The Faculty

Our academic faculty is specially chosen among teachers and researchers in some of the world’s leading universities, including Oxford, Cambridge, University College London, the London School of Economics, Yale, Harvard, Columbia, New York University, University of California, Berkeley, the Sorbonne, Universitat de Barcelona, Universidad de Salamanca, and Pompeu Fabra. Every year our faculty is full of Rhodes, Gates, Marshall, and Fulbright Scholars, enabling enabling our students to work with an array of elite academics.

Our creative workshop courses are taught by full-fledged professionals – acclaimed writers and poets, filmmakers, photographers, and actors – all selected for their talent, their varied experiences in their disciplines, their enthusiasm, and above all their ability to inspire our students.

Led by these outstanding individuals, whose work is thoroughly evaluated after every summer, and operating in small, seminar-style classes, our courses immerse students in subjects about which they are passionate while helping them uncover the spectacular sites and cultures in which they are living.

Oxbridge at UCLA DIRECTOR

Director, Caswell Nilsen

Caswell returns for his sixth summer with Oxbridge and second as Director at UCLA. A history teacher at St. Paul’s School, Baltimore, he has taught at several schools on the East Coast. He has led numerous educational trips with high school students in the US and abroad, including to Africa, Europe, and Canada.

 



Oxbridge at UCLA FACULTY

 

Joseph Acevedo

AB Harvard College, MBA Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania

Joseph is the co-founding partner and managing director of Moonsail Capital, LLC, a private equity fund focused on investments in the US and Puerto Rico. A finance expert with more than ten years of private equity experience working with J.P. Morgan, and Merrill Lynch, he was also the Director of Business Development for Univision Communications for three years. Joseph integrates anecdotes from his experience and also a variety of engaging guest speakers into the classroom.


Leonora Anzaldua

BA Yale University, MFA University of Southern California

Leonora is a professional photographer, cinematographer, and actress. In 2011, she was honored with the Sun Cinematography Award and a mentorship with Michael Goi. This led to a position in the camera department on the FX television series “American Horror Story: Asylum.” Leonora is interested in photography as a tool for the expression of ideas and emotions, and she works on projects large and small - from staged, polished, images, rich with metaphor, to recording dewdrops on flower petals. As an actress she regularly appears on stage, and in television and film.


Michael Conoscenti

BA University of Southern California

Michael is a doctoral researcher at UCLA working on the consequences of acute traumatic stress on the peripheral endocrine system. He is especially interested in the ways that acute stress challenges energy homeostasis, and the impacts this has on the brain. His lab has discovered a simple, yet effective, mechanism by which to prevent PTSD and comorbid depression-like symptoms following an acute stress session in rats. They are running a clinical trial to test its efficacy in trauma patients that are hospitalized for emergency care following an accident.


Brynach Day

BA AFDA Film School, MFA University of California, Los Angeles

Brynach is an award-winning writer and director. He received his BA from the AFDA Film School in South Africa, where he wrote and directed six short films including "The Cabin," which played at The Henri Langlois Film Festival. Back in the UK, he worked for the BBC on "Torchwood" and "Doctor Who." After two years in TV, he decided to pursue an MFA in Directing at UCLA. In 2011 he was named a BAFTA Brit to Watch. Recently his thesis short "Role Play" was selected by the Munich Student Film Festival, The London Short Film Festival, and Slamdance Film Festival. It also received the prestigious UCLA Directors' Spotlight Award.


Tisha Dejmanee

BA University of New South Wales, PhD Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, University of Southern California

Tisha is a doctoral researcher at the University of Southern California, and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication and Dramatic Arts at Central Michigan University. Her current project is focused on feminism and feminist media studies, communication in the digital realm, and the politics of food. She is widely-published and has contributed articles to several international academic journals.


Julia Fontana

BA Universitat Pompeu Fabra, MFA University of California, Los Angeles

Julia is a founding partner of LA Panda, an audiovisual production company that consults with international clients looking to shoot films in the United States. In the past she has worked as a Narrative Associate with Participant Media in Beverly Hills, and as the Head of Development for Distinto Films. Julia won the prestigious Sundance Institute Filmmaker Grant in 2014 for her film "A Woman in the Shadows." As a student, she was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship.


Jennifer Gamarra

BA University of Pennsylvania, MA University of California, Los Angeles

Jennifer uncovered her passion for psychology early on as an undergrad at UPENN. Her current doctoral research evaluates the impact of evidence based psychotherapy on clinical outcomes. She has published studies on suicide prevention and insomnia.


Reza Ghotbi

BA University of Mazandaran, MS Shahid Bahonar University of Kerman, MSc California State University, Long Beach

Reza is a doctoral researcher at UCLA, where he is investigating issues in structural and earthquake engineering. His research focuses on the assessment of existing structures and their performance under seismic events. Prior to taking up his current post he worked in civil engineering in Iran.


Brandon Golob

BA University of California, Berkeley, JD University of California, Los Angeles

Brandon is a doctoral researcher at the University of Southern California. He is based in the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, where he holds the Annenberg Graduate Fellowship. He is currently investigating policy-oriented research on issues impacting vulnerable populations. In particular he is focused on the effectiveness of programmatic interventions targeted at shaping laypeople’s legal knowledge. Brandon received his BA with High Distinction from University of California, Berkeley, where he studied Rhetoric and Globalization, Education, Law, and Global Poverty. He went on to earn a JD from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law. During this time he also worked as a law clerk for the Mental Disability Advocacy Center in Budapest, and the Human Rights Watch International Justice Program in New York City.


Evan Hart

BA University of Connecticut, MA University of California, Los Angeles

Evan is a doctoral researcher at UCLA, where he is based in the Department of Psychology. His current project is focused on the biological bases of stress, depression, and effort-based decision-making. Evan is also an experienced pedagogue, and has taught several undergraduate classes at UCLA in learning theory, research methods, and behavioral neuroscience. As a student at the University of Connecticut, he twice held the prestigious Babbidge Scholarship.


Amanda Jaros

BA Azusa Pacific University, Certificate in Screenwriting, UCLA

Amanda is a professional actress and writer based in Los Angeles. She recently featured as the lead in the movie "My America," which was chosen for the prestigious Cannes Film Festival Selection. She has also appeared on TV shows including "Castle," "Criminal Minds," and "Nashville." She wrote and starred in the Internet series, "Skinny Legs Sketch Show." As a student Amanda trained at UCLA and with the Upright Citizens Brigade.


Laura Jean Salerno

BFA Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University

Laura Jean is a professional actress, comedian, and writer who divides her time between New York and Los Angeles. She has recently been seen on CBS's "The Mentalist", NBC's "Off Their Rockers," alongside Betty White, and in the west coast premiere production of "Diving Normal." Her film appearances include a role in "Tony 'n' Tina's Wedding" alongside Mila Kunis. Laura Jean is also trained as a classical actress, and has the rare distinction of having worked in Shakespeare's Globe Theater on London's South Bank. As a teacher she works at the Actors Comedy Studio and also the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Los Angeles.


Elia Urquiza

MA Universidad Autonoma de Barcelona, MFA California Institute of the Arts

Elia is a professional writer, producer, and documentary filmmaker based in Los Angeles. Her current project, a feature-length documentary entitled "Next," is being shot under the tutelage of Monte Hellman. In the past, she has worked with Orbita Max, the first Spanish production company to ever shoot in Imax format; and with various Spanish and American companies, including Mundo Fox and El Terrat / MTV Spain, as a Production Coordinator. Elia arrived in America as the winner of the La Caixa Fellowship for Graduate Studies. She is also an experienced pedagogue, and teaches courses and masterclasses in filmmaking and screenwriting at the California Institute of the Arts.


Lisa Vangellow

BS Arizona State University, MFA University of California, Los Angeles

Lisa is a professional producer and director who works for Orchid Child Productions and Arsenal Film. Her roles involve everything from hiring key and supporting contractors to supervising post-production. She is about to release her documentary on the multi-faceted actor James Franco. In 2014, Lisa was one of five filmmakers invited to participate in the Tribeca Film Institute Documentary StoryLab, where she workshopped her project along with director Crystal Moselle’s 2015 Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner "The Wolfpack." Among her many other accolades are the Dorothy Azner Memorial Fellowship Award and the Barbara Streisand/Sony Fellowship Award.