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: Sebastian Leon ’18
Major: Biomedical sciences alum currently pursuing a master’s in nanotechnology

Why are you interested in this research?
I am interested in this research because it bridges my passion of neuroscience and medicine along with nanotechnology, which I believe to be a huge part of humanity’s future.

How did you get started in research at UCF?
I got started in research through my master’s program. I sent out emails to professors who were doing research I was interested in and found my way into a Neuro-Cell Culture Lab. From there my friend and I decided to start a project of our own in a chemistry lab.

Who is your mentor? Who inspires you and how?
Swadeshmukul Santra is my principal investigator (PI) and he has mentored me throughout my nanotech career.

How does UCF empower you to do your research?
My PI and professors working around us and with us are always eager to help, which supports the culture of the teamwork and creativity needed for research.

Why is this research important?
Even with decades of research, only one treatment for ischemic strokes — which account for an estimated 87% of cases — has been approved by the FDA. So having another treatment that could help people who suffer this brain injury would be of tremendous help. Strokes can lead to small or large cognitive deficits and are usually permanent or very difficult to recover from. We wish to provide a functional medication at low cost so if a person does experience an injury to their brain in their lifetime, they can retain more function or recover faster, thus improving their quality of life.

How to Get Involved with Research at UCF

  • F-LEARN @ UCF: A 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. Peer Mentoring is available through appointment via Zoom for the Spring 2021 semester.
  • 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.