To be completely honest, I’ve been looking forward to Launch since my freshman year, dreaming about standing up and giving a presentation, on a topic that meant a lot to me, in front of the entire high school. That dream lives on even after talking about reaching to new heights, and I very much hope that we will stick to the general layout of Launch, even if it is “new and improved.” I personally loved the idea of the Launch Gala in addition to the actual day, to give us an idea of what a professional presentation of information might look like to alumni and community members, as opposed to a presentation to our peers only.
The concept of including other high schools also intrigues me, which would allow us to expand the reaches of our research past their normal bounds, whether that be through inviting other schools here to see our presentations or traveling to other schools. In general, I feel like supplementary presentations would be the best option for showcasing our research as opposed to completely redesigning the process.
Again, since I changed my topic a bit later than everyone else did, I wasn’t in a place where I could submit this at the same time as everyone else because I was still trying to decide what my topic should be. For my new topic, I was originally leaning towards Dr. Kuhn, as I’m trying to take a more philosophical approach with this, but she already has two advisees. At this point where I’m working out exactly which direction I want to take my topic, I don’t really have any solidified ideas for my advisor. I don’t necessarily want to go to a math/science teacher because I believe that my thesis will be more humanities-based, but as I also want to maintain a scientific side to my research, I don’t know if I should go to a humanities teacher or not. Two of the people that have been suggested to me are Mr. VanKirk and Dr. D, and Coach Anderson also mentioned that I might want to choose an advisor to help with the actual composition of my thesis as opposed to the content, which would take me to the English department.
As I’m taking a somewhat theological approach with this, any other student might go to my dad for their advisor, but I’m definitely not going to have him advise my thesis and if I have him around all the time I don’t really see the need for another theology-based teacher for my advisor. I think I need to nail down my topic before I choose a definite advisor for my research.
Since I chose a new topic, I had to restart my mentor conversations over with a new focus in mind. With my idea of studying infinity and its everyday implications, my first thoughts were Coach Anderson and Dr. Kuhn. When I went to talk to Coach Anderson, we had a really good conversation about the mathematical aspects of infinity. He specifically told me about the proof for infinitely small numbers, which is called Cantor’s table. The idea is that if you have a physical table and take away the middle third over and over and over again, you will never have nothing. He also recommended a movie to me about theoretical math, as well as a friend of his who teaches at LSU and is a significant name in the world of theoretical mathematics. Though I think I am steering away from the mathematical realm of infinity, it was an enlightening conversation and he recommended several other teachers for me to speak to.
On the other hand, Dr. Kuhn and I spoke mostly about the humanities side of my thesis. She found the idea of studying infinite concepts in different cultures fascinating, and gave me several new ideas about how I could approach my research. After I gave her the black hole rant she said that since that’s what started this research path, she feels like I should maintain that aspect of my thesis somehow. I can’t help but agree, but I’m still struggling with the issue of how to narrow my topic down without sacrificing something I’m passionate about researching.
For my second round of mentor conversations, I spoke with Mr. Taranto and my dad, Fr. Skully. Mr. T seemed genuinely interested in the idea of music psychology, and was wholeheartedly supportive of my research plan. He even suggested that as a part of my final goal, which is to develop a therapy based on my research, I come up with some sort of logarithm to come up with compositions based on the needs of a therapy patient. I thought it was an interesting idea, but I’m not the most tech-savvy person, so I might look into that further depending on whether or not it seems like a reasonable path a little further into my research process. My second conversation was with my dad, mostly just to get an opinion from someone who has been a mentor before to see how he felt about it. He found the actual content interesting, cautioning me only that it seemed similar to some past theses based around arts and education. However, I do feel confident that what I’m proposing is a unique idea, and though it may share some elements with some theses from the past couple of years, is different enough to present plenty of new research area.
I enjoyed the juxtaposition between Mr. V’s perspective from a place of scientific research and Dr. Pritchard’s from a point of research in the humanities. What I took away from the discussion as a whole is that, while any type of research has its surface appeals, there is much more monotonous work that goes in for every sliver of this romanticized research. In Mr. V’s case, it was the months of analysis he had to do on his oceanographic findings, while in Mr. Pritchard’s case, it was the meticulous typing of his dissertation amidst the dig through countless archives. What I realized from their discussions is that the less romantic part of the job doesn’t make the adventures any less valuable. If anything, it makes them mean more, because then they achieve something. They would be interesting on their own, but that meticulous analysis afterward is what makes them mean something, and allows them to contribute to further discovery. That is the beauty of research at its core, at least in my opinion. It’s never finished and it’s constantly growing, built up from every shred of information anyone has ever discovered about a certain topic. It’s thrilling to think about, and I can’t wait to apply all of the lessons we’ve learned about it to my own research process.
As someone who is extremely interested in biology, I was enthralled by Dr. Buckner’s discussion today. It was intriguing to learn about the inner workings of a real lab, from writing grants to publishing papers to working with HeLa cells. For me, it’s always seemed like the life of a scientist was most likely to go pretty much unfulfilled, since there were so few “big” discoveries. After hearing Dr. Buckner’s talk today, I realize that there’s quite a bit more to it than that. Her work is tackling an important issue and even if she doesn’t find a cure to chlamydia, she will have contributed something to the field, that will help future scientists for years to come. The actual content of her presentation also intrigued me, especially since Elliott, Angelina, and I all did a project on STDs (STIs?) last semester. It was satisfying to hear her mention something that I already knew a bit about, like the unusually high STI rate in Louisiana, and Baton Rouge especially. Her story about how she was so certain she didn’t want to go into immunology was a source of comfort to me as well. I may have a pretty good idea of what I may want to do a thesis on, but I have to learn that it is okay for that path to change with time. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the discussion and I’m as excited as ever for our upcoming thesis process!
I think of all the talks we’ve heard, Dr. Stroope’s was probably my favorite. While I understand that the research methods are the majority of the reason we are hearing these speakers, the fact that he explained a situation in which he used his method helped to put everything in context for me. The content of the project he was describing was also extremely interesting to me. I’ve always been fascinated with correlations like that, and to be walked through how sociologists determine those correlations was really cool. The idea that religion can have such a significant effect on a person’s health, as well as their religion depending on where they live, is absolutely fascinating, and I really appreciate that Dr. Stroope took the time to take us through how a discovery like that could be made. The fact that the study he showed us was also the first to ever describe such a tendency got me excited about the possibilities of research and what sort of things I might find while researching for my thesis. I’m definitely not expecting to find anything that no other person has never thought of, but the idea of adding to a global conversation that I am passionate about sounds absolutely fantastic.