Bonnie Pau

1. What is your specific area of research (include the name of your faculty and/or laboratory)?
I concentrate my research on regeneration, working with Dr. Susan Bryant and Dr. David Gardiner in the Department of Developmental & Cell Biology.
2. When and how did you first get involved in research?

When I was a junior in high school, two friends and I literally knocked on UCI professors' doors, hoping to carry out a science fair project in a "real" laboratory setting. Fortunately, Dr. Susan Bryant was willing to take us in, teaching us basic laboratory etiquette. With after school hours in a science lab, I developed a strong foundation in understanding and conducting a research project. When the project ultimately placed 2nd at the state level, I was inspired to continue on, later accepting a research position from American Cancer Society/Rockwell International Summer Fellowship. My summer prior to entering college was devoted to my steroid-dependent cancer research project at UC Irvine College of Medicine. In addition to receiving a substantial stipend, my project was later presented at an invitational symposium. With the never-ending commitment to a science laboratory, I became accustomed to conducting research. Research has become a part of my college career since my freshman year.

3. How has research enhanced you education?

Research enhances understanding-in all aspects of life. When I first conducted research prior to college, I didn't understand how my measly 10 hrs/week in a laboratory would produce anything substantial. When it was time to draw conclusions, however, implications between real-world issues and laboratory data became comparable. Better yet, even if concrete results were not yet achieved, the methodologies in carrying out the project outweighed any numbers.

Every question requires an answer, but more importantly, how one approaches the question makes the process more engaging and applicable. The experience I gained in research has definitely given life to my biology courses. Not only have I familiarized myself with the concepts, I have also developed good techniques. What has impressed me most is the fact that research opens many doors to answer the simplest question. For instance, after studying limb regeneration, I have learned that regenerative cells can lead to human-health implications such as the nervous system. Research requires active involvement. It has and continues to paint a clearer picture for the different concepts I've learned in my lecture classes. Even while studying abroad in Sweden with biochemistry lectures in Swedish, my research experience only strengthened my understanding in the different biochemical and molecular techniques. Without the hands-on interaction, I may have never passed my Swedish course.

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

I have experimented with many different areas of research, from molecular biology to pharmaceutical/medical experiments. As I continue my studies on regeneration, I am eager to learn more about gene expression. However, in addition to the typical bio sci laboratory experience, I was fortunate enough to gain an extremely "unique" research experience in a different setting when I interned in Washington DC this past summer. In serving as a policy intern in the White House, directly in the Office of Vice President, I researched on Gore's Mental Health and Homelessness Policies. While it was also a rigorous schedule, I learned how to interact and acquire information through different sources in different ways. It was truly amazing to see how people of all fields must "do research" in order to learn more about their specific areas. Working in the White House, I began to understand what people meant when they emphasized that "knowledge is power." To me, research is the first step in gaining knowledge.

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

While my sense of direction remains unclear, I hope to eventually attend medical school, possibly concentrating on public health. Research in different areas, either abroad or at home, has broadened my perspectives; it has made me a more curious person. I like to question and experiment. By exploring so many different areas, I have and continue to use research to "satisfy" both my curiosity and passion. What I am curious and passionate about in life is where my future plans will be.

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

Research can be a simple project a professor has already started, having a sense of direction. Or it can be a project you start from the rudimentary level, taking on risks and exploring. Either way, you will be questioning and acquiring. It takes time and patience. Choose a topic that you feel passionate about-because you will then be eager to find answers to all your questions. Use resources such as UROP to help you find what interests you the most.

Past Researchers of the Month

Dec. '99 Gina Rappleye
Nov. '99 Maria Rendon
Oct. '99 Scott Avecilla
Sep. '99 Peter Krutzik
Aug. '99 Raj Gopalakrishnan
Jul. '99 Christina Rahn
Jun. '99 Catharine Larsen
May '99 Han Kang
Apr. '99 Bonnie Pau
Mar. '99 Sharla Meeks
Feb. '99 Simin Bahrami
Jan. '99 Catherine Le
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