I Do Believe in Klingons

Fact: I have never watched Star Trek. Ever. Sci-fi (or, as I learned in Fiction II a few weeks ago, speculative fiction) isn’t exactly my cup of tea. But I do believe in Klingons.

Because, I suppose, I am one. Just not the kind of which the Trekkies among us are thinking (hopefully).

So who are the WashU Klingons? Officially, we are the Merle Kling Undergraduate Honors Fellows, a group of sophomores through seniors in the College of Arts & Sciences pursuing research projects in all manner of discipline. For two years, Fellows attend a weekly seminar to improve their writing, draft research proposals, learn to present their findings, and meet to discuss scholarly publications. We get to partner with a Faculty Mentor, who advises us throughout the process and helps us fine-tune our research questions. And at the end of it all, we get to publish an article in Slideshow, the program’s journal.

To be honest, I’m still not sure what I’ve gotten myself into.

But I am excited about it. Since the summer before I came to WashU, I have been fascinated by a certain chapter in history involving spies, rocket scientists, and a strategic disregard for the law. It’s a mammoth of a story about Cold War geopolitics and national self-interest, and it’s led me everywhere from a synagogue in the northern suburbs of Chicago to an apartment in California. And I could not be more excited to have the opportunity to pursue this project further alongside fellow ArtSci nerds with completely different research interests, from the urban decay of East St. Louis to the impact of Russian literature on a generation of Western European writers.

Which might be the coolest part about this fellowship. That is, getting to work with people who see the world in ways different from my own; who study different subjects and ask different questions; who offer approaches I would never otherwise consider. It’s the interdisciplinary opportunity every liberal arts student hopes for, encompassed in a single cohort of incredibly driven, inquisitive people. That is no small thing.

I don’t think any of us can anticipate where this experience is going to lead us. But I am looking forward to it, all the same.