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Video: 20 Years of Duke Summer Research Opportunity Program

August 30, 2016

In 1996, a group of Duke faculty members, fueled by the desire to bring more students from underrepresented groups into science, spearheaded the creation of the Duke Summer Research Opportunity Program (SROP). The program is designed to give motivated undergraduate students hands-on experience in graduate-level biomedical research over a 10-week period in the summer.

The Duke SROP, which is administered by The Graduate School, marked its 20th year in 2016, and we asked faculty mentors and past participants to reflect on their experience.

 

More Reflections from Past Participants and Graduate Student Mentors

“Duke University’s SROP revolutionized my scientific career by augmenting my scientific curiosity, improving my laboratory skills, teaching me how to make an individual development plan, and providing workshops on time management, networking, and balancing personal life. I believe that Duke University was the gateway that I needed to solidify my choice to finish my undergraduate degree in biology and pursue a Ph.D. at a top-25 Tier I Research Institution.”

 

— Antentor Othrell Hinton Jr., 2008 SROP participant
Ph.D. graduate from the Baylor College of Medicine
Currently a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Iowa

 

“This experience was great both from a research perspective and professional development perspective. … SROP prepared me for my graduate school interviews I attended the following winter. SROP-like initiatives are important because it gives students, exposure to the research field, especially for those that might not be at a strong research institution for undergrad.”

 

— Dionna Gamble, 2013 SROP participant
Currently a Ph.D. student at Duke

 

"As a participant in the Duke SROP program in the summer of 1998, I am truly grateful to Drs. [Kenneth] Kreuzer, [Doug] Marchuk, and [Christian] Raetz for the life-changing experience that the program provided. Dr. Raetz and various members of the lab welcomed me and considered me a genuine member of the team. As an emerging scientist, this experience increased my self-confidence and cemented my decision to pursue a Ph.D. in the biological sciences."

 

— Chinonye Nnakwe, 1998 SROP participant
Ph.D. graduate from the University of Chicago
Currently the Science and Technology Policy Fellow at the AAAS

 

SROP gave me an opportunity to explore research in a very supportive setting where I developed confidence in my abilities to ask questions and to conduct research. These programs provide opportunities for students, especially those from underrepresented minority backgrounds. These efforts must be supported if we wish to increase inclusion and diversity in the sciences. Since my time at Duke and now as a postdoctoral fellow, I have continued encouraging undergraduates to pursue research. Each opportunity will hopefully bring them one step closer to realizing their dreams while also equipping them with the necessary skills to be successful in research.”

 

— Keisha Findley, 2002 SROP participant and former SROP research mentor
Ph.D. graduate from Duke University
Currently an interdisciplinary scientist/microbiologist at the Food and Drug Administration

 

“My lab has hosted three SROP students in my tenure as a graduate student and it's been an exceptional opportunity watching them grow and learn in such a short time. Two out of three of our students had no research experience before they came to our lab, but were able to excel as researchers and have all produced great data. It is readily apparent that the Duke community-at-large takes pride in helping these students excel.”

 

— Myron Evans
SROP research mentor 2010–2014
Duke Ph.D. student

 

“Summer programs, like SROP at Duke, serve at least two purposes that are important for minority students. First, they take us away from home, and out of our comfort zones. We learn to adapt to new people, new places and new situations. This skill is vital when being an adult.  The second purpose of summer programs is to expose and prepare students for their next chapter. … Recognizing what is out there is one thing, but when you are an undergraduate student and the world is still very big, setting a goal, and learning how to get there is half, if not most of the battle.”

 

— Michael Peace, SROP coordinator 2013–2014
Duke Ph.D. student