RISE-UP Faculty Fellows

WHAT IS Faculty Fellows?

Faculty Fellows is a paid program strategically focused on enhancing faculty knowledge and involvement in Innovation and Entrepreneurship (I&E) at URI. The program seeks to establish an active, collaborative network of colleagues who are motivated to integrate an entrepreneurial mindset into their teaching and research. It supports the URI 10 year strategic plan.

Through targeted and custom training, faculty fellows will learn key tools and techniques on how to incorporate the Lean Startup methodology into the design of their program curricula and effectively teach teams on tackling real world challenges. A major goal with this program is to stimulate greater innovation & entrepreneurship culture at URI in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Mathematics) education, to seed + grow research, and grow entrepreneurial thinking across all colleges of URI.

In October 2023, 401 Tech Bridge is inviting applications for the inaugural cohort in Spring 2024, when training will commence. Integration of learning outcomes with curriculum is expected your Fall 2024 course. Applications have now been closed.

As part of the RISE-UP initiative, funded by the Office of Naval Research, the program will foster the integration of key lean startup methodology principles into course curricula to nurture the next generation of innovators & entrepreneurs.

Faculty Fellows initiative is aimed at building a sustainable community of
practice and culture of innovation and entrepreneurship.

Training & Support for faculty

Faculty Fellows will be equipped with the skills they need to teach innovation & entrepreneurship through exposure to best practices. Training will include seminars, in-person sessions with SMEs, industry experts, trainers, instructional designers, reading synthesis of materials, site visits and more. Fellows will have access to instructional videos, resources and materials to teach students Lean practices such as Business Model Canvas and Customer Discovery both inside and outside the classroom.

Digital Resources will be created to keep Fellows up-to-date with their knowledge and skills in Lean Methodology. This growing repository will ensure curriculum and teaching practices stays relevant as well as aligned with rapidly developing technology, workforce and business environment.

Teaching and mentoring sessions can be formal or informal. Sessions can take the form of virtual or in-person meets, facilitated by the RISE-UP team as per the requirements of the trainees and convenience of the Fellows. These sessions will hone faculty skills through real-time mentoring opportunities and build their network outside the classroom setting.


integration of I&E with Curricula

Faculty Fellows will convene regularly to examine their current curricula and brainstorm possible strategies to integrate innovation & entrepreneurship. Fellows will have additional classes and/or content in areas related to process improvement, quality improvement, inter-professional education, leadership and research methods ware possible outcomes. Fellows will have the opportunity to create activities/assignments in classroom environments to enhance student I&E skills + entrepreneurial mindset.


A key part of the initiative is focused on connecting different departments of URI department in an attempt to grow the individual faculty member’s skill-set and best practices.

The program is expected to bring together faculty from science, technology, engineering, business, policy and arts for the creation of unique and creative approach to teaching.

Fellows are encouraged to seek cross-disciplinary activities, and the program will aim to provide opportunities for networking and collaborative projects.


Ideally the program will home in all colleges of URI during the first year of its development. The program aims to develop a consistent and systematic process of growing innovation & entrepreneurship in a supportive environment.

To position faculty at the helm of this budding ecosystem, fellows will have access to a network consisting of government agencies and industry partners. They will also receive visibility, access to grant writing workshops, and other support that may help with funding opportunities. Upon completion of the program, fellows will also be invited to volunteer as mentors to team and individuals on an ad-hoc basis during RISE-UP program. They will be invited to recruit new fellows for the next cohort.

Fellows will also have the opportunity to engage with and build relationships with RISE-UP cohorts in the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the University of Hawai’i.

Who should apply?

The application gives people a chance to pitch how they envision fitting with the program’s need for earlyvangelists – people who see the benefit of I&E in their curriculum and are looking to help shape the direction of the program. Expectations are outlined on the application site below. The 401 Tech Bridge RISE-UP program supports one Innovation and Entrepreneurship faculty fellow (INE-FF) per college, per academic calendar, in designing and teaching new or modified curriculum under the goals of the RISE-UP program, elaborated in the application form below.

Applications will re-open in Fall 2024.


Nancy Forster-Holt, Ph.D., C.M.A., M.B.A., R.F.G.
Clinical Associate Professor


Lead Faculty Fellow in innovation Nancy Forster-Holt, PhD, MBA, CMA, RFG, is Clinical Associate Professor in the College of Business. At URI, she developed the interdisciplinary Innovation and Entrepreneurship major, minor, and certificate programs. Her teaching interests include Lean Startup, Innovation and entrepreneurship, Intrepreneurship, Acquisition entrepreneurship, and small and new venture accounting and finance. She is an advocate of real-world learning through ‘stimulation, not simulation’ and in her award-winning INE149 course, every student starts a side-hustle business. Her research interests include: gerontology and aging of business owners, innovation in existing (and family) businesses (‘intrepreneurship’), gendered investigations of business owner retirement (“ENDrepreneurship”), and entrepreneurial and small firm exit and acquisition strategies. Dr. Forster-Holt has presented her research nationally and internationally, including on the TEDx stage. Prior to academia, she had a 25-year career in public accounting and tax (Ernst and Young, NYC and Sacramento, CA), and as CFO of the second largest credit union in Maine. She was CFO of a tech startup and also co-owner of a family business, the manufacturing company Shaw & Tenney, which was a finalist for the Maine Family Business of the year.


Brennan T. Phillips
Associate Professor of Engineering
Ocean Engineering

Brice Loose
Associate Professor of Oceanography
Marine and Atmospheric Chemistry and Physical Oceanography

Cynthia Taylor
Lecturer in Honors College

Izabela Ciesielska-Wrobel
Assistant Professor
Textiles, Fashion Merchandising and Design

Megan Echevarria
Professor of Spanish and Film/Media
College of Arts & Sciences

Saheli Goswami
Assistant Professor
Textiles, Fashion Merchandising and Design

Thaís São-João
Assistant Professor
College of Nursing

Vic Fay-Wolfe
Professor of Computer Science

Virginia Lemay
Clinical Professor
College of Pharmacy

Yuwen Chen
Professor of Supply Chain Management
Director of Online Program of M.S. in Healthcare Management

Meet our team

Erik Brine
Director of Defense R&D Initiatives and Operations

Pete Rumsey
Program Executive

Ancita Sherel
Program Manager

Joe Loberti

Linda Larsen
Operations Manager

Madara Mason

Special thanks

Madara Mason has been shaping Faculty Fellows with a creative and scientific vigor Her contribution and advise in the formation of a successful program at URI has been extremely valuable. The RISE-UP team is extremely grateful for her role as a partner throughout this program.

Special thanks to our all our partners and teammates at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and University of Hawai’i who have collaborated with us over months to make this project a success.