LMU Affiliates

Kristen Covino, Ph.D., Faculty Affiliate

LMU Biology


Dr. Kristen Covino is an avian biologist who integrates multiple fields to explain the complex interactions between an individual’s environment and their physiology. Dr. Covino’s research encompasses many scales of inquiry, ranging from avian physiology to continental-scale migratory movements, and seeks to understand the movement biology and whole life cycle biology of migratory birds. Her interest in birds started as an undergraduate when she took ornithology and conducted research while earning her B.Sc. in Biology (2004) from Canisius College in Buffalo, New York, where she also grew up. After a year of field work and research, Dr. Covino began her Master’s research at the University of Maine-Orono where she studied migratory decisions of songbirds on stopover. In 2011, Dr. Covino began as a doctoral student in the Migratory Bird Research Group at the University of Southern Mississippi under the direction of Dr. Frank Moore. Her dissertation work investigated breeding development in several inter-continental migrants en route to their breeding grounds and demonstrated that the phenology of physiological breeding development in these species is sex-specific for which she received her Ph.D. in 2016. Dr. Covino conducts research in collaboration with the Appledore Island Migration Station in Maine and with the Shoals Marine Laboratory where she teaches a summer Field Ornithology course. Some of Dr. Covino’s currently research projects include studying the hormone-behavior relationship in breeding Great Black-backed Gulls, using feather hydrogen isotope ratios to model population-level migratory movements in songbirds, and a series of hormone-related questions in various songbird species as part of a collaboration with the Islands High School Scientific Research Program.

Dr. Covino is also interested in addressing issues related to making ornithology and undergraduate research more accessible to women and the LGBT community, as well as promoting undergraduate participation in research. Dr. Covino is the co-chair of the student and young professional committee of the Wilson Ornithological Society and a member of the Early Professional Committee of the American Ornithology Society.

John H. Dorsey, Ph.D., Senior Faculty Fellow

LMU Civil Engineering & Environmental Science

John Dorsey

John Dorsey received his B.S. in Marine Biology (1972) and M.S. in Biology (1975) from California State University, Long Beach, then traveled to Australia where he received his doctorate from the University of Melbourne in Zoology (1982). Presently he is a Professor at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, in the Department of Civil Engineering & Environmental Science where he teaches courses in environmental, atmospheric and marine sciences. Prior to LMU, he worked as a marine biologist for the City of Los Angeles (1983-2002), focusing on marine monitoring in Santa Monica Bay and storm water management. John sits on numerous local and state technical committees dealing with water quality issues and policy, and is past-president of the Southern California Academy of Science where he remains an active member of their Board of Directors and Research Training Program for high school students. His research interests focus on the dynamics of fecal indicator bacteria in coastal waters and wetlands. John's passion for good water quality is natural — he is an avid surfer, so most days he can be found at dawn surfing at El Porto near his home and LMU's campus.

Jess Sunio, Graduate Student Research Assistant

LMU Office of Student Conduct & Community Responsibility


Jess is a graduate student in LMU’s Counseling Program and works in the Office of Student Conduct & Community Responsibility. She joined the CURes Restorative Justice Project to gain research experience but is most excited about learning restorative practices and gaining the tools to impact systemic education reform. In her spare time, she volunteers with Recovery@LMU as a facilitator and hosts wellness meetings with LMU’s Women’s Soccer Program. Jess has hopes of pursuing a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology and using her experience as an athlete and administrator in the sports industry to continue the reform of coaching education.


Demian Willette, Ph.D.

LMU Biology

Demian Willette

Dr. Demian A. Willette is an Instructor in Biology at Loyola Marymount University, an Assistant Project Scientist at University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), and a current US Fulbright Scholar. He received his Bachelors degree in biology from Iowa State University, Masters degree in biology from California State University Los Angeles, and Ph.D. in Public Health from UCLA. He was a NSF post-doc for 3 years in Southeast Asia, including with the Philippines Bureau of Fisheries, conducting fisheries research. He has published over two dozen peer-reviewed scientific articles in the fields of applied ecology, marine biology, molecular genetics, and biological invasions, and his work has been featured in Time Magazine, Science, the New York Times, among others. He leads an active research group of promising undergraduate and graduate students, and has ongoing collaborations with partners in Israel, Germany, Ecuador, the Caribbean, the Philippines, and across the U.S.

Non-LMU Affiliates

Gwynn Alexander

Restorative Justice Fellow

A picture of our research fellow, Gwynn Alexander

Gwynn Alexander is a PhD student in Leadership Studies at the University of San Diego and graduate assistant in the Center for Restorative Justice. She has seven years of experience as a high school art teacher serving both Orange and Los Angeles counties. Gwynn completed her master’s degree in the Social and Cultural Analysis of Education program at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) where she fine tuned her research to focus on the intersections of critical pedagogies, community organizing, and school-based intervention programs to address local topics of educational injustice. Her interest in community organizing also extends into the non-profit sector where she spent two years at a youth leadership organization writing and implementing training materials for administrative volunteers in organizational growth, sustainability, and measures of local accountability.


Malene Kai Bell

A headshot of our affiliate, Malene Kai Bell

Malene Kai Bell is a former educator and Founder of S.A.G.E. Wellness, an educational consulting company that builds teacher capacity through a focus on mindfulness, self-care, and burnout prevention. As a school climate and culture expert with 20+ years in the field, Malene leverages this skillset in her consultant work with institutions, schools, and organizations. Her mantra is ‘To transform the world, transform yourself.’

In her work with the LMU CURes Restorative Practices Project, Malene will support the development of key process designs, curricula frameworks, and collaterals. She will also co-facilitate Restorative Practices trainings alongside Schoene Mahmood, the Restorative Practices Project Manager. 

Prior to launching S.A.G.E., Malene designed and implemented restorative practices programs using a whole school approach, successfully supporting school culture & climate transformation in Baltimore City, Baltimore County, and DC schools.

At Justice & Sustainability Associates (JSA), a DC-based alternative dispute resolution firm, Malene served as the Program Lead for JSA’s Governance and Transportation and Infrastructure Programs. She helped launch the American University Neighborhood Partnership, managed the Georgetown University Community Partnership, and contributed to the Washington Union Station Expansion Project, the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge Replacement Project, and the River Avenue Shelter Project. Additionally, Malene designed and managed JSA's portion of the Industry Summit, a global multi-stakeholder process and program that is both a unique consensus-building program and a twice-yearly summit meeting of the world’s 15 largest apparel and sportswear brands focused on environment, health, safety, and sustainability in their global supply chains.

Malene has served as faculty at Johns Hopkins University and Morgan State University and as adjunct faculty for several community colleges in Maryland. A published writer, Malene earned a B.A. in English from Morgan State University and an M.A. in Writing from Johns Hopkins University.

Isaac Brown

Isaac Brown

Isaac Brown is a nationally recognized ecologist and planner specializing in urban ecosystem services and management. Isaac has integrated these concepts into professional urban design and green infrastructure projects worldwide including the San Francisco Sewer System Improvement Program, the Singapore Urban Redevelopment Authority's Sustainability Management Tools, and the Arizona State Land Department's Superstition Vistas growth area, which is envisioned to include up to 1M new residents over the coming century. Isaac is currently coordinating the development of an urban biodiversity strategy for the City of Los Angeles. Isaac holds Master's and Bachelor's Degrees from the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment, and is a doctoral candidate Environmental Science and Engineering at the UCLA Institute of Environment and Sustainability. His research includes developing urban ecosystem health indicators for Los Angeles that integrate biodiversity, ecosystem services, pollution management, and natural hazards. This is the first attempt to create a comprehensive urban ecosystem framework for L.A.'s built environment, and represents a promising new direction for sustainability of cities worldwide.

Maria Curley, Education Specialist

Maria Curley

Maria Curley is an education specialist who provides consulting services to support CURes’ education grants. This involves the creation of science curriculum and resources for students at varying grade levels. Maria earned a BA degree in Sociology from the University of California, Riverside (UCR) in 1988. She also earned a Master's degree in Education in 2009 from Lesley University in Cambridge, MA. She holds a professional teaching licensure in all subjects for grades 1-6 and a professional teaching licensure in General Science for grades 5-8. Maria also holds a Sheltered English Immersion (SEI) Endorsement for teaching English Language Learners (ELLs). Maria has taught in all the elementary grades, and seven years in middle school science, reading, and ELA, utilizing SEI instructional strategies with ELLs in her classes.

Shenyue Jia, PhD


Dr. Shenyue Jia is currently an adjunct faculty member at Chapman University and a research fellow at Chapman’s Center of Excellence in Earth Systems Modeling and Observations (CEESMO). She got her Ph.D. from UCLA Geography in 2017. Dr. Jia is a GIS specialist and enthusiastic about solving real-world problems with geospatial tools. She recently worked with CURes and TreePeople to develop the Los Angeles County Tree Canopy Map Viewer  as well as community-based tree canopy prioritization projects in Southeast LA County. This work helps cities in LA County improve urban tree canopy coverage. In her spare time, Dr. Jia enjoys reading about city, environment, and public policy. She serves as an interpreter volunteer for the World Resources Institute (WRI), aiming to bring quality studies of city and urban ecology in English to a broader audience in China, where she is originally from.