Every driver in a chatty carpool, or with kids crying in the back seat, or with a passenger trying to pick an argument should thank University of Central Florida graduate researcher Vanessa Koury for the work she is doing.
Someday she may save your life.
Koury, a second-year master’s student in Industrial Organizational Psychology, is taking a new approach to improve driving safety: researching the distractions caused by passengers in a vehicle – not the driver’s own lapses, such as drinking, texting or talking on the phone.
“I am hoping that this research will help improve driving behavior not only with the driver but also the people in the vehicle, too,” Koury said. “Their life is not only in the hands of the driver but with them as well.”
Koury’s research will be among about 500 projects on display during UCF’s Student Research Week on April 2-5. Student work on everything from “Renewable Energy from the Florida Current” to “Teaching Children with Speech Impairments to Ask Questions Using an iPad” to “UCF’s First Exoplanet Discovery” will be showcased.
About 190 graduate researchers and 380 undergraduate researchers are participating.
“We anticipate an immensely busy week, with more students than we have ever had,” said Elliot Vittes, interim vice provost and dean of undergraduate studies.
The event kicks off with a seminar about combating the world’s most deadly infectious diseases, and the week will include professional-development workshops, student presentations, and an art exhibit based on research projects.
The opening-day seminar will be led by Professor Henry Daniell, who will discuss what UCF’s Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences is doing to combat cholera, malaria, anthrax and other infectious diseases that kill about 15 million people worldwide each year.
In the presentation, Daniell will talk about the “green vaccine” concept of low-cost medications and distribution developed at UCF. The concept created by using funding from the National Institutes of Health and USDA is being advanced further by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and others. The seminar will be at 2 p.m. April 2 in the Cape Florida Ballroom AB of the Student Union.
Students in the Graduate Research Forum will present and discuss their projects from noon to 4 p.m. April 3, and students in the Showcase of Undergraduate Research Excellence will present their projects from 1:30 to 5 p.m. April 5. Both sessions will be held in the Pegasus Ballroom of the Student Union.
Various workshops on topics such as finding student funding and organizing research literature will be offered each day of the event at various venues on campus.
To conclude the week’s activities, a reception and art exhibition created by the university’s STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) initiative will be held 6-8 p.m. April 5 in the UCF Art Gallery.
The program, part of a five-year grant funded by the National Science Foundation, brings together faculty and students from the different disciplines to create new synergies. Researchers met with visual arts and design students to explain genetic coding, astrophysics, scientific breakthroughs and other complex topics. The student artists then created paintings, sculptures, drawings and posters to illustrate the concepts.
The STEAM Exhibition will remain in the gallery through April 7.
For a complete schedule of activities for Student Research Week, which are free and open to everyone, click http://www.researchweek.ucf.edu/.