What years did you participate in UROP?


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

Traditional UROP Life Sciences Discipline

What made you choose UROP?

I applied to UROP because, coming to campus as a freshman, I knew I was interested in scientific research. This program made the process of finding a lab that matched my interests less daunting, given all the other adjustments of beginning at a large university. Having a structured program was beneficial for the interview process and receiving a peer-mentor helped me gain familiarity with the ins-and-outs of research specific to U-M programs and departments.

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

My UROP experience helped shape my academic and professional interests. I began on a clinical project that aimed to evaluate epidemiological health outcomes in prediabetic patients. I really admired the translational nature of this work, yet it taught me that I was more passionate about basic science. I learned what strong mentorship looked like and I sharpened my data analysis skills. I also gained valuable experience creating and presenting a poster at the UROP symposium, for which I was awarded a blue-ribbon. Communicating data to a variety of audiences is an invaluable skill that I have applied in other, more recent, research experiences.

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

I have been in touch with my research mentor over the years, sharing of my recent research experiences and accomplishments, and receiving updates on the project that I contributed to through UROP. It’s exciting for her to see how my foundational work on the Diabetes Prevention Project sparked my interests, and it’s rewarding for me to see progress of her project all these years later. 

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

UROP shaped my academic experience at U-M. By partaking in research at such an early stage in my college career– beginning first semester freshman year– I was able to choose a major that would appropriately set me up for a career in biological research, and it motivated me to join a laboratory for independent studies. Beyond U-M, my UROP mentor helped connect me to a summer internship where I worked alongside physician-scientists in Boston.

What advice would you give to a current UROP student?

I would encourage UROP students to take advantage of the research environment that they join by asking questions, reading up on the field, and seeking out additional opportunities such as symposiums, seminars, or conferences. In addition to familiarizing yourself with your assigned project, attending weekly lab meetings is a great way to understand the general research goals of the lab. Utilize your principal investigator, post-doctoral fellows, graduate students, and peers in the lab: they can provide academic advice, professional guidance, and, of course, research mentorship.

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

While at U-M, I joined the chemical engineering laboratory of Dr. Greg Thurber. I investigated the physiochemical properties of peptides designed to target cancer mechanisms. My contributions led to a paper that is currently submitted. Upon graduating, I joined the laboratory of Dr. Loren Walensky at Harvard and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute where I helped design and express a series of mutants of the pro-apoptotic protein BAX. This structure-function analysis revealed residues essential for the conformational regulation of BAX and was recently published as a co-authored study in Nature Communications. I have also worked to characterize clinically relevant mutations of VLCAD through my work in the Walensky laboratory, elucidating how such changes impact structure and function. This study also resulted in a co-authored paper, currently submitted. I look forward to continuing my work as an independent scientist, eventually at the PhD level of study.

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

UROP is a great way to identify your interests and a perfect door to all the research opportunities at U-M and beyond. Remember to have fun (: