Faculty Spotlight

UOG Welcomes New Faculty and Administrators

UOG Welcomes New Faculty and Administrators


Get to know the newest faculty and administrators to join the University of Guam during the 2017-2018 academic school year!

University of Guam
Deborah Leon Guerrero

Assistant Vice President for Institutional Effectiveness

Throughout her 15 years at UOG, Leon Guerrero has been the Registrar and most recently the Director for Academic Assessment and Institutional Research, which she held for the last 8 years. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Colorado State University in 1985 and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Hawaii at Manoa in 1990.Leon Guerrero will continue her work in academic assessment and institutional research while focusing on monitoring and reporting institutional accreditation compliance and supporting UOG’s overarching Good to Great initiatives.


University of Guam
Troy McVey, Ph.D.
Interim Assistant Vice President for Academic Excellence/ Director of Graduate Studies

Having served 12 years at the University of Guam as faculty and Associate Dean of CLASS, his most recent position was Provost Fellow to the Senior Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs. McVey earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre Technology from Drake University in 1998 and a Master of Fine Arts in Theatre Design from Tulane University in 2004. This year he completed his Doctor of Education in Global Education from the University of Southern California.

University of Guam
John Jenson, Ph.D.
Director of the Water and Environmental Institute of the Western Pacific

Jenson, who’s worked for the University for the last 24 years, focuses his research on island groundwater hydrology and related environmental science.
Jenson earned a Bachelor of Science in Economics from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1975. He went on to complete a Master of Arts in Economics in 1976 from the University of Michigan and a PhD in Geology from Oregon State University in 1993.

University of Guam
Austin Shelton, Ph.D.

Executive Director of the Center for Island Sustainability

Shelton is a graduate of Hawaii Pacific University where he earned his Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology. He also completed a master's and a doctorate in zoology from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, specializing in marine biology. Shelton currently serves as an assistant professor of extension and outreach in the UOG Sea Grant Program. He also coordinates education, outreach, and diversity activities as a Co-Principal Investigator in the Guam EPSCoR Program funded by the National Science Foundation.


University of GuamVerna Zafra

Zafra earned a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Master of Arts in English from the University of Guam. Her research interests include composition practices and processes, women and gender issues, and poetry. In her spare time, Verna enjoys traveling and spending time with family.  Zafra joined DEAL in Fanuchånan/Fall 2016 where she teaches English composition. She was also tapped to coordinate the first Triton Summer Bridge Program in summer 2016.



University of Guam
Debra Cabrera, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Sociology

Cabrera most recently taught at St. John’s School while serving as adjunct faculty for sociology at the University of Guam.  Cabrera was formerly the Dean of Academic Programs and Services at the Northern Marianas College in the Commonwealth of the Northern Marina Islands.  

She has been active in local, regional, and national organizations, namely the Northern Mariana Islands Council for the Humanities, President Obama’s White House Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, Humanities Guåhan, and the Scientific and Statistical Committee for the Western Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Council.   

University of Guam
Jose Cruz, Jr.

Instructor, English-Composition

Cruz is from the village of Mangilao. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Assumption College in Worcester, MA and a Master of Education from the University of Guam. His research interests are reading and writing about Guam and the Micronesian region. His hobbies include poetry, researching, traditional CHamoru Cultural Arts and Craft, and weaving.


University of Guam
Kenneth Gofigan Kuper

Instructor, Political Science

Kenneth Gofigan Kuper is a Chamoru born and raised in the island of Guåhan. He is currently in the Ph.D. program in Political Science at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology at the University of Guam and a master’s degree in Pacific Islands Studies also from the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa. His research interests include decolonization, the militarization of Oceania, critical security studies, indigenous politics, and language revitalization.



University of Guam
Mark Acosta

Extension Agent, Global Food Security and Childhood Obesity Prevention

Acosta joins the University as an extension agent focusing on sustainable agriculture and childhood obesity prevention. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Tropical Agriculture from UOG. His current research interests include the locally funded Community Healthy Living Program which focuses on reducing the risk or prevalence of obesity and cancer and the Seven Trees’, Seven Practice’s grant funded by Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (WSARE).

University of Guam
Michael Orr, 
Assistant Professor, Biology

Orr is motivated by a massive amount of inquisitiveness and the kinds of experiences that often result in wind-chapped hands and sunburn from long hours on the water or in the field. He believes every eager student, oceanic mass, threatened species, mountain range, pristine land track, whipping sail, developing eco-system, and unexplored route on the tip of the map deserves a champion…actually, a slew of them. That is why he has dedicated his career to the scientific subject matter that serves as his muse in the natural world – the fields of neurophysiology, marine biology and environmental science.

University of Guam
Katrina Marie G
. Quinata
Instructor, Mathematics

Quinata is an Instructor/Academic Advisor at the University of Guam. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and a Master of Arts in Teaching from UOG. Her research interests include promoting 4-year graduation and retention rates within CNAS academic programs that contribute directly to the production of skilled and knowledgeable researchers that can provide their services to Guam’s community.

University of Guam
LaJoy Spears
, Ph.D.
Extension Agent, Extension Family Life and Youth Development

Dr. Lajoy R. Spears earned a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Economics and Business and a Master of Science in Agricultural and Extension Education from the university of Tennessee-Knoxville. She also earned a doctorate degree in Agricultural Education and Curriculum and Instructional Technology from Iowa State University. Her research interests include International Agricultural/Extension Education and Development, using online/distance education to educate the community and disseminate research in agricultural sciences, designing experiential learning for agricultural curriculum.


University of Guam
Courtney Marshall

Assistant Professor, Reference Service and Instruction Librarian

Marshall received a Bachelor of Arts in Archeology from the University of Texas-Austin in 2004 and a Masters in Library and Information Science from the University of Washington-Seattle in 2001.

Her specialties include information literacy education, outreach, and cataloging.

University of Guam
Ismael Cruz Perez

Assistant Professor, Reference Service Instruction Librarian

Perez earned his undergraduate degree from Tufts University. He also earned a master’s from Boston College and a Master or Library Science from the University of North Texas.

His research interests include understanding the information and educational needs of the people of the region and connecting them with resources, print, electronic, or otherwise.  


University of Guam
Ujwalkumar D. Patil, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Civil Engineering

Patil received his PhD in Civil Engineering with specialization in Geotechnical Engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington in 2014. He earned his Master of Science in Geotechnical Engineering from San Diego State University, California in 2008, and Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Pune University in India. He has Professional Civil Engineer (PE-Civil) license from the State of Texas, USA. He is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Patil has been involved in writing proposals and working on funded research projects for various funding agencies such as: National Science Foundation, Texas Department of Transportation, and US Department of Transportation. His research interests include laboratory soil testing and field instrumentation, static and dynamic characterization of saturated and unsaturated geo-materials, modeling of hydro-thermo-mechanical behavior of geo-materials, land-slides and slope stability analysis.