LA Program Mission and Team

The Mission of the LA program at FIU

The Learning Assistant (LA) Program’s mission is to empower students through inclusive evidence-based STEM pedagogy practices. LAs help transform FIU classrooms by encouraging and motivating students to collaborate and deepen their understanding and own content knowledge. We aim to empower LAs and students at FIU to lead change in their classrooms and communities.

Meet the Program Team

Hagit Kornreich-Leshem, PhD

Research Assistant Professor, Director of the LA Program

Dr. Hagit Kornreich-Leshem is the Director of the Learning Assistant (LA) Program at FIU’s STEM Transformation Institute. She completed her Ph.D. in Chemistry at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel and her postdoctoral research in Chemical Biology at the University of Bonn in Germany. Hagit has been involved in science education since 2009 in K-12 and college settings. Her current work includes preparing Learning Assistants to facilitate student learning and supporting faculty who transform their classrooms into collaborative and inclusive learning environments. Her research interests include peer learning in collaborative setting and the effect of LA practices on student success and persistence in STEM majors. She is a co-PI on the multi-site NSF Beyond Active Learning Project and active with the LA Alliance led by the University of Colorado in Boulder.

Contact information: Office: VH 166, Phone: 305-348-7682, Email:


Sabriya N. Rosemond, PhD

Assistant Director of the LA Program

Dr. Sabriya N. Rosemond is the Assistant Director of the LA Program at FIU. She completed her PhD in Cell and Molecular Biology at the University of California, Berkeley, where she studied protein folding. Since completing her PhD, she has focused on creating more equitable and inclusive spaces for students historically pushed away from STEM both inside and outside of classrooms, including work with intervention programs, the holistic redesign of a weed-out chemistry course, and data-focused introductory biology and microbiology courses. As the Assistant Director of the LA Program, Sabriya collaborates with the program team to implement the program and develop programming to support faculty who work with LAs.

Contact information: Office: VH 160B, Phone: (305) 348-992, Email:


Karla Valdivia

LA Program Manager

Karla Valdivia is the Program Manager for the Learning Assistant Program. She completed her Bachelor’s in Psychology at FIU in 2019 and aspires to be a future doctor. Karla has worked with the program since 2016, starting off as a Learning Assistant for Biology and later Biochemistry . As the program Manager, Karla oversees program processes and works with the team to support faculty and LAs. She works closely with faculty to ensure that LA practices are implemented and allocates LAs according to faculty and course needs. As an undergraduate Karla was a member of FIU’s medical fraternity, Phi Delta Epsilon, devoting her college career to their philanthropy, the Children’s Miracle Network.  


Contact information: Office: VH 160, Email:


Chris Grau

Program Assistant

Chris Grau is a Program Assistant in FIU’s Learning Assistant (LA) Program. Chris completed his Bachelors of Biological Science in 2019. He has been a Community Service Chair of the National Biological Honor Society at FIU and also co-founded Panther Chow and the Food Recovery Network at FIU. As a previous Biochemistry and Seminar LA himself, he became interested and motivated to research and help LAs and the classes they serve in.  He was also supported the transformation of a bioinformatics course as a part of a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) funded program at FIU. As a program assistant Chris supports various aspects of program operations and co-teaches the LA seminar.


Contact information: Office: VH 160, Email:


Yesenia Valencia

Program Assistant

Yesenia Valencia is a program assistant in FIU’s Learning Assistant (LA) Program. Yesenia completed her Bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences and Psychology at FIU in 2019. While at FIU, Yesenia worked as a Genetics and Organic Chemistry LA. As part of the LA team, Yesenia assists with the daily operations of the LA program as well as providing support within the LA seminar classes. Yesenia previously served as a community service chair and Relay for Life captain as a member of the pre-medical chapter of Phi Delta Epsilon at FIU. 



Contact information: Office: VH 160, Email:


 Our team members go places!

Dr. Carla Abad was the Assistant Director of FIU’s Learning Assistant (LA) Program. Carla completed her Ph.D. in Developmental Science at FIU where she explored the influence of environmental factors, such as play and language, on the development of young children’s spatial skills. She then served as a POD Educational Development Intern at FIU’s Center for the Advancement of Teaching exploring and promoting student-centered teaching practices. She is now an Assistant Teaching Professor in the Psychology department at FIU.



Luis Valderrama Espina was the Program Coordinator and Research Data Analyst of FIU’s LA Program from 2017-2020. He became interested in working with the program while still a biochemistry LA. As an undergraduate at FIU, Luis was the president of FIU’s National Biological Honor Society, and member of Phi Beta Kappa. He joined the LA Program team after graduating with a B.S in Biological Science in 2017. As a member of the team, he co-taught the LA pedagogy course,  conducted research, supported course transformation, and coordinated LAs’ class placement.  He also completed research with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) at FIU as a part of the transformation of Scale-Up calculus classes. He is now at NSU Medical school working towards his dream of being a cardiologist and instructor pioneering medical education.


For general questions about the program, please contact us at