Professor/TA Profiles


Frank Chen | Lecturer

I am pursuing a B.S. in Computer Science at the University of California, Los Angeles. My research interests began with computer vision during my internship at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Summer 2015, and have since evolved to incorporate robotics, AI, and machine learning. I have been a Resident Assistant (RA) for UCLA Residential Life during the 2015-16, 2016-17 school years. In Spring 2017, I will be teaching a seminar on cybersecurity at UCLA. I will be working at Microsoft after graduation as a Technical Product Manager.


Tiffany Cvrkel | Professor

Dr. Cvrkel is a bioethicist, philosopher, and lecturer in UCLA’s Department of Molecular, Cell, & Developmental Biology. Her particular area of expertise is the ethics of emerging technologies, including the ethical challenges around mHealth, eHealth, and Big Data. In addition to being an award-winning teacher, she serves as a consultant to scientists, engineers, and clinicians working with bioethical questions. She specializes in both bringing clarity to bioethical challenges and to assisting in the creation of practical solutions.


Lia W. Marshall | Teaching Assistant

Lia W Marshall has 10 years of research administration experience in oncology specifically in clinical trial and grant administration. She held internships at the Alzheimer’s Association in the Department of Professional Training and trained helping professionals in the therapeutic care of those with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. She holds multiple positions both professional and academic including Steering Committee member for the Golden Age Park in Los Angeles, a Teaching Fellow in the UCLA Frontiers in Human Aging General Education Cluster and a Research Assistant at The Los Angeles Community Academic Partnership for Research in Aging (L.A. CAPRA). Lia received her B.A. in Psychology from the University of California at Santa Cruz and her M.S.W. from California State University Los Angeles. The academic and professional career she established as well as research expertise in healthcare and residential facilities for older adults led to her research interests in health and well-being of older adult populations. As a 5th year a doctoral student at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) her research agenda is to address chronic disease prevention and management in the context of the built environment for the older adult population.


Rafael Romero | Professor

I have a degree in Biology from the University of Los Andes in Bogota, Colombia and originally intended to specialize in plant ecology and conservation biology. However, my plans changed radically during my third year of college when a friend showed me around a neurobiology lab where he was working and quickly became hooked when I realized how devilishly complex the brain was. Not one to shy away from challenges, I joined that lab and worked for a year and a half studying how growth factors and embryonic neural cells could improve behavioral outcomes in murine models of motor cortex brain lesions. Pursuing my newfound interest in the brain, I came to UCLA to get my Ph.D. in Neuroscience. I shifted my focus to molecular neurobiology, and centered my graduate work on understanding how neurotransmitter transporters work and modulate synaptic function using the fruit fly as a model organism. Concurrently, I worked as a teaching assistant for the Neuroscience Department and as a science coordinator for the Center for Community Learning for a total of 9 quarters. During this time I not only got extensive teaching experience but was also given the opportunity to develop a novel K-12 school outreach course, today known as Project Brainstorm, for the Undergraduate Interdepartmental Program for Neuroscience. Currently, I am a Lecturer for the Department of Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology at UCLA. I joined the teaching staff for the Biomedical Research Minor, which recruits and trains undergraduate students to become independent and critical thinkers and ultimately prepares them for graduate and/or professional school. Specifically I have been teaching one of our flagship courses, Biomedical Research: Concepts and Strategies, for 10 years, deconstructing research for approximately 2000 students to date. I am also the Assistant Director for Outreach for the Brain Research Institute at UCLA, Associate Faculty at Santa Monica College and Adjunct Professor at Los Angeles Southwest College. In my free time I enjoy urban hiking in and around Los Angeles and discovering new parks, museums and restaurants. I similarly enjoy traveling around the world, having visited over 25 countries in 5 continents so far. On a more subdued note, I also avidly read popular science books and I recently started a book review (which can be accessed at for my students where they can read my opinions on books spanning a wide range of scientific fields.


Amir Alexander | Professor

I am a historian of science, which means that I study the connections between scientific research and broader society and culture. I have written books, about mathematics and its relationship to the voyages of discovery, to romanticism, and the rise of modernity. Even the most abstract and technical sciences, I have found, are deeply connected to human life — to religion, politics, and ideology. I was born in Israel, where I went to school, served in the army, and completed my undergraduate degree. I came to the U.S. 28 years ago to study for my Ph.D. and ended up staying. As an immigrant myself I have a deep appreciation of the challenges facing students who come from different cultural backgrounds, and are trying to find their way in American colleges and universities.


Victoria Whitener | Teaching Assistant

I am a PhD student in the environmental engineering department. My research is in antibiotic resistance proliferation post disinfection processes in wastewater. I’m passionate about sustainable solutions for rural communities in the developing world, which is what lead me to this program. Outside of research and TA’ing, I do a lot of volunteer work and am a leader in my church. I recently adopted a dog from the street, I love yoga, and I go camping every chance I get.



Joyce Thung | Teaching Assistant

In 2016, I graduated with a B.S. in Biochemistry & Cell Biology from Rice University in Houston, Texas. Realizing that I wanted to work in health at a community level, I returned to Los Angeles and am currently a first year graduate student pursuing a Master of Public Health in Environmental Health Sciences at the Fielding School of Public Health. I am a fellow in the FSPH Public Health Training Program on Population Health Advocacy. As a fellow, I am working with the local non-profit, Los Angeles for A New Economy, to create a health impact assessment on the current waste and recycling system for the city of Long Beach. I am currently involved with various environmental sustainability projects around campus, including pursuing the Leaders in Sustainability Certificate program. I am the marketing director for Green Screens–an annual, open-to-public environmental film festival. I am also co-planning the Environmental Sustainability Fair to provide tips to the UCLA community on living an environmentally-friendly lifestyle. I also love endurance running!

Hung V. Pham | Lecturer

Born and raised in sunny Orange County, Hung received his B.S. degrees in Chemistry and Mathematics in 2008, graduating magna cum laude from UC Irvine. After 2 years of working as a Tutor Advisor, he entered the doctoral program at UCLA. Under the direction of Dr. Ken Houk, Hung conducted research in the field of computational organic chemistry, focusing mainly on cycloadditions of allenes and arenes but also dabbling in metathesis reactions, host-guest chemistry, and synthetic mechanistic studies in collaboration with Dr. Chris Vanderwal at UCI. Five years and 10 publications later, he achieved his Ph.D. in Chemistry from UCLA in 2015. Hung put his research life on the backburner and began focusing on his true passion: teaching! As an adjunct professor at Santa Monica College, he taught general and organic chemistry from 2014-2016. Hung is currently an organic chemistry Lecturer at UCLA, where he is known to wear funny chemistry T-shirts and is constantly being confused with Prof. Hung D. Pham, another member of the department. Outside of the lecture hall, Hung loves to keep up-to-date with all the new TV shows/movies, sing and dance like no one’s watching, and go to as many trivia nights as possible. He also is an escape room enthusiast and is a co-founder and co-owner of UNLOCKED Escape Room in Irvine.


Juliet Lee | Teaching Assistant

I am originally from New York City, where I was a middle school math teacher and am currently a 5th year PhD student in the Urban Schooling program. My research interests fall into two areas, both of which build on my previous teaching experience. One area of study is understanding how teachers learn how to teach math, specifically in grades Pre-K to 8. My own dissertation research focuses on the identity and experiences of Asian American teachers in urban schools. I am also in the Graduate Concentration Program in Asian American Studies, where I have had the opportunity to TA a range of Asian American Studies courses over the past few years. I don’t have much spare time, but when I do, I enjoy watching TV, going to the movies, and spending quality time with friends and family.


T. Nguyen-Vo | Professor

I’m Associate Professor in Asian Languages and Cultures, and Asian American Studies at UCLA. I’m working on a book project about collective and artistic responses by Vietnamese who were subjected to war, execution, torture, prison, deprivation, and working conditions that led to premature death. My other research projects explore the politics of time in futurist visions from the colonial moment to the present in cultural works by Indochinese, Vietnamese, African American, and other artists, writers, activists.


Zen Dochterman | Lecturer

I am a Lecturer at UCLA and my research focuses on the relation between art and politics, specifically in Central American and utopian literature. I have taught over 300 UCLA undergraduates, including many non-Humanities and first-year students, in the Comparative Literature 4-series, an introductory writing course where we study works of literature from places as diverse as South Korea, Egypt, Germany, South Africa, and Nicaragua. We ask questions such as, “how does art represent the anxieties and dreams of its historical moment? For instance, why were there so many movies about alien invasion in the 1950’s and so many ecological disaster movies in the 90s and 00s? Should literature help us see our own society and its problems more clearly or should it help us represent new, and better futures? And finally, what’s the difference between ‘it’s’ and ‘its,’ and what makes a good topic sentence?”


Frank Song | Teaching Assistant

My name is Frank Song. I am a first year graduate researcher at UCLA. My research focus is materials science. This field of research focuses on finding new material to solve modern day problems such as energy production, environmental sustainability, and cancer treatments. My specific research is focused on materials for energy applications such as batteries, solar panels, and catalysis. After graduate school I wish to work in the industry to develop better energy technologies for companies such as Intel or Google. Eventually my goal is to one day create my very own company that creates better batteries and solar panels. Asides from science my hobbies in life include guitar, netflix, tennis, and eating steak.


Kim Mc Nelly | Teaching Assistant

I’m a second-year Ph.D. student in the Asian Languages & Cultures department. My research is focused on Japanese medieval women’s writing (related to war), but I’m also interested in and have TA’d modern classes, such as Japanese manga and anime. I’ve lived in Japan a number of years and am always happy to speak with students about anything Japan-related that they are interested in, including job opportunities. I’m originally from Maine and love bonding with other east-coasters (or anyone else who knows the difference between, say, freezing rain and slush) over the weird SoCal weather.


Lily Anne Welty Tamai | Lecturer

Lily Anne Welty Tamai is a lecturer at UCLA in the Asian American Studies Department. She earned a doctorate in History from the University of California Santa Barbara and was a visiting scholar in the UCLA Asian American Studies Center. Dr. Tamai conducted research in Japan and in Okinawa as a Fulbright Graduate Research Fellow and was also a Ford Foundation Fellow. Her research documents the history of mixed-race American Japanese born after World War II and raised during the post-war period. She has published chapters in Hapa Japan (Kaya Press 2017), Global Mixed Race (NYU Press 2014), and articles in Southern California Quarterly, Pan Japan, and Immigration Studies. She also serves on the U.S. Census Bureau National Advisory Committee on Racial, Ethnic, and Other Populations.