Friday, July 22, 2016

Unlike previous research experiences I’ve had, this summer I’ve spent a fair amount of time learning about subjects that lie outside of my own major. It has been fascinating to learn about the other students’ research projects and see how they all fit together. While the research is important individually, it’s clear that the information from each individual project is much more powerful if they are presented together. For example, this week I spent a day with the math students instead of my usual economics group to learn more about their project. After a crash course of about 4 or 5 semesters of math concepts, I started to understand the basis of their work. Although I wouldn’t be able to derive the models they’ve been creating myself, understanding seeing the lake’s algae problem explained mathematically helped me get a better grasp on the idea of what has been happening in the lakes and under which conditions the lakes would become cleaner. Meanwhile, as an economics student my work focuses largely on how people make decisions. This is important when efforts to clean up lakes largely depends on the passing of policies. Thus, using the math models to disseminate information to the public in a way that will increase awareness of the situation and influence policy is crucial. Spending a day with the math team helped to solidify the importance of interdisciplinary research in my mind. It showed that while both of our research projects are important, they are most influential if they are presented together. In a more general sense, working on a unified project like this has helped me expand my way of thinking from the usual way that I would approach research. It has been a breath of fresh air to consider this problem from a variety of approaches rather than just analyzing it from an economic standpoint.

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