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  • Postdoc Spotlight: Tom Courtade

  • Posted in Articles : Wednesday, October 10, 2012

    So certainly, I guess, one of the challenges is bringing together these people from various backgrounds, who speak, you know, different languages almost, with different terminology and everything. but I think the critical point is that we're actually having this conversation because its too easy for people to kind of stick with the people that they\u2019re comfortable with, you know, who speak the same language as them. And then when they come together now at a workshop like this where everyone is actually, you know, getting together and starting the conversation, and trying to figure out what issues are kind of common ground. And how we can draw on each others expertise thats really one of the huge benefits, I think, of the center, more so, getting the conversation started, than anything. You know, part of joining the center and coming to these workshops and then really being that the mission of the center is to promote working at different institutions and with different researchers, it\u2019s really made a huge difference. I've interacted with a large variety of people that I maybe wouldn't have interacted with otherwise and this has been in the last six months. so its really incredible, I feel like I\u2019m, you know, watching my own research career progress at the point that I am now versus six months ago is, you know, a huge leap forward. just because i've been exposed to more people and had the opportunity to have conversations with these people. So I feel like, kind of as the center evolves, I mean, the more people that this happens for the more collaboration that it promotes can only be a good thing and help us move towards, I guess, really, making progress on these grand challenges. Kind of the privilege of coming together in an interdisciplinary conversation and being able to freely speak your mind has been a right that has been largely reserved for faculty members. And so to bring graduate students together in a workshop where its comfortable for them to express their own opinions is quite important because it gives them the opportunity to do the same thing. and at the same time its important because graduate students they\u2019re still kind of looking for important problems and trying to, you know, their views of what are important problems is still being molded. so coming together and hearing different perspectives and, kind of, getting the insight into what\u2019s important for a variety of people then it can really influence the research down the road. Whereas, maybe faculty who are having the same conversation their viewpoints are already somewhat solidified and they see issues, you know, kind of through their own lens. and so at this point its truely probably THE opportunity to introduce interdisciplinary research because then you form the viewpoints in kind of a an interdisciplinary manner.

    In the past i've worked on problems where, it\u2019s like, maybe kind of working on something new, maybe slightly risky or outside the box. So, if you\u2019re just working on it on your own you don't necessarily have that motivation to carry it through, because you don't necessarily know if it\u2019ll be important or exciting to other people. But then when you interact with others and they say "Oh yeah this is really great I can view this as coming into play here, here, here..." then its actually a huge push, you know, some wind in your sails, so to speak, that kind of carries you through and gives you the motivation to pursue a particular problem that maybe, you know, you wouldn't have brought to fruition otherwise. Like I said, my own personal experience, so far, with the center has been extremely positive and so I think that its a great opportunity not only for myself but for everyone else involved. Seems to be, like I said, a unique and nobel challenge or pursuit I guess to bring these people together from different disciplines and really just start the conversation.