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AFF Executive Committee

Dr. Ra'sheedah Richardson - Advisor

Ra'sheedah Richardson, Ph.D. has demonstrated a commitment to preparing future collegiate faculty and K-12 teachers. Her diverse teaching experience has helped her to develop a pedagogical approach that allows her to relate to and engage learners of various demographic backgrounds and intellectual experiences. Dr. Richardson has been involved in several years of program management and policy research in science education in Texas.
Dr. Richardson currently serves as assistant director at the Texas A&M University Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE). She coordinates several graduate student programs such as the Teaching Assistant Institute (TAI), and the Graduate Teaching Consultant (GTC) Program. Dr. Richardson is the advisor to the Academy for Future Faculty (AFF) and a campus representative for the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning (CIRTL). Dr. Richardson is devoted to the development of a national faculty committed to advancing effective teaching practices in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

2020-2021 Director

Debayan Mandal

Debayan Mandal is currently a graduate student pursuing an M.S. in water resources engineering at Texas A&M University. His current research interests include watershed modelling and watershed management. His most recent works and publications are in reputed peer-reviewed international journals and books; including quantifying uncertainty in streamflow, analyzing impact of climate change in river flow, promoting cultural continuity through vernacular architecture and comparative study of models for MIC. He is a student member of AGU, AOGS, ASCE societies and iSMART laboratory. His background includes a B.Tech in Civil Engineering at VIT University, India. He is keen on pursuing education related research and workshops and collaborating in them which would be essential for his career goals.

2020-2021 Members


Lance Decker

Lance Decker, is a Ph.D. student in Interdisciplinary Engineering at Texas A&M University.  Lance is a 2020 Tillman Scholar and received the Office of Graduate and Professional Studies Unsung Hero award in 2019.  He led ten students through two semesters of the Aggie Research and Mentoring Program, receiving a Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning (CIRTL) Practitioner certification.  Lance also completed the Academy for Future Faculty program and is an NSF I-CORP Site Fellow. Lance is a Teaching Assistant in the Master of Engineering Technical Management program at Texas A&M and has twelve years of experience teaching technical education in the military and civilian sectors.  In addition, he is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) and Certified Grief Recovery Specialist.  Lance is a retired U.S. Air Force non-commissioned officer and a disabled veteran. In his Ph.D. program, Lance is studying the combination of IoT and Blockchain in the transportation and logistics industry.

Sakina Dixon

Sakina Dixon is currently pursuing her PhD at Texas A&M University in the department of Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communication. She received a bachelor’s of science from the University of Florida, and obtained masters’ degrees from Bowling Green State University and Baylor University. Sakina’s research interests include youth development, resilience in youth, leadership, and community development.  Her professional experiences include serving as a Residence Hall Director, coordinating a residential Leadership Living-Learning Center, recruiting and managing volunteers with the Girl Scouts of Central Texas, and teaching leadership courses.

Hamada Elfarargy

Hamada Elfarargy is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department Educational Administration and Human Resource Development and works as a graduate research assistant for the Education Leadership Research Center (ELRC) at the College of Education and Human Development. He assists with research work and professional development for Preparing Academic Leaders (PAL) Project. Hamada has 15+ years of expertise as a teacher and an administrator in public schools in Egypt. He is also a British Council certified teacher trainer. He also prepared and presented educational episodes for Egypt television for six years in a row. He worked for the first STEM high school for gifted and talented students that was a part of a USAID project. He served in roles including a teacher, a department head, an education coordinator, a capstone project leader, and finally a STEM school principal. Hamada also participated as a trainer in the professional development programs for the new STEM leadership teams. Hamada’s research interests include Principalship, instructional leadership, teacher preparation, mentorship, school effectiveness and improvement, bilingual education, online learning and STEM education.

Melanie Florkowski

Melanie Florkowski is a Ph.D. student in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology degree program at Texas A&M University. She holds a Bachelor in Science in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Michigan. Her current research interests include bird behavior and interactions between hosts and beneficial microbes. She is currently serving as a graduate teaching assistant for the Department of Biology at Texas A&M University.

Tyra L. Jackson

Tyra L. Jackson is a Ph.D. student in the Communication Department. She earned her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from the University of Alabama. Jackson specializes in Media, Culture and Identity, and has served as an instructor of record and section instructor for various communication courses through her role as a teaching assistant for the department. Before entering the university, she was a journalist at the Selma Time Journal, the Opelika-Auburn News and the Panama City News Herald.

Jose Jacobo

Jose Jacobo is a third year PhD student in the Department of Hispanic Studies at Texas A&M University. He holds a Bachelor and a Master's of Arts in Spanish as well as a Certificate in Translation Studies from the University of Texas at San Antonio. He has presented his research in various conferences such as the National Association of African American Studies & Affiliates (in Dallas, Texas), the 48th Meeting of the Linguistic Association of the Southwest at Louisiana State University-Baton Rouge, and the XXV Congreso de Literatura Mexicana Contempor├ínea in El Paso, Texas. 

Chen Liang

Chen Liang received his Bachelor’s in Computer Science and Engineering from the Ohio State University in 2019. He is now a master student in Computer Science and Engineering at Texas A&M University advised by Dr. Jeeeun Kim. His research interests include human computer interaction, computer vision, and data analytics. He is also interested in teaching and mentoring, including mentoring the undergraduate robotics team and providing support for TAMU hackathons.

Ahmadreza Mahmoudzadeh

Ahmadreza Mahmoudzadeh is a Ph.D. student at the Civil Engineering Department of Texas A&M University. He earned his master’s and bachelor’s degrees in civil engineering from Amirkabir University of Technology, Iran. His area of experience includes numerical and statistical analysis in transportation, modeling and optimization, and pavement engineering. He is currently working as a graduate research assistant at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI).

Khaled Jamal Khader Nakhleh

Khaled is currently an MS electrical engineering student, and a research assistant with the Laboratory of Emerging Network Systems (LENS) at Texas A&M. Advised by Prof. I-Hong Hou of the ECEN department, his research interests focus on integrating reinforcement learning and machine learning methods into emerging networking paradigms.
He completed CIRTL's academy of future faculty program, and was awarded the ECEN department's merit fellowship to pursue his PhD studies at Texas A&M.

Amber Salmanca-Blazek

Amber Blazek is a Ph.D. student in sociology at Texas A&M University. She earned her master’s degree in sociology from Sam Houston State University and her bachelor’s degree in sociology from Texas State University. Her areas of specialization include political sociology, organizational sociology, and environmental sociology. Her current research focuses on the organizational behavior of the oil and gas industry during the low-carbon energy transition. She currently works as a graduate student instructor. She has previously taught Principles in Sociology and Classical Sociological Theory, and she is currently teaching Social Problems.

Dr. Hamidreza Sharifan

Dr. Hamidreza Sharifan is an Aggie alumnus and a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering at Colorado State University. Currently, he serves the editorial board of the Journal of Data in Brief (Elsevier). His contributions to reviewing for the environmental Journals have been recognized by the top reviewer award from the Journal of Water Environment Research and the Publon. During his PhD studies, he received several research grants, including DAAD, NSF, and NIH. He has demonstrated his academic commitment as a future faculty by serving as an instructor for the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, TAMU. Last year, he received his teaching certificate from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Center for Learning and Teaching in higher education (CIRTL).