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Because Play Matters Affiliates & Staff

Faculty Affiliates Network


Scott Nicholson, Director

Scott Nicholson is an Associate Professor at the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University. He started the Library Game Lab of Syracuse in 2008, and rebranded that lab into Because Play Matters in 2012 after returning from a sabbatical at MIT, where he worked with the GAMBIT game lab as a visiting professor. He is a published board game designer and was the host of Board Games with Scott from 2005-2010.


Marcene Sonneborn, Faculty Affiliate

Marcene Sonneborn is an Assistant Professor of Practice in the iSchool as of August 2012, teaching courses in entrepreneurship and creativity. She has used game development in her EEE 378 Imagination course in the Whitman School and in corporations such as Proctor & Gamble and other Fortune 500 companies for new product development. Marcie has worked with multiple companies to develop games as a medium for training and collaborative decision-making.




Chris Hanson, Faculty Affiliate

Chris Hanson is an Assistant Professor of English at Syracuse University, where he has taught courses on new media, digital games, television, genre, and media theory. Both his teaching and research agenda are influenced by his ten years of professional experience in video game design, software developments, and the production of educational video content for PBS. He serves as the faculty advisor to the Game Studies reading group. His current research interests include the art games movement, temporality, digital scholarship, and the relationship between industrial and avant-garde modes of game production.

Keith Giglio, Faculty Affiliate

Screenwriter and producer Keith Giglio has worked on such projects as “Joshua,” “Noah,” “Return to Halloweentown,” Walt Disney’s “Tarzan,” “Pizza My Heart,” ”A Cinderella Story” and “Another Cinderella Story.” He has written for Paramount, Walt Disney, Universal, Warner Brothers, Spyglass, Walden, Tokyopop and Platinum Studios. A member of the Writer’s Guild of America, he is also president of Laughing Gas Productions, which works with non-established screenwriters. He was previously a narrative designer on video games for Spinmaster Entertainment, and a writer’s assistant to Andy Breckman (“Saturday Night Live,” “Monk”).




Carsten Oesterlund, Faculty Affiliate

Carsten Østerlund is an Associate Professor at the iSchool at Syracuse University. His research explores the organization, creation, and use of documents in distributed environments where people’s daily practices are characterized by high mobility. He studies the interplay between social and material structures and how they together facilitate work, play and learning. For instance, he studies game design with an emphasis on how designers mold social and material structures to create specific situations for work, play and learning that involves specific configurations of people, places, times and activities. Empirically he studies these issues through in-depth qualitative and quantitative studies of everyday work practices in organizations. 


Marjory Baruch, Faculty Affiliate

Marjory Baruch is an Adjunct Associate Professor for the L.C. Smith College of Engineering and Computer Science.  Marjory teaches courses in computer graphics and is involved with a program at Boston College where young people explore the creative world of mathematics.




Denise Heckman, Faculty Affiliate
Before joining the faculty of the industrial and interaction design program at Syracuse University, Denise Heckman began her career at Hallmark Cards and then spent the greater part of the late 1990s in the technology ghettos of Seattle. She co-founded Motive Design Research, a design and consulting firm whose clients included Hewlett Packard, PhotoDisc, Adobe, and K2 Skis/Olen. She worked as both a designer and as a design researcher for startup companies, biotech, medical, consumer products, and arts organizations.
She currently teaches courses on design research, interaction design, and principles of industrial design. Ms. Heckman holds a B.F.A. from Kansas City Art Institute and an M.F.A. from Cranbrook Academy of Art.


Annina Rüst, Faculty Affiliate
Annina Rüst produces electronic objects and software art. Her projects explore the intersection of activism, algorithm, data, electricity, humor, politics, and pop culture. Annina's current research focuses on feminist technology. Specifically, she is interested in gender dynamics in technical work places. The goal of the research effort is to build technologies that intervene in these environments. In addition to that, Annina is also presently involved in building some experimental disco display devices.


Charisse L'Pree, Faculty Affiliate
My work focuses on how media affects the way we think about ourselves and our perceptions of others. Trained in social psychology and critical media studies, I examine the intersection of communication and psychology to assess how media images and narratives affect viewer identity, attitudes and behaviors, and how individuals use traditional, new and interactive media to express themselves and connect with others. My current research investigates the psychological effects of intersectional identities, the media's role in personal and social identity conflict, and how these effects can be harnessed to create media that elevates and educates.


Alan Foley, Faculty Affiliate

Alan Foley is an associate professor in Instructional Technology for the School of Education at Syracuse University.  Alan's teaching areas include assistive technologies, educational video production, instructional and learning space design, and web accessibility/usability. His research interests lie at the intersection of learner experience, disability, identity, and educational technologies.


Jennifer Stromer-Galley, Faculty Affiliate

Jenny Stromer-Galley is an Associate Professor in the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University. She has been studying "social media" since before it was called social media, studying online chat, political deliberation, and multi-player online games. Her research focuses on aspects of educational games that might improve learning.


Rebecca Xu, Faculty Affiliate
Rebecca Ruige Xu currently teaches computer art and animation as an Associate Professor in College of Visual and Performing Arts at Syracuse University. Her artwork and research areas include interactive installations, experimental animation, visual music, artistic data visualization, and virtual reality. She also has strong teaching interests in collaboration in game development within the academic environment, and has years of experience working with students from multiple disciplines on video games, online games and mobile games.


Melissa Peterson, Research Affiliate

Melissa brings a background in cognitive science and free-choice science education to her work as a games-based learning researcher. She take a constructivist view of education, believing that effective learning experiences allow learners to try new things and inhabit new roles. This has given her work a strong focus on exploratory, creative-output and problem-based experiences. She is interested in leveraging games to remind all ages that STEM learning is fun and to increase the number of mad scientists in the world.