Personally, the most valuable part of the Brackenridge, other than gaining the experience and insight of working full time in a lab, has been the skills and knowledge that I’ve learned due to it as well as the community of fellowship participants I was able to be a part of. The workshops that I attended gave me practical and beneficial information ranging from how to prepare a resume, to how to present my work in various contexts. The discussions I’ve had with other participants, both formal and informal ones, have been thought provoking and enlightening; hearing other people’s perspectives on research, and thinking about and sharing my own, are experiences that I take with me from this summer. Getting the opportunity to interact with people who were doing projects that were in completely different fields than my own has also been an incredible privilege of the program- the sheer diversity of perspectives and disciplines enriches every conversation we’ve had in our weekly meetings.
Throughout the summer, my understanding of my project as well as my attitude towards it has shifted- I’ve learned that the nature of research in any given topic is going to include a lot of uncovered ground and unanswered questions. At the beginning of the summer, I thought that I was going to learn about everything that I put in my project proposal- which hasn’t been the case. Each aspect of my project has its own rabbit holes and sub-projects within them that I’d have to go down to fully understand what’s happening, which I find incredibly exciting and interesting. Additionally, not every experiment I’ve run has been successful, which is natural and an expected part of any undergraduate research experience. What tends to be more important is the learning experience itself, since techniques and protocols for experiments change over time, so the most beneficial skill is being able to learn and improve in the first place.
As for what I am planning on doing in the future, other than entering my sophomore year, I would like to continue working on my project at the lab throughout the semester, and gain an even deeper understanding of my work. Also, I plan to shadow physicians this upcoming fall semester in order to gain insight into medicine as a career path. Academically, I have plans to pursue the Molecular Biology major in the Biological Sciences department, the global health certificate, as well as the Honors Joint degree program.