Team Science Training for Coastal Ocean & Estuarine STEM Graduate Students

By Troy Hartley, PI
“The tool kit from any one discipline is not big enough, not broad enough for the problems we’re facing. It’s going to be this next generation of researchers and scientists who will need to work together at their universities, integrate what they know, and come up with an idea that none of them could have by themselves.”

– Troy Hartley, PI, Virginia Sea Grant Director

Achieving innovative, integrated breakthroughs and novel solutions that transcend individual disciplines to solve today’s societal problems has proven elusive due, in large part, to deficiencies in key professional, teamwork, and leadership skills among collaborative science teams. The William & Mary Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) project sought to address these deficiencies by assembling a multi-disciplinary team of faculty facilitators to guide a class of diverse doctoral and master’s students from the natural and physical coastal, marine and environmental sciences, engineering, design, and social and economic sciences. An innovative workshop series trained students in the principles of team science, collaborative leadership, and effective self-reflective tools and strategies to improve teamwork. The lesson plans, training modules, and implementation strategies were compiled into an online toolkit and shared broadly through professional societies of graduate school deans, multiple conference presentations, and workshops, and extended through alumni networks at the participating institutions for peer mentoring and executive coaching.

Dr. Troy Hartley, the Virginia Sea Grant (VASG) Director and lead principle investigator for the project said, “Solving today’s grand ecological and societal challenges in coastal and marine environments demands team science that produces innovative, integrated breakthroughs, and solutions that transcend individual disciplines. VASG sits at the nexus of these disciplines, and span sectors and functions in research, education, extension, and communication. As such we are perfectly positioned to help our university partners, Virginia and the nation overcome the challenges to team science by offering professional development programming for Virginia’s graduate students.”


Read the abstract

Learn more with VASG’s page



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Jem Baldissimo, a PhD candidate studying Ecological Sciences at Old Dominion University said, “I’m really interested in the aspect of working with and collaborating with people outside of your background, I think that’s a very transferable skill.”

Deborah DiazGranados, associate professor at Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Medicine added, “We’ve created a controlled space where students can learn some practices, some vocabulary, and take it back into their real workspace to use during their graduate studies and in their professional careers.”