The Brackenridge fellowship has been an incredible experience this summer! Although I was hesitant about the online format in the beginning, thinking that I would not be able to gain as much online as I would meeting and interacting with my fellow researchers in person, I was proven wrong. Not only did I learn information from guest speakers about multifaceted aspects of research, I was also able to effectively learn about others’ research through regular blog posts and Brackenridge meetings. Hearing about the work of the students in my smaller cohort and meeting with my scholar mentor were invaluable opportunities.
I particularly enjoyed the community-feel of this fellowship, where researchers from a wide variety of disciplines came together to present our work to each other, learning and growing from hearing about others’ work. I learned how to explain my research using analogies and layman’s terms, and I was able to learn about complex topics ranging from alliterative verse to climate change ethics to antimatter as my fellow researchers effectively explained their work to a larger audience as well. One exercise that strengthened these skills and allowed me to learn more in-depth about others’ work was the Ideathon. Combining different knowledge/expertise to accomplishing a common goal was very valuable, and I feel that I was also able to get to know the members of my Ideathon team better as well through the experience.
In addition to improving my scientific communication skills, I believe the Brackenridge fellowship has also changed my perspective of what scientific research encompasses. Due to the pandemic, I had to change my research from in-person, wet-lab experiments at a lab bench where I would have constantly been pipetting solutions and crunching data into a remote project—writing a literature review. I had never written a review before this summer, so the experience was completely new and a great learning experience for me. I was able to learn more in-depth the theory behind my experiments, think critically about other scientists’ work, and improve my own scientific writing. Additionally, writing a review made me gain a newfound appreciation and understanding of researchers in other disciplines whose work is not in the lab.
Now that Brackenridge is over, I intend to continue working on my review through the fall semester, as well as resume in-person experiments when my lab re-opens. I will take the work I have done and lessons I have learned over the course of the Brackenridge fellowship with me as I continue doing research in the future!