At the beginning of this fellowship, I assumed that due to the nature of my project, I would not run into any obstacles that would take me more than a day or two to solve. This was in part due to my previous research project from last summer; I did a lot of complicated algebra with bivariable third to fifth order polynomials. Making any progress took weeks and moving from one step to the next was very time intensive. This summer’s project had many smaller steps to take which were easier to complete. Because of this difference, I thought it would be easier to move from step to step this summer. However, I learned that every research project will eventually run into an obstacle that takes weeks to overcome, even if the task appears to be easily accomplished.
The way I learned that every project will eventually have a difficult obstacle to overcome is because I ran into one in my project. I did not expect to run into a roadblock that would take me weeks to overcome with this project, but I did. I changed a function that my code used to map floodplains. The change was supposed to make things better, but it ended up not. Some of the graphs the algorithm produced were very strange. I spend a long time looking at different things; I would spend one week looking at my code, then the next looking at the old code, then at the data and the maps. It took a while for me to understand the problem, but eventually I realized that the problem was not a problem, but instead a natural byproduct of the code. This showed me that any project can have obstacles to overcome.
I found the workshops the most helpful. I am applying to grad school this fall, and I will be using the tools I learned from the grad school and CV building workshops to help my application. I have already used the abstract writing workshop to draft an abstract for a national Geophysical conference which I am applying to. These workshops were able to help me focus on how to make a career out of research, which is an ultimate goal of mine.
With all that I have learned form the Brackenridge Fellowship, I hope to continue my career in research. I plan on used the tools I gained from this program to help me apply to grad school and eventually work at a national research lab. In the short term, I plan on continuing my research with my mentor and his lab into the fall and spring semesters. I do not think I will be completing a Bachelor of Philosophy with this research, but I may complete a senior thesis. I also plan on attending the American Geophysical Union conference in December. I think the Brackenridge Fellowship helped me to learn what I want out of a career in research.