Pittsburgh “Humidity” (Redux)

It’s gotten hotter in Pittsburgh in the last couple days and once again, my friends are complaining about the so-called “humidity” here. It takes everything in my being to tell them to visit, but ironically, I haven’t even been back in almost a year, so how would I even know what that humidity feels like? Nevertheless, I find myself missing summers at home less and less, simply because as I’m growing older and becoming more involved in research at CMU—or perhaps this is an offshoot of spending a summer where 100% humidity and 90+ degree weather is not a commonplace. Even when I return in the wintertime, it feels like I’m walking into a sauna, so maybe I’ve just gotten weak?

So despite the heat wave, my summer is still chugging along. Our final presentations for our summer work were last week and while I know it wasn’t my strongest showing in a presentation, it was still helpful to learn more about the quirks of explaining my research to a non-expert audience. This past semester, I had the privilege to compete in the Sigma Xi competition during Meeting of the Minds and my other research focus (communal coping) was far easier to communicate than my current project (unmitigated communion). Oddly enough, I find unmitigated communion far more interesting, so I guess it’s unsurprising that more exciting concepts are sometimes the hardest to communicate. Whether that be from enthusiasm or just sheer complexity, I’m not sure; however, I know that I found myself having a lot to say, not enough time to say it, and not the right words to say it all—yet.

Essentially, this summer has been all about learning and that’s been a new feeling—I enjoy feeling like the only tasks for the entire summer have been to work on my thesis. While every step has not been perfect, it’s been nice to reflect on all of my progress and goal accomplishment thus far:

  • Completion of Former UC Research Study. This project was started back during sophomore and was concerned with motivations behind helping behavior. Data analysis yielded some interesting results and I have another poster out of the work, so I can’t complain. It was my first study in my lab, so it’s also a tad sentimental!
  • All IRB’s are Approved! Wow, this one was a doozy. The IRB is quite the juggernaut for research ethics and each time I’d get an email, I’d hold my breath until I knew my study wasn’t getting cancelled for an out-of-place period or exclamation mark.
  • Self-Designed Studies. This is the first real project where I’ve taken an independent methodological approach; sure, there have been other solo projects I’ve worked on in my lab, but this is the first where I get to hand pick questionnaires and tasks and work out the nitty-gritty of the study. It’s definitely exciting and I look forward to future work like this!

So with this, it’s the end of my summer as the Fall 2018 semester barrels forward. My MCAT is in four weeks, my senior year starts in three weeks, and I’m more than ready for all of it.