As a Pre-Pharmacy (3+3) student at Chapman University, Benji Whitmore (’20) has been actively involved with research for most of his undergraduate career. In 2016, for example, he was selected to participate in the Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity’s SURF program, a highly competitive, paid, on-campus summer fellowship that allows students to pursue research and creative activity under the guidance of full-time faculty mentors during the summer.

As a participant in the SURF program, Benji worked under the guidance of Dr. Miao Zhang, to conduct his independent research project entitled “Structural Study for Ca (2+) Hypersensitivity of Mutant SK Ion Channel.”

Having thoroughly enjoyed OURCA’s summer fellowship program, Benji decided to continue working with the Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity as an OURCA Ambassador. OURCA Ambassadors are a group of highly motivated students who have a passion for research and/or creative activities. They serve as liaisons for OURCA at various events, discussing and highlighting all OURCA has to offer with faculty, students, and more. “I have really enjoyed being an OURCA Ambassador,” Benji said. 

“When I began to do research I had no knowledge of all of the grants, workshops, and other events that we [at OURCA] facilitate.” Once he found out, he took full advantage of opportunities that fostered his goals.

“I was fortunate enough to apply and receive a SURF fellowship as a sophomore and this research project was a pivotal step in my academic career.” Working as an OURCA Ambassador and participating in the SURF program have had a lasting impact on Benji’s life and career. “Working with OURCA” he says, “has allowed me to guide and mentor other students in my program and I have created many valuable relationships with other students I would have never otherwise crossed paths with.”

Not surprisingly, Benji would encourage all students to consider undergraduate research. “It has provided me with the opportunity to gain a better understanding of my chosen career path.” Benji is finishing up his undergraduate degree this May and will begin a Doctor of Pharmacy degree at Chapman University’s new Rinker campus in the Fall.

Want to get involved in one of the many awesome research and creative opportunities available through the Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity? Visit 

OURCA’s website to get more information about the many opportunities available to Chapman University undergraduate students.