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Thursday, May 23, 2024
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By the numbers

There has been a lot of discussion about UF ranking No. 1 in the Wall Street Journal among public universities and its decline to No. 6 in U.S. News & World Report. Beyond all of the discussions of the hostile political climate, or attacks on higher education, there has been one place UF continues to shine in Florida: research.

According to the National Science Foundation, UF ranks No. 1 in dedicated research space, No. 8 in earned doctorates and No. 27 for R&D expenditures. 

Among these NSF rankings, we may be nowhere near the top spot in all rankings, but it’s nothing to ignore, either. However, we are also the premiere among Florida universities in all categories.

According to UF, research expenditures total $1.25 billion in 2023, and $1 billion in 2022. This research does not just sit in labs. It impacts the whole state and nation. Thousands of people are gainfully employed as a result of innovations from our research. We even ranked No. 1 in innovation impacts from our research.

Students and faculty drive our success

UF’s ever-going momentum is not random. It is driven by students, both graduate and undergraduate, and faculty. We have some of the best minds across the U.S. In the case of my department, biomedical engineering, we have professors from across the world – everywhere from Colombia to China and many countries in between.

Research isn't just pipetting and test tubes. Thanks to IFAS, we conduct research in all 67 counties of Florida. In political science or journalism, people research electoral trends and political opinions. While our STEM research dominates, there are opportunities everywhere.

UF is a land-grant, sea-grant and space-grant university – we touch on it all.

Undergraduates interested in research should speak with their advisors and check out the Center for Undergraduate Research. It has a page on its website that details research opportunities. You can filter by commitment, college, location or project title. Both paid and unpaid opportunities exist.

Graduate students from all over UF usually join a lab shortly after admission if they are a research assistant. However, opportunities for cross-lab collaboration exist or to migrate to a similar lab.

My story

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So why do I care about research? I care about research because of the opportunities it has presented to me. I work in a lab in the biomedical engineering department under Dr. Ana M. Porras. In the lab, I work with four other undergraduates and four graduate students, one of who is my mentor, Karen Mancera Azamar.

I started my research this Summer as part of an internship, looking at gut-microbe interactions. From this experience, I have gained a new mentor, new skills, and a marketable opportunity for when I enter the job market.

In this research, we collaborate with IFAS and the College of Medicine. I have continued work on gut-microbe interactions. I will now be looking at new ways to modify growth media. 

The experiences presented are something I could only get a small window into via any singular class. This is another hidden benefit to research for students.

Any student who can do research should do it. From my perspective, no university in the southeast is better to do research at. It is personally and professionally enriching. It gives you a launch pad to step forward into your future and serves to better our university as a whole.

Ronin Lupien is a UF biomedical engineering senior.

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