My Brackenridge: The End I Guess

After a summer of weekly discussions and many hours of physics, the Brackenridge Fellowship is coming to a close. I had initially come into the fellowship thinking that I would have some conversations with my peers about our various research topics, make a few jokes, and then carry on with my own work. What I hadn’t accounted for was the difficulty of both explaining and understanding concepts in a group of students that represents nearly every discipline at Pitt.

For the bulk of the past two years, I’ve been surrounded by fellow physics and math majors. Even within my introductory courses, the most variety we had was some engineers. Because of this, it had become natural for me to explain my research and topics using physics topics that those around me knew – energy, momentum, mass, etc… When the Brackenridge Fellowship began, it became abundantly clear that I had to throw away my reliance on physics in explaining physics. Instead, I had to come up with more concrete, understandable descriptions of topics. I’ve also noticed that my peers within the fellowship have had to do the same, no matter their major. I think that, in this way, my view on research has shifted. I never would’ve imagined how hard it would be to simply communicate with others. But, by creating a potluck of students and topics, the fellowship has revealed the difficulty in simple communication.

Aside from improving my communication skills, the most valuable thing I got out of the Brackenridge Fellowship was the ability to learn about how research looks in other disciplines and the challenges that other people face. I never would’ve considered that a major difficulty could range from interviews with annoying kids to all your cells dying. It’s fascinating to see how everyone has these issues, and yet finds ways to overcome them, whether it be through pure perseverance or some innovative solution. By observing this, I’ve been inspired to begin thinking a bit more outside the box when I do my research, and I believe that this will greatly affect my future work.

Finally, now that the Brackenridge Fellowship is ending, I have many hopes for the future. The greatest of these is my hope to continue working on my communication skills – the Brackenridge has revealed my reliance on physics in communication, and I’m hoping to find ways that I can communicate research to audiences with little to no knowledge of the subject. I’m also hoping to continue my research. I’ve just flown out to Switzerland to spend a couple weeks doing research at CERN, which will culminate in a presentation about my research done during the Brackenridge. Lastly, I hope to continue my education; I don’t have a finalized plan for my future, but I’m expecting myself to go to graduate school.

Looking forward, I know that the knowledge I have gained through the Brackenridge Fellowship will play a major role in shaping my future!

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