Something I have enjoyed immensely so far during my Brackenridge experience is learning about each fellow’s approach to “research.” Whether it is testing on rats, producing a podcast, or scanning through archives, it seems each student is considering a different way to solve a problem and present findings. As the summer continues, I hope to further discover how research can be individualized and explore the different perspectives through which my peers are conducting their projects. Specifically, I am excited to learn about the different data collection methods, analysis tools, and presentation styles the fellowship cohort will employ. My project definitely falls more so on the creative, qualitative side of research, so I’m interested to hear the conclusions and methods of those whose projects involve more hard data.
Despite my interest in the various ways to explore the world around us, I do think my creative perspective can sometimes function as a hindrance when working with people from so many divergent disciplines. I am not well-versed in the pursuit of traditional, scientific-method driven research, just as some of the other fellows might not fully grasp the research aspect of a project like mine that is so flexible and doesn’t present any certain results outright. I struggle to understand some of the field-specific jargon and analysis methods my peers are using, even though they are trying their best to effectively communicate their research goals. That being said, I also think the multi-disciplinary nature of the fellowship cohort fosters a wonderful environment for asking questions and voicing curiosity. Within this group, I don’t feel embarrassed to admit I don’t understand a research topic or concept, and all of the students so far have been willing to help break these principles down further when I inquire.
In my perusal of others’ projects and blog posts, a few have caught my eye. Eric Workman’s investigation of Russian propaganda in Turkey seems supremely interesting. He combines past qualitative research with current quantitative research to not only investigate the nature of Russian political cartoons in Turkey, but their efficacy in spreading certain ideals. I’ve always enjoyed learning about the Cold War and the propaganda, both from American and Russian sources, abundant at that time, so the notion of current Russian propaganda piques my interest as well. I also find Emily Rothermel’s project quite intriguing. Her personal connection to her research — how environmental waste affects the prevalence of certain illnesses in her hometown — underscores her passion for this topic. Her goals and mine seem similar — we both want to write based on our research. While Emily would like to write a nonfiction novel, whereas I will be writing a collection of fiction short stories, I think our interests run parallel and will allow us to share resources with each other.