By Wendy Sarubbi | April 9, 2012 11:25 am

First- and second-year medical students celebrated the spirit of independent research during the third annual I-Module Focused Individualized Research Experience (FIRE) Mini-Conference at the UCF College of Medicine March 19 and 20.

As part of the two-year FIRE module, students presented their proposals and final posters for grading by faculty members and peers. Awards went to the top peer-evaluated projects, which included a winner from last year’s showcase – M-2 student Alvin deTorres.

In the first year, students identify a research mentor and develop a proposal including hypothesis or question, specific aims, and methods and procedures. During the second year, students collect and analyze data, and report findings.

“I am very impressed with the diversity of the projects,” said Dr. Deborah German, vice president for medical affairs and dean of the College of Medicine,

These students were recognized:


  • Alvin deTorres, “Hyperleukocytosis And Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia: Comparing Clinical,    Immunophenotypic, And Cytogenetic Data.” Research mentor: Dr. Antonio Hernandez. Alvin was also recognized for the most outstanding report in his class.

“Everybody did work hard,” said Alvin. “Getting this award validates all the hard work I put in.”

  • Asha Balakrishnan, “Quality Of Resident Provided Care To Children With Asthma In The Orlando Health System.” Research mentor: Dr. Colleen Moran-Bano.
  • Sharise Richardson, “Medical Students’ Knowledge And Perceptions Of Health And Healthcare Disparities In The African American Community.” Research mentor: Dr. Janelle Menard.
  • Michelle Lipton, “Contrast Induced Nephropathy In High-Risk Pediatric Patients Undergoing Cardiac Catheterization.” Research mentors: Dr. David Nykanen and Dr. Abdo Asmar.
  • John Ruder, “Anthrogram Assisted Fixation Of Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis: A Ct And Radiograph Study.” Research mentor: Dr. Jonathan Phillips.
  • Heather Hartin, “Factors Affecting Medication Adherence In Free Clinic Patients.” Research mentor: Dr. Steven Hale.


  • Erin Kane, “Testing The Compliance Of Conventional Breast Plan Dose Volume Histograms To Protocol RTOG 1005 Guidelines.” Research Mentor: Dr. Rafael Manon. Erin was also recognized for the most outstanding report in her class.
  • Elizabeth John, “Developing A Student Organized Summer Pre-Matriculation Program And Assessing Its Effects On Student Academic Performance At The University Of Central Florida College Of Medicine. Research mentor: Dr. Marcy Verduin.
  • Mohammed Elsayed, “Isolation And Immortalization Of Type 1 Skeletal Muscle Fiber: A Platform For Metabolic Disorder Studies.” Research mentor: Dr. Steven Smith.
  • Preston Dean, “Differences In Post-Concussion Treatment Between Athletic Trainers And In-Clinic Neuropsychologists In Youth Athletics.” Research mentors: Dr. Christine Salinas and Dr. Anthony LoGalbo.
  • Mark Siegel, “Prospective Study Of The Effects Of Medical School On Student Health And Well-Being.” Research mentors: Dr. Stephen Kynch and Dr. Cynthia Buffington.
  • Sara Powers, “Assessment Of Health Insurance Preferences And Awareness In Young Adults.” Research mentor: Dr. Lisa Barkley.
  • Rabia Zafar, “ Implementation And Assessment Of An Effective Peer-Facilitated Transition-To-Clerkships (TTC) Program At The University Of Central Florida College Of Medicine (UCF COM).” Research mentor: Dr. Marcy Verduin.
  • Matthew Stillwagon, “Evaluation Of Dorsal Scapholunate Tenodesis Vs. 3-Ligament Tenodesis For Treatment Of Complete Scapholunate Interosseous Ligament Injury: Preliminary Cadaver Study.” Research mentors: Dr. Jeffrey Greenspoon and Dr. Richard Harrison.
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