What years did you participate in UROP? 2009-2011

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

Traditional UROP as a Freshman and Research Scholars

What made you choose UROP?

I knew I wanted to get research experience and potentially go to graduate school.

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

So much! I learned about networking, science communication, disseminating research, and I learned firsthand how to do the scientific method. I also learned how to communicate with a supervisor and how to manage my time to achieve research goals. I learned about research design and gained experience leading a research project.

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

I still keep in touch with my Research Mentors to give them life updates or share papers I've published.

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

UROP directly shaped my next steps in that it prepared me for graduate school and exposed me to many different types of research early on so that I had the skills I needed to lead my own research projects. It also motivated me to become a mentor of undergraduates seeking research experience. It helped to give me contacts through my research mentors.

Where are you in your professional journey?

I am the Postdoctoral Fellow in Animal Behavior at the Oklahoma City Zoo. I lead studies of animal cognition and personality on various species. I conduct statistical analysis, prepare manuscripts for publication in peer-reviewed journals, and teach informally and formally. I also help conduct animal welfare studies at the Zoo.

What advice would you give to a current UROP student?

Get involved with your project(s) as much as possible. Don't be afraid to ask questions so that you can deepen your understanding of all aspects of your project (i.e., the "whys" of the research, not just the "whats"). Try to figure out what interest you most, and what doesn't, and why.

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

National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow;

Barrett, L.P. & Benson-Amram, S. (2020). Can Asian elephants use water as a tool in the floating object task? Animal Behavior and Cognition, 7, 3, 310-326.

Barrett, L.P., Stanton, L.A., & Benson-Amram, S. (2018). The cognition of ‘nuisance’ species. Animal Behaviour, 147, 167-77.