2016 ENG-LIFE Workshop emphasizes importance of collaboration
The third ENG-LIFE Workshop, a faculty-led workshop designed to increase potential for multidisciplinary research between engineering and the life sciences, took place on April 29 in the Emerging Technologies Building at Texas A&M University.
The tagline for the event was “At the interface of engineering and life sciences,” and the presenters at this year’s event reflected the goal. The keynote was delivered by Dr. Ken Muneoka, a professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, and other speakers represented the colleges of science, engineering, and agriculture and life sciences, as well as the Texas A&M Health Science Center. At the end of the day, a poster session allowed attendees to network and see each other’s research.
Dr. Arum Han, associate professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and chair of the organizing committee, said the purpose of the event is to encourage faculty to engage in multidisciplinary research, especially those who are new to the campus, or may not be aware of how research in other colleges could relate to their own.
“I wanted to open that opportunity to other people who might not have contacts, and I think these types of activities in general are good for the future of our college and our university,” Han said. “The trend nationally from a funding perspective is toward multidisciplinary research. They want to focus on big problems and whole package proposals instead of just one aspect.”
The event had more than 130 attendees from 11 colleges across the Texas A&M campus, with more than 30 researches presenting posters at the poster session.
According to Han, even if the event doesn’t directly lead to new collaborations right away, there is benefit in having researchers from different colleges become familiar with each other’s work.
“Some of these things are going to take time, but it’s about building contacts,” he said. “You might not have an idea now, but knowing people with different areas of expertise, you keep that in your head. You might see a grant opportunity that you would have ignored previously, but now that person pops into your head and it opens up the possibility for more collaboration.
“Really the purpose is to have an opportunity for engineers to engage much more broadly with the various life science researchers. The hope is there will be new collaborations between physical sciences and the life sciences.”
The Division of Research played a vital role logistically in putting on the workshop this year, and the organizing committee chaired by Han included Dr. Paul Hardin of the College of Science, Dr. Arul Jayaraman from the College of Engineering, Dr. Allison C. Rice-Ficht from the College of Medicine, Dr. Won-Bo Shim from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and Dr. C. Jane Welsh from the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.