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

Traditional UROP 2014-2015

What made you choose UROP?

I wanted the opportunity to explore the STEM field outside the classroom. Classes are great and all, I love school, but often just education alone doesn’t provide a wide view of the career you can pursue after achieving whatever degree it is that you have chosen. UROP gave me access to a ton of different ways that science can be applied different careers, and really showed me what it was that I enjoyed about my biology degree. 

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

I definitely learned that I did NOT want to go to medical school, and that there are so many more careers than you can even comprehend. It gave me a good foundation to be more creative about the career that would be a good fit for me. 

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

I think you’re asking about the researcher I studied with? I joined Dr. King’s lab my freshman year, and stayed on for sophomore year. I was kinda around a bit my junior year, but didn’t really work for him because I was taking my career in a different direction. We still went to get coffee together a couple times a year both junior and senior year, and he gave me a ton of guidance and support in school and where I was headed next. Dr. King wrote me endless letters of recommendation for grad school applications and internship/job applications (and still does). He wrote my letter for law school. When I committed, I sent him some local handmade chocolate and a hat — he sent me back a photo! 

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

I think UROP mostly “gave me permission” to consider doing something OTHER than medicine. When you arrive on campus as a freshman, every person you meet is 1. applying to Ross, 2. going into engineering, or 3. pre-med. I was also considering medicine when I got on campus, but I wasn’t particularly excited about the idea. UROP gave me some perspective and some outside experience, that led to a ton of other research opportunities outside UROP! (Paleoecology, biodiversity sampling in the middle of the Amazon jungle, endangered species SSP for the Detroit Zoo). It’s really healthy to get out of the classroom, put down the textbooks, and go DO SOMETHING. 

What advice would you give to a current UROP student?

Embrace the experience! I personally didn’t love the weekly seminars, but the lab experience and working with Dr. King and my other lab mates was absolutely unbeatable. I got to do some really cool hands-on research (surgery on rats, anyone?) because I was willing to say “yes” and try whatever my PI offered. Make sure you’re giving yourself enough personal time, undergrad is a great time to work too hard and burn yourself out if you’re not looking out for your own needs, but UROP is a really great place for getting awesome experience. 

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

I’m currently in law school!! I’m just now finishing my 1L year. I’m a dual JD / Masters of Public Administration student, looking to pursue a career in environmental law and policy. I’m a huge advocate for non-traditional STEM careers. 

Is there any other advice you would like to impart to current or future UROP students?

Take care of yourself! Class work is important, studying is important, and gaining experience is important, but you have to feed yourself, exercise, get some fresh air, and breathe! Take UROP as an opportunity to find other careers that you may not have thought about before. I’m not becoming a biomedical researcher, but my experience in a biomedical lab with UROP absolutely changed the trajectory of my career.