Research Assistant Peer Leader Directory

Current Research Team Members

Jose Alberte | Director |

Jose has been the PLTL Program Director at Florida International University (FIU) since 2006 and first volunteered as a Peer Leader in 2005.  Mr. Alberte led the expansion of PLTL at FIU from mentoring 250 students and a handful of Peer Leaders to approximately 4200 students and approximately 200 PLTL mentors per semester, in multiple courses. He works with Biology faculty in the development of curriculum for both lecture and lab and has a broad range of knowledge and practice implementing active learning techniques in the classroom. His research focuses on understanding the Peer Leader experience using both qualitative and quantitative methodologies.

Alberto Cruz | Associate Director |

Alberto has been the Associate Director of the PLTL Program at Florida International University (FIU) since 2010, and first volunteered as a Peer Leader in 2008. He is also a founding board member of the PLTL International Society. He graduated with his BS in Biology, and MPH in Biostatistics  from FIU, and plans on pursuing a PhD. in Epidemiology. His research interests focuses on multivariate analyses of Peer Leader and Supervisor/Mentor benefits.

Nataly RodriguezAssistant Director |

Nataly began as a Peer Leader in Fall 2010. In Summer 2011, she took the Biology Education Seminar, first offered that semester and taught by Jose Alberte and Thomas Pitzer. This led to an increased passion for pedagogy in STEM education. Here Jose and Thomas recognized Nataly’s interest and dedication in STEM pedagogy and extended her position as staff in the PLTL program. She has a B.S. in Biology.

Ellen Dow | Research Coordinator |

Ellen is a PhD Candidate at Florida International University in the department of Biological Sciences. After completing a BS in Biology at Oregon State University in 2014, Ellen began graduate school at FIU. She is a member of the Integrative Marine Symbiosis and Genomics lab started by her PhD advisor, Dr. Mauricio Rodriguez-Lanetty. Her research focuses on the evolution of ionotropic glutamate receptors (iGluR) and involvement of signal transmission in immunity and symbiosis of the cnidarian, Exaiptasia pallida. Outside of the lab, Ellen is involved in science communication and outreach for STEM education and community involvement.

Frank Rodriguez | Administrative Assistant |

Frank has been a part of the PLTL program since 2015. He is obtaining his Bachelor’s in Science with a Biology major in the Fall and has been on the Dean’s all four years. He is the current Administrative Assistant, has experience as a Leader, Supervisor and GD Leader. He volunteers at a vet’s office to gain experience for Veterinary School. He plans on attending Veterinary School Spring 2019.

Nicole VargasResearch Assistant |

Nicole is a Florida International University graduate. She obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology in 2016 and finished her Bachelor’s Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in Biology in 2017. She has been involved with the PLTL Program since her sophomore year in college. She is currently a research assistant for the PLTL program at FIU where she has been conducting research on the critical thinking skills associated with PLTL leaders. Nicole is also the Outreach Chairperson for the PLTL program and an adjunct instructor for the Biology Department at FIU. She will be starting a Master’s degree in Adult Education and Human Resource Development in the fall of 2018.

Daniel Flores | Research Assistant |

Daniel received his associates in Education from Miami Dade College in the spring of 2011. He went on to receive his bachelors in Biological Sciences from Florida International University in the Spring semester of 2015. He first became a peer leader in the fall of 2011. He was assigned as Chair of Supervising for the PLTL program at FIU in 2013. He later joined the RAPL program in 2015 to help incorporate research into the reformed supervising program. Currently he works as a lab instructor at FIU for Biology as well as a Group Discussion Peer Leader for Biology 1 while applying to the Masters of Public Health program with a focus in Epidemiology.

Roberto Pereira | Research Assistant |

Roberto is a Florida International University graduate in Biological Sciences. He has been involved with the PLTL Program as a leader since Fall of 2011. He is currently a leader, a group discussion leader, and a research assistant for the PLTL program at FIU. Roberto is also a General Biology adjunct lab instructor and the General Biology course assistant for the Biology Department at FIU.

Isamar Camarena-Ubiera | Research Assistant |

Isamar is a Junior majoring in Biomedical Engineering and considering a minor in Chemistry at Florida International University. She began as a Peer Leader for General Biology I in 2015, and has since been conducting research as a Research Assistant Peer Leader on the perceptions of Supervisor Mentor-ship in the PLTL program at the university. Isamar is also the Recruitment Chairperson for the PLTL program, a Supervisor for the Competitive Sports program at FIU, and a proud, active member of the Omega Gamma Chapter of Theta Tau, the Professional Engineering Fraternity.

Amanda CanellasResearch Assistant |

Amanda is an alumnus from Florida International University with a Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences. She was a respected student athlete who began her journey in PLTL as a freshman in college. Within the last four years of her academic career, she has advanced from being a student to becoming a group discussion leader of multiple disciplines. Through this progression, her active participation as a Peer Leader, supervisor and group discussion leader has sparked a curiosity in pedagogical style and its influence on education within STEM. This interest has led Ms. Canellas to become a research assistant in the summer of 2016, committing to her role in further analyzing metacognitive enhancement of Peer Leaders. As her aspirations of attending medical school and becoming an immunopathologist remain, she plans on utilizing the knowledge gained from PLTL experiences to enrich the physician-to-patient interaction in her future practice.

Richard Suarez | Research Assistant |

Richard is a Florida International University (FIU) undergraduate. He is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Biological Sciences with an expected graduation of Spring 2019. He has been involved with the PLTL Program since his freshman year in college. He is currently a research assistant for the PLTL program at FIU where he has been conducting research on the critical thinking skills associated with PLTL leaders and students. Richard is currently also conducting bioinformatics research in the Integrative Marine Genomics and Symbiosis lab at FIU. Moreover, he has presented at the 9th Annual SEA-Phages conference hosted by the HHMI on his bacteriophage research. He plans on attending medical school with the hopes of earning a Medical Doctorate in the Fall of 2020.

Renee Suarez | Research Assistant |

Renee is a junior majoring in Nursing with a minor in psychology at Florida International University. She started as a Peer Leader for Introduction to Microbiology in 2016. Since then, she has been a Peer Leader and Supervising Mentor for Introduction to Microbiology and Foundations of Human Physiology. She is also a Group Discussion Leader for Foundations of Human Physiology and a Research Assistant Peer Leader for the PLTL program’s study on metacognition.

Michael Ramon | Research Assistant |

Michael is a Junior majoring in Biochemistry at Florida International University. He began as a Peer Leader for General Biology I in 2015, and has since furthered his involvement by becoming a research assistant to the program. Michael is also a research assistant for a lab focused on mechanisms behind DNA repair, a math tutor in the FIU math lab, and on the executive board of the Pre-Pharmacy club.

Rosangela Garcia | Research Assistant |

Rosangela is currently a junior majoring in biology at Florida International University. Rosangela was a Peer Leader in 2016 through 2017 and then later became a supervisor in Fall semester of 2017.  Since then, she became a Research Assistant Peer Leader in the PLTL program.


Former Research Team Members

Surname First Name Position Email
Gil Shannon Administrative Assistnant
Trujillo Vanessa Quantitative Research Coordinator
Sardinas Stephanie Qualitative Research Coordinator
Enriquez Kristianne Research Assistant
Ledea Margaret Research Assistant
Martinez Ana Research Assistant
Miguez Gabriella Research Assistant
Monroig Vanessa Research Assistant
Singer Gino Research Assistant
Suarez Abel Research Assistant
Alonso Nina Research Assistant
Francis Katherine Research Assistant
Garcia Juan Research Assistant
Martinez Stephanie Research Assistant
Vidaillet Jean Paul Research Assistant
Riguero Claudia Research Assistant
Leesang Tiffany Research Assistant