Sociology Post-Doc Wins STEM Scholars Award

Hannah Torres, Ph.D., came to UCF from the University of South Florida to take part in an exciting and meaningful research project.

She completed her doctoral degree in geography and environmental science and policy, and holds a master’s degree in coastal environmental management. The choice to apply for the post-doc position at UCF was an easy one for Torres.

“I love this project because it takes a holistic approach to restoration, exploring perceptions and impacts restoration has on people and vice versa,” she said.

The project is an interdisciplinary team effort. The National Science Foundation awarded the Coupled Natural and Human Systems grant to make the project possible. The team is studying restoration, resilience and sense of place in the Indian River Lagoon. Torres is working alongside sociologists, biologists and environmental engineers.

Her favorite thing about working on this research project has been the people she interacts with.

“Working with Drs. Tim Hawthorne and Fernando Rivera in the sociology department has been wonderful,” Torres said. “They share my values to do research that contributes to improving society in a meaningful way.”

Although Torres has accomplished a lot in her career thus far, including an app for non-profits and municipalities to document inland sources of marine debris, she isn’t done yet. She’s won awards for teaching excellence, and most recently, the ADVANCE Florida Network Women in STEM Scholars Award. She will hold a symposium, sharing her research on human-environment interactions including projects on coastal restoration, climate adaptation and disaster resilience, at the Florida International University in Miami.

Torres plans to continue her research and education. For current students, she offers advice that she learned as an undergraduate: always look take advantage of resources.

“Take advantage of many unique learning opportunities as possible, actively seeking funding for things you want to do and you don’t think you would be able to afford,” she said. “Being in college opens up so many possibilities for travel and research that are much harder to find and fund once you graduate.”

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