Professor Wenqi Wang likes to give undergraduates in his lab the opportunity to pursue small, manageable projects as an introduction to work as a researcher. This gives them chance to develop their skills for further, more complex projects in the future. He particularly looks for students who are motivated and able to work independently, and works to help develop those traits. He enjoys working directly with his undergraduates, meeting with them frequently to discuss their progress and questions that might arise. UROP is pleased to recognize Professor Wang for the guidance and leadership he provides to the undergraduate researchers he mentors.

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

Research interests are mostly originated from undergraduate courses such as Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Cell Biology and Cancer Biology. During my class teaching, I can feel the curiosity about research from many undergraduate students and am willing to provide them opportunities to address their scientific questions in the lab. We usually provide undergraduate students with small and feasible research projects like investigating a cancer patient-derived mutation for a tumor suppressor gene, generating a gene knockout cell line to evaluate its role in cellular transformation, and characterizing a clinical compound in targeting cancer cells.

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

We particularly value motivation and independence for the undergraduate students, since these two factors are critically important if they want to become a successful researcher.

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

I am also working in the lab and keep sharing my bench with our undergraduate students, so we have a chance to meet with each other and discuss the research questions/problems on a daily basis.

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

We mostly provide detailed lab protocols to undergraduate students when they join the lab. With some mentoring, most of our undergraduates can quickly acquire several basic lab techniques and conduct their experiments independently. Although mistakes happen at the beginning, their experimental skills are gradually improved and their data turn to be repeatable and solid. Some undergraduate students also have their research findings published in scientific journals.

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

Through the contact with our undergraduate students, I notice that many of them are anxious to start with their own projects and hoping to make progresses immediately. However, they easily feel frustrated when they fail the experiments, which largely dampens their interests in research. To build up their confidence and lead them to correctly face failures during research, I mostly assign them very easy tasks at the beginning, such as mini-preparation of plasmids, amplification a gene by PCR. Although simple and easy, such experiments could be the most important part of their research career.

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

For research, I hope undergraduate students can try to train themselves to be a person with "Curiosity, Motivation, Independence, Collaboration and Positive attitude."

Research Interests: Molecular mechanism for organ size control and cancer development

Faculty Profile:


Past Faculty Mentors of the Month

Dec. '18 Judy Tzu-Chun Wu
Nov. '18 Justyna M. Sosna
Oct. '18 Chen Li
Sep. '18 Shahrdad Lotfipour
Aug. '18 Zoe Klemfuss
Jul. '18 Patrick Rafter
Jun. '18 Kelli Sharp
May. '18 Gilverto Q. Conchas
Apr. '18 Ozdal Boyraz
Mar. '18 Amal Alachkar
Feb. '18 Andrea Nicholas
Jan. '18 Wenqi Wang