Biocomplexity Workshop

Biocomplexity LWI/CC Workshop:
Designing a Capstone Experience for Recent PhDs Embarking on Interdisciplinary Careers

October 3-6, 2003
Wrigley Marine Science Center
Catalina Island, California

Click here for the Workshop Report
Click here for poster presented at the 2005 Biocomplexity PI Meeting

Background. The LWI/CC workshop provided a forum for discussion and recommendations concerning a possible capstone program for recent PhD recipients who are embarking on interdisciplinary careers related to issues at the land-water interface (LWI) or climate change and its impacts (CC). These areas demand consideration of the broad array of issues stemming from human activities. The student/professional transition is difficult, particularly for those engaged in interdisciplinary work. After years of specialization, new grads are transported to an environment that requires connections between distant disciplines and a network of colleagues from divergent backgrounds. The historic divide between the natural and social sciences must often be bridged. A capstone experience for today's graduates should therefore enhance early career development, interdisciplinary understanding and peer networking across the physical and social sciences. The goal of this workshop is to devise such a program.

The genesis for this workshop is through the DIALOG, and DISCCRS programs. These consist of 4 basis parts:
1. PhD Dissertation Registry to introduce grads to the community and provide a global overview of their work
2. Electronic newsletter to distribute information of interest to recent PhDs
3. Symposium to foster interdisciplinary understanding, early career development, and peer networking
4. Database to collect demographic and scientific information on recent PhDs for human-resource purposes.
Program information is available at
These programs serve as interdisciplinary capstone experiences to foster interdisciplinary understanding and peer networking among recent PhDs across the aquatic- and climate-change scientific communities but so far have not embraced the social sciences. The workshop will explore mechanisms to accomplish this goal. The workshop will take both a top-down and bottom-up approach, engaging both established professionals and newly minted Ph.D. recipients in the process.

Programs highlighted at the Workshop:
Aldo Leopold Leadership Program
Donella Meadows Fellowship Program
Ford Foundation Fellowships for Minorities Program

Pew Fellows Program in Marine Conservation
IAI/UM Summer Institutes
Other programs
The Environmental Leadership Collaborative provides a useful list of training resources. This is a consortium of U.S.-based and international environmental leadership training and development programs addressing a wide range of career stages.

Presentations from the LWI/CCWorkshop. PowerPoint presentations from the workshop are archived below:
Weiler, C.S. Dissertations Initiative for the Advancement of Climate Change Research (DISCCRS)
Farwell, E. Donella Meadows Fellowship Program
Robinson, C. Aldo Leopold and Pew Fellows Programs
Pyrtle, A. Ford Foundation Fellowships for Minorities Program
Podesta, G. IAI/UM Summer Institutes on Interdisciplinary Sciences in the Americas
Schneider, S. 'The Right Stuff'--Perspectives on Building a Successful Interdisciplinary Career
Michaels, A. Training Science as a 'Profession': How can Business Sence Improve Chances for Success in Science?
O'Riordan, C. Role of Scientific Societies in Identifying and Training New Scientists for Leadership Positions
Root, T. Getting the Scientific Word Out: Fun or Frustration?
Larson, M. Building Human/Social/Professional Capacities to Advance Ecological Security

Related article by Stephen Schneider: Evolutionary organizational models for interdisciplinary research and teaching of global environmental change. In: Global Environmental change Science: Education and Training. Edited by David J. Waddington, 1995, Springer in cooperation with NATO Scientific Affairs Division.

Visioning Exercise: In addition to the presentations, Edie Farwell presented a workshop on 'Developing and Articulating a Vision'. a paper by Donella Meadows was provided as background reading, along with a set of Manifesting Principles.

Working Group Discussions: Participants broke into 6 groups to discuss a new capstone program for recent PhDs. Their recommendations are summarized in the final report.

Workshop Organizers

C. Susan Weiler, Whitman College
Ronald B. Mitchell, University of Oregon
Anthony F. Michaels, University of Southern California


This workshop is supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation through
grant #DEB 0119960 to Whitman College.