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Radiology, Philosophy, and the Memphis Blues – a Research Scholar’s multidisciplinary exchange experience

Lithuanian Research Scholar, Mindaugas Briedis, tells the world about his research-exchange experience.

“The project that was submitted for the BAFF competition, I had been developing for a few years. I already presented some methodological parts and the plan of research at several conferences in the USA, and felt that I am on the right pathway. By the same token, the USA seemed to be a perfect place to develop my ideas because many American researchers in general humanities, and philosophy in particular, were interdisciplinary-oriented and looking for opportunities to apply methods of qualitative research. The final piece of the puzzle was put in place when I found out that the scholar whom I had admired for many years because of his books was working at the University of Memphis.

Long story short, I showed my ideas to Prof. Shaun Gallagher via email and got the invitation to do my research at the University of Memphis. Another letter of agreement to collaborate came from the Department of Radiology at the local children’s hospital, because my research concerned working conditions, perceptual schemas, communication, etc. of radiologists. Hence, it was a true joy when the BAFF committee approved my project statement and I began my preparations for departure.

I had almost five months before I left for Memphis, which was perfect in order to finish some mundane business, finalize things at the university and enjoy more time with my family. In addition, I began to read extensively, as my project became interdisciplinary, relating to fields of philosophy, psychology, ethnography, radiology and others. It must be stressed that BAFF officers (I was mostly in contact with Ingrida and Denise) were very helpful, organized and friendly during all seven months of my stay in Memphis, and I had no logistic or other problems; funding was more than fine, and sometimes it was just a pure pleasure to share some news about how the project is going with them. I was quite lucky, because there were no injuries, thefts, missed flights, etc. during my stay, and the University of Memphis provided me with nice apartment for a moderate price. Therefore, despite its fame as a dangerous city, Memphis will stay in my heart as a very hospitable (southern) town with many open-minded people and original activities.

As it was my seventh time in the USA I could easily concentrate on my work. It was very interesting and challenging to work with several different groups of researchers and practitioners, radiologists, philosophers and others. I also needed to learn some new methodological vocabularies, for example, enactive theory and use it in my research. All this makes me proud to say, that my research at the end of my stay was evaluated as “excellent”, “exciting” and finally “an outstanding success”. Now my duty is to publish those more than ninety pages of research manuscript.

During my stay I managed to keep a very nice pace of work when, after some initial field research, I would write an analysis and send it to my colleagues and supervisors. Prof. Shaun Gallagher and Prof. Harry Cohen showed a lot of care, support, and respect for my research. It was amazing how being so busy they managed to give me all attention and support needed. After sending some part of my research, I often enjoyed some short holidays (every two months or so) during which I travelled with my family to the East Coast, NOLA, visited four big Lithuanian communities in the USA (Los Angeles, Atlanta, Miami, Chicago), and participated as a presenter in the two biggest conferences for philosophy in the USA (SPEP, APA). Most of my free time in Memphis was spent with local graduate students who will enter the academic world in a few years. It was so interesting to see how they grow and get ready for the life that I chose some time ago. Needless to say, being in Memphis, we enjoyed plenty of good blues music.

Summa summarum, it was truly an amazing working and existential experience – I could not ask for a more perfect balance of professionalism (Shaun Gallagher is a true pioneer in the field that I am currently working in), working conditions (living, traveling expenses, etc.) and friendship (both from the BAFF officers and Memphis colleagues). Without this opportunity I could not develop and finalize ideas that, I believe, will be interesting and useful for several disciplines.”

-Mindaugas Breidis, June 5, 2018