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USF Grad Student Researchers Celebrate Achievements in Florida High Tech Corridor Projects Students are a key part of the USF's partnership with the Florida High Tech Corridor's effort to grow the regional STEM talent pipeline.

For nearly a quarter century, the University of South Florida has been a part of the transformative effort to build the technological and scientific prowess of the region it calls home in partnership with the Florida High Tech Corridor Council. One of the highlights of that effort has been the Corridor’s Matching Grants Research Program and its support for student researchers working with USF faculty and local companies to develop emerging technologies – an effort which gives students high-level experience while building the STEM talent pipeline that grows the region’s capabilities.

Over the years, both graduate and undergraduate students who participate in Corridor-supported research efforts have become a key part of the impact of the Matching Grants Research Program, which since 1996, has generated downstream impacts of more than $1 billion.

April is normally the month in which USF Research & Innovation recognizes these students at the annual Student Research Awards program, which this year was cancelled amid COVID-19 concerns. So we asked the students from this year's awards to share their stories so that their important contributions to research, innovation and the growth of the region can be recognized for the value it brings. These are their stories.

Nadia Tasnim Ahmed

Nadia Tasnim Ahmed is pursuing a master's degree in pharmaceutical nanotechnology to develop her interest in the applications of nanoscience to the field of medicine. She began working in the lab of USF Professor Subhra Mohapatra from her first semester in the program, and has been a part of the team working to develop the novel cancer stem cell inhibitor, TN-1008. She intends to pursue her PhD and a career as an academic researcher.

"I always try to work hard and it’s very satisfying to get a recognition for that which is highly motivating as well. I am planning to pursue my PhD next, so research exposure is mandatory for me. (It) is also very enjoyable when puzzles get sorted out and ideas bring desired results. I believe that passion is a must for a researcher." - Nadia Tasnim Ahmed

Ria Kanjilal

Ria Kanjilal is a member of Dr. Ismail Uysal's USF RFID Center for Applied Research, and works alongside colleagues Mehmet Aktukmak, Rania Elashmawy, Ismail Uluturk, Alla Abdella and Muhammed Kucuk.

Ria Kanjilal is pursuing a PhD in electrical engineering and has conducted research in machine learning, data science, bioinformatics and artificial intelligence as part of Associate Professor Ismail Uysal's lab. Her work is focused on healthcare applications of deep learning to help provide insight through data. For example, one of her projects focused on gleaning from raw accelerometer data the ability to predict falls. The project has demonstrated state-of-the-art performance with over 98 percent accuracy in recognizing nine different motions, such as standing up from lying on the bed, standing up from sitting on a chair, running, sitting down, going up and down stairs, walking and jumping.

"A simple wireless wrist-band with a fall-detection algorithm can prevent a vulnerable person from lying in the emergency room for hours or days due to future complications. The aim of this project is to contribute to the well-being of our aging population by developing an algorithmic prediction model. My research work seeks to explore and compare the true potentials of feature-engineering and raw-data processing when it comes to human activity recognition and fall-detection." - Ria Kanjilal

Dr. Arun Kumar Narasimhan

Arun Kumar Narasimhan earned his PhD in chemical engineering at USF in 2019 and has been part of the team of graduate research assistants in the Clean Energy Research Center led by USF Distinguished Professor Yogi Goswami. There he has pursued his goals to work on addressing global energy issues such a rural electrification and creating sustainable practices. The Corridor-supported project focused on air conditioning, component design, sizing and system testing in a project with Largo-based company VaporGenics.

"I’m most proud that we kept pushing to understand the system more and improve its performance by testing different solutions, despite many technical challenges along the way." - Dr. Arun Kumar Narasimhan

Elizabeth Panek

Elizabeth Panek is pursuing a master's degree in biotechnology and is working closely with SGN Nanopharma, Inc., as part of the company’s collaboration with Morsani College of Medicine Professor Dr. Juan Sanchez-Ramos. The company seeks to improve under-performing drugs through nanotechnology and is a resident company in USF's technology incubator. She said one of the most rewarding aspects of the experience was being a part of the team's hard work when we saw the successful results on a particularly challenging project.

"I will be forever grateful for my experiences interning at SGN Nanopharma under the guidance of Dr. (Pranav) Patel. The methods and skills I have developed throughout my internship have prepared me for working in either academia or industry in the field of pharmacology." - Elizabeth Panek

Phani Chandra Sourabh Reddy

Phani Chandra Sourabh Reddy is pursuing a master's degree in business analytics and information systems and worked with USF College of Engineering Associate Professor Carla VandeWeerd and Associate Professor Ali Yalcin on projects that use sensor data to develop tools that allow the elderly to age more safely in their homes.

"The projects I've worked on helped me in learning new technologies and also enhanced my problem-solving ability which encouraged in shaping my career." - Phani Chandra Sourabh Reddy

Marcus Wilson

Marcus Wilson has worked alongside USF College of Engineering Associate Professor Sriram Chellappan, to support research underway at SOFWERX, the Tampa-based organization that is a "public-private innovator of technology designs fusing academia, civilian companies and other nontraditional (U.S. Department of Defense) partners who work on United States Special Operations Command’s most challenging problems." As an information technology major in the USF College of Engineering who aspires to be a security engineer, Marcus helped manage networks infrastructure during his time on the project. Last year, he was featured as one of SOFWERX's Interns of the Week.

"My experience at SOFWERX was one that has shaped how I view the field of technology as a whole. It has exposed me to areas of technology that I had no awareness of and has challenged me on many different levels. Working in this environment has instilled in me the need to push innovation in any realm I may find myself in. The most rewarding part of my research was being surrounded by individuals who would constantly challenge your thoughts and pushed you think greater in terms of your ideas. My time at SOFWERX was truly a rewarding experience and will most certainly be a staple part of my career." - Marcus Wilson