Professor James Earthmanís undergraduate research experience had a profound impact on his further education and career. Based on that experience, he has dedicated himself to providing the same level of guidance he received to the students he mentors. He advises his students to follow the advice of their mentors, but also to learn to follow their own creative instincts as they become more experienced. Through his mentorship, Professor Earthman has come to recognize the tremendous contributions that UC Irvineís undergraduates can make to the fields of science and engineering. UROP is proud to recognize Professor Earthman for the passion he brings to mentoring undergraduate researchers.

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

I was an undergraduate researcher at Rice University in the Materials Science Department and the research experience had a very positive impact on me. This work was a great preparation for the graduate program in Materials Science and Engineering at Stanford. My interest in mentoring undergraduate researchers naturally flows from that experience. I have directed a large number of projects in the areas of damage and deformation processes in biological tissues as well as synthetic materials. We also develop advanced diagnostic systems for monitoring mechanical and electrochemical integrity of materials.

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

I look for students who are strongly motivated and have a genuine interest in developing a better understanding of materials behavior.

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

I try to provide a lot of guidance when students start a project but gradually encourage them to take ownership of the project and eventually only seek advice from me as opposed to direction. Ultimately, I would like the students to become research leaders who can design their own research plan.

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

Most of the students that work in my lab learn what it takes to conduct a research project at the level where eventually a paper can be submitted for peer-reviewed publication.

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

I have learned that we have a great pool of potential undergraduate researchers at UCI who can become much better prepared for a career in science and engineering through research activities.

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

Set your sights on becoming a research leader. Work hard in following sound advice and instructions but also become better at exercising your own creativity throughout the research process.

Research Interests: High temperature fracture mechanisms; cavitation processes in superplastic materials; numerical modeling of deformation and damage processes; mechanical behavior and damage mechanisms in biomedical materials; corrosion prevention using regenerative biofilms; novel damage monitoring techniques; automated materials testing and analysis

Faculty Profile:


Past Faculty Mentors of the Month

Dec. '12 James C. Earthman
Nov. '12 Kenneth J. Shea
Oct. '12 Jeanett Castellanos
Sep. '12 Barry Siegel
Aug. '12 Martha L. Mecartney
Jul. '12 Brandon Brown
Jun. '12 Wayne Sandholtz
May. '12 Farghalli A. Mohamed
Apr. '12 Susan T. Charles
Mar. '12 Katherine Faust
Feb. '12 Donald R. Blake
Jan. '12 Elizabeth Cauffman