My Cohort as a Color Pinwheel

This summer, I hope to learn more about how different groups of people contribute to how human beings approach problem solving to learn more about how the world works. As a natural science major, I look at things in a reductionist’s point of view, where I break things down to their smallest pieces and build up. This method does not work well in many other disciplines and other strategies of piecing together what is known and unknown are required. I want to see how other people have different points-of-view, their values about education, and how we can all come together to work on problems.

Other cohort members’ research projects in this program are very vast and interesting to hear about. 2/3 of my cohort is made up of some biological science-related project, including myself. The others are in areas I have little experience in, such as music, Japanese, English literature, and computational modeling. I see all of these fields like a bunch of different colors that fade together like a color pinwheel because many of the fields conduct their research and work on their projects in many of the same ways that I do. There are areas where we are completely different, like the reds vs. greens, but there are colors in between – and those are the same ways that we learn, conduct research, and communicate. First, we are all working remotely and I hope that it is a safe assumption to say that the pandemic has taken some toll on how we are going about our projects. On the other hand, we are all overcoming these obstacles and making the best out of the situation, so it is nice to see all groups of disciplines doing this. Research methods tend to be very different as well, but some fields share the same ways of collecting data as my project requires. English literature research is very primary literature, similar to the papers that I am currently sifiting through. I also draw comparisons to a member in my cohort that is doing computational work, as some of my project focuses on bioinformatics. On the other hand, the data that I am collecting is very quantitative, unlike many members in my cohort that must make connections by what they read. I do not know a ton about their projects, but I am interested to see the extent to how they collect their data and report it!

Communication is key to working with members of my cohort. We are all intelligent people and also intelligent members in our fields, each able to offer some skill that the other cannot. With this being said, I think that someone having connections and knowledge in social sciences, for instance, could help me better understand how my project fits into the world in a way different than its natural science implications. As we read in our readings, the research problem differs from a practical problem – and sometimes others who are not personally bogged down in my research problem can help elucidate its contribution to society. And likewise, I feel like I could do the same for others in my cohort. Since communication is the key to working together on a problem, I feel like some fields have different ways of communicating. We all speak the same language, but peer-reviewing another’s work could prove to be especially difficult as each discipline has its own nuances in how they want professional work conveyed. If this work is to be shared with the world, however, I think that helping others communicate or having others help me communicate in a way that all can understand is very practical and important for putting knowledge into academia. Sometimes in science, the work is so convoluted in papers that I can barely understand what they are talking about. If we could learn how to write in a way that our disciplines require and also clearly convey what we are talking about to other disciplines, the world could understand each other’s work better. Again, I cannot say enough how everyone in this program is so intelligent, but understanding how everyone’s work fits together makes one a more enlightened individual about the world that we live in and all of its aspects: socially, scientifically, musically, politically, etc. 

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