Dr. German Honored As Renaissance Woman In Medicine

October 31, 2014

UCF Today    By wsarubbi    Wednesday, October 22, 2014


Dr. Deborah German, vice president for medical affairs and founding dean of the UCF College of Medicine, was honored October 22 as a Renaissance Woman in Medicine, receiving the national Alma Dea Morani M.D. Award from the Foundation for the History of Women in Medicine.

The award honors an outstanding woman physician or scientist who has furthered the practice and understanding of medicine, exemplifies humanism and “challenges the status quo with a passion for learning.”

Dr. Morani, a graduate of the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania, was the first woman admitted to the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons in 1947 and established Philadelphia’s first hand surgery clinic. Her father, Salvatore, was a famous sculptor who cast the hands of many notable surgeons, including his daughter’s. The award in her honor is a cast copy of the trailblazing doctor’s hand.

Dr. German accepted the award on behalf of “the hundreds of people, even thousands” who worked to create UCF’s new medical school. She thanked “the people who love us and teach us,” especially her family. She also thanked “those who give us opportunity,” highlighting university President John C. Hitt, who hired her as dean in 2006.

The award event, held at the Citrus Club, was sponsored by the Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation.

Dr. German summed up her core belief on leadership by presenting all 100 people in attendance with a card printed with the Rudyard Kipling poem, “If,” and said, “Leadership is not about the leader. It’s about those we lead and those we serve. Leadership is not about wanting to be something; it’s about wanting to do something.”

Dr. German said she didn’t want to focus too much on the “war stories” of being one of the few women students at Harvard Medical School and one of the only women doctors in the hospital. She spoke of balancing her roles as a mother of two, a resident and rheumatology fellow. She described as a “circle of life moment” the fact that Dr. Carol Nadelson was a mentor and one of the only female faculty members at Harvard and was on hand to help present the award.

Dr. Richard Peppler, the College of Medicine’s associate dean for faculty and student affairs, and Dr. Cristina Fernandez-Valle, professor in the college’s Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences, nominated Dr. German for the award and introduced her at the event. They spoke of Dr. German’s focus on excellence and partnership in building from scratch the nation’s first new medical school in more than two decades.

“Dean German did what many said was impossible: She transformed cow pastures 20 miles from the main UCF campus into an innovative medical school dedicated to educating tomorrow’s healthcare leaders and improving the health of our entire community,” Dr. Peppler said. “In everything she does, Deb German exemplifies UCF President Hitt’s challenge to ‘make the impossible the inevitable.’” He talked of how students in UCF’s very young M.D. program are outscoring more than half of all students taking national exams and how 100 percent of the 2014 graduating class matched into residencies at top hospitals in Florida and across the country.

Dr. Fernandez-Valle quoted the Walt Disney saying that is framed in Dr. German’s office: “If you can dream it, you can do it.” She explained how Dr. German galvanized a community to raise nearly $7 million for full scholarships for all 40 students in the charter class to attract top students to a medical school with no permanent buildings, no reputation and no full accreditation. “Dr. German has created a new kind of education – innovative, interactive­– blending basic science with clinical care from the first days of medical school,” she said, “a curriculum that trains students to have a head and a heart for medicine. Dr. Peppler and I are delighted to present a leader, physician, scholar and mentor who truly has changed the status quo with a passion for learning.”



UCF Recognized with an “Oscar of Invention”

UCF’s Florida Solar Energy Center Develops Breakthrough Technology

UCF Today, csantos, September 29, 2014


A team of UCF researchers at the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) developed breakthrough technology implemented by NASA engineers under a grant from NASA’s Glenn Research Center.

UCF, together with NASA Kennedy Space Center and an early stage startup company HySense Technology, will be recognized by R&D Magazine later this year for developing and producing one of the top 100 innovations of the year. This award, known as the R&D 100, is widely regarded as the “Oscars of Invention,” whose past winners include the fax machine (1975) and HDTV (1998).

UCF researchers at the Florida Solar Energy Center began work on the breakthrough technology, a color-changing tape to visually detect hydrogen leaks, under a grant from NASA’s Glenn Research Center. Use of hydrogen as industrial feedstock in the chemical industry and fuel for space exploration carries the risk of a destructive accident if a hydrogen leak — able to burn at more than 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit when ignited with as little as a static spark — isn’t pinpointed and fixed quickly.

Potentially dangerous leaks in environments like a shuttle launch pad are hard to detect because hydrogen is odorless and colorless. By wrapping leak-susceptible areas with the new tape, leaks can be “seen” with a color change in the presence of hydrogen.

The color-changing concept for a visual cue was conceived by UCF’s Ali Raissi, Ph.D., who developed a chemochromic pigment (a type of pigment that changes color in the presence of a particular chemical) with a team of scientists including Nahid Mohajeri, Ph.D., who would later bring the invention to market.

The UCF team sent its original tape and pigment to NASA engineers who tested it for use on the launch pad, and incorporated the pigment into other materials including textiles used to make space suits.

The invention’s novelty is backed by four issued patents and five pending patent applications, including international applications. The university’s Office of Technology Transfer protects innovations developed by faculty and students by filing for patents that are ‘transferred’ to companies through licenses, thus bringing new products to market and attracting more funding to UCF.

UCF and NASA filed patents separately on aspects of the technology and signed an agreement to bundle and jointly commercialize the technology. This is a significant step toward making it available to the gamut of industries where hydrogen leaks pose a threat, including aerospace, power generation, and energy storage.

Searching for a partner to commercialize the technology, UCF found a match with Mohajeri, a member of the original research team, who founded HySense Technology and introduced the award-winning hydrogen detection tape to the market. On November 7, UCF, NASA Kennedy, and HySense will be recognized internationally at the R&D 100 banquet and award presentation held at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.




2014 Fall Kickoff Luncheon: Event Recap

October 3, 2014


Do you enjoy being the first to know about something exciting and great? Well, that is exactly what Town & Gown Council was treated to at our Fall Luncheon. The event started with a campus bus tour led by Bill Merck, Vice President for Administration and Finance.

Dan Jones, Costume Shop Manager at Theatre UCF, took us behind the curtains for an illuminating tour, showing us where the costuming classes create the amazing designs that we see on stage each year. Not only did we see some of the costumes previously used in productions and what might be the largest walk-in closet, but we also enjoyed a sneak preview of design sketches for the performances of this upcoming season, which includes the Tony Award-winning musical Kiss of the Spider Woman.

Not to be outdone, though, we then stepped into a stage makeup class where the associate professor Huaixiang Tan demonstrated on a student how to create a broken nose with makeup.

Heading back to the Alumni Center, it was clear that we had had a rare opportunity to see a glimpse of what makes the Theatre UCF program so enjoyable for patrons. As we sat down to a delicious lunch, Town & Gown members and guests were privileged to be the first to hear President John Hitt’s State of the University address, an impressive update on current accomplishments and compelling vision for the future of the university and our region. Read the complete address here.

Make sure that you are not the last to know. Visit the Calendar page on our website and plan to join us at upcoming Town & Gown events.


A Message From the President: Sara Segal

There’s something exhilarating about returning to campus in the fall – discovering what’s new on our annual tour, renewing connections at lunch, welcoming new members and taking in exciting news in President Hitt’s State of the University address. Here are a few highlights…

UCF’s numbers are up:

  • Record enrollment (>60,000) and rising academic credentials (the strongest class ever of incoming freshmen)
  • New projects include the creation of a smart sensors research and manufacturing center in Osceola County, a new tennis center at Lake Nona and the possible expansion of UCF’s campus in downtown Orlando. This landmark project was confirmed in September at the Focus on Excellence Breakfast!
  • National TV exposure for athletic teams, spreading awareness of UCF through sports and beyond
  • Two new higher education alliances that expand access to affordable education at research-intensive universities, increase graduation rates and support universities’ vital role as engines of economic and social well-being

In the words of President Hitt, “UCF is transforming more lives and doing more to energize our local economy than ever before.” UCF’s impressive development under his leadership has been guided by the sustained pursuit of five goals:

  • Offer the best undergraduate education available in Florida
  • Achieve international prominence in graduate study and research
  • Provide international focus to our curricula and research programs
  • Become more inclusive and diverse
  • Be America’s leading partnership university

By participating in Town & Gown events at the university, we can see how the focus on excellence, access and partnerships propels UCF’s progress. It’s an exciting experience and important story to share.

The new school year is well underway! What will you do to explore, enjoy and share UCF this year? Mark your calendars for Martha Hitt’s Holiday Coffee on December 4th and our annual Friendship Luncheon at Interlachen Country Club on February 10th. Meanwhile, make it a priority to attend your choice of UCF events and activities with Town & Gown members and guests. There’s something to fit every interest and schedule. Check the Calendar regularly for a growing list of options. Many events are free and your guests are welcome to attend!

President Hitt started and concluded his address with thanks to Town & Gown ambassadors and appreciation for our members’ enthusiasm, dedication and advocacy for UCF and the communities it serves. I add my sincere gratitude and this wish: See you soon at UCF!

Sara Segal

Sara Segal

UCF has a great story.

Know it. Share it.

Experience it. Enjoy it.


Volleyball: Perfect Start to Season

September 3, 2014

UCF Today   –   Sunday, August 31, 2014   –   by Megan Herboth, UCF Athletics


The UCF volleyball team claimed the Radisson UCF Invitational championship with a 3-0 (25-23, 25-13, 25-17) win over FIU on Saturday evening at The Venue at UCF. The Knights needed the bare minimum of 12 sets to open the season with a perfect 4-0 record.

“I’m proud of the team for going 4-0 and not dropping a set along the way,” UCF head coach Todd Dagenais said. “I thought we were remarkable at closing out sets all weekend.”

FIU was not going to hand the title to UCF, as the Panthers jumped out to an early 10-5 lead but a 6-1 run from the Knights put UCF on top. The Knights took the lead for good on a block from seniors Kaye-Alese Green and Ashley Gialenios. Once UCF took the lead in the second set, they maintained it and persevered in the final set to become tournament champions.

UCF had four all-tournament selections, as senior middle blocker DeLaina Sarden, senior libero Jade Hayes, sophomore outside hitter Kia Bright and sophomore outside hitter Jale Hervey received the accolades.

Hervey led the Knights against FIU with 14 kills, while hitting .565 and serving up a team-high five aces. Hervey took home the tournament MVP honors, as she finished the weekend with 60 kills, 24 digs, and seven digs while hitting .481.

Bright added 12 kills and finished the match with eight digs. Hayes tallied double-digit digs for the fourth time this season, finishing with 13. Senior Marie Reiterova and junior Dana Faught had 17 and 15 assists, respectively.