STEM-MIA: Academically Talented STEM student Scholarship

About Us

Leadership Team

Photo of Professor Willian Neris

Prof. Willian Neris, Program Director (P.I.) 2020 - Present

Prof. Neris is an Instructor of Mathematics in the Department of Math & Natural Sciences at the Miami Dade College – Padron Campus. His experiences and interests are on student success within all levels of Science, Technology, and Mathematics (STM). He serves as a Faculty Expert for the Peer-Led Team Learning program, Advisor to Mu Alpha Theta Mathematics Honor Society, and is a College Mentor. Professor Neris recently implemented the flip classroom pedagogical technique for a variety of his courses to improve success for the traditional and non-traditional students.

Prof. Neris is currently focusing on the utilization of the Mathematics Attitude and Perception Survey (MAPS) to determine the association between attitudes and pass rates within his classes. Additionally, he is pursuing his doctoral degree in Teaching & Learning with a STEM concentration from Florida International University.

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Prof. Volrick Higgs, Educational Researcher (Co-P.I.)

Prof. Volrick Higgs is speech communication faculty. His research interests focus on the inseparable connections between human motivation and communication which are linked to identity and self-efficacy. Prof. Higgs has also served as a Peer Leader Faculty Expert with the Faculty Institute of Teaching and Learning. In that role, he has trained faculty and students to implement peer-led team learning (PLTL) in STEM and humanities-based courses. He co-presented research on PLTL’s contributions to MDC’s student success, retention, and classroom perceptions during the Peer-Led Team Learning International Society’s sixth and seventh annual conferences. Prof. Higgs serves on the Executive Board of the Peer-Led Team Learning International Society.

Prof. Higgs holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Communication Studies from Florida Atlantic University.

Photo of Dr. O. Loretta Ovueraye

Dr. O. Loretta Ovueraye, STEM Administrator (Co-P.I.)

Dr. Ovueraye serves as the dean of faculty at Miami Dade College (MDC) in Miami, Florida. She has previously served as the Baton Rouge Community College’s (BRCC) Interim Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) division. Prior to joining BRCC, she served as the Department Chair for Biology, Health, Wellness, and Funeral Service Education at MDC. She began her career in higher education as an environmental science program coordinator and faculty member developing programs to enhance students' experiences in and out of the classroom. Her professional career over the last 18 years has included working in higher education as an academic administrator serving in various capacities and overall as a student success change agent for academic and technical education programs.

Dr. Ovueraye holds a doctoral degree in education from Northeastern University, a master's degree in environmental science from Imperial College, and a bachelor's degree in microbiology from Edo State University.

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Dr. David B. Black, Grant Coordinator

Dr. David B. Black is a skilled education administrator with several years of experience in the field. He holds a Ph.D in Public Administration from Florida Atlantic University as well as a Master and Bachelor's degrees from Florida International University. David's main areas of interest are educational research, student retention and success as well as mentoring and coaching students through their educational journeys. David has worked at Miami Dade College as an Internship Coordinator, Research Associate, and Grant Coordinator. He is now serving as a Grant Coordinator for the NSF STEM-Mia Grant.

Photo of Dr. Elodie Billionniere

Dr. Elodie Billionniere, Program Director (Former P.I.) 2018-2020

Dr. Elodie Billionniere, Assistant Professor in the School of Engineering + Technology at Miami Dade College, teaches computer science and technology courses. With professional experiences in web application development, software engineering, quality assurance, data analytics, and curriculum development Dr. Billionniere aims to broaden the participation of underrepresented groups in STEM fields. She also volunteers at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Miami as a technology instructor.

Dr. Billionniere holds a doctoral degree in computer science from Arizona State University, a master's degree in higher and postsecondary education with a concentration in leadership from Arizona State University, and a bachelor's degree in computer science and mathematics from the University of Montana.