Selected Research Projects
Toolbox Dialogue Initiative
The Toolbox Dialogue Initiative provides a philosophical yet practical enhancement to cross-disciplinary, collaborative science. This enhancement comes primarily in the form of a dialogue-based “Toolbox workshop”, and it is intended for interdisciplinary and interprofessional teams of collaborators. Rooted in philosophical analysis, Toolbox workshops enable cross-disciplinary collaborators to engage in a structured dialogue about their research assumptions. This yields both self-awareness and mutual understanding, supplying crossdisciplinary research collaborators with the robust foundation needed for effective collaborative research and practice.
The Working Group on Epistemic Exclusion
The Working Group on Epistemic Exclusion (WE2) is a multi-institutional, interdisciplinary research group devoted to examining how scholarly devaluation of the work of women and faculty of color is a barrier to their full inclusion and participation in STEM. WE2 focuses specifically on epistemic exclusion, a concept developed by Black feminist scholars such as Dr. Kristie Dotson. We understand epistemic exclusion to be scholarly devaluation that is rooted in invisible biases built into formal systems of evaluation and informal economies that occur through interactions in informal spaces.
The VERITIES Initiative (Virtue-based Education for Responsibility and Integrity to Increase Excellence in STEM) is an NSF-supported institutional transformation initiative at MSU that aims to foster a culture of excellence and integrity in university and professional settings by infusing traditional Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) training with an appreciation and understanding of the scientific virtues. It builds upon the virtue-based RCR training workshop approach piloted by a collaboration between the Scientific Virtues Project and the Toolbox Dialogue Initiative.
Current Research Areas
Interdisciplinary Theory and Practice
Much of my work concerns the nature of crossdisciplinary process, that is, how disciplinary perspectives are combined in the production of crossdisciplinary (i.e., multi-, inter-, and transdisciplinary) outputs. I contribute to research that theorizes relationships among the elements in crossdisciplinary activity, including work on integration, communication, and dialogue. I also participate in research projects that apply theoretical lessons to improve crossdisciplinary practice, especially through the use of structured dialogue.
I trained as a philosopher of language, interested primarily in epistemic aspects of referential discourse. Since turning my attention to interdisciplinarity around the turn of the century, I have been investigating the nature of epistemic integration in crossdisciplinary contexts, that is, on the ways in which knowledge and expertise are combined in the pursuit of crossdisciplinary objectives. This has led to work on reasonable disagreement, ignorance, and hypothesis formation in crossdisciplinary contexts. In recent years, I have also collaborated with the Working Group on Epistemic Exclusion.
Primarily through my work with the Toolbox Dialogue Initiative, I have had the opportunity to collaborate with colleagues working in the new field, the Science of Team Science. Because collaboration is a critical part of interdisciplinarity as I have practiced it since graduate school, I have always had a keen interest in factors that are conducive to collaborative success. In the last decade, this interest has led me to participate in research projects focused on theoretical and empirical aspects of team science and collaborative research more broadly.
Since turning my attention to interdisciplinary research, I have had opportunities to collaborate with others on projects that concern the environment. An important example is the NSF IGERT project, “Ecosystem Management in Tropical and Temperate Regions: Integrating Education in Sustainable Production and Biodiversity conservation,” which gave rise to the Toolbox Dialogue Initiative. Since then, I have pursued philosophical research on various aspects environmental science practice, focusing specifically on communication, capacity building, and education.
I believe strongly in the practice of reflexive instruction, which entails thinking about one’s own instructional practices with a view to improving them and reporting them, if they are innovative. This led to the publication of two papers related to a FIPSE-funded general education program at the University of Idaho. Since joining the faculty at MSU, I have been keenly interested in the value of structured dialogue as a tool for enhancing crossdisciplinary education, both at the undergraduate and the graduate levels. While this interest is broad, I have devoted a lot of time to thinking about it in the more narrow context of Responsible Conduct of Research training.
Philosophy of Language and Communication
I trained as a philosopher of language who studied reference from the perspectives of epistemology and the philosophy of action. Early in my career I focused on referential discourse, but as my career has unfolded, I have become more interested in communication, and especially communication across difference. In recent years, I have worked on the nature of dialogue, the role of communication in crossdisciplinary practice, and the ways in which power inflects communication. My work with the Toolbox Dialogue Initiative has given me the opportunity to think about how the semantics and pragmatics of reference (an early interest of mine) relates to the challenges of communicating effectively across disciplinary divides.
Selected Research Grants
Building Capacity for International Network-to-Network Collaboration, 2021-2024, National Science Foundation, PI, $519,553
EAGER: Exploratory Research on the Dynamics of Convergence in Interdisciplinary Teams, 2021-2023, National Science Foundation, PI, $299,973
EAGER: Integrated Team Science Curriculum Development and Support for the Convergence Accelerator Program, 2021-2022, National Science Foundation, PI, $299,854
Institutional Transformation: VERITIES—Virtue-Based Education for Responsibility and Integrity To Increase Excellence in STEM, 2020-2025, National Science Foundation, co-PI, $599,930
Collaborative Research: Scholar(ly) Devaluation as a Barrier to Inclusion and Equity of Underrepresented Faculty in STEM, 2020-2023, National Science Foundation, co-PI, $372,421
Enhancing the Process of Network-to-Network Collaboration: A TDI-Facilitated PI Meeting for the AccelNet Program, 2020-2022, National Science Foundation, PI, $100,000
Toolbox Workshop for the NASA Heliophysics DRIVE Science Centers, 2020-2022, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, PI, $230,405
A Toolbox “Train the Trainers” Workshop for the C-Accel Program, 2019-2022, National Science Foundation, PI, $95,154
Toolbox Workshop for the AccelNet PI Meeting, 2018-2021, National Science Foundation, PI, $71,909
Living Architecture Systems, 2016-2021, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Partnership Grant, co-applicant, $2,476,738 CA ($226,378 CA, MSU)
Coastal Fog Ethnography Project, 2013-2014, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, PI, $7,500
Collaborative Research: Values and Policy in Interdisciplinary Environmental Science: A Dialogue-based Framework for Ethics Education, 2013-2016, National Science Foundation, PI, $299,999
Improving Communication in Cross-Disciplinary Collaboration, 2008-2012, National Science Foundation, PI, $292,000
Cooperative Autonomous Underwater Vehicles Used to Search Large Ocean Areas for Mines, 2008-2010, Office of Naval Research, co-PI, $2,583,473
Electromagnetic Signature Assessment System Using Multiple Autonomous Underwater Vehicles, 2008-2009, Office of Naval Research, co-PI, $2,970,000
NEH Summer Stipend, Summer 1998, to support research on having a particular thing in mind, PI, $4,000