For Professor Belinda Campos, mentoring is an opportunity to pass on the benefits of mentorship that she received as a student to the next generation of researchers. She hopes to help her students gain the experience and skills that are available at research universities like UC Irvine. Professor Campos looks to work with students who are curious, thoughtful, and eager to challenge themselves. As a mentor, Professor Campos benefits from the ideas and questions her students bring to their research discussions. UROP is pleased to recognize Professor Campos for her dedication to mentoring undergraduate research.

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

As an undergraduate, I benefited from mentors who showed me how research was done, encouraged me to explore a research based career, and trained me in the skills needed to carry out research studies that could generate new knowledge. I try hard to give that back. In my work as a mentor at UCI, I want to give my undergraduate students the experiences and skills that research universities are uniquely poised to provide—the most current state of knowledge and the skills to seek, synthesize and generate new knowledge.

I study factors that promote high quality relationships, with a particular focus on understanding how sociocultural context shapes relationship experiences in ways that benefit health. To date, my students have worked on projects that examined how culture shapes our relationship experiences and health—how satisfied we are in our family and romantic relationships, how supported we feel by our family, friends and partners, how we respond and recover from stressors, including the stress of being a member of a devalued social group—as well as projects on positive emotions and the role that positive emotions play in our relationships and health.

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

Most undergraduate students who work with me first hit my radar by excelling in a class with me or with the graduate students that I work with. These students are the ones who are intellectually curious and thoughtful, who ask really good questions in class or office hours, and who show that they understand class material but want to know more. These qualities, along with a willingness to work hard and challenge oneself, always get my attention.

If that describes you, please apply to work in my lab:

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

Before we start an independent project together, my undergraduate students will have already worked in my lab for at least two quarters. This gives students a chance to obtain hands-on research experience and a concrete sense of the work involved in carrying out an independent research project. I always begin the process of developing a project with a student by having a conversation about research interests so we can find the sweet spot of mutual interest. Finding the right project that engages us both is essential to a mutually rewarding research experience. I also try to set clear expectations. For example, my students know that good research is communicated via good writing and good writing is a product of multiple drafts and extensive revision.

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

This is a question we should ask my students. From where I stand, I consistently see growth in critical thinking, writing ability, and statistical knowledge. As these skills grow, I also see my students become more confident in the abilities they have acquired and their ability to learn more. The most rewarding experience is seeing students take their strong research training and keep using those skills wherever life takes them.

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

My students are so creative and energetic! Their interests and ideas often take me in new directions that I might not otherwise have pursued. I benefit the most, however, from the knowledge and experience that my students bring to our discussions and projects. I just hope I teach my students as much as I learn from them.

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

Being at a world-class university offers unique opportunities to engage in cutting edge learning. When you find yourself in a class that inspires and engages you, seek out that professor and start a conversation about class topics after class or visit that professor in office hours. Ask about ways to get involved in their research. When the opportunity to work on your own independent research presents itself, try to find a question that hits the sweet spot between your research interests and the professor’s research interests. Mutual interest will help you both stay equally engaged over the duration of the project. Last, but definitely not least, persistence will serve you well.

Research Interests: Culture; Relationships; Positive Emotion; Health

Faculty Profile:


Past Faculty Mentors of the Month

Dec. '15 Barbara Sarnecka
Nov. '15 Sarah Pressman
Oct. '15 Elliot Botvinick
Sep. '15 Xiangmin Xu
Aug. '15 Belinda Campos
Jul. '15 Yama Akbari
Jun. '15 Loretta Livingston
May. '15 Mohammad Al Faruque
Apr. '15 Steven D. Allison
Mar. '15 Emily D. Grossman
Feb. '15 Munjal M. Acharya
Jan. '15 Marcelo A. Wood