For Professor Adam Martiny, research experience is an important part of an undergraduate education. With this in mind, he has actively involved undergraduates in his research, giving them the opportunity to explore the life of a scientist and develop important skills for their future education and careers. In return Professor Martiny values the energy and fresh ideas that the students he mentors bring to his lab. UROP is pleased to recognize Professor Martiny for his dedication to fostering undergraduate research at UC Irvine.

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

Mentoring students is my favorite part of being a professor at UCI. Most students are very excited about learning the scientific process and bring a positive attitude to my laboratory. They are a tremendous asset as they do amazing work. Students also ask questions that force everyone to reflect upon unexpected aspects of our science.

During my twelve years at UCI, undergraduate students have been involved in a myriad of projects ranging from a “Big Data” analysis of the global distribution of phytoplankton, elaborate laboratory experiments growing ocean microbes, and field sampling campaigns. Furthermore, undergraduate students have joining research cruises both locally and in the North Atlantic and North Pacific Oceans. This spring, an undergraduate student will join a cruise from South Africa to India and will be at sea for six weeks and learn about all things marine.

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

We accept student from all types of majors and really enjoy having students with unique perspectives. I expect students to excel in their major and thereby demonstrate a commitment to learning. Students have to be willing to work hard (and have the time to do so), be diligent in their work, reflect upon their findings, and display a positive attitude. They have to be honest about their mistakes (everybody makes mistakes!) as their data will be part of our scientific findings.

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

I interact closely with all the undergraduate students in my laboratory. Initially, we have a long conversation about the options for research as well as the expectations. Next, the student is paired up with a senior lab member (typically a graduate student or post-doctoral researcher) who teaches them all the details about the laboratory or field work. As the project progresses, I meet with the student either individually or during our weekly lab meetings and provide guidance on how to solve problems and accelerate progress. If the student participates in our research for a long period, we often collaborate closely on data analysis and how to do scientific writing. For very engaged students, we may publish a paper together in a recognized scientific journal.

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

It is my strong belief that students learn a lot from being engaged in research. First, you learn a lot about analytical work as well as how to really analyze data. Second, most students really mature when they realize that their findings will be part of published research. Taking on this responsibility leads to really good personal skills. Third, you get many fun and stimulating experiences. Finally—but not least—having been part of a successful research project and learning cutting edge analytical techniques is a tremendous asset when applying for a job or to graduate school.

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

Students have been a major part in so many projects in my laboratory. They have contributed with much very interesting data and a great and positive attitude. Many projects would not have happened without student engagement.

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

Start early, be willing to commit the necessary time, ask many questions, and don’t be shy in aiming for a big and exciting project.

Research Interests: Microbiology, Environmental Genomics, Oceanography

Faculty Profile:


Past Faculty Mentors of the Month

Dec. '17 Hillary L. Berk
Nov. '17 Dongbao Chen
Oct. '17 Cascade Sorte
Sep. '17 An Hong Do
Aug. '17 Todd C. Holmes
Jul. '17 Adam Martiny
Jun. '17 Mark I. Langdorf
May. '17 Anthony J. Durkin
Apr. '17 Thomas Ahlering
Mar. '17 Dara H. Sorkin
Feb. '17 Andrej Lupták
Jan. '17 Michelle A. Fortier