Interdisciplinary Research

Volume 3, Issue 2 – 2013

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Within this issue, interdisciplinary research is examined from various perspectives, including real-world examples from life sciences and materials science. How do you define interdisciplinary research? What is the impact of cross-cultural and cross-border interdisciplinary teams. How can you encourage cross-culturally competent leaders to guide these teams?

Genomics era gives rise to new breed of complex, cross-cutting projects

Interview with Mary Ellen Perry, NIH, and George Weinstock, WUSTL

Hundreds of researchers and multiple academic institutions and NIH institutes participated in the Human Microbiome Project (HMP) to sequence and analyze microbial genomes, create resource repositories, and examine the associated ethical, legal and social implications. The NIH Common Fund supported the HMP as its goals spanned the missions of several NIH Institutes and Centers.

Cross-border feats: Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University is breaking boundaries in Asia

By Bertil Andersson and Tony Mayer, Nanyang Technological University

By changing mind-sets and creating new interactions, we can open universities to new ways of working and generate excitement about interdisciplinary possibilities. Young institutions such as Nanyang Technological University may have advantages in this realm; their structures are not as constrained as those of older institutions. By promoting interdisciplinarity within a Humboldtian ethos, combining research and education, young institutions can be at the forefront of change.

Challenge accepted – Japan’s AIMR champions mathematical integration to afford infinite possibilities

By Motoko Kotani, Tohoku University

In the 21st century, materials science seems to be at a turning point, changing into a more exact science based on fundamental principles and prediction. AIMR is playing a leading role by gathering top international researchers from various backgrounds and developing interdisciplinary research in a supportive environment.

Tackling grand challenges: Boosting interdisciplinarity to embrace complexity, unknowns and imperfection

By Gabriele Bammer, The Australian National University

For a team-based interdisciplinary effort to successfully address complex, real-world grand challenges, we need to boost our problem-solving skill sets. In addition to reductionist thinking, which gives us detailed understanding of specific elements of the problem, we need to enhance our ability to also understand the problem as a system. This involves understanding interconnections, possible vicious or stabilizing cycles, simple rules that may underpin complex behaviors, properties that emerge when the focus moves from one level in a hierarchy to another, and so on.

Creating cross-culturally competent leaders for global teams

By Norhayati Zakaria, Universiti Utara Malaysia

With the globalization of research teams, institutions are increasingly paying attention to the interconnections between management competencies and culture. Whether the team is together in one physical location or operates in a virtual environment, challenges can arise from many sources: cultural, managerial, operational, efficiency or effectiveness concerns, and more.