Graduate students doing physics research in our department are shining and being recognized for their remarkable scientific, educational and service achievements. Below, we showcase several of the awards and recognition achieved by our graduates. This list is not comprehensive. Please let us know if your graduate student(s) obtained an award or recognition.


Student of the Year Award

This award was created in the department with an emphasis on strong academy, research, and service records.  All students in the Physics graduate program supervised by Physics faculty (including secondary-joint and courtesy appointments) are eligible to apply.  The application deadline for Spring 2021 is March 31st.  Click here for additional information.


Graduate Student Service Awards

outReach for the Stars Award: Awarded to a graduate student that has made an effort to bring services or information about Physics (or other STEM fields) to people where those services and/or information are lacking or non-existent. Two awards per academic year. Physics graduate and undergraduate students, faculty and affiliated faculty, as well as, administration and staff may nominate.

Mentoring Matters Award: Awarded to a graduate student that has dedicated his/her time to mentor (advise and/or tutor) another student in Physics (or other STEM fields) thus building a relationship that will play an important role in the student’s career development. One award per academic year. Physics graduate and undergraduate students, faculty and affiliated faculty, as well as, administration and staff may nominate.

Above and Beyond Award: Awarded to a graduate student that has demonstrated actions that go above and beyond the call of duty. The student may have volunteered his/her time in the service of others, be part of an organization that helps and/or represents the graduate student body and/or performed a task in the service of their community. One award per academic year.  Physics graduate and undergraduate students, faculty and affiliated faculty, as well as, administration and staff may nominate.

Please, see the guidelines, which have been posted on the intranet.  Nominations will start on March 1st and end on March 31st.  Contact soto@ucf.edu if you have questions.

Please click on the link provided below to see previous pictures of graduate student awardees:

2019 Awardees 2018 Awardees


Awards Obtained by Graduate Physics Students

Stephanie Jarmak / 2020 – Stephanie was one of 24 UCF students named as recipients of the 2020 Order of Pegasus, the university’s most prestigious student award.  Graduate students are selected based on their academic achievement, professional or community service, leadership, and publication or research experiences.

Alireza Safaei/ 2020 – Alireza was the winner of the Outstanding Dissertation Award, which recognizes doctoral students for excellence in the dissertation.

Eric Switzer/ 2020 – Eric received honorable mention for Excellence by a Graduate Teaching Assistant, which recognizes excellence by graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) who are not instructors of record, but who provide teaching support and assistance under the direction of a lead teacher.

John Beetar/ 2019 – John was a 2019 UCF Graduate Research Forum Winner. The Research Forum is an opportunity for students to showcase their research.

Chi Hong Yuen/ 2019 – Chi Hong was a 2019 UCF Graduate Research Forum Winner. The Research Forum is an opportunity for students to showcase their research.

Rainier Berkley/ 2019 – Rainier was a 2019 UCF Graduate Research Forum Winner for the Oral Communication Presentations. The Research Forum is an opportunity for students to showcase their research.

Ryan Challener/ 2019 – Ryan was a 2019 UCF Graduate Research Forum Winner for the Oral Communication Presentations. The Research Forum is an opportunity for students to showcase their research.

Kathleen McIntyre/ 2019 – Kathleen was awarded the 2019 Above and Beyond Award, which is awarded to a graduate student that has demonstrated actions that go above and beyond the call of duty.  The student may have volunteered his/her time in the service of others, be part of an organization that helps and/or represents the graduate student body and/or performed a task in the service of the community.

Leslie Davis/ 2019 – Leslie was awarded the 2019 Mentoring Matters Award, which is awarded to a graduate student that has dedicated his/her time to mentor (advise and/or tutor) another student in Physics (or other STEM fields) thus building a relationship that will play an important role in the student’s career development.

Brian Ferrari/ 2019 – Brian was awarded the 2019 outReach for the Stars Award, which is awarded to a graduate student that has made an effort to bring services or information about Physics (or other STEM fields) to people where those services and/or information are lacking or non-existent.

Alireza Safaei/ 2019 – Alireza was the winner of the 2019 Physics Graduate Student of the Year Award, which is awarded to a Physics graduate student in recognition of their outstanding academic and scientific achievements.  Runner-up: Shima Gholam Mirzaeimoghadar and Stephanie Jarmak.

Fernand Torres-Davila/ 2019 – Fernand was selected as one of the recipients of a Doctoral Research Support Award from the College of Graduate Studies. This award is meant to assist him with dissertation research expenses as he works towards completing his doctoral degree at the University of Central Florida.

Charuni Dissanayake/ 2019 – Charuni was selected as one of the recipients of a Doctoral Research Support Award from the College of Graduate Studies. This award is meant to assist her with dissertation research expenses as she works towards completing her doctoral degree at the University of Central Florida.

Michael Himes/ 2019 – Michael was awarded the 2019 Award for Excellence by a Graduate Teaching Assistant, which recognizes excellence by graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) who are not instructors of record, but who provide teaching support and assistance under the direction of a lead teacher. This award focuses on the extent and quality of the assistance provided by the student to the lead instructor and the students in the class.

Zahra Hooshmand Gharehbagh/ 2018 – Zahra was awarded a 2018 Graduate Research Award by the American Vacuum Society at the AVS Meeting in Long Beach, October 22-26, 2018.  These awards were established in 1984 to recognize and encourage excellence in graduate studies in the sciences and technologies of interest to AVS.

Rainier Berkley/ 2018 – Rainier was selected by ORAU as one of the graduate student finalists to attend the 69th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting to be held in Germany from June 30 – July 5, 2019.  Selected students will have the opportunity to attend formal lectures and informal meetings with Nobel Laureate scientists and peers from around the world.

Zahra Hooshmand Gharehbagh/ 2018 – Zahra was the winner of the 2018 Physics Graduate Student of the Year Award, which is awarded to a Physics graduate student in recognition of their outstanding academic and scientific achievements.  Runner-up: Shima Gholam Mirzaeimoghadar.

Rebecca Cebulka/ 2018 – Rebecca was one of 2 UCF Physics graduate students awarded the 2018 Above and Beyond Award, which is awarded to a graduate student that has demonstrated actions that go above and beyond the call of duty.  The student may have volunteered his/her time in the service of others, be part of an organization that helps and/or represents the graduate student body and/or performed a task in the service of the community.

Shima Gholam Mirzaeimoghadar/ 2018 – Shima was one of 2 UCF Physics graduate students awarded the 2018 Above and Beyond Award, which is awarded to a graduate student that has demonstrated actions that go above and beyond the call of duty.  The student may have volunteered his/her time in the service of others, be part of an organization that helps and/or represents the graduate student body and/or performed a task in the service of the community.

Brian Zamarripa Roman/ 2018 – Brian was one of 2 UCF Physics graduate students awarded the 2018 Mentoring Matters Award, which is awarded to a graduate student that has dedicated his/her time to mentor (advise and/or tutor) another student in Physics (or other STEM fields) thus building a relationship that will play an important role in the student’s career development.

Stephanie Jarmak/ 2018 – Stephanie was one of 2 UCF Physics graduate students awarded the 2018 Mentoring Matters Award, which is awarded to a graduate student that has dedicated his/her time to mentor (advise and/or tutor) another student in Physics (or other STEM fields) thus building a relationship that will play an important role in the student’s career development.

Mary Hinkle/ 2018 – Mary was one of 2 UCF Physics graduate students awarded the 2018 outReach for the Stars Award, which is awarded to a graduate student that has made an effort to bring services or information about Physics (or other STEM fields) to people where those services and/or information are lacking or non-existent.

Priyanka Vaidya/ 2018 – Priyanka was one of 2 UCF Physics graduate students awarded the 2018 outReach for the Stars Award, which is awarded to a graduate student that has made an effort to bring services or information about Physics (or other STEM fields) to people where those services and/or information are lacking or non-existent.

Daniel Franklin / 2018 – Daniel was one of 22 UCF students named as recipients of the 2018 Order of Pegasus, the university’s most prestigious student award.  Graduate students are selected based on their outstanding achievements in the areas of academics, university involvement, leadership and community service as well as publication or research experiences.  The winners will be honored at an April 2 ceremony.

Kathleen McIntyre/ 2018 – Kathleen was awarded the 2018 Award for Excellence by a Graduate Teaching Assistant, which recognizes excellence by graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) who are not instructors of record, but who provide teaching support and assistance under the direction of a lead teacher. This award focuses on the extent and quality of the assistance provided by the student to the lead instructor and the students in the class.

K A M Hasan Siddiquee / 2017 – K A M Hasan was selected as one of the recipients of a Doctoral Research Support Award from the College of Graduate Studies. This award is meant to assist him with dissertation research expenses as he works towards completing his doctoral degree at the University of Central Florida.

Zahra Hooshmand Gharebagh / 2017 – Zahra was selected as one of the College of Sciences General Scholarship awardees.  This award recognizes her commitment and dedication to pursuing her educational goals.  She will be recognized at the 2017-2018 UCF College of Sciences Scholarship Luncheon to be held on October 12, 2017.

Daniel Franklin / 2016 – The Germany-based company Merck selected UCF’s plasmatic full-color display project led by professor Debashis Chanda, Ph. D., and physics graduate student Daniel Franklin for its “2016 Displaying Futures Award.”

Jenna Crowell / 2016 – Jenna was the winner of the best student poster award at the Asia Oceania Geosciences Society (AOGS). Supported by NASA’s Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI), Crowell attended the annual meeting in Beijing, China from July 31- August 5. Her presented poster won the top prize for the Planetary Science category in the student poster presentations. Advised by Yan Fernandez.

Takat Rawal / 2016 – Takat was recently selected as one of eight finalists for a top-level 2016 AVS National Student Awards. The AVS awards were established to recognize and encourage excellence among graduate students in the sciences and technologies of interest to AVS.

Zeinab Sanjabieznaveh / 2016 – First Place Doctoral award for Mathematics, Optics and Physical Sciences. Few Mode Multicore Photonic Lantern Mode Multiplexer. Mentor: Rodrigo Amezcua Correa

Marta Anguera / 2016 – Marta won the UCF Women in Science and Mathematics Scholarship ($500). Advised by Enrique del Barco

Marta Anguera / 2015 – Marta won the UCF Physics department Excellence in Teaching Assistance. Advised by Enrique del Barco

James Atkinson / 2015 – Jim won i) the UCF College of Science Excellence Award for Graduate Teaching Assistance, ii) the 6 5th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting Award, and, iii) a GMAG Student Travel Award. Advised by Enrique del Barco.

Rebecca Cebulka / 2015 – Becca won the UCF Physics department Excellence in Teaching Assistance. Advised by Enrique del Barco.

Alvar Rodriguez / 2014 – Alvar won i) the UCF College of Science Excellence Award for Graduate Teaching Assistance, and, ii) the UCF University Award for Excellence as a Graduate Teaching Assistant”, with a cash prize of $2,000. The highest recognition awarded to a GTA at UCF. Advised by Enrique del Barco.

Simranjeet Singh / 2013 – Simran won the 2013 MMM/Intermag Best Poster Award. Advised by Enrique del Barco.

Alvar Rodriguez and James Atkinson / 2012 – Alvar and Jim won the 2012 Outstanding Physics Teaching Assistant Award by AAPT (American Association of Physics Teachers) . Advised by Enrique del Barco.


Physics Teaching (GTA) Awards

Fall 2019

LABORATORIES
  • 1st place – Rainier Berkley
  • 1st place – Stephanie Lough
  • Runner-up – Eric Switzer
  • Runner-up – Sheila Bonnough
  • Runner-up – Michael Sedlack
  • Runner-up – Joshua Forer
STUDIO/SCALE-UP/OTHER
  • 1st place – Eric Rende
  • 1st place – Michael Himes
  • Runner-up – Tyler Campbell
  • Runner-up – Eric Markowitz

Spring 2019

LABORATORIES
  • 1st place – Chance Barrett
  • 1st place – Sasha Berriel
  • Runner-up – Jesse Thompson
  • Runner-up – Sheila Bonnough
  • Runner-up – Andrew Malfavon
  • Runner-up – Charuni Dissanayake
STUDIO/SCALE-UP/OTHER
  • 1st place – Kathleen McIntyre
  • 1st place – Daniel Reinhart
  • Runner-up – Didarul Alam
  • Runner-up – Gyan Khatri

Fall 2018 (Webassign)

PHY 2048 LABORATORIES
  • 1st place – William Richardson
  • Runner-up – Stephanie Lough
  • Runner-up – Tyler Campbell
  • Runner-up – Rainier Berkley
PHY 2049 LABORATORIES
  • 1st place – Sheila Bonnough
  • Runner-up – Chance Barrett
  • Runner-up – Zackary Parsons
  • Runner-up – Sayandip Dhara

Fall 2018

LABORATORIES
  • 1st place – Anthony Asilador
  • 1st place – Joshua Forer
  • Runner-up – Odey Alshboul
  • Runner-up – Eric Switzer
  • Runner-up – Stephanie Lough
  • Runner-up – Justin Zakhary
STUDIO/SCALE-UP/OTHER
  • 1st place – Michael Himes
  • 1st place – Justin Reyes
  • Runner-up – Mary Hinkle
  • Runner-up – Sajeevi Withanage

Spring 2018

LABORATORIES
  • 1st place – Rainier Berkley
  • 1st place – Will Richardson
  • Runner-up – Sunghyun Kim
  • Runner-up – Sean Buczek
  • Runner-up – Faisal Abedin
  • Runner-up – Fernand Torres-Davila
STUDIO/SCALE-UP/OTHER
  • 1st place – Tyrone Thames
  • 1st place – Didarul Alam
  • Runner-up – Coleman Cariker
  • Runner-up – Negar Otrooshi

Fall 2017

LABORATORIES
  • 1st place – Rachel Evans
  • 1st place – Andre Childs
  • Runner-up – William Richardson
  • Runner-up – Jesse Thompson
  • Runner-up – Rainier Berkley
  • Runner-up – Anthony Asilador
STUDIO/SCALE-UP/OTHER
  • 1st place – Kathleen McIntyre
  • 1st place – Daniel Reinhart
  • Runner-up – Tyrone Thames
  • Runner-up – Brandon Blue

Spring 2017

LABORATORIES
  • 1st place – Justin Reyes
  • 1st place – Brian Zamarripa Roman
  • Runner-up – Mary Hinkle
  • Runner-up – Mahboob Ur Rehman
  • Runner-up – Sheila Bonnough
  • Runner-up – Cameron Nickle
STUDIO/SCALE-UP/OTHER
  • 1st place – Zoe Landsman
  • 1st place – Ryan Challener
  • Runner-up – Mary Hinkle
  • Runner-up – Seth Calhoun