Kirk Pak

1. What is your specific area of research (include the name of your faculty and/or laboratory)?
I have been doing research at the UCI Medical Center with Dr. Archie F.Wilson in the Department of Pulmonary and Critical Care. We have worked on spacers (a device designed to enhance lung deposition from an inhaler)and have conducted clinical studies on asthma. I have just recently started working with Dr. Murray Korc in the Department of Endocrinology at the UCI College of Medicine. We are studying the role of angiogenesis on human pancreatic cancer. During this summer, I will do an internship with the American Heart Association under Dr. Sue Duckles. We will be using blood vessels from the brains of rats to test hypotheses about the mechanisms by which estrogen increases NOS (nitric oxide synthase)activity. I would also like to diversify my research experiences by doing work in the social sciences and the arts.
2. When and how did you first get involved in research?

Some of my older friends encouraged me to find research. I began to look for research on the web and at the Biological Sciences Student Affairs Office at the end of my freshman year. Unfortunately, I did not also know about UROP, which would have helped a great deal in my research endeavors. I emailed around 20-30 professors and only received a few offers. I started interviewing for positions during the summer of 1997 and was accepted at a few places, but I started with Dr. Wilson with whom I am still currently doing research. He encouraged me to pursue the American Heart Association internship. After doing some clinical research, I wanted to get a feel for lab-bench type research, so I started with Dr. Korc this quarter.

3. How has research enhanced you education?

Research is probably the greatest avenue for intellectual developmen that is available at the University. Instead of passively listening to a teacher in a huge lecture hall, research enables you to actively learn an interesting topic, explore your abilities and interests, and expand new dimensions in your mind. Classes give great background information, but you only take them for 10 weeks, which means that you only get a very brief synopsis. Research makes what you learned in class come to life.It made me question things I learned from class rather than merely accepting them as true or as facts. Research also makes you realize how dynamic science is in its nature.

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

I do not really have one specific event that sticks out from my research experiences, but I always enjoyed the gratitude that we received from our patients in the asthma study. It was very fulfilling to see the patients' health improve as a result of our work in the lab. I also really enjoyed the moments where I finally realized the answer to a problem that I had been pondering for a long time. I think that is one of the greatest learning experiences you can have.

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

My future plans are to attend medical school and pursue an M.D./Ph.D. I would like to work either in California, the East Coast,or Korea. If I worked in Korea, I would want to work in Handong University.I was told that this university was recently established by a small group of Korean doctors in response to the economic crisis that began a couple years ago. I admired their compassion and their benevolent cause to offer inexpensive medical care to the Korean people. Research has made me realize that I am a person that likes to see a problem and likes to try to solve it through critical thinking and analytical means. It made me realize that I would like to make it a part of my career.

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

One piece of advice that I would give is to find research in a topic that you enjoy. Interest level is a key factor in what you can gain from your research experience. Also, find a professor whose personality matches your own. A good professor-student relationship makes research much more enjoyable and motivates you to work harder and to learn more.

Past Researchers of the Month

Dec. '98 Kirk Pak
Nov. '98 Priya Shah
Oct. '98 Daniel Aldana
Sep. '98 Robert Elkins
Aug. '98 Amber Bosin
Jul. '98 Joe Ma
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