David Bear

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

I conduct research in the Peripheral Nerve Research Laboratory under the guidance and mentorship of Dr. Ranjan Gupta. Our lab focuses on chronic nerve injuries in the peripheral nervous system, specifically carpal tunnel syndrome. Although millions of people have carpal tunnel syndrome, very little is known about this chronic injury at the cellular and molecular level. Therefore, our lab seeks to achieve a greater understanding of carpal tunnel syndrome.

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

I joined my research lab in the fall quarter of my sophomore year. Dr. Gupta, my research advisor, actually came to one of my biology lectures and announced that he had a position available in his laboratory. I was already interested in joining a neurobiology laboratory, so I contacted him and found out more about the lab. Dr. Gupta's research fascinated me, and he seemed like a very committed and helpful mentor. I then interviewed for the position and joined the lab.

3. How has research enhanced you education?

My undergraduate research experience allows me to directly apply my classroom work to unanswered questions in science. Research gives me a forum where I can actually work with real tissue and perform research experiments that I read about in class. Learning about techniques in class is important, but using the techniques in real life is an excellent way to get a true understanding and appreciation for what is being learned. Therefore, research has given me a more realistic and well-rounded understanding of what I learn in class.

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

My favorite aspect of research is when I get to compile all of my data and analyze it to see if my findings are statistically significant. Sometimes, this is the culmination of a year's worth of research! The amazing feeling of finding out that your findings support your hypothesis and are statistically significant is truly unforgettable. In addition to this, my favorite research experience was when I co-authored a paper which was accepted for publication in the journal "Tissue Engineering." Knowing that my research is read by other researchers around the world and can help them build upon their research is very exciting.

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

I plan to attend medical school next year and be a physician in the future. Research has helped me to prepare for this goal by giving me a greater understanding of medicine from the scientific aspect. My research experience has also helped me to develop my problem-solving skills. These problem-solving skills will allow me to better diagnose and treat medical patients in the future. Also, my faculty mentor is a surgeon, so medical students and residents carry out research in my lab. Because of this, I have constant exposure to people already in the medical field. This exposure has given me a much better understanding of what it is like to be a physician and what aspect of medicine I would like to go into.

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

Make sure that your research interests you! A few students do research that they are not interested in, and because of this, they are disappointed with their research experience. Before joining a lab, find out what the lab is all about and if you are interested in the research that you would be doing in the lab. This will make for a much better experience. Also, when you pursue a research project, make sure that you know what your faculty mentor expects of you. For example, does he/she expect you to work 5 hours/week or 15 hours/week? Resources like UROP can help you to find a lab that is best for you.

Read David's paper in Tissue Engineering

Past Researchers of the Month

Dec. '02 Ping Chen
Nov. '02 Sanjay Naran
Oct. '02 Alana Shilling
Sep. '02 Michael Vongphoe
Aug. '02 Ryan Wright
Jul. '02 Adrian Fernandez
Jun. '02 Allen Andres
May '02 Elizabeth Tsai
Apr. '02 David Bear
Mar. '02 Lorrel Brown
Feb. '02 Jiri Herrmann
Jan. '02 Kathi Hamor
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