Ryan Wright

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

I conduct research at the Beckman Laser Institute and Medical Clinic under the guidance of Dr. Brian Wong. My projects involve laser-mediated cartilage reshaping. Researchers have discovered that thermal stress on a cartilage specimen can induce a permanent shape change, greatly enhancing the frontiers of reconstructive surgery. The results of my research can help to find the optimal thermal conditions for maximizing tissue viability.

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

I first got involved in research during the spring quarter of my freshman year. I responded to Dr. Wong's flyer which said he was looking for a new student. I knew that I wanted to conduct research in the field of medicine and his lab seemed to be a great opportunity. I was excited to have the ability to work with lasers and get involved with hands on medical research.

3. How has research enhanced you education?

Being involved in research has greatly added to my educational experience at UCI. I have been able to apply the knowledge gained in the classroom to actual laboratory practices. The real life application of the scientific method allowed me to gain a broader understanding of the theories and ideas behind biology. I am able to directly implement the skills used in class to conduct meaningful research. I have a better understanding of the tedious yet rewarding challenges that doctors face in real life medical applications. Frustration is an integral part of research but the intellectual benefits and the satisfaction from solving problems is definitely worthwhile. I have learned to better appreciate the tremendous work involved in the scientific process. Conducting research has also helped me to develop my critical thinking skills. Whether it's working through problems with equipment or drawing conclusions from data, I have gained new confidence in my ability to handle challenging situations.

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

My favorite experience with research has been the opportunity to become independent and to solve problems in conducting my experiments. I am able to develop my own methodologies and customize tools that augment the effectiveness of my procedures. Even though Dr. Wong guides me through the experiments, he trusts me to think independently. I have had the opportunity to work with many types of biological specimens and observe several fascinating procedures. For example, I was able to watch a resident from the UCI Medical Center examine the effect of laser irradiation on a larynx specimen. These experiences have allowed me to better understand the real life challenges of doctors.

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

My future plans include attending medical school. Conducting research at Beckman Laser Institute has given me the opportunity to meet all types of doctors and medical professionals who have gone to medical school. They have shared experiences and given me advice on how to achieve in a medical environment. Being exposed to clinical research has given me a unique opportunity to discover potential careers and specializations. Writing papers for my research projects and attending medical conferences have definitely given me a head start towards a medical profession.

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

Don't give up. There are many professors who are looking for undergraduate researchers. Look online at the faculty profiles to find the right professors who conduct research your area of interest. Use UROP as guide to select the projects that will best enhance your college experience. Most of all, find something that interests you and excites your imagination.

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
Recent Year