2021 Presenters and Panelists

  • Raven Baxter

    Raven Baxter.

    Doctoral student, UB Graduate School of Education; UB Arthur A. Schomburg fellow

    Raven Baxter, also known as Raven the Science Maven, is an award-winning and internationally acclaimed science educator and molecular biologist who works to progress science culture by creating spaces that are inclusive, educational and real. She is an entertainer and content creator known for her unique style of combining science and music that teaches and empowers those in STEM and beyond. Baxter speaks about innovation in science education and social change in STEM. She is completing a doctorate in science education in May 2021.

    Baxter is the founder of Science Haven, an organization that operates at the intersections of science, education and the public. Science Haven houses STEMbassy, a live web series that connects the public with science and technology professionals, and Black in Science Communication, a group that works to build relationships in the science community, equipping others with the knowledge and resources necessary to share science with the world in their own flavor. Baxter also owns and operates Smarty Pants, a clothing company that sells fun and stylish STEM-themed apparel and accessories. Smarty Pants contributes a portion of its sales toward a scholarship for STEM students.

    Baxter has quickly developed a reputation as a strong voice in science and has been recognized as a global influencer in several publications, including Fortune Magazine’s 40 Under 40 list for 2020. She has also earned the State University of New York Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence in honor of her service in educating the public about COVID-19.

    Pre-Conference Workshop: Presenting Your Research in a World of Skeptics
    Pre-Conference Workshop: Your Digital Identity
    Pre-Conference Workshop: Surviving and Thriving in Graduate School—You Belong!

  • Kevin Burke, PhD

    Kevin Burke.

    Faculty member, UB Department of Electrical Engineering; UB graduate

    Kevin M. Burke, PhD, is an associate professor of teaching, co-director of undergraduate education for the Department Electrical Engineering and deputy director of the Energy Systems Integration (ESI) Laboratory at UB. His technical expertise and interests include insulation systems, energy and power management, partial discharge analysis and engineering education. He is a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), has coauthored numerous publications for IEEE, and refereed conference and journal publications. He has contributed technically to efforts funded by the U.S. Department of Defense through the U.S. Army, Imperial Machine and Tool Co., National Grid USA and others. He has been advisor to the IEEE Power and Energy Society chapter and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts Academic Linkage (NASA RASC-AL) Exploration Robo-Ops Space Bulls team, and co-advisor of the UB student branch of the IEEE and UB Robotics.

    Burke participates in STEM outreach programs, including the Buffalo Engineering Awareness for Minorities and Women (BEAM) program, Tech SAVVY for Women, and the Science is Elementary pilot program at the Westminster Charter School in Buffalo.

    Burke has received many awards including UB Faculty Honorary Coach; UB Student Association Milton Plesur Award; UB Engineering Student Supporter of the Year; Buffalo Engineering Awareness for Minorities (BEAM) Research Mentor of the Year; Cora P. Maloney College, Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (CSTEP) Research Mentor of the Year; and New York Nu (UB) chapter of Tau Beta Pi, Professor of the Year.

    Pre-Conference Workshop: Making the Most of Your Research Conference
    Pre-Conference Workshop: Surviving and Thriving in Graduate School—You Belong!

  • Elizabeth Colucci

    Elizabeth Colucci.

    Director, UB Office of Fellowships and Scholarships

    Elizabeth Colucci received her undergraduate degree from St. Lawrence University and completed her graduate work at Boston College. She has worked at Simmons College School of Social Work, Boston College and Michigan State University. At UB, she has worked in the Graduate School and the Honors College prior to becoming the director of fellowships and scholarships.

    Colucci has two sons, Peter and Andrew, and three bonus kids, Catherine, Julie and John. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her large extended family, walking, reading and gardening. She and her partner Greg are foodies who love to shop, cook, eat great food and entertain. They love to travel and are always planning their next trip.

    Pre-Conference Workshop: Making the Most of Your Research Conference

  • Jonathan Elkin

    Jonathan Elkin.

    Vice president for public policy, Council for Opportunity in Education

    Jonathan Elkin serves the Council for Opportunity in Education as vice president of public policy. In this role he oversees the legislative agenda of the council, which seeks to advance opportunities for low-income and first-generation students to enroll and graduate from college, particularly those served by the Federal TRIO Programs.

    Previously, Elkin worked at the Washington D.C. Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) where he worked as an early childhood and K-12 policy developer and grant manager. Previously, he served in the offices of U.S. Senator/Congresswoman Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) and Congressman Howard L. Berman (D-CA-28); co-founded the Reading All-Stars program; and taught seventh and eighth graders in the South Bronx through Teach for America. He holds a master's degree in teaching from the Pace University School of Education and a Bachelor of Arts in public policy with a concentration in education policy from Stanford University.

    Program Director's Meeting: Innovation, Access and Equity Within a Changing Landscape

  • Thomas Feeley, PhD

    Tom Feeley.

    Chair, UB Department of Media Study and professor, UB Department of Communication

    Thomas Feeley, PhD is a professor in UB’s Department of Communication. He also serves as the department chair in media study. Feeley is interested in the identification, measurement and testing of social influence processes in applied contexts such as health and organizations. Feeley studies the specific process and effect of mass communication campaigns on attitude change and behavior, and is interested in the measurement in higher education, specifically in bibliometrics. He is currently working on research grants regarding living donation and kidney transplantation information as well as bystander intervention training to reduce bullying and sexual harassment. Feeley is a recipient of the Excellence in Graduate Student Mentoring Award as well as the McNair Faculty Mentor Award. 

    Graduate Application Hacks: Unpacking the Hidden Curriculum Applying to Graduate School

  • Graham Hammill, PhD

    Graham Hammill.

    Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Graduate School

    Graham Hammill is the vice provost for Academic Affairs and dean of the Graduate School at the University at Buffalo. A strong advocate for student success, Hammill provides dynamic academic leadership and a vision for undergraduate, graduate and professional education that advances the University at Buffalo as a premier public research university.

    The Office of the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs encompasses Undergraduate Education (including the Honors College, UB Curriculum, and the Experiential Learning Network); the Graduate School; Fellowships and Scholarships; Student Success and Retention (including the Cora P. Maloney Center, Exploratory and Pre-Professional Advising, and Finish in 4); the Center for Excellence in Writing; and the Office of Educational Effectiveness. Under his leadership, the divisional units align program development and approval, assessment and program review, and academic support services to enhance undergraduate and graduate student access, support and success at all levels.

    Hammill joined UB in 2008 as a faculty member and served as chair of the English department. He became vice provost for graduate education and dean of the Graduate School in 2015. In these roles, Hammill oversaw the development of innovative, interdisciplinary degree and professional development programs; streamlined and improved the university’s program review process; and led a comprehensive evaluation of UB’s doctoral education programs that provided key data used in departmental strategic planning efforts.

    Hammill holds a PhD from Duke University and is an expert in early modern British literature. He is the author of several books and numerous articles. 

    Conference Welcome, Day 1

  • Amani Johnson, PhD

    Amani Johnson.

    Psychologist and student of color specialist on the UB counseling team; UB graduate

    Amani Johnson, PhD, received her doctorate in counseling psychology from the University at Buffalo and is passionate about bridging the gap between mental health resources and communities of color. In her work, she aims to center the needs of communities that have been marginalized; challenging the status quo and creating an environment of empowerment. Johnson values empathy, accountability, and self-compassion from a personal and professional perspective. She believes that mental health and wellness is a foundation for you to become the best version of yourself.

    Pre-Conference Workshop: Surviving and Thriving in Graduate School—You Belong!

  • Kimberly Jones, JD, CAE

    Kimberly Jones.

    Executive vice president, Council for Opportunity in Education (Washington, D.C.)

    With more than a decade of experience advocating for low-income, first-generation students and students of color, Kimberly Jones has established herself as a credible voice within policy circles in Washington, D.C. Currently, Jones serves as the executive vice president at the Council for Opportunity in Education (COE). In this role, she oversees the day-to-day operations of the council, including representation of students served by the Federal TRIO Programs (TRIO) before the U.S. Congress, U.S. Department of Education, and all government agencies; oversight of the program and professional development offerings for college access and success professionals; the organization’s fiscal policies and information technology; and the development and implementation of all print and digital communications of COE. 

    Prior to joining COE,  Kimberly was an associate in the Communications Practice Group at the law firm of Dow Lohnes, PLLC (now Cooley LLP), where she advised clients on a variety of broadcast and media law issues. 

    Jones has been featured in publications such as the Chronicle of Higher EducationInside Higher Ed and Diverse Issues in Higher Education, and has delivered remarks at convenings by Comcast, NAACP, LULAC, and other notable organizations. She also serves as an advisory board member for both Black History 365, which provides student curricula and educator resources to promote inclusive instruction of U.S. History, and her secondary school alma mater, Sacred Heart Academy in Hamden, CT.

    Jones has served in leadership roles within various professional and civic organizations, including the Committee for Education Funding, of which she served as president; the National Bar Association, for which she chaired the Legislation Standing Committee; the Junior League of Washington, for which she was named Outstanding New Member in 2018; Women in Government Relations; and the Washington Government Relations Group.

    Jones is a 2000 graduate of Yale University and a 2004 graduate of the Georgetown University Law Center. In 1999, she was named a Harry S. Truman Scholar. In 2016, Kimberly was named one of the "40 Under 40 Nation's Best Advocates" by the National Bar Association and also received the organization’s Excellence in Activism Award. In 2018, she was selected for the Diversity Executive Leadership Program sponsored by the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE). She is licensed to practice law in the District of Columbia and has earned the Certified Association Executive (CAE) designation from ASAE.

    Program Director's Meeting: Innovation, Access and Equity Within a Changing Landscape

  • Doug Levere

    Doug Levere.

    Photographer and digital image specialist, UB Office of University Communications

    Douglas Levere has captured life in images, in all their individuality and eccentricity, for over three decades. From the kings of Wall Street to theatrical drag queens, Levere has photographed faculty and students, news-makers, celebrities, still life and architecture for many different clients, including advertising, corporations, educational institutions and national magazines. Currently Levere is the photo and video manager in the University at Buffalo’s Office of University Communications.

    After graduating from UB with a BA in design studies Levere moved to New York City and had the opportunity of assisting some of the world's greatest photographers, gleaning their insights into a style of his own—a comprehensive style that encompasses ideas within Russian constructivism to the documents of Eugene Atget. Levere comes from a family where graphic arts have been integral for over four generations, dating back to his great-grandfather painting portraits of news makers of the day in New York's lower East side. Levere’s grandfather was a one-man design firm, his mother was a fashion illustrator, and his father was a commercial printer. Levere’s family provided the inspiration for Levere to build his life around images.

    Levere’s best-known work is a book project, New York Changing: Revisiting Berenice Abbott’s New York involved capturing the changing landscape of New York City in generations, spanning details, contrasting Berenice Abbott's images from the 1930s to identical views of today.

    Pre-Conference Workshop: Your Digital Identity

  • Cassondra Lyman

    Cassondra Lyman.

    UB senior psychology and statistics major; UB McNair scholar

    Cassondra Lyman is a recent graduate of the University at Buffalo where she completed her Bachelor of Science in psychology and Bachelor of Art in statistics. A Goldwater and McNair scholar, she has spent the last three years working at John Roberts’ Depression Research and Treatment Program. She recently completed her honors thesis which focused on engagement in attributional thinking in depression, and is proud to have presented her research at regional and international conferences alike.

    Pre-Conference Workshop: Presenting Your Research in a World of Skeptics

  • Jennifer Mdurvwa

    Jennifer Mdurvwa.

    Graduate Enrollment Coordinator, UB College of Arts and Sciences

    Jennifer Mdurvwa is a graduate enrollment coordinator for the University at Buffalo’s College of Arts and Sciences. She is the first point of contact for prospective students applying to graduate programs in the college, and serves as a resource throughout the application and admissions processes. Mdurvwa earned her Bachelor of Arts in Spanish literature from Loyola University, Maryland. She earned her Master of Arts in Spanish language and literatures and her Master of Education in higher education administration from the University at Buffalo.

    Graduate Application Hacks: Unpacking the Hidden Curriculum Applying to Graduate School

  • Lee Melvin

    Lee Melvin.

    Vice Provost for Enrollment Management

    Lee H. Melvin is the vice provost for enrollment management at the University at Buffalo. He serves on the president and provost leadership teams and is responsible for leading, developing, articulating and implementing an enrollment management strategy with the primary vision of maintaining academic momentum and moving UB to higher levels of institutional distinction. Melvin oversees the offices of financial aid, undergraduate and graduate admissions, international enrollment, Arthur O. Eve Educational Opportunity Program, marketing and communications and 1Capen.

    Melvin came to UB from Cornell University, where he was the associate vice provost for enrollment management. Prior appointments included his service as the vice president for enrollment management and director of admissions at the University of Connecticut.

    Melvin has extensive experience in creating and implementing strategic enrollment plans and in developing and managing data-driven strategies that leverage financial aid. He has expertise in the use of predictive modeling software and is nationally recognized as an expert in strategic marketing, recruiting and yield programs.

    He is a member of numerous professional and national organizations, including the National Association of College Admission Counseling, the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, College Board and the National Association of Graduate Enrollment Management. Melvin is also a founding member of the Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success.

    Melvin earned a bachelor’s degree in music education from Houston Baptist University and a master’s degree in music from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

    Conference Welcome, Day 1

  • Chi Nnoka

    Chi Nnoka.

    UB aerospace and mechanical engineering student; UB McNair scholar

    Chi Nnoka is a McNair scholar and junior studying mechanical and aerospace engineering at the University at Buffalo. Over the past year and a half, he has had a broad range of research experiences that span three labs and involve the fields of bio-inspired robotics, additive manufacturing, and aerospace design and simulation. Through these experiences, he has secured competitive summer research internships as well as travel awards to present his works at conferences nationwide. Nnoka is also a current CRASH Lab member with long-term research interests in the field of space exploration and development. 

    Pre-Conference Workshop: Making the Most of Your Research Conference

  • Yotam Ophir, PhD

    Yotam Ophir.

    Assistant professor, UB Department of Communication

    Yotam Ophir, PhD, is an assistant professor of communication at the University at Buffalo. Before arriving to UB he was a postdoctoral fellow at the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, where he also obtained his PhD in 2018. Ophir’s research focuses on media effects, persuasion and misinformation, especially with regard to topics in politics, science and health.

    Ophir’s work utilizes a multi-method approach for the analysis of media contents and its effects, combining computational methods for the analysis of big data with traditional methods such as experiments, surveys and time series analysis.

    Pre-Conference Workshop: Presenting Your Research in a World of Skeptics
    Pre-Conference Workshop: Your Digital Identity

  • Susan Ott, PhD

    Susan Ott.

    Director and principal investigator of the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program (McNair Scholars Program) 

    Susan Ott presently serves as the director and principal investigator of the McNair Scholars Program at the University at Buffalo (UB) and has held this position since August 2008. She received her Bachelor of Science in business administration (finance) from Valparaiso University; Master of Business Administration (finance) and Master of Science in education from Niagara University; and her PhD in educational culture, policy and society from UB’s Graduate School of Education.

    Ott is an assistant professor, adjunct in UB’s Graduate School of Education where she teaches undergraduate and graduate classes including but not limited to: Foundations of Education, Sociology of Education, Sociological Bases in Education, Sociology of School Knowledge, and Education and Socialization. She has also worked with and served on a number of master’s thesis and Institutional Review Board (IRB) committees. Ott enjoys her role as a Priority IV Training Grant faculty member for the Council for Opportunity in Education (COE).

    Ott is a financial auditor and a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) who has been practicing since 1993. She has served several terms on the Council for Opportunity in Education (COE) Board, as well as the Association for Equality and Excellence in Education, Inc. (AEEE) board in a number of capacities including the roles of president, president-elect, past president, member at large, and currently the treasurer and chief financial officer. Her current initiative includes serving the McNair Association of Professionals (MAP) organization as the chair of the inaugural National McNair Scholar Research Journal committee.

    Program Director's Meeting: Innovation, Access and Equity Within a Changing Landscape

  • Chazz Robinson

    Chazz Robinson.

    Doctoral Student, UB Graduate School of Education; Arthur A. Schomburg fellow

    Chazz Robinson is a third-year doctoral student at the University at Buffalo, pursuing his PhD in higher education administration. Currently, he is an Arthur A. Schomburg research fellow and the co-chair of the Social Justice Inclusion Committee. 

    Robinson earned his Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, and Masters of Education in higher education administration from UB.

    Robinson has three years of experience in student affairs, including housing and residence life, advising, admissions and transitional/access programs. Additionally, Robinson has interned for the Association of College and University Housing Officers International, NODA and NY GearUp respectively. 

    He is a proud Milwaukee, Wisconsin, native and credits his home for the reason he emphasizes authenticity, transparency and being yourself within institutions of higher education. Growing up in the poor but talent-rich ZIP code of 53206, one of the most incarcerated ZIP codes in the country, his pedagogy is focused on creating spaces where promising urban lower and working-class minority students feel comfortable in academic spaces. Using his own experience as an urban lower-to-working class student/professional he is interested in producing work that focuses on class/classism and race in higher education. 

    In his free time Robinson can be found playing the latest rap music, reading, and with his community (virtually and in-person) cracking jokes and engaging in discussions about any topic. 

    Graduate Application Hacks: Unpacking the Hidden Curriculum Applying to Graduate School

  • Despina Stratigakos, PhD

    Despina Stratigakos.

    Vice Provost for Inclusive Excellence

    Despina Stratigakos, PhD, is a writer, historian and professor. Her research explores how power and ideology function in architecture, whether in the creation of domestic spaces or world empires. She is the author of four books. 

    • Hitler’s Northern Utopia: Building the New Order in Occupied Norway (2020) examines how Nazi architects and planners envisioned and began to construct a model “Aryan” society in Norway during World War II. 
    • Where Are the Women Architects? (2016), confronts the challenges women face in the architectural profession. 
    • Hitler at Home (2015) investigates the architectural and ideological construction of the Führer’s domesticity.
    • A Women’s Berlin: Building the Modern City (2008), which traces the history of a forgotten female metropolis, won the German Studies Association DAAD Book Prize and the Milka Bliznakov Prize. 

    Stratigakos has served as a director of the Society of Architectural Historians, an advisor of the International Archive of Women in Architecture at Virginia Tech, a trustee of the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation, and deputy director of the Gender Institute at the University at Buffalo. She also participated on Buffalo’s municipal task force for diversity in architecture and was a founding member of the Architecture and Design Academy, an initiative of the Buffalo Public Schools to encourage design literacy and academic excellence. 

    Stratigakos received her PhD from Bryn Mawr College and taught at Harvard University and the University of Michigan before joining the Department of Architecture at the University at Buffalo. During the 2016-17 academic year, she was in residence as a member of the Institute for Advance Study in Princeton.

    Conference Welcome, Day 2