Heather McDonald's plays include An Almost Holy Picture, When Grace Comes In, Dream of a Common Language, Available Light, The Rivers and Ravines, Faulkner's Bicycle, The Two Marys, Rain and Darkness and, upcoming, The Suppressed-Desire Ball (developed at Sundance - Ucross Writers Retreat). Her work has been produced on Broadway (starring Kevin Bacon) and Off Broadway and at such theatres as The Roundabout Theatre, Arena Stage, The McCarter Theatre, Center Stage, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Indiana Rep, California Shakespeare Theatre, Round House Theatre, Signature Theatre, Yale Repertory Theatre, The Actors Theatre of Louisville - Humana Festival of New Plays, The La Jolla Playhouse and internationally in Italy, Spain, Portugal, England and Mexico.
Her most recent work, STAY, is the result of a two-year collaboration with choreographer Susan Shields. STAY combines theatre, dance, music and SLAM multimedia projections. Working with a group of actors, dancers, a photographer/filmmaker and set and lighting designers, STAY was built in workshops at Theater of the First Amendment, Woolly Mammoth Theatre and was produced at The Shakespeare Theatre at The Lansburgh.
Ms. McDonald wrote the libretto for the opera, The End of the Affair, adapted from the novel by Graham Greene. She and composer Jake Heggie (Dead Man Walking) were commissioned by Houston Grand Opera and the opera premiered at HGO and went on to have several more productions.
She has also directed many productions, most recently Stephen Adly Guirgis' The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, a steampunk version of The Elephant Man, The Cripple of Inishmaan by Martin McDonogh and the world premiere of Two-Bit Taj Mahal by Paul D'Andrea. The production she directed of Dream of a Common Language was nominated for eight Helen Hayes Awards (including Best Direction) and won four Helen Hayes Awards including Outstanding Resident Production.
Her work has been honored with a nomination for the Pulitzer Prize, three NEA Playwriting Fellowships, The First Prize Kesselring Award and was a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. Her plays are published by Dramatists Play Service, Samuel French, Inc. and in several collections. She has written and sold two screenplays and is developing a new project for television. She was recently invited to be one of six writers in Arena Stage's new program Playwrights' Arena, and she will be giving a TED talk as part of TEDxGeorgeMasonU 2013. She received her MFA from NYU Tisch School of the Arts and is Professor of Theater at George Mason University.
Kirk Borne is a Multidisciplinary Data Scientist and an Astrophysicist. He is Professor of Astrophysics and Computational Science in the George Mason University School of Physics, Astronomy, and Computational Sciences (SPACS). He received his B.S. degree in physics from LSU and his Ph.D. in astronomy from Caltech. He has been at Mason since 2003. Previously, he spent nearly 20 years in positions supporting NASA projects, including NASA's Data Archive Project Scientist for the Hubble Space Telescope, and as Project Manager in NASA's Space Science Data Operations Office. He has extensive experience in Big Data and Data Science, including expertise in scientific data mining. He has advised several federal agencies on data mining and Big Data applications, including the Executive Office of the President, the Library of Congress, National Weather Service, FDA Office of Drug Safety, and the NITRD Big Data Senior Steering Group. He is currently working on research, design, and development for the proposed Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST). He established the new field of Astroinformatics: Data Science for Astronomy Research and Education. He is a founding member of the new American Astronomical Society's Astroinformatics and Astrostatistics Working Group, a founding member of the new International Astrostatistics and Astroinformatics professional society, a member of the LSST Outreach Advisory Board, a member of the Zooniverse Citizen Science project, chairperson of the LSST Informatics and Statistical Science Research Collaboration Team, and on the editorial boards of several scientific research journals. He is a founding member and Scholarship Committee chairperson for Mason's chapter of the Phi Kappa Phi national honor society. He has published over 100 research papers and book chapters, and given over 100 invited talks at conferences and universities worldwide. In these roles, he focuses on achieving big discoveries from big data, and he promotes the use of information and data-centric experiences with big data in the STEM education pipeline at all levels. He believes in data literacy for all!
You can read about his research and teaching interests here. If you are a Twitter user, you can follow him there as he actively tweets about Big Data, Data Science, and Astronomy under the handle @KirkDBorne.
Dr. Michael Randy Gabel is an Associate Professor of Mathematics and Integrative Studies in George Mason University's New Century College. He received a B.S. in Mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Ph.D. in Mathematics from Brandeis University.
Professor Gabel's career at GMU spans nearly 35 years. He was a member of the faculty group that created Mason's award-winning PAGE [Plan for Alternative General Education] Program (which became the Honors College) and is currently teaching in the University's innovative New Century College. He has been the Senior Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Chair of the CAS Committee on Innovative Education, Chair of the University-wide Academic Computing Advisory Committee, Chair of the Faculty Senate Standing Committee on Effective Teaching, Co-Chair of the President's Project Team on Learning Initiatives, Director of the University's Instructional Development Office, Academic Director of a GMU Oxford University Honors Semester, Deputy Director of the Mason Center for Conservation Studies and twice the Resident Faculty Fellow in the Smithsonian-Mason Semester at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute.
In addition to a wide range of graduate and undergraduate courses in the Mathematics Department, he has taught Quantitative Problem Solving in the PAGE Program, Honor's Calculus, and the New Century College learning communities: Community of Learners, The Natural World, Mathematics and Culture, Applied Conservation Biology, Global Communities and Networks, Science and the News, and The Nature of Mathematics.
He was named an ACE Fellow, a SENCER Leadership Fellow and was a co-principal investigator of a Keck/PKAL grant on Facilitating Interdisciplinary Learning. He is a member of the Phi Beta Delta Honor Society for International Scholars and is a recipient of a GMU Teaching Excellence Award as well as the David J. King Faculty Teaching Award for "significant, long-term contributions to the overall educational excellence of the university."
His current book project is "The Music of the Sphere: A Portal into the Nature of Mathematics."
Monique van Hoek is a scientist in search of interesting and useful problems. Using her training in biochemistry (UVIC, BSc, 1990) and microbiology (UVA, PhD, 1997), combined with her experience in industry, she is currently seeking new approaches to antibiotics in the face of the impending crisis of antibiotic resistance. She has spent the last several years focused on bacterial biofilms, the "resistance cloaks" produced by many bacteria, and has developed several compounds that can disrupt these biofilms. In addition, she has been working to understand the role of antimicrobial peptides in the innate immune system (which is the initial response of organisms to infection). Dr. van Hoek and her collaborators have made "improved" antimicrobial peptides and have shown that some of these peptides can disrupt bacterial biofilms.
Currently, Dr. van Hoek and her collaborators are on the hunt for new antimicrobial peptides from animals that seem to have high levels of antimicrobial resistance naturally, such as crocodiles and alligators. Identifying these antimicrobial peptides may provide new scaffolds for the development of new antibiotics.
Michael Smith is Graduate Studies Advisor and Instructor at the English Language Institute. He co-teaches CONF 325: Dialogue and Difference, a unique course that teaches conflict resolution and cultural awareness to both ESL students and Mason conflict students. He has given presentations about this course at the Association for Conflict Resolution conferences in Chicago and New Orleans, and at the LIA International Conference in Bali. He and his collaborator, Leila Peterson, are currently designing a program for the School of Conflict Analysis and Resolution based on their CONF 325 model. Michael Smith earned a M.Ed. and a Graduate Certificate in Conflict Resolution from George Mason University. He has earned a Cambridge certificate in TESOL in Madrid, Spain, a London Chamber of Commerce Certificate in the Teaching of English for Business in Canterbury, England, and a Certificate in Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy from the Albert Ellis Institute in New York. He has also studied in the playwriting program at the George Mason Theater Department. His short play, Master of the House, was presented in George Mason Ten Minute Play Festival in 2011. His full-length play, Passaggio, is being produced by the Mason Players this spring.
Dr. Usher spends as much time as possible in graveyards - she is a biological anthropologist who studies cemeteries from both osteological and archaeological perspectives to understand the social structure and health of past communities. Bethany directs the Students as Scholars initiative through the Office of Student Scholarship, Creative Activities, and Research (OSCAR), and serves as an Associate Director of the Center for Teaching and Faculty Excellence (CTFE). She is also a Councilor for Undergraduate Research Program Division of the Council on Undergraduate Research. Prior to joining the CTFE in January 2010, she was faculty at the State University of New York at Potsdam, where she established the Center for Undergraduate Research and served as its Director. At SUNY Potsdam, she was an Associate Professor of Biological Anthropology and past chair of the Anthropology Department. She has a long history of collaborating with undergraduate researchers.