EAGER GERMINATION Collaborative Research: Leveraging a Research Development Professional Network to Catalyze Statewide Innovative and Societally Relevant Research

Principal Investigator/Project Director

Melanie Bauer

Colleges / Centers

Division of Research and Economic Development


National Science Foundation

Start Date



This project is funded through the NSF Directorate for Engineering Germination program, which seeks to foster the development of pedagogical approaches to increase the ability of academic researchers to formulate research questions and ideas with potentially transformative outcomes. Major societal challenges can benefit from large, coordinated solutions that leverage interdisciplinary teams with collaborations from academia, government, industry, and other stakeholders. However, many college and university faculty have limited experience, tools, and support to successfully engage in diverse teams that extend beyond their department, much less their institution. The goal of this project is to create and sustain inter-institutional teams composed of junior and senior faculty members with diverse STEM perspectives and methodologies focusing on pressing regional issues such as coastal challenges. This statewide research intervention project will be developed and supported by research development professionals embedded in higher education institutions across Florida. Broader impacts will accrue from instantiation of interdisciplinary, inter-institutional research teams who develop research projects capable of successfully addressing societal challenges. Success in this project will provide a template for replication and scaling by states and other sizable networks focused on addressing intractable problems with team-based solutions that cross disciplinary boundaries.

This project directly addresses gaps in researcher professional development, networking, and support by creating and guiding inter-institutional teams formed around important societal needs and informed by key community stakeholders. It involves a two-stage research intervention that commences with a collaborative learning and ideation event and continues with supported team and project development. The facilitators of these activities will be Research Development (RD) staff from Florida colleges and universities, under the guidance of a faculty expert in team science. These RD professionals are members of FloRDA, a statewide network of research staff from a diverse set of 21 member institutions, including primarily undergraduate and minority-serving institutions. During this program, RD professionals will serve as the “glue” to form and facilitate faculty teams, as connective boundary spanners with institutional knowledge as well as broader knowledge encompassing opportunities for strategic growth, existing community partnerships, and statewide policy and funding initiatives. These facilitators will nurture newly formed research teams into stable groups with aligned goals and defined member roles, leveraging activities designed to enhance knowledge integration and create a shared transdisciplinary framework. Success in this project may enhance understanding of how to implement team science approaches in geographically dispersed groups. It will also be important for charting a path through which RD professionals can foster and support team science spanning multiple and diverse partner organizations.

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