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May 12, 2023

Nivana Poonacha

This #FacultyFriday highlights Nivana Poonacha , Instructor, Advanced Biomedical Sciences Program (GeorgeSquared) . Nivana joined the GeorgeSquared (G2) program because she related to the experience of the students in the program. The G2 program helps students gain the skills necessary to be a strong applicant to medical, dental and PA school.

The supplemental faculty, like Nivana, are integral to this process and distinguishes the GeorgeSquared program from other postbaccalaureate programs. She has similar experiences as the students and is therefore able to relate to them at the level of a peer mentor. The supplemental faculty are always available to help with issues ranging from academics and career advice to personal life. This shows the tangible ways in which GeorgeSquared helps students build the study skills and mental stamina needed to undertake the journey into professional school.

Nivana is inspired by her mother, who is an OBGYN in a rural town in India. Growing up and watching her mother care for patients, regardless of limited resources, has inspired Nivana to implement these qualities in her teaching. She helps her students reach their potential with whatever resources that are available to her. She has seen a similar quality in her students that are pursuing their dreams in healthcare. Watching her students has inspired her to be resourceful and never back down from a challenge while caring for her patients in her future career as a doctor.

Nivana Poonacha

May 5, 2023

Jennifer Whitney

Today’s #FacultyFriday features Dr. Jennifer Whitney , Associate Professor, Biomedical Sciences Program (GeorgeSquared) , and Georgetown University. Whitney also serves as the Director of the Special Physiology Master’s Program at Georgetown. With a deep desire to educate, Whitney motivates and mentors her students toward success, that's why she joined the GeorgeSquared (G2) program. G2 is a unique program with built-in time for students to do additional activities outside of their academics, like gaining real-life experiences, participating in clinical work, and volunteering.

“Students are in the classroom working hard, but they are able to get outside the classroom and remember why they are doing this,” Whitney explains, “it helps to keep the students grounded, and I think helps to prevent academic burnout.”

Every year, the students in the G2 program are engaged and curious with strong attendance and are always prepared for lectures. They bring in great ideas to pull the discussions in such interesting directions. According to Whitney, this program has joy and fun that is unlike any other.

Jennifer Whitney

April 28, 2023

R. Christian Jones

This #FacultyFriday, we congratulate Dr. R. Christian Jones for earning the Earle C. Williams Presidential Medal for Faculty Excellence in Social Impact ! Jones is a professor of aquatic ecology in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy , which he co-founded in 2000 and led as its first chair. He is also the founder and director of the Potomac Environmental Research and Education Center (PEREC) at the Potomac Science Center.

One of Jones’ most notable projects is the l ong-term ecological study of Gunston Cove. This study, which involves biology and environmental science and policy faculty and is partially funded by Fairfax County, has trained more than 100 graduate and undergraduate students, produced more than 20 PhD dissertations and MS theses, and won US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awards for Environmental Excellence. The study is recognized as one of the nation’s longest-running aquatic ecology monitoring programs. For over a quarter century, the same stations at Gunston Cove have been tested. Each year, conclusions are drawn regarding the area's present ecological status, and recommendations for future needs are made to Fairfax County.

R. Christian Jones

April 21, 2023

T Reid Nelson

This week’s #FacultyFriday features Dr. T. Reid Nelson , Assistant Professor, Department of Environmental Science and Policy (ESP) . Nelson is a fisheries ecologist with research interests in basic fields of ecology, applied aspects of fisheries and aquatic resource management, and the intersection of these two avenues.

Currently, he is working on five research projects, including (1) the mortality of out-migrating threatened steelhead in the California Sacramento San-Joaquin Delta, (2) the comparison of growth rates of Striped Bass between CA and the Atlantic Coast, (3) assessing the impacts of water diversions of salmon smolt mortality in CA, (4) monitoring River Herring spawning in the Potomac River, and (5) performing long-term ecosystem monitoring of Gunston Cove and Hunting Creek with ESP faculty members Dr. Chris Jones and Dr. Amy Fowler.

Many of these projects are made possible thanks to the interdisciplinary efforts of the ESP department. While Nelson’s main area of research focuses on fisheries, he is able to participate in projects across a wide range of topics, from marine mammal migration to aquatic pollution and geochemical proxies of climate. This collaborative approach also extends beyond ESP to other #MasonScience departments like Chemistry and AOES.

In both his professional and personal life, you can find Nelson in, on, or around water. Given that water is an integral part of survival and our daily lives, he wants to ensure that we have healthy aquatic systems and resources for both now and future generations.


April 14, 2023

Younsung Kim

Dr. Younsung Kim , Associate Professor and Undergraduate Program Director for the Department of Environmental Science and Policy (ESP) , is this week’s #FacultyFriday highlight. Kim’s research lies at the nexus of governments and businesses on the topics related to environmental sustainability and carbon management.

We congratulate Kim for her recent nomination for the 2022 David P. Baron Best Paper Award for the article, “Integrated Market and Nonmarket Strategies: Empirical Evidence from the S&P 500 Firms’ Climate Strategies,” where she analyzed how firms’ carbon strategies influence mandatory carbon policies in the U.S.

She is also working on green infrastructure for urban sustainability with support from the 4VA Grant. This research attempts to quantify green infrastructure potentials in Virginia in consideration of typological, hydrological, economic, and environmental factors.

While Kim had originally planned on becoming a medical doctor, her curiosity for a macro-level understanding of human and ecosystem interactions grew during South Korea’s rapid economic growth. This curiosity and her passion for knowledge continue to inspire her research. And thanks to the interdisciplinary nature of the ESP department, it has allowed for her to better understand the science behind environmental issues that can powerfully shape social discourses and shift policies towards a sustainable planet.

When she’s not in the classroom, you can find Kim hiking at Great Falls National Park.

FF_Younsung Kim

April 7, 2023

Jennifer Sklarew

Our first #FacultyFriday of #EarthMonth features Dr. Jennifer Sklarew , Assistant Professor, Department of Environmental Science and Policy (ESP). Sklarew, also known as Dr. Jen, coordinates the department's MS Concentration in Energy and Sustainability Policy and Science, which she developed. Her research examines how institutional relationships and catastrophic events combine to drive energy and environmental policymaking and change. This work includes collaborating with rural, agricultural communities to identify and address challenges to food, energy, and water systems, including effects from climate change; and working with students on a hydropower micro-turbine project she initiated to leverage the power of  George Mason University 's Fairfax campus’ storm water system. Contact her if you are interested in joining this project!

Most notably, Sklarew recently published “Building Resilient Energy Systems: Lessons from Japan,” a book that analyzes how stakeholders' resilience priorities shape changes to energy systems after shocks. This book is the culmination of her 30 years as a policy analyst and policymaker working on Japanese energy issues and her research at Mason. Combining her practitioner experience and this research has enabled her to broaden the insights from her work to include energy system resilience lessons for communities around the globe facing shocks such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine.

Working in a collaborative department like ESP has enabled Sklarew to engage in a multitude of transdisciplinary initiatives in her teaching and research, providing a more holistic approach to energy and sustainability science and policy. This type of collaboration with colleagues, students and communities is what continues to inspire Sklarew to make our world a more sustainable place.

Fun fact: Sklarew was born in Japan and is fluent in Japanese.


March 31, 2023

Jie Zhang

Our final #FacultyFriday of the month features Dr. Jie Zhang, Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy. Zhang specializes in space weather and solar physics research, and his team is currently working on multiple research projects funded by NASA and the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Three of his biggest projects include: (1) in collaboration with the National Solar Observatory, Zhang and his two graduate students are evaluating and validating coronal and heliospheric models, with a focus on the prediction of coronal holes, (2) a collaboration with colleagues at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center to compile a comprehensive database of Earth-affecting solar transient, starting from 2010 to now, and (3) a collaboration with Predictive Science Inc. to investigate the physical processes that govern the structure and dynamics of coronal mass ejections.

Most recently, Zhang and Dr. Dusan Odstrcil were awarded a NASA grant to develop an operation-oriented numerical tool to predict interplanetary coronal mass ejection using a novel data assimilation technique.

Working at a young and thriving institution like Mason has offered Zhang opportunities for growth and development through collaborations with nearby national labs.

Zhang’s research is inspired by his love for science, ignited by the captivating science fiction books he read at a young age. His enthusiasm for research intensifies as he continues to make valuable contributions to better understand the Sun— the star that serves as our home.

Jie Zhang

March 24, 2023

Chi Yang

This #FacultyFriday features Dr. Chi Yang, Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy. Yang’s main research interests are in the field of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) with focus on the development of computational methods and tools for marine hydrodynamics applications, including wave hydrodynamics; ship resistance and propulsion; large-amplitude motions and extreme loads on ships and ocean structures; dynamics of ships, underwater vehicles and offshore structures; fluid-structure interactions; and ship design optimizations.

With the support of the U.S. Navy Research, Yang’s research group has developed SimDShip, a computational tool used to accomplish innovative, simulation-based design of ship hull forms. By enabling hydrodynamic optimization at early stages of ship design, SimDShip allows researchers to efficiently explore and evaluate a wide range of novel hull forms, ultimately shortening the design cycle and saving fuel consumption costs. Currently, she is working with the tool development group of the Naval Surface Warfare Center - Carderock Division (NSWCCD) to integrate SimDShip into the Integrated Hydrodynamics Design Environment (IHDE) within the U.S. Navy’s CREATE-Ships Project.

Along with her CFD research, Yang is collaborating with researchers from the Center for Collision Safety and Analysis (CCSA) to develop a simulation database for safety and security analysis of integrated transportation system. Collaborative and multidisciplinary research efforts like this are what makes the Physics and Astronomy Department so unique.

Yang’s inspiration for her research stems from her drive to become the best at what she does, which motivates her curiosity and pushes her to find solutions and achieve technical excellence in her field. With over 200 publications, she has clearly earned a solid international reputation. Part of Yang’s success includes the power of mentorship; she has mentored many junior faculty at Mason and has graduated seven PhD students, with the eighth student set to graduate in May.

Chi Yang FF

March 17, 2023

Ernest Barreto

This #FacultyFriday features Dr. Ernest Barreto, Professor and Graduate Program Director of the Department of Physics and Astronomy, who has taught classes ranging from introductory physics through graduate-level courses. Barreto’s research is at the convergence of physics, mathematics, and biology. He is currently focusing on mathematically understanding the behavior of large populations of coupled oscillators, especially populations made up of simple mathematical models of neurons. His research is inspired by the brain and the many interesting and complex things it does, and sheds light on how and why things sometimes go wrong. Barreto is proud to be in a department and university that values highly interdisciplinary research.

Ernest Barreto

March 10, 2023

Rob Cressman

This #FacultyFriday features Dr. Rob Cressman, Associate Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy. Cressman’s overall research goal is to better understand the normal and pathological functions of the human brain with specific applications to epilepsy, migraines, and sleep. His research is structured into three main thrusts that include the development of sensors for studying the brain, developing dynamical-systems based approaches to investigate real-world problems, and studying neuronal dynamics computationally and experimentally.

As a physicist, Cressman aims to describe, predict, and ultimately understand the world. He studies the brain because “I don't think that we really know what 'understand' means,” he explains, “studying the brain affords me many avenues to utilize the opportunities I have, as a professor, to help better humanity.”

While his main area of research focuses on the brain, Cressman, alongside Bob Ehrlich and Harold Geller, recently helped publish the third edition of Ehrlich’s book about the physics of renewable energy. 

Rob Cressman FF

March 3, 2023

Erhai Zhao

We kick off our Physics and Astronomy Department Spotlight with this #FacultyFriday featuring Dr. Erhai Zhao, Professor. Zhao is a theoretical physicist with a research interest in quantum matter. Specifically, solids, fluids, or gases that exhibit counter-intuitive behaviors on the macroscopic scale due to quantum mechanical effects. For example, ultracold quantum gases, which are about one trillionth to one billionth degree above absolute zero temperature, are trapped and manipulated by laser light to serve as quantum simulators to address open questions in quantum many-body physics.

Zhao also studies the dynamics of open quantum systems, of interest to quantum sensing, control, and quantum computing. His research examines quantum dynamics through the lens of topology and entanglement. For example, his recent work on "Knots and Non-Hermitian Bloch Bands” and "Topological Invariants for Quantum Quench Dynamics from Unitary Evolution” appeared in Physical Review Letters.

Two of his recent projects include the study “Strongly Interacting Atoms under Quantum Gas Microscope,” funded by National Science Foundation, and the study “Topological Phases of Ultracold Atoms beyond Standard Optical Lattices,” funded by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research.

Zhao’s passion for his research is driven by his curiosity about the infinitely rich quantum world-- weird, challenging, yet comprehensible. He is inspired by the colleagues, students and postdocs he’s had the privilege to work with at Mason. Zhao cares deeply about the quality of the department’s undergraduate curriculum; if you have any comments or suggestions to improve the learning or teaching experience, be sure to reach out to him.

Erhai Zhao

February 24, 2023

Rocío Paola Caballero-Gill

This #FacultyFriday features Dr. Rocío Paola Caballero-Gill, Assistant Research Professor, Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic, and Earth Sciences. Currently at Mason, she serves as one of the Principal Investigators in a collaboration, funded by the Heising-Simons Foundation, between six main research institutes in the U.S. The collaboration aims to investigate astrochronology and Solar System dynamics, while also addressing known inequities in science. For this collaboration, she is the Lead Director of The CycloCohort Program, where they address known barriers for early career scientists in Geoscience and Astronomy, in addition to promoting inclusion, diversity, equity and justice-focused leadership.  

Outside of Mason, she works with two other organizations that are near and dear to her. GeoLatinas is  an international community with a mission to embrace, empower, and inspire Latinas to pursue and thrive in Earth and Planetary Sciences careers. And Climatematch Academy, an international, volunteer-driven group working to foster a globally diverse climate science community. This initiative is still a work in progress, so if you are interested in joining, contact Dr. Caballero-Gill and save the date for July 17-28, 2023.  

Rocío Paola Caballero-Gill

February 17, 2023

Geoffrey Gilleaudeau

This #FacultyFriday features Dr. Geoffrey Gilleaudeau, Assistant Professor, Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Earth Sciences. His research focuses on the ocean-atmosphere chemistry and its effect on biological development through Earth's history. His research group uniquely blends various geological areas of study and uses a range of geochemical tools applied to marine sedimentary rocks, spanning from the Proterozoic Eon to the current Holocene epoch.  

The Gilleaudeau Research Lab is looking for both undergraduate and graduate students to work on a wide variety of field- and laboratory-based projects here at #MasonScience. Contact if you are interested. Click here to check out the research his group conducts.

Geoffrey Gilleaudeau

February 10, 2023

Luis Ortiz

This #FacultyFriday features new faculty member, Dr. Luis Ortiz, Assistant Professor, Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic, and Earth Sciences. Ortiz’s research centers on advancing our understanding of how cities interact with the atmosphere in the context of a changing climate, and the impacts these interactions have on people and infrastructure. His work considers cities as complex systems of environmental, human, and engineered domains. For example, he recently studied air-conditioning. Due to the urban heat island effect and global warming, there is an increasing demand for AC. However, AC works by expelling heat from inside a building, so it further heats the outdoors environment in densely populated cities while also boosting greenhouse gas emissions. Ortiz studied the effect of giving all homes air conditioning on the urban heat island, energy use, and economic burdens to low-income families.

Thanks to his passion for climate, Ortiz has started working with the Virginia Climate Center (VCC). In this role, he collaborates with communities in the Commonwealth and provides them with state-of-the-art climate data and insights.

Prior to joining Mason, Ortiz completed an appointment with the Office of the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, where he worked on climate policy and environmental justice. He also serves as co-Chair of the Climate Science Working Group at the New York City Panel on Climate Change, which works to develop the next set of climate projections for the city of New York.

Outside of work, Ortiz is an avid baker and board game enthusiast.

Dr. Luis Ortiz

February 3, 2023

Brittany Hupp

We kick off our Atmospheric, Oceanic, and Earth Science (AOES) department spotlight with new faculty member Dr. Brittany Hupp, Assistant Professor. Hupp joined the AOES department thanks to the welcoming environment, supportive community, the abundance of avenues for collaboration, and the opportunity to teach our diverse and dedicated Mason Science students.

Hupp’s research lies at the intersection of geology, chemistry, and ecology, which allows her to pursue multidisciplinary questions and utilize a wide range of approaches to investigate both modern and ancient environments.

Currently, she is working on the development of geochemical tools or “proxies” to reconstruct past climate and ocean conditions in polar and subpolar regions, which are areas that have been identified as highly vulnerable to climate change.

This work involves measuring trace elements and stable isotopes in the shells of modern marine zooplankton and comparing their shell chemistry to the conditions of their living environment to establish quantitative geochemical-environmental calibrations that can be applied to evaluating fossil records.

Her other area of research includes using geochemical and paleontological methods to investigate how oceans and marine communities responded to past periods of abrupt climate change that serve as useful analogs for our modern changing climate.

Outside of the lab, you can find Hupp enjoying the great outdoors with her family or whipping up a delicious new recipe.

Dr. Brittany Hupp

January 27, 2023

Frank Krueger

This #FacultyFriday highlights Dr. Frank Krueger, Professor, Neuroscience Program (IPN) and GMU - School of Systems Biology. Krueger is interested in understanding the psychoneurobiological underpinnings of human-human and human-machine trust by combining methods from psychology, ergonomics, and neuroscience. His primary research focuses on the psychoneurobiological mechanism of interpersonal trust. In fact, he recently edited the book, “The Neurobiology of Trust.”
His other primary research topic includes the study of the underlying psychoneurobiological signatures of human-machine affiliation, which he just presented on at Galileo’s Science Café this past week. If you missed the presentation, you can watch it here.

Krueger seeks to initiate the Transdisciplinary Research Union for the Study of Trust (T-R-U-S-T), which aims to bring professionals of various disciplines together to explore commonalities and differences around the theoretical and applied aspects of trust —building bridges between different perspectives and combining multiple facets of trust to acquire a broader understanding of this essential phenomenon.

In addition to his research, Krueger has authored/co-authored about 200 publications. He is a frequent ad-hoc reviewer for about 50 journals in the field of neuroscience; he is the Specialty Chief Editor for Frontiers in Social Neuroergonomics and serves on editorial boards of numerous neuroscience journals and national and international grant review panels.

Dr. Frank Krueger

January 20, 2023

Gwendolyn Lewis

Today’s #FacultyFriday features Dr. Gwendolyn (Wendy) Lewis, Associate Professor, Interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience (IPN). Lewis is a teaching-focus faculty member and the IPN undergraduate coordinator, so she focuses on teaching the process of research and making research experiences accessible to undergraduate students. Two of her biggest contributions to the program include the launch of NEUR 406: Zebrafish Neurodevelopment Laboratory, a research-based course where students use zebrafish embryos to study the development of the vertebrate nervous system. Lewis also helped develop the introductory Neuroscience course, a course that is open to non-majors and fulfills the Natural Science Mason Core.

Working in the vibrant and growing Neuroscience program, along with wonderful colleagues and having the opportunity to teach our diverse and engaging Mason students, has been a great privilege for Lewis. Her passion for the nervous system and all its unanswered questions drives her teaching and her aim to make the program the best it can be.

If you run into Lewis, make sure to ask her about glia- the helper cells of the nervous system and all their essential functions.

Dr. Gwendolyn (Wendy) Lewis

January 13, 2023

Greta Ann Herin

This #FacultyFriday features Dr. Greta Ann Herin, Associate Professor, Interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience (IPN). Recently, Herin has been researching the effect of environmental pollution on neurotransmitter receptor function. Her research has found that lead (Pb) inhibits a neurotransmitter receptor that is important in forms of learning and memory. To some degree, this may explain why children who have been exposed to lead exhibit behavioral issues and learning impairments, even after their bodies have been cleared of lead.

Herin joined IPN thanks to its reputation and admirable faculty members. Teaching neuroscience, the bridge between physics and personhood, has been incredibly rewarding. Being able to teach and inspire diverse, driven, and resilient Mason students about the complexities of neurophysiology is what it is all about for Herin.

Outside of the lab, Herin spends her free time riding a tandem bike or in a rowing scull. 

Greta Ann, FF

Fall 2022


Ancha Baranova

Ancha Baranova

December 30, 2022

This #FacultyFriday features Dr. Ancha Baranova, Professor, School of Systems Biology (SSB). Baranova’s research focuses on the dissection of molecular networks underpinning common human illnesses. The strongest aspect of her research program lies in its transdisciplinary nature. In over 20 years in academia, she has developed an expertise in a variety of research fields. Her lab has discovered many biomarkers for chronic liver diseases, cancer and other illnesses, a biosynthesis of the melanin in human adipose, two novel properties of cell-free DNA, and a variety of novel functions for known biomolecules. Recently, her lab has entered a field of anti-aging research.

Dmitri Klimov

Dmitri Klimov 

December 23, 2022

This #FacultyFriday features Dr. Dmitri Klimov, Professor, School of Systems Biology (SSB), Director, PhD Program in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology (BCB-PhD). Klimov’s lab, alongside Dr. Chris Lockhart, Research Assistant Professor, and four BCB-PhD students, use biomolecular simulations to study important biological problems at the atomistic level. The lab focuses on two main areas of research.

Monique van Hoek

Monique van Hoek

December 16, 2022

This #FacultyFriday features Dr. Monique van Hoek, Professor and Associate Director, School of Systems Biology. van Hoek’s research focuses on antibiotic-resistant and biothreat bacteria. Currently, her three main research initiatives include i) Inventing Antimicrobial peptides against Antibiotic Resistant bacteria using AI/ML, ii) Francisella tularensis microbial physiology, and iii) Antibiofilm compounds. Recently, van Hoek was a part of the team that was awarded an R21 Trailblazer NIH grant. This project, alongside engineers Dr. Jeffery Moran and Dr. Rémi Veneziano from Mason’s College of Engineering and Computing, aims to tackle bacterial biofilms.

Ramin Hakami

Ramin Hakami

December 9, 2022

This #FacultyFriday features Dr. Ramin M. Hakami, Associate Professor, School of Systems Biology (SSB). Working within SSB has been a rewarding experience for Hakami. He feels a great appreciation for the opportunity SSB provided him to set up his lab and academic research program. The deep support SSB provides their graduate students has also made a significant impact on Hakami’s lab, “our graduate students are the bedrock of our research work,” Hakami goes on to say.

Mariaelena Pierobon

Mariaelena Pierobon

December 2, 2022

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.


GGS Researchers

GGS Researchers 

November 25, 2022

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 Remote Sensing Experts

GGS Remote Sensing Experts 

November 18, 2022

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 Mobility & Infrastructure Researchers

GGS Mobility & Infrastructure Researchers

November 11. 2022 

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 Advisors

GGS Advisors 

November 4, 2022

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.


Lee Solomon

Lee Solomon 

October 28, 2022

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

Jessica Callus

Jessica Callus 

October 21, 2022

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. 

Chemistry Club Faculty advisors

Sarah Ward and Patrali Banerjee

October 14, 2022

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. 

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. 

Chemistry & Biochemistry faculty members

Fei Wang and Yun Yu

October 7, 2022

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.

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.


CSI experts

Emily Rancourt and Kimberly Rule

September 30, 2022

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. 

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.

Forensic scientists

Brian Eckenrode and Steven Burmeister

September 23, 2022

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.
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. 

Forensic Science DNA experts

Kelly Knight, Mark Wilson, Georgia Williams

September 16, 2022

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.  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. Mark Wilson, Associate Professor, focuses in three main areas of research: DNA extraction from bones, mixture deconvolution, and genetic genealogy.

Joseph A DiZinno

Joseph A. DiZinno

September 9, 2022

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.

Mary Ellen

Mary Ellen O'Toole

September 2, 2022

#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. 

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.