7.2 Collaborative Research: Lessons Learned from the Dissertations Initiative for the Advancement of Climate Change Research (DISCCRS) to Prepare a New Generation of Interdisciplinary, International, Inclusive Researchers

Wednesday, 9 January 2019: 10:45 AM
North 229AB (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
C. Susan Weiler, Whitman College, Walla Walla, WA

Handout (9.4 MB)

DISCCRS (pronounced discourse) facilitated interdisciplinary professional training and collegial peer networking across the physical, biological and social sciences from 2002 – 2017. During this period NSF and NASA supported eight weeklong symposia for 32-40 recent PhD graduates who were selected through a rigorous application process. Review criteria included research excellence (primary), and geographic, institutional, disciplinary and other measures to ensure a diverse and inclusive cohort. A public webpage, http://disccrs.org, advertised the initiative and provided access to resources to advance collaborative research. The weekly DISCCRS electronic newsletter disseminated climate news, funding opportunities, and career resources to researchers in 95 countries. In all, 1,247 recent PhD grads applied for at least one of the eight DISCCRS symposia. Of these, 279 (22%) were invited and attended. Thirty-one countries were represented at the symposium. Of the 279 symposium attendees, 194 (70%) were American citizens and 80% resided in the U.S. at the time of the symposium. Fifty-two percent of attendees were female. Of the 194 Americans attending, 8% were from groups that are under-represented in STEM disciplines. Post-symposium evaluations and a 2014 survey of symposium alumni documented the benefit of collegial peer networking, mentoring by mid-career and senior scientists, and specific training modules to improve communication, interpersonal and team skills in the context of collaborative interdisciplinary research. While DISCCRS targeted recent Ph.D. graduates, the training activities are appropriate and beneficial for students at the undergraduate and graduate level. This presentation will describe DISCCRS, as well as plans currently under way to launch a new website, revitalize the newsletter, and reconfigure the DISCCRS symposium format to address the needs of a new generation.
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