New Faces in the College of Health Sciences and Professional Studies


Clinical Sciences

Eric Burdick joins the faculty in the Clinical Sciences Department as an Instructor and Program Director for the Respiratory Therapy Program.  Eric earned his MBA at NMU, BS in Health Administration from the University of Phoenix, and AAS in Respiratory Care from Duluth Technical College.  His credentials include a RRT and CRTT from the National Board for Respiratory Care.  Eric served as the Clinical Education Coordinator for the past three years in the NMU/ Marquette General Health System Respiratory Therapy Program.  Previously, Eric served as a manager for two home medical equipment departments and a supervisor in a Respiratory Care Department.  Eric has also worked as a staff practitioner in several Respiratory Care Departments.  When not at work Eric enjoys being with family, hunting, fishing, and relaxing with friends.

Heather Isaacson joins the Clinical Sciences Department as Assistant Professor in the Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences Program. She has earned a Master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology. She holds a Certificate of Clinical Competency in Speech-Language Pathology through the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Heather’s diversity and efforts to continue to grow professionally in Speech-Language Pathology have exposed her to different aspects of the field. She has obtained experience working in the public school setting in self-contained classrooms as well as in the preschool, elementary school, middle school, and high school setting. Earlier work in the health care setting provided invaluable experience that helped her gain knowledge about managing problems related to swallowing, communication, and cognitive-linguistic disorders that affect patients' overall health, well-being, and ability to benefit from other medical or rehabilitation interventions. Additionally, she has delivered guest lectures to graduate students at Michigan State University students in Speech-Language Pathology and Osteopathic Medicine Programs.  Heather’s husband, Tom Isaacson is an Assistant Professor in the CAPS department. They have two children, Lyla who is two-years old, and Elyise who is five-months old. In her spare time, Heather enjoys being with her family, skiing, reading, travelling, and hiking.

Dean Valensky joins the Faculty in the Respiratory Therapy program as the Clinical Education Coordinator.  Dean earned his BS in Biology from NMU then attended the Respiratory Therapy Program at the University of Chicago. He is a Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) and holds state licenses in Respiratory Care in Michigan and Wisconsin. He has over 30 years of Respiratory Care experience.  He served as the Director of Respiratory Care at Marquette General Hospital for 12 years and as Director of Cardiopulmonary Services, Director of Allied Health Services and Director of Occupational Health Services during his 15 year tenure at Bell Hospital in Ishpeming. He has also been self-employed as a Respiratory Care and Occupational Health consultant. Dean’s daughter Kelly is an NMU graduate and teaches 7th & 8th grade Math and Science in Marquette where she lives with her son Charlie.  His son Jeff is a Civil Engineering graduate of Michigan Tech and is employed by Newkirk Electric in Muskegon. Dean has a small hobby farm in Skandia and enjoys gardening, fishing, hunting, swimming and any other activities which allow him to spend time outdoors.


Abby Cameron-Standerford, Director of Field Experiences. Abby joined the NMU School of Education during the winter 2012 on a term position to serve as the Director of Field Experiences. Abby is a graduate of NMU and is currently completing her doctoral program at Central Michigan University. Abby brings twelve years of classroom experience with a focus on special education. She has been an integral part of the NMU teacher education program through the supervision of practicum students and student teachers. She is the 2010 Marquette-Alger Regional Education Support Agency Special Education Parent Advisory Committee Educator of the Year and is a 2009 and 2010 recipient of the Michigan King-Chavez-Parks Initiative Future Faculty Fellowship to support educators who wish to work in higher education.

Chris Standerford joined NMU as the Director of the Glenn T. Seaborg Mathematics and Science Center in the January of 2013.  Chris is a graduate of NMU, earning both his Bachelors and Masters degrees in Science education here.  Prior to joining the Seaborg Center, Chris worked for fifteen years in public education, teaching a wide variety of high school science courses at Marquette Senior High School. In addition to teaching for the Marquette Area Public Schools, he served as the Director of the Shiras Planetarium in Marquette from 2002 to 2013.  Chris has also been an adjunct instructor for the Physics Department at NMU teaching both Astronomy and Physics laboratory classes for the past ten years.  Chris is married Dr. Abby Cameron-Standerford who is currently the Director of Field Experiences for the School of Education.  He is also the son of Dr. Suzanne Standerford, a professor in the School of Education. Chris has two young daughters and enjoys spending time with them playing and enjoying the outdoors.

Engineering Technology

 William (Bill) Haupt after five years as an adjunct Bill Haupt has joined the Engineering Technology Department as a term instructor in electronics.  Bill teaches courses in industrial electronics and was instrumental in the establishment of the power technician curriculum.

Bill graduated from NMU with a degree in Industrial Education in 1972 and following a brief teaching career spent 30 years with UPPCO (Upper Penisula Power Company) working in generation, transmission, substations and metering.

Bill lives with his wife Sandy in Negaunee.


Jason Bishop will be joining the HPER Department in January 2013 as an assistant professor in a tenure track position in Physical Education. Jason is completing his Ph.D. in Kinesiology with an emphasis in Adapted Physical Education. He most recently worked as supervisor of the Adapted Physical Education Program at the University of Virginia. Jason’s research interests are in Adapted Physical Education.

Dr. Sara Breen is joining the HPER Department for the 2012-13 academic year. She will be replacing Dr. Randy Jensen while he is away on sabbatical. Dr. Breen recently graduated from the University of Ireland where she earned her Ph.D. in Biomechanics/Sports Injury. Dr. Breen’s area of emphasis is in lower limb mechanics and coordination variability. Dr. Breen enjoys competing in marathons, half marathons, and adventure races.

Breeanne Carlson has been hired into the HPER Department as an instructor in a one-year term position. Breeanne earned a BS in Health and an MA in Exercise Science from NMU. She taught as an adjunct instructor for the 2011-12 academic year. She will be teaching health classes for the 2012-13 academic year. Breeanne has been training in weightlifting with the USOEC for the past three years.

Dr. Scott Drum is joining the HPER Department as an assistant professor in a tenure track position in Sport and Exercise Science. He most recently worked at Western State Colorado University where he taught and served as the Director of the High Altitude Performance Lab. Dr. Drum earned a Ph.D. from the University of Colorado in Exercise Physiology with a minor in Applied Statistics/Research Methods. His research interests include altitude and human performance and clinical exercise prescription, training, and testing in cancer survivors. Dr. Drum and his wife Liz are new residents of Harvey. Dr. Drum enjoys trail running, mountaineering and rock climbing.

Dr. Lanae Joubert has been hired as an assistant professor in a one-year term position. She earned a Ph.D. in Nutrition and Food Management from Oregon State University. Most recently Dr. Joubert was the Director of Corporate Wellness at Advantedge Training. Dr. Joubert’s research interests include sports nutrition and sports performance. Dr. Joubert resides in Marquette with her husband Keith and children Taylor and Larson. Dr. Joubert enjoys mountain biking, swimming, hiking, and playing with her children.

Brian Myers has been hired as an instructor in a three-year term position. Brian was first hired into a one-year term position for the 2011-12 academic year. Brian earned a BA in Physical Education from Albion College, an MA in Physical Education Pedagogy from Western Michigan University, and a second MA in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University. He has Teacher Certification for K-12 Physical Education and 7-12 English. Brian, his wife Kim, and children live in Harvey.

Military Science

(SMI) SFC (P) James Hoffman is from Lake Linden,  Michigan, he graduated from Lake Linden-Hubbell High School with the class of 1991.  He began his career in the Army on 1 Aug 1991, completed basic training at Fort McClelland, AL, and AIT at Fort Bliss, TX as a MANPADS crew member.

SFC Hoffman duty assessments include A BRTY 5-5 ADA RC-4 South Korea.  C BTRYT 1-5 ADA  Fort Stewart , GA.  HHC BDE 6th ID Light Fort Wainwright, AK.  ADA BTRY 1/11 ACR Fort Irwin, CA.  C BTRY 3-4 ADAR  Fort Bragg, NC.,  HHB BDE 35th ADA BDE Osan Airbase South Korea, HHB BDE 108th ADA BDE Fort Bragg, NC,  A CO HHBN 82nd ABN DIV Fort Bragg, NC.  SFC Hoffman's combat deployments are Operation Enduring Freedom 1 and 8, Operation Iraq Freedom 1, and deployed in support of Operation America Assists to New Orleans, LA to support Hurricane Katrina.

SFC has held many leadership positions to include MANPADS crew member, Bradley driver and gunner, Arctic Light Individual Training Instructor (ALIT) Stinger Team Chief, Stinger and Avenger section Sergeant, Brigade S-3 NCOIC and Division ADAM cell NCOIC.

SFC Hoffman has completed several schools in is army career to include  WLC, ALC, SLC , Battle Staff, Equal Opportunity, Air Load planners course, Airborne School, Jumpmaster School, US Air force Arctic Survival School, Bradley Net Training, Air Movement Operation Course, Unit Movement Operation Course, TCAIMS Course and Personnel Recovery 300/301 Course.

SFC Hoffman's awards and decoration include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal,  Meritorious Service Medal, Army Accommodation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Army  Good Conduct Medal, Nation Defense Service Ribbon,  Afghanistan Campaign Medal ,Iraq Campaign Medal, , Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Korea Defense Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, Non-Commissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, ISAF NATO Medal, Over Seas Service Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Army Meritorious Unit Award, Master Parachutist Badge, Combat Action Badge, Egyptian Jump Wings, German Jump Wings and British Jump Wings.

SFC Hoffman has over 61 credit hours of college and plans to finish his degree in the near future.  He is married to Gina L. (DeRoche) Hoffman of Hubbell, MI and they have 5 children.

Second Lieutenant Jake Pfiester was born in Jacksonville, FL and moved to Rapid River MI in 1992. He is the son of Alan Pfiester and has two older brothers, Sergeant Patrick Pfiester (MP), and First Lieutenant John Pfiester (IN) and two younger sisters, Heidi Pfiester and Heather Pfiester.

In the fall of 2008 he attended Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Michigan, where he joined the ROTC program. Lieutenant Pfiester attended basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, MO in the summer of 2009. He joined the MI Army National Guard as a Bridge Crew Member (12C). He joined the Michigan National Guard's Simultaneous Membership Program as part of the 1437th Multi-Role Bridge Company out of Sault Ste. Marie, MI in the fall of 2009. He achieved a Bachelors of Science degree in History as well as a minor in Military Science and commissioned in May of 2012.

Following graduation and commissioning, Lieutenant Pfiester took over as 2nd Bridge Platoon Leader for the 1437th MRBC. He filled one of Michigan's two Gold Bar recruiting positions for the National Guard. Lieutenant Pfiester will be attending Engineer BOLC in Fort Leonard Wood, MO in February of 2013.

Second Lieutenant Morgan Steele was born in Arlington Heights, IL. She is the daughter of Eric and Lori Steele and has two younger brothers. Lieutenant Steele graduated from Dundee-Crown High School in Carpentersville, IL in 2008.

In the fall of 2008 she attended Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Michigan, where she was a 4 year ROTC scholarship recipient. Lieutenant Steele traveled to China in the Cultural Understanding Language Program through ROTC, where she taught six year old children English. She achieved a Bachelors of Arts degree in Spanish and a minor in Military Science and commissioned in May of 2012.

Following graduation and commissioning, Lieutenant Steele traveled to Cuba where she attended classes at the University of Matanzas. She will attend the Transportation Officers Basic Course at Fort Lee, Virginia in May of 2013. She is currently serving as the operations officer in the 459th Transportation (PLS) Company in Elwood, IL.

MSgt Gilliam was born on 29 June, 1970 in Flint, Michigan.  He is a 1988 graduate of Swartz Creek High School, Swartz Creek, Michigan and he holds two Community College of the Air Force degrees. One in Electronic Systems Technology and the other as an Instructor of Military Science and Technology.

MSgt Gilliam Joined the United States Air Force on 12 October, 1988 when he attended basic training at Lackland AFB, Texas.  After completing Basic Military Training, he attended four months of technical training for Aerospace Ground Equipment (AGE) Mechanic at Chanute AFB, Illinois.  As an AGE Mechanic sergeant Gilliam served at Clark AB, Philippines from 1989 – 1991 and Wurtsmith AFB, Michigan from 1991-1992.  Due to career field saturation MSgt Gilliam was forced to cross-train where he selected Ground Radio Maintenance and he proceeded to Keesler AFB, Mississippi for six months of technical training for his new career choice.  MSgt Gilliam’s first assignment in the Ground Radio career field was at K. I. Sawyer AFB, Michigan where he served from 1992 until it closed in 1995.  After closing down K. I. Sawyer AFB, sergeant Gilliam was assigned to Fairchild AFB, Washington where he worked in the fixed radio shop.  After a year of working on fixed radios he transferred over to the Mobile Communications section.  He later worked in the Maintenance Support and Land Mobile Radio sections.  In 2005 MSgt Gilliam was assigned to Moody AFB, Georgia where he did a 4 year tour with the 820th Security Forces Group.  Finally in 2009 MSgt Gilliam arrived at Keesler AFB, Mississippi for his final assignment where he served as an Instructor Supervisor and Flight Chief of the Radio Frequency Transmissions Flight in the 338th Training Squadron.

MSgt Gilliam is the recipient of two Air Force Meritorious Service Medals, Joint Service Commendation Medal, two Air Force Commendation Medals, four Air Force Achievement Medals, Army Achievement Medal, Combat Readiness Medal, eight Air Force Good Conduct Medals, and the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal.  He has also received numerous quarterly awards and letters of appreciation.

MSgt Gilliam is married to the former Melissa Jean Osantowski of Cass City Michigan.  They currently reside in Biloxi, Mississippi and have two children:  Alexander and Melanie.


Natalie Pianetto, One year term Instructor: I was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago and then moved to Iowa City to attend nursing school at the University of Iowa College of Nursing.  Upon graduating with my BSN in 2005, I spent a year back in Chicago working in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Advocate Lutheran General Children's Hospital.  Then, I returned to the University of Iowa to begin study in the PNP program and continued working in pediatrics.  At this time, I took a teaching assistantship and discovered a passion for educating future nurses.  I ended up shifting the focus of my graduate program to nursing education and completed my MSN in 2008.

I spent the next few years teaching for the University of Iowa College of nursing in both the BSN and MSN-CNL programs.  I had the opportunity to lecture, teach in the clinical setting, and work with students in the simulation laboratory.  At the same time, I kept up my skills as a nurse by working in an Adult Medical and Stroke Unit.  I also served as an adjunct nursing faculty for a local community college and taught NCLEX review courses for Kaplan.

In the fall of 2011, I made the decision to move up to the UP, as my boyfriend Ryan is from the area and has 3 young children living up here (Ayden-8, Morgan-6, and Olivia-5).  I officially moved up in April and began working for Upper Peninsula Home Health and Hospice.  I love the area and am so happy to be here.  We have had a busy summer with all of the kids' activities (dance, soccer, and baseball) and took them down to Chicago for the first time to visit family and go to the zoo and museums.  I am so excited to get back to academia and am honored to be teaching for the School of Nursing at Northern Michigan University.  I look forward to meeting everyone and getting started this semester!

Kristen L. Smith is honored to be teaching at Northern Michigan University, to share her 21 years of nursing experience with the future of the nursing profession.  She graduated from Northern Michigan University in 1991 with her Bachelors of Science in nursing degree.  She then began her career in nursing by working on the Pediatric and Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU) at Marquette General Hospital.  Kristen took on the role of a transport nurse in the level-three NICU.  Next the position of Assistant Nurse Manager (ANM) of NICU and Obstetrics opened and she advanced to that role.  In that role she became Perinatal Outreach Coordinator and an instructor for Pediatric Advanced Life Support, the Neonatal Resuscitation Program, and the STABLE program.  After four years as ANM the position of Clinical Director for OB and NICU opened and she advanced to that position.  In 2012 she has taught as an adjunct instructor for the department of nursing.  She is certified in Neonatal Nursing by the National Certification Corporation (NCC) and is actively pursuing her Masters in Nursing Education.

Kristen was born and raised in Marquette.  She married Scott R. Smith (also a graduate from NMU in 1991 from the Art and Design Department) in 1992.  They have two children, Kyle who is a freshman at Marquette Senior High School and involved in Hockey, Football, Soccer and Golf.  Claire is in 6th grade at Bothwell Middle School, she dances and has been in plays in Marquette.  As a family they enjoy traveling, golf and the outdoors.

Sociology and Social Work

BSW, Virginia Commonwealth University, 1999
MSW, Virginia Commonwealth University, 2002
PhD, Virginia Commonwealth University, 2012

Dr. Abigail Kauffman Wyche joins the NMU faculty this year after obtaining her PhD at VCU's School of Social Work in Richmond, Virginia.  Dr. Wyche's primary scholarship interests center around the professional resilience among helpers--or the process by which human services professionals become and remain committed, healthy, happy and effective in their practice of helping others.  Her interest in this topic was first spurned during her career as a child welfare worker, a field of social work in which she directly observed how the high incidence of burnout and turnover seemed to impact the quality of care given to vulnerable children.  Over time, with experience and study, she has become aware of how sophisticated the process of resilience is, and the many potential points at which a social worker’s resilience might be enhanced.

One of those potential points, organizational leadership and culture, steered her to take a position as Executive Director of Volunteer Families (a nonprofit, short-term foster care agency) as well as to participate in several evaluations of a variety of social work agencies in order to better understand organizational culture’s role in resiliency.

Another point at which professional resilience seems to be enhanced, supervision, became the topic of her dissertation titled, “Responding to the Child Welfare Workforce Crisis Here and Now:  A Constructivist Approach to Understanding Supervision.”

Finally, it was yet another of those potential points, social work education and specifically field education, led her to seek the position of field coordinator at NMU.  As a former field student and field instructor, Dr. Wyche has had the fortunate opportunity to experience and observe an unusually high number of those light-bulb moments, when theory, research and classroom education all finally start to make sense in a real world practice setting.  It’s in those moments that it seems that sustainable passion is born in a learner and future practitioner.

And so, Dr. Wyche has moved her family from the hot and humid South (where flurries cause traffic pile-ups) to the land of lake-effects here in Marquette, with every optimism that she will continue to witness many, many more light-bulb moments, and with hopes that her ongoing research will play some small role in promoting a healthier, happier, more committed and more effective social work workforce.

Technology and Occupational Sciences

Ross Christensen
has worked in the HVAC/R field for 17 years. Starting in 1995, while he was attending NMU, he worked in the NMU Energy Management Department, and also for Honeywell Home & Building Controls Division. Ross graduated from NMU in 1996 with an Associate Degree in Climate Control Technology. In 1997, he was accepted into the Upper Peninsula Plumbers & Pipefitters, U.A. Local 414 (Now Local 111) apprenticeship training school, and graduated in September 2000. Ross worked as an installer, and as a HVAC/R service technician for various union mechanical contractors in the Marquette Area. In 2005, he started working here at NMU, as an HVAC Specialist for NMU Plant Operations.  Ross is EPA Universally Certified, a Michigan Licensed Journeyman Plumber, a Michigan Licensed Mechanical Contractor, a Michigan Licensed Boiler Installer (2B). UA Journeyman Pipefitter, and UA Star Certified in HVAC/R.

Ross enjoys spending time with his wife, Jamie, and his daughter Clara and doing the usual Yooper activities hunting, fishing, and relaxing at camp.

Megan Keiser Instructor –TAS, is excited to begin her first year as an Instructor in the Hospitality Management program in the fall of 2012.  Ms. Keiser has held a wide variety of positions within the hospitality industry.  Positions include: front desk; housekeeping; restaurant cook, cashier, expediter, shift manager; and snowboard instructor.  Since receiving her hospitality management degree from NMU in 2008, Megan’s work experience has been comprised of many prestigious companies in the industry: Vail Resorts in Colorado, Norwegian Cruise Line of America based in Honolulu, Hawaii, and The Biltmore Company located in Asheville, North Carolina where she worked in training and development.

Ms. Keiser traveled to Belize and India in 2011 to experience the food, people, and cultures of the beautiful countries while volunteering at rural schools and after school programs.  Megan is a mentor for the Student Leader Fellowship Program (SLFP) at NMU.

She is also a member of the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM).

Megan is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Training, Development and Performance Improvement at Northern Michigan University.  In her free time she loves to travel, read, and partake in outdoor activities.  In her new role as Instructor, she wishes to encourage all students to actively seek real-world experience before entering the work force to build the competence and confidence that will give them an edge in the future.

Yvonne LeMire, a sculptor, jeweler and welder works out of her studio and gallery located near the shore of Lake Superior. She graduated from Northern Michigan University in 1999 with a B.F.A. in Sculpture and a secondary concentration in furniture design.  She started work at NMU as an assistant instructor in 2000, and has been an adjunct instructor since 2005.  She has taught welding, jewelry and sculpture classes. Yvonne has also assisted a regional grant funded project called ‘All Day Art Day’ as an instructor.  She is an American Welding Society certified welder and much of her custom commissioned work can be seen throughout the Marquette area. Yvonne joined the Studio Gallery in 1996 as an assistant and became gallery manager and an exhibiting artist. In 2008 she opened Fern Place Art Space with two partners. She has won numerous awards, was included in the March/April 2007 edition of Art Showcase Magazine in ‘The Art of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula’ segment and was a feature story in 1999 for Michigan Public Radio’s Arts and Humanities Radio Project.