April 21, 2024


It's Your Education

FIU experts available to discuss cybersecurity, forensics ahead of 20th anniversary of 9/ 11 attacks | FIU News

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. FIU experts are available to discuss advancements in cybersecurity and forensic sciences during the past two decades.

The full list of experts that will be continuously updated can be found below.

For help contacting any of our experts, please contact the Office of Media Relations:

  • Madeline Baró, director of media relations: 305-348-2234, mbaro@fiu.edu
  • Dianne Fernandez, broadcast media specialist: 305-608-4870, dfernand37@fiu.edu 
  • Gaby Aguirrechu, media relations representative: 305-348-2232, gaguirre@fiu.edu
  • Michelle Chernicoff, program director, Global Forensic and Justice Center: 727-395-2511, mchernic@fiu.edu
  • Meredith Frameli, brand manager, National Forensic Science Technology Center: 813-748-3226, mframeli@fiu.edu
  • Katherine Dagand, account manager, Jack D. Gordon Institute for Public Policy: 305-348-7235, kdagand@fiu.edu
  • Stephanie Rendon, senior account manager for Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work: (305) 348-4670, srendon@fiu.edu

Health of First Responders and Workers

Dr. Roberto Lucchini
Professor, Environmental Health Sciences
Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work

From 2012 to 2020, Lucchini was the director of the Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York. He was also the Director of the World Trade Center Data Center at Mount Sinai and the Director of the NIOSH funded Education and Research Center for the States of New York and New Jersey. In these capacities, he coordinated the epidemiological health surveillance of the workers involved in the clean-up operations after 9/11. He is now leading studies about cognitive impacts and aging among the workers involved in clean-up operations after Sept. 11’s attack.
To speak with Lucchini, please contact Stephanie Rendon, (305) 348-4670.


Brian Fonseca
Director, Jack D. Gordon Institute for Public Policy
Executive Director, Cybersecurity@FIU
Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs
Fonseca serves as a cybersecurity policy fellow at the D.C.-based think tank New America and is co-author of The New US Security Agenda: Trends and Emerging Threats. His technical expertise and publications focus largely on national security and foreign policies, with particular focus on Venezuela, China, Russia, and cyberspace. Fonseca served in the United States Marine Corps and facilitated the training of foreign military forces in both hostile theaters and during peacetime operations from 1997-2004. He later served as the senior research manager for socio-cultural analysis at United States Southern Command’s Joint Intelligence Operations Center South (JIOC-S). Fonseca can speak on cybersecurity, emerging threats and related topics.
Office: 305-348-7420
Cell: 305-218-6323

Randy Pestana
Assistant Director of Research and Strategic Initiatives, Jack D. Gordon Institute for Public Policy
Director of Education and Training, Cybersecurity@FIU
Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs
Pestana manages the institute’s partnerships with the U.S. departments of Commerce, Defense, and State and serves as director of education and training at Cybersecurity@FIU. His technical specialization is in international relations, focusing on U.S. foreign policy, security studies, and cybersecurity. Pestana can discuss cybersecurity, U.S. foreign policy, and related topics.
Office: 305-348-0114
Email: rpestana@fiu.edu

Alexander Crowther
Visiting Research Professor
Jack D. Gordon Institute for Public Policy
Crowther is currently a cyber policy specialist in the Expert Consultant program at the Center for Technology and National Security Policy (CTNSP) at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C. He is also an adjunct senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation and an adjunct research professor of national security studies at the Strategic Studies Institute. He specializes in strategy, Western Hemisphere issues, cyber policy, international development, insurgency/counterinsurgency, Joint, Interagency, Intergovernmental and Multinational (JIIM) issues and the Comprehensive Approach. Crowther’s extensive government service includes a decade each in the Cold War, the post-Cold War era and the post 9/11 era, and he has worked as a Western Hemisphere specialist, a strategist, and a political advisor. Crowther served as a counterterrorism advisor for the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, a political advisor for the MNC-I Commander and a special assistant for the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe. Crowther can discuss cyber policy, national security policy and counterterrorism.
Crowther is available for interviews in Spanish and English.
To speak with Crowther, please contact Katherine Dagand, 305-348-7235

Forensic Science

Kevin Lothridge
Executive Director, National Forensic Science Technology Center
Director, Global Forensic and Justice Center
Lothridge, forensic scientist and business leader, has 30 years of experience in the international forensics industry. He previously served as acting chief of the Investigative and Forensic Science Division of the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), where he instituted four new programs as part of the President’s DNA Initiative. In 2006-07, he led the development of the Expeditionary Analysis Center project for the Department of Defense, now used for training and tactical field forensics. Lothridge can discuss advancements in forensic science post 9/11; Disaster Victim Identification (DVI); mass casualty incidents; crime scene investigations related to bomb blast sites; DNA and identification.
To speak with Lothridge, contact 
Meredith Frameli, 813-748-3226.

Gerry LaPorte
Director, Research Innovation
Global Forensic and Justice Center
LaPorte served as the chief forensic chemist at the U.S. Secret Service from 2001-2009, and later was the director of the Office of Investigative and Forensic Sciences at the National Institutes of Justice, the research and development arm of the U.S. Department of Justice. A forensic scientist and researcher with 28 years of experience in the forensic and law enforcement communities, LaPorte currently oversees forensic initiatives related to education, training, research, and cyber, and helps bridge the gap between academic research and operationalization of technology-based tools to enhance criminal justice applications that are usable in the field. LaPorte can discuss advancements in forensic science post 9/11.
To speak with LaPorte, contact Michelle Chernicoff, 727-395-2511

Max Houck
Forensic Portfolio Innovator
Global Forensic and Justice Center
Houck was a physical scientist for the FBI from 1994-2001 and was involved in investigations related to the attack on the Pentagon. An international expert in forensic sciences, Houck’s committee work includes the White House, the National Academies of Science, the Royal Society, and Interpol. He is editor-in-chief of Forensic Science International: Synergy, a Gold Open Access journal. Houck can speak about advancements in forensic science post 9/11, Disaster Victim Identification (DVI), mass casualty incidents and forensic anthropology.
To speak with Houck, contact Michelle Chernicoff, 727-395-2511

Rob O’Brien
Forensic Biologist
Rapid DNA Center of Excellence
National Forensic Science Technology Center
O’Brien is an expert and instructor for DNA and forensic biology training programs in the U.S. and internationally. He is responsible for training military personnel on Rapid DNA analysis systems and training military forces on biological collection and screening. O’Brien previously served as a crime laboratory DNA analyst for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) with access to the FBI CODIS system. O’Brien can discuss Disaster Victim Identification using DNA analysis and rapid DNA in mass-casualty incidents.
To speak with O’Brien, contact Meredith Frameli, 813-748-3226.

Tylor Barnhart
Forensic Biologist
National Forensic Science Technology Center
Barnhart is an expert in forensic DNA, and currently provides technical expertise in forensic biology, conducts technical evaluations, and delivers training through hands-on and e-learning instruction. He has delivered instruction on collection and preservation of biological material to the United States military, as well as instruction of DNA instrumentation to military and law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and internationally. Barnhart can discuss Disaster Victim Identification using DNA analysis and rapid DNA in mass-casualty incidents.
To speak with Barnhart, contact Meredith Frameli, 813-748-3226.

Kirk Grates
Research Program Manager
Forensic Chemistry Laboratory
National Forensic Science Technology Center
Grates is a lead instructor and subject matter expert for forensic-focused military and civilian training in controlled substance, toxicology, and trace chemistry. He has trained students from the United States armed forces, NATO Special Operations Forces, Australian Special Operations Forces and Canadian Special Operations Forces. He previously served as forensic toxicologist for Pinellas County, FL in its Forensic laboratory and for their Medical Examiner’s Office. Among other topics, Grates can discuss detection of chemicals and explosives.
To speak with Grates, contact Meredith Frameli, 813-748-3226.

Spiros Manolakos
Senior Forensic Chemist
National Forensic Science Technology Center
Manolakos has more than 20 years of experience in analytical instrumentation, chemical sensors, and other detectors both chemical and nuclear based. His expertise is in the development and validation of analytical methods, and in designing analytical systems for translational use in pharmaceutical, biomedical, diagnostic medicine, forensic, security, and chem-bio defense applications. He is available to discuss chemical and nuclear-based sensors  and how they are used in explosives detection.
To speak with Manolakos, contact Meredith Frameli, 813-748-3226.

Mental Health

Jonathan Comer
Department of Psychology
College of Arts, Sciences & Education
Comer has conducted extensive work on the psychological impact of disasters and terrorism on children and families. He began this work in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, studying and working with NYC public schoolchildren who were directly exposed, as well as with youth who were far away but impacted by extensive media-based exposure to the attacks. Since 9/11, Comer has led needs assessments and large-scale community efforts in the aftermath of several other high-profile disasters and public health crises, including the Boston Marathon bombing, Hurricane Irma, and most, recently, the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Comer currently serves as Director of the SAMHSA-funded Network for Enhancing Wellness in Disaster-Affected Youth (NEW DAY).
Email: jocomer@fiu.edu
Phone: 305-348-7580

Middle East Politics

Mohiaddin Mesbahi
Associate Professor and Director
Mohsin and Fauzia Jaffer Center for Muslim World Studies
Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs
Mesbahi has attended several United Nations sponsored conferences including the UN conference on Dialogue of Civilizations (2001), the UN sponsored conference on Environment and Security and Peace in (2005), the UN sponsored conference on UN Reform (2005), and the International Seminars on “Planetary Emergencies-Terrorism”, organized by the prestigious World Federation of Scientists in Erice (Italy) where his ideas were included in the final draft documents and reports. His current research agenda includes the role and impact of securitization of culture, identity and religion (Islam) on shaping the key characteristics of contemporary international security systems.
Office: 305-348-1857
Email: mesbahim@fiu.edu

Iqbal Akhtar
Undergraduate Program Director & Associate Professor
Department of Religious Studies
Director, Jain Studies Program
Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs
Akhtar teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses as well as independent studies which include but are not limited to: Islamic Political Thought, Advanced Interpretations of the Quran, Voice of the Prophet, Islamic Faith and Society, Women in Islam, and Islamic Mysticism (Sufism). His current work explores the origin of the Khōjā peoples in the Subcontinent through extant oral traditions known as the kahaṇī in Sindhi, Gujarati, and Hindustani.
Office: 305-348-7098
Email: iakhtar@fiu.edu

Mohammad Homayounvash
Instructor, Mohsin & Fauzia Jaffer Center for Muslim World Studies
Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs
Homayounvash specializes in international security and strategic studies with a focus on nuclear strategy, counter-proliferation, arms control, and disarmament. His research also lies in international relations of the Middle East, especially in the role of religion, petroleum, and non-state actors in the region’s security environment and its emergence as the primary theater of an international counter-terrorism campaign after 9/11.
Office: 305-348-2226
Email: mhomayou@fiu.edu (