Student Achievements

We are proud of our graduate and undergraduate students and their achievements. Here we highlight some of those many accomplishments. This list will change regularly so please check back often.

Earth & Environment student awarded with a prestigous scholarship from the Everglades Foundation

Jessica Lee from the department of Earth and Environment received a $5,000 scholarship from the recognized Everglades Foundation. Jessica is working with Prof. Jennifer Rehage by examining the impacts of ongoing restoration efforts on fish dynamics in the Everglades. Recreational anglers and guides will assist with fish-tagging, thus increasing their awareness and self-investment in restoration and conservation efforts.

The scholarships are awarded annually to students working on research projects related to Everglades restoration. Candidates for these highly competitive awards submit a detailed application that is assessed by the Foundation's science team. The number of scholarships awarded varies from year to year and is based upon the Foundation's budget.

Click here for more information.

Biology Department Celebrates Students' Success

Students in the Department of Biological Sciences have brought recognition to FIU through academic achievement both locally and nationally.

The fourteenth annual Biomedical and Comparative Immunology Symposium held in March addressed recent advances in understanding of diverse biological systems and phenomena, and featured faculty and student presentations.

In the "Outstanding Scientific Oral Presentations" category, Deepak Balasubramanian, a Ph.D. candidate under Dr. Kalai Mathee, took first place and Annia Mesa, a Ph.D. candidate under Dr. Rene Herrera, took second. In the "Outstanding Scientific Poster Presentation" category, Deannys Batista, a Biological Sciences major under Dr. Lidia Kos, took first place and Javier Pino, also a Biological Sciences major under Dr. Lidia Kos, took second.

Dinorah Chacin and Christopher Abin, two recent graduates of the Department of Biological Sciences and MBRS RISE fellows were awarded National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships.

Ms. Dinorah Chacin, who as an undergraduate conducted research for two years in the laboratory of Dr. Craig Layman, is presently in her first year of graduate studies at the College of Marine Science at the University of South Florida in St. Petersburg. Mr. Christopher Abin, who as an undergraduate conducted research in the laboratory of Dr. Dee Mills, is presently a graduate student in the Department of Microbiology at the University of Georgia.

Also from the laboratory of Dr. Dee Mills, Ms. Natalie Damaso has recently received a McNair graduate fellowship. As an undergraduate McNair scholar, Damaso did research in the laboratory of John Berry in the Marine Sciences Program. She is currently a graduate student in the combined Master of Science in Forensic Science Ph.D. program.

QBIC scholars have brought attention to their program, department, and university this semester:

Bryan Dewsbury, a Ph.D. candidate in Dr. James Fourqurean's lab, QBIC Head TA, and a strong undergraduate mentor, was one of twenty applicants selected as a 2012 American Society for Microbiology Biology Scholars Assessment Resident. Dewsbury will begin his residency with the Measuring Student Learning Institute at ASM Headquarters in Washington D.C.

Aneysis Gonzalez, QBIC Scholar and Biological Sciences major, has been selected by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute as a participant in the extremely competitive 2012 Exceptional Research Opportunities program (EXROP). Gonzalez will spend the summer at Stanford working with Dr. Thomas Sudhof. EXROP links the resources of HHMI's Science and Grants programs to provide selected undergraduate students with outstanding summer research experiences that encourage them to pursue careers in academic science.

Alana Van Dervort, QBIC Senior Scholar, MARC U*STAR Fellow in Dr. Stanislaw Wnuk's lab, and 2011 Howard Hughes EXROP student, has earned the 2012 Leon and Marta Cuervo Prize for outstanding academic achievement by a senior student in Biological Sciences at FIU. Van Dervort distinguished herself from hundreds of her fellow Biological Sciences graduates via stellar curricular achievements, research accomplishments, and fellowships earned.

Finally, Paulo Olivas, FIU graduate and current postdoc in Dr. Steven Oberbauer's lab, has been awarded a competitive National Science Foundation Postdoc Fellowship. Olivas will be based at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden working with Dr. Ken Feeley conducting experimental warming on Peruvian high elevation vegetation.

Congratulations to the students and faculty that have done such a fantastic job of representing FIU and the Department of Biological Sciences.

Congratulations to Pamela Pimentel and Allison Mugno.

The two Legal Psychology doctoral students were recognized in the 2012 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program competition. Pamela Pimentel was awarded the prestigious three-year fellowship for her proposal entitled, Voluntary False Confessions: Taking Responsibility to Protect Someone Else. Allison Mugno received an Honorable Mention for her proposal entitled, Children's Recantation of Adult Wrongdoing: A Laboratory Investigation. Both projects will be conducted in the FIU Department of Psychology's Development, Context, and Communication Lab under the supervision of Dr. Lindsay Malloy.

Julio Cap, Jr. achieves multiple awards and accolades

Julio Cap, Jr. is completing his doctorate degree in the Department of History at Florida International University (FIU) in Miami, with an expected graduation of Summer 2011. Cap has conducted extensive research while at FIU. The Journal of American Ethnic History published Cap's first major article, "Queering Mariel," in its Summer 2010 issue. The work explores how sexuality influenced changes in U.S. immigration policy during the late Cold War, as seen through the 1980 Mariel boatlift. The Immigration and Ethnic History Society awarded the article the 2010 Carlton Qualey Best Article Award. The work also received FIU's First Annual University Graduate School Provost Award for Outstanding Paper or Manuscript, which included a cash award of $2000. Two of his other essays have also been recognized for their originality and contribution to the field. The Cuban Research Institute at FIU awarded one of his essays the 2007 First Prize in the Graduate Research Competition in Cuban and Cuban-American Studies. He also received the runner-up prize for the Women's Studies Graduate Student Association Research Essay Competition. He has presented his research findings at major conferences. This includes the American Historical Association, Northwestern University's "Queertopia," the Cuban Research Institute Conference on Cuban and Cuban-American Studies, the Florida Conference of Historians, Phi Alpha Theta Regional Conference, and the Southeastern Women's Studies Association Conference. In addition, Cap has received numerous fellowships and grants. Besides the post-doctoral fellowships from Yale and the University of Sydney, these have included the Dissertation Year Fellowship and the Doctoral Evidence Acquisition Fellowship from FIU's University Graduate School. He also received the 2010 Joan Heller-Diane Bernard Fellowship Finalist Award from the City University of New York's Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies.

Ms. Heidi Jane Smith awarded the Fulbright-Garcia Robles Grant for the Academic year 2010-11

Ms. Smith, MPP and recent PhD candidate in Public Management, was selected for the Fulbright Garcia-Robles Grant to live and complete her dissertation research in Mexico City for the academic year 2010-11. She is researching local public finances and municipal debt capacity for the 2,454 local governments in Mexico. Furthermore she will be working as a visiting professor at Centro de Investigacin y Docencia Econmicas (CIDE), one of Mexico's most important centers of teaching and research in the social sciences. For more information please click here.

History PhD candidate, Julio Capo, publishes work in scholarly journal

"Queering Mariel: Mediating Cold War Foreign Policy and U.S. Citizenship among Cuba's Homosexual Exile Community, 1978 - 94," Journal of American Ethnic History 29, no. 4 (Summer 2010): 78-106.

Former FIU Economics Student Honored

FIU alumna Carmen Reinhart (nee Castellanos), was just featured in the Sunday, July 4, 2010 New York Times for her pathbreaking research! Her latest book, This Time is Different, (co-authored with Kenneth Rogoff) is a highly acclaimed examination of the history of economic crisis and collapse. You can read the story, They did their homework (800 years of it) here.

According to the Times, Carmen is the most influential female economist in the world. While many of you were not at FIU when Carmen was an undergraduate here, our faculty then had the same fire in the belly for their students as we do today. Carmen accomplishments are more reason to have pride in our institution and to celebrate our worlds ahead attitude in fostering student success.

Carmen was 10 when she left Cuba with her parents. She is a 1978 graduate of our Department of Economics. She credits her then professor Peter Montiel, with helping her turn the impossible into the inevitable through advice and encouragement that led ultimately to a Ph.D. at Columbia University. (Professor Montiel is now the Fairleigh S. Dickinson Jr.,41, Professor of Economics, Williams College,

She then had successive appointments in the International Monetary Fund and at the University of Maryland where she now serves as professor of economics and director of the Center for International Economics. Two of her papers have garnered over 2,000 citations each and an additional three have each been cited over 1,000 times.

PhD candidate Julio Capo has received a prestigious award in a cross-disciplinary competition

He has secured the finalist prize for the 2010 Joan Heller-Diane Bernard Fellowship in Lesbian and Gay Studies to help fund research for his dissertation, "From Subculture to Mainstream: The Transformation of Miami's Queer Urban Space, 1940 - 1980."

The award is funded by The Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies (CLAGS), which is part of CUNY.

The fellowship is open to ALL fields and awards a junior scholar (graduate student, untenured university professor or independent researcher) AND a senior scholar (tenured university professor or advanced independent scholar) to study the impact of lesbians and/or gay men on U.S.society and culture.

The finalist prize is $1250.
Congratulations Julio!

Ms. Heidi Smith-a Ph.D. student in the FIU Public Management/Public Administration Doctoral program-was awarded the Fulbright Public Policy Initiative Grant

Paola Prada, PhD Student of Dean Furton, publishes work in scholarly journal

Title: "Comparison of extraction methods for the removal of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) present in sorbents used for human scent evidence collection"

Authors: Paola A. Prada, Allison M. Curran and Kenneth G. Furton

Published in the Journal of Analytical Methods - May 2010

Former English Student Awarded Poetry Prize

Emma Trelles, MFA alumna, is the winner of the 4th edition of the Andres Montoya Poetry Poetry Prize. The prize, in conjunction with the Institute for Latino Studies, supports the work of emerging Latino/a poets. Her collection Tropicalia is forthcoming next year from the University of Notre Dame Press.

New Jobs for Economics Students

Harun Onder will start at the World Bank in their young professionals program. It is a very prestigious placement, and there is a very good group of trade scholars there. Another economics student: Dhimitri Qirjo has a post doc at the University of British Colombia. UBC is one of the two best Canadian departments and is one of the absolute best in the world for international trade. Another economics student: Tom Snyder will go to Central Arkansas and Jin Cheng has a post-doc at Copenhagen, which is a very good European business school.Overall, these fine placements, especially in a year with such a difficult market indicate what our department can do with the right students.

DYF Fellowships Awarded for Summer 2010, Fall 2010 and Spring 2011

  • Tanya Simms (Biology)
  • Jeremy Vaudo (Biology)
  • Amar Patel (Chemistry & Biochemistry)
  • Oliva Pisani (Chemistry & Biochemistry)
  • Satietou Kane (Global & Sociocultural Studies)
  • Francisco Sastre (Global & Sociocultural Studies)
  • Diane Schott (Physics)
  • Zhayda Garzon (Public Administration)

DEA Fellowships Awarded for variable amounts of time to start in Summer 2010

  • Justin Campbell (3 semesters Biology)
  • Sunda Batchu (3 semesters Chemistry & Biochemistry)
  • Tatiana Goana-Narvaez (1 semester Earth & Environment)
  • Veysel Avsar (1 semester Economics)
  • Melissa Armitage (3 semesters History)
  • Ausenda Folch (1 semester Modern Language)

Department of Biological Sciences

Graduate Student Accomplishments

December 2009/January 2010 Defense of Proposals

Robert Lowery, PhD candidate (major advisor: Dr. R. Herrera) defended his Ph.D. proposal entitled "Neanderthals and Admixture in Human Populations" this on December 4.

Seiichi Murasaki (major advisor: Dr. M. Donnelly) defended his thesis proposal entitled "Sex-Specific Patterns in Movement and Space Use of the Strawberry Poison Frog, Oophaga pumilio." on Jan 19.

Kathryn Cameron, MS candidate (major advisor: Dr. M. Heithaus) presented her thesis proposal "Regional variation in tiger shark (Galeocerdo cuvier) abundance and habitat use." on January 28.


Zayda Halun, PhD candidate (major advisor: Dr. J. Fourqurean) co-authored the following paper:

Naria Marba , Carlos M. Duarte, Jorge Terrados,Zayda Halun, Esperansa Gacia, and Miguel D. Fortes (2010) Effects of seagrass rhizozphere on sediment redox conditions in SE Asian Coastal ecosystems. Estuaries and Coast. DOI 10.1007/s12237-009-9250-0

Beth Zimmer, MS candidate (major advisor: Dr. Laurie Richardson) published the following papers:

Zimmer, B., L. Duncan, D.R. Deis, M.L. Robbart, R.B. Aronson, T. Demunda, K.J.P. Deslarzes, W.F. Precht, J. Sinclair, E.L. Hickerson, G.P. Schmahl, G.S. Boland (2009) Post-hurricane assessment of reefs and banks in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico. Proceedings of the 11th International Coral Reef Symposium, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, 7-11 July 2008: 1156-1160

Robbart, M.L., K.J.P. Deslarzes, W.F. Precht, R.B. Aronson, B. Zimmer, L. Duncan, D.R. Deis, J. Sinclair, E.L. Hickerson, G.P. Schmahl, G.S. Boland (2009) Post-hurricane assessment (Hurricane Rita, September 2005) and recovery at the East Flower Garden Bank, Northwestern Gulf of Mexico. Proceedings of the 11th International Coral Reef Symposium, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, 7-11 July 2008: 795-799

Presentations at Meetings

Paulo Olivas, PhD candidate (major advisor: Dr. S. Oberbauer) gave an oral presentation at the 2009 American Geophysical Union in December entitled “Arctic ecosystem responses to changes in water table and surface warming ASCB Annual meeting, San Diego, California.

Adriana Galvis, MS candidate; Nichole Villaverde, MS candidate and Sushmita Mustafi, PhD student (major advisor: Dr. A. Barbieri) presented the following posters at the Annual Meeting of the American Society for Cell Biology, December 5-9 in San Diego, CA.

"The Role of Rin1 Mutants in EGFR internalization and Cell Signaling" Galvis A, Zayas J, Ta T, Mustafi S, Villaverde N, Barbieri A.

"Role of Key Conserved Residues of the Vps9 of Rap6 Domain on the Function of Rab5" Villaverde N, Zayas J, Galvis A, Ta T, Velandia A, Lambright D, Barbieri A.


Elizabeth Lacey, Ph.D. candidate (major advisor: Dr. J. Fourqurean) received the Society of America grant for her dissertation field work on echinoids in Akumal, Quintana Roo, Mexico.

Kelsey Reider, MS candidate (major advisor: Dr. M. Donnelly) received an equipment grant from Idea Wild. The organization is purchasing 4 camera traps and a pair of heavy duty gloves to help support Kelsey's Master's research on mammalian effects on the La Selva herpetofauna.

Nichole Villaverde, MS candidate and Ivan Jozic, MS student (major advisor: Dr. A. Barbieri) received travels awards from the American Society for Cell Biology to attend its annual meeting in San Diego, CA, Dec5-9.

Alumni News

Nikunj Patel, Ph.D. 2009 (major advisor: Dr. O. Weeks) authored the following paper:

Nikunj S. Patel,Venkatarajan S. Mathura, Corbin Bachmeier, David Beaulieu-Abdelahad, Vincent Laporte, Ophelia Weeks, Michael Mullan, Daniel Paris (2010) Alzheimer's β-amyloid peptide blocks vascular endothelial growth factor mediated signaling via direct interaction with VEGFR-2. Journal of Neurochemistry. 112, 66-76.

Elena Pinto-Torres, MS 2004 (major advisor: Dr. S. Koptur) published the following paper:

Pinto-Torres, Elena and Koptur, S. 2009. Hanging by a coastal strand: breeding system of a federally endangered morning-glory of the south-eastern Florida coast, Jacquemontia reclinata. Annals of Botany 104 (7): 1301-1311.

Heather Gamper, MS 2004 (major advisor: Dr. S. Koptur) published the following paper:

Gamper, Heather A. and S. Koptur. 2010. Honeydew foraging by birds in tropical montane forests and pastures of Mexico. Journal of Tropical Ecology 26: 1-7.

Yuria Cardel, PhD 2004 (major advisor: Dr. S. Koptur) has the following paper in press:

Cardel, Yuria and S. Koptur. 2010. Effects of florivory on the pollination of flowers: an experimental field study with a perennial plant. Int. J. Plant Sci. 171(3):000–000.

Laura May-Collado, PhD 2007 (major advisor: Dr. D. Wartzok) has the following paper in press:

Agnarsson, I., Kutner, M., and L. J. May-Collado. Dogs, cats, and kin: a near species-complete phylogeny of Carnivora. In press. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution.

Julissa Roncal, PhD 2005 (Major Advisor:Â David Lee) won a Marie Curie Intraeuropean Fellowship, part of the European Commission FP7 People Program. This is a 2-year grant (230,000 Euros) to work at the

Institut de Recherche pour le Developpement (IRD) in Montpellier, France.

Recent Graduate Achievements: Fall 2009 DEA & DYF Selections

The University Graduate School is happy to inform the FIU community that the below mentioned candidates were selected for either a DEA (Doctoral Evidence Acquisition) or DYF (Dissertation Year Fellowship). Please join us in congratulating the following nominees awarded accordingly.

Fall 2009, Doctoral Evidence Acquisition (DEA)

Last name First name Department Major Professor
Oleas Nora Biological SciencesDr. Javier Francisco-Ortega
Kane Safietou Global and Sociocultural Studies Dr. Liliana Goldin
Dauer Quinn History Dr. Mark Szuchman
Granados Carlos Physics Dr. Misak Sargsian

Fall 2009, Dissertation Year Fellowship (DYF)

Last Name First Name Department Major Professor
Lewis Jennifer Biological Sciences Dr. Douglas Wartzok
Diaz Patricia Chemistry and Biochemistry Dr. Jose Almirall
Chen Jing Economics Dr. Peter Thompson
Onder Harun Economics Dr. Richard Chisik
Gangopadhyay Monalisa Global and Sociocultural Studies Dr. Gail Hollander
Gomez Jorge International Relations Dr. Felix Martin
Espinoza Maria Modern Languages Dr. Maida Watson

The students above are in the College of Arts & Sciences (CAS), which is why they are featured here. There were additional students not listed here, but were in other colleges.

Recent Undergraduate Achievements

Jose Alberte received an Outstanding Service Award from the Department of Biological Sciences.

Myron Evans (Kos lab) received a Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) Undergraduate Student Training in Academic Research (U*STAR) scholarship.

Diana Morlote Triana (Herrera lab) received the Marta Montiel de Cuervo Prize for outstanding academic achievement by an undergraduate student in the Biological Sciences.

Juan Pablo Perea (laboratory of Sian Evans at the Monkey Jungle) received a National Science Foundation (NSF) Research Experiences for Undergraduates award.

Marianne Goodwin (Noriega lab) received an award for the best oral presentation at the 2009 FIU Tri-Beta Undergraduate Life Science Research Symposium.