iCubed

2013 - 2014 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

Danielle Abbitt

Danielle Abbitt

Danielle is currently a senior at University of Central Florida, studying Biomedical Sciences. Her research centers on nanostructuring energy storage devices, particularly for improved use of renewable resources. Specifically, she works on developing supercapacitors with superior power and energy densities, while maintaining environmental consciousness. In addition to ICubed, Danielle presented her research at the Showcase of Undergraduate Research Excellence in Orlando, Fl. Danielle will be attending medical school, pursuing her goal of becoming a doctor.

When not studying or researching, Danielle works as a Supplemental Instruction Leader in Chemistry Fundamentals and enjoys mentoring first-generation college students as a First Generation Ambassador for the Multicultural Academic and Support Services.

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John Vastola

John Vastola

John Vastola is a sophomore pursuing bachelor's degrees in math and physics at UCF. He is currently researching elliptic curves, which are special kinds of curves that are useful in number theory and cryptography. In particular, he is studying rank, which is a measure of the 'size' of a given curve. John is a Burnett Research Scholar, and has received the 2013 Emerging Leader Scholarship. He plans to obtain his Ph.D. in mathematical physics and become a college professor.

As an ICubed fellow, John has worked to improve his ability to communicate highly technical mathematics. He has also gained valuable experience by collaborating with students from other disciplines. When not studying, he enjoys exercising, playing strategic games, and doing interesting math problems.

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Jorge Guerra

Jorge Guerra

Jorge Guerra is a Senior Undergraduate majoring in Computer Engineering with a focus in Artificial Intelligence and with a minor in Mathematics. He currently works at the Intelligent System Lab (ISL) at the University of Central Florida under the guidance of Dr. Avelino Gonzalez. His research focuses in the development of a system that models the collaborative behaviors of virtual agents in a multi-agent environment. This system utilizes Context-Based Reasoning (CBxR) paradigms to model those behaviors. The hypothesis is that the agent who take actions from explicit communication context are fitter than agents who behave based on implied intentions from situational awareness. Jorge’s goal is to be able to use the CBxR paradigm to produce complex offensive soccer plays in the SimpleSoccer platform and add features and understanding to the CBxR paradigm. In addition to his research, Jorge has done one internship as a Knowledge Based System Engineer at Boeing Co. and two internship at Intel Co. as a Product Development Engineer and a Probe Product Development Engineer. Lastly, Jorge has participated in different leadership roles at The Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE). He was the president of the student organization during his sophomore year. Furthermore, he is a mentor of the Internet Science and Technology Fair (ISFT) program. Jorge academic goal is to obtain a PhD in the field of Machine Learning.

Through the ICubed program, Jorge has been able to continue his research and present the work he has done at conferences and school events. He has also being exposed to the art community for the design project collaboration. ICubed has also help Jorge by providing outreach opportunity to inspire young kids to pursue careers in the STEM fields. All these experiences and extracurricular activities are helping Jorge get a step closer to researching his goal.

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Michael Lopez

Michael Lopez

I am currently a sophomore at UCF with a major in electrical engineering and a minor in bioengineering. The basis of my research is to engineer a "human-on-a-chip" model that will allow scientists to perform safer, more accurate drug screenings. Using the current methods, drug testing is often expensive, risky, and to some, unethical. Advances in this field will pave the way for a new wave of medicinal practices, from the way medicines are created to how they are used by the public.

I have been fortunate enough to receive awards, such as the Bright Futures Academic Scholars Award, during my studies so that I may pursue my research agenda. I have been on the President's List multiple times now and am involved in LEAD Scholars and Tau Beta Pi. I plan obtain a professional or doctoral degree before delving into the industry, and quite possibly my own company. ICubed has been an eye-opening experience for me. It has done and will continue to do an excellent job at training scientists and engineers on how to speak to the public about the research that concerns them.

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Kimberly Cranmore

Kimberly Cranmore

I am a sophomore and I am majoring in environmental engineering. My research is focused on aerobic bioreactor landfills and analyzing their leachate. This past summer I conducted research at the University of Massachusetts in Boston and will be presenting my work at the Ocean Sciences 2014 meeting in Hawaii. I also received the CECS Professor James K. Beck Scholarship this year. In the future I plan to attend graduate school to pursue my Ph.D so that I can continue to work in research. ICubed has been a great experience for me because I have been able to meet with people who are not in or related to the science field at all and teach them about my research as well as learn from them. I love undergraduate research but I also enjoy being a member of the Phi Eta Sigma honor society as well as volunteering with Volunteer UCF and attending yoga classes!

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Monica Rivas

Monica Rivas

Mónica Rivas is a senior undergraduate student majoring in chemistry. Her research focuses on natural product synthesis and organic chemistry. Currently, she is studying heteroatom assistance in intramolecular oxidation reactions in order to produce the core structure of pyrrole aminoimidazole alkaloids (PAIs). These PAIs are relevant because of their extensive medicinal applications. In the past, Mónica has presented at the Showcase of Undergraduate Research Excellence at UCF as part of the UCF Research and Mentoring Program. She was awarded an honorable mention for her research on the synthesis of ortho-hydroxyphenylglyoxylic acid. She received the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship from the Office of Undergraduate Research at UCF. She was also sponsored by the UCF McNair program to present her research at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students. Today, she is a part of the NSF funded ICubed program that has allowed her to collaborate with a graphic design student to produce a poster communicating her research. Her experience with the ICubed program has been fantastic. To her, the most important part of the program was the integration of the arts and sciences. She gained experience in explaining and contextualizing her research to non-technical audiences so that stakeholders may understand what she is doing in the lab for 30hours a week. Similarly, she learned to communicate with younger audiences and discuss simpler science concepts in her outreach experiences with ISTF. In the future, after she graduates in May of 2014, Mónica hopes to attend a research-intensive one-year program and later pursue an M.D.-PhD. When she is not in the lab, in class, or at work, Mónica likes to play the acoustic guitar and ukulele. She enjoys practicing yoga and hanging out with her friends.

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Pascal Nelson

Pascal Nelson

My name is Pascal Nelson. Currently I am a senior pursuing a degree in Biotechnology with a minor in Psychology. My goals are to obtain a Ph.D. in Neuroscience with an emphasis in Neurodegenerative diseases. The basis if my research is cellular apoptosis and its effects based on a molecular pathway in the disease of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). Through ICubed, I have been given the wonderful opportunity to express my scientific research to a greater audience through the medium of graphic design. Furthermore the opportunity of outreach through mentoring elementary school students with their projects for the International Science and Technology Fair. Since participating in ICubed, I was fortunate enough to attend the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students in Nashville, TN in order to be part of a poster presentation. Also I was able to attend the American Society of Cell Biology’s Conference and present a poster there as well for scientists in the field in New Orleans, LA. This past year I was fortunate to present at the University of Central Florida’s Showcase of Undergraduate Research and presented a poster, which won me an honorable mention and a scholarship of $200. One of my bigger accomplishments would have to be becoming a McNair Scholar, which aids my goals towards continuing and achieving feats in science. Aside from doing research I enjoy cooking and baking and also volunteering at the local Assisted Living Facility Center.

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Stephanie Castillo

Stephanie Castillo

Stephanie Castillo transferred to UCF fall of 2012 to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry. Now a senior, she is an active club member of the Society Advancing Chicanos and Native American in Science and the American Chemical Society. In her free time she coaches a competitive trampoline team and is an amateur photographer. Stephanie’s future educational plan is to obtain a Ph.D. in Chemistry and potentially research for an industry or university in the emerging fields of materials science for biological modulation, sensing, and imaging.

Stephanie is currently researching green synthesis of silver nanoparticles using extract of black tea with curcumin as a fluorescent marker. Her research is focused on further understanding, qualitatively, the quenching effect of the synthesis. This project will potentially be an experiment for teaching laboratories.

Stephanie has a strong interest in art and was fond of ICubed and its participation with the art department. It has given her the chance to collaborate with artist in a way where her strong passion in science and research could be expressed and communicated artistically. Also, with her background in coaching, it has given her the ability to communicate easily with elementary students in their ISTF project. Stephanie enjoys being able to bring her outside skills and interests and incorporate them into the ICubed program.

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