Students, faculty, and community members filled the Pegasus Ballroom on April 5 to support graduate students and learn about their innovative, original research and creative projects at Thirteenth Annual Graduate Research Forum.

Over 200 students and 70 faculty judges participated in the event and over $16,000 in awards was presented for Best in Category presentations. Additionally, first place winners are invited to present at the Statewide Graduate Student Research Symposium on April 22, 2016 at the University of Florida. At this event top graduate students selected from ten universities in Florida will compete for awards on the state level. If you have any questions about the UCF Graduate Research Forum, email

Congratulations to the 2016 Graduate Research Forum Winners listed below and we hope to see you all at the 2017 event!


First Place Doctoral 

Jennifer Miller, Texts and Technology PhD

Awareness Ribbons As Memes: A Genre for Polyvocal Philanthropic Discourse
Mentor: Stephanie Vie, PhD

First Place Masters

James Padgett, History MA

Counting Kills: Exploring the DeBary Hall Hunting Ledger, 1904-1941
Mentor: Scot French, PhD


First Place Doctoral

Naomi Wheeler, Education PhD – Counselor Education Track 

Exploring Connections between Adverse Childhood Experiences, Intimate Partner Relationship Quality and Adult Health
Mentor: Sejal Barden, PhD

Second Place Doctoral

Shainna Ali, Education PhD – Counselor Education Track

The Impact of a Strengths-Based Group Counseling Intervention on Young Adults’ Coping, Appraisal of Social Support, and Coming-Out Growth
Mentor: Glenn Lambie, PhD


First Place Doctoral

Khurram Soomro, Computer Science PhD

Action Localization in Videos through Context Walk
Mentor: Mubarak Shah, PhD
Co-Authors: Haroon Idrees, PhD; Mubarak Shah, PhD

Second Place Doctoral

Benjamin Yoakum, Environmental and Engineering PhD

Piloting Granular Activated Carbon for Disinfection By-Product Control in Central Florida Groundwater Containing Sulfide
Mentor/Co-Author: Steven Duranceau, PhD


First Place Masters

Craig Neal, Materials Science and Engineering MSMSE

Amperometric Detection of Hydrogen Peroxide Using an Enzyme-Free Sensor Platform
Mentor: Sudipta Seal, PhD
Co-Authors: Swetha Barkam; Ankur Gupta; Shashank Saraf; Soumen Das, PhD; Hyoung Jin Cho, PhD; Sudipta Seal, PhD


First Place Doctoral

Carolina Rodrigues Felix, Biomedical Sciences PhD

Novel Compounds from Marine Organisms that Kill Dormand Mycobacterium Tuberculosis
Mentor: Kyle Rohde, PhD
Co-Authors: Amy Wright, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, Florida Atlantic University; Rashmi Gupta; Sandra Geden, Kyle Rohde, PhD

Second Place Doctoral

Christopher Grube, Biomedical Sciences PhD

A Quantitative Spectrophotometric Assay to Monitor the tRNA-dependent Pathway for Lipid Aminoacylation in Vitro
Mentor: Stephen King, PhD
Mentor/Co-Author: Herve Roy, PhD

First Place Masters

Rocky Brighton, Nanotechnology PSM

Electrophoretic Deposition of Cerium Oxide Nanoparticles as an Antioxidant Biological Coating
Mentor: Sudipta Seal, PhD
Co-Authors: Danielle Estes; Keiffer Gaskill; Shashank Saraf; Tamil Selvan Sakthivel; Soumen Das; Sudipta Seal, PhD


First Place Doctoral

Sarah Gitto, Biomedical Sciences PhD

Chronic Inflammation Induces Severe Stromal Damage and Early Pancreatic Tumors in Mice with Activated Akt1 and KRas
Mentor: Deborah Altomare, PhD
Co-Authors: Kathryn Cline; Amr Khaled, MD, Orlando Veteran’s Administration Medical Center; Deborah Altomare, PhD

Second Place Doctoral

Sambuddha Basu, Biomedical Sciences PhD

Implication of 8-oxodG-mediated Transcriptional Mutagenesis in Sporadic Parkinson’s Disease
Mentor: Yoon-Seoung Kim, MD
Co-Authors: Subhrangshu Guhathakurta; Greg Goldblatt; Suren Tatulian; Eugene Bok; Goun Je, College of Medicine, Kyung-Hee University; Ana Clara Cristovao, Medical Sciences, University of Beira Interior; Yoon-Seong Kim, MD

First Place Masters

Alyssa Varanoske, Sport and Exercise Science MS – Applied Exercise Physiology

Echogenicity Quantified by Ultrasonographic Panoramic Scans Compared to Still-Images in Collegiate Men
Mentor: David Fukuda, PhD
Co-Authors: David Fukuda, PhD; Carleigh Boone; Kyle Beyer; Kayla Baker; Jeffrey Stout, PhD; Jay Hoffman, PhD


First Place Doctoral

Zeinab Sanjabieznaveh, Physics PhD

Few Mode Multicore Photonic Lantern Mode Multiplexer
Mentor: Rodrigo Amezcua Correa, PhD
Co-authors: J.E. Antonio Lopez; G. Lopez Galmiche, Instituto Nacional de Astrofísica Óptica y Electrónica (INAOE), Mexico; J. Rodriguez Asomoza, Universidad de las Americas Puebla, Sta. Catarina, Tonantzintla, Mexico; D. Van Ras, Prysmian Group; France; P. Sillard, Prysmian Group; France; A. Schülzgen; C. M. Okonkwo, COBRA Research Institute, Eindhoven University of Technology; R. Amezcua Correa, PhD

Second Place Doctoral

Jennefir Digaum, Optics and Photonics PhD

Spatially-Variant Self-Collimating Photonic Crystal for Beam Bending at Telecommunication Wavelength
Mentor: Stephen Kuebler, PhD
Co-Authors: Daniel Batista; Raymond Rumpf, EM Lab, W.M. Keck Center for 3D Innovation, University of Texas at El Paso; Stephen Kuebler, PhD


First Place Doctoral

Sara Bryson, Criminal Justice PhD

The Impact of School Climate on School Safety
Mentor/Co-Author: Kristina Childs, PhD

Second Place Doctoral

Mallory McCord, Industrial and Organizational Psychology

An Alternative Model of Emotional Intelligence: Evidence of Traditional and Discrete Emotion Factors
Mentor/Co-Author: Dana Joseph, PhD

First Place Masters

Abigail Woltering, Anthropology MA

Biological Sex Determination from Trace element Analysis in Human Hair
Mentor/Co-Author: Tosha Dupras, PhD

Second Place Masters

Zorina Manoni, Anthropology MA

Living in the Kingdom of Bosnia (AD 1377-1463): A Study of Activity Patterns of Agro-pastoralists at Mistihalj
Mentor/Co-Author: Marla Toyne, PhD

For more information about the Graduate Research Forum and to see a list of the student’s abstracts, please visit

To see photos from the Graduate Research Forum please visit our Facebook page here.