The Center for Critical Zone Research, led by Donald Sparks, the S. Hallock du Pont Chair of Plant and Soil Sciences, aims to develop a world-class, leading-edge research capability focusing on the Earth's critical zone--the life-sustaining environment from the treetops to the groundwater where complex interactions of rock, soil, water, air and living organisms occur. Interfacial chemistry, bionanotechnology, and environmental genomics are the center's primary research areas.
The project team has been busy interviewing researchers affiliated with the centers and observing them in labs, seminars, even tumor clinics, as well as social settings, such as monthly get-togethers at Grotto's Pizza.
We're studying 'participation customs'--how groups of people interact, Centellas says. An anthropologist with a background in biology, she also has significant international experience, studying the organizational structure and dynamics of research centers in Bolivia.
Scientists come trained in a particular way according to their discipline, she notes. Each group comes with a different vocabulary. How does one group learn to communicate with another? How do people discuss problems and form collegial relationships? How does work get assigned--is it by expertise, by technical facility, by the availability of a grad student? We're getting into the nuts and bolts of people coming together, she says.
Koester, a master's student in sociology, is observing researchers to see if their collabo
|Contact: Tracey Bryant|
University of Delaware