As the weather gets warmer and summer gets closer, a lot of people’s minds are on their upcoming summer research internships. I know from my personal experience that doing research over the summer can be quite frustrating — it seems like you’ll never get any results and it’s so easy to say that “research just isn’t my thing.” In this post, I want to highlight a few things to think about before you decide that pursuing research as a profession isn’t for you.
Over intercession break, I went back home to Charlotte – which is probably the happiest city in America right now. Our very own Carolina Panthers just punched their ticket to the Super Bowl, something the franchise hasn’t accomplished in over 10 years. The day after we clinched our Super Bowl berth, I was laying in bed watching football analysts apologize for estimating the Panthers, when a headline caught my eye. “Ravens’ John Urschel Accepted into PhD program at MIT”. It was one of those tiny headlines in the news ticker, and not a story they were actually covering. So I went on my computer and sure enough, there it was. Baltimore Ravens center John Urschel was just accepted into MIT’s PhD program in mathematics to study spectral graph theory, numerical linear algebra, and machine learning. Now, having talked to some of my own math professors about their research, I know how difficult it is to do novel research in such advanced topics, especially in the seemingly inaccessible world that is math. But to do all of that while enduring the physical and mental pressures of playing football for an NFL team? I couldn’t believe it.