The greatest scientific challenges for the 21st Century are inherently interdisciplinary. Research to address these challenges in biology requires the input of new ideas, methodologies, and investigative strategies from the multiple disciplines, including the physical sciences, engineering, mathematics, and the social sciences. Yet very few students are encouraged to think boldly and broadly, or are trained to go beyond existing disciplinary frameworks.
We aim to prepare Ph.D students for sustained careers doing cutting edge interdisciplinary research by: i) developing a common baseline of mathematical, computational and biological knowledge and skills, ii) exposing trainees to the disparate ways that various scientific disciplines tackle and solve scientific problems, and ii) exposing trainees to the disparate ways that various scientific disciplines tackle and solve scientific problems, and ii) helping them acquire the communication, scientific and social skills necessary to work effectively in small interdisciplinary research teams. The Program in Interdisciplinary Biological and Biomedical Science (PiBBs) unites faculty and students from 6 departments ( Biology, Computer Science, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Mathematics and Statistics, Physics and Astronomy and Anthropology), 2 colleges ( College of Arts and Science and the College of Engineering at UNM) and 3 prestigious institutions ( University of New Mexico, Santa Fe Institute and Los Alamos National Laboratory) with research interests in biological theory, modeling and bioinformatics into a comprehensive program leading to a Ph.D concentration in Integrative Biology. A standing crop of 12 trainees (some supported by UNM) will receive several years of support to engage in didactic and hands-on training in the conduct of interdisplinary research. Our program involves a series of 5 specialized courses that include a repertoire of pedagogical strategies all with proven effectiveness in interdisciplinary training, a summer training program at SFI that broadens scientific horizons and networks, and hands on training in the conduct of research within a collaborative research team. A common facility, visiting scholars and a series of other professional and social activities help foster and maintain a vibrant and exciting community of interdisciplinary scholars.
PiBBs addresses the goals of the NIH roadmap and the HHMI-NiBIB Interfaces Initiative by integrating across disciplines, providing innovative training in collaborative interdisicplinary science, and addressing fundamental problems in the biological science. Our training will prepare Ph.D. students for sustained careers doing cutting edge interdisciplinary biological research that will likely lead to important research discoveries.
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