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Meet the new faculty of LaGuardia Community College
Business and Technology Department
Lee Boyar, a businessman and CPA, earned a B.A. in Philosophy from Cornell University; a B.A. in Law from Oxford University; and an M.B.A. in Accounting from Baruch College. An investor with extensive experience in securities analysis and investment advisory, Mr. Boyar remains a principal at Boyar Asset Management, a registered investment advisor. As an analyst at CKX (subsequently acquired by Apollo Global Management) he worked as part of the team that acquired Muhammad Ali’s marketing rights for $50 million.
He received his training in public accounting at Deloitte, where he specialized in real estate and international tax. He also teaches a course called "Accounting and the Integrated Bottom Line" at Bard College's MBA in Sustainability program and has been quoted in publications such as Bloomberg Businessweek.
Karren Brown Liebert, Assistant Professor
Karren Brown Liebert, a registered professional nurse and a board certified adult psychiatric and mental health clinical specialist, has been a clinical instructor and lecturer for behavioral health nursing at LaGuardia since 2011. She also served as adjunct professor at New York Institute of Technology, College of Mt. St. Vincent and College of New Rochelle and as an assistant professor at Long Island University. Before going into teaching, Ms. Liebert staff nurse at Long Island College Hospital Brooklyn and a clinical nurse specialist at Maimonides Community Mental Health Center, Brooklyn, and Roosevelt Hospital in New York. Ms. Liebert earned her B.S. in Nursing from Ohio State University, her M.S. in Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing from Syracuse University and is a Ph.D. candidate at the Graduate Center.
Tao Chen, Assistant Professor
Tao Chen holds a Ph.D. and M.S. in Mathematics from the Graduate Center and an M.S. in Mathematics from the Academy of Mathematics and System Science in Beijing and a B.S. in Mathematics and Education from Henan Normal University in Xinxiang. Dr. Chen’s research mainly concentrates on the Teichmuller theory and hyperbolic geometry, which is built on the idea that parallel lines do not maintain a constant distance as they do in Euclidean geometry. Instead, the lines remain straight, but the space where the lines are in curved. His research, which has drawn attention from scholars around the world, has been delivered at international conferences and American Mathematical Society meetings. Before joining LaGuardia, Dr. Chen was an adjunct professor at John Jay and Brooklyn Colleges and a lecturer at Bronx Community College.
John Collins, Full-time Lecturer
Education and Language Arts
John Collins has been teaching American Sign Language at LaGuardia since 2009 and currently serves as the Coordinator for the Deaf Studies Program within the Education and Language Arts Department. He holds a Master’s in Deaf Education from Gallaudet University and a Bachelor's in Biochemistry and Cell Biology from the University of California, San Diego. As 20-year veteran of the Lexington School for the Deaf, he taught deaf undergraduates general biology and microbiology. His previous research activities involved determining the structure/function relationship of Cytochrome P-450 using monoclonal antibodies at San Diego's Scripps Research Institute.
Colleen Eren, Assistant Professor
Colleen Eren is a sociologist who obtained her Ph.D. from the CUNY Graduate Center in 2013, where she was a Chancellor’s Fellow. Prior to joining LaGuardia’s faculty, she taught at Hunter College as an adjunct lecturer and Queens College as a teaching fellow. Her work has focused on the significance of media discourse about high profile white collar crime after the financial crisis of 2008 in the U.S. and the U.K. Her current research interests include the causes of financial crime, delineating/theorizing a “sociology of the 1%,” and the militarization of leisure sports.
Lucía Fuentes received her Master’s degree in Molecular Biology from the University of Costa Rica and her Ph.D. in Virology from the University of British Columbia, Canada. She did her post-doctoral work on the molecular mechanisms of seed transmission of viruses at the Agriculture Canada Research Station in Vancouver. Before joining LaGuardia in 2013, Dr. Fuentes worked at Douglas College in British Columbia, where she served as chair of the Biology Department as well as taught and developed curriculum for courses in anatomy and physiology, general biology, cell biology, genetics, microbiology, evolution, and biochemistry. Over the past ten years she has collaborated with her colleagues doing in vitro studies that examine the response of macrophages to fungal pathogens under various conditions, including following exposure to bacterial components.
Xin Gao, Assistant Professor
Xin Gao, a physicist who received a Ph.D. from the Graduate Center, is involved in research that focuses on the interface of physics, mathematics, business and economics. In her research she is using techniques from mathematics and physics to develop pricing models for financial derivatives. The work was presented at the International Conference on Applied Mathematics, Modeling and Computational Science. Dr. Gao also has rich research experience in experimental physics and has published her work in different peer-reviewed journals. Before joining LaGuardia, Dr. Gao was an adjunct assistant professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology and Baruch College.
Tonya Hendrix, Assistant Professor
Tonya Hendrix received her B.S. in Biochemistry from Spelman College and her Ph.D. in Biophysics from Johns Hopkins University. Her post-doctoral training was done in the laboratory of Jerry Guyden at the City College of New York where she studied epithelial cells that reside in the thymus and their effect on the development of white blood cells. She has served as and adjunct in the Biology Department at the City College and, prior to coming to LaGuardia, held a faculty position at Livingstone College in North Carolina. Dr. Hendrix's current research interest includes investigating the effects of antioxidants on the development of white blood cells.
Glenn Henshaw, Assistant Professor
Glenn Henshaw completed his Ph.D. in 2012 from Wesleyan University. His area of research is number theory, specifically quadratic forms. He has four publications, including one that was recently accepted into the Transactions of the American Mathematical Society, a top mathematics journal. While attending graduate school at Wesleyan, Dr. Henshaw taught classes there and at two community colleges in the central Connecticut area. He also taught at Bard College at Simon’s Rock, an early college program. After graduate school he taught number theory and cryptography, biostatics and other mathematics classes at California State University at Channel Islands. Dr. Henshaw has given research talks at several universities, at AMS/AMA joint meetings and at the joint meeting of AMS and Sociedad Mathematics de Chile in Pucon, Chile.
Margarita Israilova, Assistant Professor
Margarita Israilova is a LaGuardia alumna who went on to earn a B.S. in Nursing from SUNY Downstate Medical Center College of Nursing and a M.S. in Nursing from Molloy College. She returned to her alma mater in 2010 as an adjunct assistant professor in nursing. Prior to her position at LaGuardia, Ms. Israilova was a staff nurse at St. Joseph’s Hospital, North Shore University Hospital and Mount Sinai Hospital. As an adjunct, she also she worked at the North Shore/Long Island Jewish Forest Hills Hospital as a staff nurse and adult nurse practitioner.
Bethany Jacobson – Assistant Professor
Bethany Jacobson joins the Media Studies Program with 20-year career in media that includes television production, directing, screenwriting and teaching at a college level. She has produced magazine-style segments, corporate videos, PSAs and long-format documentaries, multi-camera shoots and reality television. Ms. Jacobson’s work has aired on PBS, MTV, WDR, Arte and ZDF. Currently, she is working on a feature project, “Hotel Bleu,” which was one of 15 projects out of 350 submissions selected for the 2013 Cannes “Maison Des Scenarists,” an initiative to support screenwriters, and to connect screenwriters with producers. She has taught production and screenwriting courses at Brooklyn College, Hunter College, Pratt Institute, NYU’s Graduate Film Program and its School of Continuing Education. Ms. Jacobson earned her B.F.A. in photography/media from The Cooper Union and a M.F.A. in film production from New York University.
Galina Letnikova, Assistant Professor
As an assistant professor, Galina Letnikova will also serve as the coordinator of library instruction. Before joining LaGuardia she served as an assistant professor at the Leonard Lief Library of Lehman College, an adjunct assistant professor at the Rosenthal Library of Queens College and at the Graduate School of Library and Information Studies at Queens College. Her research interests focus on the incorporation of the basics of library instructional services into the interface of an academic library website making it easily accessible and usable to the library patrons. Ms. Letnikova earned her B.A. and M.A in Education at the Moscow State Linguistic University in Russia where she majored in French and English; and her M.L.S. at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at Queens College.
Kyaw Naing, Assistant Professor
Kyaw Naing joined LaGuardia in 2012 as an adjunct assistant professor in the nursing program. He was also an adjunct assistant professor at Molloy. Prior to academia, Mr. Naing was a registered nurse in the progressive care unit of Elmhurst Hospital Center for seven years. Mr. Naing earned an A.A.S. in Nursing from the Borough of Manhattan Community College, and a B.S./M.S. in Adult Nurse Practitioner from Long Island University. He also has a B.S. in Zoology from Rangoon University, Myanmar.
Rebecca Rivera-Maestre, Assistant Professor
Rebecca Rivera-Maestre, has a Ph.D. in Social Work from the New York University Silver School of Social Work, a M.S. in Social Work from Columbia University School of Social Work, and a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Georgia. Dr. Rivera-Maestre is a licensed clinical social worker. Before joining LaGuardia, she was an assistant professor at York College. Her primary research interest is on youth violence and women and girls involved in the juvenile and criminal justice systems. Her current research is a PSC-CUNY grant-funded study that explores the experiences of homeless young mothers in New York City/New York State.
Sunaina Singh, Assistant Professor
Sunaina Singh was an adjunct professor at LaGuardia Community College since 2007. She completed her Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from Hunter College and the Graduate Center of City University of New York, her Master of Philosophy from the Graduate Center, CUNY and her M.S. and B.S. in Chemistry from Panjab University, Chandigarh, India. Dr. Singh received the Gertrude Elion Award for Best Research Student for her graduate research at Hunter College. In her current research, Dr. Singh is synthesizing compounds that may have potential to be used as new generation photosensitizer in photodynamic therapy (PDT). PDT is a noninvasive treatment for a variety of cancers in which the tumor localized photosensitizer is activated with broadband light.
Andi Toce, Assistant Professor
Andi Toce has been teaching mathematics at LaGuardia as an adjunct lecturer since 2005 while also serving as a program specialist for the college’s Academic Peer Instruction Program. Dr. Toce earned a B.A. in Social Science from the University of Tirana in Albania, and attended LaGuardia before transferring to Queens College where he received is M.A. in Computer Science. He went on to earn a Ph.D. in Computer Science at the Graduate Center. There he did research on Dynamic Distributed Database Systems, a project that was part of the International Technology Alliance in Network and Information Science, a collaboration between academia and industry in both the U.S. and the U.K., seeking to expand the technological capabilities of the U.S. Army and the U.K. Armed Forces.
Jennifer Vance, Assistant Professor
Jennifer Vance, who has a Ph.D. in chemistry from Hunter College and a M.A. in Organic Chemistry from Harvard University, has been a chemistry lecturer at LaGuardia since 2006. She also served as a research associate in the NIH Bridges Program assisting the students in their work. While at Harvard she conducted research that explored chemical technology development of solid phase organic chemistry, towards the systematic study of biology. Her research was funded by a NIH Biophysics Training grant. She was also a Teaching Fellow, which earned her the Derek Bok Award for Excellence in Teaching.
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