Lab Members

Dr. Melissa McCartney, Assistant Professor

(McCartney CV_April 2023)

Melissa McCartney, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences and the STEM Transformation Institute at FIU.  Dr. McCartney’s research interests center on science identity and what educators can do to help our students begin to see themselves as scientists, especially as this relates to identifying a scientific career path and entering the STEM workforce.  Before coming to FIU, Dr. McCartney spent two years as a Senior Project Director in science education at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), five years at Science Editorial working on education and neuroscience manuscripts, and was a Mirzayan Science Policy Fellow at the National Academies where she worked with the Committee on Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine.  Dr. McCartney was a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Neurology at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and holds a PhD in Neuroscience from The George Washington University and a BS in Biochemistry from Binghamton University (SUNY). 


Catherine Guinovart, graduate student


Cathy Guinovart is Cuban American and grew up in Key Largo, Florida. She graduated from FIU with a B.A. in Sustainability and the Environment, certificates in Entrepreneurship and Coastal and Marine Affairs and a minor in Marine Biology. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in the McCartney Lab. Her research focuses on culturally grounded biology education. She is working with Indigenous Maya communities in Quintana Roo, Mexico to assess a culturally grounded STEM curriculum designed by Marine Conservation without Borders. Her research focuses on the role of culturally grounded curricula in the development of science literacy. She is also exploring the relationship between science and cultural identity development. For the last eight years, she has also worked for FIU’s Coastlines and Oceans Division coordinating logistics, marketing, and education initiatives both as a Student Education and Outreach Coordinator and as a Coordinator of Administrative Services. 


Ashli Wright, graduate student

ashli with students

Ashli Wright was an Honors Biology, Advanced Placement, & Cambridge Biology Instructor at Maritime & Science Technology (MAST) Academy in Miami Dade Public Schools. Ashli has interned at the University of Miami Hussman Institute for Human Genomics and at the FIU Student Health Services. She holds a Master of Public Health, a BS in Health Education, and an Associate of Arts in Psychology. Ashli’s research interests center on STEM Identity, science communication, and STEM Equity. She is currently enrolled in the Biology Education Ph.D. program at FIU and has joined the lab to learn more about education research in biology.


Roxana Gonzalez, graduate student 

Roxana Gonzalez IMG_7257grew up in Miami and went to FIU for her B.S. in Biological Sciences with a Minor in Chemistry and Religious Studies. During her undergrad, she received teaching experience in the LA Program along with being an UBMS Algebra 2 instructor for soon to be 9th or 10th graders. After graduation, she worked at Jorge Mas Canosa as an Interventionist for 8th grade students who were struggling in Pre-Algebra. She has joined the Biology Education PhD Program to better herself as an instructor for future STEM generations.





Lab Alumni:

KyriakiDr. Kyriaki Chatzikyriakidou, postdoctoral fellow, now continuing her research from Greece!  



Eva2017Dr. Eva Knekta, Postdoctoral Fellow, now a Professor in Sweden! 




Dr. Tessy S. Ritchie, now the Chief Chemist and Director of the Instrumentation Core Facility at the Department of Chemistry at West Point! 



MJMarie Janelle (MJ) Tacloban, undergraduate research, now a Research Associate with the FIU STEM Transformation Institute!




Chelsey Manrique, undergraduate research, now a high school biology teacher!



kiana picture

Kiana Kasmaii, undergraduate research, preparing for graduate school




Amy Acosta, undergraduate research, taking care of lots of animals and preparing for veterinary school




Arielis Perez , research assistant, now preparing for graduate school





Dr. Matthew Kararo, Postdoctoral Fellow

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