Meet your faculty hosts!

As University of Rochester students know from the first moments they step onto campus, our world is wondrous place. As we strive to better understand and appreciate our planet and its people, travel is the ultimate, lifelong educator. Join fellow alumni, parents, friends, and our University hosts to explore the world as a part of the University of Rochester Travel Club!

Antarctica Discovery
Stewart Weaver, professor of history

Stewart Weaver, professor of historyStewart Weaver (PhD, Stanford University) has a long-standing interest in travel, exploration, and the history of extreme environments. His research has taken him to the Himalayan mountains of India and Nepal and the Alpine glaciers of Europe. He is co-author of the award-winning Fallen Giants: A History of Himalayan Mountaineering from the Age of Empire to the Age of Extremes (Yale University Press, 2008) and Exploration: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2016). He is currently completing a book on magnetic science and early-nineteenth century Antarctic exploration. He is also collaborating with Professor Tatyana Bakhmetyeva and colleagues from the Swiss Polar Institute and the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities on a cultural history of glaciers and glacial science in the Alps and the Pamir Mountains of Tajikistan. An avid explorer and mountain hiker, Weaver is the winner of several teaching awards and offers courses on environmental history, British colonial history, and the history of science and global exploration.

Havana: The Afro-Cuban Experience
Pablo Sierra Silva, associate professor of history

Pablo Sierra Silva, associate professor of historyPablo Miguel Sierra Silva’s research centers on the African diaspora to Latin America and the Caribbean, especially during the colonial period. He is the author of Urban Slavery in Colonial Mexico (Cambridge U. Press, 2018). His current book project, “In the Wake of the Raid: Blackness, Piracy, and the 1683 Attack on Veracruz,” examines the violent dispersal of the port’s African-descended community at the hands of a buccaneer fleet. By tracing the Veracruzano community’s experiences in early Saint-Domingue, Carolina, Jamaica, Santo Domingo and Cuba, the book offers a new understanding of Afro-Mexicans’ profound ties to numerous Caribbean communities. In his spare time, Pablo follows far too many fútbol leagues, constantly suffers with Philly sports fans, and enjoys a good Grupo Niche song when he hears one.

Flavors of Northern Italy
Bruce Smoller, professor of pathology & laboratory medicine

Bruce Smoller, professor of pathology & laboratory medicine

Dr. Smoller has had a passion for wine since his days living near Napa Valley. He has been serious studying wine for the last 9 years and is currently working on the Wine and Spirits Educational Trust (WSET) level 4 (Diploma level). Along the way he has also completed the Italian Wine Scholar and French Wine Scholar programs (Wine Scholar Guild), the Spanish Wine Expert course, along with master level courses in Bordeaux, Burgundy, Alsace, Loire Valley, Rhone Valley and Champagne, all with honors. His wine studies are not limited to Europe, however, and he has also successfully completed courses about wines California and Oregon, Argentina, China, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. He has been formally certified as an instructor for the WSET, as well as for the Wine Scholar Guild. He teaches several wine courses at Daemen University. In his spare time, he is a Professor at University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry.

Discover the Canadian Rockies by Rail
Mary Ann Mavrinac, vice provost and Andrew H. and Janet Dayton Neilly dean emeritus, University of Rochester Libraries

Mary Ann Mavrinac headshot

Mary Ann Mavrinac was Dean of the University of Rochester Libraries 2012-2022. Before coming to Rochester, Mary Ann worked for many years at two university research libraries in Canada. Born in Canada, she has travelled to both its coasts, including by car, getting to know the country through hiking, camping, sea kayaking, skiing, and work, along with many city adventures, as well. She maintains strong ties with her Canadian roots and culture, and will provide an insider’s view and looks forward to engaging with her fellow travelers in any area they wish to explore. Mary Ann looks forward to sharing her enthusiasm for Canada, its culture, and physical beauty as we travel through the Canadian Rockies and experience the diverse flora, fauna, and people of British Columbia and Alberta and the particular beauty of its stunning national parks. You can also expect her to share her passion for research libraries and all things the UR! Mary Ann views this trip as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, knowing that it is high on the bucket list of many Canadians including herself.

Insider’s Japan
Joanne Bernardi, professor of Japanese and visual and cultural studies

Joanne Bernardi, professor of Japanese and visual and cultural studiesJoanne Bernardi is professor of Japanese and visual and cultural studies in the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures. She joined the University of Rochester faculty in 1994 after completing a doctorate in East Asian Studies at Columbia University and a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University. She lived in Japan for ten years over three decades: first as a college student studying filmmaking at Osaka University of Arts (1970s), then as a graduate student and university faculty in Tokyo and Mito (1980s-90s). She collaborates on film restoration and curatorial projects in the US, Europe, and Japan, and publishes on and teaches Japanese cinema and culture; early film; Godzilla and nuclear imagery; moving image preservation; collecting and cultural heritage; and tourism. In 2000, she started collecting Japan-related travel ephemera, which led to an open-access digital project, Re-Envisioning Japan, documenting Japan as a foreign destination in 20th century visual and material culture. This project sustains her joy of rediscovering Japan–past and present–through travel, and she’s excited about this chance to make new discoveries with others!


Please contact Lindsay Chassé, associate director of lifelong learning at