I find the academic makeup of my cohort quite interesting. By far the most prevalent field present is that of biology and medicine, with my fellow academics delving into complex protein interactions, cancer diagnostics, and telemedicine. But balanced with this is literary research, historical analysis, and even creative musical projects. This creates some interesting opportunities for this cohort to interact – certainly, the different biomedical research projects can interact, but also, historical and humanitarian context has proved itself not only valuable but of critical importance to ensuring equitable research.
My academic field, that of computer science, is not particularly prevalent in this cohort. This means there are many possibilities for learning! One of the things that I find great about computer science is that it is most useful as a tool, rather than as a solution itself. Because there isn’t anyone else directly in my field of study, this allows me to learn more about what sorts of problems there are that need solving. I think biology and computing can work extremely well in tandem, so I hope that exposing myself to the medical field a bit more will broaden my horizons and give stronger insight into scientific research methods. In fact, even so early in my research, I’ve been investigating biological computation tools – a testament to the fields’ symbiosis. That being said, there is also much to learn from the projects based in the humanities and from creative projects. I think that humanities and natural science researchers often approach their questions with different approaches, so it will be interesting to compare those approaches and combine them as necessary for future research projects. And no matter the field, as the world becomes increasingly integrated with technology, opportunities for collaboration will arise.
Of course, there are also challenges to multidisciplinary work. Because different fields approach research in various ways, reconciling these differences in a multidisciplinary team can require some preliminary work and making some compromises. However, this can be a benefit too, resolving to a more sophisticated and inclusive methodology. Another obstacle is in communicating findings during the research period. Since most of us will likely only have basic knowledge of fields outside our particular interests, members of a multidisciplinary research team will have to both do some independent learning about related fields and consolidate their findings into a form that other people can understand. This is, of course, an excellent skill to develop, and one that I am excited to practice this summer.
These cohorts are true powerhouses of intelligence. I’m excited to see what everyone in my cohort and all the others produces this summer, and I hope to learn a lot from them!