I think that something unique about the 10 of us in HSRF is that we did not necessarily apply to the HSRF. I applied to the Brackenridge Fellowship, expecting to be surrounded by majors ranging from psychology to neuroscience to history and to art. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the diversity I encounter in this lovely cohort of students. In the last year at Pitt, I have been exposed to so much neuroscience research alone. So for me, the HSRF is still an incredibly expansive learning experience. This past year I was taking major-heavy coursework so I was consistently surrounded by pre-med neuroscience majors. Now, I have the opportunity to be surrounded by students of all different majors with varying career aspirations.
I saw another student mention that they thought the methodology was one of the most conserved components of all of our research, but I actually feel the complete opposite. While most others in the cohort are pipetting and vortex-ing solutions, running gels, and imaging tissues, I spend 99% of my time running behavioral experiments. When we were doing the around the room of methods two weeks ago, it was when I truly noticed how different our experiments and research actually were from one another.
I was specifically interested in Abhay’s research. He has spoken about how his lab is working to essentially take advantage of the body’s own immune reaction to ignite a reaction against the harmful cancer cells. I think his project is similar to mine in a sense. We are looking to take advantage of the body’s own endogenous opioid system to relieve chronic pain through the Kappa Opioid Receptor instead of relying on exogenous opioids (morphine, oxycontin, etc.). It is fascinating how we as researchers can manipulate all of the intricacies of the human body.
Working with an interdisciplinary community is incredibly advantageous. It forces us to put effort into our communication because it is different from our own lab environments where everybody is specializing in the same thing. I believe that learning to speak and convey your research to someone who is not familiar with advanced science is crucial to our development as researchers.