Professor Shahram Lotfipour says he has the best job in the world. He decided to pursue his career in Emergency Medicine the hard way, by first choosing general surgery and finally seeing the light and successfully completing his residency in Emergency Medicine. This experience has helped him better understand the issues and questions raised by the undergraduates he mentors. Professor Lotfipour encourages students who have questions about approaching patients to call him at any time. His regular meetings with his students allow him to keep them focused on their projects and present them with new challenges. Professor Lotfipour has mentored many undergraduates throughout his career at UCI, and this continuing support resulted his his receiving the 2009 Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Fostering Undergraduate Research.

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

My parents are teachers and mentoring/teaching was ingrained in me from a very young age. I have always enjoyed helping students and colleagues, and as an emergency physician I can do that every day, both in and out of the clinical arena. I started as a teaching assistant and tutor in undergraduate school. In medical school as a teaching assistant I helped in rewriting a couple of my course laboratory manuals and teaching fellow students in Anatomy. In residency training I loved teaching students; now as a faculty member I can do it for living. I have the best job in the world.

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

First and foremost are professionalism and the ability to work with others. I donít expect our students to have the highest GPA or know the most, but I do expect them to demonstrate impeccable professionalism, work hard, be trustworthy and courteous, and to create an environment for others to want to work with them.

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

I meet with the students every week at our Monday evening meeting to monitor research progress on each individual study. The undergraduate students present each and every study; they have my cell and pager and are encouraged to call me anytime concerns come up when approaching patients. Our research coordinators touch base with our Emergency Medicine Research Associate Program (EMRAP) researchers on a daily basis, if needed. Our EMRAP research coordinators and I meet quarterly with each student to monitor progress in the program and to also see what we can do to help the students do more to achieve their goals. It is important that each student set his/her own short- and long-term goals and let us know how EMRAP fits into it. We will help them maximize their results through EMRAP.

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

Students have improved in being able to approach patients and feel comfortable communicating with them regarding clinical research studies. Students have also become much more aware of the expectations of working with physicians and in a patient care environment. They have become more confident in public speaking, PowerPoint and short case presentations.

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

Students have significant potential and put in so much time to become better. They need guidance and mentorship from multiple faculty members to reach their full potential. In my experience most students that do not succeed have poor guidance and mentorship.

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

Find a research mentor who is interested in helping you to achieve more than the typical undergraduate research student and who is willing to provide you opportunities to succeed. Ask other students who are currently working or have worked with that research mentor about the research/mentorship experience offered. Itís a very good sign if students stay in touch with their research mentor long after they finish their formal research experience.

Research Interests: Medical Student Education, Screening and Brief Intervention for Alcohol, Older Driver Fitness

Faculty Profile: Lotfipour


Past Faculty Mentors of the Month

Dec. '11 Louis DeSipio
Nov. '11 Anthony A. James
Oct. '11 Tiffany Willoughby-Herard
Sep. '11 Angela Lukowski
Aug. '11 Petra Wilder-Smith
Jul. '11 Ron D. Frostig
Jun. '11 Sunny Jiang
May. '11 Samuel L. Gilmore
Apr. '11 Sally Dickerson
Mar. '11 Shahram Lotfipour
Feb. '11 Mark Steyvers
Jan. '11 Benjamin F. Villac