UCF Physics Bridge Program Produces 2nd and 3rd Graduates


The UCF Physics Bridge Program continues to produce successful graduates, with two of its Ph.D. students becoming the second and third UCF participants to graduate from the American Physics Society (APS) Bridge Program.

Fernand Torres-Davila and Brian Zamarripa Roman walk the stage at the end of the summer semester.

Brian Zamarippa Roman

The Physics Department became an APS Bridge site in 2015 under the leadership of Pegasus Professor Talat Rahman, Ph.D., with a goal to recruit, mentor and prepare students from underrepresented minority groups for admission to a physics Ph.D. program of their choice.

During the last five years, Torres-Davila has shown incredible determination to complete his Ph.D.

“It’s a great feeling to see the finish line. My time here has been full of many highs and lows, but with the support of my family, friends and advisor, I pressed on, made it through and earned a Ph.D.,” he said.

Laurene Tetard, Ph.D., is Torres-Davila’s advisor, and she is elated about his accomplishments.

“We are happy to accompany Fernand in this special moment of his academic journey. Fernand’s Ph.D. project has turned out to be challenging, but it has led to very exciting discoveries in the past few months. His resilience is paying off and we are looking forward to see what will be next for Fernand,” she said.

Fernand Torres-Davila

Zamarripa Roman demonstrated resilience and grit during the COVID 19 pandemic. He speaks about the key takeaways gained while attending graduate school during that period, his next steps and the transformative impact the APS bridge Program had on his life.

“It’s been hard getting through this program while being far from friends and family, but I can honestly say that, with the help of my mentors and colleagues, I have grown as an individual and made a positive difference in my community,” he said.

His advisor, Jacquelyn Chini, Ph.D., was instrumental in his success.

“Brian has brought unique perspectives to the physics education research field, as has been repeatedly demonstrated through awards and recognitions,” she said, pointing to the three consecutive years Zamarippa Roman won “Notable Paper” the Physics Education Research Conference (an award given to less than 5% of submitted papers). “He has also had an impact on the broader physics community through advocacy and community building.”

In their words, they describe the important milestones reached and lessons learned.

“I’m really proud to have had the opportunity to meet people whose publications were influential to my studies and becoming part of a welcoming physics education research community,” said Zamarripa Roman. “Being surrounded by my people has really shown me that, in community, our needs are revealed and in community our needs are satisfied.”

Torres-Davila said he is forever grateful for the many opportunities from the Bridge Program.

“From my time here, I’ve been able to grow substantially as a person and as a scientist. I’ve grown more confident in myself, which will be instrumental in future endeavors,” he said. “Because of this and much more, I will always be grateful to the Bridge Program and faculty for the opportunity of pursuing my career and supporting me in achieving this milestone. “

Zamarripa Roman and Torres-Davila are shining examples of what it means to be part of the Physics APS Bridge Program at the University of Central Florida. The Program provides students with a tuition waiver and a stipend, plus research and mentoring opportunities.


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