UROP commends Chris Hagan for his outstanding research efforts. Chris conducts research, under the mentorship of Dr. Loftus, on memory and its reliability in eyewitness testimony. He credits his research experience for helping him understand how the knowledge he has gained in his classes applies to the real world. Chris hopes to attend graduate school and eventually practice therapy as well as teach and conduct research.

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

I work in the lab of Dr. Elizabeth Loftus, under the mentorship of both Dr. Loftus and Suzanne Kaasa, one of the labís graduate students. My research is focused on the (un)reliability of memory, especially as it relates to eyewitness testimony. Specifically, I have helped develop a scale that may be able to predict whether an individual is more or less likely than average to develop a memory for an event that never occurred.

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

I began research during the Fall of my Junior year by applying to work in the lab through a Loftus Lab advertisement that was announced in one of my classes.

3. How has research enhanced your education?

Conducting my own research has given me a greater appreciation for and understanding of the scientific articles that I read in my classes. It has also helped me more easily discriminate between good and poorly-done studies. Participating in research has also shifted my graduate school plans towards a more research oriented program.

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

My favorite aspect of research is synthesizing the knowledge Iíve acquired throughout my research methods, statistics and psychology courses over the years into a project that has real-world implications. One of my most exciting experiences occurred recently when 60 Minutes came to UC Irvine and filmed an example of my study procedures and materials to supplement an interview with Dr. Loftus.

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

I plan to enter a Ph.D. program in Clinical Psychology to eventually practice therapy as well as teach and conduct research. My research experiences have given me a valuable background in research design and evaluation that will be necessary in graduate school. It has also helped me learn to understand and solve the small, and sometimes intricate daily problems that are encountered in research. I believe that I will be able to do much better in graduate school due to the research experience I have had with Dr. Loftus.

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

Start early. Take classes with, volunteer, for and talk to the professor you would like to work with as soon as you can so that you can get to know him/her and how their lab is run. Designing research projects and getting them approved by your advisors and the IRB almost always takes longer than you would expect. Also, be assertive and make sure that you regularly approach your mentor about your ideas and questions regarding their work and the work you are interested in conducting.

Past Researchers of the Month

Dec. '08 Chris Hagan
Nov. '08 Shadi Milani
Oct. '08 Pamela Ruiz
Sep. '08 Nima Nassiri
Aug. '08 Sam Kaufman
Jul. '08 Tracy Wu
Jun. '08 Jenna Otter
May. '08 Anet Badali
Apr. '08 Olivia Ryder
Mar. '08 Sonya Seshadri
Feb. '08 Cristian N. Martinez
Jan. '08 Pooja Patel