Sharon Sputz
Executive Director of Strategic Programs
(212) 854-6966, office
(201) 787-6746, mobile
1401 Northwest Corner Building

Sharon has combined experience in business strategy and technical research. Prior to joining the Data Science Institute in 2014, Sharon spent 11 years at BAE Systems identifying and pursuing new business opportunities in leading edge technology. She began her career at Bell Laboratories managing and coordinating material characterization as well as developing new and innovative tools. Sharon moved on to become the strategic marketing manager at Lucent/Agere with a variety of responsibilities, from leading the technical evaluation of merger and acquisition candidates to defining product planning for the optical networking group and components. Sharon received a B.S. in physics from State University of New York at Binghamton and an M.S. in physics from Stevens Institute of Technology.

Jessica RodriguezJessica Rodriguez
Industry Engagement and Outreach Officer
(212) 853-1787
1401 Northwest Corner Building

Jessica joined the Data Science Institute in January 2018.  She provides oversight for all events and special programs in the Institute’s portfolio.  She previously served the Department of Electrical Engineering at Columbia Engineering for eight years as external relations and communications manager. She earned a B.A. in comparative literature from UCLA in 2007. She began her higher education administration career as faculty support staff at UCLA's Anderson School of Management. In her spare time, Jessica enjoys reading, writing, exploring NYC’s small neighborhood gems, and spoiling her dog BooBoo and cat Rosie as much as possible.



Ralph Scala
Ralph Scala
Director of Development
(212) 853-1360
622 West 113th Street

Ralph joined the Office of Alumni and Development in November 2017 to lead a comprehensive cross-campus fundraising effort for the Data Science Institute (DSI). Working in close partnership with DSI director Jeannette Wing as well as faculty and staff, Ralph creates and manages a development plan to support the Institute and Columbia's strategic mission and goals.  He has more than 28 years of development-related experience at five leading universities and two prestigious arts organizations.  Ralph received his B.S. in industrial engineering and M.B.A. from Binghamton University, State University of New York.


Brianne Cortese
Assistant Director of Admissions and Academic Affairs
(212) 854-0310
431 S.W. Mudd

Brianne initially joined the Data Science Institute in 2014 as program coordinator. In her current role, she promotes the Institute’s academic offerings through recruitment activities, information sessions, and advising prospective and current graduate students. Brianne provides strategic day-to-day support for the Institute's academic affairs, and she contributes to the ongoing expansion of the Institute's educational offerings. Prior to joining DSI, Brianne was an assistant director of graduate admissions at William Paterson University of New Jersey.

John Hyde
Assistant Director of Career Development and Alumni Services
(212) 583-2529
431 S.W. Mudd

Prior to joining the Data Science Institute at Columbia, John was dean and executive director of career services at New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) for 12 years. He previously served as NYIT’s director of employer relations and a member of the senior leadership team within the Division of Student Affairs. John received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Alfred University in western New York where he was a four-year varsity student athlete in soccer and swimming and earned both all-conference and All-American honors. He lives in Connecticut with his wife Robin.


Violet Yin
Student Affairs Officer
(212) 854-9325

Violet joined the Data Science Institute in July 2019. She works closely with the assistant director for admissions and academic affairs and the assistant director of student services and career development. Violet graduated from Teachers College (TC), Columbia University with an M.A. in higher and postsecondary education in May 2019. While she was studying at TC, she worked as a graduate assistant for the Office of Graduate Student Affairs for the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science. Violet dedicates herself to work with diverse student populations. She wishes to use her own international student experiences to support international students success in the American higher education system. Besides her passion in student engagement, Violet is an oil painter. She received her B.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2017. You may find her wandering through various galleries and museums in New York City.


Jonathan Stark
Chief Administrative and Operations Officer
(212) 854-6370
1401 Northwest Corner Building

Jonathan has 15 years of professional experience working in higher education. As the Data Science Institute’s chief administrative and operations officer, he has managerial responsibilities for human resources, finance, space, facilities, and information technology, and supports the Institute's broad portfolio of educational, research, and outreach programs. In this role, Jonathan also serves on the Institute's leadership team helping with strategic planning and execution. From 2013-2017, he served as the Institute's director of operations.  Prior to joining the Institute, he served as assistant dean of graduate student and postdoctoral affairs (2011-2013) and student affairs officer (2005-2011) for the Office of Graduate Student Affairs for the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science. His expertise includes academic administration, student development and advising, conflict resolution, university admissions, event planning, and management. Jonathan holds a B.A. in psychology from Western Connecticut State University, an M.A. in applied organizational psychology from Fairfield University, and an M.A. in higher education from Teachers College of Columbia University.  He is currently pursuing his Ed.D. in higher education management from the University of Pennsylvania. In his spare time, Jonathan performs regularly as a bassoonist and clarinetist with a number of local community orchestras and music ensembles.

Brendan Feifer
Assistant Director of HR and Operations
(212) 853-0935
1401 Northwest Corner Building

Brendan is responsible for ensuring the Data Science Institute’s talent pool and administrative practices and policies are delivered efficiently and effectively. Prior to joining the Institute, Brendan worked as director of human resources and operations at Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. Brendan holds a B.S. in business administration from Towson University and a master's degree in labor relations and human resources Management from New York Institute of Technology. In 2016 Brendan also received his certified professional accreditation from the Society of Human Resource Management. In his spare time, Brendan enjoys spending time with his family, traveling, and fishing on the Great South Bay. 

Leslie Barna
Executive Assistant
(212) 853-1785
1401 Northwest Corner Building

Leslie is executive assistant to the Avanessians Director of the Data Science Institute, Jeannette M. Wing. She initially joined the Institute as assistant director of operations in August 2014. Leslie has been with Columbia University since 2010 when she started as executive assistant to the vice dean of the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science. In 2011, she was promoted to assistant director of academic and faculty affairs and in 2013 served as department administrator for the Department of Earth and Environmental Engineering. Prior to joining the Columbia community, she spent five years in the Tampa Bay area as a support specialist with Raymond James Financial Services and later as a curriculum support specialist with St. Petersburg College before returning to her hometown of Brooklyn, New York. Leslie holds a B.A. in sociology from SUNY Albany. In her spare time, she enjoys Netflix binges, perfecting her golf swing, traveling, and adoring her rescue dog, Lucy.

Alexis Avedisian
Manager, Events and Special Programs
(401) 636-1208
1401 Northwest Corner Building

Alexis joined the Data Science Institute in January 2020. She previously worked at NYC Media Lab, hosted by New York University's Tandon School of Engineering, where she served as communications and events manager. She helped to produce more than 15 yearly events with corporate members, universities, and entrepreneurs. Alexis holds a master's degree in arts administration from New York University and a bachelor's degree in fine arts from Tufts University.

Sharnice Ottley
Program Coordinator
(212) 853-1322
407 S.W. Mudd

Sharnice joined the Data Science Institute as a program coordinator in September 2016. She has an extensive background in event planning and design, communications, and administration. As program coordinator, Sharnice works closely with the manager of events and special programs to plan and execute DSI's monthly and annual events. She also manages the Institute's spaces across campus. Sharnice received her B.A. in visual arts administration and communications from Baruch College in 2015. 




 Amber E.H. Tingle
Amber E.H. Tingle
Executive Director
of Strategic Communications
and Media Relations
(347) 346-0659

Amber joined the Data Science Institute at Columbia University in October 2019 with extensive experience in public relations, media relations, content development, and creative direction. She previously served as a director of communications in the State University of New York system, public relations specialist for Rutgers University, beauty and accessories editor for Uptown Magazine, and content producer for Harriette Cole Media. Amber is also a “triple threat” performer with Broadway, off-Broadway, television, and film credits. She is an alumna of Howard University (B.A., summa cum laude, journalism) and the University of Pennsylvania (M.A., communication) and an active member of Actors’ Equity Association, SAG-AFTRA, MasterVoices, and The Links, Inc.

Peter Plotica
Manager of Web
and Digital Design
(212) 851-4245
1401 Northwest Corner Building

Peter joined the Data Science Institute in September 2019. He is an experienced multimedia designer with a history of working in education, international affairs, and tech industries. At the DSI, he is responsible for managing and further developing the institute's brand and digital content across various websites, social media channels, and for multifarious events and presentations.



Robert Florida
Assistant Director of Strategic Communications and Media Relations
(201) 725-6435, mobile
320I Interchurch

Robert is a writer who delights in turning complex scientific research into plain and simple English. It’s his job to promote the Institute’s myriad successes, which include pioneering research, educating the next generation of data scientists and collaborating with industry partners. As assistant director of strategic communications and media relations, Robert focuses on the Institute’s harnessing of data to foster innovation, solve societal problems and develop New York City as a thriving tech center. Before DSI, Robert was a staff writer for Columbia University’s Teachers College, where he promoted the college’s effort to improve education and eliminate inequality in America’s schools. And before Teachers College, he worked at New Jersey Institute of Technology for 15 years as a writer and public relations director. He wrote about STEM research, humanitarian engineering and the success of first-generation students. He has a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism and a master’s in literature from Middlebury College. He also studied English literature at Oxford University’s Lincoln College. While a journalist, he worked at daily newspapers, weeklies and magazines in the metro region. He also taught journalism and writing at three colleges.


Daniel Alicea
Associate Director of Finance and Grants Management
(646) 745-8470
320E Interchurch

Daniel has been with Columbia University for more than a decade working in various positions at the university's Medical Center and Morningside Campus. As associate director of finance and grants management, he works closely with the director of operations, managing the financial aspects of the institute, including setting up the financial structure of the Institute, assisting with sponsored project proposal budgets, coordinating with the Institute's centers on their financial needs, and other day-to-day financial matters.

Mark A. Habana
Associate Director of Research and Grants Development
(646) 745-8469
320D Interchurch

Mark joined the Data Science Institute in January 2016 tasked with building the Institute's grants portfolio in both public and private sector funding. He began his professional career as an analytical chemist at Nabisco and Kraft's research and development organization, where he was involved in both research projects and company diversity initiatives. An eventual career transition led to positions at Liberty Science Center, Columbia, and NYU School of Medicine in the areas of grant fundraising and sponsored projects administration. Mark received a bachelor's degree in biology and English from The College of New Jersey. He also received his M.P.A. in nonprofit management from Seton Hall University and an M.S. in fundraising management from Columbia.

Eulalia Santin
Associate Director of Finance and Grants Management
(646) 745-8476
320-I Interchurch

Eulalia joined the Data Science Institute in December 2019 with extensive experience in post-award financial and compliance oversight of sponsored and non-sponsored awards. Prior to joining DSI, Eulalia served as finance and grant administration manager for the Institute for Genomic Medicine at Columbia University, and as grants manager for the Department of Medicine at Mount Sinai St. Luke's & Roosevelt Hospitals. In her spare time, Eulalia enjoys spending time with her family and pets, traveling, and exploring local events and restaurants.

Eileen Irizarry
Finance and Grants Analyst
(212) 851-2727
431 S.W. Mudd

Eileen joined the Data Science Institute as financial coordinator in January 2015. She works closely with the business manager and assists with grants management and the day-to-day financial needs. Eileen started at Columbia University in 2012 as administrative assistant in the Department of Earth and Environmental Engineering and became financial assistant in 2013. Prior to joining Columbia University, she spent two years as a college assistant in the Department of Psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice while earning a B.A. and M.A. in forensic psychology.

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