Blog post #2: The Value of Interdisciplinary Research

I really enjoyed going through all my cohort’s individual posts and reading more about their projects. One of the most attractive features of the Brackenridge fellowship is that it provides a community of scholars from the most unique of academic interests. Coming into the fellowship, I was worried whether my project would seem unconventional next to STEM research projects, etc., but I quickly realized that everyone’s projects, even those in the STEM field, were “unconventional.” By that, I mean that everyone is studying something extremely unique to their subject of interest and each project is so creative. I hope that I can learn a little more about these niches of knowledge that each fellow will become an expert in and be inspired to come up with new ideas to sculpt my current project into something even more meaningful and interesting in the future.

I noticed that unlike the research projects in my previous classes, none of the projects seemed to consist of overlapping themes. In my opinion, this is a beneficial phenomenon for two reasons. The first is that there is so much variability of information that you are bound to learn something completely new from each scholar. The second is that there is no sense of unhealthy competitiveness or comparison between scholars’ projects which, in my opinion, allows for a healthy and productive work environment. Regarding differences, most aspects of my project are very different from the other fellows. Within my immediate cohort, there are students studying war metaphors as they are used in metastatic breast cancer treatment, how linguistics and other aspects of language impact storytelling, and healthcare access for young adults and children suffering from hearing loss. These are only three projects out of the thirty-six that are being funded through the Brackenridge fellowship. They are different from my project for the most obvious reason that their subject areas of study and interdisciplinary interests are different from mine. However, as they continue to research these topics, I may find similarities between their methodologies and goals, and mine. A particular project that interested me was Sarah Hulse’s “The War Metaphor in Metastatic Breast Cancer.” What specifically interested me was her candy dispenser/lactose intolerance medication anecdote, which she summarizes to be the epitome of being science and being human, all in one. I thought this analogy was particularly intriguing, and I am super excited to see the results of her research as well as the rest of my cohort’s.

The biggest benefit of working with people across disciplines is being able to learn about things I most certainly would not have known about if I were not a part of the Brackenridge community. Like I wrote earlier in this post, everyone is studying within their own unique and interesting niche of academics, and it will be an enriching experience to be able to learn from people who are so passionate about the work they do. The only obstacle I fear is not being able to understand the full scope of each project, considering I am not well-versed in a lot of the specific areas of research upon which each student is embarking. But hopefully, through the elevator pitch at the end of the program, I will have garnered at least a little more knowledge than I had before I had begun this fellowship.

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