Project Team

Danyelle Ireland, PhD (Principal Investigator)

Three quarters portrait of Danyelle

Dr. Danyelle Ireland is the Associate Director of the Center for Women in Technology (CWIT) at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). At CWIT, Dr. Ireland executes grant-funded programs such as the Transfer Scholars in IT and Engineering (T-SITE) program and the Post-Transfer Pathways Program for Computing and Engineering Majors. She also leads assessment of the CWIT programming model, manages the CWIT grants portfolio, and oversees industry relations for the Center. Additionally, Dr. Ireland collaborates with the UMBC College of Engineering and IT (COEIT) on research to improve the social climate of the College and foster a more diverse and inclusive COEIT community. She is proud to work at CWIT because she sees social justice embodied within the Center’s mission and core work, and because she is passionate about supporting student success.

As an educational psychologist, Dr. Ireland examines the intersectional nature of social, academic, and occupational identities among underrepresented students in STEM majors, and psychosocial factors that influence the motivation and persistence of underrepresented groups (e.g. Black women) in STEM fields. Dr. Ireland holds a B.A. in African American studies and family studies from the University of Maryland, College Park and a Ph.D. in educational psychology from Howard University.


Lee Blaney, PhD (Co- Principal Investigator)

Three quarters portrait of Lee

Dr. Lee Blaney is an Associate Professor in the Department of Chemical, Biochemical and Environmental Engineering at UMBC.  He directs an environmental engineering laboratory that studies (1) the occurrence, fate, transport, and toxicity of contaminants in natural and engineered systems and (2) the recovery of resources, like nitrogen and phosphorus, from municipal and agricultural waste streams.  Many of his projects are focused on the Chesapeake Bay watershed.  Since joining UMBC, Dr. Blaney has been a supporter of the Center for Women in Technology (CWIT), serving as a mentor to CWIT scholars and a member of the internal advisory board.

As a co-Principal Investigator of the Pathways grant, Dr. Blaney’s role will consist of: serving as primary point of contact for the project within the department of Chemical, Biochemical, and Environmental Engineering, as well as co-teaching one of the two Transfer Seminars, and participating in the biannual Transfer Learning Community (TLC) meetings. He will also serve as a faculty contact/mentor for transfer students that join the Chemical Engineering BS program.


Carolyn Seaman, PhD (Co- Principal Investigator)

Three quarters portrait of Carolyn

Dr. Carolyn Seaman is an Associate Professor of Information Systems at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC). Her research generally falls under the umbrella of empirical studies of software engineering, with particular emphasis on maintenance, organizational structure, communication, measurement, COTS-based development, and qualitative research methods. As a co-Principal Investigator, Dr. Seaman’s role will consist of: serving as primary point of contact for the project within the department of Information Systems; advising on major specific content for the Transfer Seminars, and participating in the biannual Transfer Learning Community (TLC) meetings.

Dr. Seaman is also a Research Fellow at the Fraunhofer Center for Experimental Software Engineering, Maryland, where she participates in research on experience management in software engineering organizations and software metrics. She holds a PhD in Computer Science from the University of Maryland, College Park, a MS in Information and Computer Science from Georgia Tech, and a BA in Computer Science and Mathematics from the College of Wooster (Ohio).  She has worked in the software industry as a software engineer and consultant, and has conducted most of her research in industrial and governmental settings (e.g. IBM Canada Ltd., NASA, Xerox). Carolyn has participated in WISE since its beginnings, as well as other women-centered initiatives on campus, such as CWIT and ADVANCE. Having opportunities to blend social and professional interaction with female peers is very important to her, and WISE provides a unique opportunity to do that. She has developed close and very valuable relationships through that WISE that would otherwise not have been possible. WISE events have also helped her to develop skills in mentoring, especially of female colleagues and students.


Marc Olano, PhD (Co- Principal Invstigator)

Three quarters portrait of Marc

Dr. Marc Olano is an Associate Professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. Dr. Olano joined the Post-Tranfer Pathway project in Summer, 2018, and will also be serving as a co-PI on CWIT’s T-SITE project. As a co-Principal Investigator, Dr. Olano’s role will consist of: serving as primary point of contact for the project within the department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering, advising on major specific content for the Transfer Seminars, and participating in the biannual Transfer Learning Community (TLC) meetings.

Dr. Olana received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Illinois, Champaign/Urbana, and his PhD in Computer Science at the University of North Carolina. He is also director of the department’s Game Development Track, which has steadily been gaining traction and attention inside and outside of UMBC’s College of Engineering and Information Technology (COEIT). Dr. Olano has been pursuing research in computer graphics and computer hardware since 1989; much of his research focuses on interactive procedural shading – the goal being to increase the amount of control one has over the appearance of objects in interactive computer graphics.


Maria Sanchez, PhD (Co- Principal Investigator)

Three quarters portrait of Maria

Dr. Maria Sanchez began her new role at UMBC as Director of Education and Outreach and Professor of the Practice in June of 2018, returning from a year in a research faculty post at the University of Maryland, College Park. Previously, she served three years as a lecturer in the UMBC Department of Mechanical Engineering. During that time, she also led the development of the ABET self-study for mechanical engineering. As a Co-Prinicipal Invetigator of the Post-Transfer Pathways Project, Dr. Sanchez will be a point of contact for the Deans’ office at COEIT, advising on major specific content for the Transfer Seminars, and participating in the biannual Transfer Learning Community (TLC) meetings.

In her role as lecturer of Mechanical Engineering, Dr. Sanchez also served as the UMBC Project Coordinator for the Transfer Student Success Initiative, a program funded by a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, with an objective to assist current and prospective transfer students from two-year institutions to succeed at four- year institutions. Prior to UMBC Dr. Sanchez served as an assistant professor at Fresno State University where she taught an introductory course for all incoming mechanical engineering students. Dr. Sanchez will be supporting development of strategic and operational planning and implementation of COEIT activities related to engineering and computing education (including 101 courses), K-12 outreach, and innovative instructional programs.


Catherine Bielawski (Senior Personnel) 

Three quarters portrait of Catherine

Mrs. Catherine Bielawski currently serves as the Director of Undergraduate Student Services in the College of Engineering and Information Technology.  Cathy is responsible for the day to day activities in Undergraduate Student Services including the administration of academic advisement; orientation and registration events for the College; evaluation of suspension and dismissal for engineering and computer science students. Bielawski oversees the training and professional development of the advising staff in COEIT.

For the Post-Transfer Pathways Program Ms. Bielawski serves on the TLC (Transfer Learning Community) and is also involved in the Transfer Seminar Course planning and course delivery for engineering and computing, she also supervises the Transfer Success Advisor for the program.   Cathy is a strong, skillful and compassionate advocate for students, and is a valued member of numerous campus committees including Academic Standards, Course Demand, Enrollment Management and Articulation.  She was honored by students as Advisor of the Year in Engineering 2003-04, and served as a member of the Alumni Board from 2009-2015.  In 2008-09 she was the recipient of the University System of Maryland Board of Regents Award for Outstanding Service to Students in an Academic Setting.  Ms. Bielawski earned her BA in American Studies from UMBC and her MA in Education, Curriculum and Instruction from University of Maryland College Park.


Laila M. Shishineh,  PhD (Senior Personnel)

Three quarters portrait of Laila

Dr. Laila M. Shishineh joined the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) in 2010 working with First-Year Experience (FYE) Programs in the Division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs. Dr. Shishineh’s current role includes working with the Post-Transfer Pathways grant to create a seamless transition to UMBC for incoming transfer students in the College of Engineering and Information Technology (COEIT). As part of this work, Dr. Shishineh assists with almost every facet of the project but specifically focuses on the advising process as well as the creation of curriculum for the Transfer Seminars (TRS).

Dr. Shishineh came to UMBC from the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP). During her time at UMCP, she received her B.A. in Criminal Justice and Criminology as well as her M.A. in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies with a focus on Higher Education. Dr. Shishineh completed her doctoral work at Frostburg State University (FSU) and earned her Ed.D. in Educational Leadership with a focus on Higher Education Leadership. Through her doctoral research, she examined the transitional issues faced by first-year students and her research guides the work that she does at UMBC to best help new students find success.

Ilana Hipshman, LMSW (Project Coordinator)

Three quarters portrait of Ilana

Ms. Hipshman joined UMBC and the Post-Transfer Pathways Program (PTP) grant as Project Coordinator in July 2018. Her role includes managing logistics for the Transfer Learning Community (TLC); administration of the Transfer Survey, distillation of data assessment and data presentation, and related research. Ms. Hipshman wants to use her position as Project Coordinator to help evolve a holistic model of inter-institutional support for transfer students in computing and engineering majors, explore strategies to decrease tension between Community Colleges and 4-year Universities, and find ways to broaden the demographic range and retention rates of transfer students in Computing and Engineering Majors.

Ms. Hipshman received her BA in Theatre Arts from Western Washington University, served 3 years in Peace Corps, Nicaragua, working in Public Health and Community Development, and recently graduated with her MSW with a focus on Social Policy and Community Action from the University of Maryland, Baltimore. She is passionate about the health and wealth of all Baltimore communities, and enjoys applying her Policy and Social Work perspectives to her work.


Ashley Clark, M.Ed (Research Intern)

Three quarters portrait of Ashley

Ms. Clark joined UMBC and the Post Transfer Pathways Program grant as a Research Intern in March 2020. Her role includes assessing and analyzing data for the Pathways Program. In this position she intends to explore specific strategies that may help students in Computing and Engineering majors transition from community college to university.

Ms. Clark received her BS in Health Education and M.Ed in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from Howard University. She is currently a doctoral student in the Educational Psychology program at Howard University. Ms. Clark has taught in a high school setting and managed operations at an elementary school. Her research interests include improving school culture and student affective states for minority students.