Raj Gopalakrishnan

1. What is your specific area of research (include the name of your faculty and/or laboratory)?
I study the molecular mechanisms involved in regulating neurogenesis (i.e., the production of new neurons) under the guidance of Dr. Anne Calof.
2. When and how did you first get involved in research?

I first got involved in research during my second year. I received an email that Dr. Calof was looking for a Bio 199 student. I emailed her back informing her of my interest, and I also stopped by her office and introduced myself. Then after submitting my resume and completing a brief interview I started working in her lab.

3. How has research enhanced you education?

Research has enhanced my education because it breathed life into the science that I had previously only seen in classrooms. My involvement in research nurtured my problem-solving abilities and facilitated my growth as an independent thinker. In addition, research also became my creative outlet. Instead of just learning already worked out pathways and mechanisms, i.e. classroom learning, I became empowered to create my own ideas of pathways and mechanisms.

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

My favorite experience with research came during my second year when I was asked to give a presentation of a research article. Although I had never presented anything, my talk actually ended up flowing smoothly. However, during the question and answer period, a colleague asked me a question that he confessed was a difficult question with no apparent solution. Despite having just gotten my research-feet wet, I remember reasoning through the question and combining separate tidbits of information to come up with a plausible answer. I'll never forget the look of surprise on everyone's face when I answered that question.

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

Next year, I will be attending medical school. Research has been an invaluable tool for shaping my candidacy for medical school. On almost every medical school interview I was asked about my research and what I had done. Most importantly, though, I entrust that the experiences that I have gleamed from research will undoubtedly contribute to my development as a doctor.

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

I would advise others to start research early, i.e. either second or third year, so that they can have a substantial experience. In addition, I suggest utilizing the resources on campus, e.g. UROP, to get a feel for what types of opportunities are out there. Finally, I would recommend every student, regardless of major, to pursue some type of independent project while at UCI; I guarantee that the experience will enhance their undergraduate education.

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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