This summer I realized how dynamic research can be. I was forced to adapt my original research project, but I learned so much about myself and conducting research in general during this process. First, I learned that I do my best work when I’m in an isolated environment. At the beginning of the summer, I was staying with my family in Virginia, but at the beginning of June, I moved backed to Pittsburgh so that I could have a distraction-free work environment. At first, I was not thrilled about doing a literature review the entire summer, but honestly, I grew a lot more excited about my topic as sifted through PubMed. I think this review allowed me to contextualize future lab experiments with a solid goal. I am fortunate to have a research mentor to guide me but also allowed me to explore specific topics and ask questions. It was great to see how clinical observations inform our lab’s research questions and it also emphasized the importance of collaboration.
I found the opportunity to learn about research in other disciplines the most valuable aspect of the Brackenridge Fellowship. It is what originally attracted me to this fellowship, and although we did not get a chance to talk in person I found many of the other fellows inspiring. I also enjoyed the workshops. The presenters were always knowledgeable and explained things well. I particularly liked the workshops about applying to graduate programs, presenting research at conferences, posters, and talks, and writing personal statements.
I plan to work on the original project I proposed until I graduate, however this summer I gained a good foundation for writing some portions of my honors thesis. I am excited to get back to the lab at the end of August. I am looking into maybe doing a BPhil also, but I still have some factors to consider at this point. My long term goal is to earn an MDPhD and become a physician-scientist, and I feel that the Brackenridge Fellowship was great preparation for my future career. I also would like to continue learning about research in other disciplines whenever I have time.