My Fellow Fellows

I’m almost a month into the Brackenridge, and I’ve already learned so much. I’ve been able to spend time going in-depth on my research and meet the other fellows. It’s a great experience getting to know people from so many different disciplines, schools, and hometowns.

Over this summer, I hope to gain a greater understanding of all different types of research. Scientific research that leads directly to innovations or profits often receives the lion’s share of attention and funding. However, I’m beginning to realize that research from many fields provides invaluable information. My cohort member Connor Diaz’s research on how Native American identity changed after the American revolution. This is important for politics, history, and a greater understanding of marginalized communities. 

In our group discussions, we talked about the idea of relative or multiple truths existing in qualitative research. This concept is also important for scientific research. While it is easy to accept a qualitative finding as definite, there are many factors that can affect the veracity of claims. Viewing studies or papers as merely one piece of evidence towards a scientific consensus, and accepting that the consensus may change over time is crucial for creating robust knowledge and increasing trust in the scientific method as a whole.

My cohort members bring many valuable skills to the table, and I would love to learn more from them. Adam Hicks is a math and economics major. His research involves analyzing existing data to find a causal relationship, rather than collecting his own data. He has a lot of strong analytical and quantitative skills which is an area I’d like to improve upon. 

I’ve found surprising commonalities between my work and some of my cohort members. In my research, I use immunohistochemistry (IHC) to determine the structure of subregions in the temporal lobe of the human brain and identify immature neurons. Another member of my cohort, Armani Manov, is investigating the cell cycle in human cancer cells using the same technique. 

A sample of human temporal lobe stained with IHC.

I’ve also encountered obstacles during this process. Everyone in my cohort has different backgrounds, so the amount of depth you go into may vary. It’s taught me to take time to think about someone’s experience with a topic so I can tailor my explanation to their experience with the subject. However, repeatedly explaining my research to so many different people has made me more aware of it. Not getting lost in jargon or the specifics, but really focusing on the broader significance. It’s made me more excited about my research. It can seem fairly mundane because it’s the same thing everyday, but it’s helped me to see it through new eyes.

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