Below are bios of the mentors who will join us at the workshop. Check back as we are updating the website as bios come in.
Sina Bahram is an accessibility researcher, consultant, and entrepreneur. He is finishing his PhD in computer science at North Carolina State University. His field of research is Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) focusing on multi-modal approaches for eyes-free exploration of graphical information. Sina is the founder of Prime Access Consulting (PAC), an accessibility firm whose clients include high-tech startups, fortune 500 companies, and museums. Whether wearing his academic or business hat, Sina enjoys devising innovative and user-centered solutions to difficult real-world problems. In 2012, Sina was recognized as one of President Barack Obama's White House Champions of Change for his work in enabling users with disabilities tosucceed in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields. You can read more about Sina and his interests on his website and his blog. He is @SinaBahram on Twitter.
Jeremy Block works at the Mount Sinai Health System in NYC and is an Adjunct Professor of Public Affairs at Baruch College. His primary interests are at the intersection of science & technology, ethics, and public policy. His background includes basic biomedical research & development, as well as advising at the federal, state, and local level on a variety of science and technology relevant fields including green procurement, human research subject protections, chemical & biological weapons, emerging properties and markets with science and technology components, research systems at public & private universities, and protecting the rights of people with disabilities. He has a background in teaching ethics in public policy, bioethics, and science and technology policy at both the undergraduate and graduate level.
He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry & Biology, a Masters in Public Policy, and Ph.D. in Biochemistry all from Duke University. He lives in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City.
Matt Bowers is a graduate researcher, teaching assistant, and doctoral student in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, & Planetary Sciences at Purdue University. As a member of the interdisciplinary graduate program in Computational Science & Engineering, he is working toward a Master's degree in Applied Statistics and a Ph.D. in Atmospheric Sciences. His current research interests include predictability of non-linear and chaotic dynamical systems, variability of tropical atmospheric convection, and applications of machine learning algorithms toward understanding of weather and climate data. In 2010, Matt earned Bachelor's degrees in Actuarial Science and Applied Statistics from Purdue, which helped establish his background in risk assessment and data analysis. In 2012, he completed a Master's degree in Atmospheric Sciences. Through his research, Matt intends to help curtail some of the natural hazards posed to the global civilization by enhancing the scientific understanding of weather and climate variability. If not working in his laboratory, Matt may be found playing drums, walking a slackline, practicing yoga, or contemplating the awesome machinery of nature.
Imke Durre is a Physical Scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). She holds a B.S. (1994) in Applied Mathematics from Yale University and a Ph.D. (2000) in Atmospheric Science from the University of Washington in Seattle. Her research interests are in the areas of constructing and quality-assuring datasets of weather observations and using these observations to study global and regional climate variability. Being congenitally blind, she also is interested in enhancing career opportunities in STEM fields for individuals with disabilities through mentoring and improving the accessibility of information and programs. She serves on the American Meteorological Society's Board on Women and Minorities, on the American Association for the Advancement of Science's Committee on Opportunities in Science, and as a mentor in the Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology (DO-IT)Program.
Ameenah Ghoston currently works for the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) where she focuses on web-enabled Government for facilitating collaboration amongst stakeholders in the software development processes of the Global Command and Control systems Joint (GCCS-J) program. The GCCS-J service offers vital connectivity to systems used to plan, execute and manage military operations for both joint and multinational operations.
Prior to joining federal service, Ms. Ghoston worked at the National Federation of the Blind International Braille and Technology Center where she tested and evaluated assistive technology devices for use by blind persons. She lead efforts in organizing the first-ever Goals for Achieving Math Accessibility (GAMA) summit--a forum for math educators, companies developing math accessibility solutions, and blind professionals working in STEM career fields.
She is the recipient of the Federal Chief Information Officer (CIO) certification from the National Defense University Information Resources Management College (NDU iCollege). The CIO Program prepares leaders and agency personnel for Leading within and across federal organizational boundaries by leveraging information, information technology, human, and financial resources to link critical decisions regarding resources, people, processes, and technologies to mission performance and information assurance.
In 2001, Ms. Ghoston earned her Bachelor's of Arts in History with a minor in Computer Science from the Univ. of IL at Urbana/Champaign.
Dr. Nicholas Giudice received his Ph.D. in the Cognitive and Braine Sciences program in the Department of Psychology from the University of Minnesota in 2004 and worked as a postdoctoral research fellow in the Psychological and Brain Sciences program in the Psychology Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara from 2005-2008. Since Fall of 2008, he has worked at the University of Maine, where he is currently an associate professor of spatial informatics in the School of Computing and Information Science, with joint appointments in the University of Maine’s Psychology Department and Intermedia program. He is the director of the Virtual Environment and Multimodal Interaction (VEMI) laboratory, which houses the university’s first, and Maine’s only, research facility combining a fully immersive virtual reality (VR) installation with augmented reality (AR) technologies in an inte¬grated research and development environment.
Research in Dr. Giudice’s lab investigates multimodal spatial cognition, spatial learning and navigation with and without vision, and determination of the optimal information requirements for the design and evaluation of multimodal interfaces and assistive technology. His research program incorporates both basic and translational experiments from the domains of Experimental Psychology and Human-Computer Interaction and employs various paradigms and tools, including: Psychophysics, human behavioral studies, usability and user evaluation, and use of virtual and augmented reality. He has authored or co-authored over 50 journal and conference papers with many of the leading researchers in these areas. His past research sponsors include the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the National Institute of Disability Research and Rehabilitation (NIDRR).
Alysha Jeans graduated with a bachelor of science in electrical engineering from Rice University in 2010. Her primary area of interest is in the field of digital signal processing. At Rice, she did 2 summer internships with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. After graduating, she moved to northern Virginia to work full-time as a forensic audio examiner. She also graduated with her master of science in electrical engineering through Purdue University, in December, 2013. She has been blind since birth.
Denna Lambert has served as a Program Manager with NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center for eight years. In that capacity, Denna provides overall leadership in directing and developing GSFC's programs, resources, and initiatives supporting its workforce of individuals with disabilities, managers, other NASA Centers, and external federal agencies. Her subject matter expertise includes disability law, special education policy, STEM recruitment, program compliance with federal laws. In addition to her subject matter expertise, she also spearheads many of GSFC's diversity and inclusion initiatives including "Power & Privilege", Diversity Dialogue Program (DDP), and Can We Talk sessions with the Center's senior management. Her professional interests also include collaborative partnerships across organizational boundaries specifically in diversity and inclusion (D&I), community outreach and engagement programs, human capital management, multigenerational workforce dynamics, and conflict resolution. Denna also serves as a Contracting Officer's Representative (COR) for four Center level service contracts valued at $5 million annually. As COR, Denna is responsible for requirements development, market research, source evaluation and selection of competitive procurements, and managing the relationships with key stakeholders from the small business, procurement, and financial resources communities. Beginning January 2013, Denna was accepted into the Mid-Level Leadership Program (MLLP) which is NASA's agency level leadership development program for emerging agency leaders at the GS-13, 14, & 15 level. Denna is completing a nine month rotational assignment with NASA's Planetary Science Division supporting NASA's planning, programming, budgeting, and execution (PPBE) process. During this assignment, Denna has engaged Center and Agency level leaders in internal budget deliberations and program prioritization discussions impacting missions and overall science portfolio. She has also been responsible for developing formal NASA responses to Congressional inquiries, Office of Management & Budget requests, and media questions regarding missions in development and the upcoming launch of the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE).
Outside of NASA, Denna is an avid cyclist and recently completed the 2012 Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI), a 471-mile bike tour. She is actively involved in various ministries within her church that include Stephen's Ministry, community outreach and development programs, and leading a women's Bible study at work.
Currently, Dr. Lee works as a Principal NLP Research Engineer at the Natural Language Understanding Lab at Nuance Communications Inc. to develop innovative technologies for a spoken language understanding system in a conversational user interface. He has over 20 years experience in a wide range of innovative software development and research including machine learning, spoken language understanding, statistical and symbolic natural language processing, text and data mining, information retrieval/extraction, image/video processing/search (indexing/retrieval), mobile device applications, and assistive technologies. He has a Ph.D. and M.A. in theoretical linguistics and a M.S. in computer science. He is interested in applying machine learning technologies for solving natural language and vision problems.
Mr. Martin has had a long and diverse working background. He has multiple engineering degrees and a degree in Psychology with an emphasis in Engineering Psychology. He has been a practicing rehabilitation engineer for the past twenty years and was last employed on staff at the Veterans Administration Research and Development Center of Excellence for Aging Veterans with Vision loss as a Research Health Scientist. He currently is a graduate student at Georgia Tech in the Sonification Lab in his first years of his PHD studies. His pursuits have led to a Master’s degree in Human-Computer Interaction and will culminate with his dissertation research work in the field of Human-Centered Computing. He also is a retired Paralympian who competed in 1996, 2000, and 2004 in track and field in the pentathlon and discus throw.
Dr. Mahadeo Sukhai is Canada’s only congenitally blind biomedical research scientist. Dr. Sukhai is currently a research fellow and team leader with the Advanced Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory at the University Health Network in Toronto. In this role, he is responsible for the development and implementation of new genetic tests for cancer, based upon the results of the Human Genome Project. As part of this effort, he is one of a team of scientists on the forefront of bringing new genetic technologies to the clinical setting.
Prior to assuming this role, Dr. Sukhai completed his Ph.D. in cancer biology from the University of Toronto (2007), and two post-doctoral fellowships, in genomics and drug discovery. Outside of a distinguished research and teaching career, Dr. Sukhai places a strong emphasis on voluntarism, science education and mentorship. He has been an active volunteer with the International Association of Lions Clubs (1993-2003), the Let’s Talk Science Partnership Program (2007-2012), the University of Toronto (2001-2012) and the National Educational Association of Disabled Students (NEADS; 2004-present).
Dr. Sukhai has held numerous volunteer executive leadership positions at local, regional, national and international levels, and currently serves as Senior Advisor (Governance and Leadership Development) to the NEADS Board of Directors, and Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors of the National Postdoctoral Association (NPA). Dr. Sukhai joined the Research Committee of the CNIB in 2009, and the national Board of Directors in 2012. Dr. Sukhai also serves as the Chair of the National Graduate Experience Taskforce, established by NEADS, and oversees several of the Association’s projects in development. He is also the Director of the NEADS National Student Awards Program, Canada’s only nationwide cross-discipline and cross-disability scholarship program, and is the Principal Investigator of a series of projects exploring the culture of accessibility in science laboratories and other practical spaces, for the Council of Ontario Universities.
Nathanael Wales is a professional civil engineer working for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and has been legally blind since birth. He has always been interested in science and engineering. He enjoyed building with Legos, playing with train sets, and designing his own roads and cities for his Hot Wheels cars on large sheets of his father’s drafting paper using thick markers and crayons. In junior high and high school he excelled in math and science courses. As he began applying to college, he knew that he wanted to pursue a career in which he could plan, design, and build large infrastructure: he knew that he wanted to be a civil engineer. At the same time he also took the key opportunity to meet other blind people who were studying and working in science and engineering fields and learned from them some of the techniques that they used to be successful in the fields that they loved. As a result, before starting college he spent eight and a half months at a training center for blind adults getting his Braille, computer and access technology, and living skills ready for the rigors of college and living on his own.
Nathanael entered the University of California at Davis as a freshman in the spring of 1997 with a major in civil and environmental engineering. In addition to his classes in college, he participated in his college’s concrete canoe team and worked as a student engineering assistant at the California Department of Water Resources (DWR). After graduating with his bachelor’s degree in 2001, he began working full-time for DWR doing planning work on the expansion of three reservoirs in northern and central California. As a part of his job, in the spring of 2004 he took—and passed—the exam to become professionally licensed as a civil engineer.
In 2007 Nathanael took a position with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in New York City. In this position he plans projects to protect the shoreline of Long Island and northern New Jersey from flooding and erosion, especially from hurricanes such as Hurricane Sandy, as well as a few projects to improve harbor navigation channels and protect streambanks from erosion and collapse. In 2011 he was recognized as an Outstanding Department of Defense Employee with a Disability, and in 2012 he was awarded one of three “Call to Service” awards for employees with less than five years of Federal service by the Federal Executive Board for New York City. Today he is doing exactly what he has always enjoyed doing: planning and designing infrastructure that benefits the public.
Lindsay Yazzolino is a Program Coordinator at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary’s Schepens Eye Research Institute which is a subsidiary of Harvard’s Medical School. She works in the Laboratory for Visual Neuroplasticity. Lindsay completed her undergraduate degree in Cognitive Science from Brown University. Through her research, Lindsay became interested in investigating how experience, particularly blindness, affects the development of higher-level cognitive processes, such as language, memory, spatial reasoning, and concept representation, and their organization in the brain. This line of research combines Lindsay’s lifelong passion for science with her personal experience of being totally blind from birth. As a blind researcher, Lindsay also seeks to promote full participation of blind people in pursuing science careers, as well as increasing the exchange of knowledge and ideas between the scientific and blind communities. She has spoken to numerous groups of students, educators, and parents of blind children to discuss her work, as well as to emphasize that blindness need not limit one’s career choices, independence and personal fulfillment. Outside of the lab, Lindsay enjoys air travel and keeping up with the latest technology, as well as Espresso, thrill rides, and the occasional practical joke.