Senator-at-large (RTE Faculty)
Allison Chartchyan, Senior Research Associate, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences (College of Agriculture and Life Sciences)
Allison M. Chatrchyan is a Sr. Research Associate in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and Global Development at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. Her work focuses on the interactions between social, environmental, and agricultural systems. Dr. Chatrchyan facilitates interdisciplinary research and Extension teams and helps develop resources, tools, and training curriculum for climate change adaptation and mitigation, including through the Cornell Climate Smart Farming program, and Cornell Climate Stewards Program. Her research is focused on assessing stakeholder views and actions on climate change, multi-level climate change governance mechanisms, and climate change policies and institutions. She is currently serving as co-chair of the agriculture chapter of the New York State Climate Impacts Assessment. Dr. Chatrchyan teaches two capstone classes for Cornell’s Environment & Sustainability major on Global Climate Change Science and Policy, and Climate Smart Communities, and will be teaching International Environmental Law and Policy for the Cornell Law school in 2023. She has led the Cornell Delegations to the annual COP of the UNFCCC and has longstanding collaborations with the Ministry of Environment in Armenia. Dr. Chatrchyan previously worked for Cornell Cooperative Extension, the Bard Center for Environmental Policy, University of Maryland, United Nations Environment Programme in Paris, France, and the Environmental Policy Center in Washington, DC. A native of Hamilton, NY, she received her Ph.D. and M.A. from the University of Maryland in College Park, and her B.A. from Colby College in Waterville, ME.
I have been a Senior Research Associate at Cornell since 2013 and worked for the Cornell Cooperative Extension system for seven years prior to coming to Ithaca. I would be honored to serve on the Cornell Faculty Senate. Although I was the only member of my family that did not attend Cornell as a student, Cornell has always been part of my life - I visited often with my parents while growing up in Hamilton, NY for concerts and trips to the dairy bar, came to Cornell as a teenager through 4-H program, and worked for Cornell Extension after receiving my Ph.D. One of the most interesting aspects of my job here is working with the truly interdisciplinary faculty on a variety of climate change-related research and Extension projects, where we are always striving to make sure that our research and tools meet the needs of stakeholders. I also love teaching two capstone courses related to climate change and introducing my students to real-world issues where they can have an impact. I am very proud to work at Cornell and to represent our university in meetings across New York, in Washington, DC, and internationally. I look forward to bringing my diverse experience to the Faculty Senate and to represent the varied interests and positions of our faculty.
Websites of Interest:
Andy Horbal, Associate Librarian and Director of Access Services (Cornell University Library)
I currently serve as Director of Access Services for Cornell University Library (CUL), where I hold the rank of Associate Librarian. In this role I oversee the Library Annex high-density storage facility and Interlibrary Services department and work closely with unit library directors to forward CUL’s public services. Additionally, I coordinate CUL’s approach to providing streaming film and media resources. Since arriving at Cornell in 2019, I have been involved in a number of important library changes. I played a lead role in CUL’s successful migration to the FOLIO open source library services platform (making us the first major research institution in the world to fully implement it). I shepherded a proposal to eliminate most library overdue fines and fees as an initiative to support affordability and remove barriers to library use from development all the way through to approval in 2021. Finally, I led the team that created CUL’s new contactless pickup service from scratch during the first week of the COVID-19 pandemic (among other projects).
Other institutions at which I have worked include the University of Maryland (2013-2019), where I held titles of Head of Learning Commons and Media Resources Librarian; McDaniel College (2011-2013), where I was the Access Services Librarian; and the University of Pittsburgh (2000-2011), where I worked numerous library jobs and also completed both my undergraduate and graduate studies. My main research interest involves instructor and student use of streaming and other video resources in higher education. I have also published and presented work on academic library makerspaces, cinephilia, and copyright issues, and I am the author of more than 60 movie reviews. My service activities include leadership roles in the American Library Association and Consortium of College and University Media Centers, involvement in multiple Ivy Plus Libraries Confederation groups, and numerous elected positions in shared governance bodies at the University of Maryland.
Prior to coming to Cornell, I was active in the University Senate at the University of Maryland, where I was twice-elected to represent Permanent Status/Permanent Status-Track Librarians. As a member of this body, I was elected as a faculty representative on the Committee on Committees and appointed Chair of the Elections, Representation & Governance (ERG) Committee. During my tenure as Chair, ERG worked with the university administration and other stakeholders to craft a successful proposal to establish a new Committee on University Finance which gave the Senate a role in budget planning for the first time. This experience taught me that when everyone acts in good faith and exercises due diligence (we spent many hours on the phone with colleagues from other institutions!), shared governance can be a powerful tool for bridging significant differences between faculty and administration to move the university forward. I would love to be part of this process at Cornell.
William Lai, Associate Research professor, Molecular Biology and Genetics (College of Arts and Sciences)
My name is William Lai and I joined Cornell in 2020 in the height of the pandemic as an Assistant Research Professor in the department of Molecular Biology and Genetics. I’ve had a wonderful time finally getting to know my colleagues in person this past year as well as the broader Cornell community. I received my PhD in Biochemistry from SUNY Buffalo where I was trained as a bioinformatician. I loved the appeal of making biological discoveries with the click of a button. I did my post-doc at Penn State where I cross-trained in wet-bench science. After years of reproducible and reliable results from software development, I was shell-shocked by the realities of variability in biology. No longer did the same experiment produce the same result. I began to focus on merging these disciplines to instill bioinformatic principles of reproducibility to biochemistry while simultaneously using a deeper understanding of biochemistry to better inform my software development.
My current research program at Cornell continues to focus on addressing the challenges of rigor and reproducibility in science. The confidence we have in the discoveries we make is always limited by the level of reproducibility in our research. My group develops software platforms to tackle some of these well-known issues in biological experimental reproducibility like sample metadata tracking and tying wet-bench experimentation to downstream bioinformatic analysis through intuitive interfaces for custom databases. We also develop software that works to lower cross-disciplinary fences for adoption by enabling traditional wet-bench scientists to perform best practices in bioinformatic analysis without learning to program. My long-term vision is to integrate our software platforms with nationally funded computational resources to provide our systems to the everyone for free.
Having arrived at Cornell in 2020 during lockdown, I am extremely interested in meeting and getting to know people across the entire university. I am interested in better understanding the vision for how our university’s community works together and am willing to contribute towards the work that is needed to accomplish that vision. I believe I demonstrate my willingness to serve in my research program, as well as personally. I believe that this position would provide me with an opportunity to take the first step towards engaging with and serving the Cornell community.
Joseph Skovira, Senior Lecturer, Electrical and Computer Engineering (College of Engineering)
I began my association with Cornell in pursuit of additional graduate study. I was working for IBM in Endicott, New York, for several years and had the excellent opportunity of obtaining a fellowship from IBM to study towards a PhD in Electrical Engineering (EE). In another rare opportunity, I was accepted by the EE department at Cornell and began my research in high performance computing related to Neurophysiology. This combination of subjects allowed me to work on the emerging field of highly parallel computing along with a College of Arts and Sciences journey into Neurophysiology experimentation. Fortunately, after many stumbles and dead ends, this research progressed, and I was able to complete my degree work and graduate with a Cornell PhD in 1990.
Returning to IBM, I worked on an advanced system for circuit simulation which enabled the verification of denser microcontroller silicon chips. As a platform for these complex simulations, we used massively parallel machines. Discussing these ideas with colleagues in IBM research, I was able to work with designs for what would become the IBM SP2 parallel machine. Happily, and coincidently, Cornell was also working with IBM on this new computer design. I was able to return to Cornell where I joined a small group of IBM researchers developing software tools for the new system and assisting on-campus researchers in moving research to the new machine.
Looking for additional challenges after a career with IBM, I joined the Cornell Library Information Technology group working on ArXiv.org, the online repository for scientific publications. Working with this talented team, I was able to help advance the technology of the ArXiv repository as it continued to experience explosive growth.
During a chance on-campus discussion with the Electrical and Computing (ECE) Director, we raised the possibility of developing a new ECE class covering the Linux Operating System for use in small, embedded computing systems. In summer, 2015, I joined ECE as a Senior Lecturer to design this new class which ultimately became ECE 5725, Design with Embedded Operating Systems. With four lab assignments, students journey from fundamental Linux system setup to building and controlling an autonomous robot, to altering the Linux kernel for enhanced performance. The class culminates with an end of semester development project where students are free to invent new solutions to solve a variety of problems.
Enrollment in ECE5725 ranges from between 60 to 90 students per semester. I also advise between 10 and 20 Master of Engineering Students researching academic year development projects, and mentor independent study students working on a variety of individually defined systems. It has been my privilege over the years to work with so many enthusiastic and talented students.
I am interested in the Faculty Senate-at-large opportunity to learn more about how the Faculty Senate works to advance new ideas at Cornell.
Websites of Interest:
Francis Vanek, Senior Lecturer, Civil and Environmental Engineering (College of Engineering)
I am appointed as a Senior Lecturer in Civil & Environmental Engineering and have served on the faculty since 2001. My connection to Cornell starts with my undergraduate degree, where I earned concurrent bachelors’ degrees in Mechanical Engineering (B.S.) and Asian Studies (B.A., Japanese language concentration) in 1991. Thereafter I completed my PhD in Systems Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania in 1998, and after teaching at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland, U.K., from 1998 to 2001 before coming to Cornell. Along with my appointment in CEE, I have held appointments in Operations Research and Information Engineering (2001-2004), Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering (2004-2006), and the Cornell Systems Engineering program (2006-2010). I am a faculty fellow of the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future and, during the 2021-2022 academic year, a Faculty Fellow in Engaged Learning with Cornell’s Einhorn Center for Engaged Learning. I am also a trained yoga teacher and since 2018 I have a secondary appointment with Cornell Fitness Centers to teach yoga part-time on campus.
My academic work includes a focus on energy consumption and carbon emissions from long-distance shipment of freight by railroad and truck, an interest that dates back to my studies in graduate school. Since arriving at Cornell, I have branched out into the study of renewable energy (especially solar and wind), green building, and small-scale appropriate technology for sustainable development. I teach courses in the areas of renewable energy, sustainable transportation, and engineering economics, and am lead author of a textbook on energy systems and another on sustainable transportation. I am also the faculty adviser of the Engineers for a Sustainable World service-learning course, a credit-bearing course where student pursue team research projects applying engineering principles to sustainability. I have advised Master of Engineering team research projects for over 20 years, and since 2010 many of these projects have been focused on a program I have labeled “Testbed Ithaca” wherein various projects in renewable energy, sustainable transportation, and green building seek to advance the sustainability of the Cornell campus and of the greater Ithaca area in general.
I am especially interested in advancing Cornell as a sustainable campus and would support these efforts if elected. Based on my teaching and research, I am interested in the transition to becoming a carbon-neutral and carbon-free campus. Beyond greenhouse gas emissions, I would support a multifaceted approach to reducing all types of ecological impact, from reducing consumption of material resources to seeking ways to reduce our contribution to the waste stream. Sustainability also includes the creation of a diverse, inclusive campus, so I would seek to support efforts aimed at diversity, equity, and inclusion. For example, expanding the pathway at Cornell for students from low-income households or first-in-family to attend college would be beneficial in this regard. Each effort in these various areas creates an opportunity to share with our student body the experience that we are developing to address the important ecological and social needs of our time. Students can participate in these programs through courses and extracurricular activities, or else observe the work being undertaken by other faculty, staff, and students. Also, engagement with the university can continue after graduation. Indeed, these are long-term challenges that Cornell will pursue for the foreseeable future, so our alumni community can interact with and be inspired by what we are doing on campus throughout their careers.
Websites of Interest: