4.5 Building a Network of "Multi-lingual" Early-career Researchers and Practitioners in the SPREAD Workshop

Tuesday, 12 January 2016: 9:30 AM
Room 353 ( New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)
Russ S. Schumacher, CSU, Ft. Collins, CO

Under the sponsorship of a National Science Foundation CAREER award, a two-year workshop called "Studies of Precipitation, flooding, and Rainfall Extremes Across Disciplines (SPREAD)" was held in 2013-2014 for graduate students with research interests in precipitation and flooding. These students came from a wide variety of disciplinary backgrounds including meteorology, hydrology, economics, psychology, sociology, history, emergency management, and geography. During and after the workshop, the participants were introduced to the research methods and approaches from these diverse disciplines, and they initiated several unique interdisciplinary research projects.

This presentation will discuss some of the benefits and challenges of developing a network of "multi-lingual" scientists and practitioners, meaning that they are fluent not only in their particular area of expertise but also in the "scientific language" of different, but related, disciplines. Graduate students with broad research interests often struggle with the question of whether it is more beneficial to excel in a narrow specialty or to address a wider range of research problems, and this issue will be addressed with insights and feedback from some of the SPREAD participants as they now enter their own careers. Considering the vital national importance of basic research as well as understanding the broader applications of that research, initiatives like SPREAD may yield useful knowledge about how best to achieve the balance between the two in graduate education.

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