Angel Rodriguez got involved in research to push his limits and get the most out of his undergraduate education. Arriving at UC Irvine as a transfer student, he considered it vital to get involved as quickly as possible. Throughout his research, Angel has been able to apply the theories he has learned in his classes and see how they work in the real world. He plans to move on to graduate school, ultimately pursuing a J.D./Ph.D. program, and he feels that his research experience has helped prepare him for the rigors of his future studies.

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

I am a research assistant for the Development, Disorder and Delinquency Lab (3D Lab) and Dr. Elizabeth Cauffman is my faculty advisor. I have conducted research this past year on reoffending behavior in adolescent offenders who are high in Callous-Unemotional traits. I am interested in examining the criminality of at-risk youth and how to best intervene and support them as they make the transition from adolescence to young adulthood.

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

I joined Dr. Cauffman’s lab in March of 2013 after my A.C.C.E.S.S and Campuswide Honor’s mentors told me that I would be a perfect fit for the lab. I did research on Dr. Cauffman’s work, applied to be a research assistant, and within a week was accepted and began training to conduct field interviews with adolescent participants. I transferred from Santa Ana Community College in 2013 and knew that I had to make the best of every opportunity here at UCI so that I could leave here feeling accomplished and prepared for Graduate school.

3. How has research enhanced your education?

Throughout the last year I have been able to apply the criminological, psychological, and statistical theories that I have been learning in class to the actual work and data that the 3D Lab has been generating. I’ve used the measures in interviews, studied the data that is generated, and run statistical analyses on it. Seeing first-hand the implications of the research that we are conducting allows me see how best to apply my analytical and critical skills at work and how to better refine them. I haven’t limited my research experience here at UCI just to working in a lab; I also participated in the Summer Academic Research Program last summer. I did this to push my limits further and to augment my education and training. Research can be gained through many experiences but it is imperative that one seek out and accomplish any and all opportunities.

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

I enjoy interviewing the adolescents and building a rapport that allows them to be as honest as possible when reporting their behavior. All people engage in antisocial behavior (criminality) at some point in their life, but I am interested in examining the factors that lead people to maintain antisocial patterns and how best to desist engagement in those behaviors.

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

I plan to apply to the Social Ecology Masters in Demographic and Statistical Analysis program here at UCI in 2015 and then apply to the concurrent J.D./Ph.D. program in Criminology here at UCI in 2016. Presenting at two psychological conferences this year and at UROP has enabled me to develop and refine my presentation skills. I can now feel at ease answering questions on data and statistical analyses because Dr. Cauffman and her Graduate students have prepared me to answer complex questions through rigorous preparations.

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

The important thing is to ask your teaching assistants questions and to research the research topic and potential faculty advisor using different approaches. Do your research on the faculty member that you propose to work with; sometimes you may find that their work does not cover the subject matter you are interested in. Sometimes you may find that this initial research may also point you towards a faculty member that is more suitable to your interests. Don’t get discouraged if no one fits your research bill, try to get research experience in any area that may overlap and/ or complement your research interests. This will still prepare you for your future research while also bringing an interdisciplinary approach. It is never too late to begin research and it will prepare you for the competitive and rigorous transition towards Graduate school.

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