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Faculty Bios

Dr. Eric Denker

Eric Denker is the Senior Lecturer at the National Gallery of Art, where he has been since 1978.  From 1998 to 2006, Dr. Denker also served jointly as the Curator of Prints and Drawings at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, overseeing the permanent collection and coordinating an active exhibition schedule that included the catalogue and show of Whistler and his Circle in Venice. Dr. Denker attended Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, where he is now a Trustee as well as the President of the Friends of the Trout Gallery. He received his doctorate from the University of Virginia. In addition to serving as an adjunct professor at Cornell University’s CIW Program, Dr. Denker frequently lectures in Italy for the Smithsonian Institution and for the Scuola Internazionale di Grafica in Venice. He is the co-author, with Judith Martin, of the 2007 No Vulgar Hotel: The Desire and Pursuit of Venice, exploring the contemporary visitor’s passions for the unique lagoon city. He is the author of numerous articles for guidebooks about Venice and Italy.

Dr. Daniella Fridl

Daniella Fridl is an experienced researcher, professor and practitioner in the field of international development, conflict management and international security/terrorism studies. Dr. Fridl’s background includes working at the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) and the Center for International Development and Conflict Management (CIDCM) at the University of Maryland. Dr. Fridl has experience working in the nonprofit and for-profit sectors and academia, as well as international organizations such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Dr. Fridl's expertise is in the area of state failure, state recognition, conflict management, terrorism and international security. She received her MA and PhD from Johns Hopkins SAIS University in Washington, D.C. and she currently teaches undergraduate and graduate level courses in the areas of international development, conflict management, and international security/terrorism studies. She is fluent in Croatian and German.

Seth Harris

Seth Harris served for four and one-half years as U.S. Deputy Secretary of Labor and six months as Acting U.S. Secretary of Labor and a member of President Obama’s Cabinet.  Harris also worked in the Labor Department during the Clinton Administration as a policy, strategic, management, and legal advisor to both Secretary Alexis Herman and Secretary Robert Reich.  Between the Clinton and Obama Administrations, Harris was a Professor and Director of Labor & Employment Law Programs at New York Law School.  He is a nationally recognized scholar and teacher of public management and government performance, public policy (particularly labor, employment, and retirement), and national politics.  He is a frequent commentator on television and in other media on these topics.  He is an attorney and policy advisor in Washington, D.C., serves on two boards of directors, and advises start-up companies.  He is a Visiting Lecturer at Cornell's Institute for Public Affairs and former Distinguished Scholar at Cornell University’s School of Industrial & Labor Relations.

Dr. Christine Leuenberger

Christine Leuenberger, Department of Science & Technology Studies, Cornell University has published widely in various academic journals, books and popular news outlets. She was a Fulbright Scholar (in 2008), a Fulbright Specialist (since 2011), and an AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) Science &Technology Policy Fellow at the U.S. Department of State and at the U.S. Agency for International Development (2015-2017) in Washington D.C. She is the recipient of a National Science Foundation Scholar’s award to investigate the history and sociology of mapping practices in Israel and the West Bank. She is also conducting research on global migration patterns and the rise of Separation Walls around the globe. She is further engaged in peace and educational initiatives in the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Dr. John O'Connor

John O'Connor is a writer and editor. Recent publications include Shakespearean Afterlives (Icon, Cambridge), and the three-volume A Directory of Shakespeare in Performance (Palgrave Macmillan; co-edited with Katie Goodland at CUNY). Formerly principal lecturer in English and Education at Westminster College, Oxford, and a visiting lecturer at the Shakespeare Institute, he is also series editor for the Longman School Shakespeare.

Dr. David Pelletier

David Pelletier is a Professor of Nutrition Policy in the Division of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell University.  His research, teaching and public engagement focuses on improved methods for the analysis, design and implementation of nutrition policy, tools for the scaling up nutrition interventions and the application of implementation science to nutrition.  He has conducted or supervised research and project work in Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Lesotho, Nigeria, Uganda, Indonesia, China, Bolivia, Guatemala, Peru and Haiti.  He has consulted on nutrition strategy development with the World Bank, USAID, UNICEF, WHO, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the International Food Policy Research Institute and served on expert panels for WHO and the National Academy of Science.  His most recent projects include the Mainstreaming Nutrition Initiative, the Micronutrient Program Assessment Project and the African Nutrition Security Partnership, the latter being an engaged, action-research project to support and document the national-level operationalization of multisectoral nutrition in four African countries.  He is a founding member and the current president of the Society for Implementation Science for Nutrition.

Dr. Jason Rao

Jason Rao is the Senior Director for Innovation and Member Engagement at the American Society for Microbiology. He is the founding editor-in-chief of Cultures magazine, an ASM publication with world-wide distribution. Dr. Rao previously served as the Senior Policy Advisor for Global Science Engagement in the White House, Office of Science and Technology Policy under President Obama, where he led a range of science diplomacy and international security programs. 

Dr Rao also served at the U.S. Department of State for nearly a decade, where he created and led the Biosecurity Engagement Program, aimed at enhancing global health and national security. Dr. Rao was both a Brookings Legislative Fellow in the 111th Congress, an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Diplomacy Fellow, as well as a Research Fellow at the National Institutes of Health. He holds a Ph.D. in Biochemistry, Cellular and Molecular Biology from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a bachelors in chemistry from the University of California at Santa Cruz. He holds adjunct faculty positions with Cornell, Georgetown, and George Washington Universities.

When not working to save the world, Jason is home-brewing with his son, Porter, and daughter, Scarlet.

Dr. David Silbey

David Silbey is a military historian, focusing on modern warfare.  Dr. Silbey's first book, The British Working Class and Enthusiasm for War, 1914-1916 was published by Taylor & Francis in 2005.  His second book, A War of Empire and Frontier:  The Philippine-American War, 1899-1902 was published by Hill & Wang in Spring 2007.  His The Boxer Rebellion and the Great Game in China, 1900 was published by Hill & Wang in March 2012.  He got his B.A. from Cornell and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Duke University.

Dr. Katherine Benton-Cohen

Katherine Benton-Cohen is a historian of the United States in the 19th and 20th centuries, with particular interests in the histories of women and gender, race and immigration, and the American West. She holds a Ph.D. from University of Wisconsin in History, an M.A. from University of Wisconsin-Madison and an A.B. from Princeton University.

Dr. Katherine Scott

Katherine Scott is Associate Historian, United States Senate. She received a Ph.D. in American history from Temple University in 2009. Her research interests include 20th century American political culture and politics, oral history, and policymaking. Her book, Reining in the State: Civil Society and Congress in the Vietnam and Watergate Eras, was published by University Press of Kansas in 2013.  She is currently working on a political biography of Senator George McGovern.