Something that intrigued me about this fellowship was the interaction between students in various different disciplines, from astronomy to public health to political science. As a person who has become deeply immersed into the disciplines of medicine and public health, it was refreshing to hear from students conducting projects in areas I was unfamiliar with. It allowed me to expand my knowledge set to become more in tune with various different issues and problems I may not have heard of if I had not interacted with my peers in this setting. A benefit that I saw from this interdisciplinary interaction was the diversity in viewpoints and experiences. For example, I had never conducted qualitative research previously, but through this fellowship I was able to learn about this type of research from students that were immersed in it themselves. Thus, I believe interdisciplinary interactions can expand and diversify one’s perspective, which can help in solving any issue or research question since it is rare to find a topic that solely involves one discipline or perspective these days. An obstacle that I experienced when hearing about projects in other disciplines was my inability to completely understand some difficult topics, such as astrophysics. Though I may not have understood everything in this topic down to the minute details, I still found them interesting, and they may serve as useful information for me later on.
There are a few students’ projects that are related to mine, such as Vidya’s project which is looking at chronic pain in indigenous communities. My project is similar in that I am also looking at a health disparity, in my case the disparity in mental health outcomes in the Latinx community, and specifically we are looking at this issue from a public health standpoint. However, there were several other projects, such as Emily’s project on supernovae, that were vastly different from mine and included a lot more quantitative analysis using coding and other methods.
Other than what I have learned so far in these few short weeks, I hope to learn much more about how other Brackenridge fellows adapt to unexpected challenges in their research projects. We talked a lot about how research can be so unpredictable, so I believe hearing my peers’ stories about how they adapt from these challenges can help me when I encounter those of my own. This space can also help serve as a supportive community as we navigate some of our first experiences in independent research.