The value of interdisciplinary learning


This summer, I’m really excited to be part of the Brackenridge Fellowship due to the interdisciplinary experience of working with students in various fields. As my research is more “traditional” science research, I’m interested in learning about other ways to present it, beyond the usual research paper. For example, Daniel’s idea to create a podcast for his work, or Frances’ modern symposium, are two interesting ways to present research that I hadn’t considered before. I also think they’re great ways to bring research alive and present it more vibrantly to the everyday audience. Additionally, I’ve really enjoyed hearing about and reading the backgrounds of all the students in my cohort, and the way that’s brought them to their current research projects. I especially loved Rachael’s account of her great-grandmother, and the way that inspired her research in Jewish immigrant communities.

Some of the projects from students in my cohort are similar to mine in the sense that they are based in the biomedical sciences and consist of the more standard scientific method that people often think of when they hear “research.” It was really interesting to read Annika’s description of predicting CMV infections in infants, Nicole’s analysis on oral pain during cancer, Judy’s research on microneedle arrays and peanut allergies, and Wyatt’s investigation into gene therapy for ocular disorders. Although these projects were the closest to mine, I was still able to learn a lot about other students’ scientific pursuits. I’ve been learning even more from the projects that are initially more different than mine, such as Hannah’s examination of the nonbinary they. Even though I haven’t had the opportunity to hear from everyone in my cohort, I can tell even from their first posts that everyone has a lot of passion for the projects they’ve undertaken. 

This is one of the most exciting parts of the fellowship: to work with other undergraduate students who are just as excited about discovering something previously unknown and sharing it with others. I see working with people across disciplines as a unique and rewarding opportunity to expand my perspective of the world and help me grow as a scholar and a person. With this experience of working with students in other disciplines and following along the journey of their projects, I’ll gain a better understanding of research and discovery, and be able to apply that in my life as a more avid learner and a better communicator, especially as I continue to grow in my field.

the Pittsburgh skyline on Memorial Day 2021

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