April 29, 2024

New initiatives empower transdisciplinary research and collaboration by grad students

University of Calgary President’s Doctoral Scholarship drives innovation across disciplines
A group of people
David Anderson, left, stands with graduate student recipients of the 2023 President’s Doctoral Recruitment Scholarship in Transdisciplinary Research. Milena Marshall, for the University of Calgary

While academic research often occurs in silos, there is unique value in collaborative research that draws on expertise from different disciplines to complement discipline-specific research. Recognizing this, the University of Calgary is committed to empowering transdisciplinary research and collaboration to address big societal challenges. 

Through new initiatives like the Institutes for Transdisciplinary Scholarship and the President’s Doctoral Recruitment Scholarship in Transdisciplinary Research, the University of Calgary is driving a focus on research and innovation that draw on insights across disciplines. 

“Collaborating with researchers across disciplines is one of the best steps that can be taken to ensure that our graduate students are thriving and having an elevated experience through their graduate student journey,” says Dr. Tara Beattie, PhD, dean and vice-provost (graduate studies).

“I believe that scholarships, such as the President’s Doctoral Recruitment scholarship, give future graduate students the opportunity to attend the University of Calgary, one of the top research institutions in Canada, ultimately a place where these students can work with a diverse network and collaborate, learn and grow.” 

The President’s Doctoral Recruitment Scholarship in Transdisciplinary Research is a prestigious award and recruitment scholarship funded by the University of Calgary’s Start Something fund, worth $48,000 over four years. 

An important element of UCalgary’s transdisciplinary strategy is the President’s Circle community of President’s Scholarship award winners and key stakeholders in transdisciplinary research. “The vision for the President's Circle is to create community and connections that enhance the graduate student experience,” explains Beattie. 

“It is about surrounding graduate students engaging in multidisciplinary research with different mentors and peers that will help them look at problems creatively.” 

Dr. Dave Anderson, associate dean of transdisciplinary research, describes this award as an important signal to UCalgary’s prioritization of transdisciplinary research, and a recognition of the central role that graduate students must play in realizing greater cross-disciplinary research at UCalgary.

Anderson sees the President’s Circle as “a critical, growing community of graduate students that are doing the kind of work that takes them across disciplinary boundaries.” Their work contributes to national and global sustainability, public health, and inclusion and diversity initiatives. 

While interdisciplinary research is no doubt exciting, it often means that students engaging in this kind of research have a unique research experience and do not fit neatly into a single department or field. “The President’s Circle offers a community for students with unique transdisciplinary research experiences to connect with and support one another through their graduate journeys,” explains Anderson. 

“This community helps graduate students navigate through challenges that may arise from interacting with structures and systems designed for traditional research pathways.”

“Overall, my hope for the University of Calgary is that we can build structures and programs to facilitate boundary-crossing research initiatives that define multidisciplinary scholarship,” says Beattie. Ultimately, the transdisciplinary research being undertaken by this community of grad students at UCalgary will drive outcomes that improve our cities and societies, public health and life, energy futures, and sustainability.

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