For Ka Hei (Eric) Chan, his classes taught him theoretical information about the biological sciences. Getting involved in undergraduate research gave him the opportunity to put those theories into practice, seeing how they applied to the real world. Through his research experience, Eric has developed his critical thinking skills and learned how to work as part of a team. He particularly enjoyed the opportunity to share his research with others, both in and outside his field, presenting at the UCI Undergraduate Research Symposium and other events. UROP is pleased to recognize Eric for his enthusiasm for his undergraduate research.

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

My area of research is developing an algorithm for rapid characterization of alginate microcapsules. My faculty mentor is Professor Jonathan R.T. Lakey of the surgery department in UC Irvine Medical Center.

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

I first became involved in research my junior year working at the surgical lab at UC Irvine Medical Center under Dr. Lakey.

3. How has research enhanced your education?

As a student studying biological sciences in UC Irvine, many of the things I learned in my classes are simply theoretical. But in my research lab, I was able to put those theories into practice, thinking critically to solve problems in my project and around the lab. Under the mentorship and leadership of Dr. Lakey and other mentors within the lab, I learned many laboratory and medical techniques, but more than that, I learned how to work within a team of fellow scientists and researchers.

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

My favorite experience with research was attending the UCI Undergraduate Research Symposium. It might be because it was the first research related event I have attended, but presenting my work to my peers allowed me to sharpen my presentation skills as well as learn how to explain my project to other students of different academic backgrounds and knowledge. Seeing other students in my research present their project was also a great experience and I look forward to attending more of these events with my research laboratory!

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

My future plan includes becoming a compassionate, skilled physician that cares for the sick, not only physically, but emotionally and spiritually. Being in Dr. Lakey's surgical lab allowed me to grow in my understanding of a disease (diabetes) that crippled many lives throughout the globe and it gave me an opportunity to take part in finding a cure for this disease that will impact millions of lives internationally.

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 a quote given to me from a mentor within the laboratory: "The crying baby gets the milk." Let me elaborate: mind-reading is an ability that no one (at least no one documented) has, hence clear, effective communication is important. If you are a student interested in pursuing a faculty-mentored undergraduate research project or creative activity, make it clear to your professors or faculty that you are interested in joining and committing to a laboratory.

Past Researchers of the Month

Dec. '15 Ka Hei (Eric) Chan
Nov. '15 Timna Medovoy
Oct. '15 Soraya Davia
Sep. '15 Amanda Nili
Aug. '15 Soo Song
Jul. '15 Tian Harrison
Jun. '15 Rommel Santos
May. '15 Mariyah Saiduddin
Apr. '15 Angel Rodriguez
Mar. '15 Sarah Tang
Feb. '15 Jay Tolentino
Jan. '15 Yuhao Ma