Herberger Institute brings new artists, scholars on board for 2014-2015 school year

August 26, 2014

All five schools in ASU's Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts have hired new faculty members for the 2014-2015 academic year.

"We are thrilled to welcome such a distinguished group of young faculty to the Herberger Institute," said Steven J. Tepper, dean of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. "These artists and scholars have already made a mark in the world – building award-winning structures; designing life-saving devices; singing at the world's best opera halls; and publishing an impressive body of scholarly work. Download Full Image

"They are advancing new forms of art and design, collaborating across disciplines, and are committed to improving the quality of life in their communities," Tepper added. "We are fortunate that they have brought their talents and creativity to our students and colleagues at ASU, and to our region."

New faculty members are listed by school, below. For more information about any of the faculty members, or to schedule an interview with any of them, please contact Deborah Sussman Susser at deborah.susser@asu.edu.

The Design School

"We are delighted to welcome five new colleagues to The Design School this year," said Craig Barton, director of the school. "The faculty search committees were impressed by their research interests, teaching experience and enthusiasm for transdisciplinary practices. Collectively, they will enhance the visibility and stature of our faculty, which is well recognized for its longstanding commitment to design education and research. We are fortunate that they elected to join us, and look forward to the contributions which they will make to design communities within and beyond the university."

Paul CoseoPaul Coseo, assistant professor of landscape architecture

Paul Coseo comes to ASU from the University of Michigan, where he was a researcher and lecturer in the Urban and Regional Planning Program. He obtained his landscape architect license in the state of Illinois and worked for several years as a landscape architect in Chicago. Coseo examines how landscape and urban designs impact natural processes, ecosystems and residents' lives. He approaches scholarship, teaching and practice with a humble appreciation for how designs impact natural and social environments. Recently, he investigated how physical characteristics of eight Chicago neighborhoods contributed to urban heat islands and residents' heat vulnerability. Coseo received a doctorate in urban and regional planning from the University of Michigan, a master of landscape architecture from the University of Michigan and a bachelor of science in meteorology from Central Michigan University.

Magnus FeilMagnus Feil, assistant professor of industrial design

Magnus Feil comes to ASU from the University of Washington in Seattle, where he has been working as an assistant professor at the Division of Design since 2008. He received his master's in industrial design from The Ohio State University and a Diplom (FH) from the Hochschule für Gestaltung, Schwäbisch Gmünd, Germany. He came to the United States as a Fulbright Scholar in 2000. His research interests are product design in aviation and medicine, as well as product interaction, which consists of control of views, vehicles and robotic platforms, and aspects that guide form in industrial and interaction design. Feil has received the Red Dot Award for excellence in Design by the Designzentrum Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany, in 2002 and the iF product design award of the International Forum Design Hannover, Germany, in 2003. Feil worked as product designer for B/S/H GmbH in Munich, as a design consultant for Siemens Corporate Research Inc. in Princeton, New Jersey, and as a human-machine interface design consultant for Johnson Controls Inc., in Burscheid, Germany.

Diego García-Setién TerolDiego García-Setién Terol, assistant professor of architecture

Diego García-Setién Terol comes to ASU from the Universidad Politecnica de Madrid (UPM), where he was an associate professor at the School of Architecture. Prior to this appointment, he taught and lectured in several local and foreign universities. He is currently a doctoral candidate in the Theory and Practice of Architectural Design Program at UPM; his research is focused on "Architecture as Technical Object."

Terol is the founding partner of Ecosistema Urbano Architects (2004-2007), an award-winning practice whose projects include the EcoBoulevard, noted for its natural-artificial interplay, reversible strategy and environmental performance. In 2007 he founded the GaSSz Architects, a contemporary research-focused practice, whose work was soon acknowledged with an Opera Prima Award (COAM, 2007), and is marked by its innovative and sustainable approach toward architecture, understood as the integration of different and complex realms, in an eco-techno-system, which mediates between people and their environment.

Christian StaynerChristian Stayner, assistant professor of architecture

Christian Stayner comes to ASU from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where he was an assistant professor in the Department of Architecture and Urban Design, and before that, the 2012-2013 William Muschenheim Fellow in Architecture.

Stayner is also founding partner of Stayner Architects, a Los Angeles-based design practice that provides comprehensive architectural services across a broad range of scales and programs. His current academic research focuses on the non-visual in architecture: the possibilities of formalism and informality in excavation, spoils and land use; East African urbanism and territorial organizations; the possibilities of alimentation and olfaction in architecture; and practice in the public domain.

He received his master of architecture from the Harvard Graduate School of Design, with distinction in studio, and his bachelor's in architecture and human rights theory from Harvard College, following two years at the experimental liberal arts institution Deep Springs College.

Chingwen Cheng Chingwen Cheng, assistant professor of landscape architecture/urbanism

Chingwen Cheng comes to ASU from the University of Michigan, where she was a post-doctoral research fellow. She received her doctorate from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and her master of landscape architecture at the University of Michigan. Her research interests lie in the understanding of interaction between social and ecological systems, and the role that planning and design interventions can play in improving the resilience and sustainability of our built environments.

Cheng is a Registered Landscape Architect and LEED Accredited Professional. She has practiced and engaged communities in Chicago, Tampa Bay and the Boston region in diverse scales and capacities in community visioning, watershed planning, conservation development and sustainable design. Her recent work has included health impacts and environmental justice issues in the built environments. She is a dedicated educator and researcher, and an advocate of bringing transdisciplinary collaboration and social-ecological systems thinking into landscape architecture and planning professions to enhance resilience and sustainability in our communities.

The School of Art

"We are exceptionally lucky to have attracted Dr. Afanador-Pujol to our art history faculty," said Adriene Jenik, director of the School of Art. "Her scholarship will contribute to a deeper understanding of the colonial moment, and we anticipate lively crossover teaching and programmatic contributions with the School of Transborder Studies and the School of Social Transformation."

About Meredith Hoy, Jenik said, "As culture is shaped in collaboration with technology, it is increasingly important that we understand the throughlines of history. Dr. Hoy considers the ‘digital' in both the historical and the contemporary art gesture, and will join with faculty across the Herberger Institute as we debate these issues so critical in our time."

Angelica Anfador-PujolAngelica Anfador-Pujol, assistant professor of art history

Angelica Anfador-Pujol arrives at ASU having served most recently as assistant professor of art history at the University of Minnesota. Her expertise is in post-colonial Latin America and images of "justice," and she will be teaching a broad range of courses focusing on art in the Americas. She received her doctorate in 2009 from UCLA, has published her research in Art Bulletin and has a forthcoming text from UT Press.

Meredith HoyMeredith Hoy, assistant professor of art theory

Meredith Hoy arrives at ASU from the art department at UMass Boston, where she was an assistant professor. She received her doctorate from UCBerkeley in 2010 and has published articles in Leonardo Electronic Almanac, a chapter in a book from Oxford University Press and multiple catalog essays on digital aesthetics. Her text, "From Point to Pixel: A Genealogy of Digital Aesthetics," is currently under review with the University of Chicago Press. Hoy will be teaching an art theory graduate seminar along with art and design criticism courses.

The School of Music

"It is a testament to the innovative and progressive thinking that permeates Arizona State University and the School of Music that we have been able to attract artist-scholars of such high acclaim to the ASU School of Music Faculty," said Heather Landes, director of the ASU School of Music. "Hawkins, Mantie and Suzuki bring a wealth of experience and expertise to our programs in voice, music education and music composition, and join an internationally renowned faculty committed to the development and nurturing of 21st century musicians."

Kotoka Suzuki, assistant professor of music composition

As a composer, Kotoka Suzuki focuses on both multimedia and instrumental practices. She has produced several large-scale multimedia works, including spatial interactive audio-visual work for both concert and installation settings, often in collaboration with artists and scholars from other disciplines. Her work conceives of sounds as physical moving objects that are visible, constantly transforming into different forms, sizes and colors, as they travel through the air at different speeds. These objects can be based on real life, such as water, or an entirely imaginary object.

Suzuki's work is often produced in relationship to a specific site. The placement of sounds and performers within the site is also a crucial element in her work. The roles of the performer and audience are often expanded so that they become active compositional partners, where they are invited to directly influence the music and visual elements as well as the narrative/musical structure of the work. Her work has been featured internationally by performers such as the Arditti String Quartet, Continuum, Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, Pacifica String Quartet and Earplay Ensemble, and at numerous festivals, such as Ultraschall, ISCM World Music Days, Inventionen, Klangwerktage, VideoEx, International Computer Music Conference and Music at the Anthology.

The awards she has received include the DAAD Artist in Resident Berlin (Germany); Bourges International Electroacoustic Music Competition Prize-Multimedia (France); Robert Fleming Prize from Canada Council for the Arts; and the George A and Eliza Gardner Howard Foundation and Musica Nova International Electroacoustic Music Competition Honor Prize (Czech Republic). Suzuki received her bachelor of music from Indiana and her doctorate of musical arts‬ from Stanford. She comes to ASU from the Chicago area, where she previously taught at the University of Chicago.

Gordon HawkinsGordon Hawkins, voice

Gordon Hawkins is critically acclaimed throughout the world for his in-depth interpretations and luxuriant baritone voice. Most recent engagements include Alberich in "Der Ring des Nibelungen" at the San Francisco Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin and Teatro de la Maestranza in Seville; Kaspar in "Der Freischütz" at Teatro de la Maestranza in Seville; Telramund in "Lohengrin" at Deutsche Oper Berlin; Renato in "Un Ballo in Maschera" at the New Orleans Opera; Crown in "Porgy and Bess" at Cincinnati Opera; Scarpia in "Tosca" with Arizona Opera; and Amonasro in "Aida" at Lyric Opera of Chicago, Cincinnati Opera and Michigan Opera Theatre.

Roger Mantie Roger Mantie, assistant professor of music education

Roger Mantie comes to ASU from Boston University, where he taught in the music education department, including courses in jazz. He received his doctorate from the University of Toronto.


The School of Film, Dance and Theatre

"This particular cohort of new faculty members is as dynamic, diverse and determined as any I have ever seen," said Jake Pinholster, director of the School of Film, Dance and Theatre. "They will help us build great new things on top of our excellent existing infrastructure."

Nia Witherspoon, assistant professor of theater and performance studies

Nia Witherspoon is a multidisciplinary artist-scholar producing work at the intersections of indigeneity, queerness and African diaspora epistemologies. Working primarily in the mediums of vocal and sound composition, playwriting and creative scholarship, Witherspoon holds a doctorate from Stanford University in theater and performance studies, and has been recognized by the Mellon Foundation, Theatre Bay Area and the National Queer Arts Festival. Her original play, "The Messiah Complex," a multi-temporal meditation on the loss of parents in black and queer diasporas, was featured in the Company of Angels' acclaimed "Black Women: State of the Union" (Los Angeles), developed at an AIR Space Residency (San Francisco) and awarded staged readings at the Painted Bride Art Center (Philadelphia) and the National Black Theatre (New York). "Messiah" premiered in April 2014 at New York's prestigious Downtown Urban Theatre Festival, where it received the Audience Award and placed second for Best Play.

Witherspoon's work as a vocalist, both independently and with acclaimed ceremonial-music duo SoliRose, has spanned stages, ceremonial spaces and activist organizations from the San Francisco Bay Area to Chicago, Los Angeles, Toronto and Beirut, and her creative non-fiction is most recently featured in Yellow Medicine Review: A Journal of Indigenous Literature, Art, and Thought. Witherspoon has forthcoming scholarship in the Journal of Popular Culture and Women and Performance, and she is currently at work on a book project, "The Nation in the Dark: Reparations of Ceremony in Diaspora," which asserts that nationalism, far from being dead, is essential to radical women of color re-envisioning indigenous religions.

Jason Scott, assistant professor of theater and film history

Jason Davids Scott earned his doctorate in theater in 2009 at the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB), where he also earned a master of arts with honors in 2004. As a director at UCSB, he created and advised many student-based improvisational groups, as well as acting and directing in several local and Mainstage productions. He was also the administrative director of the Michael Howard Studios in New York. Currently, Scott is the Film Studies and Sexuality/Erotica Area Chair for the Mid-Atlantic Popular/American Culture Association, where he also serves as vice president of publications. Prior to graduate school, Scott graduated with a bachelor's in cinema studies from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, where he received the George Amberg Memorial Award for Undergraduate Achievement and the Founder's Day Award for academic excellence. He then established a decade-long career as a film publicist and development executive in both Los Angeles and New York, working for Castle Rock Entertainment and, later, actress/producer Helen Hunt.

As a lecturer at ASU from 2009-2011, Scott also served as the coordinator for curricular revision for the School of Theatre and Film. From 2011-2013, he was an assistant professor at the School of Theatre at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas.

Scott continues to serve as a freelance publicity and marketing consultant for entertainment firms in both Los Angeles and New York. He has created marketing materials for over 250 film projects and individual clients, and served as the unit publicist on films such as "Dazed and Confused," "The Crow" and "Party Girl."

Mary McAvoy, assistant professor of theater for youth/theater education

Mary McAvoy's research focuses on performance with, by and for young people, and histories of theater and drama in educational contexts. She is also a certified K-12 theater arts educator. Her articles have appeared in Youth Theatre Journal, The Journal of American Drama and Theatre and Incite/Insight. Her coauthored book, "Drama Methods for Teaching and Learning," is forthcoming from Routledge Press. She is the 2012 American Alliance for Theatre and Education's Winifred Ward Scholar and the 2014 Distinguished Dissertation Award recipient. She has also received research awards from the American Society for Theatre Research, the American Theatre and Drama Society and the Mellon Foundation. She is a graduate of University of Wisconsin-Madison (master's and doctorate in theater and drama) and the University of North Carolina at Asheville (bachelor's in theater with K-12 licensure).

Jessica Rajko, assistant professor of dance

Jessica Rajko is a performer, choreographer and interdisciplinary digital media artist. As a practicing artist, her work with movement and digital media includes dance performance, dance for camera, electronic wearable design, audio/visual installation design and performance with movement-based media control. She has collaborated with artists such as Mary Fitzgerald, David Therrien and Todd Ingalls, and performed for artists such as Ann Ludwig, Ashleigh Leite, Nora Chipaumire and Charlotte Boye-Christensen. Rajko performed in Ashleigh Leite's "The Zoo" at The Joyce Theatre, in New York City. She also developed an interactive installation for David Therrien's "Beautiful Light" sculpture, presented at Scotiabank Nuit Blanche Art Festival, in Toronto, Canada.

Rajko is the co-founder of urbanSTEW, a non-profit organization whose mission is to inspire and expand the relevance of digital arts in the community. Through urbanSTEW, she has developed artist workshops, curated interactive art installations and created interactive, multidisciplinary artwork. urbanSTEW's most recent work, The Amyloid Project, is an interdisciplinary work created in collaboration with ASU physics professor Sara Vaiana. The Amyloid Project fuses interactive art, dance, music and physics research to create this multifaceted artwork. It was commissioned by Mesa Arts Center for their SPARK! Festival of Creativity. Mesa Arts Center also commissioned urbanSTEW's award-winning work, "Intonarumori," which has been exhibited internationally.

Ashley Gamba, clinical assistant professor of costume technology

Ashley Gamba has been working professionally in theater and film for over 10 years. Her design work has been seen at South Coast Repertory, Native Voices at the Autry and Theatreworks Colorado Springs. Gamba served as the resident assistant costume designer for the Pasadena Playhouse, and has worked extensively as an assistant designer and costume craftsperson at South Coast Repertory, the Geffen Playhouse, the LA Opera and on the 2011 national tour "Cathy Rigby is Peter Pan." Her film designs include shorts films "The Interview" and "Driftwood." Gamba also worked in the costume department on feature films "Car Dogs," "The Lincoln Lawyer" and "Knight and Day." She has been a celebrity wardrobe stylist for "The Pink Project" and "The Mona Lisa Project" charity photo books, designing and building costumes for Camryn Manheim, Jennifer Love Hewitt and Tina Majorino. Additionally, she has been creating custom bridal headwear since 2007. Gamba received her master's in costume design from UC Irvine and a bachelor's in theater production from Penn State.

Chris Winnemann, clinical assistant professor of technical direction

Chris Winnemann is receiving his master's in technical direction from the University of Missouri Kansas City, and is currently the technical director of Creede Repertory Theatre in Colorado. Previously, he served as staff technical director at Auburn University and faculty technical director at Iowa Valley Community College. He has a bachelor's in technical design and production from Viterbo University.

The School of Arts, Media + Engineering

"We are all quite delighted with this remarkable young scholar and community builder," said Sha Xin Wei, director of the School of Arts, Media + Engineering, "and excited to welcome her to ASU!"

Stacy KuznetsovStacy Kuznetsov, assistant professor of human-computer interaction

Stacy Kuznetsov received her doctorate from the Human-Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. Her areas of interest include human-computer interaction, natural sensors, citizen science, environmental health, bio-hacking, wearable and mobile technologies. She will have affiliate status in the ASU School of Computing, Informatics and Decision Systems (Engineering).

Deborah Sussman

Communications and media specialist, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts


Iraqi refugee defies odds to pursue ASU education

August 26, 2014

All the odds were stacked against her when Najla Abdalla came to the United States with her family from Baghdad to escape the Iraq war in 2004.

“When we came here, I kind of felt lonely and I didn’t even want to be here. I didn’t know many people who spoke my language,” Abdalla says. woman sitting with book in library Download Full Image

She recalls one high school teacher who discouraged her because she did not speak much English. "He told me I wouldn’t be able to even graduate high school,” says Abdalla.

Now a student at Arizona State University’s School of Social Work, part of the College of Public Programs, Abdalla is set to graduate in December with her bachelor's degree.

But it wasn't easy getting to that point. During her first year at an American high school, Abdalla says she dropped a critical class after her teacher used a Muslim slur against her.

“We were getting beat up by teachers in Iraq if we didn’t do our homework,” says Abdalla. “I didn’t know my rights here.”

Afterward, Abdalla began taking an additional class to meet graduation requirements. Between her regular school day and the additional class, she was attending high school from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day.

During that time, Abdalla’s family sought the nonprofit organization International Rescue Committee (IRC) for the resources they needed to find new jobs and a home. But the more they visited the IRC, the more Abdalla found herself wishing for support to continue pursuing an education.

In 2008, Abdalla enrolled part time at ASU. She had to work two jobs to support her family, but her fierce determination would not allow her to settle for the life her high school teacher had expected of her. “Follow your dream and never give up,” she says.

With a minor in global studies, Abdalla began her undergraduate career by providing the resources to refugees that her family didn’t have, returning to the International Rescue Committee in Phoenix once more to complete an internship.

High school friend Bimala Pudasaini recalls Abdalla’s determination when they began attending ASU. “Najla is a very determined student,” Pudasaini says. “When we used to live in the dorm together, she used to wake up at 5 a.m. to do her papers.”

School of Social Work professor Layne Stromwall encountered Abdalla’s dedication to her education when she was enrolled in her course last year. “Most [School of Social Work students] are serious about their education, awesome multi-taskers, motivated to contribute to improving their community and people's lives ... and have strong communication and interpersonal skills.” Stromwall says. “Najla definitely was serious about her education.”

After graduation, Abdalla plans to pursue her master’s in social work and, eventually, her doctorate.

“Some people just get the degree because they want to get money,” Abdalla says. “But if you’re willing to help someone with your heart ... that’s what I think is the most important.”

Written by Adrianna Ovnicek

Heather Beshears

director marketing and communications, College of Public Service and Community Solutions