Interdisciplinarity

10 Pivotal Papers in Ecological Restoration

I led a multidisciplinary group of graduate students from UC Berkeley in writing an opinion piece for Restoration Ecology. This paper was a summary and synthesis of work we did in a larger seminar on restoration in which we read and critiqued nearly 100 recent articles on the topic. For our opinion piece, we selected 10 papers that struck us and our larger group as important for the future of restoration and discussed them in that context. As part of that paper, I created a website with the class’ critiques and a discussion forum about the opinion piece at restecology.blogspot.com.

Society for Ecological Restoration primer and the Global Restoration Network

A subset of the authors of 10 Pivotal Papers set out to evaluate the use of the Society for Ecological Restoration’s Primer on restoration by collectively reading through restoration project summaries at the Global Restoration Network.  We tested these projects’ use of the Primer’s attributes of a restored ecosystem.  We also discussed possible ways of framing restoration to include social factors as well as ecological factors, and published our findings in Restoration Ecology.

Interdisciplinari-Tea (IDTEA)

IDTEA was a graduate seminar originating from Louise Fortmann and Justin Brashares’ groups’ collaborations. It grew to include students from throughout Environmental Science, Policy, and Management at Berkeley. Each week we met for tea, snacks, and discussion of interdisciplinarity in environmental studies. I coordinated this seminar from Spring 2012 through Spring 2013. I applied for and won a Breslauer Graduate Conversation Group Award to fund the group. I also organized speakers, field trips, and other content for the course as well as synthesizing the results into a document that newcomers can read at the beginning of a fresh semester.  We wrote a book review for Gunilla Oberg’s book Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies: A Primer” in the Quarterly Review of Biology.  We also worked extensively on remodeling our department’s core course for incoming graduate students.  The goal was to take better advantage of the opportunity for interdisciplinary training and team building.  The new course was taught in Fall 2012, and represents a definite improvement over previous versions; we also consulted with next year’s instructors of the course. We published a reflection on our experiences with interdisciplinary graduate training in Biodiversity and Conservation: “Finding your way in the interdisciplinary forest: notes on educating future conservation practitioners.”   In November 2012, we hosted the First Intercampus Workshop on Interdisciplinarity, bringing students and faculty from universities around the bay to come discuss how to foster work across disciplines. The Second Intercampus Workshop was held at Stanford in April 2013, and the third Workshop was hosted at UC Santa Cruz in Fall 2013.  We hosted the fourth Intercampus Workshop in Spring 2014 at Berkeley.

National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center Graduate Scholar

I was a SESYNC Graduate Scholar in 2012-2013.  I and nine other graduate students from across the country met in Annapolis and discussed ways to involve graduate students in SESYNC’s programs, and helped generate ideas for funding Themes.  Two of our proposed “Graduate student Themes” have been listed on their website for grant competition – these Themes are for groups of graduate students only to propose collaborative synthesis projects.  SESYNC will be holding a workshop beforehand for students to network and learn more about the Themes.

Scientists, Technologists, and Artists Generating Exploration (STAGE) play competition

I have read and written coverage (summary and critical evaluation) for play submissions to STAGE’s 2nd, 4th, and 5th cycles.  STAGE, initially sponsored by the California Nanosystems Institute and the Professional Artists’ Lab at UC Santa Barbara, and now hosted at the University of Chicago Institute for Molecular Engineering, is intended to encourage and support the writing of plays about science and scientists.  I’ve read some very interesting submissions over the years, including a finalist from the 2nd cycle.

Where are the Missing Coauthors?

Working with Louise Fortmann, Dan Sarna-Wojcicki, and Meg Perret, I helped analyze a database of almost 300 research papers on participatory research in the development literature. My colleagues coded these articles based on their level of participation with community members, whether there was indigenous knowledge or gender-related content, and what the institutional affiliations of the authors were.  We then fit statistical models to find out if any of those factors governed whether academic authors doing self-described ‘participatory’ work either coauthored or acknowledged their community partners.  There were only 16 papers which had community coauthors, and only just over half of the papers acknowledged community contributions to the work. My colleagues interviewed the individuals who did coauthor with community members to find out more about barriers and factors determining coauthorship.  This interdisciplinary project features me as a statistician collaborating from the beginning with sociologists skilled in qualitative analysis and interview methods. This project is was published in Rural Sociology.