Story by Katie Simota
As 2016-2017 Vice President of Research Fellows, College of Liberal Arts graduate students Hannah Love and Maggie Jones were given the opportunity to explore the ways interdisciplinary collaborations generate success.
Love is a doctoral candidate in sociology who studies the benefits of team science with the goal of creating successful interdisciplinary collaborations within the sciences.
“To solve the pressing problems of today, we’re going to need to combine the knowledge of different disciplines,” Love said.
Jones, masters of history graduate student, uses history as a vehicle to establish the importance of understanding how to manage public lands that are historically significant.
“More historians are seeking out stories about women and people with multicultural identities,” Jones said. “It’s a trend that should continue because, why would we tell the same story again and again when we could tell something new.”
As VPR fellows, both Jones and Love share a passion for making research more inclusive, be it through influencing how scientific research groups work together, or through sharing personal narratives about the past so that researchers and the community are more mindful of development and discovery in the future.
The VPR Graduate Fellows Program at Colorado State University promotes interdisciplinarity at the graduate research level by creating opportunities for researchers to build connections across various disciplines on campus.
To become a fellow, graduate students participate in a three-minute thesis competition consolidating their research down to a three-minute presentation and a single powerpoint slide for their visual. During Jones’ presentation, she discussed the effects of mismanagement on national parks and monuments that may also be considered sacred sites by indigenous people.
“The managers of Effigy Mounds National Monument in Iowa weren’t doing their jobs, and I wanted to shine a light on that,” Jones said. “This area has great cultural significance and our park system needed to take better care of it. I also wanted to discuss how this is a problem for the parks services as a whole because of underfunding.”
Love’s research looked closely at what dynamics make a scientific research team successful.
“Three things lead to building collective knowledge. The first element is giving everyone on the team the opportunity to participate,” Love said. “The second is appointing leaders who are socially sensitive and aware. The third is having an equal number of females and males on a team to encourage diverse perspectives.”
Fellows are awarded a stipend and attend monthly professional development workshops that strengthen their grant writing skills, help develop networking techniques and improve interdisciplinary communication.
“As a graduate student, I’m always pressed for time,” Love said. “There are a lot of things that I needed to develop professionally but hadn’t known where to go to gain that knowledge. Being a VPR fellow brought the opportunities to me.”
Jones and Love agree that being a VPR Fellow offered them opportunities and a community that they wouldn’t have experienced without the fellowship.
“Being a VPR fellow allowed me to make valuable professional and personal connections. This experience will play a role in my future career,” Love said. “For me, it was a great opportunity to work with people across a wide-range of disciples and share the liberal arts perspective.”
As the fellowship wraps up this spring, Jones will be graduating while Love will continue her team science research.