iCubed

2010 - 2011 Fellows

NSF

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No.0963146. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

UCF

Talitha Rubio

Talitha Rubio

Talitha Lauren Badaro-Rubio is a senior in the Electrical Engineering w/ Minor in Computer Science. She graduated from Lake Howell High School in Winter Park, Florida. Her area of research is Neural Networks and Machine Learning with Dr. Michael Georgiopoulos. Her experience as an undergraduate researcher with Dr. Georgiopoulos was a huge factor in her motivation to continue in her major. It was a way to see how engineering principles can be applied to real life projects and it showed her how the research process works. The research training she received was an intense educational journey and has changed her view of the engineering discipline and has been a precious asset for her resume. Participating in research showcases and conferences further expanded her network. Nearly every chance she gets, she makes sure to encourage younger students to pursue the research path so they can benefit the way she did. After starting the STEAM program, she began to realize the challenges entailed by an interdisciplinary fusion. This program taught her how to effectively articulate scientific ideas in layman's terms, which is a valuable ability in the engineering industry, especially when interacting with corporate supervisors, managers, and/or clients. She also experienced the amount of work that goes into making science attractive to the common man. Combining their thoughts into a single project was difficult, but it opened her eyes to the fact that engineers can't forget the need to communicate with those outside the scientific community. As an ICubed Fellow, she had the privilege of participating in the Sunshine State Scholar's Day activity this year. The purpose of the event was to round up Florida's top high school STEM students and expose them to career building and post-secondary education opportunities. Various representatives from local universities were in attendance and presented their recent projects in order to spur the young students' interests. She presented her research poster as well as an artistic rendition of her work from STEAM and she was able to speak to some of the students about what she did and why it was fun and beneficial to her career. Many parents attended as well with which she interacted with providing another influential channel to convince these students that UCF offers strong, competitive training and guidance. She enjoyed this event because it gave her a chance to express her feelings about UCF's Engineering program and to pass this on to students that haven't made concrete decisions about their futures yet. Her hobbies include reading sci-fi and suspense novels, watching movies, dancing, playing video games, eating, and sleeping.

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Samantha Spinuzzi

Samantha Spinuzzi

Samantha is a senior in the Biology program. After graduation, she plans to attend graduate school or medical school. She also would like to take a year off school to work in coral reef research. Her research interest is in invasive marine species, and is working on two main projects. The first is a biannual survey along the eastern coast to document the presence and spread of three invaders. The other project is a temperature tolerance experiment for Mytella charruana.

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Carly Bader

Carly Bader

Carly Bader is currently in the first year of getting her Masters at UCF in Biomedical Sciences. She graduated from Jupiter High School in Jupiter, Florida in 2007 and from University of Central Florida with her Bachelors in 2011. Her current research is under Dr. Teter in the area of Infectious Processes. The STEM research experience gave her the confidence she needed in her undergraduate to pursue her Masters. The unique hands on experience she received within the Teter lab is something that she will treasure as the opportunity of a lifetime that led her to the path of her lifelong career and passion in research. The STEAM experience she had was another career changing event in that she realized the large scope of influence that her research in a small lab can have. She is now able to articulate her research to a variety of people, with differing ages, backgrounds, and interests. Particularly exciting for her was her integration with the UCF Advanced Sculpture class. After presenting her research to the class they were instructed to let their minds wander in hopes that Carly's research would spark some sort of artistic idea. She voluntarily came back the next class to find the students greeting her at the door with numerous questions about her research. They were truly intrigued and many had even begun to do extra research on the topic of Carly's presentation, Vibrio cholerae, as well. After that day, she knew she wanted to commit herself to these students and lead them through their scientific experience. She enjoyed teaching and helping them with the process and even more exhilarating was their excitement to participate in something so alien to their field, and she thinks they appreciated her parallel excitement. After four weeks of fielding questions, bringing in related research literature, and even helping pour clay and wax molds in the class, they had truly built a bond that she would have never expected from people with such differing interests. Their art went on display in the gallery and she left the showing with tears in her eyes, hugs from the students. Promises were made that she would come back to the class on a personal visit and that she would teach next year's class. This experience, that was made possible by ICubed, was valuable to her career in STEM.

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Peter Toner

Peter Toner

Peter Tonner is a Senior in Computer Science at UCF. He graduate from Winter Springs High School, Winter Springs FL. His area of research is Virtual Character Behavior Simulation under the supervision of Dr. Charles Hughes. He works with Dr. Charles Hughes designing behavior systems for virtual characters used in teaching and training simulations. Building on previous research projects in this area, his ICubed project continues to blend the division between reality and simulation. This research has exposed him to a wide variety of research topics not only in his field of computer science but also education, psychology, and medicine. Leveraging computers as a research tool has broadened his perspective on the possibilities for research in the technological age. For his participation in STEAM, he presented research to a community not very often associated with science - artists. His task was to inspire painting and sculpting students using the ideas behind his research as a catalyst. These students were not trained in mathematics or science, which denied him the common technical background he usually shares with students he tutors. This challenged him to discover new ways to communicate the intricate components of computer science. He made a major breakthrough when he used visual representations of fundamental computer science concepts. He created diagrams of sorting and searching algorithms, drew trees and linked lists, using as much visual rhetoric as possible. With these visuals, he discovered a new universal language between science and art. One painter incorporated branching tree structures into her abstract painting, weaving nodes and edges between other visual motifs. Another encapsulated the concept of augmented reality by presenting her foreground normally, but blurring the mountain landscape background with a pixelated effect. The art inspired by his research, as well as the research of others, was shown in a campus art gallery. After inspiring artists with research, he had broadened his perspective of who is impacted by science. In his research career, he will continually investigate new communities who can benefit from his findings. When Peter is not working on his research or sitting in front of a computer screen, he enjoys hiking, running, and reading.

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Michael Peffers

Michael Peffers

Michael is a senior in the Electrical Engineering program, with research interests in electromagnetic fields. Currently, he is working with Dr. Parveen Wahid on an optically transparent thin film antenna that presents many useful applications. During his stay at UCF, he has been a Summer Research Academy graduate, returned as a peer mentor the follow year for that event, and also competed for and won scholarships from RAMP (Research and Mentoring Program), ICubed (Innovation through Institutional Integration), and YES (Young Entrepreneur and Scholars). His plans for the future include attending graduate school, having a successful career in industry, and also taking a trip back to academia to share his experiences with the next generation of young tinkerers.

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Kelly Cobaugh

Kelly Cobaugh

Kelly is a senior majoring in Microbiology and Molecular Biology. Her present research involves the effect of Auranofin on the nosocomial pathogen Clostridium difficile. In addition to her work as a RAMP (Research and Mentoring Program) scholar and an ICubed (Innovation through Institutional Integration) Fellow, she also works for the Office of Undergraduate Admissions as an Admissions Ambassador. Over the summer of 2010, she was a Peer Mentor for the UCF Summer Research Academy. Some of her extracurricular activities include participating in Intramural Sports, attending UCF athletic events, and enjoying the beautiful Florida weather.

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Rene Diaz

Rene Diaz

Rene Orlando Diaz earned his degree in Mechanical Engineering and Aerospace Engineering in May 2011. He is currently in the Ph.D. program for Materials Science and Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Rene graduated from Coral Reef Senior High School in Miami, Florida in 2006. He worked on the life prediction studies of thermal barrier coatings for jet engine turbine blades using synchrotron X-Ray Diffraction (XRD) under simulated flight conditions (high temperatures and high tensile stresses). He initially started this project as his Honors in the Major (H.I.M.) Thesis under the guidance of Dr. Seetha Raghavan. Rene continued to work on it past his H.I.M. thesis with ICubed funding. His work has recently been accepted for publication in Applied Physics Letters. When talking about his research experience, both the research itself and his professor have made a tremendous impact on where he is today. For the research component, he had the opportunity to work in a world-class facility (the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory), lead a team, and publish his work with his first primary authorship. For the guidance and support his professor has provided, Dr. Raghavan has supported him in all of his pursuits including getting accepted into Georgia Tech's Ph.D. program and believing in him to win the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. Summing up his experience with working with the Art students in one word, it would be perspective. The greatest thing about STEAM, Rene shared, is that each student opened up a world which was unknown to them and brought life to science while injecting the cutting edge of research into art.

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