Lilyana Pham got involved in research during her freshman year, and has continued since then. Her work in the lab has given her the opportunity to apply knowledge from her coursework to real-life situations, giving her more insight into the knowledge presented in her classes. Lilyana also credits her research experience with opening her eyes to the many options she sees as potential academic and career directions when she graduates. UROP is pleased to recognize Lilyana for the passion she has brought to her pursuit of undergraduate research.

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

I do research at the UCI Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, where I am in the Wood Lab under my mentor and Ph.D. candidate Rianne Campbell. My specific area of research is in examining a specific enzyme, HDAC3, and its functions within the nucleus accumbens (NAc) in cocaine-induced neuroplasticity.

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

I joined the Wood lab during the winter quarter of my freshman year. What first sparked my interest into joining research was when I was taking Dr. Wood’s Bio93 course during that year when he briefly mentioned his study in neurobiology. I was also a part of a small PharmSci club called Commuter Connections and my mentor, who was in a research lab, encouraged me to join.

3. How has research enhanced your education?

I was able to apply what I learned from my pre-requisite courses into real-life situations in the lab. There were also techniques that I was taught in the lab that have helped me in my lower and upper-division courses such as Western blots and immunohistochemistry.

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

My favorite experience with research is being the laboratory environment. I love the relationships I've formed while working here and I consider myself lucky that I am able to work with my friends. Everyone here is very supportive. One thing I do remember is using the cold room to cool off during the summer since it gets super hot, especially walking from APS to BS3.

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

I'm not entirely set on a specific career just yet but some of my considerations are nursing, grad school, or industry. Being involved in research has shown me that I should not be fixed on one specific career and that there are many options to choose from.

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

I say to try it out! You never know until you try it and don't be afraid to look at multiple labs. I would recommend looking at the UCI faculty research profiles to see all the different professors and not just the ones that are teaching the courses you're taking. Don't feel discouraged if professors don't respond to your email. I would also say to pick something that interests you since most labs would like to have you around for the long run.

Past Researchers of the Month

Sep. '20 Lilyana Vanessa Pham
Aug. '20 David A. Csuka
Jul. '20 Luciano Groisman
Jun. '20 Yara Bojorquez
May. '20 Zaira Barrera
Apr. '20 Iyah Totounji
Mar. '20 Aung Myat Thu
Feb. '20 Gabriela Salcedo
Jan. '20 Sahrai Garcia