Laleh Boroujerdi-Rad

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

Cartilage is the main focus of my research under Dr. Brian Wong at the Beckman Laser Institute. My work focuses on using laser irradiation and radiofrequencies to determine the optimum arrangement or method of treatment to reshape cartilage. Since cartilage lacks regenerative properties, when there is congenital or acquired damage to the ears, nasal septum, or tracheal rings, restoration is very difficult; traditional surgical techniques are ineffective. The use of laser irradiation, electroforming, or radiofrequencies is an alternative technique to reshape deformed cartilage; maximum shape change with minimum cell death can be achieved.

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

I started working with Dr. Brian Wong in 2005, during the summer before my freshman year. Once I knew I was going to UCI, I started browsing the faculty profiles and the UROP on-campus opportunities list. I found Dr. Wong's profile and e-mailed him immediately.

3. How has research enhanced your education?

Even though research is more demanding than many of my classes at UCI, I find it the most enjoyable and rewarding thing I've done so far. Even when I feel extremely frustrated because my experiments were not producing results, I still feel incredibly honored to be able to have exposure to "real-world" research. I have the opportunity to explore nearly every facet of academia; conducting experiments, attending conventions, reading research journals, writing abstracts, preparing research papers, and observing surgeries have all enhanced my education by revealing to me that college is not all about texts and lectures.

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

When I went to Photonics West, an SPIE convention in San Jose in January, I presented my first project. I had determined that cartilage is irreversibly thermally damaged at 65 ºC before the thermal threshold of mechanical deformation at 75 ºC is achieved. Dr. Sobol who proposed in 1993 that cartilage can be laser-irradiated and mechanically deformed without cell death was in the audience. I spent the entire presentation describing why he was wrong, and why cartilage cannot be heated and reshaped without cell death. I didn't know he was there until after I finished and sat down. Then I started getting butterflies.

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

Dr. Brian Wong has really inspired me to follow his footsteps and earn both an M.D. and a Ph.D. in Bioengineering. When I watch Dr. Wong apply his research while treating his patients as a head and neck surgeon, I admire his work and feel encouraged that even though it is extremely difficult, it is possible.

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

E-mail! Look at the faculty profiles and the on-campus opportunities list and find something that makes you excited and puts you in awe. Then get in contact with the faculty mentor as soon as possible.

Past Researchers of the Month
2006
Dec. '06 Megan Trotter
Nov. '06 Allison Zemek
Oct. '06 Jeremy Roth
Sept. '06 Crystal Wang
Aug. '06 Michael Thompson
Jul. '06 Kimberly Balazs
Jun. '06 Joseph Boufadel
May '06 Vicky Zhou
Apr. '06 Jessica Morreale
Mar. '06 Talinn Toorian
Feb. '06 Vivek Mehta
Jan. '06 Pernille Hemmer
  
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