Past Participant Testimonials

Gary Closs

Gary Closs, Jr., participated in 2011 mentored by Dr. Gireesh Rajashekara, Center for Food Animal Health

During the summer of 2011, I completed my research at the Food Animal Health Research Program with Dr. Gireesh Rajashekara. My SROP experience is/was a consequential piece of my research journey. I was granted the opportunity to preview life of a graduate student through research projects, writing prompts, and poster and oral presentations. When it was time to apply to graduate school, the notes I took in my weekly SROP class helped me through what could have been a strenuous task. My summer experience eased my graduate transition and gave me the confidence and skills necessary to be successful as a graduate student.

I would beseech incoming students to the Summer Research Opportunities Program to be open to the research experience. My favorite part was being located on the Wooster campus where the cohort was smaller, allowing me and my fellow interns the chance to share culture practices and food, deeply discuss research interests, and inspire each other’s aspirations. I learned a plethora of lab techniques, writing skills, and presentation tactics during my first summer of SROP that has continuously helped me during my graduate tenure. However, the soft skills and application tips that I learned have continuously set me up for success.

Gary is currently a PhD student in the Department of Food, Science, and Technology advised by Dr. Gireesh Rajashekara.

Chalier Dones OrtizChalier Dones Ortiz, participated in 2019 mentored by Dr. Chanhee Lee, Animal Sciences

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.

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. Read full story

Yesenia I. Velez Negrón

Yesenia I. Velez Negrón, participated in 2019 mentored by Dr. Chris Taylor, Plant Pathology

I was part of the Summer Research Opportunities Program (SROP) at The Ohio State University while I was an undergraduate student from Crop Protection of the Faculty of Agricultural Science at the University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez Campus (UPRM) in 2019. I wanted to share my experience with others underrepresented students about a program that led me to continue graduate studies at OSU. For that summer, since I was nearing graduation, I wanted to find an opportunity to be part of an academic environment. As a Puerto Rican, Hispanic and a woman in agricultural science, I found this program as a gateway that provided me a support team. This program helps and provides underrepresented students the tools to develop research skills and critical thinking as future researchers. In this program I was able to challenge myself in a different environment, a different culture and on a different research experience. My research was focused on three soil borne pathogens (a fungus, a nematode and a bacteria) on tomato plants. The goal was finding different possible biocontrol agents from a collection of bacteria with the same genre (Pseudomonas) were tested using in vitro assays.

It is very important to create and understand how relationships affect our lives, since these people are going to be our work partners in the near future. To create these types of relationships, it is important to understand that a relationship needs commitment from both ways. A tip for starting a good relationship with a group or mentor is to take a proactive approach. Remember that for a healthy relationship it is important to look at the big picture. Asking specific questions, managing your time, and trying to troubleshoot your experimental problems can make your research successful. Through this experience I learned how to improve my problem-solving skills, not only in an academic way but also in my social life. In this program I was able to challenge myself in a different environment, a different culture and on a different research experience. Read full story

Yesenia Velez-Negron is currently a PhD student in the Department of Plant Pathology advised by Dr. Jonathan Jacobs.