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The Latest Shout-outs: Westphal Student, Faculty, Staff & Alumni Achievements

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

March 09, 2021

Faculty & Staff Shout-outs

Raja Schaar, Program Director and Associate Professor of Product Design, will be a guest host at the Taylor Center’s monthly Design Thinking (DT) Breakfast on March 25. This is a space to build community among those using design, design thinking, and related methods for social impact. These DT breakfasts are open to all and no DT experience is required. Learn more and register here.

On February 12, Jen Blazina, Professor in the Art & Art History Department, will be unveiling a new work, Atari 2021, for her gallery Habatat Galleries of Detroit as part of their limited exclusive series. Through the lost wax process, she created a cast glass sculpture based on an Atari joystick. For more information as of February 12, visit Habatat Limited. Jen Blazina has also been asked to lecture about her work to the Glass Alliance of Northern California on February 22 at 11 a.m. PST. For more information, please contact Jen at or visit

In December 2020, Pia Brancaccio, Professor in the Department of Art and Art History, delivered a three-part lecture series titled “Spinning the Wheel of the Dharma: Early Buddhist Art in South Asia” at Jnanapravaha Mumbai, India. On February 19, 2021, Pia Brancaccio lectured on “Buddhist Narratives in Gandhara” at UC Berkeley, Center for Silk Road Studies.

Jason Schupbach, Dean of Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, was profiled in a February 13 Design Intelligence piece highlighting his work as a connector in the design world. Read the full story here.

Assistant Professor of Architecture, Jacklynn Niemiec, will present Cost in Space: A Value-Based Approach to Architectural Pathfinding at the 2021 Architectural Research Centers Consortium, Conference in April. The project is funded by a Westphal Mini-Grant, Drexel Summer Research Grant, and developed with the assistance of Digital Media graduate student Steven Lilley.

Katie Knoeringer, adjunct faculty in the Department of Art & Art History, has a piece in Delaware County Community College’s Contemporary Juried Exhibition, 215 | 610 CONTEMPORARY, which runs from March 16 to April 30, 2021. Learn more here.

Cypher Rain, a painting by Bruce Pollock, Painting Area Coordinator for the Art and Art History Department, was selected for The Magic of Water, an online gallery exhibition curated by the Cultural Center of Cape Cod, Yarmouth, MA. View the exhibition here.

Delia Solomons, Assistant Professor in the Art and Art History Department published an essay for the Museum of Modern Art’s post: notes on art in a global context. The essay brings together Marisol’s sculpture Love (1962) and Frank O’Hara’s poem “Having a Coke with You” (1960) to explore their shared investigations of the personal in a capitalistic landscape, queer eroticism, global Cold War politics, and stoppered versus flowing communication. Read more here.

Nick Jushchyshyn, Program Director of Virtual Reality & Immersive Media, is a panelist on a Vicon Industry Panel Webinar Series event on April 21 discussing “Educating the Next Mocap Generation.” Learn more and register here.

Distinguished Teaching Professor, Lindy Fellow, and Department Head of Architecture, Design & Urbanism, Alan Greenberger, has been appointed as the new Vice President of Real Estate and Facilities, effective March 15, 2021. Alan brings over four decades of experience in architecture, city planning, economic development and academia to this important role leading the University's planning, design and construction, plant operations, environmental health and safety, real estate, space management, and transportation services. Read the full story here.

Lewis Colburn, Associate Professor in Visual Studies, was selected as one of 17 finalists for the Taoyuan International Art Award and will participate in the award exhibition at the Taoyuan Museum of Fine Arts (TMoFA) from March 13 to April 18. Colburn produced a new work for the exhibition, titled "Disposable Monument II (After the Boys Who Wore Gray)" based on a damaged Confederate monument pulled down by protestors in 2017. Learn more here.

A music video by Rami George, adjunct faculty in Visual Studies, made in collaboration with Ariel Zetina and Joel Midden, was released on February 24. Watch the full music video here.

Rashidah Salam, adjunct faculty in Visual Studies, has been selected by guest curator, Damon Reaves from the Philadelphia Museum of Art, as one of the artists to participate for the second time in the 2021 Chair Affair Philadelphia. The Chair Affair is Pathways to Housing PA's signature fundraising event. Chosen artists will take inspiration from the Philadelphia Furniture Bank (PFB) and turn it into a repurposed and reimagined chairs work of art. This year's Chair Affair will be exhibited at Cherry Street Pier in Philadelphia from April 2 to April 16. There will be a meet and greet with Pathways and artists on April 11 from 1-3 p.m. ET. The virtual auction will be on Thursday, April 22 from 12-1 p.m. ET to help raise funds for operations at PFB. Learn more here.

Rashidah Salam's “Invisible Reversible Cloak” will be included among 20 garments in the first online exhibition from Drexel’s Robert and Penny Fox Historic Costume Collection, 2020: The Clothes We Wore and the Stories They Tell. Learn more here.

Toby Seay, Professor of Recording Arts and Music Production in the Music Industry program, published the chapter “The Recording” in The Bloomsbury Handbook of the Anthropology of Sound.

Neville Vakharia, Program Director of the on-campus Arts Administration & Museum Leadership, has been selected as a co-editor of the upcoming Oxford Handbook of Arts & Culture Management from Oxford Press.

Jacklynn Niemiec, Assistant Professor of Architecture, will present Cost in Space: A Value-Based Approach to Architectural Pathfinding at the 2021 Architectural Research Centers Consortium, Conference in April. The project is funded by a Westphal Mini-Grant, Drexel Summer Research Grant, and developed with the assistance of Digital Media graduate student Steven Lilley.

Frances Temple-West, Assistant Teaching Professor in Interior Design and IAD, recently completed the renovation of the Vince Store at 1701 Walnut Street in Philadelphia. The new build-out included store planning, fixture and display design, along with furniture and accessory selection.

Sara McElroy, Assistant Teaching Professor in Interior Design and IAD, and Principal of Silver Shoe Design, has several exciting projects on the boards, but they have all NDAs attached to them, including a major Art Museum in Shanghai with SO – IL, a series of women-focused health clinics across California with Alda Ly, a hard seltzer company that is opening a bar/restaurant in Fishtown with Storey Studio, a local community library in Quogue, NY, in South Hampton, and fun retail projects that recently opened, O.N.S in Soho and Off White in Miami.

Laura-Edythe Coleman, Program Director of the online Arts Administration & Museum Leadership Program, and alumna Heather McLaughlin (MS Arts Administration & Museum Leadership ‘20) wrote a chapter on the history of 20th Century Museums for the new edited volume of Libraries, Archives, and Museums: A History of Cultural Heritage Institutions through the Ages. Laura-Edythe and Heather continue to work on a chapter for the book Never Neutral: A History of Museums in addition to completing an invited book proposal for Museum Informatics 2.0 with Dr. Paul F. Marty of Florida State University.

Julie Goodman, Arts & Entertainment Enterprise Department Head, is currently working with Spiral Q on program evaluation for SparQ, their in-school arts residency program, which will take place at Blankenburg Elementary and Andrew Hamiliton Schools in West Philadelphia this spring.

Pamela Yau, Assistant Teaching Professor in Arts Administration & Museum Leadership, has established a timely partnership with Phil Chan, Co-Founder of Final Bow for Yellowface, an arts organization which addresses issues of diversity and inclusion and more specifically, Asian and Asian American representation in dance.

Andrea Modica, Professor of Photography, has several platinum prints included in the exhibition, In conversation with Walker Evans: Four Photographs, on view from January 22 to April 25, 2021 at the Art Museum of the University of West Virginia.

Michael Froio (BS Photography ‘01), adjunct professor of Photography, and alumna Nicole Schwartz (BS Photography ‘14) have each been awarded a New Jersey Individual Artist Fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.

Student & Alumni Shout-outs

Emergency Information Systems (EIS) was recognized by the 2021 Greater Philadelphia Social Innovation Awards, receiving second place in the “Innovation in Social Mobility: Education Entrepreneurship” category for the Project S•A•F•E (Stand Apart, Fight Exposure) Initiative. The transdisciplinary team for Project S•A•F•E, led by CEO and Project Manager Jared Therrein (BS Product Design ‘18) and Design Lead Nicole Feller-Johnson (Dual MS Design Research and Fashion Design ‘18), adjunct professor in the Department of Design, created a system of harm-mitigation distancing and wayfinding design products, as well as accompanying educational tools to help students and communities reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Entertainment & Arts Management seniors Margaux Cattelona, Nicole Case, and Dustin Magidson were named recipients of the Department of Performing Arts’ 2021 Myron “Mike” Moss Award.

Alumna Jahna Auerbach (BS Photography ‘16) recently finished an NEH grant-funded project at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts as an Assistant Archivist. Jahna's team made an artist portal where visitors can learn more about John Rhoden. Jahna lead the digitization of the project and contributed to the design and writing of the portal.

Alum Peter Murray (BS Photography ‘12) is now the Lead Photographer at Spartina 449. He recently photographed the chef and owner of the restaurant The Grey for The Local Palate’s spring issue.

In March 2021, alumna Natalie Obermaier (BS Photograph ‘01) will have a photograph displayed in the group show Portraits at the Praxis Gallery and Photographic Arts Center in Minneapolis, Minnestoa.

Alumna Cassandra Wang (BS Photography and Psychology ‘16) photographs for noreetuh, a Hawaiian restaurant in New York City’s East Village, were featured in a 9-page spread (pages 88-97) in Athleisure Magazine on February 5, 2021. View the 9-page spread here:

Alumna Rachel Wisniewski’s (BS Photography ‘16) photographed and co-authored The New York Times article, “Honoring One Life Among 500,000.” Published on February 24, 2021, the article honored Mildred Perry, 94, who passed away on February 15, 2021, at Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia, of prolonged medical complications from COVID-19, as the country was nearing another painful milestone in the pandemic. Read the full article here.

Alumna Nicole Cashman (BS Design & Merchandising ‘94), founder and CEO of the communications agency Cashman & Associates, was featured in the Philadelphia Business Journal’s Power 100 for 2021. The Power 100 is a group of leaders carrying influence from a variety of industries across the region and highlights those who are helping to lead a path forward within their industries. Read the full article here.

Alumna Gabrielle Conforti (BS Design & Merchandising '07) has been named activewear brand Outdoor Voices' new chief executive officer. Read more here.

Product Design and Graphic Design students, Cat Gambino Batchelder, Connor Jackson, Sayana Saji, Eva Shnaiden, Megan Smith, and Shane Steinberg won first place in Bartram’s Garden Design Sprint for their work on “Bartram’s Blend.” The six-student team worked to conceptualize and prototype a donor gift that both captures a sense of place and tells the story of Bartram’s past, present, and future. They not only incorporated garden specific tea blends and local honey but also created a novel tea strainer and beautiful watercolor illustrations to share the feeling of this wonderful place. See “Bartram’s Blend” here.

Alumna Lisa Kilhefner (BS Interior Design ‘04) joined St. John Properties, Inc., a Baltimore-based full-service commercial real estate development and investment company, as a designer in the company's Interior Design and Space Planning division. With more than 16 years of design experience, she most recently served as a Space Manager for Drexel University. Read the full story here.

Alum Ryan J. Shank (BARCH Architecture ‘08) was promoted to associate principal at Murphy & Dittenhafer Architects in York, Pennsylvania. Shank worked at the architecture firm since 2014 and was previously employed at a firm outside of Philadelphia.

Alumna Kandra Bolden (MS Arts Administration & Museum Leadership ‘20) is now Development Assoicate at the National Museum for Women in the Arts.

On Friday, March 5, Drexel Product Design seniors Brandon Bauer, BreAnna Bechtold, Emma Dietz, Charlotte Guedalia, and Tim Stolwyk presented their amazing work at IDSA Philly’s Student Merit Awards. Congratulations to all the students who participated this year, and a big shout-out to BreAnna Bechtold for being chosen as Drexel’s Student Merit Award Winner!