As I read through the various introductions of my fellow cohort student-researchers, I thought back to the days when I, like many other natural sciences students first entering undergraduate college, maintained a strict and inflexible definition of research; I was indubitably inexperienced to the constantly expanding world of research that I now understand encompasses so much more than I ever could have imagined.
About My Cohort: Similarities and Differences
The most outstanding characteristic of my cohort is the wide range of topics covered by our research, and the ways in which they connect with varying disciplines and personal interests.
To start off, we have the strongly science-heavy projects conducted by Hilary and Chelsea. Hilary’s research involves understanding how controlling zinc concentration in mitochondria affects neurocognitive disorders. Slightly less basic-science heavy yet still in the area is Chelsea’s research, which involves psychology and the idea of fixed vs. growth mindset. Both students connect their project to their personal passions of working in the healthcare system.
On the other end of the spectrum lie Philippa and Vincent, who conduct research in history. Philippa researches Pitt’s history and how deceit led to the stripping of freedoms. Vincent researches a specific style of Middle English poetry that is an almost forgotten form, a form that offers insight into that part of history. The methodologies used in these two research projects differ from the others, yet are just as important in the world of problem-solving and understanding the ways in which we think about the past, the present, and the future.
In the middle lie Corey, Zongkai, Kevin, and Gabe, whose projects incorporate many disciplines and can often swing between the two previously discussed methods of research, yet have the overarching idea of studying the past to better the future. Corey, who studies immigrant access to healthcare in Pittsburgh in the 19th and 20th century, combines history with current events. Zongkai’s research, which studies the ethical foundation of climate change, involves critically analyzing past arguments to better the currently accepted ideologies of climate change. Kevin researches how the behaviors of job-seeking students from elite universities vary due to socioeconomic status, which can be utilized in the future to better address the factors involved in career choices. Finally, Gabe researches constructed languages, which studies already created fictional languages to better understand the foundations of languages.
While it may seem that there are many differences within my cohort, one aspect remains constant: each and every student is highly motivated and interested in their respective projects, and all of the projects have the potential for bettering their respective fields. I am excited to hear about the outcomes of each student’s project in the near future, and to learn about how they changed their fields in a positive way!
What I Hope to Learn from My Cohort
The benefit of working with a diverse cohort like mine is the ability to learn from others’ strengths. Furthermore, working with interdisciplinary teams like this helps cultivate a widening perspective that will be useful in the future for problem-solving. The only obstacle I can think of would be communicating between different disciplines, each with their own unique jargon, yet working together in this setting is the best way to overcome this barrier! During the Brackenridge Fellowship, I hope to continue expanding on my definition of research by learning various methods and ideas from those in my cohort and their unique research projects. I hope to reach a point where I can approach a problem from a plethora of perspectives, and arrive at the most effective solution using the knowledge gained from my fellow student-researchers.