Laleh Boroujerdi-Rad

1. What is your specific area of research (include the name of your faculty and/or laboratory)?

My research has focused on comparing jazz dance from across Europe to the current contemporary style in America. My research project was titled "Modern Jazz Dance Across Europe: An Investigation of Cultural and Geographical Influence," and my mentor was Prof. Bob Boross. I have also participated in putting on an undergraduate produced dance performance as both a committee member and performer for BareBones Dance Theater.

2. When and how did you first get involved in research?

I first became involved in research when a dance professor of mine, Bob Boross, took on a project involving students and professional dancers from California and New York coming together for a dance-theater experience performance remembering the events of 9/11. The project gave me the opportunity to work with professional dancers and learn more about conducting a research project.

3. How has research enhanced your education?

Research has opened my eyes to opportunities I didn't even know were available to me as an undergraduate, especially as an arts major. Through research I've been able to explore my own interests in the performing arts and show that research can take place in any field. I've been able to learn about the production of a show, the culture of dance, and the difference in style between several countries, and to work with many professionals to better my experience and knowledge as a dancer and student!

4. What has been your favorite experience with research (include any interesting stories or specific events)?

My favorite research experience has been my travels in Europe learning and comparing a style of dance taught and performed throughout the world. A favorite memory is from when I was studying in Florence. It was my first dance class in Italy and I did not speak a hint of Italian. All the students were extremely helpful in trying to communicate, but as the class went on, I realized I didn't need to speak the language to understand the movement I was being taught. I had always known dance was an international and universal language, but it wasn't until that moment that I truly believed it. It's one thing to read about something and agree, but a completely separate and more enriching thing when you actually experience what you've read about and are able to incorporate that experience into your own research!

5. What are your future plans and how has being involved in research helped to prepare you to meet your goals?

I am currently a UROP Ambassador, and plan to stay involved with the program for the continuing of my undergraduate education and encouraging other students to participate as well. I'm working on developing another project for this upcoming summer, and hope to have a proposal ready for my faculty mentor by the middle of the quarter! Research has helped me prepare for my future goals by allowing me to pursue an interest, think critically around the experience I had, and compare my new knowledge to previous history and fact. These are not simple skills you develop by reading about them, but by actually taking part in a process that challenges your mind and opens areas of interest you may have not thought to delve into before!

6. What advice would you give to a student interested in pursuing a faculty-mentored undergraduate research project or creative activity?

I would say that if you are an undergraduate, research is definitely something you should do by the time you graduate. The experience is one that can take place only when you actually take part in it. Even if you are unsure about your project or maybe just have an idea, drop by the UROP office and talk with one of the staff. They can help and encourage your ideas. There are so many opportunities available to students that they may not know about until they begin to participate in research themselves!

Past Researchers of the Month
Jan. '07 Rachel Bell