Brothers cap off their first year by joining research groups
Working in a research lab wasn’t on the Patil brothers’ spreadsheets.
Sanjit (left) and Sujit created their first spreadsheet to weigh the pros and cons of all the university offers they’d received. The brothers, who are identical twins, were graduating with near perfect marks from John Fraser Secondary School in Mississauga in 2022. “We study together so we end up with similar grades,” says Sujit. “We used to be super competitive when we were younger. Over time, we just relaxed a whole bunch and don’t compete with each other anymore.”
They’d both decided to attend McMaster. Now it was just a matter of picking their programs. Sanjit had locked into Life Sciences. Sujit was debating between Life Sciences and Integrated Biomedical Engineering & Health Sciences. He decided to follow his brother just hours before the deadline to confirm their admission offers.
The brothers then created another spreadsheet to evaluate each second-year program they could take after completing their first year in the Life Sciences gateway program. Both picked Medical & Biological Physics.
Undergraduate research still wasn’t on their radar.
“I was very interested in all of the exciting research happening at McMaster,” says Sanjit. “I was eager to get hands-on experience during my undergraduate degree but I didn’t know how to get started.”
Sujit was also in the dark. “At first, I wasn’t going to get involved because I didn’t know what opportunities were available to first-year students. I always assumed research was something that undergraduate students did in their upper years through thesis courses or internships.” But then instructional assistant Sara Cormier let Sujit know about summer research opportunities in the Physics and Astronomy Department and encouraged him to apply.
Sanjit asked an upper-year mentor for tips on how to get involved in research. That conversation inspired him to reach out to a few professors in the department who encouraged Sanjit to apply. “They were all really friendly. I’m most curious about the intersection between biology and physics so I was naturally drawn to Dr. Kari Dalnoki-Veress’ lab.”
Working in Cecile Fradin’s lab topped Sujit’s wish list. “I found the research around magnetotactic bacteria in Dr. Fradin’s lab to be super interesting and she was willing to bring me into her group.”
The Patil brothers closed out their first year at McMaster by working as research assistants on full-time contracts from May to August of this year. They hope to get invited back next summer.
The biggest benefits of doing research as an undergraduate student? Learning beyond textbooks and using past knowledge to solve problems, says Sujit. “Research definitely improves your critical research and collaboration skills. I’d recommend every undergraduate student who’s interested in research find a way to get involved. It gives you an early glimpse into a potential career and it’s a valuable addition to your academic journey.”
Sanjit agrees with his brother on the benefits of research for undergraduate students. “The most significant benefit is gaining hands-on experience that complements what you’re learning in the classroom. While I was working in Dr. Dalnoki-Veress’ lab, I was developing essential skills like designing experiments, data collection and analysis.” Sanjit also took part in a symposium that helped hone his presentation and communication skills.
Sara is now the acting program manager with the Faculty of Science’s new Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR), working alongside director Jim Lyons, program manager Sajeni Mahalingam and experiential programming and outreach manager Sunita Nadella.
The office, a first of its kind at McMaster, aims to provide even more undergraduate science students with early research opportunities.
“Sanjit and Sujit are amazing students who became valued members of two research groups after just one year at Mac,” says Sara. “Figuring out how to get involved in research can be challenging, especially for first-year students. The Office of Undergraduate Research is here to make it easier for students to get involved.”
To book an advising appointment, go to the Office of Undergraduate Research website or email firstname.lastname@example.org.Research excellence, Students