My Brackenridge Experience


During my experience in the Brackenridge Fellowship this summer, I learned about various ways of conducting research and the importance of effective communication. My perception of the research process changed over the summer when I discovered that it is hardly ever a linear process. One specific event that led to my new perception of conducting research was during the development of my predictive model. I had found that the accuracy level had remained stagnant for several weeks.

The model aimed to correctly predict regions of the brain where beta-amyloid, a known biomarker for Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), was most probable to accumulate using longitudinal data from the Normal Aging Data Set on AD. During those weeks, I discovered the model’s accuracy was not improving. Determined to increase the accuracy level, I went back to my literature review and found other papers on predictive cognition models and researched computational tuning methods. In the following weeks, I realized the importance of revisiting earlier steps in the research process, including reading previous literature and studies, consulting people outside of medicine to ask more computational questions, and discuss with my mentors the limitations of my current predictive model. Applying this new information and computational tools, I revisited my model and found that the accuracy level had significantly increased! Overjoyed with this result, I learned that the research process and reaching my research goals is hardly ever linear.

The images above were constructed during the earlier phases of my research project, where I learned that manually fitting masks to estimate beta-amyloid onto brain regions was not an effective method, so I went back to the drawing board 🙂

During my experience in the Brackenridge Fellowship, one of the most valuable experiences was the interaction amongst my peers during weekly meetings and discussing our project updates and progress. It was not only interesting to hear about the exciting topics of research that my peers were investigating across disciplines, but I also valued their input and questions I received regarding my research project. This helpful feedback allowed me to view my project from another perspective and helped communicate my research to a broader audience.

I am grateful to be part of the Brackenridge community and be part of a collaborative cohort of talented students. As my time in the Brackenridge Fellowship nears an end, I hope to carry and apply the skills and experiences that I attained this summer to the next part of my academic career in graduate school. I am interested in pursuing a Ph.D. in Computational Neuroscience, specifically researching quantitative and computational methods to understand cognition and AD disease progression. I am excited to lead future research projects and eventually transition into an industry where research and technology drive innovation.

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