A wise man once said, "Do not be a robot!"
Pursue research as soon as possible. Professors are actually quite
friendly and helpful when they see enthusiasm in a student. I recommend
approaching the professor in person to discuss personal research
interests. It is always better to speak to the professor in person
than to exchange informal e-mails. Moreover, seek out that UROP
grant! UROP provides funding for undergraduate research that is
unprecedented on a UC campus. Take advantage of the opportunity,
for it will pay off, not only with increased academic skills, but
also the personal knowledge gained through the experience.