Faculty Profiles


The Gulf Coast Consortium’s leadership is composed of accomplished academics by their own right from a variety of disciplines, whose professional focus is now helping bring light to the gray areas that have traditionally existed between the conventional boundaries separating academic institutions and disciplines.

GCC Accounting Assistant III

Carrie Cerda joined the GCC in 2014 and has over 15 years of banking, finance, and accounting experience. Carrie provides bookkeeping and accounting support for the GCC office. This includes accounting for both department funds and research funds through the NIH, NSF and CPRIT. She also reviews, processes, and reconciles invoices and expenses and provides detailed expenditure and budgetary reports to the Executive Director. Carrie previously worked in corporate and energy banking, and holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of St. Thomas.

Assistant Director, Keck Center Training

Vanessa Herrera joined the GCC as Assistant Director of Keck Center Training in 2015. In addition to managing our weekly Keck Seminar series, Vanessa oversees several GCC/Keck Center training programs (Molecular Biophysics, Neuroengineering, Integrative Pharmacology) as well as the Computational Cancer Biology Summer Undergraduate program. Vanessa studied Biomedical Sciences at Texas A&M University then earned her Executive MBA from Texas Woman’s University.  She began her career in 2005 as a research assistant at UTHealth then continued her role as a researcher at the University of Houston’s Center for Experimental Therapeutics. Most recently, she was Senior Sponsored Programs Analyst at Baylor College of Medicine and the Texas Children’s Cancer Center.

GCC Executive Director

Karen Ethun joined the GCC in 2005 and has been executive director since 2006. She is engaged with all aspects of the GCC including training and research programs and initiatives, special funding initiatives, new initiatives and workshops, and the development of proposals to NIH, NISF and CPRIT.  Karen also works with GCC leadership to ensure long-term support and strategic growth of the GCC and with faculty to develop newly forming research and training groups.  Prior to joining the GCC, Karen was director of business development for a contract research organization focused on getting drugs, biologics and devices through clinical trials and the FDA approval process.  She is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin.

Director, Keck Center

Melissa Glueck joined the GCC in 2006 and has been Director of the Keck Center since 2015. She is integrally involved in developing, creating, and administering complex, inter-institutional PhD student and postdoctoral training grant programs in the biosciences that are funded by NIH, CPRIT, and private foundations. Melissa has also been very active in the area of professional and career development for trainees, terming it “value added” to fellowship training. Prior to joining the GCC, Melissa worked at Rice University in the mechanical engineering department and at the Ken Kennedy Institute for Information Technology. She has a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Virginia at Charlottesville, and an M.S. in Human Resource Management Systems from Chapman University.

Administrative Coordinator

Dawn Koob joined the GCC in 2012 and has responsibilities in many aspects and daily operations of the GCC. Her contributions to the research consortia, clusters and initiatives include coordinating and implementing numerous events such as conferences, symposiums, and workshops as well as the development and design of all publications for advertising and marketing events. Dawn also assists with training grant preparation and submissions and event planning. In addition, she manages the GCC website and GCC News, maintains numerous mailing lists, and contributes to all aspects of office management.

Director, Research Programs

Dr. Suzanne Tomlinson is the Director of Research Programs for the Gulf Coast Consortia. Her primary responsibilities include direction of the 8 GCC research consortia and clusters.  In addition, she directs the development of new interinstitutional research initiatives, scientific conferences, grant proposals, curriculum, and manages the John S. Dunn Foundation Collaborative Research Award Program for the BioScience Research Collaborative.  She earned her Ph.D. at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB), Galveston, TX, in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, specializing in computational drug discovery and lead optimization in the development of West Nile and dengue virus protease inhibitors. As a Postdoctoral Fellow, she developed aldose reductase inhibitors as potential colon cancer therapeutics. Her current research interests remain in the development of flavivirus antivirals.