It is truly mind-blowing how fast these four weeks have gone since the beginning of the Brackenridge Fellowship. Since starting, I have had the opportunity to meet with fellows pursuing a similar path and conducting research in a similar vein. On the flip side, I also had the chance to meet researchers in entirely different disciplines and discuss their projects with them. What is most interesting to me is how other fellows tackle any issues they run into. For example, in my field, an experiment that may have gone awry could be chalked up to a miscalculation or an error in following a protocol. But in the case of a fellow in my cohort, a simple recalculation for her is not feasible. She studies art history and how different works influence culture today. If she encounters a roadblock, she may need to cross-reference other works or look at different artists entirely. As the fellowship progresses, I hope to continue learning how researchers in various fields address their problems. By doing this, I can hone my critical thinking skills and develop an arsenal where I have an idea of how to tackle issues that span disciplines.
There are some similarities to other individuals in my cohort. For example, one fellow is looking at heart cells and their regeneration by looking at proteins. In my project, I am looking at a different type of cell but still analyzing a particular protein thought to be important to cell viability. Since our projects are similar and look at specific proteins, we can easily communicate our research and follow each other’s experiments. Communication is critical when discussing research, and explaining the project concisely without going into too much detail can be difficult. Avoiding words that describe particular processes that are not needed to understand the work is also imperative, as it can unnecessarily overcomplicate the message. This appears to be the most challenging obstacle so far for me. Although I could talk for hours about the progression of meiosis to someone not in biological sciences, which is a generalization of my project, it doesn’t allow anyone to truly understand what I am doing or the relevance of my work. But, since I can continue updating fellows on what I am doing in a cohort that spans the disciplines, such as art history, I can improve my ability to give a quick synopsis of the progression of my research and its importance.
Featured image taken with Julia Wu, who is a part of the Health Sciences Fellowship and conducts research in the Yanowitz Lab with me.