Raquel Fernandez

1. What is your specific area of research (include the name of your faculty and/or laboratory)?
Currently, I am the research coordinator for the project entitled, " Tactile and Auditory Perception in People with Temporal Lobe Epilepsy". I am one of five research assistants working under the tutelage of Dr. Arthur Grant at the UCI Medical Center. Our goal is to determine if Temporal Lobe Epilepsy subjects demonstrate tactile and auditory deficits when compared to controls. In addition, we are testing subjects after undergoing a Temporal Lobectomy in order to discover if tactile and auditory perception improve.
2. When and how did you first get involved in research?

I became involved in this project in the spring of 2000. When browsing through the UROP web site, I discovered Dr. Grant's profile under the On-Campus Opportunities page. Since I had always been interested in medicine, I knew that I wanted to participate in some form of clinical research. Dr. Grant's profile stimulated my interests and I e-mailed him immediately. It has been one of the best decisions I have made in my life.

3. How has research enhanced you education?

Since I began working on this project, I have noticed many personal changes. As the research coordinator I have had to learn to balance both the administrative and scientific aspects of research. This requires a great deal of responsibility and organization. Research has helped me to become more organized and responsible in all aspects of my life. This is especially true when it comes to school. Research has also allowed me to develop strong problem solving skills that have been essential for my success as a student here at UCI. Research has stimulated my curiosity and my desire to challenge myself.

4. What has been you favorite experience with research (include any interesting stories or specific events)?
As a result of working on this project, I have had the opportunity to experience many wonderful and memorable events. One of the perks of participating in research at the UCI Medical Center is the opportunity to interact with the diverse patient population staying there. On days when no subjects can come in for testing, Dr. Grant will take me on rounds along with the Neurology residents and medical students. I have had the opportunity to observe neurological examinations, temporal lobectomies, and most importantly the doctor-patient relationship. In addition, working on this project has provided me with the opportunity to serve as a co-author on a paper as well as several abstracts and to present my research at the UCI Undergraduate Research Symposium.
5. What are your future plans and how has being involved in research helped to prepare you to meet your goals?

After I graduate from UCI, I will be attending medical school and pursuing a career in Pediatrics. Although our research only focuses on adults, I still believe that my experiences will be very beneficial to me as a pediatrician. Clinical research has taught me to refrain from treating subjects as case studies. Patients regardless of age are people first and should be treated with courtesy and respect. I not only want to be a good pediatrician, but I also want to develop a good bedside manner in order to make my patients feel comfortable and welcomed. Clinical research has allowed me to improve upon my interpersonal communication skills and has taught me valuable lessons in teamwork and leadership.

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

When looking for a research project to participate in, you must first discover what you are most passionate about. Research requires a great deal of commitment and time. Therefore, in order to benefit from research you must study something you love. After you have discovered your passion, contact several faculty members who work in this field. When deciding upon a research mentor, you must ask yourself if your personalities mesh well and if you will have the chance to interact much with each other. Once you find a research mentor and project to work on, be inquisitive, challenge yourself, and most importantly have fun!

Past Researchers of the Month

Dec. '01 Anna Kaiser
Nov. '01 Sunny Staton
Oct. '01 Kristine Kolkman
Sep. '01 Raquel Fernandez
Aug. '01 Temre Davies
Jul. '01 Krikor Andonian
Jun. '01 Elizabeth Kirchner
May '01 Joshua Neil
Apr. '01 Alia Shbeeb
Mar. '01 Qyana Griffith
Feb. '01 Reshmi Basu
Jan. '01 Yousuke Hamai
Recent Year