Carnegie Mellon University

Grand Challenge Seminars Core Faculty

Core faculty in the Grand Challenge Seminar Program include members of the National Academy of Sciences, Hastings Center Fellows, recipients of National Endowment for the Arts Grants, prize-winning scholars and teachers from across Dietrich College and the CMU community.

A distinct feature of the Grand Challenge Seminar Program is that seminars are proposed by the faculty who deliver the courses. These experts attend to the seminar themes in their own research and bring these findings and ongoing inquiries to the classroom. Students have an opportunity to choose a seminar on a topic that sparks their curiosity. They learn from faculty who are driven, focused and passionate about the course topics. Each seminar includes the application of theoretical research to the real world, inquiry-based learning and collaboration with thinkers from a variety of disciplines.

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Beyond Earth

peter-freeman.jpgPeter Freeman

Peter Freeman, an assistant teaching professor in the Department of Statistics & Data Science, holds a Ph.D. in astrophysics from the University of Chicago. He pursues interests both in the interdisciplinary field of astrostatistics and in providing opportunities for undergraduate research, both in the classroom (36-290 and 36-490) and with industry partners (36-497).

thomas-werner.jpgTom Werner
Philosophy (Linguistics)

Tom Werner has taught classes in linguistics at CMU ranging from phonology to syntax to semantics to interstellar linguistics. His research interests are focused on the problem of deciphering and teaching languages ostensively -- that is without the aid of an intermediary translation language.

Culture, Sports, and Conflict and VR

korryn-mozisek.jpgKorryn Mozisek

Korryn Mozisek is a special faculty member in English and Director of Integrative Learning in the Office of the Vice Provost for Education. As a rhetorician and sports fan, Korryn Mozisek studies the ways we create and reinforce the cultural importance of sport through discourse.

sebastien-dubreil.jpgSébastien Dubreil
Modern Languages

Dr. Sébastien Dubreil is Teaching Professor of French and Francophone Studies, Second Language Acquisition, and Technology-Enhanced Learning at Carnegie Mellon University. Specializing in CALL, his research interests focus on the use of technology in fostering transcultural learning. His most recent research examines the notions of social pedagogies, linguistic landscapes, and game-based language and culture learning.

Democracy & Data

doug-coulson-800x800.jpgDoug Coulson

Doug Coulson is an Assistant Professor of English who studies rhetoric of law, authority, and legitimacy. Doug teaches courses like “Law and Blame” and “Race, Nation, and the Enemy,” among others.

quesenberry_jeria.jpgJeria Quesenberry
Information Systems

Jeria Quesenberry is a teaching professor in the Information Systems Program and the associate dean of faculty in the Dietrich College. Her research interests focus on the influence of culture on the computing profession, including topics of social inclusion, broadening participation, career values, and organizational interventions.

Designing Better Human-AI Futures


Rayid Ghani
Heinz College

Rayid Ghani is a Distinguished Career Professor in the Machine Learning Department and the Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy with a particular interest in increasing the use of large-scale AI/Machine Learning /Data Science in solving large public policy and social challenges in a fair and equitable manner.


Molly Steenson
College of Fine Arts

Molly Steenson is the Senior Associate Dean for Research for the College of Fine Arts and an Associate Professor in the School of Design. Her recent publication explores the radical history of design, architecture, AI, and cybernetics from the 1950s to the present.


Conrad Tucker
College of Engineering

Conrad Tucker is the Arthur Hamerschlag Career Development Professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department. His research focuses on the design and optimization of systems through the acquisition, integration, and mining of large scale, disparate data.

Environmental Justice

neil-donohue.jpgNeil Donohue
Chemical Engineering

Neil Donahue is a world expert in the behavior of organic compounds in Earth’s atmosphere, especially formation of organic aerosols and their role in public health and climate. He is a native of Pittsburgh with a degree in Physics from Brown University and a PhD in Meteorology from MIT.

catalina-arango-correa-800x800-min.jpgCatalina Arango Correa
Modern Languages

Catalina Arango Correa is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Modern Languages. Her teaching and research look at how Latin American Cultural Production has presented the construction of the present world-ecology–including climate change–during the XX and XXI centuries, as well as the way it has imagined intricate and relational worlds between humans and non-humans, communities and ecosystems.

Health in Unhealthy Times: Preventing, Managing, and Living with Health Risks


Jason D’Antonio
Biological Sciences

Jason D’Antonio is an Assistant Teaching Professor in the Biology department teaching a wide range of courses from introductory to advanced. He is also the Director of the Health Professions Program, advising all CMU students pursuing a career in the health professions.


Julie Downs
Social and Decision Sciences

Julie Downs is an Associate Professor in the Social and Decision Sciences department with a wide array of research interests, some of which focus on how people use information and cues in the environment to make decisions about food and nutrition; and how technology can accentuate daily risks and associated decision making.


Andreaa Ritivoi

Andreea Ritivoi is the Head of the Department of English and a Professor of English with interests in global communication and applied translation, professional writing, and rhetoric.

Native Americas: Facts and Fictions

eiss_800x800.jpegPaul Eiss

Paul Eiss is an Associate Professor in the Department of History, teaching anthropology and history through a variety of courses. He is working on three research projects currently.

anne-lambright.jpegAnne Lambright
Modern Languages

Anne Lambright is the Head of the Department of Modern Languages and a Professor of Hispanic Studies who passionate about social justice and human rights and is drawn to creative cultural production – literature, film, performance, and visual arts – as sites of resistance.

Palestinian and Israeli Food Cultures

nevine-abraham.jpgNevine Abraham
Modern Languages

Nevine has taught courses on French and Arabic language, culture, and film, connecting American and Arab students via virtual exchange sessions. She pursues interests in contemporary Arab societies and Arabic literature, with focus on identity, community, and religion.

friedman_800x800.jpgMichal Friedman

Michal Friedman specializes in Jewish Diasporic history, especially that of Sephardic and Spanish speaking Jewish communities, and in Spanish history and culture.

Science on Stage

marlene-behrmann-800x800.jpegMarlene Behrmann

Marlene Behrmann is the Thomas S. Baker University Professor of Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience who specializes in the cognitive basis of visual perception. She also runs the Berhmann Lab on campus.

sharon-dilworth-800x800-min.jpegSharon Dilworth

Sharon Dilworth is an Associate Professor of English and the Director of the Creative Writing Program. She teaches courses in Screenwriting and Fiction and has many published plays and novels.

Unreality: Immersive and Spatial Media

lauren-herckis.jpgLauren Herckis
Dean's Office

Lauren Herckis is an anthropologist who specializes in faculty culture and the use of technology in higher education. Her field research applies anthropological and archaeological methods and theory to analyze human engagement in the relationship between technological and social change.

tom-corbett.jpgTom Corbett
Integrative Design, Arts, and Technology

Tom Corbett is an instructor in Carnegie Mellon's Entertainment Technology Center. He teaches courses related to Intelligent Environments, Game Design, Media Design, and Physical Computing for IDeATe.

We’re Not Beyond Race: Race and Identity in America

kevin-jarbo-800x800.jpegKevin Jarbo
Social and Decision Sciences

Kevin Jarbo is joining the Dietrich faculty as an Assistant Professor in the Social and Decision Sciences department in Fall 2021, and will focus his research on how stereotypes influence interpersonal experiences and interactions in academic settings.

manke800x800.jpegKody Manke
Social and Decision Sciences

Kody Manke is an Assistant Teaching professor in the Social and Decision Sciences department with a particular interest in social justice and inequality and how we might use social psychology to understand and address the issues. Kody also runs the Data Drive Diversity (D3) Lab on campus.