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The need to accelerate the adoption of interdisciplinary approaches has become even more compelling in an era of increasingly complex problems, vast data sets, and powerful research tools. Moreover, the complexity of the science demands the integration of vocabulary, concepts and methods from different disciplines, and many of the most interesting and important research problems require collaborative efforts.
One of the grand challenges in environmental sciences is to understand the vulnerability of human and natural systems to environmental change. Montana is positioned to make great strides in this area of scholarship given its growing institutional capacity to examine the social and ecological dynamics of some of the most pristine landscapes in North America. In response to this challenge, the Montana Board of Regents approved the creation of a statewide Montana Institute on Ecosystems (IoE) in 2011. The IoE has the dual mission of supporting and fostering inter-institutional research and education in the ecosystem sciences, while at the same time communicating new discoveries in ways that make a difference to the people of Montana. Through Montana EPSCoR, the IoE has supported new faculty hires and postdoctoral research associates across the Montana University System to enhance statewide capacity in critical areas of ecosystem sciences. These individuals are expected to contribute to interdisciplinary collaborative research, as well as participate in related educational and outreach activities.
The IoE Mentoring Program for Interdisciplinary Initiatives (PI2) is designed to support the professional development of faculty and students working together on initiatives related to Montana’s environmental and ecosystem sciences. The initial goals of the Program are to help early-career faculty and postdoctoral research associates succeed in interdisciplinary research, work effectively in collaborative inter-institutional teams, improve their science communication skills, and achieve career success in their disciplinary area. We believe these skills will translate to improved interdisciplinary education,. The IoE PI2 Program is designed to complement mentoring activities for graduate students and undergraduates that are underway within the IoE. It also builds on existing university discipline and department-based mentoring programs by offering support to early-career scholars in the following areas related to interdisciplinary scholarship and education:
The IoE PI2 Program fits within the team structure that has been developed to address science focus areas within the MT EPSCoR Track 1 grant. It supports development of structured mentoring within focus area teams and among individuals, career planning assistance, and opportunities to advance career and leadership skills relevant to the pursuit of interdisciplinary scholarship. In addition, in an attempt to separate mentoring from oversight, mentees will have the opportunity for to participate cross-team and/or cross-institutional mentoring.
Program Director: Ray Callaway
Project Administrator: Todd Kipfer
University of Montana
Missoula, MT 59812
Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education
2500 Broadway Street
Helena, MT 59620