The Underwood Research Group

Assistant Professor: Sonia Underwood joined FIU in January 2016 after working as a Research Associate at Michigan State University. Prior to that, she received her PhD in Chemistry focused on chemistry education from Clemson University and her BS degree in Chemistry from University of Central Florida. With all of the amazing unique aspects that FIU has to offer along with being born and raised in Florida, FIU was the perfect choice to call home! Underwood’s research area is focused on implementing and assessing curriculum transformation efforts using both qualitative and quantitative methods.



Current members

Post-Doctoral Researcher (Feb 2017 – Present): Mashood Kalarattu Kandiyil completed his Ph D in Science Education from Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai, India. His thesis involved the development of a concept inventory in rotational kinematics. Mashood’s current research involves the development of an instrument to assess students’ interdisciplinary thinking in natural sciences (chemistry, physics and biology) at the undergraduate level – a collaborative project between Michigan State University and Florida International University, USA.




Post-Doctoral Researcher (Aug 2017 – Present): Alex Kararo completed her BA degree at the University of Minnesota, Morris in chemistry and obtained a 9-12 MN chemistry teaching license. She worked as a teaching and lab assistant as an undergraduate, and then taught high school chemistry for one year before going to graduate school. Alex attended graduate school at Purdue University in chemical education. Her dissertation work included studying the relationship between pedagogical content knowledge, teacher practice, and student learning gains for high school STEM teachers, and she received her PhD in August of 2017. Currently she is working on assessing the impact of curriculum transformations.



Undergraduate Researcher (Jan 2016 – Present): Abigail Sundberg is a senior at FIU pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry with a minor in biology. She is a Presidential Scholarship recipient, a Zaida C. Morales-Martinez & Howard E. Moore Chemistry Award recipient, and a Dean’s List student. Before coming to FIU, she graduated high school with an Associate of Arts degree from Broward College. Abigail has been a Learning Assistant for General Chemistry 1 and 2 since fall 2016. She is working on the Biology, Chemistry, and Physics education research project. By being a part of the STEM Institutes’ push toward improving academic curriculum and diversifying teaching styles, Abigail hopes to make a positive impact on student learning and to inspire other students to reach their own academic and career goals.



Undergraduate Researcher (May 2017 – Present): Gabriela Gadia grew up in a bilingual household, speaking English and Portuguese. Upon first starting school in the United States, however, she had many difficulties navigating the language and culture and attributes her ultimate success to the many remarkable teachers who showed her kindness and acceptance in the world of academics. Now, going through undergraduate coursework for a second time (she has a prior degree in accounting from the University of Miami and worked as an accountant and auditor), she has decided to pursue her love of science and investigate how to most effectively teach science in the classroom. She has been a learning assistant in the Florida International University Department of Chemistry since summer 2016 and has conducted research into the measurability of privilege and its relation to academic performance.



Undergraduate Researcher (Aug 2017-Present): Sebastian Jimenez






Past Members

REU Summer 2016 Chemistry Education: Rachel Colvin is a graduate student receiving her Masters degree at Adelphi University to teach high school students.



Undergraduate Researcher (Jan 2016 – July 2016): Joceyln Nardo is now a graduate student at Purdue University pursuing a PhD in Chemistry Education.




Undergraduate Researcher (Sept 2016 – July 2017): James Kingsepp is now a graduate student at University of South Florida pursuing a PhD in Chemistry Education.