Mentee to Mentor
Randall Roper (BS ’95) was among the first students to receive an Office of Research and Creative Activities Grant, more commonly known as ORCA grants. “I was mapping genes that were involved in causing autoimmune infertility in males. This was before the Human Genome Project, and we were using microsatellite markers—something very novel at the time,” he says. This introduction to research has made quite the impact on Roper’s life.
“My love for research was found at BYU and has been alive ever since.” Roper is now a professor of genetics at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. His research focuses on understanding Down syndrome, and he mentors graduate and undergraduate students, receiving awards for mentoring. “I feel like I have come full circle—from an undergraduate research student to mentoring many undergraduate research students. It all started with my experience at BYU. I only hope that I provide a comparable experience to my students.”
ORCA grants continue to be given out at BYU for undergraduate students to launch their own projects with mentorship from faculty. They are a major reason BYU continues to be one of the best schools for students preparing to earn PhDs.