Piecing the Puzzle Together


The Brackenridge community is an incredibly diverse community of scholars. Each fellow comes from a different research discipline and brings their own experiences and knowledge to the table. Although we are only three weeks into the fellowship, I can say with confidence that this class’s breakout rooms have been the first that I have thoroughly enjoyed! It is always fun to learn about everyone’s projects and draw parallels to each other’s, as well as hear how people started in their fields of study.

At first glance, it seems that my cohort’s projects are limited to biomedicine, ecology, and health sciences. However, my peers’ research interests still reflect the interdisciplinary nature of the community. For example, Izza’s study incorporates both psychology and medicine to investigate whether the quality of mother-infant interactions is affected by an infant’s risk for developing ADHD. Hunsi’s and Ryan’s projects both have computationally intensive components, and I am interested in hearing about how they develop their models for protein and cell identification, respectively. The computational and machine learning models that they are using may help me learn how to apply a similar methodology to my own research to predict patient outcomes. Chris’s project, which studies social media bias’s effect on people’s opinions about the COVID-19 pandemic, also piqued my interest. While we are both studying social factors in public health contexts, his study takes more of a qualitative and sociological approach compared to my project’s statistical one. I am curious to see whether reading unbiased articles will sway people’s stances on the pandemic since the social media echo chamber is becoming an issue of increasing relevance. It may encourage social media platforms to mitigate algorithm bias.

Even if there are no explicit ties to our projects, there is still immense value in learning from and appreciating the experiences of my cohort members. While it would be easy for us all to cozy up in our research niches, our findings would not be very useful to the academic community and general public if they seem foreign and irrelevant. The most challenging aspect of interdisciplinary research is arguably communication. Researchers have to translate technical terminology understandably for their cross-disciplinary collaborators. If we can overcome this language barrier, then we can build interdisciplinary rapport that broadens our perspectives. This would help us piece together research findings and approach problems more creatively, as we have a diverse source of knowledge to tap into. In doing so, we fulfill two goals of research: to better understand our world and to better our world.

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