Dean's Message: The Collaboration Transformation

Dean Rodney Brown
Dean Rodney Brown

There was a time when a person could know everything there was to know about a field of study. A few hundred years ago, about the time of the industrial revolution, this ended. Now, no one can know all there is to know about even a very narrow field. It is not that people are trying harder to specialize; there is just much more to know.

This trend has changed scientific research from a lone activity to a group effort. To answer questions and solve problems, we now require the contributions of many people from diverse fields. We find the necessary knowledge, skills, instrumentation, and other (often very expensive) resources spread around the world. Scientific papers now have dozens of authors from many institutions instead of a few authors from one place.

The College of Life Sciences has gone through the same transformation as the rest of science. Our faculty and students collaborate with scientists in many fields and many places to accomplish complex research efforts. Because collaboration is such an important part of research and research careers, it is never too early to start learning how to collaborate. Many of the authors of research publications from the College of Life Sciences are students. In fact, more than half of the papers published by the College have at least one student author.

This collaborative atmosphere provides students with the indispensible insight that the value of work done by people in other fields is as valuable as their own work. This is a surprisingly hard thing to learn. The old way of doing things, where one point of view was plenty, is gone.

This edition of The College of Life Sciences Magazine is filled with examples of people collaborating to accomplish important research goals and to prepare students for a future of collaborative research.