By Wendy Sarubbi | February 20, 2012 4:26 pm

Dr. Oscar Ruiz, the first student to graduate from UCF’s biomolecular sciences Ph.D. program, has received the Rising Star Award from the UCF Alumni Association.

The professional achievement award honors UCF graduates who are under the age of 35.

Currently, Dr. Ruiz is a biological scientist at the fuels and energy branch of the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. He leads the Microbial Characterization and Mitigation Laboratory, and focuses on identifying microorganisms that affect aviation fuels and developing materials that inhibit microbial growth in such fuels.

“I am proud of Dr. Oscar Ruiz… He richly deserves this Rising Star Award,” said Dr. Henry Daniell, Pegasus Professor and Trustee Chair in the Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences, who was Dr. Ruiz’s mentor in the doctorate program. Dr. Daniell noted that as a doctoral student, Dr. Ruiz published several articles in high-impact journals such as “Nature.”

Dr. Ruiz graduated in 2004 with a doctorate in bimolecular sciences and also received an M.S. in molecular biology and microbiology from UCF in 2001.  Upon graduation, Dr. Ruiz worked in the private biotechnology sector. In 2005 he joined the faculty of the Inter American University of Puerto Rico as an associate professor of biotechnology, where he was also laboratory director for the Environmental Biotechnology Laboratory.

His research has appeared in peer-reviewed publications in the fields of genetic engineering, environmental biotechnology, and plant biotechnology, and he has obtained multiple research grants from agencies including the National Science Foundation, Air Force Research Laboratory, and NASA. Dr. Ruiz was honored at the alumni association’s annual Black & Gold Gala in October.

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