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Yi Liao, Ph.D.

Photosensitive Phenom

Dr. Yi Liao received his B.S. in Chemistry from Nankai University, China, and his Ph.D. from University of Massachusetts. He conducts research in photochemistry and develops smart materials that alter their properties under light. What he enjoys most about doing chemistry in Florida is the sunshine. It’s probably because his lab is often in the dark due to the photosensitive stuff he works on. Sometimes you’ll can find him and his students sitting outside of the Olin Physical Science Building, staring at a test tube under sunshine, hoping something will happen. The photosensitive molecules he discovered have been used by research groups around the world to develop smart photoresponsive materials and novel devices. His research has been funded by National Science Foundation and Department of Defense. Dr. Liao teaches General Chemistry, Polymer Chemistry and Electronic Materials courses. He encourages students to ask questions in the class. He always says “no question is a bad question”. His office is always open to the students who need help.

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Hakeem Oluseyi, Ph.D.

Space Investigator

Dr. Hakeem Oluseyi, who received B.S. degrees in Physics and Mathematics from Tougaloo College and his Ph.D. in Physics from Stanford University, is an Assistant Professor of Physics and Space Sciences in the College of Science. A multidisciplinary astrophysicist, he utilizes plasma diagnostics, computational modeling, observational astrophysics and instrumentation development. Dr. Oluseyi works with students on solar wind research and exploring the composition of our galaxy and universe. It appears galaxies impose quite a conundrum when it comes to falling in line with the basic laws of physics due to incomprehension of what dark matter really is. His work has enabled him to establish seven patents, claim multiple publications and receive professional accolades. Dr. Oluseyi's honors include the Excellence in Teaching Award, the Technical Achiever of the Year Award for Physics and the Distinguished Dissertation. He is also a Scientific Advisory Board Member for the Discovery Channel. Additionally, Dr. Oleuseyi won a prestigious NASA $300,000 Earth-Sun Science New Investigator research award. Dr. Oluseyi's is not only passionate about exploring the fundamentals of our universe but also increasing diversity in astrophysics students.

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Marcus Hohlmann, Ph.D.

Particle Man

Dr. Marcus Hohlmann earned his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, an M.S. from Purdue University, and a Diplomphysiker degree from RWTH Aachen, Germany. He is currently an associate professor of physics. Dr. Hohlmann and his students build and operate advanced gaseous particle detectors using Gas Electron Multipliers (GEMs). The GEMs can detect nuclear contraband in cargo when used in a muon tomography system that can indicate the presence of uranium or plutonium, the key ingredients for nuclear bombs. This research has real life applications that potentially benefit the US Department of Defense and Homeland Security in their fight against terrorism. Dr. Hohlmann and his students were once invited to Capitol Hill to present their research and make a case for the importance of government funded research during a “Posters on the Hill” session. He is a charter member of the RD51 collaboration and is working on  the CMS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.

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Rich Griffith, Ph.D.

Human Lie Detector

Richard Griffith received his B.A. from Youngstown State University and his M.A. and Ph.D. from University of Akron. Currently, he is a professor of industrial organizational psychology, a program he founded at Florida Tech. Griffith and his students focus on studying the psychology of applicant faking behavior. Griffith and his Applicant Response Behavior Research team are utilizing over 20,000 applicants for a Fortune 500 company as subjects. The team's research will provide valuable information to companies whose applicants have found ways to optimize their personality scores in order to land a job. He has authored over 75 publications and presentations in the area of selection and is the co-editor of the book A Closer Examination of Applicant Faking Behavior. Griffith's work has been featured in Time Magazine and The Wall Street Journal. When he isn't solving intellectual puzzles with his students, you can catch him rocking out on the guitar in his punk-surf band.

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Daniel Batcheldor, Ph.D.

Supermassive Scientist

Dr. Daniel Batcheldor earned his B.S and Ph.D. in astronomy and astrophysics from the University of Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom. Supermassive black holes lie at the heart of Dr. Batcheldor's research. These exotic objects, whose masses can reach billions of times that of the Sun, have been observed at, or near, the centers of galaxies and provide important clues to the ways galaxies evolve. His passion for such titans is shared with his physics and space sciences students in the classroom and on the observation deck. Each month, Dr. Batcheldor engages his students, and the local community, with astronomy and astrophysics through enlightening lectures and star-gazing sessions. Most nights, you can catch Dr. Batcheldor and his students on top of the roof of the Olin Physical Sciences Building peering through the Ortega Telescope, the most research active telescope in Florida. He is also leading research efforts to develop of the next generation of astronomical detectors that are likely to be used onboard the space-based telescopes of the future.

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Joel Olson, Ph.D.

Mr. Microscope

Dr. Joel Olson received his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison after serving in the U.S. Navy. He is currently an associate professor of chemistry and previously held an industrial position at EcoLab, Inc. Dr. Olson and his students use scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) to investigate solid surfaces at the atomic level. This technology is also instrumental in the exploration and applications of nanotechnology, which is the manipulation of matter on an atomic and molecular scale. Dr. Olson’s research is at the crossroads of chemistry, physics and molecular biology and provides a diverse understanding of how these disciplines are intertwined. When Dr. Olson isn’t behind the lens, he enjoys playing the guitar, hunting and learning about military history.

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Robert J. Weaver, Ph.D.

Surf Researcher

Dr. Robert J. Weaver received his B.S. in mathematics and a minor in physics from the University of North Carolina. He went on to the University of Florida to earn both his Master of Science and then his Ph.D. in Coastal and Oceanographic Engineering. Since his arrival at Florida Tech, he built an exciting coastal engineering research program that focuses on eco-engineering and high resolution circulation modeling. Dr. Weaver’s love of surfing led him to also create a Surf Engineering Analysis course. This course teaches students about field data collection as well as the basics of time series data analysis. He’s also spearheaded the formation of the Indian River Lagoon Research Institute with the support of faculty and administration. The Institute is focused on researching engineering solutions to coastal water quality, committed to the restoration and sustainable management of the Indian River Lagoon. Areas of current research include coastal flooding, coastal transport, coastal lagoon water quality, 2D and 3D circulation modeling, and nearshore processes. His teaching style is to engage students, bringing hands-on learning and excitement into the program.

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Hamid Rassoul, Ph.D.

Captain Lightning

Dr. Hamid K. Rassoul, a veteran space physicist, joined Florida Tech following post-doctoral research fellowships at two major universities, and then at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville. Driven by dreams of space travel, he graduated from the University of Texas with a PhD in space physics. Dr. Rassoul worked for NASA on the construction of a state-of-the-art Imaging Spectrometric Observatory that ultimately made the trip to space for him aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis (STS-45). His current research interests include x-ray and gamma-ray emissions produced by thunderstorms and lightning, initiation and propagation of lightning and electrical discharges, terrestrial gamma-ray flashes, solar modulation of galactic and anomalous cosmic rays, and instrument development. He is a co-discoverer of x-ray emissions from lightning that has had profound importance in atmospheric sciences. Dr. Rassoul serves as the Dean of Science at Florida Tech. If you’re lucky enough to be in one of his classes, you will be learning to think like a true physicist with the ability to reason qualitatively and quantitatively about physical processes.

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Syed Murshid, Ph.D.

Fiber Optic Communicator

As a professor in electrical and computer engineering, Dr. Murshid serves both industry and academia. He is a dedicated teacher with a love and passion for education. He teaches and mentors the next generation of student scientists and engineers with the goal of instilling a desire to become the best they can be. Dr. Murshid works very hard to cultivate, through focused efforts and sustained labor, the work ethics in his students which will provide them with the confidence to become the best. His students work hard and they are challenged to excel. His treasures include: mails, notes, and comments from past students stating that his endeavors were critical to their successful careers. His research activities revolve around optics and photonics. His research focus lies in fiber optic communications where he is credited with adding two new degrees of photon freedom to optical fiber multiplexing. His students closely work with him on these endeavors and nearly a hundred of his patents, patent disclosures and publications list his students as his co-inventors and co-authors.

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Andrew Palmer, Ph.D.

Planet Planner

Chemical Ecology and Astrobiology are the driving themes of research in Dr. Palmer’s lab. Whether it is developing a plan for growing food on a future Mars Colony or deciphering the chemical signals exchanged between living things, his research is at the intersection of chemistry and biology. His students are as likely to be in the greenhouse as they are in front of a mass spectrometer in the chemistry department. Dr. Palmer’s major area of research is ‘quorum sensing’, a mechanism by which bacteria coordinate both good and bad behaviors. A Florida native, Dr. Palmer grew up in St. Augustine. He received a B.A. from Florida State University in Biochemistry, a PhD in Biomolecular Chemistry from Emory University and then did an NIH postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His teaching style reflects his interdisciplinary research program, using the solid foundation of chemistry and physics our students develop to explain concepts of biology. Class discussion and developing communication skills are also key elements of his courses. 

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Vanessa Edkins, Ph.D.

Juror Justifier

Dr. Vanessa Edkins, who received her B.S. degree in Psychology from Brandon University and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Social Psychology from University of Kansas, is an Assistant Professor of Forensic Psychology in the College of Psychology and Liberal Arts. Aside from her teaching experience, Dr. Edkins has acted as a reviewer for journals, textbook companies, and conferences. She has also constructed online courses and instructor manuals within her areas of expertise. Dr. Edkins' primary research interest is the intersection of psychology and the legal system, especially as it pertains to jurors. She has assessed juror decision making models and constructed a juror attitude questionnaire to predict how jurors will react to various aspects of a trial. Her most recent research program focuses on the topics of plea bargaining and discrimination in both the criminal and civil justice systems; Dr. Edkins has published research demonstrating that defense attorneys will attempt to negotiate better deals for Caucasian clients than for African American clients. She is currently investigating plea bargaining from the viewpoint of the accused as well as case factors affecting bargains in Florida criminal cases. Dr. Edkins also assists The FBI's Behavioral Sciences Unit and The Academy Group with various research projects including the analysis of hostage-taker motivations and the relationships that convicted child molesters have with their respective wives/girlfriends. Dr. Edkins's is not only passionate about exploring the fundamentals of our world but also in increasing diversity-related awareness in psychology students.

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Deborah Carstens, Ph.D.

Success Strategist

Dr. Carstens received her B.S. in business administration and her Ph.D. in industrial engineering from the University of Central Florida and her MBA from Florida Tech. Dr. Carstens focuses her research on the optimization of human and system performance in terms of usability, safety and efficiency. She also has a background in information security research. Dr. Carstens was a NASA Kennedy Space Center employee for over ten years, working both in the field of project management and human factors research. As an engineer, her focus was to apply human factor principles to improve processes and systems affiliated with several KSC programs such as the shuttle, payloads, and future spaceport operations. 

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Alan Leonard, Ph.D.

Microbial Growth Guru

Dr. Alan Leonard is a professor of Biological Sciences and received his Ph.D. from Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York. He is interested in the genetic regulation of cell growth and the complex molecular machinery that is required. His NIH-funded research is strongly focused on the control of bacterial chromosome replication, a mechanism that is similar in all types of cells. Understanding these regulators is not only a basic goal for cell biologists, but the studies in bacteria may lead to the identification of new targets and designs for antibiotics. Dr. Leonard teaches a general undergraduate course in Microbiology, as well as graduate courses in Cancer biology, Microbial biotechnology, and Prokaryotic cell growth regulation. His goals for the undergraduate course are to make students aware that microbes impact every aspect of their lives, and to share his fascination with these organisms in hands-on lab classes and lectures that are both informative and entertaining. Dr. Leonard’s research students have the opportunity to present their work at scientific conferences and are co-authors on manuscripts.

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Nasri Nesnas, Ph.D.

Vision and Brain Chemist

Professor Nasri Nesnas received his Ph.D. from Columbia University in New York, and has been an integral member of the faculty during Florida Tech’s growth period since 2002. He introduced a graduate program in biochemistry and designed multiple graduate courses, including natural products and bioorganic chemistry. His teaching style integrates simple analogies, and actively engages students by relating chemistry to things familiar to them.  His lectures highlight how chemistry is built on the foundations of mathematics and physics, and how it explains the biological world around us. Dr. Nesnas received funding from the National Science Foundation to develop nano-sensors based on human vision and established global collaborations on various aspects of vision. He also received an award from the National Institutes of Health to develop molecules that absorb light and enable the mapping of the brain. Dr. Nesnas actively involved over 60 students and scholars in research, including visiting professors, graduate, undergraduate, and high school students. He was recently a guest professor at Caltech and continues collaboration with two professors on discovering the marvels of silicon’s chemistry.

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Steven Lazarus, Ph.D.

Meteorology Genius

Dr. Steven Lazarus is highly involved in the study of atmospheric sciences and is a member of the American Meteorological Society, the Florida Academy of Sciences and the Global Geophysical Union. Before coming to Florida Tech, Dr. Lazarus worked with Dr. Theodore Fujita, the creator of the Fujita Scale of tornado strength.  While pursuing his post-doctorate research at the University of Utah, he performed real-time weather analysis for the 2002 Winter Olympics that were held in nearby Salt Lake City. Dr. Lazarus is both an active reviewer and writer of research-based journal articles; to date, he has reviewed more than 20 articles and proposals to and published a dozen of his own in multiple journals. Some of his other areas of interest include climate change and hurricanes, coastal meteorology and terrestrial gamma ray flashes/thunderstorms. Dr. Lazarus is a adventurous professor with great insight about the field of meteorology. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Oklahoma.

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Jose Martinez-Diaz, Ph.D

Behavior Analysis Guru

Dr. Jose Martinez-Diaz, BCBA-D, is founder and Associate Dean of the School of Behavior Analysis at Florida Institute of Technology and he is also Special Assistant for Program Development. He is also CEO of ABA Technologies, Inc. and is an adjunct professor at Penn State's Department of Special Education.

Jose served as an officer and board member of the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) for seven years and is now Senior Consultant for the BACB. Jose also serves as member of the Board of Directors for the Association of Professional Behavior Analysts (APBA). He also is a member of Florida’s Behavior Analysis Peer Review Committee. Jose is a past president of the Florida Association for Behavior Analysis, which awarded its highest honor, the Charles H. Cox Award for Outstanding Service and Advancement of Behavior Analysis in Florida in 2005.

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Nakin Suksawang, Ph.D.

Structural Expert

Dr. Nakin Suksawang is an associate professor of Civil Engineering and Construction Management. He received all his B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Civil Engineering with an emphasis in Structural Engineering from Rutgers University. He has many years of teaching and research experience in structural engineering, construction materials, and structural condition assessment. He is also a licensed professional engineer with lots of real world experience. When you arrive at Florida Tech, Dr. Suksawang will be one of the first professors you’ll experience in your freshman year as he teaches Introduction to Civil Engineering. His courses emphasize hands-on and minds-on instruction to actively engage students using physical models to explain difficult engineering concepts. He also likes to use various team-building activities (such as the game “minute to win it”) to help students work together and become more effective and productive as a team. Dr. Suksawang goals as an educator are to foster critical thinking, facilitate the acquisition of life-long learning skills, and prepare students to think like an engineer.

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David Fleming, Ph.D.

Crash Test Smarty

Dr. David Fleming earned his B.S. from MIT and a Ph.D. from the University of Maryland. Currently, Dr. Fleming is an associate professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering, with his research concentration on structural analysis, specifically that of  composite materials and aerospace structures. Brace yourselves; He is also the coordinator for the Florida Tech Structural Mechanics Laboratory where he and his students test the crash behavior of vehicles and the computer modeling of structures under crash conditions. Dr. Fleming and his students are involved in the development of design concepts for lightweight space structures.  He is the student advisor for the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Florida Tech student chapter which has received a multitude of awards over the years. 

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Michael Freund, Ph.D.

Electrochemistry Expert

Dr. Freund’s research involves fundamental electrochemistry and its application in sensing, electronics and energy conversion. His academic career has included positions at Lehigh University, the Beckman Institute at Caltech and the University of Manitoba where he was Professor and Tier 1 Canada Research Chair. During his career, he has developed an educational approach that exposes students at all levels to hands on research in the laboratory that prepares them for strong, independent careers in science and engineering. In this manner, he has trained over 55 students and researchers in his laboratory who have gone on to careers in industry, government laboratories and academia. The research by Dr. Freund and his group members has resulted in innovative discoveries including the development of one of the first sensor arrays modeled after the mammalian olfactory system; the development of unique conducting polymer sugar sensors; and the introduction of new membranes for artificial photosynthesis. This work has appeared in over 100 articles, has been cited nearly 3,000 times and has resulted in 27 issued US patents. 

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Anna Montoya, M.A.

Spanish Profesora

Ms. Montoya is the lead Spanish instructor in the School of Arts and Communication and has been teaching at Florida Tech since 2002. She received her Master's from Middlebury College and her Bachelor's from the University of Central Florida.  Additionally, she completed ACTFL (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages) Oral Proficiency Interview Tester Training, and has used that expertise to tutor Spanish Education majors who seek to achieve the Advanced-Low level requirement for student teaching or state certification. A native of Miami, Florida, she grew up listening to Spanish for several years in late childhood before studying it in school and college. That experience facilitated her acquisition of the language's sound and grammar system. In her classes, she strives to bring the benefits of a primary emphasis on listening comprehension of practical, high-frequency words and phrases through conversation and repetition. As students increase their understanding of the spoken word, they begin to read more written texts, culminating at the end of the semester with the reading of a short novel made for learners. 

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