What years did you participate in UROP?


What UROP Program(s) were you a part of?

UROP in Residence and through its transition to Michigan Research Community (MRC)


What made you choose UROP?

I originally chose the program because I was very interested in the guarantee of obtaining a spot in a laboratory as an incoming freshman. I had no idea that this program would not only solidify my interest in pursuing a scientific career but also lead to lifelong friendships.

What do you think you have learned from your UROP experience?

I learned many skills through this program above and beyond basic laboratory skills (although those were certainly integral in my decision to pursue a PhD in neuroscience!). In addition to the technical skills, I think the most important skills I acquired in this program include critical thinking and problem solving, how to be a leader, and what makes a good mentor.

What is the extent to which you have kept in contact with your Research Mentor?

Unfortunately I have not kept in touch with my assigned research mentor; while she was a fabulous resource while in the program, we did not keep in touch socially. However, I remain exceptionally close to a number of individuals who I met through this program, including my "adopted" mentor - who I speak with weekly!

How did your UROP experience shape or inform the next steps you took in your academic and professional journey?

My experience, particularly the requirement to present my research to a broad audience, strongly influenced my career trajectory. In addition to presenting my work on campus, I had the opportunity to travel to the national meeting at the University of North Carolina at Asheville; I fell in love with talking about my work and attending sessions and learning about the wide variety of work that others were doing. From that moment on, I knew I wanted to be in involved in communicating science somehow. After leaving the University of Michigan, I received my PhD in Psychology (Behavioral Neuroscience) from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and completed my post-doctoral work at Duke University. These experiences led me to a career in medical communications; after spending seven years in a medical communications agency, I transitioned to a role in the pharmaceutical industry where I lead global scientific communications for several pipeline assets.

What advice would you give to a current UROP student?

UROP is a time to explore and find what makes you passionate - and you may or may not find this in your first laboratory experience. But keep trying and keep an open mind - you never know what you're going to fall in love with. Also, there are SO MANY careers out there that are related to research and the sciences beyond working in a laboratory - in addition to learning the technical day-to-day skills required of your laboratory position, talk to others in the community and in the laboratory and learn what drives them. It's never too early to start building your network and exploring career options. While most people cringe at the word "networking," it's really not that hard. And if you want to learn about someone's career (or how they got to where they are), don't be afraid to ask! I've found that people who love what they do are usually eager to talk about their career and how they found their position, and are generally open to doing informational interviews to help guide others who are trying to carve their own path.

What are some recent publications or accomplishments that you are proud of?

 In 2014, I started as a medical writer at a medical communications agency fresh out of my postdoc. I  worked my way up to a leadership position within the organization, becoming a scientific director leading the neurology unit; more recently, I have transitioned to a role in the pharmaceutical industry. During this time, I have received my CMPP (a credential demonstrating knowledge and expertise as a medical publication professional) and have had the opportunity to demonstrate thought leadership via invited talks and publications (eg, https://ismpp-newsletter.com/2019/10/30/scientific-communication-platforms-highlighting-current-best-practices/) within my professional society (the International Society for Medical Publication Professionals). However, while these items look great on a resume, I'm actually most proud of the impact I have had on the medical writers that I have had the opportunity to train and mentor; it's incredibly satisfying to help junior writers learn and grow and become increasingly independent as they hone their scientific communication and strategic thinking skills.