This is part two of a series on the Summer Research Opportunities Program (SROP).

By: Chalier Dones Ortiz
Animal Sciences Major (Pre-Veterinary Medicine)
University of Puerto Rico – Mayagüez

Why you should not do SROP 

Let me start by saying hook, line and sinker. Yes, this was another false advertisement plot to get you to read what I have to say, but do not even think about leaving yet. Truth is there are several reasons that will stop you from applying to SROP, but these have little to nothing related to the quality of the program, but more to do about your willingness to explore the unknown as you embark on an unforgettable journey.

If you are the type of person who does not get excited about growth, DON’T APPLY! When I applied to SROP I was interested in doing research and further exploring dairy cattle nutrition. I received that and much more. Above all, I had keen interest in having a glimpse of the hardships of research on the graduate level. Upon meeting with my professor, I expressed that beyond my determined project I would love to participate and help in any other projects that could provide the experience I was searching for. He listened! Before I knew it, I was out and about going back and forth from the lab to the farm, working directly with the animals, sampling at the craziest hours and going back to the lab to process samples. I felt pushed to my limits and in these circumstances, I believe I gained all the right tools, preparation and confidence to tackle research on the graduate level.

My project titled “The Bioavailability of Mg in Dairy Cattle” studied magnesium excretion in dairy cattle in which urine is the principle pathway of output. Image shows the method employed to obtain urine samples later.

If you do not want to get better at communicating interpersonally and in research, DON’T APPLY! As a Puerto Rican whose native language is Spanish, having to constantly think and express myself in another language posed a great challenge. Slipups, wrongful use of words and overthinking was a daily struggle I dealt with through my SROP experience. However, having to engage in conversations with peers, clarifying doubts and concerns regarding your project with your Principal Investigator and communicating research in both written and spoken form drastically enhanced my English communication skills. By the time my final presentations came around, I was prepared to engage with the crowd and more than capable of sharing my summer experience.

Communication is important on all levels. It is instrumental in developing and maintaining a fruitful relationship with your mentor. Dr. Chanhee Lee (PI and Assistant Professor of OARDC Animal Sciences) and I during poster presentations to faculty at OARDC.

If you do not want to meet interesting people from different backgrounds and develop long lasting relationships, DON’T APPLY! In my case, I was part of the 2019 SROP – OSU Wooster Cohort. This meant that we would live for approximately two months in a small town with little to do but spend time with each other, and the community at OARDC. The results of these circumstances are the ones I hold most dear and from which I gained friendships and even growth in my development as a researcher. OARDC provided me the opportunity to be fully immersed in my research and have constant exposure with peers and faculty from all over the world. In turn, it developed my ability to connect with people with different backgrounds and cultures and to value the importance of sharing quality research with all that are willing to listen.

SROP – OSU Wooster Cohort 2019 with friend and mentor Gary Closs Jr., Department of Food Science and Technology Graduate Research Associate.