Irene Abad, M.S. (Nova Southeastern University)
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.
Samah T. Abukhodeir, J.D. (Florida International University)
Ms. Abukhodeir obtained a Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology with a Minor in Arabic and Child Development from Florida State University. Ms. Abukhodeir obtained her Juris Doctor from Florida International University College of Law. While in law school, Ms. Abukhodeir was a judicial intern for the Honorable Marisa Tinkler Mendez, Circuit Court Judge in the Criminal Division of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit, and the Honorable Maria M. Korvick, Circuit Court Judge in the Probate Division of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit. After law school, Ms. Abukhodeir returned to the 11th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida as a staff attorney/case manager for the Honorable Maria M. Korvick, the Administrative Probate Judge. Ms. Abukhodeir practices in the areas of Estates, Trusts, Guardianships, Estate Planning, Elder Law, and Family Law. Ms. Abukhodeir is fluent in English and Arabic.
Maikel Alendy, M.B.A. (Florida International University)
Maikel Alendy is currently the Learning Design Innovation Manager with FIU Online. Maikel has extremely diverse professional and academic experiences with degrees from the University of Florida and Florida International University in the fields of neuroscience, cultural anthropology, healthcare, and business. His main research interests and publications are in health, retirement, biomedicine, cardiovascular molecular biology, and aging. He teaches the fully online course Digital Fairytale, merging social movements, disruptive technologies, and business trends with a dash of neuropsychology. He is also the instructor for the hybrid course Power of Play, in which students examine the importance of play throughout their lifetimes and partner with Sweetwater Elementary to design games for K-5 students. Maikel currently serves as the online experience consultant for FIU’s Honors College.
Samantha Alvarado-Postigo, M.A. (Florida International University)
Samantha is a Senior Coordinator 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)
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.
Gabriela Alvarez, M.S. (Florida International University)
Gabriela Alvarez is the Director of Learning Design and Innovation at Florida International University, where she leads a team of over 80 learning design professionals who partner with faculty and industry subject matter experts to create meaningful learning experiences. Gaby also professionally consults on projects for industries ranging from education, human services, and technology. Gaby holds a Master of Science in Adult Education and Human Resource Development from Florida International University, where she also earned her Bachelor of Arts in English and a Graduate Certificate in Conflict Resolution and Consensus Building. Prior to working at Florida International University, Gaby served in the private sector as an organizational development consultant and marketing director. Her interests include leadership, instructional design and technology, human resource development, critical pedagogy, and the intersection of ethics, conflict, and innovation.
Stephen Andon, Ph.D. (Florida State University)
A native of rural Maryland, Stephen P. Andon received his Ph.D. from the College of Communication and Information at Florida State University in 2011 after writing a dissertation on sports memorabilia. His undergraduate career at Boston College consisted of work in television, radio, and digital film production – with stints at WHFC-FM, WBAL-TV, and at ESPN covering the 2002 World Cup.
Playing on the dynamic between popular culture and the rhetorical theories of place and memory, his research interests involve a wide array of topics dealing with sport, including the nostalgic influences of media sport, stadium narratives, sport and social media, and the development of sports fan cultures.
Dr. Andon has published articles in academic journals Communication and Sport, the International Journal of Sports Communication, and NINE: A Journal of Baseball and Culture. His work has also appeared in a number of edited anthologies, including Perspectives on the U.S.-Mexico Soccer Rivalry, American History through American Sports, and the Encyclopedia of Sports Management and Marketing. As a result, his writing has been cited in outlets ranging from the Los Angeles Times to the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication and the Cultural Studies/Critical Methodologies journal. His speaking engagements include over a dozen conference presentations and a guest lecture at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Communication.
Cristina Arabatzis, M.B.A. (Florida International University)
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)
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)
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.
Kathryn Bond, M.A. (Florida International University)
Kathryn Bond has worked in higher education for over 10 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 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 a medical field. 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.
Shedrick Boren, Ph.D. (University of Miami)
Shed Boren, PhD is a social worker, healthcare executive, and currently a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work at Florida International University (FIU). He has worked for, and on behalf of, vulnerable populations for more than 30 years, with a focus on those living with HIV/AIDS, chronic diseases, mental health challenges and in poverty. Dr. Boren has served as the Chief Executive Officer of Camillus Health Concern, Camillus House, Sister Emmanuel Hospital and as the founder of Mercy Hospital’s AIDS program. Over the years he has developed a special interest in working with people experiencing homelessness, those aging out of foster care, and those in contact with the criminal justice system. Dr. Boren served as the Executive Producer of the Emmy Award-winning film, The Day It Snowed in Miami (2014) and Sisters, a film about the life of Sister Helen Prejean (2018). He remains active in the community and he is on the Board of Directors of LEAP and Guitars over Guns. In recognition of his advocacy for marginalized populations, he received the FIU Path Award in 2016.
Lisa Boskovic, M.A. (University of Central Florida)
Lisa Boskovic is an Instructional Designer with FIU Online. She began her academic career as a student in the rigorous International Baccalaureate program at a public high school in Broward County, Florida. Lisa obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus in Education and Social Science and a Minor in History from the University of Central Florida in Orlando. She also graduated from UCF’s fully-online Master’s in Instructional Design and Technology. Successfully completing a college program online provided a unique perspective in the development and delivery of distance learning courses. Prior to joining the FIU family, Lisa taught 8th Grade U.S. History for a Florida charter school. She also worked with adolescents who took Florida Virtual School classes while they were undergoing inpatient medical treatment. Before undertaking her work in the Education field, Lisa significantly contributed to the regional musical theatre community as an actor and singer. She still enjoys performing and seeking out live music for entertainment.
Daniela Cadena, M.I.R. (IE Business Schoo)
Daniela Cadena is a growth designer, with over eight years experience in product development and customer experience. She founded her first company in 2012; as an entrepreneur she discovered her commitment to solving social problems through profit-driven models. This led her in discovering her passion for sustainable business models and practices. Her heart is in her work, where she encourages inventors to solve the complex problems our world is facing with sustainable solutions that leverage emerging technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. For four years, her learning agility has enabled her to work with universities in Colombia and the US, where she develops and implements curriculum to foster social innovation through entrepreneurial problem solving skills. Additionally, she consults for social entrepreneurs in Latin America on product research, problem identification, and inclusive design of products and services. Daniela is a Global Shaper Fellow, a branch of the World Economic Forum to foster a network of young people driving dialogue, action and change across the world. While in Spain she completed a Masters in International Relations focused on inclusive policy design of vulnerable populations at IE Business School and shared her idea of “Rediscovering Human Value” on the TedX stage.
Jason Calloway, M.M. (The University of Southern California)
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.
Dr. Julio Capó, Jr. is Associate Professor of History and Deputy Director of the Wolfsonian Public Humanities Lab (WPHL) at Florida International University. Dr. Capó researches inter-American histories, with a focus on queer, Latinx, race, migration, and empire studies. His book, Welcome to Fairyland: Queer Miami before 1940 (UNC Press, 2017), received five awards, including the Southern Historical Association’s Sydnor award for best book written on the U.S. South. He curated the award-winning exhibition, Queer Miami: A History of LGBTQ Communities for HistoryMiami Museum, and has been published in the Journal of American History, Radical History Review, Diplomatic History, Modern American History, among other academic outlets. A former journalist, he has also written for Time, The Washington Post, The Miami Herald, El Nuevo Día (Puerto Rico), and other mainstream publications. Dr. Capó has held fellowships at Yale University and the University of Sydney.
Amilcar A. Castellano-Sanchez, M.D. (Universidad de Zulia, Venezuela)
Amilcar Castellano-Sanchez has been Associate Professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine in the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine (HWCOM) since its inception. . Dr. Castellano-Sanchez trained in Anatomic & Clinical Pathology at Mount Sinai Medical Center, Miami Beach and served two additional post-doctoral fellowships in Neuropathology at Emory University in Atlanta and Hematopathology at Barnes-Jewish Hospital/University of Saint Louis; since his return to south Florida, he has been the Coordinator for Teaching and Research at the Department of Pathology in Mount Sinai. Currently he teaches to the Pathology residents at Mount Sinai Medical Center and during the first three years of medical school here at FIU. He was honored by HWCOM’s first class to receive the Teacher of the Year Award and as Co-Director also received the Best Pre-Clinical Course Award from the same class. Beginning Fall 2016, he will be teaching a Global Learning rated course titled: “History of Medicine through Art” for the Honors College. His research interest includes neoplastic hematologic and non-hematologic diseases, brain tumors and particularly lymphomas in brain tissue. In addition, Dr. Castellano-Sanchez is a volunteer Docent at the Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum at FIU and is passionate about anything that combines goodness, enrichment, personal growth / community growth and community engagement. He enjoys teaching and hopes to convey and exchange ideas with his students.
Michael C. Christie,Ph. D . (Rutgers University)
Dr. Christie is a Senior lecturer in Biomedical Engineering at Florida International University. He previously provided technical consultation in medical device product development and served as the principal scientist for Millennium Scientific Inc . He has worked in medical device product development and design for over a decade at various stages of development from concept to market launch in the field of vascular and stent grafts for Millennium Scientific Inc and cardiovascular products for Johnson and Johnson Inc., During his technical and managerial career he has acted as a technical liaison to international companies, doctors, and management teams. Dr. Christie has superb training and vast experience in Materials Science and Engineering and is an expert in biomaterials. Dr. Christie holds a Ph.D. in Materials Science from Rutgers University as well as a Masters in Mechanics & Materials Science, and B.S. in Mechanical Engineering.
Dr. Christie currently teaches several courses in Biomedical Engineering. He is a Fellow of the Honors College at Florida International University, and co-teaches the first year seminar on epistemology. He is engaged in undergraduate research, and mentors multiple senior design projects every year.He has presented, published his research academic in the areas of orthopedics biomechanics, and cardiovascular mechanics. He serves as a reviewer for the principal journal of the Biomedical Engineering Society, and as book reviewer for multiple scholarly publications. He is a member of the Society for Biomaterials and participates in local organizations that promote the Biomedical Engineering field.Dr. Christie is fully engaged with his department, the university and the community. His record of service span many years and is well documented.
Kristen A. Corpion, J.D. (University of California at Berkeley)
Kristen A. Corpion is an associate in the law firm of Ver Ploeg & Lumpkin, P.A. She began her legal career as an associate at Greenberg Traurig, LLP. Kristen earned her J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley (Boalt Hall) School of Law, where she was a member of the Moot Court Board, the Berkeley Business Law Journal, and the Berkeley Technology and Law Journal. Kristen earned her B.A., with honors, from the University of South Florida, summa cum laude, with a dual major in Anthropology and Political Science. Kristen volunteers her time to serve clients pro bono, and is actively involved in the Miami community. She serves as a Director of Dade County Bar Association, Young Lawyers Section and the South Beach Chamber Ensemble. Kristen Chairs Legal Services of Greater Miami’s Young Profession Committee and Co-chairs the Legal Eagle Closing Argument Competition. Kristen has been appointed by the Florida Bar to serve on the Florida Bar’s Professional Ethics Committee. Kristen is admitted to practice in Florida.
Isabela Corzo, M.P.A. (Florida International University)
Isabela Corzo is the Director of Public Affairs at Florida International University’s (FIU) Office of the President. She has dedicated her career to public service; through student mentorship, community service and advocacy for the needs of South Florida. Isabela is also an Honors Faculty Fellow at FIU, focusing on high school to college life transition and leadership development. She is a part of GMCC’s Leadership Miami’s 43rd cohort, serves on the board of the Miss Miami Scholarship Program and represented her hometown of Hialeah as Miss Hialeah USA in the Miss Florida USA pageant.
Isabela is a graduate of FIU’s Honors College, earning a B.S. in Biological Sciences and a Masters in Public Administration with a certificate in Emergency Management and Homeland Security. Isabela began her career in Washington, D.C., and has received policy management training at the University of Seoul in South Korea.
Bárbara Cotto, M.A. (Interamerican University)
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.
Grisel d’Elena, M.A. (Florida International University)
Grisel d’Elena is an Adjunct Professor for Religious Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies at FIU. She is currently pursuing her PhD in International Relations at FIU’s School of International and Public Affairs. For the last 5 years, Ms. d’Elena has also served as the Academic Advisor for FIU’s Honors College and Pre-Law Advising. She is also on the Board of Directors for U.N. Women | USA | Miami leading the Young Professionals Committee and is a mentor for National Voices for Equality, Education and Enlightenment (NVEEE), FIU’s Global Learning Initiative and Fostering Panther Pride. She has performed fieldwork abroad with U.N. officials, refugee coalition members and ethnic minorities, specifically in Southeast Asia, where she began to investigate the minority women and ethnic Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. As victims of systematic, state-sponsored persecution, she began to question why they faced such discrimination. This question led to the Buddhist 969 Movement in Myanmar, which contributes to the isolation and oppression of the Rohingya and minority women in Myanmar. Grisel was able to interview Time Magazine’s “Buddhist Terror” U Ashin Wirathu and provide feedback directly from the source of the violence for her ethnographic work and publications.
Alok Deoraj, Ph.D. (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
Dr. Alok Deoraj is an Associate Teaching Professor in the department of Environmental Health Sciences of the College of Public Health and Social Work. Dr. Deoraj has a Master of Science (MSc) degree from Patna University, India, a PhD from the National Institute of Immunology-Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), India, and a Certificate of Business Management from Belmont University, Nashville, TN, USA. He has an extensive teaching, research, and management experience in academic and in private sector. His primary focus is on teaching Global and Environmental Public Health courses to undergraduate, graduate and PhD students. His research interest is in the Environmental Toxicology area to delineate gene-environment interactions of complex environmental exposures on the timing of the onset of the puberty/adolescence. Dr. Deoraj is interested in finding whether the timing of the onset of puberty/adolescence is a risk factor for reproductive cancer and neurodegenerative disorders. In FIU he is also a member faculty of the Biomolecular Sciences Institute (BSI), STEM Transformation Institute as well as Statistical Machine Learning Group (SMLG) in FIU. Dr. Deoraj was conferred FIU faculty awards for Excellence in Teaching in 2017 and for Service in 2019. Dr. Deoraj has over 70 publications in peer reviewed journals, magazine, and in the proceedings of professional meetings and conferences. He also serves in 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.
Veronica Diaz, Ph.D. (Florida International University)
Dr. Diaz is a Senior Academic Advisor and Project Lead for FIU’s College of Arts, Sciences, & Education. She is a lecturer for the Dept. of Global and Sociocultural Studies, the Dept. of Liberal & Interdisciplinary studies, and the Honors College. Veronica 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)
Alina Dominguez is a Sr. Academic Advisor and Project Lead at Florida International University’s College of Arts, Sciences & Education. In her five years as an Academic Advisor, Alina has managed advising caseloads of over 600 students, coordinates the new student newsletter for CASE majors, participates in presentations during orientation sessions, assisted in the redesign and update of the CASE advising site and takes part in committees including: the Transition Committee within CASE, UE’s PDAC, and the 2017 Orientation Presentation redesign project. Alina is also thrilled to be a member of the 2017-2018 cohort in the inaugural Presidential Leadership Program. Ms. Dominguez received both her Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences and her Masters of International Business at Florida International University. Aside from being a Sr. Academic Advisor and Project Lead, Alina has had combined experience of over ten years at the University, working multiple departments in various capacities.
Claudia Fernandez, M.I.S. (University of South Florida)
Claudia Fernandez is a Senior Instructional Designer at FIU Online. She has a Master of Library and Information Science from the University of South Florida and a Bachelor of Arts in English from FIU. Since graduating with her master’s degree, she has worked as a storyteller and librarian, as a massage therapist, and for a time did a stint working in the family business doing … a little of everything. Since 2012 however, she has worked at FIU Online designing and developing online courses for the College of Arts, Sciences and Education and the School of International and Public Affairs. As a lifelong bookworm, a mother of three, a proud xennial, and the survivor of a rigorous “classical” education that involved studying ancient Greek and Latin, she has a lot of wide-ranging interests and believes strongly in the secret power of the dilettante.
Ernesto Fernandez, D.M.A. (University of Miami)
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.
H. Scott Fingerhut, J.D. (Emory University)
Assistant Director, Trial Advocacy Program, FIU College of Law.
H. Scott Fingerhut is a three-time Professor of the Year and honored six-times by the graduating class as Commencement Hooder at FIU College of Law, and in the courtroom, rated AV Preeminent by Martindale-Hubbell and consistently ranked among the top criminal defense lawyers in South Florida – including The Best Lawyers in America. Fingerhut came to FIU 16 years ago from the Litigation Skills Program at the University of Miami School of Law to teach constitutional criminal procedure, criminal law theory, and judicial process and policy making in the School of Policy and Management undergraduate and Master’s degree criminal justice program. For the past decade, Fingerhut has served as Assistant Director of the Trial Advocacy Program at FIU College of Law, where he teaches Trial Advocacy, Civil and Criminal Pretrial Practice, Criminal Procedure Investigation and Adjudication, Criminal Law, and the Criminal and Civil Law Externship. Fingerhut earned his Bachelor of Arts in American Government and Music at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, and his Juris Doctor at Emory Law in Atlanta, where he was a student-instructor in the Research, Writing, and Advocacy Program, a member of Moot Court Special Teams, and, though not widely celebrated, hosted the Law Follies. Before entering private practice, he proudly served as a prosecutor in Janet Reno’s Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office. A frequent lecturer and writer on liberty and justice matters, Fingerhut currently chairs The Florida Bar Criminal Procedure Rules Committee and is a member of the Student Education and Admissions to the Bar Committee, both by appointment of the President of the Bar. He is past chair of the Bar’s Criminal Law Section, past chair of the Dade County Bar Criminal Court Committee, past president of the Miami Chapter of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and a past member ofThe Florida Bar Journal and Florida Bar News Editorial Board, the Bar’s Committee to Study the Decline in Jury Trials, and by appointment of the Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court, the Criminal Court Steering Committee’s Workgroup on Post-Conviction Relief, and, the Florida Innocence Commission. Fingerhut has been a Fellow with the Honors College since 2006 and teaches the Upper Division Honors Seminar –Observing Ourselves: On Bartlet and Baseball, Billy Joel and Bruce, B-Rabbit, Balboa, The Beatles, Soup Questions, Justice, the Business of Liberty, and The Present Moment: A Primer for Life After Honors.
Brian Fonseca, M.I.B. (Florida International University)
Adjunct Professor I Director of Operations of FIU Applied Research Center (ARC).
Brian Fonseca is the Director of Operations at Florida International University’s Applied Research Center (ARC) and has been an adjunct professor at FIU’s since 2010. Mr. Fonseca joined ARC after serving as the Senior Research Manager for Socio-Cultural Analysis (SCA) at United States Southern Command. Mr. Fonseca has authored numerous classified and open sourced publications on a wide range of defense and security-related topics, and has conducted field research throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. Mr. Fonseca holds a Master’s Degree in International Business and a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from Florida International University in Miami, Florida, he is currently working towards his Ph.D. at the University of Miami. He has attended Sichuan University in China and National Defense University in Washington D.C. From 1997 to 2004, he served in the United States Marine Corps and facilitated the training of foreign military forces in both hostile theaters and during peace time operations.
Rebecca Friedman, Ph.D. (University of Michigan)
Dr. Rebecca Friedman, history professor and founding director of the Wolfsonian Public Humanities Lab (WPHL), is a faculty leader at FIU who serves as provost faculty fellow, bridging the divide between faculty and administration. In this role, she spearheaded the effort to elevate the humanities on campus and build community partnerships, resulting in the founding of the WPHL. Dr. Friedman is a scholar of urban history, culture, gender and temporality in the Russian/Soviet contexts. She has authored or edited four books and has received major grants from the Mellon Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. She is an Associate Professor in the Department of History and the Director of the Wolfsonian Public Humanities Lab (WPHL) at FIU. I directed and taught in EU/European and Eurasian Studies for 7 years.
Ruben Garrote, M.A. (Florida International University)
Rubén Garrote is an Honors College alumnus and a graduate of FIU’s Religious Studies Department. He has taught for the Religious Studies Department for the past eight years, receiving several awards for teaching and academic excellence. Mr. Garrote’s research interests are varied, ranging from early Christian heresies and North and West European religions, to the Western esoteric traditions, new religious movements, and utopianism. Mr. Garrote teaches in the First Year Seminar, Origin of Ideas & the Idea of Origins, and in the Second Year Seminar, Inhabiting Other Lives.
Bernard S. Gerstman, Ph.D. (Princeton University)
Professor of Physics
Bernard S. Gerstman has a Ph.D. in Physics from Princeton University. His main research interests are in theoretical and computational biophysics. He runs two different research groups in the Physics Department. One group investigates the non-linear dynamics of entropy versus enthalpy that underlies the ability of proteins to fold to their biologically functional native state. The other group investigates the effects of laser energy on biological tissue with a specific emphasis on the visual system. Professor Gerstman is Chairman of the Department of Physics and Executive Editor of the American Institute of Physics journal AIP Advances. He has published scores of papers in peer-reviewed journals and been invited to lecture about his research at institutions and conferences world-wide. He has published chapters in several research-oriented books, and published the book, “The Physics of Cancer”. Professor Gerstman has served as Chair of the University’s Institutional Review Board that determines if research projects treat their human subjects in an ethical manner and as Chair of the Faculty Research Council. He has taught a wide range of physics courses and taught courses on ethical behavior in scientific research, He has received numerous research and teaching awards. He has taught different levels of the Honors College and greatly enjoys the interactions with the students and his fellow instructors. He teaches in the First Year Seminar, Origin of Ideas & the Idea of Origins.
Adam D. Gorelick, M.A. (Florida International University)
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)
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)
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.
Aisha Hamid, M.S. (Hunter College of the City University New York)
Aisha Hamid is an Instructional Designer with FIU Online. Her education includes a Masters of Science in Literacy Education and a Bachelor of Arts in English Secondary Education from Hunter College of the City University New York. She taught English at the secondary level in New York City and Miami-Dade public school systems for six years. Her philosophy regarding education is that it should impact students, faculty, communities and the world. As a first-generation student and American, she recognizes the importance of access to education. As an educator and instructional designer, she works to ensure that courses are aligned, engaging and transformative.
Maria Ilcheva, Ph.D. (Florida International University)
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.
Phillip Lloyd Hamilton, M.S. (Florida International University)
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 director of FIU’s Office of Student Access & Success, Phillip fosters relationships with local organizations who support the college matriculation of students from under-represented and special populations. Additionally, he develops new and existing programs to support the retention of first time in college students and academic enrichment for pre-collegiate students. This includes his service as FIU’s liaison to Graduate Miami-Dade and Broward Bridge2Life – two local college access networks focused on talent development through increasing educational credential attainment among South Florida residents. 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. He is a member of NASPA Student Affairs Professionals in Higher Education, the Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors, and the Black Professionals Network. 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 is a former officer of the City of Doral’s Special Needs Advisory Board and 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, where he is currently completing his doctoral studies. He is a member and current advisor to Order of the Torch, FIU’s leadership honorary, and was also a founding member of the FIU Young Alumni Council, on which he served for four years. Committed to the development of the Broward, Miami-Dade, greater Florida communities that cultivated him, Phillip is an engaged member of Leadership Florida (Connect Institute Class VII) and currently serves on the organization’s southeast regional council.
Elizabeth Hanly, M.A. (Columbia University)
Writer/editor/educator with expertise in Latin America and the Caribbean, human rights, religion and the arts. Hanly has brought home stories from war zones and refugee camps, from gold mines and Peronist Party headquarters, from art studios and rooftops in Havana. Her work has appeared in dozens of newspapers and national magazines, including The New York Times, London’s The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Village Voice, The Miami Herald, The Nation, Vogue, Elle, and Art in America. Hanly has designed cultural, educational and human rights programs then written and received grants for those programs from W.F. Kellogg Foundation, the Ford Foundation and the National Council of Churches, among others. She has written and edited for UNICEF and has served as Associate Editor at Scholastic Books. She thinks Umberto Eco was very right when he said, “To survive you must tell stories.” The winner of FIU’s “Excellence in Teaching,” award, Hanly teaches both an upper level Honors course on “Creative Non-Fiction” and one on “Film from the Third World” as well as the First Year Seminar, Origins of Ideas and Ideas of Origins.
Erika Harlitz-Kern, Ph.D. (University of Gothenburg)
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, and England during the medieval and Tudor eras. Her research and teaching is interdisciplinary and merges 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 and The Daily Beast. She is a recurring contributor to The Week and she writes a column about history in science fiction and fantasy for the science fiction publisher Tor.com. 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.
Hazel Hooker, M.P.H. (Florida International University)
Hazel Hooker is the Program Director of First Year Programs at Florida International University. In her 13-year career in higher education, she has helped students find their passion as an academic advising professional and helped them engage and transition to college via the many programs offered through her office. In 2015, she received the Significant Impact on Advising Community Award and First Year Programs was recently recognized with the Advising Most Valuable Partner Award.
She is an Honors College alumna who earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology, Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry, and Master of Public Health from Florida International University and is currently pursuing a PhD in Higher Education. Her research interests include exploratory (undecided) students, academic advising, and first year transition. She has presented at national conferences on these topics.
Amy Huseby, Ph.D. (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
Amy Kahrmann Huseby is a full-time faculty Instructor at Florida International University, where she teaches courses in nineteenth-century British literature. Amy earned her B.A. (2009) in English Language & Literature from Washington State University, and her M.A. (2012) and Ph.D. (2017), also in English Language & Literature from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is currently at work on her first monograph, Quantified Lives: Nineteenth-Century British Poetry and the Mathematics of Social Totality, which develops an account of how poets derived mathematical concepts from poetry in their efforts to understand unifying forms and to reconceptualize literary totalities. Her articles on poetry and poetics of the long nineteenth-century have appeared in Victorian Poetry, Women’s Writing, Victorian Periodicals Review, South Atlantic Review, and several edited collections. She is the co-editor of Defining Pre-Raphaelite Poetics (Palgrave 2020), an edited collection exploring the plurality of modes of making in Pre-Raphaelitism. She serves as a Dual Enrollment mentor in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, Chair of the Literature Gateway Curriculum Committee, a CAT Teaching Fellow, member of the 4th Presidential Leadership Cohort at FIU, and as the English Department Media Director. Prior to coming to FIU, Dr. Huseby had a 15-year career as a paralegal in civil and criminal law.
Gabriela Izaguirre, M.A. (Florida International University)
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)
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.
Mark Kelley, Ph.D. (University of California, San Diego)
Mark B. Kelley is an Assistant Professor of English at Florida International University. He received his PhD in Literature at the University of California-San Diego, where he was also the managing editor of the Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies. His research and teaching focuses on Early America, maritime culture, affect theory, archival studies, and disability. In support of his research, Mark has been a fellow-in-residence at John Carter Brown Library, Mystic Seaport Museum, Peabody Essex Museum, Library Company of Philadelphia, Providence Public Library, and the University of Virginia. He has also received grants from the Bavarian American Academy, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, among others. He has published articles or chapters in American Literary Realism, the Journal of the MMLA, Legacy: A Journal of American Women Writers and the collection India in the American Imaginary, 1780s-1880s (Palgrave 2017). In his teaching, Mark strives to foster student access, an environment of radical kindness, and a mutual appreciation of literature’s enduring power.
Amir Ali Khoddamzadeh, Ph.D. (University Putra Malaysia)
Dr. Amir Ali Khoddamzadeh is an environmental horticulturist and undergraduate program director at the Department of Earth and Environment (E&E). He is affiliated with the Agroecology Program and International Center for Tropical Botany at the Kampong Botanic Garden within the Institute of Environment, an FIU Preeminent Program. He is the Organic Garden faculty supervisor, Garden Club faculty advisor and serves as the faculty fellow at Education committee – Division of Diversity Equity Inclusion and is a member of College of Arts, Sciences, and Education and Carbon Footprint committees. He is the chair of Human Issues in Horticulture Interest Group and chaired several committees at the American Society for Horticultural Science. Dr. Khoddamzadeh’s Conservation & Sustainable Horticulture Lab projects broadly cover how to integrate the science and the stakeholders’ need to address the real challenges associated with climate change and species endangerment. This multidisciplinary research addresses a range of topics including in-vitro propagation (tissue culture) and gene-banking (cryopreservation) of the endangered plants, seed technology and biotechnology assessments, and optical non-destructive handheld sensor technology for sustainable water and fertilizer management of horticultural crops which is the very valuable practice for precision management decision making in botanic gardens, farms and nursery production. He teaches courses such as Introduction to Horticulture Science and Horticulture Lab, Certified Horticulture Professional Program, Senior Seminar: Sustainability in Action, 1st Year Seminars of E&E, Modern Crop Production, Seed Technology, Biology, and Conservation, and Introduction to Environmental Science & Sustainability. He is the faculty fellow at Honors College.
Masako Kubota, M.A. (Florida International University)
Masako Kubota (M.A., Asian Studies) is an adjunct instructor of Asian Studies and Modern Languages, teaching Japanese Culture and language. A former advertising executive and founder of non-profit organizations. Masako is highly regarded for her student-centered teaching and pedagogy. Beyond the classroom, she is committed to participating in campus activities that enrich the university experience, such as Japan Immersion Day and the Florida Statewide Japanese Speech and Skit Contest at FIU. In November 2017, she invited seven Ainu artists from Akan Kotan and performed a special event at FIU, exchanging programs between Ainu and Seminole people.
Jenna Levine, M.S. (Nova Southeastern University)
Jenna Levine is the Peer Mentor Program Manager for the Center for Student at Florida International University. As the Program Manager, Jenna prepares and supports over 70 student leaders to co-facilitate the SLS 1501: First Year Experience course. She provides engagement opportunities for students and creates a sense of belonging at FIU. Jenna obtained a Master of Science degree in College Student Affairs with a concentration in Conflict Analysis and Resolution from Nova Southeastern University. She also attained a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology from The Florida State University. Prior to working at Florida International University, Jenna worked as a Senior Success Coach and as a Student Success Advocate for the City University of New York. Further, she was a Residence Hall Director for Quinnipiac University in Connecticut. Her professional interests include student success and advocacy programs and student leadership development. Jenna also has passions which include fitness, social justice, cooking, and music.
Joseph Lichter, Ph.D. (Emory University)
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 before leaving the area to pursue degrees from Florida State University (B.S. Biochemistry) and 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 intends to understand human behavior and physical and social sciences through the lens of Sports. Bringing knowledge from his many vast experiences in ultra-marathons and ultra triathlons which include completions of 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) and his coaching of triathletes and endurance athletes, Lichter takes students on a multidisciplinary adventure which includes participating in and studying sports in depth. His other course, “The Psychedelic Renaissance”, investigates the history, chemistry, neurobiology, risk and potential of psychedelics. Though still federally illegal, psychedelics are mushrooming more and more in psychotherapy and well-being, as potential agents to battle mental health concerns like PTSD in veterans and police officers, trauma patients, depression, and other common health issues. 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 create a course to ask the questions of whether the movement has true value or not. 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)
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)
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.
Brenda Luna, Ph.D. (Florida International University)
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.
Pete E.C. Markowitz, Ph.D.
Pete E.C. Markowitz joined FIU in 1995. He carries out nuclear and particle physics experiments at the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, in Virginia and the European Center for Nuclear and Particle Physics (CERN) in Geneva, Switzerland. His research interests focus on the source of gravity, extra dimensions, black holes, quark structure of nuclei, dark matter, dark energy and the electro production of quarks and anti-quarks (or matter and anti-matter). He conducted a series of experiments measuring strange quark effects in atomic nuclei are mapping out the behavior of these elusive and unstable particles. The experiments use high energy accelerators to bombard various target materials and then to measure the subsequent particles which are produced. During his time at FIU he has taught Nuclear Physics, Intermediate Classical Mechanics, Modern Physics Laboratory, and the introductory physics sequences, as well as a FIG and the Freshman Experience course.
Niurca Márquez, M.F.A. (Jacksonville University)
Niurca Márquez is an artist/researcher with a wide range, as a creator and performer in film, site-specific work and staged performance. Her work has been commissioned by and presented on various curatorial platforms in Europe and the US. She is a Guild Certified Feldenkrais Teacher and integrates the principles of the Feldenkrais Method as well as other somatic approaches to her artistic and research practice. Marquez is the recipient of numerous awards for both her artistic creation and her research including: Dance Miami Choreographer’s Award (2015 and 2017), Gillman Fellowship in Choreography for Graduate Studies (2015-2017), two Ford Foundation Travel Grant for Research in Cuba granted through the Cuban Research Institute and the Latin American and Caribbean Center at Florida International University (1998 and 1999).
Her essay on the development of “Flamenco Empirico” in Spain and its implications for the form, was recently published by MacFarllan Press in Flamenco on the Global Stage: Historical, Critical and Theoretical Perspectives, edited by K. Meira Goldberg, Ninotchka D. Bennahum and Michelle Heffner Hayes. Her current research includes an examination of the use of collage (and it’s affiliated approaches) as a methodology for composition when working in hybrid forms to explore how we can evidence the process in performance on various platforms, as well as, transculturation, hybridity and mestisaje as they pertain to expressions of identity and the moving body.
Aileen M. Marty, M.D., FCAP (University of Miami)
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)
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)
Anthony McGoron is a Professor of Biomedical Engineering. He was elected as an AIMBE Fellow in 2015. Dr. McGoron was the Interim Department Chair from 2007-2010, elected National President of the Alpha Eta Mu Beta (AEMB) Biomedical Engineering Honor Society in 2010 and won the Outstanding Faculty Advisor to the AEMB in 2010. He founded the AEMB chapter at FIU in 2007 and the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) student chapter in 2002 and served as the faculty advisor from 2002 to 2007. He is the department’s Undergraduate Program Director and was responsible for guiding the program through ABET accreditation. He received the American Heart Initial Investigator Award in 2001. He has mentored over 50 undergraduate in research students at FIU. He has over 190 journal articles, book chapters and proceeding papers and has received funding from the NIH, NSF, AHA, Fl-DOH, and DOD as well as numerous companies. The primary focus of his research is drug delivery and molecular imaging, primarily for cancer, and specifically the development of multimodal drugs that simultaneously image and provide therapy.
Andrej Milic, J.D. (University of Florida)
Mr. Andrej Milic obtained his Bachelor of Applied Science Degree from Miami Dade College where he was a member of the honors college. He obtained his Master of Management Degree with a specialization in Justice Administration from St. Thomas University and his Juris Doctor of Law from University of Florida. Mr. Milic is currently working to complete his LL.M. in Intercultural Human Rights at. St. Thomas University School of Law. Mr. Milic is a licensed attorney in Florida and the Assistant Director of Recruiting at Florida International University College of Law. Mr. Milic teaches at numerous universities and lectures internationally on various international legal topics.
Kiesha Moodie, M.Ed. (Lamar University)
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.
Meredith A. Newman, Ph.D. (Deakin University)
Meredith A. Newman, Ph.D., is Professor of Public Administration at Florida International University. In her immediate past role as Vice Provost for Faculty and Global Affairs, she worked to oversee all initiatives that support faculty, including recruitment, promotion and retention of faculty and other areas that relate to a professionalized faculty and career progression. Additionally, she oversaw FIU Global, which centralizes the university’s global initiatives in regards to planning, facilitating, coordinating and initiating partnerships with international institutions and organizations.
Dr. Newman joined FIU as Director of the School of Public Administration in 2006. She subsequently served as Chair of the Department of Public Administration before joining the Dean’s office at the College of Arts & Sciences in January 2013 as Senior Associate Dean and subsequently as Vice Dean. Her successful academic career includes appointments at the University of Illinois Springfield and at Washington State University Vancouver. Prior to her career in academia, Newman served with the Australian Foreign Service, the U.S. Department of State, and the World Bank, including tours of duty in France, Viet Nam, Senegal, Malaysia, and Republic of Singapore.
Dr. Newman is recognized as one of the leading experts in the field of public management and the emotive aspects of work. Dr. Newman’s books have won numerous awards. Her impact on the field and contributions to the profession have been recognized by a series of awards, such as the Lifetime Achievement in Public Human Resources Scholarship Award of the American Society for Public Administration; and the O.P. Dwivedi Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Advancement of Public Administration and Public Policy in the World of the International Association of Schools and Institutes of Administration.
Dr. Newman is past Chair of the Commission on Peer Review and Accreditation of the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs and Administration (NASPAA); Past President of the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA); and a Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA).
Jacqueline Nusz, M.A. (Florida International University)
Jacqueline Nusz is an alumna of both the undergraduate and graduate programs at Florida InternationalUniversity. She recently returned to Miami where she joined FIU Online as an Instructional Designer tocollaborate with instructors and utilize her experience of teaching in a classroom to create dynamic andaligned courses online. After graduating with a Master’s in History from FIU, she relocated to New YorkCity where she was awarded the New York City Teaching Fellowship. She continued to teach in the cityfor several years where she developed her own Humanities curriculum aligned to common corestandards, increased Middle School English Language Art test scores approximately 20% across all threegrades, and used technology to facilitate a truly blended learning experience. Jacqueline has spentseveral summers in Europe including when she served as a program leader for American students in aPre-College program in London teaching Modern European History. Her experience teaching studentsfrom early elementary to higher education has made her passionate about student centered learningand creating an environment that fosters community, engagement, and conversation.
Lergia Olivo, M.A (Florida International University)
Lergia Olivo is an Instructional Design Manager at FIU Online, managing a team of instructional designers and collaborating with online and hybrid FIU faculty. Together, the team works to design, revise and enhance high-quality, engaging courses that meet rigorous quality standards and ensure the educational success of FIU’s diverse population of student learners. Lergia has been a part of the FIU Online team since December 2011, but a Golden Panther since 2006, holding a Bachelor of Arts in English, and a Master of Arts in Linguistics. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction from FIU’s School of Education and Human Development.
Lergia was born and raised in Miami, FL. She attended John G. DuPuis Elementary, Palm Springs Middle, and Hialeah-Miami Lakes Senior High, where she was Editor-in-Chief of the school’s Trojan Times newspaper and Band Captain in the school’s award-winning marching, jazz and symphonic bands. She plays flute, acoustic bass guitar, and piano. Lergia graduated third in the 2004 senior class.
Prior to beginning her employment with FIU Online, Lergia worked for Miami-Dade Police Department, where she was directly responsible for creating and deploying computer-based training to more than 5,000 police and civilian departmental employees. She also has experience working for the game presentation departments at Hard Rock Stadium, BB&T Center and Marlins Park, producing exciting graphics and animations for use on their in-house entertainment video boards.
Outside of work, Lergia spends time reading–novels of every genre, nonfiction, and even textbooks–there’s always something new to learn. Lergia also enjoys watching college and professional sports with her husband and son.
Valerie Patterson, Ph.D. (Florida International University)
Valerie L. Patterson is a Clinical Professor in the public policy and administration program at Florida International University (FIU). She received a Ph.D. in public administration from Florida International University in 1995 and is a lifetime member of its Alumni Association. She is the current director of FIU’s African & African Diaspora Studies program. She serves as affiliated faculty with FIU’s Center for Women’s and Gender Studies. In June of 2020, Dr. Patterson was appointed as one of three chairs of FIU’s Equity Action Initiative.
Her most recent research examines post racial performance of race, gender and policing in majority -minority communities. She is the co-chair of the Graduate Certificate in Human Resource Policy and Management offered by the Public Policy and Administration program and teaches several of the graduate courses in the certificate, including Human Resource Policy and Management, Administration and the Role of Women, Government and Minority Group Relations and Applied Organization Theory and Behavior.
She has published in Public Voices, Public Performance & Management Review, Public Personnel Management and several other journals. Her guest-edited symposium Locating/Deconstructing Ways of Performing Government in the age of Excessive Force, Hyper-Surveillance, Civil Disobedience, and Political Self-Interest – Lessons Learned in a “Post-Racial” America symposium, was published in Public Voices (Fall, 2018) .
Many of her panel presentations have focused on ethics, women in administration, diversity and hip-hop culture. She has presented before the Leadership Training Institute of the National League of Cities, International Trade and Finance Association, Florida Association of Black Faculty and Staff, Florida Association of Women in Education, Conference of Minority Public Administrators, Florida Women in Government, Center for Nonprofit Management, National Forum for Black Public Administrators, the Foundation for Democracy in Africa and numerous other organizations and groups.
In January 2013, Valerie was the fifth honoree inducted into the Martin Luther King Hall of Fame at Florida International University. In 2013 she was also honored by the ASPA South Florida chapter for Outstanding Service Excellence and received the Tendaji Award from FIU’s Black Student Union.
Amy Paul-Ward, Ph.D. (University of California, Los Angeles)
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.
Randy Pestana, M.S. (Florida International University)
Randy Pestana serves as a Policy Analyst at FIU’s Jack D. Gordon Institute for Public Policy, where he is tasked with coordinating the Academic-Defense partnership with U.S. Southern Command. Mr. Pestana specializes in International Relations with major focuses on U.S. Foreign Policy and Security Studies. The majority of his work has been linked to Governance and Security in Latin America and the Caribbean, with a particular focus on transnational organized crime, terrorism, rule of law, and gangs. Mr. Pestana has numerous publications on U.S. foreign policy, military-to-military engagement, drug trafficking, organized crime, and terrorism and has assisted in countless publications for both academic and defense purposes related to U.S. foreign policy and national security. Mr. Pestana has expansive presentation experience in both academic and defense settings including presentations for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Southern Command, and the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, and at major conferences throughout the country. Mr. Pestana also serves as an Adjunct Professor for FIU’s Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs where he teaches Politics of Central America, and for FIU’s Honors College where he teaches Research Methods and Honors Introduction and Leadership Seminar.
Prior to joining the Gordon Institute, Mr. Pestana served as a Policy Analyst at FIU’s Applied Research Center and as a Research Assistant for FIU’s Kimberly Green Latin American and Caribbean Center where he worked on projects for U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. Department of State. He served as both an intern and coordinator for U.S. Department of State’s Diplomacy Lab project where he focused on Prison Violence in Latin America and the Caribbean, and Judicial Reform in Latin America and the Caribbean. Prior to joining FIU, Mr. Pestana attended the Platoon Leader’s Course in Quantico, Virginia for the United States Marine Corps where he received a favorable evaluation and top five ranking by his peers as a Candidate Platoon Sgt., and served as a recruiting assistant for the USMC in Miami, Florida where he helped train recruits prior to their departure to basic training. Mr. Pestana holds a M.A. in Latin American and Caribbean Studies with a Graduate Certificate in National Security Studies from FIU. He is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in International Relations at FIU.
Angela T. Puentes-Leon , J.D. ( University of Miami)
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.
- 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)
Umer Rahman, M.A. (Florida International University)
Umer Rahman holds a Bachelors of Arts (Phi Beta Kappa – Summa Cum Laude) in International Relations and Geography and Master’s of Arts in Asian Studies from FIU. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in International Relations at FIU with a focus on Modern South Asian history and historiography; security studies, postcolonial theory and trans-cultural studies. His primary research emphasis is on Pakistan and the multiplicity of identities and narratives of existence in modern times. Umer has taught undergraduate courses at FIU’s Honors College where he was inducted as a fellow in 2014. He has also taught courses through Asian Studies Program and Politics and International Relation (PID) Department. As an FIU Administrator, Umer is leading the implementation of FIU’s award winning workforce development initiative, Urban Potential Labs (UP Labs). This program prepares underemployed, non-BA residents for middle-skills careers in high demanding industries. The idea is to bring together industry partners with FIU’s dynamic pool of faculty and cross-units collaboration and provide ‘just in time’ workforce (South Florida residents) for ever changing job market.
Sharan Ramaswamy,Ph.D. (University of Iowa)
Sharan Ramaswamy completed his PhD in 2003 at the University of Iowa in Biomedical Engineering. As an NIH-post-doctoral fellow, Dr. Ramaswamy engaged in research at the interface of cartilage tissue engineering and magnetic resonance imaging microscopy. In early 2007, Dr. Ramaswamy started work as a Research Faculty in the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh, in the area of heart valve tissue engineering. In December 2009, joined the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Florida International University, Miami, FL as an Assistant Professor. Dr. Ramaswamy’s research interests lie primarily in the area of cell and engineered tissue mechanics with application in cardiovascular regenerative medicine. His laboratory, the “Tissue Engineered Mechanics, Imaging and Materials laboratory (TEMIM LAB)”, conducts both experimental and computational investigations in this area. Currently his major research goals are to integrate the various areas of his training into the differential mechano-regulation of cells towards the cardiovascular phenotype as well as the synthesis of viable engineered cardiovascular tissues, particularly, heart valves. These include: (1) tissue engineered heart valve replacement for critical congenital mitral and aortic valve disease, (2) valve repair using engineered heart valve tissues and (3) bioreactor development to create engineered cardiovascular tissue model systems to facilitate therapeutic discovery. Concurrently Dr. Ramaswamy is also working towards: (4) the elucidation of mechanobiological cellular and molecular mechanisms that are involved in the etiology of valve diseases (e.g. stenosis, calcification). Dr. Ramaswamy is a Fellow of the American Heart Association and its Council on Basic Cardiovascular Sciences. As of April 2017: Dr. Ramaswamy’s work was published in over 50 journals, book chapters and conference proceedings and he had over a 100 presentations at scientific conferences. He mentored over 30 graduate/undergraduate students at FIU in a one-to-one format (e.g. as major professor). His research was supported by the AHA and NSF.
Anthony Rionda, M.P.A. (Florida International University)
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, a Vietnam War veteran working as an interpreter and translator for the Army during the war, has been living and working in SE Asia for 13 years. He has traveled extensively through Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia. He is currently directing an NGO sponsoring the education of underprivileged Cambodian children. He has spent the last 7 years introducing people to SE Asian history and culture by acting as a guide for small groups wishing to get an inside view of the uniqueness of each country, its people, culture, and the role these countries have played in the geopolitical history of the United States, the Soviet Union and China. As the facilitator for the Honors Vietnam-Cambodia Study Abroad Program, he has introduced FIU students to the region’s beauty, cultural aspects and history through lectures, movies, literature and music. He has also supervised the service project of the program, through which students teach English to future Cambodian teachers at the teacher training college in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
José Rodriguez, Ph.D. (Florida International University)
Jose Rodriguez received his Bachelor of Science in Communication (double major psychology and communication theory) and his Master of Science in Education (with an emphasis in higher education/enrollment management) from the University of Miami. In 2018, he received his Ph.D. in industrial-organizational psychology from FIU. Dr. Rodriguez served as the assistant dean of the Honors College from 2008 to 2016 and has over 15 years of experience in higher education administration and instruction. In 2016, he joined the faculty of the Honors College to teach full time. Dr. Rodriguez’s academic and research interests intersect a number of different disciplines (psychology, sociology, anthropology, political science, history, literature, philosophy, art). In addition to teaching for the Honors College, Dr. Rodriguez has taught intercultural communication, public speaking, business communication, and study abroad courses for the Department of Communication. His research agenda is varied: stress and health in the workplace, indicators of success among college students, identity and adjustment of immigrant population, among other interests.
Cinthya Rojas, M.S. (Florida International University)
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)
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)
Dr. Barbra Roller is the Assistant Dean for Student Affairs of the FIU Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine. Dr. Roller grew up in Manhattan, attended the Bronx High School of Science and graduated from Barnard College, Columbia University, with a bachelor’s degree in Biology. She subsequently earned her Ph.D. in Biology from the University of Pennsylvania, where her research in cell physiology concentrated on membrane transport mechanisms and changes in virally infected cells. She continued her research and teaching while completing post-doctoral fellowships in the Department of Microbiology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine as well as in the Department of Human Genetics at Yale University School of Medicine. Dr. Roller has been at FIU since 1994, as a faculty member in the Department of Biological Sciences, as the Director of the Pre-Health Professions Advising Center in the College of Arts and Sciences and as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Cellular Biology and Pharmacology of the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine. She has won several FIU Faculty Senate awards for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching and Excellence in Undergraduate Advising, and is an active member of many University and College committees, as well as in the Group on Student Affairs of the AAMC.
Gustavo Roque, M.S (Florida International University )
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, M.Arch. II. (Harvard University)
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.
Pooneh Sabouri, Ph.D. (New York University)
Pooneh Sabouri is a teacher educator and researcher with a wide range of experience working with teachers across grade levels in formal and informal settings. Her research included designing STEM curriculum using Vygotskian Approach, characterizing teacher learning, and collaborating with teachers to inform and expand their teaching practices with theoretical ideas. Before joining FIU, she was a postdoctoral associate at Tandon School of Engineering at New York University. She collaborated with graduate students and teachers and designed and implemented integrated science and mathematics lessons using EV3 Lego Robotics.
Sabouri has taught undergraduate and graduate courses, including geometry, problem-solving, and science method courses. Currently, she is the project manager of STEP UP, an NSF-funded project led by Dr. Zahra Hazari focusing on mobilizing and empowering high school physics teachers across the United States (and beyond) to create culture change in physics education and inspire young women to pursue physics-related careers.
Hortensia E. Sampedro, M.B.A. (New York University)
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)
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)
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.
Ricky has been working at FIU since 2006 as an Information Technology Manager for Admissions Systems & Data Support, a department of Enrollment Management & Services. In this role, he works with all IT related matters in the admissions process.
Ricky has been teaching First Year Experience (SLS 1501) for 13 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)
Gretchen Scharnagl is a senior instructor in the Honors College and The College of Communication, Architecture and the Arts. Scharnagl is interested in the importance of creativity in all disciplines. Her work includes environmental art and action, social commentary, ephemeral art and specimen logic. She blurs the definition of author, media and what can be art through media that ranges from the common pencil, to found object, to dead animals, and the edible. Scharnagl teaches the upper level seminars, Animals that are not Animal/Humans that are not Human and FEAST.
Charles “C.G.” Shields, M.A. (University of Florida)
Prof. Charles “C.G.” Shields is a doctoral candidate (University of Florida) with a focus on American politics and a special interest in political institutions and political communication. A native of the Mountain State, he completed his B.A. in political science (summa cum laude) at West Virginia University in 2010 and his M.A. at the University of Florida in 2014. C.G.’s dissertation, “The Rhetorical Congress,” focuses on the role of framing in legislative debate and leverages large-scale computer-aided text analysis as the empirical backbone of the project. Prof. Shields began working as a visiting instructor for the Department of Politics and International Relations (PIR) in the fall of 2017 while completing his doctoral dissertation, which he plans to defend in 2020. As a graduate student, he was elected president (2014-2015) of the Political Science Graduate Student Council, and with UF Graduate Assistants United, he created the position of Communications Chair. At FIU, Shields serves as an executive committee member for the United Faculty of Florida at FIU; he also sits on the Undergraduate Studies Committee for PIR and serves as advisor to FIU’s chapter of Pi Sigma Alpha, the national political science honor society.
Fang Shu, M.S. (Florida International University)
Mr. Fang Shu is an Instructor at FIU Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, where he teaches Intro to Hospitality and Tourism Management and Accounting for the Hospitality Industry. As a previous China Programs Manager at the Chaplin School, he assisted in curriculum and program development, oversaw all initiatives that take place in China with insight on cultural knowledge, and managed the university’s relations with other academic entities within the China region.
Fang serves as the Vice Chair of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce (GMCC) Asia Committee, and also serves on the Steering Committee of the City of North Miami Chinatown Cultural Arts & Innovation District. In addition, he was selected in the second cohort of FIU Presidential Leadership Program and the first cohort of FIU Provost’s Hybrid Pilot Program.
A native of China, Fang is fluent in both Mandarin and English. Most importantly, he possesses native appreciation of Asian culture, and has a comprehensive global awareness and understanding of international high education processes and practices.
Fang enjoys working with students. His classrooms are always full of interactions and fun.
Jeanette Smith, Ph.D. (Florida International University)
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)
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.
James M. Sutton, Ph.D. (Yale University)
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)
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)
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)
Allen Varela is the Senior Coordinator of Academic Support Services of the Honors College. He received his Master of Science in Higher Education Administration, Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, and Minor in Criminal Justice from Florida International University. Allen Varela has at least five years’ experience as a substitute teacher with the School Board of Broward County and City of Pembroke Pines. He came to FIU Honors College in 2013. In 2014, he directed the Fourth Annual Florida Undergraduate Research Conference, which had over 1000 in attendance including recruiters from across the nation. In 2015, he directed the Florida Collegiate Honors Council Conference at Miami Airport Marriott Hotel. In 2016, he presented at the 2016 Florida Statewide Symposium on Engagement in Undergraduate Research. In 2017, he presented at the Honors Education at Research Universities Conference on Engaging Student Groups in a Fully-Online Course. He is the director of the Conference for Undergraduate Research at FIU. Currently, he oversees the Advanced Research and Creativity in Honors Program.
Connie M. Viamonte, Ph.D. (Florida International University)
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)
Christina Vilaboa-Abel is partner and co-founder of CAVA Law, LLC. Her practice encompasses the areas of debt litigation and negotiation, real estate litigation and transactions, bankruptcy, and creditor rights representation. Christina is admitted to practice in Florida, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida and the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and History, with a focus on National Security Studies from Florida International University. Ms. Vilaboa-Abel thereafter earned her Juris Doctor from Florida International University College of Law. Ms. Vilaboa-Abel is actively involved with the South Florida community, earning recognition from the Southern District of Florida for her pro bono contributions to debtors in need of legal assistance.
Melissa Ward, Ph.D.(Florida International University)
Melissa Ward is a Postdoctoral Associate in the Department of Epidemiology, where she manages the Research Infrastructure Core for FIU’s Research Center in Minority Institutions (FIU-RCMI). A proud FIU double-alumna and graduate of the Honors College, she earned her BA in English in 2008 and her PhD in Public Health/Epidemiology in 2017. She has worked at FIU since 2013; her prior positions include Research Analyst in the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine (HWCOM) Department of Medical and Population Health Sciences Research, as well as Research and Operations Manager for HWCOM’s Tano Medical Simulation Center.
Before working for FIU, Melissa completed her MPH in Global Health Policy at George Washington University (GW) in 2010. From 2011-2013, Melissa worked in the Department of Health Policy at GW coordinating monitoring and evaluation for the Medical Education Partnership Initiative, a $130 million international health program in 12 African countries administered by the Department of State, HRSA, and NIH. In 2010, she completed a GW Global Health Service Fellowship in the Public Health Information and GIS Unit at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. In several other research positions at GW, she provided support for projects funded by the World Bank and UNAIDS as well as multiple global health and data analysis courses.
She has published several peer-reviewed public health and educational research papers and is actively involved in service activities. She currently volunteers as a trainer for the Voter Participation Project, a non-profit which aims to improve political discourse and remove barriers to voting. From 2015-2018, she co-chaired HWCOM’s Empower to Lead Committee, which sought to create innovative leadership development sessions and forums for dialogue between HWCOM staff and faculty. Between 2009 and 2013, Melissa volunteered in the Executive Office of the President in The White House, where she analyzed health reform and foreign policy correspondence written to the President.
Amber Webber, Ph.D. (Capella University)
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 Academic Program Management 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)
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)
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.
Andi Flug Wolfer, M.A. (Farleigh Dickinson University)
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.
Michael Yawney, M.F.A. (Columbia University)
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.