As the weeks have progressed, I’ve gained a better understanding of how participating in the Brackenridge Fellowship is going to continue to benefit me in a variety of ways throughout the rest of the summer. I think there are two distinct facets to consider when looking at how I interact with other Brackenridge scholars and the program itself. I think that professionally and academically, a diverse community such as this provides me with many opportunities to grow how I conduct research. Whether that be asking humanities majors for tips and tricks of going through literature for background and literary reviews, or talking with other STEM fellows about experimental design of our respective projects, I think having that interaction with 35 other people in the same boat as me will only serve to improve my approach to research overall. The seminar two weeks ago discussing research methodology and research paradigms really resonated with me, and being conscious of the paradigms I have been using, as well as being cognizant of the implementation of a variety of research methods has made my research more careful and, hopefully, better in the long run.
In this vein, there are quite a few projects I noticed that I look forward to following throughout the summer to see how they adapt and evolve as time goes on. In my cohort specifically, Ian Davies’ and Sachit Anand’s projects are distinctly different than my own, but I find both absolutely fascinating. Ian is looking at how queer theory and Marxist theory intersect in both literature and other media, like the movie Boss Baby for example, and how society then interacts with these theories and ideas, and Sachit is studying the biases that artificial intelligence can introduce into healthcare and how to better recognize and combat it before utilizing predictive algorithms to improve diagnostics and healthcare overall. I think I can learn a lot from both of these projects. Perhaps talking to Ian about how he analyzes literature and organizes his proposals and thesis can help me find a better organizational method for the introductions of my research proposals, and listening to Sachit’s project and application of it not only gives me context for big data and AI in healthcare, something that I always like to know more about thanks to my Statistics major, but also give me ideas of how to look for and assess any kind of bias present in my work in the future.
Alongside all the awesome benefits I foresee coming from these interactions, I think there are definite hardships as well. The Brackenridge seminars continue to serve as an exercise in communication as I try to find the best ways to explain my research to a general audience, which can sometimes be a struggle for everyone to both talk about and listen to. I think continuing to ask questions to engage with people’s research as best as I possibly can is a way that I can contribute to crossing the interdisciplinary barrier that exists, and will hopefully become a more general practice for everyone as the summer continues.
The final thing that I think the Brackenridge will help with is to just provide me with a community of students going through similar experiences as myself. While there is not a distinctly professional or academic benefit to this, it provides all of us with an outlet to talk about our experiences and frustrations with our research and spending the summer here in Pittsburgh that can uniquely understand what we are all going through. Having that empathy from other people is valuable to us all, especially as we try to return to normal or something close to it after years of solely online and zoom interactions during the height of the pandemic.