Through her undergraduate research experience, Amber Obenshain discovered the career path she wished to pursue. She has also already seen new opportunities, including a highly selective summer internship, open up for her as a result of her experience. As much as anything, Amber recommends that students be willing to ask questions throughout their research journey, taking advantage of the experience of their faculty and graduate student mentors. UROP is pleased to recognize Amber for her passionate commitment to her pursuit of undergraduate research at UC Irvine.

1. What is your specific area of research (include the name of your faculty and/or laboratory)?

My specific area of research is examining differences in stress response, particularly pain response. Being a part of the Culture, Relationships, and Health Laboratory with Belinda Campos Ph.D., I am able to explore how different sociocultural contexts, specifically ethnicity and culture, affect pain response. However, for UROP, I am interested in how baseline cortisol levels and baseline heart rate variability affect pain sensitivity.

2. When and how did you first get involved in research?

I became involved in research my junior year and found out about the opportunity from one of my professors, Dr. Zinger. She had posted about the research assistant position on her class website.

3. How has research enhanced your education?

Research has allowed me to figure out what I want to do as a career. I had recently decided that I didn't want to continue pursuing medical school and was unsure of my career goals. Once I joined research, I realized that I could earn my Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and eventually work with people with severe mental disorders.

4. What has been your favorite experience with research (include any interesting stories or specific events)?

My favorite experience with research was when I was able to gain an internship due to my experience in my lab at UCI. I interviewed with researchers at UCSF and they were very impressed that I was working with Dr. Belinda Campos. I was picked for the highly selective summer research internship and was able to work with Dr. Wendy Berry Mendes in San Francisco.

5. What are your future plans and how has being involved in research helped to prepare you to meet your goals?

My future plans are to apply for Ph.D. programs in Clinical Psychology. Being involved in research has allowed me to gain experience in research, making me a competitive applicant for graduate school. I'll be more prepared as a graduate student and will hopefully be able to run my own studies from my acquired knowledge as an undergraduate student.

6. What advice would you give to a student interested in pursuing a faculty-mentored undergraduate research project or creative activity?

My advice would be to never be afraid to ask questions. Many faculty-mentors would be happy to answer questions regarding research and have years of knowledge about your field. If you have a graduate student helping with the project, use and listen to their advice as well. Most graduate students were recently in your shoes and understand how difficult it is to construct a research project.

Past Researchers of the Month

Aug. '19 Amber Marie Obenshain
Jul. '19 Gurleen Samra
Jun. '19 Yiwei Gong
May. '19 William Gerald Smith
Apr. '19 Emeizmi Mandagi
Mar. '19 Whitney Zhang
Feb. '19 William Agnew
Jan. '19 Sarah Mahoney