STEM Career Showcase for Students with Disabilities: Speakers
Senior Manager of Accessibility and Applied Assistive Technology at SAS
Ed Summers is a blind software engineer and an accessibility specialist. He has a B.S. in Computer Science and 20 years of professional experience as a software developer and a development manager. Ed’s personal mission is to enable people with disabilities to realize their full potential in the classroom and the 21st century knowledge economy. He fulfills that mission as a leader in the software industry and disability-related not-for-profit organizations.
Ed leads the accessibility team at SAS Institute, the market leader in business analytics software and services that is used at over 50,000 sites in over 100 countries. The SAS accessibility team helps people of all abilities succeed using SAS software.
President, Prime Access Consulting
Sina Bahram is an accessibility researcher and consultant pursuing his PhD in the Department of Computer Science at North Carolina State University. His field of research is Human Computer Interaction (HCI) with a focus on the use of multi-modal approaches to facilitate eyes-free exploration of highly graphical information. Combining artificial intelligence, intelligent user interfaces (IUI), and HCI, Sina devises innovative and user-centered solutions to difficult real-world problems. In 2012, Sina was recognized as one of President Barack Obama's Champions of Change for his work in enabling users with disabilities to succeed in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields. You can read more about Sina and his interests on his website www.SinaBahram.com and blog blog.SinaBahram.com. He is @SinaBahram on Twitter.
Dean C. Hines
Scientist, Space Telescope Science Institute, and Adjunct Associate Professor, University of New Mexico
Dr. Dean C. Hines uses instruments aboard space telescopes to investigate active galaxies, quasars, stellar evolution, and the formation and evolution of planetary systems, including our solar system. He studied physics and astrophysics at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology where he received bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and then went on to obtain a doctorate in astronomy from the University of Texas at Austin. Hines was a post-doc at the University of Arizona and worked on the Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer, which was installed on the Hubble Space Telescope in 1997. Subsequently, he was appointed to the research faculty at Arizona where he worked on the Multiband Imaging Photometer for Spitzer, which was an instrument aboard the Spitzer Space Telescope launched in 2003. Hines is currently a scientist at the Space Telescope Science Institute where he is the team lead for the Mid-Infrared Instrument, which will be launched aboard the James Webb Space Telescope in 2018. In addition, Hines is an Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of New Mexico and a Senior Research Scientist with the Space Science Institute. He is a member of the American Astronomical Society and has co-authored more than 400 scientific contributions, with more than 140 appearing in peer-reviewed journals.
His father worked on earth resource satellites and systems for the Apollo program. At just six months old, Hines watched the Faith-7 Mercury launch and didn't miss a subsequent televised launch until well into the space shuttle program. In fourth grade, "A Wrinkle in Time" inspired him to become an astrophysicist. Hines has mild cerebral palsy, therefore, being an astronaut was not possible, but working in astronomy and astrophysics has been his ticket to the stars.
Assistant Professor, College of Design, North Carolina State University
Justin LeBlanc is from Raleigh, NC, and was educated in Wake County Public Schools, attending A.B. Combs Elementary School, Martin Middle School and Broughton High School. Justin was diagnosed with a severe-profound sensorineural hearing loss at age one. Throughout his K-12 schooling, Justin was mainstreamed in regular education classes with the assistance of a sign language interpreter. Justin received a cochlear implant at age 18. He is fluent in American Sign Language.
After graduating from Broughton, Justin attended North Carolina State University and received a degree in Architecture in 2009. During the end of his architecture studies Justin developed his passion for fashion design after competing in NCSU’s annual Art2Wear fashion show. Following his passion, he pursued graduate studies and received a Master of Design in Fashion, Body, & Garment from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2012.
Justin was the first deaf contestant and a finalist on the Lifetime television production Project Runway Season 12. His fashion designs earned him a showing at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York in August 2013. Justin’s collection was entitled “Sound Waves.” It reflected his journey from deafness, represented by pure and simple white garments, to the chaos of sound, represented by garments accentuated with depictions of sound waves, random splashes of white, and elaborate 3-D printed accessories, to his ultimate reconciliation with sound, dramatically depicted by a gown made from Pipette Tips that sounded like rain as the model walked.
Justin credits his deafness with enhancing his design abilities. He believes that being deaf has made him a more visual person — he depends on sight in order to understand people and the world around him. He says being a visual person naturally drew him to design, and fashion design allows him to express his creativity.
Rehabilitation Engineer and Graduate Student, Georgia Tech
Vincent Martin has diverse work background. He has multiple engineering degrees and a degree in psychology with an emphasis in engineering psychology. Vincent has been a practicing rehabilitation engineer for the past 20 years and was last employed as a Research Health Scientist at the Veterans Administration Research and Development Center of Excellence for Aging Veterans with Vision Loss. He continues to work as a usability and accessibility consultant for some of the largest technology and Fortune 500 companies. Currently he is pursuing PhD studies at Georgia Tech. His pursuits led him to a master’s degree in human-computer interaction and will culminate with his dissertation research work in the field of human-centered computing. Vincent is the first totally blind graduate student in the history of Georgia Tech. He also is a retired Paralympian who competed in track and field in the pentathlon and discus throw in 1996, 2000 and 2004.
Research Assistant, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Johns Hopkins University
Lindsay Yazzolino is a research assistant at Johns Hopkins University in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. Lindsay completed her undergraduate degree in cognitive science from Brown University and, during this time, she began to pursue her current research interests, which combine her lifelong passion for science with her personal experience of being totally blind from birth. She focuses on investigating how experience, particularly blindness, affects the development of higher-level cognitive processes, such as language, reading, memory and concept representation, and their organization in the brain. As a blind researcher, Lindsay also seeks to promote full participation of blind people in pursuing science careers, as well as increase the exchange of knowledge and ideas between the scientific and blind communities. She has spoken to numerous groups of students, educators and parents of blind children to discuss her work, as well as to emphasize that blindness need not limit one’s career choices, independence and personal fulfillment. Outside of the lab, Lindsay enjoys air travel and keeping up with the latest technology, as well as espresso, thrill rides and the occasional practical joke. She can be reached on Twitter @GrammarGlamor.