11B.4 Early Career Faculty Innovator Program: Coordination, Management, and Evaluation of an Interdisciplinary Science Program at the National Center for Atmospheric Science

Thursday, 16 January 2020: 9:15 AM
152 (Boston Convention and Exhibition Center)
Cassandra Olenick, NCAR, Boulder, CO; and R. Haacker and S. Eriksson

The Early Career Faculty Innovator Program at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) is a new program funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support early career faculty in the social sciences and STEM to co-develop interdisciplinary research projects with NCAR researchers. The Innovator Program builds on a rich tradition of interdisciplinary science and social science research at NCAR and aims to expand its partnership with the broader community to form a new community of practice. One of the objectives of the Early Career Faculty Innovator Program is to accelerate innovation and discovery in Earth system science and improve the creation and delivery of scientific information that is responsive to societal needs. To accomplish this goal, the program supports a convergence research paradigm with the specific goal of transforming our understanding of the interactions among natural, human-built, and social systems. As defined by the NSF, convergence research integrates knowledge, methods, and expertise from different disciplines and forms novel frameworks to catalyze scientific discovery and innovation. The NSF characterizes convergence research as driven by a specific and compelling problem and by deep integration across disciplines. In 2019, the Innovator Program’s first cohort of six social scientists and three physical scientists along with their graduate students spent their first of two summer sabbaticals at NCAR. The program funds research for the faculty with two years of year-long support for a graduate student. The programmatic theme of the 2019-2020 cohort is Coastal Regions and Human Settlements, aiming to address the impacts of environmental variability and climate change as well as natural hazards on human settlements in U.S. coastal regions. An external evaluation will assess whether sustained convergence research collaborations evolve from the program. This presentation will share the design and conceptual framework of the program, an overview of the research undertaken by the cohort, as well as early results of the external evaluation. We will share first findings on opportunities and challenges of supporting complex science programs and creating a community of convergence researchers.
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