Two UCF students pursuing master’s degrees recently received Frost Scholarships to study at the University of Oxford in England during the upcoming academic year. The scholarships for Joey Velez-Ginorio ’18 and Michael Dieffenbach ’18 cover all university fees and a grant for living costs of about $19,000.

Velez-Ginorio, a 2017 Goldwater Scholar, caught the attention of Oxford with his work in artificial intelligence research. Velez-Ginorio is interested in building programs and machines that think as the human brain does, and he hopes to continue developing his research at Oxford.

“By studying people and how they accomplish certain tasks so well, you can apply that to machines,” says Velez-Ginorio.

Velez-Ginorio is majoring in computer engineering and minoring in mathematics and will pursue a master’s degree in mathematics focusing on programming languages and computer science.

The McNair Scholar’s passion for research lead him to encourage others to get involved. Through working with the Academic Advancement Programs office at UCF and the organization SACNAS (Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science), Velez-Ginorio helps make research opportunities more accessible to underrepresented students.

After completing the master’s program at Oxford, Velez-Ginorio will pursue his doctorate in brain and cognitive sciences at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Dieffenbach earned his bachelor’s degree in biomedical sciences and participated in multiple undergraduate research opportunities. Through involvement with the Research and Mentoring Program and the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, Dieffenbach conducted research on molecular biology, genetics and cancer. As a student of The Burnett Honors College, Dieffenbach completed his Honors in the Major thesis, which discussed his findings from studying cancer cells and how they absorb nutrients to grow.

Dieffenbach will study pharmacology this year and says he is excited for the experiences to come. “[Oxford] has a lot of resources and a fantastic reputation. I think it will be an excellent chance to further my research and explore new opportunities,” he says.

After completing the program at Oxford, Dieffenbach hopes to pursue a doctorate focusing on cancer biology or drug design.

Upon applying to one of the approved master’s programs at Oxford, students are automatically considered for the Frost Scholarship and selected based on academic merit and accomplishments. Frost Scholarship recipients take full course loads of classes during the fall and spring semesters, and conduct research for a thesis in the summer months.

Students interested in similar graduate scholarship opportunities should contact the Office of Prestigious Awards at