The Sassy Scientist – It’s All In The Mix

The Sassy Scientist – It’s All In The Mix

Mare needs to secure some funding. Trotting through previous successful applications, she finds a common denominator. As a purebred scientist, she bellows:

How important is interdisciplinary research for a research proposal?

Dear Mare,

Very important. Realistically, you’ll not get funded in case you’re a one-trick pony. Who will hand over their pouch of gold nuggets to someone who will only code? Someone who can only process geodetic data? Someone who will only hammer some rocks? Someone who will only dredge samples from the mud? Someone who only picks arrivals from seismograms? Someone who’s putting a piece of rock inside a compression apparatus?

When erudite and fast-paced reviewers skulk through such proposals, they think it’s a dog and pony show. Like you’re trying to flog a dead horse, because the time of authentically lonesome science has passed by; these lone rangers have been put to pasture. It’s not good enough anymore to just collect data, expand a model code or fill the blank (or crudely filled in) spots on the geological maps. The people demand interpretation. Interpretation requires knowledge about processes. These processes are described by data. Data other than just your type of data. Data from different disciplines. Data that can form hypotheses. Hypotheses that can be confirmed or refuted by experiments. And so on. And so on.

Don’t be stubborn as a mule by sticking to only one discipline in your research proposal. You’ll back the wrong horse. You need to hoof it and find colleagues from disciplines tangential to bridle your application. To be crystal clear, I don’t mean that you have to lurk outside the philosophy department and join together to determine the meaning of life whilst evaluating the existential crisis of people being thrown to the surface during a supershear fault rupture underneath ones feet. Don’t chomp the bit to wander around your department and just ask stupid questions to people. Yes … all questions are there to be asked. Especially the stupid ones. Don’t shudder to roam even further and navigate yourself into some other departmental stables. You never know, there might be some savvy researchers out there!

Yours truly,

The Sassy Scientist

PS: This post was written at full gallop.

I am currently employed at a first tier research institute where I am continuously working with the greatest minds to further our understanding of the solid Earth system. Whether it is mantle or lithosphere structure and dynamics, solid Earth rheology parameters, earthquake processes, integrating observations with model predictions or inversions: you have read a paper of mine. Even if you are working on a topic I haven’t mentioned here, I still know everything about it. Do you have any problems in your research career? I have already experienced them. Do you struggle with your work-life balance? Been there, done that. Nowadays, I have only one hobby: helping you out by answering the most poignant questions in geodynamics, research and life. I am waiting for you right here. Get inspired.

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