Laleh Boroujerdi-Rad

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

My research involves the fields of physical chemistry, Organic chemistry, and structural biology. As members of the Shaka group, we are specifically concerned with the structures of carbohydrates. Using Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) and derivatizing agents, such as trichloroacetyl isocyanate, it is our intention to create a new way of characterizing carbohydrates and introducing them into organic solvents ideal for NMR Spectroscopy. It is the combination of chemistry and biology that allows us to pursue such important research.

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

In high school, my teacher for both Introductory Chemistry and AP Chemistry was Mrs. Joanne Overman, who turned out to be the wife of UCI's famous organic chemist, Dr. Larry E. Overman. In the winter of freshman year, I paid Dr. Overman a visit, and he suggested researching with a professor whose course I had taken. At the time, the only chemistry course I had taken was with Dr. A.J. Shaka, so I decided to e-mail him regarding an undergraduate research position. Having warned me about the time it takes to be involved in research, Dr. Shaka assigned me a small programming project and my research career was off to a start.

3. How has research enhanced your education?

Research has taught me many things that are impossible to learn in the classroom. The experience I have gained from personally carrying out experiments and running into situations that involve real-time problem solving is gold compared to reading a textbook. Working in a laboratory has enhanced my education of how things really work.

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

One of my favorite experiences in research was when I wrote a program over the course of a whole summer and finally got it to work. This is definitely a feeling that I wouldn't have been able to get from a class, a feeling of accomplishment and pride at being involved in research. Another favorite experience was receiving recognition for my hard work. In May, 2005, I received the Chancellor's Award for Undergraduate Research in the School of Physical Sciences. This definitely showed that my work in research was acknowledged by others.

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

For now, my future plans include applying to graduate school, hopefully earning a Ph.D., and ultimately becoming a scientific researcher as a professor. It is through my involvement in undergraduate research that I have realized that this is exactly what I want to do. Research has taught me to be patient while emphasizing that hard work pays off.

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

Get involved! It is a great way to get one-on-one action with the professors at the university, and provides a first-class way of learning practical skills used in everyday research in any discipline.

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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