Call for Innovative Ideas: 2014 Results

Five innovative ideas in interdisciplinary graduate education were recognized in the 2013-2014 Call for Innovative Ideas competition. Each of the winners will receive a modest award from the Graduate School to help launch the projects.

Funded Proposals

1.  The Case for Quality: Creating training tools to integrate quality assurance (QA) into academic research programs.

Submitted by:  Rebecca L. Davies, Veterinary Medicine (College of Veterinary Medicine)

This initiative is a collaborative project to create Quality Assurance Training Resources to help scientists promote and ensure the integrity of their data by integrating the recommended Good Research Practices (‘GRP’) into their research practice. These training materials will be organized into a ‘GRP Training Toolkit’ that can be utilized by any individual, research team, program or institution.  

2.  Stream Restoration Science and Engineering

Submitted by:  Karen Gran, Geological Sciences (Swenson College of Science and Engineering, Duluth); Vaughan Voller, Civil Engineering (College of Science and Engineering)

The main goal of this proposal is to expand the existing, Twin Cities-campus based master’s program in Stream Restoration Science and Engineering to students on the Duluth campus by offering the program’s two core courses jointly between campuses, thus enhancing the experience for all students.  The program will complement UMD’s strong environmental focus and expertise in the primary fields involved in stream restoration, including fluvial geomorphology, stream and wetland ecology, limnology, and water resources engineering.

3.  Food Studies Field Guide

Submitted by:  Tracey Deutsch, History (College of Liberal Arts); Emily Hoover, Horticultural Science (College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences); Rachel Schurman, Sociology (College of Liberal Arts)

The proposers will help develop the interdisciplinary field of Food Studies at the University of Minnesota by compiling a basic "field guide" to working across disciplinary lines that will be online and dynamic. Planned content includes: vocabulary that is particularly important to scholars in different disciplines; ideas that are particularly charged within a specific discipline and an explanation as to why; differences among disciplines in approaches, ways of thinking, and analytical and research methodologies (going deeper than differences between humanities and sciences); particularly useful books and articles with explanations as to what they have to offer the non-expert; and a calendar of courses, and educational opportunities and events.  

4.  Emerging Technologies Workshop

Submitted by:  Graduate student members of the Center for Cognitive Sciences—Caitlin Cole (Doctoral candidate, Child Psychology, College of Education and Human Development), Marc Pisansky (Doctoral candidate, Neuroscience, Medical School), Nicole Scott (Doctoral candidate, Cognitive Science, College of Liberal Arts), Elizabeth Stephens (Doctoral student, Child Psychology, College of Education and Human Development), and Scott Warren (Doctoral candidate, Neuroscience, Medical School)

This proposal is for an annual one-day workshop that brings specialized or emerging technologies and other methodologies into the hands of university members. As students whose research lies at the intersections of disciplines such as Psychology, Human Development, Neuroscience, Biology, Medicine, Statistics, and Linguistics (to name a few), the Center for Cognitive Sciences graduate student team proposes to address a common student need for intensive workshops focused on the specialized methodologies they frequently encounter in scholarly publications and presentations, but to which they may not have direct access.

5.  Graduate Research Groups

Submitted by:  CLA (College of Liberal Arts) Committee on the Humanistic Commons—Michael Kobialka (Theater Arts & Dance), Timothy Brennan (Cultural Studies & Comparative Literature), Juliette Cherbuliez (French and Italian), Ana Paula Ferreira (Spanish & Portuguese), Nanette Hanks (Associate Dean for Curriculum), Jason McGrath (Asian Languages & Literatures), Paula Rabinowitz (English), J.B. Shank (History)

This initiative will facilitate better integration of interdisciplinary faculty research within existing disciplinary degree programs, and the development of structurally interdisciplinary curricula that complement and expand the educational opportunities offered by existing disciplinary programs.  Central to the Humanistic Commons is the formation of Graduate Research Groups (GRGs)—three-year (renewable once) research collaboratives that integrate current faculty research concerns and graduate education and mentorship. The GRGs unite faculty and graduate students from diverse units working on a common project and allow for visiting scholars, conferences, and special research/creative projects to be included within the educational and research trajectories of graduate students. The vision for Humanistic Commons GRGs includes the development of interdisciplinary graduate curriculum linked to GRGs and established degree programs, thereby linking GRGs directly into the fundamental work of graduate education from the outset. The new Humanistic Commons GRGs will establish entities that can offer courses and other credit-earning graduate research opportunities within CLA.  

Honorable Mention  

1.  Sound Studies Graduate Minor

Submitted by:  Sumanth Gopinath, Music (College of Liberal Arts)

The goal of this initiative is to create a graduate minor in sound studies. “Sound studies” is an emerging, rapidly growing field that treats sound as a medium and object of cultural and historical study. Interdisciplinary in scope—encompassing media studies, social history, anthropology, philosophy, cultural studies, music studies (ethnomusicology, musicology, music theory), art (especially sound art and installation), and more—sound studies seeks to open new areas of study and to rethink particular disciplinary problems from the perspective of sound. 

2.  CEED Professional Development Training

Submitted by:  Michele Mazzocco; Child Development, and Center for Early Education and Development (College of Education and Human Development)

The University of Minnesota houses numerous interdisciplinary centers with which graduate students have limited exposure. At the same time, the University trains graduate students in many areas of research directly or indirectly relevant to centers’ ongoing outreach activities. This proposal seeks to increase interaction between graduate students and center faculty and staff, bring additional current research to centers’ existing outreach activities, and enhance graduate students’ ability to view the contributions of their research from new perspectives. Specifically, this initiative would engage graduate students from across the University in participating in outreach activities conducted at the Center for Early Education and Development (CEED) through a summer internship experience.  This experience would include partnering with a member of the CEED faculty or staff to contribute to course content used in online outreach activities.  

3.  Drug Discovery and Development

Submitted by:  Colin Campbell, Pharmacology (Medical School)

Working collaboratively, the programs in Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacology will develop a novel training module that will provide students with practical knowledge of the basics of drug discovery and development to help prepare them for careers in the biomedical research workforce outside of academia. The initial phase of this project will involve a pilot project in which a team of four Ph.D. students (two each from the Pharmacology [School of Medicine] and Medicinal Chemistry [College of Pharmacy] doctoral programs) work together over a one semester period with faculty and staff in the Institute for Therapeutic Drug Discovery (ITDD). The long-term objective is to expand this program to permit larger numbers of students—from within these two programs, as well as from other programs—to participate in future years.  The goal of the training is to provide participants with a strong working knowledge of the drug discovery/drug development process in an environment that closely resembles that of a typical private-sector pharmaceutical company.