Brackenridge Post 2: Cohorts

This is my first foray into upper-level research, and I overall hope to learn from my cohort about developing my research methods in a way that borrows from different disciplines and takes what works for my work in the humanities/social sciences. I would love to get peer advice on what I’m doing and how to improve it, because some people in my cohort have extensive experience with research that I do not have. I also more generally just want to learn about their projects and what they’re discovering. It’s so fun to be surrounded by so many intelligent people who care this deeply about specific topics, and it is a privilege to hear from them.

I see a lot of similarities between Corinne’s project and my project—hers is based around a lot of reading to understand social dynamics as well as eventual interviews, which is almost the exact same path that I’m taking with mine. We were discussing how it’s been hard to narrow our research, especially when dealing with urban communities that have often been forgotten and taken advantage of. The most obvious difference in student projects in my cohort are that some of them are entirely STEM-based, with lots of lab work. That couldn’t be further from the humanities/social research that’s mostly us alone with our readings and notes. However, all of us are still united by the fact that we have multiple interests and have to decide exactly which path to follow. A project that really interests me is Meg’s, because it is so far out of my sphere of knowledge that I could listen to her talk about it for hours. She’s working with mice to find specific proteins that could help treat Glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer, and it fascinates me because of the immediate and real-life benefits that a cure could have—also, we’re the same age and while we’re both doing research I just cannot imagine doing neuroscience research (partly because I can’t even understand the terms used!).

The clearest benefit of working with people across disciplines, for me, is that I simply get to learn about topics that I would have absolutely no grasp of without them to explain. That’s not necessarily a research benefit, but I’m in this program to learn as much as I can, and the cross-discipline work is fascinating on a peer-student level. Another benefit is also that I can hear about research methods that might not seem applicable to my discipline but could be modified to help me. One obstacle is definitely that when you don’t have a background in a specific subject, it can often be hard to completely understand what people are saying—though my cohort has done a great job of simplifying things, especially the science projects! Another potential obstacle is definitely that it can be frustrating to try and talk about your work with people who aren’t on that level, because so much of what we do is hyper-specific and I know sometimes I worry that my perceived importance of my own project doesn’t come across when I’m talking.

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