Faculty and Instructors


Ken Nielsen

Senior Lecturer and Associate Director for the Writing Program; Director of the Writing Center

Writing Instructors

Writing Instructors make a remarkable contribution to NYUAD's writing culture. Serving as academic support staff, Writing Instructors provide targeted, tailor-made writing support for NYUAD students across their four years of study and across all disciplines. Writing Instructors work as course fellows for First-Year Writing Seminars and staff the NYUAD Writing Center.

Name Description
Luise Beaumont

BA and MA, European University Viadrina

Luise is a Writing Program and Writing Center enthusiast. She received a BA in Cultural Studies and an MA in Intercultural Communication Studies from the European University Viadrina, Frankfurt/Oder, Germany. Luise is interested in establishing a Community Writing Center at and NYUAD and in embedding creative writing methods into everyday (academic) writing.

Daniel Gellai

Daniel Gellai holds a BA in Arab Crossroads Studies and Political Science from New York University Abu Dhabi. Prior to becoming a writing instructor he worked as a Senior Global Academic Fellow in statistics at NYU Abu Dhabi for two years.

Besides teaching and tutorials, he has worked on projects to help students transition to university, feel more safe on campus, and he has helped academic support staff develop. He also worked on adult education and Arabic language acquisition. Daniel is passionate about the intersections of transformative learning, writing and self expression, engaged pedagogy, social justice, poetry, healing, and psychology. He aims to empower students through sharing, dialogue, and rigor, to grow as collaborators, learners for learning’s sake, critical thinkers, and empathetic persons who can be transformative in their lives and communities.

Diana Gluck

BA, NYU Abu Dhabi

Diana is a recent graduate of NYU Abu Dhabi with a degree in both history and visual arts. Her senior thesis in history was concerned with the impact of British involvement on the policies and procedures affecting migration and human mobility in the Trucial States (the modern day United Arab Emirates) between the years 1950-1970.

Sachi Leith

BA, NYU Abu Dhabi

Born in Burlington, Vermont, Sachi is a recent graduate of NYU Abu Dhabi with a degree in history and literature. Her senior thesis work was concerned with the intersections of national and linguistic identity across the former Soviet occupied territories.

The past four years have found her engaged in academic research at NYU and Humboldt University, writing for newspapers in the UAE and the US, writing, acting, and directing in community theater projects, and eating her weight in hummus. Sachi is also the founding editor of NYUAD's student creative journal, Airport Road.

Mohit Mandal

BA, NYU Abu Dhabi

Mohit grew up in Mumbai, India on a diet of detective novels and plenty of fish. He graduated from NYU Abu Dhabi with a degree in Social Research and Public Policy, concentrating in Anthropology and Literature. These twin interests became his guiding posts during his four years and culminated in his senior thesis, a narrative-based ethnography of a group of security guards at NYU Abu Dhabi.

As a Writing Program Instructor, Mohit looks forward to digging deeper into the mystery that is good writing. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, traveling, and drinking coffee, ideally all at once.

Asma Noureen

BA, Asian University for Women

Born in a small city of Pakistan and educated in a religious institution early in her life, Asma went to study at Asian University for Women (AUW), Chittagong, Bangladesh and graduated with a major in Asian Studies and minor in Development Studies. Her senior thesis, which she also presented in a Liberal Arts International conference in Doha, Qatar, discussed the prospects of employability for madrassa graduates in Pakistan due to the madrassa curriculum and society’s misconceptions.

As an undergraduate, Asma co-founded a creative writing club and worked as a designer and editor of the yearbook for several years. She also served as a teaching assistant for a writing intensive literature course at AUW. Following her graduation, she taught history and geography to O’levels students in her home town for a year before moving to NYUAD as a Global Academic Fellow (GAF). As a GAF in 2015-16, she has worked with students in A&E, writing-intensive Core and the Writing Center and she is excited to continue working with students as a writing instructor.

Anna Pedersen

BA, Haverford College

Anna graduated magna cum laude from Haverford College with a major in Comparative Literature and a minor in Spanish. Her senior thesis pursued her passion for international literature by exploring performative themes in Cervantes’s Don Quijote and received both high honors and the Barbara Riley Levin Prize.

During her time at Haverford, Anna spent three years working as a peer tutor in the Writing Center and two years as a Spanish Teaching Assistant. In the Writing Center, she organized and lead tutor reading groups and served on the steering committee, helping to jump-start the Center’s Speaking Initiative for oral presentations and projects. She also spent a summer as the Writing Center Fellow, conducting extensive research on how creative writing strategies can be used as a tool in the instruction of academic writing.

Aside from tutoring, Anna loves exploring the complexities of language by reading in translation, she is a firm advocate of snail mail and often writes long letters home to friends in Portland, Oregon, and she is excited about all of the adventuring that she is sure will take place in Abu Dhabi. She looks forward to building a community at her new academic home here at NYUAD.

Zachary Shellenberger

BA and MA, Pennsylvania State University

Zak is from Pennsylvania, US, where he also attended The Pennsylvania State University. He currently holds a BA in German Language and Area Studies, a BA in Russian Language and Literature, and a Master of Arts in Applied Linguistics with a specialization in Teaching English as a Second Language.

Zak's research interests include Discourse Analysis, Corpus Linguistics, and Sociolinguistics, among others, and he plans to pursue a PhD in Applied Linguistics in the future. In his free time, Zak likes to dance, cook, and travel, especially to Berlin, and lives to make people laugh.

Kimberly Specht

M Northwestern University, MA University of Eastern Michigan

Kimberly Specht is an ESL instructor, writing tutor, and CELTA teacher trainer who has taught in a variety of contexts within the United States and Germany. Her experiences have included work in adult education centers, private language schools, and businesses, and with international speakers of English in intensive English programs at the university level.

She has presented at state and international TESOL conferences, and was awarded the Mary Finocciaro Award for Excellence in Unpublished Pedagogical Materials in 2015. Her materials development and research have resulted in a collaborative chapter on service learning in TESOL, published in the Voices from the TESOL Classroom Series. Kimberly joined the staff of NYUAD in the fall of 2016.

Valentina Vela

BA, NYU Abu Dhabi

Valentina was born in Cali, Colombia and at the age of nine moved to Lima, Peru, where she has lived with her parents and younger sister for 15 years. In 2015, Valentina graduated with a bachelor's degree in Theater from NYU Abu Dhabi. While at NYUAD, Vela began developing Headspace, a series of documentary performances based on interviews around campus. She was also a Resident Assistant, a member of the Women's Leadership Network, and worked extensively with Hall Council.