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: Javed Ali
Major: Civil Engineering doctorate

Why are you interested in this research?
The ever increasing weather and climatic extreme events around the world and the associated socio-economic implications are my main motivation to pursue my research. With climate change, it is also expected that the magnitude and severity of natural hazards will increase. Therefore, it is critical that we develop better, more effective, long-term solutions to mitigate the hazard risks and impact of climate change. Making better informed decisions for managing natural disasters is necessary to mitigate their impacts on society and infrastructure.

How did you get started in research at UCF?
JA: Before joining UCF, I was working at Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) in France as a “Make Our Planet Great Again” Laureate Researcher. My work there focused on coupled modelling of flash floods and population exposure and vulnerability dynamics for predicting potential socio-economic impacts of flash floods in South France. I was looking for a Ph.D. position near the conclusion of my time at the CNRS and I came across an advertisement for one from Thomas Wahl at UCF for a National Academy of Sciences sponsored project. I applied and was offered a position to join the Coastal Risks and Engineering Lab in the Department of Civil, Environment and Construction Engineering at UCF. This provided me an opportunity to collaborate on a large multidisciplinary research project involving various universities and organizations across the United States.

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?
JA: My mentor is Thomas Wahl, who specializes in connecting engineering and various science disciplines (e.g., oceanography, hydrology, meteorology, climatology) to better understand the vulnerabilities of coastal societies, built infrastructure, and fragile ecosystems under climate change conditions. Dr. Wahl inspires me by being someone who truly cares about each of the lab members’ personal and academic progress. He always encourages us to participate in various professional activities in order to develop our personal and technical skills. It is incredibly inspiring to work with someone who not only listens to our professional plans, but also offers the guidance and assistance we require to achieve them. I consider myself extremely fortunate to start my research career with Dr. Wahl.

How does UCF empower you to do your research?
JA: UCF is home to several renowned scientists in my field of interest who are involved in cutting-edge research. Professors collaborate with other faculty members at UCF as well as with other universities and organizations.UCF promotes a research culture that values collaboration and innovation. UCF provides a variety of services and resources that can be useful for conducting research and providing a place for presenting research findings, such as the Student Research Symposium, Research in 60 Seconds, graduate student spotlight, and so on.

Why is this research important?
JA: Natural disasters — such as coastal and river floods, tornadoes, droughts, hurricanes, wildfires, and landslides — cause not only huge property damage and economic losses, but also claim thousands of lives worldwide each year. Between 1980 and 2020, the United States have experienced 285 individual billion-dollar weather and climate disasters, which caused an average of around $46 billion in losses per year. Last year set a new record with 22 different extreme events causing more than $1 billion losses each, while also killing 262 people.

The natural hazards are often considered to be caused by a single climatic driver and we usually ignore interactions between different hazards and the climatic/weather drivers which cause these hazards. However, these hazards themselves can be highly correlated. My research will help us to better understand the underlying causes of compounding effects of multi-hazards, identify the critical impact thresholds for socio-economic losses, improve disaster-risk assessments and enhance emergency response planning.

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.