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Catalyst of Change

families received clinical services from CCF

More than

million research expenditures

M-DCPS teachers trained by CCF in nearly 450 schools

graduates in 2016 interdisciplinary centers, institutes and research facilities

students enrolled in the School of Integrated Science and Humanity

Learning Assistants

post doctoral researchers students serviced by Learning Assistants

Message from the Dean The challenges facing society today require greater understanding of the human condition, scientific discoveries and broad collaboration. The School of Integrated Science and Humanity — one of three schools in FIU’s College of Arts, Sciences & Education — is dedicated to science in service of humanity. Our students, faculty and staff are offering real world solutions including discoveries in treatments for mental health disorders, neurodegenerative diseases and more. They are investigating the particles on this planet and exploring beyond our solar system. They are tackling issues of diversity and genderbased discrimination as well as pushing the limits of forensic techniques. Our experts are called on by local, national and international media outlets to explain complex issues including the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, the Zika outbreak and the intrusion of toxic algae polluting our waters. Though the circumstances can be, at times, overwhelming, our researchers are seeking solutions. I am amazed by what our students, faculty, and staff have accomplished, but there is more we can do with your support. I hope you will be as inspired as I am by the work carried out in the School of Integrated Science and Humanity and get involved!

Michael R. Heithaus Dean, College of Arts, Sciences & Education

Message from the Director Welcome to the School of Integrated Science and Humanity (SISH) Year in Review. In 2016, we embarked on endeavors that contribute to our school’s core mission of developing deeper understandings to advance scientific inquiry and discovery. I’d like to congratulate the inaugural cohort of our Clinical Science Doctoral Program in Child and Adolescent Psychology who obtained their degrees during the summer commencement. SISH is home to many programs that benefit our communities and translate scientific discoveries into practical applications. These programs foster innovation and provide solutions. Recently, FIU’s leadership identified five elite programs that are the shining examples of pre-eminence. Three of the five are from the College of Arts, Sciences & Education including SISH’s Center for Children and Families (CCF). In May, CCF was honored with the Life Sciences & Healthcare Award at the 14th Annual Beacon Council Awards celebration recognizing the center’s commitment to the thousands of families it serves. The additional two pre-eminent programs from the college — the Institute of Water and Environment and STEM Transformation Institute — feature many of SISH’s top researchers and students. I am proud to have our faculty and their research leading efforts in several of these areas. We have amassed a team of extraordinary young researchers who are being recognized for their contributions to the advancement of science and health from the most prestigious scientific associations including the National Science Foundation, the Federation of Associations in Behavioral and Brain Sciences, the Association for Psychological Science, the American Psychological Foundation as well as recognition from the Astronomical Society of the Pacific with an award for excellence in teaching. From the minds of children to technological discoveries, SISH is making contributions that help foster a healthier, happier and safer society. For our students, 2016 was a year of hands-on learning, exploration and inspiration designed to transform their capabilities to help solve 21st century challenges. I invite you to become involved. Join us for our monthly star parties at the Stocker AstroScience Center, attend our community talks for families and engage with our researchers.

Walter Van Hamme Executive Director, School of Integrated Science and Humanity

Seeking deeper understandings, advancing science for humanity

Toxic algae put researchers at forefront Massive blooms of toxic algae struck Florida’s Atlantic coast in the summer of 2016 prompting a state of emergency in Lee, Martin, Palm Beach and St. Lucie counties that impacted businesses and caused lasting environmental damage. The blooms turned the eyes of the community and the media to FIU experts with the knowledge to explain the outbreak. Chemist Kathleen Rein addressed potential routes of exposure to algal toxins and their effects on human health. Focusing on solutions, chemist Kevin O’Shea is developing new, clean technology that will destroy water toxins caused by the harmful algal blooms. As part of greater efforts by the College of Arts, Sciences & Education to improve the understanding of water contamination and design remediation strategies, these researchers are helping to protect one of the planet’s most vulnerable resources.

FIU research makes international headlines in wake of Zika Zika arrived in Florida in January 2016. The first cases were travel-related. By mid-year, the virus was being transmitted locally by South Florida mosquitoes. The outbreak thrust FIU’s work on insect genetics into the spotlight. Biomolecular Sciences Institute researcher Matthew DeGennaro was called on to inform the public and to help develop solutions to the Zika outbreak. He holds the distinction of being the first scientist to ever create a genetically modified mosquito, a process that helps him study the insect’s behavior. He hopes to uncover information that will someday lead to better repellents. In December, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention awarded a $10 million grant to a multi-university research team that includes DeGennaro to fight the spread of Zika and diseases like it. DeGennaro is part of a broader FIU effort, along with scientists Fernando Noriega and Jun Li, to solve the global crisis of diseasespreading insects.

Psychologist offers tips to help children cope with large-scale traumatic events Following the June 2016 mass shooting at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, many in our community experienced feelings of anxiety, fear and depression as is common following events of such magnitude. Psychologist and Center for Children and Families researcher Jonathan Comer provided insight into how to cope with fear after the attack. Comer has conducted extensive research on the psychological impact of terrorism and other traumatic events on youth, including the Boston Marathon bombing and the 9/11 attacks. Comer points out children are especially vulnerable. They rely on the support of parents, teachers and caregivers to help them deal with their emotions during and after traumatic events. As director of the Mental Health Interventions and Technology Program, Comer conducts research on expanding the quality, scope and accessibility of mental health care for youth. Much of his work examines children’s media-based exposure to traumatic events and how caregivers can best discuss frightening world events with children.

On the hunt for the next

breakthrough Researchers, students seek treatments to debilitating illnesses


Jill Beaver

ill Beaver and Angelo Andres came to FIU hoping to find new ways to prevent crippling diseases. Beaver delved into the complicated world of DNA to investigate the causes of 40 neurodegenerative diseases including Huntington’s disease, for which there is no cure. Under the guidance of BSI Director Yuk-Ching Tse-Dinh, Andres focused on antibiotics that could combat tuberculosis. Both are part of a broader initiative led by Tse-Dinh as director of FIU’s Biomolecular Sciences Institute (BSI), dedicated to fighting diseases at the molecular level.

Students and researchers at the institute are developing solutions to mosquito-borne diseases including Zika. They are studying superbugs that do not respond to existing antibiotics and compiling a database of natural fungal extracts that may lead to alternative treatments. With 8,000 fungal species already collected by biologist Angelo Andres Jun Li, the goal is to expand the library with tens of thousands of species and establish a screening program to identify new antibiotic leads. BSI researchers also are focused on finding new methods to combat prostate cancer. In the United States, approximately 30,000 men lose the battle against prostate cancer each year — predominantly due to recurrence caused by the cancer’s resistance to standard therapies. Focusing on drugs already approved by the FDA for other uses, our researchers are investigating whether certain drugs can limit the prostate cancer cells’ resistance, so standard therapies have a fighting chance. Their ultimate goal is the discovery of more effective, individualized treatments for all cancer patients. The work of our researchers is helping us imagine a world where medicine is as personalized as the patient — where diseases including cancer, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s are treated with targeted drugs customized according to a person’s individual genetic blueprint. Although much is left to do, BSI is offering of hope to many who have long believed cures were out of reach.

Of all the scientific advances in medical history, understanding the human genome holds the most promise to transform human wellness and treatment of disease. Researchers from the FIU Biomolecular Sciences Institute need your support to bring us one step closer to groundbreaking discoveries that will help millions while training the next generation of innovators to continue this important work. We hope you will contact us and become a part of this promising initiative at | 305-348-4349.

Complexities of

the brain

FIU takes an interdisciplinary approach to neuroscience research

With the recent arrival of our new state-of-the-art MRI machine, FIU researchers are unlocking the secrets of cognition to develop key treatments for autism, ADHD, depression and anxiety. They are achieving breakthroughs in teaching and learning and even better understanding of how we age. By helping support our researchers, you can help unravel the pathways leading to an improved human experience. To learn how you can get involved, contact | 305-348-4349.


any FIU scientists from a variety of disciplines have dedicated their careers to studying mental processes in the healthy and the diseased human brain. They study brain activity, including language, cognition, emotion, action, sensory perception and mental health, while working to develop new technologies in cognitive neuroimaging. A key component of our brain research is the new Center for Imaging Science. It serves as the MRI site for FIU’s part of the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study — the largest long-term study of brain development and child health in the United States. The state-of-the-art facility offers opportunities for on-campus research and student training in various fields including physics, psychology, engineering, public health, chemistry and biology. The center is home to the 3 Tesla Siemens MAGNETOM Prisma MRI scanner which brings the latest imaging technology to FIU. In addition to the landmark ABCD study, our researchers are using this MRI facility to develop more targeted treatments for children with ADHD and other behavioral and emotional disorders including those related to sleep. This research will lead to new interventions that could dramatically improve the lives of thousands of children and families affected by these disorders. Our scientists are using this MRI technology to analyze data from the brain and other areas of the body to discover how screen time affects children’s social and brain development or determine if coffee or energy drinks have negative effects in children’s development. They are also providing critical training for our students to become the next generation of biomedical scientists in universities, hospitals and clinics, research labs and more. Our groundbreaking research promises to inform future educational strategies, child development innovation, research priorities, more effective public health interventions and science-based policy decisions across the nation.

Psychologist Lindsay C. Malloy spoke about false confessions at TEDxFIU 2016.

When interrogations are

not created equal

Researchers advocate for the most vulnerable


o solve a crime, questions must be asked of witnesses, victims and suspects. But not all questions are created equal. Neither are interviewing techniques.

Psychologists Nadja Schreiber Compo and Lindsay C. Malloy live in a world of questions. Schreiber Compo’s research focuses on investigative interviewing and eyewitness memory. Current guidelines recommend interviewers review all available case information prior to questioning a witness. However, a recent study by Schreiber Compo suggests interviewers who have little to no knowledge of the crime prior to an interview actually obtain more detailed and accurate information than those who reviewed case information prior to questioning a witness. This information goes against traditional practices, but Schreiber Compo hopes law enforcement agencies will take note. Blind interviewers, as she calls them, typically don’t have preconceived notions of what is about to be said in an interview and, therefore, ask less suggestive questions. Informed interviewers will cut questioning short because they are influenced by information in the pre-interview report. While Schreiber Compo is focused on what an interviewer knows before questioning a witness, Malloy is more interested in how questions are asked. Malloy has devoted her career to improving the treatment of youths in the legal system. She is particularly concerned with juveniles that make false confessions — something that happens in as many as 42 percent of all wrongful convictions among juveniles. Interrogation techniques are often blamed because children and adolescents don’t respond to questioning the same way adults do. Malloy is on a mission to change that, conducting research and engaging in public outreach to raise awareness for much-needed reforms in the juvenile justice system. Schreiber Compo and Malloy are part of a growing trend in the criminal justice system — one that seeks to improve investigations and protect those who are vulnerable, while gathering the best information possible to solve crimes. The majority of current interrogation research has focused on samples of young adults enrolled in college, raising concerns about whether findings apply to real-world situations. To address this, our legal psychologists are seeking funding to expand their research to study both true and false confessions in non-students from diverse demographic groups. Their findings could lead to better ways to turn research into action.

FIU is one of the few universities in the world with a doctoral concentration in legal psychology. Our Legal Psychology Program focuses on research in witness memory, interrogations, investigative interviewing, lineups, deception detection, children’s testimony and juror decision-making. The program’s major focus is to conduct empirical research crucial to our society’s ability to dispense justice effectively. You can support this important work by contacting us at | 305-348-4349.

Revolutionizing treatment for

child mental health

Eleven-year-old Aylani Suazo had not spoken to anyone in school since age 7. She and her family traveled from North Carolina to participate in CCF’s selective mutism summer program. For Aylani, the program proved to be transformative.


ationwide, 20 percent of children suffer from at least one mental health disorder. The struggles can tear families apart. Many school systems are overwhelmed. The monetary cost to our society is in the tens of billions of dollars. But researchers at FIU’s Center for Children and Families (CCF) are giving hope to those living this reality. Through research and clinical work, they are revolutionizing treatments for child mental health and behavior disorders including ADHD, anxiety, depression, addiction and more. They are studying brain development and cognition. One research team is working on the National Institutes of Health’s largest ever effort to examine adolescent brain development and child health in the United States. Programs throughout the country designed to treat ADHD and other disorders often are based on the science developed by FIU’s researchers. As the fastest-growing clinical and research center dedicated to child mental health in the United States, CCF has helped more than 7,000 families since its founding in 2010. Its signature Summer Treatment Program has been replicated at many sites worldwide. In just eight weeks, children receive 360 hours of treatment — the equivalent to seven years of weekly one-hour sessions. The CCF summer camp setting has proven effective in treating ADHD and other less known disorders like selective mutism — an anxiety disorder that can hinder a child’s academic achievement and socialization. A recent study led by William E. Pelham Jr., psychologist and CCF director, shows children treated first with behavioral modification do significantly better than those who are medicated first. However, in the United States, medication is the first line of treatment for 90 percent of children with ADHD. A separate study by CCF researchers showed treating behavior first was also more cost-effective at approximately $700 less per child annually — a national savings of more than $4.5 billion a year in ADHD health care costs. CCF also offers infant and early childhood services, family and couples counseling, parent training, video teleconferencing therapy, school-based services, and customized treatment for children and adolescents. There are 18 million families with children suffering from mental health problems in this country. With support, CCF can continue to expand the availability of and access to effective, evidence-based treatment for those who need it most.

Researchers at the FIU Center for Children and Families are leaders in developing clinical treatments for ADHD, autism, anxiety, aggression and adolescent substance abuse. Using telemedicine, they help children directly affected by natural disasters and terrorist attacks. CCF helps hundreds of children every summer and trains more than 400 educators a year, but the need is much greater. Support is needed to continue research, provide treatment scholarships to children in need, train the next generation of mental health researchers and professionals and ensure evidence-based practices are implemented nationwide. To learn how you can support these efforts, contact | 305-348-4349.


by teaching FIU creates model for education innovation


Randy Juste

andy Juste was a math Learning Assistant at FIU who earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry in spring 2016. As a student, between classes and studying, he worked 15 hours a week in the Mastery Math Lab, where students finetune their math skills during weekly booster sessions. It is predominantly staffed by Learning Assistants, like Juste, who are there to help their peers navigate the rigors of math. This approach is an alternative to traditional lecture learning, making classwork more relatable.

A second Mastery Math Lab launched in the fall of 2016 to serve more than 2,000 additional students. Undergraduates taking Finite Math, Social Choice Math and Statistics for Behavioral Science spend two hours a week working on homework, projects, quizzes and other concepts with the help of nearly 30 full-time Learning Assistants. Funded by the university’s tech fee, the new lab is equipped with 128 computers and three teamwork stations for students to collaborate in group projects and consult with faculty on-site.

According to the President’s Council for Science and Technology, 1 million more STEM graduates than currently expected will be needed in the next decade to maintain our country’s global standing in science and technology. Through groundbreaking research in teaching and learning, FIU is changing the STEM work force landscape and driving innovation in industries both locally and beyond. Help us provide tomorrow’s change-makers with the support they need and develop the programs to help them thrive by contacting us at | 305-348-4349.

The implementation of the Learning Assistant program — where students teach other students — has revolutionized how courses in physics, math, chemistry, earth sciences and biological sciences are taught at FIU. During the fall 2016 semester, 155 courses relied on 327 Learning Assistants helping more than 13,000 FIU students, making it the largest Learning Assistant program in the country. Pioneered by faculty in the FIU STEM Transformation Institute, our program serves as a national laboratory of evidence-based models for teaching science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) in multicultural, urban communities. Through peer learning and new technology, the College of Arts, Sciences & Education is helping thousands of students who might otherwise struggle to succeed in STEM. As a national model for STEM education reform and one of the top producers of STEM degrees for minorities, FIU is committed to training the next generation of STEM teachers while increasing the number of STEM professionals and teachers locally and nationally.



Women’s and Gender Studies director is a career physicist with a passion for equality


rowing up in Turkey, Yesim Darici knew she wanted to be a physicist. She got her degree and set her sights on a Ph.D. in the United States. Initially, she was not aware of the climate for women in the field in the 1970s. For the first 15 years, all her colleagues were men. When Darici joined the faculty at FIU in 1987, she became the first female physics professor in Florida. Although she did not pursue a career in advocacy, Darici became a trailblazer for women in science. She is a scientist — a theoretical and experimental physicist with expertise in transition metals and clean coal technology. Today, she is also FIU’s leading advocate for women and gender issues as director of FIU’s Center for Women’s and Gender Studies. Darici has been instrumental in promoting diversity and more opportunities for women in STEM. She is a co-investigator for a $3.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation to develop strategies to increase the number of women and minority professors in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and the social and behavioral sciences at FIU. She is a champion for victims of social and gender-based violence. Although Darici never experienced violence herself, she knows it is the grim reality for millions across the globe. Gender-based violence, sex trafficking and exploitation are on the rise. With the help of the WARE Foundation and Darici’s guidance, FIU’s Center for Women’s and Gender Studies is expanding its initiative for Gender Violence Prevention. The initiative will facilitate research to identify causes and consequences, risk and protective factors of sex trafficking and gender-based violence. In collaboration with local and international agencies, the center will develop violence prevention and intervention programs that can be implemented and evaluated. Darici’s vision for this initiative is that it serves as an academic model for other universities and a catalyst for change in communities throughout the world. For a career that has spanned two continents, three states and three decades, Darici has spent a lifetime navigating both inequality and opportunity — whether she was aware or not. It is her desire now to help create a world where inequality is part of our history and opportunity is part of everyone’s future.

The FIU Center for Women’s and Gender Studies promotes initiatives targeting solutions that will help put an end to violence and address concerns of social equity. Issues of equal access to education and social justice are addressed through scholarship opportunities for women in STEM and research centered on insights that will end the cycle of abuse. Help us support this urgent research and get involved by contacting us at | 305-348-4349.



Scientists provide ground-breaking solutions for society


hett Williamson is fighting counterfeiters with data. Before earning his Ph.D. in 2016, Williamson was helping investigators trace counterfeit currency and fraudulent security documents by developing new and improved methods for the analysis of inks. His research has led to the development of an ink library, a first-of-its kind database that can be used throughout the world for security intelligence and anti-counterfeiting measures. Today, he is a visiting postdoctoral associate at FIU’s International Forensic Research Institute (IFRI). Efforts like Williamson’s — designed to advance science for real world application — are what drive faculty and students at IFRI to create, innovate and explore. IFRI faculty members have secured patents for inventions that improve processing of rape kits, enable on-site detection of explosives, and offer rapid detection of bacteria, mold, carcinogens and much more. FIU Provost and Executive Vice President Kenneth G. Furton was recently named a National Academy of Inventors fellow for his innovations in forensic science. Furton is a professor of chemistry and biochemistry and founder of IFRI. Ongoing collaborations with Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS) and local law enforcement agencies provide unique opportunities for IFRI to educate, train and assist future generations of forensic science professionals at all levels.

Scientists at FIU’s International Forensic Research Institute are developing stateof-the-art technologies that advance the field of forensic science and train the next generation of researchers. With your support, IFRI researchers will continue to improve and innovate law enforcement tools in drug exposure detection, crime scene investigation, DNA analysis and more for the administration of justice. Support these efforts by contacting | 305-348-4349.

Groundwork is also being laid for the future of forensic science. IFRI hosts an annual symposium featuring the latest in research findings and new technologies. In 2016, the symposium welcomed nearly 100 M-DCPS students as part of the first High School Student Forensic Academy at FIU. Students participated in a K-9 unit scent detection demonstration and toured FIU’s state-of-the art trace evidence and DNA profiling facilities. Through resources from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, they also witnessed a demonstration on the effects of illicit drugs. As crime continues to evolve, so does the need for new technologies to protect communities and combat criminals. Our forensic scientists are constantly reinventing and developing new methods to solve crimes that many thought to be unsolvable.

Rhett Williamson demonstrates his currency ink analysis process in the International Forensic Research Institute’s Trace Evidence Analysis Facility.


On the cover: Rhett Williamson earned a Ph.D. in Forensic Science in 2016. You can read more about his research in this School of Integrated Science and Humanity Year in Review.

School of Integrated Science and Humanity yer in Review 2016  

Florida International University College of Arts, Sciences & Education

School of Integrated Science and Humanity yer in Review 2016  

Florida International University College of Arts, Sciences & Education