Bryan Sommerse

1. What is your specific area of research (include the name of your faculty and/or laboratory)?
I conduct research under the supervision of Professor James H. Fallon Ph.D. in the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology at the College of Medicine. This Chemical Neuroanatomy laboratory explores neurological pathways, neurotransmitters, and peptide growth factors and their multi-functional roles in ameliorating neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, and Huntington’s Disease. Currently, I am working under the prestige of the Minority Biomedical Research Program (MBRP) funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to determine the neuroprotective role of transforming growth factor alpha (TGFa) in the rodent nigrostriatal system using a Parkinson’s Disease model.
2. When and how did you first get involved in research?

I was fortunate to be accepted into a Summer Internship called the Program for Readiness in Developmental Education (PRIDE). In this program, I was responsible for choosing a mentor under whom to conduct research. Demonstrating my passion for science, I formulated a plan, gathered information, prepared a personal statement, obtained letters of recommendation, researched the faculty mentor, visited the lab, met my colleagues, asked questions, and made my decision.

3. How has research enhanced you education?

Research enables one to comprehend from a different perspective. Research creates an arena within which the plethora of knowledge maintained by higher-learning can culminate to a pinnacle. At this peak, the scientific methodology burned into the cerebral cortex serves as the template by which all aspects of life and society can be viewed. Research transforms the mind into a finely-tuned scientific computer whose inner-complexity rivals IBM’s most sophisticated machinery. This new perspective nurtured by UCI research will lead one to an embrace of the following philosophy: The aim of education should be to teach us rather how to think, than what to think—rather to improve our minds, so as to enable us to think for ourselves, than to load the memory with the thoughts of other men. –James Beattie.

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

The "click," the unlocking of doors, the enlightenment, the euphoria, the roadblocks, the disappointment, the unknown, the lectures, the scientific journals, the metamorphosis, the evolution, the theory, the failure, the knowledge, the power, the energy, the results, the hypothesis, the methodology, the professionalism, the patients, …the thrill of the hunt on the rollercoaster of discovery.

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

My future educational goals are resting on a delicate, undecided balance between Graduate School, and Professional School. After attaining a B.S. Degree in Spring 2002, I will make it a reality. Research provides a necessary edge above my competitors in positions at professional schools and/or in the application into the work sector. Research demonstrates leadership, independence, dedication, and perseverance.

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

Research will change you. By nature, we are curious, changing human beings. Without this curiosity and change, there would be no growth, no understanding, no relating, no discovery, no room for improvement, no reason. Our ability to reason using higher-cortical function makes us human. Research will expand your mind exponentially. Welcome this change.

Past Researchers of the Month

Dec. '00 Chris Gothard
Nov. '00 Kristoffer Nicolaisen
Oct. '00 Bryan Sommerse
Sep. '00 Ryan Stafford
Aug. '00 Carol Chao
Jul. '00 Gopi Manthrapagada
Jun. '00 Heather Smith
May '00 Pany Tehrani
Apr. '00 Kirsten Cappel
Mar. '00 Shelly Brown-Riddle
Feb. '00 Nader Nassif
Jan. '00 Rebecca Kanter
Recent Year