Professor Jean Gehricke looks to mentor students who are genuinely interested in science and who are looking to challenge themselves beyond what is expected of them in their coursework. He believes that research is an important part of an undergraduate education and considers his mentorship to be a vital part of his students’ research experience. Professor Gehricke’s career has been profoundly influenced by the mentors he worked with as a student and he is committed to providing the same guidance to his students. He benefits from their participation as well; his undergraduates’ fresh outlook has frequently given him the opportunity to refine his own work.

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

I have had the privilege of working with outstanding mentors in my own research career, who showed me how important mentoring is for the development of scientific thinking. Mentoring undergraduate research can make a big difference in the learning experience and future career trajectory of students.

My projects focus on Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and co-occurring problems such as emotional dysregulation, sleep issues, and drug abuse. These projects range from understanding the linkage between brain, behavior and genes to developing specific prevention and treatment interventions for ASD, ADHD, and drug abuse.

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

Students have to be motivated to engage in research. This includes aiding in the day-to-day lab activities such as recruiting research participants; processing and analyzing complex behavioral, brain imaging, and genetic data; and writing scientific reports. The expectation is for students to be genuinely interested in science, be willing to challenge yourself, and to be able to follow through on research problems.

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

As a clinician-researcher, science is a large part of my clinical practice and vice versa. Consequently, my students and I discuss clinical cases and explore potential prevention and treatment strategies. I enjoy engaging in dialogue with students aimed at developing critical thinking skills by learning and helping them to apply scientific methods in relation to research questions.

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

My door is always open and I am happy to discuss research and career questions. Students from my lab benefit from participating in the scientific process by learning about scientific ideas, grant writing, participant recruitment, data processing, data analysis, and manuscript writing. As a result, students gain a better understanding about science and how to develop scientific research questions and approaches. In addition, students develop social and technical skills that are essential in today’s job market. Many students successfully present their findings at UROP and Excellence of Research or significantly contribute to scientific presentations at professional meetings (e.g., Society for Neuroscience). Some students continue to work with me after they graduate and publish their findings in peer-reviewed journals.

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

I learn a lot from my discussions with students. It helps me reflect on and refine my research. Students are a driving force in my lab and greatly benefit my research projects. I have made many changes to existing research protocols based on the contributions by students.

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

Talk with faculty about undergraduate research in your freshman year. Think about what you want to do and who you want to be when you become a professional. Get information about what you want to do and talk to professionals that are in your field of interest. Learn as much as you can about science, its history, and its methods. And last but not least, ask questions.

Research Interests: Research Interests: Autism, ADHD, brain-behavior relationships, genetics, behavioral intervention research

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 André 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. O’Dowd