Research in BCA: Student Interests Outside of Academy Classes

Juliet Lee, Writer, Editor

Within the walls of BCA, most students share the common understanding that the academy name on one’s ID tag is representative of a person’s academic interests. But it is also not uncommon to see students explore outside the bounds of their designated academy, especially considering the diverse range of research opportunities at BCA. With recent discussion surrounding the restriction of certain electives to certain academies, this begs the question: Does a student’s academy reflect their research interests?

When surveying 28 BCA research students — the majority of whom were from AMST, AAST or AEDT — 16 students were researching in the fields of biology, chemistry, agriscience, nanotechnology and other sciences. And out of these areas of study, molecular and cell biology were the most common, with eight of the survey respondents researching in those areas. Many of these respondents said that research was even a key attraction when applying
to the Academies. From this data, it seems that students typically tend to pursue research topics relating to their academy.

However, a few students were researching topics outside of their academies, such as one student from AEDT who had been conducting creative writing research. Another student from AAST decided to conduct research in math. There was also more than one occasion of students in the arts academies pursuing topics in science.

Aligning with the idea that one’s academy reflects one’s career goals, a little over 75% of the total 46 respondents said that they were interested in pursuing a career based upon their academy.

This is certainly true for AMST senior Meera Patel, who conducted research in the field of agriscience: “Agriscience is a field I hold very close to my heart and have grown an immense amount of appreciation for, but medicine is my lifelong passion.”

Yet, interestingly, while a student’s career goals tended to align with their academy, these career goals were not reflected in student research. In fact, only 18 out of the 28 respondents said that their research reflected their path for the future. This may be an indication that research itself is not a good representation of one’s general interests. It may even be a possibility that research is simply used as another experience for students to put on college resumes. This may even just be an issue due to the lack of career paths involving a student’s specialized area of research. Still, it is unlikely that students would pursue research if they did not enjoy it. A more probable explanation is that students use research as an outlet to explore other topics of interest, even if they don’t align directly with academy courses.

But what this data shows most of all is the flexibility of research at BCA and the ways in which it serves as a creative outlet to the ever-changing interests of young minds. As every BCA student essentially chooses what they will take for the next four years when they submit their application, research allows students to explore more specialized topics both within (and outside of) the bounds of their academies. Looking back at the survey data, this appears to be true: the vast majority of students who responded to the survey mentioned being passionate about their research.

As a student of AMST, freshman Muhammad El-Sherbiny emphasized how his research helped him explore his passion in other areas of science. Muhammad said, “Research has helped me explore my interests in engineering, namely, coming up with ideas and turning them into real machines. When thinking like a researcher/engineer, I find myself coming up with ideas every day now, while some are just daydreams, others can hopefully become actual devices or processes to change the world.”

And for Meera, this statistic also applies. Although she “wholeheartedly love[d] the AMST curriculum,” she said that if she did not choose to conduct agriscience research, her “high school career would have looked entirely different.” She went on to say, “[I would have] miss[ed] out on one of the most meaningful experiences I have ever had.”

In the end, research is an essential feature of BCA’s academic environment, even if it goes outside the bounds of one’s academy. In fact, both Meera and AMST freshman Muhammad El-Sherbiny recommended that students try the experience, regardless of if it diverges from the theme of their academy. “It really opens your eyes regarding what it means to be at this school, and in my opinion can help your find your true passion,” commented Muhammad.

For any students considering research, remember to keep your eyes and ears open for any opportunities and reach out to teachers to pursue your interests. In the words of Meera, “You never know unless you try!”