Many students shy away from conducting research because they believe it is complicated and requires an Albert Einstein-like IQ.

While it takes work and brainpower, the key ingredients are curiosity and a determination to find answers. Conducting research is something that should be part of every student’s college experience, which is why every year UCF celebrates research and creative scholarship during Student Research Week. This year the festivities ran March 29-April 2 in a virtual format.

Updated (April 12, 2021): About 550 undergraduate and graduate students participated in the Student Scholar Showcase where 82 students were awarded $42,000 in scholarships for their work. A highlight video from the week is now available.

About 400 undergraduate and graduate students will participate in this week’s events, including the Student Scholar Showcase where they will compete for scholarship awards.

Among them are:

  • Tiffany Chinwuba, a student studying biomedical sciences and nonprofit management, who was curious about how COVID-19 was impacting the nonprofit sector.
  • Film and environmental sciences student Vincent Marcucci, who wanted to see how storytelling through film could communicate the environmental problems Florida faces and the people conducting research, to help solve those challenges.
  • Engineering student Jorge Ugan asked: What would it take to make bicycling in Orlando safer?

UCF is a metropolitan research university with a Carnegie Classification of R1, which means “very high research activity.” Students benefit by having access to a variety of labs and faculty, many of whom are leaders in their fields. And because of UCF’s location — less than 50 miles from the Kennedy Space Center — there are many unique opportunities to conduct research. Faculty often work with NASA and commercial companies that support the space and aerospace industry.

Krisztina Szabo, a doctoral candidate in industrial and organizational psychology at UCF’s Institute of Simulation and Technology, was able to research her question thanks to her advisor’s relationship with NASA. Szabo wanted to know how cultural diversity impacts teams, especially those that will have to endure long spaceflights on their way to Mars and beyond. She also will present some of her findings at the Student Scholar Symposium.

“It all starts with asking a question you are passionate about,” says Elizabeth Klonoff, vice president for research and dean of the College of Graduate Studies. “Whether your question pertains to space, the arts, or health, ask it. Work with faculty members who can help you and just get started. We’re here to help.”

Student Research Week has been a long-standing tradition at UCF, which the Division of Student Learning and Academic Success and the College of Graduate Studies sponsor each year. Unfortunately, COVID-19 forced the cancellation of the event last year.

“We didn’t want to let another year slip by because research and creative scholarship are so important to a student’s educational experience,” says Theodorea Regina Berry, vice provost for the Division of Student Learning and Academic Success and dean of the College of Undergraduate Studies. “So we explored options and came up with a virtual format. It’s new and we hope students, family and friends will join us as we join the virtual environment.”

Among the many events scheduled:

  • March 29: Kickoff event with Pegasus Professor Joshua Colwell who will share stories about his work in planetary sciences and the role his students and mentoring plays in a successful research career.
  • March 29 and April 2: SEEDing Research Forum when faculty and some of their students will share ongoing research funded through internal UCF grants.
  • March 29-March 31: Workshops that cover everything from getting started in research to presenting at national conferences
  • March 30-April 1: Student Scholar Symposium, at which students will share their research findings and compete for scholarship awards. Different sessions will be available to view each day.
  • April 2, awards celebration where the students with the best projects in various categories will be recognized. President Alexander N. Cartwright and former Board of Trustees member Ken Bradley will speak.

For a complete list of events check out the Research Week website. Anyone with a UCF ID can view events throughout the week by logging in on the appropriate day and time.