Whether it’s solving the world’s biggest problems or investigating the potential of novel discoveries, researchers at UCF are on the edge scientific breakthroughs that aim to make an impact. Through the Research in 60 Seconds series, student and faculty researchers condense their complex studies into bite-sized summaries so you can know how and why Knights plan to improve our world.

Name: Salvador Almagro-Moreno
Positions: Assistant professor of medicine at the Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences (College of Medicine). Faculty member of the Sustainable Coastal Systems  and Genomic and Bioinformatics clusters.

Why are you interested in this research?
I’m from an island — the port city of Cadiz, on the southern coast of Spain — so I’ve always been fascinated by the ocean and wanted to study something associated with aquatic environments. When I was pursuing my bachelors, I took courses in microbiology and evolutionary biology and things started clicking: I wanted to study the evolution of aquatic microorganisms. Finally, while doing my Masters at the National University of Ireland I noticed that my molecular biology professor was doing research on that topic. I joined her lab and have dedicated my career to researching this topic ever since.

Are you a faculty member or student conducting research at UCF? We want to hear from you! Tell us about your research at bit.ly/ucf-research-60-form.

Who inspires you to conduct your research?
SAM: My students and mentees. As a mentor and educator, there is an incredible sense of joy and pride that you get when you see the glow in the eyes of a student after they manage to “connect the dots” and find out something new, be it in class or in the lab.

Humans are curious by nature and we all love a challenge — science merges both! So, with the right training and mentoring, you can learn awe-inspiring subjects, make novel discoveries and push your intellectual boundaries.

How does UCF empower you to do your research?
SAM: We study coastal pathogens that inhabit warm and tropical waters. Some of them are endemic to Florida, such as the agent of a flesh-eating disease that makes the news every summer. Therefore, UCF’s location is ideal for the research that we do in my lab as we can collect samples from areas where the disease-causing pathogens live naturally.

What major grants and honors have you earned to support your research?
SAM: I was recently the recipient of the National Science Foundation CAREER award, which also provides funding to my lab for the next five years and recognizes my research and educational efforts. I was also recently selected by the Research Corporation for Science Advancement as a fellow for its new Scialog (science and dialog) initiative focused on mitigating zoonotic diseases. This opportunity allows me to be a part of think tank that will address how to prevent future pandemics. My research program is funded with grants and contracts from the National Institutes of Health, U.S. National Science Foundation, Food and Drug Administration, and U.S.-Israel Binational Science Foundation.

Why is this research important?
SAM:  My research program investigates how pathogens evolve and spread causing outbreaks and pandemics. As we have been living through a pandemic for the past year, now more than ever the world understands the importance of learning more about how to prevent and respond effectively to threats like this.

How to Get Involved with Research at UCF

  • F-LEARN @ UCF:living-learning community for STEM students entering UCF from high school that provides hands-on early research opportunity for academic success.
  • Getting Started Workshops: The Office of Research hosts workshops that inform students about how to get started in research and find a faculty member to work with and the first steps on getting started in research.
  • Honors Undergraduate Thesis: Over the course of two to four semesters, students work closely with a faculty committee to research, write, defend, and publish an original thesis that serves as an honors capstone product of their undergraduate career.
  • Introduction to Research and Creative Scholarship Opportunities (INTRO) Mentoring Program: A semester-long immersive, classroom experience offered in fall and spring semesters that provides students ways to get connected to research opportunities. This program is available in person or online.
  • Office of Undergraduate Research: OUR is dedicated to cultivating and supporting world-class research at UCF. Students can connect with the office for any questions they may have about research or to find opportunities.
  • Peer Mentoring: This program connects students with experienced undergraduate researchers who will provide guidance on how to get started and get support through research experiences.
  • Research Positions Database: This online resource allows students to discover research opportunities with UCF researchers across various disciplines. Please note faculty contact information is password protected, but students can gain access by attending a peer mentoring session, completing the Research Roadmaps webcourse, and through other engagement opportunities.
  • Research Roadmaps Webcourse: The is an online, non-credit, self-paced course that introduces students to research opportunities at UCF. It provides the same information as peer mentoring sessions or a workshop, but at your own pace. Completion of this course also provides you access to the Research Positions Database.
  • SONA: This is a research participation system that allows students who are looking to become participants in studies, usually in exchange for course credit, to find opportunities. The College of Health Professions and Sciences, College of Business and Department of Psychology are among some of the units at UCF that list opportunities here.
  • Summer Research Academy: A three-day event in July that’s designed to support UCF undergraduate students across all majors who are interested in participating in research and creative scholarship. This is an ideal opportunity for students who want to begin research in the fall.
  • T-LEARN @ UCF: A living-learning community for first-year, transfer students at UCF who have already earned an Associate in Arts degree. T-LEARN provides a select group of students interested in STEM hands-on learning experiences by helping them engage in research.

Are you a faculty member or student conducting research at UCF? We want to hear from you! Tell us about your research at bit.ly/ucf-research-60-form.