As I start making progress with my own research, I’ve really loved reading about the projects others are working on. Even within my own cohort, there’s an amazing diversity of topics, and I’m glad I’ll get to read and hear more about them over the course of the summer. I come from the humanities, and I like reading about the other humanities projects members of my cohort are doing — Adam’s study of how storytelling and character archetypes play into presidential campaigns sounds like a really neat new way of looking at electoral politics, and Charlie’s project about Pennsylvania’s LGBT history is something I’m dying to hear more about. But the more science-oriented projects are just as interesting.
I think all these projects have the same thing in common: The people doing them care deeply about what they’re doing. I’m hopeless with science (please forgive me if I misword something about someone else’s project!), and I’m sure I couldn’t understand the nitty-gritty of Katelyn’s research on water pollution no matter how long I tried, but I get the broad strokes because she does a great job of articulating why it’s important. I’ve found the same thing in the short conversations I’ve had with other fellows in breakout rooms. Everyone’s pretty good at explaining why they’re doing what they’re doing.
The biggest difference feels like it’s the kind of results we’re going to get. Ryan, Ian and Katelyn are working towards more specific goals, like developing policy solutions for language access in Pennsylvania or creating computer models of Arctic floodplains. Charlie, Adam, Keith, and I are looking at history — paying closer attention to parts of it that have been ignored, or looking at a commonly-studied part of history in a new way. Luke’s analysis of the history of mathematics, which he’s planning on using to develop resources for educators, feels like it’s somewhere in the middle.
That makes me think of another thing these projects all have in common: I think all of these projects have to do with history in some way. Whether we’re working to create predictive models or looking to tell the story of a specific moment in history, we’re looking at past behaviors — and building on the research of others — to add to the general body of knowledge in our fields. I can’t wait to see what you guys find!