Student researchers and faculty mentors

Student researchers and faculty mentors

AVON PARK, Fla. – Feb. 23, 2023 – On Saturday, Feb. 18, 15 South Florida State College (SFSC) students presented research at the 2023 Florida Undergraduate Research Conference (FURC) at St. Thomas University in Miami Gardens.

FURC is an annual multi-disciplinary conference open to all undergraduate researchers in Florida where students present their research in a poster forum. The conference provides students with networking opportunities, workshops, and professional development programs.

The SFSC students’ scientific research presentations for FURC were varied. One or multiple students may have participated in a research topic under a faculty member who served as mentor on the project. Posters were presented at FURC on these undergraduate research projects:

  • “Oral Microbiome as a Risk Factor for Cardiovascular Disease,” by Christopher Colon, Xander Farrow, Colten Meier, Devam Patel, and Rafael Rimoldi Ibanez. Faculty mentor: Dr. Mintoo Patel, Biology instructor.
  • “The Role of Oral Microbiota in Gingivitis,” presented by Mikhos Torralba, Jermaine Torralba, Mikylla Torralba, and Ean Cheng. Faculty mentor: Dr. Mintoo Patel, Biology instructor.
  • “Bacterial Art: Where Science Meets Arts,” by Angela Huang, Rosemarie Klein, Devam Patel, Josie Wilson, and Zoe Zozzaro. Faculty mentors: Karla Respress, Art professor; Garrett Lee, coordinator, Engineering Program; Anthony Record, director, Museum of Florida Art and Culture; and Dr. Mintoo Patel, Biology instructor.
  • “Interactions of Microorganisms and their Enormous Effects on Oral Health Linking to Gastric Cancer,” by Toby Ellison. Faculty mentor: Dr. Mintoo Patel, Biology instructor.
  • “Is the ALK-1 Gene the Missing Link Between Vasculature and Neurodegenerative Diseases?” by Isabela Potter, Lia Ayala, and George Livingston. Faculty mentor: Dr. James Hawker, dean, Arts & Sciences; and Dr. Mintoo Patel, Biology instructor.
  • “GC-MS Analysis of Bioactive Compounds in Ziziphus Celata,” by Emily Boyette, Luc Alfred, Sarah Arnan, and Toby Ellison. Mentor: Dr. Kate Calvin, Chemistry instructor.
  • “Preliminary Studies on the Effectiveness of Industrial Hemp as a Phytoremediator of Polluted Water Bodies,” by Nylla Wilder, Jenna Gutierrez, and Stephanie Basulto. Faculty mentor: Dr. Kate Calvin, Chemistry instructor.
  • “Evaluating the Role of the Melatonin in Thyroid Cancer Cell (MDA-T41): Apoptosis and Metabolism Modulation,” by Angela Huang. Faculty mentor: Dr. Daniel Sanches, chair, Natural Sciences, and Biology instructor.

“It’s important for students to participate in conferences such as this because it teaches them to communicate and share their ideas and research results with others,” said Dr. James Hawker, dean of Arts & Sciences at SFSC.  “For most of our students, this was the first time they ever presented at a conference.”

At a state or community college, such as SFSC, research has become a significant component of its science curriculum.

“Undergraduate research allows students to delve into their subjects in a much deeper way than regular classwork and promotes critical thinking,” Dr. Hawker said. “It better prepares students for upper division work at a university after transfer. It will also increase their chances of being accepted to their university of choice by demonstrating advanced learning in the first two years of college.”

For more information about undergraduate research at SFSC, contact Dr. James Hawker at 863-784-7329 or