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December 2, 2022

Mariaelena Pierobon

This #FacultyFriday kicks off our School of Systems Biology (SSB) spotlight with Dr. Mariaelena Pierobon, Associate Professor, SSB. Pierobon’s research team focuses on improving treatment options for cancer patients, especially those affected by advanced disease, using a personalized approach. Personalized (or precision) medicine is built on the idea that we are different and experience diseases differently. Her team has participated in several precision medicine initiatives using molecular information to select anti-cancer treatments for patients with metastatic disease.

Along with precision medicine, the team researches how cancer cells develop resistance to treatment by changing their physical characteristics and functions, a mechanism known as lineage plasticity. They seek to use that information to identify tumors that may be prone to lineage change and then devise therapeutic strategies to prevent or reverse this aggressive cancer behavior.

As a medical doctor, Pierobon has first-hand witnessed the devastating effects cancer has on patients and their loved ones. Witnessing the power of precision medicine through her work at Mason and knowing that she has helped patients with aggressive diseases has been her most significant professional accomplishment thus far and remains the primary motivator for her daily work.

Pierobon FF

November 25, 2022

GGS Researchers

Our final #FacultyFriday of the month features Department of Geography and Geoinformation Science researchers Timothy Leslie, Matthew Rice, and David Wong. These three take an interdisciplinary approach to their research, using GIS elements like geospatial methods, remote sensing, and spatial analysis to conduct their projects.

For instance, Leslie is an urban-economic health geographer with experience in applying quantitative and geospatial methods to understand and address the influences of socioeconomic and place-based factors on outcomes and inequities across the health and economics domains.

Rice’s research team develops, implements, and tests systems for rapid reporting and assessment of navigation obstacles and looks at how quality assessment metrics, derived from remote sensing and GIS, can be applied to map-based geocrowdsourcing activities.

And finally, Wong has broad research interests, ranging from the technical areas in geovisualization, to the more social-oriented issues in spatial epidemiology. His primary research interests are spatial analysis, statistics, and population analysis, particularly in measuring segregation.

GGS FF nov 24

November 18, 2022

GGS Remote Sensing Experts

We continue our Department of Geography and Geoinformation Science (GGS) spotlight with this #FacultyFriday featuring our remote sensing experts: Professors Xianjun Hao, Paul Houser, John Qu, Donglian Sun, and Konrad Wessels.

These faculty members use remote sensing to conduct all kinds of research, such as: Hao, who uses remote sensing data analysis and applications for climate data records and climate change. Houser's research focuses on local to global land surface-atmospheric interactions, hydrology and snow. Qu’s major project focuses on the development of integrated early warning and decision-support systems for a sustainable Water-Energy-Food-Health (WEFH) Nexus. Sun uses remote sensing to track natural hazards such as floods, droughts, and hurricanes. And Wessels focuses on scaling up machine learning for image analyses, forest and savanna vegetation structure and biomass estimation.

The topic of remote sensing, also known as Earth Observation, uses imagery and data from satellites, aircraft and drones to study the Earth system and human impacts on the environment and gather geospatial intelligence. Thanks to these incredible researchers, it’s clear that our GGS Department is leading the way in remote sensing.

GGS Faculty Friday

November 11, 2022

GGS Mobility & Infrastructure Researchers

This #FacultyFriday features a handful of our Geography and Geoinformation Science researchers. Professors Taylor Anderson, Edward Oughton, Alireza Ermagun, Dieter Pfoser, and Chaowei Phil Yang all take a multi-disciplinary approach to their research, covering areas like infrastructure, mobility, urban systems, spatiotemporal data, and more.

Some of these research projects include: Anderson investigating the role of novel computational approaches that leverage spatial data science and geosimulation for urban health. Oughton developing decision-support models of digital infrastructure. Ermagun studying critical infrastructure network resilience, access, equity, and urban space-time structure, and the links between built environment, travel behavior, and social inequity. Pfoser using urban analytics to create urban mobility models. Yang working on the NSF Spatiotemporal Innovation Center to build the national and international spatiotemporal infrastructure.

While their research spans across multiple topics, all these faculty members agree that our GGS department is top tier for geoinformation research.

GGS Mobility FF

November 4, 2022

GGS AdvisorsRuixin Yang, Nathan Burtch, Maction Komwa, and Christine Rosenfeld

We kick off our Geography and Geoinformation Science Department spotlight by highlighting all our GGS advisors: professors Ruixin Yang, Nathan Burtch, Maction Komwa, and Christine Rosenfeld. These faculty members thoroughly enjoy advising students thanks to the interaction as mentors for students, the participation in engaging dialogue, building academic plans, watching students grow and blossom overtime, and seeing the student achieve their own definition of success.

Outside of advising, these professors participate in variety of research areas such as housing dynamics, hurricane intensification, climate change impact, spatial-temporal data analysis, and food systems transformation challenges. This research is driven by their passion for GGS, which extends from natural curiosity, the interdisciplinary approach of natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities, and the need for humans to live sustainably in environments across the world.

GGS Advisors Faculty Friday

October 28, 2022

Lee Solomon

This #FacultyFriday highlights Lee Solomon, Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Solomon’s research focuses on protein design in two distinct but related areas: individual proteins and protein materials. In the protein material section, his lab is developing a new type of electrically conducting protein polymer, and also developing new wound dressings and blood substitutes for traumatic injuries. In the individual protein section, they have two major focuses: design of DNA binding proteins and design of artificial kinase proteins. Together these two classes of proteins are responsible for a vast number of genetic and regulatory processes and Solomon's group hopes to use their proteins to treat genetic and metabolic disorders. Outside of chemistry, Solomon is leading a science policy program within the College of Science. This program strives to bridge the gap between scientists in the lab and those in government who administer it to the public through legislation and policies. The program is currently open and accepting students! If you are interested in making a difference in the world with your advanced scientific skillset, contact Dr. Solomon at

Lee Solomon FF

October 21, 2022

Jessica Callus

This #FacultyFriday welcomes new faculty member Jessica Callus, Assistant Professor and Undergraduate Coordinator, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Callus came to Mason thanks to the welcoming spirit of the chemistry department and access to opportunities an R1 institution provides. Her research focuses on curriculum development for general chemistry courses. More specifically, she is interested in the support of students’ development of engaging in argument from evidence to make informed decisions. Callus was drawn to chemistry during her undergraduate research experiences, which led to her passion of chemistry education. She now uses that passion to better understand how students learn chemistry and how instructors teach it. 

Jessica Callus

October 14, 2022

Sarah Ward and Patrali Banerjee

This #FacultyFriday highlights our Chemistry Club Faculty advisors, Assistant Professors Sarah Ward and Patrali Banerjee, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

Ward was a key factor in reinstating the Chemistry Club this Fall. Thanks to enthusiastic students and her positive memories from chemistry club in her undergraduate studies, the decision to advise this organization was an easy one. One of her favorite memories so far was working with the students at Mason’s Space Day, where they designed DIY lava lamps to discuss gas formation. Although a young organization, Ward is excited by the opportunities the club is already providing for students such as networking, mentorship, and spreading the fascination for chemistry.

Banerjee was not only new to Mason, but also new to the country. When Department Chair Gerald Weatherspoon approached her with the initiative to advise Chemistry Club, she knew it was an opportunity she could not pass up. Thanks to the members of the organization, she has learned more about the culture and the students in her classes. Some of her favorite moments of Chemistry Club include the formation of the organization and hearing the students speak so enthusiastically about their ideas. For any students who are interested in chemistry and the world of colors, Banerjee encourages you to join.

Ward and Banerjee

October 7, 2022

Fei Wang and Yun Yu

For this #FacultyFriday, join us in welcoming two of our newest Chemistry & Biochemistry faculty members, Fei Wang and Yun Yu.

Wang, Assistant Professor, researches the theory and computer modeling of electron and energy transfer in solar cells and light harvesting complexes. Currently, he produces simulations on supercomputers utilizing parallel computing platform. Wang sees the beauty in the fundamental laws of nature and how they are so elegantly expressed in scientific languages. The phenomena of the molecular level fascinate him- something that cannot be easily seen in our daily life but there's so much intricacy and complexity if we zoom in. By understanding these quantum effects better on the molecular level, solar cells and light harvesting devices can be better designed.

As a new member of the #MasonScience community, he is excited to be a part of the uptrend growth and to contribute to the scientific discoveries here at Mason. Wang welcomes students to join his research group, especially those in the field of chemistry, physics, or material science with a love for coding.

Yu, Assistant Professor, leads a research group with focus on the use of electrochemical methods to understand the energy conversion chemistry of low–dimensional materials. This research aims to address fundamental questions in (photo)electrocatalysis and develop new material platforms for next–generation energy applications. Yu is fascinated by the opportunities to look deeper into electrochemistry at molecular levels and explore the interplay of electrochemistry and groundbreaking materials. He believes when electricity and chemical reactions meet, amazing things happen.

Yu is continuously impressed by the diverse research programs and people’s enthusiasm here at #MasonScience and is excited to contribute to our ambition and growth as a top research institution. For any students interested in this field of research, consider joining the Yu Lab.

Faculty Friday Wang and Yu

September 30, 2022

Emily Rancourt and Kimberly Rule

This final Forensic Science #FacultyFriday features our two CSI experts: Emily Rancourt, Professor, Associate Director, and Kimberly Rule, Associate Professor, Undergraduate Coordinator.

Rancourt started at Mason as an adjunct professor while she was the Civilian Crime Scene Investigator for the Prince William County Police Department, where she investigated homicides, police involved shootings, child abuse, serial crimes, and more. Rancourt found fulfillment in being able to piece together the clues that deceased bodies would leave behind at crime scenes to bring their final moments on earth a voice. When a suspect is convicted and justice is served, she sleeps a little easier at night knowing that person will not be given the opportunity to harm anyone else.

After leaving the Prince William Police Department to onboard as a full-time faculty member and Associate Director for our Forensic Science Program in 2010, she was one of the biggest contributors to the development of the program. Rancourt helped launch both the M.S. and B.S. of Forensic Science over 10 years ago, with the vision that all faculty would have casework experience in forensic science. Thanks to this approach, our Forensic Science Program has been billed as one-of-a-kind.

Outside of the classroom, Rancourt is a wife and a mother to seven children, five of whom were adopted. After a career focused on death and murder, adoption of children in need has helped her see the beauty of a redeemed life through love and medical intervention.

Rule had walked a similar path to find herself at Mason. She began as an adjunct professor while she worked as a Crime Scene Specialist for the Prince William Police Department. As a CSI, she worked hundreds of death investigations, child abuse, sexual assault, robbery, and burglary cases. She was driven by the interest of being able to analyze evidence and deceased victims to help tell the story of what happened in the case, and ultimately to provide justice for the victim and family.

In 2011, Rule started teaching full-time and took on the role as undergraduate coordinator. As one of the first full-time faculty members in the program, she helped build and shape the curriculum and its ever-evolving development, as the Program acquired top of the line facilities such as the Crime Scene House and FARO Forensic Lab.

When she’s not teaching, Rule serves as a committee member of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences Academy Standards Board (ASB), which establishes forensic standards and guidelines in the field of Crime Scene Investigations.

FF Rancourt and Rule

September 23, 2022

Brian Eckenrode and Steven Burmeister

This #FacultyFriday highlights two of our elite Forensic scientists: Brian Eckenrode, Associate Professor, and Steven Burmeister, Associate Professor.

Eckenrode is a former research analytical chemist with the FBI’s Research Support Unit in Quantico, VA. He dedicated 23 years of his life to the FBI and went on to earn the FBI Director’s Award for Scientific Achievement. Prior to his work in the FBI, Eckenrode was the director of research at Viking Instruments, where he designed and developed fieldable instrumentation based on mass spectrometry for analytical applications in forensics, international chemical weapons treaty verification, and the environment. He directed the company’s software development team and led the design and implementation of the instrument’s automated fieldable volatile organic chemical (VOC) inlet system. At Viking Instruments, he also developed a training course for gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS).

He originally came to the Forensic Science Program as an adjunct professor but has since transitioned to a full-time role after retiring from the FBI. Mason was an easy choice for Eckenrode, with his two children being Mason alum, he was familiar with the top-tier education Mason had to offer. In the Forensic Science Program, he continues to research canines, early disease detection, human living and deceased chemistry, and field instrumentation for drug interdiction. Recently, he contributed two chapters to the book, “Canines: The Original Biosensors.” These two chapters add to the 100+ publications and presentations Eckenrode has in the field of analytical chemistry.

When he’s not in the classroom or in the lab, you can find Eckenrode playing basketball, playing lead on his electric guitar for a rock band, playing in his church's contemporary band, brewing beer, and taking long walks with his wife JoAnne of 37 years.

Burmeister spent the first few years of his career in different crime and toxicology laboratories. He later entered the FBI as a Special Agent, where he focused on explosive analysis in terrorist cases. Burmeister worked on several high-profile bombing investigations in the U.S., including the World Trade Bombing, the Oklahoma City Bombing, the Unabomber, and more. After years of holding a number of senior executive positions, he established the Terrorist Explosive Device Analytic Center (TEDAC). In this capacity, he worked with all 16 intelligence agencies to accelerate innovation and collaboration of scientific tools into operational systems.

Currently, Burmeister spends his time teaching forensic trace analysis and drone photography to aspiring scientists. He also is a part-time police officer for the George Mason Police Department.

Eckenrode and Burmeister

September 16, 2022

Kelly Knight, Mark Wilson, Georgia Williams

Today’s #FacultyFriday features our Forensic Science DNA experts. Kelly Knight, Associate Professor, is the Principal Investigator for the Mason Forensic DNA Laboratory, where they evaluate methods for low-level and low-quality DNA samples and new methods for body fluid identification. Knight uses her experience in crime and DNA labs to immerse our students in interactive activities to prepare them for field and agency work. Knowing that her contribution to the justice system has helped countless of victims is what continues to inspire her work. Georgia A. Williams, Associate Professor, currently researches ways to improve and develop new methods of DNA extraction from low-level forensic samples, such as bone. After realizing her interests in law enforcement and forensic science, she quickly discovered her passion for teaching through her lab and teaching assistant roles. Now, she continues to be inspired by her students and her contribution to the greater good of society. Mark Wilson, Associate Professor, focuses in three main areas of research: DNA extraction from bones, mixture deconvolution, and genetic genealogy. With his background in biosciences and DNA expertise, he is teaching the future generation of forensic scientists how to apply their skills to the real world. Wilson is inspired by the application of the scientific method, specifically in forensic science, since the application of justice using science is a cornerstone of a free society.

#FacultyFriday Kelly Knight, Mark Wilson, Georgia Williams

September 9, 2022

Joseph A. DiZinno

This #FacultyFriday features Joseph A. DiZinno, Associate Professor, Forensic Science Program. After practicing dentistry for approximately six years, DiZinno pursued his dreams of becoming an FBI Special Agent. Over his 22 years of service, he worked in different roles on multiple high-level cases; he went on to retire as the Director of the FBI Laboratory. DiZinno came to Mason to use his real-world forensic experience to teach aspiring forensic scientists. As the Forensic Science Research Coordinator, he continues to be inspired by the curiosity, intellect, and energy his students display on a daily basis. Thanks to his students and the advancement of science, DiZinno is driven by the need for forensic science to ensure the fair application of criminal justice. Outside of the classroom he works as the Principal Investigator on the National Institute of Justice, National Center on Forensics.

Joseph DiZinno, Faculty Friday

September 2, 2022

Mary Ellen O'Toole

#FacultyFriday features Mary Ellen O’Toole, Director, Forensic Science program. O’Toole has over 30 years of experience within the forensics industry. She grew up with a passion towards human analysis, which led her to becoming a criminal investigator. She was later recruited by the FBI as a Special Agent, where she worked on some of the most infamous cases in modern history, such as the Unabomber Case, the Green River serial Murder case, and the Zodiac Case. O’Toole came to Mason to blend her background in forensics, her passion to inspire future forensic scientists, and the drive to build our forensic science program as one of the best in the country. When she is not in the classroom or at one of our four forensic science research facilities, she spends her time as Editor in Chief of Violence and Gender, an international peer reviewed journal. Want to learn more about O’Toole and forensic science? Check out her book, “Dangerous Instincts: How gut feelings Betray Us.”

Mary Ellen O'Toole, Faculty Friday, Forensic Science

Summer 2022


Anne Verhoeven

Anne Verhoeven

May 27, 2022

Today’s #FacultyFriday features Anne Verhoeven, Associate Professor, Biology. As a biology PhD alumnus, Verhoeven’s research focuses on molecular and microbiology, specifically infectious diseases. She leads the Medical Laboratory Science Program at Mason and coordinates the undergraduate immunology lecture and lab. We also congratulate her on winning the 2022 Chair's Special Recognition Award. 


Elisabeth Epstein

Elisabeth Epstein

May 20, 2022

This week’s #FacultyFriday features Elisabeth Epstein, Assistant Professor, Biology. Epstein has made a significant impact on our biology program by reviving our introductory biology courses with an emphasis on experimental learning. The new introductory biology courses give students the tools to be informed and evidenced-based decision-makers when they inevitably face choices that intersect with biology in the future. Her goal is for students to develop a critical perspective, an understanding of the scientific method, and a curiosity about how life works. 

Daniel Hanley

Daniel Hanley

May 13, 2022

This week's #FacultyFriday features Daniel Hanley, Assistant Professor, Biology. Hanley has found a rich array of untapped questions relating to color perception and decision-making. Consequently, he leads the Hanley Color Lab, studying the function and evolution of natural colors. Specifically, the lab uses avian brood parasitism as a model system for experimentally testing decision-making in wild, untrained animals. If you want to talk birds, stop by his office at the SciTech campus.

Biology Advising Team

Biology Advising Team

May 6, 2022

#FacultyFriday highlights our Mason Biology advisors: Lorelei Crerar, Associate Professor, Malda Kocache, Professor, Charles Madden, Professor, Valerie Olmo, Assistant Professor, and Deborah Polayes, Director of Undergraduate Studies, Professor. In addition to conducting innovative research and teaching rigorous science courses, these faculty members go the extra mile to ensure our students receive the necessary support to succeed here at #MasonScience.


Vicente Notario

Vicente Notario

June 24, 2022

#FacultyFriday highlights Vincente Notario, Professor, Director, Division of Radiation Research, Co-Leader, Molecular Oncology Program, Georgetown University, Affiliate Faculty, GeorgeSquared ABS Program. Notario’s research focuses on studies of molecular mechanisms of oncogenesis and the effects of environmental chemical carcinogens and radiation on mammalian cells. Within the GeorgeSquared program, he enjoys teaching future graduate and medical students the intricacies of cells and microscopic anatomy. 

Susan Mulroney

Susan Mulroney

June 17, 2022

Today's #FacultyFriday features Susan Mulroney, Affiliate Faculty, GeorgeSquared ABS, Professor, Department of Pharmacology & Physiology, Associate Dean for Preclinical Sciences and Interdisciplinary Medical Programs, Georgetown University. Mulroney’s biomedical research focused on kidney growth and development, mechanisms of diabetic renal damage and hypertension. She now focuses her research on pedagogy, specifically for using active learning methods and technology in graduate and medical courses. She has also helped design courses on how to teach science courses effectively. While she originally went to Georgetown for biomedical research, she found her passion for teaching. This passion has transferred to her work in the GeorgeSquared program, where she has helped dozens of student cohorts achieve their educational goals. Mulroney is also co-author (with Adam Myers) of Netter's Essential Physiology, Netter's Physiology Coloring Book, and Netter's Essential Physiology Flash Cards.

Allison Tomson

Allison Tomson

June 10, 2022

Today’s #FacultyFriday features Allison Tomson, Instructor, Department of BiologyGeorgeSquared Advance Biomedical Sciences Program. Tomson has written and published multiple Anatomy and Physiology lab manuals for the Biology department. When she’s not in the classroom teaching, she performs cadaver dissections and presentations to various groups at Northern Virginia Community College. Tomson is also helping design the future cadaver lab at the SciTech campus. With GeorgeSquared being such a unique program, she’s happy to help ease students’ transition from undergrad to their graduate and medical journeys.

Robin Couch

Robin Couch

June 3, 2022

This week’s #FacultyFriday features Robin Couch, Associate Professor, Chemistry & BiochemistryGeorgeSquared Advanced Biomedical Sciences Program. With more than 20 years of experience, Couch’s research is centered upon the purification and characterization of biomolecules. He is interested in how the biochemistry of life works and believes if we can understand the life processes, we can correct them to treat or cure diseases. As a GeorgeSquared faculty member, his course in cell and molecular physiology provides students a solid foundation of biochemistry to prepare them for the rigorous coursework of medical school.



Ferah Munshi

Ferah Munshi

July 29, 2022

#MasonScience welcomes new faculty member Ferah Munshi, Assistant Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy. She joins Mason thanks to our unique location for astronomical research and our collaborative and welcoming spirit. Here at Mason, Munshi continues her research on galaxy evolution and the use of galaxies to constrain the nature of dark matter. With the help of supercomputers, she builds galaxies to simulate how they form and evolve. She draws her inspiration for astronomy from her desire to understand the universe and hopes to continue to inspire future generations by making science more equitable.

Fereshte Ghahari Kermani

Fereshte Ghahari Kermani

July 22, 2022

This #FacultyFriday features Fereshte Ghahari Kermani, Assistant Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy. Her research focuses on understanding quantum phenomena in low dimensional materials with a focus on graphene-based nanostructures. She studies novel quantum phases in these structures by a combination of nanofabrication, quantum transport and scanning probe measurements. Throughout her career, her passion has been to discover new physical phenomena in quantum materials and better understand the world around her with hopes these discoveries make the world a better place for generations to come.

Nirmal Ghimire

Nirmal Ghimire

July 15, 2022

This week’s #FacultyFriday features Nirmal Ghimire, Assistant Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy. His research focuses on discovering and understanding novel emergent phenomena in quantum materials via designing and synthesizing materials and measuring their magnetic and transport properties. Currently he is studying topological materials that are a new state of quantum matter beyond the classical metals, insulators and semiconductors, and have potential for smaller, more energy efficient, and faster devices. The impact these materials can have in transforming the current technology is what drives Ghimire’s passion for designing and discovering new materials. 

Igor Mazin

Igor Mazin

July 8, 2022

Igor Mazin, Professor of Practice, Department of Physics and Astronomy, is today’s #FacultyFriday feature. His primary research falls between magnetism and superconductivity, especially the less common manifestations of either such as altermagnetism and Ising superconductors. As a practical theorist, he is always inspired by new experimental findings and challenges they present to the theory- Mazin has always been fascinated by the opportunities to look deep into various phenomena at a level that is impossible in pure experiment. As a professor, he encourages all to ask questions and seek explanation of what we see around us. One tip of advice Mazin offers: “one should not fall into a trap of concentrating too much on your own narrow field. A true researcher, who thinks outside the box, is, perforce, a thinker in the general arena of sciences and humanities.”

Physics and Astronomy Mentors

Physics and Astronomy Mentors

July 1, 2022

Shobita Satyapal, Joe Weingartner, and Peter Plavchan

In his 2022 College of Science Degree Celebration speech, Michael Reefe, Department of Physics and Astronomy alum and former SPECTRUM President, highlighted three faculty members that greatly impacted his journey towards a B.S. in Physics. Joe Weingartner, Associate Professor, was the academic advisor who first supported Reefe’s decision to change majors. Peter Plavchan, Associate Professor, gave Reefe the reassuring advice, “I don’t expect you to know everything, you’re here to learn,” when Reefe first joined his research group. And Shobita Satyapal, Professor, leader of Reefe’s most recent research group, provided the enthusiasm and encouragement Reefe needed to publish his research and complete his undergraduate degree.



Dominic White

Dominic White

August 26, 2022

Dominic White, Assistant Professor, Department of Computational and Data Sciences, is today's #FacultyFriday feature. White is a computational paleontologist. He uses new methods in computational and data sciences to study old animals. His research has focused on the evolution of quadrupedality in dinosaurs, and the phylogenetic analysis of serially homologous structures. 


Estela Blaisten-Barojas

Estela Blaisten-Barojas

August 19, 2022

This #FacultyFriday highlights Estela Blaisten-Barojas, Professor, Department of Computational and Data Sciences, Director, Center for Simulation and Modeling. After 30 years at Mason, Blaisten-Barojas has been an integral part of the growth and success of the CDS department and the College of Science. She has mentored dozens of graduate students while continuing her internationally recognized research. Currently, her research analyzes a group of linear polymers from the perspective of atomistic simulations, helped with machine learning techniques. One of these polymers, PEG2000, is an inert constituent of the COVID-19 vaccine. While she may have her hands full with her research and mentees, she will always dedicate time to chat with her students and colleagues. 

Arie Croitoru

Arie Croitoru

August 12, 2022

This #FacultyFriday features Arie Croitoru, Professor, Department of Computational Data and Sciences. Croitoru's current research focuses on spatio-temporal data processing and analysis. Due to the unprecedented wealth of spatio-temporal data, his interests lie in the process of multi-dimensional trajectory data, with the overall goal to develop an algorithmic foundation that will allow the utilization of spatio-temporal data and the need to facilitate various tasks.

Robert Axtell

Robert Axtell

August 5, 2022

This #FacultyFriday highlights Robert Axtell, Professor, Department of Computational and Data Sciences. Axtell works at the intersection of computational, social, behavioral, and economic sciences. His research group combines agent-based computing with micro-data to build large-scale models having high verisimilitude with the real-world. Axtell and his team have worked on variety of policy issues from housing, fisheries, sustainability, and more. 

Spring 2022


Esther Peters, ESP, Faculty Friday, Square

Esther Peters

April 29, 2022

As we wrap up #EarthMonth, we feature Esther Peters, Associate Professor, Environmental Science and Policy. Peters specializes in the study of diseases in corals and other invertebrates by using histopathological techniques. She had a key role in researching the Stony Coral Tissue Loss disease in Florida’s Coral Reef and continues to conduct research to fight disease outbreak amongst coral reef organisms. Peters not only feels inspired by her students, but also energized by their eagerness and passion to change the world.


Vivek Prasad, ESP, Faculty Friday

Vivek Prasad

April 22, 2022

This week's #FacultyFriday features Vivek Prasad, Adjunct Faculty, Environmental Science and Policy. An ESP PhD alumnus, his research focuses on how humans affect the environment and the use of geographical information systems to study global climate change. Prasad also works as an innovation advisor with the Agriculture Global Practice of the World Bank, where he focuses on issues such as rural livelihoods, climate change resilience, Agri-Tech, spatial data analytics, and data visualization. 


Jennifer Salerno, ESP, Faculty Friday

Jennifer Salerno

April 15, 2022

Our #EarthMonth celebration continues with this week’s #FacultyFriday highlight, Jennifer Salerno, Assistant Professor, Environmental Science and Policy. Salerno’s research focuses on symbiotic and free-living microorganisms and the role that they play in maintaining and destabilizing organism health and ecosystem function. When she is not teaching Environmental Microbiology and Coral Reef Ecology courses, she leads the Salerno Lab at the Potomac Science Center


Natalie Howe, ESP, Faculty Friday

Natalie Howe

April 8, 2022

#MasonScience continues to highlight #EarthMonth with this week’s #FacultyFriday feature, Natalie Howe, Adjunct Faculty, Environmental Science and Policy. Howe’s research focuses on disturbance and recovery in urban plant and lichen communities of urban areas in the Mid-Atlantic Region of the United States. In addition to educating students on mushrooms and molds and society, she works as an Agriculturist at the USDA, where she helps make sure that the fresh food plants we trade with other countries are not carrying pests or diseases that could harm farms. Most notably, Howe helped create and deliver an innovative botanical education program for the State Prison System in New Jersey.


Travis Gallo, Faculty Friday, ESP

Travis Gallo

April 1, 2022

We kick off #EarthMonth with Travis Gallo, Assistant Professor, Environmental Science and Policy, as this week’s #FacultyFriday feature. Gallo leads the URBANxNATURE Lab here at #MasonScience, where they use theories and principles in ecology and conservation science to sustain and restore biodiversity in urban ecosystems. Gallo has recently collaborated with scholars from the John Mitchell, Jr., Program for History, Justice, and Race at the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution to create an online exhibit highlighting and acknowledging the hidden history of enslaved naturalists. The exhibit aims to promote narrative change by introducing the contributions that enslaved African Americans have made to our understanding of, and inextricable relationship with, the natural environment. 


Faculty Friday, Joanna Jauchen, Mathematical Sciences

Joanna Jauchen

March 25, 2022

Joanna Jauchen, Instructor, Associate Chair for Teaching, Mathematical Sciences, is this week's #FacultyFriday feature. Jauchen specializes in intersectional, critical feminist STEM education research on faculty engagement in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) service. While they have always enjoyed math, they fell in love with the beauty of the discipline in their undergraduate studies, “It sometimes feels magical the way things work together in mathematics and I like understanding how the magic works,” they said. As an educator, she finds joy in talking to students about their own understanding of mathematics.


Faculty Friday, Anton Lukyanenko, Assistant Professor, Mathematical Sciences

Anton Lukyanenko

March 18, 2022

This #FacultyFriday, features Anton Lukyanenko, Assistant Professor, Mathematical Sciences. Lukyanenko studies the quirks of non-Euclidean geometry through the lens of familiar concepts like distances, shadows, and optimal paths. He then applies this theoretical work to collaborative projects with researchers in robotics, computer science, and quantum computing. In addition to research, Lukyanenko works to engage students and the public in experimental mathematics and visualization by directing the Mason Experimental Geometry Lab (MEGL). Watch this video to learn more about MEGL.


Faculty Friday, Mahamadi Warma, Professor, Mathematical Sciences

Mahamadi Warma

March 11, 2022

This #FacultyFriday features Mahamadi Warma, Professor, Mathematical Sciences. Warma is currently working on two major research projects with approaches based on the rich and fruitful mathematical apparatus offered by PDE, functional analysis, controllability, optimization, and numerical approximations. He has published a total of 79 papers, with seven of those published in 2022. Warma is very active in the Center for Mathematics and Artificial Intelligence (CMAI) at Mason. His passion for math started in high school and continues to grow as he faces new challenges with an eagerness to solve them.


Rebecca RG, Math, Faculty Friday

Rebecca R.G.

March 4, 2022

Our first #FacultyFriday feature of the month kicks off with Rebecca R.G., Assistant Professor, Mathematical Sciences. R.G.’s research is in commutative algebra, a field of math that involves studying the behavior of algebraic objects like rings and modules. R.G. is passionate about supporting students and creating a space for everyone to do math. As a result, she worked with colleagues to organize several programs including the New PhD Mentoring Program, the Graduate Learning Assistants (GLA) Program, and the PhD Launchpad Program. R.G. is a big advocate for active learning, reflected in her newly designed course, History of Math (joint with Jessica Otis). Be sure to stop by her office to see crocheted models of hyperbolic planes and a Sierpinski triangle shawl. 



Paul Betka, AOES, Faculty Friday

Paul Betka

February 25, 2022

This week's #FacultyFriday features Paul Betka, Assistant Professor, Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Earth Sciences whose research focuses on the rates, timing, mechanics, and deformation styles of the Earth’s lithosphere in response to the motion of its tectonic plates. Betka currently leads the Structural Geology and Tectonics Lab and is actively recruiting graduate students with an interest in geology.


Kathy Pegion Faculty Friday

Kathleen Pegion

February 16, 2022

"Better forecasts. Better decisions,” is the motto for today’s #FacultyFriday feature, Kathy Pegion, Associate Professor, Atmospheric, Oceanic and Earth Sciences. Pegion currently leads the Subseasonal Experiment (SubX) - a national, multi-institutional, and multi-agency research project that focuses on understanding and improving predictions on the subseasonal (2 to 4 week) timescale. In addition to leading the project, she developed and maintained the real-time forecast visualization tools and performed the comprehensive skill evaluation. When not conducting research, you can find her enjoying the outdoors.


Benjamin Cash, AOES, #FacultyFriday

Benjamin Cash

February 11, 2022

This week’s #FacultyFriday features Benjamin Cash, Research Professor, Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic, and Earth Sciences, and researcher for the Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies. According to Cash, getting coffee and walking around campus talking research with colleagues is probably his favorite way to work - there’s nothing quite like it for sparking interesting ideas. Just ask him about his current work developing NOAA’s new Unified Forecast System. He also continues to research the predictability of seasonal rainfall and will present on the Cape Town “Day Zero” drought next week at the International Conference on Southern Hemisphere Meteorology and Oceanography (ICSHMO).


Yunyao Li

Yunyao Li

February 4, 2022

To kick off this month’s Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic, and Earth Sciences spotlight, this #FacultyFriday features Yunyao Li, Research Scientist, AOES and Center for Spatial Information Science and Systems (CSISS). Since joining #MasonScience, she has worked alongside Daniel Tong, Associate Professor, AOES, on biomass burning emission and air quality modeling. Li led the charge of developing the wildfire ensemble forecasting system and the Mason daily air quality forecast system. Currently, she conducts research on evaluating and simulating the impact of wildfires on air quality and human health.



L. Ren Guerriero, Neuroscience, Faculty Friday

L. Ren Guerriero

January 28, 2022

This week we highlight new faculty member L. Ren Guerriero, Assistant Professor, Neuroscience. Guerriero conducts sleep-related research and has taught several courses regarding the subject since joining #MasonScience in August 2021. This semester, Guerriero plans on starting a teaching focused lab where they will be investigating novel-sleep related genes in fruit flies, Drosophila melanogaster. If you’re interested in sleep research, register for NEUR 424: Sleep & Circadian Rhythms with Guerriero this semester. 


Nadine Kabbani, SSB, Neuro, #FacultyFriday

Nadine Kabbani

January 21, 2022

Today we feature Nadine Kabbani, Associate Professor, School of Systems BiologyNeuroscience. Kabbani’s research centers around the discovery of mechanisms underlying brain disease, with an emphasis on cholinergic signals in cells. There are still a few seats available for Kabbani’s NEUR 101: Intro to Neuroscience course. This course fulfills the Mason Core Natural Science Non-Lab requirement- register now. 


William Kennedy, CDS, #FacultyFriday

William Kennedy

January 14, 2022

Today we highlight William Kennedy, Co-Director, Center for Social Complexity and Associate Professor, Computational and Data Sciences. After serving in the U.S. Navy for 30 years, Kennedy went on to earn his PhD in Information Technology at George Mason University. Now, he teaches both computational data and computational social science courses, all while conducting research in cognitive processes and behavior using cognitive and agent-based models.


Monique Van Hoek, SSB, Faculty Friday

Monique Van Hoek

January 7, 2022

#MasonScience congratulates Monique van Hoek, Professor, Associate Director of Research, School of Systems Biology, for earning the Dean’s Impact Award. Her research focuses primarily on antibiotic-resistant and biothreat bacteria, with an emphasis on exploring novel antimicrobial and anti-biofilm compounds. In addition to her research, van Hoek plays an important role in SSB leadership—acting as interim associate director for research and serving as a mentor to PhD and MA students. 

Fall 2021


Chao Luo, Chemistry, #FacultyFriday

Chao Luo

December 31, 2021

#MasonScience congratulates Chao Luo, Assistant Professor, Chemistry, who earned the Dean’s Research Scientist Award. Luo’s area of study focuses on rechargeable batteries. His three primary areas are (1) structure design and material fabrication for organic alkali-ion batteries, (2) high-energy lithium sulfur batteries, and (3) all-solid-state lithium batteries. By exploring inherent properties of the nanostructures, he will be able to address environmental energy challenges and develop improved functional devices. 


Jason Kinser, CDS, #FacultyFriday

Jason M. Kinser

December 24, 2021

Today we feature Jason M. Kinser, Associate Professor, Chair, Computational and Data Sciences. His current research focuses on data science and modeling, though he’s taught courses across several disciplines including Physics, Bioinformatics, Forensics, and even Biology. At our #ScienceConnect event this past fall, Kinser spoke about our one-of-a-kind CDS department


Brian Colchao, CDS, #FacultyFriday

Brian Colchao

December 17, 2021

This week’s #FacultyFriday, highlights Brian Colchao, Term Instructor, Computational and Data Sciences. Colchao, a Mason graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in Microbiology and an MS in Data Engineering, initiated the computational and data sciences BS degree program at Mason Korea.


Anamaria Berea, CDS, #FacultyFriday

Anamaria Berea

December 3, 2021

This week’s #FacultyFriday highlights Anamaria Berea, Associate Professor, Computational Data Science. Berea recently received a Frontier Development Lab Award of Merit, acknowledging outstanding contribution in the field of artificial intelligence for space exploration and humanity. As a Mason alumna and now faculty member, Berea feels privileged to see how the CDS department has grown and evolved over the years, much like the complex living systems she is studying in her research. 



David Wong, GGS, #FacultyFriday

David Wong

November 19, 2021

With #GISDay2021 behind us, we conclude our celebration by highlighting David Wong, Professor, Geography and Geoinformation Science. Wong’s research focuses on population, spatial statistics, public health, and more. Recently, he received funding from the University of Wisconsin-Madison for the project: "An intersectional approach to improve family and social support measures of county health - Incorporating racial-ethnic and age dimensions."


Taylor Anderson, GGS, #FacultyFriday

Taylor Anderson

November 12, 2021

With #GISDay2021 around the corner, we highlight Taylor Anderson, Assistant Professor, Geography and Geoinformation Science, for this week’s #FacultyFriday feature. Over the summer, Anderson was a Summer Team Impact Project (STIP) mentor, guiding #MasonScience students conducting research in areas such as disease modeling, COVID-19 genome data, human mobility prediction, and more. Watch her discuss her experience here.


Benjamin Schweinhart, Math, #FacultyFriday

Benjamin Schweinhart

November 3, 2021

For this week’s #FacultyFriday feature, we highlight one of our new faculty members, Benjamin Schweinhart, Assistant Professor, Mathematical Sciences. Schweinhart’s research focuses on problems in applied, stochastic, and computational geometry and topology, with applications to materials science, physics, and biology. Currently, he is looking for graduate students to conduct research in the areas of stochastic topology and/or development of methodology for the quantification of materials geometry. If you are interested, contact



Ginny Espina, CAPMM, #FacultyFriday

Virginia Espina

October 29, 2021

As Breast Cancer Awareness Month comes to a close, it’s fitting to highlight #MasonScience researcher, Virginia (Ginny) Espina, Research Professor, Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine (CAPMM). Espina dedicates her research to finding a cure for breast cancer by deciphering mechanisms of cell signaling, drug-protein interactions, and host-pathogen interactions. Currently, she directs the CAP-accredited clinical proteomics lab at the Science and Technology Campus. Espina recently appeared in the Grand Challenges panel at President Washington’s Investiture event. 


Sarah Ward, Faculty Friday, Chemistry

Sarah Ward

October 22, 2021

In honor of #NationalChemistryWeek, we highlight Sarah Ward who joined the department of Chemistry & Biochemistry in August 2021 as an assistant professor of organic chemistry. Her research focuses on synthetic organic chemistry, examining the total synthesis of marine natural products, with cytotoxic properties against human colon carcinoma. 


Kerin Hilker-Balkissoon, Dean's Admin, #FacultyFriday

Kerin Hilker-Balkisson

October 15, 2021

We conclude our #HispanicHeritageMonth celebration with Kerin Hilker-Balkissoon, Director of Educational and Career Pathways. Her research focuses on identifying systemic inequities in STEM education and career readiness for undergraduate transfer students. She serves as co-PI on our Rural and Diverse Student Scholars and Noyce Scholarship Programs, along with leading multiple initiatives at Mason including our STEM access partnerships, our Science Learning Community, our program for Transfer Equity and Success, the First-Generation Task Force, and Mason’s FamilyU student-parent initiative. Hilker-Balkissoon is committed to paying it forward by supporting Latinx students at Mason and beyond, from serving as faculty advisor to Mason’s SACNAS Chapter, to her ongoing service as a Board Member with the Virginia Latino Higher Education Network (VALHEN)


Rocio Caballero-Gill, AOES, #FacultyFriday

Rocío Paola Caballero-Gill

October 8, 2021

Our #HispanicHeritageMonth celebration continues as we highlight Rocío Paola Caballero-Gill, Research Assistant Professor, Atmospheric, Oceanic & Earth Sciences. Caballero-Gill is a geoscientist whose research focuses on climatic and oceanographic change in the geologic past. Currently, she is the director of The CycloCohort Program - an early-career springboard for inclusion, diversity, equity and justice focused leadership in geoscience & astronomy. She is also the co-founder of GeoLatinas, an organization that empowers Latinas to pursue and thrive in careers in Earth and Planetary Sciences.


Eduardo Lopez, CDS, #FacultyFriday

Eduardo Lopez Atencio 

October 1, 2021

Eduardo Lopez Atencio, Director of Graduate Studies and Assistant Professor, Computational and Data Science, is this week's Faculty Friday feature and Hispanic Heritage Month highlight. His research focuses on flow processes in networks, along with quantitative laws in social, economic, and technological systems. When he's not teaching CDS 292 or an advanced graduate course on network models and their algorithms, he advises students in computational sciences and informatics graduate programs


Liana Chafran, Chemistry, #FacultyFriday

Liana Chafran

September 24, 2021

#MasonScience continues to celebrate Hispanic and Latinx Heritage Month by highlighting Liana Chafran, Assistant Professor, Chemistry and Biochemistry. Chafran started at Mason two years ago as a Research Associate specializing in biomaterials. Now an assistant professor on Mason’s SciTech campus, she continues her research on the synthesis of smart biomaterials for biomedical applications. Both inside and outside of the lab, Chafran strives to create opportunities for her students. 


Fernando Miarlles-Wilhelm, Dean, #FacultyFriday

Fernando Miralles-Wilhelm

September 17, 2021

To kick off Hispanic Heritage Month, this #FacultyFriday features Dean Fernando Miralles-Wilhelm. While serving as Dean for the College of Science, he continues to teach for the Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Earth Sciences and conduct research in hydrology and water engineering. He recently published a study titled "Water is the middle child in global climate policy."


Karen Akerlof, ESP, #FacultyFriday

Karen Akerlof

September 10, 2021

Karen Akerlof, Assistant Professor, Environmental Science and Policy, studies how communities interpret scientific information and bring experience, values, and local knowledge to making decisions. This summer, Akerlof led a research team at the 'Ai'opio Fishtrap in Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park in Hawai'i surveying visitors about their sun protection behaviors, awareness of environmental impacts from sunscreen, and exposure to NPS outreach and education programs. 


Hamdi Kavak, CDS, #FacultyFriday

Hamdi Kavak

September 3, 2021

This Friday, #MasonScience features Hamdi KavakComputational and Data Science Assistant Professor, for receiving the 2021 Young Simulation Scientist Award from The Society for Modeling and Simulation International (SCS). The award recognizes scientists and engineers under the age of 35 who demonstrate excellence and leadership qualities in the field of modeling and simulation.