Design Innovation Team Profiles

photo of J.R.J.R. Campbell
Executive Director, Design Innovation Initiative
Phone: 330-672-0192

In his new role, J.R. Campbell is helping to cultivate the Design Innovation Initiative at Kent State University to support design thinking, project-based learning, technology-infused maker communities and the curation of cross-disciplinary collaborative teams to tackle "wicked" problems. Students and faculty from every discipline are encouraged to participate in this intersectional engine for the university. By August 2020, the initiative will be housed in the "Design Innovation Hub” through the renovating of the old Art Building at the center of the Kent Campus.

Campbell’s first degree was a Bachelor of Science in environmental design (1994), followed by a Master of Fine Arts in textile arts and costume design (1996), both from the University of California, Davis. He then taught textiles, computer-aided fashion design and color theory in San Francisco before being appointed assistant professor in the Department of Textiles and Clothing at Iowa State University in 1998. He was tenured and promoted to associate professor there in 2004. In July 2005, he moved to Scotland to become "Research Fellow" at the Centre for Advanced Textiles at the Glasgow School of Art, where he directed research for the Centre, located in the School of Design. While in Glasgow, Campbell completed a postgraduate certificate (PGCert) course in supervising postgraduate (doctoral) research degrees for professionals in art, design and communication from the Centre for Learning and Teaching in Art and Design at University of the Arts London, which was granted in November 2006. He has been a visiting scholar and conducted workshops at the Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology in China and the Auckland University of Technology's Textile Design Laboratory in New Zealand. Campbell came to Kent State University to start his position as professor and director of The Fashion School in July 2009. He stepped away from this role in July 2018 to take on the role of executive director for the Design Innovation Initiative.

Campbell has been researching, designing and creating artwork with digital textile/imaging technologies for more than 25 years. His work pushes the limits of imaging technologies as they relate to clothing, our environment and the human form. Campbell's art/design work has been shown in more than 80 national or international exhibitions, receiving 20 awards, including the International Artist of the Year Award for the South Korean Fashion & Culture Association in 2010. Campbell has consulted for a number of academic institutions as they have integrated the technology into their teaching/research labs, and has published on subjects of design methods/issues, controlling color and integrating the technology into the design process for textiles and apparel.

At Kent State University, Campbell launched his TechStyleLAB (TSLAB) concept in The Fashion School in 2009. The TSLAB functions as a research, teaching and commercial environment to investigate the broadest range of digital textile and fashion design technologies and their implications for new product concepts, business development and sustainable practices. It has become an integrated component of the successful school’s experiential learning environments. Campbell has also been a champion for building study-away programs for students in the fashion school and across the university. He has served as the university’s representative to the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) and, in 2014, partnered with KSU LaunchNET to pioneer the largest national, annual college-based “Fashion/Tech Hackathon,” a competitive, team-based event that has hosted more than 150 students from 30+ universities for each of the last five years.

Margarita Benitez

Margarita Benitez
Associate Professor, Fashion Design & Merchandising


photo of ChristinaChristina Bloebaum
Dean, College of Aeronautics and Engineering

Christina Bloebaum, Ph.D., became dean of the College of Aeronautics and Engineering Aug. 1, 2018. Before coming to Kent State, Bloebaum held the Dennis and Rebecca Muilenburg Professorship of Aerospace Engineering at Iowa State University. She joined Iowa State in 2012 and while there served in various administrative positions, including director of the Iowa Space Grant Consortium. Prior to that time, she was the program director for the Engineering and Systems Design (ESD) and System Science (SYS) programs at the National Science Foundation from 2009-2012. She was on leave from the State University of New York at Buffalo, where she had been a member of the faculty, holding numerous administrative and research positions since 1991. Bloebaum's present research area is in the design of large-scale complex engineered systems. She spent much of her career looking at challenges in the Multidisciplinary Design Optimization (MDO) field – developing new optimization, visualization and tradespace methodologies for these inherently complex systems. She has most recently been engaged in research on new value-based, systems-engineering frameworks built upon the rigorous foundations of Decision Analysis, MDO and Value Driven Design (VDD).

Bloebaum is the 2012 recipient of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Multidisciplinary Design Optimization Award and a fellow of the AIAA. She was the recipient of the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, was honored for Notable Contributions to Teaching and Learning at University at Buffalo (UB), was recognized by the SUNY Research Foundation for Excellence in Research, and was named a Visionary Innovator by UB’s office of technology transfer. She was the recipient of the first UB Chair for Competitive Product and Process Design while establishing the New York State Center for Engineering Design and Industrial Innovation (NYSCEDII), for which she was the executive director. Bloebaum was recipient of the prestigious NSF Presidential Faculty Fellow Award, and has graduated 14 doctorate students and more than 70 master's students, and has been awarded over $10 million in research funding.

photo of ScottScott Bogoniewski
Interim Director, School of Digital Science
College of Communication and Information

Bogoniewski has 25 years of diversified production experience on projects in film and games ranging from script through final delivery, including projects for Sony Imageworks, Speedshape, Rhythm and Hues, House of Moves and others. He has assisted with more than 1,000 independent animated films, videos and games at SCAD and CCS as chair of animation, as well as chair of entertainment arts.

He is an alumnus of the University of Southern California where he completed his Master of Fine Arts in digital animation and digital art, and he holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in graphic design from State University of New York.

“I advise all students to seek inspiration in the classroom alongside their fellow artists and at the same time to look outward, toward long-term relationships with those who share similar creative views. I stress the collaborative process, as in the art of digital media/filmmaking, and urge students to work in a supportive, nurturing environment committed to the kind of creative thinking so vital to a variety of fields and levels within the modern creative industry.”

photo of MarieMarie Bukowski
Director, School of Art
Phone: 330-672-2192

Bukowski began her art studies at Carnegie Mellon University where she received her bachelor's in fine arts with a double major in painting and 19th century German literature and a double minor in printmaking and linguistics and rhetoric in 1992. She received her certificate in art history and Polish language from the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland in 1999. Bukowski went on to receive her Master of Fine Arts with honors with a double degree in painting and printmaking in 2000 from the University of Pennsylvania.

Upon receiving her master's degree, Bukowski took a position in the School of Art at Louisiana Tech University where she was professor of art, graduate program coordinator, and BFA Studio Program Coordinator for 13 years. She served as the director of the School of Art and Design at Southern Illinois University Carbondale for four years and is currently the director of the School of Art at Kent State University.

Bukowski became interested in cross-disciplinary work while she was at Louisiana Tech University. In 2010, she became the first Institute for Micromanufacturing Faculty Fellow. The Institute for Micromanufacturing (IfM) and Center for Biomedical Engineering and Rehabilitation Science (CBERS) joined forces to offer faculty fellowships and promote interdisciplinary collaboration between IfM and CBERS faculty and colleagues in other colleges at Louisiana Tech University. This fellowship was suggested based on four questions from IfM faculty: “Why is it that scientific and technological achievements of 200-300 years old look rather outdated, but 100-year-old art (pictures, music, poetry) are perfect? Can artists catch something ingenious which is unavailable to a rational mind? What is this genius? Could we, scientists and engineers, learn just a little from their inspiration?”

During this fellowship, Bukowski collaborated with nanotechnologists, chemists and biomedical engineers. This led to a portfolio of highly successful programs integrating students and faculty into enhanced art and science education, by extending the university’s positive cross-disciplinary impact far beyond campus. This experience has been critical to leading the efforts in the School of Art at Kent State to create curricula around innovation focusing on the ARTech Studio (the school’s digital fabrication lab). The School of Art has been able to promote collaboration outside of art, and to stimulate productivity in all fields of endeavor by broadening the understanding of the interactions of technology and society.

photo of KenKen Burhanna
Interim Dean, University Libraries
Phone: 330-672-2962

Ken Burhanna is currently interim dean of Kent State University Libraries. He oversees the University Libraries, LaunchNET and the Kent State University Press. He has previously served as assistant dean for engagement and outreach; assistant dean for collections, circulation, copyright and digitization; head of instructional services, and first-year experience librarian. He has also served as provost’s fellow and interim director of the Kent State University Press.

During his time as provost’s fellow, Burhanna led the development of the Spark Innovation Studio, a multipurpose makerspace where students can meet to learn, collaborate, design and create. Spark provides access to innovative equipment, engaging programs in two distinct working areas - a makerspace and project studio space.

Prior to his career in higher education, Burhanna was an entrepreneur. He founded ventures focused on providing care-based information to healthcare consumers, website development, large-scale network design and management, and IT hardware solutions. He has worked as a business marketing and writing consultant, authoring several business and marketing plans.

Burhanna has regularly been recognized for his leadership and scholarship. He was an ARL leadership fellow in 2016-2017 and a UCLA senior fellow in 2016. He was the 2014 winner of the Librarian Recognition Award from the American Library Association. In 2012, the Academic Library Association of Ohio named him its first Distance Learning Visionary. He received a Tree City Immy Award from the city of Kent in 2011 for contributions to local economic development. In 2009, he won the Ilene Rockman Instruction Publication of the Year Award from the Association of College & Research Libraries for his co-authorship of "A Practical Guide to Information Literacy Assessment for Academic Librarians."

Burhanna has written and spoken extensively on the topic of high school outreach and libraries supporting student transitions. He is project director of TRAILS: Tool for Real-time Assessment of Information Literacy Skills. He is a full professor with tenure. He holds a master’s in Library and Information Science and a Bachelor of Arts in English from Kent State University.

John Crawford-Spinelli

John Crawford-Spinelli
Dean, College of the Arts



Jeff Fruit
Professor and Interim Director, School of Journalism and Mass Communication

Jeff Fruit is professor and interim director in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication (JMC). He works with faculty colleagues to help students become agile, adaptable professional communicators with an entrepreneurial mindset. He studies how technology has had an impact both historically and today on journalism, journalists and the broader media marketplace.

Previously, he served as director of JMC from 2002-2012. He has served in a variety of other administrative positions at the university since 1998, including interim dean of the College of Communication and Information; interim director of the School of Library and Information Sciences; interim director of the School of Digital Sciences; and senior business manager in the Office of Student Media.

He has more than 15 years of media experience with daily, weekly and monthly publications in positions ranging from reporter to publisher. His media career includes startup and turnaround experience with American City Business Journals, where he served as editor of South Florida Business Journal and publisher of Dallas Business Journal among other positions. He has degrees from Ohio Wesleyan and The Ohio State University.

His teaching interests include media management, media entrepreneurship, media literacy and audience analysis. His research focuses on the role of technology as an agent of change in journalism, in the broader media marketplace and now in higher education. He is co-author of "The Training and Hiring of Journalists" with Lee B. Becker and Susan L. Caudill.

He served as president of Kappa Tau Alpha, the national honorary society for journalism students, from 2016-2018. He has served as advisor for the Kent State chapter for 15 years, was named the 2013 William H. Taft Outstanding Adviser, and was honored to have Kent State’s KTA chapter named the Jeff Fruit Chapter in 2015.

photo of Bob

Robert Jewell
Chair, Department of Marketing and Entrepreneurship

Robert Jewell, Ph.D., has been involved with the Design Innovation Initiative since spring 2017. Jewell’s role is to provide representation and perspective from the College of Business Administration because of the potential for design innovation to produce ideas that are salable.

Jewell earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Indiana University, a master’s degree in marketing from Northern Illinois University and earned his doctorate in marketing from The Ohio State University in 1999. Jewell joined Kent State University in 2004 as an assistant professor and was tenured and promoted to associate professor in 2008. Jewell was promoted to professor in 2015, and was appointed chair of the Department of Marketing and Entrepreneurship that same year.

Jewell has been published in a variety of scholarly journals, including the Journal of Marketing, the Journal of Consumer Research, the Journal of Consumer Psychology and the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science. His research has focused on consumer behavior, the effects of advertising on brand reputation, and the relationship between brand innovation and consumer preferences. In addition, Jewell serves as a member of the editorial review board for both the Journal of Business Research and Psychology & Marketing

Jewell’s teaching interests include research for marketing decisions and competitive market analysis at the undergraduate level and buyer behavior at the Ph.D. level. His teaching efforts have been recognized via numerous teaching awards and honors, including the Paul L. Pfeiffer Professional and Creative Teaching Award, the College of Business Tenure-Track Professor of the Year and the Beta Gamma Sigma Professor of the Year. He has served as chair or co-chair of six doctoral dissertations at Kent State.

photo of MichaelMichael Kavulic, Ph.D.
Director, Research Strategic Initiatives
Division of Research and Sponsored Programs
Phone: 330-672-5845

Michael Kavulic, Ph.D., serves as the director of Research Strategic Initiatives at Kent State University. In this role, he facilitates the administrative functions of two research institutes: Brain Health and Advanced Materials and Liquid Crystal. Kavulic also oversees three research initiatives: Environmental Science and Design, Global Understanding and Healthy Communities.

He has served in a variety of roles at Kent State, including director of communications for the Division of Information Services. He joined the President’s Office at Kent State as director of Board Operations and Technology in 2014, obtained his Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration (2017), and has served as an instructor in Kent State’s Higher Education Administration program. Prior to joining Kent State, Kavulic earned his B.A. in English at the College of Wooster (2005), where he remained until 2007, working in the residence life department. He continued full-time work in residence life while also pursuing his M.S. in higher education (2010) at Syracuse University. He then served as a member of the residential facilities team at Northern Illinois University before returning to Ohio to work at Kent State in 2012.

photo of EdgarEdgar Kooijman
Associate Professor, Biological Sciences

Edgar E. Kooijman, Ph.D., is connected with the Design Innovation Initiative through his role in directing the International Mission Life competition at our strategic partner university in Brazil, Pontifical Catholic University of Paraná (PUCPR), and the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas. Dr. Kooijman obtained his elementary and secondary school education in his home country of the Netherlands. He received his Dutch high school degree at 16 and then came to the U.S. as an exchange student. Here, he attended a large suburban high school in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and a small high school in rural Bidwell, Ohio.

After returning home from this life-changing experience, Kooijman attended a middle technical school, where he studied process technology. This is somewhat related to chemical engineering and would have allowed him to work in the chemical industry controlling big manufacturing processing. However, after three years, he qualified to attend a higher technical school and instead pursued a degree in applied physics engineering.

As part of his engineering degree, he did an internship at Holland Colors in Richmond, Indiana, and a graduation project at Oce in Venlo, Netherlands. (Oce is now part of Canon and specializes in printing and copying hardware and software.) In 1998, he joined Kent State University as a graduate student and got a Master of Science in physics in 2001. He moved back to the Netherlands with his new wife in 2001 and joined the group of Ben de Kruijff, Ph.D., to pursue his doctorate in the biochemistry of membranes, which he obtained in 2006. After a short postdoctoral appointment in Utrecht, he joined the group of Satyendra Kumar, Ph.D., at Kent State, while his wife joined the same group as new graduate student.

In 2008, Kooijman joined the Department of Biological Sciences as assistant professor. While still a postdoctoral candidate, he co-wrote his first National Science Foundation (NSF) grant, together with professor Arne Gericke, Ph.D., which was funded upon first submission. In collaboration with Gericke (now at WPI) he wrote two more NSF grants as assistant professor that were eventually funded. Since his appointment in 2008, he has been continuously funded to study the physical chemistry of lipids and lipid-protein interactions. In 2014, he was promoted to associate professor and became the director of the Biotechnology program.

Aside from his science, he is involved in many international initiatives and outreach at Kent State. He is part of the American Academy implementation committee and is also coordinator of the Mission Life competition. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling and spending time with his family, and last but not least, he is an avid, amateur paleontologist.

Annette Kratcoski, Ph.D.Annette Kratcoski
Director of the Research Center for Educational Technology

Annette Kratcoski, Ph.D., is director of the Research Center for Educational Technology. Prior to joining RCET in fall 2000, Kratcoski worked as a speech-language pathologist in clinical and school settings and also in special education and curriculum coordination in the public schools.

She holds a bachelor's and a master's degree in special education and earned her Ph.D. from Kent State University in speech-language pathology and curriculum. Kratcoski has an extensive background in curriculum and PreK-12 technology integration. As RCET director, Kratcoski oversees the center’s research and outreach projects related to PreK-16 technology integration and leads programming in the center’s AT&T classroom, a high-tech professional development, outreach and research laboratory classroom.

photo of KendraKendra Lapolla
Assistant Professor, School of Fashion Design and Merchandising
Phone: 330-672-0138

Kendra Lapolla has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion Design (2007) from Columbus College of Art and Design and a Master of Fine Arts in Design Development (2010) from The Ohio State University. She has taught color theory and design intro courses at The Ohio State University. As an Assistant Professor at Albright College in Pennsylvania she taught coursework in Fashion Illustration and Sustainable Design Concepts. Lapolla came to Kent State University in 2013 and has taught coursework in the Fashion School relating to design and portfolio. She has spent several years working in the fashion industry with experience in technical design, apparel design and apparel graphics. As an educator, she uses her industry experience to establish real world scenarios that require students to improve their design problem solving skills. Lapolla has developed educational experiences in her coursework that utilize social media to connect with potential consumers, co-creators and industry professionals. She looks forward to bringing new collaborative teams together through the Design Innovation Initiative at Kent State University.

Lapolla’s research focuses on co-creation in design, emotional design and creative processes. As a design researcher she is continually investigating and expanding design thinking and co-creative research methods for sustainable design practices. Her research has added key insights for effectively engaging consumers through different entry points of the creative process. Most recently, Lapolla has used design thinking methods in community outreach endeavors with DAWN Creations and Future Story in Akron, OH to help build self-confidence in women wanting to improve their economic situations. Her research has been shown in juried exhibitions as well as peer-reviewed academic journals. Lapolla has presented her work internationally in Copenhagen, Denmark at the Copenhagen Business School, London, England at Central St. Martins and Auckland, New Zealand at Auckland University of Technology.

photo of KierstenKiersten Latham
Associate Professor, School of Information
College of Communication and Information

Kiersten F. Latham is an associate professor and director of the MuseLab in the School of Information, where she developed the museum studies specialization. Her research interests center around human relationships with physical objects—especially with respect to emotion, perception, sensation and spirituality. In addition to academic work, she has worked with museums in various capacities for over 25 years. In 2012, she co-founded the MuseLab, an experimental place for thinking, doing and learning about museal things, which is built upon principles of design thinking and the concept of Umberto Eco’s “open work.”

photo of JulieJulie Messing
Executive Director for Entrepreneurship Initiatives &LaunchNET

Julie led the development of the original Blackstone LaunchPad program at Kent State and continues to lead this university-wide program, as part of the NEO- LaunchNET program that serves students, faculty, staff and alumni from all disciplines. She led the grassroots effort for an initiative to create a connected innovation ecosystem across the university and continues to serve as part of the steering group for Design Innovation. Julie works closely with entrepreneurs and business leaders to bring opportunities to students as well as support entrepreneurial development across Northeast Ohio. In this role, Julie and her team have served 1,800 clients that represent over 1,200 ventures. This support includes one-on-one advising sessions, mentor relationships, workshops & speakers, and a well-connected and deep network of entrepreneurs, innovators, professional services, investors, and support entities.

After spending 15 years as a leader in the business & entrepreneur communities, she joined Kent State in 2004 to design, develop and lead The Center for Entrepreneurship and Business Innovation in the College of Business. This innovative and pacesetting program consists of a major, two minors, a living- learning community, speakers’ series, Entrepreneurship Extravaganza and an entrepreneurial lab.

Julie is one of the founding directors of the Entrepreneurship Education Consortium and the recipient of the Paul L Pfeiffer Creative Teaching Award and the Non-Tenure Track Teaching Award. Both awards recognize faculty for excellence in teaching. She is also a member of the United States Association of Small Business and Entrepreneurship (USASBE) where she presented as a finalist for the Innovative Pedagogy Award in 2009 and the winner in 2010. She is also co-author of "Constructing an Innovation Model of Entrepreneurship Education Through Regional Collaboration", published in Journal of Entrepreneurial Education, Spring 2009.

Julie is also President of her own consulting organization, Transitions Advisory Group, Inc. and serves on a variety of economic development and community service boards.

photo of MarkMark Mistur
Dean, College of Architecture and Environmental Design

Mark Mistur became the dean of Kent State University’s College of Architecture and Environmental Design, the only architectural program in Northeast Ohio,  July 15, 2016.  He previously served since 2009 as associate dean of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s School of Architecture where he held the same position from 1998-2005. He was also the school’s acting dean from 2008-2009. An associate professor of architecture since 2005 and an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering in Rensselaer’s School of Engineering since 2008, Mistur has also held appointments as a clinical associate professor, senior lecturer, adjunct associate professor, adjunct assistant professor and adjunct instructor, dating back to 1983. 

His teaching and research focuses on innovations driven by performance criteria, but he remains equally concerned with phenomena, the human experience and social consequences of architecture. Mistur has received many honors and awards, including 2015 U.S. Professor of the Year Nominee from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education and the Carnegie Foundation, Rensselaer’s 2014 Trustees Outstanding Teacher Award and 2008 Faculty Research Award, and 2003 Outstanding Teacher Award from the Rensselaer Alumni Association.

His professional experience includes his firm Mark Mistur Architect in Troy, New York, from 1993-present; Mistur Riebe Architects in New York City from 2004-2010; Glynn, Spillane, Griffing Architects PC in Albany, New York, from 1992-1993; and Crozier Associates PC in Albany, New York, from 1983-1992.

Mistur is active with many professional organizations. Currently, he is involved with the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the AIA National Continuing Education Committee, the American Institute of Architects Students (AIAS) and the Society of Building Science Educators (SGSE). Previously, he was a member of the United States Green Building Council (USGBC), Van Alen Institute, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Material Connexion.

At Rensselaer, Mistur received a bachelor of architecture, a bachelor of building science and a master of science in building conservation. He also studied at Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (ETH) Zürich in Switzerland. He has been a registered and licensed architect since 1988.

photo of JohnJohn Rathje
Vice President for Information Services and Chief Information Officer
Phone: 330-672-8544

John Rathje joined Kent State University in March 2018 and serves as the vice president for Information Services and the chief information officer. Vice President Rathje’s leadership experience spans multiple sectors, including higher education, healthcare and industry.

In his role at Kent State, Vice President Rathje provides strategic direction and innovative, customer-focused technology solutions that support and advance the university’s mission. He is responsible for all institutional information technology and digital services that enable and protect Kent State students, faculty, researchers and staff.

Prior to joining Kent State, Vice President Rathje spent 15 years in informational technology roles in higher education. Most recently, he served as the assistant vice chancellor and CIO at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR). He also served as the assistant dean of technology for Central Michigan University (CMU) College of Medicine, as the dean of Technology, and as the director of Applications Development and Support at Central Michigan University. In the private sector, Vice President Rathje served as president and CEO of a technology advocacy firm and co-founder and president of Diversified Computer Group, Inc.

In support of the vision and priorities set forth in the university’s “A Strategic Roadmap to a Distinctive Kent State”, Vice President Rathje serves on the University Level Initiatives committee and the Shared Services Initiative.

Vice President Rathje represents the university and the Higher Education Information Technology sector by serving on the following regional and national committees: EDUCAUSE Enterprise Technology Advisory Committee, Higher Ed CIO Advisory Council, Leadership Board for CIOs, Inter University Council for CIOs and the Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC) Technologies Executive Committee.

He has held numerous board positions and memberships over the past 20 years. Vice President Rathje is a Leadership Institute Fellow (2014) with the Associate of American Medical Colleges Group on Information Resources (GIR). He served as the co-chair for the New Medical School Special Interest Group (SIG) and on the Program Committee for the 2015 GIR Annual Conference. He served as the chair of the Higher Education SIG for Americas’ SAP User Group (ASUG) and on the Merit Services Innovations Group. Vice President Rathje holds a Bachelor of Science in physics and a Master of Science in computer science from Central Michigan University.

Amy ReynoldsAmy Reynolds
Dean, College of Communication and Information



photo of SteveSteve Roberts
Director, Technology Commercialization and Research Finance
Phone: 330-672-6323

Roberts received a Bachelor of Arts degree with Honors in Geography (1980) from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, followed ten years later by a Masters of Business Administration with concentrations in Management and Finance from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. He ran three successful private companies In Alaska, and served the Governor of Alaska as the Foreign Office Coordinator for the State’s Office of International Trade. The state has office in Tokyo, Seoul, and Taipei.

After receiving his MBA, Roberts founded Innovative Title Systems, Inc., a technology driven start-up company in Seattle. Two years later he moved to Cleveland and for over twenty years worked as a business appraiser with clients in over 40 states and several countries at all stages of the corporate lifecycle- from start-ups, through mergers and acquisitions, ownership succession, litigation, and, in rare cases, bankruptcy or termination. Assignments also included appraising Intellectual Property rights- patents, copyrights, trademarks. He annually worked with a large number of employee-owned entities.

Roberts joined Kent State University in 2016 as the Director of Technology Commercialization, charged with assisting faculty members patent or copyright innovations and inventions, and help commercialize university owned Intellectual Property. He serves on the Kent State Patent Board and the Kent State Research Corporation. He is actively involved with Northeast Ohio economic development efforts such as The Fund for our Economic Future, JumpStart, TeamNEO, and Blockland. He has been an active member of the Design Innovation Group since 2016. He worked closely with Cleveland State University to create the TeCK Fund, an $800,000 hybrid technology validation and accelerator fund. Funding was provided by the State of Ohio’s Third Frontier Fund, Cleveland State University, and Kent State University. The Fund was created to help move university owned IP from the lab to commercial markets. He also served as Entrepreneurial Mentor for a Kent State team which participated in the I-Corps@Akron program.

Roberts is a resident of Cleveland, and is the Treasurer of the Kidney Foundation of Ohio, and a member of the Economic Development Committee of Ohio City, Inc.

photo of DavidDavid Robins
Interim Director, Visual Communication Design
College of Communication and Information

David Robins is currently Interim Director of the School of Visual Communication Design at Kent State University. He was most recently Associate Professor and Coordinator of the User Experience Design concentration in the Interdisciplinary Program in Information Architecture and Knowledge Management (IAKM) at Kent State University. He was instrumental in designing and implementing the User Experience Design program for both face-to-face and online delivery. He was also a contributor to designing and equipping the Kent State University/iSchool Usability Lab. He has taught courses in information design, information architecture, usability and content management systems. In the spring of 2018, he co-taught the “Be Smarter Than Your Smartphone” class offered to promote activities in design and innovation. He has conducted research in information architecture, web standards, usability, and the impact of aesthetics on web site credibility and usability. Dr. Robins has an undergraduate degree from Colorado State University (Bachelor of Fine Arts), a Master of Science (Library Science) from the University of North Texas, and a Ph.D. in Information Science from the University of North Texas.

photo of ShawnShawn Rohlin
Director, Center for Entrepreneurship and Business Innovation
Phone: 330-672-1098

Shawn Rohlin is the Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Business Innovation at Kent State University and an Associate Professor of Economics at Kent State University. His fields of research are in Urban Economics, Public Finance, Entrepreneurship and Labor Economics. His research primarily focuses on the determinants of businesses such as agglomeration, displacement and government policies. He has studied the effects of location-based tax incentives, taxation, bankruptcy law and the minimum wage.

He recently received funding from two major sponsors. First, from the Kauffman Foundation ($76,600) to study how local taxation affects entrepreneurship using regression discontinuity design. Second, from the National Institute of Justice ($280,000) to study how police officer learning and mentoring affect racial profiling. He received the Junior Scholar Award from the Lincoln Land Institute in 2011. In 2012, he received the David C. Lincoln Fellowship in Land Value Taxation.

He received his Ph.D. and Master's degree in economics from Syracuse University in 2009 and 2006, respectively. Shawn also graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Economics from Rochester Institute of Technology in 2004.

photo of JackieJackie Ruller, MS
Interim Director, Engineering
Phone: 330-672-7064

Jackie Ruller graduated from Alfred University with a BS in Ceramic Engineering and a MS in Glass Science. Ruller has a diverse, technical career with experience in hands-on research, university interface and marketing, project management and intellectual property. Ruller started her career at the Naval Research lab where she spent four years investigating optical materials. She is a co-author on more than 15 publications, including a patent.

Ruller then worked for GTS Duratek as a project manager in the area of remediation of hazardous and radioactive waste. Stationed at the Catholic University in Washington, DC, she managed Department of Energy-funded contracts to develop a process called Minimum Additive Waste Stabilization. Her team successfully contained radioactive waste by incorporating the hazardous material into the glass structure.

The next four years were spent at the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Ruller worked as a patent examiner in the area of glass manufacturing. When she left the USPTO she obtained her registration number and became a patent agent.

Ruller is currently the interim Director of Engineering at Kent State University in the College of Aeronautics and Engineering. During her time at Kent State, she has implemented an internship program for the college and developed a co-op course that allows students to leave for a semester to work full time in their field of study while maintaining full time student status. She secured grants from the State of Ohio for internship development and infrastructure as well as capital equipment for the engineering programs in the college. Her current focus is increasing enrollment in the engineering programs and improving industry partnerships. She served as the co-principle investigator when the college partnered with LaunchNet to host the first, collegiate aviation-themed hackathon, SkyHack in October 2017. SkyHack is a three-day, challenge-based competition that attracted more than 120 student inventors. Students established interdisciplinary teams, developed ideas, produced prototypes and pitched their ideas to a panel of judges for a chance to win financial awards. During the 2017 planning of SkyHack, Ruller joined the Design Innovation Group (DIG). Because hackathons are in line with the values of DIG, they subsequently became a challenge sponsor for SkyHack. Ruller is currently a member of the Dynamic Education and Engagement of Diverse Students (DEEDS) and was recently invited to participate on the exclusive Kent State Patent and Copyright Board.

Tatianna StettlerTatiana Stettler
Assistant Professor in Entrepreneurship
Phone: 330-672-1264

Tatiana Romanova Stettler is an Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship at Kent State University. She completed her doctorate at the University of Bern in Switzerland in 2014 following a Masters in Management (Switzerland) and a Higher Diploma in Marketing (Russia).

Tatiana came to Kent State University to start her tenure-track position in August 2015. Her research focuses on firm’s skills and competences in setting strategic direction (strategic orientation), recognizing, assimilating and exploiting new information (absorptive capacity) and subsequent pursuit of opportunities. She is interested in conceptual visualization, empirical modeling, and projects of interdisciplinary nature.

At Kent State University, Tatiana teaches undergraduate courses in Strategic Dilemmas in Entrepreneurship, Introduction to Entrepreneurship, and New Venture Creation. During her time at the University of Bern, she supervised praxis-based master-level courses and engaged in the industry projects with Swisslos (national lottery) and Swisstools (professional tools). In her classes, she builds on the premises of problem-and case-based learning and raises students’ awareness about decision-making patterns and biases.

Prior to joining the Design Innovation Initiative, Tatiana served as a Faculty advisor for the student Collegiate Entrepreneurs' Organization at KSU.

photo of BenjaminBenjamin Tipton
Director, Foundation Relations
Phone: 330-672-0416

Benjamin works collaboratively with Kent State faculty and staff to increase private organizational support for the university. Design Innovation’s impact on the mindset of students, faculty, staff and the greater community is what draws him to be involved – that has spanned the last 3 years. Benjamin’s first degree was from Kent State University (2003), followed by education at Sea Education Association (Boston University, 2004), Hong Kong University (2011-12), and a Master of Arts from the University of British Columbia (2012). His professional experience ranges from being a U.S. Senate staff member to international development work in Asia.

From the halls of Congress to the fields of developing countries, Benjamin has witnessed that global realities can be changed positively when creative minds with deep knowledge in varied fields come together to find solutions. His experience is further developed by continuous cross-cultural experiences – with over 7 years living internationally in places such as Cambodia, Hong Kong, Caribbean Sea, Japan, and Canada – and domestically in Washington D.C., Alaska, Massachusetts, and his favorite place in- between – Ohio.

Design is instilled in everything Benjamin does. His current role requires collaboration and design to develop high-impact programs at the collegiate level. Past design experience includes being a professional product designer of fair-trade handicrafts for global sales, crafting new trade agreements between countries, and writing a publishing a book. Beyond this, he can usually be found in his shop tinkering, designing, or building something.

photo of RobinDr. Robin Vande Zande
Professor, Art

Dr. Robin Vande Zande is professor of art and design education at Kent State University. She researches and writes about design thinking and teaching through the principles and practices of design to PreK-12 grade students. Her work and activism helped to implement the inclusion of design in the national art education standards in 2014. She has worked as a consultant for the Department of Education in South Carolina to create the first stand-alone state design standards. Her book, Design Education: Creating Thinkers to Improve the World (2016), is a resource on teaching design to PreK-12 grade students.

Vande Zande served as chair of the 3 rd International Design Education Research Conference, held in Chicago in 2015, with 34 countries and 125 institutions represented. She has been a keynote or featured speaker for 30 national or state events and a professional development workshop leader for over 20 international and national educational institutions. She has served as an education committee member for the National Building Museum, Washington, DC, and Fallingwater, Pennsylvania. She has been a consultant for the Frank Lloyd Wright Wescott House Museum, Springfield, Oh.

Vande Zande is co-founder and trustee of DESIGN-ED (, with the mission to develop policies of support for design education at the international, national, state, and school district levels. She is past-chair of the NAEA Design Issues Group, having served as chair for six years. She completed The Framework of Design Education Principles, Practices, and Strategies for Teaching and Learning in Secondary Programs under a National Art Education Foundation grant, with consultant Doris Wells-Papanek. As part of the framework, she produced a video that demonstrates how to teach the design process,

Vande Zande has been honored with the Design Educator of the Year, Kent State University Distinguished Teaching Award, Distinguished Fellow of the National Art Education Association, National Art Education Higher Educator, Western Region Art Education Higher Educator, the Ohio Art Education Association Higher Educator of the Year, and the KSU President’s Faculty Excellence award, among others.

Vande Zande will be serving as chair of the 2019 International Symposium on Predictions for a 21st Century Renaissance in Education: Preparing the next generation to contribute to a world that works, Florence, Italy, June 21-23, 2019.

photo of RobertRobert Walker
Professor, Department of Computer Science
Phone: 330-672-9050

Robert A. Walker is the former Director and founder of Kent State's interdisciplinary School of Digital Sciences; a former Chair of the Department of Computer Science; and a strong supporter, Lifetime Member, and Distinguished Member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).

He received his Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Carnegie-Mellon University in 1988. He joined the faculty of the Computer Science Department at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1989, and moved to the Computer Science Department at Kent State University in 1996, where served one year as Interim Department Chair and four years as Department Chair (2006-2010). In 2010 he led the team to form an interdisciplinary "digital sciences" program, and became the founding Director of the new School of Digital Sciences in 2011, a position he held for five years. He has now returned to the faculty in Computer Science, though he continues to have some involvement in Digital Sciences as well.

Dr. Walker's early research interests were in the field of high-level synthesis, in particular the scheduling and design space exploration problems. He was the co-author of Algorithmic and Register-Transfer Level Synthesis: The System Architect's Workbench and A Survey of High-Level Synthesis Systems, and most of this work was supported by the National Science Foundation. Some of his later work focused on novel architectures for embedded systems. Building on the KSU CS Department's historical strength in parallel computing, he and many of his students have explored the use of associative SIMD computing techniques on FPGAs, demonstrating their suitability for embedded systems running such applications as data mining, image processing, etc. During his time forming the School of Digital Sciences, he became interested in enterprise architecture and in interdisciplinary programs that blend computer science with other fields.

For 18 years (1992 to 2009), he was deeply involved with the ACM Special Interest Group on Design Automation (ACM/SIGDA), serving as Secretary / Treasurer, Newsletter Editor, Chair, and Past Chair. He has served on over 120 conference steering, organizing, and program committees, including seven years on the DATE Sponsors' Committee, four years on the DAC Executive Committee, and seven years on the ICCAD Executive Committee. He received the SIGDA Meritorious Service Award in 1997, and the SIGDA Distinguished Service Award in 2006 "for dedicated service as SIGDA Chair (2001-2005) and over a decade of service to SIGDA, DAC, and the EDA profession". Dr. Walker is also very active in the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) as a whole, where he served six years as one of three Representatives from the SIG Governing Board to the ACM Council. He also served on the ACM Council's Awards Committee as the first Chair of the Senior Member Committee, and he served for a while on the ACM Women's Council (ACM-W), leading an effort to increase recognition of women in computing. He received the Outstanding Contribution to ACM Award in June 2008 "for a sustained record of dedicated and conscientious leadership within the ACM Special Interest Groups, including service as Chair of the SIG Governing Board, Chair of SIGDA, SGB Representative to Council, as well as leadership in ACM conference organization". He recently returned to service with the ACM and is currently serving as a member of the ACM Publications Board.

photo of JohnJohn West
Trustee Professor of Chemistry and Interim Director of the Advanced Materials and Liquid Crystal Institute
Phone: 330-672-2581

John West has been researching liquid crystal materials since he joined Kent State University in 1984. During this time he has fostered moving technology from the laboratory to the marketplace, helping establish a cluster of liquid crystal companies around the university. Working with faculty from across the Kent Campus he developed a course “Be Smarter Than Your Phone” that teaches the interdisciplinary nature of innovation.

West received his BS in Chemistry in 1976 from the College of William and Mary and his MS (‘79) and PhD(’80) in Chemistry from Carnegie Mellon University. He began his career in industry as Director of Research at Digital Recording Corporation, where he received his first patent on a new materials for the emerging compact disc industry. He joined the Kent States Liquid Crystal Institute, LCI, in 1984 as a senior research fellow. He was named Associate Director of the LCI in 1990 and Director in 1997. In 2003-210 he served as Vice President for Research at KSU. Most recently West assumed the role of interim Director of the Liquid Crystal Institute. In this role he fostered the establishment of the Advance Materials and Liquid Crystal Institute which greatly expands the research capabilities and engages departments and colleges across the campus.

During his career at KSU West has secured 18 US Patents and published over 150 articles in refereed journals. Working with regional development agencies, West established the FLEXmatters initiative as a means to build an industrial cluster for the development and manufacture of flexible electronic and biomedical devices. This has become the most identifiable cluster in the region (Silos of Small Beer “A Case Study of Efficacy of Federal Innovation Programs in a Key Midwestern Regional Economy” Feldman and Lanahan, Center for American Progress 2010). With initial funding from the State of Ohio he established FITOS to commercialize his most recent invention as a means to produce electrodes on flexible substrates.

photo of WilliamWilliam Willoughby, AIA, NCARB
Associate Professor and Associate Dean, College of Architecture and Environmental Design
Phone: 330-672-0941

William T Willoughby (Bill Willoughby) is an architect, design educator, and essayist who boomeranged back to Northeast Ohio to serve as Associate Dean for the College of Architecture and Environmental Design at Kent State University where he is a tenured Associate Professor. Previously, he was a tenured Professor in the School of Architecture at Louisiana Tech University, where for 15 years he taught design, theory, architectural history, computer visualization, digital fabrication, community service, and professional practice. In 2005 he was appointed Associate Dean for the College of Liberal Arts and Director of Research and Graduate Studies at Louisiana Tech University, where he served in that capacity for 8 years. He was awarded the Louisiana Tech University Foundation Professorship Award for extraordinary service and performance in the areas of teaching, research, and service to the campus community and the public sector.

Earlier, he taught at Kent State University in various capacities and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte as a Visiting Assistant Professor. In 1991 he received a Master of Architecture from Kent State University. He has been a registered architect since 1993, and NCARB Council Certification since 1995. He has worked in various architecture and design practices in Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Louisiana. He has authored over 45 publications and conference papers on such topics as design methodology, cultural studies, place theory, and architectural education. He has attended over 45 conferences to present research throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe. Beginning in 2000, he served as founding coordinator of the Community Design Activism Center (CDAC) at Louisiana Tech University. Currently, he is an active member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

Amanda Woodyard

Amanda Woodyard
Director, Community Engaged Learning