Sharon Sputz
Director of Strategic Programs
Contact Information:
212-854-6966 (Office)
201-787-6746 (Mobile)
1401 Northwest Corner Building

Sharon has combined experience in business strategy and technical research. Prior to joining the Institute in 2014, Sharon spent 11 years at BAE Systems identifying and pursuing new business opportunities in leading edge technology. She began her career at Bell Laboratories managing and coordinating material characterization as well as developing new and innovative tools. Sharon moved on to become the Strategic Marketing Manager at Lucent/Agere with a variety of responsibilities: from leading the technical evaluation of merger and acquisition candidates to defining product planning for the optical networking group and components. Sharon received a Bachelor of Science in Physics from State University of NY at Binghamton and a Masters of Science in Physics from Stevens Institute of Technology.


Jonathan Stark
Director of Operations
Contact Information:
1401 Northwest Corner Building

Jonathan has over ten years of professional experience working in higher education. As the Institute’s Director of Operations, he has oversight of the Institute’s financial management, human resources, and day-to-day operations. Prior to joining the Institute in 2013, he served as the Assistant Dean of Graduate Student and Postdoctoral Affairs (2011-2013) and Student Affairs Officer (2005-2011) for the Office of Graduate Student Affairs for the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science. His expertise includes academic administration, student development and advising, conflict resolution, university admissions, event planning and management. Jonathan holds a B.A. in Psychology from Western CT State University, an M.A. Applied Organizational Psychology from Fairfield University, and an M.A. in Higher Education from Teachers College of Columbia University.  In his spare time, Jonathan performs regularly as a bassoonist and clarinetist with a number of local community orchestras and music ensembles.

Leslie Barna
Assistant Director
of Operations
Contact Information:
1401 Northwest Corner Building

Leslie joined the Institute as Assistant Director of Operations in August 2014. In her role, working closely with the Directors of Operations and of Strategic Programs, she is focused primarily on managing the administrative functions of the Institute’s academic programs and industry affiliates program. Leslie has been with Columbia University since 2010 when she started as Executive Assistant to the Vice Dean of The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science. In 2011, she was promoted to Assistant Director of Academic and Faculty Affairs and in 2013 served as Department Administrator for the Department of Earth and Environmental Engineering. Prior to joining the Columbia community, she spent five years in the Tampa Bay area of Florida, serving as a Support Specialist with Raymond James Financial Services and later as a Curriculum Support Specialist with St. Petersburg College, before deciding to return to her hometown of Brooklyn, New York. Leslie holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from SUNY Albany. In her spare time, Leslie enjoys Netflix binges, perfecting her golf swing, traveling, and adoring her French bulldog, Fiona.

Brianne Cortese
Assistant Director of Admissions & Academic Affairs
Contact Information:
1401 Northwest Corner Building

Brianne joined DSI as the Program Coordinator in October 2014. She assists with coordinating the Institute's admissions process and provides strategic day-to-day support for the Institute's academic affairs, special events, and building of the Institute's educational offerings.  Additionally, Brianne provides administrative support to the Institute's Director. Prior to joining the Institute, Brianne was an Assistant Director of Graduate Admissions at William Paterson University of New Jersey and an Executive Assistant at a boutique investment bank in New York City.

Sharnice Ottley
Program Coordinator

Contact Information:
407 S.W. Mudd

Sharnice Ottley joined the Institute as a Program Coordinator in September 2016. She provides support for the Institute's day-to-day operations and special events. Sharnice earned her bachelor's degree in Visual Arts Administration and Communications from Baruch College. Before coming aboard at Columbia, she has had experience working in education, museum studies and event planning. In her spear time, Sharnice enjoys taking ballet classes, fantasizing over the latest fashion trends and learning as much as she can from the world around her.


Rachel Fuld Cohen
Assistant Director of Student Services & Career Development
Contact Information:
431 S.W. Mudd

Rachel joined the Institute in November 2014 as the Career Development Officer. In this capacity, she partners with students, corporations, and industry affiliates to leverage student talent into career opportunities. Rachel has prior experience working as a Career Consultant at Golden Gate University and a Graduate Advisor at San Francisco State University. Rachel’s corporate experience is in recruiting for companies such as HBO and Axiom Law. She received her Masters in Counseling, with a specialization in Career Counseling, from San Francisco State University and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Columbia University. Rachel’s interest in working with professionals in transition was reflected in her Masters thesis titled Connectwork: An Interactive Mobile Application for Counselors to use with Mid-Career Job Seekers. When Rachel has a free moment, she enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, eating candy and listening to podcasts.


Robert Florida
Assistant Director of Strategic Communications and Media Relations
Contact Information:
212-851-4240 (Office)
201-725-6435 (Mobile)

Robert is a writer who delights in turning complex scientific research into plain and simple English. It’s his job to promote the Institute’s myriad successes, which include pioneering research, educating the next generation of data scientists and collaborating with industry partners. As Assistant Director of Strategic Communications and Media Relations, Robert focuses on the Institute’s harnessing of data to foster innovation, solve societal problems and develop New York City as a thriving tech center. Before DSI, Robert was a staff writer for Columbia University’s Teachers College, where he promoted the college’s effort to improve education and eliminate inequality in America’s schools. And before Teachers College, he worked at New Jersey Institute of Technology for 15 years as a writer and public relations director. He wrote about STEM research, humanitarian engineering and the success of first-generation students. He has a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism and a master’s in literature from Middlebury College. He also studied English Literature at Oxford University’s Lincoln College. While a journalist, he worked at daily newspapers, weeklies and magazines in the metro region. He also taught journalism and writing at three colleges.


Daniel Alicea
Associate Director of Finance and Grants Management
Contact Information:
431 S.W. Mudd

Daniel has been with Columbia University for over 10 years working in various positions at the Universities Medical Center & Morningside Campus. As Associate Director of Finance and Grants Management for the Institute, he works closely with the Director of Operations, managing the financial aspects of the institute, including setting up the financial structure of the Institute, assisting with sponsored project proposal budgets, coordinating with the Institutes centers on their financial needs and other day-to-day financial matters.

Mark A. Habana
Associate Director of Research and Grants Development
Contact Information:
1401 Northwest Corner Building

Mark joined the Data Science Institute in January 2016 tasked with building the Institute's grants portfolio in both public and private sector funding. He began his professional career as an Analytical Chemist at Nabisco and later Kraft's R&D organization, where he was involved in both research projects and company diversity initiatives. An eventual career transition led to positions at Liberty Science Center, Columbia University and NYU School of Medicine in the areas of grant fundraising and sponsored projects administration. Mark received a Bachelors Degree in Biology and English from The College of New Jersey. He also received his MPA in Non-Profit Management from Seton Hall University and a Master of Science in Fundraising Management at Columbia University.

Eileen Irizarry
Financial Coordinator
Contact Information:
431 S.W. Mudd

Eileen joined the Data Science Institute as the Financial Coordinator in January 2015. She works closely with the Business Manager assisting with grants management and the day-to-day financial needs of the Department. Eileen started at Columbia University in 2012 as the Administrative Assistant in the Earth and Environmental Engineering Department. In 2013, she assumed the role as the EEE Department's Financial Assistant. Prior to joining Columbia University, she spent two years as a College Assistant in the Psychology Department at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, while working towards earning a BA/MA in Forensic Psychology.


Michael Holve
Assistant Director of Information Technology
Contact Information:
1004 Northwest Corner Building

Michael is responsible for the design, implementation, and maintenance of the internal IT infrastructure for the Data Science Institute. He is a business-oriented technology leader with proficiencies in IT infrastructure solutions architecture, technology management, strategic planning and implementation, project management, business process integration and standardization. Prior to joining the Institute, Michael has helped a variety of organizations ranging from small startups to larger corporations achieve their Information Technology goals, employing best of breed practices in both eCommerce and Enterprise spaces. His experience started at the dawn of the personal computer age and has for the last 20+ years been deeply involved the next epoch - the Internet age. Specializing in the architecture of fault-tolerant, highly-available infrastructures utilizing Unix systems, networking and a variety of mass storage. He’s been a proponent of the Linux operating system since its beginning - and a contributor to Open Source Software.

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