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- UROP Associate Director Catalina Ormsby Receives Distinguished Diversity Leaders Award
- UROP Welcomes New Director: Dr. Michelle Ferrez
- Thirty Years of UROP: Explore More
- 30th Anniversary of UROP Program
- A two-way street: UROP Peer Facilitators support first-year, second-year, and transfer students in their research and academics — and learn from them in the process
- UROP adapts to COVID crisis
- Michael Kheir, MD
- Ninette Musili, UROP Alumni
- Yaera Spraggins, Recently Published UROP Alumni
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- Lessons from virtual summer fellowship in Detroit linger for students
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What UROP Program(s) were you a part of?
Traditional UROP 2003-2004
Research Scholars 2004-2005
UROP in Residence (MRC) as a Resident Advisor 2005-2006
What made you choose UROP?
In high school I attended a short microbiology program at the University of Utah. We learned about the human genome project, visited labs that were participating in sequencing, and learned to extract DNA from split pea soup. After that experience I was hooked; I knew that I wanted a career in research science. UROP was one of the things that attracted me to University of Michigan because it gave me the opportunity to get involved in research as a freshman!
What do you think you have learned from your UROP experience?
UROP allowed me to explore different career directions and test out my research interests (and disinterests). Neither of the research experiences that I had with UROP ended up being a good discipline fit, but the parts of the research that I did enjoy, interrogating physical questions about biological systems and quantitative analysis, are central to my research as a biophysical chemist.
What is the extent to which you have kept in contact with your Research Mentor?
I have not kept in contact with my UROP Research Mentors because my field of research changed. I do keep in contact with two Research Mentors in the Chemistry Department at Michigan, Nils Walter and Charlie Brooks. I worked for Nils Walter as a research assistant and I connected with Charlie Brooks through conferences in my field. Both of them have provided support and guidance throughout my career.
How did your UROP experience shape or inform the next steps you took in your academic and professional journey?
I have participated extensively in programs with missions that provide undergraduate researchers the opportunity to work directly with faculty on ongoing research projects: as an undergraduate researcher and RA with the UROP program at Michigan, graduate fellow for the SIRE and CBL programs at Emory University, and now as a faculty mentor for the STARS Summer Research program at Yale. The rewarding experiences that I have had supporting younger generations of scientists has convinced me to pursue a career in academia where I can continue to mentor future scientists as well as engage in scientific discovery.
What advice would you give to a current UROP student?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions about your project or your field! Coupled to this is being a good listener. As an undergraduate you aren’t expected to know everything about the research you are studying. The other lab members have extensive knowledge about the topic you are working on and could save you weeks of trial and error. Asking questions demonstrates that you are interested in the research and fosters communication with your new colleagues. If you find yourself asking a lot of questions, before asking for help try to solve the problem yourself. Explain what you found and what you need clarified - don’t be intimidated by all the jargon. The more you visit the literature, the easier it gets to read.
What are some recent publications or accomplishments that you are proud of?
It has been a year of exciting firsts! I started an Assistant Professor position in the Department of Chemistry at Yale University in Jan 2020 (www.caitlindavislab.com) and published my first senior author paper, Feng, R.; Gruebele, M.*; Davis, C.M.*“Quantifying protein dynamics and stability in a living organism,” Nat. Commun. 2019, 10, 1179.
Is there any other advice that you would like to impart to current or future UROP students?
Once you’ve narrowed down a lab that you are interested in, ask to meet with a couple of the graduate student and post docs in the lab before you commit. They will likely be your day-to-day mentors in the lab and can tell you about the projects going on in the lab, lab expectations, and mentoring style of the Research Mentor.