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The Latest Shout-Outs: Westphal Student, Faculty, Staff, and Alumni Achievements

Celebrate the students, faculty, staff, and alumni of the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design in this round-up of recent accomplishments.

March 12, 2024

Faculty & Staff 

Adjunct professor of Art & Art History Talia Greene is collaborating with Los Angeles arts organization Synchromy, and a grassroots environmental organization (Save Elephant Hill) that is fighting to protect an East LA natural area overrun by illegal dumping an off-roading. They have received major grants from the California Arts Council, among others, for an outdoor art and performance event, Voices from the Hill, that lifts up the stories and sounds of this contested urban green-space. Talia has new work in Slow Burning Rapture at the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education, through May 5. Her installation, A Braided River Migrates Through Time, transforms waste into beauty by crafting electronic waste, salvaged car parts, mud, and rocks into a complex braided river.

Architecture associate professor Antonio Martinez-Molina published an article titled "Evaluation of passive cooling through natural ventilation strategies in historic residential buildings using CFD simulations" in Energy and Buildings. In this piece, the authors delve into the efficiency of multiple natural ventilation strategies in cooling a historic residential structure located in a hot and humid climate zone.’’

David White, an adjunct professor in the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, was mentioned in a March 5 Billy Penn story about a new musical, that White co-wrote, based on the Philadelphia Inquirer's "Angry Grammarian" column.
Link to story

Andrew Susskind, an associate teaching professor in the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, was interviewed in a March 6 KYW-TV (CBS-3) story about Delaware County becoming a popular filming location for movies and streaming series.
Link to story

Drexel’s exhibition “ELECTRIFIED: 50 Years of Electric Factory,” was featured in a March 2 Big Picture Magazine article.  
Link to story

Program director of Architecture Andrew Phillips, RA, EdD, successfully defended his dissertation: Think with your Hands: Design Practices in K-12 Education. Congratulations, Dr. Phillips!

Chris Baeza, an assistant teaching professor in the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, was quoted in a Feb. 5 Woman's World Magazine article which was excerpted in a Feb. 26 First for Women story about the best budget-friendly alternatives to luxury products. The piece was republished by Yahoo! Life.
Link to story

A Feb. 14 Philly post about the future of the technology economy in Philadelphia, written by Frank Lee, PhD, a professor in the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design and director of the Entrepreneurial Game Studio in the ExCITe Center, was republished by CityBizon Feb. 15.
Link to story


Students & Alumni


Architecture major Kevin Ponce-Victoria (’28) has been selected as the Summer 'Architect' / Historic Preservation Technician with the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) as part of the Latino Heritage Internship Program (LHIP). The selected intern(s) will produce Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) measured and interpretative drawings of the Alazán-Apache Courts Leasing and Community Center Building and select historic structures associated with this endangered public housing complex in San Antonio, Texas.

Jacob Deleon (Digital Media ‘04) was featured on ABC's Shark Tank on March 1 to pitch his Fila Manila sauce brand to the hit show’s slate of celebrity investors. Mr. Deleon made a deal with Daniel Lubetzky, CEO of snack brand Kind LLC, for a $250,000 investment for a 20% stake. Mr. Deleon launched Fila Manila in November 2020 with his $1,200 stimulus check in the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic and has seen it take off in the less than four years since, including landing on the shelves of major retailers. To date, Fila Manila has raised about $900,000 from institutional and angel investors, including backing from Kraft Heinz Co. and Whole Foods. He is also the founder of Founders Heritage. Link to Article 1 and Link to Article 2

Rhonda DiMascio (MS Arts Administration ‘94) was appointed executive director at Princeton's Morven Museum, effective March 25, 2024. She has spent more than a quarter century as an executive at museums and gardens and brings significant leadership experience in program and fund development. Ms. DiMascio has served as executive director of Friends of Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia for the past four years. She also served as the first development director of Grounds for Sculpture, the 42-acre sculpture park in Hamilton. Earlier in her career, Ms. DiMascio served as the executive director of the Alice Paul Institute (API) in Mount Laurel. Link to Article

Amy A. Rees (BS Graphic Design ‘95) became an adjunct associate professor at the University of the Arts, according to a LinkedIn update. Ms. Rees is also a partner and studio director at Exit Design and associate adjunct faculty at Drexel University. Previously, she was the co-owner of a+b Studios Inc. Link to LinkedIn

Maria C. Renz (Interior Design ‘90) is scheduled to be a mainstage speaker at the Shoptalk 2024, a global retail and ecommerce conference on March 17–20 in Las Vegas. Shoptalk will bring together more than 10,000 attendees and more than 225 senior-level speakers to share their unique insights on critical topics such as using AI to transform retail, building brand trust and loyalty, creating unified retail experiences, and navigating changing industry relationships. Ms. Renz, the global head of Commerce at Google, will offer insights into how the retail industry can embrace AI to be more efficient, exciting and relevant to shoppers. Link to Article

Kian Stevens-Winston (Music Industry ‘20), a musician and producer who goes by the pseudonym Sugar Pit, has released his latest single titled "Pay Me." The new track delves into the struggles of the working class as he confronts the disparity between labor and compensation. Mr. Stevens-Winston's alter ego Sugar Pit came about when he transformed his Southern Illinois bedroom into a D.I.Y. creative hub where he made music, artwork, promo videos, and even handcrafted stage props and merch. His music went viral in 2023 after he was ejected from his job at a local Walmart in a video soundtracked by his breakthrough ode to menial labor, "Customer Service." The track earned him over 1 million worldwide streams (and more than 7 million views on TikTok), paving the way for his Task Master EP and new deal with Atlantic Records. Link to Article

Chris Hytha (Architecture ‘21), a designer, photographer and visual artist based in Philadelphia, collaborated with Pittsburgh writer Mark House on the book Highrises Art Deco, which features some of the nation's most impressive Art Deco skyscrapers in 49 cities. In the book, Mr. Hytha's drone images of the buildings are paired with Mr. House's written profiles. The book launch will occur February 22 at Pittsburgh's historic Oliver Building. Link to Article

Nathaniel Lemisch (Music Industry ‘23), music producer, and Karlia Gutierrez (CoAS ‘23), a South Jersey R&B musician, were featured in a segment on CBS News Philadelphia. Ms. Gutierrez released her first EP titled In Time,in January 2024, which was produced by Mr. Lemisch. Their partnership began during their time as dormmates at Drexel University, where Mr. Lemisch was captivated by Ms. Gutierrez' powerful and controlled vocals. She also announced that she will be playing at the Apollo on Amateur Night. Link to Article

Samantha Riccioli (Design & Merchandising ‘07), an interior designer and entrepreneur, was featured in a Philadelphia Inquirerarticle about the significant attention she has received for her innovative approach to holiday decor. Ms. Riccioli began her hobby of keeping her Christmas tree up year-round in 2020, when the pandemic began. This evolved into a thriving business specializing in custom tree design and holiday decorations. Her talent shines through in her elaborate designs, meticulously crafted with high-quality materials and attention to detail. With prices ranging from $3,000 to $10,000, she offers personalized tree installations, turning each creation into a true work of art. Link to Article