My Summer Participating in Undergraduate Research

For my Step Signature Project I participated in an Undergraduate Research project under the guidance of Dr. Alvaro Garcia Guerra. My project looked at an allele in cattle that causes multiple ovulation in cattle. I spent most of the summer staining the slides and then looking at them under the microscope to analyze the size of follicles in cattle with and without the allele. I also had the opportunity to travel to farms to help my advisor gather data for his own research projects.

 

During my STEP signature project I learned a lot about myself. My project allowed me to take a large leadership role and to plan something on my own. I needed to write the proposal and set the schedule for the project. This gave me an opportunity to work very independently and learn how to keep myself on task. Being able to motivate myself when I had no specific deadlines was difficult, but it was also rewarding to see my project begin to come to fruition. This was transformational for me because it showed me that I could work on my own, without a rigorous structure, like during classes.

 

One of the things that helped facilitate the transformation discussed in #2 was my relationship with my research advisor, Dr. Garcia Guerra. His initial involvement helped me figure out my project and he taught me a lot about my topic. His guidance gave me the confidence to take on my project and work independently. He also allowed me to help with some of his projects which gave me the opportunity to work with beef cattle, an animal species I had little experience with.

A second relationship that helped lead to the transformation discussed in question two, was with a histology technician at the College of Veterinary Medicine Histology Lab. She helped to teach me how to stain and place cover slips on the slides needed for my project. She was very helpful throughout as a resource for any questions I had. Instead of doing it herself, she allowed me to learn how to do it on my own. This gave me the ability to be independent during my project.

Towards the end of the summer, I started to finish the first part of my project. This event motivated me to keep working. I also was able to get an idea about what the results of my research project would be. Seeing this potential result also helped motivate me to finish my project because I wanted to figure out if my hypothesis was correct.

 

This change is transformational for me because it taught me a valuable lesson about work ethic. The further I get in my academic career, many of my classes will have less structure and I will be forced to set my own goals and schedules. This will also be very true in my professional life. I hope to one day own my own veterinary practice. If I am to own my practice, I would be in charge of deciding when and how everting gets done, and I would be solely responsible. It would be very important for me to be able to set schedules for myself and to have the self-discipline to stick to them.

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