Christina Georges didn't choose UC Merced because of the opportunities she would have to conduct research as an undergraduate.
"When doing my own research on UC Merced in high school, I learned that UC Merced was a younger university," said the fourth-year biological sciences major from La Mirada. "I believed that being part of this university would allow me to grow with the university, as well. I was also intrigued by all of the student-run organizations on campus. I knew these organizations would give me the chance to be involved."
Georges, who shared her experience on a video shared on UC Merced's social media, said she thought the environment at UC Merced would allow her to prioritize her academic studies during her undergraduate years. After she enrolled, however, Georges learned about one of the campus's major selling points: the chance to be involved in exciting research before getting a bachelor's degree.
At many universities, research is limited to those in post-graduate programs. Since its opening, UC Merced has prided itself on providing the opportunity for undergraduate students to take part in research projects.
In 2014, UC Merced established the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Center (UROC), with the mission of "fostering access to faculty-mentored research opportunities for undergraduate students from all academic disciplines with structured support and training to prepare for graduate studies and future careers."
Georges said her professors talked about their research labs and invited students to join their lab teams, something she did as a junior.
She joined Professor Rudy Ortiz's physiology lab, where she has had the opportunity to learn how to use lab tools and participate in highly impactful research.
"The project I am working on this semester is studying how CBD affects AT1 expression in renal and heart tissue," she said. "The goal of this project is to understand how CBD affects metabolic syndrome. When AT1 receptors are reduced, this causes reduced high blood pressure. Learning how CBD affects AT1 expression will allow us to understand how CBD affects the regulation of blood pressure and other cardiovascular functions."
Georges said she shares the opportunities UC Merced offers with the local chapter of the American Medical School Association, which she serves as president. And she wants all potential students to know about the unique possibilities ahead of them should they enroll at UC Merced.
"UC Merced is an incredible university with many great opportunities for students to get involved in," she said. "There are several laboratories in different fields of research that undergraduates can be a part of, as well. Professors are always looking for undergraduate students to join their lab team.
"The professors of UC Merced also make this university special. They provide their students with all the resources needed to succeed in their pursuit of higher education. The environment that UC Merced provides its students makes this university special, as well."
Applications for the summer UROC program, Summer Opportunity for Advanced Research (SOAR) are open and due Jan. 23. More information is available at the UROC website.