Laleh Boroujerdi-Rad

1. What is your specific area of research (include the name of your faculty and/or laboratory)?
The research I am involved in attempts to understand and determine the various pathways of enzyme downregulation and upreguation contributing to oxidative stress. I work with Dr. N.D. Vaziri in the department of Nephrology and Hypertension in the UCI College of Medicine.
2. When and how did you first get involved in research?
I became involved in research in the second quarter of my freshman year here at UCI. Prior to entering the biology department, I had heard extensively of the important role research plays in furthering my career goals as well as teaching me hands-on the various concepts taught in lecture. Through word of mouth, I heard that the Nephrology department was looking for students, and I applied. Luckily, they accepted me despite my lack of adequate background in biology.
3. How has research enhanced you education?
Research has been important to me academically because it has allowed me to directly observe the scientific method at work. I learned to analyze concepts and apply what is taught in lecture to a laboratory setting. I also had a great advantage in my upper division labs given the extra experience and knowledge it had provided me.
4. What has been you favorite experience with research (include any interesting stories or specific events)?
It is difficult to pinpoint my favorite thing about research, but I think the best thing about it is what you learn about yourself and teach yourself with the help of your mentors. When I first entered the lab, a group of students, including myself, were responsible for about 20 rats. We were responsible for feeding them their specific diet as well as monitoring their growth by weighing them. Usually, this was done in partners. One day, my partner could not come and I was alone. I remember the horror that I confronted that day. I was in a cold room in the vivarium with all the rats looking at me from their cages, and all I could think about was what I would do if I were locked up in this room with these rats loose overnight. I started shaking violently and realized that I was scared to death. I ran out of the room and went to lab to tell my mentor how terrified I was of the rats and how I could not weigh them if I was alone. She said to me, "Laleh, all you have to think is that you're smarter than the rat, you're more agile, and you can control the rat". As she spoke to me, she effortlessly picked up rat after rat-- and not once did her face quiver. After that speech, I never was afraid of them, and realized that the approach to anything can control how you deal with things. If you think negatively, it will treat you the same. You treat it with optimism and you will be granted success.
5. What are your future plans and how has being involved in research helped to prepare you to meet your goals?
My future plans are to pursue a career in medicine and I am currently studying for the MCAT. Research has been valuable in preparing me for this goal in that it has taught me great discipline. It takes discipline to go to research on Christmas Eve, and if that is what it takes to go to medical school, I can attribute it to my time at research.
6. What advice would you give to a student interested in pursuing a faculty-mentored undergraduate research project or creative activity?
The best advice I would give students is to start early and to find a field they are interested in. Also, entering a lab that they feel they can associate well with, and for students to feel valuable. Research is supposed to be beneficial to the lab team as well as the student. Given the amount of time that will be spent in the lab, it is critical that the lab is welcoming and supportive.

Past Researchers of the Month

Dec. '03 Jana Remy
Nov. '03 Jacqueline Chattopadhyay
Oct. '03 Anshuman Chadha
Sep. '03 Ted K. Yanagihara
Aug. '03 Stephanie Domzalski
Jul. '03 Susan Milden
Jun. '03 Mai Nguyen
May '03 Chris Smith
Apr. '03 Erin Ramsey
Mar. '03 Michael Williams
Feb. '03 Emily Slusser
Jan. '03 Laleh Boroujerdi-Rad
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