Things Rarely Go as Planned: A Brackenridge Reflection

One huge realization I had this summer is that in research, things rarely go as planned.I regularly ran into unforeseen problems and I often was concerned that I was not making sufficient progress. I realized this when I was deciding on a specific topic for my review article, and I kept hitting dead ends with topics that either already had review articles published or did not have enough research articles. One tactic I learned to deal with this challenge is to set deadlines for myself in the form of meetings so that I can hold myself accountable to produce something worthwhile consistently. Sometimes that something might just be figuring out why what I had been doing was not working and coming up with ideas for a new approach.

The most valuable part of the Brackenridge experience for me was the community (even if it was a little weird in the pandemic).  The ability to communicate with a cohort of people facing the same challenges helped me keep up a good attitude about the project. I think that without other people to talk to, I would have felt like I was “failing” because I was doing something wrong rather than taking on the regular trials and tribulations of research. I also think this feeling was widely felt in the cohort.

I also really liked the Ideathon; I think it was the most engaging experience that I had with the Brackenridge community. Coming up with ideas and bouncing them around is always a good time. I feel like it also broke some of the ice caused by the inherently awkward interactions produced by Zoom.

The submission date for my manuscript is September 30th, so I will spend the next two months finishing up this project as well as taking classes. In the long term, I would like to project in person in the lab. I am not sure if I would rather continue my originally proposed project or start a new one, but I do want to do more lab-oriented research junior year. Between junior and senior year I want to look for an internship to get some industry experience with a biotech company. I am interested in applying for a national scholarship going into my senior year. I plan to reach out to my scholar mentor, Dave Fraser, to figure out what scholarships would be a good fit. Post-graduation I still plan to go to graduate school to get a PhD in chemical engineering.

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