Spotlight on Undergraduate Research — Kevin Rivera-Lopez

Monday, March 28, 2022

Valencia College has developed an undergraduate research initiative — based on nationally recognized models — that expands opportunities for students to partner meaningfully with faculty members to pursue a specific course of research. As most community colleges only offer undergraduate research as a very small boutique opportunity for a few students, Valencia has become a leader in community college research. Last year, hundreds of Valencia students worked in one or more modalities of research. This is vital for students exploring STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) -related professions through transfer, both to better discern their purpose and pathway, and to have experiences comparable to their peers at the university to which they transfer.

When student Kevin Rivera-Lopez graduates from Valencia College with an associate degree in general studies in summer 2022, he plans to enroll in the University of Central Florida Physics bachelor’s program with the end goal of obtaining a Ph.D. in physics.

Kevin has have been involved in scientific research since he was in middle school.

“I have a passion for unveiling the mysteries that surround us,” shared Kevin, who worked on projects regarding ethnoastronomy, engineering, chemistry and statistics. “As soon as I knew about the Honors Research class, I applied as an Honors student and signed up for it.”

For his independent research project, Kevin worked closely with Jay Perez, professor, physics at Osceola Campus. Kevin‘s research focuses on the importance and application of symmetries as a theoretical tool, highlighting the importance of the discoveries made by Emmy Noether by using group theory to write a mock potential. This past fall, Kevin presented his research at the bi-annual Undergraduate Research Showcase, where he won first place.

“Research is an amazing experience that challenges you to go out of your comfort zone and think outside of the box by using your academic skill to work on real-life applications and generating a final product that you can be proud of,” Kevin said. “It has allowed me to learn about time management, being a leader, planning long-term projects, and it has significantly helped me improve my academic writing skills. It is an experience unlike the classroom type, which I would highly suggest for anyone to try at least once.”

To nominate a student doing great undergraduate research or for questions about Valencia’s undergraduate research initiative, contact Melonie Sexton, professor, psychology, and coordinator of undergraduate research, at UR@valenciacollege.edu or 407-582-5632.

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