Student Success: USF Students Garner National, Global Honors

USF News

TAMPA, Fla. (April 8, 2014) – The end of the academic year traditionally brings announcements of major scholarships and awards, and this year University of South Florida students are amassing an impressive array of national and international honors that recognize their achievement and will support their future academic ambitions.

Here are some of the newest winners:

Steffanie Munguia Receives Hollings Scholarship

Steffanie Munguia

Munguia was named a Hollings Scholar by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The Hollings Scholarship Program provides undergraduate students with up to $8,000 per year for two years for academic assistance and a 10-week, full-time paid internship position during the summer at a NOAA facility.

Munguia is an Honors College sophomore majoring in Integrative Animal Biology and minoring in Environmental Policy with a 3.91 GPA. She represents the USF College of Arts and Sciences where her achievements inside and outside of the classroom have been noted. She is currently an undergraduate researcher with Associate Professor of Integrative Biology Lynn Martin developing a project to investigate behavioral thermoregulation in two lizard species found in Florida. Munguia is also participating in another ongoing research project with Martin as an undergraduate research assistant developing a database of bird hormone investigations. She was selected for a National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates in summer of 2013 where she studied with Dr. Alice Boyle of Kansas State University.

Munguia hopes to earn a Ph.D. in Behavioral Ecology and conduct research on how climate change is affecting our wildlife populations and the ecology of our most fragile ecosystems.

"Steffanie's commitment to research will have tremendous impacts in the future,” said Linda Lucas, director of USF’s Office of National Scholarships.

The Hollings Scholarship Program provides successful undergraduate applicants with awards that include academic assistance for full-time study during the 9-month academic year; a 10-week, full-time internship position during the summer at a NOAA facility; and, if reappointed, academic assistance for full-time study during a second 9-month academic year.

Mackenzie Lee Wins DAAD RISE Scholarship 


Mackenzie Lee

Lee is one of only 300 students selected by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) to participate in the prestigious Research Internship in Science and Engineering (RISE) program.

During his 12 weeks in Germany this summer, Lee will work under a Ph.D. student on a project characterizing particular proteins that function as molecular “switches” in the cell to control a variety of cellular processes. The research group is part of the Max-Delbrück-Center for Molecular Medicine, a major biomedical research institute located in Berlin.

Lee is a fourth-year student in the College of Arts and Sciences, double majoring in German Studies and Biochemistry. The Chemistry Department recently awarded him the 2014 Dean Martin Outstanding Chemistry Student in the B.A. program. Lee is currently a research technician working with Dr. Robert V. Farese at the James A. Haley VA Hospital Research Service in association with USF Health. There he investigates cellular signaling defects in Type II Diabetes.

Following graduation from USF, Lee plans to attend medical school in pursuit   of a future in medical research. More than 2,200 students from universities in the United States and Canada competed for one of the 300 RISE awards.

“Mackenzie’s research and potential for impact will benefit enormously from this summer research opportunity in Germany and build on his skill in the lab and his knowledge of the German culture,” Lucas said.

Jessica Goodman

Jessica Goodman Wins Frost Scholarship to Pursue Studies at Oxford University

Goodman was accepted into the master’s program in Archaeological Science at the University of Oxford in March, and soon after was notified she was the winner of the Frost Scholarship Program, which funds students in Florida’s public universities for one-year, full-time master’s courses in science, technology, engineering and mathematics at Oxford.

The program is supported by the generosity of the Phillip and Patricia Frost Philanthropic Foundation. The first ten scholars will begin their studies in October 2014.

Sarah Seabrook

Sarah Seabrook Receives Udall Scholarship

Seabrook, an Honors College junior, received a Udall Scholarship. This is her third national scholarship as she received the Gilman Scholarshipand Hollings Scholarship in 2012.

The award is given for a commitment to the environment and awardees receive a $5,000 scholarship to support research related to the environment. Sarah also becomes a member of a national, professional network of scientists, activists, educators, lawyers and others working on environmental issues.

Seabrook is double majoring in environmental science and policy, and environmental biology. She represents the USF College of Arts and Sciences where her achievements inside and outside of the classroom have been noted. She has been a member of USF’s Legislative Internship Program at the Environmental Protection Committee of Hillsborough County, where her projects include wetland restoration, water protection from fertilizer and chemical pollution, enhancing public transportation and bike lanes, balancing environmental protection with inevitable development.

Seabrook is also cofounder and vice president of the USF chapter of Keep Our Campus Beautiful and has been active in the Student Environmental Association and a member of the Biology Club.

Trang Luong Receives New Faces of Engineering – College Edition Award

         Trang Luong

Luong has been named as the New Face of Engineering – College Edition 2014 by Discover E. The College Edition recognizes the best and brightest engineering students whose academic successes and experiences have positioned them to make an impact. Trang is one of only 15 third, fourth or fifth-year undergraduate engineering students in the United States to receive the scholarship. She is featured on the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) website,

Trang is an international student in the Honors College and College of Engineering; a junior majoring in Civil Engineering. She came to USF as an INTO student from Vietnam in 2011 and is now enrolled as degree seeking USF student. She has been involved with research in the physics department with Dr. Manh-Huong Phan, worked as a site leader at Gandhi Day of Service and Bulls Service Breaks, and works as a math and science tutor at Tutoring and Learning Services and INTO USF. In 2013, Trang was awarded the DAAD RISE paid 12 week internship position on a civil engineering project in Weimar, Germany.

“Trang has become an outstanding USF Bull, contributing her leadership to campus student groups and winning a national DAAD award to complete research in Germany. She will make important contributions to her field in engineering throughout her career,” Lucas said.

The DiscoverE (formerly National Engineers Week Foundation) mission is to sustain and grow a dynamic engineering profession through outreach, education, celebration, and volunteerism. DiscoverE and its working coalition of 100+ organizations is known as one of the most effective collaborations today, recognized by corporations and engineering societies, and mentioned in two reports by the National Academy of Engineering.

Isabella Chan’s Research Honored by Society for Applied Anthropology

Isabella Chan

Chan is the recipient of the 2013 Peter K. New Student Research Award. A doctoral student in the USF College of Public Health, Chan’s selection is based on her winning a student research competition sponsored by the Society for Applied Anthropology (SfAA).

For her award winning research titled, “Translating International Health Policies into Lived Realities: Restricted Maternal Autonomy in the Peruvian Highlands,” Chan received a cash prize of $2,000, an engraved Baccarat crystal trophy, and is featured on the SfAA website. Additionally, her paper may be accepted for publication in the journal Human Organization.

“Health disparities are what first drew me to public health as a discipline,” Chan said, who graduated from USF in December with dual master degrees in anthropology and public health. “As I moved through the coursework, I learned even more about health disparities and their social, political, and economic underpinnings. These non-biological forces behind poor health and disparate health outcomes, in the US and around the world, are what motivate me to continue working in public health, specifically indigenous women’s health in the Peruvian Andes.”

In addition to her global health work in the college, Chan helped establish and served as the International Projects Director for the USF chapter of Nourish International. As director, she coordinated a summer service program in Peru that worked and fundraised for the second phase of a clinic.

Ultimately, Chan wants to serve as a community grassroots organizer and advocate in the Peruvian Andes. Her doctoral dissertation research focuses on intimate partner violence in the Peruvian Andes.

“Acknowledging that many of the forces structuring health disparities are constructed allows us to also recognize that they can be deconstructed and remedied in order to improve health outcomes,” Chan said.

Eilis McGranaghan Receives Fulbright Award

McGranaghan, a student in the College of Engineering and USF Honors College, has been awarded a Fulbright Research Grant to conduct research for her master’s thesis at the Pontificia Universidade Catolica do Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil.

Eilis will conduct research for her master’s thesis on sustainable systems for the production of biodiesel and natural products. Her aim for this project is to create a complete cycle in which used cooking oil is consumed and biodiesel fuel and natural products are produced. She will conduct this research under the mentorship of Professor Eduardo Cassel at the Pontificia Universidade Catolica do Rio Grande do Sul. Eilis will receive her bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from USF this semester.

Eilis McGranaghan

As an undergraduate student, McGranaghan has been conducting research in the USF Sustainable Energy laboratory with Professor Aydin Sunol for the past two years. She has also worked as an intern for General Electric twice: in 2013 doing environmental health and safety-related work and in 2012 as a manufacturing intern. Eilis has studied abroad in several countries through the Honors College, which included a volunteer project for a non-profit host institution as part of each program. She traveled to Puerto Rico in 2013, Germany in 2011, and Panama in 2010. Eilis completed her Honors College thesis on sustainable biofuels in which a research team built a continuous-flow biodiesel production process. She presented her thesis research at the Sustainable Engineering Forum of American Institute of Chemical Engineers Annual Meeting (2013).

Upon her return to the United States, Eilis plans to earn her master's degree from USF using this Sustainable Systems project. She then plans to pursue a doctoral degree in chemical engineering with the hope of building an on-campus sustainable bio-diesel production plant that ties together all the technology, ideas, and knowledge she has learned through her academic, professional and Fulbright experiences.

“Eilis’ career will benefit enormously by studying in Brazil with the Fulbright research and study grant and enable her to make significant contributions in the future as a chemical engineer,” Lucas said.

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The primary source of funding for the Fulbright Program is an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The program operates in over 155 countries worldwide.

Roberto Roldan receives a prestigious place on a Fulbright Summer Institute in the UK

Roldan, a sophomore in the USF Honors College who is pursuing a dual degree in Mass Communications and Government and International Relations, has received one of only approximately 60 places on a Fulbright Summer Institute in the United Kingdom to study at Cardiff University, Bangor University and Aberystwyth University in Wales. This is one of the most prestigious and selective summer scholarship programmes operating world-wide.

Roberto was selected from a strong applicant pool through a rigorous application and interview process to experience Wales on a six week summer programme. The Fulbright UK Summer Institute to Wales focuses on the industry, politics, culture and change in contemporary Wales.

                         Roberto Roldan

Roberto began as a volunteer correspondent with USF’s The Oracle and became a News Editor for the paper. His work with The Oracle this year will be recognized with a 2013 Green Eyeshades Award College Top 10 for Best Feature Writer in The South. Roberto has also participated in USF’s Society of Professional Journalists, USF’s Amnesty International chapter, Project Downtown and the Honors College Global Citizenship Program. He is currently working to restructure the U.N. General Assembly at USF.

“Roberto Roldan’s selection into this very selective and prestigious course of study will enable him to develop a unique perspective and enhance his professional goals as a journalist,” Lucas said.

Hiram Rios Receives Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Undergraduate Fellowship 

Rios, a junior in the Honors College and College of Arts and Sciences where he is double majoring in Economics, International Studies, and minoring in Chinese, has been named a Pickering Undergraduate Fellow for 2014 by the United States Department of State and the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation.

Rios is one of only 20 undergraduate students in the United States to receive the award. The fellowship gives up to $40,000 annually for educational expenses for two years, a paid internship with the Department of State and a U.S. Embassy overseas, mentoring, and a minimum five year appointment as a Foreign Service Officer.

Rios has won four national awards and is a recipient of the Boren Scholarship and the Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship which supported his Chinese language study abroad to Qingdao, China in summer 2013. His third national scholarship, the Critical Language Scholarship, is fully funded by the United States Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The award provides an orientation in Washington D.C. and language courses abroad during the summer of 2014. He is Vice President of the USF Ambassadors, the Leadership and Professional Development Chair for the Honors College Student Council and a Founding Father of Alpha Sigma Phi Fraternity. In 2013, he was USF’s first recipient of the Student Employee of the Year award.

    Hiram Rios

Hiram is a bi-cultural citizen, hailing from the island of Puerto Rico. He is fluent in English and Spanish, and is continuously developing his understanding of the Chinese language. He plans to earn a Master of Arts in International Affairs and work as an Economic Foreign Service Officer. His aspirations stemmed from his life experiences and interest in the international community; it is his goal to become a catalyst in reducing poverty and inequality by dedicating his life to a career in public service.

“Hiram has a record of achievement in the classroom, as a USF campus leader and in language studies which is extraordinary,” Lucas said. “This award recognizes those many accomplishments and enables him to attend a first rate graduate program on his way to becoming a U.S. Foreign Service Officer.“

The Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship is named in honor of one of the most distinguished and capable American diplomats of the latter half of the 20th century. The Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship is funded by the U.S. Department of State and administered by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. The Fellowship is designed to attract outstanding individuals from all ethnic, racial and social backgrounds who have an interest in pursuing a Foreign Service career with the U.S. Department of State.

Marilyn Aluoch Awarded Fulbright Research Grant to Ghana

Marily Aluoch

Aluoch will continue her doctoral research in the field of nursing at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), School of Medical Sciences in Kumasi, Ghana under the direction of Senior Lecturer Dr. Thomas Agyarko-Poku, Director, Ashanti Region HIV/AIDS Directorate, Ghana Health Services, and Co- Investigator of Kumasi & Accra Project to Prevent AIDS (KAPPA).

Aluoch will explore Ghanaian nurses’ attitudes towards and approaches utilized in providing sexual health services in the Ashanti region of Ghana. Her research goal is to inform the development of “nurse-friendly” and culturally relevant targeted HIV prevention programs in Ghana for those with same-gender sexual practices. Aluoch is a Family Nurse Practitioner. She received her Master of Science in Nursing and Master of Public Health from the University of South Florida and her Bachelor of Nursing degree from Tennessee State University.

As a Ph.D. student, Aluoch represents the USF College of Nursing, where her academic achievements have been noted inside and outside the classroom. She has served as a teaching assistant in the College of Nursing. She has served as a Registered Nurse at Nashville Metropolitan Hospital in Nashville TN, and Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute in Tampa, FL. As an Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner (ARNP), she served at Florida Department of Corrections for three years before returning to USF to pursue her doctoral studies. Besides her fulltime enrollment at the USF’s College of Nursing, she serves as a volunteers ARNP at Brandon Outreach Clinic in Brandon, FL. Additionally, she is currently a research assistant in the College of Nursing working on a project titled “Kumasi and Accra Project to Prevent AIDS (KAPPA),” a multidimensional study focusing on HIV/AIDS prevention among Ghanaian men who have sex with men (MSM).

Aluoch is a member of the Association for Nurses in AIDS Care and the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. She has presented a conference abstract at the International Union Against TB and Lung Disease American Region (IUATLD) annual meeting. She is a recipient of the National Institute of Occupational Safety Health (NIOSH) Fellowship, the Tampa Bay Organization of Nurse Executives (TBONE) and USF’s Graduate Student Success Diversity Fellowship awards.

Following her return to the United States, Marilyn plans to defend her doctoral studies and then share her studies with the KNUST School of Medical Sciences, participating hospitals and clinics, and the Ghanaian ministry of health. She intends to seek employment with U.S. federal agencies such as USAID or non-governmental agencies that focus on research, leadership and partnerships aimed at building capacity for strong public health policy, programs, systems and practices around the globe. 

Paola Gonzalez Receives Fulbright Award

Gonzalez, an alumna of the University of South Florida (’12) has been awarded a Fulbright Research Grant to Brazil to support research on water recycling at the University of Brasilia that will later be used towards a master’s degree in applied anthropology. Her research explores how sustainable and culturally relevant engineered systems can be established in coastal settings that utilize wastewater as a resource for recovery of water, energy, and nutrients. She will be traveling to Belize in June of this year to collect data for this project.

 On the Fulbright, Paola will conduct a project that assesses perceptions of hygiene practices and of water recycling in Brasilia, allowing her to learn about community views regarding hygiene and reclaiming waste water in order to be able to assess whether implementations of such systems are viable, feasible, perceived as a need, or are desired by the community. She will conduct this research under the mentorship of Dr. Carla Costa Teixeira, coordinator of the Laboratory of Anthropology, Health and Sanitation and director of the graduate program in social anthropology at the University of Brasilia. Paola received two bachelor’s degrees from USF in anthropology and health sciences.

As an undergraduate student, Paola represented the College of Arts & Science and the Honors College, where her academic achievements have been noted inside and outside of the classroom. In 2012, she began work at the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay as a victim advocate. In the summer of 2011, she studied abroad in Bolivia where she worked in a National Science Foundation-funded research project with other anthropologists and engineers to assess the sustainability of water systems and their impact in two rural Bolivian towns. From 2010 to 2012, she worked as a research assistant to Dr. Aimee Eden. Paola has presented her research at the Society of Applied Anthropology’s 72nd Annual Meeting (2012) and the 9th Annual USF Undergraduate Research Symposium (2011). She has also had work published in the Undergraduate Journal of Service Learning and Community-Based Research. Her career goal is to research health disparities and whether rates of disease are influenced by access to water in countries within Latin America and the Caribbean.

Erin Symonds Receives Fulbright Award

Erin Symonds

Symonds, a PhD candidate in the College of Marine Science, has been awarded a Fulbright Research Grant to Costa Rica to continue her doctoral research at the MarViva Foundation, where she will provide complementary, enhanced measurements and source identification of pollution from biological sources in order to improve watershed management practices. This research will support MarViva’s Greater Tempisque River Watershed (GTRW) management project and will help to improve MarViva’s understanding of fecal pollution in the GTRW and promote further water management actions.

Symonds academic achievements have been noted inside and outside the classroom. Her doctoral studies are supported by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) STAR (Science to Achieve Results) Fellowship (2011-2013). In 2013, she was a member of a team awarded a USF Interdisciplinary Challenge Grant to execute a rapid assessment of microbial risk from consuming lettuce in the Cochabamba Valley of Bolivia. She is currently the student representative for the USF College of Marine Science Curriculum Committee.

Symonds has presented her research at National and International scientific conferences and has published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Additionally, she developed and instructs a course on water sciences intended for motivated high school students through Duke University’s Talent Identification Program. As an active member in the community, Symonds frequently promotes science education through involvement in the St. Petersburg Science Festival and as a guest speaker at local schools and organizations.

Upon completion of the Fulbright research grant, Symonds will defend her dissertation graduate with her doctorate in Marine Science. As a PhD holding scientist, she intends to continue to dedicate herself to the protection of human and environmental health, formally and informally through education, research and capacity building as a post-doctoral researcher and later as a university professor and researcher. Symonds received her bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science and Biology from the University of Virginia and her master’s degree from USF in Marine Science. Erin returned to USF for her doctorate after serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala, where she helped establish a water quality laboratory and monitoring program.