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The SAFES Research team will be hosting a series of workshops this spring to explore some of the team-related challenges that can come up in the course of doing interdisciplinary research. We invite you to join us for these sessions to hear from some experienced principal investigators who will share a few of their experiences leading and working with large interdisciplinary research teams.


Our hope is that the stories and experiences shared by the guest speakers will become points of departure for further questions and discussion among participants across all stages of their careers during the sessions. Overall, we will explore what some of the most common team-related issues are (in the context of interdisciplinary academic research) and the strategies you and your colleagues may use for managing those issues.


The sessions will be interactive and discussion-oriented with the aim for participants to come away with general principles, tactics, and strategies for initiating and sustaining a strong interdisciplinary team.


A light lunch will be provided for participants. To help us plan, **** please let us know if you will be attending **** any of the sessions by completing the following form: https://forms.office.com/r/0k8LMY4evT


Building a shared vision for a research project

Friday, January 27

12:15 – 1:30 pm

133 Ag Engineering Building




Kathy Brasier, Christina Grozinger, and Jim Shortle

About the topic: Teamwork may require sacrifice, as contributions to a team project may or may not garner the same academic rewards as individual accomplishments. For team members to willingly contribute to a collaborative project, they must clearly understand the value of doing so (either in terms of the external impact of the work, the impact on their own career development, personal fulfillment and fun, etc.). Formal constraints such as contracts and informal constraints such as social norms can help induce team members to overcome the natural tendency to prioritize personal projects above the goals of the team (see “Agreeing on Expectations” workshop below). However, the overall vision for the value of the work must be compelling so that the sacrifices will seem intrinsically worthwhile (and fewer external constraints will need to be imposed and enforced). This session will help team members reflect on the value (external and internal) of the collaboration(s) they are involved in and ensure that each member of the team can articulate the goals of the team.

Agreeing on expectations

Friday, February 17

12:15 – 1:30 pm

Location TBD



Dave Abler, Karen Fisher-Vanden, and Blair Siegfried


About the topic: Collaboration harnesses the skills of individual team members to achieve ends that would otherwise be impossible through independent work, but this often requires team members to surrender time, data, and individual accolades for the good of the team. Rewards ultimately accrue to team members only insofar as all members make sacrifices of time, data, individual credit, et cetera. The decision to contribute to the team thus involves a leap of faith. Team members must trust that their personal contributions will be matched by other members so that the immediate costs of their time and effort will ultimately work in their own favor. This session will facilitate a discussion of the key areas and domains where expectations should be defined in advance and how defining those expectations are key to the success of the project.


Managing team members

Friday, March 24

12:15 – 1:30 pm

Location TBD



Tom Richard and Julie Urban


About the topic: Science is built on disagreement and is adversarial by nature. For this reason, teams with diverse perspectives and skill sets often produce insights that would otherwise be invisible to teams without this diversity. Unfortunately, the conditions that make for fruitful disagreement may also lead to conflict. In this session, we will outline key sources of conflict in research collaboration and discuss conflict management and resolution strategies that can allow disagreements to be channeled most productively.


Engaging stakeholders within and beyond the university

Late April

Location and time TBD

Stay tuned!