Brackenridge: My Cohort

Last Summer, I was a part of SURP through the School of Medicine. All of my fellow researchers were in the health sciences, so we spoke a common language. However, there was great diversity between our projects and research methods, and it was still difficult to understand the intricacies of everyone’s research. The Brackenridge Fellowship is my first interdisciplinary summer fellowship, with my cohort members conducting research in computer science, linguistics, literature, and biochemistry. In just these past few weeks, I’ve been exposed to so many different fields of research and new methodologies from my peers. Although we are all in different fields, the fundamental principles of research are consistent and have allowed us to communicate and understand each other’s works. 

By being immersed in this multidisciplinary network of researchers this Summer, I hope to develop my abilities to communicate my work effectively to those outside my field. It is already difficult to explain complex disease processes to other biomedical scientists because of the variations within our work. I was able to work on that last Summer in the SURP program, but now I have the opportunity to expand these skills outside of the medical field. In addition to improving communication, I can also work on improving my critical thinking to understand the projects of my peers. I want to be able to think through why they are using certain methodologies and how it relates to those used in my field. 

The results of research are never occurring in isolation from all other factors. The common theme in our research is that it is about human experience, whether that be on the biochemical level studying cellular communication, or on a societal level, investigating the implications that using “kind” versus “nice” has on college learning environments. For example, fellow Brackenridge recipient Sarah Moore’s project is titled “A Call to Positivity: Understanding the Difference Between Nice and Kind and Implications for Building Inclusive Campus Environments.” I wasn’t very familiar with the field of linguistics, but when she explained her research, I became aware of the importance of it. I am affected by the semantics of these words, although it is not something that I think about. My research is on a pediatric disease, and the way we write about this disease (semantics of word choice) in scientific papers may have implications on how doctors treat patients who were born with the disease. I’m already starting to see the connections between our completely different fields. As the summer goes on, I hope to recognize more of these similarities and expand my understanding of the inherently interdisciplinary nature of research.

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