Scholarship Finalist Essay #4 – Marisa Fajardo
Before college, I didn’t think much about research and its importance; however, I applied for the Freshman Research Initiative at UT Austin, assuming it would provide a unique and expandable learning experience for my first year in college. The first semester in this class taught me all the basics of research, training me how to conduct my own research studies, and even enabled me to explore social aspects of research and its applications. Just one semester of this class has opened my eyes to the vast world of research and our society’s constant dependence on research to develop in both a very functional, technical sense, and a social and psychological aspect. The expansion of research over the years has shown inexplicable development of the human capability to create amazing things, as well as expand on the human condition, providing many opportunities to learn about the world and our values as a society.
One of the most amazing aspects of research is the gradual development of research methods as studies become more sophisticated. This single aspect of research creates an extremely interesting pattern of human development regarding ethics and important societal values. During World War II, research experiments were known to be imposed upon individuals in concentration camps under Nazi control. The brutality of some of these experiments brought human research to direct attention, displaying the moral ambiguity of scientific advancement at the cost of human lives. This spurred the US to administer the Nuremberg Code, which regulated human experimentation, requiring informed consent when using humans in further research studies. Since, various regulations have been imposed on research in order to ensure that research does not create more detriments than benefits. The way in which research is preformed brings important issues to attention, helping societal advances regarding ethics or morals. Another significant example of societal progression reflected by research is the ongoing regulation of animal based research studies. As people realize more ethical concerns, recognizing the values that are tied to society and therefore reflect societal standards as a whole, research methods involving living organisms constantly become more stringent. The ethics of research, an underlying factor behind almost every study, can often show what truly is important to an overall population.
Not only do research methods reflect the mindset and priorities of society as a whole, but also subjects of the studies. Many research programs reflect prominent problems across the US, and well-funded research regarding these problems directly exhibits priorities of our society. Human health serves as one of the most heavily funded research areas, especially on drastic medical issues such as cancer. Widespread, heavily publicized issues such as this are brought to the forefront of our society’s attention, therefore research funding heavily targets popular issues at hand. The patterns of funded research can depict an accurate example of what issues we see as a society and which are most important, thus stimulating funding for further research. This aspect, as well as research methods, creates a greater understanding of our society’s values, as it sacrifices certain research opportunities for others, directly representing what society finds important enough to develop and fund research on. Therefore, research can heavily depict what remains prominent in societal values, thus expanding society’s understanding of their needs and priorities. The progression of research alone is an important societal contribution, causing people to constantly think about what certain things are worth and which are more important than others. This kind of thought is crucial for society to progress further and expand upon future ideas based on their actual importance and practicality.
It is important for research to continue progressing, not only because of the benefits it can bring society with direct creations, but also in order to help expand further with research methods and topics, thus reflecting true societal views of importance and sacrifice. Research serves as a large indicator of what is important to us: the scientific advancement, or the detriments it may provide while creating it. Research can help the population think about the true cost of progression and develop mindsets, further encouraging society to consider what is important in the midst of an extremely groundbreaking age such as the one in which we are living.
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