What do interdisciplinary scholars need for success?

From January 15-17, 2020, at UCLA, Professor Leah Gerber and graduate student Olivia Davis attended a workshop run by Beyond the Academy to improve interdisciplinary research experiences both inside and outside of academia. Leah Jones, an ASU graduate student from the School of Sustainability, was also in attendance. The organization hosted 2 previous workshops in 2019 focusing on faculty, and for the third workshop brought faculty and students together to brainstorm how to overcome barriers facing individuals in interdisciplinary fields. The January workshop included small group and plenary discussions, student-led projects, and even an improv class with a comedian.  “I am so glad I got the opportunity to attend a workshop like this so early in my graduate career,” Olivia Davis said. “The students and faculty all had very diverse perspectives, depending on how long they were in the field or what university they were from, so it was great to learn more about the challenges that people are facing in interdisciplinary fields and what we can do to help provide support moving forward.” Olivia’s student project involved working with a group of 6 other students to create SMOoThiE, an informal network where interdisciplinary scholars can connect and share advice, struggles, and opportunities through a Slack Channel, Zine, and Google Drive.