IoE Mentoring Program for Interdisciplinary Initiatives (PI2)

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:

  • Paired mentoring to enable formal and informal opportunities for leadership development in interdisciplinary areas
  • Skills, knowledge and experience necessary to succeed in interdisciplinary research, including guidance in:
    • pursuing new interdisciplinary collaborative research initiatives and funding opportunities
    • publishing multi-authored papers while recognizing individual contributions
    • communicating complex research, effectively, to scientific and public audiences
  • Achievement of personal career objectives in interdisciplinary topics, through:
  • advising on strategies for promotion and tenure within their departments
  • discussing employment opportunities (in the case of post-doctoral research associates). 
  • maintaining a healthy balance between professional and personal values and activities necessary for growth and satisfaction’
  • maintaining a work-life balance necessary for personal growth and satisfaction
  • facilitating informal feedback on career decision-making

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.


MSU IoE Office

Montana State University
605 Leon Johnson Hall
Bozeman, MT 59717
(406) 994-2374
MSU Director: Bruce Maxwell

UM IoE Office

The Universityi of Montana

The University of Montana
Davidson Honors College
Missoula, MT 59812
(406) 243-6058
UM Director: Maury Valett


Montana University System

Montana University System

Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education
2500 Broadway Street
Helena, MT 59620