Catherine Ninah

Meet Catherine, a researcher, an Astronaut Scholar Award winner, an advocate for women in stem, a Founder’s Day Award recipient, a Peer Ambassador, a supplemental instruction leader for Physics, a volunteer student director for the multicultural center, and an Order of Pegasus Award winner

"After coming to UCF and touring during Scholar Day, I realized that I really liked the atmosphere, I loved the area and the people really stood out to me. I think coming here was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. When I started here, I was looking at both biology and industrial engineering. My first year, I got an internship doing industrial engineering and project management at a start-up. That really confirmed my love for industrial engineering. I wanted to focus on the engineering area but it’s also really important to me to be involved in the community.

As I got more into my engineering curriculum, I realized I could use it to make an impact. Industrial engineering is very problem-solving and systematic. So I started thinking, how can I apply that to as many different areas as possible? I started doing research in engineering and health care. I helped implement a system that helps to figure out how to use the latest technologies and most efficient methodologies to help in the health care field to ultimately save lives, save money and save resources. I went to Duke for a summer and I was able to create a value-supply chain to understand how titanium dioxide particles effect the environment. These particles are in sunscreen that you put on your skin. They can be carcinogenic, toxic and can also cause coral bleaching. This really got me interested in sustainability.

When I came back to UCF, I started using industrial engineering for sustainability. I got involved in research that looks at food, energy and water. There’s a goal set by the EPA and Department of Agriculture to reduce food waste by 50 percent by 2030. I also help work on student initials to see what we can be doing to help on campus. At 63 South, we have trayless dining so you’re only able to put what you can take on a plate versus on a tray where a lot will be leftover. I’m helping to implement a solar ray park where people can hangout but also learn about renewable energy. My advice to UCF students would be to not place any limits on themselves. Explore everything. UCF stands for opportunity and I totally agree with that.”