Working on my project under the Brackenridge Fellowship this summer, time flew by! I’ve been learning a lot about the process of conducting research as well as my subject area, and look forward to continuing this work in the future.
One concept I learned is that research is not linear. In school, following the lab manual, everything seems completely straightforward. For research, you’re writing the lab manual in some instances, so it can take a lot of trial and error to come to an effective research method. Beyond that, as challenges and problems come up, I’ve been learning to adapt and respond well, collaborating with other lab members to come to a good solution.
My understanding of research in general has also changed a lot as I’ve heard about other students’ projects. Especially in the humanities, I had only a vague understanding of how research is conducted, so I’m grateful for this opportunity to explore other fields of research. For example, I enjoyed hearing from students conducting archival research, or using different research methods than my own like surveys or readings. I’ve come to see that research can take a multitude of forms, and as long as it’s advancing human knowledge of a certain field, it’s valuable to study and explore.
The Brackenridge experience has been most valuable in providing a lens into in-depth independent research. By devoting myself to full time research and study, I’ve grown a lot as a scholar. Most importantly, the Brackenridge community was key in improving my ability to express and share my research topic with other students. And in turn, I’ve gotten better at understanding research in a variety of different fields through meeting other students. Although I do wish we had the opportunity to meet in person and build our community in that way, I still feel that the community aspect of the fellowship has been the most valuable for me.
As the fellowship comes to an end, I plan to continue working on this project throughout the school year. We are about a third of the way through processing the brain tissue and hope to finish that soon so we can begin to draw conclusions about our initial research question. Personally, I’m applying to medical school now and hope to begin attending next year. This research experience has been greatly impactful on my trajectory as a student, and I’m much more inclined to continue pursuing research as I begin my next phase of education.