Workshop Speakers & Panelists

Keynote Speakers

Ros Donald - Postdoctoral Associate - University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science

R Donald

Rosalind Donald is a Postdoctoral Associate in the Marine Ecosystem and Society Department at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. She researches the communication of climate change, using archival research and interviews to understand how climate knowledge becomes part of everyday life - and explore how these insights can inform more equitable climate conversations and responses. Before she began her Ph.D., Donald was Deputy Editor of Carbon Brief, a U.K.-based climate and energy website.

Workshop Leader

Kate Carter - Director of Communications - Frost Science

K CarterWith more than 15 years of experience in informal science learning, Dr. Kate Carter works to help bring STEM learning at Frost Science to life, both within Miami and across the country. Carter develops science content across multiple platforms, focusing on messages that make science inclusive and engaging.

Before joining Frost Science, Carter worked in the non-profit sector developing strategies to build trust in science in diverse areas and training graduate students and early career scientists in effective science communication techniques. Carter holds a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology from New York University and earned her Ph.D. in Human Evolutionary Biology from Harvard University, where her research focused on human dental evolution and health policy.


Dr. Maria Villar -  Professor and Co-Director Steven Cruz Institute

MVillar María Elena Villar, PhD is an associate professor of the Department of Communication and Co-Director of SCI at FIU, and teaches courses in communication theory, research methods, multicultural communication, and advanced seminars in strategic communications. Her research focuses on culturally competent communication for social and behavioral change, and on strategic communication for diverse audiences. In her career as a researcher, Dr. Villar has focused on diverse topics that range from culture and communication, evaluation of program outcomes, and communication for social change. Many of her projects are based on community-based participatory research and use edu-entertainment and serious games.

Sahar Ajabshir - Assistant Profressor - FIU Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine

S. Ajabshir

Dr. Sahar Ajabshir is an assistant professor and course director in the FIU Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine. She has focused her research on diagnosis and treatment of chronic diseases within different communities and serves as the principal investigator of several research projects. Dr. Ajabshir is currently a member of the Board of Directors for the American Society for Nutrition and previously served as the Chair-Elect of the Vitamins & Minerals Research Interest Section, Executive Board Member of the Medical Nutrition Council`s Governing Committee, and Chair of the Early Career Interest Group.






Meredith Framelli - Communications Manager, National Forensic Science Technology Center (NFSTC@FIU

MFramelli Meredith has a degree in Broadcast Journalism, and spent 22 years working as a TV anchor/reporter for local network affiliates in TX, VA, TN and FL. She spent 14 years on-air in the Tampa Bay market, earning several EMMY nominations and an EMMY award for reporting. Meredith also has a degree in criminal justice, and is trained as a Crime Scene Investigator. In late 2020, she joined the National Forensic Science Technology Center (NFSTC@FIU) as the Communications Manager. Her responsibilities largely revolve around applying her TV experience to creating new video projects, as well as pitching and facilitating news stories, on behalf of NFSTC@FIU. Additionally, Meredith is the host/executive producer/researcher/editor of a documentary true-crime podcast that approaches the oldest cold case to be solved, to date, using forensic genetic genealogy.

Robert Hacker -  Director StartUP FIU

RHackerRobert Hacker is the Director of StartUP FIU, a university-wide initiative to foster innovation and entrepreneurship at Florida International University, where he has taught for fifteen years. He devotes much of his time to commercializing faculty research in emerging technology through venture capital investment, corporate partnerships and federal grants. Prior to StartUP FIU he ran One Laptop per Child, an MIT worldwide learning project, and built a billion-dollar public company in Indonesia. He also taught an IAP course at MIT Sloan for seven years and the local and national program for Goldman Sachs 10KSB. He is the author of two books on traditional and social entrepreneurship and a frequent speaker on the 4th Industrial Revolution and related topics in technology, innovation and social impact.