The Penn State University Sheild
open the search bar
Open the menu

College Welcomes New Faculty, Staff

Printer-friendly version Share

The College of Arts and Architecture welcomed new faculty and staff during the all-college meeting on August 19, 2014. Following are individuals who joined the college since September 2013.

New Faculty 2014–15


Jonathan GangiJonathan Gangi is the College of Arts and Architecture’s inaugural professor in arts entrepreneurship and affiliate faculty member in the School of Music. He is a founding member of the Society for Arts Entrepreneurship Education, and is published in the Journal of Arts Entrepreneurship Research. Additionally, he is the founder and artistic director of the Rosario Guitar Festival and Competition, a non-profit corporation.

As a guitarist, Jonathan has been a competition top-prize winner, as well as a guest performer on live television (Talk of the Town, WIS-TV 10, Columbia, South Carolina). He has twice been invited to the Classical Minds guitar festival in Houston, where, as a member of the teaching faculty, he performed both in concert and on the Houston Public Radio program, The Front Row. Upcoming performances include a guest artist recital at East Carolina University, among others.


Stuckeman School

Kristin BarryKristin Barry is the career advisor and an instructor for the Stuckeman School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, where she works with students on an individual basis to help them transition from the academic to professional world. She recently graduated from Penn State with her Ph.D. in art history, where her research examined the role of interpretive design in presenting history to the public at world heritage sites. This research combined her previous master of architecture studies at the University of Cincinnati and professional experience at several world archaeological sites by integrating design theory with sociology and historical analysis to understand how tourists engage with tourism sites. Kristin’s work has been published by the International Council on Monuments and Sites, The Middle Ground Journal, and in several interdisciplinary volumes.


Department of Architecture

Cathy BraaschCathy Braasch, instructor in architecture, is the founding principal of Braasch Architecture, whose work includes commercial and residential projects, such as the Loop Loft featured in Dwell magazine. Previously, she was an associate at Stoss, working on urban landscape projects such as the Plaza at Harvard University and CityDeck in Green Bay, Wisconsin. As a project architect at Stephen Yablon Architect and Della Valle Bernheimer, she designed numerous residential and commercial projects, including a luxury hotel in Soho, a residential amenity space in Brooklyn, and a high-end condominium building in Chelsea. Cathy previously taught at Northeastern University, Wentworth Institute of Technology, and Harvard’s Career Discovery. She received a master of architecture from the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University and a B.A. from Yale University. Before pursuing architecture, Cathy designed scenery, lighting, and projections for theatrical productions.


Felecia DavisFelecia Davis, assistant professor of architecture, is a Ph.D. candidate at MIT in the School of Architecture and Planning’s Design and Computation Group. She received her master of architecture from Princeton University, and her B.S. in engineering from Tufts University. While at MIT she has been working on a dissertation that develops computational textiles—textiles that respond to commands through computer programming, electronics, and sensors—for use in architecture. Felecia has lectured, taught workshops, published, and exhibited her work in textiles, computation, and architecture internationally, including the Swedish School of Textiles, Microsoft Research, and MIT’s Media Lab. While at MIT she has been awarded a Presidential Fellowship, the Ennis Research Award for African American Women, the Henry Horowitz Research Award, and the Schlossman Fellowship Award for her research work and contributions to the field in textiles and architecture. Felecia has taught architectural design for over ten years at Cornell University, and has taught design studios most recently at Princeton University and the Cooper Union in New York. She is principal in her own design firm, FADSTUDIO ( She has received several finalist awards for her architectural designs in open and invited design competitions, such as the California Valley Central History Museum, the Queens Museum of Art addition, and the Pittsburgh Charm Bracelet Neighborhood Revitalization Competition.


Graphic Design

Peter LuschPeter Lusch, assistant professor of graphic design, is a design educator and designer who is interested in environmental design, dimensional typography, experience design, video, lost history, design pedagogy, and installations. His work has been exhibited in the experimental design journal Margin, the Communication Arts Typography Annual, the Art Power International book Way of the Sign III, and at the Zaha Hadid-designed Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum in East Lansing, Michigan. His professional work has earned regional and national awards. As a design educator, he has presented at the national design conference for AIGA, the professional association for design. He has also studied and worked internationally with Shanghai University in Shanghai, China. Peter holds a B.F.A. from Eastern Michigan University and an M.F.A. from Michigan State University.


Department of Landscape Architecture

Maria CountsMaria Counts, instructor of landscape architecture, is an international designer specializing in advanced landscape representation and visualization, digital media, emotive urban landscapes, and garden expositions. She was recently a visiting artist at the American Academy in Rome in January 2014. Maria is creative director and project designer with Christopher Counts Studio (CCS) based in Brooklyn, New York. Her design experience with CCS includes the 2013 American Society of Landscape Architects award-winning park project, Moore Square, located in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina; a 55-acre on-structure mixed-use landscape design for 15,000 residents in Qianshan New City, Zhuhai; and 2013 China (Beijing) International Garden Expo. Just recently the firm was selected as first-prize winner of over 900 international proposals for its Happy Valley Garden for the 10th Hubei International Garden Festival, to be constructed later this year. Prior to joining CCS, Maria worked with Reed Hilderbrand, where she contributed to three winning national ASLA submissions. In 2008 Maria was honored to hold a garden exhibition at the Jardins de Métis in Québec, Canada. Maria received her master of landscape architecture degree from the Rhode Island School of Design and a B.S. in landscape architecture from Cornell University.


Department of Art History

Chang TanChang Tan is an assistant professor of art history and Asian studies. She teaches courses in Chinese, East Asian, and Southeast Asian art, with an emphasis on the 20th and 21st century. Her research focuses on the interplay between the aesthetic discourses and social functions of art in contemporary China and Asia. She also studies the exchanges and collaborations between artists and art communities within Asia and beyond. Chang received her Ph.D. in comparative literature and contemporary art history from the University of Texas at Austin. Prior to Penn State, she was an associate professor at Harvey Mudd College in southern California.

School of Music

Jose MendezJosé Méndez, assistant professor of music, is a Spanish pianist who has recently performed at the Stony Brook International Piano Festival and the Festival Internacional de Panticosa. He moved to the United States at age 18, after performing extensively in his native Spain, as well as the United States, Italy, England, Portugal, Holland, and Japan to great acclaim. He completed a doctorate in musical arts under the tutelage of the legendary pianist Byron Janis.

José has won top prizes in many competitions, including the Pilar Bayona International Piano Competition, the Frederick Chopin Competition in New York, and the Hermanos Guerrero International Piano Competition, among others. He has been a guest performer at music festivals including the Caramoor Festival, the Barge Music Series, and the Festival Internacional de Piano de las Islas Canarias. As a chamber musician, he has collaborated with such distinguished artists as Karl Leister, Itzhak Perlman, Michael Tree, and Pinchas Zukerman. During the summers he directs two piano festivals, the Stony Brook International Piano Festival ( in Stony Brook, New York, and the Gijón International Piano Festival ( in Gijón, Spain. After serving on the faculty at the University of Texas from 2004 to 2007, he was a member of the Artist Piano Faculty at New York University from 2007 to 2014.  


Chris WahlmarkChris Wahlmark, instructor of music, joined the School of Music staff in 2013. He provides livestreaming and technological support for School of Music performances and lectures, and creates content for the school’s YouTube channel. Chris holds a bachelor’s degree in music from Allegheny College, and master’s degrees in saxophone performance and music theory, both from Penn State. He has also served as a faculty instructor in music theory. In addition to his work for the School of Music, Chris maintains a private studio of piano and saxophone students, and also provides livestreaming services for arts organizations in the Centre County region through his private business, CW Studios.


School of Theatre

Donna DunmireDonna Dunmire, assistant professor of dance, has worked in the fields of ballet, musical theatre, and film as a performer, teacher, and choreographer. As a ballerina, she danced with numerous companies including Karole Armitage Ballet, Bejart Ballet, and Pennsylvania Ballet. Broadway credits include the original casts of Ragtime, Marie Christine, A Christmas Carol, and the original workshop and first national tour of Contact. She has choreographed for both Lincoln Center Theatre and Garry Marshall, in his films Keeping Up with the Steins and Princess Diaries 2, where she was also a principal dancer. She received a B.A. in performing arts with honors from St. Mary’s College of California in 2011. Donna is an accomplished teacher of ballet, pointe, jazz, and musical theatre dance. In addition, she teaches yoga, Tai Chi, and meditation. She is currently creating a breath-focused, performance enhancement method for performers, and a book on ballet instruction specifically formulated for musical theatre students. 


Austin EyerJ. Austin Eyer, assistant professor of dance, received a B.F.A. in theatre from New York University, where he graduated with honors. He made his Broadway debut at the age of 10 as Colin in The Secret Garden. Since then he has been seen on Broadway in Evita, How to Succeed, Billy Elliot (understudy Tony), The Little Mermaid (understudy Prince Eric), and Curtains. He appeared Off-Broadway in Anyone Can Whistle (Encores!) and Apartment 3A, and served as choreographer on the long-running Off-Broadway productions of My Big Gay Italian Wedding and Boys Just Wanna Have Fun. He performed in the national tours of White Christmas and Evita (directed by Hal Prince and Larry Fuller). Austin has performed and choreographed for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the 1996 Olympic opening and closing ceremonies, Disney World, and Universal Studios. Austin enjoys teaching acting and dance with Broadway Dance Center, Theatre Arts Center, Broadway Connection, New York University and in Germany with Music Theater Bavaria. He remains on faculty with CAP21, where he held the title of dance coordinator and worked as a teacher, advisor, and choreographer for over ten years.


Natalie RobichauxNatalie Griffith Robichaux, assistant professor of theatre, received her B.F.A. in theatre performance from the University of Evansville and her M.F.A. in acting from the University of California, San Diego. She was a company member of the Carolina Ballet for four years. Theatre credits include Lincoln Center, La Jolla Playhouse, and Baltimore Center Stage, among others across the country. After a number of years in New York City, she moved to Los Angeles, where she worked in development for the Sundance Institute and was later the managing director of A Working Group, a professional studio for actors in film, television, and theater.


Richard RobichauxRichard Robichaux, associate professor of theatre, is an actor, director, and teacher. He can currently be seen in Richard Linklater's critically acclaimed film, BOYHOOD, in theaters now. Credits include the Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, D.C., Yale Repertory Theatre, and many more, as well as television appearances on ABC, NBC, CBS, Showtime, and Comedy Central. As an educator, he has worked with many of the top programs in the country, including the Yale School of Drama, Juilliard School, and New York Conservatory. He is a nationally recognized leader in actor training and is a frequent guest speaker at universities, film festivals, and conferences across the country. He holds an M.F.A. from Rutgers University.


Steve SnyderSteve Snyder comes to Penn State from Bradley University, where he was lead professor of performance for the Department of Theatre Arts for nine years. While at Bradley, Steve developed collaborative relationships with the House Theatre of Chicago and with Chicago theatre icon Sean Graney—both resulting in original productions created with students. He taught in Bradley’s Honors Program, led excursion courses in London, directed 15 productions, and was honored with the university’s Caterpillar Award for Excellence in Teaching. Steve’s work fuses training in Meisner technique and other Stanislavski-based approaches, Physical Theatre/Lecoq-based techniques, and Shakespeare/First Folio approaches. Steve earned his M.F.A. at Florida State University/Asolo Conservatory. Further training includes intensives with Dell Arte International and Patsy Rodenburg, Folio training with Chicago Shakespeare Theater, and workshops with Dennis Krausnick of Shakespeare and Company and with the Globe Theatre.


Holly ThumaHolly Thuma, assistant professor of theatre, comes to Penn State from Carnegie Mellon School of Drama, where she taught voice, speech, and dialects. She holds a B.F.A. in acting from New York University and an M.F.A. in performance pedagogy from the University of Pittsburgh. Holly is a Certified Associate Teacher of Fitzmaurice Voicework, has served on the faculty at Syracuse University, and as director of the M.F.A. Pedagogy Program at the University of Pittsburgh. Her professional credits include productions at the Dallas Theater Center, Pittsburgh Public Theater, Perry-Mansfield New Works Festival, Quantum Theatre, Pittsburgh Irish and Classical Theatre, and independent films. She has made featured appearances with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the International Poetry Forum, and Pittsburgh Ballet Theater. A life-long advocate of arts education, Holly has developed and directed performance programs for underserved children through the Pittsburgh Public Theater and the Hope Academy of Music and the Arts. 


School of Visual Arts

Brian AlfredBrian Alfred, assistant professor of art, is a native of Pittsburgh and now an artist based in Brooklyn, New York. His work consists of collages, paintings, and digital animations. Brian received his B.F.A. from Penn State and his M.F.A. from Yale University. He also attended the Skowhegan School of Sculpture and Painting in Maine. He has had solo shows at Haunch of Venison, Mary Boone Gallery, and SCAI the Bathhouse, among others. He has shown in museum exhibitions internationally. Brian’s animation “Help Me” was featured on the Times Square NBC Astrovision screen as part of Creative Time's 59th Minute. A documentary about Brian, called ArtFlick 001, was featured at the Sundance Film Festival.

Brian is in the collection of museums including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the National Gallery of Victoria in Australia, and many others. His awards include the Joan Mitchell Foundation Award, the American Academy of Arts and Letters Purchase Award, the Penn State Alumni Achievement Award and College of Arts and Architecture Alumni Award, the New York Foundation of the Arts Inspiration Award, and a two-time Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant recipient. 

Also a musician, Brian was in a band called 33.3, which released two albums on Aesthetics Records in Chicago. He has created catalogs where musicians created songs in relation to his work, and also collaborated with musicians on creating multiple soundtracks to his animations. In addition, Brian is a curator, working with Brooklyn-based artist collaboration company Woodpoint and Kingsland. As an artist, he is represented by Ameringer McEnery Yohe Gallery in New York, Hezi Cohen in Tel Aviv, Studio La Citta in Verona, and SCAI the Bathhouse in Tokyo.


Angela RothrockAngela Rothrock recently joined the School of Visual Arts as the academic advisor for undergraduate students. Prior to working with SoVA, she was the undergraduate student advisor and instructor for Penn State's Department of Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management. Angela is in the process of completing a doctoral degree in educational theory and policy.



New Staff 2014–15


Nicole Cingolani is the new information technology (IT) consultant for the Stuckeman School.  She previously spent four years working as an IT consultant for the College of Information Sciences and Technology.  She received a B.S. in biology from Penn State Behrend in 2002 and M.A. in anthropology from Penn State University Park in 2005. 

Jerry Henry is the College of Arts and Architecture’s new human resources manager, as part of the University’s Human Resource Transformation Pilot. He is serving in a lead role as the human resource strategic partner for both the College of Arts and Architecture and the College of Education. Jerry has been the College of Education’s director of human resources and administrative services since 1998. Previously he was the director of human resources and facilities for the Jostens Corporation and also worked for Corning, Inc. as a financial analyst. In addition to serving as the human resource strategic partner, Jerry is serving in the lead role for Penn State’s Human Resources Policy Harmonization Workstream for the Human Resource Transformation Project.

Colonel (Ret.) Steve Sobotta joined the college as the first director of information technology on July 1, 2014.  He served over 30 years in the U.S. Army with assignments in the United States, Germany, Korea, and Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. These assignments included tactical Armored Cavalry units as well as operational and strategic staff and faculty assignments. Over the past decade, Steve spent three years designing and directing the first consolidated call center for the Pentagon, and was a student at the U.S. Army War College followed by a three-year assignment as the professor of military sociology. Steve culminated his career as the chief information officer of the U.S. Army War College. He has four master’s degrees and numerous military awards and commendations.

Stephanie Swindle began her position as public relations specialist for the College of Arts and Architecture on August 18. She was previously the marketing and communications specialist for the Stuckeman School. Stephanie received her M.A. in art history from Penn State in 2010 and her B.A. in art history from Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee, in 2006. A native of Memphis, she played bass guitar on Beale Street growing up. Stephanie has worked at the Palmer Museum of Art, the National Ornamental Metal Museum in Memphis, and the Blues Foundation, doing graphic design, photography, and publicity.

Emily Wymore joined the College of Arts and Architecture development team as the development assistant in October 2013. She supports the organization and execution of fundraising programs and other related activities of the college, including the identification of prospective donors. She serves as a liaison between University Development and the college. Emily discovered her interest in development while an undergraduate student at Taylor University in Upland, Indiana, where she interned in the development office. Upon graduation, she worked at Gordon University in Wenham, Massachusetts, as an advisor to women’s programming, assistant resident director, and office coordinator for the Center for Student Development. Emily holds a degree in psychology from Taylor University, and is pursuing her M.A. in higher education from Geneva College in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania.

Center for the Performing Arts

Christie L. Black is the public relations specialist at the Center for the Performing Arts. She previously worked as director of marketing and public relations for the Central PA Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Westmoreland Museum of American Art. Christie began her career as a television news and promotions producer at WTAJ-TV in Altoona and WTAE-TV in Pittsburgh. She has a B.A. in communications rhetoric with a minor in early childhood education from the University of Pittsburgh.

Heather Mannion, marketing strategy specialist, is a 2005 alumna of the College of Arts and Architecture. Heather started working in Information Technology Services at the University in 2009. In her free time, she volunteers at Centre County PAWS, where she is the chair of the Publicity Committee and lead graphic designer.

Stuckeman School

Kristy Catalano joined the Stuckeman School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture in April as administrative support coordinator. In her 34 years of service with Penn State, she has held positions in the Smeal College of Business, the College of Information Sciences and Technology, Outreach and Continuing Education, the Eberly College of Science, and most recently, the University Office of Global Programs. In that office, she managed the Sponsored Student Program and the Intensive English Communication Program, and worked with University Development to initiate the Global Ambassadors Program to cultivate international alumni engagement. She holds an associate’s degree in letters, arts, and sciences and a B.S. in organizational leadership with minors in labor and industrial relations and sociology, both from Penn State. She currently serves on the Commission for Women and is the staff advisor for the Kazakhstan Student Association. She has also served on the Office Professional Certificate Advisory Board as well as Penn State’s Staff Advisory Council.

Danielle Oprean has a postdoctoral appointment in the Stuckeman School. She holds a Ph.D. in design with digital media from the University of Missouri, as well as master’s degrees in architectural studies and engineering technology. Danielle specializes in human-computer interaction research for design tools and simulation technology. She is knowledgeable in several types of research with a particular focus on experimental designs and protocol analysis. Her research interests include evaluating design tools for team collaboration, testing simulation technology for environment and behavior evaluation, and testing the efficiency of design software workflows.

Melissa Williams is the administrative support assistant for the Stuckeman School. She received her B.S. in education from Penn State in 1993. She has a floral design certificate and has worked as a florist and event planner locally. Melissa has also worked for the State College Area School District in various areas of education. For the past seven years, Melissa has organized the young artisans at the People’s Choice Festival. She recently received credit on a documentary for Asylum Entertainment and A&E IndieFilms called Happy Valley, which made its film debut at the Sundance Film Festival this past January.

Department of Architecture

Jennifer Reese-Parkes is the administrative support coordinator for the Department of Architecture. She has been at Penn State since 1998, and recently joined the Department of Architecture after ten years serving as the graduate and undergraduate student support assistant in the Department of Statistics in the Eberly College of Science.

School of Music

Stephen Bumbarger serves as assistant to the director of the School of Music. He handles all budget and personnel aspects of the school, and all contracts and faculty searches. Stephen started at Penn State in fall 1990 and began full-time employment in November 1997, working in the Department of Agronomy in the College of Agricultural Sciences. Stephen started in the School of Music in March 2014. His hobbies including landscaping, hiking, and vacationing at the beach.

School of Theatre

Carrianne Love, administrative support assistant, was born and raised in Erie, where she obtained her bachelor's degree in anthropology at Edinboro University. After beginning graduate studies in maritime archaeology in North Carolina, she decided to move to Pittsburgh with her new husband, where she worked as an archaeologist. She now lives in Mifflin County on the banks of the Juniata River, and hopes to start a farm. 

Rick MacZura, arts production specialist, graduated from the Penn State School of Theatre in 1994 with a B.A. in theatre arts. After graduation he worked as a carpenter’s assistant and later as assistant technical director at Point Park College. During the summers while at Point Park, he was the technical director at the Red Barn Theater in Hampton Township. In 1997, he and his wife, Karen, moved to southern California, where Rick pursued his career in acting and Karen pursued hers in teaching. Rick spent ten years on the show CSI: MIAMI as David Caruso’s stand-in/photo double and stunt double. When the show wrapped in 2012, he and his wife decided to move back to Pennsylvania with their four children. Rick has been a freelance carpenter/stagehand the last two years and says he is excited to return to his alma mater.

Anne Sorenson, arts production specialist

Jeremy Fisher, administrative support assistant

Mark Risso, laboratory mechanic