Through my time in the Brackenridge Fellowship, I have come to gain more insight into the troubleshooting side of research—as much as we try to meticulously plan out every aspect of our projects, things won’t always go as planned, and I’ve learned the importance of being flexible and adaptable when this happens.
With my project specifically, I have run into several setbacks, but working through these obstacles with the guidance of my mentor has been a very educational process. As part of the beginning stages of my project, which utilizes an animal model, I had to sensitize the mice I would be using to peanut allergen. This process takes a total of six weeks, and I could not begin the rest of my experiments without the sensitized mice. To my dismay, at the end of the six weeks, when we challenged the mice with peanut extract to ensure they had been successfully sensitized, our results indicated that only about half of the mice were actually sensitized. Although this was disappointing, my mentor helped me reassess and redesign my subsequent experiments to accommodate the smaller sample size.
Additionally, by interacting with my peers and learning about their scholarly interests through our weekly seminars and group activities, the Brackenridge Fellowship has opened my eyes to the many different kinds of research and scholarly work that exist. My peers have been conducting amazing projects showcasing topics and concepts I have never previously thought about before or known to even exist, and it has been both a privilege and a pleasure to be able to be introduced to their work.
While my Brackenridge experience has been filled with many positive outcomes, one of the aspects I found most valuable of being a part of the Brackenridge Fellowship was the supportive and encouraging community it fosters. Although research is a fulfilling and intellectually stimulating endeavor, it can also sometimes be a daunting and overwhelming process; having an avenue of support and encouragement for when things didn’t (or did!) go as plan was invaluable. Moreover, it was very rewarding to learn about my peers’ interests and their experiences in research—this has allowed my perception and understanding of research to be informed by many perspectives, which I have found to be an invaluable experience.
Although my time with the Brackenridge Fellowship is coming to an end, I plan to continue moving forward with and expanding upon my project. Furthermore, I hope to take what I have learned from the Brackenridge Fellowship, both related to research and unrelated to research, to future research endeavors as well as more broadly to other areas of my life. The Brackenridge Fellowship has been an amazing experience, and I am so grateful to have been able to be a part of this unique, informative opportunity.