The Team:

Ann Bryan

Ann Bryan is a doctoral student in the Department of Communication, with her research focusing on organizational communication and public health policies. She received her B.A. in Communication from California State University, Fresno in 2009, her Negotiation and Conflict Resolution from Creighton University in 2011, and her M.A. in Communication from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2015. In addition to being a trained mediator, she has been a conflict resolution consultant, assessment writer, and quiz reviewer for Sophia, an organization that partners with over 2,000 colleges and universities to provide affordable, transferrable online courses and free college readiness resources and professional development resources for teachers since 2013. At the University of Illinois, she has served on the steering committee and as Vice President of the College Teaching Effectiveness Network, a graduate-student run organization that plans workshops for graduate teaching assistants at Illinois, and has served as coordinator and coach for the ECE 445 Senior Design Laboratory Mock Presentations since its inception in 2015.

Jacob Bryan

Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Jacob D. Bryan holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and Mathematics (summa cum laude, 2010) from California State University, Fresno, an M.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering (2014) from the University of Illinois, and is currently a doctoral student in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He is a member of the Language Acquisition and Robotics Group at the University of Illinois and his research is primarily focused on developing a sensorimotor model of speech production. Jacob has also spent several summers working on cognitive radio systems at the MITRE Corporation in Bedford, MA as part of the Signal Processing Group. As a Teaching Assistant at the University of Illinois, Jacob has received the Ernest A. Reid Fellowship and the Harold L. Oleson Award for excellence in undergraduate teaching. He has served as the head Teaching Assistant for ECE 445, the senior design capstone course in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, from the Fall of 2015 through the Fall of 2017. During that time, he helped to coordinate the initial Presentation Workshops conducted by Engineers SPEAK.

Katie P. Bruner

Katie P. Bruner holds a B.A. in Communication and English from Texas A&M (2013), Masters in Communication from Illinois (2015), and is currently a doctoral student in the Department of Communication at the University of Illinois. Her research investigates American attitudes toward visual image media, and how these attitudes are embedded in, and constitutive of, rhetorical, technological, and political exigencies. She is interested in what assumptions creators and audiences have regarding the relationships between vision, perception, and judgment when they produce or consume media content. Where do these attitudes come from, and how do they contribute to historical change? Her current work focuses on the American midcentury, looking at the imaginaries of how aesthetic and technological collaboration can address the challenges of late modernity. In her dissertation, Katie draws on archival materials of visual artists and engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, looking for what models of vision and visuality were conceptualized and manifest in the work of figures such as Harold Edgerton, Gyorgy Kepes, Stan Vanderbeek, Kevin Lynch, and Ivan Sutherland. Katie also works in the areas of public memory and rhetorical criticism, examining how publics have constructed the role of image media in memorialization discourses. Her work draws broadly from rhetoric, history, philosophy, and media studies.

Katie teaches on rhetoric and visual media in a variety of courses, and has been consistently ranked as an “excellent” instructor by her students. Her courses involve both written and oral communication, and she has brought this expertise to the SPEAK Program, serving as a Presentation Consultant for three semesters before joining the team as a Coordinator. Her coursework and research has been interdisciplinary in nature, and Katie has a particular desire to advocate for innovating collaborations across the humanities-sciences divides. In her teaching, Katie seeks to empower students to express what matters to them, and her work with SPEAK is a natural extension of this goal.

Grace Giorgio

Director of Oral and Written Communication, Department of Communication

Dr. Grace A. Giorgio holds a B.A. in the Humanities from the University of California, Berkeley (1986), a Masters in Cinema Studies from San Francisco State University (1995) and a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign (2001). Her research, writing and teaching examine communication practices in interpersonal and public domains with the intention of bridging the personal and the political. She studies the experimental use of qualitative research methods to investigate the intersection of self, culture and the public sphere. Dr. Giorgio’s research interests branch into two directions: using writing as a method of inquiry to creatively and critically explore the cultural expectations and tensions in interpersonal and family communication contexts as well as writing, public speaking and debate as modes of civic engagement.

Dr. Giorgio is the course director for Introduction to Oral and Written Communication (CMN 111/112), a yearlong Comp1/Public Speaking course for the Department of Communication. This course introduces first-year students to the fundamentals of college writing and public speaking through its exploration of argumentation, persuasion, audience and public forum debate. As course director, Dr. Giorgio trains and supervises a staff of 12-15 teaching assistants. Notably, most if not all of these instructors make the ranked teachers list every semester. She regularly teaches CMN 111/112 along with courses in public policy, gender studies and popular media and culture. In the fall of 2012, she began teaching for the Campus Honors Program, launching an advanced composition course on place making, Communicating Public Policy: Our Cities/Ourselves (CMN 220). In 2013, Dr. Giorgio received the Chancellor’s Undergraduate Teaching Award. In the fall of 2015, she received two Provost Office grants to develop and launch Writing Fundamentals, an online, interactive grammar program for Illinois writing courses.

Jonathan Makela

Professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Prof. Jonathan J. Makela holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering (magna cum laude with honors, 1999) and a Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering (2003), both from Cornell University. He was a National Research Council post-doctoral research associate at the Naval Research Laboratory from 2002 to 2004 when he joined the faculty of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he currently holds the rank of Professor. His interests lie in multi-technique remote sensing of the Earth’s upper atmosphere. Prof. Makela’s group develops, tests, and deploys suites of sensors to sites around the world and develops new techniques and algorithms to better understand the underlying electrodynamics of instability processes in the equatorial and mid-latitude ionosphere, as well as the physics coupling of the neutral atmosphere to the electrified plasma in the ionosphere. They are also developing algorithms that will be used by the NASA’s Ionospheric Connection Explorer mission, which will launch in 2017. His group’s work has implications for improving specification and forecasting of space weather, natural hazards warnings, improving distributed sensing techniques, and furthering our understanding of basic space plasma physics.

Prof. Makela has taught the senior design capstone course, ECE 445, multiple times since 2006 and has worked closely with Prof. Carney, the former course director, over the years to evolve the course into its current form. He is also the course director for several other courses in the ECE curriculum, most of which have strong laboratory components to them through which he guides small groups of students in developing their experimental, communication, and teamwork skills. He has been recognized for his teaching with the ECE Ronald W. Pratt Faculty Outstanding Teaching Award from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Illinois (2009) and the Mac Van Valkenburg Early Career Teaching Award from the IEEE Education Society (2011).

Blake Johnson

Lecturer, Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering

Dr. Blake Everett Johnson holds a B.S. in Engineering Mechanics (EM) and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Theoretical and Applied Mechanics, all from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he now serves as a lecturer and instructional laboratory manager. Beginning in the fall of 2014 he has taught the capstone design course in Mechanical Engineering, ME 470, where he continuously strives to make curriculum improvements that benefit graduates of the EM and ME programs. He has a longstanding passion for teaching introductory mechanics courses, engineering design courses, and thermal/fluids laboratories, especially where the development of technical communication skills are concerned. He is a co-PI of the Integrative Engineering Leadership Initiate for Teaching Excellence (iELITE) SIIP, where graduate teaching assistants are taught leadership and pedagogical skills that are transferable to both academic and industrial careers. Dr. Johnson also advises the Illini Hyperloop competition team, conducts educational research in instructional laboratories, and assists with research efforts in Aerospace Engineering.