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Materials science Ph.D. student Novia Berriel ‘21MS was awarded a $2,500 scholarship from the Society of Vacuum Coaters (SVC) Foundation in recognition of her outstanding academic performance and research efforts.

The SVC Foundation provides scholarships for exceptional students who have demonstrated an interest in studying vacuum coating technology.

Vacuum coating, or thin-film disposition, provides protection from damage caused by corrosion, water, heat and other factors. The coatings are applied on everything from tools and lenses to semiconductors and displays. As a member of the Banerjee Lab, led by Associate Professor Parag Banerjee, Berriel uses thin films to create nano-scale electronics.

She is the third student from the department to receive the prestigious scholarship, joining past recipients Corbin Felt, an alumnus of Banerjee’s group, and Jannatul Mousumi, an alumna from Kristopher Davis’ research group.

Berriel holds bachelor’s degrees in both applied physics and electrical engineering. She earned her master’s in physics from UCF in 2021.

“I always struggled to find the niche I wanted between application and theory,” she says. “I went to materials science for my Ph.D., and I think this field is the niche I was looking for.”

She says the promising job market in Central Florida was a big factor in her decision to choose UCF to pursue her doctoral degree, as well as the university’s participation in the National Consortium for Graduate Degrees for Minorities in Engineering (GEM). Berriel received a GEM fellowship in 2022.

“There are lots of science engineering jobs in the area if you want to stay in Central Florida after your degree or intern while you’re here. Since I’ve been here, I’ve come to really appreciate the research facilities we have, particularly in Research I on campus,” Berriel says. “UCF is also part of the GEM consortium, a group that offers fellowships and promotes diversity in postgraduate STEM programs.”

Berriel will complete her doctoral studies this summer and already has a job waiting for her when she graduates. She will be returning to semiconductor manufacturer company Lam Research, where she interned as part of the GEM fellowship program.

“I’d like to thank the SVC Foundation for awarding me this scholarship, which supports me through the end of my Ph.D.”