Faculty Research Interests

Faculty Research Interests

The College of Sciences offers students a scientific education to meet the needs of the 21st century, allowing them to compete for a variety of careers in an increasingly complex and evolving world. The faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences are there ready to share their vast knowledge gained from participating and running various types of research projects in the Scientific community.  

John Aho

Ph.D. (1980) University of Exeter, England
MA (1978) Wake Forest University
BA (1975) Wake Forest University

Bio: Dr. John Aho is an associate professor in the Biology Department

Gabriel Costa

Bio: Dr. Gabe Costa is an Assistant Professor of Biology and Environmental Sciences, and Coordinator of Environmental Sciences and GIS at AUM. His research is mainly focused in understanding the ecological and evolutionary drivers of variation in Biodiversity across the globe. Dr. Costa has worked with different groups of organisms such as amphibians, reptiles and mammals disentangling the roles of abiotic, biotic and evolutionary factors in explaining diversity patterns from local to global scales. Dr. Costa is also interested in using his findings to create instrumental knowledge that can support conservation decisions. By understanding what factors influence how biodiversity changes across space we might be able to quantify, predict, mitigate and possibly manage the growing negative impacts caused by human activities. Dr. Costa teaches Biostatistics, Species Distribution Modeling, Landscape Ecology, and Biogeography and Macroecology. His classes usually have a strong focus on analytical skills including learning to work in the R environment, GIS and spatial analysis. Dr. Costa research has reached a broad audience with over 60 peer reviewed articles published that collectively have been cited more than 2,400 times (Scholar page: https://goo.gl/5Td8D7; Lab page: http://costagc.weebly.com/).

Dr. Hoehun Ha

Ph.D. State University of New York at Buffalo (2011)

M.A. State University of New York at Buffalo (2007)

B.S. Utah State University (2003)


Bio: Dr. Hoehun Ha is Associate Professor of Geography specializing in Geographic Information System (GIS). His primary research interests focus on the linkages between socio-physical environment and human interactions, using GIS and statistical methodologies. His research includes 1) the spatial modeling of chemical exposure and risk assessment, and the investigation of soil contamination with toxic substances in Anniston, Alabama. He also has worked on 2) conservation easement suitability modeling : a case study from South-East Michigan and 3) roadkill hot-spots modeling using a geographic socio-environmental niche-based approach: a case-study from 3 state highways in Central California. Furthermore, in his current research, he has developed 4) spatial models in public health – physical / socioeconomic based approach; a case study from U.S counties.

His teaching interests cover a wide range of geography courses including: Introduction to GIS, Advanced GIS, GIS in Environmental Modeling & Management, GIS in Public Health, Cartography, Geography of World Region, Human Geography, Spatial Statistics, and Earth Systems Science.

Dr. Ha’s publications have appeared in numerous internationally reputable scholarly journals including: Environmental Science & Technology, Computers, Environment and Urban Systems, Transportation, Applied Geography, Ecological Informatics, High Altitude Medicine & Biology, International Journal of Environmental Health Research, and International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. He is a member of Association of American Geographers (AAG) and Applied Geography Conference (AGC). For more information on Dr. Ha’s research, please refer Google scholar citation at: https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=dlOnNhcAAAAJ&hl=en

Pryce Haddix

Ph.D. Microbiology, May 1992, University of Kentucky
B.A. Biology with chemistry emphasis, May 1985, Transylvania University, Lexington, KY


Bio: Dr. Haddix is an Associate Professor in the Biology Department in the School of Sciences. He has a broad background in microbiology and molecular biology. His research interests are in the biological functions of bacterial pigments and the use of bacteria as biological sensors for the detection of environmental contaminants. 

Dr. Haddix’s  primary research interest involves identifying and characterizing the biological function of a red pigment made by the soil bacterium and opportunistic bacterial pathogen Serratia marcescens. His early work on this project built a circumstantial case for a negative role for prodigiosin pigment in cellular energy production during high-rate cell multiplication when cellular energy levels begin at their maximum (PubMed ID # 18805986).  More recent work has revealed that the pigment has a positive function in cellular energy production when cellular energy levels are low; this positive function ultimately produces a doubling of pigmented cell yield over that of non-pigmented cells (PMID # 29616306). His most recent work has more clearly defined the negative role, and a manuscript describing these results is due to be submitted for publication in spring, 2019.  Ongoing experimental work will more closely address the positive function and build a model for prodigiosin pigment in the cellular energy fluxes associated with Serratia marcescens population growth.

Vanessa Koelling

Ph.D.     University of Georgia (2008), Genetics
B.A.        Reed College (2000), Biology

Bio: Dr. Vanessa Koelling is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology and Environmental Science. She is a plant evolutionary biologist, which means that she studies how plant populations change over time in response to new environmental conditions. Within the field of evolutionary biology, she is particularly interested in the evolution of plant mating systems, the mechanisms of plant speciation, and in plant evolutionary genetics. Her work aims to understand which evolutionary mechanisms are most important in plant mating system evolution and speciation, and to understand the causal genetic changes underlying plant adaptations. She currently studies these topics using the common yellow monkeyflower (Mimulus guttatus), a wildflower endemic to the Western United States with many features that make it an ideal system for the study of evolution. She has also begun a new project to study the population genetics, ecophysiology, and evolution of two of Alabama’s native azaleas (Rhododendron cumberlandense and Rhododendron prunifolium). In addition, she is interested in eventually expanding her research into other Southeastern plants.

Dr. Koelling has published her work in distinguished scientific journals, such as Heredity, the American Journal of Botany, and The American Naturalist. She is a member of the Society for the Study of Evolution and the Botanical Society of America. Google Scholar page: https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=ZF9fEygAAAAJ&hl=en

Dr. Koelling is also an experienced teacher who has taught a range of introductory and specialized courses. She especially enjoys teaching topics in evolution, genetics, and applied bioinformatics. She incorporates inquiry-based and active-learning methods into her courses, and continually seeks new ways to engage and motivate students in her classrooms.

Benedict Okeke

Ph.D. (1994): University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland
M.S. (1989): University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland
B.S. (1985): University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Nigeria

Bio: Professor Okeke is a Distinguished Research Professor of Industrial and Environmental Microbiology in the Department of Biology and Environmental Science. His research interests include: biofuel and co-products, biosensors, bioremediation, enzyme biotechnology, effects of pollutants on microbial communities, indicators of microbiological safety of water and food, and genetic engineering of microbes. He teaches industrial microbiology, environmental microbiology, special topics biotechnology, general microbiology and directed research. Professor Okeke did postdoctoral work at the University of California, Riverside; Gifu University, Japan; and the International Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, Trieste, Italy. Dr. Okeke has 60 research papers in peer reviewed journals, three US patents, two books, numerous conference abstracts and several research grants including a million dollar grant for research on fuel ethanol from biomass. His excellence awards include Alumni Professor, Ida Belle Young Endowed Professorship. He is the founding Director of the Bioprocessing and Biofuel Research Lab (BBRL). Dr. Okeke served as Associate and Assistant Editor for two peer reviewed international journals; the Journal of Environmental Quality and Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology.

Ben Rogers

B.S., zoology, Auburn University
M.S., biology, University of Arkansas

Bio: Ben Rogers is a biology lab coordinator for beginning biology labs at AUM. His primary area of interest in biology is birds of prey. He studied the dynamics of a winter bald eagle roost in Arkansas for his master’s degree under the Dr. Douglas James at the University of Arkansas. He is a former zoo keeper, and has also worked for the Peregrine Fund’s aplomado falcon re-introduction project in southeast Texas. Some of his other research work involved Mitchell’s satyr butterfly surveys, salamander body sizes, and sexual dimorphism in red-tailed hawks.

He maintains a strong interest in biology education, along with a fascination for weird insects and fossil hunting.

Cynthia Schmaeman

B.S., zoology and horticulture, Michigan State University
M.S., biological sciences, Auburn University

Bio: I studied bat reproductive physiology and behavior as my master’s research and still have a fondness for bats.

Claudia Stein

PhD, Biology, University of Potsdam & Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Germany, 2008
Diploma Biology (chemical ecology, botany), Freie Universität Berlin, Germany, 2003

Bio: Dr. Stein is Assistant Professor in Biology and Environmental Sciences specializing in plant ecology. She is broadly interested in understanding the patterns, causes and consequences of plant diversity. Her main research focusses on the mechanisms by which species interactions, such as plant-soil microbial feedbacks and plant-herbivore interactions, affect species diversity, biological invasions, and ecosystem functioning under climate change. The motivation of her work is to develop management solutions to successful restoration and conservation and to mitigate the effects of climate change. She works in a variety of systems, including grasslands, working rangelands, and woodlands.

Her recent publications include journal articles in Ecology, Journal of Ecology, Oecologia, Plant and Soil, Mycorrhiza, and Ecology and Evolution. She is a member of the Ecological Society of America (ESA) and Ecological Society of Germany, Austria and Switzerland (GfÖ).

Karen Stine

Ph.D. Toxicology,University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina; May 1985

M.S. Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia; May 1980
B.S. Physics and Biology, College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia; May 1978

Bio: Dr. Karen Stine is an Honors Professor of Biology and Environmental Science at Auburn University at Montgomery. Her area of specialization is Toxicology (the study of poisons), and she has taught courses in toxicology, pharmacology, cell biology, physiology, and environmental science.

She is interested in a wide variety of research topics ranging from the ways in which cells survive physical and chemical stresses to the cellular mechanisms of action of toxicants. She has investigated the relationship between stress and energy metabolism, studying the induction of stress proteins following toxicant exposure in in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. Her current project involves studying the effects of cyanobacterial toxins on bacterial species that commonly colonize the human gut, as well as bacterial species associated with amphibian skin and gut.

Sue Thomson

Ph.D. (1988) Auburn University, Dept. of Pathobiology, CVM
M.S. (1985) Auburn University, Dept. of Microbiology, CVM
D.V.M (1981) Mississippi State University
B.S. (1977) Mississippi State University, Microbiology

Bio: Sue Thomson is an Associate Professor with an appointment in the Department of Biology in the School of Sciences. Her interests lie in veterinary medicine, immunology, epidemiology, molecular genetics, and microbiology. Her research interests involve animal diseases, resistance to disease, and diagnostic tests to detect diseases. She currently teaches courses in Biomedical Vocabulary; Epidemiology; Immunobiology: Directed Research; and Biology of Forensics. Other biology courses taught include Principles of Biology I and II; Zoology; General Microbiology; and Molecular Genetics.

Chelsea Ward

Ph.D. (2005) Auburn University in Biology
BS (1998) Florida Institute of Technology in Marine Biology

Bio: Dr. Ward’s research focuses are on immunology and stress physiology as it relates to temperature and changing environments. She also has interested in latitudinal gradients in stress physiology, immunology, and metabolism in Anurans.

Steven Arnold

Ph.D. (1990) Chemistry, Louisiana State University
B.S. (1985) Chemistry, Louisiana State University

Bio: Dr. Steve Arnold’s area of expertise is Physical Chemistry.  His research interests are in UV-visible absorption and emission spectroscopy.  Dr. Arnold instructs students at AUM in Physics as well as General Chemistry, Physical Chemistry, and Instrumental Analysis. Dr. Arnold further serves as the academic advisor for students pursuing degrees in Physical Science with the Chemistry option.

Daniel Kim

Ph.D. (1990) Chemistry, Louisiana State University
B.S. (1985) Chemistry, Louisiana State University

Bio: Dr. Steve Arnold’s area of expertise is Physical Chemistry.  His research interests are in UV-visible absorption and emission spectroscopy.  Dr. Arnold instructs students at AUM in Physics as well as General Chemistry, Physical Chemistry, and Instrumental Analysis. Dr. Arnold further serves as the academic advisor for students pursuing degrees in Physical Science with the Chemistry option.

Randall Richardson

M.A. (1991) Auburn University at Montgomery
B.A. (1989) Auburn University at Montgomery

Bio: Mr. Randy Richardson has served the Department of Physical Sciences as Laboratory Coordinator since 1994. In this capacity, Mr. Richardson maintains the chemistry laboratory in all aspects including chemical maintenance, safety, and instruction of students while in laboratory classes. Mr. Richardson has served on several committees while at AUM including: AUM’s ADA Task Force – Helps assure AUM is in compliance with regulations related to the Americans With Disabilities Act. AUM’s Diversity Council – Established to assist the University in developing statements offering the views of the institution towards fostering and maintaining respect for the many diverse individuals that comprise the AUM population. Mr. Richardson further serves the Department of Physical Sciences and AUM as the webmaster for the Departmental web pages. He was selected to receive the Outstanding Staff Award “Administrative Category” for exemplary service and dedication, academic year 1999- 2000. Mr. Richardson is charged with the production aspects of all departmental laboratory manuals, as well as co-author of several of the manuals. Departmental Laboratory manuals are a major source of funding for the department and helps fund purchases of much needed equipment for student use in the laboratories, such as an NMR Spectrophotomter, several Jasco spectrophotometers, and a fluorimeter.

Randy Russell

Bio: Randy Russell is the Advisor for Pre-Physical Therapy studies. Additionally, Mr. Russell instructs students in Astronomy, Introduction to Physical Sciences, and Physics.

Cheryl Sundberg

Ph.D., C&I, Secondary Science
Ed.S., Secondary Science, Chemistry, Physics
M.Ed., Secondary Science, Chemistry, Physics
B.S., Chemistry and Education

Bio: Cheryl White Sundberg, Ph.D., retired science educator with over 30 experience teaching. She holds a doctorate in curriculum and instruction with a concentration in science education. In addition to working as an adjunct, she is a Ronin Institute Independent Scholar, http://ronininstitute.org/

Nick Thomas

Bio: Dr. Nick Thomas is a Professor of Chemistry at AUM, and was selected as Distinguished Teaching Professor 2006 – 2009. He teaches Introduction to Chemistry, General Chemistry, and Analytical Chemistry courses. His primary areas of research have been coordination chemistry of transition metals and chemical education, and he has written numerous encyclopedia entries. He has also written feature articles on a variety of general interest topics for over 600 newspapers and magazines around the country.

Semih Dinc

Ph. D. Computer Sciences (2016), University of Alabama in Huntsville
M.S. Computer Science (2013), University of Alabama in Huntsville
M.S. Control and Automation Engineering (2011), Yildiz Technical University (Istanbul, Turkey)
B.S. Computer Science (2009), Dokuz Eylul University (Izmir, Turkey)

Bio: Dr. Semih Dinc is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science Department at Auburn University at Montgomery. He received his PhD degree from University of Alabama in Huntsville in 2016. His research interests are computer vision, image processing, pattern recognition, robotics, and machine learning. He also enjoys learning about other disciplines and applying Math and CS methodologies to the problems in different domains. In addition to his research, he is teaching various Computer Science course such as Programming with C++, Data Structures, Discrete Mathematics for CS, Computer Architecture, High Performance Computing with CUDA.

Mosisa Aga

Ph.D. in Mathematics (2006) – Wayne State University
M.A. in Mathematical Statistics (2004) – Wayne State University
M.Sc. in Mathematics (1992) – Addis Ababa University 

Bio: Mosisa Aga is an assistant professor in the Department of Mathematics in School of Sciences. His research interest includes time series analysis, bootstrap approximation methods and Gaussian long memory processes.

Tianran Chen

Bio: Dr. Tianran Chen is an Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Auburn University Montgomery.  He spent a number of years in Michigan State University where he earned his Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics.  He joined the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science in the Fall of 2016.  Originally trained in the field of Numerical Algebraic Geometry, his current research interest is the application of algebraic methods in solving nonlinear equations from real-world problems.

Jerome Goddard II

Bio: Jerome Goddard II received a B.S. in Mathematics & M.S. in Mathematics from Mississippi College and a PhD. in Mathematical Sciences from Mississippi State University. He joined AUM in August 2011 and is now an Associate Professor in the Department of Mathematics & Computer Science within the College of Sciences. Goddard’s research interests are in applied mathematics. In particular, his research is focused on the study of reaction diffusion equations and nonlinear elliptic boundary value problems arising from population dynamics and combustion theory. His personal interests include spending time with his wife and two children, as well as outdoor hobbies such as hiking, backpacking, camping, & fishing.

Kin (Enoch) Lee

Bio: Enoch Lee is Department Head and an associate professor in the Department of Mathematics in the School of Sciences. His mathematical research interests include rings, modules, near-rings, semigroups, universal algebra, radical theory, number theory, cryptology, coding theory, etc. He was also a wireless engineer specializing IP traffics. Later he became an optical network system engineer, specializing MultiProtocol Label Switching (MPLS) control plane. He has done research on Voice over IP (VoIP), streaming audio and video, Internet applications traffic characteristics, (G)MPLS, etc. He is also interested in applying computing technology such as distributed computing (as a form of high performance computing) in solving mathematical problems.

Ting Lo

Bio: Dr. Lo earned his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the Auburn University in 2003. After graduating from Auburn, he moved back to Montgomery, AL and served as an adjunct instructor with Trenholm State Community College since 2004. He was taught mathematics, physics and electronics course during those years.

Starting in 2013, Dr. Lo joined the Chemistry department at AUM. He teaches Physics and Physical Science. Before assuming the lab coordinator position, he taught the mathematics courses for the math department.

Dr. Lo enjoys playing Sudoku and working on computer hardware during spare time.

Rhodes Peele

Ph.D. in Mathematics, 1978, Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
M.S. in Mathematics, 1972, Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
B.S. in Applied Mathematics, 1970, North Carolina State University

Bio: Rhodes Peele decided that he wanted to be a mathematician at age 13, after reading The Scientific American Book of Mathematical Puzzles and Diversions by Martin Gardner. His research specialty is combinatorics; if you are curious about this part of mathematics, click on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Combinatorics for an authoritative and accessible introduction.

Dr. Peele’s hobbies are chess, bridge, backgammon, and classical piano. Since his appointment to AUM in 1990, he has worked to bring a major chess tournament, the Queen of Hearts, to the AUM campus every February. He has three cats that he adores; their names are Spades, Tiger and Koko.

Robert Underwood

Ph.D. Mathematics (1992), State University of New York at Albany
M.S. Mathematics Education (1986), State University of New York at Albany 

Bio: Robert Underwood is a Professor in the Department of Mathematics in the School of School of Sciences. His research interests concern the classification of Hopf algebra orders in group rings and the application of Hopf orders to Galois module theory and the theory of formal groups.

Yi Wang

Ph.D. Mathematics (2003) West Virginia University
Ph.D. Mechanical Engineering (1997) Southwest Jiaotong University, Chengdu, China
B.S. Mechanical Engineering, (1991) Southwest Jiaotong University, Chengdu, China

Bio: Dr. Wang is Professor of Mathematics at Auburn University Montgomery (AUM). He joined the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, AUM as Assistant Professor in August 2006. Subsequently, he was promoted to Associate Professor in 2010 and Professor in 2015. Dr. Wang received his second Ph.D. in mathematics from West Virginia University, USA in 2003, and his first Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Southwest Jiaotong University, China in 1997. Dr. Wang’s current research interests include machine learning and operation research.

Dr. Wang was born in China. He grew up in a family of teachers with a younger brother and younger twin sisters. At his leisure time, Dr. Wang likes swimming, tennis, pingpong, badminton, fishing, and playing poker.

Steven LoBello

BA, Christian Brothers College, Psychology
MS, Mississippi State University, Clinical Psychology
PhD, University of Southern Mississippi, Counseling Psychology
MSPH, University of Alabama in Birmingham, Epidemiology Education

Bio: Steven LoBello completed his PhD in counseling psychology at the University of Southern Mississippi in 1986. He began his career as a psychologist in clinical practice, specializing in psychological assessment of clinical cases requiring intellectual assessment. He is a licensed psychologist in Alabama. He joined the AUM Psychology faculty in 1989. His initial research program involved statistical issues in I.Q. tests and best practices in teaching test administration and scoring to graduate students.

In 1998, he returned to graduate school at the University of Alabama in Birmingham. Attending classes on a part time basis, he earned a master’s degree in epidemiology in 2003. While at UAB, he was fortunate to become affiliated with the Injury Control Research Center as a Senior Scientist, and was principle investigator of a longitudinal study of rehabilitation outcomes. This project was planned and initiated by others many years earlier, and was brought to completion during this grant period. The project was a study of outcomes among individuals with spinal cord, head, and multiple trauma, as well as severe burns. The project was funded by the US Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

Dr. LoBello has an active research lab with graduate students who have a broad range of heath behavior interests. Research topics have included studies of quality of life among people with asthma who use alternative and conventional medicines, influenza vaccination among people with asthma, prevalence of depression among pregnant women, and the relationship of depression to chronic illness. In his research program, Dr. LoBello frequently uses the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data sets. He is a student of using population-based health survey data and epidemiological methods to investigate health behavior research problems.


Sheila Mehta

Ph.D., University of Connecticut
M.A., University of Connecticut
B.A., Brown University

Glen Ray

B.S., Arkansas State University
M.S., Memphis State University
Ph.D., The University of Memphis

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