eliza Nobles | Sustainability in Architectural Design

Tristan Pantano | Computer Science and Music Technology

Nearing the end of high school, I was conflicted as to which of my passions I wished to pursue. Through robotics competitions and personal endeavors, I had developed a love for the world of programming. However, the strong role listening to music had played in my life lead me to crave being involved in the creative process of it. As such, I originally entered Drexel as a Music Industry major. When I learned of the custom major program, I was overjoyed- I could now combine my passions for technology and music into a unified plan of study. My major overviews music from the perspectives of both composers and studio engineers, and additionally encompasses classes in programming and digital signal processing that are necessary for the implementation of music software. No matter what career the skillset I’m building here leads to, I hope to have a lifelong involvement in the worlds of music and technology.

Peyton Parrott | Narrative Media

I am a literary artist with a lifelong love of writing. My major includes coursework in writing, English, social science, and business. My social science classes help to better inform my writing, while my business classes support my entrepreneurial interests. A key component of my major is project-based learning. Through my self-directed projects and running my own studio, I have been able to complete several story-based games and other literary work, both interactive and static. For more information on what I'm working on, please visit my website here.

Nicco Piagesi | Entertainment Analytics

Nikhil Rajagopal | Cultural Diplomacy

I want to become a Translator of East Asian Cultures. Knowing and interpreting languages is part of interpreting a culture, but a Translator of Cultures understands the culture and mentality of the two societies so much so that they can move seamlessly between the two. They can interpret the nuances and cultural values in order to better understand and connect the two. Because I am biracial (Indian and American), I already live in and between two cultures, and I have the ability to essentially translate across these two cultures. A bridge between two worlds, more so than just simple translation, is what is required in many regions of the world right now.

Sarah Robinson | Organizational Sciences

My goal is to achieve an interdisciplinary understanding of the dynamics and interactive effects of organizational, individual, and interdependent behaviors to facilitate effective leadership and management. In order to achieve this, I have embarked on a plan of study, which includes, communications, sociology, marketing, ethics, philosophy, digital media, various styles of business management, and negotiation and conflict resolution. In addition to creating my major, I will be minoring in Interdisciplinary SMART Initiates. I view my Drexel undergraduate experience as being holistic. Outside of class I am heavily involved in activities that contribute to my educational goals. I am a proud member of Greek Life and Student Ambassadors. After college, my career path will focus on helping to guide organizations to live up to their values, missions and visions in a higher education environment.

Mansoor Siddiqui | Technological Innovation and Analytics

Sammy Slutsky | Humanistic Biopsychology

I entered Drexel with a strong desire to pursue a pre-dental track, but I did not simply want to major in Biology.  Given my career aspirations, I would like to not only learn the necessary hard-core science that I will need, but I would also like to be able to communicate with patients and make them feel at ease in a dental chair.  I came to Drexel with the desire to take many courses in Biology, Psychology, and Spanish.  However, I soon found out that in order to graduate in a reasonable time frame, a triple major would not be possible.  I am grateful that I found out about and the Custom-Designed Major Program.  My Custom-Designed Major, Humanistic Biopsychhology, will allow me to integrate Biology, Psychology, and Spanish into one cohesive whole.  By the time I receive my diploma, I will have the skills I will need to interact with all different types of patients and understand where they are coming from, no matter what the situation.

Aimee Turner | Bioprocess Technologies

>My major combines Architecture, Environmental Science, Product Design, and Engineering. The goal is to specialize in urban sustainability through innovation of existing structures. By using new technology to enhance natural processes, a more sustainable design can be created. This curriculum is preparing me for the applications needed to build better engines for converting algae to biofuel or being able to create an air filter by building and designing high efficiency living ecosystems that maximize the carbon cycle. My Major tackles these ambitions through both design and research.

Nicole Vecere | User Experience Design

Entrepreneurship & User Experience draws heavily from digital media, design, psychology, computer science, and business. My goal in creating this major is to understand how we interact with technology, how the systems we interact with are created, and ultimately how they can be improved. By doing this, I believe I can become an innovator, using technology to address issues in areas like sustainability, education, and medicine.

Rheanna Vimawala | Communication in Global Medicine

My custom-designed major allows me to pursue my interests in three vastly different disciplines, namely the humanities, health sciences, and biological sciences, in a unique way by combining them into one entirely new plan of study. Through taking language, public health, biology, and international health courses, this major will give me the initial tools I need to make a lasting change in the healthcare of not only the United States, but also hopefully in the healthcare of developing countries all over the world as well.

Micah Watanabe | Educational Media

I’m drawing from the fields of education and digital media, as well as psychology and creative writing to study the effects of television and film on education: specifically for children from 8 to 12. I hope to enter the digital media industry to create quality programming for youth.

Sophia Zahan | Neuroscience

My coursework consists of a combination of neuroscience, cognitive studies, biology, psychology, economics and health care systems courses. I am particularly passionate about the relationship between the brain and human/animal behavior. Although both the biological sciences and the psychological sciences appear to align in their methods, the ways in which those in the two disciplines view what is ultimately the same system differs significantly. Both practice empirical inquiry and promise objectivity, yet, both perceive the relationship between the brain and behavior quite differently. As a custom – design major student, I hope to help bridge the gap between the fields of biology and psychology through my study of the human brain and apply this unique academic experience by pursuing a career in the healthcare system. I became instantly enthralled with the study of the human brain after taking my first cognitive neuroscience class. The complexity of the human brain and the mysteries of its role in defining the human “self” has since been a fascination of mine. It is hard to believe that this 3-pound gelatinous blob in my head carries the weight of an individual’s past, present, and future. To be able to understand the brain from both a biological point of view and a psychological point of view requires me to embrace the complex methods of many different disciplines and to understand and execute the shift in perception that is required to be able to speak and write in such a way that I will be understood and respected by the people that make up the variety of disciplines that I draw my courses from.

CSDN Alumni

Christa Blumenthal | Food Studies & Entrepreneurship

I aim to apply an interdisciplinary approach to the study of our food system, from agricultural production, to retailing, to consumption, to address the ever-pressing problems of food justice, environmental degradation, and ill health that comprise our relationship with food. By studying the food system holistically through a lens of social entrepreneurship, I hope to find sustainable solutions through business as well as communication and policy measures. Our methods of producing food, our health, and the health of our environment are interconnected; food studies and entrepreneurship intends to explore these links and, in doing so, develop outcomes for a well-nourished world.

Taylor Bush | Creative Writing

The goal has always been to create an educational conglomerate of traditional writing courses, expansive literature classes and a component focused on "the human condition" (i.e. psychology, sociology, anthropology, etc.). I designed my major around the idea of using academia to inform my worldview and, by extension, elevate my writing. While classes and learning are of great importance to me, reading and writing themselves are top priorities. Thus, I try to leave room to foster these tools alongside classes and such. My plan for the major is to keep creating top-notch art that is beautiful and dangerous.

Collin Cavote | Biomimicry

In order to better understand the way nature inherently creates balanced systems, I am exploring a multi-faceted approach to science and design. By looking at the natural world through a designer’s eye, the goal is to mimic the stable and self-healing systems that occur without intention. I believe that humanity will solve many of its current problems by looking to nature for solutions. Currently, I’m looking to launch a product designed to remove toxic compounds from air.

Tommy Czerpak | Film Production and Music

My major combines the areas of film, business, and music into one major that focuses on film production and creating music. I also take general business courses, such as Entrepreneurship and Accounting, to help me better understand the business of film. Knowing the business along side the production will give me a better understanding of the industry as a whole. Since I hope to direct and score movies some day, this major is the perfect way to combine all of the areas I need to learn in a structured and concise way.

Kathryn Gardner | Architectural Conservation

Architectural Conservation and Sustainable Living comprises the theory and application of conservation ideology in the built environment. I integrate historic preservation, sustainability goals, holistic environmental theory, and social construction into the conceptual redesign and planning processes of spaces. The Custom-Designed Major provided a mentor to help me patch up my career plan, the freedom to explore what I want, and the resources to help me get there.

Nora Goldberg | Urban Sustainability and Community Placemaking

After graduating from a democratic alternative school, where I spent the last two years of high school, the Custom-Designed Major Program proved to be wonderful for my myriad of interests and my non-traditional approach to education. By combining Environmental Policy, Economics, Public Health and Storytelling I am addressing the triple bottom line. I equate environmental policy to the environment portion, economics as the growth and development segment, and public health as the social part of the triple bottom line. Storytelling is found at the intersection of the three rings that make the triple bottom line, as storytelling is what bonds it all (and us all) together. Ultimately I am interested in Urban/City Planning.  I also chose to include storytelling as part of my major because I am interested in helping those living in urban populations to tell their stories about their health and their environment.  Additionally, having an in depth understanding of communities’ needs, wants, and aspirations is a critical part of inclusive, comprehensive planning.  The storytelling portion of my major was in large part inspired by radio programming such as The Moth, This American Life and the local community initiative, First Person Arts.  In addition to planning I am concurrently interested in academia, specifically academic advising—which essentially is planning in a different context.

Chelsea Knittel | Sustainable Materials and Design

My major is based on the belief that interdisciplinary collaboration is key for successful efforts towards a more sustainable future. Key elements of my curriculum include design; both fashion and product, sustainability, and environmental science, chemistry and a bit of materials sciences. In order for my designs to be successful in leaving little environmental foot print, it is crucial to have an understanding of the materials used and their impacts, as well as how economic and social factors influence environmental efforts. Sustainability is not only about the environment, as most assume, but just as much about people and their quality of life. Driven by the desire to help solve our problems of over-consumption, not add to them, I designed my curriculum to prepare myself best I can with an arsenal of knowledge that will allow me to make choices that are beneficial to our world in my future designs.

Kyla Lafond | Disability Studies

Emily Levine | Music Philanthropy and Youth Culture

Dawn McDougall | Meanings of Urban Sustainability

With cities rapidly trending upward as desirable places to live, parallel to the increasing urgency of environmental concerns, critical inquiries about the nature of sustainability in the urban context are continually gaining relevance. Scholars must examine definitions of sustainability from a multiplicity of perspectives as well as the interplay among them. 

Using progressive theoretical frameworks of Sustainable Urban Design and Development integrated with social science methods of inquiry, this major explores how city-dwellers perceive their place in the urban context and subsequently how they negotiate their physical environment with larger social constructs to create meaning in the built-environment.

Kevin Matthews | Global Fashion Industry

With this program I am able to look outside the traditional scope of fashion education and learn how the apparel industry is affected by global issues, including those social, political, and economic. This type of wide-reaching, self-driven education is vital in understanding and solving the problems that apparel companies face today when making decisions.

Jeana Mobley | Design Theory

Through the combination of applied design and art and design history and theory, I hope to bridge the gap between the concept and practice of design. Drawing from fields such as Graphic Design, Art History, Philosophy, and Entertainment and Arts Management, I study the relationship between art, design and society. Design Theory has allowed me to pursue work in the museum, graphics, and art management fields to experience design from multiple perspectives.

Mik Schulte | Corporate Policy and Environmental Risk Management

I love the private sector.  My program is a tailored combination of how the private sector manages risk and crafts policies towards controlling their environmental impacts.  This endeavor is centered around the belief that the private sector should function as its own best regulator, and that environmental protection can emerge as a function of risk management and protecting a company’s bottom line.  I am particularly interested in impacts on water supply and availability. My present research focuses on developing a risk management model as a tool for municipalities to address recent harmful algae blooms (HABs) affecting municipal water supplies.

Adam Starr | Science, Technology, and Society

I am interested in the impact of science and technology on society with a concentration on the interaction between humans and prosthetics. The short list of areas of study includes, sociology, history, anthropology and biology. Yet, I’m open to integrating more disciplines into my course of studies. I was inspired to develop my particular curriculum for two reasons. The first reason is because of the uniformed reliance of science and technology by humans and the ways we deal with its’ abundance. Secondly, I’m interested in how people with prosthetics cope with a world that was not built with them in mind. I don’t have a future plan for my major concretely set in stone yet, and will see where the classes take me.