Professor David Meyer, through mentoring his undergraduate students, has continued to learn as well. His studentsí projects have introduced him to new fields of inquiry, as well as teaching him about undergraduate life at UC Irvine. Professor Meyer looks for students who will be committed to their project, but not so rigidly that they are not willing to adapt as they go along. He believes that his studentsí research experience helps make them better students and prepares them for future graduate studies and careers. He takes pride in his studentsí accomplishments, and UROP is proud to acknowledge his contributions to their research endeavors.

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

I learned about UROP and got interested in mentoring student projects when students started to approach me for help. Energetic and committed students wanted to learn how to do research in the social sciences, and to learn something about a specific research question as well. Virtually all of the projects Iíve mentored have addressed some element of social change. Annie Peshkam studied how the causes represented through protests at national political conventions have changed over time. Heidi Khaled examined how the number and focus of student groups at UCI have changed since the campus started. Jaimelynne Cruz looked at the organization of an annual march demanding reparations for Filipino World War II veterans. Emmeline Domingo looked at how student campaigners against tuition hikes used social media. And this year, Ashley Wright wrote about the extent of cooperation between feminist groups on and off campus. These are all smart, curious, and committed people, and I learned a lot from working with them. This is just a sample, and I feel a little awkward omitting some spectacular projectsóand people.

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

I like to work with students who are committed to answering a question, who bring their own interests to the work, but are willing to adapt their project to make it workable. Whatever their social or political commitments, they need to pick a project where they will be learning something they donít know. I also like to work with students who know that practice will make them better researchers and writers.

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

I meet regularly with undergraduates conducting research projects and I expect them to produce some new information or ideas before each meeting. We talk about the work, particularly the way the ideas and data are developing, and always come up with new work to be done for the next meeting. We also work on putting together a strong UROP presentation. In addition, we talk about their aspirations and how UROP can help them develop skills that will help them in the future.

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

The more effort students put in, the more they benefit. I think students learn something about their projects and a lot about the research process. They also learn a bit of history, as well as how to present their ideas effectively, sometimes in writing and sometimes in graphs. Iím very proud that my wonderful students have gone on to do interesting things, including completing masterís and doctoral programs at top universities, often with generous financial aid packages, and serving in Teach for America. Iím always delighted when I hear from them, and am generally impressed by their aspirations and accomplishments.

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

Iíve learned a great deal from working with wonderful UROP students. Every project has taught me something about the questions the researcher has sought to answer. Some of the data students gathered has ended up in research Iíve publishedóalways with attribution. Iíve also learned something more about undergraduate life at UCI, including the range of political groups and actions on campus and the range of commitments to school work. Our UROP students provide faculty the very best opportunities for undergraduate teaching anywhere.

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

Itís important to find a mentor who will help you produce the kind of work that most interests you. Itís best to talk with many faculty members about the ideas and questions that intrigue you to find a mentor. And itís best to let them help you shape a workable project. Then, itís critical to invest your time and best efforts in the project. Like exercise, the more effort you put in, the more you will get out of it.

Research Interests: Social movements and social change

Faculty Profile:


Past Faculty Mentors of the Month

Dec. '13 Jean Gehricke
Nov. '13 Sergey Nizkorodov
Oct. '13 David S. Meyer
Sep. '13 Kieron Burke
Aug. '13 Mahtab Jafari
Jul. '13 Andrť van der Hoek
Jun. '13 Abraham P. Lee
May. '13 Sheryl Tsai
Apr. '13 Julia Reinhard Lupton
Mar. '13 Richard Matthew
Feb. '13 Jogeshwar Mukherjee
Jan. '13 Diane K. OíDowd