I think one of my main takeaways from this is that planning is extremely important, but you can't control the outcome and you have to be willing to problem solve. In working on my independent research question, I was often worried about my final results and how they would turn out. Dr. Leystra assured me that, even if there were no conclusive trends in my results, that was still something to report and I eventually realized that I needed to stop focusing on what I thought the results “should be” and let the data tell the story. This allowed me to enjoy the process of critical thinking and embrace difficulties that arose as a chance to collaborate with others, challenge myself, and possibly introduce new thinking.
When I first started investigating my independent research question, I was looking at the effects of CBD and isolation on anxiety, but I eventually shifted gears to look at the effects of CBD and overcrowding. I started with isolation because, with the pandemic, many of us have been in quarantine with limited social interaction. Along with others, I experienced the effects of isolation first hand and I wanted to see if I could do anything to mitigate the negative mental health effects. My family had been using CBD for a while at this point to help with various things including anxiety and I wanted to know if it actually helps with feeling anxious.
During my first three weeks looking at my initial experimental question of how isolation and CBD affect a fly's mood/anxiety, I felt like I had developed enough data to analyze and average my results, so I thought I might want to edit my experimental question. I still wanted to know if CBD actually helps with feeling anxious, but I thought it could be really interesting to pivot in the opposite direction slightly and look at overcrowding instead of isolation. I wondered if CBD had a similar effect when the stressor was something different. I was slightly apprehensive about changing my question, because I hadn’t planned to do that, but this allowed me to explore other avenues that gave me valuable insight into the effects of CBD.
This might sound cheesy, but this whole experience has really taught me to just trust the process. I’m so grateful that I have had the opportunity to participate in this program and meet this group of passionate people. I’ve loved learning not only about my research topic, but also learning from the incredible work of my peers, mentors, and guest speakers.