My Research after an Interdisciplinary Lens: What I’ve Learned

As my time taking part in the Brackenridge draws to a close, I need to reflect on how this fellowship was able to meaningfully change my experience doing research this summer. I think that being a Brackenridge fellow made me focus more on the bigger picture of my research, rather than get fully absorbed into the details of my experimentation on a day to day basis. The benefit of that is that aside from simply being able to troubleshoot experiments not working, I was able to look at the larger question I wanted answered and more easily think of alternative techniques and experiments that could accomplish the same goal, since I had the goal of the project at the forefront of my mind more often than not. I think this made me a better scientist overall and had the welcome benefit of becoming exposed to more techniques that I can utilize in my remaining time here at Pitt, but also in the future at whatever graduate school I end up at.

Overall, I think that needing to frequently talk about the significance and importance of my project to a larger audience allowed me to get practice and become comfortable with my explanations, which hopefully allowed my project and the science to become more understandable and accessible to my audience.

Now that the Brackenridge has been completed, I plan on continuing with my in progress NSF-GRFP application, as well as grad school applications for the fall. Assuming all goes well, I’ll be pursuing my PhD in Structural Biology starting next fall. In the lab currently, I will be spending my fall semester pursuing a smaller passion project of mine, attempting to co-crystallize profilin and PIP2, and solve the structure of the complex. I’m looking forward to having a project of my own that does not rely on outside collaborators to be generating data, and being able to have total creative freedom with how I want to set up experiments and what different avenues and outlets I can try to generate and optimize these crystals. Outside of the lab, I play on two different rec soccer teams that I’ll be continuing with for the duration of my time remaining in Pittsburgh.

An early profilin crystal prior to optimization. This one birefringed extremely well but had too many overlapping crystals to successfully diffract an xray beam.

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