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Social Work Interdisciplinary Research Mixer Yields Promising Results

Faculty from various branches of academia shared their research interests to facilitate cooperation between the numerous disciplines at the University of Texas at Arlington.

The School of Social Work hosted the Interdisciplinary Research Mixer on Wednesday in the Central Library Parlor Room.

Faculty members needed a forum to make connections and find potential collaborators for research projects, Assistant Dean for Research and Faculty Affairs Holli Slater said.

“People are doing amazing things, but without having a forum or an opportunity to share that with one another, nobody knows what the other person is doing,” Slater said.

Even within some colleges, faculty may not have realized how connected their research projects were with one another, she said.

Each participant engaged in a brief presentation of about three minutes covering topics ranging from the effects of domestic violence, landscape sustainability and the health of aging immigrant populations.

Faculty coming from different areas of expertise bring an approach that wasn’t seen before, Slater said.

Theatre arts assistant professor Julienne Greer has previously partnered with professionals in social work studies. There is a good “synergy” between the two professions when working together, Greer said.

Theatre arts is very human centered and common interests could lead to future projects with the School of Social Work, she said.

Researchers can become narrowly focused on their own work in a university setting, she said.

“It’s really, really exciting to hear what somebody else is doing, and how passionate they are about it,” Greer said. “It just made me smile.”

Listening to the same voice on an issue rarely solves the problem and talking to colleagues from a different field can bring an idea they never considered, she said.

Colleagues wrote down notes as they listened to presenters relaying their findings to better organize potential partnerships.

Industrial Engineering Assistant Professor Caroline Krejci said she is new to the campus and participated in the mixer to meet other researchers.

Sharing and learning from other faculty members is critical, Krejci said.

Coming from an engineering background she has never worked with anyone from the School of Social Work before, Krejci said. It’s not a traditional mix of research, but there could be potential efforts to work together.

The School of Social Work’s Interdisciplinary Research webpage lists several recent successful collaborations with the College of Engineering and other colleges on campus.

Social Work Associate Professor Diane Mitschke presented her passion on the health and resilience of refugees.

The forum solidified the concept of finding common ground among the academic disciplines, Mitschke said. Industrial engineering and social work share some connections and talking it through helps to see those relations.

Talking about refugees to a diverse group of people might prompt them to consider how their work might relate to these refugees, she said.

Slater said the forum surpassed expectations and plans to host another faculty mixer in the fall semester.

Innovation will bring positive attention to the university and impact the world beyond UTA, Slater said.

“The only way we can do that is if we work with one another and we really are tackling these big problems as teams,” Slater said.

News Topics: Faculty, Research