By Wendy Sarubbi | April 19, 2013 3:56 pm

Two UCF College of Medicine research faculty members, an associate dean and a nationally recognized biomedical sciences major who tutors underserved children in math were among those recognized during UCF’s annual Founders’ Day Honors Convocation pm April 3.

“The achievements we recognize today confirm the merit of the past efforts of our founders and demonstrate that our dedication to excellence continues in this the 50th anniversary year of our great university,” UCF President John C. Hitt said during the ceremonies.

The winner of the University Award for Excellence in Research is Dr. Alexander Cole, an infectious disease specialist at the College of Medicine’s Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences. Dr. Cole has spent his career investigating the body’s natural antibiotics called “antimicrobial peptides” that fight bacteria and viruses and how they can be used to fight diseases such as HIV. A three-time member of the UCF Millionaires Club, Dr. Cole’s research has received grant funding from the National Institutes of Health and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Dr. Cole was also the recipient of the College of Medicine’s college award for Excellence in Research. Dr. Cole serves as the Ph.D. Program Coordinator in the Burnett school and is a faculty reviewer for the Undergraduate Research Journal.

The Medical School’s honoree for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching is Dr. William Safranek of the Burnett school.  He was nominated for assuming what Dr. Roseann White, associate director of the Burnett school, estimated was the highest teaching load in the school’s history, including additional courses such as Immunodiagnostics and Environmental Microbiology, multiple labs and the laboratory component of Clinical Pathogenic Microbiology. In addition, he provided internship experiences and interview coaching to pre-health professional students through extensive collaboration with the Pre-Health Professions Advising Office. He also mentors high school science students throughout Central Florida. “His enthusiasm for teaching our students is infectious and a model for all to follow,” Dr. White wrote.

Associate Dean Julia Pet-Armacost was granted emeritus status at Founders’ Day as well as being recognized for 20 years of service to the university and for her upcoming retirement.  Emeritus status honors the contributions and distinction that faculty and staff have achieved at the university and grants them a lifetime link to UCF. Dr. Pet-Armacost was on the original leadership team that created the College of Medicine, playing a lead role in the medical school’s accreditation. As associate dean for planning and knowledge management, she oversaw the Harriet F. Ginsburg Health Sciences Library, communications, assessment, knowledge management and educational technology functions. Dr. Pet-Armacost has announced her retirement in July 2013.

“I am very honored to receive the title of Associate Dean Emerita from UCF and grateful to have been given the opportunity to work with Dr. German in building a great medical school,” Dr. Pet-Armacost said.

The College of Medicine’s student Founders’ Day honoree is Heardley Moses Murdock, a molecular biology and microbiology major who will graduate from UCF this spring with a 4.0 GPA. He is a team leader in The Burnett Honors College and a supplemental instructor in the Burnett Community Scholars program, where he volunteers more than 600 hours to teaching underserved middle school students in mathematics. He also is a recipient of the Order of Pegasus. He has conducted research on microbial pathogens associated with hospital-acquired infections and the treatment of cancer with silver-based therapies. His talents were recently recognized by his being selected as one of only 20 undergraduates nationally for the NIH Intramural National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease Research Opportunities Program.

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