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Wanfa Zhang, Ph.D.

Political Expert

Dr. Wanfa Zhang is an internationally known expert on world politics. An associate professor of political science in the School of Arts and Communication, his research focuses on great power politics and quantitative study of interstate conflict. A popular guest speaker on international and Chinese politics in the United States and China, Dr. Zhang has also chaired best-paper award committees and is a sought-after reviewer for esteemed academic journals. He earned his PhD in political science from the University of Alabama in 2009. Previously he taught at the prestigious China Foreign Affairs University in Beijing. He believes that challenging the conventional thinking of his students and getting them to think critically are vital to his teaching. He constantly involves his students in his research projects so that they acquire not only direct understanding but also hands-on experiences of social scientific research. Currently he is conducting an ambitious decade-long research project tracing college students’ perception of good governance and the redistribution of power in the international system in the 21st century.

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Abram Walton, Ph.D.

Innovation Mastermind

Do you want to change the world? Do you want to understand the thought process behind your favorite companies like Apple and Tesla? Want to be the next Steve Jobs or Elon Musk? Join Dr. Abe Walton, as he teaches you the tools to build the next unicorn. Dr. Abram Walton specializes in strategic innovation and new product development. His learn-by-doing approach will enable you to not simply regurgitate definitions from a textbook but he will give you the opportunity to get your hands dirty. He will push you and aid in your critical thinking as you develop use cases for the next revolutionary product. He has worked with Fortune 100 firms and managed companies with $100 million in revenue. His work has resulted in millions in external investment and over $500 million in new revenues. He is the founding Director of the Center for Lifecycle and Innovation Management at Florida Tech. He is also one of the founding members of the International Association of Innovation Professionals where he helped to define and maintain the global standard for innovation strategy. 

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Jessica L. Wildman, Ph.D.

Organizational Researcher

Dr. Jessica L. Wildman (Wildones) earned her PhD from the University of Central Florida, and is now an Assistant Professor in the Industrial Organizational Psychology program and the Research Director of the Institute for Cross Cultural Management at Florida Tech. She is also the Vice President-Conference Coordinator of the Interdisciplinary Network for Group Research. Her research and teaching interests include interpersonal trust dynamics, multicultural/global work issues, and teams in the workplace. Her awesome student research team, the Relationship and Interaction Optimization in Teams (RIOT) lab, has recently been studying how and why individuals in teams share leadership. Dr. Wildman has conducted organizational research for clients including the Office of Naval Research, NASA, and large multinational companies, and uses these experiences as engaging examples in her interactive, discussion-based classes. Dr. Wildman was also recently awarded an early career grant from the Army Research Institute to examine the development, violation, and repair of interpersonal trust across cultures. The RIOT lab regularly showcases their research via conferences, book chapters, and journal articles.

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Kenyon Lindeman, Ph.D.

Captain Planet

Dr. Kenyon Lindeman earned his Ph.D. from the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Sciences, a M.S. at the University of Puerto Rico, and a B.S. from Florida Tech. He manages the sustainability studies major and minor programs at Florida Tech. His approach to integrating sustainability into our curricula provides students from all degree programs an opportunity to bring a systems-based, interdisciplinary perspective into their studies and careers. His several books and articles in 18 different journals focus on emerging sustainable policy issues including the science-based management of coastal lands, habitats, and fisheries affected by climate change. He started his first non-profit organization in 1989 and grew up in multiple cities between Miami and Melbourne. When not on the laptop, he surfs the central Space Coast with his family. 

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Lisa Perdigao, Ph.D.

Literary Zombie Hunter

Dr. Lisa K. Perdigao is Humanities Program Chair and Professor in the School of Arts and Communication. She received her B.A and M.A. from Boston College and her Ph.D. from Northeastern University. Her research focuses on narrative ends and beginnings, specifically the representation of death and resurrection in literature, film, television, and comics. Her first book, From Modernist Entombment to Postmodernist Exhumation (Ashgate, 2010), examines the struggle with and for closure in twentieth-century American fiction. This work has expanded into other mediums as she explores the resurrection and regeneration of narrative in film and television, including the reanimation of comics on the big and small screen. Dr. Perdigao’s combination of the historical and the contemporary keeps her students engaged in courses such as British and American Literature, Civilization, Narrative Film, Television and Popular Culture, Young Adult Fiction, The Worlds of Joss Whedon, and The Films of Christopher Nolan. She received the Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society Excellence in Teaching Award in 2005, the Kerry Bruce Clark Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2008, and the Award for Excellence in Research in 2014.

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Winston Scott

Jazztronaut

Captain Scott received his B.A. in Music from Florida State University and teaches music here at Florida Tech. His Master's degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the United States Naval Postgraduate School and honorary Ph.D.'s from both Florida Atlantic University and Michigan State University. During his naval career, he also served as a US Navy 'Top Gun' fighter pilot and test pilot and is one of three former astronaut faculty members at Florida Tech. Captain Scott embodies what it means to be a "renaissance man"; he is a black belt in Shotokan karate, plays the trumpet for several local bands-- including the all-faculty band, TWITCHY, and is an electronics hobbyist and an expert rifleman. When he isn't flying one of his Piper airplanes, you might catch him on several TV outlets. He has been featured on PBS, the Discovery Channel, Fox and NBC. Captain Scott's professional experience, community service and dynamic interests provide Florida Tech a true American hero to guide Florida Tech students and faculty. Captain Scott has spent a total of 25 days, including three spacewalks, in space on flights STS-72 and STS-87. As you can imagine, his music teaching style is "Out of this World".

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Ronaldo Menezes, Ph.D.

Network Artist

Dr. Ronaldo Menezes earned his B.S. in computer science from the University of Fortaleza in Brazil and his Ph.D. from the University of York in the United Kingdom. He lived in Ireland before moving down to sunny Melbourne, Florida and becoming an associate professor of computer science. His areas of research include swarm intelligence, complex networks, self-organization, multi-agent systems, and coordination systems. Dr. Menezes and his students study the field of complex networks and have found that they can gain a better understanding of complex phenomena such as the spread of disease, protein interaction and social relationships by utilizing computer science.  Dr. Menezes also likes to tap into the creative side of digital networks and was instrumental in bringing artistic visualizations of digital networks to Florida Tech’s Foosaner Art Museum with the “Art of Networks” exhibit. The exhibit featured ten unique visualizations representing topics like migration flows, speech cognition and the spread of social messages by thought-leaders around world. 

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Brian Lail, Ph.D.

Modern Magneto

Brian Lail received his B.S. in physics from Furman University, his M.S in physics and his M.S. and Ph.D. in electrical engineering from New Mexico State University. Lail is currently an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering with his research focused on computational electromagnetics. Lail and his students design and analyze antennas and complex structures for the detection or manipulation of electromagnetic fields. His unique ability to break down challenging subjects into manageable pieces has helped his students reach a point where they can perform independent research and start contributing to their field of study. Lail's work even gained the attention of President George W. Bush; he received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) from the Department of Defense in December 2008 at the White House.

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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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Scott Benjamin, Ph.D.

Serious Entrepreneur

Scott Benjamin brings his 25 years of industry experience alive in the classroom by engaging students in the real world application of knowledge. Scott received his B.B.A. from the University of Miami in Real Estate and Marketing and his M.B.A. and Ph.D. in Strategic Management and Entrepreneurship from the Robert H. Smith College of Business at the University of Maryland. Prior to becoming an academic, Dr. Benjamin started seven ventures in industries from real estate investment and development to medical consulting and radiation safety products. It is Dr. Benjamin's ability to combine the theoretical lessons learned throughout a student’s education with the practical application from his experiences that make the classroom come alive. Dr. Benjamin has been known to include his students in flipping houses, analyzing the purchase and sale of restaurants and evaluating value creation of new ventures that he is involved. Upon graduating, Benjamin's students are fully capable and confident to excel in the "real world".

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Semen Koksal, Ph.D.

Mathematics Mastermind

Semen Koksal received her B.S. and M.S from Middle East Technical University in Turkey and her Ph.D. right here, from Florida Tech. She believes math is the most beautiful subject elegant and integral to all scientific research. Koksal's research digs into the biological aspect of the construction and analytics of neural networks, biochemical networks and coral dynamics. Her team's work has appeared in multiple publications. Koksal is also passionate about encouraging young women to study math and pursue careers related to the field. She is heavily involved with the mentoring activities of the Association of Women in Mathematics. Koksal collaborated on the Undergraduate Biological and Mathematical (UBM) training program, a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant that funds the research of six undergraduate students annually. In 2010, two of Florida Tech's UBM students, under the tutelage of Koksal, were invited to present their research at the National Academy of Sciences Meeting in Washington, D.C. They were among just nine students nationwide selected for this honor.

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Jignya Patel, Ph.D.

Software Investigator

Dr. Jignya Patel earned her Ph.D. from the University of Memphis, and is now an Assistant Professor in the Information System program at the college of business here at Florida Tech. In the class you can find her keeping students engaged and active by giving dynamic presentations with tons of real world examples, occasionally using a flipped class room strategy, and by putting the students in “What would you do if you were the CIO of the company?” scenarios. Her research interests include both technical topics such as Software Testing and non-technical topics with managerial implications such as effective ways to integrate Information Technology into the workplace. She loves to keep herself updated on the industry’s most contemporary softwares and teach them to students to gain a competitive edge in the market upon graduation. Dr. Patel is currently actively involved in fully integrating SAP software in various courses of the information systems curriculum. Recently, she is investigating into using SAP to learn data analytics and other concepts related to analyzing big data.

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Bob Taylor, Ph.D.

Literary Leader

Robert Taylor received his B.A. and M.A. from the University of South Florida and his Ph.D. from Florida State University. Currently he is Professor of History as well as Associate Dean and Head of the School of Arts and Communication. Taylor’s research focuses on 19th- and 20th century America, the American South, Florida history, U.S. Military history, and the history of the space age. His research has led to multiple publications in academic journals and books as well as popular works. Taylor is committed to helping students deal with complex intellectual concepts and learn to grapple with difficult issues without simple answers. These skills, and the world view history and the rest of the humanities can provide, are in demand in the global economy. Taylor is a graduate of the Military Instructor Course at the U.S. Army’s Combat Studies Institute, Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He is also a recipient of the Kerry Bruce Clark Award for Excellence in Teaching and the Florida Tech Alumni Association Award.

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Hector Gutierrez, Ph.D.

Zero-G Heavyweight

Dr. Hector Gutierrez who received his B.S. degree in Applied Mathematics from Universidad Cayetano Heredia in Lima, Peru and his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from North Carolina State University, is currently an Associate Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering in the College of Engineering. He can be found with his students in the lab researching the slosh dynamics of cryogenic fuel tanks under low gravity for NASA. Dr. Gutierrez's research expands to include magnetic suspension technology for the National Science Foundation, and the electromagnetic launching for affordable, agile access to space. He was instrumental in taking the learning out of the classroom and into a zero gravity environment with the help of NASA's Facilitated Access to Space Environment for Technology Program (FAST). FAST enables students and researchers to run experiments in a Zero-G research aircraft. Students were able to collect valuable data that has been used by NASA scientists and engineers, as well as by commercial companies. This work will benchmark and validate numerical models of liquid "sloshing" inside rocket propellant tanks in microgravity. His work with his aerospace students has resulted in numerous publications and awards, including the Career award from the National Science Foundation and the Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award. Dr. Gutierrez is leading the next generation of rocket scientists through hands-on experience in and out of the lab. Next stop: Panther-G, the first FIT guided rocket with on-board automatic control. Rock On, Rocket Scientist.

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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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Heidi Hatfield Edwards, Ph.D.

Media Maven

Dr. Heidi Hatfield Edwards is a Professor of Communication and chair of the Florida Tech’s undergraduate and graduate communication programs. Her research involves communication and social issues, particularly in how the media impact society and the meaning people create around certain kinds of communications. She is currently working on a project about the interaction of online/social media and traditional media and how fake news stories gain traction in society. Dr. Edwards is committed to providing opportunities for students to get involved in real world projects through class collaborations with community organizations and a variety of practicum and internship opportunities. The communication climate is evolving and Dr. Edwards and the rest of the communication faculty provide a unique environment of small classes and portfolio enhancement opportunities students need to stay ahead of the curve. Dr. Edwards received her B.S degree in Telecommunication from the University of Florida, her M.A. in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Wisconsin, and her Ph.D. from the University of Georgia.

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Charles Bryant, DBA

World Adventurer

Now boarding for all points East, West, North, and South! Dr. Charles (Chuck) Bryant is an assistant professor of International Business who teaches International Business courses and brings years of global travel and study-abroad experience to FIT. He received his BS in Engineering from Franklin University, his MBA in International Business and his MBA in Finance from Ashland University, and his Doctorate in International Business from Cleveland State University. Dr. Bryant is an experienced study-abroad program manager and is now leading the Spain global experience for the Bisk College of Business at FIT. In the classroom, Dr. Bryant passionately engages his students and challenges them to gain a global business perspective by directly experiencing global cultures. His classroom is an interactive experience - integrating lectures, real-world exposure, online engagement, and student involvement, Dr. Bryant strives to enlighten his students to true multinational value creation in a global business environment. Dr. Bryant’s goal is to bring the real-world to the classroom, and the classroom to the real-world!

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Dan Kirk, Ph.D.

Rocket Scientist, Literally

Daniel Kirk received his B.S from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and his M.S. and Ph.D. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Currently, he is an associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering. Kirk focuses his research in three areas: rockets, combustion and blast injury, with ample opportunity for student participation in each area. Every project administered under Kirk provides unique opportunities, training and connections for Florida Tech's budding rocket scientists. Kirk and his research team have been awarded funding in excess of $3 million. This funding comes from NASA as well as the Air Force, Navy, Army, National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation. Recently, Kirk and his students completed NASA's Facilitated Access to the Space Environment for Technology (FAST) program in Houston, Texas. Out of 52 applicants for the program, Florida Tech was one of only 17 teams selected. Kirk and his students conducted experiments aboard the Zero G research aircraft. Their project explored the behavior of liquid dynamics in reduced gravity to simulate the behavior of rocket propellants in a space environment. The team succeeded in collecting valuable data, which will be used by NASA scientists and engineers, and commercial companies.

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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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