Laleh Boroujerdi-Rad

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

My area of research is diversity in computer science. My faculty advisor is Debra Richardson, Professor and Dean of the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Science. I work through the Ada Byron Research Center.

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

I got involved in research in the Fall of my junior year, working in the Center for Genomics and Bioinformatics as a programmer under Professor Pierre Baldi. In the Fall of my senior year, I decided to start my own project. Combining my interest in film and creative arts with my desire to explore the phenomenon of women in computing, I decided to produce, direct and edit a documentary as I interviewed women in technical careers. It was my hope that I could capture their stories and present them in a way that would encourage young women to think of careers in computer science in a new light and encourage them to see the possibilities that a technical career can bring.

3. How has research enhanced your education?

Research has allowed me to try different things to find a fit for myself. I had always had an interest in bioinformatics, but I learned by working in the Center for Genomics and Bioinformatics that it was not a good fit for me and that I wanted my own undergraduate research project. Research has allowed me to be a creator and to produce something that I can truly call my own.

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

Being on the set shooting my documentary has given me the opportunity not only to learn video equipment, but to go all over the place. I like meeting new people and hearing their stories. I also loved meetings with Dr. Suzanne Schaefer, the project scientist who has been my guide throughout the project. She, and her support and encouragement, helped me achieve what even I thought I could not, and made me value the importance of having a good mentor to see a project through. I am also fortunate enough to work with two extraordinarily talented teammates, Stephanie Wong and Jason King, whose expertise, creative minds, and support have been the driving forces behind my project.

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

In August of 2005, I will be taking on a full-time position with Google, Inc., as a software engineer. They value diversity in computing and have specifically come to UCI to recruit women. I was shooting footage for my project at one of their events and managed to meet one of their recruiters. Doing this project has taken me to so many unexpected places; it introduced me to the Google people and eventually led to my obtaining a position at their company.

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

The hardest part is getting started, so just go out there and do it! Your undergraduate career flies by so quickly, and there are so many enthusiastic faculty mentors out there who would be willing to support your project and help guide you to achieving something great and making your mark as un undergraduate. Take advantage of the resources available to you; if you are creative, the sky is the limit!

Past Researchers of the Month
Dec. '05 Erin Curtis
Nov. '05 Elizabeth Black
Oct. '05 Chao Li
Sept. '05 Neil Saigal
Aug. '05 Evan Brown
Jul. '05 Dirk Groeneveld
Jun. '05 Alpay Dermenci
May '05 Eva Maria Rodriguez
Apr. '05 Christine Nyholm
Mar. '05 Erin Conn
Feb. '05 Nhu Vuong
Jan. '05 Jennifer Channual
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