Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Long Four Days

They said it would difficult. They said it would take days. They said it would be exhausting.  And they were right about it all. Writing a research proposal is no walk in the rainforest. The night it all began, there were twenty-four of us gathered downstairs in the classroom of the Wilson House at the Las Cruces Biological Station. It was a Saturday night, just after dinner, and we were exhausted from a full day of presentations and quizzes. We sat around the desks discussing what movie we would watch that night and what our plans were for our day off. But, as soon as the PowerPoint appeared on the screen with the title "Possible IP Projects", we were all ears.  Each of us had been anxiously awaiting the reveal of the possible topics for our independent projects. All of the possible projects seemed extremely interesting, and I was quite torn when it came to picking just one. We were instructed to form six groups of four and have our topics picked by 8am Monday morning. Immediately after the projector went black, we jumped out of our seats and began darting around the classroom. "Which project do you want to do?" "What do you think about the teen pregnancy one?" After about five minutes, groups of four started to emerge from the chaos. Our groups were formed and our topics submitted a day and a half early. We then dispersed to enjoy our night and free day, not realizing what the week ahead had in store for us.  My group chose the independent project that dealt with obesity in Ngöbe indigenous women. Our group met at 8am in the classroom ready to get started.  It was Monday, so that meant we had four days until our proposal was due at 6pm on Thursday. The four of us sat around a desk that morning discussing our ideas about the project. What questions did we want to answer?  How would we get there? After a much needed lunch break, we decided to begin our research and write our intros. After a long afternoon of scouring Google Scholar and PubMed for helpful articles, we completed our intros and felt like we were in a good place heading into Day Two. On Tuesday morning, we met again at the same desks down in the classroom. Our goal for the morning was to complete our Survey and Methods sections of our proposal so that we could discuss them with our professors in a meeting scheduled for just before lunch. We finished this task minutes before our meeting, grabbed our raincoats, and made our way to the Commodore dodging the forming puddles. We got the green light to move forward with our methods and questionnaire and needed to make only minor changes. That afternoon we met back up at our spot and completed our methods and began to fill out our IRB form that would be submitted to Duke for approval of our project. While we went to bed that evening feeling good about where we were, we were still aware of all the work that had to be done in our final two days. Every group had to give a brief presentation to the class on Wednesday afternoon. So that morning, we worked on putting together our PowerPoint and figuring out what we would say. After the presentations, our group reluctantly but necessarily met again at our same desk to finish our Anticipated Results, Ethical Concerns, and Significance sections of our proposal. As we set our alarms that night, we were beyond exhausted but exited for tomorrow and the completion of our proposals. On our fourth and final day, we spent the morning finishing up our individual proposals and putting the final touches on our IRB. We sent in our IRB at 10am and set off on a hike, desperately needing to clear our minds. While hiking, we discovered a beautiful waterfall, which invigorated us, as we returned to our proposals with new found energy. Our proposals were finally complete at 5pm, and we were just waiting for our meeting with the Ngöbe Cultural Advisor to ensure our survey would be appropriate and useful. We had a very successful meeting that ended at 5:55pm.  This left just enough time to make a couple quick changes, attach our document, and push SEND.  It was wonderfully difficult.  It took days.  It was exhilaratingly exhausting.  And like all of our walks in the rainforest, we emerged from this IP proposal experience enlightened, enthusiastic, and enriched!
Emily Becker

No comments: