About

Our Director and Mentors

The USF-HHMI STEM Academy is directed by Dr. Richard S. Pollenz. Dr. Pollenz is a professor in the Department of Cell Biology, Microbiology and Molecular Biology, Associate Dean in Undergraduate Studies and also the Director of the Office for Undergraduate Research. He has been faculty at USF since 2000 and was named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2013 for his contribution to the fields of molecular pharmacology. Since 2009, Dr. Pollenz has focused his efforts on building innovative education programs in STEM and non-STEM disciplines and is fully committed to student success and helping all USF students "See what is possible!" The USF-HHMI STEM Academy program is based in part on the highly successful High School STEM Academy program that is managed by Dr. Pollenz and his team each summer.

The USF-STEM Academy Graduate Mentors

A graduate student who is studying in a STEM doctoral program will mentor 24 STEM Academy Scholars. The ten STEM Academy Graduate Scholars who served in the program are listed below and the 2018 Graduate Scholars will be updated in Spring 2018.

Briana Aguila: Doctoral Candidate in the Department of Chemistry
Doctoral Mentor: S Ma, PhD
General Research Area: Porous material synthesis and application
Research Focus: Synthesis of functionalized porous organic polymers

Karena Nguyen: Doctoral Candidate in the Department of Integrative Biology
Doctoral Mentor: J Rohr, PhD
General Research Area: Disease ecology, water quality
Research Focus: Water quality research focusing on designing assays that target specific bacterial genes within host species

Brain O'Flynn: Doctoral Candidate in the Department of Chemistry
Doctoral Mentor: D Merkler, PhD
General Research Area: Enzymology
Research Focus: Study of enzymes found in the red flour beetle: Tribolium Casteneum

Sylvia Singh: Doctoral Candidate in the Department of Chemistry
Doctoral Mentor: J Cai, PhD
General Research Area: Medicinal Chemistry and Organic Synthesis
Research Focus: Medicinal Chemistry and Organic Synthesis

Melanie Kernbach: Doctoral Candidate in the Department of Integrative Biology
Doctoral Mentor: Marty Martin, PhD
General Research Area: Disease Biology and Ecoimmunology

Haley Hanson: Doctoral Candidate in the Department of Integrative Biology
Doctoral Mentor: Marty Martin, PhD
General Research Area: Disease Biology and Ecoimmunology

Olapeju Bolarinwa: Doctoral Candidate in the Department of Chemistry
Doctoral Mentor: J Cai, PhD
General Research Area: Chemistry/Physical Science Research

Mary Kate O'Donnell: Doctoral Candidate in the Department of Integrative Biology
Doctoral Mentor: SM Deban, PhD
General Research Area: Comparative Biomechanics and Functional Morphology