Adrian Fernandez

1. What is your specific area of research (include the name of your faculty and/or laboratory)?
Currently I am working under the guidance of both Professor Jay Calvert M.D. in the Division of Plastic Surgery at the University of California, Irvine Medical Center and Professor Steven C. George, M.D., Ph.D. in the Department of Biomedical Engineering . The lab is currently working on developing a vascular network for three-dimensional synthetic tissues.
2. When and how did you first get involved in research?

It was the middle of winter quarter of my freshman year when I realized that I should start taking steps to accomplish my goals. I came to UCI to do research and it was time for me to start. The first logical step was to look for a program that would assist me in finding research. After a short time, I was accepted into the Minority Biomedical Research Support program, and started the task of looking for a professor to do research with. I looked at several different faculty members to see what kind of research they were conducting, and came across Professor Jay Calvert M.D. As I was interested in the kind of research he was conducting, I set up an interview with him and was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to be part of his research team. That same summer I was able to start my research career.

3. How has research enhanced you education?

There is only certain amount of information that you can learn in a class environment and from text books. Research has allowed me the opportunity to get hands-on experience with what is taught in the classroom. It has also showed me a different way of looking at things. It is very different to look at something from the point of view of a researcher than a person who is learning about it in the classroom. The best part is that there is no better way to learn the latest information about a topic than to be working on it. As a part of the research community, I have access to the most recent information on specific topics, as well as a pool of innovative and diverse points of view of all the people in the lab. Research has also enhanced my education by allowing me to learn from the experiences of my fellow lab members.

4. What has been you favorite experience with research (include any interesting stories or specific events)?
There are so many great experiences with research that I do not know which one is my favorite. I would have to say that my best experience was when I got to present the results of my research at the UCI Undergraduate Research Symposium. It is a rewarding feeling to be able to talk to group of fellow students about the research that one is conducting. For me, a certain confidence came with being able to answer the questions students had about the research that I was conducting. I felt a great sense of accomplishment when I was done and had presented the information. It was a great feeling and I hope that everyone can find the opportunity to present his or her research.
5. What are your future plans and how has being involved in research helped to prepare you to meet your goals?

I plan on going to medical school and getting my M.D., and possibly a Ph.D., so that I can continue my research. I plan on doing research for as long as I can. Working in a lab with Plastic Surgeons has helped me to see that I can become a doctor and still be able to conduct research. It has allowed me to see what doctors actually do and has made me confident that this is something that I want to pursue-- not necessarily plastic surgery-- but definitely in the field of surgery. I have learned lab techniques that are going to help me in future labs that I will be a part of. With all that I have experienced and hope to experience as I continue to do research, I know that I am better prepared for going to medical school and for life in general.

6. What advice would you give to a student interested in pursuing a faculty-mentored undergraduate research project or creative activity?
Just to "Go for it!" It is an experience that you do not want to miss out on. The process of finding research to do is not hard as you might imagine it to be. Once you find that professor with whom you would like to conduct research, do not hesitate to step up and interview. Most professors are very approachable and more than willing to accept undergraduates in their labs. You will not only gain lab experience; you will get advice on future plans by a professor who went through the same things you are going through.

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
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