On her first day at NYU, Trisha Gupta had everything planned out. She would study Neural Science as a prehealth student and then pursue a career in medicine. But as the months went by, she found herself itching for something else—and that something was English courses. After taking a particularly inspiring class in essay writing, the College of Arts and Science senior approached her professor to get more involved. Much to her surprise, Trisha was soon working as a faculty research assistant.
Working hands-on with a faculty member was an eye-opening experience that transformed Trisha’s academic and professional plans. “Through faculty research, I realized that majoring in English would help me better understand human emotions and experiences. At the same time, my prehealth classes would complement this with scientific knowledge,” she explains. She chose to stay on the pre-health track, major in English and American Literature, and double-minor in Chemistry and Medieval and Renaissance Studies.
Learning from Experience
Trisha’s first foray into the world of faculty research was during her sophomore year. After taking an introductory psychology course, she began working with Dr. Tina Sundelin on her sleep research. By gaining experience in the field, she was able to better understand her own interests. “Each research experience has impacted my time at NYU. I’ve chosen future internship and research opportunities based on past ones,” she says. And it was working in the sciences that inspired her to pursue faculty research opportunities in the humanities. “Although the two fields of research may seem quite distinct, both call for patience, motivation, perseverance, and creativity. I would encourage anyone with diverse interests to explore them fully—regardless of how irreconcilable they may seem.”
Enrichment Through Faculty Research
As Professor Martha Rust’s research assistant, Trisha checks citations and references for Professor Rust’s work on medieval literature and culture. Her favorite part of the experience has been working one-on-one with Professor Rust while engaging in her research process. During regular Zoom meetings, the two discuss goals and future projects. Trisha attests, “It’s wonderful being Professor Rust’s research assistant! I get to learn all about her work. Plus, the experience has led me to more deeply realize, appreciate, and pursue my individual interests, too.”
Next semester, Trisha will begin working on her own research project, with oversight from Professor Haruko Momma. Inspired by Professor Momma’s spring seminar, Other Worlds: Visions and Travels in Medieval Literature, Trisha submitted an abstract to various conferences this year. Her paper, which explores how language choice impacts the perception of bodies and gender in medieval literature, was accepted by the International Medieval Congress. Over the next six months, Trisha will conduct research for her paper. Then, in July 2021, she’ll present her work (virtually) at the University of Leeds. “Professor Momma has helped me immensely throughout this process. I am so humbled and excited to have her—an expert in the field—as my mentor!”
An Interdisciplinary Future
Through her involvement in faculty research and pursuing individual research projects, Trisha has clarified her goals at NYU and beyond. “Having gone from British literature class to the chemistry lab, I better understand what it means to be human from the inside out,” she says. “I want to continue bridging the gap between medicine and the humanities by attending medical school and becoming a physician. Then, I’ll channel my passion for the humanities into showing empathy to patients and being an advocate for marginalized communities. I’ll work to deconstruct gender and racial stereotypes.”
Finally, Trisha encourages others to make their own opportunities and take advantage of everything NYU has to offer. While she initially felt overwhelmed at the prospect of finding faculty research opportunities, Trisha has discovered that online research and a few emails can go a long way. “I would tell other students to take your time reading about research opportunities. Find positions that genuinely interest you. And send many emails,” she suggests. “Remain hopeful and positive. Then, you can enter the amazing world of research!”