Laleh Boroujerdi-Rad

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

My specific area was Creative Writing. My mentor, Professor Jayne Lewis, helped me to work on a short story collection on the topic of Genetic Engineering. The book-length project was titled, RxEVOLUTION.

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

I've been writing stories (and having them published) for over 15 years, now. I feel that my degree from UCI helped me to refine my writing style and also to pursue an interest in nonfiction writing. My experiences with UROP and the Undergraduate Research Journal have added to this tremendously by allowing me to perform as a "technical editor" on scientific projects that would, under nonacademic circumstances, be assigned to someone with a stronger background in the sciences. This allowed me to strengthen my skills in technical writing and editing. Eventually, I found that these skills added to my creative pieces by giving each a background of accurate research and, hence, verisimilitude.

3. How has research enhanced your education?

I spent a summer delving into Science Fiction. I read more than I have ever read before, from authors who were successful in the field. I studied "how to" books on the craft of writing, and I spoke with experts like my mentor. It added tremendously to the value of my experience at UCI and to the overall quality of my writing. Finally, I wrote. I had time to write daily, and the act of putting these stories together was an education in itself.

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

So many parts of this project have been enjoyable that it is difficult to specify one specific event as outstanding. I will say that each story added some new level of depth to the overall project. I believe the strength of this project lies not within each tale but in the connection between all of the stories. A web of plots, characters, and settings has evolved which, at times, seems real to me...or, at least possible in the future. Each time I add a new layer, with another story, I sense the reality of the entire project gaining ground. Professor Lewis has helped tremendously with her support of my ideas, her enjoyment of the twists that come with some tales, and her advice for perfecting each piece of the book.

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

My world seems to be in flux at the moment, and I must admit that I am seeking regular employment that doesn't involve working on this project. I have, however, made continuing with this project my personal goal. I intend to see it finished and published, because I believe no work of Creative Writing is ever truly completed until it is published. That said, I feel that no matter what happens to this project, I have learned enough about how to put together a book to keep me writing for the rest of my life.

Working with my mentor has helped me to reach a height of quality in my work that would not otherwise have been attained. I believe my writing has improved with the additional education provided by UCI, and the writing in this book has been further improved by the careful editing and suggestions of my mentor.

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

Find what makes your heart beat faster. Be it Writing or Physics, Art or Sociology, your area should be something that truly excites your imagination and compels you to move forward through all of the project's phases, from the initial conception to the final polish. So that, when challenges are thrown in your path, you won't give up, but rather, you will work on it no matter what, because it is simply the most important thing you've ever done.

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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