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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.

October 17, 2023

Faculty & Staff 


Associate professor of Art & Art History Lewis Colburn is participating in This Is Out of Hand, a group exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art at Maine College of Art and Design. The exhibition focuses on carving as a sculptural process, and Colburn was invited to participate based on his expertise with computerized carving. Lewis also currently has work on view in A World Lit Only by Fire, a two-person exhibition with Taylor Baldwin at Stockton University in NJ. Both artists explore the anxieties of the present moment, with Colburn exhibiting a series of seven complex new sculptural works produced throughout the pandemic, but not previously exhibited. The exhibition runs through November 12th, 2023.

Adjunct professor of Architecture Michael Ytterberg published LA PROMENADE ARCHITECTURALE: LE CORBUSIER, HADRIAN’S VILLA AND THE DIGITAL WORLD, a paper delivered at (IN)TANGIBLE HERITAGE(S): A conference on technology, culture and design.

Assistant teaching professor of Design & Merchandising Chris Baeza co-authored a chapter in the recently released "Accelerating Sustainability in Fashion, Clothing and Textiles,” titled "Curriculum: challenges, opportunities, and approaches to increasing sustainability content in fashion and textiles education.”

Dean Jason Schupbach, with Saeideh Sobhaninia and Stephen T. Buckman of Clemson University, published the article “The Need for Creative Placemaking in New Development Areas: An Analysis of the Real Estate Developments of Qom, Iran” in the International Journal of Real Estate Studies.

Associate professor of Fashion Design Lisa Hayes’ designs showed at 2023 International Fashion Art Invitational Exhibition, Stockholm Sweden, July-August ’23, Korean Fashion & Culture Association, FCA. Lisa was a speaker at Social Good Educational Panel, Sourcing at MAGIC Aug 7, 2023, and she was a contributor to the article "Falling Hemlines and Rising Inflation, Examining the accuracy of the ‘hemline index’ in The Dispatch.

Associate professor of Urban Strategy Andrew Zitcer presented two talks at Social Theory Politics & the Arts international conference in Lexington KY on September 21-2:. One with Julie Goodman on the PA Humanities Discovery Project and one is with Johanna Taylor (ASU) called "Creative Placemaking in Transition."

Associate Director of Communications and Screenwriting & Playwriting alum Laurel Hostak Jones’ (’12) book Sleep & Sorcery is set to release in August 2024 through Crossed Crow Books and internationally via Red Wheel. Pre-order is available now. Her podcast of the same name recently passed 2 million downloads.

Visiting assistant professor of Screenwriting & Playwriting Jeffrey Stanley’s article "Calcutta 1908: Apocalypse Now" was the featured critical commentary in peer reviewed academic journal Democratic Communiqué. "The RRRevolution Will Be Cinematic"; invited critical commentary and personal essay giving thoughts on the hit Indian film RRR for scholarly history journal Contingent Magazine aimed at lay audiences; published as the lead story. Coming up: Sultans and Soldiers; '23-'24 academic year starting in October '23; collaboration between Drexel and the Bangalore Little Theatre (in India) represented by Prof. Vijay Padaki (India). Short historical playwriting contest for Drexel students from 5 departments exploring India's little-known connection to our Revolutionary War.

Associate professor of Architecture Antonio Martinez-Molina published “Analyzing indoor air pollutants in naturally ventilated athletic facilities. A case of study” in The Journal of Building Engineering, a top journal in the field.

Associate professor of Graphic Design Jody Graff was included in the Print Issue #10, September 2023 of Suboart Magazine, an international art magazine for emerging artists, as one of the 48 featured artists.

Derek Gillman, a distinguished teaching professor in the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design and executive director of University Collections and Exhibitions, was interviewed for a Sept. 22 KYWNewsradio segment about the Drexel exhibition “ELECTRIFIED: 50 Years of Electric Factory.” Link to story.

Joe Steinhardt, an assistant professor in the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, was featured in an Oct. 5 WXPN-Radio “The Key” blog post about the 20th anniversary of his independent record label, Don Giovanni, and an upcoming event to celebrate it. Link to story.

Adjunct professor of Art & Art History Sarina Miller is the editor of the recently published multi-author volume, Perspective: Selected Essays on Space in Art and Design (Vernon Press).

The Journal of American Art has published assistant professor Joseph Larnerd’s essay "The McKinley Bowl's Services and Disservices, 1898-1901."

Westphal IT partnered with Drexel's Equipment Surplus Program to keep 45 obsolete computers from entering the waste cycle. We're thrilled they've found new homes and are heading overseas to a school in Ghana!

Retail & Merchandising professor Joe Hancock was guest editor, alongside Rankin Scholar Vicky Karaminas, a special issue of the Journal of Bodies, Sexualities, and Masculinities.

Assistant teaching professor of Television & Media Management Michelle McHugh has just wrapped up her leadership role of a nearly five year project to rewrite the Bylaws, restructure the Board, develop enhanced policies, and implement DEI best practices for the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, which presents the Daytime Emmy® Awards, Sports Emmy® Awards, News & Documentary Emmy® Awards, Tech & Engineering Emmy® Awards, and Children's and Family Emmy® Awards.

Assistant professor of Product Design June He has launched the Empathic CoDesign Lab, which initiates and supports design projects that celebrate diversity, equality, fairness, and inclusion for our community members. Her team collaborates with interdisciplinary faculty and researchers across the United States, local non-profit community partners, and overseas research institutions.

Art & Art History Facilities Manager Henry Merker is exhibiting in his first group show at Hot Bed gallery in Center City. Henry currently has a new stool design at Drexel's booth at Design Philly.

Associate teaching professor of Film & Television Jocelyn Tarquini was Lead Editor on six episodes of "When Sharks Attack and Why," a 1-hour docuseries on Disney+, which premiered in July.

Art & Art History professor Jen Blazina will have her work exhibited in three exhibitions for the month of October: Animalia 2.0 at Blue Spiral 1 Gallery in Asheville, NC, Artists Residency Work, at Emek Hefer Printing Residency Program at Beit Harishonim in Emek Hefe, Israel, and Moments, Memory, and Time, at the Gallery at Tempe Center for the Arts in Tempe, AZ.

Denise Snow, program director for Diversity Programs & Partnerships in the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, was quoted in an Aug. 3 Philadelphia Inquirer article about Made to Measure, a new two-year apprenticeship program, in partnership with Urban Outfitters, intended to prepare students to work in the fashion industry. Link to story.

Art History professor Pia Brancaccio delivered lectures at Kelaniya University in Sri Lanka, Asiatic Society, and Jnanaparavaha in Mumbai in September. She spoke at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC on Friday, September 29 at the symposium Tree and Serpent: Early Buddhist Art in India and Its Global Reach.

Music Industry professor Toby Seay presented "I hear crickets: Otte field recordings in The Academy of Natural Sciences" at The International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives conference, 11-15 September in Istanbul, Türkiye. This presentation outlined the IMLS funded collaborative project between the Academy of Natural Sciences and the Audio Archives. Toby also presented "Digging in the Tapes: Multitrack Archives as an Emerging Educational Resource" at the Innovation in Music Conference at Napier University, Edinburgh, UK, 1-2 July. With co-authors Kirk McNally and Paul Thompson, this presentation outlined a research project involving Drexel MI students that was performed in November 2022.

Andrew Susskind, a professor in the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, was interviewed in a July 31 NPR story about the actors' union joining the writers' strike. Link to story.

Drexel’s Mandell Theater was mentioned in an Aug. 18 WHYY story about the 10th anniversary of Theater X, which performed “Pac and Biggie are Dead,” a hip-hop take on Tom Stoppard’s “Rosencranz and Guildenstern are Dead,” at the theater last fall. Link to story.

Ryan Moys, an assistant teaching professor in the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts and Design, was quoted in an Oct. 11 Billboard magazine article that features professional advice from some of the nation's best audio engineering programs. Link to story.

Students & Alumni


Stephen Davit (Music Industry ‘12) is a member of the band Marian Hill who recently performed at WXPN Studios before their Philly Music Fest headlining gig. In addition, Mr. Davit plays in avant garde ensembles like Philly’s Space Whale Orchestra. Link to Article.

Tom Falzani (Graphic Design’20) and Adit Gupta (CCI), founders of Lula Convenience, were featured in a Philadelphia Business Journal/PHL Inno article about Philadelphia having some of the youngest entrepreneurs in the country. According to an analysis by online financial platform provider LendingTree, the average age of an entrepreneur in Philadelphia is 34.44 years; however, some of Philadelphia's quickest-growing startups are led by entrepreneurs below the metro area's average. Link to Article.

Tom Scanlan (Photography ‘21), an artist, photographer, and filmmaker based in New York, opened his first solo exhibition, "6 ½" on October 2. Working as a commercial, editorial, and fine art photographer, Mr. Scanlan currently works as the in-house photographer for the American clothing company Bode, while his personal work focuses on portraiture and social documentation. He has had his work featured in Vogue, GQ, Architectural Digest, i-D, Paper magazine and Document Journal. Link to Article.

Nancy Volpe-Beringer (MS Fashion Design ‘16), fashion designer and Project Runway finalist, was featured in a Main Line Today article to share her stance on fashion along with a look to recreate. She discusses her current style, how she got started, where she gets her motivation from, and more.

“A Legacy to Share: Navigating Life’s Challenges and Celebrating Our Greatest Achievements,” a book celebrating the stories and accomplishments of Drexel’s Black alumni and supporting the Drexel University Black Alumni Council scholarship fund, was featured in a July 6 INSIGHT Into Diversity story. Link to story.

James M. Acker's (Screenwriting & Playwriting ‘16) second novel, Teenage Dirtbags, is now available for pre-order. Mr. Acker describes this book as, "my Mean Girls for theater kids. John Tucker Must Die but super gay. A punk/prep romance and a whole lot of Hairspray references. It's gonna get messy."

Daniel M. Benevento (Film & Video ‘18) just wrapped a tier 0 (low budget) feature film in North Carolina as the first camera assistant and is in the process of joining the IATSE (International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees).

Timothy P. Buttner (Film & Video ‘11) served as a cinematographer on the "June in July" music video for country singer Robby Johnson. Mr. Buttner has continued working on corporate videos for Common Spirit Health, Richard Weylman, Dedicated Senior Medical, etc. as well as some commercial content for various businesses like Castle Ybor, SpookEasy Restaurant, Rafiki Ensemble, etc. He also was a gaffer, AC (assistant camera)/focus puller, and the colorist on a short film, Enough, and Steadicam operator on a short film/proof of concept for a musical, Amalia.

Michele Byrd-McPhee (MS Arts Administration ‘09), founder and executive director of Ladies of Hip-Hop, will receive the 2023 Bessie for Outstanding Service to the Field of Dance. The Bessies, also known as the New York Dance and Performance Awards, are New York City's premier dance awards honoring outstanding creative work in the field. Through Ladies of Hip Hop, a non-profit organization empowering girls and women through Hip-Hop culture and arts, Ms. Byrd-McPhee has been working for decades to recontextualize spaces and conversations about Hip-Hop culture along gender, sex, cultural, socio-historical, and racial lines, as well as situating Black dance forms, theories, dance techniques, and the value of the lived artistic experience in spaces that honor and acknowledge cultural roots along with the many creative pioneers who have shaped them. She has worked for many years in TV and arts production, serving as a production coordinator at Brooklyn Academy of Music and then as a senior music coordinator at Late Night with Seth Meyers. She has also served as a former Bessie Selection Committee member. In 2020, she was awarded an Integrated Arts Residency Fellowship grant at University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she taught her course Hip-Hop, Women and the World. Currently, she is a performer and production manager for The Jazz Continuum and artistic director of LDC (LOHH Dance Collective). Link to Article.

Adam Daroff (Film & Video ‘05) wrapped season 17 of The Real Housewives of Orange County as lead editor.

Christopher G. Hytha's (Architecture ‘21) latest project, Highrises, is an online gallery featuring drone images of skyscrapers built in the Art Deco, Gothic, Beaux-Arts, and other distinctive styles during the late 19th and early 20th centuries across the U.S. Mr. Hytha uses the help of digital technologies, social media, crowdfunding, and NFTs to craft a career that reflects his youthful aspirations, and more. Since 2015, he has moved to Philadelphia, worked for an architecture firm in the city, and established himself as an independent photographer, artist, and designer. Link to Article.

Chris Courtney Martin (Screenwriting & Playwriting ‘14) published an article on script structure and the four-archetype paradigm on the popular screenwriting website, The Script Lab. She also released an album titled A Kwean Oontz Novel in all popular digital music stores and streamers such as Spotify, Tidal, Pandora, and iHeartRadio under a new independent self-label Cryptid Content Media. 

John P. McCafferty (Film & Video ‘16), a Los Angeles-based comedian, writer, editor and filmmaker, recently wrapped his first feature film, Dreaming of You, which he wrote, directed, and starred in.

Rick Sebeck, III (Film & Video ‘01) created all new screen media for the Chicago stage production of Blue Man Group. The Boston, New York, and Vegas shows will also be implemented by the end of the year.

Olivia "Liv" Shoup (Screenwriting & Playwriting ‘20) premiered a staged reading of her play, Skinny Legend, at the 2023 Philadelphia Women's Theatre Festival. The play is about the uncomfortable reality of being a "fat girl" on the internet, as well as in real life, and the people who changed, or didn't change, since high school.

Sankha L. Wanigasekara (Entertainment & Arts Management ‘17) wrote an article for about crew video post-production roles and the problematic phrase "let's fix it in post." In addition to defining "video post-production," Ms. Wanigasekara discusses the roles of video editor, colorist, sound designer, visual effects artist, and post-production coordinator, as well as how these crewmembers are chosen and what efforts they put into the final product. Link to Article.

Paul Bloomfield (Architecture ‘00) was profiled in the Philadelphia Business Journal. Mr. Bloomfield, who started his career as a cabinet maker and has been an architect for the last 25 years, is now in the midst of building a series of homes on the Main Line that fit his description of modern - reminiscent of something found in the hills of California rather than in the Philadelphia suburbs. His work has primarily been predicated on a complete overhaul of existing properties, keeping the foundations of homes but turning something that may have been built in the 1800s into a contemporary 21st century home. Link to Article.

Nicole Dalrymple Conahan (Design & Merchandising ‘10) was featured in The Philadelphia Inquirer in an article about the general store, Dalrymple's Card & Gift Shoppe in Sea Isle City, NJ, which her family founded and owned. Ms. Conahan now manages the store and is expecting to take Dalrymple's into the future. Link to Article.

Andrea Gilletti (Film & Video ‘10) served as an animatronics fabricator and set puppet wrangler for Blumhouse's Five Nights at Freddy's as well as a utility puppeteer for Jim Henson's Creature Shop. She also served as a puppet and specialty costume fabricator for Star Wars: Skeleton Crewand AHSOKA.

Jai Rice (Film & Video ‘08) was nominated for a Webby (Best Documentary Series) for a series called Making Our Mark for the KIPP Foundation.

Ari Tecktiel (Screenwriting & Playwriting ‘23) wrote and directed his short play,Through the Fence, which premiered at the Shoe Box Short Theater Festival at the Venice Island Preforming Arts Center in May 2023.

Imani Walker (Film & Video ‘18) is working as a script clearance coordinator at Sony Pictures Entertainment on projects including The Good DoctorThe BoysGen V (The Boys spin-off), OutlanderPlatonicTwisted Metal, and Spider-Man: Across the Spider-verse

Lauren "Wedge" Wegman (Film & Video ‘15) is doing dailies (editing the raw footage shot during the making of a motion picture or TV show) for the TV series Sinking Spring, which will air on Apple TV.

Georgea R. Leslie (Music Industry ‘17), 2023 graduate of the Robert H. Smith Business School at University of Maryland, was profiled for the 2023 "MBA To Watch" article series. Upon graduating, Ms. Leslie will be returning to PepsiCo as a national sales associate manager in their Purchase, NY headquarters location. Link to Article.

Carla Pierini, an undergraduate in the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, was featured in a Sept. 9 Fashion Network story after winning the 2023 Supima Design Competition, a fashion design contest for college and university students. Link to story.

Evan T. Hirsch (Fashion Design ‘19) was a guest on the ABC talk show Tamron Hall on its "Up and Coming Designer Series" segment. Mr. Hirsch is a beauty and style correspondent on the CBS talk show The Donna Drake Show: Live it Up! Link to LinkedIn.