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Festival Producers

sarah jm kolberg is a PhD candidate in Visual Studies (anticipated Spring 2020) who specializes in the American and French post-WWII avant garde, with an additional focus on the post-WWI avant garde, queer theory, and as a film scholar; on narratology, psychoanalytic theory, and film noir. Her dissertation investigates the post-war queering of taste classes in the work of artist Ray Johnson. She has won numerous awards as both a writer and film producer, and her films have screened around the world. After more than a decade in state politics (as Chief of Staff to an Assemblymember) she quit her job to return to graduate school full time.  She holds a joint MA in English and Film, an MFA in Film Production, and an MA in Visual Studies. Her recently completed film project is a feature length documentary about a program which engages middle and high school students in pulsar (a particular type of collapsed star) research,, for which she and her collaborator raised more than $250,000 including funding from the National Science Foundation, NASA’s West Virginia Space Grant Consortium, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, and West Virginia University. We’ve been very lucky to have been asked to screen the film at venues like the Carnegie Science Center (Pittsburg), the Clay Center (Charleston, WV), and the Berkeley –Seti /Breakthrough Listen, as well as many others along with all of the schools who have or are currently participating in the program. Presently she is producing a short promotional film about the search for gravitational waves and how pulsars aid this objective.  She is a sought-after advisor to many of the area's arts and cultural organizations, and has served on many of their boards.   

Stanzi Vaubel was trained as a cellist at The Juilliard Pre-College and Northwestern University. She has collaborated on projects at Robert Wilson’s Watermill Center, and performed at such venues as Tanglewood, The Long House, and Carnegie Hall. She has worked as a producer at New York Public Radio and Chicago Public Radio where she produced a series on poets and writers entitled The Gift. Her audio documentaries have been featured on WBEZ, BBC, and featured by The Third Coast Audio Festival. Upon arriving to Buffalo, she became interested in site-specific work creating Sites do things to People staged at Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center, Excursions Into Unknowable Worlds, staged at the Hi-Temp Warehouse, and The Indeterminacy Festival which is going into its second year at Silo City, funded by New York State Council for the Arts, Mark Diamond Research Fund, the Physics, Media Study Departments at UB as well as The Techne Institute, which is partnering with the festival this year, inviting several guests from abroad. Stanzi is currently pursuing her PhD at The University at Buffalo. 


Melanie Aceto is a modern dancer, choreographer and educator. Her creative interests are in interdisciplinary solo and large group works. Recent projects include the creation of Cloud, a work for six dancers and 3,000 square feet of plastic made in collaboration with architect/designer Michael Rogers, Liaison, a solo for piano and dancer made in collaboration with composer Megan Beugger, and In To Selves, a piece for voice and dance with Turkish composer Esin Gunduz. Melanie’s work has been performed internationally in Toronto, Guatemala and Germany and nationally at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, in Las Vegas, Virginia, Kentucky, New Jersey, Florida, Pennsylvania, in Ohio as part of the Heidelberg New Music Festival and numerous venues in Rochester and Buffalo, NY including the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and the Burchfield Penney Arts Center. New York City performances include the MATA Festival (The Kitchen), the Studio Museum in Harlem, REVERB dance festival (Ailey CitigroupTheater), Cool NY and D.U.M.B.O Dance Festivals (John Ryan Theater), and the American Dance Guild (Ailey CitigroupTheater).

Melanie’s research interests include investigating models for teaching dance composition and modern technique and creating resources for both. Her research has been published in the Journal of Dance Education and has been presented at National Dance Education Organization conferences and the joint Society for Dance History Scholars/Congress on Research in Dance conferences. Melanie also has a passion for choreographic preservation. Commissioned by the Dance Heritage Coalition, she completed a scholarly assessment of the New York based Lar Lubovitch Dance Company detailing the current state of their archive. Current projects include Choreographic Lineage, an interactive web-based resource presenting the lineage of dance artists (

Melanie earned her Master of Fine Arts degree in dance from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and is currently an Associate Professor at the University at Buffalo teaching all levels of modern technique, improvisation and choreography.

Jenna Del Monte is an educator, choreographer and performance artist.  She holds a Masters of Fine Arts in Dance (Performance and Choreography) from Florida State University’s School of Dance, and a Bachelor of Arts in Dance from State University of New York at Potsdam. She has performed professionally with Geomantics Dance Theater, Melanie Aceto Contemporary Dance, Habit Dance Project, Buffalo Contemporary Dance Company, Biggs and CO, Dance Repertory Theatre, as well as worked with notable choreographers: Dan Wagoner, Michael Foley, Taye Diggs, Lynda Davis, Tim Glenn, Jawole Zollar, and others. She is artistic director and founder of the K.U.M.P Dance Collective, which is based in New York City and serves to assist pre-professional dancers entering the NYC dance scene. Her choreography has been shown nationally and she has been commissioned to set pieces and teach master classes in several college dance programs across the country. She is currently teaching at the University at Buffalo and SUNY Geneseo.  She was previously the Visiting Assistant Professor of Dance at the State University of New York at Potsdam and Teaching Assistant at Florida State University.  

Kara Mann is a performer, choreographer, instructor and entrepreneur from Buffalo, NY. She holds a degree in Dance and in Business from the University of Buffalo, but has made it her mission to experience as many teaching styles and business development opportunities as possible. Her explorations include a variety of classes and programs all over the United States. Her versatile experiences in both performances and eduction in the dance world, has fueled her purpose of creating opportunities for dance to enrich the life of humans. Her largest project to date is the creation of Free Soul Dance, a local business focused on offering dance classes for adults as a catalyst for physical, mental, and emotional wellness. In her 10 year journey as a business owner, she has also been able to expand her choreographic experiences through her special event services such as the creation of wedding dances and flash mobs, providing her the welcomed challenge of being able to make anyone look good and feel good moving in their own bodies. She also been able to enjoy working locally as a creator, instructor, organizer and performer with a variety of dance companies such as Buffalo Contemporary Dance, Habit Dance Project, The Foxy Diamondz, Tanzen, Buff State Dance program, Tuesday Contemporary Dance series and more; and local events such as Elmwood Art Fest, Taste of Diversity, Music is Art, the World’s Largest Disco, Infringement Festival and more. She currently teaches weekly classes in a variety of styles.

Christina Vega-Westhoff is a poet, translator, aerialist, and teaching artist living in Buffalo, NY. She teaches with The Bird’s Nest Circus Arts, the Geneseo Migrant Center, Just Buffalo Literary Center, and Young Audiences of Western New York. Her first book Suelo Tide Cement won the 2017 Nightboat Prize for Poetry and was published earlier this year. As an aerialist and dancer she has performed and choreographed works locally for The Affirmative Project, The Bird’s Nest, Buffalo Aerial Dance, Canopy Arts, the Indeterminacy Festival, Infringement, and New Phoenix Theatre. At The Bird’s Nest she co-curates the interdisciplinary Open Mic series. Since fall 2017 she’s led a variety of workshops in connection to this year’s Indeterminacy Festival, including String and Word poetry workshops at Just Buffalo and String and Air aerial workshops at The Bird’s Nest and The Keep in Tampa, FL.


Doreen Wackeroth // I am interested in exploring the physical world at the most fundamental level by studying the smallest indivisible building blocks of matter and their interactions at high-energy particle accelerators, such as the Tevatron proton-anti-proton collider at Fermilab near Chicago and currently the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at the CERN laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland. The observations made at these colliders and their interpretations provide insights into the strong and electroweak interactions of the constituents of matter (leptons and quarks), of particles mediating these fundamental forces (photon, W and Z bosons andgluon), and, since recently, also of the Higgs boson. The first run of the LHC, from 2009 to 2012, culminated with the discovery of the Higgs boson announced on July 4, 2012. This discovery led to the award of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physics to Francois Englert and Peter Higgs for the prediction of this particle over 50 years ago. The Higgs boson was the last missing building block completing the Standard Model of particle physics. On the one hand, the Standard Model (SM) successfully describes essentially all subatomic experimental phenomena, and has proven to be extremely robust against all experimental tests. On the other hand,it cannot account for dark matter, and it leaves many conceptual puzzles unexplained. Therefore, one of the main goals of the LHC is the search for signals of new physics, i.e. phenomena not described by the SM, which may provide solutions to some of these puzzles. To be able to make more discoveries at the LHC, predictions for SM processes have to be under superb theoretical control, at least at the level of the experimental precision. This implies the need for highly complex calculations in Quantum Field Theory, which very often require the development of new techniques at the forefront of this research field and the implementation in (or combination with) Monte Carlo event generators used in the experimental analysis. My research goal is to provide these calculations and Monte Carlo programs so that we can take full advantage of the potential of the LHC for discovering new physics.


Engineering / Rigging

Nathan Marshall is currently pursuing a BS degree in Geology from University of Buffalo. His research is a collaborative project between paleobiologist, geochemists, and environmental and analytical chemists.  Their research focuses on extracting biomarkers produced by primary producers from organic rich sediments to better understand how nutrient producing phytoplankton (who also occupy the bottom of the food chain) were affected and how they affected the food chain and nutrient cycling during the Late Ordovician Mass Extinction, the second largest and oldest mass extinction. Although he spends a large amount of time split between research and classes he also enjoys traveling which has included backpacking through SE Asia and a semester abroad in New Zealand, hiking, and playing violin. His current future plans are to work towards a PhD in geobiology, focusing on climate perturbations and other important events in the geologic record".

Carolyn Roberts, Ph.D. student in the Geology department, University at Buffalo (expected 2019) M.Sci., Geology, University at Buffalo (2014) B.Sci., Earth Science, Astronomy concentration, Central Connecticut State University, New Britain, CT (2009). Carolyn enjoys using remote sensing to learn about physical processes on Earth and other planetary bodies. She is currently examining the elevation records of Greenland outlet glaciers using highly accurate laser altimetry data and Digital Elevations Models. Her previous research topics include mapping lunar lava tubes, and determining landing sites in lunar polar regions. She is the Vice President of the UB Geology Graduate Student Association (GGSA), and co-chairs the GGSA's outreach and tutorials committees. If she could (safely) travel to & explore any planetary body, Carolyn would choose Titan.

Patrick Sears is a engineer for Lord Sensing and stage rigger. 

Architecture/Spatial Design

Justina Dziama // Born and raised in Buffalo, New York, Justina grew up exploring and identifying with the architectural history of material innovation and industrial decay of the city. Coming from a multicultural background, Justina is interested in the essential nature of diversity in creative problem solving in enriching the experience of a space for everybody, constituting a design process that is exploratory and iterative as she strives to discover and learn more about people and their relationship to the built environment. She has taught Freshman Architecture studio as a graduate teaching assistant at UB and has gained three years of experience working as an intern at the Practice Davidson Rafailidis. Justina is currently pursuing a Dual Masters in Architecture at the University at Buffalo and MediaArchitecture at the Bauhaus Universitat Weimar where some of her architectural design goals include gaining a heightened sense of spatial environments by taking on challenging design tasks in collaboration with other disciplines in order to contribute to an architecture that embraces and accommodates diversity and promotes a multi-sensory perception of space. 

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