Professor Bernard Choi had a strong research experience as an undergraduate, and is, therefore, committed to providing the same opportunity to the undergraduates he mentors. Assuming he can help students develop necessary skills, he looks for students who are motivated, persistent, creative and enthusiastic. From his mentoring, Professor Choi has learned not to underestimate the abilities of undergraduate researchers, from whom he frequently sees graduate-level work. Benefiting from his tutelage, Professor Choi’s mentees become more competitive in pursuing further education. UROP salutes Professor Choi for his dedication to the development of undergraduate researchers at UCI.

1. How did you develop an interest in mentoring undergraduate research or creative projects, and what type of projects have you directed?

My interest in academic research was strongly reinforced by my research experience as an undergraduate. As a result, I am committed to providing undergraduates with opportunities to perform independent research projects.

2. What do you look for and what are your expectations of undergraduates you select to conduct research under your guidance?

In general, I look more for character traits than specific skills. In particular, I expect that undergraduate researchers can work both independently and in teams; and are self-motivated, persistent, enthusiastic, and creative.

3. Describe your level of engagement and style in mentoring undergraduates.

I try to treat undergraduates like the graduate students who work with me—I interact with them on a regular basis and try not to micromanage their research. I specifically want them to inject their creativity into their research.

4. In your experience, how have your students improved or benefited as a result of their undergraduate research experience?

I believe that undergraduate researchers working with me have benefited primarily by being increasingly competitive in their applications to post-undergraduate education (medical school, dental school, graduate school, etc.). Several have been co-authors or lead authors on peer-reviewed publications, and some have presented at international biophotonics conferences.

5. What have you learned or benefited from guiding undergraduate research or creative projects?

I have learned to not underestimate the abilities of undergraduates in performing graduate-level research. I have benefited in part by their research productivity, but I honestly take a great deal of satisfaction in seeing them succeed and move one step closer to their career goals.

6. What recommendations and advice would you give students embarking on undergraduate research or creative projects?

Students should feel free to go beyond the artificial boundaries which seem to be present due to their particular fields of study, and try to secure research opportunities in what they are keenly interested in doing or learning about. I think they should take advantage of opportunities to put their stamp on their research projects by digging into the existing knowledge base (papers, Internet, etc.) and bringing up novel ideas or generating hypotheses. A very useful book for serious undergraduate researchers, especially those who are interested in pursuing a career in lab research, is At the Bench by Kathy Barker.

Research Interests: In vivo research, optical imaging, microvasculature, therapy monitoring, neurosurgery, dermatology, instrumentation development

Faculty Profile:


Past Faculty Mentors of the Month

Dec. '10 Derek Dunn-Rankin
Nov. '10 Wendy A. Goldberg
Oct. '10 Bernard Choi
Sep. '10 Daniel S. Stokols
Aug. '10 James S. Nowick
Jul. '10 Thomas J. Carew
Jun. '10 Kristen Day
May. '10 Keith Woerpel
Apr. '10 Anshu Agrawal
Mar. '10 Darryl Taylor
Feb. '10 Michael J. Montoya
Jan. '10 Gregory Alan Weiss