Coronavirus Updates

Summer and Fall 2020 admissions are open. Whether classes will be online or in-person, Touro continues in its mission to provide high quality education. Check which programs have an upcoming online open house or reach out to your program of interest. For more information on returning to the office, resources, this semester and next, read all Coronavirus updates.

Last Updated: May 7, 2020, 5:00 pm

Inspiring Faculty
2019

Inspire. Mentor. Teach.

As our students graduate and move on to the next stage of their lives, we asked them to look back on their time at Touro and reflect on a professor whom they felt inspired by. For the third year of Inspiring Faculty, we received hundreds of nominations from students in the university’s more than two dozen degree-granting programs. No matter the field, certain traits about our Inspiring Faculty members each appeared in their nominations: the teachers were friendly, empathetic, understanding, dedicated, and possessed a mastery of their field. Our students felt that no matter where their lives inevitably take them, they would never forget the teachers who helped shape them and whose presence had such an impact on them.

We present this year’s Inspiring Faculty, or IF, members.

Ted Wong, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Basic Sciences, College of Osteopathic Medicine

Touro University California

Ted Wong, Ph.D.

What His Students Say

Dr. Wong is a compassionate and brilliant professor who cares about his students with a familial empathy that I have never encountered in academia before. He is very knowledgeable to learn from and cares about his students' learning progress. A special quality he possesses is that he is genuinely so supportive to his students and cares about their well-being beyond school. I have so much gratitude for him because he was very kind to me when I was having a difficult transition in graduate school and gave me a different perspective on life. I am nominating Dr. Wong because he is an inspirational mentor and empathetic educator!

—Maria Nguyen

When Dr. Ted Wong sees a struggling student he is reminded, albeit slightly, of his own journey.

“I’ve had a lot of advocates and mentors and some of them don’t even know how influential they were in terms of steering me in one direction,” said Wong. “Whatever success I’ve had is, in a large part, collectively due to those individuals who saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself. When I work with students—especially those that are discouraged or don’t feel they can achieve their goals—I feel compelled to pay things forward on behalf of those who did it for me.”

Wong, the youngest of five, was born and raised in Houston, TX where his family ran a small grocery. He attended Texas A & M and studied a branch of biomedical sciences.

“I was a student in search of an interest,” recalled Wong. “Unlike many of our students who have established their goals early on, I was still figuring things out. My sister had wanted to be a veterinarian so I figured that would be a good goal, but midway through school, I realized I didn’t have the passion for it.”

After graduating, Wong took a teaching assistant position at the University of Texas’s Dental School in Houston.

“It was a significant moment for me,” said Wong, who taught physiology. “Teaching was a steep learning curve, but I discovered that I enjoyed it. I enjoyed being able to communicate knowledge to my students. At the time, I had just finished my undergraduate studies, so my students seemed more like my peers.”

He also developed a strong relationship with other faculty members in the school.

“I developed several influential mentors,” he said. “These were educators who were more focused on teaching instead of following the research track. I admired their dedication and they inspired me. They helped steer me towards the path of academic education.”

Wong’s supervisor encouraged him to pursue a more advanced degree. Since the school was part of a network of medical schools, he began taking part-time graduate science courses. One of Wong’s mentors studied the pathologies of heart diseases.

“One of the consequences of heart disease is pathological cardiac hypertrophy,” he explained. “That got me interested in the general area of mechanisms that influence muscle growth.”

For his doctorate, Wong studied a subspecialty of physiology, exercise physiology. His particular area of interest was the protein synthesis dynamic that occurs when muscles grow through hormonal development and exercise. (Though he wasn’t personally involved in the studies, the lab also investigated the muscle atrophy that occurs in space flights.)

For his post-doc work, Wong moved to an anatomy lab at the University of California—San Francisco where he looked at the molecular biology of muscle growth, and specifically the transcriptional control of the protein Troponin C, which regulates muscle contraction. During that time, Wong also realized something about his future career.

“I was a moderate success in the research area, but my interest had gravitated away from research and moved towards teaching,” he said. “When I began looking for a permanent position, I focused more on positions that centered around teaching. That’s what led me to Touro. Touro was just starting and they didn’t have a robust research facility; the faculty that they hired were hired with the understanding that their main stress was teaching.”

Wong was among the first full-time faculty members of Touro University California. For more than twenty years, Wong has taught physiology with his fellow educator, Alan Miller, Ph.D. The two divide the course with Wong focusing on respiratory, endocrine, gastrointestinal and reproductive systems. Through his long tenure, the self-reflective Wong said that he hoped that he improved on two elements.

“I hope I’ve become a more seasoned and more effective teacher, but I suppose that’s something we all hope for: to improve with experience,” related Wong. “I think that the other area that I’ve been striving to improve upon is understanding students a little more, seeing them as individuals instead of faces in the crowd.”

“That’s one of the reasons why I enjoy working with the students in our master’s of science program,” continued Wong. “The class is small enough that I can have close relationships with them. Hopefully, I’ve been able to grow and understand what they’ve been going through. I really enjoy the moments when they schedule a meeting one-on-one and I can talk to them and know what challenges they’re facing and provide them with resources or support."

Judging from the nominations Wong received for his work at TUC, it is clear that he has succeeded. Several of his nominations were brief statements, including, “For always being there,” and “Never giving up on us.” 

“The truth is I’m inspired more by my students than they are inspired by me. They keep the fire burning and make me realize –even after a long day—why I’m here."

Ted Wong

“It’s ironic that the students chose me as an Inspiring Faculty,” concluded Wong. “The truth is I’m inspired more by my students than they are inspired by me. They keep the fire burning and make me realize – even after a long day—why I’m here. The students work so hard and strive towards their goals that they keep me inspired."

Rocking in the Past

Wong is a hardcore aficionado of the music of the 60s and 70s, the era in which he grew up. His favorite bands are The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin. He’s been trying (to no avail!) to get his daughter to appreciate his musical taste.

Movies

Wong’s favorite movies premiered in the 50s. They include Twelve Angry Men, To Kill a Mockingbird and Hitchcock’s oeuvre.

Malky Zacharowicz, Psy.D.

What Her Students Say

Every class Dr. Zacharowicz gives is clear and elegantly thought-out. I took three classes with her and each one of them was an enjoyable experience. She really cares to build connections with her students, and she was incredibly helpful when I applied to graduate school.

— Leah Lubart

Malky Zacharowicz, Psy.D, credits her parents with instilling in her a determination to live a life of meaning.

Both her parents survived the Holocaust. Her father and his family disguised themselves and fled from one town to another, always just a step ahead of the authorities where a single mistake could spell an almost certain death. Her mother and maternal grandparents were saved by a Polish bachelor, who hid them in his basement for a few years. “It was unheard of,” recalled Dr. Zacharowicz. “He never wanted it disclosed that he saved this Jewish family since he was afraid of what people would do to him. He was a Righteous Gentile and went to his grave with this secret.”

“We grew up appreciating that there are good and kind people from all backgrounds,” continued Zacharowicz, an assistant professor of psychology at Touro’s Lander College of Arts and Sciences. “My parents were not victims, they were survivors. They were determined to have a life of meaning and a sense of pride in who they were. They had a sense of ambition to lead a good and meaningful life and they believed that if you are going to do something, you must do it right.”

Zacharowicz absorbed those lessons while she grew up with her siblings in Florida. After graduating high school, she moved to New York to attend college and discovered an interest in psychology.

“Because of how I was raised, I felt very committed to contribute and give back to the Jewish community and humanity,” said Zacharowicz.

After receiving her bachelor’s degree, Zacharowicz pursued a Psy.D. at the Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology. While there, she connected with professors at the nearby Albert Einstein College of Medicine to further her interest in pediatric neuropsychology.

“Psychology was interesting, but I was looking for the scientific underpinnings of how children learn, and pediatric neuropsychology answers those questions,” explained Zacharowicz. She was helped along in her quest by a series of incredible mentors she met at Einstein. Zacharowicz worked under famed pediatric neurologist Dr. Isabelle Rapin who was considered the foremost expert on autism spectrum disorder. Another mentor was Dr. Michelle Dunn. “She really took me under her wing,” remembered Zacharowicz. “It was an unparalleled experience in terms of understanding neuropsychology and applying it to how children learn and function.”

Zacharowicz’s thesis focused on children on the autism spectrum and how they developed and used executive functions. After completing her education, Zacharowicz began working at the Soifer Center for Learning and Child Development, where she worked under the auspices of the founder, Dr. Lydia Soifer, and clinical psychologist Dr. Judy Moskowitz. “I was fortunate to have the opportunities to learn from clinical psychologists and pediatric neuropsychologists and integrate the two disciplines,” explained Zacharowicz. “This allowed me to appreciate how children function in terms of cognitive processing and emotional development.”

Twenty years ago, Zacharowicz was invited to teach at Touro’s Lander College of Arts and Sciences. Her teaching talent was immediately apparent and Zacharowicz was offered a full-time position shortly afterwards.

“I appreciate the environment Touro provides for its students,” said Zacharowicz. “I find that a lot of students are eager to learn and ask questions to deepen their knowledge. I think they also appreciate the interaction we have in the classroom.”

“One of my goals as a professor is to impress on my students the complexity of each person. Some of my students are teachers and they need to appreciate that when a child shuts down in the classroom it’s not because they’re not trying or not motivated, but rather because they need to be taught in a different way.”

Malky Zacharowicz

Zacharowicz, along with Dr. Ditza Berger, a fellow professor at Touro, launched a diagnostic practice in Cedarhust. “Our goal is to better understand why a child might be having difficulty—whether the issue is cognitive, social, or emotionally based,” said Zacharowicz. “Difficulties in one area aren’t mutually exclusive with difficulties in another area. The way I was trained was that each child is a puzzle. As part of a comprehensive evaluation, our goal is to break down the pieces of the puzzle and put it back together to understand the child. Each child is unique.”

Zacharowicz’s course load varies each year, but usually includes psychological testing, developmental lifespan, adolescent psychology, social psychology, and psychology of the exceptional child.

“One of my goals as a professor is to impress on my students the complexity of each person,” she said. “It resonates with them and for some students, it’s eye-opening and gives them professional insights. Some of my students are teachers and they need to appreciate that when a child shuts down in the classroom it’s not because they’re not trying or not motivated, but rather because they need to be taught in a different way.”

She encourages her students to find role models in the field. “I think mentorships are crucial,” said Zacharowicz. “It’s transformational to find role models who enable lifelong learning and professional growth. You need humility and the ability to appreciate that when you learn from someone who has been doing this longer than you, you are tapping into their deep reservoirs of knowledge.”

Zacharowicz said teaching also enables her to stay informed and up-to-date with the field of psychology. “You have to constantly learn, and I learn from my students,” she said. “The culture keeps evolving and each generation of students grapples with some new dilemmas.”

But no matter the situation, Zacharowicz said the lessons she took from her parents remain her guiding lights. “My parents were people of depth and they never did anything superficially,” she said.

Interesting Fact

Zacharowicz was a wide receiver on her school’s football team.

Free Time

When she’s not working in her practice or teaching at Touro, Zacharowicz enjoys listening to shiurim, lectures on Jewish topics. Her favorite lecturers are Rabbi Yissocher Frand, Rabbi Efrem Goldberg, and Mrs. Shira Smiles.

A Family Affair

Both Zacharowicz and her husband, Leon, share common professional interests. Dr. Leon (Shmuel) Zacharowicz is a well-known pediatric neurologist who also spends time pursuing his interest in medical halacha (religious law). They have been married for more than 30 years and have four children and three grandchildren. “My husband has always been a tremendous source of support and encouragement,” said Zacharowicz. “While working as a psychologist has been quite meaningful, the greatest source of growth and meaning for me has been as a wife and mother.”

John Sullivan, MD, Ph.D.

What His Students Say

Dr. Sullivan is an extremely intelligent professor who is so knowledgeable in everything he teaches. His passion for medicine is evident in the classroom, and he drives us all to do our best. He has taught me the foundation of everything I know during my first semester in physiology. I felt challenged but Dr. Sullivan always made sure that the class really understood and grasped the subject material.

— Eden Bessaleli

As a student in Mercy College, John Sullivan had an unusual problem: he was interested in too many things.

“I’ve always loved math and the logic behind it,” recalled Sullivan. “But I wanted to be more well-rounded, so I took some English literature courses. I became fascinated by literature and then fell into theater.”

“A lot of my friends were doing hard sciences and it seemed fascinating as well, so I decided to take one class,” continued Sullivan. “It was physiology and I was hooked.”

After attaining his baccalaureate (and receiving the school’s Renaissance Man Award), Sullivan began medical school at New York Medical College. While he thrived at medical school, a single course in neuroscience caught him off-guard. “The professor taught the class really well,” laughed Sullivan, who likened learning neuroscience to understanding how characters are created in literature. “I became especially interested in the notion of neural connectivity and how that relates into who we are.” Before beginning his third year of medical school, Sullivan asked for a two-year leave to pursue a Ph.D. in neuroscience. Due to the large scope of his research, the two years eventually became four-and-a-half.

“I looked at the zinc ion and how it acts in a person’s hippocampus,” said Sullivan. “It’s involved in human memory formation and in patients who have Alzheimer’s zinc is deregulated. I performed experiments on mice to see the effects of zinc on memory development and how memories are formed.”

He returned to medical school after completing his Ph.D. in neurophysiology.

“I had to reset my mind,” said Sullivan. “Part of me was so invested in research, but I also loved working with patients. Ultimately, I fell right back into it.”

After he finished medical school, Sullivan wasn’t sure whether to continue to residency or pursue research. “I decided after some thought that I should try out residency to get a feel if it’s something I’m more passionate about.”

Sullivan completed his first two years of residency in neurology at Stony Brook Hospital. During that time, he married his girlfriend, a pathology fellow at Memorial Sloan Kettering.

“Part of my love for teaching is that you get to learn twice. I really love learning and by teaching I get to dive into the things I’m interested in and relearn the material to be able to express it clearly to my students.”

JOHN SULLIVAN

“I loved and hated being a resident at the same time,” Sullivan elaborated. “I was able to use all the things I learned clinically, but I realized that I was more passionate about academic life. I thought to myself, I could wait out the residency or I could start what I wanted to do now."

He left residency. He reached out to a faculty member he worked with at New York Medical College and began working on several research projects along with teaching courses in the school. Sullivan also began teaching near his home in Long Island and eventually began lecturing at the undergraduate program at Touro’s School of Health Sciences. Shortly after, Sullivan was recruited to teach in the school’s physical therapy and physician assistant programs and was offered a full-time position at the school two years ago.

“Part of my love for teaching is that you get to learn twice,” explained Sullivan. “I really love learning and by teaching I get to dive into the things I’m interested in and relearn the material to be able to express it clearly to my students.”

Sullivan primarily teaches physiology and cardiology to students in the physician assistant programs at the Manhattan and Bay Shore campuses.

“The PA students are just as bright as medical students and, in some ways, they’re even more motivated,” said Sullivan. “PA students are under an incredible amount of pressure and they handle it brilliantly. They’re clever and I always look forward to seeing what they do with the material.

In addition to his teaching duties, Sullivan also lends his skills as a researcher. His last publication was with students at New York Medical College in a neuroscience journal in December 2018. Currently, he’s investigating the educational experiences of students at TouroCOM who use the flipped-classroom technique as well as several other education-related research projects. Sullivan said his research in pedagogy has personal relevance to him. “I want to make sure I’m giving my best to my students so that means I need to keep up-to-date with the latest research on teaching,” he said.

Sullivan believes that the success he has with students is derived from his own interest in the material. “I think that if you really like the material it comes across,” he said. “In my experience, anytime someone is passionate about something, the enthusiasm becomes contagious.”

Asked about his favorite interaction with a student, Sullivan recalled this instance. 

“There was an undergraduate who was struggling and falling behind in class, but he was very passionate about becoming a physical therapist,” said Sullivan. “He was getting down on himself and his exam scores were dropping. I remember sitting down with him just to find out where he was having trouble—all my good teachers looked out for me and I wanted to do the same. I wanted to see if there was something we could fix. We sat down together and discussed strategies. It ended up being a lot of work–meetings, emailing, strategizing–but finally one method clicked. On the final exam, that student had one of the best scores. It was a cool moment for me since it reinforced to me how not all students learn the same way.” 

Favorite Poem

Robert Frost’s Birches. “It’s gotten me through hard times,” said Sullivan. “I’ve always really loved that poem. Frost creates such imagery and it appeals to me especially since I grew up in a rural area. In the poem, the narrator looks at a birch tree and wonders if the trees are bent because someone was swinging on the branches or they’re weathered and worn because of time. It shows a lot about cognition and how we process experiences.” Below are several lines from the poem.

I'd like to go by climbing a birch tree,
And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk
Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,
But dipped its top and set me down again.
That would be good both going and coming back.
One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.

Six of Seven

Sullivan is the sixth of seven children and is very close with his siblings. They are all teachers. “We all have a tendency to get really involved in what we are teaching,” he said.

Science Fiction Fan

Sullivan is a big reader and enjoys the work of legendary sci-fi author, Isaac Asimov. But Asimov is not the author of his favorite book. That distinction goes to Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game. “Every time I reread it, I get something new out of it,” he said. 

Kimberly Johnson, Ph.D., LMHC

What Her Students Say

Professor Johnson constantly demonstrates an extreme dedication to her work and to her students. She goes above and beyond to ensure her students are receiving the best education. She is kind and welcoming and is always encouraging questions. She has made me a better student.

— Aviva Dua

Kimberly Johnson has a soft spot for the first graduate level class she taught in Touro.

“My class was composed of these amazing Orthodox women from the Borough Park community,” recalled Dr. Johnson. “The in-depth discussions we had and the way they spoke to each other left a mark on me. I am still in contact with many of them and it’s fascinating to see what they’ve become and how they helped move the profession forward.”

“I’m not Jewish, but my students were so willing to help me learn about who they were, their life experiences, and their worldview,” continued Johnson. “I get very excited learning about different communities and people; how they are similar and how they differ. It was an opportunity and an entrance to a new community.”

This willingness to learn and become a part of other communities has been a hallmark of Johnson’s career. Born and raised in California until the age of 11, Johnson moved with her family to a farm in Oregon. While in high school, she began studying sign language with her mother, a physical education teacher and disabilities awareness activist. Johnson attended UC Davis and though she majored in art history, she developed a passion for exploring the connection between linguistics and psychology.

“I had amazing professors who challenged me to look at language from an interesting perspective,” said Johnson.

Family history also influenced her decision to take linguistic courses. Johnson’s great-uncle was the well-known linguist-anthropologist Henry Hoijer, famous for coining the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis and a renowned expert on the Athabaskan language of North America. “My aunt always said I am very much like him and the closest thing he had to a grandchild,” she said. 

The more courses in linguistics Johnson took, the more she realized the interconnectedness of language and a person’s sense of identity.

“Language, in its many forms, is a window into the internal workings of someone’s mind,” explained Johnson. “My uncle used to say that language is culture and culture is language. This stuck with me, and even though I am not a linguistic relativist as he was, I believe that language plays an intimate part in our worldview. The words we choose and the non-verbal language we engage translates into how I look at someone and interact with them.”

One of her most formative life experiences occurred when she spent a year working in a school for the d/Deaf in Costa Rica as a part of her internship for her master’s in Counseling and Rehabilitation for the Deaf from Western State College (now known as Western Oregon State University). A group of the students in the school were young adults who had not been exposed to a formal sign language system until their arrival at the school.

“They were outliers in the sense that they had missed exposure to a formal language during that period considered crucial to language development,” recalled Dr. Johnson. “As they learned Costa Rican Sign Language, we caught glimpses into how they had processed their world. I found that their perspective on events wasn’t shared in a linear fashion; instead it was circular and tangential. That’s how they processed the world. That experience taught me I couldn’t expect people to meet me where I am. I had to really learn how to get in and meet them where they are. Everyone has an internal experience. We might not share the same language or capabilities for the same language but the more I put myself out there, the better I was able to understand them. These students taught me so much more about the world.”

After her experience in Costa Rica, Johnson returned to California and worked as a social worker in a foster care agency and then as a therapist and psychosocial educator at the Hearing Society in San Francisco. In 1999, Johnson moved to New York to pursue a doctorate at Teachers College, Columbia University. Her dissertation focused on the clinical relationship between d/Deaf patients with severe mental illness and hearing psychiatrists, as influenced by the presence of a sign-language interpreter.

“I have always felt that language, in all its forms, was the root of my profession, so it made sense to study how language affects the treatment process and how it influenced the relationship and rapport that was built into the clinical dynamic,” said Johnson. She found that for those she observed the doctor-patient relationship was based on more than just direct or accurate mediated communication. “It taught me to look at how I interact with clients and people and to do so in a much more holistic manner,” said Johnson. “Language is much, much more than simply what we say.”

As she finished her Ph.D., Johnson worked at the New York Society for the Deaf; first as a therapist and then as a clinical director. She was a part of the agency’s integration into FEGS. During this time, she was part of the initial mental health response for first responders at Ground Zero and played a role in providing services through Project Liberty for persons suffering from traumatic responses post 9/11. This along with her earlier experiences led her to further her involvement in community-based trauma and crisis-related work. She continues as a member of the Red Cross Disaster Mental Health team, the NYC Medical Reserve Corps, and her local CERT. As a board member of the Long Beach Community Organizations Active in Disasters (LBCOAD), she continues to be a part of the dialogue around mental wellness and disaster preparedness.

"Teaching, in a sense, is paying it forward. If I can give something to my students that they can take and use in their eventual practice, it makes them stronger mental health counselors and strengthens the field."

Kimberly Johnson

Johnson joined Touro in 2007, initially teaching at the School for Lifelong Education before she joined the College’s School of Health Sciences Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program.

She teaches several courses including assessment, practicum and trauma, in addition to maintaining her own private practice. Part of the warm relationship she has with her students stems from her approach to the classroom.

“I feel there is shared learning in my classroom,” Johnson explained. “I learn from my students just as, I hope, they learn from me. They’re counselors-in-training. I see them as peers, representing me and my profession. Teaching, in a sense, is paying it forward. If I can give them something they can take and use in their eventual practice, it makes them stronger mental health counselors and strengthens the field.”

Motto

“Everything is grist for the mill.” Johnson believes everything she experiences is a chance for her to learn something.

Artistic View

During her time at UC-Davis, Johnson studied with some of the leading figures of the pop-art movement including Wayne Thiebaud, Robert Arneson, and Roy De Forest. “It was a unique time for learning to look at the world differently—and how we defined something as art or beauty or something of importance,” said Johnson. “Art is a form of language to me as well.” She continues to enjoy exploring her creativity in metal and glass sculpture.

Animal Rescuer

Dr. Johnson works with local and national animal rescues and has six rescue dogs.

Interpretive Dance Extra-Credit

Johnson previously taught an undergraduate psychology class. Each year, she jokingly offered extra credit for anyone who adds an interpretive dance to their final presentation. Only one student took her up on the offer. (The student received the extra credit.) Johnson periodically makes the same offer to her graduate students.

Ben Lunzer, MS

Assistant Professor, Information Systems

Graduate School of Technology, Touro College

Ben Lunzer, MS

What His Students Say

It’s the rare professor that can both educate and entertain, but Professor Lunzer’s lectures are fun and informative at the same time. He encourages his students to participate and his classes are the perfect blend of knowledge and humor.

—Reshma Cyclewala

Despite his more than thirty years in a myriad of high tech positions—from building one of the first portable blood analyzers, to developing therapeutic modalities for ultrasound technology, to helping banks develop network capabilities in the early days of the internet—Professor Benjamin Lunzer of Touro’s Graduate School of Technology (GST) wants his students to know that the greatest challenges they will face in the careers ahead of them won’t be the technology itself.

“Technology is easy, people are hard,” laughed Lunzer, a member of Touro’s 2019 Inspiring Faculty. “One of the key things I quickly realized is that I’m not going to teach our students anything new about technology strategy that they don’t know from their own life experience. But the point that I stress repeatedly is that it’s not about the technology, it’s about people. And people behave as they do, irrespective of domain or context.”

Lunzer teaches GST’s Strategic Management of Technology class, a pillar of the technology leadership/project management track in the Master of Science in Information Systems program. Each week under Lunzer’s guidance, students are tasked with delivering a presentation based on a specific case from the Harvard Business School (HBS) Case Studies.

“We analyze business cases to understand how you make decisions,” explained Lunzer. “How do you weigh the options? Nothing is simple, since your company can hang in the balance. Much of the underpinning of the course is HBS Professor Clayton Christensen’s theory of disruptive innovation. While the concept in general is overused, we try to understand it from a theoretical perspective and apply it to cases where it becomes meaningful and it forms direction.”

“What is the nature of disruption? What’s the nature of technology innovation that precludes staying in the forefront? What happened to IBM? Many companies, most companies in fact, cannot sustain cutting-edge innovation. It ends up having a lot to do with people.”

Disruption and innovation have been the hallmarks of Lunzer’s own career and the path that eventually led him to Touro’s technology program. A lifelong New Yorker, Lunzer attended Brooklyn's Polytechnic (which was eventually acquired by New York University’s School of Engineering) and studied biomedical engineering. “It combined both my interests, biology and engineering,” he explained. He joined Sonometrics Systems, a company working in the ultrasound field, right after college.  

While using ultrasound as a diagnostic modality was well understood, the possibility of using it therapeutically was still in its infancy. “You were able to take a focused beam to get an image of what’s going on,” said Lunzer. “We wanted to see if we could use the beam in a therapeutic capacity and accurately treat tiny areas without causing damage to surrounding tissue. We were able to do it experimentally and published several papers. Within the last ten years that technique has been further refined and commercialized.”

Some of the experimentation was conducted on the supercomputers at the Cornell Theory Center in Ithaca, one of five supercomputer centers in the country at the time. “We were among the first users of the Center and had the opportunity to present our work to the Center’s director, a Nobel laureate. That was both an honor and a thrill.”

After working in ultrasound, Lunzer moved to Memorial Sloan Kettering where he worked on critical care instrumentation, then to Technicon, in Westchester, where he worked on blood analyzers, and then to U.S. Surgical, in Norwalk, CT, where he helped develop a portable blood analyzer.

A serious dip in the engineering field in the late 1980s led Lunzer and many of his colleagues to the banking industry.

“Virtually everyone I worked with moved to financial services, which was beginning to embrace technology as a core capability,” recalled Lunzer, who spent over 20 years at JPMorgan Chase. “We moved from one highly regulated industry to another. We moved from creating ways to improve the quality of life, to improving the quality of financial markets.”

“It was less personally rewarding,” Lunzer admitted. Though, he added, innovation in all its forms pulled at him. “We were able to push the envelope in a lot of ways. We were introducing network capabilities at a time when it was incredibly new. We facilitated the flow of information across disparate computing platforms in multiple geographies, embracing then new relational database systems and distributed transaction monitors in support of those flows. I’ve been fortunate to have had multiple opportunities to work  on greenfield projects doing something that’s not been done before."

In 2009, he began teaching at GST, in addition to a new position managing custom application development for a spinoff from GE, OpenText/GXS.

“Technology is fun in and of itself, but not as rewarding as being able to watch people become motivated around a common cause,” said Lunzer. “The only way you can make new technology work isn’t by focusing on technology, but by focusing on the people, and being sensitive to their different proclivities and ways of working.”

Lunzer said he tries to make his class a model of the global workplace his students will enter, and in which they will hopefully succeed.

“We have an international student body; it’s a microcosm of what they’re going to find in the workplace,” said Lunzer. “Different cultures have differing modes of engagement. What happens in the classroom shows them what is possible when they enter the workplace.”

Lunzer attributes his success with students to his teaching philosophy.

“The overarching message I try to impart is that the real drivers aren’t processes or technologies, but the values and the people who make those values their own.”

Benjamin Lunzer

“Rather than approach the classroom setting as one where the onus is on the students to listen, I believe that the onus is on the teacher to motivate the students to learn.”

Lunzer fills the class with stories from his own lengthy career. One anecdote he likes to impart to his students: During his time at J.P. Morgan, when the company was looking to update to a new technology service, Lunzer presented the CIO with two options.

“I thought it was a simple technology decision,” stated Lunzer. “Instead, the CIO asked me what technology accords better with the values that were important to the company. The overarching message I try to impart is that the real drivers aren’t processes or technologies, but the values and the people who make those values their own.”

Interesting Fact

Lunzer’s high school, Yeshiva University High School, offered a judo class as an elective and Lunzer quickly got hooked. He has a black belt in Judo and is active in the sport.

Medical Family

“Everyone in my house is in medicine,” laughed Lunzer. His wife, Hindi, is a psychiatrist (and a graduate of Touro College). Their oldest daughter is a nurse, their middle daughter is in her third year of medical school, and their youngest daughter is in Touro’s prestigious Lander College Medical Honors Pathways, with plans to attend Touro’s New York Medical College.

A Different Kind of Certification

Lunzer was recently recertified as a General Class Ham Radio operator.

Study Session

Lunzer said that he derives an enormous amount of satisfaction and growth from his daily Daf Yomi chabura, a daily study session. Each day, early in the morning, the group meets to study a double-sided page of the Talmud. “My inspiration at home is from my family, my inspiration in the classroom from my students, and my inspiration as a whole human being is from my chabura and my teacher, Rabbi Sruly Bornstein,” said Lunzer. The sessions begin at six-fifteen every morning and conclude a little more than an hour later; discussions that began in the session continue on WhatsApp during the course of the day. In the years that Lunzer has been part of the group, he said he has grown closer to the other attendees. “We’re very involved with each other’s lives. It is all incredibly rewarding,” said Lunzer.

Aldwin Domingo, Ph.D.

What His Students Say

Dr. Domingo was my dissertation chair. His mentorship, professionalism and extraordinary patience was undeniably part of my success. I don't think I could have done it without him. I will always be grateful.

—Dr. Craig Gold

Dr. Aldwin Domingo’s success story is the classic American immigrant story.

Domingo was born in Manila, the capital city of the Philippines. When Domingo was a child, his father emigrated to the United States to help pave the way for the rest of the family. During the nine years before the family was reunited, Domingo’s father only returned home twice. Domingo recalls hearing messages from his father on many double-sided cassettes that his mother received from the United States over the nine years.

“My father saw the writing on the wall,” recalled Domingo. “The Philippines was going through a lot of political and economic turmoil and my parents realized that coming to another country was the best way to improve our standing in life.”

When the family finally arrived in the United States in 1991, Domingo, then 15, found himself struggling to adapt to a new environment. Fortunately for him, his teachers quickly saw his potential.

“I turned in work to my ninth grade math teacher, Mr. Klass, during my first semester, and he told me to do it again,” said Domingo. “He said he knew I could do better. I was very blessed with teachers who looked out for me.”

After graduating high school, Domingo attended Mount San Antonio Community College and then transferred to California State University, Long Beach. He intended to become a physical therapist and complete the university’s bachelor’s degree in the subject, but the program closed the semester he arrived.

“I thought I would just try to wrap up a major as quickly as possible,” he explained. “The first major I saw that I could finish in three semesters was psychology. I figured I’d do that and then immediately apply to the master's degree physical therapy program.”

An encounter in his first university-level psychology class altered his outlook.

“My whole life changed because of one person,” stated Domingo. “I took a research methods class in psychology and the professor, Dr. Robert Kapche, invited me to his office one day. He told me that he thought I was smart and recommended me for a research internship. It was highly competitive, but he saw something in me.”

The undergraduate internship was with the psychology department at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. The group was researching the cognitive-linguistic properties of the Tagalog language, the native language of the Philippines. Domingo spent eight weeks during the summer of 1998 working in the university.

“It was exciting,” remembered Domingo. “My original intention was to go into physical therapy and serve people, but eventually my interests shifted over to the realm of human cognition and getting to understand how people think and process information. I realized that studying and working in the psychology field was a different way to help people.”

Domingo applied for graduate school in the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities a year later. “The person I worked under initially in 1998 became my graduate advisor all through my six years of graduate school,” he said. “All these doors opened for me. I never fathomed myself being an academic, let alone being in psychology. It felt like destiny to me.”

In 2005, he earned his Ph.D. in cognitive and biological psychology. His dissertation focused on the language processing involved in the native speakers of Tagalog. During graduate school, he held an assistantship teaching psychology in the undergraduate school.

“I always taught the same course, so I was able to refine it,” said Domingo. “I think that’s where I knew I wanted to shift towards teaching instead of researching. There’s something in that moment when you realize a lightbulb is switching on in a student’s head. While I valued research and the ability to bring something new to the table, I felt myself drawn to teaching. Teaching is challenging in of itself: you need to be so familiar with the material that you can translate high level concepts into digestible bits.”

After finishing graduate school, Domingo taught a range of classes in both college institutions and high schools. He said that the mix—undergraduate students, graduate students and high school students—was a challenging but rewarding experience.

“You have to have a very good mastery of the material,” he said. “You need to understand the broad scope of the profession but have that skill to break it down into simple terms.”

“I never envisioned this is where I would be—this is a part of my journey in becoming a citizen of the United States. This country adopted me and gave me a life that I couldn’t have had elsewhere.”

Aldwin Domingo

In 2015, Domingo was offered the opportunity to manage the Touro University Worldwide online BA and MA programs in psychology. His responsibilities included teaching, program review and managing faculty members. “I looked at how and why programs were put together and what sequences there were,” explained Domingo.

While teaching online was new for Domingo, he said he eventually found it liberating. “It’s a different way to interact with students,” he explained. “All I see is their names and I respond to students in terms of what they post. It levels the playing field; everyone has the same say in what they can contribute. Additionally, since our program is online, I find that the majority of our students are either older or working professionals and they can contribute a lot more personal experiences than in a traditional classroom.”

A year later, he was officially named school director. The school has more than 300 students and over 20 faculty members. He believes the position is the best of both worlds: he’s able to guide students as well as help faculty members with their courses. “It’s the best job I ever had,” admitted Domingo. “I am able to grow, both by helping students and my fellow faculty members.”

“I’m very proud of the students who have finished the program and asked me for recommendations to apply for the Psy.D. here or in another program or even another field,” he added.

Graduation is especially meaningful for Domingo. Some students fly in for the ceremony. “I finally am able to put a face to the name of a student who I worked with for so long,” said Domingo. “When they walk across the stage to receive their degree, it doesn’t get more personal than that.”

Despite his many accomplishments, Domingo said he never lost sight of the journey his family made.

“I don’t think my parents could have fathomed that I would earn a doctorate and be where I am,” he elaborated. “I never envisioned this is where I would be—this is a part of my journey in becoming a citizen of the United States. This country adopted me and gave me a life that I couldn’t have had elsewhere.”

Favorite Quote

“Immigrants get it done.”

Graphic Novelist

Domingo draws and writes in his spare time and has published two graphic novels. His favorite comic book writers are Brian K. Vaughan and Alan Moore.

Interesting Fact

Domingo is a fan of the Japanese studio responsible for the critically acclaimed films, Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, and My Neighbor Totoro. He has instilled that love in his daughter as well. “She knows Totoro as much as Mickey Mouse,” he laughed.