More than 30 UCF student researchers will participate in research programs around the world this summer. The students will receive stipends, lodging, and often travel funding as compensation for their work in the research programs.

“Being an undergraduate researcher has opened doors for me that I did not even know existed,” said chemistry major Samantha Mensah, who will conduct research at the Université Pierre-et-Marie-Curie in Paris as part of a National Science Foundation-Research Experience for Undergraduates program. “I never expected to be able to participate in research outside of the United States during my undergraduate experience.”

Mensah’s three-month program will focus on synthesizing and characterizing new semiconductor materials.

Hollis Dahn, a biology major, will study ecology and evolution in Nanjing, China, for the second time as she continues her research and serves as a guide in the NSF-REU China program. The program pairs undergraduate students with faculty mentors, who then conduct research projects at Nanjing Forestry University.

“In 2014 I traveled to remote mountainous areas to survey for frogs in the family Megophryidae (Asian Horned Frogs) as their diversity was thought to be underestimated in China,” Dahn said. “We encountered several known frog species and one population we couldn’t identify as a known species.” Her return to China will be to collect more samples and conduct genetic analyses of the previously undocumented species.

Several students will conduct research at University of California, Irvine: Thomas Carpino (biology and mathematics), Stephanie Armas (chemistry and forensic science), Hardeo Chin (aerospace engineering), Jose Cotelo (mechanical engineering), and Courtney Powell (chemistry).

Other researchers will travel throughout the United States: history major Samuel Ortiz will study at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with their Moor Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program; Melissa Paduani, an environmental sciences major, will study at the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico; and Brachel Champion, an economics major, will participate in the Summer Training Academy for Research in the Sciences (STARS) Program at the University of California, San Diego.

Other students accepted into programs are: MiAmor Aguirresaenz (DePaul University), Michelle Aiello (UC San Diego), Lindsay Arick (Plum Island), Itza Beltran (University of Colorado at Boulder), Alex Chavez (Johns Hopkins University), Gabrielle Clark (Georgia Institute of Technology), Geena Ildefonso (Vanderbilt University), Hanna Lindner (Boston University), Stephanie Matos (University of Colorado at Boulder), Annsophia Mompoint (University of Pittsburg), Catherine Ninah (Duke University), Alejandra Osorio (University of Minnesota), Antony Papadia (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute), Ivory Paulk (University of Minnesota), Wilson Perez (Ohio State University), Carlos Tapia (University of Georgia), Shantal Tummings (University of Colorado at Boulder), John Vastola (Vanderbilt University), and Jonathan Velez (University of Pittsburgh).

Many of these students are part of structured programs at UCF including, but not limited to, McNair Scholars, Honors in the Major, and Research & Mentoring Program. The Office of Undergraduate Research Facebook page ( will highlight these outstanding undergraduate researchers and their experiences in weekly posts about summer research.