Initially, Professor Ozdal Boyraz had doubts about the ability of undergraduates to pursue research. Over time, however, he has become impressed with their abilities to dedicate themselves to making a real contribution through their efforts. He looks to work with students who have the confidence to make their own choices and resilience to learn from their inevitable failures. UROP is pleased to recognize Professor Boyraz for the guidance and encouragement he gives 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?

Undergraduate students are very enthusiastic about learning and having project experience. When they approach and asked for research projects, I was hesitant at the beginning. However, after seeing their potential I feel more comfortable working with undergraduates. To date, I have supervised several projects relevant to photonics, optical imaging, and electromagnetics. Some are biometric detection, optical detection of power fluctuations in power lines, self-driving shopping cart, an array of microphones that can localize the origin of sound, etc.

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

I would like to see a group of enthusiastic students who share the same goal and are sincere about working together. I expect that they are a detail oriented group that plans ahead and executes according to the plan.

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

I tend to meet with them once every week or ten days. I would like to see progress and participation. I like to question their choices and discuss alternative options. I prefer to see them understanding the fundamentals and making their own choices.

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

Almost all of them gained teamwork experience and understand the importance of planning. They realize that what they expect is always far from what they experience. They improve their perception of details that make the project successful.

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

My main takeaway was understanding the competence of our undergraduate students. I understand their capability and I trust them more in my research projects as well.

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

I suggest to tackle challenging problems. Even if is a failure, the lessons you learn are more valuable than the complete undergraduate project itself.

Research Interests: Integrated optics, silicon photonics, optical communication, biophotonics, microwave optics

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