This summer, the UCF College of Graduate Studies initiated a new program which offers participants an immersive research experience, networking opportunities, and workshops to help them prepare for graduate education. Seven outstanding undergraduate students from around the country were selected for the Preparing Future Researchers program and paired with a UCF faculty member in their discipline to conduct research on a topic of mutual interest. From solar cells to predicting crime, the research undertaken by the teams this summer promises to be both exciting and beneficial for all involved.

The students will work with a faculty and graduate mentor for approximately 40 hours of research each week during the nine-week program. In addition to the invaluable research experience, they also receive a stipend, housing accommodations and travel reimbursement. The social and networking events will also afford them the opportunity to engage in UCF’s graduate community of scholars and make connections with key faculty in their discipline. At the conclusion of the program, participants will have completed a draft of an external funding proposal and graduate application materials. They will also have gained experience presenting their research in a poster presentation as the culminating event of the summer program.

In the program’s inaugural year, research groups were selected in Chemistry (Stephen Kuebler, PhD), Criminal Justice (Hugh Potter, PhD, Gail Humiston, PhD, and William Moreto, PhD), Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (Ali Gordon, PhD and Seetha Raghavan, PhD), Optics and Photonics (Winston Schoenfeld, PhD), and Security Studies (Thomas Dolan, PhD). These areas were chosen because they highlight the strengths that differentiate UCF’s graduate programs. Additionally, graduate student mentors from each group were chosen to be the primary liaison for the student; training them in research skills as well as exposing them to the graduate school experience. To prepare for this experience the graduate students completed a mentor training session and will complete workshops throughout the summer focusing on communication and other key skills to be a successful mentor.

The benefits of this program extend far beyond the seven students selected. In its first year, the program received almost 50 applications from over 30 institutions. This exposure has an immeasurable impact on the recognition of UCF as a key institution of graduate study and highlights our commitment to recruiting the best and brightest graduate applicants. Additionally, by offering community and training to current graduate students their own educational experience is enriched. While this program is only in its inaugural year, it promises to impact many current and potential future UCF students and supports one of our key university goals to achieve prominence in key programs of graduate study and research. For more information about the Preparing Future Researchers program visit: or email