Students SURF Their Way to Success

University of Central Florida recently awarded seven College of Sciences students with the esteemed Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship award.

Hanna Reed, Mackenzie Coulthart, Marcella Grillo, Edward Powers, Glenda Vaillant Cruz, Katherine Stahlhut and Matthew Rudolf received the SURF award, which encourages motivated students from all majors to take part in independent research and creative projects with UCF faculty.

One of the awardees, Vaillant Cruz, is a double major in Latin American studies and anthropology with a minor in sociology. She opted to take part in track two, which caters to the students who are anticipating spending time away from UCF to work on their research or creative projects under the guidance of a faculty member. Vaillant Cruz will travel to Puerto Rico to study different views and mindsets.

“My research is on the birth practices, beliefs and cesareans of Puerto Rican women in Central Florida and Puerto Rico,” she said. “I will be interviewing mothers, midwives, doulas and obstetricians in both Central Florida and Puerto Rico. I will be in Puerto Rico this July to conduct my research.”

Students relatively new to UCF can make strides and also become recipients of the prestigious award. For biology major, Coulthart, the award granted her with fantastic opportunities. She believes that research is important because of the free range to ask questions and the opportunity to grow as a scientist and freethinker.

“I’m doing research on cancer cell growth and isolating genes that contribute to that via fruit flies,” she explained. “This award has given me the chance to be in a lab and gain experience in a laboratory setting.”

Coulthart is focused on her goal to get accepted into graduate school, where she will continue to do research.

Reed, a mathematics major, will be using the SURF award to help her pursue research on mosquito population dynamics and mosquito-borne disease modeling. According to Reed, Zhisheng Shuai, Ph.D., contributed greatly in helping her achieve the award.

Reed believes her research is important because it will help mosquito-borne disease modeling easier by producing an accurate and simple model for parous mosquitoes. She wants to continue her research after graduation and plans to attend graduate school.

“I want to eventually teach mathematics and continue contributing to the disease modeling research,” she said.

The fellowship is open to all majors and has three separate tracks to choose from: The emerging fellow, the fieldwork fellow and the publishing fellow.

Congratulations to all of the deserving recipients of the SURF award.

For more information on SURF click here.

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