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Published March 1, 2022


It's a match: UB event to facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration

A unique approach to launching collaborative research projects

To facilitate new interdisciplinary research, the University at Buffalo's Graduate School of Education and School of Engineering and Applied Sciences will host an event designed to explore and accelerate collaborative research projects.

The event, “Exploring Interdisciplinary Collaboration and Funding Opportunities,” is open to GSE and SEAS faculty and will begin at 12:30 p.m. on March 4. It is slated to be the first of several collaborative cross-decanal research events. 

X. Christine Wang, GSE professor and interim associate dean for interdisciplinary research, and Shambhu Upadhyaya, SEAS professor and associate dean for research and graduate education, organized the event after recognizing that both schools desired additional opportunities and infrastructures to support meaningful collaboration.

“We're living in this globalized, connected world. The problems we're trying to resolve have become complex … and demand complex, interdisciplinary collaboration. Oftentimes, we are siloed in our areas, and this event is trying to facilitate that cross-disciplinary collaboration,” Wang said.

Upadhyaya shared a similar perspective: “While the faculty in different schools at UB have been doing excellent research in their own disciplines, the current trend is to not work in silos but engage in interdisciplinary initiatives,” he said.

Rather than hosting research talks or planning formal introductory meetings, this fast-paced event will allow faculty to obtain more information about each other's research in less time.

Faculty will socialize with the intention of finding shared scholarly interests and possible funding sources.

“You mingle, you congregate, you discuss and generate ideas for the future to develop relationships and trust,” said Wang.

Upadhyaya and Wang, along with additional GSE and SEAS faculty, worked together to identify common themes linked to contemporary research in both decanal units.

The event's research themes will include:

  • Support for diverse learners
  • Cognitive or non-cognitive learning processes
  • Informal and community-based learning
  • Mental health, wellness and social-emotional learning
  • Ethical and responsible research in engineering and computer science
  • Robust intelligence in social contexts
  • Human-centered computing
  • Advanced technological education

Participants will bring business cards and one-page handouts detailing their research interests and the funding opportunities they wish to pursue. When interests align, faculty will sit at a round table focused on a specific theme to brainstorm plans for long-term projects.

“For the SEAS faculty who work in artificial intelligence, machine learning, advanced technologies, human-computer interaction and other engineering problems, looking at research on human development, education, ethics and social contexts will bring a new perspective to their research with meaningful outcomes,” Upadhyaya said. “The same is true for the GSE faculty if they collaborate with faculty with expertise in engineering and technology.”

Upadhyaya and Wang hope this gathering launches future informal meetings focused on cross-collaboration at UB. Wang envisions partnerships with UB's College of Arts and Sciences, School of Public Health and Health Professions, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, and School of Management.

“You know each other, you have each other's contact information and then you can continue to build on the conversation. This is not viewed as a one-time thing; this is the beginning of a long-term collaboration,” Wang said.

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