Professor Angela Lukowski benefited immensely from having individual contact with faculty members when she was an undergraduate, and she is committed to giving the students she mentors the same type of attention. She considers undergraduate researchers to be amazing collaborators who provide unique perspectives on the work being conducted. Professor Lukowski recommends that students become involved in research early in their undergraduate careers, giving them a chance to explore more areas and helping them focus more clearly on where they want to go after graduation. UROP thanks Professor Lukowski for the guidance she provides to the undergraduate students she mentors, and the impact she has on their future careers.

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

I developed an interest in mentoring undergraduate research projects based on the experiences I had as an undergraduate research assistant at a small liberal arts college, but I first became involved in mentoring students on research projects when I was a graduate student. At that time, I helped students learn how to code video tapes of infants and children who participated in various cognitive assessments. I began mentoring undergraduate students on my own research when I started at UCI in 2008. To date, I have mentored a number of students who have worked on ongoing studies in my lab; many of these students have received funding from UROP and have presented their work at the UCI Undergraduate Research Symposium. The students I work with are involved in studies designed to examine the relation between sleep and behavior in infants and in adults. Undergraduate research assistants help recruit, schedule, and test participants as well as coding and analyzing data so that they are able to gain experience in all aspects of the research process.

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

Undergraduates who have taken classes in psychology, education, public health, or neuroscience are best suited to work in my lab; interested students may be thinking of applying to graduate school in psychology or they may be interested in learning more about infants and children. In terms of personal characteristics, I expect that students will have high grade point averages, possess outstanding organizational skills and be attentive to detail, have strong written and verbal communication abilities, and interact well with other students in the lab and families who agree to participate in our studies.

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

I am extremely involved with the undergraduates who work in my lab. I routinely meet with my undergraduate research assistants to discuss progress on the studies on which they are working and to help them think about their future career plans. My office door is always open to my students: I benefited immensely from having individual contact with faculty members when I was an undergraduate, and I am committed to helping my students determine where they want to travel on their own career paths after they graduate from UCI.

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

Undergraduate students who work in my lab obtain hands-on experience with the scientific process from study design to study completion. In many cases, my undergraduate research assistants have the opportunity to engage in all phases of the research process, from recruitment to participant testing to data reduction and analysis. Because of their intensive involvement in the lab, students are able to critically evaluate whether a life of science may be right for them.

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

I have benefited a great deal from involving undergraduate students in my research. Student researchers are amazing collaborators who provide unique perspectives on the work being conducted, and I am fortunate to have worked with a number of talented students since arriving at UCI.

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

If I could offer advice to students who are thinking of becoming involved in research, I would tell them to be proactive! Many faculty members or graduate students are interested in mentoring interested undergraduate students and would be receptive to students who emailed them indicating particular interests in their area of study. I also suggest that students become involved with research early in their undergraduate careers, as this might allow them to work in more than one lab over time and help them decide where they want to focus their attention after graduation.

Research Interests: Memory development in infancy and early childhood; individual differences in long-term memory in infancy; the impact of early nutrition on development

Faculty Profile:


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