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Jumpstart your career in research

UM’s Bannatyne campus is renowned for its innovative research and there are many opportunities for undergrad students to participate – and get paid for it!

November 3, 2023 — 

Are you considering a career in research? UM’s Bannatyne campus is renowned for its innovative research and there are many opportunities for undergrad students to participate – and get paid for it!

That’s why Career Services, in collaboration with UM professors in various fields, is hosting  Undergrad Research Opportunities at Bannatyne Campus, a virtual information session for undergrads on November 14. You’ll be able to get essential information and can ask questions to professors in various fields such as neuroscience, cell biology, environmental epigenetics, physiology, immunology/virology, epidemiology, and nanotechnology. In addition to answering questions and networking, you’ll also learn how to find research opportunities and apply.

To understand why undergraduate research can open a lot of doors for careers both in and outside academia, UM Today spoke to two previous undergraduate student researchers, Noor Imran and Camila Oda Jallime.

UM Today: What research project/s have you been involved in?

Noor: This past summer, I worked on a joint project co-supervised by Dr. Paul Marcogliese and Dr. Robert Beattie in the department of Biochemistry and Medical Genetics. My project involved examining the genes that are involved in neurological disorder called 22q11 Deletion Syndrome (DS) of DiGeorge Syndrome. The objective of the project was to delete 22q11DS associated genes in fruit fly models and assess impact that those deletions have on the brain activity of flies.

Camila: My summer research project focused on investigating the therapeutic potential of interferon lambda during vaginal mucosal inflammation. I was very lucky to work under the supervision of Dr. Thomas Murooka in the Immunology Department. The Murooka lab is an incredibly supportive environment, allowing me to learn and grow beyond my expectations. I learnt many lab techniques like qPCR, immunohistochemistry, cell culture, and many more that allowed me to develop my research project. I learned how to communicate my findings through presentations and meetings. Everyone in the Immunology department was extremely kind and happy to answer any questions that I had. I couldn’t have asked for a better place to have my first summer research experience.

UM Today: How have these experiences supported your learning?

Noor: I think this research experience provided me with an opportunity to apply the skills that I have learned in lecture to an experiment. It allowed me to make connections through various fields like genetics, biochemistry, and neuroscience. I presented my research in our weekly Journal Club meetings and during the Child Health Research Days (CHRD) conference, improving my presentation skills.

Camila: The mentorship and feedback I received from everyone in my Lab tremendously impacted my academic journey. I found that doing research has broadened my perspective and understanding of science, allowing me to do better in challenging courses. 

What transferrable skills have you gained through this experience?

Noor: I gained many transferrable skills through this experience, skills to communicate, collaborate and design an experiment. For my project, I worked with two other undergraduate students and really enjoyed the experience of collaborating with like-minded people. Presenting my research to audiences, who may not be experts in neuroscience also enabled me to modify my presentation style to for a wide audience which is, in my opinion, a critical skill to have if one wants to be a scientist and an educator.

Camila: There are so many important skills I was able to develop during the summer, but the one that stands out the most is perseverance. In research, experiments don’t always work as you expected, but it is crucial to keep trying and identifying what can you improve. And that is the fun thing about research, you are trying to understand something that does not have a clear answer yet.

UM Today: What would your advice to future undergraduates applying for research positions?

Noor: The advice that I would give to future undergrads would be to not hesitate in reaching out to researchers. At the end of my first year, I did not apply for any research positions because I thought that I did not have enough prior research experience. I would encourage undergrads to learn from my experience and not be afraid to contact researchers. Additionally, if students don’t have a stellar GPA then that does not mean there aren’t opportunities for them. There are programs and other ways available through which students can get external funding for their project. It is worth applying for positions even if your GPA is not the best. Summer research is a very good place to start if you are unsure what research entails, and if you end up liking research, then it will open more academic and professional avenues for you in the future!

Camila: Don’t be scared to reach out to professors. University of Manitoba has many incredible researchers who would be very happy to talk to students. I would suggest finding a professor who can be a good mentor to you. This will enhance your learning experience tremendously. Don’t be discouraged if you receive “no” responses. I faced many rejections before finally being able to join the Murooka lab this summer. But in the end, it was all worth it and I am beyond grateful to have found such an amazing opportunity with some of the best people.

Undergrad Research Opportunities at Bannatyne Campus will take place on November 14 at 2:00 p.m. Register for the event on UMCONNECT today.

This event is an excellent opportunity to learn about the many health related undergraduate research opportunities on campus. See you there!

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