College Educators (O-R)

There are scores of SYAers whose careers are focused on early childhood, academia and community-centered instruction.

Following is the second installment of SYAers who teach at the college level, with last names beginning with O-R.

SYAers teaching at the college level

Susanna O'Kula ES’05 is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Neurology at SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University. She joined the faculty in 2021 after completing a two-year clinical and research epilepsy fellowship at NYU. She holds a bachelor’s in English literature from Columbia University, where she graduated summa cum laude, and earned her medical degree from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. During her neurology residency at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, she was selected to participate in the Healthcare Leadership in Quality track. Her clinical expertise includes the diagnosis and treatment of patients with epilepsy and seizure disorders. Susanna is the SUNY Hub’s NeuroNEXT Fellow (2022-2023) and is a member of the American Epilepsy Society and the American Academy of Neurology.

Aleja Ortiz IT’06 is a coastal geomorphologist interested in understanding the primary processes driving coastal evolution over the next century. An assistant professor of geology at Colby College, she uses a mix of numerical modeling, remote sensing, physical modeling and site-specific fieldwork to understand what our coastlines will look like in the next 1,000 years. Aleja was interviewed for an article titled “A Brighter Future for Coral Reef Islands” that appeared in Eos, a source of news and science for the American Geophysical Union. The article reports on new research that shows low-lying coral reef island may be more resilient to rising ocean levels than previously thought. She attended SYA as a senior from Ransom Everglades School, received her bachelor’s from Wellesley College, master’s from MIT and research doctorate from MIT and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Prior to her appointment at Colby, Aleja was an assistant professor at North Carolina State University, where she retains adjunct status. Along with her mom, Lora Fleming ES’73, she participated in an SYA alum panel on Earth Day ‘21. Watch the recording.

Kirsten Ostherr ES’87 is the Gladys Louise Professor of English Chair and Director of Medical Humanities at Rice University. Her research on trust and privacy in digital health ecosystems has been featured in Slate, The Washington Post, Big Data & Society and Catalyst. She has recently published research on medical humanities and artificial intelligence in The Journal of Medical Humanities, and her writing on COVID-19 has been featured in Inside Higher Ed and in American Literature. She is currently leading a multidisciplinary project called "Translational Humanities for Public Health" that will identify humanities-based (and humanities-inspired) responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, to document and help others build upon these creative efforts. Kirsten attended SYA Spain as a junior from Phillips Academy, earned her bachelor’s at Reed College, doctorate at Brown and MPH at UT-Houston School of Public Health. Read more.

Tony Patera FR’74 is the Ford Professor of Engineering, professor of mechanical engineering and co-director of the Center for Computational Engineering at MIT. He has published over 100 publications on scientific and engineering computation, computational methods and numerical analysis, parallel processing and optimization. He has been honored with several awards, including the Giovanni Sacchi-Landriani Prize from the Lombardy Academy of Arts and Sciences and MIT’s School of Engineering Professor of Teaching Innovation, a chair that recognizes teaching excellence and supports initiatives in research and teaching programs. He is a long-standing member of the Defense Sciences Research Council. Tony attended Phillips Academy and earned his bachelor’s, master’s and PhD degrees from MIT.

Ted Pease FR’72 is an emeritus professor and former head of the Department of Journalism and Communication at Utah State University (USU). In 2013, the university created an award named for the long-time journalism educator, called the Ted Pease Award. Ted was the first recipient. It is given annually in recognition of individuals whose careers exemplify service to journalism. Since his retirement from USU in 2016, he has been editor of Senior News, a monthly community newspaper circulating 10,000 in Humboldt County, CA. He attended SYA as a junior from Phillips Academy, received his bachelor’s from the University of New Hampshire, master’s in journalism from Minnesota and doctorate from Ohio University.

Jack Peltz FR’91 is an assistant professor of psychology at Daemen College. His research is in developmental psychopathology, with a specific emphasis on sleep with interest in the family system and how family dynamics affect individuals' functioning within the family. Prior to teaching at Daemen, Jack taught at Hobart and William Smith Colleges and University of Rochester; was a professional snowboard instructor; and high school humanities, French and health teacher. He attended SYA as a junior from the Taft School and received his bachelor’s from Middlebury, master’s from Tufts and his PhD from the University of Rochester.

Catherine Pitt FR’99 is an associate professor of health economics at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, with a focus on economic evaluation and health financing. After completing her BA at Yale in history and international studies, Pitt worked with health-focused development and humanitarian NGOs in Rwanda, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Pakistani-Administered Kashmir and the Central African Republic. She attended SYA as a junior from the Brearley School (NY) and earned her master’s and PhD degrees from LSHTM.

Annie Postman FR’78 is an adjunct assistant professor in screenwriting at USC in Los Angeles where she teaches both undergraduate and graduate students how to write (and rewrite) for the screen: scenes, short films and features. She was a writer on “My Crazy Ex,” a weekly series on the Lifetime Movie Network. Prior to USC, she taught at Loyola Marymount University. Annie attended SYA as a junior from Phillips Exeter Academy and received her bachelor’s from Yale, master’s from the University of Oxford and master’s in cinema production from USC School of Cinematic Arts.

Emma Smith Ready ES’98 is a visiting lecturer of Latin American, Latino and Iberian Studies at the University of Richmond. Her areas of expertise are in 19th- and 20th- century Spanish and Catalan literature, transatlantic print culture and Spanish language pedagogy. She attended SYA as a junior from Phillips Exeter Academy and received her bachelor's and master's degrees from UVA and PhD from NYU.

Dylan Rogers IT’03 on faculty as a postdoctoral scholar in the department of Classics at FSU. Prior, he was a lecturer in Roman Art and Archaeology at UVA and an assistant director at the American School of Classical Studies in Athens. He specializes in Roman fountains and urbanism, particularly in the Roman East. An author, his book Water Culture in Roman Society begins to define the term “water culture” for ancient Roman society. Dylan attended SYA as a junior from Maury High School (VA) and received his bachelor's from Tulane and PhD from UVA.  Read more.

Paul Romer FR’73 is a professor of economics at NYU, a policy entrepreneur and a co-recipient of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for his work “integrating technological innovations into long-run macroeconomic analysis,” which integrated ideas and innovation into economic models for the first time, making clear the societal benefits possible when people join and collaborate in new ways. During his tenure as professor at NYU’s Stern School of Business, he was also the senior vice president and chief economist at The World Bank (2016-2018). In 2020 he became affiliated with NYU’s School of Law and the College of Arts and Science. He attended SYA as a senior from Phillips Exeter Academy, received his bachelor’s and PhD from the University of Chicago.

Kristi Roney FR’92 FR’22P is an Assistant Professor of French at Washington and Lee University. She returned to her passion for French literature following a career in finance and accounting. Kristi leverages her diverse academic background by studying literature from a historical-economic perspective. Her monograph in-progress focuses on the 19th century and Industrial Revolution, looking at the birth of modern finance through the literature of Honoré de Balzac. She attended SYA as a senior from the Holderness School and earned her bachelor’s from Lehigh. In addition to her master's and PhD degrees in French literature from the University of Kansas, she holds a Master of Taxation from Arizona State and maintains active licensure as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).

Des Runyan ES’67 is professor emeritus in the Department of Epidemiology, Pediatric Kempe Center of the Colorado School of Public Health and a professor at the University of Colorado Denver - Anschutz Medical Campus. A former National Program Director at Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars, he currently serves on the National Foundation to End Child Abuse and Neglect (EndCAN)  Des attended Wilton High School (CT), received his bachelor's from Macalester College; his MPH from the UMinn; PhD from UNC and doctor of medicine from UMinn.

Joellen Russell FR’88 is an oceanographer, climate scientist, University Distinguished Professor in Biogeochemical Dynamics and the Thomas R. Brown Distinguished Chair of Integrative Science at the University of Arizona. Her research uses robot floats, satellites and supercomputers to observe and predict the ocean’s role in the climate and carbon cycle of the past, the present and the future. Her insight solved one of the long-standing climate paradoxes, the mechanism responsible for transferring one-third of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere into the ocean and then back out again during our repeated glacial-interglacial cycles. She is one of the authors of the climate scientists’ amicus brief cited in the landmark 2007 Massachusetts vs the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) Supreme Court decision that ruled that carbon dioxide is a pollutant covered under the Clean Air Act and must be regulated by the EPA. Joellen attended SYA as junior from St. Paul’s School before receiving her bachelor’s from Harvard and PhD in oceanography from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego.

Kristi Roney FR'92 FR'22P