Cindy Ly

Meet Cindy Ly, a 4th year Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics (MIMG) major. Cindy is currently involved in the Integrated and Interdisciplinary Undergraduate Research Program (i2URP), a two-year academic development program that prepares juniors and seniors for graduate studies and careers in biomedical research by improving their comprehension of scientific literature and sharpening their presentation skills. During the 2022-2023 academic year, she was a part of the Undergraduate Research Scholars Program (URSP), a three-quarter scholarship program that supports students who are conducting a life science, physical science, or engineering research project with a UCLA faculty. Cindy also participated in the 2022 URC-Sciences Summer Program, the 2021-2022 CARE Fellows Program, and the 2021 Biomedical Sciences Enrichment Program (BISEP). Additionally, Cindy is involved in Path 2, the research-intensive pathway for her major. We had the opportunity to ask Cindy about her research experience at UCLA:

1. How did you first get involved in your research project?

I had the opportunity to participate in the Biomedical Sciences Enrichment Program (BISEP) the summer between my freshman and sophomore year since I was in the PEERS program as a freshman. Although I didn’t get to experience the whole program since it was during the Covid-19 pandemic, this program helped connect participants to various research labs on campus. I was able to connect with the lab that I am currently in, the Hallem Lab, through this program. After meeting with the PI, Dr. Hallem, and my current post-doc mentor, Dr. Ruhi Patel, I joined the lab at the beginning of my sophomore year and have been part of this lab as an undergraduate researcher for the past three years.

2. How would you describe your research experience at UCLA?

My research experience at UCLA has been amazing! Everyone in the Hallem lab is incredibly supportive and willing to answer any questions I have, whether it be about research or career advice. Additionally, UCLA has provided me with so many opportunities to grow and develop myself as an undergraduate researcher. One of the most impactful experiences I had was through the Integrated and Interdisciplinary Undergraduate Research Program (i2URP). It is a small cohort research program where students present their research and participate in student-led journal clubs every week. From this experience, I am able to improve my scientific literature analysis and presentation skills.

3. What is one piece of advice you have for other students thinking about getting involved in research?

One piece of advice I have is to take advantage of the many research opportunities that UCLA has and apply for research programs, even if you’re unsure about getting accepted. Many students are hesitant to apply for these programs because they are not confident in their experience or skills as a researcher. Keep in mind that they know that we are undergraduates and are still learning—as long as you have the passion and drive to pursue research, I highly recommend applying!

4. What are your future career goals?

After I graduate, I will take a gap year but I am planning on pursuing medical school. In the future, I would like to work at an academic hospital and also participate in research on the side.