The Ideathon project certainly broadened my understanding of what research could be. My Brackenridge project has been very individualistic up to this point; though I bounce ideas off of other people, the organization, reading, and work have all been done by me. The Ideathon, however, was truly collaborative and has me excited to work with others on research in the future. As far as the idea of interdisciplinary research, I’ve always felt that traditional or conventional boundaries between academic subjects are inherently somewhat contrived, and that the academic community would be better served by partially breaking down some of these barriers. I also have an interest in and a respect for students conducting research in STEM or Social Science fields that looks a lot different from what I am doing at a more granular level but shares similar broad goals of contributing to research from an undergraduate position. The Ideathon further demonstrated the value in working across disciplines, as I felt that the unique skills of my group members helped to fill in my own gaps and weaknesses. Additionally, I felt as though our topic (see video included) and proposal benefitted from its interdisciplinary nature.
I don’t think that communication was all that difficult of an issue within the context of the Ideathon. Had I been required to work through the actual research with an interdisciplinary group rather than the genesis of the proposal, more issues in communication could have arisen, but as it stands we selected a topic and worked well with each other to complete that topic. One strategy that helped our communication as a group was the ability to take constructive criticism. As we worked to write out our proposal, each member of the group was actively engaged in reviewing and editing the work of other members. At the same time, we all took this review process agreeably and impersonally, resulting in what I believe is a collectively high standard and result for our proposal.
As I mentioned above, the Ideathon experience definitely taught me the value of working together in a research capacity. Though I had already gathered that my peers in the Brackenridge program are extremely talented and capable, working together more closely with a few of them only emphasized these qualities. I’m proud to be included in this year of the Brackenridge Fellowship, and am inspired to work harder and improve myself when I see the work and abilities of the other fellows.