Graduate Awards of Excellence

By: Carreen Krapf on

The UCF College of Graduate Studies is proud to recognize the following graduate students and faculty for their excellence. The honorees were recognized during Founder’s Day.

Each year the Graduate Council Program Review and Awards Committee reviews college nominations and recognizes graduate students and faculty for the University Graduate Awards of Excellence, Awards for Faculty Excellence in Mentoring Doctoral students, and Graduate Teaching. The nominations are very competitive and the selection is especially challenging.

Congratulations to all the recipients.

Award for Excellence in Graduate Student Teaching

David Boffey, College of Health and Professions and Sciences, Education PhD

David Boffey is a doctoral student in the Education PhD, Exercise Physiology program. Boffey’s dedication to his students’ learning experience and learning outcomes is only part of what sets him apart from other Graduate Teaching Associates (GTA) in his college. During his time as a GTA, he has gone well beyond the expectations for a GTA by committing himself to course development to support undergraduate research in the department. He has developed courses from scratch and taught a new course the first time it was offered requiring the development of new teaching materials for each class.

College Winners

  • Anshare Antoine – College of Arts and Humanities, Texts and Technology PhD
  • Daniel Edelen – College of Community Innovation and Education, Elementary Education PhD
  • Sahar Hooshmand – College of Engineering and Computer Science, Computer Science PhD
  • Tutku Ayhan – College of Sciences, Security Studies PhD

Award for Excellence by a Graduate Teaching Assistant

Brandy King, College of Engineering and Computer Science, Computer Science MS

Brandy King is a master’s student in the Computer Science MS program. King is considered a very effective educator for being so young in the field and always goes above and beyond as a GTA in so many other ways. She has a natural talent for teaching and great intuition for what it takes to convey difficult topics to students. She breaks challenging examples down in a way that students can understand while remaining engaging, approachable, and supportive.

College Winners

  • Nicolas Kostakis – College of Arts and Humanities, Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages MA
  • Olga Pysmenna – College of Community Innovation and Education, Public Affairs PhD
  • Kelli Dauphinais – Collge of Sciences, Applied Sociology MA

Award for Outstanding Master’s Thesis

Engineering, Physical Sciences and Life Sciences

Daniela Diaz – College of Engineering and Computer Science

Daniela Diaz is from the Environmental Engineering MA program and was mentored by Woo Hyoung Lee, PhD, PE. Her thesis is titled: Emulsion Characterization Study for Improved Bilgewater Treatment and Management.

Her thesis presents a systematic investigation of bilgewater emulsion characteristics using various in situ analytical methods while assessing the effect of environmental parameters (e.g., ionic strength,
suspended solids, and temperature) on emulsion destabilization. Her research outcomes were presented at several national conferences including SERDP/ESTCP Symposium and the American Chemical Society (ACS) national meeting and published in highly reputed journals including Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research (IF=3.573) and Journal of Water Process Engineering (IF=3.465). In particular, one of her papers has been selected as the cover article of an upcoming issue, representing the significance of the work in this research area.

Social Science, Humanities, Education, Business, Art and Health

America Edwards, College of Sciences

America Edwards is from the Communications MA program and was mentored by Timothy Sellnow, PhD. Her thesis is titled Instructional Communication as a Primary Function of Communities of Practice During Crises.

Her thesis offers novel insights on how communities of practice function in crisis communication contexts and has had a direct impact on how biosecurity messages are shared in the United States’ Swine industry. Beyond her master’s thesis, she has also been accepted for publication in refereed journals such as Computers and Human Behavior and Communication Studies.

College Winners

  • Matthew Patsis – College of Arts and Humanities, History MA
  • Diana Abarca – College of Health Professions and Sciences, Communications Sciences and Disorders MA

Award for Outstanding Dissertation

Engineering, Physical Sciences, and Life Sciences

Lin Hu, PhD – College of Engineering and Computer Sciences

Lin Hu, PhD is a graduate of the Materials Science and Engineering PhD program and was mentored by Xiaongfeng Feng, PhD. Dr. Hu’s dissertation is titled Designing Metal Nanocatalysts and Tuning their Microenvironment for Gas-Invovolving Electrocatalysis.

Dr. Hu’s dissertation focused on electrochemical catalysis, which plays a key role in renewable energy conversions such as fuel cells and electrolyzers. The topic is of great significance to global energy, the environment, and sustainability. His research can provide important mechanistic understandings and guidelines for the design of metal catalysts and controlling their microenvironment for efficient renewable energy conversion and utilization.

Social Science, Humanities, Education, Business, Art and Health

Jasara Hines, Phd – College of Arts and Humanities

Jasara Hines, PhD is a graduate of the Texts and Technology PhD program and was mentored by Scot French, PhD. Dr. Hines’ dissertation is titled The Ecology of “Sites” of Collective Memory” An Examination of Emergent Literacies and National Identity at Geographical and Virtual Site of Memory.

Dr. Hines’ dissertation explores how Web 2.0 technology has remediated collective memory frameworks, with both philosophical and pedagogical implications for American civic identity and civics education. He was able to show how theory is drawn from T&T coursework and core readings can be first mastered, then masterfully applied, to a key problem of our time: the decline of a common civic identity and the failure of public schools to seize on Web 2.0’s presumptive affordances in promoting a 21st-century renewal of civics education and civic engagement.

College Winners

  • David Maddock, PhD – College of Community Innovation and Education, Educational Leadership EdD

Award for Faculty Excellence in Mentoring Doctoral Students

Engineering, Physical Sciences, and Life Sciences

Luis Rabelo, Associate Professor – Department of Industrial Engineering, College of Engineering and Computer Science

Dr. Luis Rabelo is an associate professor in the Department of Industrial Engineering. Mentoring doctoral candidates has always been the best part of Dr. Rabelo’s life at UCF. The ability to be excellent at mentoring has always been rewarding and fascinating to him. Being a scholar goes beyond being a good teacher. It is more than “teaching” in a classroom, but it is changing mental models. It is helping to empower others collectively and individually. One of the most precious products of this journey is the forged relationships. They are the bonds that have been built and that will always be there until long after graduation.

Social Science, Humanities, Education, Business, Art and Health

Xin He, PhD, Associate Professor – Department of Marketing, College of Business Administration

Dr. Xin He is an associate professor in the Department of Marketing. Dr. He’s overall approach to
mentoring is to promote independent thinking, foster passion in high-quality research, and support students to excel in their professional careers. He believes that passion is a necessary ingredient for high-quality research. Curiosity and passion are a source of motivation in my own career, and he wants to instill the same passion in his students. As supports and collaborates with former students he values their counsel and the opportunity to learn from the next generation of marketing scholars.

Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching

Matthew Stock PhD, Associate Professor – School of Kinesiology and Physical Therapy, College of Health Professions and Sciences

Dr. Matthew Stock works tirelessly to ensure his students enjoy learning. He works with them to think independently and critically and to question their assumptions. He provides his students with an innovative approach to retaining information, such as active learning strategies, hands-on demonstrations, and encouraging the use of podcasts, social media, and video formats. His graduate teaching efforts were also recognized at the national level in 2017, as he was named the National Strength and Conditioning Association’s Educator of the Year.

College Winners

  • Cheryl Briggs, Associate Professor – School of Visual Art and Design, College of Arts and Humanities
  • Danielle Atkins, PhD, Associate Professor – Department of Health Management and Informatics, College of Community Innovation and Education
  • Dingbao Wang, PhD, Associate Professor – Department of Civil, Environmental, and Construction Engineering, College Engineering and Computer Science
  • Joseph Kider Jr., PhD, Assistant Professor, School of Modeling, Simulation and Training, College of Graduate Studies
  • Kenneth Teter, PhD, Professor, Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences, College of Medicine
  • Christopher Blackwell, PhD, Associate Professor, College of Nursing
  • Axel Schülzgen, PhD, Professor – College of Optics and Photonics
  • Güneş Murat Tezcür, PhD, Professor – School of Politics, Security, and International Affairs, College of Sciences
  • Xiaoxiao Fu, PhD, Associate Professor – Department of Tourism, Events, and Attractions, Rosen College of Hospitality Management

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