Leadership Bios

Office of the Dean

 
Dean Valery E. Forbes

Valery E. Forbes, Ph.D.

Dean, Charles E. Schmidt College of Science

Valery E. Forbes serves as Dean of the College of Science. From 2015-2022 she was Dean of the College of Biological Sciences at University of Minnesota. From 2011-2015 she was Director of the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. From 1989-2010, she lived and worked in Denmark, most recently as the Founding Chair of the Department of Environmental, Social and Spatial Change and Professor of Aquatic Ecology and Ecotoxicology at Roskilde University. Dr. Forbes received her Bachelor’s Degree (Biology & Geology) from the State University of New York at Binghamton in 1983, her M.Sc. (Marine Environmental Science) from SUNY-Stony Brook in 1984, and her Ph.D. (Coastal Oceanography), also from SUNY- Stony Brook in 1988. Specific research topics include population ecology and modeling, fate and effects of toxic chemicals in sediments, and ecological risk assessment. Dr. Forbes has served on the Danish Natural Sciences Research Council, the European Research Council, NATO’s Environmental Security Panel, and as ad hoc reviewer for numerous funding agencies from various countries. She is on the editorial board of several international journals and provides scientific advice to the private and public sectors. In 2018 she was awarded a prestigious Helmholtz International Fellowship.

Assistant to the Dean, Kacey Walker, 561-297-3288

 
Kacey Walker

Kacey Walker

Assistant to the Dean

Kacey Walker joined the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science as the Assistant to the Dean in January 2024. She is a former member of the women’s golf team at FAU and graduated with her B.A in Criminal Justice in the spring of 2022. As a student-athlete Kacey was recognized as an All-American Scholar by the Women’s Golf Coaches Association for her academic and athletic efforts in both the 2020 and 2022 seasons. In her final year of play during the 2023 season, Kacey was awarded the C-USA Commissioner’s Academic Medal. Currently, Kacey is in her final semester of the Master of Public Administration program at FAU.

Associate Deans, Directors, and Chairs

 
Evonne Rezler

Evonne Rezler, Ph.D.

Senior Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies, Charles E. Schmidt College of Science 

Dr. Rezler received her B.S. with Honors (1996) and Ph.D. (2001) degrees in Chemistry from the University of Sydney, Australia. In 2002, she joined the laboratory of Dr. Laurence Hurley at the Arizona Cancer Center as a Postdoctoral Fellow where she carried out research investigating the formation and structure of G-quadruplexes in the promoter regions of oncogenes and their putative role in the onset and progression of various cancers. In 2005, Dr. Rezler was recognized with BioFlorida’s Legacy in Life Science Award for the research she conducted in Dr. Fields’ Lab as a Postdoctoral Fellow on developing drug delivery systems targeted to cellular receptors in metastatic melanoma cells, and investigating the mechanism of drug delivery by cell selective cell penetrating peptides (CPPs). In 2006, Dr. Rezler joined FAU’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, teaching Organic and Inorganic Chemistry lab and lecture courses, and conducting Chemical Education research. Dr. Rezler currently serves as Senior Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies in the College of Science. She leads the College of Science and Pre-Health advising teams to help students achieve their academic, career, and timely graduation goals. Additionally, her responsibilities include leading College of Science SACS accreditation compliance, and academic program evaluation and assessment efforts.

Since 2020, Dr. Rezler has been working with a diverse and interdisciplinary research team at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) as part of the FAU STEM Research Group for Digital Laboratory Learning. She serves as the scientific and evaluation lead on the research team. To date research efforts have focused on developing, implementing, and evaluating the efficacy of a novel digital instructional/learning approach that utilizes immersive online content (IOC) in the Neurophysiology and General Chemistry 1 practical laboratory courses at FAU.

Dr. Rezler is currently co-PI of the National Science Foundation (NSF) Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE) Program GP-IMPACT grant: “A Geopathway Utilizing High-Tech Geoscience Experiences for Recruitment and Retention-A Collaboration between PBSC and FAU”, and the NSF Hispanic Serving Institutions IUSE Program grant: “STEM Articulation and Transfer Collaborative Project” with Palm Beach State College. She also recently served as co-PI on FAU’s NSF ADVANCE Institutional Transformation-Catalyst (IT-Catalyst) grant: “Transforming Faculty Gender Diversity at Florida Atlantic University”, and a PI of a NSF Transforming Undergraduate Education in Science (TUES) grant: “Vertical Integration of Raman Spectroscopy into the Chemistry Curriculum” that successfully incorporated a 'spectroscopy-to-learn' approach in the chemistry curriculum at FAU.

 
John (Jay) Baldwin

John Baldwin, Ph.D.

Associate Dean, Faculty Development, Charles E. Schmidt College of Science and Interim Director of the School of Environmental, Coastal, and Ocean Sustainability

Dr. John “Jay” Baldwin serves as the Associate Dean for Faculty Development in the Schmidt College of Science and is a Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences. In addition, he serves as FAU’s Chair of the Diving and Boating Board. He received a B.Sc. in Zoology from the University of Maryland, College Park and his Ph.D. in Cell and Developmental Biology from the University California at Davis at the U.C. Bodega Marine Lab. Following a Postdoctoral Fellow position at the University of Florida in the Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, Dr. Baldwin joined the faculty at Florida Atlantic University as an Assistant Professor in 1998. Dr. Baldwin runs an active and diverse research program in population genetics and conservation ecology. 

 
Predrag Cudic

Predrag Cudic, Ph.D.

Associate Dean for Research, Charles E. Schmidt College of Science

Dr. Predrag Cudic earned his Ph.D., a degree in Chemistry from the University of Zagreb, College of Science, Croatia, in 1996. He then joined a group of Prof. Jean-Marie Lehn, winner of the 1987 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, at the Collège de France in Paris, France, as a Postdoctoral Fellow. In 1998 Dr. Cudic moved to the University of Pennsylvania, School of Medicine, Philadelphia, USA, where he had further postdoctoral training. Starting in August 2003, Dr. Cudic began his independent research and teaching career in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Florida Atlantic University (FAU). In August 2009 he was awarded tenure and promoted to the rank of Associate Professor. In August 2010, Dr. Cudic joined Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies in Florida and in 2016 he came back to FAU as a tenured Full Professor. His research interests are in the field of peptide-based drug discovery and he was funded by the American Heart Association, NIH and DoD throughout his career.

 
Zhixiao Xie

Zhixiao Xie, Ph.D.

Associate Dean for Graduate Studies & Professor, Charles E. Schmidt College of Science

Dr. Zhixiao Xie serves as the Associate Dean for Gradaute Studies and is a Professor in Geosciences. He joined FAU Geosciences Department in 2003 and was Department Chair from 2015-2023. From 2014-2015, he was the the Associate Dean for Rearch and Partnership initiatives. From 2011-2015, he was the Director for Center for GIS. Dr. Xie earned his BS degree in Geography from Peking University, China, his MS degree in Ecology from Chinese Academy of Sciences, his MS degree in Computer Science and Engineering and PhD in Geography from State University of New York at Buffalo. A broadly trained GIScientist, his research focus on geospatial data analysis and modeling, and their applications in tackling various envionmental issues facing society. His research were funded by a variety of federal and state agencies.

 
Shailaja Allani

Shailaja Allani, Ph.D.

Director, Center for Molecular Biology and Biotechnology and FAU Biotech Bridge

Shailaja Allani, Ph.D., serves as an Associate Scientist in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, as well as the Director of the FAU Center for Molecular Biology and Biotechnology. Her research aims to understand the role of oxidative stress on aging and age-related diseases. Oxidative stress plays a significant role in the pathogenesis of many age-related diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease and retinal diseases.

 
Yanmei Li

Yanmei Li, Ph.D., AICP

Administrative Fellow for Faculty Development

Yanmei Li, Ph.D., AICP, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning. She holds a Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning from the Ohio State University and a Master’s degree in Regional Economics from Beijing Normal University. Dr. Li has taught various courses in research methods, geography, and urban planning. She has actively participated in the plan-making process of local communities, served on multiple advisory committees on planning, and served as a board member for local planning organizations and boards. She is actively involved in the planning profession and served as a conference track chair, and a member to various committees in national planning organizations.

Dr. Li’s research interests focus on housing and community development, research methods, and real estate and urban economics. She is very interested in policies related to affordable housing, sustainable community development, housing programs for people with special needs, historic preservation, and housing rehabilitation. She is particularly interested in the relationship between housing market, neighborhoods, racial minorities, and immigrants. 

 
Gary W. Perry

Gary W. Perry, Ph.D.

Director of the Center for Complex Systems and Brain Sciences, Charles E. Schmidt College of Science.

Dr. Perry currently serves as Director of the Center for Complex Systems and Brain Sciences and is a tenured Professor of Neuroscience in the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science,. He joined the Center for Complex Systems and Brain Sciences and the Department of Psychology at FAU in 1989. He has taught extensively in the graduate and undergraduate programs at FAU and he has been involved in the development of several interdisciplinary graduate programs, initially the Ph.D. program in Complex Systems and Brain Sciences, as well as the joint graduate Ph.D. program in Integrative Biology and Neuroscience with the Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience. His research interests have included molecular and cellular mechanisms regulating neural development, neural regeneration, and neuroplasticity; and more recently the evolving field of Educational Neuroscience. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Manchester (1977) and B.Sc. in Biochemistry from the University of London (1973) in the UK.

Previously, Dr. Perry served as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at FAU (2014 - 2018) following nine months as Interim Provost (2013-2014), as well as Dean of the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science (2006-2013), FAU's Interim Graduate Dean (2004-2006), and Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies in the College (1998-2004).

 
Kimberly Vardeman

Kimberly Vardeman

Interim Director of the Center for Environmental Studies (CES), Charles E. Schmidt College of Science.

Kimberly Vardeman has worked for FAU’s Center for Environmental Studies since 2016.  Ms. Vardeman manages, facilitates, and enhances the  CES Coastal Resilience Research Lab (CRRL)  and provides administration for over $1.1 million dollars of grant funding for the lab.  She coordinates the CRRL’s community outreach resiliency events, exhibits and resiliency communication to the general public and CES’s broader community.  She coordinated CES’ King Tide events in 2016 and 2018 for government and business leaders; CES’ education and outreach at the first and second annual Broward Youth Climate Change Summits; as well other numerous outreach at events that facilitate climate change and coastal resilience collaboration among different sectors of society. 

Ms. Vardeman’s training is in sociology and environmental science/studies (U. Florida and Nova Southeastern U.) with her master’s graduate research focused in the coastal environment-society field, wherein she identified factors that motivate sustainable behavior through a South Florida Girl Scouts social system using phenomenological methodology.  Ms. Vardeman’s specialization is in environmental sustainability and conservation, qualitative social science research, conflict resolution, and public service communication and outreach.

 
John Renne

John Renne, Ph.D., AICP

Director of the Center for Urban and Environmental Solutions (CUES), Charles E. Schmidt College of Science.

John L. Renne, Ph.D., AICP is the Director of the Center for Urban and Environmental Solutions and a Professor in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning in the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science at Florida Atlantic University (FAU). Dr. Renne’s work focuses on creating sustainability and resilience through land use and transportation systems. His research has been widely cited by academic journals and news media, reaching over a billion people across the globe. His books include Creating Resilient Transportation Systems: Policy, Planning, and Implementation Adaptation Urbanism and Resilient Communities: Transforming Streets to Address Climate Change Transport Beyond Oil: Policy Choices for a Multimodal Future Transit Oriented Development: Making It Happen . He is active in the professional community and serves on a number of boards of professional associations, nonprofits and companies.

Department Chairs

 
Tiffany Roberts Briggs

Tiffany Roberts Briggs, Ph.D.

Chair of Geosciences, Director of Environmental Sciences Program

Dr. Tiffany Roberts Briggs serves as Director of the Environmental Science Program and is an Associate Professor in the Department of Geosciences. She received a Ph.D. (2012) and M.S. (2008) in Geology and a B.S. in Environmental Science (Honors College, 2002) from the University of South Florida. Before joining FAU in 2014, she was an Instructor in the Department of Geology & Geophysics at Louisiana State University. She leads the FAU Coastal Studies Lab on a range of research topics in coastal geology, geomorphology, and coastal science. Her specific interests are related to natural (e.g., storm impact and recovery) and anthropogenic (e.g., beach nourishment) influences on coastal environments, environmental characterization of beach-nearshore habitat, and sediment as a resource for improving coastal resiliency.

 
Alan Kersten

Alan Kersten, Ph.D.

Chair, Department of Psychology, Charles E. Schmidt College of Science

Alan Kersten is a Professor and serves as Chair of the Department of Psychology. He received his B.S. (1986) from the University of Wisconsin and his M.A. (1993) and Ph.D. (1995) from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He also carried out postdoctoral research at Indiana University before coming to FAU in 1998 as an Assistant Professor. His research focuses on the conceptualization of events in cognitive processes such as language, memory, and categorization. His research on age differences in eyewitness memory for events has been supported by grants from the National Institute on Aging. He has received the honors of Distinguished Teacher of the Year and Researcher of the Year from the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science and was named Master Teacher by the Department of Psychology.

 
Sarah Milton

Sarah Milton, Ph.D.

Chair, Department of Biological Sciences, Charles E. Schmidt College of Science

Dr. Sarah L. Milton is the Chair of the Department of Biological Sciences. Dr. Milton previously served as the Associate Director of the Graduate Program in Integrative Biology at FAU, and is co-director of the Master’s Program in Marine Science and Oceanography.  She graduated magna cum laude from Cornell University with a B.A. in Biology (1988) and earned her doctoral degree in Biological Oceanography at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences in 1994.

Dr. Milton initially worked at FAU as a Research Assistant Professor prior to her appointment as a tenure-track Assistant Professor in 2006.  She was promoted to Associate Professor in 2011 and to Full Professor in 2019.  Her research interests lie in environmental physiology, investigating the effects of environmental stressors on animal physiology and adaptive mechanisms of survival.  This includes two main branches: (1) survival of the brain in the absence of oxygen, and (2) sea turtle physiology and conservation. She has nearly 50 peer-reviewed publications covering a broad range of topics in these areas.

 
Diana Mitsova

Diana Mitsova, Ph.D.

Chair, Department of Urban and Regional Planning, Charles E. Schmidt College of Science

Diana Mitsova, Ph.D., is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning, and John DeGrove Eminent Scholar in Growth Management and Development. She received her Ph.D. in Regional Development Planning from the University of Cincinnati (2008) and her Master's from the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (2003). Dr. Mitsova's research focuses on the use of geographic information systems and spatial and statistical analysis to understand the interactions between the built and natural environments, enhance community resilience to natural disasters, and inform sustainable planning practices. Her research has been funded by NSF, NIH, FEMA, Florida Department of Emergency Management, Florida Sea Grant, The Nature Conservancy, USGS, FDOT, USDOT, and non-profit organizations. Dr. Mitsova is a lead co-author of a book titled Geospatial Applications for Climate Adaptation Planning (2019, Routledge/ Taylor & Francis). More recently, she has collaborated on several studies related to measures of greenspace, air quality, neighborhood change, and the built environment that can provide insight into the impact of environmental conditions on brain health and aging. She has authored/co-authored nearly 50 peer-reviewed articles. She has served on various task forces and working groups and is currently a member of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine planning committee.

 
Andrew Terentis

Andrew Terentis, Ph.D.

Chair, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Charles E. Schmidt College of Science

Dr. Andrew Terentis is a Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and currently serves as Chair of the department. Prior to joining FAU in 2004 he received Bachelor of Science and Ph.D. degrees in physical Chemistry from the University of Sydney and was a postdoctoral researcher at the Heart Research Institute in Sydney and at the University of Arizona. Dr. Terentis’ research is aimed at developing laser-based techniques for the detection and treatment of skin cancers, as well studying structure-function relationships in cancer-related enzymes and cell-penetrating peptides. While at FAU he has received funding from the NIH, NSF and the American chemical society and in 2020 he received a U.S. Fulbright Scholar award

 
Yuan Wang

Yuan Wang, Ph.D.

Chair, Department of Mathematic Sciences, Charles E. Schmidt College of Science

Dr. Yuan Wang is a Professor in the Department of Mathematical Sciences and currently serves as Chair of the department. She received her Ph.D. in Mathematics from Rutgers University in 1990. Dr. Wang's research interests lie in several areas of the mathematical theory of systems and control, currently focusing on stability analysis for systems that are affected by time delays and disturbances. While at FAU, she has received funding from NSF. She won an NSF Young Investigator Award in 1994, and was elected as an IEEE Fellow in 2013.

 
Luc T. Wille

Luc T. Wille, Ph.D.

Chair, Department of Physics, Charles E. Schmidt College of Science

Luc T. Wille is the Chair of the Physics Department. He holds a B.S. (1980) and Ph. D. (1983) in Physics from Ghent University (Belgium). He subsequently earned an M.S. in Computer Science (1985). He was a postdoctoral researcher at Daresbury Laboratory (UK) and the University of California at Berkeley. He came to FAU in 1989 as an Assistant Professor, was promoted to Associate Professor in 1991, and to Professor in 1995. He has won three awards for excellence in teaching, including the Distinguished Teacher of the Year award (1996), and one award for excellence in undergraduate advising. His research covers a wide range of topics, all centered around the collective behavior of complex systems. Some recent examples include synchronization of oscillators, protein folding, DNA denaturation, and magnetic nano structures. He has published over 160 papers and edited 11 books.

 
Michael Zourdos

Michael Zourdos, Ph.D.

Chair, Department of Exercise Science and Health Promotion, Charles E. Schmidt College of Scienc

Mike received his Ph.D. (2012) in Exercise Physiology from Florida State University, studying under Dr. Jeong-Su Kim, then began at FAU in the Fall of 2012 as an Assistant Professor. Mike received early promotion and tenure to Associate Professor in 2017 and again received early promotion Full Professor in 2021.
 
Mike is the Director of FAU’s Muscle Physiology Research Lab (research: Google Scholar and PubMed) which, has three main focuses: 1) Configuring resistance training programs to enhance muscle hypertrophy and strength, 2) Examining the role of resistance training to induce responses in biomarkers associated with neuroprotection, and 3) Investigating novel resistance training program designs to improve health-related quality of life and combat muscle wasting in cancer patients undergoing curative treatments. 
 
Mike is proud to have mentored many students, and he and his students host the Muscle Lab Podcast, which is aimed at helping undergraduate and graduate students navigate research and academia.  

Administration

 
Dominique Blanchard

Dominique Blanchard, MBA

Business Manager, Charles E. Schmidt College of Science 

Dominique Blanchard is the Business Manager of the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. Before joining the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science, Dominique was the Associate Director of Research Accounting and served the Division of Research for 13 years. She received her MBA at Florida Atlantic University in 2014

 
Todd Clark

Todd Clark, M.Ed.

Director of Development, Charles E. Schmidt College of Science

Todd Clark joined the Schmidt College of Science in May 2023 as the Director of Development.  Todd works in partnership with the Dean, University-College leadership, and faculty to identify fundraising opportunities to support strategic initiatives and enhance FAU's reputation of excellence.  Before joining Florida Atlantic University, he held previous higher education fundraising roles with The Ohio State University, University of Arkansas and worked in college athletics at University of Louisville and Western Kentucky University.  He received his B.S.B.A. (2009) and M.E. (2011) from the University of Arkansas.

 
Zachary Greathouse

Zachary Greathouse, MBA

Director of Communications, Marketing, and External Relations Charles E. Schmidt College of Science

Zach joins the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science after six years at FAU’s Graduate College, where he served as Director of Marketing and Communications. In that role, he has been instrumental in the development of the Pathways to Graduate Education initiative, the University’s Three Minute Thesis Competition, the Graduate Fellowship Awards, and other initiatives.  He earned his B.S. in Marketing from UCF and his MBA from FAU.

 

Information Technology

 
Jay Paredes

Jay Paredes

Director of Information Technology, Charles E. Schmidt College of Science

Jay Paredes has served as the Director of Information Technology for the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science since November 2006. Prior to joining FAU, he spent more than a decade in Healthcare Information Technology helping to implement the new HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) guidelines. Earlier in his career, Mr. Paredes worked for the Design and Human Factors division of IBM; designing operating system user interfaces and testing assistive computer technologies for people with disabilities.

He is also a nature photographer and has provided images for conservation and governmental agencies such as the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and FAU research.

Additional Information
The Charles E. Schmidt College of Science offers unparalleled experiential learning opportunities to prepare the next generation of scientists and problem solvers.
Address
Charles E. Schmidt College of Science
Florida Atlantic University
777 Glades Rd, SE-43
Boca Raton, FL 33431
Fax: (561) 297-3292