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 the electronic properties of materials, specifically yttria stabilized zirconia (YSZ) and graphene. I performed research with Professor Martha Mecartney on YSZ, a ceramic material commonly used in solid oxide fuel cells for its high oxygen ion conductivity. Our research was an effort to increase the oxygen ion conductivity of YSZ by evaluating the effects of doping it with lithia (Li2O). This research was supported by UROP, SURP, and the Samueli School of Engineering. I also did research, as part of the SURF-IT program, with Professor Albert Yee on graphene, or single sheets of graphite. Graphene is of interest due to its unique conduction characteristics and geometric superiority over carbon nanotubes in carbon-based electronics.

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

I first got involved in research after I attended Professor Martha Mecartney's opening lecture of E54: Introduction to Materials in winter of 2005. A few months earlier, I helped someone who happened to know a lot about undergraduate research carry some boxes to her car. She suggested Professor Mecartney, and when I attended Professor Mecartney's lecture and heard her passion for materials I knew I wanted to do research with her. I approached her after class and shared my interest in fuel cells; I was in the lab the following week, processing materials and learning impedance spectroscopy.

3. How has research enhanced your education?

When UCI was first built, its founders envisioned a campus where students would learn to solve problems rather than merely to follow formulas and procedures. Attending classes, doing homework, and taking tests are an effective way to learn these formulas and procedures, but applying this knowledge requires something beyond the traditional classroom. Along with design projects and laboratory classes, research has allowed me to apply the knowledge I've gained in lectures to solving real world problems.

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

My favorite experience with research has been spending time with the Mecartney/Mumm lab group in the student office. The people you do your research with have a lot to do with the quality of your research experience, and I couldn't have asked for a better group of people. A lot of my most difficult research problems have been resolved over pen fights and frisbee lessons.

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

I plan to attend graduate school and work towards a PhD in Materials Science and Engineering or Mechanical Engineering. Graduate school is all about your research thesis, and my participation in research has helped prepare me for the rigors of graduate level research.

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

Be patient and choose your faculty mentor and research project carefully. The key to having a positive experience in research is finding a professor you work well with and a project you're interested in.

Past Researchers of the Month
Dec. '06 Megan Trotter
Nov. '06 Allison Zemek
Oct. '06 Jeremy Roth
Sept. '06 Crystal Wang
Aug. '06 Michael Thompson
Jul. '06 Kimberly Balazs
Jun. '06 Joseph Boufadel
May '06 Vicky Zhou
Apr. '06 Jessica Morreale
Mar. '06 Talinn Toorian
Feb. '06 Vivek Mehta
Jan. '06 Pernille Hemmer
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