University of Georgia

University of Georgia

2021 cohort announced for interdisciplinary ‘pre-seed’ program

University of Georgia researcher Kristina Jaskyte
Professor Kristina Jaskyte in the School of Social Work is leading a pre-seed team that aims to bring a rigorous, cross-disciplinary approach to the practice of innovation, creativity and design thinking, spurred in no small part by the expansion of UGA’s Innovation District. (Photo by Peter Frey)

A dozen teams consisting of UGA faculty members and research professionals have been named to the Teaming for Interdisciplinary Research Pre-Seed Program’s 2021 cohort.

The Office of Research, along with the Office of the Provost, provides “pre-seed” funding for the formative efforts of each team to support and enhance critical or emerging areas of research expertise. The idea is to stimulate formation of large-scale research teams in hopes of ultimately attracting additional external resources for collaborative research.

When envisioning the outline of her project, Kristina Jaskyte, professor in the School of Social Work, knew collaboration was the key component to turning her vision into a reality. Jaskyte’s proposed project, UGA Innovation, Creativity and Design Thinking Research Community, is a concept more than six years in the making. The project focuses on creating a strong research agenda around innovation and creative/design thinking.

“As UGA’s Innovation District vision started to materialize, I noticed the absence of research-focused initiative around innovation, creativity and design thinking,” said Jasktye, the lead for her team. “I knew it would take an interdisciplinary team of like-minded experts, whose research focuses on these three key fundamentals, to get our agenda started. I am thrilled that we have such a diverse representation across campus.”

Another team leader, John Salazar, associate professor in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, has also seen the benefits of his multifaceted team’s collaboration for their project, the UGA Hospitality and Tourism (HOST) Research Initiative.

“The 12-member team is comprised of individuals who have previously conducted research directly linked to the hospitality and tourism industry,” Salazar said. “While there are many more around UGA that can contribute to the effort of the HOST Research Initiative, this initial core team provides a strong foundation that can grow to have multiple links across UGA disciplines.”

The goal of Salazar’s project is to provide comprehensive hospitality and tourism research support that will provide valuable and industry-nuanced information across several UGA hospitality and tourism programs, including UGA Extension, UGA Public Service and Outreach, and more.

“The travel industry impacts the economic health of Georgia communities by providing a large percentage of jobs, small business annual profits and needed tax revenues,” he said. “I hope the HOST effort becomes the foundation to sustaining an applied and actionable research initiative that greatly influences the tourism directives of Georgia.”

To help assess each team’s “collaboration readiness,” Larry Hornak, associate vice president for research, integrative team initiatives, welcomed the collaboration of Dorothy Carter. Carter, assistant professor in the industrial-organizational psychology program administered surveys to each team to help measure this metric.

“Interdisciplinary research teams have great potential to produce high-impact research, but they are also particularly prone to suffer collaboration problems due to differences among members in terms of norms, terminology, priorities and prior experiences,” Carter said. “Using this survey, we provide each team leader a personalized report and lead a webinar training session on team science best practices.”

All 12 teams in the 2021 cohorts are composed of six or more members across at least three different disciplines/academic units. Each team receives up to $500 per member, which each may use to help develop their team and its projects.

The next application window for the FY2022 program is expected to open this fall on Oct. 1. More information can be found at https://research.uga.edu/team-pre-seeds/about/.