Meet Our Leadership Team

Uttam Gaulee


As President, Dr. Uttam Gaulee sets vision and direction for the Society of Transnational Academic Researchers (STAR) to grow membership in our global grassroots network. He serves as the senior ambassador for the network by actively building institutional membership and negotiating organization-to-organization partnerships that advance our mission. 

Uttam Gaulee, Ph.D., is a professor of higher education administration and policy. His research interests include community college systems, diaspora studies, interdisciplinary perspectives on education policy, global citizenship, and cross-cultural issues in international development and geopolitics. A professor in the Community College Leadership Doctoral Program at Morgan State University, Dr. Gaulee is an advocate of community college as a vehicle for social progress and economic development in and beyond the U.S. He recently edited a volume on Global Adaptations of Community College Infrastructure. Dr. Gaulee has devoted two decades of his academic and professional life promoting solutions related to student success, workforce development, and institutional effectiveness. While serving as program director of the Community College Futures Assembly and Bellwether College Consortium during 2012-16, he collaborated with multiple national commissions and councils of the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) to evaluate and promote best practices among community colleges and hosted national policy summits on workforce development, reverse transfer, and talent pipeline management. More about President Gaulee is available at: STAR President – Dr. Uttam Gaulee – STAR Scholars Network

Krishna Bista

Senior Executive Vice President and Head, STAR Publications

As Executive Vice President and Editor for Publications, Dr. Krishna Bista serves as Executive Editor of the STAR Book Series and related publications. He supports VPs and Directors by sharing knowledge of research and publication opportunities, resources, and processes. 

Dr. Krishna Bista Dr. Bista has published more than 60 papers in professional journals and ten books on a wide range of topics related to college access and success, international faculty issues, and global student mobility. He is a Professor in the Department of Advanced Studies, Leadership and Policy at Morgan State University, Maryland. Previously, Dr. Bista served as the director of Global Education at the University of Louisiana at Monroe, where he was Chase Endowed Professor of Education in the School of Education. Dr. Bista’s recent books include Online Teaching and Learning in Higher Education During Covid -19 (w/ Chan & Allen; Routledge); International Students at US Community Colleges (w/ Malveaux; Routledge); and Inequalities in Study Abroad and Student Mobility (w/ Kommers; Routledge). Dr. Bista is the Founding Editor of the Journal of International Students, a quarterly publication on international higher education; and the Founding Chair of CIES- Study Abroad and International Students SIG. He is also the senior editor of the Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies in Education. Dr. Bista presents annually at national and international conferences—American Educational Research Association, Comparative and International Educational Society, and Association for the Study of Higher Education.

Chris R. Glass

Executive Vice President of Design and Strategic Initiatives

As Executive Vice President of Design and Strategic Initiatives, Dr. Chris R. Glass supports VPs and Directors shaping the overall vision, direction, and strategy of the organization’s design and strategic initiatives. He also manages the Open Journal and Education (OJED) network of open access journals.

Chris R. Glass, PhD, is a Professor of Practice in Educational Leadership and Higher Education at the Boston College Lynch School of Education and Human Development and works within the Center for International Higher Education (CIHE). His research and writing focus on issues of equity, sustainability, and belonging in global student mobility. He is the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of International Students, the Co-Editor of the Routledge Studies in Global Student Mobility book series, and Vice President for Research and Public Policy at the STAR Scholars Network. He co-authored  the recent monograph by the American Council on Education (ACE) titled, Toward Greater Inclusion and Success: A New Compact for International Students and was the recipient of the NAFSA Innovative Research in International Education Award. He has a deep commitment to the transformative power of international education, developed through years of leading study abroad programs and strengthened by personal connections with international students and scholars around the world. His research has been published in the International Journal of Educational Development, Studies in Higher Education, Higher Education Research & Development, Compare, International Journal of Intercultural Relations, and the Journal of Studies in International Education.

Mousumi Mukherjee

Vice President of Research and Partnership Development

As Vice President of Research and Partnership Development of the STAR scholars network, Dr. Mousumi Mukherjee initiates research partnerships and host workshops to facilitate productive and creative intercultural dialogue amongst potential research partners to foster productive and successful research partnerships across borders.

Dr. Mousumi Mukherjee is an Associate Professor & Deputy Director of the International Institute for Higher Education Research and Capacity Building (IIHEd). She is Member Secretary of the Research Ethics and Review Board (RERB) and founding Executive Director of the Centre for Comparative and Global Education (CCGE), O.P. Jindal Global University. She is also an Honorary Senior Fellow of the University of Melbourne Graduate School of Education.

She is a Steering Committee Member of the Association of Commonwealth University’s (ACU) Supporting Research Community, a Research Standing Committee Member of the World Council of Comparative Education Societies (WCCES), an Executive Committee Member of the Indian Ocean Comparative Education Society (IOCES) and a life member of the Comparative Education Society of India (CESI).

She has received several awards for her exemplary teaching, research, and community engagement. She was a Fulbright teaching fellow in the United States in 2005. She received Phi Beta Delta Honor Society Medallion for her contribution to International Education, the Washington Centre Civic Engagement award, and Graduate Women Victoria International Doctoral Scholarship. Her doctoral thesis received honourable mention as a runner-up to the 2016 Gail. P. Kelly award for an outstanding doctoral dissertation that addresses social justice and equity issues in an international context by the Comparative and International Education Society (CIES). In 2016, she was also selected as an Emerging New Scholar fellow of the Oceania Comparative and International Education Society (OCIES). She was awarded the University of Melbourne Teaching Certification from their Centre for Studies of Higher Education in 2015. She also served as a Fellow and Country Director (India) for the STAR Scholars Network.

She has published over 30 research articles in internationally peer-reviewed journals and book chapters in edited books. She has served for over 4 years as the Associate Editor of Routledge journal- Diaspora, Indigenous and Minority Education. She has recently co-edited a book on higher education published by Springer. Currently, she is also serving as an International Advisory Board member of the Journal of Comparative and International Higher Education and an editorial board member of the Journal of Underrepresented and Minority Progress.

Thakur Gyawali

Vice President of Technology

As Vice President of Technology, Thakur Gyawali builds and enriches members’ online profiles to provide more personalized and targeted content to increase digital engagement. He provides member technical support to  something more scalable to provide 24×7 support and better user experience for common questions and technical issues.

Mr. Gyawali holds outstanding academic standing and brings a wealth of experience in the field of technology. He graduated from the Institute of Engineering in Electronics and Computer Engineering with distinction. A complete and thorough understanding of how computer hardware is build from scratch and how software runs in a hardware his his biggest accomplishment.  Electrical Engineer by training, Mr. Gyawali has been working in multiple technology organizations to develop enterprise scale software for Fortune 500 organizations. Building software platform, applications and tools from ground up is his core expertise. He has held leadership and strategic management positions in multiple organizations. He is in a mission to build a software platform to connect diaspora community to their homelands and provide a tool for talented individuals all over the world to become part of global social economy, irrespective of their location, racial, economic and social background. It is almost certain that the pace of migration of people across the world will continue to increase. He strongly believes that there should not be any physical distance barrier for love and opportunities.

Marvin Perry

Vice President of Development

As Vice President of Development, Marvin Perry leads initiatives that generate financial support that advances the mission, vision, and goals of our 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that increases opportunities for researchers, institutions, and partnership expansion. He sets annual membership fees and structure in consultation with the Executive VPs and prioritizes the development materials that will add value to membership and specifies indicators used to assess the benefits of membership. He serves as the primary contact to identify organizational funding opportunities through grants, fundraisers, and donations.

Marvin Perry is a MSU GESTAR Project Coordinator for Morgan State University. Also responsible for GESTAR/ NASA contract mentorship program, ensuring that all interns, faculty and mentors devote the appropriate amount of time towards mentoring and working with interns.  Report directly to the VP of Research Innovation Advocacy, by supporting the VP in coordinating projects and/or GESTAR activities under the MSU- GESTAR/ NASA TEAM project.  Responsible for managing, scheduling and communicating with the MSU-GESTAR NASA scientist and coordinating meetings and event activities.  Create and distribute needed materials for meetings and/or workshops for GESTAR related projects and assist interns in transportation needs.IRB meeting Coordinator:  assist in the applications submission process for the IRB Board.  Responsible for keeping the minutes and updating the IRB spreadsheets.  Met with IRB applicants and made sure the IRB application forms were filled out correctly. Work with the VP of Research Innovation Advocacy, in proposal writing and pre-awards activities. Assist staff in coordinating and photographing DRED events.

Country Directors


Natalie I. Cruz

Director of Cross-Border Initiatives

As Director of Cross-Border Initiatives, Dr. Natalie Cruz recruits Country Directors to include countries and areas where there is no current leader or representation, and sends appointment letters to all new Country Directors. She leads structured quarterly meetings for Country Directors to coordinate and plan with clearly defined goals and objectives, and she supports the work of the Country Directors through systems that facilitate the sharing of international mobility literature, statistics, and related research.

Dr. Cruz is an international education scholar and leader. She is the Assistant Director of Global Strategies and Initiatives at Emory University. In this role, she leads the implementation of initiatives to advance Emory’s global strategies. She was previously an assistant professor of Education at Charleston Southern University. 

She is the former Production Editor for the Journal of International Students, the Communications Chair for the Council for International Higher Education of ASHE, and holds leadership positions within STAR and NAFSA. She has worked in scholarly and practitioner roles in multiple national and institutional contexts and has researched and partnered in dozens of countries worldwide.  Her dissertation focused on academic and economic factors that related to international student enrollment over the last two decades, and her research focuses more broadly on changing modes of global student mobility, the holistic experiences of international students worldwide, and increasing access to international education. She was the 2020 recipient of the AIEA Harold Josephson Award for Professional Promise in International Education and a recipient of the 2021 CIES SAIS SIG Research Grant Award, as well as the 2021 Best Dissertation Award. 

Lisa Unangst

Director of Millennium Scholars Program 

As Director of Millennium Scholars Program, Dr. Lisa Unangst provides emerging and early career scholars with the opportunity to build the network and knowledge needed to advance their academic careers through mentor-mentee pairs. She leads marketing and recruitment efforts to expand and diversify participants in the Millennium Scholars Program and catalyze research across borders. Dr. Unangst initiates publications opportunities for ongoing research projects that have been spurred by mentorship pairings in the Millennium Scholars Program that provide a venue for publishing scholarship produced through cross-border mentor-mentee networks.

Dr. Lisa Unangst is an assistant professor of higher education leadership at SUNY Empire State College. Her research interests include higher education access and experience among displaced learners, as well as comparative and cross-national constructions of “diversity” in higher education. She is an associate editor of Higher Education Research and Development. Lisa has published in Comparative Education Review, the Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, and Higher Education Policy, among other outlets. Her dissertation, which examined how university equal opportunity plans construct “diversity” and facilitate the support of migrant and refugee students in the German case, was supported by the Ruth Landes Memorial Research Fund. She served as lead editor of the 2020 Brill-Sense publication Refugees and Higher Education: Trans-national Perspectives on Access, Equity, and Internationalization.

Shyam Sharma

Director of Certified STAR Scholars Program

Dr. Shyam Sharma directs the Certified STAR Scholars program that aims to connect, support, and promote scholars across borders in order to advance knowledge for global social good. The program provides hands-on experience for exploring the organization’s overarching vision and helps participants to develop their own professional development plans. It is designed to help scholars make their research, teaching, and community engagement more socially driven, transnationally connected, academically rigorous, and ethically sound.

Dr. Shyam Sharma is Associate Professor and Graduate Program Director in the Program in Writing and Rhetoric. His scholarship and teaching focus on writing in the disciplines, cross-cultural rhetoric, international students and education, new media in education, and issues about language and language policy. In addition to publishing his works in these areas in a variety of venues in and beyond Writing Studies, he writes for public venues in Nepal and the US. A recipient of Nepal Bidya Bhusan gold medal (2000), the national Cross Scholars Award (2012), and the State University of New York Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Faculty Service, Dr. Sharma contributes to regional and national professional organizations, as well as supporting students and faculty on campus through many service initiatives.

Mary J. McConner

Director of STAR Leadership Series 

As Director of the Leadership Series, Dr. Mary J. McConner interviews institutional leaders at different academic organizations (both nationally and internationally) to gain insight don their professional journeys so that they can be used as a resource for those wanting to transition into leadership positions. The series is designed for academics and scholars who are interested in transitioning into leadership roles in higher education.

Dr. Mary J. McConner, Ph.D., CDE is a higher education scholar-practitioner; 2021-2022 American Council on Education (ACE) Fellow; diversity, equity, and inclusion strategist; and founder of Inclusive Excellence Consulting, LLC. She has dedicated much of her professional career to understanding the evolving challenges impacting different organizational cultures and how to best foster environments committed to inclusive excellence. It is servant leadership and her commitment to transforming community through education, collaboration, and inclusion that motivates Mary most. 

Dr. McConner is an administrator and scholar who has worked at public research universities, land grant universities, and a private religious-affiliated postsecondary institution. Her previous roles include serving as vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion (chief diversity officer), chief of staff to the president, multicultural student services director, social justice committee leader, student affairs practitioner, international education advisor, and instructor. Furthermore, Mary is an executive board fundraising chair and board member for multiple professional and nonprofit organizations. 

Mary’s professional affiliations include active memberships with the Society for Diversity, National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education (NADOHE), Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), and Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education (NASPA). Additionally, she serves on the Board of Directors for the  NASPA Center for Women and Grand Valley State University Alumni Association.

Keith Wright

Director of Cultural Affairs
Chair, A. Noam Chomsky Global Connections Awards Committee

As Director of Cultural Affairs, Keith Wright designs leadership programs, presentations, and performances that explore how individual beliefs and values connect to action around the values of the Society of Transnational Academic Researchers (STAR). He partners with Country Directors to implement strategies for engagement and retention, and participate in research, teaching, and advising individual country teams as needed. He engages with Executive VPs to identify, prepare, and analyze HR metrics and provide reports that support decision making in specified areas as culturally appropriate for the country and micro-cultures in the country.

Keith Wright, D.M.A. is a results-driven professional, possessing a diversified background as a music educator/performer, project manager, research analyst, development researcher, and government consultant. He currently lives in Alexandria, Virginia where he teaches string and band ensembles, orchestras, and music classes, as well as maintains partnerships with area youth orchestras and promotes recruiting and retention.Dr. Wright is a grant recipient from the New Philharmonic Assistance Fund and a prize winner of the Baur Chamber Music Competition. At The University of Kansas, he won the  Black Faculty and Student Council Award and with mentor Dr. John Boulton were co-winners of The University of Kansas Quest for the Best Technology Award. This award impacted over 300 music and dance students with the integration of multiple applications of advanced learning and performance software and hardware. He won the Eastern Illinois University Use of Technology Award and Faculty Research Grants. He is the recipient of College of Southern Maryland Research Grants.

Dr. Roy Chan

Director of Book Publications


As Director of Book Publications, Dr. Roy Chan is responsible for overseeing the publication of new books and other scholarly materials, managing project timelines and budgets, and working independently in a fast-paced environment. You will also be responsible for overseeing all aspects of production, liaising with contributors, coordinating relationships with vendors, ensuring permissions standards for content and images are consistent, and overseeing the distribution of press releases to media.

Dr. Chan is Assistant Professor of Education and Director of the Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) Program in Leadership and Professional Practice at Lee University, Tennessee. He is the author of the books, COVID-19 and Higher Education in the Global Context: Exploring Contemporary Issues, and Online Teaching and Learning in Higher Education during COVID-19: International Perspectives and Experiences. He holds a Ph.D. in History, Philosophy, and Policy in Education from Indiana University Bloomington, a M.A. in Higher Education Administration from Boston College, a M.Ed. in Comparative Higher Education from The University of Hong Kong, and a B.A. in Criminology, Law & Society from the University of California, Irvine. Roy has been a visiting scholar at both Harvard University and University of Pennsylvania.

Anthony E. Pryor

Director of Human Resources


As Director of Human Resources, Anthony Pryor directs and oversees hiring and employee relations of all the departments and ensures they are being managed according to the Society of Transnational Academic Researchers (STAR) standards. He plans, leads, and enforces recruitment, retention, management, and employee relations policies.

With experience in both international for-profit and non-profit organizations, Anthony Pryor works with the STAR President, Executive Vice Presidents, Vice Presidents, Directors, and Country Leaders and formulates position descriptions and the STAR handbook. He also teaches basic to advanced management skills to managers. Mr. Pryor also works with corporate executives to update classifications, identify leadership development needs, mentoring, and develops motivational initiatives world-wide.

Muhammad Sharif Uddin

Director of Graduate Student Outreach and Support


As Director of Graduate Student Outreach and Support, Muhammad Sharif Uddin designs professional development for graduate students in writing and communication, research, and teaching and advising throughout the year. He creates materials that will develop campus leaders who can form STAR Graduate Student Unions (GSU) on campuses worldwide.

Dr. Muhammad Sharif Uddin is an international educator and scholar of educational leadership with a robust longstanding experience in academic administration. He teaches in the Administration I program at Morgan State University. He is the Editor of the Journal of Underrepresented & Minority Progress (JUMP), Managing Editor of the Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies in Education(JISE). His research focuses on advancing classroom and school culture, academic policy, and interactive and student-centered learning practices. STEM teaching-learning and Instructional Leadership are his primary foci, and Critical Pedagogy is his foundational framework. 

Barbara Keener 

Director of Policy Summits

Dr. Barbara J. Keener, EdD, directs STAR Policy Summits addressing the critical issues facing higher education. Dr. Keener is a highly engaged scholar/ practitioner with over 30 years of experience working throughout higher education. Her leadership, teaching, and service extend across community colleges, universities, private colleges, and associations. Dr. Keener also provides an enriched link to qualitative research and current postsecondary policies and trends.

Dr. Barbara J. Keener, EdD, is a highly engaged scholar/ practitioner with over 30 years of experience working throughout higher education. Her leadership, teaching, and service extend across community colleges, universities, private colleges, and  associations..  Her assignments include senior leadership positions with academic and student affairs, resource development, community college relations, enrollment management, and non-profit leadership.  She has appointments to graduate faculty status, accreditation teams, boards of trustees, and numerous national higher education professional associations. Dr. Keener also provides an enriched link to qualitative research and current postsecondary policies and trends. In addition, she has received numerous recognitions from the higher education sector.  Her University of Florida Higher Education studies included a W.K Kellogg Fellowship appointment.  And she  received the “Outstanding Graduate Award” from the UF College of Education Higher Education program.  She received the Colorado College Lloyd E. Worner award for her trustee and alumni board service.   She is an avid advocate for collegial networks and collaboration supporting student success and engagement, including mentoring and womentoring initiatives.

Associate Directors

Ateeb Ahmad Parray

Associate Director of Cross-Border Initiatives

As the Associate Director of Cross-Border Initiatives, Ateeb works closely with the director of Cross-Border Initiatives and individual country directors to support them in their initiatives. He assists with the recruitment, training, and development of the Country Director Program. In particular, he is very involved in the development of the Research and International Networking Groups (RINGS). 

Ateeb Ahmad Parray is a medical, social sciences and public health scholar based in the U.S. He is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in International Health and Health Systems at the Johns Hopkins University. He was previously the Country Director for Bangladesh.

He is also the associate/academic editor of many international peer reviewed journals including Journal of International Students, PLOS One, and PLOS Global Public Health. His scholarship focuses on health policy and systems research with a focus on vulnerable communities like persons with disabilities with the aim to empower them realize their health and rights. He is also interested in exploring global student mobility from a public health perspective. He has worked in many contexts including Bangladesh and Afghanistan. He holds many leadership positions in the global public health think tanks including Health Systems Global, and Gender and Public Health Emergencies.

Advisory Board Members