Meet the DI Team

J.R. Campbell
Executive Director, Design Innovation Initiative

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.

Margarita Benitez
Associate Professor, Fashion Design & Merchandising


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Christina Bloebaum
Dean, College of Aeronautics and Engineering

Christina Bloebaum became Dean of the College of Aeronautics and Engineering Aug. 1, 2018. Before coming to Kent State, Dr. Bloebaum held the Dennis and Rebecca Muilenburg Professorship of Aerospace Engineering at Iowa State University. She joined Iowa State in 2012 and while there, she served in various administrative positions including director of the Iowa Space Grant Consortium.


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Scott Bogoniewski
Interim Director, School of Digital Science

Scott has 25 years of diversified production experience on projects in film and games ranging from script through final delivery including Sony Imageworks, Speedshape, Rhythm and Hues, House of Moves and others. He has assisted over 1,000 independent animated films, videos and games at SCAD and CCS as Chair of Animation as well as Chair of Entertainment Arts.

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Marie Bukowski
Director, School of Art

Bukowski began her art studies at Carnegie Mellon University where she received her Bachelor of Fine Arts with a double major in Painting and 19th Century German Literature and a double minor in Printmaking and Linguistics & 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.

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Ken Burhanna
Dean, University Libraries

Ken Burhanna is currently 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 Digitation; 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.

John Crawford-Spinelli

John Crawford-Spinelli
Dean, College of the Arts

Jeff Fruit
Professor and Interim Director, JMC

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 impact both historically and today on journalism, journalists and the broader media marketplace.

Robert Jewell
Chair, Department of Marketing and Entrepreneurship

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

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Michael Kavulic, Ph.D.
Director, Research Strategic Initiatives
Division of Research & Sponsored Programs

Michael Kavulic, Ph.D., serves as the director of Research Strategic Initiatives at Kent State University. In this role, Dr. Kavulic facilitates the administrative functions of two research institutes: Brain Health and Advanced Materials and Liquid Crystal. Dr. 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.

Edgar Kooijman

Dr. Edgar Kooijman
Associate Professor, Biological Sciences

Dr. Edgar E. Kooijman is connected with the Design Innovation Initiative through his role in directing the International Mission Life competition at our strategic partner university in Brazil, PUCPR (Pontifical Catholic University of Paraná), 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.

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

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

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Kendra Lapolla
Assistant Professor, The Fashion School

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.

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Kiersten 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."

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Julie 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.

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Mark 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.

John Rathje

John Rathje
Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer

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

Amy Reynolds

Amy Reynolds
Dean, College of Communication and Information

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Steve Roberts
Director, Technology Commercialization and Research Finance

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 Master 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 offices in Tokyo, Seoul, and Taipei.

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David 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.

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Shawn Rohlin
Director, Center for Entrepreneurship and Business Innovation

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.

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Jackie Ruller, MS
Interim Director, Engineering

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.

Tatiana Stettler
Assistant Professor, Entrepreneurship

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).

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Benjamin Tipton
Director, Foundation Relations

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).

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Dr. 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.

Robert Walker
Professor, Department of Computer Science

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).

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John West
Trustee Professor of Chemistry and Interim Director of the Advanced Materials and Liquid Crystal Institute

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.

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William Willoughby, AIA, NCARB
Associate Professor and Associate Dean, College of Architecture and Environmental Design

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.

Amanda Woodyard
Director, Community Engaged Learning