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Graduate Award Winners

Of the thousands of students pursuing their graduate education at UCF each year, students are selected from a group of nominees in each college as the university winners in the areas of Excellence in Graduate Student Teaching, Excellence by a Graduate Teaching Assistant, Outstanding Master’s Thesis, and Outstanding Dissertation. Each award recipient is recognized throughout the university community as having shown truly exceptional work.

UCF also recognizes two faculty members for their dedication and guidance in the mentorship of doctoral students. Outstanding faculty are nominated for the award by graduate faculty or doctoral students who graduated in the past year.

Award for Excellence by a Graduate Teaching Assistant

Sarah Gitto, Biomedical Sciences PhD, College of Medicine

Gitto assisted students with laboratory work and has graded laboratory reports, practices, quizzes and homework. One of her students says that Gitto was ready and prepared to answer any questions regarding experiments or techniques. She does her best to spark interest in her students and has learned that providing real-world relevance to the laboratory techniques can help engage students. 

Honorable Mention 

Arup Kumar Ghosh, Computer Science PhD, College of Engineering and Computer Science

Ghosh was nominated because of his dedication to teaching and mentoring students, his ability to mentor other GTAs, his superb efficiency, and his remarkable dedication to his GTA duties. His students describe Ghosh as “extremely fair” in his assessments, “knowledgeable on the material,” and “interested in [students’] learning.” One student observed, “Professor Ghosh loves programming, and it shows.”


Award for Excellence in Graduate Student Teaching 

Masha Khoshnoud, Business Administration PhD, Finance Track, College of Business Administration

Khoshnoud is an excellent teacher and has done an outstanding job of preparing and executing her teaching assignments. Her student evaluations consistently rank high. Students regularly comment that her course is demanding, but describe Khoshnoud as knowledgeable, respectful, helpful and genuinely concerned for the success of the students. 


Award for Outstanding Master's Thesis

Engineering, Physical Sciences and Life Sciences 

Christian Garcia, Aerospace Engineering MSAE, College of Engineering and Computer Science
Thesis: Geolocation of diseased leaves in strawberry orchards for a custom-designed octorotor.
Mentor: Yunjun Xu, PhD

Garcia’s thesis focused on the design and control of an octorotor to survey citrus/strawberry fields for disease detection. In this research, he was the main person to design, manufacture and flight test an innovative octorotor platform. Garcia has published two peer-reviewed conference papers and has one journal paper under review. His research is innovative, employs hands-on engineering design techniques, and contributes significantly to new software, algorithm, and theoretical development.

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

Rosanna Scott, Clinical Psychology MS, College of Sciences
Thesis: Cerebrovascular burden and depression: Examining a process model of geriatric developmental psychopathology.
Mentor: Daniel Paulson, PhD 

Scott’s thesis is comprised of two complementary studies: 1) the relationship between cerebrovascular risk (hypertension, diabetes, etc.) and later-life depression; and 2) the relationship of a gene and associated protein with dementia risk. In addressing these unanswered empirical questions, she managed large, complex datasets and employed advanced statistical methods for the analysis of longitudinal data. Scott has presented her work at the annual meeting of the Gerontological Society of America and has published in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry and the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, both leading journals.


Award for Outstanding Dissertation 

Engineering, Physical Sciences and Life Sciences

Afshin Dehghan, PhD, Computer Science PhD, College of Engineering and Computer Science
Dissertation: Global data association for multiple pedestrian tracking.
Mentor: Mubarak Shah, PhD

Dr. Dehghan's research focused on object tracking, one of the most fundamental problems in computer vision. He tackled the data association component of object tracking and contributed three novel methods for solving data association. During his PhD studies, Dr, Dehghan has significantly contributed to several high visibility research projects that involved his profound knowledge of computer vision coupled with great programming skills. He has a stellar publication record, with Google Scholar showing that his papers have received 863 citations. Many of his publications are in prestigious computer vision conferences and journals. 

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

Jeremy Townsend, PhD, Education PhD, Exercise Physiology Track, College of Education and Human Performance
Dissertation: Intramuscular TNF-α signaling in response to resistance exercise and recovery in untrained males.
Mentor: Jeffrey Stout, PhD

Dr. Townsend's dissertation was the first to examine the nuclear factor kappa B signaling cascade in response to muscle damaging exercise in healthy males. This pathway is the most studied pathway in conditions like cancer and cachexia, and it is considered to be the pathway associated with rapid skeletal muscle loss. Dr. Townsend's study demonstrated how resistance exercise can acutely upregulate this pathway as part of the body’s recovery and regeneration process. He has authored two papers from his dissertation, one in the European Journal of Applied Physiology and the other in Physiological Reports.

Engineering, Physical Sciences, and Life Sciences Faculty Mentoring Award

Mubarak Shah, PhD, Trustee Chair Professor, Department of Computer Science, College of Engineering and Computer Science

Dr. Shah's students describe him as a great mentor and an excellent teacher/researcher who has established one of the most famous Computer Vision groups in the world.  He mentors his students to become creative in their research and learn to think out of the box. On a regular basis he invites top researchers to visit UCF, give talks and spend time with students. Dr. Shah helps his students develop the research, communication and networking skills to be successful leaders in their field.

Social Sciences, Humanities, Education, Business, Fine Arts and Health Sciences Faculty Mentoring Award

Rosa Cintrón, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Child, Family and Community Sciences, College of Education and Human Performance 

Dr. Cintrón's students describe her as always there for her students. She fosters a supportive relationship among her doctoral students through regular group meetings to discuss their progress and challenges, and to help them renew their commitment to complete their dissertations and graduate. Her students count themselves fortunate to have had Dr. Cintrón as mentor, guide, teacher and inspiration.


The University of Central Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award degrees at the associate, baccalaureate, master’s, specialist, and doctoral levels. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call (404) 679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of the University of Central Florida.

Please note the commission's expectation that contact occur only if there is evidence to support significant non-compliance with a requirement or standard. For other information about UCF’s SACSCOC accreditation, please contact the university's SACSCOC liaison in UCF's Office of Academic Affairs.

| © 2015 University of Central Florida - College of Graduate Studies