Professor Emiliana Borrelli expects undergraduates working in her lab to become fully engaged in the research process. She starts new students on basic tasks, but assigns them more complex tasks as they show the ability and interest. For Professor Borrelli, the most important traits for a student researcher are motivation and interest in the subject; she recommends that students without these consider whether research is really right for them. Professor Borrelli considers mentoring undergraduate researchers to be an important part of her work at UCI, and UROP commends her for her commitment to undergraduate research.

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

I believe that mentoring undergraduate students is part of our duty as professors. It is highly rewarding to follow the first steps in the laboratory of student researchers that will eventually become interested in pursuing research at higher levels by enrolling in a Ph.D. program. The type of projects that I have directed is close to the interest of my laboratory. Undergraduate students begin to work in the laboratory performing easy tasks and then are assigned more complex tasks if they show interest.

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

I look for motivation and interest in the subject of our studies. I expect students to become involved in research, asking questions and reading literature.

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

Students in my laboratory are supervised directly by graduate students and postdocs; however, I am informed of their progress and discuss it with them often.

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

Sometimes students that join the laboratory are not yet convinced on whether they want to continue a research career or not. An experience in the laboratory helps them choose which direction to take.

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

I have learned that we can only guide studentsí choices if there is interest on their side to get involved into research. The percentage of these students is no more than 1-2%; all the others participate in laboratory activities as a duty.

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

To do undergraduate research only if they are interested and motivated.

Research Interests: Dopaminergic neurons, pharmacology, animal models, neurological and neuropsychiatric diseases

Faculty Profile:


Past Faculty Mentors of the Month

Dec. '14 Emiliana Borrelli
Nov. '14 Joel Veenstra
Oct. '14 Jonathan Alexander
Sep. '14 Leslie M. Thompson
Aug. '14 Jonathan R.T. Lakey
Jul. '14 Diego Rosso
Jun. '14 James Kyung-Jin Lee
May. '14 Lisa Pearl
Apr. '14 Jayne Elizabeth Lewis
Mar. '14 Donald Jay Patterson
Feb. '14 Dritan Agalliu
Jan. '14 Stephanie Reich