Faculty Biographies

Irene Abad, M.S.Tigran Abrahamyan, Ph.D.Samah T. Abukhodeir, J.D.Samantha Alvarado-Postigo, Ed.S.Daniel Alvarez, M.A., M.T.S.Cristina Arabatzis, M.A.Jesus Arias, D.B.A.John Bailly, M.F.A.Jason Bell, M.B.A.Kathryn Bond, M.S.Jason Calloway, M.M.Amilcar Castellano-Sanchez, M.D.Prem Chapagain, Ph.D.Michael C. Christie, Ph.D.Bárbara Cotto, M.A.Ezequiel Cuevas, M.S.Erica del Riego, Ed.D.Alok Deoraj, Ph.D.Jacqueline Diaz, M.S.Veronica Diaz, Ph.D.Alina Dominguez, M.I.B.Ernesto Fernandez, D.M.A.Brian Fonseca, M.I.B.Melany Freira, M.A.Joanna Garcia, M.S.Ruben Garrote, M.A.Bernard S. Gerstman, Ph.D.Fernando Gonzalez-Reigosa, Ph.D.Adam D. Gorelick, M.A.Wendy Guess, Ph.D.Robert H. Hacker, M.B.A.Phillip Lloyd Hamilton, M.S.Elizabeth Hanly, M.A.Erika Harlitz-Kern, Ph.D. Douglas Hasty, M.L.S.Hazel Hooker, Ph.D.Jennifer Houston, Ph.D.Amy Huseby, Ph.D.Gabriela Icabalceta, M.S.Maria Ilcheva, Ph.D.Gabriela Izaguirre, M.A.Aaron Kaplowitz, B.S.Masako Kubota, M.A.April Lewis, M.S.Ed.Lu Liang, Ph.D.Joseph Lichter, Ph.D.T. J. Liguori, Ph.D.Anthoni Llau, Ph.D.Sophie Loureiro, M.A.Brenda Luna, Ph.D.Modesto A. Maidique, Ph.D.Pete E.C. Markowitz, Ph.D.Niurca Márquez, M.F.A.Samantha Martin, M.S.Ed.Aileen M. Marty, M.D., FCAPMichelle Denise Mason, J.D.Anthony McGoron, Ph.D.Asher Z. Milbauer, Ph.D.Andrej Milic, J.D.Kiesha Moodie, M.Ed.Joselyn Naranjo, Ph.D.Lergia Olivo, Ed.S.Amy Paul-Ward, Ph.D.Connie Penczak, M.P.A.Randy Pestana, M.A.Angela T. Puentes-Leon, J.D.Daniela Radu, Ph.D.Maikel Right, M.B.A.Anthony Rionda, M.P.A.Harry RobergeCinthya Rojas, M.S.Nanett A. Rojas, M.S.Barbra Roller, Ph.D.Gustavo Roque, M.S.Camilo Rosales, M.Arch. II.Hortensia E. Sampedro, M.B.A.Trina Sanders, Ed.D.Ricky Sant, M.B.A.Gretchen Scharnagl, M.F.A.Fang Shu, M.S.Jeanette Smith, Ph.D.Charlyn Stanberry, J.D.Kioceaia Stenson, J.D.James M. Sutton, Ph.D.Tiffani Tallon, M.S.Rhona Trauvitch, Ph.D.Allen Varela, M.S.Connie M. Viamonte, Ph.D. Christina Vilaboa-Abel, Esq.Amber Webber, Ph.D.David Wernick, Ph.D.Pioneer Winter, M.P.H., M.F.A.Ryan Winter, Ph.D.Andi Flug Wolfer, M.A.Natalie Yagual, M.S.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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Tigran Abrahamyan, Ph.D. (Florida International University)

Email: abrahamt@fiu.edu

Dr. Abrahamyan is an Assistant Teaching Professor in the Department of Physics at Florida International University, teaching introductory Astronomy and Physics courses for the last decade. He is also Astronomy Lab Manager and has developed both online and in-person versions of the labs taught at FIU. His online labs were certified by Quality Matters (QM), an international organization leading quality assurance in online and innovative digital teaching and learning environments.

His graduate research was in the field of high energy theoretical nuclear physics, developing a framework to examine the dynamics of the nuclear structure at the very short distances during electrodisintegration of light nuclei.
Such configurations were practically unexplored and may provide instantaneous hadronic densities comparable to those that may occur in neutron stars. Dr. Abrahamyan is very passionate about science public outreach mission of the university, having conducted multiple tours of FIU’s Stocker Astroscience Center for K-12 students and general public, and featured in the local and international media.

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

Email: sabukho@fiu.edu

Samah (“Sam”) Abukhodeir is an Adjunct Professor for The Honors College, teaching Epistemology to first year honors students. Ms. Abukhodeir has also taught Probate, Guardianship, and Estate Planning in the Medical Legal Guardianship Clinic at Florida International University College of Law.

She obtained a Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology with a Minor in Arabic and Child Development from Florida State University and is fluent in English and Arabic.

When she is not teaching, she is running her law firm, The Florida Probate & Family Law Firm. Sam obtained her Juris Doctor from Florida International University College of Law, where she was on the Dean’s List and earned two CALI Excellence for the Future Awards in Islamic/Sharia Law and Judicial Externship.

Mrs. Abukhodeir practices in the areas of Estates, Trusts, Guardianships, Estate Planning, Elder Law, and Family Law.

Samantha Alvarado-Postigo, Ed.S. (Florida International University)

Email: spostigo@fiu.edu

Samantha is a Senior Coordinator of Academic Support Services with the Office of Pre-Health Advising in FIU’s College of Arts, Sciences, & Education. Samantha earned a Bachelor’s degree in Modern languages, has a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice, and International and International Education, and is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Teaching and Learning at Florida International University. Originally from Bolivia, Samantha is grateful to give back to the South Florida community, especially since she was raised in Miami. Having over 12 years of experience in higher education, Samantha is driven by helping students find and achieve their academic and professional goals.

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, both their intrinsic philosophical value, and 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.

Cristina Arabatzis, M.B.A. (Florida International University)

Email: carabatz@fiu.edu

Cristina “Cristi” Arabatzis is the Director of Admissions and Recruitment for the FIU Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine (FIU HWCOM). In this role, she is tasked with the development and implementation of a holistic and effective mission-based admissions process. In addition, she manages and executes a comprehensive recruitment and retention program and advises prospective students. She is a Miami native and proud FIU Panther. A two-time alumna, she earned her Bachelor of Business Administration with a major in Marketing from the FIU R. Kirk Landon Undergraduate School of Business in 2009 and a Master of Business Administration from the FIU Chapman Graduate School of Business in 2012. She began working at FIU in 2010 in the Office of Protocol and Special Events, under the Department of External Relations and joined FIU HWCOM Admissions and Recruitment team in 2012. She is a member of the National Association of Advisors for Health Professions and also teaches the First Year Experience course for FIU’s incoming freshman students.

Jesus Arias, D.B.A. (Florida International University)

Email: jesus@fiu.edu

Jesus Arias serves as the Business Continuity Services Manager and Senior Project Manager for the Division of Information Technology. He works with both Division and University Leadership to ensure IT services have been periodically tested and are available during and after emergencies. As a Senior Project Manager, he ensures the delivery of critical and important IT projects for the Division. He has been an adjunct instructor for the past 15 years, teaching courses such as the First Year Experience (SLS 1501) and Strategies for Success (SLS 1510). Jesus is a three time graduate from Florida International University. He possesses a Doctoral degree in Business Administration, Master of Science in Finance and a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering. He is a member of the Project Management Institute (PMI) as well as the American Society of Quality (ASQ). He currently poses a professional certification designation of PMP (Project Management Professional) from the PMI. Jesus continues to be passionate about FIU through University service. He serves as a member of the FIU’s Commencement Committee. He has served as a mentor in the Fostering Panther Pride Program as well as a member in the University’s Access and Equity Committee.

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 Bell is Assistant Vice President of Operations at Baptist Health South Florida with responsibility for the Office of Academic Affairs, Business Education, Pharmacy Education, administrative project management and system-wide Sustainability initiatives.

In 2010 Jason was a founding member of the start-up team to open West Kendall Baptist Hospital–a Gold LEED-certified facility and the first new hospital built in South Florida in over 35 years. In 2012, he was instrumental in launching the organization’s Graduate Medical Education Office to support Observer, Medical Student and Resident Physician programs across the health system. Jason has held various leadership roles in the organization including directing the Medical Education, Physician Relations, and Business Development departments and overseeing strategic projects such as the Baptist Health Multi-Generational Business Resource Group and the annual ZooRun fundraiser with Zoo Miami.

As an educator, Jason developed and led courses for the University of Florida (UF) and Florida International University (FIU). He currently serves as an Adjunct Instructor for the FIU Honors Program where he teaches Human-Centric Skills for Success, a course focused on customer experience, communication skills and cultural competency. He is also the program director for the Baptist Health Postgraduate Healthcare Administration Fellowship.

Jason is intensely passionate about making connections, solving problems and championing social responsibility. He is an active volunteer with Friends of The Underline and in a member of the park’s Facility Committee. Jason’s academic background includes degrees in Anthropology, Integrative Biology and Business Administration from the University of Florida.

Kathryn Bond, M.S. (Florida International University)

Email: kbond@fiu.edu

Kathryn Bond has worked in higher education for nearly 15 years and has been with Florida International University since 2016. Her current role as the Senior Program Coordinator for the Quantifying Biology in the Classroom program allows her to use her skills as an administrator, as well as build relationships through advising. She believes that the first semester at a university is pivotal in setting the tone for the remaining years. She has experience in guiding students to resources in undergraduate research as well as the proper steps to take to prepare for further education in biomedical sciences. Kathryn is a graduate of the University of Central Florida with a B.S. in Health Sciences. She has her master’s degree from Florida International University in Higher Education, and she is currently pursuing a PhD in Higher Education at FIU.

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.


Prem Chapagain, Ph.D. (Florida International University)

Email: chapagap@fiu.edu

Dr. Chapagain is a Professor in the Department of Physics at Florida International University, specializing in biological physics. His research focuses on the computational investigations of the structure and function of biomolecules, an area that is highly interdisciplinary in nature. He has extensively published on various topics of biophysics including the spreading dynamics of infectious diseases, novel antimicrobial compounds against antibiotic-resistant pathogens, DNA and RNA binding proteins, membrane-protein interactions, dynamics of viral proteins of emerging viruses such as Ebola and Marburg viruses, and more recently SARS-CoV-2. He has developed an excellent research infrastructure in computational biophysics at FIU with external funding from the NSF, NIH, DoD, and industry partners. He has developed dozens of collaborations within FIU and institutions around the world, including Purdue, Notre Dame, Cambridge, La Jolla Institute of Immunology, Johns Hopkins, UM, and Tulane. Dr. Chapagain has been recognized by multiple teaching and research awards, including the 2019 Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award and 2022 Faculty Excellence in Research Award. Dr. Chapagain has a highly successful record of teaching and mentoring both graduate and undergraduate students. Graduated students have been placed in prominent labs, including at the NIH, Columbia University, and John Hopkins University, and many of the students he mentored have been recognized by FIU as the Real Triumphs graduates.


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.

Bárbara 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.

Ezequiel Cuevas, M.S. (Florida International University)

Email: ezcuevas@fiu.edu

Ezequiel Cuevas is an Academic Advisor I for the Honors College. He advises Non-STEM and Pre-Law Honors College students. In previous roles, he has worked in the K-12 setting and college career development/services. Ezequiel is originally from Miami and is a two-time FIU Panther, graduating in 2019 with a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and a Master of Science in Higher Education Administration in 2022.

Erica del Riego, Ed.D. (Nova Southeastern University)

Email: erdelrie@fiu.edu

A passionate professional with 12 years of teaching and curriculum design experience, Erica is a Senior Advanced Placement and Honors English teacher at St. Brendan High School. For the past six years, she coordinates the Oral History Project, which is responsible for recording the immigrant narratives of families in the South Florida community. Erica earned a B.A. in English Literature and Education and her M.A. in Journalism from the University of Miami. She earned her Ed.D. in Education with a specialization in Reading Education from Nova Southeastern University. Her doctoral thesis focused on the effects of Digital Game-Based Learning on reading motivation, engagement, and comprehension in high school students, specifically in Hispanic communities. Her current research interests and publications are in Digital Game-Based Learning, Digital Literacy, Literacy Instruction in Linguistically Diverse Classrooms (specifically in schools serving Hispanic communities), Role of the Family in Education, Schools as Community Historians: Oral History Projects in Secondary Schools, English Language Arts Curriculum Development. Erica is grateful to give back to the South Florida community, especially since she was born and raised in Miami. She is deeply committed to fostering a creative and engaging learning environment where students receive the opportunity to master new skills and are challenged by their course material.

Alok Deoraj, Ph.D. (National Institute of Immunology – Jawaharlal Nehru University)

Email: adeoraj@fiu.edu

Dr. Alok Deoraj is the Graduate Program Director (MPH) and a Teaching Professor in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences of the College of Public Health and Social Work at FIU. He has extensive teaching, research, and management experience in the academic and private sectors. His primary focus is on teaching Global and Environmental Public Health courses to undergraduate, graduate, and Ph.D. students. His research interest is in the Environmental Toxicology area to delineate gene-environment interactions of complex environmental exposures on reproductive cancer and neurodegenerative disorders. At FIU he is also a member faculty of the Global Learning, the Biomolecular Sciences Institute (BSI), STEM Transformation Institute as well as Statistical Machine Learning Group (SMLG). Dr. Deoraj was conferred with FIU faculty awards for Excellence in Teaching in 2017 and for Service in 2019. Dr. Deoraj has over 75 publications in peer-reviewed journals, magazines, and in the proceedings of professional meetings and conferences. He serves on the editorial board of the PLOS ONE journal since 2013. He believes in creating an environment to inspire a love of learning among his students. Dr. Deoraj has a Master of Science (MS) degree in Zoology from Patna University, India, a Ph.D. from the National Institute of Immunology-Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), India, and a Certificate of Business Management from Belmont University, Nashville, TN, USA.

Jacqueline Diaz, M.S. (Florida State University)

Email: diazjcq@fiu.edu

Jacqueline “Jacky” Diaz has worked in the field of education for over 18 years and has been a part of the College of Arts, Sciences & Education at FIU since 2010 when she began as a Bridge Advisor for the college. In her current role as Director of Advising & Student Success, she oversees the university’s largest team of advising administrators, academic advisors, and career educators. In addition, she supports the Dean with developing and implementing student success initiatives related to student engagement and retention, timely graduation and post-graduation career planning. Jacky serves as the Dean’s designee for undergraduate student services in the college. Jacky earned her Bachelor’s degrees in Psychology and English Literature from the Florida State University, where she also earned a Master’s degree in English Education. In her previous professional role, Jacky taught high school English & Social Studies in Tallahassee, FL and as a lead teacher helped establish Leon County’s first high school career academies. A Miami native, Jacky shares her home with her college sweetheart, her two boys, her dog Rocko and her kitten Winnie.

Veronica Diaz, Ph.D. (Florida International University)

Email: diazver@fiu.edu

Dr. Diaz is an Assistant Director of Academic Advising Services at FIU’s College of Arts, Sciences & Education. She is also an adjunct professor in the Dept. of Global and Sociocultural Studies, the Dept. of Liberal & Interdisciplinary Studies, and the Honors College. Dr. Diaz earned a Bachelor’s degree in Social Studies Education, a Master’s degree in Higher Education Administration, and a Ph.D. in Global and Sociocultural Studies at Florida International University. As an immigration scholar, her research explores how Cuban émigrés who came to Miami from 1995 to 2017 conceptualized the American dream prior to arrival, how their experiences in the US compare to their pre-migration expectations, and how current economic conditions in the US affect the process of adaptation.


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

Email: domingal@fiu.edu

Alina Dominguez is a lecturer for the Honors College and First Year Experience programs, as well as, Manager of the Center for Advising & Student Success in the College of Arts, Sciences & Education. She has worked with the University for more than 15 years in various roles and has found a love for advising in the past ten. She earned a BS degree in Biological Sciences and then a master’s degree in International Business. Alina draws from her varied work experience covering multiple industries and educational background to add to her expertise. She currently works with the college and various university centers on initiatives to build student engagement to the college and university. Whether it’s working on an online project, helping a student create a strategy to bounce back, or riling up a crowd of freshmen during orientation, Alina’s passion for FIU’s current and future students is clear.


Ernesto Fernandez, D.M.A. (University of Miami)

Email: ernferna@fiu.edu

Website: www.ErnestoFernandez.net

Dr. Ernesto Fernandez received his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in instrumental performance and music business from the University of Miami in 2016. A versatile musician skilled in both classical and Latin genres, Fernandez has performed in Italy, Switzerland, Mexico, Grand Cayman, Nicaragua, and throughout the United States in national conferences and conventions. Fernandez was the featured artist at the prestigious Galway Flute Festival in Weggis, Switzerland and served as the Jazz Competitions Coordinator for the National Flute Association. As an educator, he has taught instrumental techniques and music lectures at the college level and has also worked as Director of Bands for the public school system. He has also collaborated with non-profit music organizations in the city of Miami, teaching music and flute techniques to students of all ages. As a recording artist, Fernandez recently released his feature album titled “Pa’lante” which garnered a Latin GRAMMY nomination in 2020 for Best Traditional Tropical Album. He is endorsed by Gemeinhardt Musical Instruments, Inc.

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

Email: fonsecab@fiu.edu

Brian Fonseca is Director of the Jack D. Gordon Institute for Public Policy at Florida International University’s (FIU) Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs. He is also founding Executive Director of Cybersecurity@FIU, FIU’s university-wide interdisciplinary emerging preeminent program. Brian also serves as a Cybersecurity Policy Fellow at the D.C.-based think tank New America. His analysis has been featured in local, national, and international media and he serves as the on-air political analyst for South Florida’s WSVN-Fox News. He is co-editor of Culture and National Security in the Americas (Lexington Books, 2017) with Eduardo A. Gamarra and Democracy and Security in Latin America (Routledge, 2021) with Orlando Perez and Gabriel Marcella. He is co-author of The New US Security Agenda: Trends and Emerging Threats (Palgrave, 2017) with Jonathan Rosen. Brian’s technical expertise and publications focus largely on U.S. and Latin American governance, national security, and foreign policies, with particular focus on Venezuela, China, Russia, and cyberspace. Brian holds degrees in International Business and International Relations from Florida International University in Miami, Florida, and attended Sichuan University in Chengdu, 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 peacetime operations.

Melany Freira, M.A. (The Ohio State University)

Email: mfreiria@fiu.edu

Mel Freiria (she/her) is a Program Director at FIU’s Orientation and Family Programs Office. In her role, Mel oversees the Orientation Peer Advisor Program and the Panther Camp Program. Mel is a proud FIU Alumna, holding two Bachelors degrees from FIU – one in Psychology and another in Gender Studies. As an FIU undergraduate, Mel also earned a certificate in Leadership Studies and graduated from FIU’s Honors College. In addition, Mel holds a Master of Arts in Higher Education & Student Affairs from The Ohio State University. Mel has a passion for student access and success and has focused her career in the areas of student transition, engagement, and wellness. In her free time, Mel enjoys spending time kayaking, at the beach, and with her two dogs, Molly and Sadie.

Joanna Garcia, M.S. (Florida International University)

Email: jogarcia@fiu.edu

Joanna Garcia serves as the Program Director for the Center for Leadership and Service at Florida International University. She has over twelve years of experience within the field of higher education. In her current role, she oversees the student food pantries and is responsible for various leadership development programs. Joanna also serves as an instructor for SLS 1501 and SLS 1402. She earned a Master’s in Higher Education Administration at FIU in 2010 and a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of Florida in 2006. Starting the Student Food Pantry at the Modesto A. Maidique campus at FIU and continuing to oversee the program to address food insecurity on campus remains one of the highlights of her career.

Ruben Garrote, M.A.

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

Email: garroter@fiu.edu

Associate Teaching Professor

Ruben Garrote is an Honors College alumnus and an M.A. graduate of FIU’s Department of Religious Studies and Asian Studies Program. For nearly two decades he has taught for the Department, receiving several awards for teaching and academic excellence. He has been an Honors College Fellow since 2004. Prof. Garrote’s interests are varied, ranging from early Christian heresies and the Western esoteric traditions to new religious movements and utopianism. He is especially interested in the imaginative expression of religious and political ideas. Prof. Garrote has been at the forefront of curriculum development at The Honors College since the beginning of his tenure. He has taught Honors courses at every level and regularly teaches the year-long Freshman Seminar IDH 1001 The Origins of Ideas and the Ideas of Origins/ IDH 1002 Other Ways of Knowing.

Upper division courses taught: IDH 3035 Visions of Utopia; IDH 3035 The Conservative Tradition; IDH 3035 Sex, Drugs, and Rock ‘n’ Roll; IDH 3036 God and Man in the Great Conversation; IDH 3036 Mythopoeia and the Secret Fire: J.R.R. Tolkien and Imagination; IDH 3036 Other Worlds and the Age of Wonder: Required Reading for “Future I”; REL 4937 Western Occult Traditions

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.

Fernando Gonzalez-Reigosa, Ph.D. (Florida State University)

Email: gonzalef@fiu.edu

Dean Emeritus of the Honors College

Fernando González-Reigosa graduated from the University of Puerto Rico in Río Piedras with a Bachelor of Arts in 1968 with a major in psychology and a minor in political sciences. He received his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Florida State University in 1972. That same year, he became a founding faculty member of Florida International University in the Department of Psychology. He was also a joint-appointee in the FIU Humanities program. In 1989, Fernando became Dean of Undergraduate Studies. The following year, he created the Honors College together with members of the undergraduate studies staff and a group of selected faculty from all the colleges at the university.

He was Founding Dean of the Honors College until 2001. From 2001 to 2006, he was the director of the FIU Research Center in Madrid, Spain. Upon his retirement from FIU in 2006, he was granted the title of Dean Emeritus of the Honors College and received the Honors College Award of Excellence. He has been an invited lecturer at several universities abroad. These institutions include the American University in Athens, Greece, the University of Santiago de Compostela, and the School of Medicine of the University of Alcalá de Henares in Spain, where he delivered a Master Lecture (Lección Magistral) on the Applications of Hypnotherapy to the Medical Practice.

He is now retired and resides in Little Havana in Miami, Florida.

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.

Wendy Guess, Ph.D. (Texas Woman’s University)

Email: wguess@fiu.edu

Associate Teaching Professor – College of Business – Dept. of Marketing and Logistics

Dr. Wendy Guess is currently a faculty member in the Department of Marketing and Logistics. Wendy combines a wide variety of professional experience and interests, with her academic training from Texas Woman’s University, and Brigham Young University in the disciplines of Health/Wellness, Promotion, Management/Leadership, Physical Activity, and Intercultural Communications Anthropology, During college Wendy was a member of Ballroom and Folk Dance Performing Companies, competing national and performing internationally, as was a National Ballroom Formation Team Champion Team member. She has continued performing and choreographing, combining the creative and collaborative skills to develop programs for wellness, interactions, including a profile for understanding interaction styles in groups based upon her previous performing experience. Upon arriving at FIU, Wendy has developed and taught hybrid and fully online courses, including a signature course title Health and Fitness Marketing, merging marketing strategy trends with behavioral change science and the Elements of Interaction, adding some neuroscience, social media, predictive communications. Wendy teaches two courses in the Honors College. The Essential Elements of Interaction, which focuses on building the ‘soft’ skills that expand awareness of and capacity for systemic intelligence, wellbeing, communication and self-compassion for thriving in a global economy. The second course, Exploring Culture the Movement and Music explores the transformative power to create, connect and master the understanding of our world through the universal language of movement and music.

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

Email: rhacker@fiu.edu

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

“Exploring Innovation, Inspiring Entrepreneurship”

Robert Hacker is the Director of StartUP FIU, a university-wide initiative to foster innovation and entrepreneurship at Florida International University, where he has taught for fifteen years. He devotes much of his time to commercializing faculty research in emerging technology through venture capital investment, corporate partnerships and federal grants. Prior to StartUP FIU he ran One Laptop per Child, an MIT worldwide learning project, and built a billion-dollar public company in Indonesia. He also taught an IAP course at MIT Sloan for seven years and the local and national program for Goldman Sachs 10KSB. He is the author of two books on traditional and social entrepreneurship and a frequent speaker on the 4th Industrial Revolution and related topics in technology, innovation and social impact.

Phillip Lloyd Hamilton, M.S. (Florida International University)

Email: phillip.hamilton@fiu.edu

A native South Floridian, Phillip has committed his energies to empowering students to realize their potential through higher education. He takes great pride in building networks which allow organizations to leverage their human capital to reinforce their impact on the communities they serve. As Assistant Vice President within FIU’s Division of Academic & Student Affairs, Phillip provides leadership over the offices of Student Access & Success, Social Justice & Inclusion, and Veteran & Military Affairs. Prior to this role, Phillip served in administrative capacities throughout FIU, including Human Resources, Students Affairs, and the Office of the President. Phillip is an engaged member of the collegiate fraternity and sorority community, having served in multiple volunteer roles at the national, regional, and local levels. His passions are also rooted in various philanthropic efforts, many of which include advocacy for the abilities of Americans with various intellectual, developmental, and physical disabilities. Phillip currently serves on the Board of Directors for Charlotte-based non-profit The Ability Experience, the national philanthropy of Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity. A devoted Panther, Phillip earned his Bachelor of Public Administration and Master of Science in Higher Education Administration degrees from FIU. He is also a member and current advisor to Order of the Torch, FIU’s leadership honorary. Committed to the development of the Broward, Miami-Dade, greater Florida communities that cultivated him, Phillip is an engaged member of Leadership Florida and currently serves on the organization’s southeast regional council.

Elizabeth Hanly, M.A. (Columbia University)

Email: hanlye@fiu.edu

Writer/editor/educator/workshop leader 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 appears 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 leads writing workshops at NYC’s Memorial Sloan-Ketting Cancer Center as well as for the Herbert Wertheim School of Medicine. Hanly has written and edited for UNICEF and has served as Associate Editor at Scholastic Books.” The winner of FIU’s “Excellence in Teaching,” award, she teaches upper-level Honors courses: “Film from the Third World”; “What’s Going On: PBS’s Frontline documentary series. Her students in “Creative Nonfiction” have won FIU’s Creative Writing award for the last nine years and counting. She thinks Umberto Eco was very right when he said, “To survive you must tell stories.

Erika Harlitz-Kern, Ph.D. (University of Gothenburg)

Email: ekern@fiu.edu

Erika Harlitz Kern is an Adjunct Instructor at the Department of History. She specializes in Viking, medieval, and early-modern history and teaches courses on Ancient civilizations, Viking history and society, war and politics in the age of the Reformation, the Tudors and the Stuarts, medieval culture, and the history of history. Her research and teaching are interdisciplinary and merge history mainly with archaeology and maritime studies. She has a PhD in history from the University of Gothenburg and an MA in European Urbanization from Stockholm University. She has taught and done research at several universities in Europe and in the United States. In addition to her work as instructor, she is a public historian who has published articles and op-eds in The Washington Post, The Daily Beast, and The Week to name a few. She has been featured as an expert on the Story of God with Morgan Freeman on the National Geographic Channel and on Australian public radio.

Douglas Hasty, M.L.S. (University of North Carolina at Greensboro)

Email: hastyd@fiu.edu

Douglas F. Hasty has University Librarian faculty rank with the FIU University Libraries, Department of Reference & Instruction Services. He was hired in February 1990 as the founding Interlibrary Loan Librarian, promoted in 2000 to include ILL duties as Department Head of Access Services, and in 2011 by request assumed the current position of the First Year Experience Librarian. His current role is outreach to FIU freshmen students and to the instructors teaching and staff managing SLS courses. He is originally from North Carolina, has lived in South Florida since 1990, has lived in England and four other US states. Married, no children, loves reading, travel, and meeting people anywhere.

Hazel Hooker, Ph.D (Florida International University)

Email: hookerh@fiu.edu

Dr. Hazel Hooker is the Assistant Dean for Student Success in the Honors College at Florida International University. Her current role has oversight of admissions, academic advising, career development, and student engagement. In her 17-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 prior department, the Center for Student Engagement. In 2020, she received the Honors College Dean’s Excellence in Teaching Award for her work with the Introduction to Honors and Leadership course. Prior to that she received the Significant Impact on Advising Community Award, and her department was 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, Master of Public Health, and PhD in Higher Education from Florida International University. Her research interests include exploratory (undecided) students, academic advising, and first year transition. She has presented at national conferences on these topics.

Jennifer Houston, Ph.D. (Florida International University)

Email: jlhousto@fiu.edu

Dr. Jennifer (Jen) Houston is a multidisciplinary professor currently teaching in the Department of Psychology and the Department of Marketing & Logistics.
Dr. Houston’s academic achievements include dual Bachelor of Arts degrees in Psychology and Religious Studies (FIU, 2009) and a Master of Science in Business Management (UF, 2010). She graduated with her PhD in Industrial & Organizational Psychology in the Spring of 2020, during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, from here at Florida International University. Upon graduating, Dr. Houston was recognized as a Real Triumphs Graduate and received the College of Arts, Sciences & Education Best Dissertation Award for her work on the impact of stress on episodic memory in the workplace. Dr. Houston was also a member of the 5th cohort of FIU’s Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program and a recipient of the McNair Graduate Fellowship.
Dr. Houston’s greatest passion is her ability to make a positive impact in the lives of her students through her pedagogy. In 2022, Dr. Houston received the Society for the Teaching of Psychology (APA Division 2) Excellence in Teaching Award in recognition of her efforts and successes as a professor within the FIU community. Dr. Houston believes that educators are charged with the responsibility of creating an atmosphere that not only stimulates interest in the course material, but that also provides a safe, supportive learning environment for students to express themselves and grow as individuals.

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

Email: ahuseby@fiu.edu

Amy Kahrmann Huseby is an Assistant Teaching Professor 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 and Online Literature Program Coordinator. Prior to coming to FIU, Dr. Huseby had a 15-year career as a paralegal in civil and criminal law.

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

Email: gmalvare@fiu.edu

Gabriela Icabalceta 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.

Maria Ilcheva, Ph.D. (Florida International University)

Email: milcheva@fiu.edu

Dr. Maria Ilcheva is Research Associate Professor at the Steven J. Green School of International & Public Affairs and the Assistant Director of the Jorgé M. Perez Metropolitan Center, an applied social science research institute at FIU. As a research practitioner and educator, Dr. Ilcheva combines understanding of the theoretical underpinnings of policies and practices, with the practical, actionable strategies that are crafted to address observed challenges, gaps and perceptions.

Dr. Ilcheva has 15+ years of experience working on various economic development, social and behavioral projects. She serves as subject matter expert in data analytics, designing and applying advanced research methodologies for demographic, economic, statistical and GIS analysis.

Her work includes an array of evidence-based studies and policy work, focused on issues including community needs assessments and service gaps, gender and racial equity and disparity, housing affordability, reapportionment/redistricting, program evaluation, business and economic development, climate and hurricane resilience and others.

Dr. Ilcheva is a board member of The Miami-Dade Women’s Fund, a member of the United Way’s ALICE Research Advisory Committee for Florida, and a member of the inaugural cohort of the Aspen Latino City Learning & Action Lab.

Dr. Ilcheva obtained her doctorate from the FIU Politics and International Relations Department.

Gabriela Izaguirre, M.A. (Florida International University)

Email: gizaguir@fiu.edu

Gabriela Izaguirre is an Academic Advisor for FIU’s College of Business Undergraduate Advising department. Gabriela graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and a Master’s of Arts in Asian Studies from Florida International University. After her studies, she spent a few years teaching English with the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program in Okinawa, Japan. Gabriela has teaching experience in the following courses: SLS1501- First Year Experience course for incoming freshman students, and GEB 3003- Career Management for upper division business students She has also presented at national advising conferences and her Master’s Thesis “The History Textbook Controversy Amid Post-War Sino-Japanese Relations” has been publish and quotes in various works.

Aaron Kaplowitz, B.S. (Boston University)

Email: akaplowi@fiu.edu

Aaron Kaplowitz is president of the United States – Israel Business Alliance, a national organization dedicated to strengthening the economic relationship between individual states and Israel. Prior to founding USIBA, Kaplowitz served as director of Global NY, a state economic development initiative he launched to attract international companies to New York and equip local entrepreneurs with more tools to enter markets abroad. From 2008 to 2014, Kaplowitz served as director of communications at the Embassy of Israel in Washington, D.C. In addition to his U.S.-Israel work, he runs Lede Global Inc., a strategic communications and business development firm. Kaplowitz has written for the New York Times, Boston Globe, and USA Today.

Masako Kubota, M.A. (Florida International University)

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. November 2017, she invited seven Ainu artists from Akan Kotan, Hokkaido Japan, and performed a special event at FIU, exchanging programs between Ainu and Seminole people. She also directs the Japan study abroad program in the summer.

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

Email: alewis@fiu.edu

April Lewis is the Director of Advising Initiatives for the Office of Academic Support Initiatives & Services (OASIS). 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 the University of Miami in the Office of Student Employment and the School of Education. Shortly after, 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 and helping them find a major that aligns with their interests, skills, and values that will ultimately lead them to future academic and career success.

Lu Liang, Ph.D. (University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa)

Email: luliang@fiu.edu

Dr. Lu Liang received her Ph.D. from University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, specializing in Psychometrics in 2016. Her professional background includes data analysis, research, course development, and teaching. She has been an assistant teaching professor in Department of Psychology at FIU since 2016 and promoted to associate teaching professor in 2022.

From 2009, Dr. Liang started dedicating herself to data analysis. She has extensive data analysis experiences in collaborating with different professors and scholars, working in different labs as research assistant, and helping numerous Ph.D. candidates with their data analysis in dissertations. Her data analysis area includes categorical regression, scale development, data simulation using R, etc.

In 2016, Dr. Liang becomes major Research Methods instructor in Department of Psychology at FIU. Over the next six years, she taught different formats of Research Methods I and II courses, including fully in-person, fully online, hybrid, hyflex, and remote. She assists the department for improving RM curriculum and updating course materials every year, participated in the developing plan for a new two-semester research methods sequence, developed hybrid teaching modality and short-term version for Research Methods I course, and works with colleagues on polishing course design and updating course materials every semester.

Joseph Lichter, Ph.D. (Emory University)

Email: jlichter@fiu.edu

Dr. Joseph Lichter is a teaching professor in the Chemistry & Biochemistry department and the Director of the Office of Pre-Health Advising. Dr. Lichter grew up in South Florida and completed his undergraduate studies at Florida State University (B.S. Biochemistry) and graduate work at Emory University (Ph.D. Chemistry) before joining FIU. He teaches in the first year IDH1001/1002 but is most proud of his two upper division courses (IDH 3034 and 3035). The Fall course he teaches is the “Tao of Sports”, which investigates human behavior and associated sciences through the lens of Sports. Bringing knowledge from his many vast experiences in ultra-marathons and ultra-triathlons including multi day runs and being one of the few in the world to complete a deca triathlon (24 mile swim/1,120 mile bike/262 mile run), Lichter brings his own experiences and excellent guest lecturers to help discuss and learn this material. His other course, “The Psychedelic Renaissance”, investigates the history, chemistry, neurobiology, risk and potential of psychedelics. Research on psychedelics with psychotherapy and as potential agents to battle depression, PTSD, and more are on the rise. There has been a great paradigm shift in the last 2 to 3 decades and Lichter offers a course to critically investigate this movement, evaluating the research and aiming to understand the historical context for this renaissance. Outside of the classroom, Lichter is an avid runner, reader, and is passionate about helping others. Whether you take a course with him or not, you should reach out to him if you ever have questions about being a pre-medical or pre-dental student or have any interest in his areas of expertise.

T. J. Liguori, Ph.D. (Florida International University)

Email: tliguori@fiu.edu

T. J. Liguori is an adjunct lecturer in the Department of Politics and International Relations at FIU, where he has been teaching classes for over a decade. He has also been a Lecturer at the University of New Hampshire. He graduated with a BA in International Relations, an MA in International Relations, an MA in Asian Studies, and a PhD in International Relations, all from FIU. His dissertation focused on the problem of Kashmir, and the colonial legacies of state practice in Indian policies towards the region, assessing discourses on Kashmir, civilizational identity, and geopolitics from 1846 to the present. His research interests focus on international history and theory, highlighting matters of race and implications of colonial practice in the present. T. J. is a Miami Heat fan and a lackluster recreational player. He enjoys good coffee, moments of blissful tranquility, and being mistaken for esteemed movie stars (that never happens).


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.

Sophie Loureiro, M.A. (The Ohio State University)

Email: sbragade@fiu.edu

Sophie Braga de Barros Loureiro is the Student Engagement Program Manager at FIU’s Center for Student Engagement. In her role, Sophie oversees key engagement initiatives like the Student Engagement Fair, the Panthers Connect Challenge and one-on-one Student Engagement Meetings, where she works to connect FIU students to engagement opportunities that align with their passions and goals. Sophie is a native of Brazil and was raised in Latin America before coming to the U.S. to pursue her college education. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Communication from the University of Miami and a Master of Arts in Higher Education & Student Affairs from The Ohio State University. Sophie is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Higher Education at FIU.

Brenda Luna, Ph.D. (Florida International University)

Email: brenluna@fiu.edu

Dr. Brenda Luna is a Faculty Fellow, and an Academic Advisor III (STEM) for the Honors College. Formerly, she was a STEM Academic Advisor for the College of Arts, Sciences & Education. She is an FIU Honors College Alumni. At FIU she earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology, Master’s of Public Health, and PhD in Public Health. Her research interests include childhood epilepsy, lead poisoning, and HIV/AIDS. As a graduate student at the Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work, her research focused on mitochondrial mutations and oxidative damage in resected tissues from pediatric patients with brain tumors or cortical malformations. She has published journal articles and presented in national conferences. At the Florida Department of Health’s Bureau of Public Health Laboratories (FLDOH-BPHL), she performed clinical testing for the Southern Region of Florida and trained personnel for the Hepatitis and HIV sections. In addition, she performed HIV testing for the CDC’s National HIV Behavioral Surveillance.

Modesto A. Maidique, Ph.D. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

Email: maidique@fiu.edu

Modesto “Mitch” Maidique, PhD served as President of Florida International University for 23 years, becoming the first Cuban American to lead an American university. During his tenure, Dr. Maidique founded the Schools of Engineering, Law, Public Health, and Medicine, and he added a Division I-A football team and a Phi Beta Kappa chapter. Under his leadership, FIU tripled in physical size, and grew to 40,000 students.

Prior to FIU, Dr. Maidique held faculty appointments at MIT, Harvard, and Stanford. For the 2010-2011 academic year, Dr. Maidique returned to Boston, where he served as Visiting Professor in Leadership at the Harvard Business School. A coauthor of Energy Future, a New York Times bestseller on energy, Dr. Maidique has been CEO of two high-technology companies: Analog Devices Semiconductor, now Analog Devices, a Fortune 500 company; and Collaborative Research, now Genome Therapeutics; and he was a senior partner in Hambrecht & Quist Venture Partners, at the time the world’s largest venture capital firm. He holds several U.S. patents for semiconductor devices.

Dr. Maidique currently served as the Alvah H. Chapman Jr. Eminent Scholar Chair in Leadership at the FIU College of Business, where he founded the Center for Leadership. Dr. Maidique holds a PhD from MIT, and he completed the Program for Leadership Development at the Harvard Business School. Dr. Maidique has testified before Congress on the issues of energy conservation and energy financing and has served on the Educational Policy Advisory Committee for two United States Presidents. He has also served on the Secretary of Energy’s Advisory Board and the Commission on Presidential Scholars.

Pete E.C. Markowitz, Ph.D. (The College of William and Mary in Virginia)

Email: pete.markowitz@fiu.edu

Dr. Pete E.C. Markowitz is currently the Assistant Dean of the FIU Honors College. He carries out nuclear and particle physics experiments at the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (JLab) in Virginia, the European Center for Nuclear and Particle Physics (CERN) in Switzerland and KEK/JPARC in Japan. His research interests focus on the source of quark structure of nuclei, and the electroproduction of quarks and anti-quarks (or matter and anti-matter). He has conducted a series of experiments measuring strange quark effects in nuclei mapping out the behavior of these elusive and unstable particles. He joined FIU’s Physics Department in 1995 where he is a Full Professor. During his time at FIU he has taught Nuclear Physics, Quantum Mechanics, Intermediate Classical Mechanics, Classical Electrodynamics, Modern Physics (and the associated laboratory course), and the introductory physics sequences, as well as courses in the Honors College where he presently teaches the freshman seminar. He received his Ph.D. in 1992 from The College of William and Mary in Virginia, his M.S. from Michigan State University in 1988 and his B.A. from Cornell University in 1985.

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

Email: niurca.marquez1@fiu.edu

Niurca Márquez (she/ella) is a movement artist/researcher and author. As a trained somatic educator, she uses her body-centered work to service communities undergoing processes of healing and self-realization. A Latinx artist and activist on the margins advocating for silenced voices, she is particularly interested in notions of identity, cultural memory, ritual and the body within a contemporary framework, as well as the multiple layers of communication and understanding in movement practices that lead to liaisons with political and social discourse.

Niurca 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).

She has various publications on contemporary flamenco, dance sustainability and identity politics in movement practices. 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, transculturality, hybridity and mestisaje as they pertain to expressions of identity and the moving body.

Niurca directs Cultural Arts Exchange, an organization dedicated to artist services and programs centered on social accountability. She is an Assistant Teaching Professor with a joint appointment in the Honors College and Department of Religious Studies. She is also the COIL Faculty Fellow for the Honors College and a LACC Affiliated Faculty.

For more information about her artistic research, please visit: www.niurcamarquez.com

Samantha Martin, M.S.Ed., (University of Miami)

Email: sammarti@fiu.edu

Samantha is an Advisor for the Office of Pre-Heath Advising in FIU’s College of Arts, Sciences, and Education. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Florida State University, a Master’s in Higher Education Administration from the University of Miami, and to complete the tour of Florida, is currently completing a PhD in Higher Education Administration at FIU. Working at the university level for over 10 years, she strives to help students in finding their passion. Her first position at FIU was in the admissions office for HWCOM. This has prepared her to specialize in helping pre-med students find their way to medical school. She is a member of the National Association of Advisors for the Health Professions, Advisor for various pre-health student organizations, and teaches the first-year experience course.

Aileen M. Marty, M.D., FCAP (University of Miami)

Email: amarty@fiu.edu

Prof Doctor Aileen Marty is a nationally and internationally renowned physician-scientist and professor of medicine with more than 40 years of clinical work, and more than 43-years of teaching and research experience, including large, multicenter clinical research studies. Dr Marty served 25 years in the US Navy, where she learned to organize and conduct health plans and coordinated health care for massive campaigns and field Med-Ready activities. Her research and field of expertise is a combination of infectious disease, public health, mass gatherings, disaster response, and medical countermeasures for weapons of mass destruction. Dr Marty’s work ranges from sophisticated molecular and biological studies of specific human pathogens (such as “expression of Helicobacter pylori virulence genes in gastric precancerous intestinal metaplasia and adenocarcinoma)” to clinical studies and treatment and prevention of various disease (such as “Ebola and other Filoviridae, Hosts, Disease, Pathogenesis, and development of vaccines and specific treatment”). It also spans to studies on public health response to catastrophes (such as her Law review article “A Deadly Warning Mandating Improvement to the National Response to Disasters.”) Dr Marty’s work is uncommon in its scope and its depth. She has been restless in the pursuit and creation of innovative means and methods for coordinating the practice of medicine, providing faster response, identifying new diagnostic techniques, new preventive methods and new treatments but always with a keen awareness of preventive health and cost containment. The common theme in her scholarly publications is the pursuit of practical solutions for challenging medical problems while understanding the legal, social, and economic aspects of the disease. Her publications include over 100 peer-reviewed articles and range from peer-reviewed medical to peer-reviewed legal articles, interim guidance on managing critical health issues, and the editing of several books. Some involve discoveries of new pathogens and how to diagnose them, some on the development of vaccines and drugs, and others on innovative teaching methods. There is intense work on viruses, bacteria, fungi, parasites, and other pathogens of humans and animals. Numerous publications involve medical countermeasures for chemical and biological warfare agents, and on the management of Mass Gatherings, this work includes authoring the Chapter on Command, Control, and Communication for Mass Gatherings in the WHO publication, “Public Health for mass Gatherings: Key Considerations. ISBN 978 92 4 156493 9,” as well as the WHO Interim Guidance on the Initial Clinical Management of Patients exposed to Chemical Weapons. She is often called upon by national and international media (TV, radio, and newspapers) to help explain serious health topics to the public, such as her TED talks (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xT90FBJOFKk). Dr Marty has served the United Nations both as a member of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission and for the World Health Organization in Mass Gathering events and the Health Security Interface. She has worked with and for elements of US Federal government including DoD, DHS, DHHS (CDC, NIH), DOS, and USDA developing plans, programs, training, and policy for government agencies, the White House National Security administration, and other government agencies and served on the President’s Advisory Council Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria from 2015 to 2020. Currently, she continues to serve as Medical Consultant for the reopenings and mass Gatherings to the Mayor of Miami-Dade County, Monroe County and to the cities in Miami-Dade County. She is the Senior Consultant for the World Health Organization: Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network and Health Security Interphase and Senior PhysicianTeam Leader for Mass Gatherings for the World Health Organization.

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.

Asher Z. Milbauer, Ph.D. (University of Washington)

Email: milbauer@fiu.edu

A graduate of the University of Washington, Dr. Asher Z. Milbauer is Professor of English and the founding director of the Exile Studies Certificate Program at Florida International University. While at FIU, he held several administrative positions in the Department of English: Chairperson; Director of Graduate Studies in Literature; and Head Advisor. His academic offerings include courses on XXth Century American and English Literature; Law and Literature; Literature and Exile; Literature, Society, and Language; Holocaust Literature; and Jewish-American Literature. Among his publications is a book on literary transplantation, Transcending Exile: Conrad, Nabokov, I. B. Singer; a study on exile and return, “Eastern Europe in American-Jewish Literature;” and two co-edited collections of original essays, Reading Philip Roth (with Donald Watson) and Exile in Global Literature and Culture: Homes Found and Lost (with James Sutton). Professor Milbauer’s continuous interest in the writings of second and third generation descendants of Holocaust survivors is reflected in his articles on Nicole Krauss, Andrew Grof, Elie Wiesel and Vasily Grossman. His experiential-scholarly essay, “In Search of a Doorpost: Meditations on Exile and Literature,” won the Sarah Russo Prize for an Essay on Exile. Twice the recipient of the Excellence in Teaching Award, Professor Milbauer has recently been recognized as an “FIU Top Scholar.” Since the establishment of the Exile Studies Program, he has organized and curated many special events pertaining to exile, its consequences and legacies.

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

Email: amilic@fiu.edu

Born in Vienna, Austria to Yugoslavian parents, Mr. Andrej Milic, is the Director of Development at FIU College of Law. Mr. 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 earned his LL.M. in Intercultural Human Rights at. St. Thomas University School of Law. Mr. Milic is a licensed attorney in Florida and is a participant in the Florida Bar Leadership Academy Class X. Mr. Milic has developed courses for aspiring attorneys and teaches at numerous universities. Mr. Milic lectures internationally on various international legal topics. Mr. Milic’s community involvement includes Business Network International, Hispanic National Bar Association, Serbian American Professional Network and the National Association of Prelaw Advisors.

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.

Joselyn Naranjo, Ph.D. (Florida International University)

Email: jnaranjo@fiu.edu

Joselyn Naranjo currently serves as the Assistant Director of Academic Advising Services for the Knight Foundation School of Computing and Information Sciences in the College of Engineering and Computing at FIU. She holds a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction with a track in Language, Literacy, and Culture. Joselyn also earned a Master of Arts in History with a concentration in modern U.S. history following her undergraduate Bachelor of Arts in History. Joselyn has 7 years of experience in higher education and continues to serve her students and colleagues in different service capacities within the Council for Undergraduate Academic Advising.

Throughout her career in higher education, Joselyn continues to explore university policy and its effects on student success, as well as taking an interest in initiatives to award students with credit for prior learning or prior learning assessment. Her academic research interests include the American curriculum during the Great Depression and World War II, visual education, and ideological management. Born and raised in Miami, Joselyn is an amateur naturalist that enjoys discovering old Florida with her family and cat.

Lergia Olivo, Ed.S. (Florida International University)

Email: lolivo@fiu.edu

Lergia Olivo is an Assistant Teaching Professor at FIU’s English Language Institute, teaching intermediate levels of Communicative Grammar, Writing, Reading & Vocabulary, and Communication to international students from an array of countries worldwide. She is also the Institute’s Educational Technology Coordinator, helping to deploy effective technology and enhance the 21st century learning experience for ELI’s students. Lergia has been a part of the FIU community since December 2011, and a Golden Panther since 2006, holding a Bachelor of Arts in English, a Master of Arts in Linguistics, and most recently an Educational Specialist in Teaching and Learning. She is currently a PhD Candidate in FIU’s School of Education and Human Development, focusing on online English language education.

As a Faculty Fellow in the Honors College, Lergia’s Honors Seminar course, entitled The Language Phenomenon: Instinct or Artifact? allows students to investigate whether human language is acquired instinctually, or whether it is learned behavior, like riding a bike.

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 professional sports with her husband and son.

Amy Paul-Ward, Ph.D. (University of California, Los Angeles)

Email: paulward@fiu.edu

Dr. Amy Paul-Ward has been a faculty member at Florida International University since 2004 and currently is an Associate Professor in the Occupational Therapy Department. She earned her PhD at UCLA. After working at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the areas of adult immunization and hepatitis prevention, she completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Illinois, Chicago in Disability Studies.  While at UIC, she earned a post-professional master’s degree focusing on theory and research in occupational therapy. Dr. Paul-Ward is an applied medical anthropologist whose body of work draws on anthropology, social justice, occupational science and disability studies to understand and address transitional barriers at different points in the life course. Her research program explores these issues with different vulnerable populations including foster care and homeless youth, young adults with cognitive impairments in post-secondary transition programs, women currently or formerly in prison, adults with HIV, and sex workers. Her interdisciplinary work, which incorporates a critical medical anthropology lens to advocate for providing occupational therapy services for individuals who do not traditionally receive access to it, has influenced the national conversation on occupational therapy and foster care.

Connie Penczak, M.P.A. (Florida International University)

Email: cpenczak@fiu.edu

Connie Penczak is an Assistant Director at the Center for Leadership and Service under the Division of Academic and Student Affairs at Florida International University (FIU). She oversees service and philanthropy, student led programs such as FIU’s Alternative Breaks and Relay for Life. Additionally, she sustains ongoing community partnerships and establishes new networks through FIU’s GivePulse platform.

Prior to her role in higher education, Connie was primarily involved in nonprofit work that serviced children and families domestically and abroad. Since 2015, Connie has studied and worked at FIU, which led her to find her passion in working with developing student leaders, especially in service-oriented environments.

Connie holds a Master’s in Public Administration, a Graduate Certificate in Community Development, and a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with a Minor in Philosophy from FIU.”


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

Email: rpestana@fiu.edu

Randy Pestana serves as Associate Director for Cybersecurity Policy at the Jack D. Gordon Institute for Public Policy and the Director of Education and Training at Cybersecurity@FIU. In these roles, he is responsible for managing the institutes cyber-related partnerships to include U.S. Departments of Commerce, Defense, Homeland Security, Labor, State, and Veterans Affairs, the Organization of American States (OAS), and numerous industry partners across the cybersecurity community. His technical specialization is in International Relations with focuses on U.S. foreign policy, security studies, and cybersecurity. Most of his work has been linked to cybersecurity education, training, and workforce development, as well as international security threats facing the United States and its partners and allies. He also serves as an Adjunct Professor for the Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs and Honors College. 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 most recently served as a recruiting assistant 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, and an Executive Certificate in Cybersecurity from Harvard University.

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)

Daniela Radu

Daniela Radu, Ph.D. (Iowa State University)

Email: dradu@fiu.edu

Dr. Daniela Radu is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering at Florida International University. Dr. Radu conducts research focused on advanced functional nanomaterials with applications in renewable energy and optoelectronics. Her background covers a broad range of disciplines, and she is combining materials science with chemistry and nanotechnology to synthesize novel materials with properties that enable their application in renewable energy, food security and nanotechnology safety. Radu holds a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Iowa State University (Ames, IA) and has further completed a three-year postdoctoral fellowship at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, CA. Prior her academic appointments she has been a senior scientist at DuPont Central Research and Development where she developed a novel technology for thin-film solar photovoltaics using earth abundant materials. Dr. Radu authored over thirty journal articles, more than 30 conference presentations, and has five granted patents. Her research is funded by NASA, DoD, DOE, NSF, and USDA.

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

Email: malendy@fiu.edu

Maikel Right is currently the Associate Director of Instructional Learning Technology with FIU Online. With degrees from the University of Florida and Florida International University in the fields of cultural anthropology, healthcare, and business; his main research interests and publications are in cardiovascular molecular biology, aging, social media, anthropology, and online pedagogy. Within FIU’s honors college Maikel teaches the fully-online course Digital Fairytale; merging social movements, disruptive technologies, and business trends with a dash of neuropsychology. He is also an instructor for the hybrid course Power of Play, in which students examine the importance of play throughout their lifetime and partner with local elementary schools to design games for K-5 students. Maikel currently serves on the University’s Academic Integrity and Student Conduct committees, the online experience consultant for FIU’s Honors College, the Upper-Division Curriculum co-chair, the CDO for a digital consulting company based in Miami, and he is on the board of VirtueCo, a non-profit organization that provides art programs and resources for underserved youth throughout South Florida, the Caribbean, and throughout Latin America.

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.

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 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. Dr. Roller has been at FIU since 1994 in various faculty and administrative positions, most recently as Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs of the FIU Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine (HWCOM), Associate Professor in the Department of Cellular Biology and Pharmacology and the Administrative Director of the Graduate Certificate in Molecular and Biomedical Sciences at HWCOM. She has helped to create numerous programs at HWCOM, including combined MD degree programs, the Doctors of Tomorrow Program, the Dotson Program, and the Early Assurance Program (EAP). 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. She has also won an award from HWCOM for her interactive teaching. Passionate about pathway programs to the health professions, to that end she has taken on a leadership role in the Group on Educational Affairs (GEA) of the AAMC and the Pathway Programs and Bridges Initiative.

gustavo roque photo

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.

camilo rosales photo

Camilo Rosales, M.Arch. II. (Harvard University)

Email: rosalesc@fiu.edu

Camilo Rosales is an associate professor of Architecture at Florida International University. Mr. Rosales received a Master of Architecture II in Building Design from Harvard University, and a Master and a Bachelor of Architecture with Honors from the University of Texas at Austin where he was a Senior College Scholar. Mr. Rosales is a registered architect in the states of New York and Florida. As a practicing professional he has received design and education awards from the American Institute of Architects and his personal work has been published in professional journals and periodicals worldwide. In 2000, he was elected Fellow of the International Institute for Advanced Studies (IIAS Germany) for work related to sustainable development. He also received an Outstanding Scholarly Contribution Award from the same institution. In 2011, Mr. Rosales was invited to participate at the Oxford Round Table on Climate Change. Mr. Rosales has published over 30 scholarly and professional papers many of which are related to environmental issues. He previously worked in New York for I.M. Pei and Partners. He participated in the winning entry for the Redevelopment of Madison Square Garden with SOM and Frank O. Gehry and Associates. He also worked with HOK and Arquitectonica. Mr. Rosales was Director of the Architecture Program at FIU and he was also coordinator of the Graduate Program of Architecture in 2002. He has taught a variety of courses in design, theory, history, technology and the environment. Prof. Rosales participated in the design development of the 2011 FIU Solar Decathlon House which was exhibited in Washington DC. He has participated in ten research grants and contracts related to developments in architecture and environmental issues that total over $1,200,000.00. Mr. Rosales is currently implementing a project to reduce energy in 400 municipal buildings in Chile, Brazil and Trinidad and Tobago.

Hortensia E. Sampedro, M.B.A. (New York University)

Email: Hortensia.Sampedro@fiu.edu

Adjunct Faculty. Areas of interest: strategy, marketing, disruptive innovation

Since 2015, Hortensia has brought a rich depth of experience and a practical approach from her pioneering experiences in careers in banking, marketing, and philanthropy to her courses at FIU. Typically based on Harvard Business School Simulations and Cases, her multi-disciplinary student-centric approach helps to prepare the students to enter the workforce with strong fundamentals balanced with practical decision-making in a world of change and challenges. Hortensia’s industry experience includes international banking and management with the Chase Manhattan Bank, NY, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer with Morrison, Brown, Argiz & Farra, CPAs, Miami, past president of the CINTAS Foundation, NY, and National staff of the Public Education and Training Directorates of the US Coast Guard Auxiliary.

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

Born and raised in Trinidad & Tobago, Ricky moved to Miami at the age of 20 and completed his Associate’s degree at Miami-Dade College before transferring to FIU. He subsequently earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Business from FIU with a concentration in Information Systems.
From March 2006 – March 2023, Ricky held various positions within the University Graduate School and Enrollment Management & Services. He ended his tenure there as an Information Technology Manager for Admissions Systems & Data Support. Ricky is currently the IT Assistant Director for Housing & Residential Experience at FIU. In this role, he is responsible for all aspects of IT for our on-campus residents and Housing staff.
Ricky has been teaching First Year Experience (SLS 1501) for 14 years and has been an Affiliate Instructor with the Honors College since 2014 teaching Intro to Honors (IDH 1931). Before returning to FIU for his M.B.A., he was a computer programmer for 2 1/2 years.
Ricky is passionate about Business and Technology. He loves helping first year students and mentoring them.
Ricky has a Yellow Belt in Lean Six Sigma and is a member of FIU’s Commencement Committee.

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

Email: scharnag@fiu.edu

Gretchen Scharnagl teaches in the Honors College and the Art and Art History and Architecture departments. Gretchen’s art practice is described as art activism, concentrating on the Earth and the Anthropocene. She is interested in creative practice and mark making as a way of thinking, problem solving, and communication. She believes that everyone has the capacity to create. Her Honors classes include Graphic Voices (comic art), Visual Thinking (mark making), and a collection of Earth and Environmental classes such as All Art is Environmental, Earth Art, and Every Species is a Masterpiece.

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

Email: fshu@fiu.edu
Website: https://www.professorshu.com/

Mr. Fang Shu is an Assistant Teaching Professor at FIU Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, where he teaches accounting courses. He also teaches a range of interdisciplinary courses (e.g. philanthropy, culture) at the Honors College. As a previous China Programs Manager at the Chaplin School, he assisted in curriculum and program development, oversaw all initiatives that took place in China with insight on cultural knowledge, and managed the university’s relations with other academic entities within the China region.

As a member of the City of North Miami’s Chinatown Initiatives Steering Committee, Fang served as an expert in Chinatown promotion. Furthermore, he served as Vice Chair of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce (GMCC) Asia Committee for one year. He was selected as a member of the second cohort of the FIU Presidential Leadership Program and in the first cohort of the FIU Hybrid Pilot Program.

A native of China, he 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 higher education processes and practices.

Fang enjoys working with students. His classes are always very interactive and fun.

Jeanette Smith, Ph.D. (Florida International University)

Email: jesmith@fiu.edu

Jeanette Smith is an adjunct lecturer for the department of Religious Studies at Florida International University. Her classes include core courses such as Introduction to Religion and Studies in World Religions along with exciting new offerings in Faith in Social Justice, Religion & Fantasy, and Religion & Science Fiction. Jeanette engages her students with innovative assignments and activities, often promoting community-based learning through her involvement with several local and national organizations, including South Florida Interfaith Worker Justice, the MCCJ Interfaith Clergy Dialogue, and the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health. Jeanette, who holds a law degree, is a worker justice advocate who has helped to pass several wage theft ordinances throughout the state, including a 2010 Miami-Dade County ordinance that has served as a model nationwide. She has also extensively studied abroad, first in Mexico, Italy, and Greece during her undergraduate program and then in Singapore as a law student and then again in Jamaica as an attorney. These opportunities have fueled her interest in FIU’s Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) program. Jeanette was recently appointed the university’s inaugural COIL Faculty Fellow in January 2021 and is enthusiastic about the possibilities that COIL brings to both students and faculty.

Charlyn Stanberry, J.D. (Florida International University)

Email: cstanber@fiu.edu

Charlyn Stanberry serves as the Vice President of Government Relations for the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), where she represents them on the Federal Communications Commission’s Communications Equity and Diversity Council. Charlyn joins NAB after serving in several capacities on Capitol Hill including as Chief of Staff, Legislative Director, Counsel and Professional Staff. Additionally, she has worked for a consulting firm, media and telecom nonprofit and on a presidential campaign.

Charlyn currently serves as adjunct faculty for FIU’s Honors College teaching the Washington, D.C. Seminar. Charlyn has previously served as an adjunct professor at the University of the District of Columbia teaching Discovery Civics and Foundation Ethics & Values in their Interdisciplinary General Education program. In addition, she has served as part-time faculty at Montgomery College in their Achieving the Promise Academy.

A member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Charlyn serves in leadership capacities for several philanthropic organizations, including Junior League of Washington, the White Dress Project, and Change Machine. In 2021, she received the ICON Talks Visionary Award for her work in promoting multiculturalism and diversity in the media and was named Outstanding Woman Lawyer in Politics by the National Bar Association’s Women Lawyers Division.

A proud Florida native, Charlyn holds a J.D. from Florida International University’s College of Law and a B.S.B.A. and M.P.A. from the University of Central Florida.

Kioceaia Stenson, J.D. (Emory University School of Law)

Email: Kioceaia.Stenson@gmail.com

Kioceaia Stenson received her Bachelors in Political Science from Spelman College in 2011. She then went on to obtain her Juris Doctorate from Emory University School of Law in 2014. Kioceaia began her prosecutorial career immediately after her graduation from Emory Law, when she joined the Miami-Dade County State Attorney’s Office as an Assistant State Attorney. She is currently an Assistant Chief in the Career Criminal and Robbery Unit, where she prosecutes recidivist defendants and violent crimes. She also currently serves as the Corresponding Secretary (and past Vice President) of the National Black Prosecutors Association, South Florida Chapter, a member of the League of Prosecutors’ Board of Directors, and Head Coach for the Panther Mock Trial Team at FIU’s own Honors College.

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 English 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.

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

Email: alvarel@fiu.edu

Allen Varela is the Assistant Director 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 ten years’ experience as an administrator in FIU Honors College & 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. All of Allen Varela’s conference presentations can be found here. He is the Director of the Undergraduate Research at FIU (URFIU) Conference. He is also Director of the Advanced Research and Creativity in Honors Program (ARCH) and the Miami-Dade College Undergraduate Research Internship Program (MDC URIP) at FIU.

From August 2017 – January 2022, Allen was the advisor for Panther ESports, which became an FIU Sport Club – https://esports.fiu.edu. He is the advisor for FIU Chapter of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars (NSCS). He is also co-editor of the FIU Undergraduate Research Journal.

On a personal note, Allen Varela likes to travel, play video games, and watch anime. He is a fan of Sonic the Hedgehog, One Piece, and Beastars.

Connie M. Viamonte, Ph.D. (Florida International University)

Email: cviamont@fiu.edu

Connie M. Viamonte graduated from Florida International University with a Ph.D. in Comparative Sociology. She has spent the better part of 15 years teaching at both Florida International University and Miami-Dade Community College. As part of her training, she began as a teaching assistant for a Research Methods course, which afforded her a unique opportunity to become well versed in various research methods and techniques. She then worked as the Assistant Evaluator at FIU for several programs, including MARC U-STAR, the RISE program, and a few smaller programs throughout the university. Additionally, she has previously worked as the evaluator for the REU program for the 2017 and 2018 Summer semesters at Florida International University. Currently, she is the lead evaluator for both the MARC U-STAR and TBBS programs at Florida International University. In addition to working with diverse populations as an evaluator, she is currently Adjunct Faculty for both the English and Global Sociocultural Studies Departments at Florida International University and for the Social Sciences Department at Miami-Dade Community College. Her courses include Writing and Rhetoric, Sociology of Gender, Sociology of Sexuality, World Societies, Individual and Society, Race and Ethnicity, and Introduction to Sociology.

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.

Amber Webber, Ph.D. (Capella University)

Email: awebber@fiu.edu

Dr. Webber is a leadership, learning, and organizational development scholar-practitioner. She has more than 15 years of experience in guiding leadership development, talent growth and coaching, teaching and training management, and advancing organizational competencies. Dr. Webber is a US Air Force Veteran, having served eight years on active duty. Her military time was followed by three years as a human resources and organizational development consultant in a hospital organization, and then eight years with the US Marshals Service before she joined FIU full time in Spring 2019. She is now the Director of People and Programs for FIU Online. Dr. Webber is an expert in adult learning with 10,000 hours behind the podium and teaching online, as well as a certified administrator of the EQi 2.0 assessment, and an ATD Master Performance Consultant. She holds a Ph.D. in Business Management, specializing in Strategy and Innovation from Capella University, as well as M.Ed. in Adult Education and B.S. in Management and Human Resources from Park University.

David Wernick, Ph.D. (Florida International University)

Email: wernick@fiu.edu

Dr. David Wernick is a teaching professor in FIU’s Department of International Business and an award-winning case writer. His research focuses on global business strategy, innovation, and sustainable enterprise. He is the author of numerous academic and policy-oriented studies on global business and politics, including the book chapters “Innovation in Africa: The View from the Hilltops of a Spiky Continent,” (2016), and “Stakeholders and the Learning Organization,” with William D. Schneper and Mary Ann Von Glinow (2019).

Dr. Wernick teaches a variety of international business and management courses at the undergraduate, M.B.A., and executive levels at FIU’s College of Business. He also holds an appointment at the university’s Stephen J. Green School of International and Public Affairs and teaches courses on global risk management in the Master of Arts in Global Affairs program. Dr. Wernick works closely with FIU undergraduate business students in his capacity as Faculty Advisor for the College’s Honors in International Business Program and the International Business Honors Society (IBHS). He also is editor-in-chief of the Journal of Global Business and Community (JGBC) – an undergraduate e-journal focused on issues at the nexus of international business and society.

Prior to joining FIU, Dr. Wernick worked as senior analyst with a Miami-based international security consultancy and was director of communications for the Americas Society and Council of the Americas in New York. Dr. Wernick has also served as managing editor of the Latin America Advisor, a daily intelligence brief for executives of Fortune 500 companies with investments in the Americas. Dr. Wernick received his B.A. in Political Science from Tulane University, and both his M.A. in International Studies and Ph.D. in Business Administration from FIU.

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.

Ryan Winter, Ph.D. (The City University of New York)

Email: winterry@fiu.edu

Ryan Winter received his Ph.D. from The City University of New York (CUNY), specializing in experimental and social psychology. He attended the University of Nebraska School of Law and obtained his Masters of Legal Studies degree, which he used to further his research interests in the field of psychology and law with a focus on jury decision-making.

Since 2011, Dr. Winter has been the Research Methods Coordinator for the department of psychology at FIU and is responsible for overseeing the curriculum all research methods classes taught by the department. This includes supervising a hands-on lab component for research methods in which students collect, statistically analyze, and report experimental research data using both hand-based statistical calculations and computer assisted statistical software. He also focuses on teaching students the foundations of formal academic writing.

In addition to coordinating the research methods courses, Dr. Winter continues to mentor both undergraduate and graduate students, serving on several dissertation, masters, and honors committees. He continues to publish (most notably in the American Psychological Association Monitor on Psychology), has several research methods resources published, frequently presents at teaching conferences.

Andi Flug Wolfer, M.A. (Farleigh Dickinson University)

Email: awolfer@fiu.edu

Andi Flug Wolfer is managing director of the United States – Israel Business Alliance, where she leads efforts to grow economic ties between Florida and Israel. Prior to joining USIBA, Wolfer served as executive director of the U.S. Supporters of the Lone Soldier Center, an international non-profit dedicated to assisting enlisted soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces with unique needs and no immediate family members around to support them. From 2010 to 2016, Wolfer managed investor relations for Kennedy Funding and oversaw new growth opportunities for the firm. A graduate of Barnard College, Wolfer began her professional career working in Citi’s Management Associate Program. She holds a master’s degree in education from Farleigh Dickinson University and is a first degree black belt in karate. An active local volunteer, Wolfer participated in the Berrie Fellows Leadership Program for visionary lay leaders. She recently moved to Miami with her husband and two children.

Natalie Yagual, M.S. (Florida International University)

Email: nyagualc@fiu.edu

Natalie Yagual is the Curriculum Specialist for the Honors College. In this role, she supports faculty with their interdisciplinary courses to meet academic institution standards and criteria. Prior to working at FIU, Natalie worked as an Elementary school educator where she enjoyed working with students. Natalie is a proud two-time alumna of FIU, holding a Bachelor of Science in Natural and Applied Sciences and a Master of Science in Curriculum and Instruction.

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.