Chemistry Student Awarded Presidential Doctoral Fellowship


Chemistry graduate student Riley Gentry has been at UCF for five years – first for his bachelor’s degree and now for his doctorate. He is one of eight recipients of the Presidential Doctoral Fellowship award from the College of Graduate Studies.

Gentry was nominated for the scholarship by his advisor Eda Koculi, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry. He then applied on his own, and was selected by the Doctoral Fellowships Committee. Out of UCF’s graduate student body (about 1,900 students) only eight recipients are selected annually. The fellowship will award him $10,000 a semester for up to four years of study at UCF, as well as tuition support and health insurance.

Koculi said that she nominated him because of his “scientific achievements, his desire to disseminate the scientific ideas outside the UCF community, and his outreach activities.”

Gentry graduated with his undergraduate degree in biomedical science in 2015, and is currently pursuing his doctoral degree in chemistry. He worked in Koculi’s lab as an undergraduate student and has returned to continue his research studying ribosomal assembly in cells.

Gentry said “[His research] is done in the hopes of identifying new targets for novel classes of antibiotics in order to combat the global threat of antimicrobial resistance.”

Three papers of Gentry’s have been published during his time in Koculi’s lab. He has also given two invited talks – one at the American Chemical Society Florida Section’s annual meeting, and another at an international conference at the Gibbs Society of Biological and Thermodynamics in Illinois.

Gentry is very grateful for the award.

“My success so far has been a combination of a lot of hard work and the support of people like Dr. Koculi,” Gentry said. “People who have been always encouraging me to have ambitious goals and to not give up when things were difficult.”

Gentry is on track to graduate with his doctoral degree in 2020. His plans for the future are firmly rooted in his education.

“I hope to obtain a research position in a university,” Gentry said. “I want to be able to teach students and mold the next generation of scientists.”

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