Embarking on a postgraduate course or accepting a postdoctoral position used to be a step towards becoming an expert in one, highly specialised area. Not that there is anything wrong with that. But for those who prefer to see the bigger picture and want the excitement of a more flexible and spontaneous career, looking beyond the confines of your old school disciplines may be just what the doctoral ordered. Here lies the burgeoning world of interdisciplinary ID research.
This is where two or more disciplines combine to create something more than the sum of their parts.
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It is about not being constrained by one way of thinking or tackling a problem. Instead, skills and knowledge are gained in a variety of disciplines and new applications for the research are sought. In short, it is the home of blue-sky thinking. It is also a sociable affair. Communication between researchers in different fields is vital.
These centres, each based at one or more universities, have been specifically created to train PhD students to work across departments and specialisms. The concept is also popular across the channel, where ID research is seen as a priority for European Union funding.
Take the challenge of climate change. It means you can tap into the expertise of a wide range of disciplines. And if you have been studying something fairly esoteric up until now, the ID approach will help you feel more connected to reality. After her undergraduate degree in astrophysics she decided a change of direction was in order and swapped the vast scales of the stars for the microscale of human cells.
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Kuipers now studies the physical mechanics of how cells die as part of a wider push to help prevent deafness. This meant adding biology to her expertise in physics. Now that I feel a lot more confident in biology it is very satisfying. ID work also gives you a wider academic perspective. He studied computer science for seven years before throwing biology into the mix for a PhD in systems biology.
So far, so good, but are there any pitfalls of becoming an ID researcher? Will potential employers think you lack the depth of specialism by studying too broadly? Roberts, however, sounds a note of caution. What about getting your research published? If you decide that ID research is for you, moving into a new discipline and culture will present other challenges, too. You will certainly have to familiarise yourself with the new terms and vocabulary of the subject you are moving into.
How to reprogram your mind
Kuipers, whose primary expertise lies in physics, is a case in point. You should also find out which structures are in place to promote a genuine interdisciplinary community as the success of ID centres hinges on their ability to connect academics and researchers from different disciplines. And that opens your mind to different approaches to looking at problems and looking at data.
So if you want to have a diverse and successful scientific career, and really make an impact, then perhaps it is time to mine that rich seam at the interface of several disciplines. Science is primarily a creative process, and interdisciplinary research teaches you that. You also need to persuade other people and explain your research. Another way to be more open-minded is to add more experiences to your schema, suggests Jeffrey Gardere , psychologist and professor of basic sciences at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine in New York City. Watch and read them both.
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Also, make a point to expand your circle, sharing time with friends who are diverse racially, culturally, politically, and in age. Finally, incorporate mindful meditation into your daily ritual, says Deborah Norris, neuroscientist and author of In the Flow: Passion, Purpose and the Power of Mindfulness.
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The practice involves focusing on a single point of focus, such as the breath, to slow the pace of the mind, and then gradually expanding the focus to take in a broader spectrum of sensory information, says Norris. The act of sitting in curious awareness of sensations arising from the body invites the thalamic gates to the consciousness to open, literally opening the mind to a greater realm of consciousness and possibility. While the thalamus is the gateway to the consciousness, the key to open it requires the hypothalamus. This is adaptive during stressful times, as it allows us to focus specifically on the task at hand, such as fighting or fleeing for our life.
denabrolirin.gq In times of rest, however, we can train the brain to deactivate the hypothalamus. By Stephanie Vozza 4 minute Read. Talk To A Neutral Party Sometimes being open to something new just requires talking through the situation with someone else. Practice Mindful Meditation Finally, incorporate mindful meditation into your daily ritual, says Deborah Norris, neuroscientist and author of In the Flow: Passion, Purpose and the Power of Mindfulness.