Faculty Biographies

Irene Abad, M. S.Samah T. Abukhodeir, J.D.Matthew Acevedo, Ph.D.Maikel Alendy, M.B.A.Daniel Alvarez, M.A., M.T.S.Gabriela Alvarez, M.S.Michelle Alvarez Romero, J.D.John Bailly, M.F.A.Jason Bell, M.B.A.Shedrick Boren, Ph.D.Lisa Boskovic, M.A.Jason Calloway, M.M.Amilcar Castellano-Sanchez, M.D.Michael C. Christie, Ph. D. Kristen A. Corpion, J.D.Barbara Cotto, M.A.Veronica Diaz, M.S.Alina Dominguez, M.I.B.H. Scott Fingerhut, J.D.Brian Fonseca, M.I.B.Ruben Garrote, M.A.Eva Gasson, M.S.Bernard S. Gerstman, Ph. D.Adam D. Gorelick, M.A.Robert H. Hacker, M.B.A.Aisha Hamid, M.S.Gail Hamilton, M.B.A.Elizabeth Hanly, M.A.Hazel Hooker, M.P.H.Amy Huseby, Ph.D.Thaddeus Kontek, M.S., M.A.Masako Kubota, M.A.April Lewis, M.S.Ed.Joseph Lichter, Ph.D.Anthoni Llau, Ph.D.Pete E.C. Markowitz, Ph. D.Niurca Márquez, M.F.A.Michelle Denise Mason J.D.Anthony McGoron, Ph. D.Andrej Milic, J.D.Sonja Montas-Hunter, Ph. D.Kiesha Moodie, M.Ed.Lergia Olivo, M.A.Randy Pestana, M.A.Garrett Pierman, M.A.Angela T. Puentes-Leon, J.D.Sharan Ramaswamy , Ph.D.Jenesis J. Ramirez , Ph.D.Anthony Rionda, M.P.A.Harry RobergeJosé Rodriguez, Ph. D.Cinthya Rojas, M.S.Nanett A. Rojas, M.S.Barbra Roller, Ph. D.Gustavo Roque, M. S.Trina Sanders, Ed.D.Ricky Sant, M.B.A.Gretchen Scharnagl, M.F.A.Fang Shu, M.S.Melissa Silveira, M.S.Joshua Simmons, M.S.James M. Sutton, Ph. D.Tiffani Tallon, M.S.Rhona Trauvitch, Ph. D.John Tsalikis, Ph. D.Allen Varela, M.S.Christina Vilaboa-Abel, Esq.Melissa Ward-Peterson, PhD, MPHPioneer Winter, M.P.H., M.F.A.Michael Yawney, M.F.A.


Irene Abad, M.S. (Nova Southeastern University)

Email: iabad@fiu.edu

Irene Abad is an Affiliate Instructor for the Honors College and is Manager of Academic and Student Success in the Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work. In this role, she manages support strategies, resources and programming to provide to students and the academic units to ensure student success. She also advises students on how to apply for and maintain scholarships that align with their educational and professional goals. For six years, she held a Coordinator position at the University Graduate School compiling the Graduate Faculty and Dissertation Advisor Status application processes and serving as a liaison with student service providers for the Professional Development Program. Irene obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from FIU and a Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling from Nova Southeastern University (NSU). Aside from teaching The Introduction to Honors and Leadership Seminar, she has been teaching the First Year Experience course for FIU’s incoming freshman students. Prior to coming to FIU, Irene worked for 12 years in the School of Continuing Education and Professional Development at Miami Dade College (MDC). In 2014, she returned to MDC as an Adjunct Faculty for the Social Sciences Department and has been teaching the First Year Experience Seminar, The Individual in Society, and Introduction to Psychology.


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Samah T. Abukhodeir, J.D. (Florida International University)

Email: samah@familylawprotection.com

Ms. Abukhodeir obtained a Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology with a Minor in Arabic and Child Development from Florida State University. Ms. Abukhodeir obtained her Juris Doctor from Florida International University College of Law. While in law school, Ms. Abukhodeir was a judicial intern for the Honorable Marisa Tinkler Mendez, Circuit Court Judge in the Criminal Division of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit, and the Honorable Maria M. Korvick, Circuit Court Judge in the Probate Division of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit. After law school, Ms. Abukhodeir returned to the 11th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida as a staff attorney/case manager for the Honorable Maria M. Korvick, the Administrative Probate Judge. Ms. Abukhodeir practices in the areas of Estates, Trusts, Guardianships, Estate Planning, Elder Law, and Family Law. Ms. Abukhodeir is fluent in English and Arabic.

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Matthew Acevedo, Ph.D. (Florida International University)

Email: mmaceve@fiu.edu

Matt Acevedo is the Director of Learning Innovation and Faculty Engagement at the University of Miami, where he leads a team of instructional designers who partner with faculty to enhance their teaching through meaningful, student-centered pedagogies and technologies across instructional modalities. Matt is also a Faculty Fellow in the Honors College at FIU, where he teaches two seminar courses: Critical Issues in Education and Urban Inequality and HBO’s The Wire.

Matt holds a Ph.D. in Higher Education from Florida International University, where his dissertation research explored how faculty members navigate and maneuver quality assurance audits for distance learning courses. Matt also holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film, a Master of Arts in Instructional Design and Technology, and a Graduate Certificate in Instructional Design for Simulations, all from the University of Central Florida.

Prior to working at the University of Miami, Matt has also had roles as an instructional design manager, instructional designer, educational technology consultant, and classroom teacher. Matt’s professional interests and research areas include educational development, instructional design and technology, qualitative research and scholarship of teaching and learning, neoliberalism in higher education, and critical pedagogy.

Maikel Alendy, M.B.A. (Florida International University)

Email: malendy@fiu.edu

Maikel Alendy is currently a Lead Instructional Designer with FIU Online. Maikel has extremely diverse professional and academic experiences with degrees from the University of Florida and Florida International University in the fields of neuroscience, cultural anthropology, healthcare, and business. His main research interests and publications are in health, retirement, biomedicine, cardiovascular molecular biology, and aging. He teaches the fully online course Digital Fairytale, merging social movements, disruptive technologies, and business trends with a dash of neuropsychology. He is also the instructor for the hybrid course Power of Play, in which students examine the importance of play throughout their lifetimes and partner with Sweetwater Elementary to design games for K-5 students. Maikel currently serves as the online experience consultant for FIU’s Honors College.

Daniel Alvarez, M.A., M.T.S. (Harvard University)

Email: alvarezd@fiu.edu

My undergraduate degree was in History from Stetson University in 1976. I pursued graduate work at Harvard University, earning two masters’ degrees with special emphasis on theology and philosophy. In 1999, I began teaching at FIU in the Department of Religious Studies. Since 2005, I have been a fellow of the Honors College, teaching IDH 3034 and IDH 3035. In addition to teaching World Religions and Introduction to Religion, for the last twelve years I have been teaching a series of advanced seminars on the most important thinkers of the Western philosophical traditions, such as Hume, Kant, Hegel, Husserl, Heidegger, Foucault, and Derrida, exploring the implication of their work for the analysis of religion. In 2013, I published “A Critique of Wolfhart Pannenberg’s Scientific Theology (in Theology and Science); and in 2014, “A Brief History of Western Rationality” appeared as chapter 2 in Science and Religion: One Planet, Many Possibilities, a book edited by colleague Whitney Bauman. The work of W. V. Quine has exercised an enormous influence on my thinking, as evidenced in the publications mentioned above.

Gabriela Alvarez, M.S. (Florida International University)

Email: gmalvare@fiu.edu

Gabriela Alvarez is the Director of Learning Design and Innovation at Florida International University, where she leads a team of over 80 learning design professionals who partner with faculty and industry subject matter experts to create meaningful learning experiences. Gaby also professionally consults on projects for industries ranging from education, human services, and technology. Gaby holds a Master of Science in Adult Education and Human Resource Development from Florida International University, where she also earned her Bachelor of Arts in English and a Graduate Certificate in Conflict Resolution and Consensus Building. Prior to working at Florida International University, Gaby served in the private sector as an organizational development consultant and marketing director. Her interests include leadership, instructional design and technology, human resource development, critical pedagogy, and the intersection of ethics, conflict, and innovation.

Michelle Alvarez Romero, J.D. (University of Miami)

Email: micalva@fiu.edu

Michelle Alvarez Romero is an attorney admitted to practice in Florida. She earned a Bachelor of Business Administration and Juris Doctor from the University of Miami and has years of combined business, legal and higher education experience. She joined FIU in 2012 and teaches at the College of Business and Honors College. Her expertise is in business law and professional development and her research interests include employment law, international education, business ethics and corporate social responsibility. She is a member of the Academy of Legal Studies in Business, NAFSA Association of International Educators and the Global Leadership League.

John Bailly, M.F.A. (Yale University)

Email: baillyj@fiu.edu
Website: https://johnwbailly.com/

John Bailly received his Master of Fine Arts in painting and printmaking from Yale University in 1993. An accomplished artist, Bailly’s work explores the random nature of information and the manner in which we process it. Utilizing juxtapositions of diverse data and multiple historical references, His work intends for us to reflect on the manner in which we conceptualize our realities. His work has been exhibited at the University of Maine Museum of Art, Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville, John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Texas State University, and many other institutions in the US. He was awarded the 2006 South Florida Cultural Consortium Fellowship for Visual and Media Artists and a 2006 State of Florida Individual Artist Grant. In 2007, Bailly and critically acclaimed inaugural poet Richard Blanco produced a collaborative project, “Place of Mind.” He has taught courses at all levels in the Honors College, including the famous Aesthetics & Values seminar that results in the annual A&V Art Exhibition, and introduced the “Reacting to the Past” pedagogy to the first-year course. He also directs the France, Spain, and Italy study abroad programs.

Jason Bell, M.B.A. (University of Florida)

Email: jbell@fiu.edu

Jason is the Director of Graduate Medical Education for Baptist Health South Florida, the largest healthcare organization in the region. In addition, he oversees the Physician Relations and Business Development initiatives at West Kendall Baptist Hospital–a new Gold LEED-certified facility, and the academic medical center for Baptist Health South Florida. In this role, Jason is responsible for the recruitment, training and retention of student and physician partners to serve the South Florida community, and oversees key growth initiatives for the organization in the sustainability, dducation and innovation sectors. Jason‘s academic background includes degrees in Anthropology and Integrative Biology. He is passionate about sustainability and corporate social responsibility, and is the inaugural chair of the Florida Hospital Association Sustainability Collaborative. Jason teaches the Honors Seminar “Developing Human-Centric Skills for Healthcare.”

Shedrick Boren, Ph.D. (University of Miami)

Email: sboren@fiu.edu

Shed Boren, PhD is a social worker, healthcare executive, and currently a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work at Florida International University (FIU). He has worked for, and on behalf of, vulnerable populations for more than 30 years, with a focus on those living with HIV/AIDS, chronic diseases, mental health challenges and in poverty. Dr. Boren has served as the Chief Executive Officer of Camillus Health Concern, Camillus House, Sister Emmanuel Hospital and as the founder of Mercy Hospital’s AIDS program. Over the years he has developed a special interest in working with people experiencing homelessness, those aging out of foster care, and those in contact with the criminal justice system. Dr. Boren served as the Executive Producer of the Emmy Award-winning film, The Day It Snowed in Miami (2014) and Sisters, a film about the life of Sister Helen Prejean (2018). He remains active in the community and he is on the Board of Directors of LEAP and Guitars over Guns. In recognition of his advocacy for marginalized populations, he received the FIU Path Award in 2016.

Lisa Boskovic, M.A. (University of Central Florida)

Email: lisa.boskovic@fiu.edu

Lisa Boskovic is an Instructional Designer with FIU Online. She began her academic career as a student in the rigorous International Baccalaureate program at a public high school in Broward County, Florida. Lisa obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus in Education and Social Science and a Minor in History from the University of Central Florida in Orlando. She also graduated from UCF’s fully-online Master’s in Instructional Design and Technology. Successfully completing a college program online provided a unique perspective in the development and delivery of distance learning courses. Prior to joining the FIU family, Lisa taught 8th Grade U.S. History for a Florida charter school. She also worked with adolescents who took Florida Virtual School classes while they were undergoing inpatient medical treatment. Before undertaking her work in the Education field, Lisa significantly contributed to the regional musical theatre community as an actor and singer. She still enjoys performing and seeking out live music for entertainment.

Jason Calloway, M.M. (The University of Southern California)

Email: jcallowa@fiu.edu

Cellist Jason Calloway has performed to acclaim throughout North America, the Caribbean, Europe, and the Middle East as soloist and chamber musician. He has appeared at festivals including Lucerne, Spoleto USA, Darmstadt, Klangspuren (Austria), Acanthes (France), Perpignan, Valencia, Citta’ della Pieve (Italy), Jerash (Jordan), Casals (Puerto Rico), Blossom, Brevard, Great Lakes, Kingston, Rockport, Sedona, Sarasota, Music Academy of the West, the New York String Seminar, and Encore. Currently cellist of the Amernet String Quartet, Artists-in-Residence at Florida International University in Miami, Mr. Calloway was previously a member of the Naumburg award-winning Biava Quartet, formerly in residence at the Juilliard School.

He has collaborated in chamber music with members of the Cleveland, Curtis, Juilliard, and Miami quartets and with principal players of most of the world’s leading orchestras, as well as with artists including Shmuel Ashkenasi, Roberto Diaz, Gary Hoffman, Ida Kavafian, Kim Kashkashian, Ricardo Morales, and the Penderecki and Tokyo quartets. Mr. Calloway gave his Carnegie Hall recital debut under the auspices of Artists International and has also been heard in New York at Alice Tully Hall, Steinway Hall, the Museum of Modern Art, the Kosciuszko Foundation, the 92nd Street Y, and the Polish Consulate; in Los Angeles at Disney Hall, the Bing Theatre, the Skirball Center and Pepperdine University; in Washington, D.C. at the Kennedy Center and at Strathmore; in Philadelphia at the Academy of Music, the Ethical Society, and the Kimmel Center; and live on NPR, WFMT (Chicago), KMZT (Los Angeles), WQXR (NYC), WFLN (Philadelphia), and on RAI television (Italy).

A devoted advocate of new music, Mr. Calloway has performed with leading ensembles around the world as well as alongside members of Ensemble Modern and the Arditti and JACK quartets, and with the New Juilliard Ensemble both in New York and abroad, in addition to frequent appearances in Philadelphia with Bowerbird, Soundfield, and Network for New Music. Among the hundreds of premieres he has presented are solo and ensemble works of Berio, Knussen, Lachenmann, and Pintscher, and he has collaborated intensively with some of today’s most important composers including Birtwistle, Carter, Davidovsky, Dusapin, Henze, Hosokawa, Husa, Franke, Rihm, and Yannay. As a dedicated supporter of young composers, he has for several seasons presented a series of concerts of solo cello works newly composed for him, most recently at Harvard and Temple universities, and at Spoleto USA gave the public premiere of Yanov-Yanovsky’s Hearing Solutions for cello and ensemble, in addition to recent appearances at Bowdoin College, the College of Charleston, Princeton University, and the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee.

Mr. Calloway prizes his work with Pierre Boulez and the Ensemble InterContemporain, both at the Lucerne Festival and at the Zug (Switzerland) Kunsthaus in Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire and Serenade as part of a major Kandinsky/Gerstl exhibit, in addition to his collaborations with the violinist Gilles Apap and with tap dancer Savion Glover. He is also artistic director of Shir Ami (www.shiramimusic.com), an ensemble dedicated to the preservation and performance of Jewish art music suppressed by the Nazis and Soviets, and with which he appears frequently across the US and in the ensemble’s varied performances in Austria and Hungary; and In Flux, an ensemble committed to performing vocal chamber music by the leading composers of today and the recent past. A native of Philadelphia, Jason Calloway is a graduate of the Juilliard School and the University of Southern California. His teachers have included Ronald Leonard, Orlando Cole, Rohan de Saram, Lynn Harrell, Fred Sherry, Robert Cafaro, Joel Sachs, Felix Galimir, Luis Biava, and Seymour Lipkin. Mr. Calloway is grateful for the assistance of the Maestro Foundation.

Amilcar A. Castellano-Sanchez, M.D. (Universidad de Zulia, Venezuela)

Email: castelam@fiu.edu

Amilcar Castellano-Sanchez has been Associate Professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine in the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine (HWCOM) since its inception. . Dr. Castellano-Sanchez trained in Anatomic & Clinical Pathology at Mount Sinai Medical Center, Miami Beach and served two additional post-doctoral fellowships in Neuropathology at Emory University in Atlanta and Hematopathology at Barnes-Jewish Hospital/University of Saint Louis; since his return to south Florida, he has been the Coordinator for Teaching and Research at the Department of Pathology in Mount Sinai. Currently he teaches to the Pathology residents at Mount Sinai Medical Center and during the first three years of medical school here at FIU. He was honored by HWCOM’s first class to receive the Teacher of the Year Award and as Co-Director also received the Best Pre-Clinical Course Award from the same class. Beginning Fall 2016, he will be teaching a Global Learning rated course titled: “History of Medicine through Art” for the Honors College. His research interest includes neoplastic hematologic and non-hematologic diseases, brain tumors and particularly lymphomas in brain tissue. In addition, Dr. Castellano-Sanchez is a volunteer Docent at the Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum at FIU and is passionate about anything that combines goodness, enrichment, personal growth / community growth and community engagement. He enjoys teaching and hopes to convey and exchange ideas with his students.


Michael C. Christie,Ph. D . (Rutgers University)

Email: mchristi@fiu.edu

Dr. Christie is a Senior lecturer in Biomedical Engineering at Florida International University. He previously provided technical consultation in medical device product development and served as the principal scientist for Millennium Scientific Inc . He has worked in medical device product development and design for over a decade at various stages of development from concept to market launch in the field of vascular and stent grafts for Millennium Scientific Inc and cardiovascular products for Johnson and Johnson Inc., During his technical and managerial career he has acted as a technical liaison to international companies, doctors, and management teams. Dr. Christie has superb training and vast experience in Materials Science and Engineering and is an expert in biomaterials. Dr. Christie holds a Ph.D. in Materials Science from Rutgers University as well as a Masters in Mechanics & Materials Science, and B.S. in Mechanical Engineering.

Dr. Christie currently teaches several courses in Biomedical Engineering. He is a Fellow of the Honors College at Florida International University, and co-teaches the first year seminar on epistemology. He is engaged in undergraduate research, and mentors multiple senior design projects every year.He has presented, published his research academic in the areas of orthopedics biomechanics, and cardiovascular mechanics. He serves as a reviewer for the principal journal of the Biomedical Engineering Society, and as book reviewer for multiple scholarly publications. He is a member of the Society for Biomaterials and participates in local organizations that promote the Biomedical Engineering field.Dr. Christie is fully engaged with his department, the university and the community. His record of service span many years and is well documented.

Kristen A. Corpion, J.D. (University of California at Berkeley)

Email: kcorpion@fiu.edu

Kristen A. Corpion is an associate in the law firm of Ver Ploeg & Lumpkin, P.A. She began her legal career as an associate at Greenberg Traurig, LLP. Kristen earned her J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley (Boalt Hall) School of Law, where she was a member of the Moot Court Board, the Berkeley Business Law Journal, and the Berkeley Technology and Law Journal. Kristen earned her B.A., with honors, from the University of South Florida, summa cum laude, with a dual major in Anthropology and Political Science. Kristen volunteers her time to serve clients pro bono, and is actively involved in the Miami community. She serves as a Director of Dade County Bar Association, Young Lawyers Section and the South Beach Chamber Ensemble. Kristen Chairs Legal Services of Greater Miami’s Young Profession Committee and Co-chairs the Legal Eagle Closing Argument Competition. Kristen has been appointed by the Florida Bar to serve on the Florida Bar’s Professional Ethics Committee. Kristen is admitted to practice in Florida.

Barbara Cotto, M.A. (Interamerican University)

Email: bcottoji@fiu.edu

Barbara Cotto is the Director of Procurement, a project at StartUp FIU to increase sales by minority-owned companies to anchor institutions such as universities, hospitals and the government. Prior to joining the Start Up FIU, she directed the Export Consumer Products Division for L’Oréal Caribe. As a Director, she focused on business planning, sales & operations, brand development and distribution. On February 2018, she received the General Manager Excellence Award for her achievements in emerging markets. Prior to L’Oréal she spent over a decade in sales and operations for consumer goods manufacturers such as Kraft, Kellogg’s and The Clorox Company. Barbara earned her master’s degree in Arts with a major on Labor Relations at Interamerican University in San Juan, PR.

Veronica Diaz, M.S. (Florida International University)

Email: diazver@fiu.edu

Veronica Diaz is an Affiliate Instructor at the Honors College. She is an Academic Advisor for the College of Arts, Sciences & Education and the former Satisfactory Academic Progress Coordinator for the Financial Aid Office at Florida International University. She has collaborated with FIU’s Office of Retention and Graduation Success to increase awareness among the advising community regarding the impact of financial aid on student retention. Prior to working at FIU, she taught American History and World Cultures in Galveston, TX (2005-2009) where she was recognized as one of Galveston’s top fifty teachers. She then moved to Virginia where she taught American History and AP Psychology from 2009 to 2012 in the city of Newport News. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Social Studies Education (2004) and a Master’s degree in Higher Education Administration (2014) from FIU. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Global and Sociocultural Studies with a concentration in Sociocultural Anthropology. Diaz teaches Introduction to Honors and First Year Experience.



Alina Dominguez, M.I.B. (Florida International University)

Email: domingal@fiu.edu

Alina Dominguez is a Sr. Academic Advisor and Project Lead at Florida International University’s College of Arts, Sciences & Education. In her five years as an Academic Advisor, Alina has managed advising caseloads of over 600 students, coordinates the new student newsletter for CASE majors, participates in presentations during orientation sessions, assisted in the redesign and update of the CASE advising site and takes part in committees including: the Transition Committee within CASE, UE’s PDAC, and the 2017 Orientation Presentation redesign project. Alina is also thrilled to be a member of the 2017-2018 cohort in the inaugural Presidential Leadership Program. Ms. Dominguez received both her Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences and her Masters of International Business at Florida International University. Aside from being a Sr. Academic Advisor and Project Lead, Alina has had combined experience of over ten years at the University, working multiple departments in various capacities.

H. Scott Fingerhut, J.D. (Emory University)

Email: fingerhut@fiu.edu

Assistant Director, Trial Advocacy Program, FIU College of Law.

H. Scott Fingerhut is a three-time Professor of the Year and honored six-times by the graduating class as Commencement Hooder at FIU College of Law, and in the courtroom, rated AV Preeminent by Martindale-Hubbell and consistently ranked among the top criminal defense lawyers in South Florida – including The Best Lawyers in America. Fingerhut came to FIU 16 years ago from the Litigation Skills Program at the University of Miami School of Law to teach constitutional criminal procedure, criminal law theory, and judicial process and policy making in the School of Policy and Management undergraduate and Master’s degree criminal justice program. For the past decade, Fingerhut has served as Assistant Director of the Trial Advocacy Program at FIU College of Law, where he teaches Trial Advocacy, Civil and Criminal Pretrial Practice, Criminal Procedure Investigation and Adjudication, Criminal Law, and the Criminal and Civil Law Externship. Fingerhut earned his Bachelor of Arts in American Government and Music at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, and his Juris Doctor at Emory Law in Atlanta, where he was a student-instructor in the Research, Writing, and Advocacy Program, a member of Moot Court Special Teams, and, though not widely celebrated, hosted the Law Follies. Before entering private practice, he proudly served as a prosecutor in Janet Reno’s Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office. A frequent lecturer and writer on liberty and justice matters, Fingerhut currently chairs The Florida Bar Criminal Procedure Rules Committee and is a member of the Student Education and Admissions to the Bar Committee, both by appointment of the President of the Bar. He is past chair of the Bar’s Criminal Law Section, past chair of the Dade County Bar Criminal Court Committee, past president of the Miami Chapter of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and a past member ofThe Florida Bar Journal and Florida Bar News Editorial Board, the Bar’s Committee to Study the Decline in Jury Trials, and by appointment of the Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court, the Criminal Court Steering Committee’s Workgroup on Post-Conviction Relief, and, the Florida Innocence Commission. Fingerhut has been a Fellow with the Honors College since 2006 and teaches the Upper Division Honors Seminar –Observing Ourselves: On Bartlet and Baseball, Billy Joel and Bruce, B-Rabbit, Balboa, The Beatles, Soup Questions, Justice, the Business of Liberty, and The Present Moment: A Primer for Life After Honors.

Brian Fonseca, M.I.B. (Florida International University)

Email: fonsecab@fiu.edu

Adjunct Professor I Director of Operations of FIU Applied Research Center (ARC).

Brian Fonseca is the Director of Operations at Florida International University’s Applied Research Center (ARC) and has been an adjunct professor at FIU’s since 2010. Mr. Fonseca joined ARC after serving as the Senior Research Manager for Socio-Cultural Analysis (SCA) at United States Southern Command. Mr. Fonseca has authored numerous classified and open sourced publications on a wide range of defense and security-related topics, and has conducted field research throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. Mr. Fonseca holds a Master’s Degree in International Business and a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from Florida International University in Miami, Florida, he is currently working towards his Ph.D. at the University of Miami. He has attended Sichuan University in China and National Defense University in Washington D.C. From 1997 to 2004, he served in the United States Marine Corps and facilitated the training of foreign military forces in both hostile theaters and during peace time operations.

Ruben Garrote, M.A.

Ruben Garrote, M.A. (Florida International University)

Email: garroter@fiu.edu


Rubén Garrote is an Honors College alumnus and a graduate of FIU’s Religious Studies Department. He has taught for the Religious Studies Department for the past eight years, receiving several awards for teaching and academic excellence. Mr. Garrote’s research interests are varied, ranging from early Christian heresies and North and West European religions, to the Western esoteric traditions, new religious movements, and utopianism. Mr. Garrote teaches in the First Year Seminar, Origin of Ideas & the Idea of Origins, and in the Second Year Seminar, Inhabiting Other Lives.

Eva Gasson, M.S.

Eva Gasson, M.S. (Florida International University)

Email: Eva.Gasson@fiu.edu

Eva Gasson is a seasoned professional with over 20 years’ experience in communications, marketing, management, conflict resolution, leadership, customer service, building relationships, process improvement, and quality assurance.  She earned her M.S. in Mass Communications with a concentration in Global Strategic Communications from FIU in 2017 and graduated with a 4.0 GPA. Her research focus was on the relationship between Facebook use and happiness among women Ages 30-45. She also earned her B.A. in Communications from FIU in 2015 and graduated with honors. In 2018, she earned her Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt Certification and completed the Leadership Education Advancement Program at FIU. Mrs. Gasson is a member of Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, Kappa Tau Alpha Honor Society and the National Honor Society (Lambda Pi Eta).
Ms. Gasson has been an employee at FIU for 27 years and served in various roles ranging from information technology to communications and marketing. Currently, she serves as Assistant Director for Marketing & Communications for FIU Online. She is also an adjunct instructor in the Department of Global Leadership and Management at FIU and in the Department of Communications. She currently teaches courses in organization and management, public relations, communications and advertising.

Bernard S. Gerstman, Ph.D. (Princeton University)

Email: gerstman@fiu.edu

Professor of Physics

Bernard S. Gerstman has a Ph.D. in Physics from Princeton University. His main research interests are in theoretical and computational biophysics. He runs two different research groups in the Physics Department. One group investigates the non-linear dynamics of entropy versus enthalpy that underlies the ability of proteins to fold to their biologically functional native state. The other group investigates the effects of laser energy on biological tissue with a specific emphasis on the visual system. Professor Gerstman is Chairman of the Department of Physics and Executive Editor of the American Institute of Physics journal AIP Advances. He has published scores of papers in peer-reviewed journals and been invited to lecture about his research at institutions and conferences world-wide. He has published chapters in several research-oriented books, and published the book, “The Physics of Cancer”. Professor Gerstman has served as Chair of the University’s Institutional Review Board that determines if research projects treat their human subjects in an ethical manner and as Chair of the Faculty Research Council. He has taught a wide range of physics courses and taught courses on ethical behavior in scientific research, He has received numerous research and teaching awards. He has taught different levels of the Honors College and greatly enjoys the interactions with the students and his fellow instructors. He teaches in the First Year Seminar, Origin of Ideas & the Idea of Origins.

Adam D. Gorelick, M.A. (Florida International University)

Email: agorelic@fiu.edu

Adjunct Professor and Fellow of the Honors College.

Adam Gorelick received his B.A. in Religious Studies from Webster University in St. Louis, MO, where his studies focused on Religion and Science as well as Comparative Mysticism. His M.A. in Religious Studies from Florida International University (FIU) followed a track in Religion, Culture and the Arts, concluding with a thesis about myth theory entitled, The Enchanter’s Spell: J.R.R. Tolkien’s Mythopoetic Response to Modernism. Adam has worked for several years in higher education and student affairs at the University of Miami, Nova Southeastern University, and FIU. His roles have included academic advisor, student success coach, and student programs coordinator. Currently, he is the faculty mentor for the HEARTS Writing Club, and his teaching load includes a section of the first-year Honors Seminar, Honors Introduction and Leadership, an upper division Seminar on J.R.R. Tolkien, and an online course called Myth and Ritual in Film. He presented a co-authored paper about student success at the National Symposium on Student Retention, Consortium for Retention Student Data Exchange. Also, individually he has presented papers about religion and literature, including “Bombadil and the Bodhi Tree: The Case for a Buddhist Influence on Tolkien’s Literature” for the Southeastern Commission for the Study of Religion. Adam’s hobbies include piano, poetry, painting, Jewish education, and basketball.

Robert H. Hacker, M.B.A. (Columbia University)

Email: rhacker@fiu.edu

Adjunct Faculty. Areas of interest: entrepreneurship, creativity and complexity science.

Bob joined FIU in 2004 and teaches social entrepreneurship in the Honors College and graduate level entrepreneurship in the Engineering College. He also teaches social entrepreneurship at MIT Sloan and the University of Miami and is on the national faculty for the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program. His industry experience includes serving as the CFO of One Laptop per Child, an international education project that started at MIT. He also built a billion dollar public company in Indonesia in seven years and provided strategy consulting to Fortune 500 Japanese companies for ten years. Today he provides consulting services to middle market companies in North and South America through GH Growth Advisors in Miami. He serves as the Director of StartUP FIU, the University’s incubator that serves students, faculty, alumni and the community to explore and develop scalable ventures in social and traditional entrepreneurship. He has written two books, presented a TEDx talk and blogged at Sophisticated Finance since 2007.

Aisha Hamid, M.S. (Hunter College of the City University New York)

Email: ahamid@fiu.edu

Aisha Hamid is an Instructional Designer with FIU Online. Her education includes a Masters of Science in Literacy Education and a Bachelor of Arts in English Secondary Education from Hunter College of the City University New York. She taught English at the secondary level in New York City and Miami-Dade public school systems for six years. Her philosophy regarding education is that it should impact students, faculty, communities and the world. As a first-generation student and American, she recognizes the importance of access to education. As an educator and instructional designer, she works to ensure that courses are aligned, engaging and transformative.

Gail Hamilton, M.B.A. (University of Virginia)

Email: ghamilto@fiu.edu

Gail Hamilton is a dynamic, results driven, decisive marketing leader experienced in driving strong growth and profit for large Fortune 500 and industry leading businesses. She has led marketing teams on billion dollar brands at Procter and Gamble and national sales team for a number of legacy brands at Bacardi. Her expertise is in Marketing, Brand Management and Hospitality. Gail earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from the University of Florida and Master of Business Administration degree from University of Virginia’s Darden Graduate School of Business. Gail joined FIU as an adjunct professor in 2019 and teaches at the Chaplin School of Hospitality and the Honors College. She has a passion for entrepreneurship, business ownership, and helping others build a meaningful and impactful professional network.

Elizabeth Hanly, M.A. (Columbia University)

Email: hanlye@fiu.edu

Writer/editor/educator with expertise in Latin America and the Caribbean, human rights, religion and the arts. Hanly has brought home stories from war zones and refugee camps, from gold mines and Peronist Party headquarters, from art studios and rooftops in Havana. Her work has appeared in dozens of newspapers and national magazines, including The New York Times, London’s The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Village Voice, The Miami Herald, The Nation, Vogue, Elle, and Art in America. Hanly has designed cultural, educational and human rights programs then written and received grants for those programs from W.F. Kellogg Foundation, the Ford Foundation and the National Council of Churches, among others. She has written and edited for UNICEF and has served as Associate Editor at Scholastic Books. She thinks Umberto Eco was very right when he said, “To survive you must tell stories.” The winner of FIU’s “Excellence in Teaching,” award, Hanly teaches both an upper level Honors course on “Creative Non-Fiction” and one on “Film from the Third World” as well as the First Year Seminar, Origins of Ideas and Ideas of Origins.

Hazel Hooker, M.P.H. (Florida International University)

Email: hookerh@fiu.edu

Hazel Hooker is the Program Director of First Year Programs at Florida International University. In her 13-year career in higher education, she has helped students find their passion as an academic advising professional and helped them engage and transition to college via the many programs offered through her office. In 2015, she received the Significant Impact on Advising Community Award and First Year Programs was recently recognized with the Advising Most Valuable Partner Award.
She is an Honors College alumna who earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology, Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry, and Master of Public Health from Florida International University and is currently pursuing a PhD in Higher Education. Her research interests include exploratory (undecided) students, academic advising, and first year transition. She has presented at national conferences on these topics.

Amy Huseby, Ph.D. (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

Email: ahuseby@fiu.edu

Amy Kahrmann Huseby is a full-time faculty Instructor at Florida International University, where she teaches courses in nineteenth-century British literature. Amy earned her B.A. (2009) in English Language & Literature from Washington State University, and her M.A. (2012) and Ph.D. (2017), also in English Language & Literature from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is currently at work on her first monograph, Quantified Lives: Nineteenth-Century British Poetry and the Mathematics of Social Totality, which develops an account of how poets derived mathematical concepts from poetry in their efforts to understand unifying forms and to reconceptualize literary totalities. Her articles on poetry and poetics of the long nineteenth-century have appeared in Victorian Poetry, Women’s Writing, Victorian Periodicals Review, South Atlantic Review, and several edited collections. She is the co-editor of Defining Pre-Raphaelite Poetics (Palgrave 2020), an edited collection exploring the plurality of modes of making in Pre-Raphaelitism. She serves as a Dual Enrollment mentor in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, Chair of the Literature Gateway Curriculum Committee, a CAT Teaching Fellow, member of the 4th Presidential Leadership Cohort at FIU, and as the English Department Media Director. Prior to coming to FIU, Dr. Huseby had a 15-year career as a paralegal in civil and criminal law.

Thaddeus Kontek, M.S., M.A. (National Intelligence University)

Email: tkontek@fiu.edu

Thaddeus Kontek is an Adjunct lecturer at the Florida International University in Miami and at Collegium Civitas in Warsaw, Poland. He was a Foreign Service Officer at the U.S. State Department from 1999-2017. From 2015-17, he was an Intelligence Analyst covering Russia and Eastern and Central Europe in the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research where he prepared assessments for the President of the United States, the Secretary of State and other senior government officials. His diplomatic postings were in Beirut, Lebanon, the U.S. Mission to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Vienna, Austria. He also served at the U.S. Embassies in Baghdad, Iraq; Bridgetown, Barbados; Antananarivo, Madagascar; Moroni, Comoros; and Minsk, Belarus. At the State Department, he served as the Ukraine Desk Officer.

Prior to his diplomatic service, he held positions at the U.S. Departments of Labor and Treasury, the Executive Office of the President, the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Peace Corps in Warsaw, Poland.

Mr. Kontek has a Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations from the American University in Washington, D.C., a Master’s Degree (ABD) in Economics from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Virginia, and a Master’s Degree in Strategic Intelligence from the National Intelligence University in Washington, D.C.

Masako Kubota, M.A.

Email: makubota@fiu.edu

Masako Kubota (M.A., Asian Studies) is an adjunct instructor of Asian Studies and Modern Languages, teaching Japanese Culture and language. A former advertising executive and founder of non-profit organizations. Masako is highly regarded for her student-centered teaching and pedagogy. Beyond the classroom, she is committed to participating in campus activities that enrich the university experience, such as Japan Immersion Day and the Florida Statewide Japanese Speech and Skit Contest at FIU. In November 2017, she invited seven Ainu artists from Akan Kotan and performed a special event at FIU, exchanging programs between Ainu and Seminole people.

April Lewis. M.S.Ed. (University of Miami)

Email: alewis@fiu.edu

April Lewis is Program Director in the Department of Academic and Career Success. She has lived in Miami her entire life and earned both her undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Miami: A Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Master’s degree in Education. Upon graduation, April worked at UM in the Office of Student Employment and the School of Education. She took a brief break from Higher Education and taught first grade for two years at Kelsey Pharr Elementary. April enjoyed working with children but missed the college atmosphere and the college students. She began advising at FIU in 2007 and has worked with a diverse population of students from a variety of disciplines. She has a passion for helping students find a major that aligns with their interests, skills and values that will ultimately lead them to future academic and career success.

Joseph Lichter, Ph.D. (Emory University)

Email: jlichter@fiu.edu

Dr. Joseph Lichter is a senior instructor in the Chemistry & Biochemistry department and the Director of the Office of Pre-Health Advising. He is a native Floridian who earned degrees from Florida State University (B.S. Biochemistry) and Emory University (Ph.D. Chemistry) before joining FIU. Joseph was one of the co-PIs on a $1 million grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) which helped to develop what is now the FIU STEM Transformation Institute. He has published and reviews for the Journal of Chemical Education and served on several university-wide science education groups including the APLU’s Science and Mathematics Teacher Imperative, the discipline based education research group (DBER), and the gateway to completion initiative for chemistry. Since the Fall of 2011, Joseph has taught in the Honors College regularly including a popular course entitled “the Tao of Sports” where he uses sports as springboard for multidisciplinary studies ranging from STEM focused (physics, chemistry, biology, engineering) to more social, political and even religious elements. On the weekends, he changes roles from Dr. Lichter to USAT certified Coach Joey where he coaches the FIU triathlon club. As an ultra-triathlete himself he is one of only ~200 athletes in the world to have ever complete a deca-iron distance triathlon (24 mile swim/1,120 mile bike/262 mile run). He brings his passion for being able to achieve the impossible with him to the office of pre-health and the honors college to help the students learn and achieve the careers that best fit them.


Anthoni Llau, Ph.D. (Florida International University)

Email: allauj01@fiu.edu

Dr. Anthoni Llau is an Adjunct Instructor at the Honors College, and a Research Scientist with FIU’s Global Health Consortium (GHC). Dr. Llau analyzes data and prepares presentations and manuscripts for projects related to the GHC. He also functions as an editorial board member for the GHC’s bi-monthly newsletter. At FIU he earned a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition, Masters of Public Health, and PhD in Public Health specializing in Epidemiology and Biostatistics and is a Worlds Ahead Graduate. His research interests include infectious diseases, motor vehicle crashes, and disease surveillance. As a graduate student at the Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work, his research focused on the impact of red light cameras on motor vehicle crashes and related injuries. He has published several journal articles and presented in national conferences. Dr. Llau previously served as an epidemiologist at the Florida Department of Health where he conducted epidemiologic investigations of reportable diseases/conditions and outbreaks occurring in Miami-Dade County, collected and analyzed injury data to facilitate the design and evaluation of injury prevention interventions, and performed syndromic surveillance activities to detect persons affected with possible reportable diseases and/or conditions in Miami-Dade County. He was also an integral part of the 2009 influenza H1N1 and 2016 Zika virus disease responses.

Pete E.C. Markowitz, Ph. D.

Email: markowit@fiu.edu

Pete E.C. Markowitz joined FIU in 1995. He carries out nuclear and particle physics experiments at the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, in Virginia and the European Center for Nuclear and Particle Physics (CERN) in Geneva, Switzerland. His research interests focus on the source of gravity, extra dimensions, black holes, quark structure of nuclei, dark matter, dark energy and the electro production of quarks and anti-quarks (or matter and anti-matter). He conducted a series of experiments measuring strange quark effects in atomic nuclei are mapping out the behavior of these elusive and unstable particles. The experiments use high energy accelerators to bombard various target materials and then to measure the subsequent particles which are produced. During his time at FIU he has taught Nuclear Physics, Intermediate Classical Mechanics, Modern Physics Laboratory, and the introductory physics sequences, as well as a FIG and the Freshman Experience course.

Niurca Márquez, M.F.A. (Jacksonville University)

Email: niurca.marquez1@fiu.edu

Niurca Márquez is an artist/researcher with a wide range, as a creator and performer in film, site-specific work and staged performance. Her work has been commissioned by and presented on various curatorial platforms in Europe and the US. She is a Guild Certified Feldenkrais Teacher and integrates the principles of the Feldenkrais Method as well as other somatic approaches to her artistic and research practice. Marquez is the recipient of numerous awards for both her artistic creation and her research including: Dance Miami Choreographer’s Award (2015 and 2017), Gillman Fellowship in Choreography for Graduate Studies (2015-2017), two Ford Foundation Travel Grant for Research in Cuba granted through the Cuban Research Institute and the Latin American and Caribbean Center at Florida International University (1998 and 1999).

Her essay on the development of “Flamenco Empirico” in Spain and its implications for the form, was recently published by MacFarllan Press in Flamenco on the Global Stage: Historical, Critical and Theoretical Perspectives, edited by K. Meira Goldberg, Ninotchka D. Bennahum and Michelle Heffner Hayes. Her current research includes an examination of the use of collage (and it’s affiliated approaches) as a methodology for composition when working in hybrid forms to explore how we can evidence the process in performance on various platforms, as well as, transculturation, hybridity and mestisaje as they pertain to expressions of identity and the moving body.

Michelle Denise Mason, J.D. (Rutgers University)

Email: mmason@fiu.edu

Senior Associate Dean Mason joined FIU Law as founding Associate Dean for Admissions and Student Services in 2001. Prior to joining the FIU Law, Mason worked at Phillips Exeter Academy, Seton Hall Law School and Vermont Law.

In 2010, Mason was appointed Director for the FIU Law Center for Professionalism and Ethics. In the 2014, Mason changed administrative roles and was appointed as Senior Associate Dean for Clinical Education, Experiential Learning and Engagement.

Mason teaches in the FIU Steven J. Green School of International & Public Affairs and the FIU Honors College. In 2016, the Department of Humanities, Health and Society at the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine provided Mason with a secondary appointment as Faculty Administrator.

Civic engagement is a common thread in Mason’s work. As principal investigator, she secured a national grant and directed the Council on Legal Education Opportunity Summer Institute. In 2013, Mason founded the Math and Civics Summer Institute, which provided instruction for 3rd, 4th and 5th graders from the Liberty City.

Mason has served on numerous local and national committees. Recently, Mason was appointed to the 11th Judicial Circuit Professionalism and Civility Committee and asked by the National Black Law Student Association to serve as a member of its Education Task Force.

Anthony McGoron, Ph.D. (Louisiana Tech University)

Email: mcgoron@fiu.edu

Anthony McGoron is a Professor of Biomedical Engineering. He was elected as an AIMBE Fellow in 2015. Dr. McGoron was the Interim Department Chair from 2007-2010, elected National President of the Alpha Eta Mu Beta (AEMB) Biomedical Engineering Honor Society in 2010 and won the Outstanding Faculty Advisor to the AEMB in 2010. He founded the AEMB chapter at FIU in 2007 and the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) student chapter in 2002 and served as the faculty advisor from 2002 to 2007. He is the department’s Undergraduate Program Director and was responsible for guiding the program through ABET accreditation. He received the American Heart Initial Investigator Award in 2001. He has mentored over 50 undergraduate in research students at FIU. He has over 190 journal articles, book chapters and proceeding papers and has received funding from the NIH, NSF, AHA, Fl-DOH, and DOD as well as numerous companies. The primary focus of his research is drug delivery and molecular imaging, primarily for cancer, and specifically the development of multimodal drugs that simultaneously image and provide therapy.

Andrej Milic, J.D. (University of Florida)

Email: amilic@fiu.edu

Mr. Andrej Milic obtained his Bachelor of Applied Science Degree from Miami Dade College where he was a member of the honors college. He obtained his Master of Management Degree with a specialization in Justice Administration from St. Thomas University and his Juris Doctor of Law from University of Florida. Mr. Milic is currently working to complete his LL.M. in Intercultural Human Rights at. St. Thomas University School of Law. Mr. Milic is a licensed attorney in Florida and the Assistant Director of Recruiting at Florida International University College of Law. Mr. Milic teaches at numerous universities and lectures internationally on various international legal topics.

Sonja Montas-Hunter, Ph.D. (Barry University)

Email: smontash@fiu.edu

Dr. Sonja Montas-Hunter is the Assistant Vice Provost of Student Access and Success at Florida International University in Miami.  Her portfolio includes leading initiatives and programs which provide increased access for underrepresented minorities and eliminate the achievement gap between majority and underrepresented students. In addition, she currently provides supervision to TRIO programs, college bridge programs, and graduate access program.

She was previously the Associate Dean at the University Graduate School where she was responsible for the Graduate Student Professional Development Program, Recruitment, Diversity and Outreach.  She served as the liaison to various academic and student-support efforts, such as the Florida Education Fund McKnight Doctoral Fellowship, the NSF Bridge to Doctorate, the Ronald E. McNair Scholars graduate fellowship and the National GEM Consortium

Dr. Montas-Hunter has been recognized for her work in supporting to increase the number of underrepresented students that pursue graduate education. And most recently, has expanded her efforts to participating in projects that support the pipeline to graduate education through collaborations with the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AACU) and the Association of Public Land-Grant Universities (APLU). She has published several articles on the advancement of equity and inclusion for academic excellence and is an alumni of the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education (AAHHE) Fellowship program and the American Council of Education (ACE) Spectrum Executive Leadership Program.
She believes the mentoring is the cornerstone for success in higher education and essential to professional and personal development. She has mentored students from all over the United States and her commitment to diversity, openness and ensuring access and equity for all students is rooted throughout her work.
Dr. Montas-Hunter earned a B.A degree in English from Hunter College-CUNY; MA in English from Radford University; and a Ph.D. in Higher Education Leadership from Barry University. 

Kiesha Moodie, M.Ed. (Lamar University)

Email: kmoodie@fiu.edu

Kiesha Moodie is currently the Director of Social Innovation for StartUP FIU. Before joining FIU, Kiesha was the Managing Director, Alumni and Community Engagement for Teach For America (TFA), a national non-profit working to eliminate educational inequality in America, in Miami-Dade Florida. In her role as Managing Director, Alumni and Community Engagement, Kiesha lead a team charged with supporting a critical mass of over 500 TFA alumni residing in South Florida make a meaningful contribution to the ecosystem around them.

Kiesha has pioneered community engagement initiatives to promote the value of education, economic development, and equity while fostering partnerships with universities, school districts, foundations, and entrepreneurial community. Her work has helped to create jobs and connections that support a young and growing economy. She has also been a leader in the field in expanding access to opportunities and educational tools for 21st-century readiness students and families.

Kiesha Moodie earned her B.A. in Business Administration from Florida State University, and her M.Ed. in Educational Leadership at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. She also studied at the Achievement Gap Institute at Harvard University. Kiesha is a published author on topics related to education, design thinking, and community engagement. She was also most recently featured in NewsOne’s educational documentary, “Saving Tomorrow, Today,” which highlighted urban educational solutions from leaders across the country.

Lergia Olivo, M.A. (Florida International University)

Email: lolivo@fiu.edu

Lergia Olivo is an Instructional Design Manager at FIU Online, managing a team of instructional designers and collaborating with online and hybrid FIU faculty. Together, the team works to design, revise and enhance high-quality, engaging courses that meet rigorous quality standards and ensure the educational success of FIU’s diverse population of student learners. Lergia has been a part of the FIU Online team since December 2011, but a Golden Panther since 2006, holding a Bachelor of Arts in English, and a Master of Arts in Linguistics. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction from FIU’s School of Education and Human Development.

Lergia was born and raised in Miami, FL. She attended John G. DuPuis Elementary, Palm Springs Middle, and Hialeah-Miami Lakes Senior High, where she was Editor-in-Chief of the school’s Trojan Times newspaper and Band Captain in the school’s award-winning marching, jazz and symphonic bands. She plays flute, acoustic bass guitar, and piano. Lergia graduated third in the 2004 senior class.

Prior to beginning her employment with FIU Online, Lergia worked for Miami-Dade Police Department, where she was directly responsible for creating and deploying computer-based training to more than 5,000 police and civilian departmental employees. She also has experience working for the game presentation departments at Hard Rock Stadium, BB&T Center and Marlins Park, producing exciting graphics and animations for use on their in-house entertainment video boards.

Outside of work, Lergia spends time reading–novels of every genre, nonfiction, and even textbooks–there’s always something new to learn. Lergia also enjoys watching college and professionals sports with her husband and son.

Randy Pestana, M.S. (Florida International University)

Email: rpestana@fiu.edu

Randy Pestana serves as a Policy Analyst at FIU’s Jack D. Gordon Institute for Public Policy, where he is tasked with coordinating the Academic-Defense partnership with U.S. Southern Command. Mr. Pestana specializes in International Relations with major focuses on U.S. Foreign Policy and Security Studies. The majority of his work has been linked to Governance and Security in Latin America and the Caribbean, with a particular focus on transnational organized crime, terrorism, rule of law, and gangs. Mr. Pestana has numerous publications on U.S. foreign policy, military-to-military engagement, drug trafficking, organized crime, and terrorism and has assisted in countless publications for both academic and defense purposes related to U.S. foreign policy and national security. Mr. Pestana has expansive presentation experience in both academic and defense settings including presentations for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Southern Command, and the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, and at major conferences throughout the country. Mr. Pestana also serves as an Adjunct Professor for FIU’s Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs where he teaches Politics of Central America, and for FIU’s Honors College where he teaches Research Methods and Honors Introduction and Leadership Seminar.

Prior to joining the Gordon Institute, Mr. Pestana served as a Policy Analyst at FIU’s Applied Research Center and as a Research Assistant for FIU’s Kimberly Green Latin American and Caribbean Center where he worked on projects for U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. Department of State. He served as both an intern and coordinator for U.S. Department of State’s Diplomacy Lab project where he focused on Prison Violence in Latin America and the Caribbean, and Judicial Reform in Latin America and the Caribbean. Prior to joining FIU, Mr. Pestana attended the Platoon Leader’s Course in Quantico, Virginia for the United States Marine Corps where he received a favorable evaluation and top five ranking by his peers as a Candidate Platoon Sgt., and served as a recruiting assistant for the USMC in Miami, Florida where he helped train recruits prior to their departure to basic training. Mr. Pestana holds a M.A. in Latin American and Caribbean Studies with a Graduate Certificate in National Security Studies from FIU. He is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in International Relations at FIU.

Garrett Pierman, M.A. (Florida International University)

Email: gpier018@fiu.edu

Garrett Pierman is a PhD candidate at FIU’s Green School of International and Public Affairs, in the department of Politics and International Relations. Mr. Pierman specializes in political theory and international relations, with a major research focus in democracy as it is practiced through digital technologies. He also does academic work in international relations, focusing on critiques of the state and the development of the strategies of nonstate actors. Mr. Pierman is an alumnus of the Honors College, and a graduate of FIU’s Department of Politics and International Relations. He has been teaching at FIU since 2016, teaching primarily courses in politics and international relations. He takes an interdisciplinary approach to political science, as well as scholarship and the examined life more broadly. His work can be found in the Journal of Strategic Security, the Marx and Philosophy Review of Books, and the Journal of Class, Race, and Corporate Power. His main goal in teaching is to help people ask and attempt to answer the questions that drive them, regardless of field or method.

Angela T. Puentes-Leon

Angela T. Puentes-Leon , J.D. ( University of Miami)

Email: anpuente@fiu.edu

Angie Puentes-Leon has extensive experience litigating individual and mass tort matters in state and federal courts in Florida and throughout the United States. She represents domestic and foreign clients in products liability litigation and complex commercial litigation. Her practice focuses on defending clients in personal injury and wrongful death actions that involve products and consumer goods related to industries that include automotive, aviation, pharmaceutical and medical device, and food. Her experience includes presenting opening statements and conducting direct and cross examinations in multiple jury trials.Ms. Puentes-Leon is the food, beverage, dietary supplement, and personal care products industry group co-leader.

Trial Experience

  • Provided legal issues and trial support in state court case in Florida on behalf of a global chemical company in defense of asbestos person injury action which resulted in a verdict in favor of the company. (August 2015)
  • Provided legal issues and trial support in state court case in Florida on behalf of a global chemical company in defense of asbestos personal injury action ultimately resolved through settlement during trial (February 2013)
  • Green v. Dang, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Represented plaintiff in a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action against several police officers for injuries sustained during an arrest. (2010)


Sharan Ramaswamy,Ph.D. (University of Iowa)

Email: sramaswa@fiu.edu

Sharan Ramaswamy completed his PhD in 2003 at the University of Iowa in Biomedical Engineering. As an NIH-post-doctoral fellow, Dr. Ramaswamy engaged in research at the interface of cartilage tissue engineering and magnetic resonance imaging microscopy. In early 2007, Dr. Ramaswamy started work as a Research Faculty in the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh, in the area of heart valve tissue engineering. In December 2009, joined the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Florida International University, Miami, FL as an Assistant Professor. Dr. Ramaswamy’s research interests lie primarily in the area of cell and engineered tissue mechanics with application in cardiovascular regenerative medicine. His laboratory, the “Tissue Engineered Mechanics, Imaging and Materials laboratory (TEMIM LAB)”, conducts both experimental and computational investigations in this area. Currently his major research goals are to integrate the various areas of his training into the differential mechano-regulation of cells towards the cardiovascular phenotype as well as the synthesis of viable engineered cardiovascular tissues, particularly, heart valves. These include: (1) tissue engineered heart valve replacement for critical congenital mitral and aortic valve disease, (2) valve repair using engineered heart valve tissues and (3) bioreactor development to create engineered cardiovascular tissue model systems to facilitate therapeutic discovery. Concurrently Dr. Ramaswamy is also working towards: (4) the elucidation of mechanobiological cellular and molecular mechanisms that are involved in the etiology of valve diseases (e.g. stenosis, calcification). Dr. Ramaswamy is a Fellow of the American Heart Association and its Council on Basic Cardiovascular Sciences. As of April 2017: Dr. Ramaswamy’s work was published in over 50 journals, book chapters and conference proceedings and he had over a 100 presentations at scientific conferences. He mentored over 30 graduate/undergraduate students at FIU in a one-to-one format (e.g. as major professor). His research was supported by the AHA and NSF.


Jenesis J. Ramirez,Ph.D. (University of Pittsburgh)

Email: jenramir@fiu.edu

Jenesis J. Ramirez currently serves as Program Manager for the Office of Engagement. In her role, she manages key external partnerships for the university, including Life Sciences South Florida and the City of Miami Beach, in addition to serving as a key collaborator in Veterans and Military Affairs initiatives. Jenesis holds a Ph.D. in Social and Comparative Analysis in Education from the University of Pittsburgh. Her research focuses on Latinas’ educational experiences, their networks of women, and the intersecting influences of race, gender, family, and institutional climates on Latinas’ personal, professional, and academic journeys. Broadly, her research interest is on issues of gender and race equity in higher education, specifically related to the experiences of the Latina/o/x population. Jenesis approaches her scholarship from a Latina feminist theoretical and epistemological lens. She approaches her practitioner work from a similar lens – working to ensure that initiatives and partnerships contribute to socio-economic well-being. Jenesis is honored to serve at FIU, one of the nation’s leading Hispanic Serving Institutions. Grounded in the spirit of reciprocity, she is committed to advancing FIU and the Office of Engagement mission to cultivate and nourish partnerships towards the enrichment of both university and community.

Anthony Rionda, M.P.A. (Florida International University)

Email: arionda@fiu.edu

Anthony A. Rionda is a Miami native and a graduate of Florida International University’s Honors College, and holds Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science, and a Masters of Public Administration Degree from the Green School of International and Public Affairs. As a student at FIU he served as President of the Student Government Association and a member of the University’s Board of Trustees. He is actively engaged in the community, and serves as a member of the HistoryMiami Flagler Street Society, LeadershipMiami, Frost Science Museum Young Patrons, and the FIU Alumni Association. He previously served as the FIU Alumni Association’s Asst. Director for Chapters and Young Alumni, and currently serves as Chief of Staff at the FIU College of Law, and is teaching two courses in the Honors College.

Harry Roberge

Email: hroberge@fiu.edu

Harry Roberge, a Vietnam War veteran working as an interpreter and translator for the Army during the war, has been living and working in SE Asia for 13 years. He has traveled extensively through Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia. He is currently directing an NGO sponsoring the education of underprivileged Cambodian children. He has spent the last 7 years introducing people to SE Asian history and culture by acting as a guide for small groups wishing to get an inside view of the uniqueness of each country, its people, culture, and the role these countries have played in the geopolitical history of the United States, the Soviet Union and China. As the facilitator for the Honors Vietnam-Cambodia Study Abroad Program, he has introduced FIU students to the region’s beauty, cultural aspects and history through lectures, movies, literature and music. He has also supervised the service project of the program, through which students teach English to future Cambodian teachers at the teacher training college in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

José Rodriguez, Ph.D. (Florida International University)

Email: rodrigej@fiu.edu

Jose Rodriguez received his Bachelor of Science in Communication (double major psychology and communication theory) and his Master of Science in Education (with an emphasis in higher education/enrollment management) from the University of Miami. In 2018, he received his Ph.D. in industrial-organizational psychology from FIU. Dr. Rodriguez served as the assistant dean of the Honors College from 2008 to 2016 and has over 15 years of experience in higher education administration and instruction. In 2016, he joined the faculty of the Honors College to teach full time. Dr. Rodriguez’s academic and research interests intersect a number of different disciplines (psychology, sociology, anthropology, political science, history, literature, philosophy, art). In addition to teaching for the Honors College, Dr. Rodriguez has taught intercultural communication, public speaking, business communication, and study abroad courses for the Department of Communication. His research agenda is varied: stress and health in the workplace, indicators of success among college students, identity and adjustment of immigrant population, among other interests.

Cinthya Rojas, M.S. (Florida International University)

Email: ccrojas@fiu.edu

Venezuelan born, Miami raised. My family moved to Miami when I was 10 years old. I attended Ludlam Elementary, Arvida Middle School, and Coral Reef Senior High School. I began my college journey at Miami Dade College, earning an Associate of Arts degree in Sociology. I transferred to the University of Florida in 2004 to finish my Bachelor of Arts in Sociology in December 2006.

I moved back home and immediately realized the importance of continuing my education. I wanted to learn more about what I was passionate about: Training and Development. While working at my family business, I enrolled at the University of Miami to pursue a professional certification in Human Resources Management.

My employment at Florida International University began in October 2007. I started my career in the university with the Division of Human Resources, Payroll & Employee Records; there I acquired a great deal of knowledge and experience about the FIU community. I quickly realized I wanted to further my education and was admitted to the Human Resources Development and Adult Education program. I graduated with my Master of Science degree in 2010. A month before graduating, I was hired by FIU Online as an Instructional Designer.

My educational background in Human Resources Development and Adult Education has given me additional knowledge with regards to various adult learning theories and effective instructional design processes needed to succeed in higher education.

Working at the university made me realize the impact professors have on students. I applied to be an adjunct instructor for First Year Experience upon graduating, and began teaching during the Summer of 2010. I recently joined the Honors College to continue pursuing my passion for teaching and building lasting relationships with my students.

Nanett A. Rojas, M.S. (Florida International University)

Email: rojasn@fiu.edu

Nanett Rojas is an Affiliate Instructor and Manager of Admissions Operations in the Office of Admissions, Nanett Rojas received her Bachelor of Arts in English and her Master of Science in Higher Education Administration from FIU and holds certificates in Women’s and Museum Studies. Nanett has worked at the university since 1993 and has taught various courses including: Freshman Composition, Literary Analysis, and Approaches to Literature. She teaches the Introduction to Honors and Leadership seminar. Currently she is pursuing the doctorate in Higher Education.

Barbra Roller, Ph.D. (University of Pennsylvania)

Email: rollerb@fiu.edu

Dr. Barbra Roller is the Assistant Dean for Student Affairs of the FIU Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine. Dr. Roller grew up in Manhattan, attended the Bronx High School of Science and graduated from Barnard College, Columbia University, with a bachelor’s degree in Biology. She subsequently earned her Ph. D. in Biology from the University of Pennsylvania, where her research in cell physiology concentrated on membrane transport mechanisms and changes in virally infected cells. She continued her research and teaching while completing post-doctoral fellowships in the Department of Microbiology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine as well as in the Department of Human Genetics at Yale University School of Medicine. Dr. Roller has been at FIU since 1994, as a faculty member in the Department of Biological Sciences, as the Director of the Pre-Health Professions Advising Center in the College of Arts and Sciences and as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Cellular Biology and Pharmacology of the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine. She has won several FIU Faculty Senate awards for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching and Excellence in Undergraduate Advising, and is an active member of many University and College committees, as well as in the Group on Student Affairs of the AAMC.

Gustavo Roque, M.S (Florida International University )

Email: groque@fiu.edu

Gus Roque is the Educational Technology Manager at FIU Online, Florida International University’s centralized distance education unit. He has been working in the field of distance learning in higher education since 2008. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Management of Information Systems from the College of Business Administration and a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the College of Education, both from Florida International University. He has been a member of multiple professional distance education organizations. He has also spoken at different professional conferences such as Blackboard World, International Conference on College Teaching and Learning and the FIU Online conference. As an instructional designer, he has designed courses for multiple colleges and disciplines. He previously served on the senior instructional design group which was responsible for setting the best practices and standards for fully online courses at Florida International University. His current role at FIU Online allows him to discover, research and vet educational technologies for fully online and blended courses. Gus Roque lives in Miami, Florida.

Trina Sanders, Ed.D. (Nova Southeastern University)

Email: trsander@fiu.edu

Trina Sanders is an Instructional Design Manager for FIU Online, supporting the College of Arts, Sciences, and Education. In her role, she oversees a team of Instructional Designers and Specialists in the production of over 400 fully-online and hybrid courses each semester. Trina is also an Adjunct Professor currently teaching The Power of Black Music in America: Its History, Language, and Culture From the Past Until Today for the Honors College and the First Year Experience Course for the Divison of Academic and Career Success. Trina is a lifelong learner with over 20 years of experience in Corporate Training and Development, in both asynchronous and synchronous learning environments. She obtained a Doctor of Education with concentrations in Organizational Leadership, and in Instructional Technology and Distance Education from Nova Southeastern University. She also holds a Master of Science in Adult Education and a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. On a personal note, Trina enjoys reading novels and volunteering in her community. She is also a proud member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.

Ricky Sant, M.B.A. (Florida International University)

Email: santr@fiu.edu

Ricky is an IT Manager for Admissions Systems & Data Support, a department of Enrollment Management & Services. In this role, he works with all IT related matters in the admissions process. Ricky has a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Business from FIU. Ricky has been teaching First Year Experience (SLS 1501) for 7 years and has been an Affiliate Instructor with the Honors College since 2014 teaching Intro to Honors. Before returning to FIU for his M.B.A., he was a computer programmer for 2 1/2 years.

Gretchen Scharnagl, M.F.A. (Florida International University)

Email: scharnag@fiu.edu

Gretchen Scharnagl is a senior instructor in the Honors College and The College of Communication, Architecture and the Arts. Scharnagl is interested in the importance of creativity in all disciplines. Her work includes environmental art and action, social commentary, ephemeral art and specimen logic. She blurs the definition of author, media and what can be art through media that ranges from the common pencil, to found object, to dead animals, and the edible. Scharnagl teaches the upper level seminars, Animals that are not Animal/Humans that are not Human and FEAST.

Fang Shu, M.S. (Florida International University)

Email: fshu@fiu.edu

Mr. Fang Shu is an Instructor at FIU Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, where he teaches Intro to Hospitality and Tourism Management and Accounting for the Hospitality Industry. As a previous China Programs Manager at the Chaplin School, he assisted in curriculum and program development, oversaw all initiatives that take place in China with insight on cultural knowledge, and managed the university’s relations with other academic entities within the China region.

Fang serves as the Vice Chair of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce (GMCC) Asia Committee, and also serves on the Steering Committee of the City of North Miami Chinatown Cultural Arts & Innovation District. In addition, he was selected in the second cohort of FIU Presidential Leadership Program and the first cohort of FIU Provost’s Hybrid Pilot Program.

A native of China, Fang is fluent in both Mandarin and English. Most importantly, he possesses native appreciation of Asian culture, and has a comprehensive global awareness and understanding of international high education processes and practices.

Fang enjoys working with students. His classrooms are always full of interactions and fun.

Melissa Silveira, M.S. (Florida International University)

Email: melihern@fiu.edu

Melissa Silveira is a Manager of Academic Support Services for FIU’s College of Business Undergraduate Advising department. She is an Associate Fellow with the Honors College. Melissa graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree and a Master’s of Science in Higher Education Administration from Florida International University. During her master’s program, she completed an internship with the Office of First Year Programs at FIU and the Career Center at Bowling Green State University in Ohio.

Melissa has teaching experience in the following courses: SLS1501- First Year Experience course for incoming freshman students, MAR4354- Marketing Yourself in Today’s Competitive Workforce for upper division students and the Introduction to Honors and Leadership Seminar IDH1931 course for FIU’s Honors College. She has also presented at national conferences. She comes to FIU from Florida Atlantic University and Broward College where she was a Coordinator of Academic Support Services for FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Science and a Student Success Specialist for Broward College’s South Campus.

Joshua Simmons, M.S. (Purdue Global University)

Email: email pending

Commissioner Joshua (Josh) Simmons was elected to office and sworn in to the City of Coral Springs Commission on Tuesday, November 27, 2018. Josh is the first African-American Commissioner to be elected since the City became incorporated in 1963. Born and partially raised in St. Louis, MO, Josh’s mother joined the United States Navy, which caused him to complete high school in Virginia Beach, VA. A graduate of Florida Atlantic University, Josh earned a B.S. in Political Science. After earning an M.S. in Psychology, Josh worked in the mental health field for a company that provided services in Broward County. In 2015, Josh was offered an opportunity to teach in the Broward County Public School District. When he is not working or serving the residents of Coral Springs, Josh enjoys reading, sports, video games and travelling. As an educator, he enjoys learning about other cultures, history and the people he meets.

James M.Sutton, Ph.D. (Yale University)

Email: suttonj@fiu.edu

Professor James Sutton has been a faculty member with the FIU English department since 1994; he received his Ph.D. from Yale University in 1995, taking his degree in Renaissance Studies. At FIU, he regularly teaches courses on Shakespeare, other English Renaissance dramatists and poets, and various aspects of early modern England and Europe. Beyond literature, he is interested in architecture and design, and political and cultural history, as informed by contemporary theory. Sutton served as chairperson of the Enlgish department from 2008-2016; in the last year of his tenure, he led a University wide effort to bring a copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio (printed in London n 1623) to FIU for a month-long exhibit (February 2016). He was on leave from the university in 2016-2017; from February – July 2017, he resided in Ljubljana Slovenia, teaching literature courses at both the University of Ljubljana and the University of Maribor. His current research project involves an inquiry into the relevance and aspect of Shakespearean performance, education and exhibition in contemporary Miami.

Tiffani Tallon, M.S. (Florida International University)

Email: ttallon@fiu.edu

Tiffani Tallon is the Assistant Director of the Invitational Scholars program in FIU’s Office of Student Access and Success. She has over 14 years of higher education experience. In her current role she assists over 100 scholars through a holistic approach providing mentorship and guidance throughout their academic journey at FIU. Tiffani is a strong advocate for first generation students and served on a panel to discuss First Gen-First Year: Advising, Engagement, & Mentoring during the 2019 Focus on First Generation Conference.

She is a proud two-time alumna of FIU, holding a Bachelor of Business Administration with a concentration in Management and a Master of Science in Higher Education Administration. Her two favorite seasons are FIU football season and commencement season. Most Saturdays during the Fall semester you will find her at the alumni tailgate and cheering on the FIU Panthers football team. For the past three years she serves as a Commencement Ambassador Coordinator, volunteering her time to enjoy the proud moment of seeing her scholars walk across the commencement stage. She is an honorary member of the Golden Key International Honour Society and advises the Disciples on Campus student organization. In the past she has participated in Panther Camp and Alternative Breaks as a faculty advisor.

Rhona Trauvitch, Ph.D. (University of Massachusetts Amherst)

Email: Rhona.Trauvitch@fiu.edu

Rhona Trauvitch received her B.A. in Government from Smith College, M.Sc. in Social and Public Communication from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She has taught in the Program in Comparative Literature at UMass Amherst and in the Department of English at Westfield State University. Since 2014 she has been an instructor in the Department of English at FIU, where she teaches face-to-face, online, and hybrid courses in multicultural literature, narrative theory, popular culture, and science fiction, among other subjects. She was awarded a Faculty Senate Award for Excellence in Teaching (2018), and a College of Arts, Sciences & Education Award for Teaching (2017).

Dr. Trauvitch’s research interests span speculative fiction, popular culture, and intersections of narrative theory, science, and mythology. She has contributed chapters to several edited collections, including The Routledge Handbook of Popular Culture and Tourism (Routledge, 2018), Interface between Literature and Science: Cross-disciplinary Approaches to Latin American Texts (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2015), Jim Henson and Philosophy: Imagination and the Magic of Mayhem (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2015), and Literary Cartographies: Spatiality, Representation, and Narrative (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014). Dr. Trauvitch is currently working on a book project about tropes in global speculative fiction that communicate experiences of alterity and exile. She also researches the atypical rhetoric of fictionality, as well as readers’ interactions with fiction and the social experience of narrative.

John Tsalikis, Ph.D. (University of Mississippi)

Email: tsalikis@fiu.edu

John Tsalikis is the BMI professor of Marketing at Florida International University. He received a Ph.D. from the University of Mississippi in 1988. He specializes in Marketing Research and has developed the e-course in both Marketing Research and Marketing Management. He taught in the executive education programs for Motorola, US Army, and Cordis (a Johnson & Johnson company), and for the international programs in Bolivia, Mexico, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, and England. Dr. Tsalikis received the TIP award for excellence in teaching. Based on journal citations, John rates number two in the world in the field of business ethics. He also developed the Business Ethics Index (BEI) which measures consumer ethical sentiments in over 18 countries encompassing almost 4 billion people. He has thirty one refereed journal publications and was the first to use conjoint analysis in ethical research. He has published the book “Marketing Research: An Applied Approach.” Dr. Tsalikis served in the editorial board of theJournal of Business Ethics and is currently developing a special issue for the same journal. John received an award for Outstanding Senior Faculty Researcher and is an external expert in the Hellenic Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education. John Tsalikis worked in the sales department for VW and John Deere and developed his own outdoor advertising business. He also performed several market research projects for Office Depot, SAMY cosmetics, the Bank of Mississippi, The Miami Youth Fair, and the Miami Film Festival. Dr. Tsalikis was a member of the Greek national basketball team.

Allen Varela, M.S. (Florida International University)

Email: alvarel@fiu.edu

Allen Varela is the Senior Coordinator of Academic Support Services of the Honors College. He received his Master of Science in Higher Education Administration, Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, and Minor in Criminal Justice from Florida International University. Allen Varela has at least five years’ experience as a substitute teacher with the School Board of Broward County and City of Pembroke Pines. He came to FIU Honors College in 2013. In 2014, he directed the Fourth Annual Florida Undergraduate Research Conference, which had over 1000 in attendance including recruiters from across the nation. In 2015, he directed the Florida Collegiate Honors Council Conference at Miami Airport Marriott Hotel. In 2016, he presented at the 2016 Florida Statewide Symposium on Engagement in Undergraduate Research. In 2017, he presented at the Honors Education at Research Universities Conference on Engaging Student Groups in a Fully-Online Course. He is the director of the Conference for Undergraduate Research at FIU. Currently, he oversees the Advanced Research and Creativity in Honors Program.

Christina Vilaboa-Abel, Esq. (Florida International University)

Email: christina@cavalegal.com

Christina Vilaboa-Abel is partner and co-founder of CAVA Law, LLC. Her practice encompasses the areas of debt litigation and negotiation, real estate litigation and transactions, bankruptcy, and creditor rights representation. Christina is admitted to practice in Florida, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida and the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and History, with a focus on National Security Studies from Florida International University. Ms. Vilaboa-Abel thereafter earned her Juris Doctor from Florida International University College of Law. Ms. Vilaboa-Abel is actively involved with the South Florida community, earning recognition from the Southern District of Florida for her pro bono contributions to debtors in need of legal assistance.

Melissa Ward-Peterson, PhD, MPH (Florida International University)

Email: mward@fiu.edu

Melissa Ward-Peterson is a Postdoctoral Associate in the Department of Epidemiology, where she manages the Research Infrastructure Core for FIU’s Research Center in Minority Institutions (FIU-RCMI). A proud FIU double-alumna and graduate of the Honors College, she earned her BA in English in 2008 and her PhD in Public Health/Epidemiology in 2017. She has worked at FIU since 2013; her prior positions include Research Analyst in the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine (HWCOM) Department of Medical and Population Health Sciences Research, as well as Research and Operations Manager for HWCOM’s Tano Medical Simulation Center.

Before working for FIU, Melissa completed her MPH in Global Health Policy at George Washington University (GW) in 2010. From 2011-2013, Melissa worked in the Department of Health Policy at GW coordinating monitoring and evaluation for the Medical Education Partnership Initiative, a $130 million international health program in 12 African countries administered by the Department of State, HRSA, and NIH. In 2010, she completed a GW Global Health Service Fellowship in the Public Health Information and GIS Unit at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. In several other research positions at GW, she provided support for projects funded by the World Bank and UNAIDS as well as multiple global health and data analysis courses.

She has published several peer-reviewed public health and educational research papers and is actively involved in service activities. She currently volunteers as a trainer for the Voter Participation Project, a non-profit which aims to improve political discourse and remove barriers to voting. From 2015-2018, she co-chaired HWCOM’s Empower to Lead Committee, which sought to create innovative leadership development sessions and forums for dialogue between HWCOM staff and faculty. Between 2009 and 2013, Melissa volunteered in the Executive Office of the President in The White House, where she analyzed health reform and foreign policy correspondence written to the President.

Pioneer Winter, M.P.H. (Florida International University), M.F.A. (Jacksonville University/White Oak)

Email: pwinter@fiu.edu
Website: http://pioneerwinter.com

Pioneer Winter is a Miami-based choreographer and performance-based artist. He directs the non-profit organization Pioneer Winter Collective, a group of allies, activists and artists in their own right, whose bodies and voices transform their social, political, and cultural landscapes. Recognized in Dance Magazine’s “25 to Watch” Pioneer Winter’s contemporary dance and physical theater company democratizes performance in public spaces, museums/galleries, stage, and film. He holds two terminal degrees – an MPH Public Health and Epidemiology from FIU’s Stempel College of Public Health and MFA Choreography from Jacksonville University/White Oak, as the first artist recipient of the Dennis R. Washington Achievement Scholarship.

Pioneer Winter’s choreography has been commissioned by the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, Miami Theater Center, Karen Peterson and Dancers, Tigertail Productions, MDC Live Arts, Jacksonville Dance Theatre, and several South Florida universities, among others. He produces Grass Stains, Pioneer Winter Collective’s initiative for developing and commissioning site-specific performance that features an ongoing collaboration with choreographers Stephan Koplowitz and Ana Sánchez-Colberg. Pioneer Winter’s work is supported by local, state, foundation, and fellowship awards, including a MAP Fund and New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) National Dance Project Production grant award for his project Birds of Paradise, which premieres at the Adrienne Arsht Center in late-Fall 2020. Pioneer Winter is the Adrienne Arsht Center’s first year-long Artist-in-Residence collaboration. He’s curated and director of the ScreenDance Miami Festival, presented by the Miami Light Project, since 2017.

Pioneer Winter has been an FIU Honors College faculty fellow since 2014. He teaches in areas of social justice and art, epistemology, and dance technique and composition in both the Honors College and CARTA Theatre Department. In 2018, his role expanded to include coordination of all dance courses at FIU and the dance minor program. His students have collaborated with the Frost Museum of Art and Deering Estate at Cutler, as well as benefited from internships with many South Florida organizations and the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs. In 2019, he earned the Excellence in Teaching Award for his dedication as an FIU faculty member. He’s also honored to serve as the faculty advisor for the Honors College Pride Club since its inception. Professor Winter has previously taught 1st Year Seminar, 2nd Year Seminar (Inhabiting Other Lives), and the upper division course Public Health/Public Works. He currently teaches upper division courses Unseen Voices/Unheard Faces and Art as Persuasion.

Michael Yawney, M.F.A. (Columbia University)

Email: myawney@fiu.edu

Michael Yawney is a Miami-Based playwright/director. He received an MFA from Columbia University and a BFA from the Experimental Theatre Wing of New York University. As a director, locally he has worked with Miami Light Project, Orchestra Miami, and Nova University. Nationally his work has been seen at L.A.’s Disney Concert Hall, Austin’s Vortex Rep, the Pittsburgh Performance Art Festival, and many New York venues including HERE and The Brick. His play 1,000 Homosexuals debuted in 2008 at the Arsht Center for the Performing Arts. He was a resident playwright in Miami-Dade County’s Playwrights Development Program and New York Stage and Film/Vassar Powerhouse. Mr. Yawney’s writing has appeared in Theatre Week, Propaganda, OFF as well as the book, Michael Chekhov: Critical Issues, Reflections, Dreams.