Elizabeth Altamirano was born and raised in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. She received her Associate of Arts degree at Broward College and is currently majoring in Psychology. Her passion to help others by promoting education and health has led her to become the President of the Psychological Society, a Peer Educator for the Wellness and Health Promotion Services, and the Director of the UCF Resources and Empowerment Project (REP). In addition, she also interned at the Outlook Clinic for Depression and Anxiety, was a teaching assistant for "Cross Cultural Psychology and "Physiological Psychology" and a volunteer research assistant for the Health Laboratory under Dr. Jeffrey Cassisi. Elizabeth's Honors in the Major thesis consists of finding a possible correlation between depression and psychological homelessness among Latino Immigrants under the mentorship of Dr. Charles Negy. Her research interests include risk factors for ethnic minority mental health and effective treatment approaches. Elizabeth plans to obtain a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology.
Danielle Barnhill was born and raised in Pensacola, Florida. She was awarded an Associate of Arts in Pre-Engineering from Pensacola State College. She is currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in Environmental Engineering at the University of Central Florida. She plans to pursue her Ph.D. focusing on the intersection of urban infrastructure and the environment. With these goals in mind, she plans to make her career a narrative of sustainability and resilience in the face of climate change.
Antonia Bass was born in Adana, Turkey and grew up in West Palm Beach, Florida. She is pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Biotechnology. Antonia is a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and Pre-Professional Medical Society. Currently, Antonia is the Public Relations Officer for Society for Advancement of Hispanics/Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS UCF Chapter). Her current research entails the development of antimicrobial surface coating nanomaterial to be used in bandages. She plans on obtaining her Ph.D. in Biological Sciences and conduct research on infectious diseases.
Stephanie Castillo is originally from Venezuela, but was raised in Florida. She earned her Associate in Arts degree from Valencia College in Orlando, Florida. Stephanie transferred to UCF fall of 2012 to pursue a Bachelor's degree in Chemistry. She is an active club member of the Society Advancing Chicanos and Native American in Science, the American Chemical Society, and conducts research in her spare time. Stephanie is currently researching green synthesis of silver nanoparticles using extract of black tea with curcumin as a fluorescent marker. Her research interests are in biochemistry and materials science. Her future educational plan is to obtain a Ph.D. in Chemistry and potentially conduct research for an industry or university in the emerging fields of materials science for biological modulation, sensing, and imaging.
Shekinah is pursuing an interdisciplinary studies degree, focusing on biomedical sciences and public affairs in Undergraduate Studies, and minoring in health services administration. Her academic achievements include the President's Honor Roll and dean's list every semester. As a McNair Scholar and a member of The Burnett Honors College, she is conducting independent health services research and looking forward to presenting at future conferences. She has also worked as a research assistant in the College of Nursing through the LEAD Scholars Assistantship program. She is a proud member of Alpha Kappa Psi professional business fraternity, as well as the President's Leadership Council. As a founding member of two student organizations, she values servant leadership and creating opportunities for others. She served in Student Government Association during her entire academic career; most recently, as the director of Student Affairs and as the Outreach chair on the Golden Rule Review Committee. Her passion for continuously investing in others is what drives her. She served as a student representative on the Capital Improvement Trust Fund Fee Committee as well as the Student Activities Committee leader for SDES PROGRESS initiative. For all of her achievements Shekinah has also been recognized with UCF's highest honor, the Order of Pegasus. She plans to obtain her Ph.D. in Public Health and work in a government or research organization that focuses on health policy.
Geena Ildefonso was born and raised in Cooper City, Florida. While growing up in South Florida, she became interested in mathematics after exploring the concept of a derivative. Geena is the President of the Collegiate Mathematical Society, as well as Vice President of the Society for Advancement of Hispanics/Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) chapter here at UCF. Geena is pursuing her Bachelor's degree in Mathematics. Her research interests are in Biomathematics with a focus in math modeling of dysregulations in cancers . Last summer she conducted research in math modeling of cancer lineages and radiotherapy at the University of California, Irvine. Geena is currently researching the Hall Effect in the Magnetic Reconnection Process here at UCF, as well as various applications of Hilbert Spaces used in Quantum Mechanics, Signal Processing, and Harmonic Analysis. This summer she is researching the NFkB signal transduction pathway and its role in inflammation, cancer, and improper immune development. Her future educational plan is to obtain a PhD in Mathematics and open a Cancer Research Institute. After her time in the McNair program she hopes to be able to advance underprivileged youth into higher education.
Nicholas Joseph was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. Immediately after graduating high school, he joined the Marine Corps. After completing 4 years and achieving the rank of a Sargent, with an honorable discharge, he decided to pursue his education. Nicholas Joseph received an Associate of Arts degree at Seminole State College and transferred to UCF to pursue a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology. Currently, Nicholas is a peer educator at the Wellness and Health Promotion Services, a Research Assistant for the UCF Resources and Empowerment Project (REP) and a Research Assistant for Psychophysiology of Mental Illness Laboratory. His passion for treating Schizophrenic patients has led to his involvement in becoming a Guardian Advocate for the Mental Health Association of Central Florida. Nicholas currently conducts research on Schizophrenia, Bipolar, and Schizoid type disorders with Dr. Jeffrey Bedwell. His future research interests consist of trying to solve the gap between schizophrenia disorder and the communities' understanding of its stigma. He plans to obtain a Ph.D in Clinical Psychology, as well as teach students at the college level.
Alice Neira was born in Lima, Peru and moved to the United States at the age of six. She is pursuing her Bachelor's degree in Political Science, while earning a minor in Education, and a certification in Leadership Studies. Alice's goal is to combine her knowledge of education policy and passion for community service to positively impact students in public school systems in the United States, especially in lower socio-economic classes, and provide equal access to education. Alice has been recognized with UCF's highest honor, the Order of Pegasus. She plans to attend graduate school and acquire her Ph.D. in Education Policy.
Antony Papadia was born in Caracas Venezuela. He attained his Associates degree from Valencia College and transferred to the University of Central Florida in 2012. Currently, He is pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Biology, with a minor in Psychology. He volunteers with the marine coastal Oyster/Mangrove restoration project with the biology department's Ceelab team. Furthermore, His research involves transferring live successful Oyster Mats to areas where Oysters are not commonly found, and monitoring their growth, larvae recruitment, and survival. His main research interest is determining the effects of biological and human derived toxins, on the health, physiology, and adaptation of marine animal species, specifically on marine vertebrates. Additionally, he would like to apply the solutions found on affected marine animal populations. He plans to attain his doctorate to further his understanding of animal physiology and aid in the survival of marine species.
Serenela Pelier was born in Brooklyn, New York and raised in Orlando, Florida. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Anthropology. Her research interests include bioarchaeology, mortuary archaeology, human osteology, paleopathology, skeletal trauma, stable isotope analysis, and human migration patterns. In Spring 2014, Serenela had the opportunity to accompany Dr. Arlen Chase, and several other undergraduate and graduate students, on his archaeological dig in Caracol, Belize. While in Belize, she had the opportunity to excavate an underground double chambered chultun burial that held seven skeltonized individuals and discovered her love for bioarchaeology. Serenela has also completed a summer undergraduate research project on Egyptian funerary items with Dr. Colleen Manassa at Yale University. She is currently working on her undergraduate Honors in the Major thesis with Dr. Tosha Dupra conducting research on the geographic origins of Napoleonic soldiers that were found in a mass grave in Vilnius, Lithuania. Her future educational goal is to obtain a Ph.D in Bioarchaeology with a focus in stable oxygen isotope analysis and migration.
Laura Puentes was born in Bogota, Colombia and raised in Mt. Dora, Florida. She has an Associate's degree from Valencia Community College. She is pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Biotechnology and a minor in Anthropology. Knowing first-hand the difficulties that come with learning a new language, she developed a community service program called "Bridges" in order to help Spanish speaking individuals with translation services. Laura is interested in conducting research in drug discovery and development. She plans to obtain her Ph.D in Biomedical Engineering and Biotechnology and become a research scientist.
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