STEP Reflection

Lauren Peltier

Undergraduate Research


  1. My STEP Signature Project involved undergraduate research in a Dr. Anita K. Hopper’s lab in the department of Molecular Genetics at The Ohio State University for the summer of 2018. I began training in the lab with my mentor in May and developed my own personal project over the course of the summer involving the accumulation of tRNA introns under stress conditions.
  2. My understanding of myself and the scientific community as a whole changed dramatically through the completion of my STEP Signature Project. When my collegiate education began, I was sure that I never wanted to do undergraduate research or work in a laboratory. It seemed both overwhelming and uninteresting to me. This summer, I learned exactly how wrong I was in making these assumptions. I discovered that undergraduate research is the complete opposite. I found the work I was doing in the lab to be intellectually stimulating and exciting. In addition, I came to appreciate the extensive amount of work that goes into scientific discoveries. I was fascinated when I was able to tie material learned from my classes into the lab techniques and protocols I was using.
  3. The relationships that I developed over the course of the completion of my STEP Signature Project were extremely transformative. I was able to build strong mentorships with the other members of my lab and my P.I. as well as develop friendships with them. They are people who I now see on a daily basis when I go into the lab. I am able to have intriguing conversations with them about all sorts of topics, not just science. I can go to them for help in the realm of the laboratory as well as with any questions I have regarding my classes or even career and professional advice. They have shown interest in teaching me about the prior discoveries made by our lab and any material related to these discoveries. They have also shown patience and compassion when I have made mistakes or struggled to understand something. All of these things have helped me feel welcome and comfortable in the lab, which has ultimately led me to think and explore for myself. I am able to contribute intellectually and I feel as though my ideas truly matter, despite the fact that my level of education is not the same as the graduate students or the post-doctoral fellows. In addition to the relationships I have developed, I have also had a few specific events contribute to my transformative experience. My specific project in the lab has been quite successful and my P.I. has taken a great interest in it. She previously asked me to present a poster of my research at the Rustbelt RNA Conference this coming October. Just recently, she suggested that I even apply to give an oral presentation of my research at this conference. These events have made me feel as though the work I am doing in the lab is worthwhile and significant.In addition, my P.I. asked me to sit on a student panel for one of the classes she teaches and discuss my research experiences. This student panel took place a week ago, and as the students in the class asked me questions, I realized just how impactful my undergraduate research has been. I found myself strongly encouraging these students to get involved in research because I wish I had done so sooner.
  1. My transformation that occurred because of my STEP Signature Project has been truly impactful in my current motivation to succeed in school, as well as in my career aspirations. I have also wanted to go to medical school and become as physician. My research has allowed me to have interactions with professions within the scientific community and get a true understanding of what it is like to solve problems. Although undergraduate research and medicine are extremely different, I was able to relate my experiences in the lab to things I might one day experience as a doctor. My ability to see these connections have given me a newfound motivation to succeed in my remaining undergraduate years and get into medical school. I think the most important thing I have learned from STEP is how important my career aspirations are to myself.