Collaboration is the cornerstone of scholarly study at a public urban research university. Which is why CU Denver encourages interdisciplinary research and the collaboration of its faculty across academic units.
Located in the Office of Research Services (ORS), the Creative Research Collaborative (CRC) initiative promotes interdisciplinary research by offering faculty fellowships to teams of researchers representing the different CU Denver schools and colleges. Now in its third year, the project has come a long way in promoting innovation and collaboration.
Each year several faculty members are selected from a campuswide application pool to become CRC fellows and work on innovative cross disciplinary research. In its pilot year, four fellows collaborated on multimedia installations concerning mobility, mobile technologies and civic engagement.
Leading the way in innovation
One research team in this years group of CRC fellows is made up of Timberley Roane associate professor of environmental microbiology in the department of Integrative Biology, and Jae Do Park associate professor of electrical engineering. Both researchers share an interest in energy production, renewable energies and the impact of different energy systems on the environment.
“This collaboration has pushed me to become a better thinker and scientific practitioner,” Roane said. “Dr. Park and I speak different professional languages, and so while we have to work harder to communicate, we challenge each other to justify what we are saying and why we are saying it.”
In addition to their innovative research, fellowship recipients work give talks on their research projects and individual work through a series of talks hosted by the CRC at Inworks. There are other subsequent workshops, social events, and lectures that showcase the outcome of their collaborative work and to further cultivate a network of faculty who are interested in pursuing cross disciplinary research.
The final fellows talk for this academic year is on April 11 from 5 to 6 p.m. at Inworks, with Roane and Park discussing their collaboration involving the potential of microbial fuel cells as a renewable energy source. Denver’s tremendous growth makes it the perfect setting for collaborative research and innovative breakthroughs in energy technologies. “We are bringing together two disciplines that do not commonly work together,” Roane said. “The result is a new avenue of research rich with possibilities as we combine our expertise to address the ability of microorganisms to produce electricity.”
A history of success
“Within this past year, the program has moved past being focused largely on funding specific projects to also include interdisciplinary mentor sessions that provide a campus resource guide and discussion platform for the exploration of best practices in cross-disciplinary research methods,” said Michael Jenson, assistant vice chancellor for Research and Creative Activities for CU Denver. “As the CRC faculty network grows even more over the next several years, the plan is for it to become a prominent means to integrate young faculty into the campus culture and a vehicle for the support of innovative research spanning across multiple disciplines.”
Jenson added, “The experience in carrying out collaborative and cross disciplinary research gained by the fellows within their fellowship year, as well as the partnerships made and maintained, subsequently will be invaluable in creating innovative research methods that can be applied directly to the issues facing municipalities today and in the near future.”
Studying at an urban research university is an exciting opportunity and initiatives such as the CRC make the opportunity even more enriching. The ORS is now accepting applications for the next group of CRC fellows. Eligible faculty members are those holding a full-time appointment on the CU Denver campus in a tenure-track, tenured, research or clinical track rank. The application deadline is 5 p.m. June 15.