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UROP Kicks Off Eventful 2019

student perfoms "surgery" on a watermelon

A student performs “surgery” on a watermelon at the Johnson & Johnson Surgical Training Institute

UROP staff kicked off 2019 with a busy IAP full of exciting events.

In early January, the staff led a Facilitating Effective Research (FER) workshop for 24 UROP mentors, concentrated in the MIT Media Lab, over the course of two luncheons. Geared toward graduate students and post-docs new to UROP mentoring, the workshop covered best practices such as setting and managing expectations; effective mentor-mentee communication; and project sizing and planning. The goal of these workshops, which are held multiple times throughout the academic year, is to foster more effective UROP research and advising relationships between undergraduates and their mentors. Additional sessions are scheduled for later this spring.

During the last week of IAP, UROP collaborated with locally-based staff from Johnson & Johnson to host a site visit for MIT students to tour the company’s DePuy Synthes facilities in Raynham, MA. The visit exposed the 22 students to the company’s cutting-edge research and development labs and manufacturing facilities, where they produce spinal fuses and joint replacements. In addition, students had the opportunity to hear directly from company leaders and employees about their own career paths and research. The daylong visit culminated in the Johnson & Johnson Surgical Institute training center, where students tried out new VR technology to learn and practice surgery, and used arthroscopic surgery tools and equipment to perform surgery on watermelons. Students quickly (and humorously) learned that arthroscopically removing beads from watermelons is more difficult than it looks!

IAP UROP programming concluded with a UROP Expo on January 29 as part of Departmental Explorations events (DEX). The Expo was designed to showcase MIT departments, labs, and centers to undergraduates looking to participate in and find UROPs. Representatives from almost all major departments, as well as some popular interdisciplinary programs, were in attendance to discuss UROP opportunities with the approximately 150 students who stopped by.

Lastly, UROP has launched Instagram and Facebook accounts to share information on upcoming events and deadlines, and to profile student contributions and experiences. The students profiled to date range from accomplished seniors who have co-authored research papers to first-year students who are just starting out in research. We hope to provide followers with a glimpse into the on-the-ground UROP experience. Follow us to see highlights of our IAP programming, stay abreast of upcoming events, and see our students in action.

—UROP Staff