Karolina Szlapa, Molecular Genetics
Full Name: Karolina Szlapa
Country of Origin: Warsaw, Poland
Current: Mississauga, ON, Canada
Undergraduate Department: Molecular Genetics (Specialist)
I chose the faculty of medicine because of my interest in biomedical research and the fundamental work needed to establish the causes and cures of diseases; I became interested in the unsolved questions in genetics in high school and came to the university with the idea of learning how to become a scientist working in the field. Apart from that, I didn’t know much of what research and professional science really entailed; fortunately, the MolGen specialist program and the department in general offers plenty of guidance and information in choosing the right path beyond an undergraduate degree in science. The molecular genetics department turned out to be an excellent choice for me, because of the ability to interact with professors closely and learn about the world of research beyond the textbook through them. The department offers a large amount of interesting and challenging courses that provide useful skills for real laboratory work, such as problem-solving and critical thinking, which I consider to be the backbone of life sciences research.
So far, I have worked for a year in the lab of Dr. Peter Roy, where I’ve become experienced with chemical biology and working on the nematode C. elegans. The experience of undergraduate research is one that I would highly recommend for any undergraduate as soon as possible, because it is so different from the environment of a laboratory course and offers unprecedented challenges and learning experiences that are ultimately extremely rewarding. This summer I am again participating in the MolGen summer research program with Dr. Amy Caudy.
My future plans are to get a PhD, either in America or here in the MolGen department, depending on how things play out. From there I hope to work towards a faculty position as a professor conducting my own research. I look forward to dedicating myself to research full-time, as well as eventually leading my own laboratory where I can decide the research programme. However, this is not a goal set in stone, and I believe that as long as I can conduct meaningful and original research I will be happy with my work.