College of Sciences Faculty Champions


Each department in the College of Sciences has a designated Faculty Champion. We can connect you with resources on innovative teaching, digital tools, and techniques to improve student success. We all teach in a variety of modalities and can help you find activities for in-person, hybrid, or online classes. We are also here if you just want to have a conversation about creating a more engaging classroom for your students!

College of Sciences

Terri Matiella

Hi! I am Terri Matiella, and I am the Assistant Dean of Innovative Instruction and Assessment for the College of Sciences. In my role at the college level, I work with our COS Faculty Champions to enhance the classroom experience for both faculty and students by promoting innovative practices in teaching. This includes organizing teaching workshops for COS faculty, working on projects with the Champions to address the needs of faculty and students in the classroom, and facilitating discussion between faculty and the Champions. There is always more to learn about being a great instructor, and I am passionate about sharing skills and teaching tips!

I also hold a faculty position as a Professor of Instruction in Integrative Biology teaching and coordinating classes in introductory environmental science. I received my B.S. in Biology, M.S. in Environmental Science, Ph.D. in Environmental Science and Engineering, and went back to school and completed a M.A. in Education with a focus in Curriculum and Instruction in 2019. I have taught face-to-face, hybrid, and online classes. My teaching style is to make content relevant and engaging for students. I feel everyone should know something about our environment, since we all affect it by our actions. Once we know how we affect the environment and it affects us, we can be more sustainable in our everyday actions, leading to big impacts!

Instructional Designer, College of Sciences

Alexia Cormier

I share a dual role between the College of Sciences and Academic Innovation as an Instructional Designer STEM-focused. I am a creative designer with hands-on experience in all levels of course development, team-oriented training, and designing software applications in an innovation-driven environment.

Our team assists faculty and staff with online elements of design, development, and accessibility for their courses. If you are interested in a consultation, please follow the steps in the link for the Bookings listed below. I look forward to helping you create an innovative and engaging course!

Furthermore, I earned my Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies with a minor in Sociology and Master of Arts in Learning, Design, and Technology (LDT) at The University of Texas at San Antonio. Go Roadrunners!

Office Hours: by appointment through College of Sciences ID Bookings

Chemistry Department

Victoria Dougherty

Hello my name is Victoria Dougherty, I am an Assistant Professor of Practice in the Department of Chemistry. I am a true Roadrunner. I obtained my B.S. and M.Sc. at UTSA, then was hired to teach straight out of graduate school. I teach everyone’s favorite class, Organic Chemistry. At first, I was not sure if teaching was for me. But as the semesters ticked on, I realized how much I enjoy helping students reach their full potential. I teach by using a combination of old and new school. I still use the chalk board; I feel this is the best way to teach organic, but I also incorporate some tech into the course too.

As a Champion, I am given the opportunity to also help our faculty. I have to admit most of my colleagues do fine on their own but from time to time they do reach out and it is my pleasure to help.

Computer Science Department

Sam Silvestro, Ph.D.

Sam Silvestro is an Assistant Professor of Instruction in the Computer Science department. He completed both his undergraduate and doctoral studies right here at UTSA, completing his Ph.D. in Computer Science in 2019. His research interests focus on secure memory allocation, systems programming, and parallel computing. His teaching duties for the Computer Science department typically consist of Systems Programming, Advanced Systems Programming, and Operating Systems.

Earth and Planetary Sciences Department

Janet Vote

My research interests relate to Middle Permian ammonoids, biostratigraphy, paleoenvironment reconstruction, and sedimentary processes. My teaching interests lie in Earth History and Earth as a system. I enjoy finding new ways to engage students both online and face-to-face by using a mixture of available technologies to create new ways for students to learn and communicate. My service interests are in outreach to faculty on innovative pedagogy, and outreach to the San Antonio community on learning opportunities in the Earth and Planetary sciences.

Integrative Biology Department

Jessica Beckham, Ph.D.

Hi! My name is Jessica Beckham and I am an Associate Professor of Instruction in the Integrative Biology department, a big-time bug nerd, and a tireless proponent of citizen science as a tool to increase awareness of, and appreciation for, the environment. I have been at UTSA since 2017, prior to which I earned a Ph.D. in Environmental Science from the University of North Texas, an M.S. in Biology from the University of North Texas, and a B.S. in Biology from the University of Texas at Austin. At UTSA I teach and coordinate the Environmental Zoology course, a freshman-level course in the science core, as well as upper-division courses in entomology; I teach these courses in both the traditional face-to-face and online classrooms. Prior to joining the team at UTSA my teaching background has included a diverse range of experiences, to include serving as a high school science teacher in Austin ISD for several years, an Upward Bound instructor for their program at the University of North Texas, a teaching assistant and adjunct faculty member for UNT’s biology department, and an adjunct faculty member in biology and environmental science for the online college at Southern New Hampshire University. As an instructor, I try to keep my courses relevant, engaging, and practical so that students ultimately leave my class with a greater love of learning and appreciation for the environment and their roles in protecting it. As a Faculty Champion for the College of Sciences, I enjoy working with instructors to find the tools and techniques that work for them and increase their students’ success.

Eddie Hernandez, Ph.D.

My name is Eddie Hernandez and have served as University Champion since 2020. I am an Associate Professor of Instruction in the department of Integrative Biology. I teach the Human Anatomy and Physiology I and II lecture courses and coordinate the Human Anatomy and Physiology II laboratories. I also serve as the Undergraduate Advisor of Record (UGAR) for my department, where I advise students through their Biology degree plans and advise Prehealth students to facilitate admission to their health professions career of their choice. My forte as a University Champion is integrating innovative technologies into large classroom settings. I assist faculty with simple blackboard navigation, integration of various technologies for classroom engagement, and course design. Please reach out to me should you need my assistance.

Mathematics Department

Cindy Roberts

Cindy Roberts is a mathematics faculty member and technology driven teaching rock star who has been with UTSA Mathematics Department for 14 years. She not only works closely with the math department to ensure their technology needs are met but incorporates a variety of innovative teaching techniques for her students, including engaging escape rooms, interactive Desmos and Playposit modules, and quite the interesting group activities, such as Squid Games and Stranger Things! She is passionate about teaching and helping faculty because the ability to teach students new ways to view the world using mathematics is quite rewarding. The use of technology has played a huge role in accomplishing this goal. Her interest in technology and online teaching as well has been one of the huge benefits with COVID-19 to offer her experiences with other instructors. This allowed the creation of the College of Sciences Technology Champions team to bounce back and forth ideas and hear fresh new ideas as well. It has been very rewarding to assist new online faculty in these areas and tell them tried and true techniques but also allow them to venture out as well with what works for them and their courses. Cindy often remembers that her father always told her, if you are good at what you do and you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life. She doesn’t!

Molecular Microbiology and Immunology Department

Sara Shields-Menard, Ph.D.

Dr. Shields-Menard came to UTSA in the Fall of 2019. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Instruction and the Undergraduate Advisor of Record (UGAR) in the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology teaching and coordinating the Microbiology Labs. Her research background is in using microbes to make renewable fuels or to clean up the environment (Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Response) or a combination of both! Dr. Shields-Menard earned her Ph.D. in Biology from Mississippi State University and her Master of Marine and Environmental Biology from Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, LA. In her spare time, she likes to travel, attend festivals or anything with live music, cheer for the Saints and Pelicans, and spoil her rescue dog, Mason.

Neuroscience, Developmental and Regenerative Biology Department

Eddie Hernandez, Ph.D.

My name is Eddie Hernandez and have served as University Champion since 2020. I am an Associate Professor of Instruction in the department of Integrative Biology. I teach the Human Anatomy and Physiology I and II lecture courses and coordinate the Human Anatomy and Physiology II laboratories. I also serve as the Undergraduate Advisor of Record (UGAR) for my department, where I advise students through their Biology degree plans and advise Prehealth students to facilitate admission to their health professions career of their choice. My forte as a University Champion is integrating innovative technologies into large classroom settings. I assist faculty with simple blackboard navigation, integration of various technologies for classroom engagement, and course design. Please reach out to me should you need my assistance.

Physics and Astronomy Department

Dina Drozdov, Ph.D.

My name is Dr. Dina Drozdov and I am the faculty champion for the Department of Physics and Astronomy at UTSA. Currently, I teach large lecture introductory Astronomy courses, allowing me to share my passion for STEM and education with students across all disciplines and academic levels. My teaching philosophy is to inspire the next generation through innovative coursework elements and connecting the content with real world applications and current research accomplishments.

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