SISH Spring 2017 Worlds Ahead Graduates
Alexandra Mosser Ph.D. in Psychology School Integrated Science and Humanity College of Arts, Sciences & Education
Alexandra Mosser thought she would follow her parents’ footsteps and become a musician. But during her undergraduate studies at the University of Pittsburgh, she took a class in law and psychology and it was then she realized she would be following a different path.
Upon completion of her bachelor’s degree and with her parents’ full support, Alexandra pursued a Ph.D. in legal psychology from FIU — one of the top programs in the country.
Working alongside Ron Fisher — one of the leading investigative interviewing researchers in the world — Alexandra studied how to most effectively gather information from valuable eyewitnesses or detainees. Her research was conducted with local and federal law enforcement and funded by the FBI’s High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group.
Alexandra has presented in numerous conferences and recently led a session for nearly 200 law enforcement professionals from the FBI, CIA and NSA as well as researchers. Under the guidance of Jacqueline Evans, her dissertation focused on whether a technique known as the cognitive interview can increase the number of contacts recalled in CDC investigations into the spread of infectious diseases like Ebola. She found this technique yielded approximately four more contacts. Her findings could impact other health investigations including tracing Zika sources.
After graduation, Alexandra will begin a post-doctoral fellowship in the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit 2, which investigates cyber crimes.
Robert Wood Bachelor of Arts in Psychology Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry School of Integrated Science and Humanity College of Arts, Sciences & Education
Robert Wood enrolled at FIU unsure of what career to pursue. He met Psychology Professor Lindsay Malloy and worked as a research assistant in her lab studying adult false confessions and children’s accounts of past events. His honors thesis examines how children respond to being coached to lie by their parents when questioned by authorities.
While immersing himself in psychology, Robert was also determined to take his weakest subject – chemistry – and make it one of his strongest. Putting in extra time and effort, the B’s and C’s on his exams became A’s. He became a chemistry learning assistant and teaching assistant under Senior Lecturer Uma Swamy. Robert did research on how to better teach chemistry and how to deliver targeted cancer treatments more effectively.
Robert is earning bachelor’s degrees in psychology and chemistry with a 3.93 GPA. He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa Society, the nation’s oldest honor society for the liberal arts and sciences.
Outside the classroom, Robert served as vice president of the FIU Chemical Society and member of FIU’s Student Success Committee. He also developed STEM outreach programs for local K-12 students. A shadowing experience under Physician Moises Irizarry inspired Robert to pursue a career in medicine.
After graduation, Robert will work as a medical scribe, attend a mission trip to Peru and apply to medical school. He wants to specialize in family medicine and sports medicine.
Jeevan GC Ph.D. in Physics School of Integrated Science and Humanity College of Arts, Sciences & Education
Jeevan GC grew up in rural Nepal where basic infrastructure, including electricity and transportation, was lacking. Agriculture was his family’s primary source of income. With no modern distractions, Jeevan developed a deep attachment to nature, often wondering how it all worked. His father, wanting to foster Jeevan’s curiosity, enrolled him in an English school not far from their village.
As he progressed in his studies, he came to appreciate that physics holds the key to understanding nature. He enrolled in the biophysics program at a university in Nepal. One day, he attended a seminar by a guest speaker — Prem Chapagain, an associate professor of physics at FIU. Jeevan decided then that he wanted to pursue a Ph.D. at FIU and study how proteins, DNA and other biomolecules function.
At FIU, Jeevan worked with a class of proteins called transformer proteins. Meanwhile, a world away, West Africa was battling the worst Ebola outbreak in history. Jeevan’s ever-growing curiosity got him thinking — what if the Ebola virus depends on a transformer protein to function? And if it does, could he find a weak spot to target and destroy the virus? Working with Chapagain and physics chairman Bernard Gerstman, Jeevan found answers to both questions. Yes it does and yes he could. Today, his research could lead to improved disinfectants for the Ebola virus.
Jeevan has accepted a research position at Washington State University where he will focus on designing new drugs to fight cancer.
Joel Greenup Bachelor of Arts in Psychology School of Integrated Science and Humanity College of Arts, Sciences & Education
Joel Greenup is no stranger to adversity. Born with spina bifida, Joel has never walked. He has undergone surgeries associated with a cerebrospinal fluid shunt inserted in his brain that helps with motor function and has undergone several more surgeries to treat broken bones, scoliosis, and issues with his bladder and kidneys.
While recovering from one of these surgeries at age 6, Joel experienced something peculiar. His hospital room seemed to stretch before him. His arms grew. His mother shrank and appeared to move at super-speed. He became consumed by a sense of paranoia and tried futilely to unwrap his legs from his hospital blankets.
This led to a new diagnosis – Alice in Wonderland Syndrome – and eventually a calling for Joel. Not much is known about the causes of the disorder and its symptoms, which mirror the experiences of Lewis Carroll’s protagonist in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Joel is looking to change that through a research project he is undertaking with the supervision of professor Bennett Schwartz and a neurosurgeon at a local hospital.
Getting to the place where he could make a difference hasn’t been easy. Joel overcame a difficult home environment and continues to battle bouts of depression. Today, he hopes to conclude his research project and help identify the illnesses shared by people with Alice in Wonderland Syndrome. Joel, an Honors College student who completed his bachelor’s degree in four years, also looks forward to one day earning a Ph.D. in neuroscience.