Graduate Student Profile

Karla Badillo-Urquiola

Karla Badillo-Urquiola blurred shadow drop
Karla Badillo-Urquiola
Karla Badillo-Urquiola

Orlando, FL


College of Graduate Studies

Degree Programs:

Modeling and Simulation MS
Modeling and Simulation PhD

Research Focus:

Human-computer interaction and human systems.

Doctoral student Karla Badillo-Urquiola earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in writing and rhetoric in 2014 and her master’s degree in modeling and simulation in 2016, both from UCF. She chose to continue her academic journey at UCF as she pursues her doctoral degree in modeling and simulation because of the flexibility and interdisciplinarity of the program, saying, “The opportunity to combine coursework from across departments allowed me to take a more holistic approach to my development as a research scholar.” Interdisciplinarity plays a key role in Badillo-Urquiola’s work – she has a background in psychology, instructional systems designs, and human-computer interaction.

However, Badillo-Urquiola does not credit her success to the nature of her research, but rather to being a mom. She says her inspiration comes from her family, and that being a mom requires her to step outside of her comfort zone, take risks, and never give up, especially knowing that nearly 50% of women leave full-time science careers after their first child. As Badillo-Urquiola says, “Everything I do is in honor of my family.”

Badillo-Urquiola’s research, which is partially funded by the William T. Grand Foundation, focuses on marginalized and vulnerable youth populations, specifically teens in foster care. She investigates the connection between foster children’s use of technology and the risks, such as sex trafficking, that use can lead to. Her goal is to develop educational and technological interventions that can help promote a more teen-centric approach to online safety and reduce the digital inequalities that teens in foster care face. Currently, Badillo-Urquiola is a graduate research assistant at the Socio-Technical Interaction Research (STIR) Lab.

While at UCF, Badillo-Urquiola has been recognized for her outstanding achievements. She received the highest UCF honor as a student, the 2020 Order of Pegasus. She is a McKnight Doctoral Fellow and former McNair Scholar, and she was also nominated and recognized as an outstanding student leader during Women’s History Month in 2017. Recently, her research on online safety for foster youth won Best Paper at the ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. She has also earned scholarships and travel grants to attend several high-tier international and national scientific conferences and symposiums.

Badillo-Urquiola plans to graduate in spring 2021. After graduating, she hopes to become a tenured professor, a status that, she points out, is shared by less than one percent of Latinas in the computing workforce. Badillo-Urquiola aspires to use her professional career to continue researching technology-driven solutions that will increase the effectiveness of training and improve the quality of life for underrepresented and underserved populations. Badillo-Urquiola also hopes to be a mentor, saying, “As a Latina in STEM, I am also dedicated to mentoring students, like myself, on navigating the graduate school process in hopes of helping them find their inner strengths as a researcher of color. I plan to mentor youth and young adults on the importance of higher education related to the field of Human-Computer Interaction.” Badillo-Urquiola also plans to promote research in and/or about Latin American countries.


  • McKnight Doctoral Fellow
  • McNair Scholar
  • Outstanding Student Leader - Women's History Month 2017
  • Graduate research assistant at the Socio-Technical Interaction Research (STIR) Lab
  • 2020 Order of Pegasus recipient

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