Categories: Research Student Life

Research in 60 Seconds: Using Algorithms to Study Sunflowers

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: Sam Majumder
Major: Integrative and conservation biology

Why are you interested in this research?
SM:
I like identifying patterns and applying computer science and mathematics to answer pertinent biological questions. My research allows me to use machine learning based analysis methods to learn more about evolution and how it drives plant diversification.

I plan to one day write free textbooks on this topic so that more budding researchers, high schoolers and other folks may access this knowledge. I sincerely believe that knowledge should never be behind a wall of inaccessibility and hope the scientific community benefits from the knowledge gained from my research pertaining to plant evolution.

How did you get started in research at UCF?
SM: I was hired by Professor of Biology Chase Mason to work as a Ph.D. scholar in his lab. I was extremely interested to work with him after I saw his advertisement on EvolDir, an evolution-based research directory, for a doctoral research position. The application process took a few months and during that time we had many conversations that laid the foundation for my Ph.D. dissertation.

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?
SM: Currently, I have two mentors. Professor Chase Mason is my Ph.D. supervisor. He is one of the most incredible human beings I have ever meet. He is not only one of the best scientists I have ever personally worked with, but he is the by the far the best person that I have worked for. Chase is an endless source of knowledge not only pertaining to science but also in the subject of navigating the world of science employment.

Professor of Biology Eric Goolsby is another one of my mentors and an important member from my Ph.D. advising committee. He is an amazing scientist and person who is extremely knowledgeable. I have learned a lot from him in regard to science but life lessons.

My two mentors are a constant source of inspiration, but I’m also inspired by my mother and grandfather. As a single mother she has always been at my side no matter what. My mother taught me how to be resilient in the face of incredible adversity. I can say the exact same things about my maternal grandfather. He was a chartered accountant who instilled in me a lifelong curiosity to learn, understand people, the societies we live in, the problems we face and how these are all inextricably linked.

How does UCF empower you to do your research?
SM: I love how UCF prioritizes research and provides multiple opportunities for students to showcase our work. This provides an incredible research environment, which allows me to not only share my work but also learn from fellow researchers at the university. I appreciate what UCF does and I incredibly grateful for the all the opportunities here.

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.
  • 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.

Nicole Dudenhoefer | Video by UCF Social
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Tags: Academic Excellence College of Sciences Department of Biology Research Research in 60 Seconds

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