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 President-Elect 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 Buffalo State University. 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).
Chris Brittain is the Operations Manager of the Workforce and Professional Education Department at Ocean County College. 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 fourteen years, and served as the NRHC Web Coordinator from 2016-2019 and NRHC President and Conference Chair in 2021. 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 a Professor of Biology, the Coordinator of the Health Sciences Program, the Health Professions Advisor and the Director of the Honors Program at Dominican University New York, where she has worked for the past 19 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 biotechnology clinical researcher specialized in the application of orthobiologics to treat musculoskeletal degenerative diseases. His research focuses on affecting the biochemical pathways of injured connective tissues through the use of blood-based molecules and advanced mesenchymal stem cellular procedures. Kyle is a four year veteran editor for Illuminate and a 1st edition author for the journal. He has presented research at the 2019 Northeast Regional Honors Conference and the 2018 Maryland Collegiate Honors Conference.
Kyle has extensive experience in teaching and research within higher education. He worked as an assistant faculty instructor and teaching fellow within the University of Maryland, College Park Department of Biological Sciences, as well as a course designer and guest orthopaedic lecturer within the Department of Kinesiology. A designer of curriculums and educational training modalities, he is passionate about improving training and educational pipelines for students to ensure success both academically and professionally. Kyle's range of interdisciplinary interests is also reflected in his work experience in business, state government, and policy. He worked as Executive Chair of the The Maryland Higher Education Commission's Student Advisory Council and within the University System of Maryland on government relations and strategic policy advising.
Kyle previously attended Frederick Community College where he served as 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. He then graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park with Latin Honors on a full-tuition scholarship
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 university-wide Global Honors Program at Mercy University. At Mercy, she also serves in a variety of leadership roles on several federal grants and various university-wide committees. Her research focuses on strategies to improve equity, inclusion and student success in the health professions and in honors. 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. At the national level, Dr. Ellison co-chairs the National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC) committee on Science, Mathematics and Sustainability.
Morgan Harrington is a senior honors student earning a bachelor's degree in psychology as well as a bachelor's degree in criminal justice at Buffalo State University. She is not only a part of the Muriel A. Howard Honors program at her college, but she also is an Honors Leader, helping to welcome in incoming Honors students and assist with their transition into college. Morgan is incredibly involved within the Psychology department as a member of the Psychology Club and actively participating in research within the McKay Laboratory and the Relationship and Social Development Laboratory. Outside of school labs Morgan also assists with studies at the Center for Integrated Healthcare Laboratory at the Veteran Affairs Hospital and ran an independent study utilizing data she had access to at her internship with Peaceprints of WNY. Her love for research takes up most of her time but she makes room to be the Philanthropy Chair and Treasurer for her sorority: Sigma Delta Tau – the Gamma Zeta chapter. Outside of also working two jobs, Morgan enjoys reading and working out. She is hopeful of making the Dean’s List once again for her last semester at Buffalo State and is currently applying to PhD programs for clinical psychology.
Gwen Kay is the Director of the Honors Program at SUNY Oswego State University. Dr. Kay has a B.A. in Biology and History from Bowdoin College (1991) and a Ph.D.in History of Medicine and Science from Yale University (1997). After three years as visiting assistant professor in Tennessee, Chicago and Ohio. she arrived at SUNY Oswego in 2000. She teaches social history of the United States, as well as history of medicine.
Dr. Kay has been involved in faculty governance, both on her campus, and representing her campus, including serving as president of the SUNY University Faculty Senate. In her community, she serves on several board. In the profession, she is treasurer of the History of Science Society, and a Faculty Representative to the NRHC.
Kat MacDonald is the Director 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 a secomd term 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. One of her students will serve in at the 2024 conference in Albany. She is also proud of her students who have been published in Illuminate in 2019, 2021, and 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.
Hans Mach is an international student from Germany pursuing a double major in Education and Psychology at the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC). He received a Bachelor of Science in Nutritional Sciences and plans to transfer to a four-year institution next year to do his master’s degree in counseling psychology with the ultimate goal of combining his passion for nutrition, exercise science, and mental health. Hans is the president of the World Cultures Club at CCAC and got elected to be the Honors Leadership Assistant at his campus, where he supports his fellow honor students. He will also serve as one of the NRHC student representatives at next year's conference in Albany and is currently planning the student events and handling the Instagram Account for NRHC. In his spare time, Hans gives art lessons to children in his community, as he enjoys drawing and painting, helping them prepare their portfolios for high school applications.
Jessica McCort, Ph.D., is an associate professor in the Literature, Culture, and Society Department at Point Park University, as well as the Director of the Honors Program. She earned her Ph.D. in English and American literature from Washington University in St. Louis, specializing in American literature and women’s writing. McCort's scholarship focuses largely on the appropriation of children’s literature, particularly Grimm’s and Andersen’s fairy tales and Lewis Carroll’s Alice books, by American women writers. She was also the editor of a compilation of essays concerning the intersection of the horror genre and children’s and young adult literature and culture, titled Reading in the Dark: Horror in Children’s Literature and Culture. Her favorite courses to teach are Honors College Composition, Haunted America, and Feminist Fairy Tales.
From her first trip to the NRHC Conference in Philadelphia, Dr. McCort recognized what an important formative experience participating in NRHC events is for both faculty and students. Since that time, she has become increasingly involved in the NRHC, and she is very excited to work with the other officers in NRHC leadership this year as the organization's Vice President.
Marcella McCoy-Deh, PhD is the Director of the Philadelphia University Honors Institute at Thomas Jefferson University and Associate Professor of American Studies. She has served in this role for the past 21 years. Her undergraduate degree in Broadcast Journalism was earned as an honors program scholar at Morgan State University. She earned both Master of Arts and Doctorate of Philosophy degrees at Bowling Green State University in Mass Communication Research and American Culture Studies, respectively. Dr. McCoy-Deh is a Fulbright Scholar and serves as campus Fulbright Program Advisor. Over the years, she has served on the Northeast Regional Honors Council (NRHC) as Faculty Representative, National Collegiate Honors Council Site Visitor, and currently serves on the NRHC Executive Board as President.
Amy McMillan is the Director of the Muriel A. Howard Honors Program at Buffalo State University. 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.
Alyssa Politi is a junior honors student majoring in media studies: journalism and minoring in business administration at Mercy University. She serves as the Managing Editor of her University's newspaper, The Impact, the Student Government’s Director of Communications, the Global Honors Program Assistant, and an Honors Student Council Officer. She was awarded by Mercy University with the Outstanding Junior Award, multiple Quill Awards that honored her outstanding achievements in journalism, radio, and acting, and was also published in Mercy's literary journal, Red Hyacinth. When not using her journalism skills for communicative leadership, Alyssa serves as Mercy's CEO Club Marketing Director to utilize her marketing skills from business administration. In her free time, Alyssa can be found taking up modeling, acting, photography, and micro-influencing on social media. 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 the Dean’s List as she graduates from Mercy University in 2024 and attend graduate school for journalism.
Tanya Radford is Assistant Professor of English and Co-Director of Honors at Dominican University, 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.
Dr. Michael Tasto is a Professor of Economics and Chair of the Department of Finance and Economics at Southern New Hampshire University. His primary research fields of interest is urban and regional economics and has been an Excellence in Teaching Nominee at SNHU in 2009 and 2010.
He received his B.S. in Economics from St. John’s University in 2001, his M.A in Economics in 2006 and his Ph.D. in Economics in 2007 from Georgia State University. He has given numerous presentations at academic conferences, published peer-reviewed journal articles, and co-edited 3 books on entrepreneurship.
He currently serves as Treasurer for the Northeast Regional Honors Council.