Meet the newest NAS faculty
The Natural and Applied Sciences division is excited to introduce the newest faculty and administrators joining the sciences for the 2021-22 academic year. They bring to Loyola a wealth of experience, inspirational energy, and passion for education. Be sure to say hello and welcome when you see them on campus!
Kamal Benslama, Ph.D., Visiting Assistant Professor of Physics
Areas of interest: Experimental high energy physics, quantum computing, physics education
Originally from Morocco, Kamal Benslama studied physics at Geneva University. He obtained a bachelor and a Master in High Energy Physics from Geneva University. In 1993, he started a PhD at the department of High Energy Physics at the University of Lausanne (this department is now part of the EPFL since 2003) and obtained his PhD from the same university in 1998.
In 1999, Benslama moved to North America. He worked as a post-doc on the CLEO experiment at Cornell university in the US, then he became a research scientist at Columbia University in New York and associate scientist on the ATLAS experiment at Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN. From 2006 to 2012, he was a Professor of Physics at the University of Regina in Canada. During this time, Benslama founded and led an international research group in experimental high energy physics. He worked on the ATLAS experiment at CERN where he was a principal investigator and a team leader. He also was a member of the international ATLAS collaboration board and a member of the Liquid Argon representative board.
Benslama started his research activities at CERN in 1992, he first worked on ATLAS, then on NOMAD, (Neutrino Oscillation search with a MAgnetic Detector) which was designed to search for neutrino oscillation. His thesis was on the construction, installation and simulation of a preshower particle detector as well as on data analysis using data from the NOMAD experiment.
He contributed to many aspects of the ATLAS experiment. He worked on a readout system for a silicon detector for the ATLAS experiment, then he worked on the Liquid Argon Calorimeter, the High Level Trigger and Data Quality and Monitoring. He also led several efforts on searches for physics beyond the standard model at the LHC, in particular searches for doubly charged higgs, extra-dimensions and leptoquarks. He was heavily involved in the exotics physics program at the LHC.
Jason Carbaugh, Ph.D., Lecturer of Biology
Jason Carbaugh is an entomologist who recently moved to Maryland from Nebraska where he was teaching at a liberal arts college. He has taught at several different colleges and universities for over ten years, including teaching courses in environmental science, ecology, evolution, entomology, parasitology, and microbiology. He obtained a Ph.D. in Entomology from Texas A&M University studying the behavior and ecology of the red imported fire ant. Dr. Carbaugh’s general research interests include studying the biology of invasive species, developing techniques to assess biodiversity and habitats, and the effects of urbanization on insects and other invertebrates. During his free time, Dr. Carbaugh enjoys hiking and exploring different natural habitats. He also enjoys traveling, and has explored different parts of the U.S., and the Philippines to observe the different animals and to explore the natural scenery there.
At Loyola University Maryland, Dr. Carbaugh will be teaching environmental biology, introductory biology courses, and other courses of interest. Overall, he enjoys teaching students about the diversity of animals and how scientific research is performed, along with discussing environmental issues.
Zoe Derrickson, Director of Program Operations for Master of Science in Data Science
Zoe Derrickson began working at Loyola in the fall of 2020 and serves as the Director of Program Operations – Master of Science in Data Science. As a Loyola alumnus, Zoe had the privilege of attending Loyola as an undergraduate and obtaining her B.B.A. in Marketing. In addition, Zoe earned her M.P.S. in Sports Industry Management from Georgetown University. Zoe’s passion lies in mentoring students. Zoe loves challenging and supporting students so they may become the best version of themselves.
Jonathan Fried, M.S.F.S., Director of Program Operations, Forensic Pattern Analysis
Jon Fried joined the Loyola family in April as the Director of Program Operations for the new MS in Forensic Pattern Analysis Program, which welcomes its first group of students this month! Jon earned his BS in Computer Information systems from Sacred Heart University, and his MS in Forensic Science from the University of New Haven. He has spent the past 20 years working in law enforcement and forensics, initially as a Police Officer, then a Crime Scene Analyst, a Firearms and Toolmarks Examiner, and a Training and Development Specialist for agencies in the states of Connecticut and Nevada, as well as the District of Columbia. One of Jon’s most rewarding experiences was serving as a technical advisor and mentor for high school and college students in the nation’s first Law Enforcement Explorers - Crime Scene Investigation Post, while working for the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. He’s excited to be a part of this unique and challenging program and is looking forward to mentoring the newest generation of forensic science professionals.
John Hendrix, Lecturer of Chemistry and Biochemistry
John Hendrix is from Fresno, right in the middle of California’s San Joaquin Valley. He knew he was destined to become a chemist and chemistry instructor as a direct result of his high school chemistry teacher’s ability to inspire curiosity and creativity. After high school he went to the US Naval Academy where he majored in chemistry and worked with Prof. Christopher Kinter on the total synthesis of radiolabeled analogs of cardiovascular drugs. He finished his undergraduate degree at University of Maryland, College Park in the lab of Dr. Steven Rokita and then moved to San Francisco to work in small molecule drug discovery. After two years of making compounds targeting the blood coagulation cascade, he moved to New York City and the lab of Dr. Sam Danishefsky at Columbia to pursue his graduate degree. His research there focused on the use of the Diels-Alder reaction and intramolecular rearrangements (specifically lactonic Ireland-Claisen rearrangements) to rapidly synthesize the marine natural products Phomopsidin and Aspermytin A. He is a natural product/total synthesis organic chemist at heart.
After Columbia, Prof. Hendrix moved to Boston to work at Merck Research Labs and return to medicinal chemistry. He focused almost exclusively on Alzheimer’s disease, namely small molecule inhibitors and modulators of the enzyme gamma-secretase. His team was successful in discovering many different lead series and was able to advance two compounds into the clinic. Moving on from Merck, he returned to San Francisco to pursue a career in teaching and academia. At the University of San Francisco, Prof. Hendrix taught organic chemistry lecture and lab for six years while also teaching portions of classes in medicinal chemistry and advanced organic synthesis lecture and lab. Prof. Hendrix looks forward to working closely with faculty and students at Loyola to deliver the best possible educational experience.
In his time away from school, Prof. Hendrix works directly with people needing help in the Baltimore community. He also enjoys long-distance running, cycling, wilderness backpacking, hiking, sailing, skiing, fishing, and foreign travel.
Andrew Mehri, Lecturer of Computer Science
Andrew Mehri joins the Loyola Computer Science department this semester as a Lecturer. Prof. Mehri has a Master’s in Informational Architecture, a Master’s in Business Administration, and a bachelor’s degree in Electronics Engineering. He has also extensively studied and applied Mechanical Engineering principles throughout his working career and for his personal hobbies. His background as an electronics engineer and cyber security practitioner, and many years as an educator, have offered him insights on practical course delivery for optimal student engagement and retention. Prof. Mehri has worked on three continents where he had the opportunity to experience various social and working cultures. He also has an online presence on various social media platforms where he delivers free and paid online courses on various topics such as in Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, Mathematics, Computer Networking and Security. Prof. Mehri enjoys painting and drawing, photography, repairing and restoring antique vehicles, and traveling.
Firooz Nejad, Ph.D., Affiliate Instructor of Engineering
Dr. Firooz Bakhtiari Nejad started to teach at Loyola University Spring 2021. From November 2016 to August 2020 he was adjunct professor at University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Dr. Bakhtiari-Nejad has a background in Mechanical Engineering and Electrical Engineering and has received a PhD degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1983 , a MS degree in Mechanical Engineering, BS in Electrical Engineering and a BS in Mechanical Engineering all from Kansas State University. He was a full professor in Amirkabir University of Technology from 2003 to 2016, he has been teaching various courses in the area of System Dynamics and Control and Engineering Mathematics.
In addition of teaching courses in Mechanical, Electrical, Marine and Mechatronics Engineering during past 40 year, Dr. Bakhtiari Nejad held many administrative positions including department head, dean of engineering college, vice canceller of a university and director of research affair in the ministry of science. He has published over 120 journal papers and presented over 100 papers at different international conferences with over 2600 citations.
Henrique Rocha, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Computer Science
Henrique Rocha joins the Loyola Computer Science department this semester as an Assistant Professor. Dr. Rocha has a BS and an MSc from the Catholic University of MG (Brazil), and a Ph.D. in Computer Science focusing on Software Engineering from UFMG (Brazil). Before coming to Loyola, Dr. Rocha worked as a post-doctoral fellow at Inria Lille (2017-2018, France) and the University of Antwerp (2019-2021, Belgium). He has experience in lecturing undergraduate and graduate courses in different institutions across the globe, and is excited to teach Software Engineering to our undergraduate computer science majors. His research interests include Software Engineering, Software Maintenance and Testing, Software Ecosystems, and Blockchain.
Alan Thoms-Chesley, Lecturer of Biology
Alan Thoms-Chesley will continue teaching Introduction to Forensic Science and begin teaching the laboratory component of Introduction to Cellular and Molecular Biology in the Department of Biology. Prior to his appointment at Loyola, Prof. Thoms-Chesley was a high school science teacher for thirteen years, a visiting fellow at NIH/NIA (Baltimore), and a research associate at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine conducting basic research on apoptosis and mechanisms of cell death and survival in the heart and lung.
Teaching forensic science at Loyola has allowed Prof. Thoms-Chesley to integrate several scientific and other disciplines into the course content to make it engaging, socially relevant, and to show students the breadth of career paths they can pursue. His experience as a teacher and as a researcher has provided invaluable insight about being a caring and responsive instructor, how students learn, and the skills they need to master in the classroom to be ready for STEM-related careers. His busy family life (spouse, four children, dog, cat) as well as playing ice hockey for two teams keeps him grounded and recharged.
Prof. Thoms-Chesley looks forward to serving students and the Loyola community and the many opportunities and challenges that Loyola will offer along the way!