Congratulations to the 2021-22 Merit Award Winners!

Congratulations to our 2021-22 undergraduate outstanding student award winners and special award winners. Each year, each of the undergraduate academic programs within the College of Arts and Sciences recognizes outstanding students who exhibit academic excellence and embody the spirit, energy and core values that are central to our mission. In addition, several programs have special awards in recognition of exemplary work. This year’s award winners are:

  • Applied Information Technology: Kaitlyn Baker
  • Digital Communication: Sofeeyah Lloyd
  • English: Toni Gee
  • Environmental Sustainability: Erin Adams
  • History: Bedell Terry
  • Integrated Arts: Ben Pittman
  • Interdisciplinary Studies: Maria Faux
  • Legal Studies: Makenzie Hausner and Kamal Musallam
  • Philosophy, Law, and Ethics: Emily Kamp
  • Psychology: Jessica Smith
  • Simulation and Game Design: Chantil Hunt Estevez
  • Alexander Rose Memorial Award for Excellence for Creative Writing: Kayla Tellington
  • Beatrice Kanigel Prize for Language and Literature: Stephanie Sanchez
  • Betty Tarpley Turner Award for English: Emma Spicknall
  • Charles “Bob” Fisher Award for History: Tyisse Baxter and Bedell Terry
  • Donahoo Award for History: Timothy Commo

Due to continued precautions surrounding COVID-19, we did not have the in-person merit awards ceremony that we usually have to honor our undergraduate student award winners. We hope to resume our campus ceremony in spring 2023.

Upcoming Events from the Hoffberger Center for Professional Ethics, May 2022

The University of Baltimore’s Hoffberger Center for Professional Ethics will host discussions on two timely topics this May.

On Monday, May 2 and Wednesday, May 4, from 8-10 a.m. on both days, the Center will host a discussion on moral and political questions raised by issues of immigration, human rights, and displacement. This breakfast symposium is designed to foster critical engagement with these pressing areas of inquiry through interaction with five expert panelists. The agenda is as follows:

SESSION 1, Monday, May 2

  • 8:00-8:15 a.m.—panelist introductions
  • 8:15-8:30 a.m.—opening remarks by Steve Scalet, director, Hoffberger Center
  • 8:30-9:00 a.m.“International Borders, Immigration, and Nondomination,” Josh Kassner, director, Hoffberger Center Research Fellows Program
  • 9:00-9:30 a.m.—”Internal Restrictions on Movement: A Reconsideration,” Désirée Lim,  assistant professor, Penn State University
  • 9:30-10 a.m.—”The Harm of Refugee Containment,” Micah Trautmann, Ph.D. candidate, Boston University

SESSION 2, Wednesday, May 4

  • 8:00-8:30 a.m.—”Reflective Inclusiveness as a Bridge between Human Rights and Nationalistic Attachment,” Tetsu Sakurai, faculty member, Kobe University
  • 8:30-9:00 a.m.—”Migration, Neighborliness, and Belonging,” Steve Scalet
  • 9:00-10:00 a.m.—open panel discussion

Attend both sessions by Zoom.

For questions or more information, please contact Rebeccah Leiby at

On Thursday, May 5, from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m., the Hoffberger Center presents Ravi Thakral, who will deliver a presentation titled, “How to Challenge Prejudicial Language”. Thakral is a philosophy lecturer at the University of Sussex and a Hoffberger Center Research Fellow.

To RSVP and receive the Zoom link, email Josh Kassner at

Prof. Joshua Kassner publishes new book on global justice and international political theory

Joshua Kassner, associate professor in the Division of Legal, Ethical and Historical Studies, has published a new book titled, Climate Change and Sovereignty: An Essay on the Moral Nature and Limits of State Sovereignty. The book offers a thoughtful meditation on global justice and international political and legal theory.

Available for preorder at

Alumni Profile: Michael Andersen, B.S. ’20

Michael Anderson

Michael Anderson, B.S. ’20, Applied Information Technology

written by Kristi Moore

Michael Andersen started 2020 with one goal clearly in mind—he was going to graduate.

After six years at The University of Baltimore, he knew he took his time, but he is proud, nonetheless, because of everything he learned and the opportunities he discovered along the way to his December graduation.

“Two years ago, I was on the verge of failing, had a terrible GPA, didn’t want to go to class, didn’t want to do anything and now here I am and it’s just incredible.”

As a first-generation college student, Michael had trouble transitioning to the pace of college in his first year at The University of Baltimore. He says he kept digging himself a hole without realizing its depth. Then he was put on academic probation and with support from staff and faculty, Michael started turning things around.

“I think, for me, digging myself out of that hole was a great experience for myself. I learned a lot about confidence and getting yourself back into it, but just getting out of it in the first place and being able to graduate at all has been incredible,” he says.

Changing his major to Applied Information Technology, the program from which he would eventually graduate, helped Michael find a passion he was excited to pursue. His father works in IT support and Michael decided to follow his example.

“He really helped me shape my love of technology,” Michael says. “He helped me build my first computer a couple of years ago and ever since then, it snowballed into this wanting to do more with it.”

In his last year of college, Michael joined the AstroBees, a team of students from the University’s design and technology programs invited to be part of a national competition called NASA S.U.I.T.S. (Spacesuit User Interface Technologies for Students). Participating students gain engineering design experience while imagining and creating technology that can support NASA’s astronauts.

“It’s just expanding on the classes, where if you weren’t participating in this project, you wouldn’t necessarily get that experience,” Michael says. “I think experience in today’s world is the biggest thing you can have on a resume. And getting the opportunity to get feedback from NASA engineers is incredible in and of itself.”

Student Andrea Garry: Research Accepted for 2021 SIOP Conference, and Team Wins Second Place in PTCMW Consulting Challenge

Congratulations to Industrial and Organizational Psychology student Andrea Garry, whose symposium submission was accepted for the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology’s (SIOP) 36th annual conference, a hybrid event that will be held April 15-17, 2021. Andrea’s research—which she did in collaboration with Assistant Professor Archana Tedone—is titled: The Moderating Effect of Home Workspace Design on the Relationship Between Technostress and Mental Fatigue.

Andrea was also part of the team that placed second in the Personnel Testing Council Metropolitan Washington’s (PTCMW) 2020 Graduate Student Consulting Challenge, sponsored by Amazon. Student teams were presented with a request for proposal (RFP) that outlined a real organizational challenge. Andrea and her teammates from peer institutions created a selection protocol with request parameters for Amazon. They were given three days to submit an RFP and oral presentation, which was delivered virtually on the final day to a panel of judges that included experts in I-O psychology and related areas from PTCMW and Amazon.

The consulting challenge was developed in 2014 by PTCMW to allow students to develop key professional skills, while expanding their professional networks and winning great prizes—the winning team wins $1,350, the runner‐up team wins $750, and every participating team receives a free year of PTCMW student membership.

Division of Applied Behavioral Sciences faculty publish chapters in three new books

Sharon Glazer, professor and chair (first author), Sally D. Farley, associate professor, and Tannaz T. Rahman, M.S. ’17, co-authored a chapter titled, “Performance Consequences of Workplace Ostracism” in the new book, Workplace Ostracism: Its Nature, Antecedents, and Consequences, published by Palgrave McMillan.




Prof. Glazer (first author) also co-authored a chapter on the essential knowledge, skills, abilities (KSAs), and experiences that master’s level I-O psychology students need to prepare for their careers in the new book, Mastering the Job Market: Career Issues for Master’s Level Industrial-Organizational Psychologists, from Oxford University Press.




Lastly, Prof. Glazer solo-authored a chapter on cross-cultural training in the U.S. military for The Cambridge Handbook of Intercultural Training.





All three books are available now.

Q&A with Assistant Professor Steven Leyva

The following interview is with Steven Leyva, MFA ’12, assistant professor in The University of Baltimore’s Klein Family School of Communications Design, graduate of the school’s MFA in Creative Writing & Publishing Arts program, and acclaimed poet. He recently published his debut full-length collection of poems, The Understudy’s Handbook.

Talk about the journey from self-published thesis project to a traditionally-published book. What knowledge did you carry from your MFA thesis book to your debut collection?

I spent seven years working on the poems in The Understudy’s Handbook in one way or another. Low Parish was such a wonderful undertaking that represented the culmination of my time as MFA student in the Creative Writing & Publishing Arts program here at The University of Baltimore, but I didn’t want to reuse any of the poems from that chapbook. So I was starting from scratch, but I wasn’t starting without the confidence and practical skills I’d already learned. I knew how to work hard and soft.

What inspired the poems in The Understudy’s Handbook?

The inspirations were many: a love of theater (I thought I was going to be an actor when I was younger), a longing for cities from my childhood, New Orleans primarily, and a persistent curiosity about the small stage productions of language that poems mount in our imagination.

Your manuscript for The Understudy’s Handbook landed you the 2020 Jean Feldman Poetry Award. What did it mean to you to have your work selected for the prize?

I was honored beyond measure. Washington Writers’ Publishing House has been lifting up voices from the Mid-Atlantic region for so many years, and I have always admired their books. The award was validating, and it fulfilled some of the academic and professional goals I’d set for myself, but more so it meant that I could be a part of the larger conversation going on in American arts and letters in new way.

One of the poems from your collection, “When I Feel a Whoop Comin’ On,” was selected for The Best American Poetry 2020 anthology. What was your reaction to that news?

I was completely flabbergasted. That poem has had an incredible journey, first being published by jubilat and then catching the eye of Utah Poet Laurette, Paisely Reckdal, who was the guest editor of The Best American Poetry 2020 anthology. I never knew a poem about middle school dances would take it this far. The poem is so idiosyncratic to my experience, but as I often tell my students, the more specific a poem the more it has the potential to be universal. Or better yet, to welcome the reader into its universe.

Can you talk a little bit about the role of poetry in society and why poetry is so important to our world today?

While I may be making what appears to be a distinction without a difference, I don’t know that I can speak on the role of “poetry” per se, since it is an abstraction, a concept best left to philosophers and critics, but I do think the artifacts we call poems have many roles in our society.

Poems are often a method of truth telling, but they achieve this primarily through transformation: getting the reader to see an image in a new way, enticing the ear into fresh language and syntax, clearing away the clutter.

But poems are not simply mirrors held up to the world (or if they are they are certainly funhouse mirrors), rather they are an art made of the clay of words that imagines new worlds. The role of a poem is to imagine, imagine what might have been, what is, what could be. And in that they serve as reminder of our shared humanity. When some much in society distorts us, alienates us, poems are out there, as the late poet Mary Oliver wrote, “announcing your place / in the family of things.”

What do you hope readers will get out of reading your poems?

Perhaps something akin to watching a really excellent stage play. Which is to say a range of experiences, some joyful, some heartbreaking, some contemplative.

As a professor of creative writing, and also a published author, are you more inclined to want to see your students experience success? What do you tell students who may not be thinking like that?

I’d tell those students that how you define success will evolve over time, so don’t be in such a rush. I’m not suggesting a kind of settling, but rather that we are not always accurate in gauging how long it may take to reach a particular literary or writing goal. And I’d remind all of my students of what the poet Lucille Clifton said, “People wish to be poets more than they wish to write poetry, and that’s a mistake. One should wish to celebrate more than one wishes to be celebrated.”

What’s next for you? Is a second collection in the works?

I have enough poems for about half of another book, lots of nerdy ones about various subjects, from taking my kids to see the film Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse to more mythical ones about my family in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.

But I also might write a collection focused on what it was like to be Black scholarship student at evangelical university.

And there is a fair amount of academic writing I want to do about the intersections between comic books and poetry. So we’ll see.

Learn more about Prof. Steven Leyva.

Join us on Wednesday, Nov. 11 at 7 p.m. for a virtual bookwarming and roundtable discussion celebrating the publication of Prof.  Leyva’s debut collection with fellow poets Tim Seibles and zakia henderson-brown. These three poets will discuss mentorship, literary friendship and the journeys of making a first book. To receive the Zoom link the day before the event, please send an email to

Tim Seibles

Tim Seibles

zakia henderson-brown

zakia henderson-brown

Taking lab sciences online during a pandemic: at-home lab kits to the rescue

In the weeks leading up to the start of fall semester, tabletops usually reserved for in-class science experiments were largely hidden underneath several dozen of plastic containers.


Each container held small vials of meticulously measured ingredients, carefully cleaned lab equipment and any extra items Samantha Dean envisioned a student might need to run a successful lab course out of their own home.

The interruption that the COVID-19 pandemic brought to spring semester had inspired Dean, the science lab coordinator for UB’s Division of Science, Information Arts and Technologies, to brainstorm the best way for students take lab courses in a solely online environment.

She considered two options: the obvious way, which involved a pre-built, online-based lab program that students would do on their computer, and the hard way, a homemade solution that would require a lot of planning and time.

“We felt that an entirely online system just wasn’t doing a service to our students,” Dean said.

So she got to work on the alternative.

science lab coordinator Sam Dean recording videos of herself conducting experiments to help guide students

Dean ended up building about 120 kits to cover three fall classes that required labs—ENVS 221 with Stanley Kemp, BIO 111 with Wolf Pecher and BIO 121 with Elka Porter. Each class would require slightly different kits, leaving Dean to consider what the faculty wanted to teach and how could she downsize a semester’s worth of experiments into one container. Safety and delivery had to be considered as well.

“We’re not accepting that we’re going to give our students an inferior product,” said Kemp, an associate professor. “We’re still fully in control of it. We’re trying to give them the same experience as in the classroom, face to face.”

Dean taught a summer class, BIOL 121, that would become an experiment in itself.

For that class, she built kits that included Gatorade for a DNA experiment; seeds, a lightbulb (either red, green or white) and a pot for a photosynthesis lesson; and a variety of small items for various tests, including a vial of iodine, glucose tablets, Lactaid pills and milk powder.

Students worked with Dean to arrange a curbside pickup day to get their kit. Students had to agree to return the kits after the class ended and also to keep the container in a safe place away from children or pets.

Dean wanted all the ingredients to be items the students might already have at home or could easily buy at the store. That way, they could feel comfortable with the materials they were working with or easily find replacements if an experiment went awry.

student Kelly Coleman

Having common ingredients also helped punctuate the point that science is more a part of their lives than the students may have previously realized.

That hit home for Kelly Coleman, one of Dean’s summer students.

“Pretty much all of the labs that we did were useful for everyday life and health. I can’t tell you how many times I was in a conversation with my boyfriend and I was like, ‘Well, I learned in my bio class this week…’” she said.

Beyond preparing the kits, Dean also recorded videos of herself doing each experiment so students could have a better understanding of the process.

Donna Cureton, a business administration student in the summer class, appreciated the step-by-step video guide.

“I was able to learn and comprehend at my own pace without trying to keep pace with the class,” she said. “I was able to rewind the video lectures and take better notes than I have in an in-class setting.”

The videos, in part, aimed to help make up for one aspect of the on-campus lab that students lost—the lab partner. At home, students were largely on their own, unless a curious family member was willing to help.

student Blanca Ventura Diaz

Blanca Ventura Diaz, also a business administration student, had some help from her husband who wanted to see how her experiments turned out, particularly one that involved growing a plant. Her plant even went on a summer vacation to Florida so they didn’t miss a measurement.

This was the first lab course that Diaz had taken and she was already nervous before realizing it would be fully online. A friend from another college had told Diaz that her lab class had involved simulated labs on the computer. Diaz hoped that wouldn’t be the case at UB.

“When you do a digital one, you don’t really have the desire to see how it turns out. It’s just a computer; it’s going to tell me if it’s wrong. There isn’t any life to it. I’m more visual. I like hands-on; the experience is right in front of you,” she said.

Others in her class felt the same way.

“This is better than sitting for an online, click-through lab situation because I know they exist and that’s not as fun,” Coleman said. “There’s a fun aspect to mixing solutions. It feels like a kid with a chemistry set.”

That reaction was what Dean was hoping for.

“We definitely get students who come in that are kind of gun shy. ‘I had a terrible experience with science in high school and I hated it,’ and ‘I don’t want to be here,’ and if we can make that fun for them, and possibly something that their whole family can be involved in, then that’s absolutely what we’re going for here—to make science engaging, to make science fun, to make science something that is not just for people in white coats in an ivory tower. It’s something everyone and anyone can do,” she said.

Despite the painstaking work behind creating the kits, Dean thinks it was the right decision, not only for the students who benefit from hands-on lessons in a likely otherwise online dominated semester, but also because of the impact it can have on how the division runs future lab courses, on campus or online.

In the situation that we have now, which is unprecedented, unexpected, I think it’s a situation that absolutely breeds ingenuity,” she said.


UB Student Team Among Winners of USM COVID App Challenge

A team of four students from the University of Baltimore were announced as winners of the University System of Maryland’s COVID App Challenge competition, led by the USM COVID Research & Innovation Task Force. Participating teams were challenged to develop a mobile application solution that could help bring Marylanders together to more effectively respond to COVID-19 and future pandemics. Six winning teams were selected, each earning a cash prize of $3,000.

UB’s team, known as Team Breeze—Olubukola AkanbiCharles ChaseStephanie Parey and Michael Vandi—developed a COVID-19 Information and Tracker (CIAT) application that uses Bluetooth technology to track users’ locations in order to limit the spread of COVID-19 and to give them important information and updates regarding their specific location.

Olubukola Akanbi, Information and Interaction Design doctoral student

“The app has a map feature that is useful for displaying cases of COVID-19 infection rates in all postal codes and cities in Maryland,” said Olubukola, an Information and Interaction Design doctoral student at UB. “Having the right perspective on the infection rates per location can reduce fear and anxiety associated with COVID-19 and help those living in highly infected areas to be more cautious.”

When asked why they wanted to participate in this effort to make an app related to COVID-19, all four team members agreed that they saw it as a way to contribute something useful to the fight against COVID-19.

Stephanie Parey, Interaction Design and Information Architecture graduate student

“I had been wanting to do more to help communities cope with COVID-19 but within my specific field,” said Parey, an Interaction Design and Information Architecture graduate student. “I jumped at this opportunity because I knew that we could create something extremely useful in these uncertain times.”

The students collaborated remotely, and each team member had different responsibilities, including user experience research and design, data analysis, usability testing, design layout, interface design and programming.

Michael Vandi, Applied Information Technology undergraduate student

“When I heard current contact tracing apps developed by huge tech companies sacrifice users’ privacy by tracking our location, I knew there had to be a better way,” Vandi, a student in the Applied Information Technology undergraduate program, noted. “I joined the team because I wanted to show that contact tracing and protecting user’s privacy can be done simultaneously.”

The team was brought together by Giovanni Vincenti, associate professor in the Division of Science, Information Arts and Technologies.

“I forwarded the call for proposals from USM to all of the programs within our division, and four students responded,” Prof. Vincenti said. “I introduced them to each other, and they did the rest.”

The UB team had less than a month to develop and submit their concept. Entries were to include a 3-minute demonstration video that shows the app and how it functions, and a presentation that explains the app’s usefulness. Judges, who included members of the USM community, tech corporations and local companies, and entrepreneurial advisors from across the USM, evaluated entries based on functionality and feasibility, innovation and impact. The UB team’s competitive entry earned them one of six cash prizes.

Charles Chase, Simulation and Game Design undergraduate student

“One of the reasons I joined the app challenge was that I saw an opportunity to use my skills to help people firsthand,” said Chase, a Simulation and Game Design major. “I hope the CIAT app continues to support people during this critical time.”

Download the CIAT app. Learn more about the USM COVID App Challenge.


Q&A with Associate Professor Giovanni Vincenti

Giovanni Vincenti is an associate professor in the Division of Science, Information Arts and Technologies and director of the B.S. in Applied Information Technology program.

Giovanni Vincenti, associate professor and director of the Applied Information Technology program in the University of Baltimore’s Division of Science, Information Arts and Technologies (SIAT), serves as a mentor and guide to many students in this growing field, including the four students who entered the recent University System of Maryland’s COVID App Challenge, a contest to develop a piece of technology that could be useful during the ongoing pandemic. Prof. Vincenti spoke about the four, who went by the name Team Breeze, in a recent interview. His responses, edited for length, are as follows:

Given the challenges of working remotely, how were the students able to put together their entry?

They met as necessary online and exchanged the documentation and/or products for which each team member was responsible.

What kind of support and guidance did you and others in the program provide to them as they built the app?

Christine Spencer, the dean of our Yale Gordon College of Arts and Sciences, forwarded to all the students in the college the call for proposals and the applications from the USM. I sent it along to those students who are majoring in SIAT, letting them know that, if someone was interested and looking for peers, they should let me know. Four students — Olubukola Akanbi, Charles Chase, Stephanie Parey, and Michael Vandi — responded, one from each of our technical majors. I introduced them to each other and they did the rest.

I credit our applied, hands-on programs as the providers of the experience necessary to assemble this project in one month. Their hard work and discipline were paramount, and the technical skills they learned in our courses gave them solid foundations. They asked a few questions regarding concepts, but they tackled nearly the entire project on their own. I just played matchmaker!

Will the team receive academic credit for this work? Or did they take on the challenge simply because they knew they could?

They did it because they wanted to help, and they took it on because they can. It’s another tangible example of what our students can produce in a relatively short time, working remotely, and with other adult responsibilities like families, jobs, internships, and so on, during a pandemic.

From your perspective, what does it say about these students that they stepped up and completed the app?

Our students are not afraid to start making a change in the world with the skills they are developing at UB. They are constantly presented with challenges, and this time it happens to be one that was part of a competition. Other than that, many of our courses involve some type of “real-life experience,” such as real customers in IDIA/IID, NASA SUITS for AIT/SGD/IDIA, and several gaming projects for SGD. Michael Vandi was also part of the AstroBees and will likely continue as that team’s lead programmer next year.

How does a project like this add to a student’s understanding of technology and its application in a changing world?

They realize that implementing solutions to projects is much more involved than it sounds, and also that the fundamentals that they learn in the classroom can make a difference, today, in their lives and the lives of others. We do not teach the technologies that they used or the context in which their app will operate, but they were able to take skills and techniques and transpose them to a new project, with unusual requirements — we haven’t had a pandemic in a while! Also, they worked with people they did not know at all. None of them knew each other before their work began.

Did a student say anything to you about this challenge that you found inspiring or insightful?

They were all very thankful for the opportunity and the connection. Even though they did it all themselves, I believe they knew that they could count on our faculty and me if they had any issues or questions.

From the day they entered the competition, I saw it as our students once again doing a fantastic job. I introduced them to each other, answered the few questions they had, and they were into it. The concept, implementation, and testing – all of that success is theirs. For me, their efforts really show how complementary all of our programs are. Now that they’ve won, it’s another reason to be very proud of our students.

Congratulations to the 2018 CAS Merit Award winners!

On April 28, the Yale Gordon College of Arts and Sciences held its annual Merit Awards Ceremony, where the college honors and celebrates outstanding students who exhibit academic excellence and embody the spirit, energy and core values of the college. The award winners were nominated and selected by the faculty, and awards were presented for each academic program, as well as several special memorial awards.


2018 Yale Gordon College of Arts and Sciences Award Winners

Special Awards:

  • Alexander Rose Memorial Award for Creative Writing: Samantha Allen
  • Beatrice Kanigel Prize for Language and Literature: Lily Herman
  • Betty Tarpley Turner Award for English: Elizabeth McMahon
  • Charles Fisher Award for History: Darby DeJarnette
  • E. Halcott Turner Award for Jurisprudence: Shannon Thomas

Outstanding Student Awards (by program):

  • Applied Information Technology: Blessing Leonard
  • Digital Communication: Susan Olson
  • English: Elizabeth McMahon
  • Environmental Sustainability and Human Ecology: Nels Schumacher
  • History: Ashley Tippie
  • Integrated Arts: Ellen Stevenson-Cerasuolo
  • Interdisciplinary Studies: Exel Mori-Candelaria
  • Jurisprudence: Andrew White
  • Philosophy, Society and Applied Ethics: Mary (Beth) Harmon
  • Simulation and Digital Entertainment: Christian Villalobos