One of the most valuable lessons I have learned in college is the importance of connecting with the people around me. Whether that is introducing myself to someone I am sitting near in the dining hall, attending office hours to ask questions and get to know my professors, or reaching out to classmates in a difficult class to study together in Hillman, creating a network of peer support is vital in order to appreciate my undergraduate experience to its fullest potential. This support network is especially crucial in research—for me, that has been relying on a mentor for guidance, as well as taking inspiration from peers as they conduct other types of research.
The research network that has been established across the Honors College is truly remarkable. Each week, we have the chance to learn about our peer’s research, and be inspired by how they are engaging within their field of study and community. As a mathematics and economics student, I am not frequently exposed to science or history-related topics, but through this research experience, I have been able to gain insights from my fellow scholars. For instance, Keith’s research regarding the Industrial Revolution caught my attention. Although I had some previous knowledge about this topic, Keith exposed me to a whole new side and something never mentioned in any of my past history courses—how the Industrial Revolution has shaped the theory and practice of anarchism. Jonathan’s research also fascinates me. He is creating a light installation that portrays Pitt’s energy usage, in order to show the environmental impact of our university community. I think this is so inspiring—to combine art and research in order to showcase talents and passions. His research not only has motivated me to be more cautious of my own energy usage, but also to sign up to take an Environmental Economics course, to pursue whether this is a field I would like to engage more with in the future. Lastly, Ryan’s research has been an excellent resource, as his project has similarities to mine. Ryan is investigating the state of Pennsylvania’s lack of effective policy framework for providing support to non-native English speakers, as he considers the achievement gap between native and non-native speakers. Ryan’s research helped me realize the variety of achievement gaps in our educational system, as previously, I had really only considered socio-economic and racial gaps.
Overall, our research network is interdisciplinary in nature. From STEM, to policy, to history, to art, students are engaging in a wide variety of fields and communities. I think learning across disciplines is valuable, as it inspires new paths to take in your own field of research, and gives a chance to learn about the wide variety of ways research is conducted and communicated in other fields.