Participating in the Brackenridge Fellowship this Summer has definitely changed my understanding of research, especially multidisciplinary research. Being a part of the fellowship has exposed me to unique research projects being conducted by my peers in many different fields. The multidisciplinary nature of our cohorts and the fellowship meeting topics has made me realize how important collaboration and communication is within research. I had many opportunities to explain my research to people outside of my field, so I got to practice limiting technical jargon and emphasizing the importance of my work in a concise manner. I was also able to learn a lot about how research is conducted in different fields, ranging from English literature to rehabilitation science.
Being immersed in this multidisciplinary community opened my eyes to how my own research can have many implications, not only for scientific research. By advancing research on PFIC, which is not widely studied, new therapies can be created, enhancing the quality of life of patients. But, a complicating factor is drug development and pharmaceutical companies. If a drug were to be developed to help medically manage this disease, patients may have issues accessing it depending on social and economic variables. Sociological and economic research can help determine the best way to make treatment a viable option for as many patients as possible. I’ve come to the understanding that all research is inherently multidisciplinary because of the value it holds in society. It may be seeking knowledge for the sake of knowledge, or it may be directly impacting lives of people out in the real world. This Summer has helped me refocus my view and attitude about my project and see the larger implications it may have many years down the line.
My next step after this fellowship is to continue working on my project. I am getting close to the point of publication and hope to be able to communicate my work to both other researchers and parents of PFIC patients via a journal publication. My project will lay the groundwork for future projects in my lab that will expand on modeling and studying PFIC. I will be entering my senior year of college this Fall, so I am ready to graduate and have plans to pursue medical school and become a physician. I am very thankful to the Frederick Honors College for making research easily accessible to undergraduate students and have grown a lot academically, professionally, and personally this Summer.