Students Awarded for Innovations in Research

By: Graduate Studies on

This spring, a select group of graduate students were recognized by their colleges and the university community at large for their outstanding work. The Award for the Outstanding Master’s Thesis is focused on the quality and contribution of the student’s thesis research. 

The University Award for Outstanding Master’s Thesis went to Steven M. Kraft, of the College of Engineering and Computer Science.

Kraft, a graduate of the College of Engineering and Computer Science, Mechanical Engineering MS was awarded the Outstanding Master’s Thesis for The Characterization of the Effects of Stress Concentrations on the Mechanical Behavior of Micronic Woven Wire Mesh.

During his career at UCF, Kraft has developed an incredible publication record and served as a Graduate Teaching Assistant in UCF’s MMAE Department and as a Mechanical Engineer at Lockheed Martin’s Missiles and Fire Control Group. Kraft became involved in research in 2009, where he began to demonstrate his persistence, attention to detail, thorough understanding of mechanics of materials, and high level of creativity in problem-solving. Kraft says, “I felt like I could be a part of building a reputation of prestige at UCF,” and that is exactly what he has done. As a student, Kraft “has quietly raised the expectation level for research excellence for both undergraduate and graduate level students.” His thesis work for his MS in Mechanical Engineering resulted in the development of a new anisotropic elasticity and plasticity theory for materials used in homeland security and water reclamation applications. His work is described as “topically mutually exclusive from any other written dissertation or thesis work done at UCF” and “a quintessential effort in mechanics of materials combining experimental, computational, and theoretical mechanics.” Kraft’s extraordinary thesis research has already received multiple citations from third party authors. Of receiving his award, Kraft says, “This award really speaks to the excellent researchers involved with Mechanics of Materials Research Group at UCF (and of course the PI Dr. Ali P. Gordon). It is truly a world class research group, and UCF should be proud!”

The following students received the award within their college and were consequently nominated for the university awards.

College of Arts and Humanities

Genevieve Tyrrell’s thesis Zora as a requirement for her Creative Writing MFA explores the fragmentation of self that can occur during illness or disability. Already garnering critical acknowledgement, her work is a collection of creative nonfiction essays and accompanying art that illuminate the social implications of our health care system, assumptions about physical disability, and the search for identity.

College of Medicine

Swaran Nandini graduated from the Biotechnology master’s program upon completion of her thesis, Characterization of Motility Alterations Caused by the Impairment of Dynein/Dynactin Motor Complex. Her work has already resulted in two co-author publications, building her confidence and motivation as she pursues her Biomedical Sciences PhD at UCF.

College of Sciences

David McDonald is a graduate of the Political Science master’s program. The impact of his work extends beyond his own discipline. His thesis, The President’s Party at the Midterm: An Aggregate and Individual-level Analysis of Seat Loss and Vote Choice in U.S. House Elections, stands apart for taking the extra step by predicting rather than merely describing and explaining a political phenomenon.

Rosen College of Hospitality Management

Marryam Khan recently graduated with her MS in Hospitality and Tourism Management upon completion of her thesis, Gender Dynamics from the Arab World: An Intercultural Service Encounter. Her work highlights the importance of gender in intercultural service experiences and contributes to the existing body of literature. A manuscript of her research has been submitted for publication review.

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