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: Geela Margo Ramos
Major: Computer science

Why are you interested in this research?
As someone heavily involved in mental health advocacy and experienced with mental health struggles (whether my own or with close friends), this research is important to me in finding solutions for others and myself. Computer science, in general, holds a lot of potential in various interdisciplinary projects and I love exploring different applications of my major.

How did you get started in research at UCF?
GMR: I started by being proactive in trying to find opportunities for myself, which led me to meet with an Office of Undergraduate Research peer mentor. Eventually, I landed upon an opportunity to be a research assistant at the UCF Institute of Simulation and Training Cognitive Science Lab. This gave me the chance to really dip my toes in undergraduate research before diving into more involved processes at the Wearable Engineering and Assistive Robotics (WEAR) Lab, which I joined through the Burnett Honors College Research Match Day.

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 is your mentor? Who inspires you and how?
GMR: My mentor is Dr. Joon-Hyuk Park, who oversees the Wearable Engineering and Assistive Robotics (WEAR) Lab under Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. Dr. Park inspires me by being someone who genuinely cares for each of the lab members, both in our personal and academic development. It takes a lot to start a research lab so hearing the story of how WEAR Lab was developed over time is always admirable.

I’m also inspired by the people I meet after I present my research at conferences and workshops. Given my main research focus is on mental health, I really appreciate those who decide to share their stories — whether it’s their own experiences with mental health struggles, or their experiences with friends and family who go through similar issues. There’s a degree of trust and vulnerability that comes with this action, and always serves to a motivation behind the work I do.

How does UCF empower you to do your research?
GMR: My community and engagement opportunities at UCF empowers me to do my research. Being able to meet like-minded students, at both the undergraduate and graduate level, with diverse passions often leads to many collaborative efforts and brainstorming sessions.

Research, I believe, is a test of creativity. And creativity can be fostered through the opportunities UCF provides for students to showcase their research, such as our Research in 60 Seconds segments or our annual Student Scholar Symposium. There is a sense of empowerment in seeing other students take pride in their research that drives you to want to feel the same.

Why is this research important?
GMR: For one, mental ailments should be treated to the same degree as physical ailments. There needs to be a larger emphasis on improving diagnostic and prognostic methods for mental disorders, to provide confidence and assurance to those who need support.

From an advocacy standpoint, my work aims to promote equity for those with mental disorders. By doing so, we create an environment where mental disorders become a destigmatized topic and we can promote the full message of “It’s okay to not be okay.”

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.