Season 8: Management and Leadership

This season, hosts Emma Bortz and Alyssa Kreikemeier guide us through a series of conversations about leadership and management. Their guests range from theorists and practitioners to engineers, historians, and scientists. Conversations cover the practical and the philosophical, exploring how to apply doctoral training to meaningful work and probing the sources and impacts of inequities in our society.

Emma Bortz is a PhD candidate in biomedical engineering at BU. Her research in Dr. Xue Han’s lab explores how ultrasound can modulate the activity of neurons. At BU, Emma is involved in Graduate Women in Science and Engineering (GWISE) and runs a mentoring program. Emma also works with Nucleate, a nonprofit dedicated to accessible entrepreneurial education in the life sciences. Outside of the lab, Emma loves skiing, hiking, and cooking.

Alyssa Kreikemeier is a PhD candidate in American Studies with a background in education and the public humanities. Aly’s dissertation is an environmental history of air in the 20th century US West. Her research interests include environmental humanities, visual and material culture, and Native American and Indigenous Studies. ​​Prior to graduate school, Alyssa worked in education, non profits, and research. She also holds an EdM from Harvard University where she studied civic engagement, community based research, and arts-based-education.




Season 8, Episode 1: Thinking about Thinking: Harnessing Metacognition in Learning and Life

In this week’s episode, Emma and Aly start off their season with a conversation with Dr. Shari Tishman. Dr. Tishman is a Senior Research Associate at Project Zero, Harvard Graduate School of Education. Her research focuses on the teaching of thinking, the role of close observation in learning, and learning in and through the arts. This week’s episodes discusses how to utilize tools within the field of metacognition in teaching and leadership, along with how to continue your personal learning and growth in the teaching field.

Shari Tishman is a Senior Research Associate at Project Zero, Harvard Graduate School of Education. Her research focuses on the teaching of thinking, the role of close observation in learning, and learning in and through the arts. She recently co-directed Arts as Civic Commons, a project that explores the power of art to spark civic inquiry and dialogue. She also co-directs Out of Eden Learn, a digital cultural exchange program in which students from diverse settings around the come together online to exchange perspectives and learn about each other and the world. Past notable projects include Agency by Design, which explores the promises, practices, and pedagogies of maker-centered learning; Visible Thinking, a dispositional approach to teaching thinking that foregrounds the use of thinking routines, and Artful Thinking, a related approach that emphasizes the development of thinking dispositions through looking at art. The author of numerous books and articles, Shari Tishman’s most recent book is Slow Looking: The Art and Practice of Learning Through Observation.

Season 8, Episode 2: Innovation and Interdisciplinarity: How Collaboration Fosters Creativity

In this week’s episode, Emma and Aly speak with Joshua Finkelstein, Deputy Director of the Allen Discovery Center at Tufts University. They speak with him about collaboration and creativity, identifying a gap, risk/reward, and more. They dive into some of the structural problems with innovation, and how these issues tie into leadership. 

Joshua Finkelstein, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Executive Director, Boston University Biological Design Center

Josh received his Ph.D. from Harvard University’s Department of Chemistry & Chemical Biology in 2004, working for Professor Gregory Verdine.  After graduate school, he took a job at Nature as an editor, where he stayed for the next 12 years (first as an associate editor, and eventually as a senior editor and ‘team leader’ of the chemistry, biochemistry, and materials science team).  His primary responsibility at Nature was to liaise with the chemistry, chemical biology, and structural biology communities – he solicited primary research manuscripts and review articles, evaluated those manuscripts, and shepherded the most significant ones through the peer review process.  In 2016, he moved to Tufts University to become the Deputy Director of their nascent Allen Discovery Center (see, and he is currently the Executive Director of the Boston University Biological Design Center (see, where he works closely with the director of the center and other center faculty to develop and implement the center’s strategic plan and long-term goals

Season 8, Episode 3: Project Management 101: Problem Solving Across Disciplines

In today’s episode, hosts Emma and Aly talk with independent global consultant Debra Wahlberg about project management. Everything from adaptability, interpersonal skills, problem solving, and leadership is discussed. 

Debra Wahlberg is an independent consultant who has managed teams across a range of technical areas that include market systems approaches to economic growth, business enabling environment/administrative reform, civil society strengthening, and youth development, among others. She has provided strategic leadership on international development programs in culturally diverse and politically sensitive environments that include the Balkans, Central and Eastern Europe, sub-Saharan Africa, and the Caribbean. Debra’s private sector experience includes serving as general manager for a specialty food company in the US and participating as an investor in a vertically-integrated food manufacturing and distribution company in South Africa. Debra has also worked with citizen groups in Montana to support balanced growth and development, while planning for the availability of future natural resources. All of these approaches include working with the private sector, representatives of the US government, local and state governments, foreign governments, community members, and universities. Debra earned her BA in Political Science and Middle East Studies from the State University of New York at Albany and her MSc in Energy Management and Policy from the University of Pennsylvania.

Season 8, Episode 4: Group Dynamics: Power and Difference

In this episode, Aly and Emma explore power dynamics that affect learning and working in groups and institutions with Harvard Lecturer Houman Harouni. The conversation addresses topics including group dynamics, power, leadership, social change, self-awareness and relationships in a wide variety of countries and contexts.

Houman Harouni is Lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Harouni is a practice-based theorist of culture, and his work—which combines psychology, philosophy, political economy, and pedagogy—addresses the potential of institutions for maintaining or changing social relations. His study of power-dynamics in culture opens to conclusions relevant for education as well as for leadership, organizational studies and social theory. Harouni has been a Spencer fellow at the National Academy of Education, a postdoctoral fellow at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a Presidential Fellow of Harvard University. His academic articles have appeared in the Harvard Educational Review, Berkeley Review of Education, and Teaching and Curriculum Dialogue, among other publications. As a cultural critic and author, he has been a contributor to The Guardian, Salon and The American Reader, as well as other popular publications. He is a former elementary and high school teacher and runs intensive leadership development and teacher training workshops in wide variety of countries and contexts. 

Season 8, Episode 5: Learning to Lead: How Authenticity and Awareness Can Revolutionize Leadership

In this episode, the hosts talk with Dr. Joyce Wong about an approach to leadership, which foregrounds collaboration, power, critical self awareness, and relationships. How does identity intersect with approaches to leadership? Especially for minoritized groups such as women and BIPOC working in STEM? And, how is the pandemic affecting leadership in those spaces?

Dr. Joyce Y. Wong  is a Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Materials Science & Engineering at Boston University. She is a Fellow of the NAI, AAAS, AIMBE, BMES, and IAMBE. She was recently elected President-Elect of AIMBE. Her research focuses on developing biomaterials for the early detection and treatment of disease. Her current projects include pediatric bioengineered blood vessel patches, ultrasound contrast agents to detect and treat abdominal surgical adhesions, and most recently, development of biomaterial systems for women’s reproductive health. She has published over 115 peer-reviewed publications, 11 pending or issued patents, and has mentored over 100 trainees. In 2017 she received the Charles DeLisi Distinguished Lecture and Award, the highest honor in Boston University’s College of Engineering. In 2020, she received the Clemson Award for Basic Research from the Society for Biomaterials. She is currently Deputy Editor for Science Advances and an Associate Editor of Stem Cell Research & Therapy. In 2014, as the Inaugural Director of a Boston University Provost Initiative promoting women in STEM at all levels from K-12 to faculty, she launched ARROWS (Advance, Recruit, Retain & Organize Women in STEM). She also led Boston University’s Bronze Award for AAAS SEA (STEM Equity Achievement) Change and is part of the BU team recently awarded a NIH Prize for Enhancing Faculty Gender Diversity from the Office of Research on Women’s Health.

Season 8, Episode 6: From PhD to Professional: Moving Into the Workforce

This episode features a chorus of BU graduate school alumni who share how they leverage skills from graduate school to find success in their post-graduate careers. Guests represent sectors ranging from consulting to public history and from arts administration to science writing. They bring varied experience levels, ranging from newly-minted PhDs who recently entered the workforce to mid-career and recently retired professionals. In a culmination of our season’s focus on management and leadership, they touch on management skills, transitions, and the qualities of good leadership. 

Guests include: Bridget Muckian, Marty Blatt, Chenguang Peng, Rebekah Beaulieu, Kelsey Gustin, Deboki Chakravarti

Bridget Muckian received her Bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of Virginia in 2017. During college, she served as an intern and later full-time Clinical Operations Associate at AMPEL BioSolutions, a startup CRO and biotech firm, where she assisted with the recruitment and monitoring of 2 lupus clinical trials and led the design of a smartphone app used to collect data from study patients. She received an MPH in Epidemiology & Biostatistics from Boston University in 2020, during which she conducted an overseas practicum in Morocco, analyzing breast cancer stage distribution from hospital records. Her first role post-MPH was CDC Foundation COVID-19 Surge Corps Epidemiologist at the Boston Public Health Commission, where she produced the daily/weekly COVID-19 metrics and other reports for the city of Boston. Bridget is currently an Analytic Consultant at Panalgo, a local health software company, where she works directly with pharma clients to help implement HEOR/RWE and commercial analyses using Panalgo’s Instant Health Data platform.


Marty Blatt, professor emeritus of public history at Northeastern University, served as director of the public history program.   Previously, he worked for twenty four years for the National Park Service in Boston and Lowell.   Blatt is currently editing a collection of essays on violence and public memory to be published by Routledge.  He is consulting on a variety of public history projects including working with the National Park Service on their programming for the 250th anniversary of the American Revolution.  Blatt, a leader in the field of public history for several decades, was the recipient of the 2020 Robert Kelly Memorial Award from the National Council on Public History (NCPH) for outstanding achievement in public history.  He also received in 2013 the National Park Service Director’s Award for excellence in cultural resource management.   Blatt served as president of the NCPH, 2010-2012, and on the executive board of the Organization of American Historians, 2003-2006.  


Chenguang Peng is a consultant at Boston Consulting Group. At BCG, he has been helping Healthcare clients to address their critical business problems (e.g., strategy,  operating model, and org optimization). Chenguang earned his Bachelor’s degree in Physics and Engineering from Tsinghua University, Master’s & Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Boston University. Before joining BCG, he was a Postdoctoral Researcher at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He has experience in a variety of medical imaging modalities, including ultrasound, MRI, PET, and CT.





Rebekah Beaulieu is the Director of the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme, Connecticut. She is Treasurer of the American Association for State and Local History, an Accreditation Commissioner for the American Alliance of Museums and an active Peer Reviewer for AAM’s Accreditation/MAP programs, IMLS, and the NEH; and is chair of AAM’s Historic Houses and Sites Professional Network, vice-president of the New England Museum Association, and a board member of Connecticut Humanities. She has also served on the faculty of AASLH’s History Leadership Institute and is the author of Financial Fundamentals for Historic House Museums (2017). Beaulieu holds an undergraduate degree in American Studies and Art History from the George Washington University, Masters degrees in Art History and Museum Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and in Arts Administration from Columbia University, and a doctorate in American Studies from Boston University, with a dissertation a the study of financial models in historic house museums.


Dr. Kelsey Gustin is a Fine Arts Specialist at the U.S. General Services Administration. In her role, she helps manage and interpret the U.S. Fine Arts Collection of New Deal and contemporary artwork in federal buildings across the Washington, D.C., region. Dr. Gustin earned her PhD in the History of Art & Architecture from Boston University in 2020. She specializes in late nineteenth and early twentieth century American art, with a particular focus on the Ashcan School, Progressive Era visual culture, and 1930s New Deal art programs.




Deboki Chakravarti is a scientist-turned-science writer. She did her PhD in Biomedical Engineering at Boston University, and now she works on educational science videos and podcasts. She is the writer for Journey to the Microcosmos, a YouTube series about microbes, as well as the host for Crash Course: Organic Chemistry.

Contact info: either twitter (@okidoki_boki) or my website