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September 2021 Shout-Outs: Westphal Student, Faculty, Staff, and Alumni Achievements

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

September 16, 2021



Fashion Design Professor Kathi Martin has published “Asian Threads in the Drexel Digital Museum Project” in the Journal of the Korea and China Association of Fashion Industry-Academy. Special Issue: Hanbok to Eternity. No.1, July, 2021 pp 41-48. She also presented this paper virtually at the annual conference of the Korea and China Association of Fashion Industry-Academy, June 25-27, 2021, Seoul, South Korea. Martin, with co-authors and fellow members of the Drexel Digital Museum project, Nick Jushchyshyn, program director, Virtual Reality & Immersive Media, and Claire King, Research Associate, has published “Sharing Historic Fashion through the Digital Archive/Access and Interoperability” in the Journal of University Heritage, Vol. 5 (in press). 


Art & Art History Professor Jen Blazina has a number of exhibitions and two residencies on the horizon. Currently, her work is being exhibited at Habatat Galleries Michigan in Royal Oak, MI as part of The International Master of Glass 50th Anniversary of the Gallery and the Glass Art Fair. In October, Jen has been invited to be a visiting critic and resident artist at Manhatanville College in Manhattanville, NY. In November, her work will be included in Botanicals at the Blue Spiral Gallery in Asheville, NC, and she will be an invited master glass resident artist at the Flint Institute of Arts Museum in  Flint, Michigan. In December, her work will be on display in a solo exhibition at the Koelsch Gallery in Houston, TX. 


Music Industry Professor Toby Seay presented at the 2nd Annual Conference on Sonorities Research (paper title: The mediation paradox of the sonic space on record) and at the Audio Engineering Society’s Audio Education Conference (workshop: What the Masters Teach Us: Multitrack Recordings in Research and Education; panel: Developing a Curriculum for Teaching Audio Archiving, Preservation & Restoration). 


The Sound of Waves, a short film written and produced by Matt Kaufhold, program director for Screenwriting & Playwriting and directed by John Avarese, program director for Film & Television, had its world premiere at the Fort Myers Beach International Film Festival September 18th, with a Philadelphia Premiere slated in October, followed by an international Premiere in Ireland in November. 


Frances Temple-West, AIA, LEED, Assistant Professor of Interior Design, completed design and construction of the new VINCE store at the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City in Arlington, VA. The store opened Labor Day weekend. 

Associate Professor of Design & Merchandising Alphonso McClendon was a guest on 90.1 WABE-NPR Atlanta to promote Conversations about Jazz & Other Distractions with Carl Anthony. The discussion with Carl Anthony and Asanyah Davidson, Chairperson of the Miami Fashion Institute, considered the impact of jazz in cultural, economic, racial and political context. McClendon is the author of Fashion and Jazz: Dress, Identity and Subcultural Improvisation. In addition, McClendon was featured in Atlanta Daily World that highlighted the Conversations About Jazz on June 10. Listen to the WABE-NPR show’s recording here. 


Screenwriting & Playwriting teaching professor Bruce Graham's new play The Duration opened Sept. 7th in London's Omnibus Theater. The Duration explores the impact of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on one family, and the profound effect of collective grief on a nation. 

Polly McKenna-Cress, adjunct faculty of Arts Administration & Museum Leadership, opened a free on-site exhibition on water. Polly's firm, Alusiv, Inc. supported the content development and fully designed "Downstream: exploring more than 200 years of water analysis and water protection in the United States. How do we understand how water moves, what it carries, the ways it can be threatened, and our choices for how to protect it?" at Science History Institute opened September 17. 


Adjunct professor of Graphic Design Bob Warkulwiz’s Black Lives Matter poster won an honorable mention in the 2021 protest poster competition for Graphis, one of the most prestigious annuals with award-winning work from international talents in design, advertising, art/illustration and photography. The inspiration for this compelling work is the use of the police street outline of victims and the copy indicates who was shot and where. The graphics visually record and reinforce the shooting. Headline type cards emulate street cards at similar real events. 





2021 BS Fashion Design graduates Cat Pfingst and Owen Rogoff were selected as 2021 CFDA Fashion Future Graduate Showcase Designers. The Fashion Future Graduate Showcase celebrates design approaches that focus on the inclusion of wellness and advocacy, themes of identity, sustainable futures, and playful fashion communities coming to life. Cat was also a finalist for the 2021 Supima Design Competition, showcasing a collection at New York Fashion Week in September. 


In collaboration with The Philadelphia Fashion District, Design & Merchandising student Virginia Granato and Art & Art History faculty Joshua Weiss and Jacob Lunderby created an installation to fill two empty cases in the mall space. The installation uses sourced imagery of plant life digitally manipulated to create a dreamscape of bold colors and shapes that speaks to current fashion and merchandising trends. The team worked with 5 major fashion brands, Eddie Bauer, Fason de Viv, GUESS, Primark, and Kate Spade to showcase unique looks for Fall 2021. The display combines art and fashion for a unique and refreshing experience that will inspire post-pandemic customers to return to the mall space. 


Senior Animation & Visual Effects team Space Camp--made up of 2021 graduates Maria Osanova, Ara Talitsskaya, Jonathan Jankowiak, Gabrielle Harder, Samantha Hall, Julia Farley, Brandon Delvalle, and Shannon Boyle—was a semi-finalist for this past year’s Student Academy Awards for their short, Light Years Apart. They were advised by Milady Bridges, Nick Jushchyshyn, and Dave Mauriello. 


Eric Friedensohn, (Graphic Design '12), AKA Efdot, worked with Topps to create the Iconic Stadium Series, a series of cards celebrating some of MLB's most beloved iconic venues. The project was featured in Print magazine and USA Today. Cards in the series include Ebbets Field, Shea Stadium, Forbes Field, Fenway Park, Wrigley, and the OG house that Ruth built, featuring many nostalgic touches, all done in Efdot's colorfully vibrant and playful style. 


A team of User Experience & Interaction Design juniors won a 2021 Graphic Design USA American Design Award for their app, Shuffle. Shuffle is a friendship finding application based around connecting those with similar music tastes. The app allows users to use their Spotify listening data to create their profiles, giving an accurate depiction of one’s genre, artist, and album tastes. The end goal for users is to connect with others in the app through messaging and make lasting friendships. 


The Digital Media department partnered with the Independence Seaport Museum in the spring to create an animation titled Difficult Journey Home, led by Assistant Teaching Professor Daniel Rose, for the Cruiser Olympia’s Unknown Solider exhibit. Students Phoebe Smith (Digital Media class of ‘24) and Jonathan Morency (CCI class of ‘23) assisted with the production and were integral to the competition to the project. It’s currently still on display at the Museum onboard the Olympia. 


Fashion Design Student Charlie Kenney is one of six recipients of the 2021 Coach Dream It Real x CFDA Design Scholarship Award! The CFDA and Coach Foundation partnered to launch the Coach Dream It Real x CFDA Design Scholarship, which is dedicated to supporting under-resourced students from underrepresented backgrounds studying fashion design. 


Digital Media PhD candidatJennifer Villareale received a Best Paper Award at the 16th International Conference on the Foundations of Digital Games 2021, a premier international academic conference on games research. FDG ’21 had 38% acceptance rate. M. Löwe, J. Villareale, E. Freed, A. Sladek, J. Zhu, and S. Risi, “Dealing with Adversarial Player Strategies in the Neural Network Game iNNk through Ensemble Learning” in Proceedings of the Foundation of Digital Games Conference (FDG’21), 2021. 


Digital Media PhD candidate Chelsea Myers and GDAP student Ana Acosta-Ruiz received a Full Paper Honorable Mention at the ACM 2021 Conversational User Interface Conference. CUI’21 had 29% acceptance rate. C. Myers, L. F.L. Pedro, A. Acosta-Ruiz, A. Canossa and J. Zhu, “Try, Try, Try Again: Sequence Analysis of Interactions with a Voice User Interface” in Proceedings of the ACM Conference of Conversational User Interfaces (CUI’21), 2021. 


Recent alumnus Nick Moy (Animation & Visual Effects ‘21) and Animation senior Tyrone Bullock are working to produce a 3D model of the silhouette studio in Peale’s Museum housed in Independence Hall 1802-1827 and a 3D model of Moses Williams, a manumitted African American who ran the concession studio. The work is supported by a Drexel University Research Office Summer Creativity Grant awarded to Glen Muschio. The work builds on the ongoing Peale’s Museum Project developed by faculty and students in the Digital Media Department.   


Software Engineering alum Adit Gupta, and Thomas Falzani (Graphic Design ‘20), co-founders of Lula, a convenience store delivery startup, were featured in a Philadelphia Business Journal article. Lula is looking to raise capital as it continues to make deals with major distributors just months after its pre-seed round. Lula opened a seed round in late August. The Philadelphia company raised an oversubscribed pre-seed round in June, which netted the startup just under $1 million. Lula offers delivery from convenience stores and bodegas through existing platforms like DoorDashGrubHub and Uber Eats, as well as through its own platform. The seed round will be used to scale Lula by adding new stores and reduce pain points in the delivery process. That includes improving the technology that powers Lula, hiring more team members and improving customer service. Link to Article. 


Barbara Russell (MS Arts Administration ‘95) became vice president of resource development at the at Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta according to a LinkedIn update. Previously, Ms. Russell was senior director of institutional giving and strategic partnerships at Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta. Link to LinkedIn. 


Photography alum Andre Rucker is now represented by award-winning agency Candace Gelman & Associates. Learn more. 


Alyssa Joseph (Music Industry ‘16), indie-rock singer, recently released an EP, alive, on June 4 and received wide acclaim from local and national press, including Guitar Girl Magazine, Music Crowns and Broadway World, and a five-out-of-five-star review on Square One Magazine. She is an advocate for body positivity and creating a more diverse and inclusive space within the music industry. Link to Article. 


The PA State Architects Licensure Board formally recognized Casey Scheetz (B.Arch ‘20) as the first Integrated Path to Licensure (IPAL) graduate to be licensed in the Commonwealth. Casey completed the IPAL program at Drexel University and all six divisions of the Architect Registration Examination in about six years, less than half of the average time to complete the licensure path (12.7 years: 2020 

NCARB by the Numbers). 


Joseph Fetterman (B.Arch '87) was quoted in a Philadelphia Inquirer article about how the Budd Co. Hunting Park plant has been undergoing a transformation into a 2.4 million-square-foot life sciences campus in the hopes of reinvigorating 25 acres north of West Hunting Park Avenue between Fox Street and Wissahickon Avenue. Mr. Fetterman, senior vice president of strategic initiatives at Colliers International, serves as head of the Budd Bioworks leasing team. Link to Article. 


Linette Kielinski (Photography ‘00) and Kyle Kielinski were profiled in an article in the Chestnut Hill Local. The couple own and operate Kielinski Photography, which they opened in 2017. Their portfolio includes business, fitness and Germantown sites like the Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion. Ms. Kielinski has done photography for Grid, Philadelphia MagazineHarper's Bazaar and Real Woman. She garnered a Keystone Award for Photojournalism in 2004 for her work with Montgomery County newspapers. Link to Article. 


Linda A. Latsko-Lockhart (BS Fashion Design '78) was featured in Forbes' 50 Over 50: Impact, which highlights those who are changing their communities and the world through social entrepreneurship, law, advocacy and education. Ms. Lockhart is the founder and CEO of Global Give Back Circle, the largest gender-based mentoring, employment-readiness, and college education program for at-risk girls in Kenya. The New York City-based nonprofit has expanded to Rwanda, South Africa, China, Uganda, Ghana and India; 1,800 mentors support more than 4,000 women. Link to Article 1 and Link to Article 2. 


Victoria Sabatino (Music Industry '14) became vice president at the public relations company, Carma Connected, according to a LinkedIn update. Previously Ms. Sabatino was chief of staff at Carma Connected. Link to LinkedIn. 


Entertainment & Arts Management major Carly Jennion has been selected for the acclaimed Television Academy Foundation Internship program. She is one of just 50 students chosen by Television Academy members from across the country for the 2021 program. Carly will complete her internship remotely this summer in the Unscripted Television department at 44 Blue Productions in Burbank, CA. Learn more. 


T.J. Bryson (Film & Video ‘13) was profiled in the Hammonton Gazette newspaper. Mr. Bryson has worked on the production staff of numerous movies including Captain Marvel, A Private War, Logan and Bad Moms, and he has been currently on set of a major motion picture filming in Charlotte, NC. Link to Article. 


Rhonda Hudak (MS Arts Administration '111) was promoted to director of grants and major gift officer at Foundation for Reading Area Community College (RACC). Ms. Hudak joined RACC in 2017 as the director of grant development and management. Prior to joining RACC, she worked for the Olivet Boys & Girls Club in Reading, the Allentown Art Museum, the Baum School of Art in Allentown, and the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia. Link to Article.