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one of the biggest aspects that our university prides itself on. As the first research university in the nation, Hopkins doesn’t disappoint. Being the primary U.S. academic institution invested in research (leading the nation in research spending for 36 years), Hopkins has spent over $2.2 billion in fiscal 2014 alone.

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Graphs n’ stuff.

Even our motto says it all: “Veritas vos liberabit”, or “The Truth Will Set You Free”. We pride ourselves on being intellectually curious – Hopkins students are conducting research on an impressive variety of topics all over the world. Whether it be uncovering the public health impacts of operating room supplies to researching the differences in interpretations of Bach Cello Suites, Hopkins is an awesome place to be.

With an impressive network of connections to the school of medicine, international studies, public health, music, and more, research can be done in all sorts of directions, all at the same time.

As I begin my undergraduate experience here at Hopkins, I’ll keep a continuing record of my research adventures. It’s only been a mere semester, but I’ve already found eager mentors and teachers to help me get started. As a student majoring in music and neuroscience, it would make sense for me to somehow combine the two, right?


Because, why not?!

Although I haven’t actually started tangible experiments yet, I’ve come up with a research proposal with the help of my mentor, Dr. Serap Bastepe-Gray. As a medical doctor and guitar faculty member at the Peabody Conservatory, Dr. Bastepe-Gray focuses a lot of her research on the relationship and rehabilitation of musician-related injuries.

With Dr. Bastepe-Gray’s help, we devised an experiment that explores the effects of auditory imagery on improvisational performance. You know how as humans we’re able to close our eyes and visually picture something random like a pink elephant? We can do the same with sounds, pitches, tempi (speed), dynamics (relative loudness). How does mentally preparing for improvisation, an activity that supposedly cannot be prepared, affect a musician’s ability to improvise music? Is there an explicit and neurological difference between “on-the-spot creation” and “prepared creation” in music? Does mentally preparing for improvisation even make it improvisation after all?

With a handful of jazz musicians, data analysis software, surveys, and judges, we’ll hopefully be able to uncover the beginnings to some of these questions. This semester, we’ve applied for a grant in order to fund our research project (fingers crossed for the announcement in January)!

With the end of my first semester here at Hopkins, it’s only really been the end of the beginning. With at least 7 semesters left to go, I’ll be sure to document my future research adventures every step of the way.


Graphic #1: Source

Graphic #2: Source