Week 1 of the DSSRF program has been whirlwind of meeting Bucknell’s library staff, hashing out project ideas, and becoming familiar with the tools we will be using this summer. Though busy, the week has provided me strong reassurance that the DSSRF program is the great opportunity my academic advisor brought to my attention months ago. This February, while unsuccessfully trying to navigate the endless job boards, Mathematics Professor Nathan Ryan, my dedicated academic advisor, alerted me of the DSSRF program, highlighting the structured yet individualized research that could be done through this program.
To understand why this program is such a great fit for me, I must explain my intended area of reserach. I have long been interested in sports analytics. As a child, I memorized batting averages in baseball, save percentages for hockey goalies, and other seemingly useless numbers. It was only recently I realized this lifelong passion could blossom into a career. Given no other programs on Bucknell’s campus cater to this interest of mine, the DSSRF program is the perfect opportunity to get a taste of research while keeping my career goals in mind.
Through the application and interview process, I was hesitant to fully commit to a project idea. A successful eight weeks of research hinges on an intriguing, yet achievable research question. This pressure to land on the perfect research topic gnawed away at me in the weeks leading up to the program’s start. However, upon meeting with our program facilitators, Courtney Paddick and Carrie Pirrman, my nerves calmed. I was reminded that a research question is not set in stone. Projects adapt, researchers constantly strive to overcome whatever barriers they may face, and adjust as need be.
Throughout this week I have narrowed the project idea I initially brought to the application process. With the help of the program facilitators and the input of my fellow researchers, I now know that I want to create a visual data comparison of NHL teams, linking individual performance metrics with team success. In my opinion, the challenge is to present overwhelming amounts of data, to anyone, a hockey fan or otherwise, in an understandable format. This allows every viewer to understand the metrics driving the modern game of hockey. Though I am sure my project will change as the summer goes on, I am proud to have landed on an idea which I am confident will yield an interesting result. I owe great thanks to my advisor for bringing this wonderful opportunity to my attention, to my research peers for proposing project tweaks all week, and to the program facilitators for believing that this project had potential from the beginning. Though we’re only a week in, I am confident this summer will prepare us well for whatever is to come.