Diane C. Yu, Executive Director & Leadership Instructor


Diane C. Yu is the Executive Director of the Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Scholars Program and the NYUAD Summer Academy for high school students. She has taught a popular freshman honors seminar in the NYU College of Arts and Science for seven years. Previously she was the Managing Counsel at Monsanto Company, the General Counsel for the State Bar of California, a White House Fellow appointed by the President, a California judicial officer, and in private law practice. Her B.A. is from Oberlin College and her law degree is from the University of California at Berkeley. She is a frequent speaker and author and has an honorary doctorate from the City University of New York.

Laurie Behringer, Senior Director


Laurie Behringer is the Senior Director for both the Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Scholars Program and the NYUAD Summer Academy. She has been with the Summer Academy since 2012 serving as a Critical Thinking and Writing Instructor and has also tutored Summer Academy and SMSP alumni attending NYU New York for undergraduate and graduate studies. Previous to the Academic Director position, Dr. Behringer was Clinical Assistant Professor of Higher and Postsecondary Education and Coordinator of the Graduate Program in Higher Education and Student Affairs at the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development at NYU. Laurie has strong content knowledge related to academic preparation for and admissions to undergraduate and graduate school and an interest in curriculum development and assessment. Dr. Behringer attended Loyola College in Maryland for her B.A. in English and Philosophy, NYU’s Graduate School of Arts and Science for an M.A. in English and American Literature, and NYU's Steinhardt for her Ph.D. in Higher Education for which she conducted a study of college-level developmental writing.

Lisa Springer, Associate Academic Director

Lisa Springer

Lisa Springer, Associate Academic Director of the NYU Abu Dhabi Summer Academy, has been working with the program since its inaugural year, in 2011. After one summer as lead instructor for the critical thinking and writing class, she served as Academic Director for two years. She is currently Assistant Dean at the American Language Institute of the School of Continuing and Professional Studies at NYU. Lisa grew up in the Middle East and, after years working with both the Summer Academy and the Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Scholars Program, considers Abu Dhabi a second home. She holds a B.A. from Barnard College, Columbia University and an M.F.A. in fiction writing from Warren Wilson College.


Anjali Despande, Mathematics Instructor

Anjali Deshpande holds an undergraduate degree in Economics from New York University, a master’s degree in the Science of Teaching from Pace University, and a doctorate in Urban Education from the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, New York University. Anjali’s teaching experience ranges from elementary to post-secondary education in the fields of teaching and learning, statistics, and elementary and secondary mathematics. Anjali serves as the lead mathematics instructor and founding faculty of a public middle school in New York City. Her passions are in education research, public education policy, educational equity, and social justice.

Drew Youngren, Mathematics Instructor

Drew Youngren is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Mathematics at NYU. There his focus is on undergraduate teaching, in particular the assessment thereof and the integration of technology into the mathematics classroom. Prior to that, he was a fellow with Math for America and taught in the early college program for Bard College. He studied at Columbia University as an undergraduate and earned his Ph.D. in mathematics from Northwestern University. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and two daughters and frequently chases them around Central Park.

Christopher (Kit) Nicholls, Critical Thinking & Writing Instructor

Kit Nicholls teaches writing in NYU's Expository Writing Program. He received his Ph.D. from NYU, studying transatlantic cultural history. In addition to his specific studies on Irish and Scottish literature, Nicholls writes poetry, essays, and fiction. He is currently working to complete the libretto for his first musical. His writing has appeared in European Romantic Review and the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Trevor Jockims, Critical Thinking & Writing Instructor

Trevor Laurence Jockims’s teaching and research interests center on literature in its interaction with other modes of thought and expression, particularly the visual arts and philosophy. Additionally, he works on the Digital Humanities, experimental and avant-garde cinema, as well as the contemporary American and European novel. Prior to coming to New York University, Jockims taught literature and film at various CUNY campuses, including Hunter College and City College. He has published articles and book chapters on ekphrastic poetry, photography, the documentary film essay, pastoral lyric, and representations of war in Eastern European cinema. His fiction, reviews, and essays have appeared in The Times Literary Supplement, Book Forum, The Believer, Descant, and The Journal of Experimental Fiction. Current projects include editing a volume of essays on the relationship between poetry and philosophy, entitled The Ancient Quarrel Between Literature and Philosophy, and a forthcoming article, “The Uncanny Eye: Intersections of Poetry and Photography.”

Katy Bartelma, Critical Thinking & Writing Instructor

Katy returns to the Summer Academy faculty as an instructor in Critical Thinking and Writing. During the academic year, she serves as an assistant instructor for an undergraduate course examining the relationship between government and religion at NYUAD, as well as for the Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Scholars Program. Katy previously served as a trial attorney for the United States Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., and prior to that, completed clerkships for the District of Columbia Court of Appeals and the United States Court of Federal Claims. She received her law degree magna cum laude from Georgetown University Law Center and her A.B. in History from Harvard University.

Peter Vining, Critical Thinking & Writing Instructor

Peter is a PhD candidate at New York University's Department of Politics, where he conducts research on civil conflict and political violence. Peter previously completed his MA at Duke University in Political Science, and undergraduate degrees at The Pennsylvania State University. Peter recently served his second year with the SMSP program as an assistant instructor for the undergraduate US Foreign Policy class, and is now serving his second year as Critical Thinking and Writing Instructor for the NYUAD Summer Academy.