Ashelyn Sidders, '17
Ashelyn Sidders was born and raised in Orlando, Florida. She is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in both biomedical sciences and biotechnology. Ashelyn is currently conducting research under the guidance of Dr. Kyle Rohde, in order to optimize the current knockout methodology used in pathogenic Mycobacteria to better understand their virulence mechanisms. Additionally, she is also a part of the diagnostics research being done in Dr. Rohde’s lab, and is working to develop a highly sensitive diagnostics system for Multidrug-Resistant Tuberculosis. Ashelyn plans to obtain her Ph.D. in Molecular Pathogenesis and Immunology, to conduct research in the field of emerging infectious diseases.
Carlos Alberto Solano Ortiz, '10
Carlos Alberto Solana Ortiz
Carlos Alberto Solano Ortiz was born in Colombia and arrived in the United States before his 15th birthday. He is interested in nanomaterials for use in alternative energy. Carlos actively pursued research at the university level by contacting faculty and asking if he could work for them. His tenacity paid off, and he is now conducting research under the mentorship of Dr. Lee Chow, the associate chair of the Physics Department. His task was to keep nanoparticles from agglomerating in a substrate where they would aid in the growth of carbon nanotubes. He then started working in Research Parkway with Dr. Swadeshmukul Santra from the Chemistry Department. Carlos participated in the SURF program in the summer of 2009 at Yale University, working with Dr. Charles Ahn’s group and learning about the atomic force microscope (AFM). He is the outreach coordinator of the Society of Physics Students at UCF and has been active with local middle schools in getting students interested in physics and nanotechnology. His group was awarded the Marsh White Award from the American Physical Society for this endeavor.
Nestor Vera Tata, '13
Nestor Vera Tata
Nestor Vera Tata was born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela until the age of fifteen. In 2004, he graduated from high school in Florida, and then moved to Spain for three years. He obtained an A.A. from Valencia Community College and is currently majoring in Criminal Justice with a minor in Psychology. Additionally, Nestor is completing three certificates in Criminal Profiling, Behavioral Forensics and Crime Scene Investigation. He is intrigued by research that interrelate criminological theories with actual crimes in society as well as, research in homicides, violence oppression and street gangs and international gangs. He plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Criminology and eventually become a professor at the university level.
Monica Thomas, '12
Although Monica Thomas was born in Mexico City, Mexico; she was raised in Miami, Florida. Her research interest is infectious diseases. Monica currently serves a mentor in the UCF PRIME (Student Support Services) Program. After obtaining her doctorate, her ultimate goal is to work as a microbiologist for the Center of Disease Control and Prevention
Vu Tran, '14
Vu Tran was born in Da Nang Vietnam and grew up in the Central Florida area. In the summer of 2010, she enrolled in UCF to begin her undergraduate studies in Anthropology. Her research interests include dental anthropology, paleopathology, skeletal trauma, and interpersonal violence. Vu has completed an Independent Study in Dental Anthropology and has performed Independent Research on Violence within the past school year. In the summer of 2013, Vu received an NSF REU grant and traveled to Cyprus to participate in the Athienou Archaeological Project. Vu is currently working on her Honors in the Major undergraduate thesis. Her topic focuses on the paleodemography of a population from Kuelap, Peru. Her future research plans involve topics on craniofacial trauma and dental trauma. She hopes to one day become a bioarchaeologist, researching and teaching at a university.
Ivan Trivino, '13
Ivan Trivino was born in Cali, Colombia, and moved to Orlando, Florida, when he was eleven. During a high school visit to the Kennedy Space Center, Ivan decided to study aerospace engineering. Currently, he is pursuing a double major in aerospace and mechanical engineering. Ivan is the Public Relations and Logistics Chair for the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE). His research interests include turbomachinery, air-breathing propulsion systems, hypersonics, and jet engine optimization.
Shantal Tummings, '16
Shantal Tummings was born in Jamaica and moved to Miami, Florida at the age of 12 to further her education. Shantal is pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Environmental Engineering. Shantal's passion for helping others has influenced her research interest in water sanitation in developing countries. Shantal wants to obtain her doctorate in Environmental Engineering to research ways to make clean water readily accessible.
Yves Valentin, '19
Yves was born and raised in Miami, Florida. He is pursuing a bachelor's degree in psychology. HIs passion for human-computer interaction with cutting-edge technology led him on the path of human factors. Yves is currently at the University of Central Florida, researching cognitive processes and visual attention using an eye tracker which may help increase awareness of developmental disorders under the guidance of Dr. Valerie Sims. He plans to obtain his Ph.D. in human factors and become a human factors specialist.
John Vastola, '16
John Vastola was born and raised in Oviedo, Florida. He is pursuing Bachelor's degrees in Mathematics and Physics. His commitment to helping others understand science has led him to work as a math tutor at the UCF Math Lab, to collaborate with art students through the National Science Foundation funded ICubed project on posters presenting research to the general public, and to present dramatic science demonstrations to elementary, middle, and high school students. As the President of the Math Club and Vice-President of the Society of Physics Students, he works to get his fellow undergraduates excited about science, engaged in science outreach, and to build a sense of community within the math and physics departments. His research interests include mathematical physics, elliptic curves, and novel areas like infinite sums and continued radicals. John plans to obtain his Ph.D. in Mathematical Physics and become a college professor.
Joey Velez-Ginorio, '18
Joey Velez-Ginorio is pursuing a bachelor's degree in Computer Engineering with a minor in Mathematics. He has involved himself with several volunteer organizations across his undergraduate career: Limbitless Solutions, I.D.E.A.S., AAP Ambassadors, and the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Native Americans and Hispanics in Science. His current research focus is in Computational Cognitive Science & Artificial Intelligence, where he seeks to build computational models for different features of human cognition - in an effort to build better A.I. With this, Joey plans to matriculate into academia, where he can pursue these ideas in the long term.
Keon Vereen, '10
Keon Vereen was born in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. He became interested in the engineering discipline at the beginning of high school. Attending the University of Central Florida allowed him to talk to NASA engineers and scientists about the future of the aerospace field. His current research involves bubble dynamics in nuclear reactor research. In addition to research with the McNair program, he is involved in the Research and Mentoring Program (RAMP). He is interested in obtaining a doctoral degree in the aerospace field and specializing in advanced propulsion technology with an emphasis on electric and nuclear propulsion.
Tatiana Viecco, '13
Tatiana Viecco was born in Bogotá, Colombia where she lived until the age of fifteen. She graduated from high school with honors in California, and moved afterwards to Florida to attain her A.A. from Seminole State College (graduating summa cum laude). In addition to being a McNair Scholar, Tatiana is also a Jack Kent Cooke Scholar. As an individual with a passion for volunteering and assisting those in need, she collaborated with the foundation Niños Por Un Mundo Nuevo during the Summer of 2011 in Colombia, and is working as a peer mentor for the TRiO SSS PRIME STEM Program. Tatiana pursues her leadership zeal by being the student chapter president for the Institute of Industrial Engineers (IIE) at UCF, and an active member with the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) in their outreach programs. She is currently pursuing her undergraduate degree in industrial engineering and a minor in engineering leadership. Her research interests include operations research and ergonomics in the areas of humanitarian relief and supply chain in the health care system. Tatiana aspires to obtain a doctoral degree in industrial engineering to be able to conduct applied research and teach at the university level.
Ruben Villegas, '14
Ruben Villegas was born in Machala, Ecuador. He is majoring in Computer Science with a minor in Mathematics. Ruben has participated in an NSF REU in Computer Vision at UCF as well as in the University of Michigan Summer Research Opportunity program (SROP) in Machine Learning. He currently works in the Center for Research in Computer Vision at UCF as an undergraduate researcher under the supervision of Dr. Mubarak Shah. Ruben is also a Google/Hispanic Scholarship Fund scholar. His goal is to attain a PhD in the field of Machine Learning, mainly Deep Learning. He plans to apply this knowledge to the Computer Vision area, more specifically, Human Face Recognition.
Sara Bolivar Wagers, '14
Sara Bolivar Wagers
Sara Bolivar Wagers was born in Bogota, Colombia and moved to the United States at the age of ten. She is majoring in Molecular Biology and Microbiology. Sara has participated in Stanford Summer Research Program/Amgen Scholars Program and the DAAD RISE program in Germany. Her goal is to become a physician, specifically a pediatrician, and scientist with a focus on translational research. Her passion is to help others through medicine and use research to improve medical treatment. Her research interests strongly involve infectious diseases. After graduation, Sara plans to earn her MD/PhD.
Heidi Waite, '17
Heidi Waite was born in Redmond, Washington and moved to Naples, Florida at the age of nine. She is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Biology at the University of Central Florida. Her passion for marine wildlife and ecology has led her to participate in undergraduate research focused on oyster reef and shoreline restoration. She is currently conducting research in the Coastal Estuarine and Ecology Laboratory under the supervision and mentorship of Dr. Walters. Heidi plans to obtain a Ph.D. in Marine Biology in hopes of pursuing a career in marine research and academia.
Jenny Walker, '16
Jenny Autumn Walker
Jenny Autumn Walker was born in Orlando, Florida. She is currently pursuing two Bachelor's degrees in Biology and Psychology. Jenny is an honors student who has successfully completed the UCF Summer Research Academy Program, and she is an early years STEM education volunteer through the UCF HERO program. Jenny also excels as an undergraduate research assistant and lab coordinator for the UCF MIT2 lab. She plans on becoming a college professor who oversees a cognitive neuroscience lab specializing in learning and memory. Jenny plans to complete her Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology.
Jennifer Walsh, '13
Jennifer Walsh is from Daytona Beach, Florida. She is a psychology major and is pursuing a certificate in women's studies. She is dedicated to her community and is an active member of the Psi Chi International Honor Society of Psychology and the Central Florida chapter of Project HEAL. Her research interests include the causes and prevention of negative body image in youth, impact of media on body image, and adolescent development. After obtaining her B.S., she aspires to earn a Ph.D. in a field that reflects her interdisciplinary research interests. Her career goals include teaching at the university level while conducting research and mentoring undergraduate students.
George Walters-Marrah, '20
I am a junior at UCF majoring in biotechnology and biomedical sciences with an emphasis on molecular microbiology. I find microbial pathogens and how they interact with the environment extraordinarily interesting. I currently study mycobacteria in Dr.Kyle Rohde's research lab at the UCF Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences. My career aspirations are to obtain a Ph.D. relating to immunity and pathogenesis, go into either academia or the biotechnology industry, and possibly start a biotech business based on a conceptual computer program that I am brainstorming about.
Brianna Williams, 14'
Brianna Williams was born in Washington, D.C. Growing up in a military family, she lived in Hawaii and Georgia for several years before she finally settled in Tampa, Florida at age 14 to start high school. She is pursuing a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology and a Minor in Writing & Rhetoric. Currently, Brianna is a research assistant at the UCF Marriage and Family Research Institute, tutors at the University Writing Center, and served as a peer mentor at the UCF Summer Research Academy. Her passion to improve couple and family relationships has led to her interest in examining the influences relationship education has on inmates, couples, and parents and adolescents. Brianna intends to obtain her doctorate in Marriage and Family Therapy so that she can create her own institute in order to provide relationship education to parents and adolescents in low-income communities.
Cierra Winston, '14
Cierra Winston is currently majoring in International and Global Studies with a minor in Middle Eastern Studies. She has recently begun to learn the Arabic language, and plans to ultimately pursue a Ph.D. in Arabic and Linguistics. Cierra has served on the Undergraduate Studies Student Advisory Committee, Volunteer UCF Youth and Mentoring Committee and was the Director of the Registered Student Organizations for the UCF Multicultural Student Center. Cierra's research interests include linguistics and the differences of interpretation, ethnic studies, religion, political institutions and the impact on culture, and foreign languages. In the future, Cierra hopes to teach Arabic at the university level and share her love for language with others.
Alexandra Abigail Woodside, '10
Alexandra Abigail Woodside
Alexandra Abigail Woodside was born in Sarasota, Florida where she graduated in the top 4% of her class. Her research interests include communication sciences and disorders and the effects it has on students' academics. Abigail is involved with Golden Key International Honors society at the University of Central Florida. She is also a Step Captain for the Disciples of Christ step team in conjunction with University Christian Fellowship. Abigail is on the executive board for Woman's Prayer Band (a campus organization). She wishes to pursue a graduate education in Communication Sciences as well as Educational Leadership.
Samuel Yacinthe, '14
Samuel Yacinthe was born in Haiti and moved to Florida at the age of two. While growing up in South Florida, he became interested in engineering when receiving his first Lego-set in elementary school. Samuel has proven his passion for engineering outreach through participation in projects including ICubed (National Science Foundation funded research project) as he continues to positively impact the community. In addition to being a contributing member in the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), Samuel pursues his leadership development by holding executive board positions in both Pi Tau Sigma and the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE). Samuel is pursuing his undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering, and his research interests include human-machine systems, bio-inspired control, and automotive control systems. Sam was among 60 college and university undergraduate students nationwide selected to participate in the 18th annual Posters on the Hill event taking place April 28-29 in Washington, D.C. Sam's application was selected based on a review of over 600 application.
Alma Zavala, '12
Alma Dinora Zavala is the oldest of four sisters. Although her family originated from Michoacan and Guererro, Mexico, Alma has always lived in Indiantown, Florida. She graduated with a bilingual International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma from South Fork High School. Currently, Alma is majoring in psychology with a minor in French. Her goal is to focus on clinical psychology in the areas concerning the prison system and the effects of rape on minority men's sense of self. She is involved in the LEGACY Leadership & Mentoring Program, and Future Minority Leaders. Alma is passionate about learning new languages, literature, and the spoken word.
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