What years did you participate in UROP? 

I participated in the UROP program through the 2014-2015 school year. My research focused on a coral reef fish species that interestingly is bioluminescent due to a bacterial symbiont.

What made you choose UROP?

I chose to enroll in UROP as a freshman because it was recommended to me as a useful program to develop competitive skills for graduate school applications.

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

During my year in UROP, I gained a basic understanding of fundamental research skills, including: general laboratory conduct, collaboration with other researchers, experimental design, data management and organization, statistical analysis using R software, scientific writing, and the process of submitting a manuscript to a peer-reviewed journal. I also experienced the process of trial and error that often accompanies scientific research, which taught me the patience and perseverance necessary for my field of study, along with time management skills. 

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

Following the school year, I remained in contact with my UROP research mentor to see the project through the publication process. My mentor, Dr. Alison Gould, wrote a letter of recommendation for my application to graduate school three years later. I have remained in contact with her, even since she has moved to the California Academy of Sciences, on a somewhat regular basis, mainly to catch up on our current work. Her mentorship has remained a resource for me, as she provides useful advice for how to navigate graduate research. 

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

After my freshman year in UROP, I was motivated to pursue a career in scientific research, and continued taking part in research projects to prepare for my next steps. My experiences through UROP made me a more competitive applicant for internships during my undergraduate education, including an NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates Fellowship. Those experiences also benefitted my application to Purdue University's graduate school, where I was accepted as a master's student, and have recently been accepted to stay as a PhD student. 

What advice would you give to a current UROP student?

My advice to undergraduates who are either applying to or beginning their UROP projects is to discuss the potential of authorship with their mentors. My mentor offered me this opportunity at the outset of my project, and this experience, as well as the resulting publication, was a great way to bolster my resume.

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

At Purdue, my research thesis has focused on contributing to our understanding of fish reproduction, and the relationships between maternal traits and the success of their offspring. Projects for this thesis have tested these relationships in fish species at a global scale, as well as locally in the Great Lakes. Last week, I successfully defended my master's thesis, and hope to publish the thesis chapters over the summer. 

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

Some general advice would be to ask plenty of questions. In my experience, professors and graduate students are usually happy to answer questions to students who express interest in their work.