Professor and Head of Bionanotechnology and Analytical Chemistry, University of Strathclyde, UK
A problem interdisciplinarians should tackle? I think every big problem the world is facing HAS to be tackled through interdisciplinary work – from climate change and poverty to earlier diagnosis and treatment of disease. All challenges can be addressed by bringing people with different expertise together (and actually listening to them!) rather than working in silos.
The secret to a successful interdisciplinary collaboration? Teamwork is everything! Analytical science is a hugely interdisciplinary area of research, allowing scientists to collaborate with others across a variety of disciplines and learn from each other to solve problems. I believe that everyone within a collaborative group should explain their part in the project to all the other participants. This allows each member to understand how the pieces come together, and learn from each other. Enthusiasm and having fun is also key to collaboration – if you can’t get on with your colleagues, the project will suffer as a result.
Fostering interdisciplinary working… We need to find different ways of bringing people together across a variety of disciplines to share their science and allow cross fertilization of ideas.
Biggest challenge facing the field? Cost of living is causing a highly negative effect on people deciding to do PhDs. If this drop continues, we could be facing further skills gaps in analytical science with less people trained in interdisciplinary research.
Book for scientists? “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot.