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Meet the Staff

Gordon Rakita headshot

Gordon F.M. Rakita, Ph.D. | Associate Vice President of Faculty Excellence and Academic Engagement


Gordon F.M. Rakita is a bioarchaeologist and Professor of Anthropology in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology & Social Work. He also serves as Interim Associate Vice President for Faculty Development. Prior to joining the faculty at UNF in 2003, he was Principal Investigator and Analytical Director for SWCA Environmental Consultants of Flagstaff, Arizona. He earned his B.A. in Anthropology from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of New Mexico. In 2016, he was named the junior laureate of the Lloyd Cotsen Prize for Lifetime Achievement in World Archaeology and he is UNF's 2020 Distinguished Professor. His work focuses on bioarchaeology, anthropological approaches to mortuary and other ritual behavior, emergent social inequality and complexity, analytical data management and statistical analyses, and evolutionary theory.


Julie Williams Merten, Ph.D. | Acting Director of Faculty Excellence 

Julie Merten, Ph.D., MCHES wears many hats! She is Acting Director of the Office of Faculty Excellence, the Faculty Excellence Scholar for the Orientation of New Faculty, and an Associate Professor in the Department of Public Health. In addition, Dr. Merten directs the undergraduate Public Health Internship program and teaches Applied Social Behavioral Science in the Master of Public Health program.

Dr. Merten is the Program Director for the Interdisciplinary Health Studies program and serves as the Community Engagement Coordinator for the Brooks College of Health to develop new opportunities for student engagement and serve as the central connecting and organizing unit for community-engaged Brooks College of Health programs and faculty. She also serves as the Chair of the Skin Cancer Prevention Task Force in Northeast Florida to reduce skin cancer through advocacy, policy, and education efforts. Nationally, Dr. Merten is on the Board of Directors of the American Academy of Health Behavior.. 
Brenda Rolison Headshot

Brenda Rolison | Faculty Development, Administrative Assistant | (904) 620-5279


Brenda began working at UNF in 2007 as an office manager in the Department of Exceptional, Deaf, and Interpreter Education in the College of Education and Human Services. She transferred to Undergraduate Studies in 2017 and joined Faculty Development in 2020, where she now supports the offices of Faculty Enhancement and Undergraduate Research. Brenda enjoys working with students, faculty, and staff and appreciates the many opportunities UNF provides. In her spare time, Brenda travels with her husband, spends time with her family (including five grandchildren), and delves into genealogy.