MEET OUR TEAM
Zachary Aidala, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Psychology at Bloomfield College, and has served as Honors Program Director since 2018. He earned a B.S. in Psychobiology from Binghamton University (SUNY), an M.A. in Psychology from Hunter College (CUNY), and a Ph.D. in Biopsychology and Behavioral Neuroscience from The Graduate Center (CUNY). His area of expertise is in neuroethology and sensory ecology. His research focuses on the coevolution of host-parasite interactions between avian brood parasites and their hosts, specifically the visual sensory processes mediating parasitic egg ejection in hosts of obligate brood parasites. In addition to coordinating Bloomfield College’s Honors Program, he regularly teaches Statistics, Research Methods, Biopsychology, Sensation and Perception, Drugs and Behavior, and Animal Behavior. Dr. Aidala has recently served as Faculty Representative and now holds the position of Vice President on the NRHC Executive Board.
Autumn Barszczowski is a public relations graduate from Point Park University. She is currently the Personnel & Finance Analyst at the City of Pittsburgh's Department of Permits, Licenses, and Inspections. During her time as a student, she filled multiple roles within her honors program and Honors Student Organization including serving as a mentor, board member, and eventually as President. She was also an active participant in the national and regional honors councils, where she acted as a moderator and presenter at conferences. She even served for one year as Student Representative for NRHC and helped to plan the 2018 conference in Providence, Rhode Island. She loves having the opportunity to continue playing an active role in honors education and seeing the work that students are producing.
Matt Baran is the Assistant Director of the Muriel A. Howard Honors Program at SUNY Buffalo State College. He teaches the introductory seminar course to all first-year Honors students each fall, plans weekly Honors events, and coordinates leadership opportunities for students among other tasks related to building a robust Honors community. In Fall 2022, he launched a new peer mentoring program matching upper-level Honors students with first-year Honors students to aide in their transition to college. Matt earned a B.S. in Architecture at the University of Maryland, College Park (2017), and an M.A. in Higher Education & Student Affairs at The Ohio State University (2019).
Xarielle Blanchette completed her undergrad studies at Monroe College in 2020, where she majored in Business Management with a minor in Marketing. During her time at college, she was very involved as an honors student. She is passionate about all things that allow her to express herself creatively. She also enjoys learning new things about Marketing and Human Behaviors. Xarielle was one of the first ever students to have research published in Illuminate. Now, she works as a Marketing Strategist and is the founder of The Rhadika Brand, a Motivation, Marketing and Branding agency.
Chris Brittain is an Admissions Officer at the University of Rutgers-Camden. He graduated from Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania in 2010 with a Bachelor’s degree in English and Communication Media and in 2012 with a Master’s degree in Liberal Arts with a concentration in Higher Education Administration. He has been working with Honors Programs in the Northeast Region for twelve years, and served as the NRHC Web Coordinator from 2016-2019. He founded the Lock Haven University Honors Coalition and co-created the Pennsylvania Honors Development Conference in 2012. In addition to his involvement with the Northeast Regional Honors Council, he spends much of his time pursuing interests in photography and event-planning. Chris’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
AnnMarie DelliPizzi is an Associate Professor of Biology, the Coordinator of the Health Sciences Program, the Health Professions Advisor and the Director of the Honors Program at Dominican College, where she has worked for the past 18 years. She also holds adjunct positions in the Department of Pharmacology at New York Medical College and the Department of Nursing at Lehman College, where she teaches pharmacology to both undergraduate and graduate nursing students. From 2019-2021, she served as the Faculty Representative on the NRHC Executive Board.
Dr. DelliPizzi earned a BS in Biology from Manhattan College and an MS and PhD in Pharmacology from New York Medical College. Her doctoral researched focused on the role of constrictor eicosanoids in the implementation of calcium-dependent basal tone in models of angiotensin II-dependent hypertension. She has co-authored two anatomy and physiology lab manuals and has published many peer-reviewed articles in journals such as the American Journal of Physiology, Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics and Hypertension.
When she’s not in the lab or in a classroom with her students, Dr. DelliPizzi loves traveling the world and exploring new places. She also enjoys baking delicious treats with her daughter and dabbles in cake decorating.
Kyle Dineen is a pre-med kinesiology major from the University of Maryland, College Park. Kyle works as a research and teaching assistant in the Biological Sciences Undergraduate Program, as well as being a teaching assistant and course designer in the Department of Kinesiology. He serves on the executive leadership teams of the University System of Maryland Student Council, The Maryland Higher Education Commission Student Advisory Council, Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Society, and the Service Learning Certificate Program. He is also an alumni ambassador and member of the Student Alumni Leadership Council, Phi Kappa Phi, the Tau Sigma Transfer Honors Society, and is an athlete in UMD triathlon.
Kyle previously attended Frederick Community College. He graduated with High Honors and a full-tuition scholarship to the University of Maryland, College Park. Prior to graduation, he served as the SGA President, authored the FCC Honors College handbook, and was the recipient of the John and Ethel Portz Award for honors research. He was also awarded the Coca-Cola New Century Maryland Transfer Scholarship, and was selected to the Phi Theta Kappa All-Maryland 1st Academic Team. Kyle is both an editor and author for the Illuminate journal and has presented research at the 2019 Northeast Regional Honors Conference and the 2018 Maryland Collegiate Honors Conference.
Helen Fallon, professor emeritus and former director of Point Park's Honors Program, has taught and served as an administrator at Point Park University since 1986. She was chair of the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication from 1999 to 2008 and was the acting dean of the School of Communication from 2008 to 2009. She then became director of the Honors Program until 2020.
Fallon remains an active journalist, working as a copy editor for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, where she's been gathering real-world materials for her classes since 1990. Earlier in her career, Fallon worked as a reporter, copy editor and editor for several papers in the Pittsburgh area for six years and did public relations for a university and a community hospital for five years.
She is active in journalism professional organizations, serving currently as the president of the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania, and on the board of the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Foundation. Fallon has been a member, officer and board member of the Women’s Press Club of Pittsburgh as well.
Service has been an important to her, as it is to all who love honors, and Fallon became a member of the Jefferson Regional Foundation’s board. The grantmaking foundation is dedicated to investing in the health and vitality of the communities served by Jefferson Hospital in the South Hills and lower Mon Valley of Pittsburgh.
Irina V. Ellison, Ph.D. is the Associate Dean of the School of Health and Natural Sciences and Co-Director of the college-wide Global Honors Program at Mercy College. At Mercy, Dr. Ellison serves as an Activity Director on the ACCESS grant, a Title V grant aimed at improving student outcomes in Anatomy and Physiology I. She is also the Project Director of the NEA Big Read - Mercy College (2022-2023), a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest designed to broaden our understanding of our world, our communities, and ourselves through the joy of sharing a good book. Dr. Ellison has led the Supplemental Instruction Learning Fellows program at Mercy College since 2018 and serves as the co-chair of the college-wide Committee on Student Success and Engagement (CSSE) and co-chair of the Inter-Professional Education (IPE) Committee. Dr. Ellison co-founded and co-directs the Art in the Lab Workshops, which give scientists and artists the opportunity to collaborate to create art based on active laboratory experiences. Dr. Ellison is actively involved in the Northeast Regional Honors Council where she served as President from 2020-2021 and currently co-chairs the Diversity Equity Inclusion Justice (DEIJ) Committee.
Kat MacDonald is the Coordinator of the Honors Program and a faculty member in the English Department at Monroe College. She holds a Master’s degree in Mass Media and Communication from Fordham University and bachelor’s degrees in English, Communication Arts, and Women’s Studies from the College of New Rochelle. Before coming to Monroe College as a full-time faculty member (she was an adjunct first) in 2010, she served on the editorial team of Reader’s Digest. Kat currently serves as the Executive Secretary of the Northeast Regional Honors Council (NRHC). Kat also completed a four-year stint on the Executive Board of NRHC (she rotated through Vice President, President-Elect, President, and Immediate Past President). Kat is also a member of the NCHC Publication Board.
Serving the students in her college’s Honors Program has been most rewarding. She believes NRHC gives students the opportunity to present their research, collaborate with their peers, and become exposed to new ideas and places. She has had the pleasure of mentoring the Student Reps since 2013, when her first student served in Niagara Falls. Subsequently, two students from her institution served at Cambridge in 2015. Her students also served as Student Representative in Pittsburgh in 2017, Baltimore in 2019, and Philadelphia in 2022. Watching the students grow and learn is extremely satisfying.
Kat has been proud to serve as the Editor-in-Chief of Illuminate since its inception in 2019.
Amy McMillan is the Director of the Muriel A. Howard Honors Program at SUNY Buffalo State College. Dr. McMillan has a B.S. in Zoology from North Dakota State University (1988) and an M.A. (1991) and Ph.D. (1998) from the University of Kansas, where she studied animal behavior and population genetics. After teaching at the University of Southern Maine and completing a postdoc at the U.S. EPA in Narragansett, RI and Cincinnati, OH, she started at Buffalo State in 2003 in the Biology Department. Here she taught Genetics, Population Genetics, and Evolution and conducted research that focused on species of conservation concern including the Hellbender Salamander and Common Loon. At Buffalo State, Dr. McMillan has received awards for Excellence in Advisement, Undergraduate Research Mentorship, Equity and Campus Diversity, and Service. She served on the College Senate for six years and as chair of the Senate for two years. She now is a Faculty Representative for NRHC.
Darryl L. Peterkin is Director of the Clara I. Adams Honors College at Morgan State University (Baltimore, Maryland). Dr. Peterkin has a BA in American Studies from Yale University (1988) and a PhD in American history from Princeton University (1995). A specialist in the history of higher education in the Early Republic, Dr. Peterkin has taught history at the Community College of Baltimore County (Essex, Maryland), Dillard University (New Orleans, Louisiana), the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Morgan State University, Rowan University (Glassboro, New Jersey), Washington University in St. Louis, and Xavier University of Louisiana (New Orleans, Louisiana). He has served as Director of Studies for Butler College at Princeton University, Director of Faculty Recruitment and Development at The National Faculty (New Orleans, Louisiana), and Dean of Honors at Dillard University. Prior to coming to Morgan in 2009, Dr. Peterkin was a Senior Program Officer and Director of the Center to Serve Historically Black Colleges and Universities at the Southern Education Foundation (Atlanta, Georgia).
A proud Southerner, Dr. Peterkin has devoted much of the last thirty years to learning the intricacies of his grandmother’s biscuit recipe and the pursuit of Carolina-style barbecue. He is also an enthusiastic baseball fan -- especially of the Atlanta Braves -- and a student of science fiction and its influence on literature, history, technology, and American popular culture. Dr. Peterkin is an aficionado all things Star Trek, but maintains good diplomatic relationships with visitors from the Star Wars universe.
In the wee hours of the morning, Dr. Peterkin works on several nonfiction and fiction projects including a biography of Joseph Caldwell, the first president of the University of North Carolina, a play about President Harry S. Truman and the desegregation of the United States Armed Forces, a political thriller set during the Administration of President George Washington, and a retelling of the Sherlock Holmes origin story.
Dr. Peterkin lives in Baltimore, Maryland.
Alyssa Politi is a sophomore honors student majoring in media studies: journalism and minoring in business administration at Mercy College. She serves as Student Government’s Director of Communications for her student body as well as the Global Honors Program Assistant and an Honors Student Council Officer of her college. She was awarded by Mercy College in May of 2022 the Quill Award which honored her outstanding achievement in Radio Journalism, and was also published in their literary journal, Red Hyacinth. When not using her journalism skills for communicative leadership, Alyssa serves as Mercy College’s CEO Club Social Media Marketing Officer and interns at a renowned hospital in her city, St. John’s Riverside Hospital, in PR and Marketing, to utilize her marketing skills from business administration. In her free time, Alyssa can be found taking up modeling, acting, and working as a makeup artist, which allowed her to start her own blog entitled, The Beauty Times. Alyssa’s time on the Illuminate Editorial Board has allowed her to strengthen other writers’ work as well as her own writing. She aspires to continue making Dean’s List as she graduates from Mercy College in 2025 and attend graduate school for journalism.
Tanya Radford is an Assistant Professor of English and the Assistant Director of Honors at Dominican College, where she teaches beginning and advanced writing courses, early American literature, Enlightenment literature, and children’s and young adult literature. She completed her BA and MA degrees at the University of Utah and then earned a PhD in English from the City University of New York’s Graduate Center. Her PhD research focused on affective response in 18th Century literature, and her current research continues that work by considering the cognitive and social benefits of leisure reading and the representation of reading, books, and libraries in works for young readers.
Jade Rhoads is a neuroscience and social psychology major from Theil College. She is involved in her sorority of Sigma Kappa, Lamda Sigma Honors Society, Psi Chi Honors Society Nu Rho Psi Honors Society, and a member of the cross country and softball teams. She also obtains two jobs on campus as a peer tutor and a tour guide for the Admissions Office. Jade plans to graduate with a bachelor's degree in both neuroscience and social psychology in 2023, and further her education at a graduate program to get her PhD in Behavioral Neuroscience. Jade was also an editor-in-chief of Thiel's undergraduate research journal The Lectern, where she was a part of publishing their first and second editions.
Briana Stephenson is a senior Marketing major with minors in Media and Finance in the Business and Liberal Arts Honors Programs at Molloy College. Briana completed her term as the Student Body President of Molloy College, and she remains an active student on her college campus as a Student Ambassador, Business Ambassador, New Student Orientation Leader, and President of the Molloy Business Association. She will graduate with her B.S. in December 2021 and continue to pursue her MBA in Marketing through December 2022.
After earning his Bachelor’s degree in Telecommunication (Radio and Television) at Ohio University in 1986 and his Master’s degree in English/Education at Long Island University’s C.W. campus in the Spring of 1994, Bruce Wigutow joined the Briarcliffe College faculty in the Fall of 1994 and continued as a full-time Associate Professor through to January of 2014. Professor Wigutow also taught as an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Farmingdale State College (SUNY) from 2002 through 2015. Professor Wigutow joined the adjunct staff of Monroe College’s English Department in September of 2014 and became a member of the full-time faculty in September of 2015. Professor Wigutow has been teaching in the Monroe College Honor’s Program since the Winter semester of 2015.
While at Briarcliffe College, Professor Wigutow was named Outstanding Member of the Faculty on two occasions, 2000 and 2008. Since arriving at Monroe College, Professor Wigutow has taught several classes within the English curriculum. Professor Wigutow received the Faculty of Distinction Award in the Spring of 2016. In 2019 Professor Wigutow was named the Northeast Region Honors Council Honors Professional of the Year in the Faculty Category. Also in 2019, Professor Wigutow was named an Honorary Member of the National Society of Leadership and Success. Professor Wigutow resides in Lake Ronkonkoma, NY with his wife Dawn and daughter Katherine.