FIU’s climate change/sea level rise experts

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers predicts sea levels in South Florida will rise from three to seven inches by the year 2030 and from nine to 24 inches by the year 2060. Such changes would mean daunting challenges for South Florida communities to stay habitable. Below is a list of FIU experts on sea level rise and climate change that can address a variety of topics based on their areas of research and teaching.

For questions or assistance in contacting any of the following experts, please call the Office of Media Relations at 305-348-2232 or reach us individually at:

Maydel Santana-Bravo, director: 305-348-1555,
Madeline Baro, PR & communications manager: 305-348-2234,
Lilyvania Mikulski, strategic PR manager: 305-348-2716,
Dianne Fernandez, broadcast relations manager: 305-608-4870,
Isabel Gamarra, senior public relations associate: 305-348-6944,
JoAnn Adkins, asst. dir. of marketing & PR for the College of Arts & Sciences: 305-348-0398,

Robert W. Corell, School of Environment, Arts and Society
Robert W. Correll is a principal at the Global Environment Technology Foundation and leads its Center for Energy and Climate Solutions. Correll is currently Senior Fellow in FIU’s College of Arts and Science and its School of Environment, Arts and Society. In 2010, Corell founded the non-profit Global Science Associates, an interdisciplinary nucleus for the world’s best science experts and collaborations. He was recognized with other scientists for the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for his work with the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessments.

Saltwater intrusion, erosion and infrastructure impacts
Henry Briceno
Southeast Environmental Research Center
Henry Briceno is a research associate in the FIU Southeast Environmental Research Center. His research interests reach across the fields of climate and human-induced impacts on the water quality and nutrient cycling in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, Biscayne Bay, Florida Bay and the Everglades National Park. He is also investigating water quality changes induced by sea-level-rise and tides in South Florida and especially in Miami Beach. Briceno has extensive media experience and is fluent in Spanish.
(305) 348-1269

Tiffany Troxler, Sea Level Solutions Center
Southeast Environmental Research Center
Tiffany Troxler is the director of FIU’s Sea Level Solutions Center. Troxler is a wetland ecologist with appointments in the Southeast Environmental Research Center and Department of Biological Sciences at Florida International University in Miami. Her research program includes projects in coastal wetland ecosystem and carbon dynamics. She served on IPCC’s Task Force on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories (TFI) as their wetlands expert. She works to engage students and colleagues in national and international collaborative research with the aim of addressing local to global scale environmental challenges. She currently leads research on the effects of salinity inundation associated with sea-level rise to assess the impact on the  Everglades coastal wetlands.

Evelyn Gaiser, Southeast Environmental Research Center
Evelyn Gaiser is executive director of FIU’s School of Environment, Arts and Society (SEAS) and associate dean in the College of Arts & Sciences. Gaiser is an aquatic ecologist who specializes in algal biology and her research focuses on interpreting drivers of environmental change in algal communities. She is the lead investigator of the Florida Coastal Everglades Long-Term Ecological Research program.  In this capacity, Gaiser has actively built and led interdisciplinary research groups that integrate the natural and social sciences and developed effective communication strategies to ensure that solutions to environmental challenges are implemented.

Rene Marie Price, Department of Earth & Environment
Rene Marie Price is associate professor in FIU’s Department of Earth Sciences. Price’s research interests include the general areas of hydrogeology, ecohydrology and low-temperature aqueous geochemistry. More specifically, her research involves using chemical tracers to identify water sources, groundwater flow paths and groundwater-surface water interactions. Her studies have been conducted extensively in south Florida including the Everglades as well as in the Yucatan of Mexico and Mallorca, Spain.

John Kominoski, Southeast Environmental Research Center
John Kominoski is an ecosystem ecologist who specializes in terrestrial and aquatic organic matter processing, biogeochemistry, and ecosystem metabolism. His research focuses on interpreting drivers of environmental change through net ecosystem productivity. In the Everglades, Dr. Kominoski’s research focuses on the drivers of ecosystem carbon loss and nutrient uptake in mangrove and freshwater wetland ecosystems and comparative research in Gulf Coast wetlands of Texas. He is a co-investigator of the Florida Coastal Everglades Long-Term Ecological Research program.

Storm impact
Stephen Leatherman, Department of Earth & Environment
Stephen Leatherman is a professor in the Department of Earth & Environment at FIU. He is an internationally recognized authority on coastal storm impacts, beach erosion, and the effects of sea level rise. He has authored or edited 13 books and over 100 journal articles and technical reports on coastal issues. Dr. Leatherman has given expert testimony ten times to U.S. Congressional Committees and was the on-screen host and co-producer of the “Vanishing Lands” documentary film that won three international awards.

Keqi Zhang, International Hurricane Research Center
Keqi Zhang is a professor in the International Hurricane Research Center. His research focuses on coastal responses to sea level rise and storm impact, airborne Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) remote sensing, storm surge modeling, and mapping coastal hazards using geographic information systems (GIS).

Jorge Salazar-Carrillo, School of International and Public Affairs:
Jorge Salazar-Carrillo is a professor of economics in FIU’s School of International and Public Affairs. His research has covered practically all fields of economics, both in developed and underdeveloped economies. Currently he is focused on the recent economics of Asia and Latin America (including Cuba), and with U.S. macro and microeconomics.

Disaster Research
Richard Olson, Extreme Events Research,
Richard Olson is a professor in FIU’s College of International and Public Affairs and director of FIU’s Extreme Events Institute. Dr. Olson specializes in disaster research, arguing for understanding and analyzing disasters and catastrophes as inherently and inescapably political. He has studied extensively the politics of disaster, disaster risk reduction, Critical Juncture Theory, genocide and Latin American politics. Dr. Olson is one of FIU’s foremost experts on natural disasters.

Atorod Azizinamini, FIU’s Accelerated Bridge Construction Center
Atorod Azizinamini is director of FIU’s Accelerated Bridge Construction Center, established in 2011, as well as the Accelerated Bridge Construction University Transportation Center (ABC-UTC) at FIU, the first federally-funded entity focused on developing technology and methods to improve bridge building. He has been instrumental in facilitating the use of advanced materials and technologies in bridges. According to Azizinamini, the fluctuation in sea level, combined with other factors, could significantly reduce service life of our bridges if the problem is not addressed on a timely manner, especially for bridges located in coastal areas with supporting columns in the water and subject to sea level rise.

Architecture and Design
Marilys R. Nepomechie, College of Architecture + the Arts
Marilys Nepomechie is a registered architect and professor of architecture at FIU. Her writing, research, urban design and building projects focus on the cultural, social, and environmental contexts of design. With a multi-disciplinary faculty team, Nepomechie and FIU professor Marta Canavés are collaborators on Double Exposures, a National Science Foundation ULTRA-Ex grant studying the effects of sea level rise, globalization, immigration and growth on the Miami-Dade urban region; Nepomechie and Canavés are 3013 CINTAS Fellows in Architecture and co-curators of MIAMI 2100:  Envisioning a resilient second century at the Coral Gables Museum, and Miami/ La Habana : Magic City/ Novia del Mar at the second International Architecture Biennale in Rotterdam.

Marta Canavés, ASLA, IIDA, College of Architecture + the Arts
Marta Canavés is an interdisciplinary graduate faculty member, past director and chair of the Landscape Architecture Department at the FIU College of Architecture + The Arts, and interim director of Interior Design at the FIU School of Design. With a multi-disciplinary faculty team, Nepomechie and Canavés are collaborators on Double Exposures, a National Science Foundation ULTRA-Ex grant envisioning the effects of seal level rise, globalization, immigration and growth on the Miami-Dade urban region.
305 348 1886

Shahin Vassigh, Structural and Environmental Technologies Laboratory
Shahin Vassigh is a professor and the co-director of Structural and Environmental Technologies Laboratory at Florida International University (FIU), where she teaches structures and building technology courses. Vassigh has considerable professional experience through her work at various engineering firms that range from bridge analysis to large-scale building construction and design. Vassigh has built a nationally recognized body of research work focused on improving structures, building technology and sustainable building design education.

Thomas Spiegelhalter, Structural and Environmental Technologies Laboratory
Thomas Spiegelhalter’s work both in Europe and the U.S. has focused on numerous contextual solar, zero-fossil-energy, passive and low-energy building realizations projects; large-scale sustainability master planning and consultancies; redevelopment projects for abandoned post-industrial architectures and landscapes; engineered suspension bridges; preservation; and revitalization projects.

Roberto Rovira, Department of Landscape Architecture + Environmental and Urban Design (LAEUD)
Roberto Rovira is a landscape architect, former chair of FIU LAEUD, and principal of the interdisciplinary Studio Roberto Rovira. He combines his knowledge from landscape architecture, engineering, technology, and fine art to work at various scales and collaborate with interdisciplinary practitioners, community, and municipal and government organizations. His work explores the intersection of technology and living systems through projects like the Ecological Atlas, and the potential of landscape architecture to play a pivotal role in envisioning and shaping public space.

Public Health
Juan Pablo Sarmiento, Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work
Department of Environment & Occupational Health
Juan Pablo Sarmiento is a research professor and the director of the Disaster Risk Reduction Project, which is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development and housed in the FIU Extreme Events Institute. He has three decades of professional and field experience in health, health education and risk and disaster management at the national (Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance) and international (Latin American and the Caribbean, Pan-American Health Organization / World Health Organization) levels. In the last few years, he has been involved in the preparation of the Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction, a biennial publication of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction. His research areas include: disaster risk and emergency management.

Shimelis Setegn, Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work
Program Executive Officer of Global Water Sustainability
Shimelis Setegn has an interdisciplinary background and experience in environmental, hydrological and hydrodynamic modeling; ecohydrology, predicting the impact of climate and land-use changes on water resources, agriculture and public health; water, sanitation and hygiene and integrated water resources management. His research areas include: associations between water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) and waterborne diseases; GIS and environmental modeling applications in the environment, water resources and public health; global health issues of water quality and quantity; impact of global climate change on water, agriculture and health; and human health risk assessment for chemical and biological water contaminants.

Janvier Gasana, Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work
Department of Environment & Occupational Health
Janvier Gasana investigates, using exposure assessment, the role of short- and long-term interplay between environmental and occupational exposure to infections; allergens; soil, water, air, and foodborne contaminants; injury; stress; genes; and immune system in the pathological process that leads to the disease. He is also a consultant for the World Bank and United States Agency for International Development. His research areas include: etiology, triggers (including climate change); epigenetics, and prevention of asthma; as well as prevention of key residential and occupational hazards (including injury and stress).

Hospitality & Tourism
Nancy Loman Scanlon, Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management
Nancy Loman Scanlon is an associate professor in the Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management. With more than 30 years of lodging industry experience, Scanlon is also the vice-chair of the Engineering and Environment Committee of the American Hotel and Lodging Association and serves on the Advisory Panel of the International Tourism Partnership in London. Scanlon speaks internationally on climate change impacts and sustainability issues. Her doctorate dissertation is:  “An Analysis and Assessment of Environmental Operating Practices in Hotels and Resorts.”

Environmental/Science Communication
Juliet Pinto, School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
Department of Journalism and Broadcasting
Juliet Pinto, is an associate professor in the Department of Journalism and Broadcasting in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Pinto studies environmental communication in Spanish- and English-language media. She has developed classes in environmental journalism and communication, and has taken students to the Galapagos to report on issues pertaining to resource use and management there, as well as scuba dived down 62 feet to watch NASA astronauts train at the underwater Aquarius Reef Base in the Florida Keys. Her award-winning documentary on sea level rise, “South Florida’s Rising Seas,” aired in January 2014 and was repurposed by PBS NewsHour for their national newscast, as well as featured in the Sun-Sentinel and Miami Herald. Pinto participated e in the COP21 Paris Talks, a crucial United Nations conference seeking to achieve a new international agreement on climate change.
305-924-1494 (cellphone)

Water Resources Law, Ocean and Coastal Law, Natural Resources Law, Energy Law, International Environmental Law
Ryan B. Stoa, College of Law
College of Arts and Sciences
Ryan B. Stoa holds a joint appointment with FIU Law and the College of Arts and Sciences, where he is the co-Director of the International Water Group of the Institute for Water and the Environment. Stoa’s scholarly interests are in the field of environmental and natural resources law, including water resources law, ocean and coastal law, energy law, international environmental law, local government law, and natural disaster law. He is the Co-Director of the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Program at FIU, and the co-founder of the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Certificate. Stoa is an affiliate faculty member of the Africa and African Diaspora Studies Program at FIU’s School of International and Public Affairs, and provides technical expertise to international development programs in Haiti, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the South Caucasus. Stoa participated in the COP21 Paris Talks, a crucial United Nations conference seeking to achieve a new international agreement on climate change.
305-919-4118 (cellphone)