Meet Our New Faculty Members

The College of Design is pleased to welcome six new faculty members this year. Our additions include David Loranger in retail merchandising, Ehsan Naderi in product design, Genell Ebbini in interior design, Jennifer Newsom-Carruthers in architecture, Jessica Rossi-Mastracci in landscape architecture, and Vahan Misakyan in architecture. Get to know our new faculty below.

David Loranger

What do you like most about working in retail merchandising?
“What I really like about the apparel merchandising field is the interdisciplinary nature of research and teaching. Our discipline lives at the intersection of business, culture, and design, amongst other disciplines. This makes it really interesting to conduct research and teaching in the field and opens unlimited possibilities for collaboration and outreach.”

What are you most excited for this school year?
“I’m excited to forward my research stream here at the University and also to get to know my colleagues and students a lot better. I’ve moved here from Pennsylvania, and from a small institution, so I’m excited to explore the resources of a large-scale research university like the U.”

What is one thing that you would like the college to know about you?
“I’m proud to be a first-generation college student. In fact, my dad never graduated from high school, and both my parents worked in factories. I’m very appreciative of the opportunity that I had to complete my Ph.D. and that I’m now able to give back in a setting like the U!”

Ehsan Naderi

What do you like most about working in product design?
“When I entered high school, I decided to be a designer. I studied really hard to get into the best design school in my country. I have always enjoyed practicing and teaching design and this is what I would love to do for the rest of my career.”

What are you most excited for this school year?
“I am always excited about the energy that students bring back to school after the summer. I am also excited about teaching product design again and having wonderful, motivated students in my class here at U.”

What is one thing that you would like the college to know about you?
“I believe the nature of design is consistent across different design disciplines. I don’t see the boundaries among the different design disciplines. Design is all about passion, experience, and empathy with people and environment.”

Genell Ebbini

What do you like most about working in interior design?
“It’s hard to summate in a sentence what I “like” most about working in the interior design industry. What excites me the most about interior design is the multifaceted nature of the profession and the opportunities to explore and create expressions of experiences in the built environment by forging connections between art and science. The wealth of evidence-based research available gives me the creative license to design in response to the ‘how’ and ‘what’ researchers learn about the built environment. It is rewarding to design and shape spaces centered on human conditions where users have an emotional or spiritual connection to place.”

What are you most excited for this school year?
“As a new resident of Minneapolis and the University of Minnesota, I am looking forward to immersing myself in the community and building lasting relationships with my colleagues and students.”

What is one thing that you would like the college to know about you?
“I am a fervent advocate for sustainability; not just how to practice, but how to go about navigating the complexity of emerging issues in ecological design that connects humans and nature for mutual benefit. Sustainability and socially responsible design are at the forefront of the ideologies I live, practice, teach, and research.”

Jennifer Newsom

What do you like most about working in architecture?
“I am both a licensed architect and an installation artist. Although there are disciplinary distinctions to be sure, I am interested in the muddling of those boundaries and how my training as an architect can influence my art making and vice versa. I am ultimately motivated by translating narratives into spatial experiences, be that via the conception of a site-specific installation, design of a house, or work at the scale of the city. Both architecture and art are highly collaborative processes, and the exchange of ideas that comes with working alongside a variety of people is also part of what I love about my job.”

What are you most excited for this school year?
“I look forward to getting to know my colleagues and the diversity of students we have in our programs. There are a lot of incredibly creative minds on our two campuses, and I’m eager to meet them and forge new relationships. Please reach out if you think we may have a common interest, or if you just want to say ‘hello!'”

What is one thing that you would like the college to know about you?
“While I didn’t go to school here, I have a history at UMN; my father earned both his undergraduate and law degrees from the U. Both of us were collegiate student-athletes, he played football and I ran track & field at Yale.

In my office, I have a picture of him holding the Little Brown Jug to his lips in triumph, his team having just defeated the University of Michigan for the honor. My father was part of a series of wins from 1960-1967 in the heyday of UMN football. His elated smile is accented with a pair of cracked front teeth, sustained in the victory.

I grew up surrounded by these stories and memorabilia from UMN. I am excited to be a part of this vibrant community!

Jessica Rossi-Mastracci

What do you like most about working in landscape architecture?
“I enjoy the multi-scalar approach and cross-disciplinary thinking that is inherent to landscape architecture.  Landscape architecture demands that you are able to constantly move between scales, from the territorial scale, such as landscape systems and infrastructure, down to detail design, looking at materiality, texture, and your experience of space. You are constantly working with and learning from other designers, engineers, artists, and others to weave in ideas of ecology, hydrology, mobility, energy, and other systems, while designing good public spaces that function urbanistically and experientially. I am interested in the experimental; looking at innovative materials, technologies, and ideas that create new types of public spaces and urban form.”

What are you most excited for in the coming school year?
“As my first year at the U, everything is a new and novel experience. I am most excited about getting lots of quality work out of my students ;-).”

What’s one thing you’d like students and the rest of the college to know about you?
“I’ve gotten into biking this past year and am hoping to turn it into a year-round activity, even in the snow!”

Vahan Misakyan

What do you like most about working in architecture?
“The field of architecture is a free movement space, despite all of its constraints. As an architect, you accumulate and maintain a condition of inner freedom, because of how vast your creative medium is and how distant your movement horizon is. The field then grants you the opportunity to materialize or articulate this inner freedom, as a way of multiplying it in the world where the freedom is scarce, and the horizon is imminent.”

What are you most excited for this school year?
“I start in the spring semester. So, unfortunately, I won’t be there at the beginning of the school year, but nonetheless, this is a new beginning for me, and the sense of discovery accompanies every beginning. So, I look forward to the ‘thinking-with’ that I can do with the students and the faculty. I look forward to discovering new ways of seeing.”

What is one thing that you would like the college to know about you?
“I’ll use this question to share an idea with you, I suppose. The word “architect” in Armenian, pronounced as “tchaṙtarapēt,” (tchaṙtar + pēt) has a different origin than the Greek “arkhitektōn,” basically, it doesn’t have the “tektōn” element and is about something more general than just building. Other than the conventional way, i.e., curator/director of artists, rhetoricians, and craftsmen, you could translate it as master of articulation or master of imagining. Having this kind of conception next to the prevailing one compels us to be at the vanguard of thinking about the status of the human in the data-centric world, not on the margins. I think, the abstract reality of data and cyber, that is more and more dominant in our world with its control rationales, lacks the form of thought and reflection that is architectural.”

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