2018 Underwood Research Group

Sonia Underwood
Assistant Professor: Dr. 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

Alex Kararo
Post-Doctoral Researcher (Aug 2017 – Present):
Alex 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.



Abigail Sundberg
Undergraduate Researcher (Jan 2016 – Present): Abigail 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.



Brittney Pardinas
Undergraduate Researcher (Dec 2017-Present): Brittney is an FIU Honors College Student pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in biology. She is a Blue & Gold Scholarship recipient, Bright Futures scholarship recipient, and a Dean’s List student. Brittney was a Peer Lead Team Learning Leader for Human Biology and Biology 1 in Spring 2016 and is now a General Chemistry I & II Learning Assistant since Fall 2017. She is the executive president of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and a Florida Science Training and Research Fellow with the Hubert Wertheim College of Medicine. In the future, she hopes to attend medical school and pursue her dreams in the pediatric field as an M.D. Brittney is currently working on two projects in Biology and Chemistry educational research. She hopes these projects will help her influence students on the beauty of learning about science and connecting all fields to understand the complexity of life.



Laura Santiago
Undergraduate Researcher (January 2018-Present): Laura is an FIU student pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry and Psychology. She is a Lab Assistant in the Miller School of Medicine with their Research Cancer Center, testing different types of treatments for Leukemia. Laura was President of Chi Class for the medical fraternity in Florida International University, Phi Delta Epsilon. She is a Learning Assistant since Fall 2017 for Psychology and is now for General Chemistry II. In the future she plans to attend medical school and become a neonatal surgeon. Currently she is working in a research project in Biology and Chemistry. With this project, she hopes to become better prepare to help others improve their learning and successfully build a great foundation for their future academic endeavors.



Daniel Padron
Undergraduate Researcher (Jan 2018 – Present): Daniel is a Senior at FIU pursuing a BS in Chemistry, a minor in Social Media and E-Marketing Analytics, and a certificate in Japanese Language Studies. In Summer 2017, Daniel attended Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, Japan to study Japanese as part of a study abroad program. Daniel has been a Teaching Assistant for Chemistry and Society Lab and General Chemistry 1 Lab since Fall 2015. He is very passionate about teaching and hopes to teach in Japan upon earning his Bachelor’s Degree. Currently, he is working on two projects regarding connections in Chemistry and Biology and another in measuring the impact of curriculum transformations. He hopes to implement the strategies and curriculum from his research in his future teaching career in Japan.



Past Members

Mashood Kalarattu Kandiyil
Post-Doctoral Researcher (Feb 2017 – Dec 2017): Mashood is a faculty member for the Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai, India.





Gabriela Gadia
Undergraduate Researcher (May 2017 – Dec 2017): Gabriela is completing a major in chemistry at FIU.




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



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




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