“New Concepts in Integrating Arts and Science Research for a Global Knowledge Society” at the AAAS 2012 annual meeting provided some thought provoking moments courtesy of Gunalan Nadarajan, Vice Provost at the Maryland Institute College of Art. It’s always good to be reminded that art schools are only about 300 years old and the notion of studying science as a separate discipline is only about 200 years old. We tend talk about the arts and the sciences as if they’ve always been separate pursuits when, as Nadarajan pointed out, they were part of a larger pursuit, which included philosophy and religion as well. That pursuit was knowledge.
Nadarajan mentioned a new network (a pilot project) in the US called the Network for Science Engineering Art and Design where they hope to bring scientists and artists together for collaborative work. These relationships are not always successful and Nadarajan noted that the problems tend to boil down to relationship issues (sometimes people don’t get along very well even with the best of intentions). He did say that he wanted to encourage people to get to know each other first in nonstressful environments such as sharing a meal or coffee. It sounded a little bit like dating but rather than a romantic encounter (or that might be a possibility too), the emphasis is on your work compatibility.
According to a blog posting by one of the organizers of the Network for Science Engineering Art and Design, Roger Malina, it is searching for a new name (search engine issues). You can get more information about the new network in Malina’s Feb. 19, 2012 posting.
“HUBzero: Building Collaboratories for Research on a Global Scale” was a session I anticipated with much interest and I’m glad to say it was very good with all the speakers being articulate and excited about their topics. I did not realize that there are a number of hubs in the US; I’m familiar only with the nanoHUB based at Purdue University in Indiana. (My most recent posting about this was the Dec. 5, 2011 posting about their NanoHUB-U initiative.)
nanoHUB and the others all run on an open source software designed for scientific collaboration. What I found most fascinating was the differences between the various hubs. Michael McLennan spoke about both the HUBzero software (which can be downloaded for free from the HUBzero website) and the nanoHUB, which services the nanotechnology community and has approximately 200,000 registered users at this time (they double their numbers every 12 – 18 months according to McLennan).
There are videos, papers, courses, social networking opportunities and more can be made available through the HUBzero software but uniquely configured to each group’s needs. Ellen M. Rathje (University of Texas, Austin) spoke at length about some of the challenges the earthquake engineers (NEES.org) addressed when developing their hub with regard to sharing data and some of the analytical difficulties associated with earthquake data.
Each group that uses the software to create a hub has its own culture and customs and the software has to be tweaked such that the advantages to adopting new work strategies outweigh the disadvantages of making changes. William K. Barnett whose portfolio includes encouraging the use of collaborative technologies for the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CSTI) had to adopt an approach for doctors who typically have very little time to adopt new technologies and who have requirements regarding confidentiality that are far different than that of nanoscientists or earthquake engineers.
I got my ‘scooplet’ when I visited the exhibition floor. The 2012 Canadian Science Policy Conference (2012 CSPC) will be held in Alberta as you can see in this Feb. 19, 2012 posting on the Government of Canada science site.
Apparently, there are two cities under consideration and, for anyone who’s been hoping for a meeting in Wetaskawin, I must grind your dreams into dust. As most Canadians would expect, the choice is between Edmonton and Calgary. I understand the scales are tipped towards Calgary (that’s the scooplet) but these things can change in a heartbeat (no, don’t get your hopes up about Wetaskawin). I understand we should be learning the decision soon (I wonder if Banff might emerge as a dark horse contender).