In my second year at U of T, I did the Research Opportunity Program (ROP). I assisted a professor in the department of Art History who was working on a book about illustrated haggadoth (the Jewish ritual book of Passover). Through this experience, I got a glimpse into how research works, some experience for my CV, the opportunity to work closely with a professor, and an academic credit.
The ROP is specifically for second year students who apply into the program after first year. It’s designed to give students access to research experience early in their undergraduate degrees. And, as demonstrated by my experience, it’s not only for science students!
In the ROP, I learned a lot about working with others. I was on a team with two other students and we were basically doing a year long group project together. I also learned about working with professors, doing research in the U of T libraries system, and writing for publications.
I got in touch with some other students who went through the ROP to hear about their experiences.
Julia, third year, criminology and psychology
ROP: Earth Sciences – project in Geophysics
“From my point of view, the ROP program is one of the best course-based opportunities for students at U of T. In so many fields, it can be hard for everyone to gain research experience, and this gives many students a chance to do so. It’s extremely refreshing to get out of the classroom and into the field every once in a while too!”
Jimmy, first year, life science
ROP (current): BioChemistry
“An eye opener. Never thought school could be so enjoyable.”
Enxhi, fourth year, health & disease specialist
ROP: Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
“Fieldwork was a grueling and exhausting experience, working with a group of amazing and friendly people. I was very good at it, but I hated it — and I wouldn’t change it for the world, because it taught me more about myself, about discipline and work ethic, than I could’ve ever hoped. 10/10 would recommend.”
Kezia, third year, life sciences
ROP: Environmental Studies
“This program was invaluable to my university experience as it provided me with a unique perspective on the research process and the importance of a collaborative environment within the lab… I highly recommend this experience to any and all students interested in research!”
Hilary, third year, laboratory medicine and pathobiology
“My ROP experience was an important enrichment to my lecture courses at U of T where I was able to work as a team member in a collaborative research environment. It helped me develop my critical thinking and analytical skills through solving problems in a lab setting. Most importantly, the ROP provided me with the opportunity to conduct original research in a scientific field I was truly passionate about.”
Jordan, third year, chemistry and math
“For the most part, I spent my time in the lab making these compounds and trying to characterize them in a variety of ways. It was a really wonderful experience, and through it I learned so much about working alongside others as well as what it means to pursue a career in research. After the project finished, I applied for and was given a scholarship to work in the lab over the summer, and it’s been my most interesting and exciting job yet!”
Tae, first year, life science
ROP (current): Physiology, based at SickKids
“Amazing opportunity to learn and become familiarized with modern laboratory techniques. This course provides an enjoyable learning environment, with ample chances to interact with notable researchers… I have gained so much from this experience, much more than any other courses have provided to me so far.”
Cindy, third year, pharmaceutical chemistry specialist
“The ROP is a great networking opportunity. You get to know professors and graduate students. You also get to practice lab techniques, ask meaningful questions, and pick up tips and tricks on how to do things in a lab.”
Morgan, third year, immunology and genetics
“The ROP I took part in was amazing because of how many transferable skills I picked up. My ROP was based on cognitive psychology, but I found that the skills I gained in organization and interacting with people have already helped me perform better at my current job in cardiovascular surgery research. Don’t underestimate how far an ROP can take you!”
Interested in the Research Opportunity Program, or other forms of undergraduate research? Appreciate my Magic School bus reference in the title? Reach me in the comments below or on twitter at @lifeatuoft!