Faculty and Staff

Program Director

Dr. James CokerDr. James Coker is the Program Director for the Bioinformatics and Biotechnology Regulatory Affairs specializations. He earned his Ph.D. from The Pennsylvania State University where his dissertation focused on investigating the structure/function relationships in cold-active enzymes from Antarctica. Before joining UMUC, he was a faculty member at the University of Alabama at Birmingham where he ran a basic research laboratory focusing on stress responses and transcriptomic changes in microorganisms that grow in extreme environments. He has been a teacher for 20 years and his research has been published in numerous peer-reviewed journals and presented at both national and international conferences.


Rana KhanRana Khan is director of UMUC's MS in Biotechnology program. She earned her PhD from University of Maryland, College Park. Khan has extensive research experience in molecular biology, working in both academia and the government. Her research has been published in numerous peer-reviewed science journals.



Nadim AlkharoufNadim Alkharouf is an associate professor at Towson University in the Computer and Information Sciences department. Alkharouf earned his PhD from George Mason University. His areas of research include designing biological databases; developing applications for data mining and analysis; and analyzing genomic, EST and next-generation sequence data. He has extensive research experience with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Canada's Genome Sciences Center.


Paul AllenzaPaul Allenza is director of the Biotechnology Research and Education Program at University of Maryland, College Park. The program, which is part of the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute, assists researchers and growing companies as they scale-up bioprocesses, evaluate new products and train employees. Allenza earned his PhD from University of Massachusetts, Amherst.


Denise BakenDenise N. Baken earned her PhD from George Mason University. Her firm, Shield Analysis Technology, focuses on domestic and international terrorism analysis. Her research investigates Al Qaeda's pursuit of biological agents. A retired Army colonel, Baken most recently served as director of biodefense programs for the Center for Innovative Technology. She is a member of the World Medical and Health Policy Journal editorial board.


Kai ChangAfter Kai Chang earned his MD from Hebei Medical University in China, he completed post-doctoral training at the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health. He specializes in molecular biology, tumor pathology and immunology. His work spans the disciplines of oncology, immunology and cell biology to genetic engineering, biochemistry and bio-pharmacology. An author and reviewer for numerous journals, he also holds biotechnology patents widely used in cancer diagnosis and biotherapy.


Richard ConroyRichard Conroy earned his PhD from University of St. Andrews, and he is now a research fellow at the National Institutes of Health, studying the mechanisms that give rise to triplet repeat diseases. He has diverse research interests, which have taken him from his PhD work on laser design to high-resolution spectroscopy, microfluidics and ultracold atoms. His current interest is in single-molecule biophysics.


Anthony CristilloAnthony Cristillo earned his PhD from Queen's University in Kingston, Canada, and completed a post-doctoral fellowship in molecular and cellular immunology at the National Institutes of Health. He serves as senior staff scientist at Advanced BioScience Laboratories, working in the field of HIV-1 vaccine and pathogenesis research. His academic and scientific interests include molecular biology, biochemistry, bioinformatics and immunology.


Katie CrockettKathryn Crockett earned her PhD from George Mason University. She works as a senior national security analyst with a consulting firm in Washington, D.C. Her focus is on improving national defense and homeland security by examining military-civilian coordination during and after a biological incident, remediation of urban areas following a biological incident and resiliency of military and civilian preparedness activities.


Shaojian Shaojian "James" Gao is a principal system architect at Digicon Corporation. He earned his PhD from University of Kentucky and he has worked on contractual bioinformatics projects at the National Institutes of Health for nearly 10 years. Recently, he has been working at the National Human Genome Research Institute to support their NextGen DNA sequencing facility. He is an Oracle-certified database administrator and a Sun-certified system administrator.


Beatrice GrabowskiBeatrice Grabowski earned her PhD from University of Maryland, College Park. She works as a senior editor for the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Her undergraduate and graduate research in anthropology focused on the early inhabitants of the Brazilian Amazon Basin. She now specializes in the molecular mechanisms of photosynthesis and DNA replication.


Joshua GrayJoshua Gray earned his PhD from The Pennsylvania State University. He is an assistant professor of chemistry at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. Gray's research focuses on the biology of chemical weapons and the development of medical countermeasures. He teaches courses focused on biological and chemical weapons.


Paul Hemmes

Paul R. Hemmes earned his PhD from Polytechnic Institute of New York University. He currently works as an independent consultant for medical device development and manufacturing. Prior to that, he worked as a senior manager at numerous medical diagnostics firms, overseeing research, development and manufacturing. He has extensive experience with biotechnology as applied to medical diagnostic testing. Hemmes has published more than 50 papers in refereed journals and holds 12 patents.


15_KoryJohnsonKory Johnson earned his PhD from George Mason University. He has extensive experience in biotechnology and government, including working at the National Cancer Institute, Human Genome Sciences and Gene Logic. He currently serves as the intramural resident bioinformatics expert at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Since 2009, Johnson has twice been nominated for UMUC's Stanley J. Drazek Teaching Excellence Award.


Howard KrivanHoward Krivan earned his PhD from Virginia Tech. He currently serves as president and chief scientific officer of a private biotechnology company in Nevada that specializes in developing technologies and pharmaceutical products to prevent STDs and treat infectious diseases of the gastrointestinal tract. He is the recipient of the 2007 Teaching Excellence Award from the Graduate School of Management and Technology.


Lisa ParsonsLisa Parsons earned her PhD from University of Maryland, College Park. She serves as a research scientist at the Food and Drug Administration studying glycans using mass spectrometry. Many disease-causing entities, such as the flu virus, recognize and bind to glycans on the outside of cells. She also has experience with virus, protein and DNA growth and purification; protein NMR spectroscopy; AFM; EM; and electrochemistry.


Lee PierceLee Pierce earned her PhD from the University of Rochester and continued her post-doctoral research with the Atomic Energy Commission. Pierce also has an interest in Asian studies; her family lived in Tokyo from 1972 until 2002, when they moved back to the U.S. Pierce has been teaching for UMUC Asia since 1977 and is now teaching stateside. In addition to teaching, she specializes in scientific and medical editing.


Wolfgang RumpfWolfgang Rumpf earned his PhD from The Ohio State University, where he studied evolutionary questions using molecular phylogenetic techniques. His post-doctoral work focused on identifying dental pathogens involved in periodontitis. He has founded two companies that create knowledge management software for scientists. At Rescentris Ltd., he designs, sells and supports electronic laboratory notebook software for the life sciences.